Not Another Fan Fic: Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw


Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her weed-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. And if they ever find out what Scarlett truly thinks about them, she’ll be thrust into a situation far more dramatic than anything she’s ever seen on TV…

Source: GoodReads

Novels about fan fiction seem to intrigue me until I actually read them and then I’m like blah, you completely got fandom wrong.

Such as is the case of Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here.

In a lot of ways this book reminded me of Fangirl if Cath was a few years younger, didn’t suffer from anxiety disorder, and  wrote even worse fan fic than Cath did.

Which is saying something.

The book actually has pretty decent reviews, but I find myself being in the camp that didn’t love this one.  I think a lot of it dealt with the main character who I just wanted to kick in the butt.  The decisions that this character made throughout the entire book were eye roll worthy.

A lot of it could be blamed on her age, but at the same time, a lot of it could be blamed have no fucking common sense (aka the perfect excuse for a plot hole).

And that’s just sort of the thing that makes you an annoying protagonist in my book.  Everything about Scarlett screams get a clue.  From her self insert fan fic-where she doesn’t even bother to change the freaking names, seriously girl-to her stupid crush girl’s an idiot.

And she’s not even a lovable idiot either.  Constantly, we’re told be this sanctimonious character  how everyone else sucks except her.

Well, Scarlett, have you looked at yourself in the mirror?

*Deep breaths*

I won’t think about Scarlett because she annoys me.  Rather, I will think about positive aspects of this book like it was a quick read.

That’s always a nice thing to say.  I think I read this one within two and a half hours of total reading time.  Not that much time to spend on something, and there really wasn’t that much effort to it.  So that was something.  And occasionally, Scarlett wouldn’t annoy me and I’d find myself enjoying myself to some remote degree.

Though, to be fair, that didn’t occur often.

Because Scarlett and her choices drove me fucking insane throughout the entire reading process.

I really wanted to shake her.  And when I didn’t want to shake her, I wanted to punch her.

She was that dumb.

And anytime I tried to care for her problems, I just found myself either rolling my eyes or not caring.

And that was pretty much how I felt for everyone in this book including the character that died.

Oops, spoiler there.  Though I didn’t tell you who bit the dust, and quite frankly you’ll be able to predict it and/or you really won’t care.  Because at the end of the day, I didn’t care about Scarlett or any of her friends.

Arguably, some people might say that my distaste for Scarlett to be uncalled for.  After all, she is a teenager so she is going to be a bit whiny and overdramatic, but I found nothing redeemable about this character or really likable about her.

Did I feel sorry for her?

Yeah, sort of did there.

But…but feeling sorry or for that matter pity for another is completely different than liking someone and the choices they made.

And I do not like Scarlett or the dumb ass choices she made throughout the book.

Like the love interest, I was like come on girl, have some self respect.  Be like Melissa McCarthy’s character in Spy and tell the chomp that he’s a chomp and you’re over him.

But this is YA so…

You can feel in the blanks.  This is one of those few times, I have to say, that I’d like a random love interest to come out of nowhere just to absolve us of the pain of having to watch the token love interest get with the main character even though said token love interest is a total douche.

Ugh.

Ugh.

Ugh.

Yeah, sorry I ruined that for you spoiler aversion people.   But there was no way of writing this review without mentioning what an awful pairing the ultimate ship is.

I think one of the reasons I hated the ship was that it was basically a ship built on misogyny.

I don’t joke about things like this.  But the entire ship revolves around the hatred of women in some form of fashion.  Hell, I probably could write an essay about it for an English class if I wanted to showing how the the slut slamming of the love interest’s booty call transcends to his own disrespect towards women in general and how Scarlett in turn in looking for relationship with a misogynist because she has no self respect for herself.

And it is obvious at this point that I’ve been hitting the liquor cabinet too hard on a week night.

Overall Rating: A C.  Engaging, but there was something off with this one that kept me from fully enjoying it.

 

Sort of a Nightmare: Dreamology by Lucy Keating

For as long as Alice can remember, she has dreamed of Max. Together they have traveled the world and fallen deliriously, hopelessly in love. Max is the boy of her dreams—and only her dreams. Because he doesn’t exist.

But when Alice walks into class on her first day at a new school, there he is. It turns out, though, that Real Max is nothing like Dream Max, and getting to know each other in reality isn’t as perfect as Alice always hoped.

