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

 

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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.

Not Another YA Superhero Book: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

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Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

Source: GoodReads

YA superhero novels are becoming more common than they used to be.  A few years back, I remember wanting desperately for such a novel to exist and finding none.  Now there are a few to pick from.  When I heard that Marissa Meyer had a superhero themed book coming out I hit the preorder button and had no regrets.

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Okay, I was a little bit wary.  Until last year, Meyer was definitely a do-no-wrong author, but I was not a fan at all of Heartless.  And I was a little skeptical about this one coming in.

I was pleasantly relieved to find that I liked Renegades.  I didn’t love it, but I liked it.  However, there were a lot of cliches and plot holes in this one and an extremely slow beginning that drags.  So, so, much.

That being said though, I do plan on picking the next installment up next year.

The general gist of the story is that there are two groups of superpower people, the Renegades and the Anarchists.  I think the best comparison would be to the X-men and the Brotherhood, with some minor variations.  However, one of the characters uses a helmet much like Magneto and I was like really Meyer…

Okay, that aside there are some tragic Batman-ish backstories going on in this book and the two leads have sort of a Batman and Catwoman relationship going on.

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The world building is okay for the most part.  Again, I will say that there were several plot holes in the book.  Where I had to wonder why certain characters were too dim not to realize certain things about other characters.  I mean, because some of the secrets that the characters were hidden were fairly obvious.

Then again, the super hero genre has always been generous with having oblivious characters.  I mean, Lois Lane clearly can’t see past Clark Kent’s glasses so I shouldn’t be giving Meyer’s characters too much grief for being stupid.

Still though, it does frustrate me as a reader that Meyer doesn’t even address some of these things.

If you can look past the plot holes though, the book is pretty decent.  Renegades has a fairly diverse group of characters an not one of them is tokenized.  The relationships for the most part are fleshed out, at least with the leads.  The supporting cast isn’t as strong as it was in Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, but they are still decently form.  If this series was going to be longer than duo-logy I could see several of the characters being explored more.  As it was though, I thought the two leads were pretty decent and I sort of liked that they were mirror images of each other in an odd way.

Despite the plot holes my other issues with the book was that it was ridiculously predictable.  Even the cliffy at the end didn’t phase me (much).  I’m guessing there will likely be some twists thrown in the sequel of the novel.  The pacing probably didn’t help since the first 250 pages of this book were glacier slow.

Side note, when I first read Cinder and when I read that abomination better known as Heartless, these issues were prevalent too.  Cinder was difficult to read the first time around because of how slow it seemed, Heartless was even worse.  This book has that same slow start.but it holds my interest like Cinder did.  However, I do think that overall Cinder is a better book.

I know that sounds sort of harsh, but I do think that Cinder was a slightly better book than Renegades, even though this book was written much later in Meyer’s career.   Maybe it’s because Cinder was a retelling so some of the lack of originality (in plot twists) wasn’t as groan worthy as it was with Renegades.

In all, if you’re a superhero fan or a Meyer fan, I’d recommend this one, but it’s hardly awe inspiring by any means.  I’m hoping that the conclusion to the duology will sort of do the series justice, but right now I’d hardly say it was anywhere near Lunar Chronicles levels.

Overall Rating: A  solid B.

 

Research, Hallmark, Research: Christmas Festival of Ice

Hallmark has finally done it.  It has made me want to completely rewrite one of their horrible movies.  At this point, I’ll admit that about 85% of the movies they air are crap.  However, I usually am not forced to watch Hallmark productions where the MC is a lawyer.   However, my luck was out with Christmas Festival of Ice.

And I can tell you after finishing this one, I feel for all you pediatricians, vets, actresses, teachers, and any other occupation Hallmark has shit on.

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If you don’t keep up with my Twitter, you should be notice that a lot of my Hallmark watching has been condensed to live Tweeting horrible movies (well, semi live Tweeting since I DVR-Equity it-thanks, Professor F for coining that term) there’s so many Countdown to Christmas crap-tacular films I can’t do full reviews for all of them.

