#Cringe: #Famous by Jilly Gagnon

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In this modern-day love story, Girl likes Boy, Girl takes photo of Boy and posts it online, Boy becomes accidentally insta-famous. And what starts out as an innocent joke spirals into a whirlwind adventure that could change both their lives—and their hearts—forever. But are fame and love worth the price?

Told in alternating points of view, #famous captures the out-of-control thrill ride of falling for someone in front of everyone.

Source: GoodReads

Is there a Meme solely devoted to cringe worthy yet?

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I know there are face palm gifs and the like, and there’s a cat that represents grumpiness but is there a meme just for cringing?

Probably.  But because I get annoyed with internet fads-Come on, The Dress.  Really,that was a thing that people got obsessed with for a week or whatever-I’m not going to do anymore research than maybe do a quick search for cringe worthy gifs to put in this review, but if this book  itself could be a potential cringe meme or hashtag though it’s trying for something else.

Side note, when thinking about how to draft this review I thought about looking up famous internet fads and using them in this review.  BUT…to be honest those sorts of things annoy me.  Except that cat playing the piano and all those Corgis.  Got to love the corgis.  But I did not love this book maybe if it had a Corgi I might’ve been able to like it but…

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Inserting corgi picture because after this book it’s needed to bring balance to this world. 

There is nothing about this book I liked.  Grant it, I didn’t finish it.  I read about 200 pages of it.  But with those 200 or so pages, I hated it to pieces and and those Corgis that become viral sensations have more personalities than the leads in this book.

It’s bad guys.  So, so, bad.

So, the basic premises of the book is this idiot takes a picture of a guy says something stupid about her crush online.  Gets Lifetime-ish bullied while guy becomes popular because (Misogyny Trope 101) and we get the painful scene of an Ellen wannabe trying to get them together give a stupid daytime TV talkshow scheme-note, I might love daytime soaps for their campiness but their cheap counterpart I cannot stand.

There are probably some of you reading this review wondering why I even read this book in the first place.  After all, it looks like based on everything I said I would hate it since I am not a huge fan of internet fads.  And yeah…to some degree that is true, but I thought it could be interesting to look at how an internet fad explodes and the aftermath it causes the people it surrounds.

That does not mean, I thought I’d get a cliche story with two characters who are pretty much being forced to be together when they shouldn’t.

Even though I DNF’d this mother fucker, I snuck a peak in the end and I did not like what I saw.   I think for this book to end well for me, it would’ve been for Gagnon to not do the cliche thing which she did.  I really wish, for example, that Kyle-fry guy-was not a main character.

He’s not bad, per say, but he is a dumb jock and adds nothing to the story other than being a dumb pretty jock.

Grant it, Rachel’s not that much better.  She’s one of those girls I would feel sorry for, but at the same time it would be hard to be nice to her because she is just annoying.  I’d probably just ignore her to be honest, but really she’s obnoxious and will be just as obnoxious as her mother when she’s older.

Spoiler alert, major bad parent alert.  I don’t think anyone in this book has decent parents which is always a shame, I’d rather the parents just be absent if their going to be jerks but Rachel’s mother brings bad parenting to another level.  Kyle’s mom is pretty horrible too.

Needless to say, I don’t recommend this one.  In my earlier blogging days, I might’ve tried to make  this review more amusing.  Have the Beagle review it with a  series of her internet “memes” but I’m just tired of books like this.  Overhyped and just blah and annoying.  It’s especially annoying because fandom/internet famous themed books seem to be popular these days and I think I’ve only read about two books where I just didn’t cringe at how “fake” the book sounds.  I know I’m technically on the older side of the social media trends, but I know enough that not everyone who has a blog, log, or Twitter account is going to go viral.

And Gagnon (and any other author) don’t use fake social media sites when you really mean Twitter or Instagram.  Your audience is not stupid, we know what you’re really talking about just use freaking Twitter.  Same goes with your Ellen wannabe.  I was easily able to see who the talkshow host was.  Be less obvious if you’re going to go with the fake celebrity host.

God.

Overall rating, DNF.  I wish I hadn’t bought it.

Super Slow Start But Overall Good: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

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Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Source: GoodReads

The Beauty and the Beast remake came out this week (haven’t seen it yet, but I’m hoping to next week) so of course a YA retelling of the fairytale had to come out around the same time.