When their dreams start to bleed dangerously into their waking hours, the pair realize that they might have to put an end to a lifetime of dreaming about each other. But when you fall in love in your dreams, can reality ever be enough?

Source: GoodReads

When I saw this book and its premises on GoodReads, I inwardly grimaced.    Mainly, because it could either be great or either be utterly hideous.  Or totally ridiculous like the below gif (sorry GoodReads readers, you can’t see that giffy ridiculous awesomeness unless you click on the above link-I know shameless plug.

Okay, honestly I was expecting utterly hideous.  Because I have been burnt so many times on premises like this one which might’ve been why I gave this book as much as a pass as I did.  Because while it wasn’t completely terrible, it did grate on my nerves a couple a times and the book really was slightly below average at best.

I’ll talk about what worked, there were times that this book charmed me.  Especially in the first half.  There were YA cliches that were mocked, females weren’t slut slammed, and the MC realized she as a little bit nuts about the love interest.  BUT, but all of this acknowledgment fail flat because soon the protagonist was relying on stupid cliches that have been seen in every YA book since Twilight (and probably before too, but I don’t have enough time in the world to go back to every YA book pre Twilight).

God the romance, guys.  I just…I didn’t care for it.  If Keating really wanted to twist it, I think she could’ve had the MC fall for another guy besides the one she did. I just sort of groaned when I realized that the end game was going to be a the couple that it was.  I just couldn’t ship it because there were lots of issues with this ship.  Mainly, that the MC cares very little-though she claims otherwise-that she’s pursuing a guy who has a girlfriend.  And should I mention that said girlfriend is very friendly with her.

It’s like, oh, hey random nice girl I’m going to steal your bae and you’re just going to get over it because we’re meant to be because he’s my dream boy.  Mwhwhahahaha.

That’s pretty much what happens, I don’t joke.

And the consequences of these actions are very little, to the point I’m just like okay.

Most of the fallout in this book is done with a shrug and that’s just sort of the problem with Dreamology.  Even the main plot is resolved with the location of one special character who just did what she did because she felt sorry for the two leads and…

Yeah, I was still like: well, that’s dumb.

Le sigh.

Despite all of this, I couldn’t exactly hate Dreamology.  Like I said, it tried.  It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it wasn’t terrible.  But it definitely missed the mark on a lot of things.

Like the plot, the characters were just sort of half baked as well.  Despite being in first person, I could never really connect with the main character, Alice.  While there were moments that I’d chuckle because of something she said in her narration, for the most part she was a bore.  Sure, Keating tried to give her problems, but again these problems were often swept under the floor or resolved purely for the purpose of resolving the plot.  The first one I think of on the top of my head is Alice’s issues with her mother.  The resolution is just so stupid.  I’m not going to go into details because of spoiler purposes, but wow that was just dumb and would’ve made me even more pissed and wouldn’t have resolved the issue at all.

Her father doesn’t get a pass either since he did something at the end which is sure to get him nominated for a Golden Charlie in the near future.

So, Dreamology, it’s not terrible.  It’s surely not the best either.  But it’s not exactly the failure that I was worried it would be.  I think if you want a light read and you like the idea of dreams playing a role in YA plots, you might like this one.  Be forewarned the romance will grate on your nerves a bit and it uses a lot of YA cliches-and even though it mocks these cliches, it doesn’t really use these ideas to it’s fullest.  But…but…it’s a nice enough quick read.

Overall Rating: C+

Good Themes, But….: Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas

Asleep for a hundred years, awoken by a kiss. Aurora’s life was supposed to be a fairytale.

But since discovering that loyalty to the crown and loyalty to her country are two very different things, Aurora knows she can only dream of happily ever after. Once the enchanted princess, savior of her people, she is now branded a traitor.

Aurora is determined to free her home from the king’s tyrannical rule, even if it means traveling across the sea to the kingdom of the handsome and devious Prince Finnegan—someone who seems to know far more about her magic than he should. However, Finnegan’s kingdom has perils of its own, and any help he gives Aurora will come at a price.

As Aurora and Finnegan work together to harness her power—something so fiery and dangerous that is as likely to destroy those close to Aurora as it is to save them—she begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding the curse that was placed on her over a century before…and uncover the truth about the destiny she was always meant to fulfill.