However, there are some…well, there are so that just make me upset enough that make me write a review and this is one of them.

If you read my blog entries about Hallmark movies, you know I find them deeply flawed.  They’re in this own little bubble of privilege beyond privilege that only someone as foul  as DJ Tanner herself can love them-note, I actually have had to block people on Twitter when talking about things because I have been told I’m “mean” and wrong (we’ll get into what I’m supposedly wrong about later).

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Anyways, the premises of this one is pretty simple.  Every year Hallmark has to do some movie about ice sculpting.  I guess there is someone related to a higher up who has an ice sculpting fetish.  Honestly, maybe it’s because I’ve always had a green Christmas, but I’ve never associated ice sculpting with Christmas before.   But Hallmark does, and in this designated movie a law student-turned later in the movie law school grad-decides to get her ice sculpting fetish on with a guy who lives in a van down by the river who sales Christmas trees on the side when he’s not make the big dough from ice sculpting.

He’s hot, I guess which compensates the fact that his job is seasonal, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

For about the first hour or so of the movie, we’re told that this chick Emma is a law student.  And it’s at Christmas time, and I’m like girl this movie should be called That-Stupid-Chick-Who-Failed-1L-Because-She’s-More-Concerned-With Ice-Than-Torts.  Okay, I actually simplified the title to How I Failed 1L Year.  It’s not great, but it’s better than the alternative.   So, of course, I was obsessed with how this chick was not studied when my three years of law school was pretty much considered to be hell during the holidays.

But halfway through the movie, were randomly told that the MC took the bar and is waiting for her results (before Christmas?)

Um, no.

That’s not how it works.  The exam is taken in July and February respectfully.  Even the states that get their results back last-usually California-get them by mid November.  The reason why, people who fail have to register in time for the February exam.  They have to enroll in BARBRI or Kaplan which usually starts in December (near the time this movie takes place-agian, I know because I took the bar in February for one state).  Furthermore, you’re not going to get a text to tell you if you are going to pass or not.  You’re going to be sitting obsessively refreshing the state bar’s website until they post their pass/fail list.  Trust me, I’ve done it twice and it’s not pleasant.  If you don’t want to be refreshing your browser you’ll get a letter a couple of days letter.  Again, not a text.

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It wouldn’t take Hallmark a fucking lot of work to do this.  I mean, all they would have to do is Google the fucking thing.  They probably could’ve had a God damn intern do it during revisions.

But gun-ho Hallmark fans were arguing about this with me.  Because apparently Hallmark knows the schedule of bar exams a lot better than anyone who has ever waited for their bar results.

And stating the MC is a law student to waiting for her bar exams…Yeah.  You can’t take the bar if you haven’t graduated from law school yet.

God.

Or for that matter, apparently you don’t need a license to do a deposition let alone do it unsupervised.  And that your mom is immediately going to name you partner after you pass the bar exam.

Would it just kill Hallmark to do some sort of research?

There are people who actually believe everything they say is true, like that lady  on Twitter who told me all law offices had American flags featured prominently throughout their offices (they don’t).

You want to know what is in my office: law books, a desk, some old chairs, bookshelves, Chihuahua pictures, a candle, and can of Lysol, and a couch.  Oh, and last week I had it decorated for Halloween with a big spider hanging from my door.  No American flag in sight.

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One of the pictures I have in my office of baby Brainy.

Hell, none of the attorneys at my office or are sister office have a flag in their office.  The law office I worked before didn’t have a flag.  And neither did the office where I volunteered right after I graduated.  I’m sure they’re in some offices, BUT they’re not a mainstay.

So no, random Twitter person.  You are wrong a law office doesn’t need an American flag predominately applied amongst Christmas stuff in their office.

