Do Judge a Book by Its Cover: Caroling, Caroling

It’s the holiday season and there are tons of radio stations and TV stations devoted to Christmas music.  In this entry of Do Judge a Book by Its Cover, I decided to feature covers that remind me of the various song that are playing right now.

The Carol: Baby It’s Cold Outside

What the Cover Says to Me: Once a popular fan fic  “Babies and Penguins”, the novel covers the what if if Bella and Edward would’ve honeymooned on Antarctica instead of Isle Esme.  Of course, since this P2P is now original fiction Bella’s name is changed to Ella and Edward just becomes Eduardo and the whole vampire thing has been changed to Norse gods.  However, the P2P still kept the zombie penguins.  Because zombie penguins and smut are why this fic originally had ten million reviews before it’s author decided to P2P it.

What the Book is Really About: It’s the sequel to last year’s 16 and Pregnant in space, Mothership.  Which was actually one of the biggest surprises for me in 2012.   And yes, it actually takes place in Antarctica.

Verdict: Ugh.  I actually preferred the cartoon cover that they had in the first one.  This one just looks a little bit too much like a joke.  And seriously, leather pants after giving birth?  Excuse me, but no.  No.  No.  No.  Unless, of course, you’re Heidi Klum or someone.

The Carol: I Saw Three Ships

What the Cover Says to Me: Allure is a siren.  It’s her job to sink ships just the same as her ancestors.  It doesn’t matter if your a cute boy or not, she’s an equal opportunity drowner.  However, there are exceptions.  And no, it does not involve insta love.  Instead, it involves a bargain that might release Allure’s people from the curse that had been placed on them long ago.  However, how can a siren trust a snarky wizard pirate who has three ships?

What the Book is Really about: A dystopia retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Verdict: These covers are always outstanding, but really don’t fit the book that much at all.

 

 The Carol: Last Christmas (duh)

What the Cover Says to Me: She gave her heart away to the wrong person.  Just like the song says, duh.  And now Gabby must walk around all  morose in outwear that you only see in the movies until she finds the right person.  Since this is a holiday book it will include the hot (but I didn’t notice) best friend who takes her around to cheer her up on the holidays.  They’ll probably go skating, drink hot cocoa and do other obnoxious things that people always talk about doing around the holidays but never do in real life.

What the Book is Really About: If you read the Private series than you know that this is its shocking preview.  Sipping cocoa really is not the tone for this book.

Verdict: It’s okay.  Honestly, the book looks a lot more cheerful than it really is.

The Song: Let it Snow!

What the Cover Says to Me: The apocalypse has hit again. Now the dystopian society that are heroine, Balto, has lived in all her life has been destroyed.  Balto was at the top of her society that hurt the masses in the typical dystopian fashion.  But now she has to rely on the members of society that she abused for most of her life who are finally realizing that the ruling class that Balto is a member of are a bunch of dicks.  Will they throw her to the wolves, or will they help her survive the trip through the snow.

What the Book is Actually About: About a wolf obsessed girl who really needs help controlling her bestiality, but never actually gets it.

Verdict: Meh.  Honestly, I don’t know.  Sometimes its simplicity works, sometimes it doesn’t.

 

Carol: Winter Wonderland

What The Cover Says: It was a romance that obviously wouldn’t work.  She was an elf.  He was a snow person.  However, somehow they got together.  And despite the fact that if she actually wants to see him she has to be in an environment of 32 or below, Tinsel, is head over heels in love with Frost.  However, their relationship is put to the test when Santa wants to relocate the North Pole closer to the equator since their are no taxes in the island nation where he wants to build his new factory.

What the Book is Really About: Two college kids get stranded in his mom’s ski cabin during Xmas break.  They have lots of sex.

Verdict: It’s a pretty cover, but I really don’t get why his chest is bare if she’s wearing outerwear.

So Not a Pawn Star: Pawn by Aimee Carter

I have a love hate relationship with Aimee Carter books.

They always look so promising and then they disappoint.  Or at least that’s what happened with her Goddess series.  Pawn though, I just had to give it a chance.  I mean, that summary, I just had to check it out.

The results….well, there’s hope for this series.

To be honest, I liked Pawn a lot better than I liked the Goddess books, but it had its faults.  Faults I’ve seen with Carter’s other books that  have me a bit weary about its sequel, Captive.  However, I still think I’ll be giving it a chance since this one was pretty enjoyable if a bit cliche.

To summarize what the book is about, think Meg Cabot’s Airhead with your typical dystopia plot thrown in and bam you get Pawn.

For those who haven’t read Airhead, let’s just say that the main character gets an extreme, extreme makeover.  Much like Kitty does.  The dystopian elements in the story are very similar to Kiera Cass world in The Selection though the caste system actually has a little bit more impact than changing the characters’ love life.   That doesn’t mean I’m happy with how the romance is handled in this book, but I’ll get more into that in a minute.

I think for me, what worked for Pawn was its concept.  I have to say even though a lot of the twists and turns were similar to what you see in other novels, I still found the novel to be engaging enough.  However, at the end of the day there was just something off about it that makes me a bit weary about future installments.

As previously stated, unlike Kiera Cass series, Carter’s caste system actually serves a purpose here other than being an impediment to the protagonist’s love life.  However, the reasoning from the caste system was still faulty at best.  The explanation that Carter gave was very weak.  So, there was over population problems and the caste system was the result of it.  Never mind, that I really don’t think the majority of the population is going to go for that without revolting, but what do I and history know?  At least she didn’t use the China excuse.

Thank God for that.

And I’ll also give it to her for being a little gutsy and throwing in a virginity auction and on screen killing.  Though the virginity auction thing was a little 80’s romance cliche.

However, even though the book could be gritty at times it couldn’t hide its obvious faults.  Those faults revolving around the characters.

