All About Steve and Some Really Inept Slytherins and Maybe a Couple of Really Dumb Hufflepuffs: Fire and Fury by

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With extraordinary access to the Trump White House, Michael Wolff tells the inside story of the most controversial presidency of our time

The first nine months of Donald Trump’s term were stormy, outrageous—and absolutely mesmerizing. Now, thanks to his deep access to the West Wing, bestselling author Michael Wolff tells the riveting story of how Trump launched a tenure as volatile and fiery as the man himself.

In this explosive book, Wolff provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office. Among the revelations:

— What President Trump’s staff really thinks of him
— What inspired Trump to claim he was wire-tapped by President Obama
— Why FBI director James Comey was really fired
— Why chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner couldn’t be in the same room
— Who is really directing the Trump administration’s strategy in the wake of Bannon’s firing
— What the secret to communicating with Trump is
— What the Trump administration has in common with the movie The Producers

Never before has a presidency so divided the American people. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.

Source: GoodReads

Had the illegitimate president not throw a tantrum over this book I probably wouldn’t have read it.  Neither would a lot of other people come to think of it.  But because I hate President Shithead, I decided to read it.  It wasn’t as explosive as I expected.  Maybe because I watch the news all the time during the work week now.  However, the book pretty much solidified my hatred for anyone who works for Trump’s Shit House.

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Note, I’ll be using the word shit frequently throughout the review since the US’s  so called not so eloquent president likes to use the noun/descriptor and I thought I’d you’d know take a page out his book (oh, wait he doesn’t know how to read-even Wolff said he’s quasi illiterate).

Anyways, as far as gossip is concerned this isn’t that extraordinary.  It’s obvious to anyone after listening to Trump talk  or reading his Tweets that he’s a moron.  It’s obvious based on his policies and rampant executive orders that he has no sense of how the United States government works.  And based on his appearance, you know he’s been hitting the Mickey D’s too hard.  What was the most interesting thing to me about Fire and Fury was how fractured the Shit House is.

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Or the fact that Steve Bannon was stupid enough to interview with Wolff and not think that Trumpy Dumpy and Co weren’t going to catch on.

To the first point, it is clear from Wolff’s book that everyone in that place has a motive and no one is loyal to Trump.  Well, save for maybe Hope Hicks.  But I don’t know if she’s really loyal to Trump or Jarvanka.  Either way she’s  one sad Hufflepuff.

The rest or are inept Slytherins.

Seriously, a bunch of dunderheads that give Salzar’s house a bad name.

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Bannon was the most heavily featured of these inept snakes.  At times it felt like Wolff was trying to have him be the “Everyman” protagonist but it sort of failed because anyone who has seen Steve Bannon on cable news knows that he’s more like a anamorphic slug than a hero.

Note, has an anamorphic slug ever been the hero in any book before this?  This is something I need to look up…but not today since I have a review I must write.

Regardless of how Bannon and some degree Wolff try to make him seem like an Everyman clearly Steve Bannon is NOT.  In fact, areas where I felt that Bannon and his hateful rhetoric needed to be dived into more they weren’t (cough, Charlottesville, cough).  The fact that the book tries to state that Richard Spencer, Milo, and other alt righter weren’t like Bannon or Trump has me SMH.

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Anyways, it’s very easy to tell from the narrative that Wolff talks out of both sides of his mouth.  Honestly, his narrative reminded me a lot like Joe Scarborough with the way liberals were constantly trashed and the Russian conspiracy was dismissed.  True though, he was interviewing Trumpeters, but it’s still a little annoying when you see an investigation with two guilty pleas and two indictments be downplayed in parts of the book.

And speaking of Joe Scarborough, this book further solidified my hatred for him.  The book once again shows that Joe talks out of both sides of his mouth, and thought of himself as a Trump unofficial strategist of some sort.   To be fair though,  that’s how most of the characters individuals were that Wolff interviewed.

It was sort of laughable about how transparent their motivations were.

According to Wolff there are three factions in the White House

Big Stevie’s:  And the rest of the alt right assholes of Brietbart.  Note, that also includes Little Stevie who wrote the God awful ban.

Jarvanka: Trump’s precious little family who try to act like they’re Kate Middleton and Prince William and fail epically.  Oh, and it’s quite obvious that they’re scared out of their mind that Mueller time is going to hit them eventually (one can only hope).

And

Rancid Preibus and the rest of the GOP: Who have pretty much become lapdogs for Trump as long as he’ll sign their disgusting tax bill.

The book doesn’t cover the tax bill though.  It only goes up to the point where Big Stevie is fired, again giving credence that the book was really about Bannon’s Shit House not Trump’s Shit House.

Honestly, Trump is more or less the character that its talked about but rarely seen.  Besides the Mickey D’s in bed and getting lost in the Shit House with his  bathrobe on, and Ivanka talking about his Cheez Whiz hair, there’s really not that much direct interaction with Trump.    In fact, I think Grimace from Mickey D’s had more interaction with Trump than Wolff.

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It might be because he’s not really running things.  And from the book it didn’t seem like anyone was running things, even though they all think they are. And that’s what scares me the most about this dumpster fire of an administration.

It is no secret that I voted for Hillary Clinton and that I would do so again in a heartbeat if she ran again (though, I doubt she will).  The reason is epitomized in this book.  Hillary Clinton was anything but incompetent.  She knew what she was doing.  She was a policy wonk.  And you could as well expect her White House would be organized and ran on a tight ship.  Exactly the opposite of Trump whose shit house seems to be in a constant incompetent Game of Thrones-ish battle minus the decent acting and fake blood.

It’s not a way to run a country by any means. And if Wolff’s account is even half true it scares me to death.   The executive branch is being ran by literally no one.  Sure, the overgrown toddler is technically in charge but not really.  All his minions think they’re in charge but they aren’t.  Really, it’s a shit house full of hubris.

Overall Rating: A B.  I mean, it was relevant but it’s definitely not going to be a reread by any means.   I’ll probably hold on to it and loan it to my friends, but honestly had Trump not threw a childish fit about this one I doubt it would be getting the attention it is.

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Cute Wintery Romance: Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Strohm

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Someday I want to live in a place where I never hear “You’re Dusty’s sister?” ever again.
Life is real enough for Dylan—especially as the ordinary younger sister of Dusty, former Miss Mississippi and the most perfect, popular girl in Tupelo. But when Dusty wins the hand of the handsome Scottish laird-to-be Ronan on the TRC television network’s crown jewel, Prince in Disguise, Dylan has to face a different kind of reality: reality TV.

