The Unofficial Princess Diaries Binge Read: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot

Olivia Grace Clarisse Harrison has always known she was different. Brought up by her aunt’s family in New Jersey, book-and-music-loving Olivia feels out of place in their life of high fashion and fancy cars. But she never could have imagined how out of place she really was until Mia Thermopolis, Princess of Genovia, pops into her school and announces that Olivia is her long-lost sister. Olivia is a princess. A dream come true, right? But princesses have problems too.

In FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCESS a new middle grade series, readers will see Genovia, this time through the illustrated diaries of a spunky new heroine, 12 year old Olivia Grace, who happens to be the long lost half-sister of Princess Mia Thermopolis.

The original Princess Diaries series sold over 5 million copies in the US (15 million worldwide), spent 82 weeks on the USA Today bestsellers list, and inspired two beloved films.

Source: GoodReads

Truth be told, I was sort of worried about this book.  I think because I’ve seen a lot of disastrous YA spinoffs when they go into other genres may it be adult or middle grade.  Thankfully, this book didn’t fall down that path.

Overall, this is a cute little book.  I feel like it might be on the younger side of middle grade though.  Honestly, Olivia sounded more like ten than twelve, but that might just be me.  Regardless of that, it surprisingly worked really well for me.

For long time fans like me, it was a nice way to get reacquainted with these characters before Royal Wedding and for younger readers it’s a nice entrance into the main series.  Though when I was Olivia’s age I think that’s when I began reading Diaries.  So…

Okay.

Let’s avoid how old I am.

The point is, this one has all the charm of the original book series, but without all the othings that made it for older readers.  And Grandmere is halfway normal in this book because Olivia hasn’t seen that shes’ a super villain in disguise yet.

I really liked the contrast between Olivia and Mia.  They are the same, but not.  And Olivia was an interesting enough character.  I really do look forward to seeing how she develops later on in this series.

As far as plot goes, this one is pretty bare bones.  I don’t even think the book is over two hundred pages if even that.  Sure, there’s the whole Olivia custody part-which I had to give the whole stink eye to as a lawyer-but that was overall pretty anticlimactic.

And seriously, what was up with Olivia’s Dursley like relatives.  She might as well been sleeping in a cupboard.  Two Ferraris, seriously?

To be honest, the abuse that she suffered shouldn’t have been as glossed over as it was.  Because while it wasn’t Lifetime movie bad, it was bad enough to issue Olivia a few sessions in Dr. Knutz’s office.  I really hope Meg explores this issue in future additions, but I really don’t think it probably will be.

The one thing I’m really worried about is how the whole royal thing will be treated in future books.  There were hints in this one-teh whole lady in waiting thing and Phillipe dressed in full prince regalia while he was just at home-that makes me think that it might be heading in a cheesy Princess Diaries 2 fashion.  I get that this is geared for younger audience, but I pray to the book gods that it doesn’t go there. The Nostalgia Critic reviewed that movie, I think that tells you right there that that’s not a good idea to try to imitate.

Another thing that I wanted more in this book was Michael.  I wanted an illustration of him damn it, since this was Meg doing the art work and it’s probably the closest representation I’m going to get to him-it’s sort of nice seeing how author’s view their characters and most of the drawings were pretty spot on to how I thought the characters looked, though Mia was a lot more glamorous than I thought she’d be.  But then I remember book ten and am like yeah…

Overall, this is a sweet addition to The Princess Diaries book.  I recommend it to any die hard Princess Diaries fan or if you have a princess obsessed tween give it to them.

Overall Rating: An A-.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ick Ships

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.  I decided to use this freebie to discuss ick ships.  Ships I can’t help, but ship even though I know I shouldn’t.  The inspiration for this topic, was my recent reading of The Wrath and the Dawn.   Where I found that…well, I actually ship a lot of ick ships.

10)

While I did swoon over St. Anna moments, I really wasn’t a fan of this romance.  It involves cheating and I really do not do well with cheating.  It’s sort of a trigger issue for me.  The mind games he plays with Anna and his ex just have me wanting to throw my copy of this book at him.  The thing is, there are a lot of layers to the character and sweet moments between him Anna that I did end up reluctantly shipping them together.  But still, definite ick ship.

9)

A Meg Cabot book on the ick lips.  I know, blasphemy. All her ships are generally swoony.  But this one eh.  I really did not ship it in the  first book, but then it sort of got an ick ship vibe about it. That I couldn’t help but find these two characters compelling together.  Even though he technically did kidnap her to the underworld.

