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Crystal

I read and review Young Adult lit!

Member Since 2011

32
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 69 reviews
  • 71 ratings
  • 128 titles in library
  • 30 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
8
FOLLOWERS
5

  • Here: On the Otherside, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Denise Grover Swank
    • Narrated By Bryce Hitchcock
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (25)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (23)

    Sixteen-year-old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend, Monica, in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing, and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before.

    Crystal says: "Painful, Pointless."
    "Painful, Pointless."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is my new low water mark in YA literature. I’m normally pretty fair in my reviews and take into account that other people may appreciate elements of a story (eg the romance) more than I do.

    Here, however, is a fundamentally broken story.

    I do spoiler-free reviews, meaning I don’t give away anything that isn’t in the audible synopsis. Unfortunately that means I can’t really discuss where this book goes because the mid-point reveal is supposed to be a surprise.

    All I’ll say is that the reveal is/requires a complete break in continuity. The setting, characters and story itself have to fundamentally change after the break. This means that most of the build-up in the first half of the book is for naught.

    Julia’s story about overcoming guilt, depression and maybe figuring out the mystery around the fatal accident has no real bearing on the story after the break. Likewise, the character relationships we spent so long trying to establish also come to nothing. And I say *trying* to establish because there’s no real ‘development’ – two hot guys come out of nowhere to worship and insult Julia in equal measure and this is supposed to equate to true love in YA literature.

    The reveal itself is enormous but there was no opportunity to really play with or explore it because it came so late in the story. This leaves us with a second half full of info dumps, love triangles (there are TWO, I kid you not) and a pointless heroine hell-bent of self-sacrifice that does nothing but collapse to her knees on three separate occasions during the climax.

    It kills me to be so dismissive of a book; I truly do try to be fair because I’m an amateur writer who’d hate to read a scathing review.

    Honestly, though Here go nowhere, does nothing and is utterly heartless. The whole thing has a paint by numbers, YA cliché checklist feel (High concept – check, love triangle – check,check, heroine with a martyr complex – check) but the wasteful setup, focused story, lack of payoff and poor story structure make it fall even flatter than other generic YA out there.

    Don’t waste your credits.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Don't Let Go: Don't Turn Around, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Michelle Gagnon
    • Narrated By Merritt Hicks
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    After a devastating loss, Noa Torson is out of options. On the run with a few other survivors, Noa is up against immeasurable obstacles. Not only is her failing health becoming more of a problem, but the corporation's insidious plans are quickly coming to fruition. And no matter where Peter and Noa try to hide, they are inevitably found. The group is outnumbered, outsmarted, and outrun. But they are not giving up.

    Crystal says: "Disappointing ending to a squandered premise"
    "Disappointing ending to a squandered premise"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I honestly don’t know why I persisted with this series.

    After a great debut, the second entry in the trilogy was lacklustre but I’m nothing if not loyal to a series that I start.

    Unfortunately my devotion wasn’t rewarded with a stellar wrap up to the trilogy.

    Don’t Let Go continued with a ho-hum fugitive tale that had the characters constantly moving but the plot left standing still. This entry managed to be even less dynamic though, because the POV characters were together for most of the story this time.

    Most disappointing is the utterly anti-climactic ending. The villains, new and old, ultimately present no real challenge for the protagonists. Honestly, the story could have been resolved in a similar fashion back in book one, so fruitless were the efforts of ‘heroes’ in books two and three.

    This review feels very harsh but as I’ve paid for and sat through three books in nearly as many years, I think my scorn is justified.

    I don’t recommend Don’t Let Go, nor the Don’t Turn Around series to anyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Random

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Tom Leveen
    • Narrated By Tara Sands
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Late at night Tori receives a random phone call. It's a wrong number. But the caller seems to want to talk, so she stays on the line. He asks for a single thing - one reason not to kill himself. The request plunges her into confusion. Because if this random caller actually does what he plans, he'll be the second person connected to Tori to take his own life. And the first just might land her in jail.

    Crystal says: "Interesting take on a tough topic."
    "Interesting take on a tough topic."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Tom Leveen doesn't shy away from serious and modern teen issues in his books which is one of the reasons I both enjoy and respect his work.