As the camera crew whisks them off to Scotland to film the lead-up to the wedding, camera-shy Dylan is front and center as Dusty’s maid of honor. The producers are full of surprises—including old family secrets, long-lost relatives, and a hostile future mother-in-law who thinks Dusty and Dylan’s family isn’t good enough for her only son. At least there’s Jamie, an adorably bookish groomsman who might just be the perfect antidote to all Dylan’s stress . . . if she just can keep TRC from turning her into the next reality show sensation.

Source: GoodReads

I think Stephanie Strohm spied on me for a year and then wrote this book to make me happy.

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Because that’s what this book did: made me happy.  And I’m glad about that because after getting through the last book I read I was sort of thinking I was getting near to having a reading disaster.

Prince in Disguise, however alleviated these concerns.  Oh, sure, I’m pretty sure I’ll be ranting about some other book sometime very soon on this blog because I have a pretty bad track record in picking out stuff, but for a few hours I enjoyed reading again.  And the fact that I have a couple of Strohm’s other books on my TBR list made this book even more of a sweet read.

The plot for this one is a little bit ridiculous.  Pretty much the MC’s sister competes in some sort of reality show for this guy who’s secretly a prince (he’s actually a lord).  I vaguely recall there actually being a similar reality show like this on TLC at some point, but I read in an interview with Strohm somewhere she was inspired by the I Want to Marry Harry show that aired on a different network.  Regardless of the inspiration, based on the show’s success the MC’s sister’s wedding to said lord is going to be filmed and the MC is roped in to participate which involves a trip to Scotland during Christmas time.

The book was actually released around Christmas and I can see why after reading it.  It is the perfect winterly read and romance.  If you enjoy banter, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up Jaime and Dylan have awesome chemistry.  Of course, some of their barbs are heavily warped in pop culture and I sort of wonder how much longevity this book will have.

Then again, for the most point books in YA longevity isn’t really that long.  Still though, I know when I reread some earlier YA especially some of Meg Cabot’s books that I read when I was in high school I cringe at how outdated the pop culture references are.  It’s just something that…well, as you age it makes you more embarrassed than when you originally read it.

Anyways, the pop culture references while a foreshadows an uneasy future for the book’s longevity didn’t really ruin the book for me.  It was a cute story.  The characters were for the most part pretty drawn out.  There were some characters that I thought could’ve been fleshed out more-the parents in particular-but it wasn’t like it ruined the book for me.

The ship was pretty solid.  Probably the best part about this book.   Honestly, I couldn’t help but think throughout the book what a cute movie this book would make during the holiday season.  Really, Hallmark should contact Strohm about getting rights to this one because they usually do a royal themed movie every year and this one would actually be an interesting one.  The chemistry is truly foot popping (sorry had to use a blasphemous Nicholas gif instead of Michael gif)

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I also thought there were some interesting subplots within the book.  Again, I wish some of them would’ve been explored a little bit better, but unfortunately that  didn’t happen.   I think that was my biggest grievance about this book certain characters and plots had a great start to them, where they could’ve been expanded further but weren’t.

While I  do think Strohm wanted the book to primary be about the romance, there were plenty of places to dig deeper and I think doing that would’ve taken the book up a level.

Still though, if you’re looking for a cute and fluffy book with a decent ship I recommend this one.  Just realize if you’re not a fan of pop culture references you’re going to get plastered with them in this book.

Overall Rating: A B+

Trigger Inducing with Bonus Paul Ryan Wannabe Asshole: Someone to Love by Melissa de la Cruz

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Constantly in the spotlight thanks to her politician father’s rising star, Olivia Blakely feels the pressure to be perfect. As the youngest girl in her class, she tries hard to keep up and to seem mature to the older boy she’s crushing on, even as she catches his eye. But the need to look good on camera and at school soon grows into an all-consuming struggle with bulimia.

As Liv works toward her goal of gaining early admission to art school, including taking part in an upcoming student show, her life spirals out of control. Swept up in demands to do more than she’s ready for, to always look perfect and to succeed, Liv doesn’t know who she is anymore. It will take nearly losing her best friend and even her life for Liv to learn that loving herself is far more important than earning the world’s approval.

Source: GoodReads

Warning, this book is trigger inducing if you suffer from body dysmorphia, have an eating disorder, experienced sexual assault, and have committed self harm you might want to avoid this book.  Because the book goes into in great detail, and God knows I could see it as trigger inducing.  Even though I haven’t personally suffered from any of these things, this book made me uncomfortable.  True, it did not make me as uncomfortable as I was a 15 Year Old Blimp (which pretty much gave you even more detailed instructions than this book on how to binge and purge-yeah, I remember reading that as a 12 year old and being  marginally freaked out) but it’s still bad.

Going into this, I was more than a little weary.  My more recent track record with de la Cruz’s books hasn’t been pleasant (to the point where I think my fondness for Bluebloods is merely driven by Nostalgia goggles)  and honestly I was sort of relieved this one wasn’t worse than I expected (then again, you can’t get much lower than that sad Pride and Prejudice retelling).

However, just not being that God awful, didn’t make me love this book by any means.  In fact, it’s all kinds of awful.  But it’s readable since it’s not name dropping some fashion designer every other pages.  Because really Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe really topped it with all of the Kate Spade pajamas the MC wore.

I’ll start out with my biggest grievances with this book the multiple sexual assaults that the MC experiences.    Several people make unwanted advances to Liv throughout the book, and she is slut slammed for it (one of those shamers being her asshole Paul Ryan Wannabe father, no less).  Even after the overdramatic climax– of this book the being assaulted is never really addressed.  It should’ve been.  It was one of the many underlying causes Liv had that was causing her to binge and purge.   The fact that this is never addressed left me feeling disgusted.  It seemed like de la Cruz merely had Liv grabbed and groped as a plot point, and it just made me mad.

Book Hulk mad.

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Honestly, the binging and purging, the binge drinking, and the random cutting were all plot points too you want me to get honest about it.  The book shows that Liv’s under a lot of stress, but one meltdown and her life seemingly gets back together.

That’s not how it works.

An eating disorder, just like alcoholism, and self harm is something you’re going to deal with the rest of your life.  You’re not going to get instantly better and be in a “good place” there’s lots of ups and downs and this book does not address it.  We don’t get to see Liv struggle at the rehab center when she has to gain weight.  We don’t see how she reacts to stress post rehab.  She’s just fine and dandy, and that’s not how it is in real life.  I get that de la Cruz might’ve wanted to end this on an uplifting note, but honestly it could’ve ended as uplifting with a little more realism.