I’ll start with Kitty, since she’s the narrator and central protagonist to the story.  Maybe it’s because I’ve dealt with a Carter protagonist before, but Kitty really annoyed me.   Throughout the story, Kitty keeps telling the audience how she has street smarts.  But if she has street smarts than I must be freaking Michael Westen because man that girl is dumb.  She makes stupid choices.  Honestly, if she had any common sense half of the stuff that happened to her wouldn’t happen to her.  I mean, if I knew the cops were out to get me, I probably wouldn’t exactly be going to a club where my boyfriend told them I might be.  Let alone be in a virgin auction where government men hung out.

I actually was sort of excited to read her point of view too since it’s very rare that YA gives us a non-traditionally smart heroine.  I liked the fact that Kitty had dyslexia. I really wish that would’ve been utilized as well as ways that Kitty could’ve been able to adapt to her learning disability, but it was at best a plot point and an excuse to say, but I have street smarts when Kitty very obviously didn’t have street smarts.

It’s sort of the same thing with the love interest.  Or interests since I’m pretty sure that sooner or later this will develop into some sort of triangle.  Honestly, the three potential man-cessories really lack any sort of personality, save for maybe Knox.  Benjy (seriously, I keep thinking of that damn dog movie when I read that name) is only memorable for his long red hair an being apparently smart.  Though his interactions with Kitty are for the most part blah.  Then there’s Greyson (who obviously makes me think of Dick Grayson, though he lacks charisma and a guardian that has a bat cave) and he was merely there as some sort of bizarre plot point.   Really, I shouldn’t have expected much when it came to the romance department based on what I saw in Carter’s past books, but maybe I just wanted to be swooned a little is that too much to ask?  Either way, it seemed like it was more or less included because it was a requirement to have a relationship by Harlequin Teen.

If it was just for the characters, I might’ve been able to get over these faults because at least that was expected.  But to me, there was something a little bit more off: the pacing.  I think this is supposed to be a trilogy-I know that there’s at least going to be a sequel.  But holy heck, most of the issues were resolved by the end until we got a lame cliffie.

Okay, to be fair a there was a lot that wasn’t resolved, but the big bad seemed to be taken care of and it seemed like things were pretty much resolved till someone miraculously got their memory back.  And why did everyone know who Kitty was.

Why couldn’t there be any Kitty/Benjy angst like there was Em/Christopher angst in the Airhead series?  To be fair, Carter isn’t Meg Cabot who has panty melting in YA down to a science.  Seriously, if you nee a book series to swoon over check out The Mediator series.  Anyway, do we get any of that heartbreaking angst that you saw in the Cabot series.  Nope because Benjy pretty much finds out his honey is alive halfway through and their reunion was…well, less emotional than a Hallmark commercial or even that Kay’s Jewelry commercial where he proposes to her in the store.

Seriously, dude the only lamer place to propose is on a talk show when you’re finding out if your really your baby’s baby daddy.

Maybe I’m wrong for expecting something more.  But when you have such a high concept book like this, I just expect a strong execution.  I’m not saying that Pawn is a bad book.  Compared to Carter’s other books, I think it’s probably her best book up to date.  But compared to other books in the genre, it’s just meh.  Stronger characters, smarter pacing, and maybe deeper world building would’ve helped Pawn’s cause.  But hey, it’s better than The Selection at least we’re not blaming China for the end of the world.

Overall Rating: Six out of ten (B-/C+)

Tuning In: Not Freddie (Witches of East End)

This episode is actually called “Snake Eyes” which isn’t such a bad title, I just want to have a bit of a PSA here for Lifetime, do NOT bring the character Freddie on to the series unless you heavily revamp him.  Because he sucks as a character…that being said, let’s review this episode, which was fairly good save for many anvil hints about that boob of a character, better known as Freddie.

The first scene starts in the bar where Freya is serving breakfast-in a bar.  That doesn’t serve food  Just drinks round the clock.  She’s talking to Ingrid who is back to wearing horrible cardigans-this one an orange/pink  one.  Seriously, Lifetime the actress who plays Ingrid is very pretty but she’s a redhead.  Redheads for the most part do not wear pink.

Oh, God, there’s are lame villain whose name I still don’t remember making some spell which will of course affect the entire episode since the credits flash after her smirk.

Jo tells Wendy that she kept the serpent amulet thing.  Wendy being the only responsible one tells Jo that she’s stupid.  We find out that the serpent is a portal key.  To Asgard of all places.  Funny thing, none of these characters seem to know what Asgard is.  Obviously, they have never seen Thor and therefore are missing out on life.  Seriously, as a former DC purist, I was really missing something until I watched the first Thor on a dare.  Now, I love that movie and Marvel for that matter.  Though I’m still not a Hulk fan for the most part and Batman could probably kick most of their asses anytime becuase well…he’s Batman.

OOh, the library.  Where people check out books.  Well, not this library.  They just check you out and gossip.  If my librarian did that, I’d be pissed.  I mean, I talk to the librarians if I want a book not to talk about hot and not hot patrons.  Mike, Not Andy replacement, is obviously going to be Ingrid’s new squeeze and is doing book research on witches and Asgard.  Once again, someone show him that movie.

Freya is being bitchy to Killian, enough said.  Really, I find all her parts to be eye roll worthy.  You know I’ve read and watched plenty of love triangles, but this one really does remind me of something you’d see on a bad love triangle.  Even that stupid Robin/Patrick/Sabrina triangle that currently is going on General Hospital is better than this.  And we all know Patrick is going to pick Robin as soon as he realizes she’s alive.  Just like Freya will probably pick the bartender because he’s hot and there’s been so much build up between the two of them.  Not actual buildup though, but sexual tension buildup which means when they actually get together it’s going to be awkward.

