Banal: Lucky in Love by Kasie West

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Can’t buy me love…

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment—

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun…until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

Source: GoodReads

If I ever win the lottery, I am going to start my own publishing company.  This will, of course, be after I pay off my student loans, buy a decent house somewhere that is away from annoying neighbors,  and get myself a Moluccan cockatoo, but details.  The publishing company is totally in the works.  It will be called We Don’t Publish Shitty Books and this book won’t be invited ’cause it sucked.

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Cockatoo and cat gif because I can.

Okay,honestly, Lucky in Love didn’t completely suck but it was utterly predictable and the chemistry between the characters wasn’t even that palatable.  In other words, it completely felt like Kasie West was phoning this one in.  Which is sad, because Kasie West can write some good books.  Some really good books, this just wasn’t one of them.

The set up for this one was cute enough.  Girl wins the lottery and doesn’t tell the guy she’s interested that she won.  But an interesting premises can only go so far, and here it’s only that an interesting set up.

All the characters are poorly sketched and are stereotypical at best.  The main character (whose name I’m already forgetting) has stereotypical parents who always fight.  A stereotypical brother with gambling problems.  Two friends one who stereotypically betrays her.  A love interest who is stereotypically as flat as the paper he is written on and whose only true purpose is to be this big prize that our heroine gets at the end of the novel.

By that paragraph alone, you should see why this book will not be getting published from We Don’t Publish Shitty Books.

As banal as the characters are the plot is even more to the point.  Like I said, it totally seems like West wrote this on autopilot.  Nothing out of the extraordinary happens here. Just that What’s Her Face makes some dumb purchases and trust some people who use her.

I mean, hasn’t anyone seen any news special on lotto winners?  Like I knew when she went for the lump sum that she had made a big mistake.  And also, those parents completely didn’t even try to help her deal with the fact that she was a millionaire overnight.

What losers.

At the very least, I would’ve told my kid to talk to an accountant and get a good lawyer to read over “business contracts” that long lost relatives sent me.

Again, a lot of this is common sense.

Also, if UCLA turns down an acceptance because you spent money to rent a lot, I’m surprised that Stanford wouldn’t deny acceptance either.  But you know, plot point.

Anyway, I really do not recommend this book.  It’s blah at best.  Not specifically annoying, but not memorable by any means.  If you are going to read it, I suggest borrowing it at the library not buying it.  It’s just not worth it.

Overall Rating: A C.  It’s half ass and it shows.

Because Time Travel, I Guess: No Good Deed by Kara Connoly

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Fans of Dorothy Must Die will love this reimagining of the legend of Robin Hood. Girl power rules supreme when a modern girl finds herself in the middle of a medieval mess with only her smart mouth and her Olympic-archer aim to get her home.

Ellie Hudson is the front-runner on the road to gold for the U.S. Olympic archery team. All she has to do is qualify at the trials in jolly old England. When Ellie makes some kind of crazy wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle—yes, that Nottingham—she ends up in medieval England.

Ellie doesn’t care how she got to the Middle Ages; she just wants to go home before she gets the plague. But people are suffering in Nottingham, and Ellie has the skills to make it better. What’s an ace archer to do while she’s stuck in Sherwood Forest but make like Robin Hood?

Pulled into a past life as an outlaw, Ellie feels her present fading away next to daring do-gooding and a devilishly handsome knight. Only, Ellie is on the brink of rewriting history, and when she picks up her bow and arrow, her next shot could save her past—or doom civilization’s future.

Source: GoodReads

I picked up this book, despite its hideous cover because the author has written some of my favorite books (under a different name-Rosemary Clement Moore).  I didn’t particularly like No Good Deed though.  While there were occasional glimpses of the wit that I loved in the author’s other novels,  it was overall a very meh book for me.

It probably didn’t help that I kept comparing it to all of those medieval Disney movies of the week that aired back in the 90’s.

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Seriously, what was it?  Did Disney like get a good idea on sets and medieval themed costumes?

Regardless, you can’t deny that they tried to style the MC to look like Kiera Knightly on Princess of Thieves.   Which actually came out in 2001, not the late 90’s but whatever.  It’s odd that they decided to style the book as such since the Ellie in my head looked fairly androgynous.

After all, she’s mistaken for male  for a good chunk of the novel without even trying to hide her gender at the beginning of the book-she’s wearing a sweater and relatively form fitting  jeans.  The chick whose posing on the cover, wouldn’t be mistaken as a guy.  And it is mentioned that Ellie has enough of a chest to later have to masker a makeshift sports bra so…maybe they thought her version of Robin Hood had moobs?

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But digressing…

But seriously, I think it’s one of the worst covers I’ve seen this year.

But this book isn’t about dissecting book covers (well, most of the time).  It’s about talking about the contents of the book and I’m afraid there’s not much to say.  At the beginning of the story, there seemed to be some interesting storylines-Ellie clearly had issues with her father, her brother was missing, and she somehow travels in time.

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Seriously, the time travel itself is never explained it just randomly happens.  ’cause you know, time travel just randomly happens.

I honestly, even wondered why she traveled in time because she kept saying how she wasn’t going to change history.

Trope Rant Time: Why the fuck have a time travel book, if you’re not going to change history.  I’m sorry, I know that some good time traveling adventures where they avoid changing the past (Back to the Future) BUT it just seems like it’s become an unnecessary cliche.

I mean seriously, you traveled through time.  You’re going to change history just by freaking being there.    Besides, how do you know that the history you live in is the right one.  Like, for instance, if I could go back in time before say the election from hell of last year I would be changing history you can bet you ass so that we wouldn’t have the Russian-phile  orange doofus in office and the US wouldn’t currently be the laughing stock of the world right now.