Though to be fair, the entire book lacked realism.  Which brings me to my next issue the Paul Ryan Wannabe Dad.

Maybe it’s because I REALLY hate Paul Ryan (dude, I and any other American with a somewhat functioning brain can through your shitty tax plan and we know you’re gunning for Medicaid and Social Security cuts, you pathetic Trump kissing asshole) but I kept associating him with the dad character throughout the book and in turn it made me hate him (the dad character not Ryan) even more than I probably should.  Though to be fair, de la Cruz  made him utterly despicable when he went off on his daughter for purposely getting herself an eating disorder because it was going to mess up his campaign for governor.

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Seriously, anyone who has an eating disorder is not going to get it on purpose.  Personally, I would never vote for someone like Colin Blakey.  It perplexes me how he’s even in fictional office-oh, wait…look who we have as POTUS in real life.

Note, if you’re not that political and getting annoyed with these digressive rants about the currently controlled GOP congress and POTUS right now.  Sorry, but not sorry.  It’s relevant to the book and will be coming up a lot throughout the review. Here’s why.  Maybe in 2012 I would’ve argued that Colin Blakey was a caricature at best.  But I can’t now, because I totally could see a certain orange asshole writing a Tweet about how bulimia is a choice.

I swear…

Anyways, besides these things it bothered me how much in detail that de la Cruz went into how to purge.  Look, I get that it’s easy to find out how to force yourself to purge but I really don’t like seeing it in such detail in a book when I know that there’s some impressionable 12 year old who’s probably going to read it and get as freaked out as I did when I read I was a 15 Year Old Blimp.  To be sure, I don’t think this book was as bad as that one, but it did go into detail and while the side effects of the disorder were mentioned they didn’t go into such detail as they should’ve.

Seriously, the most we hear about the MC’s side effects from binging is brief mention that read more or less like a Wikipedia article.

The self harm bits were even more ridiculous and were more or less an after thought.

I understand that de la Cruz was trying to write about a very sensitive and important issue, but it really did read like a melodrama after school special than anything else.  It probably didn’t help that I didn’t connect to any of the characters.

If I felt any emotion towards any of the characters it was hate.  The Paul Ryan wannabe and the One Direction Wannabe/ Pervert boyfriend, and the pervert who randomly groped Liv  I hated.  I also hated Liv’s best friend, Antonia.

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We were told she was a good friend, but pretty much every time she and Liv hung out she’d ditch Liv and Liv was just suppose to be okay with it.  That’s not how good friendships work, de la Cruz.  Oh, and wait, said friend gets pissy at Liv when she’s assaulted because she didn’t stay to help her out with her date…

Yeah, shitty friend.

Healthy relationships were really something that this book failed at.  The Paul Ryan wannabe dad is a prime example of this.  All the characters in this book are doing everything to make HIM happy and not giving any consequences to anyone else.  He has an aide that is outright mentally abusive towards his daughter, but Liv is suppose to deal because her dad needs to win the race.

Note, the last thing I want for the state of California is a Paul Ryan Wannabe.   Just saying…

It doesn’t extend to just the father though.  Liv’s mother forces her daughter to go to a shrink’s office, without telling her the therapy session is for her and literally ambushes her there when Liv was suppose to be there for the mother’s emotional support.

I’m actually surprise that the shrink was okay with that.  You don’t ambush someone like that in such a fragile mental state.  Especially not like that, and then tell them that you’ll be disappointed in them if they don’t continue mommy daughter shrink time.  That’s just asking for a dumpster fire.

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God, these people.

The older brothers are shit douches too.  One is a former addict and knows his sister is binging and let’s the behavior go on for months before telling the stupid mother.  The other brother has relationship issues with his girlfriend (note the other brother was the LI in de la Cruz’s Something In Between).

Oh, and there’s Liv’s other best friend/future love interest who is so bland that the only thing I know about him is he likes science, has a dead brother, and has surfer hair.

I really can’t compute…

Given the plot of this one, I thought this book would be very character driven. Eating disorders and self harm are complex issues and I felt like this book cheapened them to add “dramatics”.  Like in all of de la Cruz’s books there is a ridiculous sense of privilege about the book.  Though, in this particular book I think reality might’ve been suspended since I can’t see the cast of a CW show partying with high schoolers.  I also can’t see the speaker of the house ditching his position to become governor, or that more attention and scrutiny will apply to the family for running for governor when they’re already the speaker’s kids.

But whatever.

Like I said this one is trigger inducing.  I think something with this material could be gut wrenching.  But I wasn’t bawling after reading this, instead it was one of those books I threw into the give away box.  Only thing is, I sort of would feel guilty about donating this one to charity since I feel like there are a lot of things about this book that could cause potential harm.

Overall Rating: I gave it a D+ it was readable and I originally gave it two stars on GoodReads since I was able to finish it easily.  Only thing is, when I got my thoughts together it really made me angry and upset.

Bland and Plotless: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

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Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

Source: GoodReads

I had Ramona Blue on my shelf since like Memorial Day.  I wanted to make sure I got it off my list by the end of 2017, so after reading a really bad Christmas themed story I was like okay going to read something totally different.

So I read Ramona Blue, I got to say I really don’t think I’m a fan of Julie Murphy’s.  I know a lot of people like her books, but they just don’t do it for me.  It doesn’t make sense really.  She has prickly heroines and I’m usually a fan of the prickly heroine.  I like reading about a character that’s not perfect and makes mistakes, but honestly Murphy’s heroines are borderline unlikable.

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And God, did Ramona annoy me.

In part, I think this is being an older reader of YA.  The more immature, more teenage-y heroines are going to get on your nerves at a certain point of your life.  And, well, Ramona was the type of kid I’d want to smack.  And so was Willow Dean.  Both are extremely self centered.  But again, that’s more of a own personal preference not a this book is so bad you shouldn’t read it thing.

Another thing that bothers me about Murphy’s stuff is they often rely very little on plot.  Again, part of this might be because Murphy’s books are generally realistic contemporaries and having a linear plot with a contemporary can be a stretch.  Because, come on, most people’s lives aren’t linear plot-lines like in a book.  And to be fair there are some overarching events that happen in Ramona Blue that I guess you can view as plot points, but to me they were merely thrown in there.

Yeah, there’s the whole Ramona’s sister Hattie is pregnant thing and what is Ramona going to do after senior year, but it was sort of thrown around at best.  And the whole Ramona getting a scholarship for a community college thing made me roll my eyes.