I know I’m obsessing, I tend to have those tendencies, but it just really bothered me how Hallmark doesn’t care one shit about doing any form research.  I mean, I’m writing my NANOWRIMO story right now, and I’m marking areas where I know I’ll need to go back and at the very least Google something.

It also bothered me how Hallmark threw away an accomplishment such as passing the bar exam, getting three years of law school for freaking ice sculpting.

I don’t kid you.  The climax of the movie results with the main character realizing she doesn’t want to be a lawyer and would rather cut ice for a living (not that there is really much of a living for that except for tacky weddings, but again I digress) and move in with the guy that sells Christmas trees and has a weird ice fetish on the side.

I joked with my sister that he lives in a van down by the river, but in Hallmark cannon he probably has a cute Cape Code decorated out from Pottery Barn complete with a  Golden Retriever.

I don’t know how he would be able to afford it though, since selling Christmas trees is sort of cyclical work.

I know, I’m digressing.  And I can hear the naysayers, it’s just a movie.

But God, I couldn’t believe how selfish how beyond disgustingly privilege this character was in the climax.

I know people who have worked their butts off in law school and didn’t have the fortune of passing the bar or getting a job, let alone a partnership.  Or for that matter, I know people who couldn’t get into law school because of financial difficulties.  But this chick, doesn’t give one shit about anyone.

And her parents acted completely unrealistic.  Seriously, I couldn’t believe her mom was like, “Oh, ho, hum, it’s fine that you do ice sculpting as a living.  In fact, I put $10K down for your hobby.  We’ll forget you spent seven years being able to get your JD and that we spent thousand upon thousands of dollars for you to be able to study and take the bar.  And hey, let’s forget that I’ve pretty much been letting you work at my office and I’ve been paying you so you can get a coffee roughly every 7.5 minutes in the movie in a new coat.”

Yeah, but that’s what happens.  Sort of.  She doesn’t mention the coffee thing, but that is what happened.

Look, I could go into more details about this movie but it’s fairly predictable.  The acting was blah.  I’ve seen another movie with the actress in it, My Summer Prince (even reviewed it) and she did about as decent as a job as she did in that movie.  But the thing is, the character was just insufferable.  And I really don’t blame it on her, but the writing.

Would it kill Hallmark to differ from their usual format: ambition for a woman is a bad a little?  I mean, passing the bar becoming an attorney is a big accomplishment.  They could’ve written the storyline a little bit differently to make it work.  Emma could’ve found a passion for her community, used her law degree to run for office or something-rather than just giving mommy to give her a hand out so she could make sculpted ice cubes.

I’m sorry, so many things about this movie annoyed me.

I am not stupid.  I have alluded to it several times in the fact that Hallmark has privileged protagonists and this is one of the worst offenders I’ve seen in awhile.  I think it’s because I lived the situation.  When I graduated from school, I didn’t come from an affluent family I had to work for what I got and this chick just throwing everything away disgusted me…

It disgusted me how lazy this movie was.  How the writers couldn’t even just do a common Google search to know when bar results would be released.  To know that you couldn’t be a freaking law student when you took the bar.

It disgusted me on so many levels.

It disgusts me that a lot of people think that Hallmark is who the world operates.

It disgusts me that they keep pushing out the same slightly repackaged shit with the same lessons about how women who have goals other than popping out munchkins and having a career is bad.  How women’s career should only be as good as their significant others and that they’re not happy unless they have a significant others.

Look, I’m all about the feel good movie.  After watching this travesty, I watched After the Ball on Netflix.  That movie is cheesy, but it works.  You want to know why, while the main character got with a cute guy.  The movie wasn’t about her giving up who she was, it was about her getting what she wanted.

I don’t recommend this movie.  It’s about a spoiled, privilege, brat who is going to find herself living in a van by the river.

Skip.

Total fail.

Studying for Torts (This Book is an Issue Spotting Novel): The After Life of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

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On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn’t.

And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

Source: GoodReads

Note this review is going to be pretty spoiler heavy because I’ve got issues with what occurred in this book-you really think you couldn’t screw up with A Christmas Carol (but you can apparently).

