Book Review & Giveaway – Making Memories By Georgia Evans

Title: Making Memories
Author: Georgia Evans
Format: Paperback
Published: 2013

Two best friends from highschool reunite after four years of college and take a promised trip to Myrtle Beach. She’s skinny with big boobs, and he’s ripped. He insists they share hotel rooms so he can “protect” her, and the predictable happens. It probably would have happened by day three, but she’s convinced he’s engaged to his evil exgirlfriend Roxie despite the fact he’s not mentioned this Roxie in the past four years and the only person to spot them together said they were arguing.

Essentially Making Memories is a fluff romance, and to be fair, that’s not my preferred genre. But I’m here to try new things.

So first the good. Melanie (the protagonist) has a consistent narrative voice, and the relationship is believable enough. She’s almost believable as a ditzy friend telling you about a special vacation where she found “love”. The plot is simple and predictable, but it never boasts to be anything else, which is fine for a fluff romance. And a pair of identical twins pop up for the second half of the story… I’ve got a special soft spot for identical twins.

And now the bad. The book is every bit as exciting as your ditzy friend telling you about her AMAZING vacation which is far more interesting to her than you. You smile politely and fight a yawn, mainly enjoying the fact your friend had fun and wishing she didn’t spoil all her jokes by overplaying them.

I guess in a town with a population of five hundred (and an inexplicable number of highschoolers considering) it’s not so hard to set the curve, which is the only way this girl could have gotten enough scholarships to pay her way through college.

I’m well aware that book smart doesn’t necessarily mean people smart. Social cues aren’t easy for me either, but Melanie takes the prize for being oblivious. She keeps convincing herself that her best friend (who’s so obviously smitten with her, it doesn’t count as a spoiler) is in love with Roxie, who he never mentions and has excluded from this vacation, that she believes his making out with her is an accidental reflex…

The dialogue is almost entirely short, grammatically correct sentences, which comes off as rather stiff and unnatural. If you’re feeling generous, you could write this off as a narrative voice fitting a kindergarten teacher (a job Melanie will be starting post-vacation). But it’s easy reading romance, so I don’t expect Shakespeare. The shallow plot and transparent characters can be forgiven or at least explained by the nature of the genre.

What drops the story from a three to a two is the cringe worthy ethical aspects. Okay, I’m a prude, but at least the sex was summarized and mostly off screen. The glaring problem is the complete lack of self-respect Melanie has. Granted the evil ex had done a number on her self-confidence (four years ago in high school), but despite a long trail of clues, the guy kissing her multiple times, and getting moody and jealous if she so much as mentions another guy, she can’t conceive the possibility that he’s romantically interested in her.

She genuinely believes he’s engaged and in love with another girl but decides to have sex with him to just enjoy this special moment with her best guy friend. If she had very relaxed/open ideas about sex this would be one thing (though it still doesn’t excuse her deliberately participating in what she believes to be cheating), but the author goes to great lengths setting up how the pair think casual sex is immoral and getting mad at each other for the slight potential of a hook up. The first half of the book is dedicated to them assuring their families that they aren’t going to have sex on this trip. Even after having sex with him twice, she’s still convinced the guy couldn’t love her as more than a friend.

The author tries to plaster this over as okay. Because the other woman is really evil, and the guy really loves her. But it gave me the creeps, particularly with the author claiming this is YA appropriate. The last chapter and epilogue are practically a condom commercial, and I get the weird feeling this is supposed to show “healthy” sexual behavior since they’re using birth control and he asks five times if she really wants to have sex. But the failure of the characters to have any sort of clear relationship discussion before intercourse, and the protagonists’ willingness to give up their virginity to what they both believed to be a one-sided situation was not healthy, quite the opposite.

If I could ignore the ethical implications, I could maybe give this a three, but I don’t think we should have to ignore ethics entirely while reading, particularly when they’re internally inconsistent, so 2/5 is my final score.

 

The Giveaway:

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Georgia Evans has graciously offered to giveaway a paperback copy of Making Memories, so you can decide for yourself. For a chance to win, leave a comment on this post with your name, address, and where you would go on a vacation with your best friend by April 10th. (Comments are screened, so this won’t be public.)

