Mini Book Reviews: For Real and Newt’s Emerald

Posted November 3, 2015 by Kara in book review, Kara / 1 Comment

Mini Book Reviews: For Real and Newt’s EmeraldFor Real by Alison Cherry
Published by Delacorte Press on December 9th 2014
Genres: young adult, contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Buy on Amazon

From Alison Cherry, author of Red, a novel PW declares “sparkles with wit,” comes a terrific new book about two sisters and one big question: how do you know who’s for real?
No parents. No limits. No clue what they’re in for.
Shy, cautious Claire has always been in her confident older sister’s shadow. While Miranda’s life is jam-packed with exciting people and whirlwind adventures, Claire gets her thrills vicariously by watching people live large on reality television.

When Miranda discovers her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her just after her college graduation, it’s Claire who comes up with the perfect plan. They’ll outshine Miranda’s fame-obsessed ex while having an amazing summer by competing on Around the World, a race around the globe for a million bucks. Revenge + sisterly bonding = awesome.
But the show has a twist, and Claire is stunned to find herself in the middle of a reality-show romance that may be just for the cameras. This summer could end up being the highlight of her life . . . or an epic fail forever captured on film. In a world where drama is currency and manipulation is standard, how can you tell what’s for real?

For Real was…interesting. I liked it, and I didn’t. If you know me, you know I’m a huge, recent fan of The Amazing Race. I’ve been binging all the seasons, and I’m up to season 17. This book was obviously a spoof on that show. But the author turned one of my favorite shows into a “dating around the world” show!

The premise is this: two sisters, and the oldest one has been cheated on by a douchey guy. He’s been cast on this show, so the sisters try out to get revenge on him–and they are cast as a last minute addition, not knowing that they will not be competing as a team, but instead broken up into random couples for each leg of the race.

The book was fun, compulsively readable, but nothing special. That said, this book was much better than the author’s debut novel, Red. Parts of the book are funny, or at least entertaining. If you are looking to spend a few hours with mindless entertainment, this book could be a fun selection. Other than that, meh.

Border Leaf

BC7Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Genres: young adult, fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Buy On Amazon

Lady Truthful will inherit her family’s most valued heirloom on her eighteenth birthday. Until the Newington Emerald is stolen.

Lady Truthful, nicknamed “Newt” by her boy cousins, discovers that to her horror, the people closest to her have been framed for the theft. But Newt won’t let their reputations be damaged by rumors from a false accusation. Her plan is simple: go to London to recover the missing jewel. Despite her best intentions, a young lady travelling alone is frankly unacceptable behavior. So Newt and her aunt devise another plan…one that entails men’s clothing and a mustache.

While in disguise, Truthful encounters the handsome but shrewd major Harnett, who to her amazement volunteers to help find the missing emerald under the assumption that she is a man, Henri de Vienne. But once she and her unsuspecting ally are caught up in a dangerous adventure, Truthful realizes something else is afoot: the beating of her heart.

Truthful has far more than romantic complications to worry about. The stolen emerald is no ordinary heirloom-it is the source of the family’s luck and has the power to yield vast magic. It would be completely disastrous if it fell into the wrong hands. The fate of England depends on Truthful securing the emerald.

I decided to review For Real and Newt’s Emerald together for a simple reason: they are of a similar vein. They’re simple, mindless entertainment with not a lot of depth. But oh, how I wish there had been depth. I mean, this is Garth Nix. I’ve heard so much about him, and since he had a new book out, I thought I would make it my first by this author. I was not all that impressed, to be honest.

Rest assured, I will read Sabriel when I have time–I even own it–but Newt’s Emerald was soooo much telling. Where was the atmosphere? The description and the world building? What was the magic system even? It was a letdown.

The banter between the characters was fun, but because there was so much dialogue and pretty much zero character development, the chemistry was nil. I didn’t care about them. I had no emotions. I was just…bleh.

This was a novella, I guess, and the author expanded it by one-third into a full-length novel. And it shows. It feels half-assed. It feels disjointed. The first half is slow and boring, and the second half is fun and fast-paced.

It’s not like I didn’t enjoy it, and it was a fun way to spend a few hours, but it was nothing to write home about, and there were a lot of flaws. *shrugs*

Kara Sig Plant

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