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One of the things you learn to do very early on in law school is issue spot.  Pretty much all your exams in law school are issue spotting.  And for the most part, if you finish an exam in the three hours or so you’re given to finish it that’s not exactly a good thing.

You also use this skill on bar exams and in actual practice as well.  So, it’s sort of hard to turn off when you know..it’s the weekend and you decide to chill for a bit to get away from your crazy clients.  And you read  a book and am like-hell, this could be a torts essay right here.  Also, there’s some criminal law issues cross referencing it.

Yeah…not exactly a good thing for a book.  Especially when said reader reviews books, but that’s how I felt when I was reading The After Life of Holly Chase.

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Originally, when I was issue spotting this one I though-hey, it might be fun to write you know a legal style memo or what not over this book review.  But guys, memos are long and when there are multiple torts involved like in this case it would probably be the length of a full length novel.  Plus, it would be super boring with me citing case law or made up case law that you either wouldn’t be interested in or like she’s butchering the law for the sake of being mean to a book.  But just if you’re interested Holly Chase and her father  could probably charge Project Scrooge with kidnapping a minor as well as suing them for the following torts: false imprisonment, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, possible negligence issues.   There’s probably lots of employment issues as well (it’s mentioned she’s being intentionally under paid).  I could go on, of course, but I won’t.

And we’re not going to analysis them.  Just know that based on this issue spotting, I thought that Project Scrooge was just as shitty as the person they were trying to reform (Holly Chase).

That’s right, Holly Chase is despicable.  And honestly, I don’t see  her growing that much throughout the course of the novel except that she finally gets rid of her bad dye job at the end of the novel.

So the general gist is that Holly was Scrooge one year and failed big time, because hey-emotional blackmail didn’t work for her.

Because at it’s core that’s what A Christmas Carol is.  Emotional blackmail intended to scare a greedy old miser into reforming himself into a somewhat better man.

I actually enjoy the original Dickens work and watch two or so versions per year.  Of course, one of these versions is the hilarious Blackadder version where there’s kind of a reversal effect, so I’m always looking for a good retelling (note, if you haven’t seen that version you need to watch it, it is available on Hulu).  But here, I couldn’t help but think that Project Scrooge was filled with assholes.

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I’m not joking.

What they do to Holly  is pretty terrible.  Yes, she is a terrible person, but the fact they let her live through this quasi purgatory/hell for five years and emotionally manipulate her is just wrong.   In fact, all of the interactions in this book were pretty much set up and weren’t even really real to begin with.

On second thought maybe it’s not Holly I’m so mad at them about, but about how we the readers were duped into all of this.

At the end of the book there’s this twist that I absolutely hate.  That all of this was more or less a version of the future and Holly goes back to her old life after pretty much committing suicide so this guy she falls in love won’t bite the dust.

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First of all, not going to go into how wrong that scenario is BUT I ABSOLUTELY FUCKING HATE THE DREAM/ILLUSION TROPE.

I’ve always hated the trope ever since I saw The Wizard of Oz for the first time.  Don’t get me wrong, I do understand why Hand decided to go in this direction.  It helped close a lot of the loose ends with this book, but at the same time it sort of failed quite epically.  Any ship that was built up, was worthless.  We didn’t get to see the payoff to any of them, since they didn’t really exist.  And one of them just ended on an extremely awkward note.

It was almost as if the author wrote herself into a corner and couldn’t figure out how to get that particular ship to work and didn’t even want to bother any further.  Even though that ship was the reason the character changed.

It just made me as a reader mad because again no payoff for the ship that the author spent at least a good chunk of the book building.  And you know what, until the end I really didn’t even care for the ship that much.  That tells you how much all of this sucked.

The book is going to be adapted to a movie per the author’s website, and I can tell you if I didn’t like that ending in a book it’s going to be worse on the small screen.

