Editorial: Is Romance in YA Really Necessary?

I’ll be the first to admit I like shipping and I read a lot of books for the romance.  I know I complain a lot about how romance is handled in YA, but I do like getting feels and reading fluff.  That being said, I think some books are better without romance.  And I thought I’d talk today about when romance should be off the table in YA.  And recommend some non-ship central books as well as discuss books that might’ve been better-say had there not been a hot and heavy ship.

When Romance Should Be Avoided:

1) When the Character Is Dealing With a Life Crisis:

Okay, yes, sometimes I wish these girls or guys would find their OTL, BUT when you deal with a life crisis romance isn’t what you’re going to be looking for and it sort of drives away from the story.  I feel like in stories that deal with these events it’s important to explore character development more than romance.  And if you include a romance, well, it’s just going to detract from said development.  And the romance feels out of place.  So, not only does it detract me from the story but in the end it makes me NOT like the ship.

2) When the Character is a “Young” Teen:

When a character reads young, sometimes the romance just freaks me out.  This character just doesn’t seem ready for a long term relationship or any relationship really.  I have the same feelings with middle grade books as well when they include romance.  Luckily, this rarely occurs in middle grade or if it does the romance is handled at a more appropriate level than YA where I feel like the character is getting way over her head.  I get it, teens mature at different rates, but it seems like often in YA their love lives all mature at the same levels.

3) When the Character is Saving the World, has a task to do, has to be an all aroundBAMF.

This applies to a lot of the fantasies out there today.  Which sucks because I ship a lot of these books.  I feel like that realistically if you’re going to give a character a savior complex it might work better without a ship.  The ship is just going to come second.  Look at Harry Potter.  I don’t think anyone read the series to see him get with Weaselette.  Yes, some people liked Harry and Ginny but it wasn’t why they were intrigued with the book.  It was more or less an afterthought.  And I think if savior complex stories are going to work, they need to be light or have a non-existance romance.  After all, how can you save the day when you’re trying to figure out if he likes you or not.  Of course, sometimes savior complex and love interests really work like in Cinder.  BUT that book doesn’t really focus itself on said ship.  The ship is more or less an after thought.

4) Issue Books:

Yes, I said issue books. There are so many problems in the world and while romance might be nice, in stories about said issues it might diminish what the book is trying to accomplish or get overwhelmed in it.  This sort of goes back to number one, but with issue books I really think adding a romance is really out of place.

5) It Just Doesn’t Make Sense

Because we don’t need everyone in a ship to have a complete story.  Seriously in some books the romance just feels out of place.  Again sort of goes back to points 1 and 4 BUT there are some lighter books where I’d say throwing in a romance just doesn’t make any sense.  Either the romance is not that much of a point or you’re just like huh well that’s nice but thinking the guy was just sort of random.

 

No to Little Romance Involvement YA Books:

Honestly, I had a hard time coming up with this list.  You really have to look HARD.  Some of these might have a little bit of romance, but if they do it’s more or less an afterthought and the book doesn’t focus on the relationship. Note, some of these books I haven’t read but have been told by word of mouth that they don’t have romance.  Also, some of these books I wouldn’t necessary recommend but if you are looking for a romance free book you might want to give them a try:

I haven’t read this, yet, but I’ve been spoiled that it doesn’t involve a lot of romance which I’m really glad about.  Escaping a Duggar like cult is hard enough with romance.  So, I’m looking forward to character introspection.

Yeah, there is a little bit of romance here, but it is more or less a subplot than the actual story.  The story focuses on the main character reconnecting with her roots in Greece and that’s really the best part of the book.

Lois hasn’t actually met Clark yet, so the relationship is some nice subtle internet flirtation at best.  The story mainly focuses on Lois finding out what she is meant to do-be a kick ass reporter.  If you want a version of Lois Lane that’s on the spunky side this is your book.

The ONE saving grace this book had was that there were NO relationships in it for Colby.  And at the time I sort of felt bad for her, because girl could use a nice hunky shoulder to cry on.  But she is emotionally NOT ready for a boyfriend yet, so it was probably for the best that she was single.