I digress though…it’s just one of those annoying trope that I’ll never get used to. And in this book, when the character is like, “I can’t change history.”

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I’m like, well, you are by pretending to be freaking Robin Hood, dearie.  I mean, think about it.

Anyway, I’ll never get used to that trope especially since the whole point in freaking time travel is to fuck things about.  But I seriously, don’t think much was changed.  Pretty much the only thing that was changed was the character’s clothes at the end.

I wouldn’t say the book was a complete loss though, not if you liked history.  There was some nice use of historical detail here and there.  I can tell that Connolly researched the novel.  But that’s not really that much of a surprise concerning her other books.  However, and I can’t stress this enough, if you are going to write a book about medieval England be aware that they did not speak modern English.

Modern English did not exist until Shakespeare’s day.  While Connolly acknowledges that it’s difficult for the characters to understand Ellie (but ultimately they do end up understanding her) it should be next for impossible for them to understand her.  Don’t believe me, take a semester of early Brit Lit and then we’ll talk.

After reading Chaucer and all that shit (which by the way was written about a hundred and fifty or so years after this book took place give or take a few decades) I can tell you that I’d have a hard time speaking that shit even then.

What bothered me more though was the  the lack of characterization.

It was just pathetic.  I could care less about these characters as the book progressed.  There’s one guy that I sort of think was suppose to be a love interest, but things never really developed that far and at the end we just sort of have the future look alike trope which I absolutely despise.

Trope Rant: Just because there’s a guy in the future that looks eerily similar to a past love interest does NOT mean that they are the same person.  Ever heard of identical twins, authors.  Thought so, considering everyone and their mother uses the evil twin trope.  But I guess a thousand years of time travel doesn’t mean that genetics randomly made a person look alike a long ago dead relative. No, it means they must share the same soul especially if they share the same name…

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And honestly, this trope wouldn’t have bothered me as much if there was an actual relationship.  But there wasn’t a relationship.  There was just a hint of one, and it was so small you had to literally do a squint bend and snap to see it.  In this case, I feel like it would’ve been better for the novel to go sans romance all together.

The other characters were merely there to serve a purpose to the plot.  I hate to say this, but when I read this book, I actually was thinking that Scarlet did a better job at telling the Robin Hood story, and we all know I had issues with that series.  But no, this book made me want to pick up that series again just because you know even though the characterization sucked, the characters actually served more than means to an end.

Really, the only character who had any development at all was Queen Eleanor (and FYI, YA authors I wouldn’t mind a retelling of a young Eleanor story she is bad ass on multiple levels even though her kids and husband ended up kind of sucking).

It pains me to say that I can’t recommend this one.  I love the author’s other books (in fact, I am tempted to do a reread of some of her stuff soon), but this book doesn’t work for me.   Had it spent more time developing the characters actually explaining why the character went back in time and exploring her life with the characters a bit more, I might’ve cared for it more.  As it stood though, it could’ve very easily been the blah Disney movie of the week.

Overall Review: A C.  It’s not horrible, per say, but I hardly recommend it.  At best it is average.

I’m Too Old For This: Royal Crush by Meg Cabot

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Being the newest princess of Genovia is WAY more complicated than she expected, but Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison is getting used to it. She gets to live in an actual palace with two fabulous poodles, a pet iguana, her very own pony, and, best of all, a loving family to help her figure things out!

And right now Olivia, having finally admitted that she likes Prince Khalil as more than just a friend, could REALLY use some advice. What is a princess supposed to do once she’s found a prince she likes? With her half-sister Mia busy enjoying her honeymoon, Olivia turns to Grandmere for help.

The third book in the middle-grade Princess Diaries spin-off series, written and illustrated by New York Times-bestselling author Meg Cabot.

Source: GoodReads

The good news: I got through this book maybe within two hours.

The bad news: I am way too old for this book, and I honestly don’t know if I’m going to continue reading this series now that Mia’s babies are born and I still haven’t gotten any Michael face after three installments. Meg is really going to have to do something to hold my interest but I doubt it will be held.

So yeah, I really didn’t care too much for Royal Crush.  It wasn’t that it was a bad book, but I am clearly way over its age group AND I couldn’t help but think throughout reading this book, these characters are only one year younger than Mia and Co in Book 1, but they might as well have been about ten years younger.

And yeah, thinking that they were only a year younger and that Michael was technically 18 at the start of the original series kind of gave me “Ew” thoughts about Michael and Mia because the age difference really was pretty big.

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Though you couldn’t tell it with the original series (as much).  Even though Mia was a grossly immature 14 year old in the first few books she was a lot mature than Olivia was about a lot of things (she certainly knew about a lot of things that Olivia seems naive about).  I think in part, it’s because the book is a middle grade series so the tone is going to be different.  Like, in book one of the original series Lily and Mia’s conversation is a lot more mature than Olivia’s conversations with her friends.  But honestly, out of the two series  I think Olivia’s conversations are a bit more realistic.

Still though, I think I prefer Mia and the original series on a whole a lot better.  For one thing, Mia was a lot less of a Mary Sue than Olivia is.  There is something annoyingly perfect about Olivia that rubs me the wrong way.  It’s not that she’s a bad character, but at the same time…she’s just too perfect.

The plot of this one was also utterly predictable, save for Mia’s twins names.  Honestly, sort of hated the names that were chosen.  I know there was sentiment and all, but pretty much they were named after Mia’s parents dead significant others AND one of them Mia nor Michael never even met.