Wendy visits Jo in her studio where she’s painting Georgia O’Keffe like paintings.  I have no words, except this is the appropriate network for them.  They talk about how the portal and how Wendy knows Joanna wants to bring back him (more about this later in a mini rant).  Jo is all mopey and has to go to the bathroom or whatever and somehow Wendy is stupid enough to get that amulet thing on her wrist.

Back to the library, Ingrid’s stupid friend talks about how Ingrid got her pregnant with that stupid spell.  This is really pretty much useless much like the next scene with Freya and Killian where Killian tells Freya he dumped his girlfriend.  During all this lameness, Freya gets delivered some what we find out to be deadly-ish flowers and the big bad decides to show up.

Welcome to Evil Wendy, the serpent seems to be controlling you.  Plan to roll and groan during this whole sequence.  Especially when they talk about Freddie who was one of the lamest (if not the lamest) character in the series.  Seriously, this is a character that’s stupid enough to sign a contract in blood without even reading the damn thing.  What’s next, Lifetime, are you going to bring in those stupid pixies?

Please say no, please say no, please say no……

Freya passes out and is taking back to the Big Bad’s lair where she’s given some tea. And since Freya is the show’s Disney princess, she drinks it.  Obviously, there are consequences.  And at this point I wonder why I even bother with this stupid show.

Ingrid’s at the library and bonds with New Not Andy they talk about his work and her work.  All I really know is that they really need to not focus on having Ingrid in a relationship at this point.  I think it would do wonders for her character, if they developed her as a single woman instead of trying to force all these guys down the viewers throat.  And maybe, she could get a makeover when she’s having some me time.  Seriously, the hair and cardigans are horrible this episode.  And it’s sort of sad because the actress  is pretty and some of the outfits she wears has redeemable features.

Man, Wendy is really giving it to Jo.  I wouldn’t mind so much if it wasn’t the constant mentioning of Freddie and now Jo’s husband.  I really was hoping those two characters were gone.  I liked Jo with hot lawyer guy.  They should’ve kept him.

Back to the library, Ingrid gets schooled on Asgard.  And I just have to once again laugh at her ineptness of not ever seeing Thor.  Or even flipping on the TV and seeing the trailer of the film which undoubtedly mentions Asgard.  Man, if Lifetime actually does decide to go to Asgard, I have a feeling it’s going to be hilariously bad.

While Jo is trying to battle Evil Wendy, the Big Bad sucks out Freya’s soul…er magic.  Dash dashes (ha, ha, bad pun) right before she gets to the soul sucking dementor stage and saves her life and they make up.  Only catch is Freya can’t use her magic now.

Jo eventually gets the upper hand on Wendy and she becomes de-brainwashed just as teh girls come home.  Ingrid tells her mother about Asgard, Jo freaks out but really doesn’t tell her anything.  Seriously, when will she ever learn.  And of course, all attention turns to Freya when she comes home and says her magic is gone.

At this point I’m just annoyed.  There were lots of nice things about this episode.  But I just feel like the pacing on this show is messed up.  Things are dragging.  I could care less about the twenty minute circle-go-round conversations involving Freddie.  And once again, I’m going to reiterate that I hope Lifetime does not go there.  Up until this point, most of the changes they have made have actually been on the smart side.  I enjoyed the insertion of Wendy, the killing of Not Andy, and the deaging of Jo.  But Freddie, really?  Well, I got over Bram being named Dash (well, sort of).  Both are stupid names.  Just like I’m pretty sure Freddie will be dumb in this incarnation, if he should appear, too.

Overall Rating: C+

Howdy!

DSC00309

The site’s mascot.  Well, sort of.

Welcome,

I finally made the WordPress move after many months and frustrations.  I did it.  Most of the content from the other site(s) is here.  Though a few things might have gotten deleted. A review archive page has been set up (Storage Unit) and I have categorized post to hopefully make them easier to find-if you’re looking for a random essay it’s probably under randomness.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy,
MJ

Unchained: J. Lynn (Jennifer L Armentrout)

 

If I had to nitpick at Jennifer L Armentrout (or in this case J Lynn’s) writing it would be that I’ve sort of seen what she’s writing before.

Don’t give me wrong, I for the most part, love her stuff.  I think she creates awesome characters and pretty interesting plots, but those plots.  Yeah, been there done that.

Unchained is no exception to this norm.  It has wonderful characters but the plot is a bit of a snore.  Let’s discuss shall we.

1) It involves Nephilims.

You can insert groaning right there.  For me I don’t mind Nephilims for the most part.  I think if done right a Nephilim book can be an interesting concept.  But to do it correctly you have to have a lot of originality.  And a lot of time that just doesn’t happen.  Here, the Nephilim idea isn’t really ever that fully developed and while the basic idea sounded sort of cool it sort of fell flat.

2) We have a Spunky!  special badass heroine.

Okay, I personally like tough girl characters.  But hearing about how some Amy Adams look alike can kick butt for the seventeenth million times.  And for that matter, I have a difficult time believing a 5’3 girl can kick a 6’6 foot guys ass.

 

I’m 5’4.  I carry pepper spray with me because I know I won’t be able to kick butt like Phoebe Halliwell.  I have given up on those fantasies.  Alas, Jennifer L Armentrout has not.

3) She’s in love with a “bad guy”.

Speaking of Phoebe Halliwell, the relationship between Lily and Julian reminded me of the relationship of Phoebe and Cole-save for the fact Julian hasn’t gone crazy yet and Lily hasn’t turned into a total bitch.  That was probably my favorite thing about this book was this dynamic.  Yes, it was a cliche.  But I was able to get Phole again-well, a book version of Phoe and it also helped that I imagine Julian looking a bit like Chris Hemsworth and that’s always helpful.

4) Their relationship is forbidden.