And yes, Delgado is a community college in Louisiana.  There are several of them.  I know this because when I lived in that state I took a notary exam, and unlike most states actually be a notary public in that state is sort of a big deal.  You can actually do stuff that most states require a licensed attorney to do-draft wills, draft property descriptions, handle estates, etc.  It’s actually a good way as prep work before actual bar study for the state since a lot of Louisiana’s law is civil law and…

Digressing.

Anyway, long story short Delgado was a community college offering notary prep.  There’s several of these schools, and anyone seemed to get accepted to them.  So, it was sort of laughable that an out of state student was trying to go there.  Again, maybe there was something I was missing but from my own experiences but  it was sort of hilarious to read about.

One thing I will give Murphy, is I thought the atmosphere of the area was pretty spot on.  Again, lived in southeast Louisiana for almost two years, and even though this book takes place in southwest Mississippi I could see several similarities between the culture and it was eerie to what I experienced.

There was that tight sense of community that is prevalent in that area, but at the same time the area is overshadowed still by Katrina.  Yep, Katrina.  When I was living in Louisiana the ten year mark had just passed, and you could still see signs that the area was STILL struggling to rebuild itself.  Buildings would still have clear flood damage, the police station where I got myself finger printed for the bar still reeked of mold.  People would still talk about the storm, about how it effected them in their family, and hearing that Ramona’s family still hadn’t left the FEMA trailer that they had moved in after the storm seemed realistic to me.

So that was a plus, I guess.  Getting the setting down.  I know a lot books where this does not happen, but the setting came off brilliantly here.  Too bad, not much else did.  And I’m sorry a setting doesn’t make a book.

As for how it did depicting representation, I’m really don’t know if it’s my place to discuss so much  since I am straight.  However, I will say that I like that the quote quote plot about the MC’s sexuality it isn’t the sole focus of the book, i.e. it’s not so much a lesbian finding out that she’s bisexual than a teenager dealing with different relationships.  I can see someone who ID’s the same as the protagonist liking the book because the book’s target isn’t clearly WASP cis het kids who Murphy is trying to  “teach a lesson to”.  Rather, it deals with the character’s sexuality nonchalantly.  So that in my book, makes this one decent.  But again, I’m probably not the best person to ask about this.

So, at the end of the day, I really wasn’t a fan of Ramona Blue. I mean, it had some nice things going for it but the fact that it has a very unlikable protagonist and a nonexistent plot made me disinterested in it.

Again, though, more subjective reasons for me not liking this one than objective so take that into account.

Overall Rating: I’ll give it a C.

Books on my 2018 Reading List: A Whole Lot of Fluff and Some Other Stuff Too

It’s that time again, been saying that a lot lately, to discuss books I’m looking forward to in the upcoming years.  Note, this list is not exhausted.  I have a lot more books listed on my GoodReads list.  So if you sort of want an idea of what more there is in 2018 you can check out that list as well.  The ones I’m listing here are just a few of my picks for the new year:

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My Lady Jane was one of my favorite 2016 reads.  I also have a soft spot for Jane Eyre since I spent a good chunk of my senior spring semester  writing an essay over it on female empowerment.  So yeah, this one is definitely on the list and has already been preordered.  Only thing is, it won’t be released until the summer.

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When Dimple Met Rishi was one of my favorite fluffs this year, so of course I’m going to pick up Menon’s new book which looks just as good as her first.

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While I didn’t absolutely love Love and Gelato I am interested in the follow up, mainly because I studied a semester in Ireland and am wanting to revisit it.

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Because the hidden princess trope will never grow old.  Do you hear me?

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Because the washed up Hollywood star trope is never old.

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This one just looks adorable.  And what is that she’s drinking, I want it now.

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Owning a Beagle, I can tell you that dog is going to get into that wedding cake and it’s baying is the result of the obvious wedding disaster.  BTW, Patty Beagle says she’s annoyed that she wasn’t chosen as a cover model for this book.  She says she would’ve already gotten her nose in that wedding cake.  Whatever Patty.

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Obviously, a Cover Beagle.  No, just, no.

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This one has been compared to Anastasia and Fire Fly.  Interesting combination.

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The title alone should tell you why it’s an instant must.  Also, I’ve noticed a lot of these books I’ve put on this list are happy fluff books.  I think it’s because life is so depressing right now.

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So, I wasn’t really happy with how the third book in this series was, but this is Garret’s story.  Though, I really wish that the cover gods would’ve spared Garret from having to endure a ball gown.  For one that gown hardly looks period appropriate, for another Garret isn’ the ballgown type.

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Okay, I’ll admit it the fact that Rachel Maddow’s name is on the book made me interested in it.  Maddow is a BAMF and of course a protagonist who is writing to her has to be a BAMF too, right?  Well, we’ll see.  But seriously, if you haven’t you need to watch TRMS, probably the best show to get news these days.

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Macaroons are one of the only few things in the pastry world I can eat since having to go gluten free.  So of course a book with them being on the cover I have to have.  Also, I like cooking romances.  I don’t know why.  It’s not even like I cook that much or have that much of an interest in it, other than the fact I refuse to eat fast food and have to pretty make everything because of my dietary requirements but need that book.

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Again, anything with royal in it I’m down with it.  I am anticipating a lot of these books with Prince Harry getting married and all and I am going to live vicariously through these books.

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Female Oliver Twist with gender bending could be very, very, good.

 

It’s That Time Again: 2017 Wrap Up

How time has flown when you’re worried the world is going to be blown up because there is a loon in the White House.

Seriously, though.  2017 was ridiculous.  It was like blink and you missed it.  I am hoping that 2018 sanity re-enters the world, but I hoped the same after 2016-the year of hell-so I really don’t have that much hope for next year just that it somewhat gets better…hopefully.  Anyway, in addition to the news going all topsy turvy.  2017 has been challenging for me.  Professionally I have grown a lot, which is a good thing.  I’m actually getting to do more lawyer-ly things now which is good.  Writing wise, I’ve been a little meh.  But I am hoping next year to buckle down some.

Total Books Read: Per my GoodReads tracker thing I read 92 books.  Last year, I read 160-sh books.  Big decline, but again, I am actually working more now so the decline was expected.  Plus, I only had a goal of 50 books so I accomplished that.

Most Read Genre: I’d say this year the list is more eclectic but I do think probably the most read genre, if any, was contemporary YA.  I like fluff, since most of my day is spent dealing with people’s problems I need a break and it’s usually with fluff.  Of course, that stupid sorting hat quiz based on books sorted me as a bloody Hufflepuff because of this but don’t let my reading choices fool you I am a Slytherin at heart.