8)

A Beauty and the Beast retelling is on this list, no big surprise there to be honest.  This relationship has all the makings of an ick ship, yet it oddly is shippable.  And it is no exception with this book.

7)

I’m pretty sure I’m shipping Nalia with the wrong guy, but there’s just a creepy intensity between her and Malek that is oddly attractive.  On the surface, this one of the worst relationships ever.  I should not condone it.  And I don’t but….they have chemistry.  And he can be nice.  Seriously, what is wrong with me for shipping this awful ship.

6)

Roth and Layla.  He might a have used her and be a demon.  But damn.  Speaking of hot demons, why do I have an aversion towards them. I was such a Phole shipper in Charmed and look where that got me.  And come to think of it, Phole was an icky ship too.  Dude.  What is wrong with me?

5)

I’m not a huge fan of Rose/Dimitri but they were okay in the first book and they definitely have the ick couple vibe.  Dude, you’re her teacher.  Just stop.  But there’s chemistry, yeah until Adrian comes a long.  Well, at least there’s Sydrian.

4)

A definite ew ship if there was ever one.  Or ew ships if you shipped Jack Force with anyone in his triangle.  Mimi is technically his twin sister-EWWWEEWWWEEWWWEEWEWEWEWEEWWEW-and Schuyler is technically his cousin.  Add the adultery aspect and EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.  Yet, I do oddly like him and Schuyler because they’re really not cousins and the whole secret romance thing was sort of cute before they actually got together because then they got sort of boring.

3)

Because I really shouldn’t kidnap this one.  There’s no need to hijack and kidnap someone.  Even if you are a wrongfully fugitive who used to be a hot movie star.  Hot movie star.

2)

I don’t think your suppose to ship this couple first.  They’re clearly just having quick hook ups and the way Wesley treated Bianca at first I was just like ick.  But as this evolved the ickness level disappeared.  Leaving me with an adorable couple.

1)

Khalid has murdered all of his other wives.  Why would I even want his in Shahrzad together.  I just do okay.  It’s sort of like Rumbelle.  The poor girl should dump him, he’s all dark and borderline creepy and you could say abusive, but there’ s just something that makes you find the relationship compelling even though you’re like secretly-dude, that’s messed up.

There’s Something There: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Source: GoodReads

There are things about this book that should really bother me, but there is something that is utterly compelling about this book.

And I couldn’t keep it down.

Likewise, there was something about this ship.  I shouldn’t have liked it.  It is the antithesis of what I like in ships.  But it’s a bonafide ick ship-a ship that even though it make my nose wrinkle I can’t help but be like I want them together.

I think the closest thing I can compare it to is like Rumbelle on Once Upon a Time or St. Clair and Anna in Anna and the French Kiss.  It is so messed up in this book, because dude has killed so many women-never mind, that he may or may not have a quasi legit reason for doing so-and he’s planning on killing her.  And said chick wants to kill him to avenge her best friend, even though she sort of acted like an idiot about it throughout the entire book by doing nothing but mooning over how he’s not so kissible.  And I will remind you that, dude has homicidal tendencies.

Seriously, who’d want to be with someone like this?  People in Ick Ships that’s who.

Yet somehow,  Ahdieh’s writing make me want to root for these two.  There was something about the way that these two interacted that you were able to see beyond the monster that Khalid is.  He’s still a monster though, even if he might have a semi valid excuse.

Much like this episode wanted me to root for this toxic couple.

I think the strongest thing this book had going for it was the writing.  The descriptions are just so luscious.  Usually I sort of get annoyed when author’s go into details about what so and so is wearing or eating, but here I loved absorbing myself in the world.

I also liked that this was slow on the world building, we are given pieces of the world, but it’s not all given out to the reader on a plater.  The magic aspects of the book are only hinted at which I liked because it allowed the reader to get a view of the non-magic world of this book.

In addition to the ship being an ick ship, there is also a love triangle in this book.  Though it is a light love triangle at book, more or less a past relationship.  It actually didn’t bother me as much as I thought.  It actually added to the book showing that Shazi had other relationships before Khalid and adds dimension to the ick ship.

Though, the other guy is a bit of an idiot.

A brave idiot, but an idiot.  Much like Gaston on Once Upon a Time.