To be fair to Spooner though, there’s a lot of YA B&B retellings.  I think there’s just something about the fairytale that begs itself to be retold.  Perhaps, it’s the whole fact that author’s keep trying to explain why this fairytale about Stockholm syndrome is romantic even though it really shouldn’t be.  Regardless, it’s a perennial favorite of YA authors everywhere and Spooner’s retelling adds nicely to the collection of retellings out there but it’s not perfect.

The biggest problem is the first third of this book.  Oh, God, it is slow.  So freaking slow.  I almost DNF’d it.  That’s how slow it is, but I kept pressing on.  I don’t know what compelled me to, but I’m glad I did.  Once the book gets started its good.

Not great, but good and I did enjoy it.  Spooner has an interesting twist on the story.  One I’m glad that is addressed because the whole “more” aspect of the movie always did annoy me.

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Here, though it’s a fundamental part of the story affecting Beast and Beauty and I’m glad it had a point in the story, besides being just a way Beauty views herself as an outsider.

I also liked the atmosphere that Spooner created.  I really felt like the world was unique, and I later learnt was inspired by some Russian fairytales which I was unfamiliar with.  It worked really well.

As far as Beauty’s relationship with the Beast in this one I was sort of meh about.  Sure, it’s the familiar love story but the chemistry never reached the levels that some other YA retellings-I’m thinking of Cruel Beauty and ACOTR and even Uprooted.  Honestly, I really didn’t feel the romantic tension between the two characters for most of the book and instead thought how unhealthy the relationship was.

Never a good thing, but still there are far worse YA couples out there.  And for what it is worth the twists that Spooner added to the story almost remedied the awkwardness of the ship and the bad beginning.

So overall, while there were some neat things about Hunted it is hardly the best YA adaptation of Beauty and the Beast out there.  Still, if you are a Beauty and the Beast fan and/or want to look at a retelling with an interesting twist, you might want to give this one a try.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

 

Otherwise Known as Dad’s a Pseudo Bigamist: Two Summers by Aimee Friedman

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ONE SUMMER in the French countryside, among sun-kissed fields of lavender . . .

ANOTHER SUMMER in upstate New York, along familiar roads that lead to surprises . . .

When Summer Everett makes a split-second decision, her summer divides into two parallel worlds. In one, she travels to France, where she’s dreamed of going: a land of chocolate croissants, handsome boys, and art museums. In the other, she remains home, in her ordinary suburb, where she expects her ordinary life to continue — but nothing is as it seems.

In both summers, she will fall in love and discover new sides of herself. What may break her, though, is a terrible family secret, one she can’t hide from anywhere. In the end, it may just be the truth she needs the most.

From New York Times bestselling author Aimee Friedman comes an irresistible, inventive novel that takes readers around the world and back again, and asks us what matters more: the journey or the destination.

Source: GoodReads

This book should’ve of been tagged with a warning label that it would piss me off.  I’ll just get the good stuff out the way, the book is readable.  In this day and age of YA, that’s actually a plus because there is a lot of shit with purple prose out there that you just want to tell to f off.  But even though this book didn’t have purple prose I still wanted to tell it to sod off and slam the door in its ugly face.

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I should’ve known when I read that the MC’s name was Summer that we were not going to be friends.  I have a bad experience with that name, so it might’ve tainted me (a little) with this book.  That aside though, the MC’s name could’ve been Indiana Jones and I still wouldn’t have liked the book.

And if you know me, you know I have a thing for Indiana Jones pre-horrendous fourth movie with the prairie dogs.  I think it’s the fact he kicks Nazi ass and the hat.  Got to love the hat.

I’ll give credit to Summer though, I didn’t exactly hate her for the most part.  Sure, girl had borderline misogynic tendencies and trashed talk supposed “Mean Girls” all the time but I mostly felt sorry for her.

She was pretty fucking pathetic.  And I don’t know if that’s a good thing.  I mean, I get shit happens to good people in real life but I felt like this character got hit with so much shit so I would feel sorry for her, despite hating girls instantly because they’re prettier than her.  And insult girls because they’re different than her.

A Grumpy YA reader does not forget, Summer.  Though you’re life sucks and your parents are horrible people and you really should ask (no, beg) your aunt to take up custody of you, so you might grow up to be a quasi decent human.  But…

Yeah, there is so much shit in this book and I don’t think the fallout was ever dealt with properly BECAUSE we had to deal with the fucking gimmick of this book.

The two realities.