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Book Review – Halls of Ivy by Roland Nuñez

Title: Halls of Ivy

Author: Roland Nuñez

Format: Paperback

Written/Published: 2010

Today I am actually reviewing a book that was a request for our blog.  It is the first of many on my list.  Halls of Ivy is New Adult novel that focuses on a series of suicides that have been occurring on a college campus that aren’t quite what they appear to be.  As it turns out these suicides may actually have more nefarious connections than simple suicides something along the lines of murder.  Over all the concept of the book sounds promising but I found the execution to be severely lacking.

 

As a fan of murder mystery and a writer of said genera I have come to have certain expectations of a murder mystery.  What I would qualify as a fantastic mystery is one where I cannot figure out who the murder is as I am reading and when I get to the end I can look back and ask myself how did I miss all these clues that were laid out here, here and here.  That was not the case in Halls of Ivy.  To be honest I wouldn’t call Halls of Ivy to even be a good mystery.  There was no mystery or true investigative style or line that one could follow along and try to puzzle things together along with the protagonist.  It was a presentation of scenes of scenes with no connections between how this one even lead to this next event or what impact certain things had on others.  To be honest book was more set up and less murder mystery.

 

The cause behind the suicides was not even mentioned or indicated until the last third of the book and when the cause was brought up there was no question that it was the cause of the suicides.  It wasn’t enough for a case to be made properly to like say the police or an authority figure but in the world of writing there was no question and the character even was strongly inclined to say this is more than likely the cause – allow me to dig deeper to verify this.  This left no mystery and the book was more set up and filler than an actual mystery.

 

As the blurb says on the back of the book Cheyenne Winters was interviewing 21 students which indicates that it was a large cast list for the story but all the same there were several characters that added no substance to the core story or were just added filler to help make a conclusion easy and convenient.  It felt a little like it was a matter of let’s make our villain a little worse and have them rape someone and by having the villain do that it helps the police realize that there is real danger with this person (despite the fact that there was more than enough that indicated that there was real danger) it wasn’t till it was revealed that they raped a person that they were considered a dangerous threat.

 

Another issue I found myself having with the book was how often it jumped in time and formatting.  The book starts in 3rd person where Cheyenne is facing a committee about the school crisis to 1st person of Cheyene telling her story to a student bio followed by a student interview.  This is all well and good and is an interesting way to present a story yet the execution was severely lacking as there were also instances where after an interview the story would shift to 3rd focusing on the students, before shifting to something else the next chapter.  This was annoying and got confusing especially considering that Cheyenne came to the school late in the school year and interviews were when she was there at the school and the 3rd person narrative focusing on the students jumped to a previous point in the school year such as the first day of the school year and student orientation.  Then there were scenes in the 3rd person narrative that seemed to be present rather than past.  Then as the story progressed the time line seemed to coalesce and become one cohesive thing but all of it was in 3rd person even the parts that were focused on Cheyenne, which was very confusing and frustrating to me.  Additionally, the student bios were not always prevalent to the story and were present throughout the story till page 251 (this is a 272 page book).  I personally feel that a character bio is irrelevant and pointless at this point particularly when the mystery and story is being wrapped up.

 

Lastly, the ending seemed lacking, we never reach a conclusion of the hearing for Cheyenne, we only get what she thinks will be the results of the hearing, and there are several things that happen in the last chapter of the epilogue that have no bearing on the story at all save to potentially set up a second book which is advertised in the back of this first book.  The advertisement for the second book in some ways reveals that Cheyenne’s predictions about her career is wrong but we don’t get the results of the hearing or the purpose really of why Cheyenne is the focus of the hearing either when she was one of many people involved in the school suicide crisis.

 

Overall I feel like the story of the book was poorly executed and there was a lot of fat and filler to be found in the story.  The best thing I can guess with a lot of these extra characters who had little to no bearing on the main story itself is because they are going to potentially play a part in the next book.  Of course this is only a guess on my part and I could be wrong and that these random side characters who did nothing more than take up space and time were just that side characters taking up space and time.  It is hard to say – and to be honest I have no desire to find out – this book was a difficult read for me and it was also difficult to follow along at times.  This is why I’ll give this book a 2 page rating.  It had a good premise and concept, but very poor execution.

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