Privilege Brat Has a Meltdown: Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo

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She had a plan. It went south.

Harper is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.

Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.

Source: GoodReads

I love Antartica.  This might be in part because my favorite animal is a penguin (okay, puffin sort of falls in there too) or the fact that there’s hardly any people there, but it’s on my bucket list.  And I will read a book if it takes place there.  However, after reading Up to this Pointe, I really don’t know if I’ll read any book that features Antartica if it involves privilege brats.  I mean, that’s sort of a fail.

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And God, is Harper one of the most privileged brats I’ve had the distaste of reading about in recent years.   Said brat, takes someone’s rightful spot to go to Antartica based on her family heritage.

I have no words.

Also, said privilege brat was such a genius she only had one plan in her life.  Her useless parents didn’t do their job of telling her that hey sometimes life doesn’t work out.  Especially ballet dancing.  The fact that they were just able to go with the whole I’ll audition around after I graduate with no alternative plans says a whole lot.

And her feet…yeah, I know some ballerinas and that they have messed up feet, but I thought there would’ve been more parental interference than there was on that.

One thing that got brought up a lot and annoyed the hell out of me was the character’s weight.  I am well aware that the world of dance is messed up when it comes to bodies, HOWEVER it doesn’t appear that the MC had an eating disorder yet it’s constantly shoved in the reader’s face that she needs to eat a cheeseburger.

Telling someone to eat a cheeseburger is about as offensive as telling someone they should lose a few.  In a world where body positivity is becoming more and more of a factor in YA, I don’t understand the skinny shaming.

Even if the character was anorexic (which she wasn’t) the whole situation wasn’t handled delicately and it sucked.  And what’s wrong with eating salad?  Seriously.  The fact that she’s not guzzling down cinnamon rolls is looked like some big sin.  Well, considering I can’t eat wheat I guess I would be sinning here…

Seriously, it annoyed the hell out of me.  Especially when they went on how having a muffin top is healthy for Antartica.  I was like seriously…can we stop with the weight talk?  Can we just agree to accept someone for the size they are and not devote thirty or so pages telling them how imperfect they are because Jesus….

It really made the book lose at least a letter grade.  The other reason the book was rated so low as I said before was the selfish privilege of the narrator.

Again, the privilege and lack of caring the MC showed everything else really soured me to the book.  I couldn’t even connect with any of the side characters save for the MC’s best friend who she hated because she was talented and the MC was not.

A part of me wanted to like this book.  I wanted to enjoy the Antartica setting and learn a couple of things, but at the end of the day it was a mope fest for a spoiled brat.  Hell, I would even be more concerned about the mope fest if the main character wasn’t such a self entitled shit.  That and the constant skinny shaming annoyed the hell out of me.

Overall Rating: A C.  Good premises but sort of a fail.

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Henry is a Jerk: Love a la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

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Take two American teen chefs, add one heaping cup of Paris, toss in a pinch of romance, and stir. . . .

Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent’s school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn’t all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes.

Henry Yi grew up in his dad’s restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent’s school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie’s growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away.

Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs.

Perfect for lovers of Chopped Teen Tournament and Kids Baking Championship, as well as anyone who dreams of a romantic trip to France, Love la Mode follows Rosie and Henry as they fall in love with food, with Paris, and ultimately, with each other.

Source: GoodReads

I really didn’t care for the love interest in this rom com.  That being said it’s not a bad book.  It’s actually quite enjoyable.  It’s warm and fluffy and reminded me of a lot like Anna and the French Kiss if it had some weird baby with Chopped or some other cooking related show.

Stephanie Kate Strohm has wrote some of my favorite books this year.  That being said while I found this book to be incredibly cute and sweet, at the same time the book was flawed in parts.

