Review Corner – Bookishly Ever After

Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira was published in January 2016 by Spencer Hill Press. I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martin is a socially awkward bookworm. (Hey, much like yours truly!) She loves the strong female main characters in the novels she reads (Katniss meets Tris meets some of the Babysitters Club, maybe?). She loves them so much she draws on them for inspiration in securing the affections of her crush, Dev. And…that’s pretty much the entire book.

I really wanted to like this book. But nothing much happened. No big twists, nothing super exciting or dramatic. Nor was it cutesy or frivolous enough to be enjoyable as brain candy. I keep wondering if I would have enjoyed it more if I’d been in a different mood but this just didn’t click for me.

2 stars

Review Corner – Bairdston

(Note: I received a review copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

This one didn’t do much for me. The description caught my attention – orphaned Moroccan siblings sent to a remote, forbidding boarding school in Scotland, where they encounter racism and bullying. I love boarding school novels. I love seeing diverse characters. Sadly, Bairdston squanders all of this potential, thanks to lack of plot, poor characterization, wooden dialogue, heavy-handed writing and lines like this: “It was unusual for a woman’s intellect to flourish in the shade of great beauty, if only because beauty could demand priority service without art or artifice.” Huh?

Cook writes thrillers and from what I gleaned by reading other reviews, the characters in this book are spinoffs from another series. Maybe the thrillers are better? Skip this one.

1 star

Review Corner – Dreaming of Antigone

I’m starting a new feature on the blog. I’ll be reviewing new & forthcoming titles, mainly young adult & general fiction. Our first title is Dreaming of Antigone by Robin Bridges. I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Dreaming of Antigone (ISBN 9781496703545) is published by Kensington Books with an expected publication date of March 29, 2016.

I remember reading Antigone in high school. I remember enjoying the play (at least as much as one can “enjoy” a Greek tragedy littered with bodies). I remember opening this book a few days ago, anticipating that the novel would somehow mirror the play itself, or at least evoke many of Antigone’s themes.

Well….Goth teen/grieving twin Andria does provide a quick synopsis of the play, which saved me from conversations like this in my head: “Wait, was Antigone the one who gets killed by her dad or was that a different one?” (Answer: different one). And Andria does chew a bit on the question of whether or not one should follow one’s moral compass/laws of the gods when that compass conflicts with mortal laws.

Like the play, Dreaming of Antigone deals with death. We learn in the first few pages that Andria’s twin sister Iris died six months earlier. Andria wades through her own grief as she struggles with (and eventually discovers) the circumstances surrounding her twin’s death. She is conflicted over her blossoming feelings for Iris’ boyfriend, who’s dealing with some serious issues of his own. Then there’s Andria’s own health issues. There’s some more family stuff. And some stuff with school. Maybe a few friend dramas.

It proves to be a few too many issues and not enough time to explore them fully. Many of the characters are underdeveloped, in particular Andria’s mother. (Everyone grieves differently….but did she forget she had a daughter who died? It was like Iris had only been Andria’s sister & not also Mom’s daughter.) Mom – like all of the characters – felt more like a foil for Andria rather than a fully developed character in her own right. For me, this is where the book falls short. The book missed an opportunity to explore how all of the major characters deal with various issues, which would have made for a richer set of characters and a stronger novel.

Even though my expectations weren’t met, I still enjoyed reading Dreaming of Antigone. The pacing is good and I cared enough about Andria to care about her wellbeing. The cover is gorgeous, plus one of the characters is a librarian, which always is a bonus. I also appreciated Andria’s interest in astronomy – science rules! So do smart girl characters!

3 stars