    Random pulled out the big guns - online bullying and teenage suicide - and as always, Leevan took a unique and thoughtful approach the serious material.

    I recommend his work to anyone wanting to look at great modern teen literature grounded in the real world.

    Unfortunately, though, Random wasn't a particularly great read on its own merits. Don't get me wrong, it's better than 90% of the post-apocalyptic- vampire-love-triangle stories currently packing out the YA genre but felt incomplete.

    I have to mark Random down more for what wasn't on the page than what was. Frankly, I wish it could have been longer, fuller, more detailed and with more resolution.

    No, there would have been no easy answers but I think the poignancy was undercut by having to keep the main character on a narrow arc and having the climax hinge on a punchy ‘twist’.

    Anyone wanting a YA read on real-world social issues should definitely check out Random but this isn’t a life changing read (and keep an eye on Tom Leveen because his breakout novel has to be just around the corner!)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • One Man Guy

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Michael Barakiva
    • Narrated By Michael Chernus
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    When Ethan gets Alek to cut school and go to a Rufus Wainwright concert in New York City’s Central Park, Alek embarks on his first adventure outside the confines of his suburban New Jersey existence. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend - he's barely ever had a girlfriend - but maybe it’s time to think again.

    Regina-Audible says: "A Heartwarming Coming-of-Age Novel"
    "Touching and Engaging"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    One Man Guy is an incredibly sweet and touching coming-of-age and coming-out story.

    It was beautifully written and well-crafted but the absolute highlight was exploration of the Armenian-American culture clash Alek constantly struggles with.

    The lush descriptions of the favoured Eastern European delicacies had me drooling and the prose had an incredible sense of place be it suburban New Jersey, eclectic downtown Manhattan or the seeming infinite journey between the two.

    Alek coming to terms with his coming out was honest and heartfelt so I think it will appeal to anyone without a particular interest in LGBT literature.

    I highly recommended for all readers! I just wish it was longer!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Almost Tall

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 25 mins)
    • By Vestal McIntyre
    • Narrated By Jorjeana Marie
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    In Almost Tall, 14-year-old Dinah finds herself plucked from her provincial midwestern ballet class and dropped in her uncle’s glittering New York penthouse. What starts out as a lonely summer quickly becomes a whirl of cocktails and haute couture under the mercurial attention of her uncle’s bombastic and insecure partner, Eddie. With remarkable poise, she struggles against a city that seems determined to turn innocence into cynicism and the young into “strangers to youth.”

    Crystal says: "Uncomfortable and Unenjoyable"
    "Uncomfortable and Unenjoyable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I’m really sorry if you’re reading this hoping for some insight because I am at an utter loss about how to review Almost Tall.

    I just have no idea what the heck I am supposed to take away from this exceedingly brief, albeit well written prose.

    Yes, I hesitate to even call Almost Tall a ‘story’. Nothing really seems to happen but I’m certain the author is trying make some kind of point that is just lost.

    There is some truly great character set up – I want to give absolute credit to the author for that. In fact, the great character seems tragically wasted.

    Finally, I have to address the homosexual content. I cannot be sure, since the authors’ intentions are so muddled on every level, but homosexuality and homosexual relationships seem to be a target for criticism, cynicism and even revulsion in Almost Tall.

    The idea that the author would take this view point is utterly offensive.

    But did he? Or did he mean to?

    Who can tell!?

    All I know is that I was left feeling vaguely offended and uncomfortable making Almost Tall an unenjoyable read that I do not recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ghost Time

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Courtney Eldridge
    • Narrated By Jorjeana Marie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    Thea Denny hates the tenth grade, and her home life isn’t easy. But she’s passionate about making art — and about her math-genius boyfriend, Cam, a recent transfer to her upstate New York high school from California. One day Cam mysteriously vanishes — and then things really get weird. The stars on the school flag go missing, eerily cut out. Intimate videos of Cam and Thea start going viral online — videos they never took. The FBI gets involved. And Thea can hear the voice of Melody — a beautiful, disabled girl her age, whose illness has left her mute since birth. Cam once claimed to be the world’s foremost hacker. . . . Is he trying to reach her, send her a sign — or is Thea losing her mind?