That being said, if I was about twenty years younger I think I would’ve enjoyed this more.  I wouldn’t have side eyed it near as much when I read about the stupid boarding school that seems to have just royalty in it and seems even more fake in this installment than the less.  I wouldn’t groan as much at how ridiculous Mary Sue like Olivia was either.  Or how I could predict almost every plot twist.  And seriously, the Genovia here is starting to become more and more like it was in that hideous Princess Diaries 2 movie (you know, the one where Disney’s version of JP gets with Mia when Michael dumps her to tour with his band).

Like I said, just not my age group.  The thing is the first (and to a degree, the second) of these books were enjoyable enough for me to continue reading despite not being in the age group, but not this one.  I think if anything, this book has me wanting a new Meg Cabot book written for adults or a new YA series.

Looking at her backlist, I noticed that it’s been years since a new YA title has been released (last one was Awaken) and while I adored her YA characters being aged up, and her newest Boy book last year, I want something new in the YA market from her.  So, so, much (seriously, Meg, we need your supreme fluff in the market)  Alas, when I checked to see if she had anything coming out soon I didn’t see anything listed which was sad.  And with some internet sleuthing based on her answers in some interviews, I don’t think a new YA is likely from her anytime soon (major, MAJOR, bummer).

Anyway, if you have younger kids who are too young to read about the hijinks of Norman the foot stalker, I’d recommend it.   It’s definitely lot more kid friendly than the original books were, yet there’s still that Meg Cabot-y quality about it that will real you again.

So yeah, not a bad book but for someone who is not in the targeted audience and grew up on the original I couldn’t help but make some cringe worthy comparisons.

Overall Rating: A B.

Audrey Hepburn Would Be Ashamed of You: Breakfast at Bloomingdale’s by Kristen Kemp

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What’s it take for a girl to make it in the big city? A sense of humor, a sense of self, and a desire to succeed in fashion. A stylish novel for teen PROJECT RUNWAY and DEVIL WEARS PRADA fans.

Kat’s come to New York City with a dream: to be a big fashion designer and to see her name on a label in Bloomingdale’s. Back in upstate New York, she imagined a city paved in Prada . . . but the reality isn’t quite so fashionable. Still, there are friends to be made, boys to be flirted with, and amazements to be found . . . sometimes when she least expects it. Even when her lame hick boyfriend from back home comes to the city to try to reclaim her, Kat knows she’s found her place . . . now all she has to do is have the place find her back.

Source: GoodReads

There was a period in time a few years ago where there was a mini trend of Audrey Hepburn centric YA books.  This book actually came out a few years before that trend and I had it, and thought…hmm, maybe it’s actually fairly good to have a mini trend inspired by it.

So after sitting on my shelf for almost ten years-yeah, it’s been that long-I decided to give it a whirl and read it.

I only got through about thirty pages in it.  It was that bad.   I almost didn’t even bother writing this brief DNF review over it, that’s how disgusted I was over it.  But since I haven’t had time much to read something that I I’d like to review in the past couple of weeks and this was the closest book I could think of writing a review for…well, it’s getting this brief “Why Audrey Hepburn Would Be Ashamed She’s On the Cover” type of review.

1)  Audrey would not approve of the main character’s nasty attitude:

Seriously, our narrator Junebug/Cat is a POS if there ever was one.  She’s rude and nasty to practically every one.  For example, she calls her mother a heifer (and yes, she’s not exactly a nice person but still HEIFER) and she pretty much gets in a cat fight with your stereotypical “Mean Girl” at her fucking grandmother’s funeral.

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2) Audrey would probably be disgusted that Breakfast at Tiffany’s (the film) is associated with being about Audrey rather than being, you know, a movie.

Yes, I know the movie was one of Audrey’s most iconic roles (though, personally give me SabrinaCharade, My Fair LadyFunny Face, or even Roman Holiday any day over Breakfast at Tiffany’s).  Yes, the fashion in that movie is fantastic, but there are some scenes (like anytime that Mickey Rooney appears) that I just grimace at.  PLUS, it’s completely different than the short story its based on and I think a lot of people forget that when they try to write one of these YA Audrey Hepburn centric books.  Did you know that Capote actually had Marilyn Monroe in mind for the role?

Yeah, probably not.  I get that it’s easy to blend the two things together because it was an iconic role for Audrey-probably because of that Givenchy dress-BUT the movie is NOT about Audrey.  And it seems in all these books pretty much the character is more or less Audrey’s version of Holly Golightly.

3) Audrey would be disgusted with  this character’s problems.

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Seriously, a “mean mother” and a small town full of assholes is nothing to growing up in WW2 Europe and being forced to eat tulip bulbs.  Just saying.

Had I spent more time reading this book, I probably could’ve added more reasons to the list.  It boils down to this though, the book suffers from many problems that late 2000’s Post Mean Girls YA books have.  The tropes are just noxious.  I don’t know why it’s necessary-even these days-to use the Mean Girl trope or for that matter the nasty mother trope.

People are complex.  We have are good days and our bad days. This book just depicts everyone at their worst.  One of the things I like best about Audrey Hepburn movies is that there is a hopeful optimism to them.  This book is devoid of that optimism.  It consists of a sullen, unlikeable character whose only resemblance to Hepburn’s character is Breakfast at Tiffany’s is she has a LBD and uses a fake name.

Overall Rating: DNF.

Stab Me In the Eye: Romancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney

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Scandal, secrets, and heartbreak abound in this juicy, modern girl-meets-prince story—perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Jennifer E. Smith. “Maybe sisters aren’t supposed to fall for the same guy, but who can mess with chemistry? A divine romantic comedy” (Brightly.com).