Yes, we get to hear this old garbage again.  What’s really ridiculous is that Lily’s an adult.  She should just tell her pseudo family/coworkers to shove it and screw who she likes.  But for drama’s sake, this has to be an issue.  Once again, this is just to pigeon hole into the usual angel book formula and it’s something that Armentrout should avoid becuase really if it wasn’t for the cliches she probably would be getting fan girled over right now.

5) Having sex will destroy the world (or something).

Seriously, why is this always an issue?

Why does sex always have to cause nasty side effects in these sort of books.  If the characters have safe sex then they should be allowed to have sex if they want to with no supernatural consequences.

Thank you, Stephenie Meyer for making this an annoying trope in the paranormal genre.  Though it can probably be traced back to someone else, but you created the original demon baby, so you’re getting faulted here.

6)Our heroine  has a tragic backstory and there’s some added mystery to it to give her an edge.

Dead families=instant sympathy=instant groan for me.

Really, what’s wrong giving a paranormal slightly dysfunctional family.

7) She has an ABC Family family.

And I’m not talking about the makeshift ABC Family we have here where everyone that’s not your family is your family.  That doesn’t count.  Especially when you know half of that family is screwing you (sometimes even literally, not here thankfully though).

8) Everyone in the world wants her gone.

Ten million bad guys and they all have their death ray on Lily.  Is it that much to ask that she’s not the main target.  All the freaking time.

Some bad ass bad angel fighter you.  Then again, you look like Amy Adams.

9) She and the hero having amazing sex the first time they do it-despite almost destroying the world.

Why are the first times always great in these books.  I get it happens like this in every romance novel especially if you add the supernatural element that gives the perfect love like quality.  But it gets annoying and fast.  I also can barely tolerate Armentrout’s sex scenes.  It’s not like they’re extremely graphic or anything, but I hate how she describes everyone’s anatomy as sex and it just oozes cheese and… if you can’t use penis or vagina then you have no business writing about it.

10) The main character is judgmental, but instead of getting called on it, the hot bad guy just shrugs.

Yeah, I always hate those endings in YA/NA/PNR books where the MC’s get away with being a total tool to the hero.  It happens here.  All I have to say is why, why?

I’m giving this an average rating.  I didn’t hate this book by any means, but it didn’t wow me.  I’ll soon forget about it.   This wasn’t the worst Armentrout book I’ve ever read, but it wasn’t her best by any means either.

The Bride Wore Size 12: Meg Cabot

I needed to be cheered up a little bit this week and luckily for me Meg Cabot had a new book out.

I’ll admit it, one of the reasons I am still a Cabot fan to this day is you can’t help but smile when you read her work.  Even the worst book I’ve read by her still makes me crack a smile.

I’ll have to say after the last installment I was sort of skeptical about this one.
It wasn’t that I hated the last book, it was just that…well, I could care less about hearing songs about drinking period blood. In other words, some of the jokes were just a bit immature for my taste.
Luckily, this one upped the ante and I was pleasantly surprised.  Yes, there were still quite a few immature moments, but they didn’t make up the majority of the book.  I have to say, it helped that two of the biggest offenders on the immaturity were relegated to only twenty or thirty or so pages in this book.  And thank God, it was no longer the Tania Trace show.
The story goes back to where it should be about: Heather being Heather and Cooper being hot as ever. Though I  will say, I wish he could’ve been in the book more.  But when he did appear, he and Heather.  Well, they’re perfect together.
It’s weird, I’ve been reading Meg Cabot books since I was thirteen an I still haven’t found anyone who can right as good as fluff as she can.  Oh, there are some contenders, but when Cabot is on she is on.  And she’s on here.  Even though Heather and Cooper have been together for two books now, their interactions are still great and Cabot doesn’t have them just be purely physical like other authors go towards once the ship gets a sailing.  You still sense the chemistry between these two when they interact and that’s something that is ridiculously hard to do.
I also liked the plot in this one.  The mystery, though pretty standard, still was engaging enough and I liked the fact that it involved a prince.  It was almost a throwback to Cabot’s famous Princess Diaries series, but Mia wasn’t there.  Man, I wish she would transfer to New York College though, I could only imagine her freaking out about the various deaths that went on in the dorm.  Then again, I doubt Phillipe Renaldo probably would allow his daughter to live in a dorm where multiple murders have been committed.
Though we do get a cameo appearance from another beloved Cabot character which had me squeal in glee.  Grant it, it was only a line or two.
I really do feel that as far as character development goes that Heather has evolved as a character.  She did develop a backbone here and it was sort of refreshing.  Though I really didn’t see any purpose for her mother except for shock value.  That whole subplot just didn’t work for me, but it was really insignificant enough where you could just sort of shrug it off.
What my biggest issue with this-really with a lot of Cabot’s writing is that sometimes she can sound a bit like a PSA.  Let me be honest, the information that she does talk about is very helpful and people should know it.  But sometimes trying to put this information in fiction doesn’t work.  Like the situation that they’re talking about, I really don’t think it was necessary for the characters to talk into such detail about some things when the character hadn’t even talked to her own husband about it.  I think just leaving it at you have options would’ve been enough.  Going into more details and you sort of polarize about half of your audience.
It’s not expected though, for  me at least.  Being a self declared Cabot fan girl I’ve seen this quirk of hers before.  Most notably in her book Ready or Not which is really just one big PSA about safe sex in a book.  However, unlike Ready or Not, The Bride Who Size 12 is saved because it has a plot besides these messages and it’s really, really, good.
Overall: This book is good fluffy fun.  Yes, there were a few bits and pieces of it that annoyed me, but it was a far improvement from the previous installment of the series and I can recommend it to Cabot fans and fluff fans with little reservations.  Eight out of Ten bouquets

PSA Time: How GoodReads Contradicts Everything I Learned in Literary Studies

A lot of you read this blog because you are friends with me on GoodReads.  Heck, I get more feedback about the blog from that website than I do on the actual blog.  But I’ll be distancing myself from the site.  That doesn’t mean I’ll be gone, but due to recent policy changes I will be posting full reviews only on the blog and on Booklikes.

