In Which I Realize I Could be a Lady Detective: Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L Armentrout

 

When I was a kid I always wanted to be Nancy Drew.  I mean, most sixteen to eighteen year-olds (depending on which version of the books you read) don’t get to travel around the world solving mysteries.  Or for that matter have a number of hot guys sniffing around you when you have a lame guy waiting at home for you (seriously, Nancy dump Ned already).  So maybe after reading all those mysteries where Nancy Drew was able to bring down some international gang/murderer/jewel thief I sort of got good at predicting mysteries.  Or maybe it was from watching too much Sherlock.

It really was probably the Sherlock.

The point is, I was able to predict the outcome of Don’t Look Back almost as soon as the culprit was introduced.

That’s not a good a thing.  However, besides that, this is probably the best Armentrout contemporary I read.  Which really isn’t saying that much since the contemporaries I’ve read from her thus far have been pretty god awful and puke inducing.

To be fair though, most of them were New Adult and there’s just something innately puke worthy about that genre.

I think it has to do with the fact that those books often have no plot.

Don’t Look Back though has a plot. A pretty trope worthy plot-a girl wakes up with amnesia and finds out that she’s the only one who knows what happened to her missing friend.  But still, a plot.

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of amnesia plots.  I think it’s from watching too much daytime TV.  We all know how these shorelines are going to end (at least to a degree) which made Don’t Look Back  sort of snooze worthy.

But as snooze worthy as it might’ve been, it wasn’ terrible. I’ve read worst and that includes books written by other than Armentrout.

To be fair, there are a lot of Armentrout books I like, but for the most part these books have all been paranormal.Her contemporaries fall really flat  for me.

The fact this one had a plot and a main character who didn’t constantly say Sweet Baby Jesus and had a life outside of her love bunny was a plus for me.

And I really did like Sam for the most part.  She wasn’t exactly the best character, but she was tolerable.  I didn’t feel like strangling her every other minute, and I thought her reactions were pretty realistic.  I also liked the juxtaposing  of Past Sam with Blank Slate Sam.  It sort of gives you a need perspective on how someone’s choices and influences can effect their personality.

Additionally, I liked how Sam’s family had an actual role in this story other than being just there.  Though I do think a few of their depictions, especially the mother character were a bit unrealistic.  However, since most of them don’t have that large of a role, I was okay with it.  And yay, for protective brothers in YA.  I almost, sort of, wish there was a spinoff to this one just so Scott could have his own novel.

Then I remember Armentrout’s other spinoffs and shudder.

In all, I enjoyed this book.  It is predictable though and I bet it’s one that I’ll forget about in coming weeks.  Overall rating: B-.

It’s Not Super But It Will Do: Burn Bright by Bethany Frenette

 

The Dark Star trilogy is one of those series I really like, but hate its marketing.

First of all, I think this series does deserve more marketing than its getting.  It has likable characters, a pretty good plot, and it doesn’t use tropes to that ridiculous point where you seemingly develop psychic powers when it comes to the storyline.

Me when I read predictable YA.

Seriously, after I read a few YA books I almost thought about starting my own version of Ms. Cleo.  Of course, since was accused of fraud, that probably wouldn’t be the best idea.

The fact is, Burn Bright and the rest of this series hasn’t been outright predictable.  And for the most part, it has been pretty enjoyable.  The thing about this series though, is the whole superhero marketing angle-not there.

And I’d really wish the publishers stopped trying to promote it as a superhero book.

Yes, Audrey’s mom uses a superhero identity as her cover, but that’s pretty much it when it comes to her being a superhero.  All other aspects to that sort of culture cease to exist.

In other words, this book is more or less a YA paranormal about demons.

Which I like, but you wouldn’t realize that if you read the jacket copy.

I really hate that they did this because it totally distract my thoughts about the rest of the book which is actually pretty kick ass.

I really did like this one.  Besides, not being an outright walking cliche, Frenette has done a nice job developing the characters in this novel.  I especially like the fact that Audrey’s mother is more than just your standard YA ESPN watching parent.  She actually does stuff and not in a typical cliche and cheesy YA parent type of way.

I also liked how this book didn’t center around the romance.   Sure,  Leon and Audrey were together, but they weren’t stupid YA in love.  They still had their own lives and they didn’t go around calling each other schmoopy.

While it wasn’t a superhero story, the book actually is still action packed.  And I like how you could pick up the story without remembering every single detail of the previous installment.  And I have to like the fact that Audrey isn’t physically strong and has to rely on others.  She actually acknowledges her weakness.

That’s a character I can handle.

Unlike a lot of these other YA bimbos who act like their bad ass but the end of the day need their ass saved (Bella Swan I’m talking about you).

