For What It's Worth

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mini’s: Paper or Plastic, Sick, A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me

A few reviews for books that didn’t quite work for me but hopefully will find their intended reader Smile

22249447Paper or Plastic by Vivi Barnes

Release date: February 3, 2015 – Goodreads

Source: ARC provided by Entangled Teen in exchange for an honest review.

Welcome to SmartMart, where crime pays minimum wage

Busted. Alexis Dubois just got caught shoplifting a cheap tube of lipstick at the local SmartMart. She doesn’t know what’s worse—disappointing her overbearing beauty-pageant-obsessed mother for the zillionth time…or her punishment. Because Lex is forced to spend her summer working at the store, where the only things stranger than the staff are the customers.

Now Lex is stuck in the bizarro world of big-box retail. Coupon cutters, jerk customers, and learning exactly what a “Code B” really is (ew). And for added awkwardness, her new supervisor is the totally cute—and adorably geeky—Noah Grayson. Trying to balance her out-of-control mother, her pitching position on the softball team, and her secret crush on the school geek makes for one crazy summer. But ultimately, could the worst job in the world be the best thing that ever happened to her?

My thoughts: Paper or Plastic is a cute story filled with great messages about family and responsibility, but never really took off for me. The romance was sweet but kind of blah and I did have issues with Alexis’s *friends*. They’re not really all that great IMO. Especially Court (who instigates the trouble in the first place then bails) & Bryce (who never really gets called on his bullsh*t). Why does she stay friends with them?

The ending was kind of far fetched and seemed like a way to rush to the tidy ending but if you’re looking for a lighter read with interesting characters with normal teenage struggles, this might be the book for you.


SickMechfinalSick by Tom Leveen


Breakfast Club meets The Walking Dead as a group of unlikely allies tries to survive a deadly outbreak.

Brian and his friends are not part of the cool crowd. They’re the misfits and the troublemakers—the ones who jump their high school’s fence to skip class regularly. So when a deadly virus breaks out, they’re the only ones with a chance of surviving.

The virus turns Brian’s classmates and teachers into bloodthirsty attackers who don’t die easily. The whole school goes on lockdown, but Brian and his best friend, Chad, are safe (and stuck) in the theater department—far from Brian’s sister, Kenzie, and his ex-girlfriend with a panic attack problem, Laura. Brian and Chad, along with some of the theater kids Brian had never given the time of day before, decide to find the girls and bring them to the safety of the theater. But it won’t be easy, and it will test everything they thought they knew about themselves and their classmates.

My thoughts: I read a lot of zombie novels so there wasn’t much here that was new or fresh to me. I was hoping for more of the Breakfast Club vibe that was suggested in the synopsis but it didn’t really play out that way. Everything was moving too fast for the relationships to develop that way.

Even so, Sick is a fast paced, gore fest for zombie fans or those who would like to give the genre a try.


21469077A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me by Jason Schmidt

Goodreads | Source: Arc provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in exchange for an honest review

How does a good kid overcome a bad childhood? Jason Schmidt's searing debut memoir explores that question with unflinching clarity and wit, in the tradition of Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle.

Jason Schmidt wasn't surprised when he came home one day during his junior year of high school and found his father, Mark, crawling around in a giant pool of blood. Things like that had been happening a lot since Mark had been diagnosed with HIV, three years earlier.

Jason’s life with Mark was full of secrets—about drugs, crime, and sex. If the straights—people with normal lives—ever found out any of those secrets, the police would come. Jason’s home would be torn apart. So the rule, since Jason had been in preschool, was never to tell the straights anything.

A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me is a funny, disturbing memoir full of brutal insights and unexpected wit that explores the question: How do you find your moral center in a world that doesn't seem to have one?

My thoughts: DNF – I stopped at around the 100 page mark.

I might give it a try again at a later date.

A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me is a memoir and I do like that the author acknowledges that he is an unreliable narrator at times but then it makes it difficult to understand what is true or not. I did try to approach it as a broader childhood experience rather than specific events. I have many friends who unfortunately had similar experiences growing up.

However, I just couldn't get in to the writing style. There's a story - then we move on. Next story and so on and it feels a little disjointed. Like I said, I might come back to it because maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind for reading this yet.

From what I did manage to read, I would recommend it to people leading (or that have led) harsh, unconventional childhoods that feel isolated or alone. It may help to read about someone who made it through and out the other side.


  1. Breakfast club meets zombies...huh, cool

    1. I agree - I wish there was more of it but they were running around too much (trying to stay alive and all) for that part to develop.

      It was ok though - just not what I was expecting.

  2. Quote:
    "I was hoping for more of the Breakfast Club vibe that was suggested in the synopsis but it didn’t really play out that way."
    Publishers really have to stop to advertise books this way - X meets Y, perfect for fans of Z, and so on. It sounds like they're feeding us a line most of the time, and one day the gimnick won't work anymore...maybe. Also, personally, it grates on my nerves. Each book is unique...or it should be...

    I appreciate how you are able to review books that didn't work for you while still trying to steer the right reader towards them :).

    1. That's a peeve of mine. They really need to be careful saying things like that. It builds up an expectation going in that just leads to disappointment for the reader and doesn't do the author any good.

      I think the BC reference was fair in this case - but not developed as much as I had hoped for. As I said above - they were too busy chasing zombies for more than surface personalities and conflict to come out.

  3. The cuteness and good message sounds great

  4. Thanks for sharing. I'm sorry none of these really worked for you, but it's always nice to hear what worked and what did not.

  5. Funny -- I read Sick and it was a little too gross for me. And then I passed it on to a teen reader who didn't think it was gross enough. So you're right -- it's about finding the right fit!
    Jen @ YA Romantics

  6. Boo for the DNF -- I hate those (and have had too many so far this year!). Paper or Plastic sounds cute, though I'd probably get frustrated with the friends. And I don't really like reading gore-fests... Oh, well. Nice minis!

  7. Paper or Plastic kinda piqued my interest, but the unlikable secondary characters dampened my buzz a bit. And, I do so hate it when a title is compared to another in the blurb, and totally falls short of being even remotely similar. *shakes fist at Sick*

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads

  8. Well, that's an unfortunate Sorry to hear that none were winners.

  9. Bah, well that blows! I hope your next streak fares better.

    P.S. Dictatorship of a Dress - you might want to either wait for the price to drop, borrow a copy, or snag a used copy. It's not a book that has "substance" if you know what I mean, it's more like an entertaining in-between read.

  10. Paper or Plastic looks like a cute read. You just need those at times. Sick sounds like a good zombie read. I might have to pick it up, but it I still need to catch up on my other zombie reads. :) Too bad about that last book. Lists sounds like it could have been great and a big help to some kids but I would have a problem about the book skipping from story to story myself.

  11. I just had one where I thought the same about the friends. Why in the world would you stay friends with them?! Shame when that takes away from the story a bit.