Reader Reaction: My Life with the Walter Boys

Reader Reaction: My Life with the Walter Boys

Title: My Life with the Walter Boys
Series
Author: Ali Novak
Released: March 1, 2014
Favorite quote: “Alex, you got an F on your history paper. Star Wars does not count as a valid topic for most significant war in history.”
goodreads

The last time that I went to the bookstore with my friend, I felt the need to buy at least something, so this is what I picked. I didn’t want fantasy or a book from a series (because at the time, I thought this was a stand alone novel), so I picked it up because I wanted a light, fluffy quick read. Plus, I love to support wattpad authors – they’re awesome. This will contain a couple spoilers, but nothing major. Also, I won’t give specifics, so it shouldn’t ruin anything for anyone who would like to read this before the book.

I’m going to write this now because I want to make it clear for the get-go: I was very disappointed in the book as a whole, but I do appreciate the fact that Ali Novak was 15 when she started writing it on wattpad and the fact that she was able to get it published. If you keep in mind that this book was the product of a 15-year-old girl’s imagination, it’s pretty cool. If you, like me, judge it based on the content rather than extraneous details, it’s a decent read but definitely nothing spectacular.

There. Now that’s out of the way! Onto the actual reaction.

If I can’t relate to or get behind the protagonist of a story, it’s very difficult for me to like the book; sadly, that was the case with me and Jackie Howard. She is not a main character that I liked at all. She worried about the most minute details and smallest problems. Yes, there were major issues – like the deaths of her entire family – that she dealt with as the novel ran its course, but what was the outcome? Jackie battled these demons when it was convenient for her. At least, that’s how I felt. Her final grand understanding came from the lips of someone else whose advice she trusted. I’m still not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, Jackie is a social creature (even though she claims that she never was before moving to Colorado), so it makes sense that she would turn to someone she trusts to help her understand her situation. On the other hand, though, it felt like the entire book was leading up to how she would resolve her problems only to have someone else solve them for her. I would’ve liked for Jackie to have been a character who was able to come to terms with her new situation herself, but I understand the need to depend on others. That coupled with the fact that she doesn’t like geeks (read it and you’ll understand) was thoroughly off-putting.

So now let’s get down to business on the rest of the characters. Alex – this great, understanding, helpful, nerdy, wonderful boy – fails at the end. He was written so well, and then out of nowhere, he just starts lazing and becoming someone who I can’t support at all. That was disappointing… Nathan and Danny were great characters, but very two-dimensional. The only one from the entire series that actually had anything resembling layers was Cole. *surprise, surprise* Again, I don’t mean to hate on the book. This is my interpretation. I know that I’m being a bit harsh, but this just really bothered me. The characterization was lacking for everyone else. Maybe the rest of the series compensates for the flatness of the first novel, but I was just really let down by how cliche every other character had to be. I don’t have the novel on me right now, but there’s a part near the beginning after Jackie first transfers to her new school in Colorado and one of the girls whom she becomes friends with says something like “whatever taste you have in guys, there’s a Walter boy that fits it.” That’s exactly how it felt – like Novak crammed one guy from every stud category there is under a roof with a little tomboy sister and a girly-girl love interest and said “let’s see how this plays out.” Don’t get me wrong: I say this like it’s the worst thing that a young adult romance writer can do, but it is interesting. It reminded me a lot of Brothers Conflict. (Great reverse harem anime. Recommend it if you’re into that genre at all.) Like Brothers Conflict, though, most of the male characters were there to serve a purpose, which was not to play the part of normal high school boys who have more than a one-track mind (whether it be for video games, sex, drama, etc.)

I’m not going to comment on the writing style as I usually do because this was a novel written by someone much younger than me, so who am I to judge? However, I will say that it neither added nor detracted from the reading experience.