Brimming with captivating fantasy and life-threatening danger, the sequel to A Wicked Thing takes Sleeping Beauty on an adventure unlike any she’s ever had before.

Source: GoodReads

After reading A Wicked Thing, I was a little more than tepid about continuing with what I’m assuming is going to be a trilogy but in the end I decided to give it a chance.  I liked a lot of the ideas that Thomas threw out in the first book and I was interested in seeing this one develop.  I figured this would be a either make it or break it book for me when it came to this trilogy.

In the end though, I’m still on the fence about the whole thing.

And I hate that I feel so bloody confused.

I think a lot of it has to deal with the writing itself.  There is just something that seems so shut off about the narration that I felt like I was only halfway reading the book, when obviously I was not.

This was one of the reasons I don’t think I’ll ever fully get into this series.  Which is sad, because I really like the themes that it has, and I think the ship that was introduced more fully in this installment has potential.

Side note, I am glad that the other two ships have been completely dropped.  Not that there was really that much build up anyway for at least one of those two ships, but I am really glad that there is only one potential ship now and that it has been relegated to a background plot rather than a central plot-though at times it did seem pretty centric, now that I think about it.

But really the ship isn’t the central focus.  While not as introspective as the first book, at its heart the book is still about Aurora and that is sort of cool.

Especially since there are lots of feminist over and undertones.

Note, put feminism in a book and it’s always going to get an instant plus from me.

The thing is, while I liked how there were these  feminist themes through the book, I thought they weren’t fully developed.  And sadly that was how a lot of the book was.

There was just this disconnect that did not only extend to the narration, but the plot, the themes, and the characters as sell.  Even the ship that I sort of liked was only half baked.

Which leaves me at do I want to continue?

It’s only three books, BUT I just feel as disconnected and as lost as I did after the first.  And oh so disappointed.  While the book isn’t exactly bad, I’m not going to be rooting for it anytime soon.

Overall Rating: A solid C.

 

Should be the Idiot Court: The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

Source:GoodReads

Anytime I see a comparison to The Selection in a blurb I usually run away, unless it’s written by Richelle Mead and then I torture myself and try to rid the feeling of having all my dreams crushed by starting my binge watch of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

So yeah, this book didn’t turn out to be good.  It’s books like this that really get me fuming as a feminist.

And really make me wonder what publishers thing about their readers.

And this is by Richelle Mead who has created some fantastic lead female characters-I like both Rose and Sydney.  I forgot the main character’s name from Soundless which I’m pretty sure is going to happen to Adelaide after I detox from this book.

I am really sad about Richelle Mead, I loved her Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series and I’ve read Succubus Blues and enjoyed it too, but I did not enjoy this much like I didn’t enjoy Soundless.  It lacked the trademark Mead voice and instead was something dull and about four years too late in the genre and just bad.

Really bad.

I even think if this book was written four years ago it would’ve been terrible.

I think a lot of the problems are a result of the fact that Mead isn’t embracing her strengths and is more or less trying to recreate other really bad YA novels (cough, The Selection, cough).  It was almost as if she had writer’s block and the the publishing company just gave her a loose outline of a book so that she could finish out her contract with or whatever.

Note, I doubt this is what actually happened, but this book lacked heart.  It read like mindless other books trying to pimp itself to a female audience who likes pretty dresses and romance, and forgot substance.

Which is a shame.

I am a fan of a dress porn as much as anyone can, but I think anyone can see that dress porn and a cute romance* isn’t going to make a book for me.  It needs good character development and a plot would be nice too.

The Glittering Court has neither.

First, the set up is a little fucked up.  A girl runs away from an arranged marriage with a distant relative who while banal doesn’t seem horrible (as far as arranged marriages are concerned) for an arranged marriage to a complete stranger done by an organization that is basically a glorified brothel but without the sex because this isn’t adult fiction but young adult-but still sex is going to come in play after marriage, so it is a brothel sort of.

I mean, how fucking stupid is that?  I could understand Adelaide using The Glittering Court as an excuse to get to the new land and then bailing on it, but she is totally down on the idea.

I’d like to say that the rest of the book is not near as stupid, but that wouldn’t make me an honest review.

It’s even dumber.

Need a drink?