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Reading Report: Eh.  Not that memorable of a year.  There were a few really good books that stuck out.  But I did DNF a lot.  However, there wasn’t really a horrible stand out this year.  Oh, I’m sure I did read a couple of things that had me raging.  But I have finally gotten to the point where I DNF rather than continue to read the damn thing.

Biggest Surprise:

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I read this very early on this year and it still was one of the most pleasant surprises of the year.  I honestly did not like Stacey Lee’s debut.  In fact, I mocked it in an Oregon Trail game log style of a review.  However, The Secret of a Heart Note really was a good read.  Given the summary, I expecting it to be borderline cliche, but surprisingly it wasn’t. If you like witch oriented books you might want to give this one a try.

Biggest Disappointment(s):

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I think this was a case of over hype for me.  I just didn’t get into this book.  I might try to pick it up again later on, but there is just too much high fantasy language in it for my liking.    When I generally read, I read to get away, which means my brain is not working over time.  Believe it or not, Reading MJ is a lot different from Working MJ.  Working MJ has to read a lot of dull code books that numbs her brain, Reading MJ does not wish to read stuff that makes her think.  Hence, why Reading MJ’s reading choices made her a damn Hufflepuff/muggle when she took that stupid quiz.

That quiz sucks.

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Ugh, Mulan retelling my ass.  One thing it’s in Japan, which I guess you know that’s where it’s going to be set given the synopsis of the book.  But God did this move so slow, and it featured a heroine who was a bad ass in name only.

Most Relevant Book(s): 

Going to cheat again and put two here.

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No, shit.  This book was extremely relative to what’s going on and it was extremely cathartic.  Like, I felt like everything was going to be better for the fifteen minutes after I read it, until  I turned on MSNBC and saw Trump acting like an idiot.  Upon reflection, the biggest thing I picked up from reading Hillary’s book is just how fucked up our country is.  Seriously, you let emails destroy a country, people.  Emails.  And it’s interesting to note that a lot of those people in the media who were belittling her throughout the election have been caught up in all their own little scandals (cough, Matt Lauer, cough).  Also to note, my review on this book is probably one of my most popular reviews on GoodReads (after that one I did mocking Cassandra Clare expanding the Shadow Hunter book series for the fiftieth time) I also get the most flames for it as well.  I have to say though blocking deleting or mocking the various trolls I get for that review are a nice form of therapy.

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The Hate U Give  needs to be given attention for this category as well.  This book made me so emotional, and I can see it being a must on every school reading list.  While it handles contemporary real time issues such as race relations and police brutality with precision and grace, the characters are also well formed and the voice is addicting. And of course, it had to be banned in some school in Katy, Texas (seriously, Texas, we are looking more and more ridiculous, Ted Cruz is bad enough, but banning The Hate U Give)  I am looking forward to seeing the movie when it comes out.  I’m also looking forward to reading Thomas’s next book too which is about a teenage rapper.

The Trend That Can Just Die:

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Youtube/Internet Famous tropes just need to die.  I’m sorry YA authors, you are pandering.  With the very rare exception(s) Geekerella and Eliza and Her Monsters I get so, so, annoyed with this trope.  More often than not, it seems like the author does not know how things go viral.  How Youtube stars and internet people actually have to work to get popular.  How, a lot of Vine stars are just god damn annoying and not people I want to read about.  Seriously, just stop.

Forever Ship:

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Eliza and Wallace because they’re just awkward and precious. Actually I read quite a few cute ship book this year.  I’d also suggest checking out Geekerella (one nerd themed trope book I didn’t want to throw at someone) and When Dimple Met Rishi if you want some ship goodness that tackles arranged marriages.

Kill This Ship With Fire

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Charlotte and the Random Dude She Met in the airport.  Seriously, no.  I don’t care if he’s cute.  You don’t get into an Uber with a random dude you met at the airport.  Especially to get makeovers at Macy’s. Runner ups go to Ramon and Katie from Tender Triumph which will always forever suck, and Chuck and Jess from Jess and Chunk and the Road Trip to Infinity because Chuck deserved better than having his girlfriend call him Chunk for the rest of his life.  Also, that couple from #Famous who were just god damn annoying and I’m to lazy to look up their names (I also think I gave away that book too-hopefully, I don’t want to see it again).

Best Overall Book:

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Yeah, I know I suck.  But you know what, this book made me feel so much better after I read it and it was the book I needed this year so it’s going to be named my top book.  Deal with it.  Also, it’s kind of one of those inspiration books for me, to get myself to move on and keep fighting.  That is a good thing.  I’ve actually read quite a few feminist themed YA books this year too come to think of amongst them being Moxie and A Mad Wicked Folly.

Honorable Mentions Should be Given to the Following:

  • Every Move by Ellie Marney it’s Ellie Marney duh.  Also last book in this fantastic Sherlock retelling series.
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas see previous discussion about how relevant this book is.
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon a meet cute with the female lead interested in STEM while her male counterpart is an artist.
  • Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia an actual cute fandom romance that actually had some thoughtful discussion about mental health.

Worst Overall Book: 

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As I said in my review, I’m pretty sure this is the romance novel that gave Hillary Clinton her disdain for the genre.  It is horrible all around horrible.  Honestly, though it’s sort of cheating putting this one on here since I knew when it came to reviewing it it was going to be like the worst book I read this year.  I hated it when I first touched it ten years ago.  However, a list is a list and it gets the crowning glory.  However, here are some of the other books that made me want to puke and/or throw them against the wall.

  • Flower by Elizabeth Craft: Didn’t even get to the 50 page mark with this one and it got returned.  That’s how bad it was.
  • #Famous by Jilly Gagnon: Ugh, ugh, ugh.  This one was just all out embarrassing.  It’s one of those books you cringe throughout the entire book.  Also, Gangon has no idea how things go viral.
  • Romancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney: It’s bad when you are more curious about what reality show the author was on than the actual book.  Also, book sucked.  Just read The Royal We.  I know it’s not age appropriate for all, but it is way better than this drivel.
  • Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven: Obviously, Niven did not do her research about over eating and face blindness.
  • Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean: Twilight in Scotland.  Didn’t I read a time travel book with a similar premises a few years ago.  Oh, wait that was time travel this one…I didn’t even get far enough to see what sort of paranormal was thrown in.  It was just so 2006.
  • If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L Armentrout: A book that will just depress you.  Enough said.
  • Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider: Or be an idiot and get in a car with a stranger.