For the first time ever, the Weston sisters are at the same boarding school. After an administration scandal at Libby’s all-girls school threatens her chances at a top university, she decides to join Charlotte at posh and picturesque Sussex Park. Social-climbing Charlotte considers it her sisterly duty to bring Libby into her circle: Britain’s young elites, glamorous teens who vacation in Hong Kong and the South of France and are just as comfortable at a polo match as they are at a party.

It’s a social circle that just so happens to include handsome seventeen-year-old Prince Edward, heir to Britain’s throne.

If there are any rules of sisterhood, “Don’t fall for the same guy” should be one of them. But sometimes chemistry—even love—grows where you least expect it. In the end, there may be a price to pay for romancing the throne…and more than one path to happily ever after.

Source: GoodReads

Oh, boy.

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I knew going into this one, I probably wasn’t going to like it.  The reviews have been blah at best and most people I know (and trust) have hated this one and sad to say with good reason.  When I read the original premises to this book, I thought it was going to be the YA version of The Royal We but with more focus on the relationship between the two sisters in the book.

It’s not.

The Royal We is charming.  It doesn’t pretend what it isn’t.  For example, the main character is American probably in part because the writers of that book were American.  Here the protagonist in English, but doesn’t sound remotely English save for using the occasional “Mummy”.

Seriously.  There were so many Downton Abbey-see, I’m British! references here I ended up rolling my eyes way fucking too much.

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Look, you want to have a book set in the UK with a British character fine.  But do your research, I’m American and I could even tell that the author was Americanizing the shit out of these characters. That’s saying something.

Besides being what I call faux British, the book suffered from having a horrible lead whose main concern was about what outfit she was going to wear and being a prince’s girlfriend because he’s a prince.

Number one thing of having a plot dealing with a prince or a princess is that you have to make royalty approachable and relatable.  And God knows, you don’t make the main character attracted to the lead just because he’s royalty.

See, Josh Ritcher if you want to understand why this can never happen.

But apparently, Courtney  has never read The Princess Diaries-the grandaddy of all YA princess things.  Hell, even the bastardization that is the Disney version of said book even uses this principle.

But nope, this book pretty much features a social climber female version of Josh Ritcher as the lead.

Can you say ew?

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I can.

Ew.

What I really hated was how much this book enforced stereotypes.  Is it so wrong I want a girly girl main character to not be a villain like Charlotte so obviously is.  Or not shallow for that matter.

You can like pink and have a brain I know.

There’s a little movie called Legally Blonde that’s proof of that, just saying.

Anyway, I only made it through like 70 pages of this before I called it a day.  I’m telling you guys, this is the year I’m giving no fucks to DNFs.  If you suck, I’m just not going to try to force myself to read you.  It’s really a liberating feeling, BTW.

Years ago, I would’ve forced myself to finish this and I would’ve been miserable.  I have to say, I am really glad that I don’t force myself to read shit anymore.  And it makes me a happier person.

Overall Rating: DNF

Better Known as Privilege Teens Make Asses of Themselves in Europe: I see London and I See France by Sarah Mlynowski

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I see London, I see France
I see Sydney’s underpants.

Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.

In this hilarious and unforgettable adventure, New York Timesbestselling author Sarah Mlynowski tells the story of a girl learning to navigate secret romances, thorny relationships, and the London Tube. As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera… wearing only her polka dot underpants.

Source: GoodReads

When I was in law school, I spent one summer studying abroad in Ireland.  During one weekend, my friend and I went to Cork’s Fota Wildlife Park.  The park was pretty cool, they let the animals walk around free range.  But unfortunately, there were these bratty tourists who chased around one of the animals to the point  where I complained to one of the employees that I suspected that there was animal cruelty going on and got their asses kicked out of the park.

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Lemurs at the park.  And yeah, no cages.  If you ever get around to going to Ireland you need to visit this place. 

Yeah, I’m that sort of person.

Anyway, why am I talking about this…because those obnoxious teens, they reminded me of Sydney and her friends the stars of this book.

Though to be fair, Sydney’s friend, Kat, isn’t obnoxious for most of the book.  Till the end, where its randomly revealed that the guy who had blatantly been hitting on Sydney was really into Kat and Kat ditches her boyfriend for a random hookup but…details.

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Oops, spoiler.  But honestly, Kat is not a major character so its not that much of one.  Just that she goes from being the only decent human in the book to sort of being a douche herself.

The major characters in this book Sydney and Leela are both fucking annoying though.  Especially Leela.  Oh God, this bitch needed to be ditched so many times by Sydney I can’t even count.

She is the epitome of bad friend.  And yeah, Sydney loses her cool with this bitch at one point, but it’s quickly white washed over like…oh, I was mad at you will you forgive me.

No.

Leela isn’t the sort of person you want to be friends with.  Sydney should’ve just said screw you and left her way back in Paris when she was being a bitch to Kat and dictating everything they do.

Sydney though isn’t much better.  She is the epitome of a dumb tourist.  Doing dumb touristy things that make Americans looks bad.

Case in point, she doesn’t make reservations and wants accommodations.  Instead of trying local cuisine in freaking Italy, she eats pink slime.  Seriously, authors..why do you always act like Mickey D’s is the best thing ever.

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It fucking is not.

She also suffers from major insta love/lust in this book.  While a part of me is glad that this book is some ways kept it so casual with the relationships, on the other hand I got majority annoyed when those causal flings started going for the more generic YA twue love trope when the book started winding down.