I like cooking stuff.  I have a ridiculous collection of cookbooks.  Watch a shit load of cooking shows.  And even attempt to cook when I don’t make a fool of myself by cutting myself  when chopping fennel (for this stupid sheet pan) and needing three stitches of a result (aka this is why I haven’t been blogging as of late, because typing with nine fingers is a bitch)

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So, I sort of like reading stuff about it.  And I even like reading stuff about baking even though I don’t eat a lot of bake goods because of the gluten thing.  I have even thought about doing a cooking feature on this blog before where I review cook books, but given my lack of finesse presentation wise and my tendency for getting in cooking related accidents. That being said, I found the cooking portion of this book to be very artificial in some regards.

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See I can post pictures of food.  My first attempt at fudge, don’t judge.

One of the reasons I have quit watching a lot of competitive reality cooking shows is the whole lack of heart in dishes crap that is usually used to make a chef peg themselves to a particular type of cuisine-usually this is where the chef’s from or their family’s from (i.e. your Italian you must cook Italian, you’re Southern you must cook Southern food) and that’s sort of thrown in here with Henry’s background and is a part of the story.  Never mind that his French food is just as damn good as his Chicago and Korean fusion food (which does sound pretty good now that I think about it) we’re told it doesn’t have heart.

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Okay?

Do you taste heart?  No.

In a cookbook or on a food show, I can get the argument.  Those things have narratives.  We’re just talking about the taste of the food though.  It just annoyed me…especially since Ms. Annoying (aka Rosie who I’ll get to in a minute) didn’t have any story to how she rips off Christina Tosi’s (who by the way has one of the most obnoxious wardrobe on food TV) cakes or why she’s so obsessed with lamination.  But whatever.

It’s just a pet peeve.  Besides, constant name dropping (seriously, every Food Network celeb gets a name drop).  The food stuff was interesting.  I did think though the stuff about Henry’s heritage was just pigeon toed in there at the end and was annoying.  Henry though in general was annoying and creepy.

While this was a cute book, I did not really root for this couple.  Henry is just so damn insecure and ridiculously possessive.

He and Ms. Annoying aren’t even dating yet and another guy flirts with her and he freaks out and gets all sulky.  God, what a moody character.

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Seriously, he sulks a lot.

It’s not attractive.

His moodiness also makes me realize I’m not in the targeted demographic but I digress…

I just didn’t like the way Henry acted and as much as Rosie annoyed me, she deserved better.  Guys like Henry are guys that usually become MRA fuckers.

As for Ms. Annoying…gah.  My problem with Rosie is she’s just such a stereotypical YA protagonist and her supposed improvement in cooking seemed almost miraculous.  Really, she shouldn’t have been at an elite culinary school.

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Surprisingly, I didn’t have a problem with the secondary love interest.  Yes, his backstory was a little outlandish, but Strohm didn’t result to the jerk in disguise trope and I have to give her a plus on that.

Surprisingly, while I did have a lot of nitpicking with the characters I did like this book.  It was a fun little escape.  I’m always down for a book with traveling and cooking, also I like rom coms.  So while I didn’t feel the ship it was sort of written to be an MJ book.

Overall I do recommend Love a la Mode.  There are better books out there, but it is a cute little escape from the dumpster fire that is the world.

Overall Rating: I’ll be generous and give it a B.  And now I’m going to rest my finger.

These Bones Are Fractured: Mammoth by Jill

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The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin. Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and perfect lipstick aren’t compatible with prospecting for fossils in the Texas heat. But nothing is going to dampen Natalie’s spirit — she’s exactly where she wants to be, and she gets to work with her hero, a rock-star paleontologist who hosts the most popular paleo podcast in the world. And then there’s Chase the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch.

It’s a summer that promises to be about more than just mammoths.

Until it isn’t.

When Natalie’s hero turns out to be anything but, and steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, Nat has to unearth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by dudes. To do this, she’ll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying all the rules for the sake of a major discovery.

Source: GoodReads

Note, if you’re going to state to have a book about body positivity  do not have your character guess every lady’s weight and have the “Mean Girl” be the cliche skinny girl.  It will annoy your reader who would’ve otherwise enjoyed your book.