Seriously, I keep comparing this ship to Rumbelle.  There is something wrong with that

Another, Rumbelle gif for the win. See they can (sort of) be healthy.

Ships aside, the two leads are done well enough.  I sort of wanted more character development, but since it’s an intro to a series I’m giving it some slack.  However, I do think character development would’ve given the ick ship less ickness.  There were just some things like Shazi’s marrying Khalid without a plan to how to kill him to Khalid not even trying to get out of his awful situation that just had me baffled a bit.

If this book would’ve caught me on a bad day….

It should just be glad that it’s use of language and quick dialogue made up for it.

I am recommending this one.  If you’re extremely picky it might grate on you, but as a debut it is lovely. I have lots of hope for it’s sequel.

Overall Rating: A B+  I thought about giving it an A- but as I reflect on it the writing itself hid a lot of problems.

Reading Schedules: How Do I Decide What to Read Next

One of the best things about being a small blog, is that I can sort of set my own reading schedule.  Oh, I try to read things that come out recently and all of that.  But having a limited ARC pile and sort of limiting my reviews to books I want to read makes the process a little easier.

It’s still a little aggravating though because I DO want the reviews I do to vary.  And you do end up with a lot  titles, even if you only buy a few books a month.

Here are some ways I try to plan:

1) Once a month I do a TBR Pile feature which I’ll post on the blog.  These posts are more to my benefit than to the readers of this blog.  It helps me go over what I ordered and decide whether I still want it.  Sometimes, some of the things I preorer I end up canceling for various reasons.  Sometimes I can be a little to trigger friendly with that one click button on Amazon and then later when I read reviews I’m like no just no.  The results that I actually post is an edited list-and yes, still sometimes I cancel orders after I post that list or buy more titles.

2) I try to vary my reading sub genres.  Though I personally read mostly YA-because adult titles in general don’t really interest me except on rare occasions-there are a ton of different types of YA within YA.  If I read to much of a certain type of a YA novel, the most recent example being fantasy in one setting I can get burn out fast.  A lot of the high fantasies I’ve seen recently have just sort of been so predictable and formulaic.   Seriously, long lost princess much?

3) I try to make sure I read something light after I read something really serious.  A the same time, I don’t try to overdo it on the light books.  As much as I love both sort of  books, I think it’s important (for me) to factor in burn out.  However, I probably can get away reading more fluff than a lot of serious books.  I think it’s just because real life is so serious (for me at least).  But if I read a few bad light books…ooh not good.

4) Snark Reads.  I don’t do as much of these as I used to because they’re predictable and after reading the abomination that is the Halo trilogy, followed by reading the entire House of Night series, and a couple of other dubious series I just have no fun trying to even rationalize the publication of these books anymore.  Occasionally, if I’m morbidly curious I might still give one a try.  But life is too short for these sorts of books so it has to be a real compelling reason.  Other than let’s see how bad Alexandra Adornetto can screw up writing a screenplay about gender identity (oh yeah, the author of Halo wrote and starred in  a film about such an important issue-I don’t even…well, let’s say I wish her the best).

4) I try to make sure I get to my ARCs that I do have by making a point to read them in their release month.  Occasionally, there will be a Read Now title that sort of gets left on my Kindle but I feel less pressure to read those.  Honestly, I am sort of over the whole Thou Must Read an ARC thing.  Really, I’m a lawyer.  I know I didn’t sign a contract with said publisher to read it and that it’s a gratuitous promise if anything else.  But still, I feel guilt.  A whole bunch of guilt if I don’t at least give the few ARCs I get the good college try which is why I’m really trying hard NOT to request that much unless I really want to read the book.  Since Edelweiss usually  acts like I don’t exist, and I usually find a title I desperately want late in the game on Netgalley this is not a huge issue for me.

5) Whim Reading.  I make an effort to do a whim read a couple of times a month.  It’s nice to break out of schedule and keeps me from getting burn out.  Overall, I keep a very loose schedule so a whim read might seem more common than it should be.  But I find loose reading schedules are better than thou must read X book X day of the month.  Generally, if I do any planning it will be for a week rather than a month.