I do.

I’m glad it’s Friday, let me tell you.

Well, it was Friday when I first started drafting it.  By the time I finished and edited this review it was Sunday and I’m coming off of a stiff hangover because of this book.

I still can’t get over the fact that this book was by Richelle Mead.

It’s not just because the book is just so different in subject matter, but because the writing itself was just so bland.  Even though I had problems with the later Vampire Diaries and to  a lesser degree the last Bloodlines book (which was cheesy as hell, but entertaining like a bad Lifetime movie, there was still something interesting about them.  They were interesting.  There was action.   For the dignity of Mead I won’t mention how boring Soundless was (okay, I sort of did).  And sadly, The Glittering Court though was just boring and filled with dress porn-Soundless lacked dress porn.

Le sigh.

Throughout the reading process, I tried to think  objectively.  Look at the book as though it was written by someone else and see if I thought it was better.  After all, there are lots of books out there in the YA fantasy sphere that shared a similar premises-the aforementioned abomination, The SelectionThe Jewel and countless others..

A premises like this is fatally flawed.

I really hate how one dimensional this book and other’s seem to think their intended audience is.  I know I discussed the dress porn phenomena in my review of The Jewel but it still annoys me that publishers think this sort of thing can pass it’s audience.

Pretty dresses are nice and all, but teenage girls and women in general are not so entrapped by them that we can look past some pretty insulting things which was The Glittering Court.

Seriously, how the fuck is one ot make sense of this plot?  Escape an arrange  marriage by basically selling yourself into another worse situation.

It’s just asking your audience to be stupid.

Which is pretty insulting, Richelle Mead.

I’m hoping your publishers forced you to write this shit.

At this point, I don’t know if I’m going to read another Mead book unless the premises truly intrigues me.  This has happened to me before with an I used to read all the time, and unfortunately, it looks like it has happened again.

Overall Rating: A DNF a little bit over the 200 page mark.  More on the side of F than a subjective it wasn’t for me book.

*Note, I wasn’t a fan of the romance which I really didn’t talk a lot about in this review because I was entrapped with the publisher’s stupidity that I overlook a fatal plot fail because of pretty dresses.

Bloody Brilliant…Well, the First Half: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

A reimagining of Jane Eyre as a gutsy, heroic serial killer, from the author whose work The New York Times described as “riveting” and The Wall Street Journal called “thrilling.”

“Young Jane Steele’s favorite book, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, mirrors her life both too little and too much…In an arresting tale of dark humor and sometimes gory imagination, Faye has produced a heroine worthy of the gothic literature canon but reminiscent of detective fiction.”
Library Journal, Starred Review

“Reader, I murdered him.”

A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until escaping to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement.  Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess.

Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents—the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, and the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield appears far deeper and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him—body, soul, and secrets—without revealing her own murderous past?

A satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies, by a writer who Matthew Pearl calls “superstar-caliber” and whose previous works Gillian Flynn declared “spectacular,” Jane Steele is a brilliant and deeply absorbing book inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s classic Jane Eyre.

Source: GoodReads

Jane Eyre is a classic that will always hold a special place in my heart since I chose to spend my Senior Project in AP English on it and a couple other books- The Color Purple and The Princess Diaries on female empowerment.

Believe it or not, I got an A on it.

Apparently, my English teacher liked my weird hodgepodge of subject matters I chose.

And yes, I’m probably the only person that I know who used Princess Mia’s diatribes about not having breasts and eventually ditching Josh Ritcher at the Nondenominational Church in comparison to quotes that depicted the horrific events in The Color Purple and Jane Eyre’s constant melodrama with Mr. Rochester and how she was still an early feminist despite crawling back to Rochester.

Although, in retrospect I should’ve wrote my senior project on how Jane Eyre had an early case of TSTL disease prevalently seen in YA today.

That being said, when I saw the premises of Jane Steele I had to click the little one click buy button on Amazon even though it could’ve ended up being total poo on toast.

Luckily, it didn’t.

I expected something different though, than what I got.  And for the most part, I’m pleased with the final result for the first half of the book.

First of all, the murders.  If you think Jane is a sociopath serial killer, she’s not.  Most in not all  of the crimes she commits are in self defense or in the defense of others, and for most of them a decent attorney could’ve gotten her off of them or at the very worst a fairly decent plea deal.  She’s no Serial Mom.   Though that’s what the premises and Jane seems to think for a good chunk of the novel, which is a shame.

