United We Spy: Ally Carter

My name is Cammie Morgan and I used to be a spy.

Oops, wrong character and wrong program.

 

Sort of.

Honestly though, Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series has evolved into an episode of Burn Notice if it had Covert Affairs slightly dumber baby.

That’s not entirely a bad thing.

In a lot of ways it breathed life into what otherwise had a tendency to be a rather fluff oriented YA series with the mentions of spies in there for the pitching purpose.

I’ll admit a book or two of this sort of series I’d buy, but for longevity purposes…no.  It just doesn’t work.

Luckily for Carter, she decided to add a plot halfway through the series.  But unfortunately for her, it also made the series a bit disjointed.

And there were definitely jumping the shark moments.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book by itself.  I thought it was pretty action paced and it really was like watching a TV show-minus Jeffrey Donovan’s butt, though there’s plenty of book eye candy to make up for it.  It was just that…well, the tone in the last few installments in this series is just too different than the first.

And yeah, I as I said before I get why Carter had to do it.  And if this would’ve been a standalone I would’ve been wowed.  This book kept me on edge, but a series finale?

Sigh.

It’s true most of the loose ends are tied and we find out what happens to Cammie and the rest of the gang, but I felt like Carter lost the spirit of the original novel.  And what the heck ever happened to Josh?  I almost feel like now that I could skip the first, maybe even the second book in the series and be okay.

I guess it sort of helps that I had no idea what I was reading for about fifty pages because it’s been like a year and a half since the last one of these books have been released.

But I’m always confused.  And noticing the difference in tone is a bit different than details.

Another issue I had with this book is how far away it’s gotten from reality.

I get it’s a book about spies.  But the Gallagher Girls world has always been more rooted in realism like the USA shows than more Bond or Austin Powers like.

Stuff that happened in this book was more Bond like.  Okay, so there’s no Aston Martin or cool gadgets, but there are moments where you have to just let go of all logic and thought.

Yes, I get it’s the spy genre.  But really, really.

Have an element of realism.

Yes, I guess there were some moments, but honestly Cammie really wasn’t that great of a spy throughout the majority of this one. She should’ve been caught and killed by the Circle several times.  I felt like the resolution was just too easy.

Did that take away from my enjoyment of the book…yes and no.  It reminds me sort of one my favorite movies, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Yes, I like that Indiana Jones movie even though most of the critical universe hates it.  And I can perfectly understand their hatred.  Short Round is annoying.  Willie Scott…well, she should just be glad she married the director.  But there’s something about the movie that is just charming to me.  It’s cheesiness, the fact that the plot is so overly dramatic, or maybe the fact that it just works with what it has.  That’s what this book sort of reminds me of, but its better than the movie (sort of).  Like the movie, it has very glaring faults.  Fans of the series are probably going to ignore them and just enjoy reading their series finale.

For me though, while I did enjoy reading this book and am glad that Carter has written a relatively satisfying conclusion that involved no demon babies or teen marriage, admittedly I’m still slightly dissatisfied.  And I don’t entirely blame her.  I almost feel like this series was written into a corner.  The first book read like a standalone, the second seemed to have more of a series feel but still…then the third and after total departure.  While it was exciting it did jump the shark and I feel the original tone of the series is long lost just like the character Josh (who btw, I never really did like, but I would’ve liked to known what happened to him).

Overall Rating: Seven out of ten secret agents.  A good book, but not my favorite installment of the series.

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The Rules: Stacey Kade

Aliens.

It’s the one PNR YA tropes I never get tired of.  I think because there are so many ways you can go with it. Honestly, I’m usually not a hard core sci-fi fan for the most part.  It’s true I like watching the occasional movie about aliens taking over the world and that I like to read about aliens and watch Ancient Aliens on TV, but…okay, I’m obsessed.

But aliens in YA?

Sort of mixed.

Sure there’s the Lux series which I liked (used to love up to the last installment), but really there haven’t been that many decent alien YA books released.  However, I have always heard great things about Stacey Kade and decided to give her book, The Rules a try.

What’s it About: Take the plot of She’s All That, add in some Roswell conspiracies to it, and one mad scientist and you have this book..

 
I really do like this one, but I can see how people wouldn’t like this book.  It’s something odd to think when you’re writing a book review since book reviews are generally opinions that one has.  But as I kept reading this book I thought well, I like that but I can see why other people might not like this.  So for the purposes of this review.  I’m going to discuss what I really liked and what I think could annoy people.
What I Liked:
 
1. Dual narration:
 
Usually I hate dual POV, but it works here.  Both characters seem like separate entities and I was able to grow to like both of them.  It made me actually really interested to read The Ghost and the Goth  where I hear that this feature is used as well.
2. Characters:
 
The characters are very well formed.  As I previously stated, both have a distinct voice. Kade was also very effective in creating backstories for both Zane and Ariane.  I felt for both of them and I liked how their lives sort of were paralleled each others in a strange way.
3. Aliens:
 
Did I mention this book involves E.T. and he does not phone home.
4. Deeper than it looks:
 
While it might appear as all frothy and full of bunny rabbits and roses, this book actually does touch upon some deeper issues.  I sort of liked how while the issues weren’t the main plot of the story, they contributed to the overall plot and not in a heavy handed sort of way.
 
5. A fun easy read:
 
Honestly, this book was sort of like endorphins in a written form.  And we all know what Elle Woods has to say about endorphins.
 