I don’t recommend it. I’m not trying to be hard on it, and maybe I’ll regret this later, but I just think that there are other books that are more enjoyable that have the same types of main themes. For instance, if you’re into the multiple-love-interests plot and don’t mind anime or manga, there is a WHOLE WORLD of reverse harem that gave me way more feels than this novel. However, I do think that I’ll give the sequel a chance because Novak was older and a more experienced writer. (Currently, she’s 24 year old and has graduated from a creative writing program in college.) If I read the sequel and am wildly blown away, I’ll retract this reaction (or at least amend it?) to say that it should be given a chance. Until then, the only reason you should pick it up is if you just want something simple and fluffy.

An Everything Update

Hello, everyone! I’ve been pretty inactive lately, so I just wanted to update anyone who is interested on what’s going on in life.

My English classes are kickin’ my ass. No, that’s not something that a proper lady would say, but I’ve never claimed to be one. There is just such an intense workload this semester with how much I have to read and write on a weekly basis that it’s been pretty difficult to read books that aren’t for class.

However! I did go shopping (books and records) with a friend two days ago, and I picked up My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak from Barnes & Noble. It’s fairly thick for a young adult novel but I’m still thinking that it’s going to be a quick read. Also, I really do have to get around to Amy Lemco’s The Song of the Phoenix as soon as possible. It’s been about three months since I got it in the mail to review for her on goodreads. I did read her other, though, which was pretty darn good. I just need to take a day to set aside for some enjoyment reading in the future. It’s like when I do have time off, one of my friends or a group of my friends or my fiance want to spend time together, which I am completely fine with! I know that having a social life is important to maintaining any sort of sanity this semester.

So, a lot of reading! A lot of writing (purely academic)! Also, I’m thinking I should either write a fanfiction or anime blog post soon to give some of you a look into other interests that I have. What do you think?

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Reader Reaction: The Hating Game

Reader Reaction: The Hating Game

Title: The Hating Game
Stand Alone
Author: Sally Thorne
Released: August 9, 2016
Favorite quote: “Books were, and always would be, something a little magic and something to respect.”
goodreads

The Hating Game is one of those marvelous novels that I’d never heard of prior to seeing a photo of the cover of bookstagram. Honestly, I find great quick-reads through my account. This is going to be a quick reaction.

The main characters in the novel – Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman – have a wonderful, hateful relationship that plays out in the workplace. Their office is the battleground where the majority of the “hate” part of their not-friendship takes place. The top floor of the publishing house where their both work is one of the main areas of the novel. It follows the template of most work-related romance novels: there’s the workplace, the outside of work area where they see each other in a new light, the places they bump into each other (which in The Hating Game were planned most of the time), and the homes of both characters. Like any other novel with this similar layout for locations, although I love the wit and tempers that are at their best in the office, I prefer the very first occasion in a home setting.

I don’t want to ruin The Hating Game for anyone, but I will say that The Hating Game has pretty much everything that a reader anticipates going into a love/hate-workplace novel: the other love interest, the secrecy, the confusion, the shyness, the squishy moments that make my face and heart melt from the downpour of my own salty tears. There is light smut (not terrible descriptions at all), but here is a fair warning for those who avoid any romance novels that make their way into the bedroom. It’s not sexy for the point of sex, though, so that may change the opinions of others. I read the physical contact as playing an important role in the evolving dynamic of Lucy and Joshua. (Any differing or aligning opinions on that matter?) The Hating Game is a cute, quick read for those who want something light yet heavy. There’s a pretty good balance between sweet and sexy. Thorne doesn’t sacrifice the plot at all for sex but rather uses it as a tool to enhance the characters’ reactions to each other and the atmosphere at work.

If you want a modern day Lizzie and Darcy surrounded by books and work, I highly recommend The Hating Game for one of your future reads.

#EnglishMajorProblems

I wish that I could tell you that I have stopped blogging because I’ve lost myself in a fictional world and blogging wasn’t on my mind; that’s not so, though.