Which aren’t even fucking explained.  Like, I’m even sure why we even have them here other than to sell the book.  I can imagine that a conversation  sort of like  this happened between Friedman in the editors when drafting this book.  Okay, not like this, but this was the sort of conversation I imagined when reading this drivel:

Editor: This just isn’t very interesting Aimee.  A girl gets ditched by her father and ends up staying at home taking a lame-o junior college class and finding out a life changing secret. She was going to France.  Freaking France. I wanted freaking France in this book and instead I got a boring photography class with some melodrama.  I mean, who cares about the dad being a bigamist.

Friedman: Well, he’s not exactly a bigamist.  They weren’t married so pseudo bigamist.  And besides,  it’s a life changing secret.  That is our hook.

Editor Shrugs: Yeah, life changing.  I mean, there’s lots of logical fallacies here that…you know what, maybe if you had What’s-Her-Face go to freaking France it might be more interesting.  You know what, rewrite the book is France and gets some baguettes and hot French dudes in here and we’ll see how things progress.  Oh, and when you finish your draft order me some baguettes.  Wait, no baguette, I’m on a no carb thing.

Six Weeks (Or However Long it Takes) Later when Friedman finishes next draft and orders her editor a shit load of baguettes to keep her in a good mood (spoiler alert, it didn’t work).

Friedman: So, is this better?

Editor: Munching on a stale baguette and gulping some hot chalet that Friedman also bought-it was that crappy instant stuff, but still chocolate.  Well, I like the hot French guy and the baguettes, but the page count is obscenely small and all What’s-Her-Face does is pout at the half sister.

Friedman: But she’s so snotty you know because she’s French and she’s the pseudo other wife’s daughter.

Editor: I know that, darling but….your page count it’s so small now.  Though, I do think the French guy is an improvement from the photo guy.

Friedman: She needs to end up with the photo guy.

Editor: Why he’s positively boring, and lame.  I mean, I know he wears hipster glasses but still boring.

Friedman: She needs to end up with the photography guy.  You can’t do long distance relationships in YA.  Unless there’s a sequel, and I can’t do a sequel (see my page count).  And I really  can’t increase my page count, believe me I tried there’s only so much I can write about eating baguettes in cafes.

Editor: Frowns as she bites into a baguette.  Well, we need the book to hit at least 50K words now if there was just a way for you to use what you had….you know AU realities are popular in YA right now..maybe you could randomly add one and we could sale this thing.

Friedman: Well, it beats rewriting the book again. Or sending you baguettes.

Okay, that was just me being a jerk  and that probably wasn’t what happened in real life, because I’m sure Aimee Friedman and her editor had a legitimate plan with this one,  but God knows its what this book felt like and like the Fictional Editor, I so prefer the hot French guy to the boring stooge that the character ends up with.

Whoops, spoiler alert.  Though to be fair, someone had already spoiled it for me on GoodReads and if it helps some other poor sap from getting their shipper heart ripped out then I really don’t give a fuck because the ship that one oozed bad ship.

Or bland ship I should say.  With the Hot French Guy, whose name is actually Jaques (how cliche can you get) there was actual chemistry even if it was cliche beyond belief.   I honestly believe that Friedman wanted to give Summer some sort of happiness at the end of the book and just couldn’t figure out a way to make Jaques and Summer stay together so she settled with Snoozer Hugh.

Bland ship aside though, one of the reasons I didn’t like this book was that the alternate realities are never really explained.  Sure, we get an occasional reference of “What If” but…we don’t know what’s real and what’s not. And I still don’t know what the point of the AU shit was (other than to theorize it was to make up for a lack of page count).

When I was reading this book I was comparing it to a Lifetime movie I watched last Christmas that involved a similar premises with this career woman who lived two alternate time lines-one which she missed a plane and another where she caught it.  This book reminded me of that premises, but the movie  (that’s right a Lifetime movie) did a better job explaining it.

At the end of the day, I just didn’t like this book.  Maybe there were some things that were trigger inducing for me-the name summer and some of the plot devices BUT it wasn’t that so much but the unexplained idiocy of the plot and the stupid ship.

Overall Rating: A D the writing gave it the passmark (barely).

 

Plenty of Painful Moments: Confessions of a High School Disaster by Emma Chastain

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In the tradition of Bridget Jones’s Diary, a lovably flawed high school student chronicles her life as she navigates the highs and lows of family, friendship, school, and love in a diary that sparkles with humor and warmth.

I’m Chloe Snow, and my life is kiiiiind of a disaster.