What Could be Viewed as Annoying:
 
1. The fact that part of this book borderlines on hardcore sci-fi and the other half could’ve been an episode of Beverly Hills 90210:
 
It’s hard imagining an episode of 90210 with aliens.  Okay, maybe not.  Maybe that explains a lot of the actions of Tori Spelling’s character on the show, but still.  Most of this book reads as teen drama and I was expecting that.  But some people aren’t.  And to be honest the fact that the alien thing remained background till the very last third where it seemed more like Carrie than Alien.  Did I hate it, no?  But it did make what else seemed like a frothy book seem disjointed.
2. Way too Much Melodrama.
 
As previously stated, a lot of this read like an episode of 90210.  And while I like froth, this could borderline on too much fluff.  The plot is similar to many movies you’d see in the 90’s melodrama included.  A lot of the trivial things that the characters are arguing about just make you want to roll your eyes given the overall plot is a lot more sinister than what’s actually going on.
3. Plot-holes Galore:
 
If Ariane can read minds I had to wonder why a lot of things happened…I mean, all she had to do was read the thoughts off of certain characters heads and boom she should’ve known.   The same thing goes with what happened in the lab, why not….yeah you sort of have to stop analyzing after awhile.
4. Too Cruel to be Real:
 
While I personally like an evil as sin character there were a few characters here that might be unrealistically evil.  Which is fine, you know, if you’re name is Dr. Evil.  However, since 99.9% of the world isn’t named Dr. Evil it probably doesn’t work here.
5. The fact it’s over four hundred pages long:
 
I like long books and for the most part this one didn’t drag.  Except it did a little in the middle.  A little cutting here and there might’ve made the book a little more enjoyable.  Might’ve being the operative word.  This con really is up to your own preference.  For me I think about fifty less pages and it would’ve been the perfect length.
 
Overall Rating: I’m giving this one a seven out of ten.  I enjoyed it, but I’ll admit it has its faults. It really was a fun read and I think I might grow to like it more than the Lux series.

Runes: Ednah Walters

Welcome to an episode of book diagnosis with the help of a slightly modified version of the scientific method, I….Dr. MJ* will diagnosis what the fuck is wrong with Runes.

Question: What the fuck is wrong with Runes?  The summary seems pretty good.  Norse gods and YA.  Whatever can go wrong with that….okay, I know a lot.  But Norse gods.  That’s pretty bad ass for the most part (at least when Tom Hiddleston and Christ Hemsworth are involved).

Research:  Consisted of reading a good portion of Ruins, being exposed to some shiteous YA books, looking at other reviews to see what worked for other readers and what caused them to vomit, and just coming up with my own opinions.  Oh, also watching Thor a couple of times too.  

Hypothesis: Runes is shiteous because that cover.  Seriously, look at it.  That girl almost looks like a doll with the amount of makeup they plastered on her face.  And if she’s supposed to be a Norse goddess shouldn’t she be like..pale?  And what’s with the stupid tattoos.  Why does YA have a fascination with stupid tattoos?

Experiment: Read book.  Try to rationalize book during brief spurts of hissy fits which cause dog that is pretending to be reader’s nurse during their illness to give them death looks.  Continue reading.  Have reader vomit not because of flu or cover of said book but contents of book.  Keep reading until reader wants their money back and hits the return button from Kindle only to find some other cheap book they want.  Then reader (Dr. MJ) tries to write up a somewhat coherent analysis.   Note during reader make notes of what cliches are used, poor writing techniques, and general crimes against humanity.  The more tally marks that reader makes the lower rating book gets and it can help determine what final diagnosis to make.

I know, I wasn’t impressed either, Patty.

Analysis:

Honestly, the biggest thing that stuck out to me was that I had seen this before.  And in a lot of ways it reminded me of a shitty parody that I recently read (Awoken).

Yeah, it reminded me of a not so funny YA paranormal parody.  That’s never a good thing.

This book is so formulaic it made me want to puke.

I’ve said that a lot in my review.  It might be because I’m actually sick today, but really this book sort of made whatever I’m suffering from right now even worse.  I got so upset that I ended up returning it.  I’ve only done it once before,  but I serious did not want to pay to read Twilight!  Norse version.

Because that’s what this book is with a few alterations.

Coming to a Twi-like diagnosis is sort of easy.  I’ll just number them out for you right now.

1) Ordinary girl heroine where ordinary should be replaced with annoying.

2) Girl lives in a non-traditional family with incompetent adult who is more interested in their self than their kids.

3) Heroine  lives in a small town.  Extra points if it’s in the Pacific Northwest.

4) There’s two boys.  One who’s dark and mysterious the other a childhood friend.

5) Google is used a research tool since there are no Halliwells or Winchesters present to help figure out what’s going on.

6) Boy will sort of allude to what he is our genius of a main character won’t figure it out until it’s basically has to spell it out for her.

7) Huge info dumps will occur followed by insta love.

Of course there’s more than just this, but I stopped reading after that point.  I’m just sick of Twilight ripoffs.  I really hated how Runes tried to give the reader these huge winks that it was in the same vein as Twilight.

I kid you not.

There were these parts of the book where Walters basically states that its a Twilight ripoff.  The main character, Raine, basically as the Edward wannabe if he’s a vampire.

You know what’s sad I just read this book like thirty minutes ago and am already forgetting the characters names….

But I digress.  Yes, there are nods like that to the Twilight Saga.  And with all these other things, I was just rolling my eyes at the end of it.