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Okay, that opening paragraph is pretty much a summation of my thoughts of Mammoth.  It had a lot of potential, there were parts I liked but with many so called “empowerment” books this one ends up skinny bashing AND emphasizing weight more than it should’ve.

At least it had paleontology.  That was cool, and it was the primary reason why I kept reading the book.  Because I was interested in the paleontology bits, even though it got ridiculously unrealistic with how successful the MC was.

Also, seriously, she really thought wearing a dress and heels was smart for a dig sight?

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Really, all of the clothes she bought weren’t fit for Texas summers let alone being outside all day long in the Hill Country.

Digressing…

The MC, Nat, was really annoying.  Baguchinsky does excerpts of Nat’s fashion blog throughout the book, and she is one of those obnoxious fashion bloggers that I would absolutely hate.  Seriously, I don’t need to know what lipstick you like to wear Nat (Pinup Girl, it’s always fucking Pinup Girl).  Nat has that over the top quirky style that I think the audience is suppose to find quirky and empowering, but soon it’s revealed she relies heavily on Spanx and that’s a good part of the novel besides telling us what every single FEMALE character weighs.

Oh, yes, this is just the female characters.  As for the love interests not surprisingly weight isn’t mentioned just abs and biceps.

Oh, and did I mention that the 110 pound girl is obviously a bad character for flirting with a boy that Nat might like and having a rich dad.  She’s skinny and rich so…

Here’s the thing about books that state they’re about body positivity, if THAT’S true the book needs to be accepting of all body types.  It just annoys me when there’s skinny shaming as much as there is fat shaming.  Honestly, I wish that the main character’s size wasn’t mentioned all the time.  Just have it mentioned she’s a plus size blogger and leave it at that.

And really, while I get the fashion thing was used to show her self esteem it really had little to do with the rest of the novel.

The paleontology internship itself was a little eye rolling.  Again, I’d had a hard time believing a complete novice like Nat would have as much success as she did.  Also, her randomly finding a document that dismisses a lawsuit….ha, ha, ha, no.  If only it was that easy.  I’m sure her randomly finding fossils with next to no experience would be just as laughable to paleontologists too.

There’s a part of the novel that had my inward Slytherin (yes, Slytherin and DAMN proud of it) fuming when we hear about how being too ambitious is bad.

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Nope.

Nope.

Nope.

Pro tip if you’re a woman in any professional industry you’re going to have to be helluva ambitious or else…well, your fucked.  Nat being told to get over someone taking the credit of her work had my little head exploding.

At the end of the day, I didn’t hate Mammoth enough where I DNF’d it or anything like that.  It also wasn’t terribly bland because it did have the paleontology plot to it-though the love interests in this book can die a slow death.

So, I’m giving it a middle of the road rating.  As annoyed as I got about finding everyone’s weight out within the first twenty or so pages, after I go past it, I enjoyed it (enough).

Overall Rating: C+

Twilight Aliens Revamp: The Darkest Star by Jennifer Armentrout

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When seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher is caught up in a raid at a notorious club known as one of the few places where humans and the surviving Luxen can mingle freely, she meets Luc, an unnaturally beautiful guy she initially assumes is a Luxen…but he is in fact something much more powerful. Her growing attraction for Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world she’d only heard about, a world where everything she thought she knew will be turned on its head…

#1 New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout returns to the universe of the Lux in this brand new series, featuring beloved characters both new and old.

Source: GoodReads

The Lux series is pretty much a Twilight ripoff, but replace vampires with aliens.  I liked it.  It wasn’t great, but it was typical Armentrout fare, and to be fair some of her better work.  It was enjoyable, light, fluffy, and fun.    I was actually excited when I heard that the Lux series was getting its own spinoff, as ripoff-y (is that a word?) as it was it was a fun read and I was interested in reading Luc’s story.  However, its pretty much a duplicate of Lux.