1. I’m a kissing virgin (so so so embarrassing).
2. My best friend, Hannah, is driving me insane.
3. I think I’m in love with Mac Brody, senior football star, whose girlfriend is so beautiful she doesn’t even need eyeliner.
4. My dad won’t stop asking me if I’m okay.
5. Oh, and my mom moved to Mexico to work on her novel. But it’s fine—she’ll be back soon. She said so.

Mom says the only thing sadder than remembering is forgetting, so I’m going to write down everything that happens to me in this diary. That way, even when I’m ninety, I’ll remember how awkward and horrible and exciting it is to be in high school

Source: GoodReads

This is a weird one to review.  The main character is slap worthy, but I think a lot of it has to do based on her age-she’s on the younger side of YA at 14/15 years old.

It’s not that I don’t mind YA books with younger protagonists (though, I generally avoid them because I can’t handle a younger protagonist’s usual severe immaturity) but in Chloe’s case what bothered me is that while she was so young, she got herself involved in some very adult situations.

I mean, maybe I’m showing my age but it’s not fun reading about a freshman getting severally wasted at a party.  Especially when said freshman urinates on herself.

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I know it happens, I’m not that naive…but since this is going to be a series I wish that the character might’ve been a little older before dealing with some of these situations.  I mean, in the Princess Diaries book Meg Cabot waited until book seven before having Mia drink a beer.

And to be honest, I probably would’ve been able to tolerate it better had Chloe been a bit more mature. But God was she dense.  So, so, dense.

If you’re not a fan of face palm moments in this book, you’ll want to avoid this one.  Chloe has so many shakeable moments its not even funny.  She makes Harriet Manners’s awkwardness look sophisticated that’s how bad it is.

True, a lot of the obviousness in this book might be overlooked by someone who’s in a similar situation to hers, but I couldn’t help but getting annoyed.

Still, despite many shakeable moments, I still enjoyed the book that’s an odd thing to say. I think one of the things I liked the best was the relationship Chloe had with her dad.  It’s nice to see a parent character in YA get fleshed out a bit and for that matter a dad character.  But as wonderful as Mr. Snow is, Mrs. Snow is just horrible and unrealistically bad in a lot of ways.  So, it sort of cancels out Mr. Snow’s greatness.  I hope what she did isn’t swept under the rug in the series subsequent installments.  Sometimes assholes like Mrs. Snow need to be treated like the assholes they are, parent or not.  I’m just saying.

The romance is squirm inducing too.  Though, I’m glad with the turn it took, it was unexpected for a YA book and it was sort of fitting.  Though, I honestly hated that everyone blamed Chloe for what happened.  The other party was just as guilty as she was, yet it seemed like he wasn’t blamed at all for what happened.  And her best friend, I’m sorry she slut slammed Chloe and didn’t deserve an apology.

It annoyed me and got me on a misogyny rant.  Yes, Chloe fucked up but I thought her friend acted shitty towards her especially given how she was treated by the rest of the school.  I mean, really bestie, you were right about that one party being hurt BUT while your bestie made mistakes she didn’t deserve to have urine thrown on her and be harassed, just saying.  Side notes, Chloe got covered with urine quite frequently throughout this book.

So as you’re probably seeing from my remarks, my feelings are mixed at best for this one.  I think I will likely continue with the series though.  The book was short and engaging and while I had issues with how Chloe was grossly immature and practically a baby but doing things that you’d expect to see with older more experienced protagonists, it was engaging enough.  If anything I’m willing to read the sequel just to see if my ship that involves Chloe’s dad and the drama teacher reunites (Yes, that was the best part of the book.  Sort of sad in hindsight).  Plus, I do see potential for Chloe maturing over the course of the series.

Overall Rating: I waiver between B- and C+ probably going to settle on the C+ though.

 

The Insides of This Book are Just as Cute as the Cover:Geekerella by Ashley Poston

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Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

Source: GoodReads

General Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Netggalley it did not effect my opinion of this book.

Guilty Confession: I love Cinderella.

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I know I shouldn’t.  It goes everything against my feminist’s principles, but there’s something always so endearingly hopeful about Cinderella type stories and add the fandom aspect that gives Geekerella it’s unique type of edge well this book was on my “Must” list for 2017.

And somehow I got an ARC of it which is a miracle in itself because I hardly ever get ARC’s.  What was even better was I read this book while recovering from a hideous migraine that made it pretty much impossible for me to get out of bed without puking for 24 hours.