What policy changes are these?

Well, to put it bluntly GoodReads is now deleting shelves and reviews that aren’t about the contents of book.  Well, sort of.  To put it more precisely they’re deleting anything that regards bad author behavior.  If you five star a book because OMG it’s the bestest most awesomest author ever and give it five stars, you’re probably okay.

Look, I get it, GoodReads you’re involved with Amazon now and want to sell books especially books that are published via Amazon.  Which sad to say a lot of the bad author behavior derives from self pubs who publish a lot of the time through only Amazon.  But at the same time, the site has been marketed since it’s introduction as a site for readers.  And to tell me I can’t review a book based on author behavior is making me question my English degree since about seventy-five percent of the term papers I wrote had to do with authors and their views on society.

Also, I guess it would make my senior thesis on female empowerment in literature invalid too since I cited Charlotte Bronte’s comments on Jane Austen.  OMG Charlotte Bronte’s talking about the actual author got to delete that review.

But author behavior isn’t related to books you claim….

Well, put it through this perspective would you hire a painter to paint your house who cussed out your friend, told them that they didn’t know what they were talking about when said friend claimed they didn’t like the job they did.

Heck no.

Said friend would probably call their superior or at least leave a scathing review on Angie’s List or whatever and that would be fine.  In fact, if there was a superior it probably would be appreciated for improvement purposes.

Case in point, in March I had a terrible experience at a local Starbucks.  The barista was downright rude to me.  She claimed they were out of a syrup when the syrup was right in front of her.  And proceeded to act like I was stupid when I asked her to add extra hazelnut syrup in my mocha.   I called the company about that.  And you know what, calling to complain about a bad employee was just as valid as complaining about a bad cup of coffee.  So much, I got three free beverages from the company.  And yeah, I continue to buy coffee from Starbucks today.

The point I’m trying to make here, is authors do play a role in how we view there books and that extends to their behavior outside of the book.  Look at literary theory.  The postmodern trend is towards new historicism which looks at outside interferences of the work.  Current events, the author’s life, figures in their life, etc. are all fair game when it comes to analyzing the book.   The fat that the author can’t take criticism is actually a valid point when analyzing work in the academic setting.  Not to mention in the consumer setting, you sort of want to know what your’e getting into especially if you’re a young  blogger who doesn’t want to get harassed.

And really how can you not review the author?  When I review I don’t judge the writer I’m reviewing but I do notice their quirks.  Case in point, Meg Cabot loves to use quirky protagonists from the midwest.  Jennifer L Armentrout (who has an awesome article on some other policies GR has decided to enact)  likes to have a tough girl main character.  Tera Lynn Childs is the queen of fluff.  PC and Kristin Cast like using tropes to the max degree and then some.  I feel like these are the sorts of things that should be mentioned in a review and how the author utilizes their quirks in their latest project.

And yes, I get marking a book on a list for author behavior and then writing something like: I’m not going to read this book  by Meanie Author because she harassed reviewers, has horrible grammar, it’s p2p fiction, and spams people isn’t the same thing as calling out author quirks, but as I stated before these reviews serve a purpose for the person shelving the book and as an advisory notice for someone who might not want to read a book.  And it’s also used as a cataloging tool too.

Furthermore, I hate the fact that there are some people claiming that think reviewing a book like this is slander or libel or any sort of defamation.  First of all, slander is spoken not written.  And then…..you know what, I’m not even going to get into a discussion of what libel is for dummies.  Internet lawyers just need to go to law school if they want to discuss the law.  I’m sure that their torts professor will terrorize them and then some and then they’ll shut up.

Anyway, I’ve said my peace and am getting off my soapbox now.  Harriet Klausner just needs to come over already and become GR’s number one reader because that, my friends, is where the site is headed.

Patty Beagle Presents: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz

Hi, my name is Patricia “Patty” Cakes Beagle.  I’m the cutest puppy in the universe.  My favorite color is orange and I like to eat table scraps all day long when not rolling in something stinky/biting my owner’s feet.  I am also a voracious reader-yes, I’m literate.   You see, I wear reading glasses and my owner let’s me listen to audio books.

She’s also letting me review this book called Frozen because she said it wouldn’t be right if she reviewed it because it would be like kicking a puppy and I can review it without repercussions  ’cause I am  a puppy.

Okay, so I suppose I should start out this review with a brief summary about the book because that’s more difficult than it seems because even I couldn’t figure out what hte book was about without reading the back jacket.  Basically there’s this girl who’s hiding out because she’s different and she meets this hot guy and they eat bacon fruit together while going on Peter Pan’s Flight at the Magic Kingdom.  
 
 
OOOH, bacon fruit.  You know how we dogs get around bacon.
 
I love bacon.  The idea of bacon being in fruit intrigues me.  But it better not be grapes since I have to go to that evil man with the bushy eyebrows if that’s the case.  He pumped my stomach the other year when I ate a whole bag of chocolate.
 
I still have bad memories about that.  I mean, Valentine’s Day you’re supposed to share your candy, MJ.  And you should tell your friends to give you stuff that’s not going to make me have to see bushy eyebrows man.
 
Some owners suck.
 
Okay, back to the book.  Despite the fact it has this amazing bacon fruit, the rest is really a downer and I can’t make much sense of it.  So there are these two characters, Wes and Nat, who think they’re like hot stuff.  They say it all the time.  But they’re not.  I’m hot stuff, I’m cute.  I know what cute is.  They aren’t. I don’t go around telling people how sexy I am, instead I exhibit my cuteness in daily activities like barking.
 