The best part of this book occurs before the character meets Rochester or should I say the Rochester inspired character.  This is not a direct Jane Eyre retelling.  I don’t think I’ve addressed that yet.  While there are definite nods there are notable differences.  Much like how the boarding school scenes are handled.

Personally, I prefer this version.

Clark was an interesting character.  I sort of didn’t like how abrupt her character’s exit from the story was.  And while there was a bit of resolution there, it wasn’t that satisfactory.  Honestly, I would’ve preferred if the story just focused on her and Jane than doing the whole Rochester bit.

Which is different than how Jane Eyre rolls, because the first part of that book is so horribly boring and pious and you just want to smack Jane in the face for being such a trooper.

Seriously.

Here, Jane kicks ass.

And to be fair enough, when she moved in with Thornfield the book was still good, but it was almost as if Jane was domesticated a bit and that was just blah.

Overall, I liked this book enough to keep it on my shelf after I finished reading it.  Lately, I’ve been putting a lot of books in my storage unit-because when you live in an apartment you find you don’t have room for shelf space and if a book still sits on my shelf after the initial read it has to be worth something.

Overall Rating: A B.  I probably would’ve given it an A or A- for the first half if the Rochester character and second half weren’t so boring.  Bonus, though for diversity.

It’s Time for a Binge Read: The Hundred Oaks Series by Miranda Kenneally

Occasionally, I like to binge read series.  I find when a series has already been published it’s just easier for me to go through the motions of reading the whole thing rather than pacing it out-though I have done that in the past as well.

The Hundred Oakes series is a contemporary series by Miranda Kenneally that’s been out for awhile.  I actually reviewed the latest and sixth book (Jesse’s Girla while back.  I liked it.  However, I wonder had I actually read the series in chronological order if I would’ve continued it…

ONE OF THE BOYS

What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she’s ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he’s also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan’s feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart’s on the line?

Source: GoodReads

Ugh.

What can I say about Catching Jordan, except I was expecting a rather epic storyline with all the cameos these characters were making.  But the book itself was major suckage.

Jordan is one of those girls who’ll just glare at anyone for wearing pink.

You know the type.  The type who never watched Legally Blonde and don’t realize that you can wear pink and be a feminist and not a hooker.

I mean, really, people.

Or should I say Jordan.

Jordan I know would obviously hate me since I do like pink, dresses, have Chihuahuas, and like watching the occasional daytime serial.  She would probably think I’m a moron.

I’m not.  At least, I don’t think I am.  I mean, I did graduated from college with high honors and then went to law school and all so….

Whatever.

The point is, this is one of the most judgmental and annoying characters who acts completely different in her cameos.

And don’t even get me started on the romance in this one.  It is shallow at best.  I just love how she basically dropped the guy she was dating just because she figured out that someone else had feelings for her.

Fickled much?

Le sigh.  I’m thinking that this character was abducted by aliens during a book and was given some sort of surgery or probe or something to make her more tolerable.  It’s really the only thing that makes sense.

Overall Rating: F

 

Red-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan’s Hundred Oaks High.

Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?

Source: GoodReads

I sort of liked Stealing Parker, even though it wasn’t the best book and had its fair share of issues.

I’m just going to say it, Parker’s church is full of sanctimonious assholes.  But the sad thing is people like this, do exist.  There are a bunch of them living next to my parents’ right now.  They really have issues with my dad.  I  think it’s because he has a bit of a potty mouth and he’s not opposed to talking really loud about the fact that their sanctimonious assholes when they’re outside(my father has no censors).

Whatever.

Unlike Jordan, Parker’s actually had real issues and wasn’t so sanctimonious.  She also didn’t dis people who liked to wear pink which was a prop.  She was a bit of a jerk to her mom though.  And I thought it was ridiculous that she ditched softball because she thought it was going to turn her into a lesbian (such a lame reason to quit).

To be fair though, I really don’t think that’s why she ditched softball.  I think it was more or less to avoid being bullied, but that wasn’t exactly how it was framed and the constant worry about regaining those thirty or so pounds she lost made me roll my eyes.

