ARC REVIEW: Christine Riccio “Again, But Better”

81kW7J18kvLTitle: Again, But Better

Author: Christine Riccio

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

My Rating: 2/5 stars

Release Date: May 7, 2019

 

Oh boy. Where to begin.

I don’t mind Christine Riccio. I’ve watched her Booktube videos and I think she can be very funny sometimes. I wanted to read this because I was curious to see how someone who is forced to be critical about the books she reviews would write a book of her own. She can be insightful sometimes, so I hoped that Riccio would learn from other author’s mistakes and publish a good debut.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

Let’s start with the things I liked: Again, But Better has a great setting. Stories in Europe are great, and I love being able to live vicariously through the characters since I’ve never been able to experience any of these great locations. Riccio infuses lots of fun, nerdy things and makes references to shows, movies, books: Lost, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Vampire Academy, etc. Some of the dialogue was also very clever and sharp, and I appreciated some of the banter between characters, particularly Shane and Pilot.

Which brings me to things I didn’t like. You see I mentioned a character named “Pilot” above? That’s his actual, given name. One of Shane’s roommates is named Babe. Again, not a nickname. And there wasn’t even a cool story as to why they had these strange, unique names? Oh, and then there was the guy that Babe had a crush on, “Chad”, who’s your stereotypical jerk who says “yo” a lot.

While I did enjoy some of the dialogue and banter, there were other parts that felt clunky and awkward. Some of Riccio’s phrasing was weird to me and didn’t make for a flowing, easy read. I had to reread a few paragraphs to understand what exactly was being said.

I’m not even going to get into the odd subplot with the spirit guide? This didn’t add to the story and frankly, made this book so much more cringe-y.

I feel I would have liked this book more had the characters acted their age. These were supposed to be college students studying abroad in Europe, but they read like 14 year old brats. I hoped this would feel less like YA given the age of the characters, yet there was really no change in the way they spoke or acted.

I do hope that Riccio takes some of the criticism of her debut novel and uses that to improve, because I’d love to see her succeed. Again, But Better just wasn’t imaginative or polished enough.

An e-copy of this book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

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Hyped Books I Wasn’t Impressed With

We all know the feeling of reading a highly acclaimed novel that just didn’t live up to the hype. It’s disappointing and frustrating, especially when you feel like you’re the only person in the world who didn’t enjoy it and everyone else is giving it raving reviews.

16101128The first book that comes to mind for me is The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. I remember reading this book and giving it an absolutely scathing review on Goodreads because I was so angry. Rick Yancey is a wonderful writer and The Monstrumologist series is one of my favorites (as you can see here). I had read the first Monstrumologist book before The 5th Wave was released and I was so excited to read more from such an amazing author. I expected gorgeous writing, complex characters and a unique story, and all I got was teen angst and a predictable, unoriginal alien invasion tale. I didn’t like any of the characters and I thought the writing was far inferior to that of his previous works. Now, I since have read The Infinite Sea and thought it was a little better, but that’s only because I lowered my standards. I have yet to read The Last Star and I’m not sure if I ever will.

Harry_Potter_and_the_Cursed_Child_Script_Book_CoverAnother ridiculously anticipated novel that I thought was garbage is The Cursed Child. This book doesn’t deserve to exist, and that’s me being nice. I loathed this. I’ve read Harry Potter fan fiction that was better than this. No, seriously; way better. The Cursed Child is about Harry Potter’s son, Albus, and his years at Hogwarts… and it spat on everything that the Harry Potter series was about. It made Harry out to be a horrible father, which makes no sense. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t have been more understanding of his son. None of the characters were true to the original story. It was a horrible mess and I refuse to accept this as a part of the series. It’s a piece of trash. That is all.

99561I love John Green, don’t get me wrong, but I never really saw the appeal of this book. And maybe that’s just me and I needed to be in a certain place in my life to appreciate the story. Unfortunately, I just didn’t get this. It was slow and boring and I didn’t really like any of the characters. I didn’t really get any deeper meaning it was trying to convey and I didn’t relate to it on any level. It all seemed sort of pointless to me.

City_of_BonesThe next one I feel is a series that everyone I know is in love with, and I just don’t understand it. I can’t stand Cassandra Clare or The Mortal Instruments. Whenever I hear anyone talking about what a great writer Clare is, I almost want to gag. I totally don’t want to offend anyone and I know that this is a well-beloved series. I just can’t see what’s so great about it, and it honestly grossed me out. It’s been a long time since I’ve read this book so the details are fuzzy, but I just remember being very unimpressed with the writing in the book and thinking it was quite subpar.

41rEe4pc3yL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I’m just going to say it: I thought If I Stay was really unoriginal and I did not see what all the hype was about. I’ve seen/watched so many other things with the same premise that I just wasn’t blown away by this at all. I kept waiting for something new or exciting to happen, but nothing did. However, I read the sequel on a whim and was taken very much surprise by it. I absolutely loved Where She Went. It was heartfelt and emotional and beautiful and I was so blown away. So I guess you could say that ultimately, I’m happy that I read If I Stay because I liked seeing what happened afterwards.

29749085One of the bigger disappointments that I’ve experienced recently has been from Queen Leigh Bardugo, and that was Wonder Woman: Warbringer. You can read my full review for all of my thoughts on this book, but let’s just say I expected so much more. The book was boring and the characters were stale and it felt like a less fun version of a Percy Jackson novel. I was just as excited for this book as the next person; I preordered it and I followed Bardugo’s book tour online and everything, but the book just fell short for me. I know that many people enjoyed it and I’m so glad they did. I wish I could have found that same enjoyment, but alas, I did not.