Below, is an example of what I tentatively have planned for next week:

  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh: I am actually almost done with this one (probably will be done when I post).  It was sort of heavy, so I will be reading a couple of lighter reads after this.
  • The World Forgo by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal: A series ender.  I think the best idea to explain this one is that it’s just sort of out there.  I’m sort of in the mood for that, so I’ll more than likely be reading it tomorrow.
  • The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey: Sigh, I’ve been reading this one on and off for two weeks.  I got an ARC from Netgalley and I feel obligated to give a nice try.  But I am bored with it.  I’m going to give it a few more pages and decide whether I should at least give it to the fifty percent mark and review or just DNF it and not even bother except for maybe in a DNF Roundup post.
  • From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess  by Meg Cabot: It’s being released this week and I sort of have a It’s Meg Cabot drop everything you’re reading and read Meg’s stuff policy.

6) I usually read one book at a time.  Because that’s how I roll.  If I’m reading more than one book it usually means I’m struggling with said book. Primarily example, see above example.

7) Commitment Reads.  I do try to have a few commitment reads a month.  This is actually something new I’m starting.  Again, said commitment read will be on the TBR Pile List every month.  Usually it’s like a duh pick.

8) I am thinking about having a Reader’s Choice Pick for the month which leaves this entry with the below poll.

So, what should I read next month?  And how do you decide your reading schedule? Feel free to discuss.

Awesomly Lifetime and Hallmark: Murder She Baked, a Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery

Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?  If you don’t get this reference, you should thank God you were never forced to hear that song in the 199o’s.

Never the less, there’s apparently a mystery about chocolate chip cookies starring Ryan Lavery (Cameron Mathison) from All My Children and more importantly Sami (Allison Sweeney)  from  Days of Our Lives.  And I decided to review it, of course.

The Gist:

So Sami, whose name is Hannah here, is a small town bakery in a town that you know would never exist in America. Seriously, I’m currently living in what is considered a small town and it’s NOT this picturesque. More like aggravating in a lot of ways since it’s like an hour nearest to the nearest bookstore.  Plus, people sort of have to work in small towns too.  They don’t in this movie.  Anyway, she has a knack of figuring out small town crimes.  And then of course, someone is randomly murdered in town and-eek, murder mystery begins.  Enter big city cop, Mike (Ryan Lavery) these too start out initially sort of hating each other, but only in the your the obvious love interest Hallmark type of way.

Review:

Sami was actually engaging.

No surprise there.  When I tried to watch Days, she was one of the only characters that kept me interested the other being EJ.  What do I say, I’m an ABC soap fan.  Honestly, I wish GH would’ve stoled her because I think she would’ve been an awesome addition to the cast they have now.

Anyway, back to the movie.  The story starts out with her as a small town baker.  If  you seen her on Days, you know this is a bit of a different role for her.  So, it was nice seeing her play sort of the girl next door versus the bad girl.  Of course, after the typical day of normal life a murder of a pretty much insignificant character appears and the story really starts.

For the most part, this one follows the stereotypical mystery romance.  Ryan Lavery is the big city cop that comes in to help solve the case, Sami is the quirky bakery that gets involved in hijinks that annoy but later endure Ryan Lavery.

And yes, my eyes almost popped out of my head like half a dozen times.

There’s another love interest thrown in there that I just had to roll my eyes at because it was so obvious how this was going to play out.  But still, I didn’t mind it that much.

At it’s best Murder She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Mystery, was your stereotypical cheesy Hallmark mystery   I enjoyed it though, oddly enough.  Unlike My Gal Sunday, Allison Sweeney really takes charge of the movie and she does play an engaging heroine.  I would really like to see her in more things.  This just showcased that she was one of daytime’s and Hallmark’s better actresses.

The plot though and Ryan Lavery, eh.  While Ryan might’ve been pretty to look at and much more limited (thank God) than he was in My Gal Sunday, and I actually did like the chemistry between these two.

Shocking because except for Princess Gillian, I haven’t liked Ryan with anyone.  I give props to Sami on that.

Lifetime/Hallmark Squeal:

So, Ryan Lavery plays the love interest again.  Groans.  At least they casted him as a straight tight ass cop in this piece.  I think if he’s portrayed as the straight man, it works better than him being more of the at ease character.  Which is really weird because Ryan Lavery himself started out being a snarky character and when he was snarky, he was better than when he was sanctimonious.  But I find in these movies, it’s better for him to play straight man.  Also, it helps that there is no insta love in here either. So the swoonage is alright, not great, but develops as the movie goes along. And since there’s going to be a sequel, I’m totally okay with it.

OMG Lifetime/Hallmark Moment:

So many topes used here.  But there was really no OMG moments.  I say probably the biggest OMG to me was that a sequel to this one has been green-lighted and it’s going to be at Christmas time.  Totes watching it.