I don’t even know why they’re in love.  Seriously, my parents relationship made more sense then there’s and I was bred for show.  That should tell you everything you need to know about Wet’s chemistry.  And Nat can sort of turn into an animal (I think) that’s sort of bad-animals aren’t supposed to be touched that way by humans.  But I guess since that wolf guy on Twilight got with Bella (sort of) it’s okay.
 
No, I don’t think so still a little disturbing especially since the creature’s voice is in her head and she’s like crazy Bliss Llewllyn but it’s a dragon not Lucifer that’s in her head (still creepy). 
 
Oh God, Bliss Llewllyn.  The beginning of Melissa de la Cruz’s destruction (my owner told me to put that in here).  I’m supposed to tell you about how Wolf Pact was the beginning of the obvious fall from grace from de la Cruz.  Though really the Blue Bloods series started declining after the fourth book and her last few books-non Blue Bloods related have sort of sucked too which is whyFrozen was MJ’s last shot in continuing her favorite buy me automatically relationship with Melissa de la Cruz.
 
Yeah, needless to say MJ is distraught right now.  Hence why I’m reviewing, bitches.
 
Ha!  Ha!  That’s actually funny because I’m a bitch.
 
It’s dog humor. I don’t expect you lame humans to get it.
 
Let me continue with the book.  Oh, the world building.  I couldn’t tell you what the heck was going on.  Things were just sort of thrown at you.  I think it was supposed to be like if Tank Girl and Peter Pan had a baby and it mutated with YA dystopia, but with better hair.
 
That’s really the only way I can describe it.  
 
The book is just really a weird piece of shit.  The grammar was awful and MJ thinks it was done on purposes.  It starts off with a weird prologue where the writer looks like they know nothing about comma rules.  Having read enough fan fiction, MJ was able to put on her filter pretty quick and read.  But it still was jarring.  She’d rather not blame the newbie author in this (de la Cruz’s husband who ghostwrote/created the Blue Bloods series because that’s not fair), but these mistakes were something that one with an MFA should be able to pick up on quite easily.  There were also some paragraphs where multiple lines of dialogue by multiple characters were listed.  Once again, bad choice of style, or were the Penguin staff eating too many Twinkies when editing this one.
 
I mean, a dog sees these errors.
 
A dog.
 
A purebred Beagle, but still a dog.
 
For all you “fans” of tropes get ready to be delighted there’s big info dumps, big insta love, and big slut slamming, all thrown into one full fun book.  
 
MJ used to praise de la Cruz for her world builidng, now it’s on the same level as PC and Kristin Cast.
 
The insta love was ridiculous.  It was one thing with Jack and Schuyler because there was build up and an explanation for the attraction but here.  Stupid……and the romance……god it reminded MJ of a bad Bollywood movie but with worse actors so you don’t even get the fun there.  And Wet as I said before no chemistry.  They’re pretty people, but once again I’m cuter.
 
Then there’s the slut slamming.  MJ told me she got to read this little gem in the book and I had to quote it because it made her blood pressure go up about ten points when she read it.
 

“It’s a miracle you passed the STD monitors-not with those girls from Ho Ho City!” de la Cruz and Johnston (Frozen, 80).

Not to mention they’ve never watched Carmen Sandiego to know the basic principles of geography-the Arctic Ocean isn’t off of the coast of California.  This really pisses off MJ because she was a dedicated viewer who always wanted to be on that show but didn’t get on it because it got canceled and all she got for her efforts was first runner up at her school’s geography bee.  Sucky prize for knowing where Maine and Washington are on the map.

 
Was anything good about this book, besides it being a good chew toy?

That wasn’t the only thing you had to suspend reality.  Several things about the Earth just didn’t make sense to someone like my owner who has an interest in the environment and has actually worked on environmental issues.  Plus, a lot of the things like the use of petroleum conflicted with what was said ten pages earlier.

At a certain point MJ just didn’t care anymore and started throwing me treats.

I liked that.

A lot.

Well, it’s not as horrid as Winds of Salem in some regards and the idea wasn’t bad.  The cover was gorgeous even though I had seen girl lying down with something covering parts of her head several times already in book published by de la Cruz.  My owner is really fed up though and is giving this book two stars on her own rating system, a half star on Booklikes, and one star on GoodReads.  I liked it though because of the treats.

But it sucks for you, peeps. 

Thanks you,

Patricia C. Beagle

P.S. You all agree that I’m like the cutest ever, right?

 

Love Triangles That Fail to Impress

My challenge question on GoodReads for a long time was what trope annoys you the most.  A good chunk of people answered love triangles.  And you know what, I don’t blame them even though I don’t exactly hate love triangles.

When they’re done right.
Which is almost never with very few exceptions.
However, some of these love triangles are more obnoxious than others.  And in a way that’s a good thing because at least they’re sort of memorable.  Sort of being the operative word, but because their so offensive you want to either throw your book or Kindle at the wall and that’s never a good thing for the wall, book, or Kindle.  So let’s discuss some of these travesties shall we.  Note, there will be spoilers so if you haven’t read these books and don’t want the ending to be ruined for you don’t read:
5)Michael/Mia/JP (The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot):

This triangle isn’t horrible.  But it was soooooooo necessary.  And to be honest sort of predictable.  I remember before the last book came out I thought Meg might throw in a curveball and make JP Mia’s guy.  I was actually a JP fan.

And it wasn’t because I hated Michael. I  just thought that he needed a girlfriend who was a little bit mature and wasn’t so overly neurotic.  Though I really was a bit annoyed with him without telling his virginity obsessed girlfriend back in book six that yeah…he wasn’t a virgin.  You know for health purposes.  But whatever.  He’s human, he makes mistakes that you can sort of forgive given the fact that Meg describes him as looking like Christian Bale in the last book.