I figure that one of the possible ships will be developed in future installments, but it was nice to see in the first one that there was no rush with the romance because that would’ve stunk. The main character is no way near for a relationship yet, even if she’s being forced to marry a guy who’s like a century younger than her.

Food For Thought Better Without Romance:

Here are some books that I think would’ve been a lot better if the romance would’ve been yanked completely:

This isn’t because I have a case of sour ships, I really think this series would’ve been better if there would’ve been NO romance because almost all the ships in this series were cringe worthy and I really didn’t pay attention to them or otherwise I probably wouldn’t have read the last book (obviously I am not a Heron or Hinny fan).  Still though, you read Harry Potter for the action and to see if he was going to live or die.

While I liked how this book introduced the medical condition/s known as intersex, I really didn’t care for the romance in this book.  It felt like it was tact on and honestly the main character wasn’t ready for another romance in her life at this point.  I would’ve been happier if the book ended on a note hinting that yeah, maybe a relationship between the main character and the love interest could happen, but having it NOT happen yet.

I really think this book would’ve worked for me better if Celaena was asexual or at least not in an active or soon to be active relationship.  She is suppose to be an assassin.  Assassins don’t have time for relationships.  And aren’t suppose to give a fuck about anyone.  Not get moony eyes over boys.  Then again, Celaena was sort of a lame assassin given her extreme vanity.

This book had a ship that should’ve been golden, but I think it was one of the weakest things about this book.  I really wanted to Sarlet to be a strong character and she wasn’t, and I blame Robin and their constant will they or won’t theys.  Plus, he was such an obnoxious ass in the second book it’s one of the reasons I haven’t been tempted to pick up the third.

I really think this book would’ve been better if there wasn’t the so called hot cowboys.  If it was an adventure focusing on friendship more than very bad gender bending I might’ve could’ve gotten into it better.  I would’ve really have gotten it had the girl developed feelings with each other too, but whatever.

So, any good single YA recs.  Are there any books you were annoyed that the author randomly decided to pair the character off with someone?  Discuss away if you want.

A One Trick Pony: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

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An unforgettable new series from acclaimed author Katie McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible.

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she’s curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They’re the good guys. They protect people. They’re…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club’s most respected member—is in town, he’s gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it’s his shot at his dream. What he doesn’t count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home. 

Source: GoodReads

If you are a fan of Katie McGarry’s past books and don’t want anything new or innovative then this is the book for you.

Although, if you’ve read the Pushing the Limits series and a got a little annoyed at how pedantic the series came to be and was like maybe a new series will allow McGarry to get her groove on.

Well, to slightly alter a quote from this book.  A quote that is actually used in the blurb (because that’s how good it’s supposedly suppose to be) and if you’re more interested page seventy-three: You Run, Reader.  You Run And Keep Running…”

Yeah, reading this book definitely was.

Oh, man did this book annoy me.  For various reasons both personal and not personal.  Which is why I’m going to divide said review by these items.  It makes it as objective as possible and, well, if you don’t get pissed at the same things as me and can handle cliches.  You might like it.

The writing was as engaging as ever.

I think that’s McGarry’s strong suit.  Reading this was very, very, easy.

Objective:

1) Lazy Descriptions:

I’ll give you an example of some of the quotes McGarry uses.

The guy leans against the corner of the brick building as if he doesn’t have a care in the world.  He’s around my age, has black hair, is definitely ripped and he has suck-me-in blue eyes* that wander over my body like he’s seeing me with my clothes off. (33)

This is something I’d expect to see in a fan fiction or a first novel.  Not by a very popular author who’s on her fifth book.

Come on now.

If it was any other author how would you react?

Yeah, thought so.

2) Instant Love, Attraction, Whatever You Call It

I’ll admit these two had cute (if cliche) moments together.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Oz and Emily though, and I think a lot of it was because there was so much relying on instant attraction/love.  It just doesn’t work for me.