Last semester, I was taking 12 units at the university I attend. Only 8 of those units were toward my major. This semester, however, I’m taking 12 units of English/Literature plus an additional 4 in a foreign language – Italian. I’m no super student. I admire those who are able to keep up with multiple social media accounts, jobs, extra-curricular activities, social lives, sleep, etc. on top of their academic lives. Again, I’m not one of those students. I’m a mere 2 weeks into the semester and I’m overwhelmed by the amount of reading/work that I have.

After Tuesday, it should get a bit better, so hopefully I’ll actually have time to read books that aren’t for my literature classes.

Thankfully, though!, I am reading Howards End by E. M. Forster for my Contemporary British Literature class, so I will have a reading reaction for that posted sometime this week.

I guess this is more of an apology to people who do keep track of my reading and writing updates than an update in itself. Maybe this is a life update? “Xandra is feeling overwhelmed.” Yeah, that works.

Thanks so much for reading and I look forward to falling into the swing of things! Once I get further into the semester, hopefully I’ll have a better way to manage both academics and social media. Have a great day, everyone!

Reader Reaction: Storm and Silence

Reader Reaction: Storm and Silence

Title: Storm and Silence
Series
Author: Robert Thier
Released: March 19, 2016
Favorite quote: “Chains of gold are still chains.”
goodreads

This is a novel that is very dear to my heart, so this might be a rather emotion-driven reaction, which can be both good and bad. Firstly, it’ll be good because I’m extremely interested in sharing my open and honest opinion on Storm and Silence. Secondly, it’ll be bad because I’m rather biased. Why? Because teenage me who crushed on Sir Rikkard Ambrose and Robert Thier took the wheel away from me and guided me through this as I read the entire novel for the first time. I started Storm and Silence when I was a high school student obsessed with fanfiction on wattpad, which is what led me to stumble upon this wonderful book. I faithfully waited up each night for the new updates and fangirled like the hopeless romantic that I was/am. So if you’re looking for a critical analysis of Storm and Silence, I apologize, but this is going to be one of the few times when I don’t honestly try to tear apart the whole to examine the pieces.

Back when I’d first read what had been posted of Storm and Silence, I remained a loyal fan until about 75% of the way through the story (which I only found out recently). Something came up and I have no idea what it was, but it kept me from finishing. Since then, I’ve always wanted to go back to it. Now, thankfully, I have.

Lillian Linton. Lilly has been both a character that I love and hate because of how overly-committed and unbelievably clueless she is. She’s the perfect mixture that makes her both likable and believable. I’d like not to think that she’s the stereotypical clueless girl or the stereotypical dedicated strong female character. Why? Because those two types compensate for each other in a winning combination that is entirely Lilly Linton. (Yes, I’m singing her praises to high Heaven, but I really just love/hate her. Always have. Always will.)

Sir Rikkard Ambrose. Tall, dark, handsome. Is there any more to say? Of course there is! Besides being tall, dark, and handsome, Mr. Ambrose has a personality (on first meeting) that I wouldn’t want to beat with a twenty foot pole. He’s an incredibly flawed character! From miser to miserable, Ambrose is a romantic interest who engages the main character in a manner that is nearly unheard of. He reminds me slightly of Heathcliff (though I actually like Ambrose, so maybe that’s a harsh comparison). Thier writes a beautifully disastrous leading man whom the readers love to hate and love to love.

The combination of Linton and Ambrose is perfect. They’re a bit like Watson and Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels in the sense that one has a superiority complex and the other has a difficult time accepting that the other one actually is brilliant. Of course, Lilly/John and Rikkard/Sherlock are much more than just that slight comparison. Really think about it, though; consider any sort of adaptation that you’ve read or seen of Sherlock Holmes and really compare them to Miss Linton and Mr. Ambrose, if you can. They’re a wonderful team, but they don’t quite work well. If you’re a BBC “Sherlock” fan, maybe think about how the chemistry between them flares before snuffing out: that’s a fairly accurate description of Lilly and Rikkard’s relationship.