The sad thing is, you’d think this book would be pretty original.  It involves Norse mythology which while is sort of a huge trend in YA recently it hasn’t been as exposed as Greek mythology.  But of course we have to follow the Twilight Saga.

I really don’t get it.

Here’s the thing, I don’t outright hate Twilight.  Oh, I get annoyed with Twilight.  And I hate the book where Jacob becomes a creepy pervert and Edward tells him to go have puppies with Bella, but it’s not a full blown hatred.  What I hate about Twilight is that every genius in YA fiction has decided that if they want to write a paranormal YA book they have to stick to the Twilight formula.

Don’t.

Just don’t.

It ruins what would otherwise be a decent story.  Take this book, if it would’ve deviated a little bit from the formula it might’ve been okay.  But I was yawning throughout the entire thing that I just gave up.

Okay, it was horribly written.  The world building really made no sense and the characterization was pretty awful.  But still if it didn’t follow the Twilight formula, I might’ve just might’ve been able to finish it.

Conclusion: This book suffers from Twilight syndrome.  Sad to say it’s terminal.  I, Dr. MJ, could not finish it.  And you probably won’t either if you have any sense or  would rather watch Thor.  

*Obviously, I’m not a real doctor.

Goddess: Josephine Angelini



Disclaimer: Obviously, I am not an Olympian.  If I was do you really think I’d be bothered to read YA fiction-Well, maybe.  I would have eternity….but I’d honestly probably be doing something better with my time like touring Antarctica or at least eating some Greek yogurt with John Stamos.

Cue to The Mt. Olympus Book Club: A sound of something exploding is heard. Frame onto a very annoyed looking Athena.

Athena: Did you really have to break that Grecian urn, it was a gift from…it’s been so long I’ve forgotten who made it.

Zeus: Then it is useless, daughter.

Athena: It’s an artifact.  It’s hardly useless.

Apollo: Isn’t it my job to care about the arts?

Athena: Goddess of wisdom here.  History and all that jazz, remember?  Besides we’re getting off topic.  We’re suppose to discuss Goddess our book club selection for the month.

Apollo: I still can’t believe I’ve stepped down so low to become a member of a book club.

Athena: Shut up.  And really, what are you going to do with your time?  Turn another girl into a tree?

Apollo: It was just that one….

Athena: God, you’re almost as bad as Hades.  Scratch that, he’s probably a little bit more sane than you because he only took one girl.

Apollo: She was Zeus’s daughter, our sister/his niece, and he took the Underworld.

Hades: I married her and she’s happy for the six months of the year she doesn’t have to spend with that battle axe.

Athena: She’s your sister and you’re off topic again.  So let’s talk about the book.  It’s obvious that Angelini wants to be with us and has created an ultra super duper Mary Sue.  Really, I don’t know who is more super duper than Helen.  Even Powergirl isn’t as powerful as her and she’s immune to Kryptonite.

Hades: What about Batman?

Athena: Well, obviously not.  He’s Batman.

(The gods nod their heads because everyone knows there’s no one more powerful than Batman even though he’s just a regular man with no superpowers).

Apollo: Well, Batman aside, I really was annoyed with how powerful this girl was and how we’re portrayed.  I’m not a creepy murderer/rapist.  I’m the god of the sun.  And seriously, I don’t kill girls I just turn them into plants.

Hades: Obviously.

Athena: Oh, don’t look smug, uncle.  Even though you were the only one of us spared from being portrayed as a complete jack ass, you and I both know you would’ve just thrown Helen into the River Styx and laughed about it.

Hades: Oh, the River Styx is way too good for her.  I’d probably make her watch Disney’s Hercules  for an eternity.

Athena: Not everyone hates that movie, you know.

Hades: I’m not a bad guy.

Zeus: Exactly the point I’ve been trying to make here (throws thunderbolt and destroys another artifact).

Athena: Father, please. You’re ruining history.

Zeus: I’m immortal. History doesn’t matter.  And I don’t like the fact that the king of the gods is portrayed as the villain.  I might have my moments, but I’m NOT a villain.  I leave that to my wife.

Hera: I’m not a villain either, dear hubby.  I just have to put up with your shit.  Quite frankly, I found the fact that you were portrayed as the bad guy for once refreshing.  Especially after that YA series where I was portrayed as wanting a married Hades.  Seriously, I don’t go for married men.  I am the goddess of marriage. And besides why would I want to be queen of the underworld?  Can you saw, ew?

Athena: This isn’t about you, Hera.

Hera: I read the book though and I’m an Olympian.  Can’t I talk about the book?

Athena: No.  Because you weren’t in it.  Oddly.  I mean, everyone even minor gods, the fates, those stupid Trojans, even King Arthur….

Apollo: God damn it, I never understood how King Arthur was in this book?  Anyone care to share?

Athena: Is your reading comprehension that low, brother?

Apollo: It’s four hundred pages, how am I supposed to pay attention for that long?

Athena: Touche.  Here’s the gist Helen was Guinevere in a past life and the romance to Guinevere and Lancelot was akin to Helen and Paris.  And forget about Guinevere ever having feelings for dear old Arthur.

Apollo: That makes no sense whatsoever.  I know Guinevere cheated on Arthur, but the fact she loved both men was one of the saddest parts about the whole triangle.  Besides the fact that she became a nun at the end of the movie. 

(Athena rolls eyes that her brother only watched the film version of the Arthurian legend, but in America public school’s this is how most people learn about the Arthurian legend.)