Of course, she might’ve dissed softball because the endorphins were no longer making her happy.

One of the relationships was just icky here, the other was a little meh and came out of nowhere much like in Catching Jordan only I could buy that couple a bit more since Kennneally spent time building them.

I also liked how Parker came to some hard truths at the end of the book.  While Stealing Parker was far from perfect, it was a far improvement from Catching Jordan.

Overall Rating: B-

Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt – with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…

Source: GoodReads

I really didn’t like Kate, but unlike Chasing Jordan the character made an effort to change throughout the book where I couldn’t hate her.

Basically, Kate’s whole dilemma resolves an issue that really is none of her damn business.

I mean, seriously, I get that helping your friend making a difficult life decision was difficult but you shouldn’t judge her for it.  It’s her own damn body, not yours.  Apparently, this logic is very hard for a lot of people to grasp.  Especially certain Republicans. Hence, why groups like Periods for Pence have had to come into existence.

That being said though, Kate does grow on you and sort of grows up while the book progresses.

The love interest in this one is still sort of bland-it seems to be a pattern for this series- but likable enough.  I just felt he was a little too good to be true.  Again, he seemed better characterized as a cameo character in Breathe, Annie, Breathe than he did as a leading man.

But I didn’t hate him.

Overall Rating: A C+ while Kate might of grown on me that doesn’t mean I still didn’t want to slap her silly for being a judgmental bitch and call her to highlight the details on my period because of her previous sanctimonious ways.

They’re from two different worlds.

He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.

With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…

Source: GoodReads

Man, this one was a bit of a cliche and so bland.  So stinking bland,

I think Kenneally wanted to do a book that featured issues of class more than anything else, but the story it told was one that had been seen so many times before that it added nothing new to me.

That and a very bland hero made the book even blander.

So basically, Savannah and her dad work with horses for rich people and Savannah falls in love with a rich boy.  But will their love survive the bounds of class..

It’s a Kennally book so what do you think?

Besides, this.

The one nice thing I can say about this one, it’s better than Catching Jordan, but is that really a nice comment?  I mean, most contemporaries are better than Catching Jordan unless their that book with that brat who’d rather get a Big Mac than go to Europe.

I am digressing, aren’t I?

The point is, Racing Savannah isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read.  But it’s certainly forgettable.

Overall Rating: C

Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

Source: GoodReads

The romance in this one was a little better, but not so much because of characterization.  To be honest, Jeremiah was about as bland as his brother.  But because the relationship build and, well, it was nice to see Annie open up and go through the grieving process so maybe that’s why I liked the two of them together.

It think Breathe, Annie, Breathe might be one of the better books in this series because it was more introspective.  It was in a lot of ways what I wanted from Catching Parker  and Things I Can Forgetwhere there was a defined character evolution and the character’s change is subtle but very apparent from the end.

I also liked how the whole running a marathon sort of symbolized this change.  That was pretty cool.

But while the characterization of Annie was great, the other characterization was a bit meh.

I find this to be a common thing in Kenneally books though so I didn’t exactly hate this one or really fault it that much.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

A Step in the Right Direction: Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry

One moment of recklessness will change their worlds.

Smart. Responsible. That’s seventeen-year-old Breanna’s role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully’s line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas “Razor” Turner into her life.

Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don’t belong. But when he learns she’s being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it’s time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he’ll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she’ll help him seek answers to the mystery that’s haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they’re both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they’re going from here.

Source: GoodReads

I loved Katie McGarry’s first two books, but after those books I have felt like there ahs been a progressive downside in the quality of books that she has since produced.  The first book in the Thunder Road series, I was less than enthralled about.  However, Walk the Edge wasn’t a complete disaster.  In fact, it was sort of an improvement.

The biggest improvement the “Big Secret” was moved to being a subplot rather than the main plot.  This was nice break on the usual McGarry formula.  That doesn’t mean that a “Big Secret” didn’t exist in this book, but it took a backseat on this book rather than being the whole premises of the book like in many of McGarry novels.

I also liked the character.  I could easily identify with Brianna.  While I don’t have a photostatic memory like her, I can remember being isolated in high school for being different and trying to hide who you really are.  I think she’s probably one of my favorite McGarry heroines next to Beth and Echo.