    Crystal says: "Not a great reading experience."
    "Not a great reading experience."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While I ended up kind of appreciating what Ghost Time tried to do, I really cannot recommend it to anyone.

    Ghost Time commits the cardinal sin of YA literature - it spends its entire (and frankly excessive) length setting up a series rather than focusing on being a compelling, worthwhile read within itself.

    Several mysteries are established and many, many characters are introduced only for the book to end on a cliff-hanger….and the second in the series isn’t due for publication until TWO YEARS after the first!

    This indulgent and self-important attitude towards reader experience seemed to permeate the novel with its meandering pace and disengaged tone.

    As I said, I didn’t mind Ghost Time in the end but it was a hard fought battle to get there and I doubt I’ll have the patience to sit through the next book if/when it ever arrives.

    Finally, I strongly recommend checking out an audio sample or maybe picking this up in paperback if you do want to check it out.

    The language is intolerable, especially at the beginning.

    So I’m like, OMG, right? “OMG,” I said, “Right?”

    And he was like, right, you know? “Right,” he said.

    Seriously, OMG, right?

    Yes, that is literally how it reads – every sentence punctuated with rights, txtspeak, you knows and other verbal ticks. And for some reason the author has all the characters ‘think’ what they’re going to say and then still put it in as dialogue immediately after!

    So I’m going to tell you I don’t recommend this book, “I don’t recommend Ghost Time,” I say.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Geoff Herbach
    • Narrated By Nick Podehl
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    From "one of the most real, honest, and still funny male voices to come around in a while" (YALSA) comes a brand-new cast of quirky characters, pitting fat boy Gabe against the high school cheerleading team in a battle over control of the school's soda machine. The war is on! Never have the stakes been so high. Never have the trenches been so deep. Never has one soda vending machine been so vital. When the high school cheerleading team takes over the machine's funds previously collected by the pep band, Gabe will not stand for it.

    Crystal says: "Uncomfortably Real"
    "Uncomfortably Real"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Fat Boy was an uncomfortably accurate look at what it’s really like to be an overweight teenager.

    This element hit me in particularly hard but the author pulled no punches when it came to the pain of isolation, inequality, bullying, broken families and dissolving friendships in high school either.

    Credit to Herbach for having the guts to be so confronting but it didn’t exactly make for a pleasant read.

    I would have like the plot to be a little stronger, a little more inspiring, a little more mythic.

    Basically, I wish Fat Boy had been a little more fiction and a little less reality.

    It was definitely well written and impactful – both great things and rare quantities in YA lit.

    But I struggled with to get through the challenging subject matter and I’m struggling to recommend something I personally enjoyed so little.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Killing Ruby Rose: Ruby Rose, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Jessie Humphries
    • Narrated By Kimberly Harsch
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    In sunny Southern California, 17-year-old Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks and her killer SAT scores. But ever since her dad, an LAPD SWAT sergeant, died, she’s also got a few killer secrets. To cope, Ruby has been trying to stay focused on school (the top spot in her class is on the line) and spending time with friends (her Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks are nothing if not loyal). But after six months of therapy and pathetic parenting by her mom, the District Attorney, Ruby decides to pick up where her dad left off and starts going after the bad guys herself.

    sheerheart says: "One of the Best I've Read in Awhile"
    "Enjoyable...Against All the Odds"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I could tell from the blurb I would either love or hate Ruby Rose – there could be no inbetween with a so completely over-the-top premise.

    And Ruby Rose was everything I should have hated – mopey, shoe-obsessed and far too willing to plunge headlong into danger under the guise of being tough, gutsy and independent...only to need to be recused from herself.

    But somehow…I came to, if not really like her, at least not be annoyed to tears by her. And frankly, I consider that a quite a victory – Humphries shot sky-high with this one and the fact she didn’t fail horrifically is kind of amazing.

    Okay, I’m not really selling this am I?

    Bottom line: I know what I hate and I didn’t hate Killing Ruby Rose.

    Yes, the plot jumps the tracks completely by the third act but I’ll be happy to continue with the series.