And it was the perfect sort of book to read when recovering from a headache.  It wasn’t that heavy and it was the sort of light hearted romp I like to read in YA.  Not depressing at all and the ship as very cute for the most part.  There were also some decent side characters which is nice since usually side characters in romance heavy YA books can be abysmal at best.

But the character Sage was probably one of my favorite characters in the book and so was The Magic Pumpkin which wasn’t a character, but the food truck had its own form which was interesting enough to read with.

Was Geekerella a perfect book?

No.  It had it’s fair share of problems, but at the end of the day it did it’s job.  It let me slip away for those few hours in a feel good bubble, though being the grumpy cantankerous blogger that I am, I am going to point out the faults that it did have.

Most importantly, the there were some tropes in the book that made me grown.  A lot of it had to deal with the stepmother and one of the stepdaughters.  And okay, I know it’s a Cinderella retelling.  I know when there’s a Cinderella retelling that there’s going to be an evil stepmother and at least one evil stepsister.  But my issue with this was that they were so ridiculously evil and had very little consequences that it made me sort of angry at the end.

I was like when is the stepmonster going to get her just desserts.  And don’t tell me it wouldn’t be realistic for her not to have them.  It would be very easy, considering I’m pretty sure she abused her role as guardian to her stepmother/possible executrix to her deceased husband’s estate.  And there are consequences for someone who abuses this role.

Yep, my brain went into lawyer mode when I read about this women, but she needed a good kick in the butt.  And so did one of her daughter’s who was just insufferable on so many letters.

And mild digression, BUT why are there so many books now that have character’s featured that are like minor Youtube celebrities.  I know that makeup tutorials are a thing on Youtube, but not every teen who has a Vine or Youtube Channel is going to be famous.  Or a big deal, I wish this was addressed.

Anyways, that aside I really liked this one.  It was cute and the fandom stuff was actually tastefully done-a lot of the times, I feel like the author ham’s it up, but this wasn’t the case.

If you want a cute light read and can overlook some things give Geekerella a try.  I liked it so much that I’m keeping my preorder in place which rarely happens with me being a penny pincher.

Overall Rating: A B+

Some Kind of Misogyny : Some Kind of Magic by Mary Ann Marlowe

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In this sparkling debut novel, Mary Ann Marlowe introduces a hapless scientist who’s swept off her feet by a rock star—but is it love or just a chemical reaction?…

Biochemist Eden Sinclair has no idea that the scent she spritzed on herself before leaving the lab is designed to enhance pheromones. Or that the cute, grungy-looking guy she meets at a gig that evening is Adam Copeland. As in the Adam Copeland international rock god and object of lust for a million women. Make that a million and one. By the time she learns the truth, she s already spent the (amazing, incredible) night in his bed

Suddenly Eden, who’s more accustomed to being set up on disastrous dates by her mom, is going out with a gorgeous celebrity who loves how down-to-earth and honest she is. But for once, Eden isn’t being honest. She can’t bear to reveal that this overpowering attraction could be nothing more than seduction by science. And the only way to know how Adam truly feels is to ditch the perfume—and risk being ditched in turn

Smart, witty, and sexy, Some Kind of Magic is an irresistibly engaging look at modern relationships why we fall, how we connect, and the courage it takes to trust in something as mysterious and unpredictable as love.

Source: Goodreads

I am so fed up of books that feature a Plain Jane MC who hates anyone with boobs and even though she’s really plain manages to catch the attention of Mr. Handsome and falls instantly in love with him.

This is that sort of book.

To be honest, I picked this book up mostly because it reminded me of that old 90’s movie, Love Potion Number 9. If you haven’t seen that movie it’s pretty is like Amy Farrah Flower played in this case by Sandy B  and Sheldon Cooper played by Tate Donovan uses some formula that makes her attractive to everyone.  Though, they do it in the name of science and aren’t as socially awkward as Shamy.

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Here though, the whole Love Potion Number 9 angle is hardly played with.   Well, it might be later on considering I only read about thirty pages of the book before calling it a day.

I have noticed this year, that my tolerance for bad books or at least books I don’t like-since reading is subjective- has decreased drastically.  Used to a book like this and its tropes usage would’ve only gotten a couple of groans from me and I might’ve been able to tolerate it to the end but I just can’t anymore.

I really don’t know what it was that ticked me off so much about this one if it was the use of tropes of the lack originality that made me roll my eyes.