The male lead Thomas (I deplore his club name Razor) isn’t bad either.  He does have his registed YA foulness moments, but it’s nothing compared to other male characters in McGarry books.  Though, I still like Ryan and Noah the best-again, I go back to those first two released McGarry novels.

FYI, those books are why I keep reading her stuff despite it growing a bit repetitive.

I will say though, that Walk the Edge has a nice enough plot to it.  I am never going to be a complete fan of the Thunder Road premises.  Motorcycle clubs just don’t interest me-blame my cousin Bert for that.  And the really stupid names that McGarry gives the members of the club in this book.  Oh, and add the fact that the club is a boy’s only club that collects it’s “women’s” bras which leaves a very sexist taste in my mouth.  If I can look past that, and that is a huge if, the story is good enough.  Here it borderlines on whether or not it would be considered good enough.  There were lots of elements of the story that worked, but there were some that didn’t.

To be honest, the whole “murder” investigation fell rather flat.  While there were problems with the cyber bullying story, it served more or less as a subplot to have the characters work on their relationship and their relationships with their families.

Also, I wish McGarry would’ve explored Razor’s relationship with his dad more.  It still felt rather flat after the entire book was over.  Brianna’s relationship with her parents also felt a bit unresolved.  Honestly, I felt her parents were horrible people who really needed a lesson in birth control and were fairly irresponsible by expecting their older children to raise their younger children.  But that might be too much Duggar TV for me.

However, despite these issues I still enjoyed Walk the Edge.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been craving YA contemporaries lately, but it fit what I was looking for.  Was it a perfect book: hardly.  But it did make for an enjoyable rainy Friday night.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

Time For Something Different: The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller

Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls barely know their father, a plant hunter usually off adventuring through China. Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan reneges on his contract to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid. He will be thrown into debtors’ prison while his daughters are sent to the orphanage and the workhouse.

Elodie can’t stand by and see her family destroyed, so she persuades her father to return to China once more to try to hunt down the flower—only this time, despite everything she knows about her place in society, Elodie goes with him. She has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China. But now, even if she can find the orchid, how can she ever go back to being the staid, responsible Elodie that everybody needs?

Source: GoodReads

Sigh.

This book was so close to being a perfect read, save for some pacing issues.

It explores a portion of history that I’m not that  familiar with.  Oh, I am aware enough of Victorian Britain, but I haven’t read that much about exploration in this era.  Especially in China.

Or for that matter I haven’t really read anything about horticulture.

That in it’s own made the read interesting enough.  But it really wasn’t the plot that kept me engaged.  Rather, it was the fact that this book had a lot of feminist undertones which had me squealing,

Yes, I said feminism.

There there are sadly no suffragettes and bra burning in this story, there are some under and overtones of feminism on a micro level.

Which is why I love this book so much, because it focused on how an individual is limited by her time period in her decisions.

Waller really does a great job with Elodie. The character is complex and realistic.  In fact, the characterization of the main character is probably one of my favorite parts of this book.   Elodie faces many challenges that any woman during this period would face.   However, she faces them in a way that is not overt or heavy handed.   While there is  a romance in this book, it is not the primary focus of the novel.  But I did ship the ship, even though it played a minor side role to the overall plot.

And maybe that’s why I liked The Forbidden Orchid as much as I did.  While I am a fan of romance, sometimes I feel like it overwhelms a story.  Here, it didn’t.  It was just enough romance to have you ship the ship but not overwhelm the character or the plot.

As far as plots go, this book doesn’t really have the most exciting or nail biting plot.  It really is a character study.  And that is totally okay.  There is just enough hints of adventure where it isn’t boring or anything.  The thing is, I can see how the lack of a plot WOULD bother someone else.

In addition to the lack of a plot, the pacing in this book is a bit messed up.  There was waaay too much time spent in England at the beginning of the novel, and the middle part on the ship and the part in China felt a little short changed which is a shame because those were the better parts of this book.

Would I recommend this book: absolutely.  But it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.  If you like historical fiction that focuses on aspects in the period that are often ignored I recommend this one.  However, it doesn’t have much in terms of a plot, but the characterization and the history it covers makes up for it.

Overall Rating: An A-.

