Mini Reviews: The Cure for Dreaming and Made for You

October 14, 2014 2014, Cat Winters, melissa marr, mini reviews, Wendy 40

You know what, I put off too many mini reviews because I dread formatting them prettily or want to tie them together for a theme. Which is silly, so today’s the start of more casually structured mini reviews, which I think will still be useful even if they aren’t perfect!

Today’s pairing actually does have a theme, though–both stories combine paranormal with suspense, and while I rated them both the same, I definitely thought one succeeded in what it set out to do more than the other.

the cure for dreaming

Title: The Cure for Dreaming
Author: Cat Winters
Rating: 3.5 stars

Olivia Mead is fighting for women’s rights in the early 1900s–not an easy task when her father has her hypnotized in the hopes it will make her more obedient. What ends up happening is that she is somehow able to see the “truth” of what everyone’s character is, but unable to speak of it. I quite enjoyed the beginning and ending chapters, and the stirrings of the women’s suffrage movement is definitely a fascinating topic.

While there were some nicely atmospheric moments and the period setting is well-detailed, however, somehow this story and these characters never quite grabbed me by the throat the way I’d hoped they would. I kept waiting to feel passion and outrage on behalf of these women, and yet I read about these events with curiosity and commiseration, but without any real sense of kinship or compassion. I think the story could have benefited from more complex plotting, more intellectual discussion, more nuanced characters (particularly the men), and more feeling as well.

Still, this is an interesting book, and one that I wouldn’t be surprised to find on extra credit lists for showcasing (albeit in a paranormal way that is also a strangely literal manifestation) this period in history. It also helps that Amulet does such a fine job of packaging this author’s books, with elaborate jackets and typography as well as “spooky” photographs from the era. I also liked the somewhat atypical ending (view spoiler), which contributes to bumping this up in star ratings for me.

This one doesn’t quite reach the same level of sophistication of themes and feeling as the author’s previous book In the Shadow of Blackbirds, but it’s a worthwhile read if you’re curious about the book or particularly interested in the era. Expect to have your intellect stimulated, but perhaps not your heart.

vine-divider-finalmade for you

Title: Made for You
Author: Melissa Marr
Rating: 3.5 stars

Someone is stalking Eva Tilling. She wakes up from a car accident with no memory of how it happened, and the curious ability to see the moment before someone’s death before she touches them. But will she be able to save those she loves?

I often have trouble with YA thrillers, but I found Made for You to be surprisingly entertaining and engaging.

More positives, with some mild spoilers:

— Eva doesn’t play the “all other girls are evil” game. She stands up for herself and for other girls, even if they haven’t been great to her.
— changing romances were handled believably
— the heroine gets involved with a guy who’s slept around a lot (not sure why, although I think we’re meant to believe it’s from family troubles and not wanting to give into his feelings for his BFF), and not only does her mom gently suggest that he get tested, but Eva brings it up to him immediately. AND he offers to do it on a regular basis!
— the paranormal element and central mystery are interesting
— I don’t normally love killer POVs, but this one kept my interest, especially in the first half of the book
— nice parental dynamics


— Pacing felt a bit uneven in the second half, especially after you discover who the killer is
— I liked the characters, but a little more development would have made these guys more compelling
— Ditto on the paranormal bits.

All in all, a solidly readable, engaging YA thriller. I wouldn’t call this a southern gothic (it’s not evocative enough for that), but I enjoyed the characters and romantic suspense.

Advance copies was provided by the publishers for these reviews.

vine-divider-finalFrom previous feedback we’ve gotten, I think people seem to like shorter reviews sometimes–depending on the book, I know I do. In the future, I think I may try out even shorter review formats for books that I don’t have as much to say about as well. I think they work especially well if you know the blogger’s taste well enough and how it compares/contrasts with your own. What are your thoughts?

Wendy signature teal





40 Responses to “Mini Reviews: The Cure for Dreaming and Made for You”

  1. Pili

    Finally catching up with the posts I’ve missed during my vacation!

    I agree that sometimes a review doesn’t need to be massively long to convey the information other bloggers and book lovers might need. Even more when they are the kind of books that are good but not the kind that wants you babble about them uncontrollably! But I also LOVE your longer reviews! Keep on doing both!