Burn Bright  is refreshing.  However, it is not memorable.  I know that sounds odd.  That I liked a book, but I don’t think I’ll remember it two weeks for now.  I really don’t know why this series isn’t something that sticks to me.  Maybe because the story that it’s trying to tell is pretty standard YA, at least on the service.

Yeah, I know I’m sort of contradicting myself and let me explain myself.  While the book is good at refraining from certain annoying YA tropes, the actual plot isn’t that off the beaten path from the type demon oriented YA plot.  Though I have to admit, it’s way better than a lot of books that share similar themes (cough, The never ending Shadow Hunter series, cough).

I will be finishing this series, but it’s just one of those series I like but don’t love.  It’s written well and for what it is, its enjoyable.  But when you compare it to everything else in the market, it’s just sort of there.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

A Book About Nothing: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

 

When thinking about this book, I can’t help but think about a line in Legally Blonde about how endorphins make you happy.  Except in this books case, sweet tea makes you happy.

Or at least it would make Harper Price, the main character in this book, happy.

There is a part of me that really, really liked this book.  I had a horrible week last week, and all I wanted was something light and fluffy that I could bury myself in and this book seemed to fit that definition.  However, as far as great characters go, even Harper couldn’t help me from realizing that this book was basically about nothing.

Replace blog with book and there you go.

It wasn’t a bad book.  I enjoyed it.  However, this book ain’t Seinfeld and therefore it does not succeed at being about nothing.

That doesn’t mean it was a total bomb though, which was a relief.

The premises of the book doesn’t sound like nothing: a girl gets superpowers after being ambushed in the bathroom by her dying janitor and almost killed by her cantankerous history teacher.

That premises, honestly, sounds sort of kick ass.

But obviously, such a premises has never taken place in the deep South before cotillion.

Heavens for Betsey!

If it’s not about cotillion then well….

To be honest, I could’ve dealt with a plot that was heavy on the debutantes.  But the debutantes role was really limited to whenever we needed the characters to wear formal wear and bake hummingbird cake.

Though yum, got to love a good  hummingbird cake.

So what’s this book about then if it isn’t about bad ass superheroes or about cagey Southern Belles.  Well, it’s more or less about a high strung teen who deals with melodrama with her pretty decent boyfriend so that she can fall in love with the town.  Jerk.

All I have to ask book is why?

You had a potential great thing going.  A high strong character who actually had a damn good reason to be uptight and she was still lovable.  An opening scene that was pretty kick ass.  And a plot that had the potential to be freaking bad ass.

But really, you had to focus on the love story?

Well, it is YA.

I do get that.  And a lot of YA is centered around romance and as my embarrassing shelf will attest to you, I like romance.  But I like romance with plot.

I mean, the characters just saying their in love or falling in love after they realize all those insults are really love messages instead.

To say that as I got further and further along reading this book and realizing that I wasn’t going to get a plot other than a lame love triangle where a perfectly nice guy gets dumped for a Tony Stark Wannabe (and yes, his last name is Stark and he’s a rich jerk so the comparison is valid)  reading this book got sort of awkward.

I mean, this book was everything I wanted but….

And to be honest, love triangles normally don’t bother me.  In fact, some of my favorite books have them.  It’s just that, well, this one just seemed to be thrown in there to sell the concept and since the concept never developed like it should.  Well, I’m not a fan.

Especially with that ending.

Not to go into spoiler specifics, but if you read the ending, you know that said crappy triangle is probably going to continue in the next book in an even more contrived way.

Which doesn’t have me that excited.

In fact, sort of yawning when it comes to this series which is a shame.  Because this is such a good idea.

Overall Rating: B- this book has a lot going for it.  But I’m just not getting on the band wagon yet.  It needs to develop it’s plot and lose the Stark wannabe.

Another Cinderella Story: Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge

 

 

 

 

Cinderella is one of those story’s that despite how pathetic it is–and let’s face it being religiously abused everyday while hoping for Prince Charming to come to your rescue is pretty pathetic.  Is still surprisingly one of my favorite fairytales.

 

Amen to that.

The Disney movie and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder sort of help.

However, Rosamund Hodge held her own pretty firmly in this short Cinderella retelling.

First and foremost, Hodge made the story original enough where the story itself has been over told time after time.  Which is a pretty big accomplishment, considering how many retellings this story has had.

Grant it, the spin she gives it is an obvious PR  move to get people read Cruel Beauty, but in this case I think I’ll give it a pass. Especially since it gives a pretty interesting twist and gives a reason why the Cinderella character (Maia) has put up with being treated like shit.

I think Cinderella’s passive attitude has always been one of my biggest problems with the original fairytale.  Yes, I get in fairytale times that it was difficult for a woman to have any life outside of her family/marriage.  But I’m sure she could at least get a job cleaning houses for some other family, or at the very least talk to some fairytale solicitor about evicting her stepmother.  I mean, that would make a lot more sense than waiting for a prince to come your house with a stupid shoe.

Oh, yes because this is an realistic aspiration.

So, the fact that Hodge injected some logic to this aspect of the fairytale already gives this novella a huge advantage.   But that does not keep it from being faultless.

To be fair to the story, I think a lot of the problems revolve around the fact it’s a novella.  Unless you’re really good at the craft, I think most novellas suffer from pacing.   This story is no exception.

While I liked the characters that Hodge wrote about and the world she created, I felt like everything was rushed especially the later part of the story.

To be honest though, I don’ t know if this was so much of a problem with the pacing was the fact that this story was limited to the page count of a novella so much or if Hodge in general has a problem with pacing.

I say this because my biggest issue with Cruel Beauty  was the pacing.  The entire book, much  like this story, was great but the ending just seemed to almost have a whiplash effect to it.

I do love the building that Hodge does, especially when it comes to characters.  But when it drags down the plot a little bit, there are issues there.

The endings on both works of Hodge seem just so sudden.  Almost unresolved.  And while I get you don’t have a ton of space, especially in a novella to do a happily ever after, I would like a little more than half a page of resolution.

It’s just like-oh, everything’s okay now.  The end.

That just isn’t going to make anyone happy.  Even if you like happy endings (which I do).

I really did enjoy this novella for the most part though.  The characters were well formed and what was a pretty predictable story was pretty interesting.  And I still think that Hodge is probably one of the best debut authors (yet) of 2014.  That doesn’t mean this one isn’t without faults though.

Overall Rating: B.

Just Give Me the Crown: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

 

 

 

This book takes two of my childhood dreams and oddly blends them together

Childhood Dram Number One: Princesses.  Like a good chunk of little girls I wanted to be a princess when I grew up.  However, instead of any Disney fantasy kingdom I had my sights set on England.  Thank you, Kate Middleton for ruining that.

I so wanted this to happen, but without the horrible hair.

Childhood Dream Number Two: Soap Opera Writer.  Yes, I wanted to write soaps.  I think because you get paid to write ridiculous shit like having your dead boyfriend married to your long lost half sister and you only discover this at your family reunion.  Oh, and said reunion is at your long lost daddy’s palace (yeah, he’s a prince).

So, The Ring and the Crown sort of mixes these two childhood fantasies of mine and it sort of has mixed results. The good news is that it’s one of the better de la Cruz books I’ve read in awhile.  I mean, I had my dog review that disaster Frozen and you know when Patty reviews a book it’s kick a puppy worthy.  So, this was an improvement.  However, it still has a way  to go from her early Blue Bloods books.

So, what is our little soap opera about.  Well, de la Cruz has set up an alternate history where Merlin and magic is real (only to add some limited drama) and this has made Edwardian England  into some sort of soap opera world where everyone is beautiful and dressed like a Disney princess. Complete with Disney princesses smiles.  Save for the actual princess who we’re told is plain, plain, plain (probably because of all the inbreeding).

There’s about seven points of view to the story, which is very typical for de la Cruz (though usually she limits it to about three or four people).  This might bother some people, but this particular part of the story didn’t bother me since I’m used to her writing.  Though I have to say the many points of view did make me not care about some of the characters, particular Aewellyn who more or less was just there to info dump when needed.

Oh, and to preform the occasional spell.

For the most part though, the characters were formed enough for their soap opera roles.  Honestly, I was able to quickly figure out who was the Mimi, the Schulyer, and the Bliss in this story.  Though de la Cruz did switch up some aspects about their lives to make them original enough.  The plot twist in the book was the same way.  I saw it before in Blue Bloods.  In fact, it sort of made me roll my eyes since I’m sure Ron Carlivati could’ve wrote something better and more original on General Hospital even though there are certain individuals who call him Re-Ron.

I did enjoy this one though,  despite the predictability.  This book is what Melissa excels in.  Light, frothy fun with some fantasy maybe thrown in on occasion. The world building is not that deep and for the most part I was okay with it, though occasionally I might want a bone thrown at me.

Like all that info dumping that Mage Girl was doing at the end.  Seriously, why did that have to be rushed.  Couldn’t those actual scenes be written out?

This is actually a problem I had with the Blue Bloods series as well, way too much happened behind the scenes.  It’s a cop out de la Cruz that just doesn’t work for me.

Really, the whole book in a lot ways seemed half way done.  If fleshed out a little more, I think this really would’ve been a better book.  I wanted to know more about this world, how it worked,  and more about the Merlin.  Same with the characters and their relationships.  We knew who the characters were the sickly princess, the poor little rich girl who is in love with X but there’s another guy and well he looks like a Ken doll too.

Maybe this book was inspired by playing Barbies.  I swear there were so many pretty people…

And yeah, I keep going back to that.  Because it got so damn annoying hearing how pretty everyone was.  Did Eleanor win the war by being beautiful?  It certainly seems that way.

Shakes head.

Though having wars decided based on looks might make an interesting dystopia…just saying.

Besides how everyone looked obnoxiously perfect, the other thing that made me cray-cray about this part was the names.  Dear lord, de la Cruz, I’d like to be able to pronounce half of the casts names.  It was bad enough when people were calling Schuyler Schooler for the first three books until you corrected them.  Do you really want to go through that again?  And I really don’t know how you expect me to find the name Gill sexy.  I mean, except if he’s on a long run CBS show and goes more or less by his last name.

It’s just not done.

However, bad names and pretty people, and plot holes aside.  I did enjoy this one.  It was fun for what it was worth.  I’m going to give this one a B-.  It had a lot going for it and hopefully it means de la Cruz is finally getting her groove back.  Which is expected because after Frozen, there was nowhere to go except up.

You Could’ve Just Gotten a House to Fall On Her: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Fact: My sister was so scared of The Wizard of Oz that she almost deprived me of the experience of watching said film when I was a kid.

Till my mother told her to get over herself (ice cream helped too).

 

I, on the other hand, loved that movie.  I still watch it when it airs on TBS in the fall every single year and I have to say I was excited about Dorothy Must Die even though it’s through a packaging company owned by someone that Oprah went nuclear on TV.

When Oprah goes nuclear on you, you know you have issues.

Just my humble opinion though.

I still gave the book a try though because the premises looked awesome, but unlike everyone else and their mother I didn’t love this one.  I didn’t even really like it, to be honest.  Though admittedly it wasn’t horrible.

I just felt like I was being manipulated.

Take the main character: I feel like se was given pink hair, a trashy family life, and a spunky! attitude, so I could easily look over the fact that she’s sort of stupid in her decision making.  Yes, I appreciated the fact she wasn’t all bad ass!  But God, Amy really had some dumb dumb moments.  And God, she sure got competent (well, YA competent) fast.  To be fair though, she wasn’t the worst heroine I ever read about in YA.  She wasn’t obsessed over a guy and she had a good heart.  And I understand why she was dumb as a box of rocks in a lot of regards, but she did annoy me.

Sort of like the other characters in here.  Their characterization made sense, but they annoyed me.  You had the potential love interest, who seems like he’s a mini-Wolverine without the claws, healing factor, or ridiculous outfit.  Then you had Amy’s rag band of friends.  Which besides the monkeys, really weren’t that memorable-probably because they kept getting killed off.  Then there was the villains.

Let’s just say that Dorothy, in this book, gets her clothes at the Katz gift shop that’s next to the Walmart where I live where everyone gets mugged/the police broke up a local prostitution ring.  I’m not joking about this, this actually happened where I lived, save for the fact that Dorothy didn’t actually shop at Katz.

Yes, Judy I’d be crying too if I knew my character was to end up dressing like that.

 

But she would’ve.  If it was the Dorothy from this book.

Um, I’m sorry but villains (good villains) aren’t really concerned about having their ass and titties hanging out.  They spend their time being evil and really they don’t want embarrassing pictures of themselves showing up on the internet.  Well, nothing is every really elaborated on the way Dorothy is dressed (a.k.a. further slut slamming) there was sort of the not so subtle message that bad people dress like skanks.  Complete with a jerky evil pregnant teen wearing a midriff at the beginning of the book.

God…

This sort of shit really annoys me.

One thing I will give this book, is that for the most part it focused more on the book version of Oz more than the movie.  Save for one big important fact.  Dorothy’s shoes in the book are silver NOT red.  I really don’t know why this would be ignored.  I mean, they got it right on the cover.  Unless only the heels of the shoes were red, but unless they were Louboutins.  But I think its the sole, not the heel that’s red.  Whatever…maybe it’s different in Oz.

Overall, I liked how there were these little nods to the actual Oz books.  I think people often forget that there’s more than one of these books.  So, I liked that this book does acknowledge them.  But other than…shrugs.

The overall set up is pretty glum and doom.  Dorothy has turned Oz into this apocalyptic cesspool that is your fairly typical YA dystopia world but complete with flying monkeys.  Of course, our fair heroine finds herself being Katniss without the bow. And with pink hair.

Yeah, I’ll admit I sort of was down for that set up.  Especially since it gave me flashbacks to that 80′s Return to Oz movie.  However, overall it was sort of a yawn.

And I felt like the big Oz characters were only there to sell the book.  I mean, yeah I get Dorothy was evil and had changed after she returned to Oz.  But how did she become evil?

Oh, wait that’s for the sequel…

I really need to get a brain.

And a heart too, I guess since I just didn’t like this one.  I just couldn’t be swayed.  I guess someone has to be a Grumpy Cat when it comes to this book and I guess that person is going to be me.  Really, I just wasn’t impressed.  Other authors have taken this story and adapted it into some great things.  Look at Wickedboth the book and broadway version.  That play took Oz and elaborated on it.  Here I mostly feel like Oz was used more or less to shove another YA dystopia with some Kill Bill down my throat.  It wasn’t bad, per say, but what could’ve made it great was never really explored.

Even if I was a spineless coward I would have no qualms with my feelings for this one.  Overall rating, a solid C/C+.  It was fine, but no surprises.  There are going to be a lot of fangirls for this series and I’ll probably continue it (but through the library or an ARC if I’m lucky enough).

Definitely a Swan Song:Feather Bound by Sarah Roughley

 

 

 

 

 

First of all, credit where it’s due.  I want to thank Netgalley for the opportunity for reading this book.  And now here’s the disclaimer of how being given the very generous opportunity to review this book did not effect my opinion of this book.

Neither did the beautiful cover.

Really, whoever designed this cover should be give accolades.  It’s the best thing about this book.  I really love how it looks.  It shows that the whole dress thing still has clout in the industry.

So good for you cover people. You get an A.

And now, it’s time to actually review this book.

Oh, boy.  I wish I could provide all you dear readers with good news that I loved this book to pieces.  But instead, I’m going to provide you with a drinking game.

I know, a drinking game that doesn’t involve House of Night or Tiger’s Curse and it’s on a Monday the worst (or best, depending on how you view it) night to get sloshed.

First of all take a drink every time you think girls turning into swans and molting is ridiculous.  And no, it does not involve ballet or tutus so there’s not even that to fall back on.

And now after that initial shot of whiskey you can read the rest of the book without wanting to bang your head against your desk.  Oh, you’ll still want to kill yourself but at least the pain of reading this book will sort of be numb.  Oh, wait the booze won’t hit you in the opening when you meet our precious Mary Sue who has the tragic home life complete with the dead mother, two sisters who are so fucked up they could care less about her, and she’s such a poor little girl surrounded by billionaires.  And her dead billionaire boyfriend isn’t as dead as she thought he was.

I should mention he was nine when they first started dating.

Honestly, the opening sort of gave me deja vu.  I’ve seen plenty  of fan fics  and bad books with similar openings.  And it didn’t help that there was a line about imprinting thrown in there too-though not Twilight Saga type of imprinting if that’s what you’re worried about.

I was really hoping that the cliche beginning though would get better.  Or at least I’d get drunk enough to ignore it while to enjoy the rest of the story but no…

What I got was a bunch of insipid characters.  And a plot that made little to no sense.

So we have our main character, Dee, who’s about as dumb as a box of rocks.  Besides having an extremely Mary Sue backstory (I mean, how many girls are going to have a Bruce Wayne/Edward Cullen wannabe fall head over heals in love with them) she’s ridiculously stupid.  Girl doesn’t think.  And every excuse she makes for her actions just has me shaking my head and saying what are you doing.

 

That’s never a good thing when you’re reading.

Or when you roll your eyes at how cringe worthy the hero was.

Because that’s what Hyde is: cringe worthy.  There was nothing truly spectacular about him that made me get the appeal.  He was pretty bland and the oh so romantic things he did were about as romantic as Uncle Joey on Full House.

Note, I said Uncle Joey NOT Uncle Jesse-who even though still lame, is far less lame than Uncle Joey was.  Hence, why he was the only person in that ridiculously over stuffed San Francisco house that’s probably breaking a dozen building codes to get laid.

And yes, I think mariachi bands playing outside a girl’s room-a girl who is obviously ignoring you for over a week-is pretty lame.

Couldn’t you, I don’t know go out there yourself with a boom box?

Obviously, Hyde never had time to watch Say Anything while in France or any 80′s movie for that matter.

The villain in this book was just sadistic to the point of unrealistic.  While I am glad a YA book finally had the guts to talk about a topic as serious as human trafficking, I really wish this book would’ve taken a more realistic approach.  And yes, I know it involved swan people and that anything involving something paranormal isn’t exactly going to be realistic, but I wish there were some ounces of realism here.  The best paranormal books, I find are often more realistic.  It makes the paranormal event stand out.

Here, other than people growing feathers that can be used to enslave them.  Pretty much the paranormal is just sort of there in the books.  The world building really is little to nothing.  Other than people randomly growing feathers and then simultaneously molting.  We get no background-well, the fifty-four percent of the novel that I read.

Yes. there was no backstory to this.  And yes, I DNF’d it.

I really wanted to finish this one guys.  When I saw it on Netgalley I requested it without much thought because since I saw that cover and read that summary I wanted to read this book.  But it was just so poorly executed and so illy constructed I just had to stop before I drank myself to having alcohol poisoning because that’s what that book did to me.  If I took a sip for every time Dee had a pity party or her boy toy was described as handsome or rich.  I’d be dead right now.

Book, you fail (F).

Prince of Yawns: Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine

I’m just going to put it out there: I hate Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Yes, I hate his most famous play, despite the fact that many English teachers have championed it, it just doesn’t work for me and it probably never will.

However, a retelling of this famous tale from a minor character’s POV to me seemed like it could be interesting.  Especially since said main character is said to be a thief, sad to say he and most of the book made me yawn more than anything else.

Prince of Shadows isn’t a horrible book.  Yes, it’s bad.  But I have read much, much worse.  What Prince of Shadows is is more or less a disappointment.  Which I think was because of a few bad choices.

Mainly point of view.  I’m sorry but Benvolio was beyond being dull.  The fact that Caine tried to make him more interesting by giving him this Robin Hood-ish back story but never fully expanding on it was just sad and sort of embarrassing.

A Robin Hood character is something I can almost always get behind.  Of course, there does need to be a little bit of effort behind making these Robin Hood-ish type of characters exciting.  Merely having them occasionally breaking in with no real good reason and never going into the characters history isn’t going to get me to love him.  A lion tattoo and a half season of build up might help though.

Yeah, I just referenced that show.  I had to when I’m talking about Robin Hood.

Really, if the book would’ve been written in third I think Caine might’ve pulled it off.  I really found for the most part that I wanted more of the side characters.  And that doesn’t mean the title characters from the tragedy.  Romeo is still as idiotic as ever and Juliet, well, the amount of screen time she gets she just seems ridiculously young

The character that really seemed to drive the book forward was Mercutio.  Really, his subplot was the entire catalyst for the rest of the novel.  While I get why Caine couldn’t have the entire story told from his perspective, I do think that if we would’ve gotten more of his point of view-through third person-it would’ve beefed this book up tremendously.

As it was, I often felt like I never really got to know these characters other than boring old Benvolio.  And god was he dull.

Really the dullness almost made this a DNF which was ridiculous since there was so much this novel had going for it.  I give Caine huge props for creativity.  I love the plot twists that there were with this one, but the way it was presented just drives me nuts.

A book like this should have you on the edge of your seat, instead of making you almost fall asleep in drool.  But that’s how I felt when I read this one.  It wasn’t a bad book, per say, but it took me the entire week just to read it-though admittedly I  was working and really had no time to read except during lunch and I was more or less trying to check and catch up on my email then.

Still though, even with work, I can usually knock out a couple of books a week.  But this one just left me in a reader’s slump.  Again, not a horrible book but it was just one that was….well. as bland as its main character.

The pacing was also a major issue in this one and I think contributed to the boredom.  While Caine seemed to dwell on before the play and first two acts of Romeo and Juliet all the actual action scenes in the Shakespeare play were crammed in the last fourth.  Which just made the book feel almost fragmented.  I get that there had to be some build up to the action scenes, but come on the pacing could’ve been better.

Same with the romance plot.  It just seemed to come out of nowhere. Sure, there were a few scenes that our two leads had together but based on the jacket you’d think they’d interact a lot more than they did.  As it seems they were more or less thrown together just to sell the book because hey YA needs romance.

And it wasn’t that this particular romance was that offensive, it just was sort of jarring compared to the rest of the book. And I think the overall story would’ve been better without it.

Overall, I don’t think Prince of Shadows was that horrible of a book.  It’s not one that I can recommend willingly, but it’s not a bad book. I think I’d give it an average rating (C).  It’s not going to be one of those books I remember.  I have to give kudos to Caine for trying something new, but this one just really didn’t work for me.

 

Normally Being Good is Dumb: Top Ten Worst Villains in YA

Let’s face it, a good villain can make or break a novel.  If done correctly the villain can be the most memorable part of a novel.  However, YA often lacks in villains.  And sometimes it’s just so painful that I had to make a list.

10) Those wannabe cultists in The Here and Now  by Anne Brashares: I know that this book hasn’t been technically released yet, but those bad guys aren’t even Lifetime Move Network scary.  I mean, it really doesn’t take that much to get them to step down from their evil control freak ways.  Well, when the heroine finally stands up for herself.  But for future people, these baddies are really dense.

9) Khalistah  from See Me by Wendy Higgins: Dear.  Freaking Lord.  This is a cartoon version of a villain if there ever was one. Oh wait, even the worst Disney villain was more developed than this.  Seriously, I wondered if Khalistah was just a joke.  She was that painful.  I think the only way I can describe the way this villain is described is imagine writing a story where you’re the princess and that mean girl who bullied you all your life doesn’t get the hot football player you have a crush on-that would be Khalistah.  And FYI, that would make a terrible story unless there are a) robots or b) there’s a hot nerd who’s secretly a secret agent for some government agency that fights aliens that pose as football players.  Oh, and the so called mean bitchy girl totally his partner on the mission.  And the reason she hates you, because your a stupid ass that causes too many problems for them. And no she’s not in love with the totally hot nerd because she has better things to do than a stupid YA relationship.

8) Lokesh from Collen Houck’s Tiger’s Curse Series: If you’ve read my drinking game of this series you knew this one was coming.  This villain is pathetic.  Hardly really even memorable.  When a character is more concerned about pancakes, boys, and what dress she should wear.  You know you’ve lost your evil mojo.

7) Celeste from Kiera Cass’s The Selection: Another case where extreme slut slamming creates a cartoon villain.  At least Celeste hasn’t gone to extremes like Khalistah has to be the bad guy in this series, but I have a funny feeling it’s only a matter of time.  The only reason she scored a little bit more horrible than Khalistah is that Celeste has had two books to get her evil on.  And besides just being a cliche mean girl, she’s never going to get that oomph she needs to be a decent baddie.

6) Sebastian from The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare: I’m sorry.  But no.  I actually did think Valentine was a better villain, even though he was a rip off of Voldemort (who is probably one of the best if not the best villain in YA).   Sebastian though, he has after thought written all over him.  And I’m sorry the fact that his biggest thing is to want to bone his sister makes me have the gag reflexes more than anything else.

5) Jake from the Halo Trilogy by Alexandra Adornetto: A villain.  Please.  I’ve seen Care Bears that are scarier. Really, I feel like Jake is the true victim of this trilogy.  Bethany, that evil mastermind, caused him to lose his identity because he loved her.  Well, obsessed about her to the point he got killed why he was in hell after he was dead.  That doesn’t makes any sense.  Except in South Park.

Super scary, I know.

4) The Silver Bloods in Melissa de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods: But MJ wasn’t this like one of your favorite YA series?  Yes.  And while the Silver Bloods might have been badass in the earlier books in the final battle, well, I could defeat them and I’m not a vampire or a super ninja or even own a ray gun or a sword for that matter.  I think for a creature that was described as being so conniving they ended up being ridiculously stupid.  The finale to this series was a let down in a lot of different ways, and the Silver Bloods played a big role in why it sucked.  From being a super baddie to a wimpy baddie.  Silver Bloods are probably one of the most disappointing villains in YA.

3)Patch from Becca Fitzpatrick’s The Hush Hush Saga: Yes, I know he’s technically not a villain.  But by all accounts Patch should be a villain.  He tried to kill the main character.  It really was the whole point of the first book, but what is he?  The hero.  And I might be okay with that if his past behavior was addressed but nope.  He even makes a lousy villain if you think about it for giving up his quest all because of love.

2) Neferet The House of Night Series by PC and Kristin Cast: This villain is reduced to being slut slammed every other page.  I swear, she just runs around naked for the Casts to mock her.  The character is completely 1-D too, despite the fact that the Casts did actually try to give her a backstory.  Perhaps if the series wasn’t so ridiculous in its context overall then maybe…just maybe Neferet could’ve actually had a chance at succeeding at evil.

1) The Voluturi in Stephenie Meyer’s The Twilight Saga: Way to ruin a climax.  Oh, these are scary guys that can destroy the Cullen family and those stupid wolves without so much thought that the Cullens decide to go all Justice League Unlimited (except without the coolness factor)on them even though they would undoubtedly fail because the Volutri was all like Amazo that even Super-Bella would have problems defeating them.  But you know what, instead of blood shed all we got was a tense stare off with some awkward facial expressions and that was it.

Seriously, why couldn’t they have done something to the demon baby.

Where is Lord Voldemort when you need him?

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Tiger’s Voyage by Colleen Houck

As I was reading Tiger’s Voyage,  I couldn’t help but myself but Eureka!  Finally a guide to how to write a book.  Don’t believe me.  I seriously believe that Colleen Houck could write a book on how to write a novel and its sort of all in Tiger’s Curse.  Since she hasn’t patented this brilliant formula.  I’ve decided I’ll write a guide.  It’s not official or anything.  But whatever. I find after a couple of glasses of wine it makes a lot of sense.

Step One: Have a Perfect But Doesn’t Realize It Character Who Everyone Including the Otherwise Asexual Villain is in Love With.

Every fucking everybody is in love with Kelsey.  She’s so perfect, but doesn’t realize it.  And she happens to get curvier as she loses weight. And has a Barbie size waist.

Is that even possible?