Seriously, the relationship went from just being mostly physical to I can have a long distance relationship that’s three thousand miles apart shit.

I wouldn’t have mind it so much if there was more development than the relationship mostly being the two characters trying to hook up with each other while hiding it from their besties.  Also, had Jackson’s history also been explored more.  Leela keeps making references that he’s a man whore and there was some evidence that he was hooking up when he and Sydney were involved but it’s quickly smoothed over with the main character believing that “nothing happened” with the Kardashian model look alike.

Yeah, and collusion didn’t happen in the 2016  presidential election…

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Anyways, besides having really bad case in guys and thinking she should get a break because she was too stupid to watch watch Rick Steves’ Europe, Sidney also suffers from being a completely shitty friend herself.

She lets Leela treat Kat like crap for example.  And her behavior is Amsterdam was pretty obnoxious.

Sorry if this makes me a prude, but the scenes in Amsterdam were entirely inappropriate for a younger YA audience.  Yes, I know that smoking pot and prostitution is legal in Amsterdam.  And yes, I did expect the characters to at least go into one of the pot shops in Amsterdam when they went there, it’s sort of like the elephant in the room.  BUT having them go into a sex club in a YA book where people are having coitus in front of them.

Yeah, I get that shit happens.  But this is a YA book.  And Mlynowski’s books up to this point have generally ran on the young side of YA.  Hell, she has a younger age series that she’s been heavily focused on lately AND further more the cartoon-y like cover of the book is going to make it seem like harmless fun.  But the scenes in Amsterdam went beyond get shit faced on pot.  And the one character who didn’t partake in the antics was looked at as being prude like and a bitch for getting mad that her boyfriend had decided to volunteer at the sex club.

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Yeah…

I’m sort of surprise the editor didn’t raise issue with that scene.  Like I said, as an adult it didn’t bother me but a thirteen year old reading this shit it would be too fucking much.  I know if I had a kid that age I wouldn’t want them reading that sort of shit.  And TBH it wasn’t so much the drug use or sex club that bothered me as was the characters reactions to the so called prude like character.

I mean, God forbid you didn’t want your boyfriend to take off some other woman’s bra.

Besides the obnoxious characters, I got annoyed with the fact that I couldn’t get absorbed into any of the settings.  This book does visit a fair amount of countries and honestly I didn’t feel any of them.

Sure we’ll get some touristy attractions thrown out there, but for the most part the characters could be vacationing anywhere and it would’ve been the same story.  And for fuck’s sake, how do these kids have money?  When I was in Ireland, I didn’t have time to hop on a plane fly to some random country not the continent and spend thousands of Euros on stupid shit.   Grant it, I was in school and these yahoos were backpacking but still.

And then there was Kat’s internship.  Must be some nice fucking internship that allows you to randomly take off long periods of time to just hang out with your idiot friends.

I know, it’s a book that suspends large parts of reality BUT it still got annoying.

As far as plot is concerned, other than the not so melodrama of the physical turned twue love relationship between Sydney and Jackson there’s really not much plot to this one.  Oh wait, there’s the annoying subplot about the agoraphobic mom that really goes nowhere.

I didn’t even know what the point was of that shit.

Anyway, this one annoyed me.  It wasn’t bad but I didn’t like a single character apart from Kat and like I said she started grating on my nerves at the end.  Apparently, this one is going to have a sequel (I’m betting companion) too.  Let’s just hope it doesn’t take place in that sex club in Amsterdam.

Overall Rating: A C- if you like the characters and are on the older side of YA this one might work better for you than me.

Retrospect: The Worst Books I Ever Blogged About

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I wanted to do a retrospect for this half of the year, then I realized even though I had read a fair amount of books-I think it’s been like 59 or so-I really don’t have a definitive best or worst list.  To be honest, this year has sort of been average.  I had a few good picks but  most of them have bene contemporaries and that doesn’t make for a well rounded list.   As for the bad ones, there hasn’t been one book that has me screamed or if there has I’ve been smart enough to DNF very early in the game.

Still though, I wanted to do some sort of recap post especially since I’ve been blogging regularly for five years (six if we count the year that I started this blog, but considering I got really sick and only did like four or five posts that year I really view my start of blogging as 2012 rather than 2011).  That being said, I’d thought I’d do a couple of retrospect posts.  This one is over the worst books I’ve ever read since blogging.

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Getting retrospective like with Patty wearing bows. 

Why did I choose the worst rather than the best?

For one thing, it’s easier to talk about all the horrible books I read than gush over the good ones.  I find it’s more pedantic if I list all the great books I’ve read (though I do plan on doing it at some point, though I’m going to have to contain them because there’s a lot) also in retrospect some of those books I really liked I might not like so much now.  It’s sad, you blog and your taste changes.   Also, should I do such a list its going to be way longer than this one.

Because I’ll be honest, the really bad books I’ve read.  They’re going to stick with me for a long, long, time.  Without further ado here are some of the worst books that I ever blogged about.

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Original Review

I’ll be honest with you, I really didn’t think Alexandra Adornetto would still be publishing books at this point.  I thought she’d be one of those YA authors who fade into oblivion.  But she actually released a book not too long ago to that Mediator rip off series of hers-I’m not even attempting to check it out or library it.  That’s how done I am with her.  Anyway, Halo is pretty much an even more  Christian-fied version of Twilight that gets a movie produced by Kurt Cameron and that is given approval by the Dove Foundation and has some God awful original Christian rock.  And if you’ve seen any of those God awful Dove Foundation movies and how sanctimonious and patronizing they are, THAT should give you an idea how bad Halo is.