And yeah, I know they didn’t actually get together for quite awhile in the book, but other than being physically hot to each other I really didn’t feel this relationship like I did with Beth and Ryan and Noah and Echo.

Instead, it relied on what McGarry has used in her past two novels, instant attraction.  And I am really not a fan of that.

3) Lack of Character Development/Interaction:

Again, this goes with the romantic relationship AND really all of the relationships with the book.  They were superfiical at best.  I think the only two relationships that might’ve sort’ve gotten any development were Emily’s relationship with Olivia and maybe Emily’s relationship with her adopted father.  Even though he’s barely in this book, he really does play a more important role than Emily’s biological father.

Yep, I said it.

As much as an emphasis is made on blood, I didn’t really see Emily and Eli’s relationship develop through the book.  We’re told they’re more acquainted with each other but I really didn’t see it.

4) De Ja Vu:

Again I have seen this in almost all of McGarry’s books.  That’s right, I said all of them.  Even though Pushing the Limits and Dare You To were wonderful  they all rely on essentially the same plot:

  • Two protagonists.
  • At least one always has a dark secret.
  • One is from the wrong side of the tracks (usually the guy)
  • There is a whole bunch of angst
  • And if people would open their mouths the book would end a lot earlier and we’d be put out of our misery.

I loved how the formula was handled in the above mentioned two books then it grew stale.  And now it’s just sort of annoying and borderline sad because really at this point McGarry should be branching out.  Contemporaries can be different.  It doesn’t have to all be “I’ve Got a Secret That You Won’t Find Out Till the Last Forty Pages”.

Subjective:

1) Emphasis on blood being more important than adoption:

Throughout this book there was a huge emphasis about how much blood matters, and I felt like adoption got shafted yet again.

You see this a lot in fiction-in all forms of media (I am looking at you Once Upon a Time)– and it is a shame.  Adopted relationships I really believe should have precedent over blood ones because that person chooses you to be a part of their life.  To be forced to visit your biological sperm donor just grates on me the wrong way.

And yes, I know it’s more complicated than that.  But still.

I feel sorry for Jeff.  He got shafted.  And anyone who has been adopted or is considering adopting shouldn’t have to read quotes like this.

McKinley blood runs in your veins.  Take a stand and tell them you’re staying. (47)

Seriously, blood isn’t that important.  It doesn’t define who you are as a person.  I get that Olivia wants to be closer to her granddaughter, but these remarks just sort of annoyed me more than anything else.

2) Bad Boy Heart of Gold:

How many times do I have to read about this stupid cliche?  And McGarry really goes for it too.  I liked her take on it better though in the Pushing the Limits series.  Here it just seems to be done so much that it was just a prerequisite other than really a testament to Oz’s character.  But like I said before…we really don’t know Oz.  Just that he has a really stupid nickname.

3) Stupid Names:

Oh, the names make my eyes bleed in this one.

Oz is bad enough.  But the next book is going to focus on a guy named Razor.  A product you see in your bathroom.  Honestly, I don’ t know why she didn’t name a character Soap, Shampoo, Tampon, or maybe Toilet Paper.  Seriously.

Those names made my eyes bleed.

Even Chevy’s name made my eyes bleed and that name’s not as bad as Razor.  But still. Or maybe it’s I’m desensitized at this point to people being named after cards

I think there was some explanation about these being their club names, but  Eli and Cyrus didn’t seem to have a club name.

Or to be fair, maybe I missed it.  I was really sort of skimming it at that point.

4) Subjective Matter (probably grates on me because I watch CNN all the time and had it on the other week when that motor cycle gang had that shoot out in Waco):

Yeah, probably not the best time for the book to be released.  And I’m already sort of predisposed to getting annoyed with motorcycle riders since my annoying cousin Bert is one.  Luckily, he’s not the dangerous type even though he and his club got kicked out of a candy factory in Texas-I think just for clogging up the parking lot but whatever.

5) Rude People: 

Oh God.

These people.

Okay, they do sort of grow on you.