The secondary character’s are amazing. Yes, amazing. Do I want to elaborate? Not particularly. They’re each unique little dandelions that a reader needs to discover as they pop up. Even among the suffragettes, there are varying personalities on the spectrum that I hadn’t anticipated. The sisters aren’t all the same. The men aren’t all the same. Even the two parental figures aren’t the same. I’m even able to tell apart all of Ambrose’s employees by their differing traits. It’s marvelous! I’m too used to reading novels that give the bare minimum for secondary characters.

In Storm and Silence, different political and social issues are explored. From women’s suffrage/rights to the monopolization of entire industries (and cities) for political, economic, and personal gain, Thier tells a story that tightly wraps up Victorian history and its struggles in a neat package with a bow on top. Although there were one of two parts that made me stop and really question the accuracy (like the alcohol-induced hallucinations that kept making me think “absinthe?”), I felt that Storm and Silence does an excellent job of showing a glimpse of Victorian England to readers. In fact, this can be deemed educational, depending on how you look at it. For younger readers who aren’t aware of the struggles that women faced (lack of rights, “need” to marry, difficulty to divorce, treated nearly like property, etc.), I think that Storm and Silence is a wonderful start into that time period before leaping in with Wilde or Dickens.

Do I recommend it? Yes! To who? Everyone! Yes, I’m not the most trustworthy when it comes to this novel because of how desperately in love I was with it in the past and how quickly that love snapped back into place in my chest upon rereading, but I truly do recommend it. It’s a thrilling romance that leaves you needing more.

Reader Reaction: Sugar Daddies

Reader Reaction: Sugar Daddies

Title: Sugar Daddies
Stand Alone
Author: Jade West
Released: July 12, 2016
Favorite quote: n/a
goodreads

I’m going to start off by saying that as a happily-engaged twenty-two year old, I don’t normally read romance novels. In fact, this is probably only the third that I’ve ever read in all twenty-two years of my life (though I guess the first twelve or so shouldn’t count since not many kids read romance novels…). By putting that out there, I’d like to say that I have very little to compare this novel to. Because of that, I didn’t particularly want to write a reaction to this novel. I feel ill-qualified, for one thing; for another, I’m slightly embarrassed that I read a romance novel. This reaction will probably mostly be about me freaking out over the fact that I read (and am now writing about) a romance novel. I’m not ashamed of that fact! Don’t get me wrong: I do have a great respect for anyone who successfully publishes and sells their writing, no matter the genre. But smutty novels just aren’t usually my thing… except, apparently, when I’m sick with the flu and tired.

So! Did I like it?

Yes and no.

Why yes? If I look at this as purely smut, it was great. It was different, open-minded, and included a decent amount of background and connections for each and between each of the characters. It was a well-written story idea.

Why no? It fell flat in just about every other regard. The characters felt very much the same on paper as all the others. They spoke the same. Some were extremely stereotypical (Verity). Although I appreciate that it wasn’t just a simple story about sex, the familial issues that West explores in Sugar Daddies seemed too…

Okay. An entire paragraph on the family issues is necessary. I’ll give West credit: Katie’s situation with her father is believable. It’s so believable, in fact, that I have several friends who grew up in similar situations (though I’m unaware of whether or not their fathers ever found out about them – I don’t mean to seem unfeeling, I’m just trying to be direct). But Katie’s childhood is what made me question her motivations for seeking the companionship of two men. This may be upsetting to read, so I apologize in advance to those who may be offended by what I write next. Katie’s character, from the first page to the last, felt like she was compensating for her fatherless childhood by seeking a polygamous relationship with two men. Her need to be enough for a man, as well as her need to keep a man in her life, overshadowed any actual interest her character may have felt for both Rick and Carl. I’m not writing this because it simply came across the way to me. No.