Interesting to note, Christian Bale played Batman.  Anne Hathaway played Catwoman and she also played Princess Mia.  So Michael and Mia do end up together in the movie-verse-sort of even though that abomination The Princess Diaries 2 let’s us believe Mia ended up with that Nick jerk.  Instead, Mia just gave up the princess gig to become a thief and Michael became Batman.

Okay, me being a movie geek aside this triangle just didn’t work because JP was never a believable love interest.  He was just sort of there.  Maybe if there would’ve been a couple of books with those two actually together and being quasi cute the triangle actually would’ve worked here instead of making me  think the opposite was going to happen because the inevitable was just too easy.
 
4) Bram/Freya/Killian (The Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz):

Oh God.

I was almost tempted to put this one as the worst triangle I ever read, but I put something else there that I think inspired this one to exist.

In the first book this triangle was annoying, but I got it’s purpose.  However, the storyline ended there.  Or so we thought till the very last thirty pages of what I’m presuming is the last book of the series.

WTF.

This series, people, can give great insight in what to NOT do when it comes to pacing in relationships.

Oh, and why people want to be with other people.

Really, I get that Loki is hot and that ton of fan girls have wrote tons of fanfiction where he can be redeemed, but your Loki de la Cruz is no Tom Hiddleston and those fan fics have better redemption arcs than your Loki had.
 
3) Edward/Bella/Jake (The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer):

Yeah, this one is on here.  Mainly because helped make love triangles the norm in these books.  To be honest, while the Edward/Bella/Jake triangle is bad.  It’s not the worse one I’ve read.  Or at least it wasn’t that bad until the triangle is resolved because Jake falls in love with Bella’s daughter.

Who does he think he is, Woody Allen?

And seriously, that whole scene in the movie with him salivating over the baby.  I think Taylor Lautner is never going to escape that.

Perhaps, he should just go for roles of being the sleazy werewolf next door for Lifetime.

I could totally see it The Werewolf Next Door: After divorcing her husband, Bella and Nessie move next door to Uncle Jake who begins dating Bella…but his eyes are always lingering on Nessie.  Until one day Nessie is gone….who has taken her?  Obviously, not the creepy uncle that constantly stares at Nessie.  It must of been Mike Newton.

Side note, I actually might get behind P2P fiction if the stories were actually like this instead of broken Bella falling in love again in high school.  Reality mixed with melodrama people, it sells for me at least.  Oh wait, P2P is unethical and I could never get behind that even if it did involve a creepy Jake getting his ass kicked my retired secret super SHIELD agent Charlie Swan who pretended to be a dumb cop for so many years just to figure out what the heck is going on in Forks (damn it, I ruined the ending).

 
2) Aspen/America/Maxon (The Selection by Kiera Cass):
I put this one on here mainly because it is the perfect example of what a lame triangle is.  While one relationship is sort of developed-through insta love, but still developed.  The other is really given no attention except for conflict purposes.  I really don’t even understand why there is a Team Aspen at this point when there has been little America/Aspen interaction except for him to act like a big asshole, so that Maxon looks a bit more bearable.
Once again, a favorite tactic for those who use love triangles make  the other guy look like a huge asshole so that the winner looks a little bit more bearable in the reader’s eyes.  Sometimes this works, but most of the time it doesn’t.  It’s actually a tactic that I think a lot of these YA authors got from soap operas.  Take for example the current love triangle of Kiki (formerly known as Starr Manning)/Michael/ Morgan.  Kiki and Michael are the couple we’re supposed to be rooting for, so in order for them to get off of their internal lust and Michael stealing his brother’s girl, they have Morgan cheat on Kiki with her mother.
Yes, I know that the triangle in The Selection trilogy doesn’t involve brothers (that we know of), but it’s the same thing.  And as much as I enjoy soap operas, who really wants their book to be like a soap opera?
Unless, you know, you want to do melodrama on purpose.  But let’s face it most of the melodrama/roll your eye moments in YA are not done on purpose.
1) Will/Tessa/Jem (The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare):
 
Yes, I put this triangle to be my number one most offensive triangle mainly because it started a new trend that I call Marie Antoinette got to have her cake and eat it too.
Seriously.  I don’t get how Tessa comes out smelling like a rose in all of this. And yeah, I know Will had been dead for several years before it’s heavily implied that one day in the near future Tessa and Jem will be doing the nasty…..but

But…

She married Will.  Who she got together with when she was basically with Jem.  Okay, so she thought he was dead.  But still grief sex.

And no one gets mad at her.

Ever.

Which just makes me want to slam my head into something because you know that would so not happen in real life.

And reconfirms the fact that love triangles are primarily used to make the reader know how special the Miss Little Special Snowflake Sue really is.

Olivia Twisted: Vivi Barnes

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Netgalley this has not effected my review of the book.  However, it does make me love Netgalley and Entangled publishing a bit more. 

Have you ever seen Blackadder Back and Forth?

If you haven’t you’re really missing out.  This book made me flashback to a particular scene in my favorite New Year’s special.  In the special Blackadder gives a beat down to Shakespeare for writing King Lear or course he later learns the errors of his ways when Shakespeare stops writing all together and history is changed…but just to have the revenge on an author who spited you because your English teacher tried to teach you about culture by making you read the entire book and test you on odd little quotes so that you couldn’t use cliff notes and had to suffer through the entire book….Well, this book has it’s revenge on Charles Dickens.

Ah, yes, Charles Dickens writer of Victorian melodrama that was written to pave the way for social change.  And if you don’t know shit about Dickens you’ve probably seen The Christmas Carol in one of its various incarnations and want to tell Tiny Tim to just shove it…Blackadder sort of mocked this too in its Christmas special and it’s another reason why that show is probably my favorite British comedy of all time.
 