 

The TBR Pile: April Showers Mean Time for Reading

It seems a little unbelievable that it is already April.  It seems like just yesterday it was 2016, and now a quarter of the year is over-not that 2016 has been that great of a year so far.  Anyway, here is my intended preorders for the month,

  • Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum: This one seems like it could be ooey gooey or heartbreaking.  Regardless, it’s going to be interesting because a lot of relationships in today’s world are internet based.  I just hope it’s not all Lifetime-ish.
  • Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw: Any book that deals with fanfiction forums and their drama totally has me ready to read it.
  • The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead: Please be better than Soundless.  Please be better than Soundless. 
  • Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins: I still need to read the second book😦
  • The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh: Sequel squeal.
  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi: Inspired by Indian mythology.  Enough said.

Rather short list for April, which is always a good thing because you can almost be guaranteed that the next month is going to be really busy (FYI, May is FILLED with books).

Kill, Kill, Kill: Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

From debut author Goldy Moldavsky, the story of four superfan friends whose devotion to their favorite boy band has darkly comical and murderous results.

Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.

We didn’t mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he’s tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it’s Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn’t be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn’t mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn’t. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that’s what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.

Source: GoodReads

Man, Kill the Boy Band it’s one of those books that you just have to stare at when you finish it.  And are like what did I read….

And I honestly still don’t know what to think of Kill the Boy Band.

A part of me really liked it, but a part of me was just sort of squemish about it.

I think the problem was that Kill the Boy Band was borderline on that fine line of being too much. While I enjoyed upon first read, I do not know if I will like it when I reread it.  While the dark humor worked for the most part this time around, it bordered heavily on cartoonish.

I think I’ll talk about what I liked about this book.  I think the best thing about this one was the narrator.  The protagonist’s real name is never identified and really we don’t know much about her other than a few facts.  The ambiguity with this character is actually a good thing because it leaves the reader questioning what they read.

The protagonist’s friends though I have issues with. The best thing about the friends is that their pretty much a diverse cast of people with different backgrounds.  However, that being said there was some major stereotyping going on.  I think I’ll discuss the worst depiction of any character in the book: Apple.

Oh God.

Apple is just, well, horrible.  And she could’ve been an interesting character.  Apple is of Chinese descent and was adopted by presumably WASP parents (I can’t remember if it’s ever specified in the book).  The character is heavyset and this is pretty much a cue for rampant fat jokes which just have me groaning and shaking my head.  To make matters worse, at best she is cartoonish.

A part of it might’ve been the tone the book was trying to go it is a black comedy in the vein of such classics like Serial Mom, but I’m sort of done with the sort of jokes/characterizations that were thrown at Apple.  It was just childish and pretty much ridiculous.

The other characters weren’t that much better. You have Isabel who comes off as being a psychopath, but is never really explained.   And then there’s Erin who…wow, just wow.  In a way she was my favorite of the lot because she was just so cold and it was pretty amazing.

Then there are the Ruperts.  Ah, the Ruperts.   I grew up in the days of the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC.  Though to be honest, I never really did get the boy band phenomenon like some people.

I still really enjoyed this book though, despite the facts that I couldn’t exactly connect to this level of fandom.

More or less, it was hilarious with the little nods that were made that could apply to any boy band.   There’s always one semi talented member in the band, and the rest are really crap.  There is one outright useless one.  One sort of ugly one that’s suppose to be the rebel.  And all boy bands break up eventually.  I love how all these cliches  were used to add to the story.

It was very entertaining.

The thing is, there were a lot of things about the book that didn’t make sense.  The plot was a little too ludicrous for 2016.  If this was written in the 80’s or really pre-internet I would’ve bought the characters getting away with it, more than I could post internet world.  Though, the random Twitter and Instagram bits were interesting, though I could see them being viewed as very jarring in a few years (much like the Justin and Britney forever mentions in the early Princess Diaries books are very cringe worthy today).

I will give this to Moldavsky though, this sort of book is fairly new for YA.  I haven’t seen or if they exist adequately sought out dark comedy YA and it was sort of nice to read it.  The thing is, I sort of enjoy my dark comedies better in movie and TV form, I think maybe the acting helps deal with some of the OTT.

Overall, while Kill the Boy Band wasn’t exactly an A read for me,  it did its job.  It entertained me, but it didn’t come free of problems.

Overall Rating: I think I’m going to give it a solid B, but I have a feeling the rating would slip greatly upon reread.