Or the fact that a grown woman would describes herself as being ridiculously responsible would randomly fall into a one night stand with a rock star without knowing him.

I just couldn’t…

It’s the same feeling I felt when I read that said grown woman constantly trashes any woman who looks better than her and bemoans about her own looks because she’s not blonde.

And she’s supposed to be a grown professional woman.

You know, maybe a few years ago I would’ve been okay with this but I can’t now.  I just can’t.  I thought we were beyond books like this.

And okay, I know that Fifty Shades of Puke managed to get published but that was years ago.  AND more importantly that was an outlier.  This sort of shit really has lost any sort of originality it has and I just don’t understand how it could make it past the slush pile.

But whatever.

It didn’t make it past my slush pile and I certainly don’t recommend it.

Overall Rating: DNF

 

The TBR Pile: March Madness

It’s that time of the month again to list the books that are on the pre-order list which is a way for me to be frugal by attempting to whittle down my list a bit-it actually works, sort of (I got rid of three books when drafting this post) .  Though honestly, because I read other blogs with other lists…well….I’ll probably add three books to this list-at least.

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Norse mythology.  Sold.

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Vegas.  Wrongfully convicted parent.  Deal me in.

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Diversity.  Comic con.  And celebrities-internet and actual celebs.  Got to read.

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Witches!

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This one really looks cute.  There’s been Jane Austen and Bridget Jones’s Diary comparisons. That has to mean it’s good, right?  LOL, I’ve been in the blogging business way too long to know how false blurbs can be but I still have to hope.

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Everyone is always talking up Emery Lord, let’s hope I like her stuff.

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Love the first book in this series.  I will be devouring this one.  And how her dress isn’t dragging on the ground is beyond me.

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Another Beauty and the Beast retelling and like usual I’m a sucker for these things.  Bonus points for it, its coming out close to when that movie is coming out which I want to see so bad even though I’m pretty sure they are auto-tuning Emma’s voice or have simplified the arrangement since her range is nowhere near what Paige’s was in the animated movie.  But still “Bonjur, good  day how is your family…I am the only Disney Princess who knows how to read” that point was added on but dude.  Excited about the book and the movie.

Important Topic But…: Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

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It feels like there’s no ground beneath me, like everything I’ve ever done has been a lie. Like I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong?

Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.

Source: GoodReads

I’ve outgrown Melissa de la Cruz’s books.  It’s a sad fact.  At some point I plan to reread the Blue Bloods books, but I feel like it is going to be a sea of disappointment and embarrassment that I ever liked her stuff.  Still, she writes really good premises and I find myself ridiculously attracted to her blurbs.  Like this one.

But still, it sat on my shelf for awhile.  However, after the God awful month of executive orders that the Trump administration has thrown on us I have been wanting to read more issue relevant books.

And I did remember liking Melissa’s Fresh Off the Boat, I at least remember thinking that book had more heart to it than some of her frothier rich people novels-not that some of those can be okay, they just get very stale after awhile.

The thing is, that Something In Between didn’t have that realness quality about it, even though it dealt with some topics that were very near and dear to Melissa’s own personal life.

I got to say, the romance was cringe worthy and completely unrealistic.  Jas and Royce fall ridiculously in love within a couple of pages of looks and text messages.  It make Skyjack (Jack/Schuyler from Blue Bloods ) look more realistic and in hindsight that pairing was illy paced, but to its credit it was a paranormal romance.  Here though, other than he’s handsome/she’s hot I didn’t get the attraction.  Maybe because both of these characters came off as bland.  Like Cinderella and Prince Charming Disney movie bland.

I often think it’s harder to write a contemporary than a paranormal or fantasy novel, because the characters are often the focus of the novel.  Unless it’s bitchy blonde vampire socialites, I always think Melissa’s characters suffer from vapidness and this book was no exception to that.  I honestly did not get how Jas won this big scholarship.  She doesn’t come off as particularly smart or driven, and while she did do some cheerleading she didn’t really have the sort of resume that most Ivy bound kids have.  Royce was even duller than Jas, I can’t even remember if he had a hobby outside of sending really embarrassing texts to his girlfriend and then getting his Paul Ryan Wannabe father go against his core conservative values.

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And that had me roll my eyes and just seethe with anger.  I am already not a huge fan of the Republican party-in fact, I’d say right now I have no tolerance for what they’re preaching at least before the tea party and the racist party of Trump, I could at least sort of get where they’re coming from in the Bush era  but that’s besides the  point.  Here, seeing Royce’s asshole of a congressman make an exception for one family had me rolling my eyes.

