Review: The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren MorrillThe Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Published by Delacorte Press on December 8, 2015
Pages: 272
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey...

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

It always makes me sad when I have to give a book 2 stars. Mostly because below 3 stars is usually a DNF for me, so it’s rare that I have to actually rate and review a book that was a 2-star read. It’s happened a handful of times, though, and the reason I review these rare 2-star reads is simple: Though I didn’t enjoy them as much as I’d hoped to, I was still pulled in enough that I couldn’t bring myself to DNF. In those cases, I like to review, so I can explain my thoughts and feelings. And that’s the case with The Trouble with Destiny. I wanted to love it, since I really enjoyed Morrill’s Being Sloane Jacobs. Sadly, I had many issues with it.

The biggest issue I had with this book was the characters. I’m super character-focused, so if I don’t like the characters, I have trouble enjoying the book. I always try to keep an open mind while reading, but this book made it difficult. Our main character, Liza, was whiny and bossy. I loved how determined she was to win the competition and save her beloved marching band, but she definitely went about it the wrong way and she ended up being in her head the whole time and basically ignoring the thoughts and feelings of everyone around her. There’s nothing wrong with being focused and determined, but it felt like she lost sight of her true goal and the more she tried to get back on track, the more she sank (Sorry, couldn’t help it!).

I could NOT stand Demi. She just barely redeemed herself in the end, but it was done in a unrealistic (in my opinion) way. First of all, I’m SICK BEYOND WORDS of the mean girl trope in YA. Mean girls aren’t mean girls – they’re bullies! And no one seems to want to acknowledge that. Second of all, I’m even more sick of the “_____ is my ex-best friend. We are now mortal enemies” trope. From my experience, when you stop being friends with someone, you completely ignore them and forget about them. You don’t attack them and bully them. But maybe that’s just me. And then the resolution with their friendship at the end was ridiculous. Yes, I’ve had epic, massive fights with friends and then we’ve made up. But it’s not that simple and things don’t just go back to how they were. You need to talk out what happened and resolve the underlying issues. I get the miscommunication they experienced and how each felt ditched by the other – That was realistic. But Demi was SO nasty to Liza, the things she said and did SO horrible… No, I could forgive the miscommunication but not the nasty bullying. You don’t just go back to being friends after that. But again, that’s just me.

The Russ/Lenny thing was one of my least favorite love triangles ever. I mean, it kind of broke some of the stereotypes that surround love triangles, which was nice, but it was just poorly done and pretty predictable. I knew almost immediately how it would end. Also, I didn’t like Lenny at all and I got more of a friend-vibe from Russ. So there’s that, too.

Characters I did like? Huck and Hillary. Huck was hilarious, epic and had good taste in karaoke music. We didn’t see a lot of Hillary, but she seemed like a great friend.

Character issues aside, the things I DID enjoy about this book? Morrill’s writing. Her writing flows and pulls you into the story. The plot really intrigued me and that’s what kept me reading, more than anything. I really wanted to see what happened with the cruise ship and if the marching band would win the competition in the end. The pacing was fairly well done, as well. It’s a short, easy read.

I have a lot more thoughts on this book and I could discuss them all in great detail. But, as always, I hate thinking that my reviews might discourage someone from reading a book. I might not have enjoyed The Trouble With Destiny, but someone else might love it. I will NEVER tell someone NOT to read a book, though I won’t go out of my way to recommend it. So if you were excited for this book, give it a chance. You might love it! I truly hope you do! If you’re a fan of Morrill’s other books, you’ll likely love it! And if you like cute, easy reads, then this one is definitely for you! If you DO read it and DO love it, let me know in the comments – tell me why you loved it!


Review: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren MorrillBeing Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill
Published by Delacorte Press on January 7, 2014
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

Being Sloane Jacobs was an adorable, fun read with amazing characters. I had heard it described as a Parent Trap-esque type of book and I definitely agree with that statement! (Although, with that in mind, I kept picturing both Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon as Lindsay Lohan with dark hair.. O.o)

I really liked Sloane Devon. She was down-to-earth and relatable. Plus, it was extremely entertaining to see a rough/tough hockey player transform into a figure skater. There was something about her story that was more interesting and I was always eager to switch back to her POV. I loved that her love interest was someone she knew from her life, not someone she met in Sloane Emily’s life. It amped up the risk of discovery, of Nando running into someone who might reveal the truth to him – Which… Yeah, just read the book! *Zips lips to prevent spoilers*

Though I liked Sloane Devon more, I still loved Sloane Emily. One thing I really loved about her was the attitude she developed. She was tougher than she first appeared! She refused to let herself be pushed around and often stood up for herself where, in her “old” life, she might not have. I especially loved her physical description of Matt, a hockey player with a bad reputation. It cracked me up!

My absolute favorite character, without a doubt, was Andy, a figure skater Sloane Devon meets. He was hysterical and sassy, with a perfect blend of attitude and loyalty. As the book moves forward, Andy is really there for Sloane Devon, every step of the way. He pushes her and forces her to fight harder, to never give up. I just freaking loved him.

Another significant character in Sloane Devon’s life was Nando. Nando and Matt were very similar characters. Aside from being the love interests for Sloane Devon and Sloane Emily, respectively, they both ended up making false assumptions at the end, refusing to let Sloane Devon and Sloane Emily explain their side of things. That kind of lost them brownie points with me – I hate when a truth is revealed and the character learning the truth makes a dramatic exit without letting the other character explain. It’s just very frustrating! But both guys redeemed themselves in the end.

Ivy was a brat. Melody was a scary pain in the butt. Both both characters played their parts perfectly and you just loved to hate them. I didn’t care about Katinka at all in the beginning, and then she did something awesome at the end that I loved.

Both Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon had harsh family situations. Though Sloane Emily’s situation was more public, both were tragic and upsetting. And though Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon were very different characters, they reacted the same way to their family situations: by running away and trying to forget anything was wrong. They learned, throughout the book, that running away and becoming someone else won’t make your problems go away. In the end, neither family situation was completely resolved, but things were on the mend. I liked that it wasn’t a fairy tale ending with everything suddenly being okay – Family situations like that take time to heal and that was much more realistic.

The only negative with this book was the switchng POV. In the beginning, when the POV switched, the timeline back-tracked a few times so we could see things from the perspective of both girls. It was a little jarring and took me out of the story. And at the end, for the last few pages, the POV switches back and forth like crazy. Again, slightly jarring.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There were moments that were fluffy and moments that were serious. The dialogue was great. Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon were both pretty hysterical. I would definitely recommend this to readers who love contemporary young adult fiction.