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Interesting enough, I was curious enough to see how the series would end that I ended up reading the entire trilogy which really means I had way too much time on my hands.  Honestly, I don’t know how I did it since I think I was reading this through law school and when I took my first bar.  Of course, reading this might’ve encouraged me to study.  So…yeah.

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Original Review

I love stories about witches and even though the premises of this one was a little cliche-because we can all see where this story is going-I still thought it could be cute.

But that was until I read it.  There are so many things wrong with this one, just even thinking about it has me raging. The main character practically gives herself radical plastic surgery via magic.   I think this book was what turned me off of Wattpad and anything that originates there.  It is THAT bad.   Had I reviewed this book today, I think the review would’ve been a lot more graphic than it was back then.

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Original Review

This one makes me rage thinking about it.  While I am aware that situations like Colby’s do unfortunately occur and that there are some cray cray parents out there like her mother, there was not one thing I liked about this book.  I think in part because this book offered no hope.  Everyone and their mother was an asshole, even Colby to some degree. Even though she seemed better after two sessions of therapy, you know she really wasn’t.  This book really was depressing, nasty, trigger inducing, and I just want to forget about it.  Plus, now that I think of it, Colby’s father reminded me of Chris Christie and that makes the book even more disgusting because Chris Christie (like Colby’s dad) is pretty much a horrible person.

 

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Original Review

I only read about forty pages of this shit, but that was enough to make it on the list.  I think why I hated it so much-besides the fact that the heroine and her kids all had names dealing with the fucking weather or a season or something-was that in most books Brody McDouche would be the villain.  He knocked up two women and left town.  Instead, his second baby mama (no the heroine) is portrayed as being this evil slut.  Can you say hello DNF pile.

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Original Review

This fucking series.  I really hate how Braswell handled what should’ve been an interesting series but has to be some of the most banal drivel I’ve read.  This one is particularly offensive because it ruins Beauty and the Beast by focusing on Maurice of all people.  Though to be fair to Braswell, Disney sort of took her storyline and threw it in the new movie.  BUT that movie had Kevin Kline.  This book does NOT.  Therefore, it sucks.

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Original Review

This is one had one of those reviews where I’m still getting trolls years after I originally posted.  That means, I must of done something right (I think).  Honestly, I’m sort of surprised since this is an Indy published book but whatever.

What makes this one so memorably bad about it, is I read it right after I passed the bar and it’s just so offensive on so many levels.  I can just imagine how bad it would be now after practicing a little bit and becoming certified in guardianships.

Look, I love Cinderella stories more than anything, but you know when you act like its easy peasy to have some one committed or to have their freedom be declared incompetent so easy, you are really preaching a dangerous idea.  Thing is, it wouldn’t have been that hard for Oram to make her protagonist a year or so younger to avoid this.  But just thinking about it makes me rage.

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Orignal Review

Colleen Houck’s writing embodies an average Trump supporter.  That’s how fucking offensive I find her books that stereotype the cultures and religions they’re exploring.  And she’s so fucking ignorant about the various mythologies she’s embodying.  Her characters often exemplify the worst behavior of American tourists too, come to think of it.

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Take this book, for example.  Rather than exploring Egypt, the character stays at her luxury Americanized hotel and eats a whole fucking IHOP menu.

I  could’ve also put the Tiger Curse series on this list too, but I didn’t.  Because honestly all of Colleen Houck’s books are the fucking same.  I’m actually surprised Trump hasn’t named her ambassador to India  or Egypt.  She’s fucking ignorant enough for him too.

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Original Review

Another books starring a stupid American who’d rather eat at McDonalds than be in Europe.  Yes, that’s said n the book and it’s pretty much why this book is on the list.  Also, it doesn’t help that the books intriguing premises is pretty said ruin by the exasperating main character and a prince that’s dumb as a box of rocks.

 

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Original Review

This is another one that I’ll occasionally get the random troll comment (still) on GoodReads.  I remember throwing this book against a wall when I read it.  It made me that angry.

I get that marching band is different from state to state or really program to program , but even the little minute couldn’t help some of the inaccuracies that this book had.

AND I don’t care if you can fucking do it but you do NOT transpose a solo for piccolo on horn.  You just DON’T do that.

Okay.

Okay.

And come to think about this, I still probably would throw this book against a wall.

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Original Review

Of course, this one is going to be on here.  I read the whole freaking series and if I would’ve actually drank real alcohol during it, I’m pretty sure I’d be dead.  Zoe Redbird is one of the most annoying characters out there in YA.  In fact, I find her more offensive than Bella Swan.

Actually, I find a lot more people offensive than Bella Swan.  Zoe was created in the hey day of paranormal YA and her authors seem to think she’s as famous as Bella (she’s not).  The series as a whole focuses on Zoe’s bizarre love life, the Casts weird fetishes, and Aphrodite appearing naked in every book.  God, just talking about this series makes me want to drink.

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Seriously, I sometimes wonder if the Casts had a drinking game when writing them (it would explain a lot).

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Original Review

To be fair to the book, I would’ve never read it if I knew it was Christian romance.  That in itself is sort of gag worthy to me.  It’s nothing against religion personally, I just really roll my eyes when people get all sanctimonious (and they do in these book and in Dove Foundation movies-see we went full circle in this post) and this book not only is sanctimonious with people randomly quoting Bible versus (WTF does that besides those creepy ass Duggars and those annoying Duck people) but it also has one of the creepiest love interests known to man kind.  If I were to rewrite this book I’d have some Gordon Ramsay asshole who gasps smokes, has lots of sex, drinks, and  sweeps the character off her feet (and we find out he’s not really that much of an asshole) and put creepy guy in his place.  Alas, I don’t write this shit and it’s probably a good thing since I can’t quote Bible versus and thus can’t write for the Dove Foundation, Duck Dynasty, or Christian romances.