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To be fair, there is potentially a good backstory here.  The story, without getting too spoilery, relies on one of my favorite soap opera tropes.  It should’ve worked.  I mean, I have been wanting a book that exploits this trope but it just didn’t work.

Also, I really didn’t like how Evie rationalized the situation.  It didn’t seem realistic.  Yes, there was some anger, but not near the amount I would’ve felt.  Also, you would’ve thought…

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Again spoilers.

Okay you really want to know what I thought….

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MAJOR SPOILERS

Pretty much the big twist is that Evie is really Nadia (Luc’s not so dead girlfriend) who has amnesia because of some weird ass alien drug that Luc got her to save her life.  The fact that she doesn’t really remember the first 12 years of her life is oddly scoffed over.

I thought Nadia (I’m calling her fucking Nadia because that’s who she is, not the dead girl whose name her creepy ass pseudo mom gave her) took in everything relatively nonchalantly.  I probably would’ve been beyond pissed with that sad sack of a mother.  Because seriously, she pretty much used Nadia as a replacement as her dead stepdaughter.

That’s so wrong.

As for Luc….yeah, that was not cool letting Nadia have no say in her life whatsoever.  I don’t care if it’s because he loves her or not it’s just wrong to take someone’s choice away from them.

Period.

End of Spoilers

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Let’s just say that whole reveal could’ve been developed better.  And it didn’t make sense.

I should note that even though it made no fucking sense, I totally guessed what the twist was and rolled my eyes at the reveal.

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That’s not exactly a good thing, people.

However, as far as books being offensive goes this one is fairly inoffensive.  It’s just not that original.  Will I finish the series…probably.  Likely.  Because I’ve read seven books total in this universe and I am interested if maybe the series picks up as it gains steam.  That doesn’t mean I have high hopes for it though.

I really think at the end of the day when it comes to Jennifer Armentrout books you are going to get something that’s quick and enjoyable enough but it’s always going to lack something.  They’re not bad books but at the end of the day…well, it could be better.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it a B-

Lot of Action Not A Lot of Else: Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

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Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president’s son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie’s dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

No phone.
No Internet.
And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it’s okay. After all, she’s the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.

Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.

Source: GoodReads

Ally Carter is known for writing cute action pack books in the YA scene.  This book fits the bill.  If it’s action alone, this book is great.  There’s also chemistry between the two characters.  Her ships are great.

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However beyond that… this book is sort of weak.

I just felt throughout the entire reading experience that there was a lack of development with the characters.  There was potential, but often that development fell through to make way for action.

Hell, the action kept the plot from even making much sense at points in the book.

This made the action in some ways seem less exciting because there was no build up.

To be fair, there were good bones for a story here.  I was fairly impressed with the initial set up.  However, jumping from one event through the next with little to no explanation weakened the book.

Throughout the reading experience, this book reminded me of one of my favorite movies Romancing the Stone.  If you haven’t seen that movie it’s pretty much about this romance writer who gets trapped in the South America with mercenaries after her.  Replace South America with Alaska and gender swap the romance novelist with the president’s son you get this book.

Funny enough, this isn’t the first book that takes cues from Romancing the Stone and sets a book in Alaska.  Meg Cabot also did it with She Went All the Way.  However, that book took a different approach than Not If I Save You First.  It was much more comedic while this was much more action oriented.

While this book wasn’t intended to be comedic, I kept hearing Tina Fey’s version of Sarah Palin talking about seeing Russia from her house since Russians are the bad guys in this book.

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Yes, until the very end the bad guys are just referred to as Russians.

This book had a very interesting set up, but at the end of the day it was a bit of a hot mess.

Again though, it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever read and I didn’t like it better than Carter’s Embassy Row series.

Overall Rating: A C+

Keep Striking Out: Jillian Cade Fake Paranormal Investigator by Jen Klein

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Jillian Cade doesn’t believe in the paranormal. But her famous professor father does, and now that he’s gone, she decides to milk his reputation—and all the suckers who believe in the stuff—to open a private investigation firm. After all, a high school junior has to take care of herself, especially if she’s on her own.