There were several more books I read that didn’t make the list for one reason or the other.  Before the new year, I’ll try to post what new release in 2018 I’m looking forward to.

 

I’m In a Funk: Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider

34220850It’s Christmas Eve at JFK in NYC.

Charlotte is a British student, waiting for a flight home after the worst semester of her life. Anthony is a native New Yorker, surprising his girlfriend at the airport after three months apart. Charlotte has just been dumped, and Anthony is about to be dumped, right in the middle of the holiday crowd.

Charlotte’s flight is canceled when a blizzard blows in, and Anthony can’t bear to go home. So, they set out into the city together, clutching a book Charlotte picks up in the airport gift shop: Ten Easy Steps for Getting Over Your Ex. For this one night, they’ll focus on healing their broken hearts … together.

Step-by-step, the two struggle to put the past behind them. But the snow is so enchanting, and the holiday lights are so beguiling, that soon their shared misery gives way to something else. Soon, they’re not only over their exes — they’re falling for each other.

Then a subway ride splits them up by mistake. Will they reunite before Charlotte’s flight leaves New York forever?

Source: GoodReads

I love Christmas themed stuff.  Which is probably why I spent a good chunk of my weekend watching bad holiday movies on Hallmark and Lifetime.  Whenever there’s a YA book that looks like its cute and holiday themed, I’m always willing to grab it.  However….well, a lot of them suck  And Kiss Me in New York is one of these books.

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Honestly though, I sort of wonder if some of my disdain for this book was that I’ve hit burn out.  I have about a shelf worth of books that I haven’t read and nothing sounds good to me right now.  And I have sort of been on a DNF streak lately.  Don’t ask me why, I just have been.  I don’t even think if I was in a funk I would enjoy this book.

This book just feels very packaged.  In part, that is expected.  After all, the book isn’t going to be that original.  There’s only so many ways you can do a Christmas centered romance or any contemporary really.  What makes a book special though, is its characters.  And God knows, this book is filled with insipid twits if there ever were some.

Charlotte is dumped by her boyfriend and she acts like it’s pretty much the end of the world until he meets this random new guy at an airport bookstore.  It’s not a cute meet.  It feel contrived and just blah.

I get having a teenage girl upset about a breakup is realistic, but the way Charlotte was acting it was like it was the end of the world.    It was annoying, and then as soon as she finds a somewhat cute guy that through luck becomes single pretty much after they have a twenty second talk at said book store that she falls instantly in love with him.

I mean, come on.  I get that instant love is going to be standard fair in YA.  And to some degree, it’s standard fair in adult romance as well, but this goes beyond the pale in what you usually see.

For example, in the most notorious example of insta love I can think of (The Twilight Saga) while there is pretty much instant attraction between Bella and Edward, it takes a good 200 or so pages of them to profess their love in a disgusting way.  Here, while vows weren’t exchange the two randomly decide to spend a day together after a fifteen second conversation in the airport.

Can you imagine that?  Getting in a taxi with a random person you see in the airport.  Doesn’t that creep you out a little bit?  I know it creeps me out.  But I guess in the authors (yes, authors Rider is a pen name) didn’t think of all the weirdos you meet in the relationship and if Charlotte randomly met a cute boy it would be okay…

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Side note, I actually have been stuck in JFK’s international terminal for a six hour layover.  It was not romantic.  I remember getting very annoyed about having to wait six hours and wanting to go to the Jet Blue terminal which was loads better, but couldn’t because then you’d have to go through security again and who’d want to get patted down again.

Digression, I know.  But it was hard not to digress with this book.  Or not get bored.  I stopped reading honestly, after they went to Macy’s to get makeovers.

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Side note: You don’t go to Macy’s to get a makeover.  Or anything really, now that I think about it.  I had a horrible experience the last time I went there, so I’m not very fond of it right now.  And honestly, if you’re in New York Barney’s and Bloomingdales’s are better options than Macy’s unless you’re wanting to visit 34th street because of that movie.  But as far as actual makeovers though….yeah just stick with Nordstrom’s.

Also, I found it sort of funny that this random stranger would agree to get a makeover.  But you know what, you meet a lot of strange people at the airport.

And that’s pretty much when I decided to DNF the book.

At this point, I feel pretty disillusioned when it comes to my reading choices.  I want to read a few new things before the year is over, but I’m starting to get to the point where I feel like the only way to remedy this funk will be to read some good old reliables.   Because reading has not been fun lately.

This book was not fun.  It had all the potential to be fun, but at the end it seemed like canned garbage.  I hate books like this.  I hate the fact they sold this book as a hardcover and it was not even 200 pages.  That my friends is a ripoff.

Don’t read this book, you’d be better off getting a makeover at Macy’s.

Overall Rating: DNF

 

On the Bodice Ripping Era (Or the Worst Contemporary Romance I Ever Read): Tender Triumph by Judith McNaugh

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Discover the sensual and sweeping power of love in this story of new beginnings and uncertain endings by Judith McNaught—the New York Times bestselling author that USA TODAY raves “is in a class by herself.”

On Friday, a sensuous stranger enters Katie’s life. By Sunday, her life is irrevocably changed forever.

Katie Connelly submerges her painful past in a promising career, an elegant apartment, and uncomplicated, commitment-free romantic liaisons. Yet something vital is missing from her life and she’s uncertain what it is—until she meets proud, rugged Ramon Galverra.

With his charm and passionate nature, Ramon gives her a love she has never known. She is still, however, afraid to surrender her heart to this strong, willful, secretive man—a man from a different world, a man with a daring, uncertain future. Will Katie’s relationship with Ramon survive once the initial thrill of their simmering passion subsides?

In this bold and heartfelt novel, perfect for fans of Julie Garwood and Lisa Kleypas, Judith McNaught proves once again that she “not only spins dreams, but she makes them come true” (RT Book Reviews).

Source: GoodReads

Guess, what peeps, it’s rant time.  If you know me, you know that this book has been on my hate list for awhile.  Okay, maybe I haven’t mentioned it that much because it’s not YA and YA is what I usually review on this blog, but it is a known fact amongst personal friends that this is one of the most hated books on the MJ list.

Long story short, it was one of the books my mom gifted me when I first started reading romance.  I don’t think she realized how God awful offensive this book was.  Because if she did, she probably wouldn’t have given it to me (she has actually told me this when I ranted about said book several times).  It’s the sort of book that makes my blood pressure get ridiculously high where I feel the blood pumping in that vein above my head and… I end up looking like Toht on Indiana Jones when his face melted into liquid goo.