I realize that everyone has different tastes and preferences, and I totally respect that. Let me know which selections you agreed or disagreed with. Or let me know if there are titles that you yourself were disappointed in that should have been on this list. Mahalo!

PRODUCT REVIEW: OwlCrate “Mythical Creatures”

*Disclaimer: for those who are subscribed to OwlCrate and do not wish to know what the contents inside are, please do not proceed.*

21622350_1802558943107522_729784710_n

This morning, I was quite surprised to receive my September OwlCrate box, especially considering I never received my email notification. No matter, it’s here, and I was so excited to open this one. This is the third OwlCrate box that I have received, and this month’s theme was Mythical Creatures, for fans of Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones.

For those who don’t know, OwlCrate is a YA book subscription box that typically contains 4-6 items relating to the theme. Each box also carries the monthly hardcover book with an OwlCrate exclusive cover, with both a signed bookplate and a letter from the author. Each box is so much fun to receive and I have loved every item that has come with them.

I was very interested to see what they were going to do with this theme, and I was pleased with it. While the box didn’t have as many items, I’m guessing this is because of the more anticipated item, the Book Beau!

21767599_1802559003107516_689884393_nBook Beau is a company that creates unique and beautiful book sleeves to protect your preciouses. The exclusive book sleeve that we received in this month’s OwlCrate box has two mythical creatures incorporated in the design, fitting perfectly with the theme. I was very excited to hear that this box would include a book sleeve because I’ve been seeing them all over Instagram and have been positively lusting after them. I love the various designs and wish that I wasn’t trying to save money, or else I would buy them all. I was disappointed that this particular size of sleeve will only fit paperbacks and small hardcovers because the majority of my books are hardcovers, but I know I will still find plenty of use for this.

21624236_1802558976440852_1650861161_nOne of the first items I pulled out of the box was this container of bath salts made by The Soap Librarian. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to use this right away because my tub is have some problems draining. However, once this problem is resolved, I’m so looking forward to using this! Inspired by Percy Jackson, these Son of Poseidon bath salts smell of chamomile, lavender, rose, hibiscus, etc. There are even cornflower petals in the mix! I’m not a huge bath salt user so I’m not sure what the benefits are to this, but it seems interesting to me and I’m definitely not opposed to it. It has a very calming fragrance to it and I think this was a very fun, creative item.

21622035_1802558999774183_1078306024_nThe next item I opened was a canvas coin purse created by OwlCrate! I think it’s so awesome that their team is making items of their own. This is such a cute little pouch and I feel I’ll definitely be using this to organize my purse. My one complaint about this item is the material used for the inside lining; it’s made of that crinkly stuff that I’m not super fond of. Still, the print itself is very pretty and again, very fitting with the theme. I’m so excited to see what else the team at OwlCrate continues to create and include in these boxes!

21754472_1802558973107519_861444953_nOne of the most beautiful products in this month’s box was the wooden bookmark from the company Ink and Wonder Designs. I’m assuming this was the Game of Thrones inspired item, and while I’m not a part of this particular fandom, this is one of the most gorgeous bookmarks I have ever beheld. Also, I’ve never seen a wooden bookmark before and when I heard that this box was going to be containing one, I was skeptical. I was concerned that it would be flimsy and easily breakable, but it’s actually quite sturdy and pliable. The work done on it is very clean, and you don’t have to worry about getting splinters if you run your fingers across the surface of it.

21744690_1802558959774187_1919960114_nPerhaps one of the cutest items OwlCrate featured this month was this Hagrid sticker designed by Susanne Draws. My husband was curious and wanted to watch me unbox this, and funny enough, he and I were just watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban yesterday. However, we hadn’t quite finished it before he had to go back to work, and we had just finished the part where Buckbeak *spoilers* “dies”. This is his first time watching the movies so of course, he’s a little sad. He is not an emotional person in the slightest, but the sight of this sticker produced the smallest of pouts. “Well that’s cruel,” he proclaimed, crossing his arms over his chest, pretending to not care even though he totally does. I’m going to make a Harry Potter nerd out of him, yet.

The last item before the book was this month’s pin. Each box has a pin, always something that matches the artwork on the spoiler card, both pictured below. On the backside of the spoiler card, you’ll find the names of all the items included in the box and the company’s that provided each item. It also has a synopsis for the book, which I will talk about next.

Keeping with the theme of Mythical Creatures, this month’s book is promised to include many, many dragons. Without further ado, the book is: Before She Ignites, the first book in the Fallen Isles Trilogy by Jodi Meadows. I just want to say that I totally guessed the book; trying to predict each month’s book is one of my favorite things. I love to just browse through upcoming or recent releases on Goodreads and look for books matching the short synopsis provided for us by OwlCrate. I guessed last month’s box, The Hearts We Sold, and I guessed this month’s box. I’m 2/3, y/all.

Also included with this box is something that I haven’t seen from them before: a short little pamphlet with an interview with Jodi Meadows, an interview with the creator of Book Beau, Benita Botello, as well as a sneak peak for next month’s box, themed Find Me in the Forest. As seen in the picture below, they also compare the original cover to the OwlCrate exclusive, which for this particular month was a subtle swapping of silver to gold print.

In conclusion, I’m quite pleased with this month’s box. I believe it’s an excellent value for the money, which is $29.99 for all. I’ve loved this box, even before I was subscribed to it; I used to watch unboxing videos and pictures longingly, wishing that I could order one of my own. Now I finally have, and it’s such a fun thing to anticipate each box every month. You can find links to all stores, shops, and socials below; thank you for reading!

 

OwlCrate: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Book Beau: Website | Facebook | Instagram

The Soap Librarian: Website

Ink and Wonder Designs: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Susanne Draws: Tumblr | Etsy | Instagram | Twitter

Jodi Meadows: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads