Disappointment, Plot Moppets, and Fan Pandering: Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas

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New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas delivers a scintillating tale of a beautiful, young widow who finds passion with the one man she shouldn’t…

Although beautiful young widow Phoebe, Lady Clare, has never met West Ravenel, she knows one thing for certain: he’s a mean, rotten bully. Back in boarding school, he made her late husband’s life a misery, and she’ll never forgive him for it. But when Phoebe attends a family wedding, she encounters a dashing and impossibly charming stranger who sends a fire-and-ice jolt of attraction through her. And then he introduces himself…as none other than West Ravenel.

West is a man with a tarnished past. No apologies, no excuses. However, from the moment he meets Phoebe, West is consumed by irresistible desire…not to mention the bitter awareness that a woman like her is far out of his reach. What West doesn’t bargain on is that Phoebe is no straitlaced aristocratic lady. She’s the daughter of a strong-willed wallflower who long ago eloped with Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent—the most devilishly wicked rake in England.

Before long, Phoebe sets out to seduce the man who has awakened her fiery nature and shown her unimaginable pleasure. Will their overwhelming passion be enough to overcome the obstacles of the past?

Only the devil’s daughter knows…

Source: GoodReads

Usually, Lisa Kleypas has over the top climaxes that really don’t fit in with the rest of the book.  Spoiler alert, Devil’s Daughter really doesn’t have that climax.  I mean, there is someone held at gunpoint but compared to some of the bat shit insane things that happen in her book nothing happened in Devil’s Daughter.

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Yes, this book was boring.  If anything what I liked was the foreshadowing to the next book which is sort of a sad thing.  Really, that is all the Ravenels are good at, foreclosing to the next boring and disappointing book.  I digress though.

Honestly, as a whole I haven’t really been a fan of The Ravenels series and I haven’t really been that keen on the return of Sebastian and family.  I’m sorry but The Devil in Winter was probably my least favorite Wallflower book, in part because of what Sebastian put Lillian through in the previous book and it’s just water under the bridge… and by this point you’d thought it never had happen.

Digressions aside, as exciting as a character as Sebastian was his kids are utter snoozes.  Really, there is nothing interesting about Phoebe’s arc.  She is your standard single widowed MC with plot moppets.

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God, do I hate plot moppets.

Going into this, I knew there were going to be a couple of them but I didn’t realize it was going to be cute kid central to the part of vomiting.

Let me be blunt about it, I don’t like children.  It has taken me several years to admit it to my self but I just don’t…I might be okay with having my own maybe one day, but kids in general I don’t care for.  I don’t care for reading about them doing stupid stuff that apparently gets the characters together because other wise our MC wouldn’t have gotten together with her dead husband’s tormenter.

Which leads me to the second grievance I had with this book, these two just don’t work.  I’m sorry, I know people change but I had a really hard time believing that Phoebe would get with her husband’s tormenter.  I also hated how Kleypas tried to down play bullying.  It made me shake my head.  A part of me wrote a fan fic in my head where Henry somehow came back to dead and was the hero of this book.  But hey….that would be too much effort and this is the Ravenel family series so we got to force Phest on everyone even though it makes no fucking sense.

God, I really do love the back to dead trope when done right.  And I’m digressing…

To be fair, West was one of the Ravenels that intrigued me.  He wasn’t so one note like Pandora (ugh) or stereotypical like Devon (I barely even remember him or his story at this point, that’s just sad).  Really, he had the Leo thing going for him a la the Hathways (another series by Kleypas).  You know, reformed rake who went from not to hot.  Only thing is, probably shouldn’t have gotten with his victim’s wife that’s a little icky.  Just saying…

The writing as always is easy to get through.  It did seem a little bit more descriptive to me than usual, but again I haven’t really read Kleypas since Hello, Stranger (which sucked by the way).

For what it’s worth, there was more chemistry here than with the characters in the aforementioned book.  I still found the ship icky though but…yeah.

So far, as a whole I really don’t care that much for the Ravanels.  I think the best book is likely the second book.  There’s some fan service in the third book that will make a lot of people like it, but God Pandora is annoying.

In this book, the fan service is so so.  There’s a ridiculous Evie and Sebastian tub scenes..because we have to be reminded that Sebastian is still sexy middle age.  And there’s cameos by some of the other Wallflowers as well.   It’s more gratuitous than anything else though since they don’t even add anything to the plot.  I was hoping at the very least that  maybe Merritt would’ve been ore a confidante to Phoebe but nope.

I think my overall feelings of this book was underwhelming.  There was nothing really to it that made it memorable other than the character’s bloodline.  And the ship was just icky.  God, just have Henry come back from the dead and go to that place that cured Win from her similar ailment.  It would’ve made a better story.

Overall Rating: Going to be generous and give it a B- but really it should be more like a C+ it was tolerable but boring as hell.  I’m ready for Kleypas to write a new series without so much pandering.

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This Book Will Waste Your Time: Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks

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Miriam’s family should be rich. After all, her grandfather was the co-creator of smash-hit comics series The TomorrowMen. But he sold his rights to the series to his co-creator in the 1960s for practically nothing, and now that’s what Miriam has: practically nothing. And practically nothing to look forward to either-how can she afford college when her family can barely keep a roof above their heads? As if she didn’t have enough to worry about, Miriam’s life gets much more complicated when a cute boy shows up in town . . . and turns out to be the grandson of the man who defrauded Miriam’s grandfather, and heir to the TomorrowMen fortune.

In her endearing debut novel, cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks pens a sensitive and funny Romeo and Juliet tale about modern romance, geek royalty, and what it takes to heal the long-festering scars of the past (Spoiler Alert: love).

Source: GoodReads

I haven’t read a much as I’d like this year.  TBH, I’ve been too busy and in my introvert down time I’ve just been too exhausted to read.  However, last weekend was a long weekend and I did get some precious reading time in and decided to read Comics Will Break Your Heart.

In theory, this is a book I should’ve loved.  It has a lot of things going for it: geek culture, romance, Canada, comic book legal woes.

Yes, the legal woes aspect of the novel interested me.  I’m a law nerd, so what?  Also, it sort of reminded me of the whole legal mess swirling around Superman for years.  But rather than being an ongoing lawsuit here, it had been settled for years.    Yes, settled.  Which means no nasty drawn out court battle or appeal process, just cut a check and that’s it.  And quite honestly we didn’t know anything really about the comic in question apart for how the costumes looked and some of the characters’ names…

Yeah, the comic aspect of the book was fairly weak.  I really wished that more time would’ve been spent exploring its mythos a little more.  Also, having the lawsuit resolved definitely made the supposed Romeo and Juliet forbidden love trope a little more laughable.  Honestly, it was pretty non-existent for the most part.  And got to say, I really hated the one character who just sort of threw the lawsuit out in the wind and sold her art for dirt cheap.  I get there’s artist like behavior.  But then again, there’s artist like behavior and stupid.  And this character’s behavior was just plain stupid.

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To be fair, I really didn’t connect with any of the characters in this book and maybe that was my biggest issue with it.  The leads were annoying and stupid and I didn’t really feel any chemistry between them.  Both were self centered (and yes, I know they’re teenagers but there’s self centered and then there’s self centered) and other than Miriam wooing about her mother’s stupidity and pretty much being used as slave labor for a comic book store that goes out of business halfway through the book I know nothing about her.

Side note, yes I said slave labor. The character is not paid a few weeks wages and it’s completely blown off as the nice guy couldn’t afford to pay her.  It’s not nice.  She worked those hours, damn it, and should be paid.  But I digress….

The male lead isn’t much better than Miriam.  Arrogant, self-absorbed, and stupid describe Weldon to a T.

God, just writing this makes me realize how much I hate the people in this book.   And I think that’s where my problem ultimately  resided with this one.  How little I cared for the characters.

Maybe it was in part because it was in third person?

In general, I find with YA contemporaries I prefer first person.  It’s just a personal preference, but generally first person works for me in these types of novels.  Of course, there’s exceptions but Comics Will Break Your Heart is not one of these books.

If you’re really into geek culture books and don’t care about the quality so much this one might be worth something.  If you’re choosey probably skip this one, I really can’t recommend it that much unless you want to read everything with this trope/topic.

Overall Rating: A C- I just did not care for it.

And So It Begins 2020: The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris

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From one of America’s most inspiring political leaders, a book about the core truths that unite us, and the long struggle to discern what those truths are and how best to act upon them, in her own life and across the life of our country.

Senator Kamala Harris’s commitment to speaking truth is informed by her upbringing. The daughter of immigrants, she was raised in an Oakland, California community that cared deeply about social justice; her parents–an esteemed economist from Jamaica and an admired cancer researcher from India–met as activists in the civil rights movement when they were graduate students at Berkeley. Growing up, Harris herself never hid her passion for justice, and when she became a prosecutor out of law school, a deputy district attorney, she quickly established herself as one of the most innovative change agents in American law enforcement. She progressed rapidly to become the elected District Attorney for San Francisco, and then the chief law enforcement officer of the state of California as a whole. Known for bringing a voice to the voiceless, she took on the big banks during the foreclosure crisis, winning a historic settlement for California’s working families. Her hallmarks were applying a holistic, data-driven approach to many of California’s thorniest issues, always eschewing stale “tough on crime” rhetoric as presenting a series of false choices. Neither “tough” nor “soft” but smart on crime became her mantra. Being smart means learning the truths that can make us better as a community, and supporting those truths with all our might. That has been the pole star that guided Harris to a transformational career as the top law enforcement official in California, and it is guiding her now as a transformational United States Senator, grappling with an array of complex issues that affect her state, our country, and the world, from health care and the new economy to immigration, national security, the opioid crisis, and accelerating inequality.

By reckoning with the big challenges we face together, drawing on the hard-won wisdom and insight from her own career and the work of those who have most inspired her, Kamala Harris offers in The Truths We Hold a master class in problem-solving, in crisis management, and leadership in challenging times. Through the arc of her own life, on into the great work of our day, she communicates a vision of shared struggle, shared purpose, and shared values. In a book rich in many home truths, not least is that a relatively small number of people work very hard to convince a great many of us that we have less in common than we actually do, but it falls to us to look past them and get on with the good work of living our common truth. When we do, our shared effort will continue to sustain us and this great nation, now and in the years to come.

Source: GoodReads

Right now, Kamala Harris is probably at the top of my 2020 picks for president.  That could all change of course, but out of the candidates that are likely to run she is leading the pack for me at least.  Her book sort of shows why.

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To be fair, I’m going to be trying to read something or analyzing something 2020 oriented every month or now before the election.  I feel its important.  There were a lot of misconceptions made by irresponsible media outlets about a certain overly competent candidate in 2016 and her stupid emails and look what we got stuck with…Putin’s puppet (God, how I wanted HRC so fucking bad to be POTUS).

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So I’m sure while idiots like Mika and Joe (yes, I had to call those two ignoramuses out for still bashing that very competent candidate this very morning-seriously, those two always get me raging within ten minutes of being awake) I thought for like the two or so people reading this  review I’d at least try to inform you of the literature that’s out there involving the candidates.

Note, there will be personal biases in these reviews.   Such as the fact that I find Donald Trump to be a total racist asshole (though, is that an opinion that’s sort of fact see asshole’s reaction to Charlottesville).  Anything Pro-Trump is not going to be tolerated.  Also, Bernie Sanders is NOT a democrat unless it suits his purposes-i.e. getting funds for another failed campaign.  Don’t believe me, see that little “I” next to his name that says it all… Also he’s full of  bull shit which oddly enough fits considering his initials.

Yes, I’m juvenile.

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And if you’re going to whine…we’ll this is my space find some other review to express your disgusting MAGA love and Bernie Bro-ness (seriously, those supporters are the ultimate internet troll).

Anyway, back to Kamala.  Even though she’s only been a senator for a couple of years, in some ways she’s one of the more qualified candidates that the democratic party has.  She has experience in local, state, and federal government.  And I think it’s really important for anyone who is trying to be president to know how these three different factions of government work.

She is also very personable.  The structure of this book tries to integrate Harris’s personal life with her policies and for the most part it works.  The anecdotes will make the Mika and Joe’s of the world happy , while the more policy wonks (i.e. people who actually make a SMART choice when they vote) will be happy to know that Harris knows her stuff and you can see that she is very passionate about certain issues.  I will say though, at the beginning of the book when Harris is going over her childhood there were parts of these personal anecdotes that felt a bit wooden.

Again, this was only for the first few chapters though.  The only other problem I had with this book was it was clearly an I’m running for president book.  And okay, yeah she is.  And yeah, candidates do in fact often write books before campaigns, but it does sort of effect the overall quality to the book.

It still though did what it set out to do, it really did a nice job introducing Harris.  You can see how her career choice as a prosecutor influenced her policies regarding criminal justice reform.   I especially like the fact that some of her solutions aren’t something that you would find in a typical politician stump speech.  Like, bail reform.  It’s an important thing, but unless you’re familiar with the bail system (which most Americans aren’t) you’re not going to really know how much an effect that these reforms would make.  Harris is pretty clear in laying out her case for it.

In addition, to her career influencing her choices in policy.  You can see how important Kamala’s mother was to her and what an impact she had on her life.  There really was a strong mother–daughter relationship there that I think has impacted her life and it really shows.

At the end of the day, a book is a book.  I thought the memoir once it got past the Harris’s childhood years was quite compelling.  I managed to get through it in about two hours after being exhausted after a long day at work.  Between the book and the town hall that Harris did at CNN last night, she is definitely a top contender for me.

I’m sure as the race continues to evolve I’ll have more books and or town halls to read and review. However, if you are interested in voting for Kamala I do suggest checking out her book.  If anything, it will give you a good indicator of what her values and policies are.

Overall Rating: An A- rocky beginning but I think overall the book did what it was intended to do.

Informative But Annoying: The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaught

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Seventeen-year-old Lacey Burke is the last person on the planet who should be doling out sex advice. For starters, she’s never even kissed anyone, and she hates breaking the rules. Up until now, she’s been a straight-A music geek that no one even notices. All she cares about is jamming out with her best friends, Theo and Evita.

But then everything changes.

When Lacey sees first-hand how much damage the abstinence-only sex-ed curriculum of her school can do, she decides to take a stand and starts doling out wisdom and contraception to anyone who seeks her out in the girls’ restroom. But things with Theo become complicated quickly, and Lacey is soon not just keeping everyone else’s secrets, but hers as well.

Source: GoodReads

I just realize this is the first book I’m reviewing for 2019.  That’s not a good omen considering that I hated this book.

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To be fair, as a safe sex manual and an introduction to intersectionality it didn’t outright suck, but as an actual book.

Oh yeah, it did.

This book is very informative.  I mean, it does go into some of the specifics about how to have safe sex, etc. But as an actual book….

I guess, the closest thing I have to compare it to is Meg Cabot’s 2004 Ready or Not (the poor sequel to All American Girl).  In that sequel, Meg Cabot not so subtly gave her audience a lecture on safe sex.

Hell, I was sixteen at the time I first read it and a total Cabot fan girl and even I found the book eye roll inducing.  Hinebaugh’s book is ten times worse than Ready or Not.

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That’s bad folks really bad.

The message is a good one, but it is just so ham fisted I really can’t see the target audiences liking this book.  It didn’t help that none of the characters or side plots.

The main character’s essential characteristic is that she knows all about safe sex.  There’s nothing else going for her except she’s a little whiney and privilege asshole who apparently hates classical music even though she’s trying to get in music school.

Honey, just letting you know that Mozart and Haydn you’re going to be hearing about them a lot even if you do go to school for just composition.  I’m pretty sure Musical History and Music Theory touches on them a lot but hey what do I know just that everybody in my freaking family has a music (either education or performance) degree and my sister went to a fucking conservatory (one of those school’s you mock).

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Oh yeah, there’s some character hatred on the MC.  But Lacey is a little insufferable twit who knows all about safe sex because her mom’s a nurse I guess…and  has terrible taste in boys.  Because God, the love interest was attached for most of this book and then quickly got with Lacey and then got into her pants even quicker.

And yeah, I guess they were friends BUT….the relationship doesn’t really make sense to me.  Maybe it’s me but have your characters actually date before they talk about what sort of flavor of condom they want to use.

There’s their bff who is suppose to be the asexual rep of the novel.  I mean…textbook wise the rep was decent enough.  It gives a good introduction into what asexuality is, BUT I really felt like it was simply rushed to give the book diversity points.  God, I hate saying that.  But that’s what it honestly felt like.  I also don’t know how good the rep was and I really don’t feel comfortable with reviewing it one way or the other.  I know will be interested in what asexual readers have to say about this aspect of the book.

The other friend is pregnant which I guess her pregnancy is suppose to be one of the turning points of the novel.  Again, she felt mostly like an insert.

God, most of the characters in this book were pretty much inserts to get out the message of this book.  Which leads me to this, I fucking hate message books.  Much like I hated after school specials when I was young and it’s because of one simple reason-they talk down to their audience.

Don’t get me wrong, the book had a very good message but there’s a way to be less ham fisted about it.  Also, I don’t think a teenager is going to become the random school sex guru like Lacey it just felt bizarre and off putting.

I am donating this book to my local library.  I have mixed feelings about it.  On one hand, I am glad that this book is getting out there to a very conservative audience.  On the other hand, I feel bad for the person reading this bland book.  Other than the decent message, there’s nothing appealing about this one.  I could rant about it more, but I really don’t feel like it.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it a D.  The message is good, the rest of it sucked.

I Hate Everyone: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

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When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs. So she convinces her best friend, Harvey, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge as it is about hope.

But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission, and now she must face the consequences of all she’s said and done.

Source: GoodReads

I DNF’d this one at about 146 pages.  I know a lot of people really like Julie Murphy and I did sort of enjoy the Netflix version of Dumplin BUT I have to say I haven’t been that impressed with the books I read. Dumplin was middle of the road for me and I really didn’t care for Ramona Blue, still the premises of this book interested me enough where I wanted to give it a try.

Why did I DNF.

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It’s simple I hated the MC.  To be fair, I don’t think Murphy wanted you to like Alice.  She is suppose to be this bitter character.  And she does do a fairly good job depicting her, it’s just that there’s nothing redeemable about Alice and I couldn’t really feel sympathy for her despite the fact she’s dealing with a lot of shit.

Harvey (the male MC) is just if not more unrelatable  than Alice.  Honestly, I thought he was even more so.  With the Alice character I got her motive for her being the way she is.  With Harvey, I don’t know why he was such a doormat.  I get that he liked Alice, but come on…this girl was just mean.  Sick or not.  And the fact that she would randomly drop him like a hot potato…

Ugh.

I just couldn’t.  I mean, I’m sure there were some interesting things there but after 140 the book was going  no where except that I hated everyone.  So DNF….

2019 Preview: Yes, I Already Have Preorders

It’s almost 2019 and one thing I like to do on this blog is do a feature regarding some of next year’s releases.  There’s no guarantee that any of these books will be reviewed here at some point, but probably some of them will.  Regardless, here are some books that are being released next year that have piqued my interest:

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Award-winning author Sonali Dev launches a new series about the Rajes, an immigrant Indian family descended from royalty, who have built their lives in San Francisco…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.

Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:

·       Never trust an outsider

·       Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations

·       And never, ever, defy your family

Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.

Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.

As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with…

A family trying to build home in a new land.

A man who has never felt at home anywhere.

And a choice to be made between the two.

Source: GoodReads

Pride and Prejudice, royalty, possible cooking, and India.  Check, check, check.  I know it’s not YA but I really do like Dev’s books.

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After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

Source: GoodReads

Mysteries, hotels,  and bookish driven adventures.  Plus, it’s written by Jenn Bennett so I know it’s going to be ship-tastic.

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Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

Source: GoodReads

This seems to have shreds of both fantasy and contemporary in it and lots of shades of Beauty and the Beast which means I’m pretty much sold.

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A romantic comedy that sweeps you up with breezy writing and canny social commentary, set behind the scenes of the classical music world during one hot, anything-can-happen, New York City summer

Ruby has always been Ruby Chertok future classical pianist, heir to the Chertok family legacy, daughter of renowned composer Martin Chertok. But after bungling her audition for the prestigious Amberley School of Music–where her father is on faculty–Ruby is suddenly just . . . Ruby. And who is that again? All she knows is that she wants out of the orbit of her relentlessly impressive family, and away from the world of classical music for good. Yes? Yes. 

Oscar is a wunderkind, a musical genius. Just ask any of the 1.8 million people who’ve watched him conduct his own compositions on YouTube–or hey, just ask Oscar. But while he might be the type who’d name himself when asked about his favorite composer and somehow make you love him more for it, Oscar is not the type to jeopardize his chance to study under the great Martin Chertok–not for a crush. He’s all too aware of how the ultra-privileged, ultra-white world of classical music might interpret a black guy like him falling for his benefactor’s white daughter. Right? Right.

But as the New York City summer heats up, so does the spark between Ruby and Oscar. Soon their connection crackles with the same alive, uncontainable energy as the city itself. But can two people still figuring themselves out figure out how to be together? Or will the world make the choice for them?

Source: GoodReads

I really loved Throne’s debut, was a little lukewarm towards her sophomore effort but this new book from her seems to have all things I like reading about.  Also, will be interesting to read about this since I sort of come from the world of classical music.

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Miriam’s family should be rich. After all, her grandfather was the co-creator of smash-hit comics series The TomorrowMen. But he sold his rights to the series to his co-creator in the 1960s for practically nothing, and now that’s what Miriam has: practically nothing. And practically nothing to look forward to either-how can she afford college when her family can barely keep a roof above their heads? As if she didn’t have enough to worry about, Miriam’s life gets much more complicated when a cute boy shows up in town . . . and turns out to be the grandson of the man who defrauded Miriam’s grandfather, and heir to the TomorrowMen fortune.

In her endearing debut novel, cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks pens a sensitive and funny Romeo and Juliet tale about modern romance, geek royalty, and what it takes to heal the long-festering scars of the past (Spoiler Alert: love).

Source: GoodReads

This book seems to perhaps take inspiration from the messy Superman ownership saga.  Regardless, I find it interesting and even though I have had a mix reaction with the geek lit trope I will definitely give it a try.

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Mia and Jake have known each other their whole lives. They’ve endured summer vacations, Sunday brunches, even dentist visits together. Their mothers, who are best friends, are convinced that Mia and Jake would be the perfect couple, even though they can’t stand to be in the same room together.

After Mia’s mom turns away yet another cute boy, Mia and Jake decide they’ve have had enough. Together, they hatch a plan to get their moms off their backs. Permanently. All they have to do is pretend to date and then stage the worst breakup of all time—and then they’ll be free.

The only problem is, maybe Jake and Mia don’t hate each other as much as they once thought…

Source: GoodReads

This seems very shippy and tropey and I’m game.

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10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

Source: GoodReads

Roman Holiday meets K-Pop.  Sold.

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Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement. She’s obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel brave, fabulous, and like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother sees this as a distraction from working on her portfolio paintings for the prestigious fine art academy where she’s been accepted for college. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi’s estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.

When she arrives in Japan, she loses herself in Kyoto’s outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival–and meets Akira, a cute med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. What begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.

Source: GoodReads

I love Mochi and I love reading about books that take place in countries other than the US.  So win.

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There’s no blurb connected to this.  But it’s by Meg Freaking Cabot so I’m reading it.  Oddly enough, GoodReads and Amazon have it listed as being over 400+ which is definitely not novella level of pages.  So maybe there’s a full length adult installment coming out this year…At least I hope so.  No offense to Meg’s middle grade series, but there is definitely not enough romance to keep me interested in them.

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Lacey Barnes has dreamt of being in a movie for as long as she can remember. However, while her dream did include working alongside the hottest actor in Hollywood, it didn’t involve having to finish up her senior year of high school at the same time she was getting her big break. Although that is nothing compared to Donavan, the straight-laced student her father hires to tutor her, who is a full-on nightmare.

As Lacey struggles to juggle her burgeoning career, some on-set sabotage, and an off-screen romance with the unlikeliest of leading men, she quickly learns that sometimes the best stories happen when you go off script.

Source: GoodReads

My luck with Kasie West books have been mixed as of late, but this one looks incredibly cute.  So I am crossing my fingers it will be panning out.

Okay, stopping here.  I have a lot more books on my list.  If you have a particular shout out to a 2019 release let me know.  And have a happy new year.

2018 Year In Review: WTF

I feel like this is way too early to be doing this.  Didn’t 2017 end not that long ago?  Apparently, not.  Since I am going to visit my parents for Christmas, I am drafting this up now when roughly about half of December is left.  I might be able to read a couple of books between now and then, but I doubt it’s really going to change this outcome.

Total Books Read: Eighty-five.  Not too shabby.  I set a modest goal of 60 but had hoped to get around 100.  To be fair, I did procure a lot of cookbooks that I didn’t add to this list since I don’t exactly read those cover to cover.

Most Read Genre: Really, this years reading choices were a hodgepodge of different genres.  I probably read a fair amount of contemporary, a lot of romances, some cookbooks, and other stuff as well.

Reading Report: So so.  I have been pickier this year, but I was disappointed in a lot of books that I had high on my list.  Which I hate.  One of my favorite new authors of last year sophomore book was a complete wash and there was a retelling of one of my favorite fairytales that was an utter flop.

Biggest Surprise

 

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Stephanie Kate Strohm in general was a break out author for me this year.  Both Prince in Disguise and Love a la Mode were big hits for me.  I liked Prince in Disguise more.  Mainly because I’m addicted to the princess trope (thanks, Meg Cabot).  This is a cozy read and has all the appropriate feels.  It could totally be a good Hallmark movie.

Biggest Disappointment

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There were actually a lot of disappointments (whomp, whomp) this one stood out though because of my love for prior mentioned trope.  All I remember about this one was that prince needed a swift kick in the pants and the MC had Princess Ariel hair.  Oh, and I gave the book away.  That says everything.  At least I read it around the same time as the royal wedding, so I could just watch Meghan and Harry to make up for this dunce of a book.

Most Relevant Book:

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This was more of a personal reading experience for me.  I am extremely introverted (INTJ and proud of it) so it was nice reading a book that dove into deeper aspects of introvertisum (is that even a word, well it is now on this blog).

The Trend That Can Die:

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Body positivity go wrong.  We need books featuring protagonists of all shapes and sizes HOWEVER what we don’t need is the various protagonists shaming other characters based on their body.  Seriously, I read one book where the MC makes comments based on any woman’s dress size and another where the MC is told constantly to eat a cheese burger.  No.  Just no.

Forever Ship

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Zorie and Lennon.  I swear Bennett writes some of my favorite YA books in YA.  I’m actually going to start reading her adult back list one of these days since it seems to involve paranormal elements that I am sort of crazy about.

Kill This Ship With Fire

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I read the movie and saw the book.  The ship sucked both times.  Enough for it to make worst ship of the year which is a shame because I really do love a good Cinderella story.

Best Overall Book

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I really didn’t have one stand out.  I’m featuring American Panda though because it was one of my favorites.  I mean, it featured a neurotic germaphobe protagonist coming from a diverse background.  Bonus cute boy and an awesome brother.  Here are a few honorable mentions though:

  • Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Srohm: This book is a cute cozy winter read.  It gets points for being in a foreign county and having a Harry Potter-ish cute meet.  Read it.
  • Quiet by Susan Cain: Again already featured but if you’re an introvert I highly recommend.
  • Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran: I went on a bit of a Duran binge earlier this year and this book is partially responsible.  While some of her books are meh, this one definitely is not.
  • Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennet: Ship, ship, ship.  Also this book actually made camping interesting which is sort of weird.

Worst Overall Book:

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This was the first book of 2018 and it was bad.  Oh, so bad.  It’s trigger inducing on so many levels.  Everything is abruptly and unrealistically resolved and it has just about made me be an auto no to de la Cruz.  It’s kind of funny when I started this blog de la Cruz was one of my favorite authors.  Now though…shudders.

Honorable mentions go the following.  Really, it should be dishonorable mentions:

  • Say You’ll Remember Me by Katy McGarry: Puppy killing.  Enough said.
  • Rommies by Christina Lauren: Everyone loved this book.  I didn’t.  It had creepy stalker vibe all over it.
  • Form Twinkle With Love by Sanhya Mennon: I loved Mennon’s debut but this one was just bad all around.  It sucked.
  • One Small Thing by Erin Watt: Because falling in love with your sister’s killer is so romantic.  Seriously, you’d think Watt would’ve learnt from All My Children that this was a bad idea.  See Brooke and the hot  pastor storyline.  Spoiler alert, hot pastor killed Brooke’s daughter and she ended up turning her interest towards Edmund Grey who hadn’t discovered his not dead wife was still alive.

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

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She had a plan. It went south.

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

I have no words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Okay?

Do you taste heart?  No.

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

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

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

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

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Seriously, he sulks a lot.

It’s not attractive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These Bones Are Fractured: Mammoth by Jill

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

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

Until it isn’t.

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

Digressing…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nope.

Nope.

Nope.

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

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

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

Overall Rating: C+