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I still remember my rants about Katie and Ramon quite well.  I think I was a high school junior then so it’s been roughly about twelve years since I read it, and I still remember it.

God, I’m old.

Anyways, I decided to pick this one up again mainly because I wanted to discuss some of the faux pas in the bodice era of romance after reading that Hillary Rodham Clinton found romances in general to perpetuate to the  misogynic toxic society that we are living in.  Honestly, if all books were like Tender Triumph and Midsummer Magic (just mentioning that one has that vein throbbing again) I’d have had no beef with what Hillary said.  However, I think with being first lady, senator of New York, secretary of state, and just being an all around BAMF for the past twenty plus years has kept her busy from picking up a modern day romance novel which departs a little bit from the bodice ripper era books.

To be blunt though, there are still some very problematic romances out there.  You’ve heard me rant about them, but there are also some really good ones out there.  Classifying the genre like that left me shaking my head a bit, but for someone who probably hasn’t read the genre in years I can give her a pass.  Especially if she would’ve read Tender Triumph.  Because if we’re using Tender Triumph as an example, then, well, Hillary’s got it pegged.

I only got through about 90 pages when I reread this one.  In the couple of chapters there was sexism, racism, and homophobia.  Lovely stuff.

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Because I have way too much time on my hands ( I really don’t).  Here’s a few keepers:

“Any roommates?”

“Two lesbians,” she lied gravely

He believed her, and wasn’t shocked.  “No kidding?  It doesn’t bother you?”

Katie gave him a look of wide-eyed innocence.  “I adore them.”  For just a fraction of a second he looked revolted, and Katie’s smile widened with genuine laughter.

Recovering almost immediately, she shrugged.  “Too bad.  See you around.” (15)

She knew, and he knew, that simply because he was Hispanic she had assumed he drove a produce truck. (23)

“I mean, you think it is important that brandy be drunk in the ‘proper’ wau, yet you do not worry if it is ‘proper’ to invite any man you meet into your apartment.  You risk soiling your reputation and-” (29)

Those are just three quotes that made me throw the book against the wall,  I threw it several other times as well.  You know when I revisited Midsummer Magic  as gross as it was-and it is gross, Coulter tries to justify rape with bloody cream-at least it was sort of fun to mock in the fact that it was clear that Coulter didn’t take herself seriously and the book in part was meant to be taken as a farce.  A sick fuck of a farce, but a farce.   This book though, it did take itself in a more serious fashion and these quotes I’m using-well, they were all supposed to be a part of playful banter that has the characters endear each other to them.  Ramon’s backwards views that Katie should make him dinner and give up her job, were suppose to be sweet.

They weren’t sweet though, they were fucked up.

As was the marriage proposal that appears randomly after the characters barely know each other and the immediate if you marry me you move to Puerto Rico with me woman bits as well.

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Seriously.

It’s not like I can even sympathize that much with Katie.  She is a racist bitch.  There’s no other way to describe it. But I still wanted to shake her and tell her that she was getting herself in danger with Ramon.  It had all the classic marks of an abusive relationship and it made me want to vomit.

Ramon “rescues” Katie when she’s being harassed by her married boyfriend to put out.  It’s not a meet cute situation for sure.  I think McNaught wanted the reader to feel like Ramon was a white knight of sorts, but I kept thinking how did Katie not know that married guy was married.

As for Ramon,  he’s obnoxious.  Pretty much he sells produce out of his truck because daddy got senile and ruined the company, and rather than sucking it up and getting a job that his skills could actually be utilized he decides that he’s going to go back to farming-something he’s never done before.  I guess based off of the books God awful narration, he thought he’d be good because his grandfather was a farmer or whatever.

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You know, being a farmer actually requires you to know things like how plants grow and the like.  Not that Ramon knows this.  But I think he’s at least okay with farming since he can grow cabbages in Puerto Rico and apparently take them over in the mainland  to fly in his truck.

Look, I don’t ask questions.  Ramon is suppose to be this big shot businessman so I’m guessing he had some sort of plan in this cabbage growing investment of his.  But I didn’t even know you could grow cabbages in Puerto Rico.

Anyway…digression about the agriculture business aside, after Ramon rescues Katie he decides to stalk her.

Seriously, girl asks him to go away and he won’t actually go away.  Katie should’ve got the pepper spray out and called the police.  But instead he’s mildly attractive so we get some very squeamish scenes of them “dating”.

Which consists of the characters insulting each other back and forth and being okay with each other only because they find each other to be oddly physically attractive.

You know, this has the bare bones to be a good story.  I would’ve enjoyed reading Ramon’s riches to rags tell if he wasn’t such a sexist creeper ass.  I would’ve enjoyed Katie had she not been such a racist bitch who somehow doesn’t know she’s dating a married man and then is willing to randomly agree to marry someone who is forcing her to move outside of the continental US.

But instead, this story was just gross.  This was the sort of story that you could see why Hillary Clinton has the bad impression of romance books that she does.  To be fair to McNaught, I vaguely recall reading an interview awhile back that this book and Double Standards (another early era McNaught book) were heavily influenced by the publisher.  But honestly, that’s sort of a piss poor excuse.  I think if anything Tender Triumph shows really underlying problems in society that still exists to this day.

In this book, sexism is treated merely as a courtship ritual.  Racism is merely innocent assumptions made about a person.  And homophobia is just a funny hahaha joke.  Honestly though, nothing about this is funny, romantic, or innocent.  It’s disgusting, disturbing, and deplorable.

The thing is, as bad as Tender Triumph is the genre has thankfully evolved.  While books as bad as this do still unfortunately do still exist, they’re not as near as prevalent as they once were.  Unfortunately though, books like this have stigmatized the genre to some degree.

When I first started reading romance, I remember picking up a copy of McNaught’s Paradise before one of my undergrad classes when the professor came into the room and told me I was too smart to read such drivel.  Honestly, that comment has lingered on me since taking that class and I’m still disgusted by it.  However, with the stigma that books like Tender Triumph have left on the genre, it’s understandable but still not right.  Fortunately, it does seem like the genre has made a lot of strides since the early 80’s (when this book was first published).  However, progress still can be made (you know, by getting rid of  the alpha douche themed books all together)

Overall Rating: Falalala you fail.

Slow as Syrup: Not Now Not Ever by Lily Anderson

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The sequel to The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You, inspired by The Importance of Being Earnest.

Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn’t going to do this summer.