Overall Rating: Although, it’s cheesy and there were parts where I cringed and went in the other room to unload the dishwasher, overall this one really worked.  Solid B Hallmark, you deserve it. Or maybe I’ve just washed a lot of trash TV lately.

 

The Good, the Bad, the Eh: Trope Analysis

I thought today I’d look at tropes that really work and really don’t work for me and tropes that I’m just sort of eh about.

The Good:

1)  Badass Heroine: I’ll be the first admit I love a  kick ass heroine. I know, I know, the badass main character is a cliche.  Especially when she can kick a guy’s butt who’s three times the size of her.  But….well, I can’t help it when they actually halfway can kick ass I’ll read the book even if it is totally unrealistic.

 

Cinder’s my definition of YA bad ass and so are most of the side characters in this book.  I think that’s one of the reasons it uses this tool so effectively.  And all of the characters are bad ass in their own way.

2) Long Lost Famous/Rich/Royal/Something Other Than a Boring Accountant Parents. Okay, I know it’s sort of embarrassing  because I really like this trope. It can be poorly written on occasion, but I’ve seen a lot of good books that use it.  And I’ll almost always pick it up.

I really like this one because the father character is portrayed in such a realistic way and the relationship with him and the main character seems realistic.  I also liked all the little nuggets of living in political life.

3) Gender Bending: I almost put this on the eh list.  In theory, I love this trope.  And I’ve actually read a few books that I have pulled it off effectively.  I think my problem with it, is that a lot of books don’t make the most of the trope-i.e. they really don’t develop the relationship as much as they should when the character is pretending to be a boy.  I like the idea of having two people love each other regardless of gender, becuase it really shows that love can transcend.  Sadly, you never really see it in these books.

Okay, there are a lot of things wrong with this book.  It is a bodice ripper from either the late 70’s or early 80’s.  The hero is a douche.  The heroine has issues herself, but the gender bending aspect of this novel was done quite well.  She pretends to be a guy for a considerable portion of the story.  And the relationship that she develops with the hero as a guy actually works really well.  It doesn’t go full Mulan territory, but I like the fact that you sort of see these two deal with their feelings.  She has to try to come to terms that he’s not going to be with her because she’s well stuck as a guy.  And he has to wonder why he’s oddly attracted to his girlfriend’s cousin.

The Bad:

1) Insta Love: Ha! Ha! Ha!  No.  I live for banter in books, so…no banter me no gusta.

In hindsight, as far as insta love goes this one is not too bad.  But I feel like it gave the insta love trope a big push.  So, it’s going here.

2) Super Sue: I really cannot stand perfect over powered character who despite having super duper pooper powers can never save the day.

Schuyler is a super Sue.  And it sort of was okay, at the beginning of the series that you could overlook it because there was mystery and intrigue.  And then…well, it feel into the territory that all Sues fall in, you just want to punch them in the face.

3) The Rich Abusive Jerkwad: God.  Someone out there thinks women like abusive men.  We don’t.  But yet, they tend to pop up in the majority of books.  And if there’s a love triangle, you can almost be guaranteed he’ll come out the winner.  Though, I don’t really like the word winner for a love triangle. It’s just such a possessive word.  And I don’t think possession makes for really a healthy relationship.

He tells her what to wear.  He randomly hits guys she’s dating. And he constantly harasses her. Yet, Travis Maddox is somehow the hero of this story.  Rolls eyes.

The Eh:

1) Love Triangles: Love triangles more often than not don’t work.  They can be done right though.  And when done right I can appreciate them.  But most of the time they’re just eye roll worthy and usually I’m like-why are two guys drooling over HER.

I really like how this love triangle works because there is one obvious right guy, but the situation with him makes it impossible to where the main character can end up with him.  While the other guy, is totally there but in a lot ways totally wrong.  If you haven’t read it yet, pick up The Mediator series.  This is Cabot at her best.

2)Royalty: Funny thing is, I actually like contemporary royalty.  But I find I get annoyed with it when it is used in  fantasy.  I think because it’s used almost in every single fantasy I read.  Seriously, there’s always some sort of lost princess or something.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I’d just rather have my lost princess be more of the Mia Thermopolis persuasion.

As cheesy and as trashy as this book was, I can’t help but kind of love it.  I know, I only gave it a B+ (three and a half  stars) but in hindsight it really sort of stuck with me and it really was a good book.