    This is high praise from me, so I think most YA readers should be able to find something to enjoy here.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Book: The Sequel: First Lines from the Classics of the Future by Inventive Imposters

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 40 mins)
    • By Clive Priddle, Geoffrey Nunberg
    • Narrated By David Henry
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    A delicious and unexpected return engagement from such favorite characters as Jane Eyre, Ebenezer Scrooge, Jay Gatsby, Holden Caulfield, Wilbur the Pig, and Captain Ahab, Book: The Sequel is a perfect gift for book lovers everywhere - or for anyone to whom "The End" is simply the starting point for the imagination.

    Crystal says: "Great Idea, Poor Audiobook."
    "Great Idea, Poor Audiobook."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sadly, I have to say the Book: The Sequel just doesn’t work in an audiobook format.

    The “faux-pening” lines come so fast there is just no time to digest or enjoy them. And if you need time to think about any of the more obscure references – you just won’t be able to.

    Worst of all, the two of the three clearly amateur narrators are simply atrocious. One has a speech impediment and the woman uses random and unbearable accents that undercut the wit.

    Now, some of the crowd-sourced humour definitely misses the mark but there is some great satire and laughs to be had so my complaints are not with the content.

    I’ll definitely pick up Book: The Sequel as a hardcopy so it can be appreciated as a coffee table book for casual perusal or a dinner-party conversation starter where I think it can really shine.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Robin Sloan
    • Narrated By Ari Fliakos
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (16)

    A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life - mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore.The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone - and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

    Irene says: "Delightful"
    "A Book for Book Lovers"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love books. In fact, I love books so much that I picked up Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore purely because I liked the idea of an actual 24-hour book store so much!

    And boy am I glad I did.

    Mr Penumbra’s is a love letter to all bibliophiles. It’s for anyone who ever dreamed of finding a real-life mystery in the pages of a book or wished they could go gather a party of their equally geeky friends and embark on an epic quest.

    But for all its fantasy origins, Mr Penumbra’s is grounded in modern day San Francisco on the forefront of the digital age. Technology and leather-bound tomes intersect for a fascinating look at the modern mythology of Google.

    Audiobooks are often treated as the ugly step-child of literary world so I think fellow audible.com users will especially appreciate the musings about the future of the written world in an increasingly virtual world.

    Mr Penumbra’s has transcended genre-preferences amongst my circle of friends so I highly recommend it to readers everywhere!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sweet Reckoning: Sweet Trilogy, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Wendy Higgins
    • Narrated By Erin Mallon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (96)
    Performance
    (91)
    Story
    (91)

    Evil is running rampant, and sweet Anna Whitt is its target. Nobody knows when or how the Dukes will strike, but Anna and her Nephilim allies will do anything necessary to rid the Earth of the demons and their oppressive ways. The stakes are higher than ever, and Anna is determined that the love she feels will be her strength, not a liability. But trying to protect the ones she loves while running for her life and battling demonic forces proves to be perilous - especially as faces are changing and trust is fleeting.

    Crystal says: "Unforgivably Pointless Waste of Time"
    "Unforgivably Pointless Waste of Time"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The only reason I didn’t return Sweet Reckoning was so I could at least have the satisfaction of giving it a one-star review.

    After supporting the trilogy from the beginning I am so utterly appalled by this anti-climactic final instalment I urge everyone to not waste their time or money.

    Turns out ridding the world of demons is so simple that Anna didn’t even break a sweat!

    I estimate the yawn-worthy climax took only 40min of the 10hr+ run time

    So what’s Sweet Reckoning actually about?

    Sex.

    The author is clearly a Stephanie Meyer type – so religiously repressed about sex she had to write three books establishing her protagonists’ undying love and even marry her off just so she could write sex scenes without feeling guilty.

    Higgins actually has an angel come down for a post-coital high-five to make it clear this union was totally cool with god.

    Yes, the main action of Sweet Reckoning is, literally, Anna finally getting some action.

    How many times?

    How many ways?

    How many places?

    Don’t worry - you’ll get all the details you can stomach!

    Sure Anna is supposed to be ridding the world of pure demons but there’s sex to be had so she skims the bible on the way to the final show-down and hopes for the best!

    There is no planning, plotting or preparation.

    No training, scheming or strategizing.

    We’ve spent three books leading up to a complete and total non-event!!

    Anyone who has read the first two entries would be better off reading some free fanfiction then paying for this mess.

    Unforgivable.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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