1. She isn’t going to stay home in Sacramento, where she’d have to sit through her stepmother’s sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn’t going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn’t going to the Air Force summer program on her mother’s base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender’s Game, Ellie’s seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it’s much less Luke/Yoda/”feel the force,” and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn’t appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she’d be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she’s going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer’s going to be great.

Source: GoodReads

Geek culture has been invaded.

It’s true. It seems like there is a whole subgenera of YA books that deals with the subject matter.  There are some really good ones and there are some not so good ones that make me want to throw my Funko pops at someone.

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Lily Anderson seems to like this subgenera.  The one other book she has written pretty much can be described as Big Bang Theory lite.  I remember liking it, but not loving it.  This book tipped my interest though because it was suppose to be a retelling of The Importance of Being Ernest.  Which was probably one of my favorite plays that I read during high school, it probably helped that we watched the Colin Firth movie in class.  Come to think of it, Mrs. G showed a lot of Colin Firth movies in class.

I sort of get why.

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If you haven’t seen The Importance of Being Ernest its really a comedy of manners and its fairly quick witted.   Translating it to a modern day setting should’ve been an interesting task.  However, I found myself quickly bored with this version.

It started off fine.  We had an interesting set up, but I wasn’t laughing in this retelling.  I was just like get on with it already…and while there was na interesting set up it just kind of fizzled after awhile.

I think that was part of the problem I had with Anderson’s earlier work too.  Great set up, decent characters, but then the plot sort of stalls and doesn’t move.  And that’s what exactly happened in this book.

I thought about giving it more time, but honestly I think this year if anything has taught me that if something does not hold my interest to DNF and that’s exactly what I did here. I honestly felt sort of bad about it though.  There were a lot of things I did like about it.  The MC seemed complex, had interests that were outside of the realm of mainstream YA. The love interest looked possibly intriguing as well.  But everything about all the characters was just intriguing.  It was like when am I going to get a pay off…

Also, this is a companion book to The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You, while you definitely don’t have to read that book to understand this one, if you haven’t read it, it’s sort of like reading an inside joke.  While the characters from the previous book only make minor cameos, it’s like Anderson obviously expects you to know them.  Since it’s almost been two years since I read said book I had to sort of think about who some of the minor characters were from that particular book.

So yeah, this was a little bit of a dud for me but I might try picking it up again one day.  I just hate things that drag and this one unfortunately does.

Overall Rating: DNF

Half Baked and Full of Shitty People: Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

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Despite sending him letters ever since she was thirteen, Taliah Abdallat never thought she’d ever really meet Julian Oliver. But one day, while her mother is out of the country, the famed rock star from Staring Into the Abyss shows up on her doorstep. This makes sense – kinda – because Julian Oliver is Taliah’s father, even though her mother would never admit it to her.

Julian asks if Taliah if she will drop everything and go with him to his hometown of Oak Falls, Indiana, to meet his father – her grandfather – who is nearing the end of his life. Taliah, torn between betraying her mother’s trust and meeting the family she has never known, goes.

With her best friend Harlow by her side, Taliah embarks on a three-day journey to find out everything about her ‘father’ and her family. But Julian isn’t the father Taliah always hoped for, and revelations about her mother’s past are seriously shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.

Source: GoodReads

This one was a bit of a disappointment.  It had a nice set up, but it sort of fell flat on its face when it came to its resolution.  The good thing was it was a quick read.

Wow, just realized I sort of summarized this review in two sentences.  So if you’re on a rush for time, I guess you can stop reading now.  However, if you like reading my diatribes (and if you’re reading this blog you probably do or at least get quasi amused reading  my diatribes) please continue on.

I’ll be honest, I probably would’ve ignored this book had it been for it’s cover alone (it’s sort of blah) but the long lost successful daddy trope is a favorite of mine and I sort of had to read it based on that.  I mean, What  a Girl Wants  is one of my all time favorite movies and it exploits this trope to the fullest, so what could go wrong with this book…

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It’s not that it has a bad set up.  I thought the set up was fairly decent for the most part.  Although, I’ll admit it was sort of clunky for this famous rock star to appear out of nowhere  and take his daughter to middle of nowhere Ohio, BUT I’ll let some things stretch.  The character development seemed like it was good at first.  We had a fractured friendship, the MC’s relationship with her estranged long lost father and mother, a dying grandfather, the MC becoming confident in her own talents, and a potential love interest for the MC.  But honestly, none of those plots were ever fully dissolved.

A part of me gets it.  In real life, nothing would be tied up in a bow, but there were some pretty horrible plot twists here that made me find the MC’s parents to pretty much be horrible shitheads all around.

For most of the book, the relationship between Tal and her long lost family had me intrigued.  I liked the relationship that was developing between her and Julian, and I thought that there were some nice scenes between her and her long lost grandmother.  However, that was quickly swept against the rug with that stupid twist.

Look, I get people aren’t perfect and I think that Warga probably included that twist to make the mother character more sympathetic, but it just seemed cheap to me.  It completely destroyed what I thought about Julian’s character and motivations throughout the novel.  It also didn’t absolve Lena of anything.  She is still pretty much a terrible person.  Sure, Julian might’ve acted like an ass, but Tal at the very least should’ve known.  Or at the very, very, least Julian should’ve been held accountable enough to pay child support or something.

Okay, I know that little last tidbit is from me handling too many family law cases, BUT still…you get what I mean.  I also could care less for Tal’s relationship with her b.f.f. who she’s grown distant with.  B.F.F. (whose name I want to say is Harley or something-I forgot and am too lazy to get the book out of my suitcase) is a jerk.  She pretty much disses Tal because she has a girlfriend and makes demands of her about calling her mom-Tal should’ve told her to stuff it.

I’m sorry Harley was shitty.  I’m sure she’ll grow out of it eventually, but the book makes it seem likes its all Tal’s fault.  But it’s really not.   Talk, you need to make friends with some decent people.

The romance or squint of it was okay, but after finishing the book I really wondered why it was included.  It’s clear Tal is leaving Ohio and probably won’t see this guy again.  And they only knew each other for three day so…pointless.

The flashbacks, while nice, and gave some introspection again were useless.  There was all this build up between Julian and his father, and Julian and Lena and the payoff was just pathetic.  It just really annoyed me all together.

In all, this book had so much promise, but totally flopped upon execution.  If you like the long lost father trope or books that explore relationships, I don’t recommend this one.  Rather, pop in What a Girl Wants again or read The Wrong Side of Right.  Seriously, this isn’t worth it.

Overall Rating: I was originally going to give it a C+ but upon reflection I’m thinking a C- might be more accurate.  It’s not half bad, but it is very poorly executed.