I also didn’t feel right as a retelling.  A good rule of thumb for A Christmas Carol retelling is the Scrooge.  And God does Holly suck at it.  Yes, she’s a self absorbed little twit, but while the Scrooge character of Dickens fame gradually changes throughout the course of his hauntings.  Holly doesn’t change really, until the end of the book.

Yes, there are some romantic moments in the book and moments where she’s not totally being an a-hole, and where she occasionally treats her assistant like a normal person, but for the most part.  Total a-hole.

I think her reformation was more or less when we got flashbacks about when her mother died, how she stalks her ex best friend who moved to NYC, and how she will go and sit and watch her dad’s newest movies at the movie theater.

But did I feel sorry for her, nope.

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I can really see this book working as a TV movie though.  It seems like it was written for that medium.  If you like cheesy holiday stuff, you might like this.  Just be aware that any emotional attachment towards any ship will be yanked from you at the end.

Overall Rating: B-

 

Hallmark Movies Are Suppose To Be Movies: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

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Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her dad and little brother.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32 and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

Source: GoodReads

Everyone who reads this blog, knows my dirty little secret that I watch Hallmark movies.  You know, that I think most of them are shit.  That they preach horrible outdated views about women and what their roles are supposed to be-i.e. homebodies who have no ambition other than to bake banana cupcakes at the local cafe and give birth to a dozen or so loud poorly behaved babies-but I still keeping watching the movies mainly because of one reason…

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Pss, if you can’t see the gif the answer is abs.

Hallmark movies usually star soap opera veterans and/or male models who are usually very fit and therefore make for nice eye candy even though the movie might overall reek (and they usually do).

Hearing that Melissa de la Cruz had been hired to write some movies for them I quasi cringed.  My relationship with this author is so so.  I really loved her Blue Bloods series when it first came out, but since I’ve been reviewing books I have found her usual tropes cringe worthy and insulting.

Seriously,  small towns do not have Bloomingdales.  For most of my life I lived in the fourth largest city in the US, and we did not have a Bloomingdales.  So don’t tell me that podunk Ohio is going to have one nearby.  That’s not how things work.  I know, I lived in a itty bitty town for about two years and the most corporate thing they had was a Walmart.

It sucked.

In addition,  people in their late 20’s do not become instantly rich without help.  Or becoming a partner at a financial firm without connections.  Unless you are extremely naive or young, you will be rolling your eyes with this sort of shit and it happens all the fucking time that I read the book-though to be fair I only made it through about 30 pages.  But with model gorgeous men in addition to the gay b.f.f. who happens to be a world famous movie star that’s randomly staying in podunk-ville for Christmas.  I just had to get a drink to maintain my sanity.

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And then after having about six drinks, I was like I’m going to shoot my liver from reading this shit because it is just like an annoying Hallmark movie if it was written by a 12 year old who had to tell me every other page that her character was wearing Kate Spade pajamas.

I mean, I have a pair of Kate Spade pajamas myself but I don’t think they’re like the greatest thing ever where my audience needs to know abut them ever other page or what other brands my clothes are.  Or that I buy them (like this character apparently does) without trying them on.

I mean, who does that?  If I’m dragging my butt to the actual store, I’m going to try on to make sure that expensive ass dress fits.

With Blue Bloods, at least there was a purpose to that sort of thing.  The characters were rich girls in New York, and to be fair as the series progressed the brand name dropping ceased a little.  And I thought that was done in part to show the progression in character development.   But these are grown ass adults talking about their pajamas…

Okay.

Also, I’m the same age as the MC and she acts like she’s about a decade older.  I’m sorry.  But she made 29 feel ancient.  It didn’t help that there were innuendos that there’s something wrong with you if you  haven’t popped out and kid and got hitched.  You know, some people don’t want marriage and family right away.  To be fair though, Darcy is an insipid tart, but after about three pages of this shit I had enough of her.