Whatever.  She’s perfect which obviously means she’s the bestest YA heroine ever.

Honestly, I inwardly cringe when I read these books because it’s more than a little obvious that Kelsey is a self insert to the point it’s not even funny.

Step Two: Have two heros Who Are About as Male as, well, Ken.

Recently, my friend, Khanh, seemed to coin a problem that I’ve seen going on with several of the heros in YA.  They lack penises. Seriously, I don’t get it.  Why does every YA hero have to be a) a dick or b) lack any sort of masculinity?  Houck’s heros are actually a weird hybrid.  While Ren will be acting extremely chaste where the most romantic thing he’s doing is copying pasting a poem out of the public domain one page, the next he’ll  be telling Kelsey that she can’t cut her magic induced butt length hair.  I’m sorry, but butt length hair is impractical and makes you look like one of those people who have a show on TLC.

Because plastic is oh so sexy.

Not a thing that you really want unless you have time to do a lot of brushing.  And if you do keep up the maintenance, I’m sure it look nice.

But Kelsey doesn’t fucking want butt length hair.

Sigh…

Step Three: People Enjoy Reading about Food and Clothes and Poetry..So Don’t be So Focused on Plot.

A good chunk of the book was something like this (note, I’m paraphrasing this is not an actual quote): This morning I was going to wear my red dress, but Ren didn’t like that said it made me look like a harlot.  So, I put on the black one.  But Kishan said it was boring.  So I just decided to keep on my Garfield pajamas as I told the golden fruit (which could cure the problem of world hunger but I don’t fucking give a flip) to make me a Denny’s Grand Slam with extra bacon and maple syrup-oh, and some chocolate chip peanut butter crap too.  And then Ren read me a Shakespeare sonnet (if I was actually Houck I’d insert the whole damn sonnet here).  And then after that I made myself a pastrami sandwich, with some ranch chips,  a Coke float, and a ice cream sundae from DairyQueen before I put on my purple evening dress and Ren read some more poetry that’s in the public domain.

I’m not joking people.  This is literally what the first third of the book was. Okay, throw in some melodrama love triangle bullshit and some horrid accents which I’ll get to in a minute.  But that was pretty much it.

Step Four: You want to show diversity well use a shit load of accents and make them offensive as ever.

This is a PSA for Ms. Houck.  I am a born and raised Texan and I have never:

1) Road a horse.

2) Like Lonestar beer.

3) Gone honkey tonking.

4) Spoke incomprehensible English that makes me sound like Hagrid’s ill educated American cousin.

I guess it could be worse.  Look what she did to the poor country of Jamaica.  The way that character spoke you’d think that Jamaicans were drunk all the time and were related to Hagrid as well.

Authors, just state that the character speaks with an accent.  Don’t try to do this shit.  It annoys me.

Step Five: Start Your Halfway Mark by Having a Character Info Dump Wikipedia.

Mr. Kadam just needs to be replaced by Siri at this point.  All he does is blurt out fact that Siri could find for you.  There’s really no point for him to be there.  Then, I guess be the money man who can just call in a yacht or a passport in a snap of a few fingers.

Which is just really unrealistic and pathetic. However, in this book I actually was cheering Kadam’s Wiki dump on because I knew the book was going to be halfway over.  If there’s one thing consistent about Houck its her pacing.  First half waste of space like I previously described.  Second half begins with boring info dump which turns to the dumbest action scenes ever.

Step Six: Have All These Life and Death Action Scenes Guarded by Uber Powerful Dragons Resolved, well, Faster than a Disney Movie:

And Disney movies are at most ninety minutes long, guys (ninety minutes which translates to one page per minute of screenplay versus 560 pages that this book freaking had).  Of course, Houck has lame action scene after lame action scene stacked on top of each other, but I really can’t get excited for any of them.

I think this book though had what had to be the lamest of all her action scenes so far.  When a dragon, a freaking dragon, decided to give all the characters a princess makeover.

Deciding the color of Kelsey’s dress is much more important than you knowing defeating and killing her.

Oh, yeah, everyone including Kelsey’s boy toys had to be made over to look like they belonged at Disney World or at least where they could be cast members of Once Upon a Time.

This is where the butt long hair comes from.

Really, if you were a dragon would you use your powers to give idiots a Disney makeover for atmosphere value.

All I can say is this:

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Step Seven: End with Another Stupid Cliffhanger

Because that cash cow needs a little more draining.

Honestly, I am going to have to take a bit of a break before I force myself to read the fourth installment of this shit fest.  They just get progressively worse and worse.  The thing about this particular series is I can’t help but feel a little sorry and for that matter baffled by it.  I mean, the wish fulfillment and self gratification that I can just read from it sickens me to the point I’m like why.  Just no.  No. F.