Zeus: Can we get back to how I was bastardize?  I mean, seriously, the king of gods gets defeated by a sixteen year old girl that’s obsessed with pumpkins, sandwiches, and is willing to get a sex change for a boy.  That is pathetic.  Who would come up with such a thing?

Athena: Josephine Angelini, apparently.  But we already discussed that.

Zeus: But not how stupid the whole climax was.  Seriously, I’m defeated by a teenage girl.

Athena: And I bowed down to that ignoramus.  Not to mention that Apollo was depicted as a murderer/rapist, Hades was depicted as a Helen fan girl, the vast majority of Olympians are not even mentioned.  The only ones who were depicted as being reasonably decent were Helen of Troy, Paris, and freaking Aphrodite.

Aphrodite: Did someone call my name?

Athena: Oh God, Aphrodite, this is book club. You don’t know how to read.

Aphrodite: I do too.  I know I’m not the goddess of wisdom, Athena, but I’m not stupid.

(Athena sighs and is about to say something, but as the goddess of wisdom she has enough common sense to shut her trap).

Athena: I know you know how to read, sister, but isn’t there a sale at Prada or something you’d rather be going to?

(Aphrodite frowns)

Aphrodite: Um, no.  I’ve actually been reading a lot lately.  I have found some really good books in the PNR YA section.  Some of them have been really inspiring like that series about a teenage vampire with everyone in the world in love with her and that angel who finds true love with a human boy…

Athena: No, wait, you didn’t.

Zeus: She didn’t what?

Athena: Father, use your head.  I know you can, you created me after all.

(It dawns on Zeus what Athena is talking about and a lightening bolt forms from his hand as he turns and glares at Aphrodite).

Aphrodite:  Father, why are you pointing that thing towards me.  Do I really have to get out the power of love?

Zeus: If you power of love me, daughter, you will regret it.  Besides,  that shit doesn’t work when you’re married to Hera.  Now tell me…did you impersonate a human again?

Aphrodite: What are you talking about?

Apollo: Yeah, can someone fill in some blanks?  I’m a bit confused myself.

Athena: Seriously, am I the only one with a brain.  Dear brother, who was the only one of us to not get a dissed on in the books?

Apollo: Um, Hades.

Hades: Um, no I was turend into a Helen fangirl, remember?

Apollo: Oh, yeah.  So I guess, Aphrodite.

Athena: Exactly.  Whose face does Helen have?

Apollo: Aphrodite.

Athena: What is Helen?

Apollo: A Mary Sue who wouldn’t make a good shrubbery.

Athena: Good you’re starting to catch on.  Now, what is a Mary Sue.

Apollo: A self insert…no….no.  You didn’t.

Aphrodite: Did what?  All I did was wrote a book series about what should’ve happened in Troy?  Wrote about a love that was more epic that Jack and Rose, Romeo and Juliet, and Bethany and Xavier. And you can’t defeat me because I have the power of love.  Mwhahahahahahahahhaha!

Athena: Father, she does have a point…the power of love….

Zeus:  I’m not resigning to the power of love.  As I said before, I’m married to Hera.  I don’t believe in the power of love.  There has to be one time where it didn’t win out.

Aphrodite: Oh, but that’s where you’re wrong father.  The power of love wins nothing can destroy it.  It wins in the end.

Zeus: That’s true.  But I can always usurp your power of love.  I summon…..Bella Swan.

Aphrodite: No, not Bella Swan!

Zeus: You left me no choice daughter, I have to make sure you do not usurp me.  Bella Swan and Forks, Washington are your eternity forever.   Now can we please read something decent for next month’s book club?

Overall Rating: I’m giving it a three (shocking I know).  If it wasn’t for the cliches, this one wouldn’t be god awful.  I actually think that Josephine Angelini has some good ideas.  She just goes too far a lot of the time with the cliches and it shows quite badly.  The idea of this series though is good, it’s just predictable and sort of a hot mess.




Antigoddess: Kendare Blake

I really do love Greek mythology. And when YA gets it right (which is rarely) I’m in a happy mood.

This book made me pretty happy.

And while I’m going to talk about the book (obviously) in this review. I think the best way to explain what I like about it is what usually goes wrong in these retellings.

I think the first thing that was in favor of Antigoddess was its synopsis.  The gist is that the Greek gods are dying.  There’s nothing about insta love, forbidden love, or any of that nonsense in the summary (though there is some romance), there’s an actual action oriented plot.  And it involves something pretty big.

Another thing in this books favor is that it’s not a straight up retelling.

While some retellings have been decent, a lot of them have been meh.  That calls for both literal and loose interpretations of myths. Notably the Persephone myth.  God, there are  tons of bad and so so Persephone retellings out there in the genre right now.

Honestly, I probably gave Blake extra points for killing that sucker off right away.

That being said, it wasn’t just the fact that this book parted from the usual cliches that made it enjoyable.

The writing itself for the most part was engaging.  Sure, there were some parts that confused me a little bit but for the most part I could not put this book down.  I will admit though, that I was more engaged with the Athena parts of the story than the Cassandra parts.

It wasn’t that Cassandra was a bad character, she was just…well, boring compared to Athena.  And while I did enjoy her relationship with Aidan in the beginning I was slightly groaning.  Though I do give props for Blake for putting them in an established relationship.  I think that saved the book from suffering from insta love.

Overall,  the romantic elements-which were ore or less a very small subplot-were handled appropriately.  I liked how the gods stayed in their characters.  In many of these Greek retellings the gods are bizarrely not themselves,  Cupidity and The Goddess Test.  Here though, the characters still fit their origins though they’ve been modernized.

The fates the gods suffer are all bizarre and grotesque.  Some might find this factor to be a reason not to read this book.  Personally, the book being a little macabre didn’t bother me so much.  I think mainly because it wasn’t the focus so much of the book.  Sure, we’re told that Athena is being suffocated by feathers, Hermes is slowly wasting away, and Hera is turning into stone.  But when reading the novel those weren’t the things I was focused on.  Instead I focused on the characters, their interactions, their struggle to survive.

I also enjoyed how elements from the Trojan War were used here.  While it was not a direct retelling, Troy is apart of these characters history both the gods and the reincarnations of Greek and Trojan heros.  There were consequences for actions in the past and I liked that.  It wasn’t like Starcrossed where the various dignities and gods were either glamorized or demonized.  Blake’s approach was much more realistic.

I also liked how the book ended.  It made me cry and want the next one.  Which is rare in YA-the wanting to read the next one thing.  To be honest I’m a little burnt with series and waiting.  But I’m actually excited about reading the next one.

Overall: Eight out of ten goddess.  A pretty decent start to hopefully what will be a pretty kick ass series.

Nightshade: Andrea Cremer

The cover actually was one of the reasons this book is getting a slightly higher rating than it should.  That’s never a good thing.
 
 
This book is you’re pretty run of the mill post Twilight paranormal novel.  Meaning, it’s pretty much Twilight  to a T it certain elements (i.e. the love plot), but it tries to keep things fresh by adding in a different mythology (this time werewolves that aren’t Meyer’s werewolves).  Also, in the case of Nightshade throw it throws in an additional twist by making the Bella character the guy.
Yeah, I know we’ve seen that before too…..
This book received a huge amount of promotion before it was released. The art department went all out on it and it shows. And I remember buying it (in part) because of the publicity.
But it sat on my shelf for years.
That in itself is always a warning, I find that my subconscious is sort of psychic.
Laugh all you want now.  But I’ll prove it to you because I was able to guess everything that happened in this book.
Okay, maybe that’s not being psychic maybe that’s just the fact I’ve read way too much PNR YA at this point in my life.
If you look at other books that go in the vein Nightshade went they’re all oddly similar.  Supposed strong female protagonist, bond to someone who is obnoxious (though I didn’t find Ren to be as obnoxious as Cremer probably hoped), and falls in love with a human boy that’s essentially Bella Swan if she would’ve been born with a y chromosome. And of course even though our powerful heroine, is, well, powerful…the human boy tames her in the end.
Barf.
Nightshade suffers from this and having horrible characters.
Let’s look at the couple we should be rooting for: Calla and Shay.
First of the name Calla is just stupid and an excuse to have calla lilies on the cover.
Yeah, I  know that’s purely speculative and subjective, but I had to throw it out there.
As for the character herself.  How would I describe her….wannabe Buffy Barbie.  Yeah, that’s a good description.  We keep hearing how tough Calla is, but at the end of the day she’s your typical YA PNR heroine who needs a man to rescue her.  Really, the only thing that Cremer does to make you think she’s tough is  have her proclaim that she doesn’t like wearing dresses and makeup.
Hmm, if I remember correctly Bella Swan didn’t like wearing dresses and makeup either…
Doesn’t mean she was tough.
As for the love triangle.  I don’t root for Shay.  And he’s the very obvious endgame.  I just didn’t like him.  He’s whiney, annoying, and honestly I felt no chemistry between him and Calla whatsoever.  All I knew about him that he was sort of an elitist (I love books more than the next person, but not everyone who’s intelligent likes to read, Shay),  was obsessed with Hobbes, and had Xavier Woods hair.  Anytime I equate a hero to Xavier Woods.  You should know that means to run, run away.  He’s also sort of useless and pushy.  Two things I hate in a YA hero.
Seriously, he gets all hot and bothered over this guy.
As for the other guy, Ren, I saw more chemistry there.  Although, I’m sure Cremer will probably villainize   him even more so that everyone will ship Shay and Calla.
Sorry, that’s still not going to make that ship float.
I might’ve got past the shitty characters if there was an interesting plot.  And for awhile there, the world building seemed sort of interesting, but it never really came to full fruition.  Rather, Cremer is vague on details so we get the obligatory trilogy (I swear, trilogies are the standard YA publishing contract these days).
As it stands though, I was able to predict every twist and turn like clockwork and even though I’m still vague on a lot of the details, I have no interest to continue.
That probably makes me sound like a horrible person.
I’ve gotten to the point with a lot of these YA PNR books though where I don’t even want to bother.  The predictability is just yawn inducing.  I get why these types of books exist in the market, but at some point I just want to say come on!
Why can’t we do something a little original?
There were things about this novel that could’ve made it a unique and interesting trilogy to read, but instead I got to read about three (okay, to be fair really two) characters I couldn’t stand.
I feel like with Nightshade there were a lot of things that could’ve been great, but the execution just turned it to another one of those books.  You know, written of the coattails of Twilight, but nowhere near as memorable.
In fact, I can easily see myself mixing it up with another YA book series that involved a powerful girl who was supposed to be bonded to a guy, the only difference between that series and this one.  That one involved dragons.  But hey…it’s the little things like that, that apparently make for originality in this genre.
Overall Rating: Four out of ten moons.

Top Ten Reasons why NA is Really Lame

It’s probably the biggest growing genre in the market right now.  But I really just can’t stand New Adult.  I essentially think it’s just YA with sex.  Okay, they might be in college or young professionals-at most.  But still, there’s just not much to the genre.  Even my favorite authors have yet to convince me that I’m being overly critical with NA.  And I was like what are the reasons why I can’t stand the genre.  And hence this blog post.

10) NA derives from P2P Twilight fan fiction:  Okay, I know a lot of it doesn’t.  But the whole idea and concept I have seen in Twilight fan fics a plenty.  I mean, who knew that college Bella fan fics were going to have their own genre?  I think part of the reason I classify the genre as a whole this way is because of reason number three.  None of these books really have an original plot so I just keep thinking…fan fic.  Which isn’t a horrible thing….but fan fic should not be published.  And once again, that’s not saying that all NA started out as fan fiction, it just sometimes feels that way to me because how many stories can you read about some virgin with a sob story who gets with the Super Sleazy while on campus or has a Super Sleazy boss as a young professional?

Need I say more.

9) Super Sleazy Heros: Edward Cullen looks clean cut to some of these guys.  Do I need to even go into how big of a douche Travis Maddox is?  To NA’s credit though, I will point out that the guys in J Lynn (better known as Jennifer L Armentrout’s) NA book are slightly less sleazy.  Slightly being the objective word since both are sort of man hos.  Once again, something else NA likes to play with a super sexual male and a not so sexual female.  Why the purity myth continues, I do not know.  All I know is I just usually roll my eyes when I read the term man ho, especially if the MC gets with this guy in like ten minutes.  Girls, be like Pepper Potts.  Don’t even attempt to get with said man ho until the end of the second movie….err, I mean book.

8) Pimp Friends: That’s all NA friends ever do is pimp and be token characters.  God, I hate token characters.  It’s a way to have diversity in a novel, but not really have diversity.  There are some exceptions though, when the character actually does have a story apart from the MC’s and you know have a life of their own.  This rarely happen though, unless they get a spinoff and you can usually be guaranteed that the friend getting a spinoff is WASP-boo.

7) Sequels, sequels, and more sequels: Why do these books even get a sequel?  Seriously, nothing happens in the first book, so why should there even be a second one?  Okay, I guess it’s one thing if they take place in the same universe, but when these books involve the same story but in the guy’s POV that’s when I start seeing red.  Cash cow.  Cash cow.  Cash cow.  That’s all that I’m thinking.  Case in point, Walking Disaster.  All I can say, is that title really described that book well.  Unfortunately, I can’t blame this trend on Travis Maddox (even though I’d like to).  It actually originated once again from the partially released Midnight Sun (Twilight in Edward’s POV).  Which brings me back to the point, why must Twilight be the origin for everything?

An advertisement in itself for number 4.

6) Evil Bitches: A valid excuse for being a man ho, according to these books, is if all the girls you dated before the NA protagonist have been evil hos.  That explains so much.  Evil seductresses!  Of course, once the NA hero finds the heroine, he’ll make that change into a good man with his eye only on one woman in the span of ten pages or less!

5) The Big Break Up Scene: In almost all of these books you can expect a big breakup scene.  Usually, it happens around winter break.  And yeah, it’s about as dumb as the breakup scene in New Moon.  And all of them just really need a montage..

4) Tattoos: As hot as they might look on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, not everyone is meant to have a tat.  Have you see that show Tattoo Nightmares?  Well, I wish some of these characters did.  For once, I’d like to have a germaophobe NA heroine be like are you sure you didn’t catch hep from that?  Or were those needles sterilized?  Or better yet laugh at the stupid symbol that Super Sleazy gets put on his supposedly banging body.

3) There’s no plot: Yes, it’s contemporary.  But I’ve read plenty of contemporary romances that had a plot other than OMG when are these characters going to have sex?  Is it that difficult to give structure to these novels other than saying…oh, you’re hot and oh, I want you but I have a tragic dark past that makes me brittle for relationships?

2) Virginal Heroine: Yeah, you see this a lot in YA too.  But in YA, I sort of understand it more.  Here, it’s just ridiculous.  Especially when we have the traumatic virginal heroine.  Traumatic is something that’s purely NA for the most part, though you see it in in some measures in YA too.  Specifically, traumatic means that there’s usually some deep dark secret about the heroines past that keeps her from getting together with Super Sleazy.  Going back to number ten, in a lot of these fan fics that you’d see popping up the heroine (Bella) secret would be the big bad break up in New Moon.  Some authors might make things a little bit more interesting throw in an abusive Charlie or dead Jake, but you get the picture.  NA welcomes a mopey herorine and the cult of Kristen Stewart carries on.

1) College is not like this.  I always hate the fact that they portray college as a place where you never have to stay up to three to work on a paper, your roommate will automatically  new bestie, for the most part teachers and TAs are closeted tattoo hotties who own a Harley and write poetry at the local drippy independent coffee shop in their spare time.  It just doesn’t happen that way and you wonder why it’s classified as contemporary fiction when it should be unrealistic fiction.

The Liberator: Victoria Scott

The Collector was probably one of the best books I read this summer.  And one of the things I love the most about Entangled (its publishing company) is that they get sequels out fast.

I have to say, my feelings about The Liberator are sort of mixed.  On one hand, Dante was entertaining as ever and I thought he developed as a character in this installment.

I have to say I really enjoyed him “slumming” it at the Holiday Inn.  That was sort of hilarious.  And he’s right, Holiday Inns can suck.

And for the most part I did still enjoy his relationship with Charlie.  For the most part.  There were some issues, but the chemistry is still very obviously there and I enjoyed the two of them together.  And I really was glad Scott didn’t go in the direction of love triangle-ville with Aspen.

But and this is a very big but….

While I really liked Aspen, she really served no purpose to the very in.  Lots of the characters in this series, you could say, are floaters.  Which is sort of sad because all the characters are good…but this series has too many extras much like the second and last season of Young Justice.

For example, consider the characters Annabelle and Aspen.  Annabelle in Charlie’s friend, I love her, just like I love Aspen, but she serves no other purpose except being there.  I’d almost say that instead of creating the Aspen character, it would’ve just been better to utilize Annabelle but whatever.  Apsen wasn’t awful.

And none of the characters were awful, it was just as I said before  they really didn’t have a place on the canvas. It was just like they were randomly there.

And that’s how a lot of the plot in this story was.

Random.

Things just happened with little to no build up or explanation, it still made sense, but with the first book there seemed to have more of a clear plot.  Here there was a plot, but it just deviated from it and never really got back on track.

For example, Aspen.  We sort of got to know her story.  Then it was dropped for about a hundred pages then sort of picked up again but not really.

I almost think this book had middle book syndrome.  You know, kick ass first book and the second book is just sort of meh so that the final book can be awesome.

And that’s a shame because the first book was really awesome.

Don’t get me wrong this wasn’t a bad book.  Compared to many other books and for that matter sequels in the genre, it was pretty good but compared to The Collector it was a bit of a disappointment.

Maybe part of that was because of the way Charlie and Dante acted when together.  They still had chemistry, but a lot of their interactions seemed forced to a degree.  The separation could’ve made way for some cool plot twists, but it really was a non-issue throughout most of the novel.

The ending though, has me holding out hope.  While I had a lot of problems with The Liberator, the last fifty or so pages made me excited to read the next one.  I feel like the third installment will be pretty awesome.

Overall, this isn’t a bad book it’s fairly good.  But the plot is flawed.  It clearly suffers from middle book syndrome, and I really hope the next book ups the ante again.  I still love the characters, but compared to the first book it was a little less than stellar.

Rating: Six out of ten demon hunters.

Sweet Legacy Blog Blitz

I might’ve got and devoured my copy of Sweet Legacy this weekend and reviewed it too.  But it’s official release date is today.  And I have the pleasure to participate in this blog Blitz by asking the author one question.

What is Sweet Legacy:

Well, here’s the gorgeous Cover:

Here’s the Official Blurb:

Greer has always known she was privileged, though she had no idea how special her second sight made her, even among her triplet monster-fighting sisters. But when a god starts playing with her mind, can Greer step up in her pretty high heels to prevent anything from stopping her sisters’ mission?
Grace loves her adopted brother, Thane, but now that he’s back and has joined her sisters’ team, it’s clear his past is full of dark mysteries. She wants to trust him, but will Thane’s secret put the girls in even more danger?
Gretchen knows she can rely on her sisters to help her stop the monsters. But after getting to know some of the beasties in the abyss, she finds her role as a huntress comes with more responsibility than she ever imagined. How can she know what her birthright demands of her now?
The girls cannot hesitate as they seek the location of the lost door between the realms, even as monsters and gods descend on San Francisco in battle-ready droves. In this exciting conclusion to the Sweet Venom trilogy, these teenage heirs of Medusa must seek the truth, answer the ancient riddles, and claim their immortal legacy.
And here’s my question to Tera and her answer:
MJ: You have two series that incorporate Greek mythology.  Why Greek myths?
 
Tera:  Why not? I have loved Greek mythology since I was a little girl. It is endlessly fascinating. Partly because it is the origin of so much of western culture. But also because it is so rich with universal characters and stories. We have all known pretty blonde heartbreakers like Aphrodite and hot angry jocks like Ares. Themes of grief and love and war and passion are just as relevant today. The people and events of Greek mythology could just as easily be us and our friends and our lives. Personally, I love the challenge of taking something so seemingly disconnected from the modern world and making it relevant to a contemporary audience.

 

 
 
 

Awoken: Serra Elinsen

YA is ripe for parody.

A lot of people think so and I do love a good parody.  The Princess Bride which is a parody is one of my favorite books and movies.  I also love Catch 22.  And Mel Brooks has done a great job with parodying many film genres.

However, sometimes parodies don’t work.  Case in point, a little movie known as Vampires Suck.

 

You’d think a book written by an internet film critic and her cohorts (plus some ghost writers)-all writing under a pseudonym that I’ll get back to in a minute, would be pretty kick ass.  After all, reviewing film should’ve given the author some insight into how tropes work and you could get a lot of your mocking down on the page. And I’ll admit it, said internet film critic can at times be pretty insightful and hilarious.

This wasn’t her best effort.

I’ll be honest, I was halfway tempted to read this but it wasn’t until after the authors caused a stink by having their fans troll review pages with fake positive reviews and then had the gall to link a dissenters review for said fanbots to troll, that it came in my awareness again.  I probably wouldn’t have read it either if it wasn’t free and I already have somewhat of an interest in reading it-remember, I watch the show and at times it could be amusing.