Ironically, it’s when she takes on a case that might involve a totally non-paranormal missing person that things get strange. Particularly when Sky Ramsey—a new boy at school and an avid fan of her father’s—forces his way into becoming her partner and won’t shut up about succubi, of all things.

Before Jillian knows it, she finds herself navigating both her growing feelings for Sky and a sneaking suspicion that the poor saps she’s been scamming know something she doesn’t. Yet.

Source: GoodReads

This premise looks so freaking awesome and somewhat similar to something I have in a “Need to Write this Someday” folder on my computer.  To bad it is a complete and utter hot mess.

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I finished it though so that’s a plus…

Okay, that’s not really a plus.  I really finished this book hoping it would get better, but it was just a in-cohesive mess.   It was like it didn’t know what it wanted to be.

The world building aspect of this book is poorly done.  While the first chapter showed promise of Jillian scamming someone I had such high hopes.  The book promptly derails from there.

I really wanted more about the scamming ghost business, and the plot sort of doesn’t even acknowledge it for the rest of the book.  Well, I take that back it will throw an occasional nugget her and there but it does not explore it to the depth that it should be.

Instead, we have this weird mystery with a succubus  and someone’s weird paranormal origins that’s just randomly thrown in the book blender and doesn’t make sense.

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Hell, you’re probably like what is she talking about.

I wonder that myself as I write this.

This book was just weird.  It was incoherent at times, and it was really under developed on a lot of levels.

As far as Jillian goes.  I didn’t like her.  Her chemistry with Sky was pretty much non-existent.  I did not understand how the two of them were a legitimate couple because no such chemistry existed.  Really, they shared nothing in common except for being jerks.  They just didn’t work together much like the book really didn’t work.

Ugh, this one just sort of makes me angry.  It had all the elements that should’ve made it interesting but at the end of the day fell completely flat.

Overall Rating: A D.  I’ve read worse, but it was definitely a waste of my time.

Epic Fail Is More Like It: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by FC Yee

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Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code.

But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tale and penchant for peaches.

Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance.

Source: GoodReads

Once upon a time, a blogger was at the targeted YA age at the height of YA paranormal.  Although, Twilight was admittedly gross.  There were a lot of YA series released in the mid to late 2000’s that I liked even loved.  And admittedly the market got over saturated.  There were just so many books.

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Okay, way over saturated.  There was a lot of trash out there and eventually dystopia took over the market.  I understood and welcomed it at the time, but I’ll admit in October I’m usually nostalgic for this sort of shit which was why when YA paranormal does make an appearance in the market the book is likely to interest me.

I’ve had The Epic Crush of Genie Lo on my shelf for awhile.  It interested me because it featured a diverse heroine, Chinese mythology, and the blurb made genie sound bad ass.  Unfortunately, I ended up throwing the book against my wall after about 60 pages.

I don’t plan on this being a super long review, I’m just going to note the reasons why I DNF’D it.

  1. Forced Love Interest: I FUCKING hate this trope.  If the MC finds the guy obnoxious her family and friends shouldn’t push him on her.  Period.  This trope annoys me across genres.  I hate how the heroine is suppose to fall in love with douchiness and change her supposed high strong ways.  It just doesn’t work for me.  This is a personal preference thing, so if you like it you might be able to handle it better than me.
  2. The Big Reveal: The Obnoxious Hero of course explains the heroine her destiny.  I hate how dependent it is on the Douche Hero.  I long for a book where this is not the case.
  3. Info Dumping: Enough Said.  It’s even worse in this one since the book is written in first person and the entire book shifts for a chapter or so.

As you can see it’s pretty easy to see why I DNF’d it.  If you don’t hate two the tropes that I listed you might be able to finish the book.  Hell, you might like it. I however can’t tolerate this sort of shit so I threw it in the giveaway box.

