The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Favorite Sister was a weird one for me. I enjoyed a lot of it. I hated a lot of it. I ended in the middle of the road.
The plot follows five women throughout the filming process of the reality show that they are on called Goal Diggers. The premise of the show is meant to highlight modern businesswomen and their friendships. The concept of the show as laid out in the book gives you a behind the scenes feeling like you get while watching Unreal. It highlights the blurring of the lines of story vs. real life and how these shows are both scripted and no scripted.
What was strange to me was that based on the title, I thought we were going to explore the relationship between the two actual sisters in the novel, Kelly and Brett. Instead we explore sisterhood as an overall concept between women. In fact, there are very few men in this book at all.
As the season unfolds, we are treated to the knowledge that one of the characters was killed during the filming process. It was the how they got there part that irked me. Each of the characters is fully fleshed out and dynamic. There are no questions as to who these women are. The issue I had, however, is that you spend your entire reading experience believing that you know who these women are…only to find out all the secrets and lies they told along the way.
While I enjoyed the story, I struggled with the end. Even the more likeable characters turned out to be liars and manipulators. Since this was a novel of primarily women, I had a hard time with this being the end result. Every one had a fatal flaw; liar, fraud, drunk, murderer, etc. I'm all for flawed and dynamic characters, but when every single one is made to seem like a terrible person, I take issue with that.
That all being said, the author was able to create a world that I was fascinated with and I was hooked from the first few pages. Even though I was frustrated by the actions the characters took and the way these women were presented, I enjoyed the book overall.
This one is a decent summer beach read. Quick and easy.
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The Future Will Be BS-Free by Will McIntosh
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Every year when I take my vacation in the woods, I take my Kindle and a stack of books to get through. Usually in a couple weeks I can clear anywhere from 7-10 books. How on earth do I do that? Well for starters, I pick brain candy books like the Future Will Be BS Free. These are the books that you find yourself realizing that you just don't have to think that hard while reading them. I decided on this one since I've been behind on my NetGalley reading lately.
The book takes place in a not too distant future in which America finds itself in some sort of Dystopian landscape controlled by what can only be described as the female version of Donald Trump. Here's where things start to grate the nerves. On page one. It's as though the author decided that he didn't want to potentially draw the parallel to Trump and had a "brilliant" notion to make the character a woman instead.
Six genius teenagers find themselves on the cusp of creating the ultimate lie detector test in the garage of their friend Rebe. This "truth app" which isn't an app at all (it's a ring) let's the wearer know exactly when someone is lying. It's somehow so specific that it can tell if I person is lying, even if the person is unaware of the subconsciousness of their own lie. Amazing! And barely believable. Soon, the kids are approached by a shadowy figure who wants to buy their research. When they decline, one of their group is mysteriously killed.
From there, everything goes crazy. The kids end up on the run with cybernetic super soldiers and causing a secondary civil war. Every time a dire situation pops up, they magically have the perfect solution. It's an entire group of Mary Sues. These kids take on the President, armies, hackers, vigilantes, torture, grave robbing, basic teenage angsty love, and everything else under the sun.
It's not that I hated it, I just found it to be ridiculous. The kids went from situation to situation with almost no preface. Poof! They are on the run. Poof! They have a facility built in order to create their truth app. Poof! The President is kidnapped. I also felt like there were just too many characters to keep track of. There are the six kids, three cybernetic soldiers, multiple bad guys, multiple people who assist them along the way. There's practically no character development. The names of the characters are a stretch even by my standards. The highlights? Rebe, Boob (so named because his dad was so excited he accidentally wrote an extra "O" on the birth certificate), Basquiat, Silhouette. I simply can't.
I guess the one thing I did like was the (relatively brief) descriptions of the world in which they were living. It could have been done in more detail but it's a compelling concept nonetheless. I liked the overall premise but I just wanted more. More detail, more likeable characters…just more. It wasn't awful but it wasn't awesome. Honestly, if you have something else to read, I would recommend doing so.
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Boys Keep Swinging: A Memoir by Jake Shears
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I've been trying to write this review since February when I failed to finish this book. The fact that I failed to finish it should tell you a lot about it. I got about half way through but just didn't care about the author's experiences. I thought that going into this book, I would enjoy it. A coming of age story in a time and place where people didn't do so readily? I'm in. Maybe I would have enjoyed this more if I listened to it as an audiobook.
I never felt the story unfolding. I always just felt like the author was telling a story he's told a million times. I never connected with the emotion of what should have been something incredibly intense. Somehow the book felt both cocky and whiny all at once. That alone is a relatively interesting thing to have accomplished in general.
As memoirs go, this one felt more like someone who people have been telling for years "OH EM GEE, you should TOTALLY write a memoir" when maybe they really shouldn't have. I really wanted to like this one. I wish that I had.
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