The book though is not like the show.  It’s hardly amusing at all.  And it’s really not even a parody.  It’s more like a rip off.  Which is nothing like a parody, unless you’re parodying ripoffs but that just sounds so off in itself that I’m not even going touch upon how fucked up that would be.  And even if you were doing it, you’d make your book a little bit more interesting.

What is the book about?  Well, it’s The Twilight Saga, meets the Hush Hush saga, with some The Mortal Instruments,  but with some HP Lovecraft thrown in.  Who’s HP Lovecraft?  Well, if you don’t know anything about him before the book, you’re not going to know anything about him after you read it (so, if you’re interested you better do your Wiki homework).

It doesn’t really matter if you do the research though as long as you get these basics: 1) the so called hero is essentially a god, 2) he eats souls (I think), and 3) he makes Jace Herondale look like a wonderful gentleman.

That’s all you need to know about this book plot wise…oh, wait…remember the really obnoxious best friend from The Hush Hush Saga who we were told was voluptuous and it was allude to many times over that she was morbidly obese, she makes an appearance in this book too.  But she’s a new character because she has red hair and a new name now.

One of the reasons I thought that this might actually be a decent parody is that one of the authors understands tropes.  I actually referred to one of her video editorials in one of my earlier reviews.  If you understand tropes, you should be able to make fun of them.  But here….it’s more like another regurgitation of tropes that we’re suppose to find funny but really comes off as a bad fan fic.

And not even an entertaining bad fan fic like My Immortal.  People aren’t going to make videos over this thing.  In fact, my bet is the only reason this is doing fairly well is because of her video reviews and the fact she did a whole series on writing the novel before it was published.

Honestly, it makes me wonder how much time she and her cowriters actually spent writing the book versus  making their videos.

Not a bad marketing technique but still….

What is a bad marketing technique is the way they have presented this whole thing.  I know this is supposed to be about the book and it is.  I just think I need to address this because when people read the acknowledgments and the about the author section they need to be aware that their being played.  And the way the “author” is being portrayed is sort of well…mean.

Serra Ellinsen, the pseudonym that is being used, is described as a being a housewife with five kids and then there are several allusions made that make you think the writers are insulting stay at home moms and YA writers in general.  Also, the photo they chose to use is hardly flattering and you can tell by the language they used to describe Serra that they did this on purposes  The acknowledgments follow in suite.  I get that there are a lot of SAHM who have turned to YA superstars-most notably Stephenie Meyer.  But the generalization went beyond parody here, it was downright cruel.

I know it seems like I’ve gotten off topic about the book, but I really haven’t because the whole book was cruel to the genre as a whole on several levels.

Level One: They didn’t even try.  When you read something like this and it just reads like bad Twilight fan fic, doesn’t make you laugh, there’s nothing socially relevant about it, its not tongue in cheek, it’s not parody.  And I really think given the way this was produced and market it was just for the $.

Level Two: It’s essentially making fun of the whole genre and it has no heart.  Its one thing to make fun of something, but you shouldn’t be so nasty about it.  Though this is boring and as lame as hell, the whole way its presented its like to scam PNR YA readers.  That might not be the intention of the authors, but with the mass faux reviews, the whole way the product is presented, the way the product is written.  I really think the writers thought put some tropes together and bam I’m rich as Stephenie Meyer.

Hate to break it to you ladies, by the PNR gravy train has moved out of the station.  Unless you’re a phenomenal writer you need to move on down to New Adult.  Now a New Adult parody might’ve actually been hilarious because that’s a genre that’s even more generic than PNR and parodies haven’t been done to death in said genre.

Level Three: The way the book is put together.  It’s so sloppy.  I don’t know if that’s intentional or not but charging $4 or $10 dollars (depending whether you buy it ebook or paperback-note, if you have Prime you can rent it for free) is way too much for this.

When reading Awoken I didn’t experience anything new or innovative, it wasn’t funny, it wasn’t really anything but a checklist of tropes being checked off.  The use of the tropes wasn’t funny.  I think they were trying for some subtle humor with The Phantom of the Opera stuff, but unless you read the book you’re not going to pick up on that.

The characters were all horrible.  In addition to the Vee character you have the two main character.  Andi, the narrator, is boring as hell  and is so obsessed about her looks and clothes I just started picking out songs for her on Youtube whenever she decided to pick out an outfit  (“You’re So Vain”, “I’m Too Sexy”, and “Material Girl” all made the cut).  Then there’s her boyfriend.

Oh, how do describe Riley….

He talks like Thor, looks like Loki on Steroids, acts like an abusive dad, and dictates wardrobe like Travis fucking Maddox.  I actually like Travis fucking Maddox better than him.  He’s a bigger asshole than him, Jace Herondale, Edward Cullen, Patch, and that Daniel guy from Fallen.

In other words, I hated him.

Which was fine in hindsight because I hated everything else about this book.  The relationship he has with Andi is cringe worthy at best and abusive at its very finest.  Andi even offers this guy her soul for him to eat.

Do you know how fucked up that is?

Maybe it was suppose to be parody but it wasn’t even funny.

Sigh… I think what I learned from this is that some people can’t crossover their writing to different mediums.  I find some of the stuff that the Nostalgia Chick writes for her show funny and insightful.  This wasn’t that.  I think writing a parody takes some skill.  This wasn’t even close to being a parody.  It read like bad Twilight fan fiction and that’s never a good thing.  The fact that Tara Gillesbie’s story was more entertaining than this says everything you need to know.

Overall Review: No stars.  Nada.  Back to the drawing board for you.