It didn’t help that the Lizzy Bennet character (Luke Bennet) is pretty much your stereotypical Hallmark jerky douche who “loosens’ up the MC into liking small town life.

Enough of that shit.

This book is doing a disservice to one of the greatest novels and romances ever written and I just want to give you a Mr. Darcy look of disdain for it ( a gif will have to suffice).

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Look, I know Hallmark movies are bad.  As previously stated,  I watch them for the abs.  I was hoping that getting fresh blood like de la Cruz meant they would be getting fresh stories.  Like maybe one where the woman decides not to get to the chump and goes back to the city where she finally notices that the nice nerdy guy she’s friends  with is actually quite the catch and he is not remotely rude or an asshat to her. What I saw with this book was a poor Pride and Prejudice retelling stuffed with Hallmark tropes.  It’s NOT the retelling the audience wants or deserves, and I’m not going to pain myself trying to get through it.

I think it’s sort of official that I am not a fan of de a Cruz’s stuff anymore.  I have a few of her books in my shelf that I’ll get to at some point, but quite honestly it’s not going to be a top priority and at this point I feel like I’ve said all I wanted to say about her writing.  It’s a shame though, because she DOES have some good ideas.  The execution though is usually horrible and quite juvenile.

Skip this shit.

Overall Rating: DNF

And the Golden Charlie Goes To: Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

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Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

Source: GoodReads

Starfish was one of those books I felt raw after I read it.  I highly recommend it, but the book can be trigger inducing.  It touches on issues of childhood sexual abuse, attempted suicide, and emotional abuse.  If you can read through all those harsh issues, its a great read.  But it is a doozy.   It will leave you feeling emotionally drained, but at the same time the book ends on a hopeful note.

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One of the things I like best about Starfish is that it deals with an issue that is timely for all ages, when plans go array.   Though, honestly, I wanted to shake Kiko for only applying to one school.  And them not letting her know until a week or so before graduation seems a little over kill but…

I’m ignoring it.

There’s actually a lot of things where I sort of had to give a passing glance through throughout the book to enjoy it.  A lot of easy passable coincidences that happened too easily for my liking, but it was easy to overlook when this book hit me at an emotional level.

The core of this book is Kiko’s growth, and that growth had to come directly from her and not anyone else in the book.  She doesn’t have a savior.  Yes, she does have help along the way, but ultimately its up to her to decide what to do with her life.

And I think that’s what I liked best about Starfish.  I could ignore all the coincidences because in the end it wasn’t randomly meeting an old friend or finding a mentor that pulled Kiko up from her problems.  It was herself, and while she had made progress she still had issues.

Admittedly, I did think some things were over the top.  The mother characters depiction especially.  Yes, I get she was a narcissist, but I can tell you from growing up with one that her mother seemed a little too extreme.

While some of the classic narcissist behavior was there, the mother was too obvious.  Her gas lighting wasn’t that skillful and she didn’t come off remotely charming.  The narcissist that I know can hide his true colors, and if you didn’t know him you would think he was this really outgoing, caring guy (which he’s not).  With this character,   everyone knew she was toxic, which isn’t exactly the way narcissists operate on.  She is definitely a contender though for a Golden Charlie, if there ever was one.  It amazes me that she was able to get custody, let alone full custody of these kids through the book.  Everything was just so messed up on so many levels.  Then again, I don’t know much (okay, anything) about Nebraska family law but I can’t seem it deviating two much from the two states that I do practice in.

I also found the romance in this book a little meh.  I started out hating it, but in the end I grew found to it.  Again, I think why I ended up liking it, was that it wasn’t the relationship that was saving the character from her problems but herself.  After I realized that’s what was going to happen, AND they didn’t get together right away.  I started liking the relationship more.  Still though, I could’ve dealt without it and it wasn’t my favorite thing about the book at all.

