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Estelle: Last Cut by Wren Handman

Last Cut by Wren HandmanLast Cut by Wren Handman
Publication Date: Republished April 1, 2013
Publisher: James Lorimer
Pages: 143
Targeted audience: Young adult
Keywords: high school, acting, secrets
Format read: ARC from NetGalley via Publisher.

Summary: Desperate to have a legitimate acting job to put on her resume, Caitlin lies about her age in order to obtain a role — creating a domino effect of made up stories to keep the charade going.

If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you may have noticed I’m not exactly the type of reader to miss out on a title just because the author or the publishing company isn’t familiar to me.

Even the three reviews of Goodreads (poor ones) did not dissuade me from reading Last Cut. I thought it might be Don’t Tell Mom the Baby-sitter’s Dead-esque — a schemer who might mean well but you know her actions will only blow up in her face. Or to take it down a notch, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, where a character has to keep up with a double life of sorts.

Well.

Last Cut was neither of those. I’m sorry to say. The writing wasn’t terrible; I actually liked the dialogue (the author is a playwright so that may have helped) and even though the premise didn’t grow to be as meaty as it could have been, I thought the story was entertaining enough.

Girl lies, cuts herself off from friends and family, faces unknown challenges in a job she always wanted, and BOOM because of one split second decision everything goes nuts.

Totally reasonable right? Until the ending that kept me whispering obscenities into the night as my husband was sleeping and my cat was laying on my legs. I’ve reached the end of books before where I wanted more for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s because I’m selfish and don’t want to say goodbye. Other times, it’s because there is one plotline that doesn’t seem to have reached any kind of conclusion.

Friends, I was livid and flabbergasted by how the ending cut off, and how I was frantically clicking the button on my Nook for pages that I knew were not there. Funnily enough, the publisher boasts their collection of “books for reluctant readers.” If this is what reluctant readers are picking up, I’m not feeling too confident about their growing love of books.

This easily could have been a fast-paced, fun read with lessons thrown in there. A girl discovers her strength! The self-awareness we sometimes lack and how it affects our relationships with friends and family. A ridiculous slasher flick in the background.

With some tweaking and some sort of understood obligation to give readers a book these deserve to spend their time reading, I probably would have liked this. Instead, I felt the author showed little respect for this main character and the reader. We both deserved more.

This leads me to the question: for you as a reader and/or a reviewer, do you shy away from lesser known books published by lesser known publishers for the chance of a blunder like this one?

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April 7, 2013 - 12:20 pm

Rather Be Reading Blog: Shelve It by Magan, April 7, 2013 - […] A review of Last Cut by Wren Handman + A review + Q&A With Jessica Verdi, Author of My Life After Now + A review of Golden by Jessi […]

April 7, 2013 - 2:17 am

Alexa Y. - I’m sorry that this didn’t turn out as well as you would’ve liked! I do dislike it when an ending doesn’t feel like it’s enough for me or when something feels unfinished in a book (unless it’s something minor). This book sounds like it could have been good… if it had a better resolution.

I will honestly admit I usually don’t read books from publishers I don’t recognize unless the story really, really tempts me. It’s hard for me to discern whether I’ll appreciate the editing or style of the story, so I tend to stay away. It’s kind of an awful thing though, since I know there might be gems out there somewhere!

April 6, 2013 - 7:12 pm

Estelle - A, I didn’t even get to think about the cover much. It doesn’t make that much sense really? Although the girl looks like Idina Menzel. (She’s a Broadway actress and was on Glee too.) You make some really good points… big pubs do have a lot of books and most of them ARE good. I feel like I’m always on search for that diamond in the rough though. This, unfortunately, was not it. I do think though if the author went in and worked on it… it could be a good story! It just felt very unfinished for me, and definitely not worth 10 dollars. Thanks for stopping in and commenting today!

April 6, 2013 - 7:10 pm

Estelle - M, this made me LOL. I like to pick up self-pubbed books every now + then!! And yes to your comment on the ending. YES YES YES.

April 6, 2013 - 5:52 pm

VeganYANerds - I did a double take when I arrived here and saw the cover because it looks like a self-pub’d book or a lesser known book (I’d certainly never heard of it) and I was surprised to see it here.

It is hard knowing when to say yes to a request for a book like this, especially when there aren’t many reviews to go on, especially if the reviews are not by people you know.

Sounds like the ending could have used a bit more planning?

April 6, 2013 - 3:24 pm

Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life - Estelle, this book sounds like a mess (just like the cover, if we’re being honest here!). It seems like there was definitely potential for this, although I’m sorry it basically failed miserably. =( That ending also sounds pretty terrible.

And to answer your question, again, if I’m being honest, I’d have to say yes. In my humble opinion, there’s already tons and tons of books published by major publishers that I don’t have the time to read, so I’d rather focus on those, since most of the time, they’re good. If a smaller pubbed book is getting some attention, then I may pick it up, but otherwise, I like to stick to bigger publishers. That’s just how I like to think of it.

Thanks for the honest review, Estelle! <3

-Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

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