Book Review – …Then I Met My Sister by Christine Hurley Deriso (or, Hallelujah, That Boy Isn’t Annoying!)

8494435It’s not exactly easy living in a shrine to your dead sister. Since birth, I’ve known that everyone loved Shannon. She was perfect–beautiful, smart, talented. And me? Not so much. My parents always expected me to live up to her greatness. But I could never measure up to her, so why even try?

This summer, I’ve started reading the journal Shannon kept just before she died . . . and suddenly nothing is what I thought it was. The more secrets I learn about Shannon and our family, the more everything changes. And as it turns out, facing the truth is no cakewalk, either. -Goodreads Synopsis 

Who hasn’t been irritated by the standards set by their older siblings, really? It’s frustrating, but that’s just how it is. (Ignore that part Heather. Love you sista!) This story follows Summer, a teen muddling through life in the shadow of her deceased sister. She has a perfect image of her older sister, which is somewhat shattered when she starts reading the journal from her sister’s last few months.

This book was on the YABA list, which I am thankfully almost through with. Honestly, I can’t wait to be done with it. I am not a big fan of realistic fiction and I put off as much of it as I could until the very end. I had decently high expectations for this book, and I was a little disappointed. It was a good read, but when I read the description about Shannon keeping secrets, I expecting something juicy, or at least unusual. Something along the lines of, “Dear Diary, today I decided to change my name to Catman, get a Vera Bradley tattoo on my face, and live with the dolphins in the Port Royal Sound,” would have been refreshing. But it basically came down to the same issues that a lot of families have.

But wait, there is something I really liked!

How most YA relationships are handled:

Let spend every waking moment together the relationship becomes obsessive and unhealthy.

Lets spend every waking moment together until the relationship becomes obsessive and unhealthy.

How Summer’s relationship is handled:

Legit, her boyfriend is awesome. A. He's a genius. 2. They are super independent. And D. Hallelujah a non-annoying relationship.

Legit, her boyfriend is awesome. A. He’s a genius. 2. They are super independent. And D. Hallelujah a non-annoying relationship.

I really like how Deriso handles the relationship between Summer and her boyfriend. It is really refreshing to see a relationship in a YA book that isn’t super clingy/needy/overly-adult/dependent/irritating in general. I actually wanted to read more about him since the relationship isn’t thrown in my face every two seconds and he actually has a personality outside of being Summer’s boyfriend. Seriously, I don’t need a play by play of how his hair blows in the wind on the beach while he wears his great blue sandals and you look out over the ocean. So kudos on the not-annoying relationship front! I like the way you think!

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Overall Impression:

Whatever

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Twenty-Two: Taylor Swift v. Reality

Today I decided to splurge and actually get takeout. (We are paleo-dieters and now I feel icky. Don’t eat chinese takeout if you haven’t had anything fried in a while. Just don’t. It isn’t fun. But I digress…) In the thirty minute drive to get dinner, the same song came on the radio twice–Twenty-Two by Taylor Swift. And by the end of the second time I realized that her version of twenty-two is way different than mine. Granted, I am not a tall, skinny, blonde millionaire. That being said, I thought now would be a good time to compare the expectations and realities of being twenty-two.

Getting a Job

Expectation: Piece of cake.

Jobs all around!

Jobs all around!

Reality: Don’t ever plan on sleeping. You’re going to work three jobs at a time. (Legit, when I graduated from college I worked at a pharmacy in the morning, a daycare in the afternoon, and in a scary parking lot as a security guard at night.)

True story.

True story.

Domestic Duties

Expectation: It’ll be just like college, but more fun! No one cares if your laundry is in the floor and that empty bag of Doritos is shoved under the bed. Live it up!

Cleaning, schmeaning.

Cleaning, schmeaning.

Reality: You actually have to clean. Unless you want your mom to come by and stare at the dirty floor, you’ve got to clean. Everything. Even your pets.

So. Much. Cleaning.

So. Much. Cleaning.

Money

Expectation: I’m finally out of college and I’m going to make money!

I'm jealous.

I’m jealous.

Reality: Student loans.

(If you have the means to buy a pink fluffy dress and twirl around while it rains money, come be my friend.)

Pretty much every time I get a call from an 800 number.

Pretty much.

Productivity

Expectation: Finish everything before lunch on Saturday!

Finish all the work!

Finish all the work!

Reality: Maybe finish one item on your to-do list before next month starts. Maybe.

Maybe later.

Maybe later.

Fitness

Expectation: I’m going to get into a regular routine and get fit!

Work it, work it!

Work it, work it!

Reality: You couldn’t even touch your toes if an elephant sat on your back.

Give me a push!

Give me a push!

Eating Healthy

Expectation: Eat all the vegetables!

Broccoli!

Broccoli!

Reality: Junk food is cheap. And yummy.

'Nuff said.