That aside, his work really doesn’t seem like it should be YA retelling material.  I mean, social poverty, illiteracy, kids working in factories, crazy old ladies in wedding dresses….how can you possibly turn that into teen angst involving insta love, bad boys, and main characters whose stupidity makes them deck worthy.
 
Well, just ask Vivi Barnes.
 
For the sake of this review and your reading experience, I’m going to try to view this book as a revenge against Dickens.  It makes reading the book actually easier because it makes some of the alterations easier to handle and the YA tropes that emerge almost funny.  Because come on….if you’ve read Great Expectations you’d sort of want revenge on Dickens.
 
Or maybe not.  I actually do know a lot of Dickens fans and, well, Dickens fans you can have him.
 
To be fair, I think Barnes had some good ideas going into this adaption.  I liked the whole hacker angle.  It sort of worked, but it went a little too extreme.  And that, I think, was a big problem with this book besides the handling of sensitive issues, but more rants about that later.
 
It just seems like these kids can hack into any system and poof….their problems instantly disappear.  No one ever questions the changes they make.  One particular case I can think of off of the top of my head is the creepy foster dad.  That is easily resolved because the kids hacked into the police system.  Not because our main character did the logical thing….turn the pervy DVD that creep-o foster daddy took of her taking her clothes off to the police like a sane person would do. Or for that matter, have her teacher manually check her grades when her love douche interest changes her A to a C.
 
Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with the non-hackers in this world?  They have about the idiocy level of those people in Doomed (and don’t get me started on that book because….yeah, it sucked ass).
 
And it just didn’t extend to technology it extended to all aspects of this book.  To the level of being offensive.  I’ll just state now if I still had the appropriateness category in my reviews, this book would be getting a big F.
 
One of the most offensive things I find possible in the genre is when sexual assault or issues with sexual assault are handled inappropriately.  While I don’t like YA books to be a PSA, these are issues that when talked about need to be talked about appropriately.  Let’s face it, there is such misconstrued information out there for people who have been sexually assaulted.  Look at the U.S. 2012 election if you need any more proof.  If the topic is brought up in a YA book it should be a good place to explain the issues surrounding being assaulted and give the reader an idea of what to do.  And it can be done without being overly preachy.  Here, it’s not done at all.  And God, the character is assaulted several times where I just want to scream.
 
1) She’s drugged and no one does anything but takes her home.  No hospital.  Never mind that date rape drugs can kill someone.  Just dump your friend at home and she should be okay after sleeping it off.  Oh, and don’t call the cops…cause people just don’t do that.
 
 
Rage mode yet, it gets better.
 
2) Creepy Pervy Foster Dad: Yes, we decide to go the good old bad foster daddy root.  And while there have been some cases with abusive foster parents, for the most part this doesn’t happen.  But when we find out our main characters back story we learn that this isn’t the first time she’s been abused.
 
Fucking seriously.  If that was the case, she’d be getting some therapy and the case worker would be working her ass off to make sure it didn’t happen a freaking third time.
 
Honestly, the whole foster parents situation reminded me of that movie It Takes Two- an Olsen twin shit fest that my childhood best friend coerced me to view at her birthday party.
 
I remember ripping off her Barbie’s head in revenge.
 
The Olsen twins make people do strange things.
 
3) When she finds out that bad foster daddy has a secret nasty DVD of her she doesn’t go to the police. Or drunk foster mother.  Instead, she just holes up in her room until now drunk bad foster daddy almost attacks her….and then doesn’t do anything.
 
Nothing.
 
Except, well, hack him because she doesn’t have enough evidence to put bad foster daddy away in jail.
 
YOU HAVE A DVD THAT HE TOOK OF YOU NAKED AND ARE A MINOR.
 
So what little life lesson does this teach us if one is assaulted?  Does one call the police/ask help according to this book.
 
No.
 
And again, I get it’s not a PSA but come on.  Some of these things could’ve been handled better.  I can suspend some logic, but not the amounts of logic that this book wants me to suspend for it.
 
Like how everyone had a long lost rich relative.  Olivia I expected so much, but Z or Jack (since that’s his real name).  And why not ever tie up that loose end…we certainly did have to learn how everyone got into Princeton at the end even though….you know what I just need to create a meme where you throw logic out the window.  Oh, wait everyone went to Princeton inACinderella Story.  And Hillary Duff movies are always an exemplary source of logic.
 
And oh yeah, we went with Jack the most cliche YA hero name ever. Or for really any romance novel hero’s name.
 
I know by this point you probably think I’m  just bitching and perhaps I am, but there was so much potential here.  I even ignored the numerous errors in this book that made it almost unreadable-to be fair it was an ARC and hopefully it will be cleaned up but when I stare at a page for thirty seconds trying to figure out what the author is saying I just get annoyed.
 
The characters aren’t well fleshed out either.  Olivia and Z/Jack are cliche as they come.  Olivia of course is that not so pretty new girl Bella type and Z/Jack is the mysterious Edward type that just happens to break anyone’s nose every time his girlfriend sneezes even though he’s really a horrible person.
 
The plot follows Oliver Twist enough, I guess.  But the spirit of Dickens is long lost.  While Dickens brought up social issues in a melodramatic way that actually worked and brought interest to the subject matter, Barnes melodrama is better suited for Lifetime.  Also, the plot seemed be lost a lot of the time so that the romance could be thrown in our face.  Honestly, I thought the villains were pretty weak because we had to read so many scenes about Olivia New Moon-ing it up with Z/Jack.
 
To sum it up, it’s by far not the worst book I’ve ever read.  A lot of people are going to enjoy it.  And you know what, that’s fine.  Perfectly fine.  I just felt the over use of YA cliches, couple that with the improper handling of sensitive issues, with bland characters, quoting the movie instead of the book, and an already difficult book to retell in a modern YA setting, it just didn’t work for me at least.
 
Overall Rating: Three out of ten.