    I have The Cure for Dreaming in my pile of books that arrived while I was away and will soon be getting the copy of Shadow of Blackbirds that I won on a giveaway! I think I’ll still enjoy it quote enough! And I’ve been thinking of reading Made for You for quite a while and after reading your pros and cons, I think I’d quite enjoy it! Too bad that I’ve just put myself on a book buying ban!
    Pili recently posted…Let’s Celebrate Halloween with Grim Reaper Week AND an INT giveaway!!

  2. fishgirl182 @ nite lite

    I’ve been meaning to do something with mini reviews, too. I don’t have the time or inclination always to write a full review but I feel kind of bad when I don’t do anything at all. But, like you, I think I get caught up in the formatting or making it look nice. I liked this post though. It didn’t seem too short and you still got your thoughts across on each book. I have both of these in my reading pile and need to get to them soon.
    fishgirl182 @ nite lite recently posted…Manicure Monday (80): Game

  3. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    I do like the shorter review format especially since you give us what you liked and disliked so succinctly. Sounds like The Cure for Dreaming definitely had a lot that could have made it better and ‘stick’ more.

    Made For You sounds like a really awesome YA thriller though, one of my favourite genres as of late. Can’t wait to pick it up! Great reviews Wendy.
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Contemporary YA Reviews #3 : The Protected by Claire Zorn & Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossnan

  4. Brittany T

    Cat Winters seems to be all that occupies my mind as of late. I really can’t wait to read both of her books but I think I’ll read this one first then follow up the Blackbirds seeing as how it seems to be the stronger of the two. Very informative review. Made For You does not in fact seem like it is made for me but that’s ok. :-)
    ~Brittany T
    Brittany T recently posted…Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

  5. Larissa

    I really did love Cat Winters’ In the Shadow of the Blackbirds. Your rating worries me a bit though, I’m really excited for her next work but I’ve also been wondering if anything could live up to Winters’ debut. Historical is my favorite sub-genre so it’s good to hear that those elements were once again well done. However, I do know that a novel needs more than great historical background in order to truly be amazing. It really needs to connect and resonate with you and the characters. It sounds like for you, in The Cure For Dreaming you never really could connect fully and therefore felt like more of an outside observer. I do hope I’ll be able to connect to the characters and will enjoy this one more.

    I’ve never read anything by Melissa Marr. The point you made about the main character actually supporting fellow women and not just hating every single one who is involved in the love interests life is ahhhh. It’s so important and I’ve been seeing so much girl on girl hate in YA that when it’s not being showed and instead acted against it makes me so happy. A good killer POV can really bring up the suspense level in a story so it’s good to hear that it’s well done.

    Lovely mini reviews girl (: I personally love both long and mini reviews. I think mini reviews are great for those stories where we weren’t as moved by them, but still have opinions about.
    Larissa recently posted…Review + Giveaway: Atlantia by Ally Condie

  6. J. Oh

    I love your long reviews, but I think mini-reviews can be just as helpful. I trust your judgment, and I know I don’t always have as much to say about every book, either. :) These mini-reviews were great! I wasn’t thinking of checking out Made for You, but now I think I might, since I wasn’t too big a fan of Wicked Lovely but Melissa Marr seems beloved enough as a YA author.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh good, I look forward to hearing what you think of them when you get around to reading, Kimba. I’m glad the mini reviews are helpful, too!

  7. A Canadian Girl

    I love your longer reviews, Wendy, because you write so eloquently but I don’t mind reading shorter reviews either. I find that I’m more to the point when writing shorter reviews, especially because they’re often in a pros and cons list rather than sentences. They’re also great if you don’t have much to say.

    I’m not sure if I’ll read Made For You since I haven’t really enjoyed Marr’s writing in the past, but I’m going to give The Cure for Dreaming a try because I loved In the Shadow of Blackbirds.
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

    • Wendy Darling

      I looooove pros and cons lists. I have to stop myself from doing them more, but….why? They’re so helpful! I’m going to not hold myself back from that so much. You’re right about shorter reviews getting to the point more quickly, too–I mean, for some books I enjoy trying to capture a bit of the mood of the book so the reader gets a sense of what to expect, but most of the time the book/review isn’t going to do that.