‘Nuff said.

Pets

Expectations: Now that you’ve got your own space, you need a cute little ball of fun to liven the place up!

Aw, what a cutie!

Aw, what a cutie!

Reality: One is never enough…you need all the fluffy things! And the cuter they are, they more destructive they are. But they are honestly one of the best things about being a grown-up. Still, say goodbye to your socks, hairbands, crown molding, lunch, coozies, shingles, landscaping timbers, and any garden that you ever dreamed of having. (Again, don’t let that discourage you. Pets are totally worth it and more addictive than Candy Crush. They’re like potato chips–you can’t have just one! I have tried to adopt at least fifteen animals so far this year.)

You just spent your entire paycheck on chew toys so Fido might stop chewing the wall. (It won't work.)

You just spent your entire paycheck on chew toys so Fido might stop chewing the wall. (It won’t work.)

Mornings

Expectations: All adults are morning people.

We love morning!

We love morning!

Reality: Mornings are 51,936,295,297 times harder. That’s just a rough estimate, mind you.

(Really, think about it. You can’t wear sweat pants and no-makeup to work as a grown up. And if that is your uniform, I am jealous.)

That's more like it.

That’s more like it.

All around, twenty-two wasn’t all that bad, it was just a time of a lot of changes. For example, when I was twenty two I:

Got in super good shape for the wedding.

Bought a house.

Got married.

Figured out what I wanted to do with my life. (Well, career wise anyway.)

More importantly, figured out what I didn’t want to do with my life.

Saw the mermaids at Ripley’s Aquarium.

Bought a car.

Started chipping away at my student loans.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad year. Definitely not a Taylor Swift year, but really, who has those anyway?

Book Review – VIII by H.M. Castor (or, Hey Honey, check out my new sword!)

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Destined for greatness; tormented by demons… VIII is the story of Hal: a young, handsome, gifted warrior, who believes he has been chosen to lead his people. But he is tormented by the ghosts of his family’s violent past and, once he rises to power, he turns to murder and rapacious cruelty. He is Henry VIII. The Tudors have always captured the popular imagination. In VIII, Henry is presented afresh for a new generation of teenage readers. – Goodreads Synopsis

Let me just say in advance, I feel guilty about this review. I hate giving bad reviews…it hurts my soul. When I say it hurts my soul, I mean it hurts my soul on a “Sound of Music Live” scale. It’s that bad. That being said, here we go.
I had a lot of issues with this book, but I’ll list the top three because I don’t want you to be Hal’s age by the time we finish here.

Issue #1 – Being 55 doesn’t make you a young adult.
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First off, we got it at our Media Center as a teen book. It starts with Hal, otherwise known as bats*** crazy King Henry VIII, around the age of maybe seven. And it progresses until the time of his death at age fifty-five. I personally classify young adult as happening between the ages of twelve to twenty-five, which is a pretty generous range. This book is really unrelatable for someone my age, much less teens. Seriously, what teen wants to read about the countless miscarriages of Hal’s five wives? It is sad, but it isn’t something teens care about. I feel like the book would have been a lot more interesting if we covered from the time his brother, Prince Arthur, died (1502) until he actually took the throne (1509). The story could’ve been totally made up for all I care. It would have been more interesting.

Issue #2 – If you’re going to be crazy, go all out.
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Throughout the whole book, Hal is followed around by some creepy blonde kid. Creepy blonde kids have unlimited scare your pants off potential. But I won’t spoil the end for you, in the event that you make it that far. Crazy characters are awesome. Everyone loves Bellatrix Lestrange, right? Hal’s kind of crazy was just kind of meh. I wasn’t afraid at all. If I met Brother Justin Crowe in a back alley, I’d be out of there faster than Honey Boo Boo can eat a chicken nugget. If I saw Hal in an alley, I would probably just hope his creepy little friend didn’t sneeze on my shoe.

Issue #3 – Henry’s Wives
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Oh my goodness, his wives. There were like six of them—none of which had a personality. Well that’s a little harsh. But really, I felt like he was married to an amazing ventriloquist that could whine in six different voices. They all had the same story—they were super supportive, and then they died. And I was really creeped out by the fact that his wives were all like teenagers. (Hey, that’s where all the young adults were!) I know that is probably true for that period, but yeesh. Hugh Hefner’s got nothing on Hal.

On a positive note… ignore the gif (that’s how I feel about Hal), read the part below it.
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Kudos to the author for historical accuracy. The book being so heavily based in reality allowed me to learn a lot about the real Henry VIII…and man was he annoying. Seriously, take the most whiney, self-righteous jerk you can find, add C-3PO, and you’ve got Hal.
On a side note: After killing six wives for not being able to have sons, he would’ve been pretty embarrassed to find out that they weren’t the problem. Oops!

Star Rating: 2/5

Overall Impression
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