Comfort Food in Book Form: When It’s Real by Erin Watt

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From #1 New York Times bestselling author duo Erin Watt comes the addictive contemporary tale of a teen rock star in need of an image makeover and the teen girl hired to be his fake girlfriend.

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?

Source: GoodReads

Normal girl falling in love with someone famous (albeit pop star, movie star, or prince) seems to be a typical YA trope these days.  And why not, I mean I’ll admit I enjoy reading these types of books.  They’re a guilty pleasure of mine.

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That aside though, a lot of them are really bad.  I was excited though when I heard that the team behind the Paper Princess series (Erin Watt) was writing a book with this theme since this is the sort of trope that that writing team is made for.

And like I expected, I enjoyed When It’s Real, yes it was watered down from Paper Princess in a lot of ways-this one was way more YA than NA- BUT it still worked.

Only it wasn’t as crack-tastic as Paper Princess.  Instead, When It’s Real is more like comfort food.  The perfect sort of book to read when you have a crap day.

That being said, it’s not that special of a book. You can pretty much figure out everything that’s going to happen in the book on the synopsis alone.

I did enjoy it though for what it’s worth.  While the characters were a bit cliche they were original enough and realistic enough they weren’t totally groan worthy.

Like, Vaughn.  Yeah, she had the sad little back story but the authors fleshed her out enough where she didn’t seem like a cliche.   Same with Oakley he wasn’t your typical burn out self absorbed rock star.

I did get annoyed because I occasionally think the authors were going for a sort of Justin Bieber feel with the character and if you know me I find Bieber to be grossly unattractive so….that sort of made me not feel Oakley.

But you know what as the story progressed it was pretty sure he was not a Biebs impersonator and for that I’m relieved.

Look, not everyone is going to like this book.  If you don’t like this particular trope-girl falling in love with a famous dude- I don’t recommend the book.  However, if you like that trope and don’t want something that will knock you off your socks but is solidly written this is a book for you.

Overall Rating:  I waffled between solid B and a B+.  In the end I settled on B+.  For what it’s worth, I  think the book did a fairly decent job

 

 

This Book is Making Me Think of That Stupid Gordy Movie: The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone

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One good deed will change everything.

Sadie is not excited for the summer before her senior year. It will be her first without her college-bound best friend and (now ex-)boyfriend by her side, so Sadie braces herself for a long, lonely, and boring season working at a farm stand in the Hamptons. But things take an unexpected turn when Sadie steps in to help rescue a baby in peril and footage of her impromptu good deed goes viral.

As she’s recovering from “the incident” and adjusting to her Internet fame, Sadie receives an invitation to a lunch honoring teem homegrown heroes. The five honorees instantly connect and soon decide to spend their time together righting local wrongs. Sadie and her new friends embark on escalating acts of vigilante Good Samaritanism, but might be in over her heads when they try to help a heroin-addicted friend. Are good intentions enough to hold unlikely friendships—and an even unlikelier new romance—together?

Source: GoodReads

I didn’t like Carrie Firestone’s debut for various reasons, but the book had a cute premises AND I thought well, maybe with some experience the books will get better.

They don’t.

This will probably be the last Firestone book that I review.  Based on the two books she has so far released I think her style and mine do not mesh and that’s perfectly fine to admit and move on from.  That being said, if you’re not as cynical as me and can over look some things-like a character thinking that you can literally see the equator and a so called bright eighteen year-old never hearing of molly-then, well, more power to you, but this is where I write my Dear John Letter to the author:

Dear Ms. Firestone,

This is it.  We’re parting ways.  I wish you well in your career, but I am no longer going to be fooled by your bright cotton candy summer covers because your books are anything but bright.

Oh, you might try to fool me with light beachy atmospheres but there are really dark subsets to your books.  I mean, come on, assisted suicide and now heroin dens.

And speaking of heroin, I really hated the way you treated addiction.  Having several relatives that are addicts, some that are addicted to opioids, I thought this was a fairly unrealistic account of how an addict behaves.

Seriously, drug dens?  I know they exist, but most addicts will pick up their dope from a friend or in a ditch or something.  Plus, as rich as the character that is addicted is I’m surprised she’s not abusing other opioids since heroin is often seen as a last resort for these addicts.

And I’m not even going to go into the OD bits.

Yes, drugs are bad.  They are dangerous.  But I feel like you should’ve at the very least watched a couple episodes of Intervention to see how a lot of these addicts act and decline.  Because got to tell you, your depiction of drug use seemed pretty unrealistic and these scenes were rather trigger inducing.

Even if it wasn’t for the whole weird drug subplot, I probably wouldn’t have been much of a fan of this book.  For one thing,  you named the love interest Gordy.

Do you know what I think of when I think of Gordy?

That pig movie that Babe ripoff-ed better.  Yeah, a movie starring a pig.  So yeah, I kept thinking of that pig as the love interest. And then I thought about that “Pig Power in the House” music video and you can see where things were going…

But yeah, to get through the book I substituted Gordy’s name with Joe and I still didn’t like the characters relationship.  Also, it didn’t help that there’s this big revelation that Gordy isn’t gay in part because he uses protection.

Because I guess gay people don’t need to use protection….