And yes, I did vaguely recall reading about private bills very briefly in the Immigration Law course I took 2L year, but I also remember hearing that they hardly ever happen and other than being briefly mentioned we didn’t discuss them hardly any.  Instead, we talked a lot about work visas and I find it difficult to believe that Jas’s working class family would even acquire a visa in the first place.

Unskilled workers have the burnt end of the deal immigration wise, and this book didn’t seem to even discuss that.  Yes, I understand that Ms. de la Cruz is not a lawyer and that it’s possible in her own case that her family could’ve gotten in on such visas-but it doesn’t happen that often.   Part of the reason why is in order to get a work visa the company has to show that there are no qualified American workers.  Sort of hard to do with an unskilled job.

And then there was that farce of a court hearing…I’m not even going to talk about it.

And while I think there was some work into looking up the immigration process I don’t think it encompassed a lot of the issues on a whole of what is going on.  About how broken the process is-and it’s even more fucked up now, for obvious reasons most involving a big fat Orange Boob.

Look, I can’t fault Ms. de la Cruz too much on the legalities.  Immigration law itself is a beast, and there’s a lot of reasons why attorneys don’t practice it.  And even very seasoned lawyers can’t figure out some of the nuances involving the process-and I’m quoting some lecturer on an online CLE I took a couple of weeks ago almost verbatim on that one.

I just don’t know, having this conservative congressman who is described as being an asshole towards immigrants for a big chunk of the book being Jas’s savior  rubs me the wrong way.  Why is it okay for her to have a private bill while the congressman roots for legislation to harm constant others in her position?  I just didn’t like this congressman and wanted to go to a town hall to tell him what a hypocrite he was and that even though Jas situation was awful and she deserved help all the other undocumented immigrants in his district deserved to be treated like real people and not criminals.  He doesn’t even have a come to Jesus moment in the book and realizes that his hardline stanch is that of an asshole.

But I digress..

If you can look past the hypocrisy and the cringe worthy romance, this one is readable.  That is one thing I will always give de la Cruz, her stuff is readable.  But God there’s so much cringe and hypocrisy that I did close it a couple of times throughout reading it just to rant.  The immigration stuff while researched (enough) isn’t fully researched in some aspects.

The parts that rang truest about the book were the brief insights we got into Filipino culture, but those for the most part were very brief.

Overall Rating: A C

 

 

 

Disappointing: Does My Head look Big In This by Randa Abdel-Fatah

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When sixteen-year-old Amal decides to wear the hijab full-time, her entire world changes, all because of a piece of cloth…

Sixteen-year-old Amal makes the decision to start wearing the hijab full- time and everyone has a reaction. Her parents, her teachers, her friends, people on the street. But she stands by her decision to embrace her faith and all that it is, even if it does make her a little different from everyone else.

Can she handle the taunts of “towel head,” the prejudice of her classmates, and still attract the cutest boy in school? Brilliantly funny and poignant, Randa Abdel-Fattah’s debut novel will strike a chord in all teenage readers, no matter what their beliefs.

Source: GoodReads

Because of the current wave of Islamaphobia in the US, I’ve been trying to find a list of books that feature Muslim protagonist to recommend as a way to counter the hate.  I believe that reading opens doors of understanding and learning and is a gateway to empathy.  Also, for someone who is experiencing oppression it is a good coping mechanism knowing that somewhere out there, there is someone that identifies with you..

This book features a teen who decides where a hijab for the first time a couple of years post 911 (I think the US publication date was 2005, but I’m guessing it came out in Oz a couple of years earlier).  Honestly, the time period did have some similarities to what we’re seeing now-except W was way more tolerant than Trump is and never tried to ban an entire religion .  Still, there were lots of asses in the world during this period of time and I thought if the book was good it might be a good one to recommend.

It’s not.

I had previous read one of the author’s other books (Ten Things I Hate About Meand I’m sad to say that this book is just as problematic as that one.

On the plus side though, the main character wasn’t self loathing.  That’s something.  She did embrace who she was-though honestly, I didn’t really see her connection to wearing the hijab to a Friends episode.  That was sort of grating and really sort of insulting (note, I am not Muslim, but I know if someone compared my religion to a TV show I’d be kind of annoyed).  And honestly, even though she was thinking of wearing the hijab everywhere, the fact that she was more concerned about her popularity level had me shaking my head.