3) Friends to Lovers: In theory I love this idea.  But a lot of time, it just doesn’t end up working.  I think because I just have to wonder why a lot of the time when I read these.  And generally  it’s either one of two cases 1) the guy’s a jerk or 2) the couple just lacks chemistry. However, on a rare occasion that this does work these can be the sweetest stories.

I loved this book but the relationship between the two main characters sort of had the ick factor.  Mainly, because St. Clair is sort of a douche to his ex girlfriend and Anna.  I did oddly ship it though, but it was an ick ship (meaning, a ship I really shouldn’t ship-much like how I ship Rumbelle on Once Upon a Time even though the relationship is obviously very unhealthy).

Or Regina George Goes to the Prom: The Fill in Boyfriend by Kassie West

 

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Source: GoodReads

I really liked the Kassie West books I’ve read, but I haven’t loved them like so many people do.  The Fill in Boyfriend had so many things going for it, but at the end of the day it didn’t wow me and I did have a few issues at it.

That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend the book.  For a quick light hearted soon to be forgettable read, I say go for it.  It’s a nice story.  Perfect to read for a beach read, but there’s nothing really memorable about it.

There are better contemporaries out there.

But it’s not bad.

I liked the character progression of Gia for the most part, and Not Bradley was a pretty swoon worthy guy.  And I think the romance really worked for me.

In fact, it was probably the best thing about this book.

But there (obviously) were things that didn’t work for me. Mainly, the fact that a lot of the supporting characters were assholes and there was a lot of girl hate in this book.

While I understand that a lot of these secondary characters weren’t going to be perfect people, what I didn’t get was that we saw no explanation or no consequences for their a-holeness.  In particular,  I really couldn’t stand Jules and Gia’s brother.

Truly horrible people there.

But in the end, the brother barely gets a slap on the wrist for doing something that pretty much traumatizing and Jules well basically gets her cake and eats it too.

And yes, I know it was realistic to a degree.  But I’m reading I want some consequences where something bad happens to horrible people.

Because real life sucks.

I just felt like all the consequences were thrust on Gia, and a lot of the time she didn’t deserve it.  While she did do some stupid things, she wasn’t horrible like many of the above mentioned characters.  So THAT’S what I had a problem with.

I also hated the girl hate in this book.  Yes, Jules is a jerk, and I hated her, but I hated how female relationships in general were treated as if everyone is some sort of frenemy with each other.  Why can’t there be healthy female friendships in this books?  It felt like all the female friendships, save for maybe the tentative one that one that is formed between Gia and Not Bradley’s sister at the end of the book rely on the good old Mean Girls trope.

Whatever though.  Other than those two issues and some utterly groan worthy predictable plot twists ones, it was okay and what I expected.  Kassie West can write a good romance it just doesn’t hit the same swoon levels as say Meg Cabot or Stephanie Perkins books do.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

Do Judge a Book By Its Cover: Ridiculous Blurbs

So, I decided with this edition of Do Judge a Book by Its Cover, I’d pick random covers and make the most   ludicrous blurb comparisons I could possibly think of based on the book’s cover.  Random example: It’s like Barney the Dinosaur meets Orange is the New Black meets The Selection.

That would be pretty horrible.  But that’s the intention of this month’s edition.  A lot of the time I’ll go to the bookstore (or to Amazon) and be amazed at some of the random comparisons I see.  It’s like, dude seriously?  How many Game of Thrones  or Hunger Games wannabes are there?  And I don’t think some of these are that far off…okay, maybe they are.  While I did try to make these as eyebrow raising as possible, I did try to give some logic to it.

 

Random Blurb Comparison from  the cover: It’s like Gossip Girl meets Glee meets The Dating Game.  

Actual Accurate Blurb ComparisonIt recaps the fake dating trope often seen in soaps like General Hospital with a Mean Girls inspired heroine.

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Source: GoodReads

Verdict: Well, thank god there’s no weirdo comparison on the official blurb.  As for the cover.  Meh.  It’s not something I’d really want a coworker seeing, but I’ve dealt with much worse.

 

Random Blurb Comparison:  Gladiator meets Star Gate meets The Mummy

Actual Accurate Blurb Description:  From what I’ve heard it sounds a lot like Gladiator, but in a Roman inspired fantasy world-the blurb does not tell me if there’s any magic or anything there.