      If it helps, I was sort of middling on Marr’s WICKED LOVELY series (I liked the first couple okay, but boy, did the last book annoy me), but I still enjoyed this. And I look forward to hearing what you think of CFD! Almost everyone loves it except for me.

  8. Jenn AY

    I love all your longer reviews, but I don’t mind shorter reviews for books you might not have a lot to say about. So my answer is: I like all your reviews. :) (It also helps that I trust your taste and usually agree with your thoughts.) Thanks!

    • Wendy Darling

      Aw, Jenn! You are my new favorite person. Thank you so much for your kind words, and for the taking the time to leave the feedback. I agree that it generally does help if you’ve gotten to know the reviewer and have an idea of how much your tastes overlap, too.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Carina Olsen

    Awesome reviews, Wendy :D You are the best. <3 And pfff, this post is perfect looking :) BUT DAMN IT. I am not happy that you didn't love The Cure for Dreaming, lol :) I loved it so much. <3 But I understand. Sort of. What I do NOT understand, though, is why you loved Made For You, lol. As I hated this book. So much. Ugh. It was just awful, hih (A) but yeah. I have seen many people love it :) Anyway. I love reading your thoughts, always. <3 thank you for sharing :)
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

    • Wendy Darling

      Hah, I’m one of those people who is always rereading posts on this blog eyeing typos and small errors–I have to try to get over that.

      I liked CURE FOR DREAMING, I just didn’t love it the way I was hoping to. I thought her first book was so much better! And I didn’t love MFY either, but I did enjoy it. I think it set out to be an entertaining romantic suspense book and that’s exactly what it delivered. I’m curious what didn’t you like about it? I missed your review.

      • Carina Olsen

        I love that you do that. <3 You are awesome. I am kind of the opposite, well, I look for errors, but I can not re-read my reviews :p I write them, and then finished with them, lol :)

        Aw, I understand, though. But I did really love The Cure for Dreaming, hih :D But I also agree that I loved book one more. <3 Still. I adore the author and cannot wait to read what Cat reads next :)

        Sigh. Made For You. I do not agree with you, lol :D I hated the romance. Well. Okay. I kind of liked it. But I hated the main character :( Kind of. Mostly I hated the "mystery." I hated the Judge character. It was so.. cheesy. And not scary to me at all. I had huge issues with this book :p I wanted to love it, wanted it to be awesome. But to me it was just boring. And I didn't like the way things happened with her ex boyfriend and just everything. Seriously. He cheated on her. FOR A YEAR. And she just forgives him for it and don't seem to care at all. That bothered me the most, I think. :)
        Carina Olsen recently posted…In My Mailbox #155

  10. Nikki

    Totally agree with the mini reviews, I think it’s a great idea! I’ll be adding Made for You to my list. I already have Cat Winters’ books on my TBR pile but the 2nd one sounds interesting as well.

    • Wendy Darling

      Yeah, I liked MFY–I haven’t read any other reactions yet, so I’m kind of curious how other people have liked it. I prefer the first Cat Winters book, personally, but definitely give both a try if you’re curious!

  11. Jessica Cooley

    I agree with the pack – shorter reviews for some books is better. Sometimes a book just doesn’t warrant an in-depth review because it’s flash and fun but not a big thinking novel. It’s nice to have a variety.
    Jessica Cooley recently posted…The Rithmatist Review

    • Wendy Darling

      And there, you’ve summed up in one sentence why mini reviews are appealing, both as a reader and as a reviewer. And yes, variety is good! Especially if you’re reading a lot of blogs. I tend to read in big chunks as I visit, and seeing different formats is nice.