Admittedly, it’s a shame.  There were a lot of things about this book that I should like.  However, at the end of the day the book and I just did not mehs.

Overall Rating: DNF

When Life Gives You Bad Books DNF: When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybaum

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Sixteen-year-old Shelby Black has spent the past year training to be an exorcist. Her great-uncle Roy—a Catholic priest and Shelby’s guardian—believes she has a gift for expelling demons, and he’s put her through exorcist boot camp hell, but he still doesn’t trust her to do an exorcism on her own.

High school is hard enough without having to explain that you fight demons for a living, so Shelby keeps her extracurricular activity quiet, especially from Spencer, her cute math tutor. Secrets run in Shelby’s family, though: her mother has been missing ever since an exorcism went horribly wrong, and Uncle Roy is tight-lipped about it. But Shelby’s hell-bent on finding her mom, no matter what—even if what it ends up costing her her soul AND a date with Spencer.

Source: GoodReads

It’s almost October which means I’m in the mood for some paranormal YA.

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The only thing is while paranormal romance was the big on trend back when I was in the targeted age of YA, it has really faded away.  Which is good.  Because there was a lot of crap out there in the late 00’s.  HOWEVER, while you think that newer paranormal YA books would have a tough bar to overcome.  The shit’s still getting published.  When Life Gives You Demons is one of these books.

Full Disclosure: My favorite YA series is Meg Cabot’s The Mediator (read my Reread feature on it if you want to know why).  It has been my favorite series since I was a teen and it’s still my favorite series since I first read it fifteen or so year ago.  So, when I’m looking at paranormal YA that’s my gold standard.  Nothing really ever meets it, especially When Life Gives You Demons.

Also full disclosure, this book is published by my “favorite” imprint.  That should’ve been my other clue.  I swear Swoon Reads likes to tease me with their interesting premises and then fuck with me with their execution.  It is, so, awful.

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I ended up DNF’ing this book for several reasons.  I made it to roughly 100 pages in, which I think is far enough to know I wasn’t amused by any means.  The set up just seemed very forced and it didn’t help that the MC was the last person you’d expect to be a teenage exorcist.

Plus, I took a sneak peak at the end and everything was resolved as I expected which was just ridiculous.   I shouldn’t be able to guess the big twist (and yeah, what I guessed was the twist).

Part of my problem with this book was the MC.  She is ridiculously immature.  I get that she’s only seventeen (I think, it might’ve been fifteen, I forget) but she is an exorcist and she’s been exposed to a lot of things.  That being said, you’d think she’d be a little more responsible and grounded than your typical teenage protagonist.  It can be done.  God, I hate that I’m constantly referencing it in my review-seems a bit unfair-but in The Mediator, Suze sounded like a teen but at the same time she’s a confidant spirit guide and knows how to pull off one hell of a Brazilian exorcism.

Shelby, on the other hand, can’t even mumble a few Latin words correctly.

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She is pathetic.

Also, the demon mystery in this one was sort of lame.

Yes, really, lame.  In the first 100 pages there really wasn’t that much build up to it either just two random cases.  One was the opening exorcism scene which was relatively dull, and the next was the random moody teenager who plays video games who must be possessed (but not).

There’s also a very boring and dull love interest, who needed to be possessed to be mildly interesting because boy was he dull.  Seriously, the interaction between him and the stupid MC is him helping her with her Geometry homework.

I was thoroughly bored with this one.  Which is the last thing I should think about a book full of demons.

Maybe I’m wanting too much with my YA paranormal.  I read another book this weekend and the experience of that book was almost eerily similar to this one.  The only difference was, that one was marginally better where I could finish the book.  This one not so much.   Regardless, I’ll just have to get my paranormal thrill by watching bad reality shows on TV and rereading The Mediator.

Oh, well.