In all I do recommend Starfish.  There were some problems with it, but if I look over the coincidence make way for a plot twist, and while I did find the mother to character to be a bit on the extreme side, it was a worth while read.  The character’s evolution throughout the story really made the book for me, and it’s an oddly empowering story.  Again though, it is trigger inducing so if any of the above referenced themes bother you, you might want to considering at least going into this one with those things in mind.

Overall Rating: B+

 

 

It’s a Family Thing: Kissing Max Holden by Kathy Upperman

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Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea…

After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn’t himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn’t know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn’t let him kiss her. But she can’t resist, and when they’re caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it’ll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.

With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?

Source: GoodReads

Books that deal with cheating and infidelity always have an ew factor to them.  And Kissing Max Holden is no exception.

First of all, I was reluctant to read this one in the first place because of that, its imprint (Swoon Reads has had a lot of misses for me), AND its hideous cover and title.  However, I found myself oddly liking and hating the book at the same time.

In the end I gave it a middle of the road rating, though it’s more of a higher middle of the road than lower book because it was ridiculously readable.  But God, was I frustrated with the characters throughout reading this book.  Seriously, I wanted to scream at every single one of them for being repugnant assholes.

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I think the cheating is the obvious factor.  But the cheating was more of a result of really weak characters who had a lot of issues.  At least I guess I should give them props for having issues, rather than being perfect caricatures.  But God if not everyone in this book was an asshole.

Asshole Number One: The Title Character

I did not find how Max Holden was this guy that everyone wanted.  Throughout most of the novel, he was a mess.  I really don’t know what Jill found interesting about him other than the fact he probably looks like a young Captain Hook via OUAT.  Because seriously, dude is a disaster for most of the book with him being constantly drunk, having a girlfriend, and just being a dope in general.

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He drives drunk twice in this book.

That in itself should make him unattractive.  He also cheats on his girlfriend who we’re told is a bitch so that makes it okay, but no it doesn’t.

Asshole Number Two: The Main Character

She knowingly cheated with Max (multiple times) and is super judge-y.  Also, she’s a hypocrite.

Asshole Number Three: The Main Character’s Father

He is a controlling dick throughout most of this book.  He also is a hypocrite.  AND did I mention he drained the main character’s college savings account so that he and his new wife could undergo fertility treatments.

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No.

Just no.

If you do not have enough money to pay for fertility treatments and have to use your other child’s money in order to pay for such treatments, you don’t have the money for a second child.

Those actions were just too repugnant of me not to be outraged for the MC.  And no, MC don’t try to downplay it by saying when you looked into the baby’s eyes you melted into a pool of baby love.  It just doesn’t work that way.

That’s your future.

Be pissed.

If that was my father and stepmom I’d still be pissed and I’d probably be resentful of my $10,000 petri dish sibling.

But hey, I’m a Slytherin so…

Asshole Number Four: Stepmom

See money on fertility treatments rant.  But she can apparently afford fancy dinner parties, Pottery Barn nurseries, and Nordstrom maternity wear.

Need I say more.

Asshole Number Five: Becky

Becky is the girlfriend that Max cheats on.  She is depicted as an asshole, so that the cheating between Max and Jilly didn’t look too bad.

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Note, it didn’t work.

Honestly though, even though everyone and their mother seemed like assholes in this book, I did enjoy this one.  I don’t know why exactly.  Looking at it post read, I should’ve liked it a lot less than I did since everyone was annoying and honestly I don’t think the character really developed or Max changed enough where the ship was tolerable.

And I’m trying to think about something good to write now.  Because really the book wasn’t that realistic.  The way infidelity was handled her was sort of confounding.  It was okay for one party, but not for another party….I don’t know, it sort of left me with a weird feeling.

But again, when I closed the book I didn’t hate it.  It was readable and even though I didn’t like the character or thought that certain members acted a little unrealistic, I still found it to be an enjoyable enough read.  But I don’t exactly know why.

If you don’t get mad by infidelity and double standards, you could foreseeably pick this one up.  Like I said, it’s not that bad.  It’s just full of assholes.

Overall Rating: A B-