The main character had me shaking my head because she acted more like twelve than sixteen and her voice was so grating I decided to quit by page 30.

Which makes me sad.

ojupnrblmnf3gBecause man did I want to like this book.  I was rooting for you book, you didn’t have to do much.  Just have an identifiable protagonist that a teen could read about-say, that’s like me-and find a way to identify with and/or emphasize with the protagonist.  That’s not that hard to do.

Le sigh.

So, despite a compelling and interesting premises I can’t recommend this book.  When researching her catalogue prior to writing this review I did notice that Fatah-Abdel had another book that featuring a compelling issue immigration that’s already out in Australia and will be out in the US this spring.  I’ll be blunt, I am planning on reading it because the issue is really relevant and I’m hoping that maybe her voice has matured since the writing of this book. God knows, we need a book with that premises especially right now.  However, as for this book…shakes head.

No.

Overall Rating: DNF

This Club is so Misogynic: Long Way Home Katie McGarry

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Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.

Source: GoodReads

Sigh, Katie McGarry.  I have a sort of love hate relationship with her books.  They are good in a guilty pleasure type of way, but at the same time they grate on my nerves especially her Thunder Road series.

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I think it’s because there is an underlying current of sexism in this particular series, and even though it’s addressed its sort of pushed aside like it’s no biggie and I’m like no…

Like I said, I’ve gotten really testy about things like this lately so if I read this book a year or so ago, it might’ve not bothered me near as much.

The things that bothered me about this series before: the stupid names, the melodrama, the oh he’s attractive so let’s bang cliche.  All still there.

I had hopes that Violet and Chevy (God, I hate that name…the names in this series are just so fucking appalling but I’m not going to go on that fucking rant again) but they are still just as shallow as the rest of the couplings in this series-or either I have grown cynical to the tropes that McGarry uses.

I think that might be part of the problem.  Though, in terms of library lists, McGarry’s isn’t that big so her books shouldn’t feel so repetitive yet.

But they do.

By all accounts, Long Way Home wasn’t that bad.  It had a defined arc, character developments.  But if felt so cliche.  And again, the blatant sexism.

I kept reading it and shaking my head at how Violet is never even considered to a prospect because she’s a girl-not that she’d want to be a part of that stupid motorcycle gang, it’s just that the fact that the option isn’t even given to her and that the club has their stupid no-women-allowed-save-for-to-clean clubhouse annoys me.

And then there’s Violet’s mother who thinks her daughter belongs to a man.

I want to pull out my hair.

Again, the sexism is sort of addressed but it’s more or less in passing and it’s just shrugged off like it’s normal.

And I just wanted to say fuuuckkk.

So, that’s why I’m giving the book a lower rating besides the fact that it really seemed more or less like a recycled version of McGarry’s books.  Here is the trope checklist:

  1. Two ridiculously attractive teenagers
  2. Both have “issues”/secrets
  3. Multiple dead parents which give issues
  4. Economic difficulties, except no economic difficulties when it counts.  Meaning, they all have cool classic cars that they can surprisingly afford to maintain and/or can do things that normal teens would not be able to do unless they had parents that had money.
  5. Ridiculous melodrama that involves someone getting kidnapped/maimed/etc.
  6. Family secrets
  7. So called bad-assess that’s not really bad ass, but said to be bad ass constantly throughout the book where you think they’re bad ass.
  8. Friends that are only there for spinoffs
  9. “Tough” girl that’s not really tough.
  10. A duel narration that sometimes is compelling and sometimes is not.

Okay, okay, I know I sound really mean.  And I really don’t care if I do because I got so annoyed with this book.  I think what really annoyed me, that I did finish it in one setting just because I was hoping it would get better and I was interested in seeing how McGarry managed to crossover the two of her series-it wasn’t that great folks.  In fact, I think the crossover bit added to the eyeball worthy-ness and whatever.

If you are a fan of McGarry’s work and haven’t gotten tired of her stuff AND aren’t annoyed with blatant misogyny that’s brushed off, then yeah give this one a try you’ll probably like it better than me.

Will I read McGarry’s next book…probably because the premises does look like something I’ll enjoy but I’m honestly putting her on the probation list at this point.  If that book isn’t stellar I don’t know if I’ll continue.  Like I said the past three or four releases have seemed rinse and repeat.

Overall Rating: A C.