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Quite honestly, the MC was a bit of a jerk.  I know she saved a baby and that made her a hero, but that still didn’t keep her from being extremely judgmental (cough, cidiots, cough).   Oh, and she’s described to look like a Kardashian.

Pro tip, Firestone, NEVER EVER describe your character being anything like a  Kardashian that will get you instant minus points for me.

By its surface, the cast in this book is fairly diverse.  Sadie is from Iranian and Irish heritage, one of the Unlikelies is Haitian, another comes from hispanic heritage (I don’t think the country was ever named, or if it was I regrettably skimmed over it), Gordy is at one time reported to be gay but really he is a rich farm pig turned CEO turns out to be a rich WASP guy with a father who’s on the Spectrum, Alice is a WASP, and that’s pretty much it.  Honestly though, the diversity feels more or less there for tokenism purposes.  Which is a shame.  Note to Firestone, the reader doesn’t need a translation of what gracias means.  Probably most people, even if they haven’t taken a Spanish class knows that it means thank you.

Sigh.

As for the Unliklies themselves, they were pretty lame.  This book in a lot of ways reminded me of The Cinderella Society a book I tried repetitively to read multiple times and failed to finish.  Pretty much they had similar premises, good doer teens team up to do good, but at least in your case, Ms. Firestone, I finished the book.  I still had to roll my eyes at these teens efforts to do good.

Oh yes, I’m so sure they’d be able to make a website go viral.  I’m soo sure they’d be able to get the police’s attention with a random anonymous note.  I’m soooo sure that their parents’ wouldn’t at the very least get suspicious of what they’re doing when they’re staying up late Batman time.

It’s ridiculous and you even though you tried to maybe address it once with Sadie’s mother forcing her to a see a shrink-even though she’s 18 and could theoretically tell her mom to fuck off-it wasn’t really handled well.  The same reason why we never knew why Sadie had taken a gap year, it’s not like she really had anything planned and you never told us why she was having a hard time making a decision about college in the first place.

So yeah, the book obviously didn’t work for me.  And I honestly am at the point where I know we’re never going to have a great reading relationship.   At first, I wanted to blame your covers.  You know they look so light and fluffy looking, but the thing is, I don’t think it’s the books cover that makes me despise your books.  Its the contents it just doesn’t gel with me and that’s okay.

I’m sure you have a reading audience out there somewhere.  Just probably not a cynical reader who had been exposed to a movie about a stupid pig and that they constantly think about whenever the love interest’s name is written.

Best Regards,

MJ

Blogger at Howdy YAL

Let’s Get Meta: Literally by Lucy Keating

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A girl realizes her life is being written for her in this unique, smart love story that is Stranger Than Fiction for fans of Stephanie Perkins.

Annabelle’s life has always been Perfect with a capital P. Then bestselling young adult author Lucy Keating announces that she’s writing a new novel—and Annabelle is the heroine.

It turns out, Annabelle is a character that Lucy Keating created. And Lucy has a plan for her.

But Annabelle doesn’t want to live a life where everything she does is already plotted out. Will she find a way to write her own story—or will Lucy Keating have the last word?

The real Lucy Keating’s delightful contemporary romance blurs the line between reality and fiction, and is the perfect follow-up for readers who loved her debut Dreamology, which SLJ called, “a sweet, quirky romance with appealing characters.”

Source: GoodReads

When reading this book, I wondered what if reviewers got trapped in the God awful books that they are trying to read and review accordingly.

I imagine I would want to punch a lot of the characters that I would come upon.  Like Annabelle in Literally,  she and her author got into this battle of sorts in the book and honestly I sort of wanted Lucy Keating to erase AB out of existence, but I never was so lucky instead the ending was a bit of a cop out but…

Back to the review.  If you read the blurb, you’re probably expecting something akin to that Will Farrell movie Stranger Than Fiction where Will finds out he’s a fictional character that’s expected to die.  And yeah, there are vibes of that here.  But I suggest seeing the movie and skipping the book, because honestly the movie’s better.

That’s not something you say every day on a book blog.  But all kidding aside, the movie  was much better done than this book was.  I think in part because it was not near as cliche as the book was, or Farrell’s acting saved the day.

Here, there were no actors to help the story and while the movie had a few moments of ingenuity to it this book didn’t.

And I kept getting creeped out that the author used herself as a character.  I mean seriously, if I was writing a book I would not like depicting myself as a character let alone a villain.

Although, if I did have a death ray to destroy annoying book characters it might be worth it…

Zoey Redbird and Bethany Church, I am coming for you.

But seriously, can you just imagine how annoying that must’ve been writing yourself as a character, constantly referring to yourself in third person.

Keating must have felt like a house elf.

No bueno.

Also, the self grandizing  of the author character was a bit too much.  Lucy Keating made herself seem like JK freaking Rowling and while I get it was to add to the story, it came off as kind of…well, kind of annoying.

If you really are intrigued by this premises I don’t think trying this book out would kill you.  It was dull as shit but it was short too.  I was able to finish it fairly quickly-it’s not even 300 pages long.  The characters aren’t really that well formed out.  In fact, I would say the Will character in a mere caricature.   Really, the most well formed character is the dog and that’s not saying a lot for this book.

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Emory has much more development than the dog in this book.  At the very least he’s been featured on the Daily Corgi and that’s saying a lot for a corgi.

Still though, I really didn’t like this one.

Overall Rating: A C- it’s bad but it’s not like the worst thing I’ve ever read.  If you want this premises and can overlook a lot, it’s worth a try.  However, and I stress the however, you’ll have to be tolerant of paper thing characterization and blatant self inserts.