  12. Lisa (Fic Talk)

    I admire persons who can write short reviews and still say everything about the book that needs saying. I tend to be on the other end of the spectrum and being too damn wordy, but I’m trying very hard not to be because it can be tiresome and time-consuming as well. I just do not have the time like before to invest in such lengthy reviews and to be honest unless it is a book that I’m going to read or was a fan of then it makes no sense to go on and on about it. A tad harsh, but true.
    Lisa (Fic Talk) recently posted…Comment on Fairy Tales of Carla and the Wolf by Marcel Henry by Giselle

    • Wendy Darling

      Hah, I have to reign in the words sometimes, too–but then there are other books where I struggle to find something more to say. I think part of it could be that I’m waiting too long to write my reviews after I’ve read the books? When I was reviewing prolifically on GoodReads, I read/reviewed almost every day, and words just kept pouring out. Now with a schedule (both our own, with 5 reviewers, and publishing schedules), I leave it to much later. I should probably try and draft some quick notes after I finish each book, maybe.

      But yeah, I agree. Time is a factor, and I’m happy to wax poetic about books I love or really have something to say about, but it’s the middling ones that are usually more difficult. There’s only so many ways to say “I liked it, but didn’t necessarily love it, but give it a shot anyway if you’re in the mood.”

    • Wendy Darling

      Yes, both were just released and making a bit of a splash in the blogosphere. I think you’d like MADE FOR YOU, Melliane. Good romantic suspense.

  13. Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    I definitely enjoy reading shorter reviews for books I feel take up less brain power. For more deeper, introspective books I like those longer reviews where you can see into a reader’s mind but for the quick, nearly mindless reads I feel like shorter reviews are the way to go. Sorry to see Cure for Dreaming didn’t completely grab you. I’ve had an ARC for months but have been too scared to dive in lest I wind up disappointed but I think I just need to alter my expectations and give it a go soon. Marr’s novel is one I’ve heard fairly positive reviews of so I think I might try it out. Glad to see you liked it even if it didn’t warrant an intensely high recommendation. Wonderful minis, Wendy!

    BTW, it feels as if I haven’t spoken to you in FOREVER. How are you doing, Wendy??
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Review: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

    • Wendy Darling

      Keertana, you were totally in my mind as I wrote this post! I was thinking about your “how I do everything I do” post from ages ago, and I kept thinking “Keertana says I don’t have to include all those links! She says I don’t have to do this! And this!” Heeeee. And agreed, sometimes you can say all you need to say about a lot of books in a few sentences or paragraphs.

      I don’t know how you’d like MFY, Keertana–it’s definitely on the straightforward mystery end of things, but I thought it was a solid book for the genre and age group. I think it also did what it set out to do more successfully than CURE FOR DREAMING, although people are definitely loving that one to bits. I’m very curious how you’ll react to it.

      And yesss, I’ve been so, so busy. :( Today’s the first day I’m trying to respond to comments here and visiting other blogs in a couple of weeks. I feel terrible that I’m so behind! I hope you’re doing well, though, and that college is treating you well.

  14. Brenda

    I actually like both types of reviews, but mostly I like the way you bold certain words or phrases. It gives me all the bits of information that I need to hear at a quick glance.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh good! Thank you for telling me that, I like doing the bolded text for that reason as well. I also find it helpful if I’m skimming rather than reading the review if I haven’t read the book yet and plan to soon.

      I like both types of reviews, too. I get hung up on the mini ones for some reason, though, they pile up like yesterday’s laundry.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, you’re right about that–I rarely read reviews of books I haven’t read yet and am planning on reading/reviewing soon, but it’s true that there’s less risk with a shorter review. I hate spoilers so much, grrrrrrrrr.

    • Wendy Darling

      I like them for that reason, too! I enjoy longer reviews of really great or complex books where you have a lot to say, but often something shorter will do, too. Thanks Leandra!

  15. Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction

    I really enjoyed The Cure for Dreaming. I’m partial to Winters’ writing style so I’m bound to love everything she writes.

    Made for You left me a bit meh. I could see some strengths and found the book enjoyable overall but I wasn’t blown away with it. I’m still not entirely sure why that was.

    Great reviews Wendy
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…Spooktacular Giveaway Hop-International

    • Wendy Darling

      Ah, I’m glad you enjoyed it, Kristen! I’m definitely in the minority when it comes to this one. I liked it rather than loved it, but I totally understand why it’s appealing to so many people. I’m still more of a SHADOW OF THE BLACKBIRDS fan. :)

      I wasn’t blown away by MFY either, though I thought it was solidly entertaining. I think I expected less out of it than I did CFD, too.