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching and pulse-pounding read. Set in a rich, high-fantasy world with echoes of ancient Rome, it tells the story of a slave fighting for her family and a young soldier fighting for his freedom.

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Source: GoodReads

Verdict: I like this cover.  There’s nothing remotely embarrassing about it and it’s gender neutral which I really like.  And it fits the blurb too.

 

Random Blurb Comparison: It’s like National Treasure meets The Lord of the Rings.

Actual Accurate Blurb Description: Well, the actual blurb compares it to Game of Thrones and Graceling take that for what it’s worth.

The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn’t what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she’s accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that’s been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth’s witch hunting past–if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she’s thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

Source: GoodReads

Verdict: It’s one of those covers I’m okay with.  It’s not great or that memorable, but I will be able to take the book out in public with little to no regrets.

Random Blurb Comparison: It’s like Brave meets Her meets Fern Gully  (don’t even ask me how that would work).

Actual Blurb Comparison: It’s like Inception meets James Bond ( don’t ask me how that works).

A high-concept, fantastical espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence.

Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject’s body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighborhing kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.

A richly conceived world full of political intrigue and fantastical dream sequences, at its heart Dreamstrider is about a girl who is struggling to live up to the potential before her.

Source: GoodReads

Verdict: Oddly, intriguing.  But maybe a little too much?  It’s debatable.

Random Blurb Comparison: The Infernal Devices meets Sleepy Hollow meets Downton Abbey.

Actual Blurb Comparison: I could really see them going on The Infernal Devices maybe meeting The Patriot based on the blurb.  Those two things (to me at least) shouldn’t go together.

A sixteen-year-old governess becomes a spy in this alternative U.S. history where the British control with magic and the colonists rebel by inventing.

It’s 1888, and sixteen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading family—but she quickly learns that the family has big secrets. Magisters have always ruled the colonies, but now an underground society of mechanics and engineers are developing non-magical sources of power via steam engines that they hope will help them gain freedom from British rule. The family Verity works for is magister—but it seems like the children’s young guardian uncle is sympathetic to the rebel cause. As Verity falls for a charming rebel inventor and agrees to become a spy, she also becomes more and more enmeshed in the magister family’s life. She soon realizes she’s uniquely positioned to advance the cause—but to do so, she’ll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.

Source: GoodReads

Verdict: Your standard YA fare. It could be more interesting, but it works (enough).

Top Ten Tuesday: I Want to Meet You

I’ve been to a couple of book signings.   Most of the time I find that my tongue is tied and I make a fool of myself, but I do enjoy the experience. Since I lived in Houston until recently, I actually got to see quite a few authors who would’ve other wise been on this list. Here are my list of top ten author’s I’d like to meet.  I included some dead ones in here as well. Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

10)

I was actually planning on going to a Perkins signing last fall, but I ended up getting a sinus infection and Blue Willow Bookstore is no place to go to when you have a sinus infection-I sort of get a little claustrophobic at their signings because it gets so crowded there and the last thing I would want to do is sneeze on someone.

9)

Okay, I sort of would like to go all Blackadder on the barb.  To 1) yell at him about some of the horrible plays I had to read-Seriously, King Lear had to be the 16th version of Intervention meets Jerry Springer.  And 2) Get his autograph because $$$$$ and I could totally shut up those conspiracy theorist about who really wrote those damn plays.

8)

There’s actually a Sarah J Mass signing I’m thinking of going to. So, I’m putting it on my list.

7)

Because she’ s Tina Fey.

6) 

Alton Brown like knows everything about food.  I’d like to ask him about how to turn some of the gluten free nastiness I’m forced to eat until yum-ness. I thought about putting Gordon Ramsay here, but quite frankly I think I’d rather ask Alton than Gordon.  Alton’s recipes in general are easy to follow and Gordon’s are way too complex for someone like me who’ s idea of a difficult meal is cooking something outside of the crock pot.

5)

I just want to know how this woman is able to publish so many books a year.  It’ s like she has super powers or something.

4)

This is another dead author I’d like to have a little chat with.  This was probably my least favorite of all the assigned reading books I’ve ever had.  And I’ve read some bad books for school (cough, Bored of the Flies, cough).  I think what bothers me about Great Expectations is that it’s riddled in abuse and it’s ever addressed.  And yes, I know Victorian England.  But you can’t tell me wearing a wedding gown for half a century and brainwashing your adopted daughter is right.  I’d like to tell Mr. Dickins to cool it with the melodrama a bit.  And while I was at it, I’d like to thank him for every horrible rendition of A Christmas Carol that airs on ABC Family each year.