“Couldn’t I be the one they wanted?”

I’m sorry, but no. Just no. From Katie’s fights as a child and adult with her half-sister, Verity, to her desire to be the one for Carl and Rick, I didn’t believe she loved them. At all. I really wanted to! I wanted to see more than a young girl talking dirty to older men and putting herself in a position where she felt loved, but I didn’t. Instead, I saw a dry main character that was incapable of making me feel the love that she supposedly felt for them. If anything, Rick was the only good character, and even he had his flaws. But still, Rick was the best. AND THE NOVEL WASN’T REALLY ABOUT RICK! It focused much more on Katie and Carl. Ugh…

I’m trying to be open-minded. In fact, by the end, I supported the polygamous relationship – even though I thought that Katie was in it for the wrong reasons – just because Carl and Rick were happy. Still, I can’t get over Katie. She started off as a character that I could like: adventurous, slightly shy and modest, and quirky. By the start of the actual plot, though, I realized that I couldn’t really like Katie. She meant well, I firmly believe that, but Katie clearly let her insecurities that lingered from her childhood control her choices. In other words, I didn’t like the characters. At all. Well, besides Rick.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this. That’s why I wasn’t keen to write a reaction to this novel, especially since I forgot to write a few others before this. However, I told myself that the next novel I finished would get a reaction, no matter what it was. So here I am, writing a review on a romance novel that I’m not sure I’m adequately prepared to write on. Do I recommend it? No.

Sick Reading Days

Between all of the coughing and sneezing and dripping of snot, it hasn’t been the best day.

A congestion headache has been making it difficult to read since last night. Because of this, I haven’t actually read more of my current read, Empire of Storms, since before I fell asleep last night. I had originally planned to read all of today (after I got home from picking up my new set of textbooks for the dawning semester), but that fell through when I slept for 12 hours last night and then took a 3 hour nap when I got home from the university campus. Now here I sit, on my bed, trying to make myself interested in reading. Well, I was trying before I got the marvelous idea to blog a bit as a sufficient excuse to procrastinate.

There’s only a week before my classes start back up and I would like to finish my current read before that point. However, I just have no interest in reading it right now. The congestion headache still lingers and pangs inside my head just when I think I’m getting comfortable. So what to do? I would like to read, but trying to make it through Empire of Storms in this state doesn’t exactly sound appealing. Right now, I’m not in the mood for fantasy. I’d rather save the rest of the book for when I’m in tip-top shape and actually focused solely on the story (and not the box of tissues next to me for my runny nose).

So I found a compromise.

I decided to buy a quick $1 read through amazon on my kindle. Bookstagram has been keeping me entertained these last 36ish hours, and I stumbled upon a photo of a romantic novel that I hadn’t heard of before. I’m almost too ashamed to say the title right now, but blogging about being sick as a form of procrastination is a shame in its own, so here it is: Sugar Daddies. Yep. This is not typically what I read, but every great once in a while, I get in the mood to just read something quick and “romantic.” I know very little about the book except the synopsis; I’ve never read anything by this author before; I am entering in with low expectations.

The entirety of this blog post can be summed up by saying “Xandra has been too sick to want to read and now that she does, all she’s interested in is smut.” That’s probably the worst line I’ve written on this blog so far, but don’t your reading preferences change with your mood? Are you always in the mood for one genre? Aren’t there times when you give in by reading something that you normally don’t bur just want to really quick? When my mood changes, my book preferences reflect that – it’s annoying.

Right now, it’s so overcast the the wifi in my home has been terrible for the last few days. I’ve currently been waiting a good 10 minutes for my kindle to download the book. Oh well… Maybe I won’t even get to read it, and it’ll end up just staying on my digital bookshelf until I get in the mood for a romance novel again. Or maybe it’ll download in the next couple minutes and sick Xandra will be happy Xandra. We’ll see. Good night, everyone!