Overall Rating: DNF

 

If Ariel Was a Murderer: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexander Christo

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Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Source: GoodReads

To Kill a Kingdom has been on my shelf for awhile.  I’ve always had a thing for Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  Yes, it’s underdeveloped.  Yes, Ariel’s an idiot.  But it has this dark potential there with Ursula and her nefarious plan.  To Kill a Kingdom sort of is like a retelling with a mesh up lead of Ariel and Ursula and goes with it.  So, it’s essentially like a Vanessa book only…well, different.

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The only thing about this one is while it had a fantastic first third the book fell flat fast once Lira became human and developed emotions.

This is one of those rare instances, where I think the book might’ve been better off if it had not been a standalone.    The relationships just seemed too forced for my liking, especially after the revelations.

Had there been a couple of books for character evolution, I might’ve bought the ending a little bit more than I did.  As it was, it just seemed rush.

TBH, I would’ve been okay without the romance.  It’s rare for me to say that, but I really felt like the major ship in this book was forced.  Both leads are horrible to each other and put each other in some near death situations-some of them premeditated- it’s not a healthy relationship by any means.  And I just want more with my ships…this was no bueno.

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That being said I love how the female lead was introduced.  Lyra came off as this villainess in training and I wanted to read more about her and her embracing the darkness.  But her power is pretty much stripped fairly early on in the book and she becomes useless.

It’s a shame.

There’s a McGuffin like quest that fuels the second half of the novel.  Honestly, not a huge fan of it.  It just went from point to point.  I really felt no rush or excitement towards it, it was surprisingly dull.

Overall, my feelings towards this one were lukewarm.  There was so much potential throughout it, however the execution faltered.

Overall Rating: B-

Good Check on Privilege : The Impossibility of Us by Katie Upperman

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The last thing Elise wants is to start her senior year in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move from San Francisco to a sleepy coastal village.

When Elise meets Mati, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town too, visiting the U.S. with his family. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.

But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact—Mati is Afghan.

Beautifully written, utterly compelling, and ultimately hopeful, THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US asks—how brave can you be when your relationship is questioned by everyone you love?

Source: GoodReads

I wish someone would’ve told me that a good chunk of this book was drafted in verse.  If I knew that it would’ve never been bought.

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As it was, because I wasted money on this book I thought I should give it a good try and it was mercifully short and I finished reading it.  But surprise, surprise, when I ended up hating it and it’s now in my giveaway box.

Let’s just put it this way, had I read this book pre-2015 Escalator of Doom incident I would’ve said that certain characters were painted in a very 1D fashion.  Blame my privilege, but I would have found it hard to believe the blatant hatred these characters have against a character that they never even met.

That being said,  the Trump administration has happened so I am very aware that asshats like this do exist.

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The thing is though, reading about people like this still leaves me flummoxed and like people don’t act like that.

Even though reality check, they do.

It’s a good check on privilege, I suppose, but it’s not going to make the reading experience any less squirm inducing.  And to be fair, I think it should be squirm inducing.  We need to wake up to how seemingly “good” people like in this book are really racist bigots at their core.  Do I wish the depiction of said characters was better…..yes…but again I can’t say it was unrealistic.

What I really didn’t like about this book, at it’s core was that there really wasn’t much story to it.  The blurb was the book.  The relationships were pretty cardboard.  Maybe Mati and Elise develop more in his verse sections, but since I hate verse and skimmed (or even skipped) these sections I’ll never know.

And seriously, the verse.  It added nothing to the book.  If you like these sort of books that’s fine, but they’re not for me.

I really felt like there was a lot of potential to this one, but at the end of the day it was just a very flat story with very flat characters.  I just don’t recommend.  However, if anything reading it reminded me just how awful society is.  It’s hard to rationalize that sounds like something that doesn’t sound realistic is, and that’s why I think it’s so important to keep on reading books that touch on these sorts of topics.

However, I don’t think that Upperman’s book is probably the best book out there that touches on xenophobia.

Overall Rating: God, the writing was so flat.  I think I’m just going to give it a D and call it a day.