3)

I have so many of her books on my shelves and I’d love to get them signed.  I thing about getting autographed books, I like to get an entire series signed.  Plus, I sort of would like to ask why Dimitri?  I might love Sydrian but the Radrian fan in me still profoundly hates Last Sacrifice. 

2)

I would love to meet Jane Austen when she was alive. Actually, I’d love to see how Jane Austen would react to her popularity today.  I have a feeling that she would be overwhelmed with the Jane-ites.  And probably wonder how the ideal romantic guy evolved from her heroes to Edward Cullen (ew).  Poor Jane.

1) 

I’d love to meet Ms. Rowling.  Alas, I think the closest I’ll get to seeing her is seeing an  autographed copy of her books.   God they were  so expensive. But I’d really like to meet her in real life.  I probably wouldn’t get only tongue tied but pass out as well.

Unpopular Opinons Tag

Christina from A Reader of Fictions posted this tag and I thought it looked pretty cool, so I’m giving it a shot.  If you’re interested in it consider yourself tagged-I’m really bad at picking individual people to tag because it reminds me of selecting teams and how awkward is so I’m just going to bypass that.

A book or series that everyone seemed to hate but you loved:

While I wasn’t a huge fan of the sequel in this series, but I really liked the first book.  And a lot of my friends didn’t.  There were a lot of nice things that I loved.  The use of language.  And I actually (don’t hate me) sort of liked the Athena ship in the first book.  In the second book, it was disastrous for the goddess’s character but in the first one I was like yay!  Ship!

A love triangle that didn’t end the way you wanted it to.

Really, who shipped Rose with Dimitri?  Okay, a lot of people.  But Adrian was just awesome and didn’t deserve that.  And I know that I did end up loving Sydrian, but a part of me still wanted my happily ever with Adrian and Rose-at least when I revisit Vampire Academy.

A book genre you hardly ever reach for.

Eh, I’m not a fan of dystopia.  I’ve read some of it-when it was basically all you could find on the shelves, but if I have the choice and if it isn’t highly recommended to me, I probably won’t pick it up.  The reason why, most of them seem awfully formulaic and rely on vague world building.  The Selection is a really good example of a YA dystopia that doesn’t work.  However, unlike most of these books I actually had hope for this one.  Mainly because there seemed to be  a lighter almost fluff feel  to the book based off of the premises, but the actual exection.   Oy Vey.

A popular or beloved character you did not like.

I am not a fan of Ginny Weasley.  And it’ s not because I despise Hinny almost as much as I despise Heron-seriously, that one is so headed to Magical Divorce Court.  I get why Jo wanted OBHWF (One Big Happy Weasley Family), but it was forced.  Whatevs.  The character Ginny was hardly well formed.  Other than knowing she was Ron’s somewhat pretty sister that Harry randomly decided he wanted to bone after Cho Chang and him didn’t work out  I don’ t know anything about her.  And she’s even worse in fannon.

A popular author you just can’t enjoy.

I really tried  with this series and a short story of hers, but I just don’t think I was in the mood.  Everyone raves about Laini Taylor.  I might try to pick up her stuff later on, but her use of language is so rich that I literally have to pay more attention than I usually do when I read so….yeah, probably not.

A popular trope you’re tired of:

Sick lit.  I just can’t get behind it.  Maybe it’s because I had a cousin die fairly young from cancer, but I really can’t get behind these stories.  There’s just something that rubs me the wrong way with them.  It’s  like how can you make having a terminal illness romantic?  Or think the story is poignant?  To me it’s just a cheap ploy that will cause you to use a box of Kleenexes. And on that note, I guess it’s bad for the environment too.

A popular series you have no interest in reading.

I hear the first book’s great, but after that it sort of goes down hill.  Plus, I’ve been spoiled about the ending and it just seems so stupid to me.  Oh, and did I mention it’s a dystopia….

A TV show/movie that was better than the book.

 

Yes, I like the Disney movie a LOT better than the original fairytale.  Because 1) the original fairytale is depressing, 2) it’s borderline macabre with the whole cutting out the tongue thing, and 3) there’s a not so nice moral lesson learned in it that I hate.  The Disney version might have an idiotic main character but it has Prince Eric, amazing animation, and the music.