But still.

So obnoxious.

And I’m not just talking about the bikers.

Emily got on my nerves to much like Lara Jean in To All the Boys I Loved Before I hate innocent, naive YA protagonist.  Scratch that, unrealistically naive protagonist.  I actually do like the innocent YA protagonist if it’s done realistically, however that rarely happens.

Honestly, this book just disgusted me.  While not overly offensive it was grating in the fact that there felt like there was no growth for the author in this book.  iIt was more or less a regression.

The writing, for whatever reason, was engaging.  So again, I will give you that.

Avid fans will like Nowhere But Here, but for me it was a definite pass.

Overall Rating: A big fat C.  It wasn’t my cup of tea, but the writing was decent.  It really was a huge cliche though.

*I have bolded certain words in quotes that have induced groaning.

The TBR Pile: June the Time of Royal Weddings

Princess Mia’s getting married!

Yeah, I guess you know what book I’m excited about the most this month.  Besides, Royal Wedding here’s a few books that I’m interested in next month.

Preorders 

  • Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway: I am really into kidnapping stories and I think this one could look interesting.
  • The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler: I haven’t had the best of luck with Ockler’s books in the past.  But I have been on a contemporary kick lately, and this blurb has me very interested. I love the fact that the heroine has a disability.  While there are getting to be more racially and culturally diverse YA books, I feel like YA diversity needs to be expanded more when it comes to disabilities and mental illness.
  • Powerless by Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs: Another superhero book.  So far, it’s been hit or miss with these in YA superhero novels.  I’ve had mixed results with the authors who wrote this  book too.  Some of Tera Lynn Childs’s stuff really works for me, so we’ll see.
  • Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella: As long as it’s not Becky Bloomwood Kinsella and I work pretty good together. And this one has a character that suffers from anxiety.  See why I want to read The Summer of Chasing Mermaids the same reason applies to this one as well.
  • The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent: This one looks mildly interesting, if maybe a bit predictable.  I like Vincent’s stuff though.
  • Hello, I Love YouI am reluctantly keeping this on the list, even though I have read reviews that have made me raise my eyebrows about how the culture is portrayed.  Please for the love of god, let it not offend me.
  • Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot: Duh.  Princes Mia is getting married.  To Michael.  Michael who makes Prince William look like Prince Who?
  • Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu: With the Duggar scandal I’m sort of interesting in brushing up my knowledge about cults, so this looks very intriguing.

I actually edited this down some.  Which is good since April and May were just so much books and so bad on the wallet.  Literally, I have like enough new books to feel half a book shelf in the past thre months.   Plus, I’m saving back since I am slowly but surely buying things up for my baby Chi which will hopefully be arriving sometime this fall.

Yes, I am getting a Chihuahua since my other dogs are technically my parents dogs and I’m sort of living alone now and need a puppy.  Because I’m like a dog person, and haven’t been without a pet for awhile and it’s totally weird and not me. So, that’ s like my personal update for the month.  Besides the fact that I’m extremely boring and besides visiting Texas last month, the biggest excitement I had was having an allergic reaction a bath bomb and slaving myself with Benedryl.  Oh yeah, exciting life I lead.

As for BEA HA HA HA. Didn’t go.  I was hoping that I would last year, but I ended up starting a new job in March and I don’t have the off hours or money to go.  I am hoping to go next year.  Tickets to Chicago are way cheaper than New York AND they have Club Quarters which I know and like to stay in-they’re cheap too.  The thing is, I’m not totally sure I’d be the nicest person at BEA, I don’t do good in crowds and I have a tendency to pass out when standing for a long time.  So, maybe I’ll just hire someone to do all the line waiting for me.  But admittedly I would like to be there and meeting all these bookish peeps I’ve been talking ot for the past few years.

DRC That I Need to Get Through or Review

The Witch Hunter by Virgina Boecker: This one involves witches, wizards, and pirates.

Scarlett Undercover by Jennfier Latham: I am really excited about this one it’s pitched as sort of a Vernoica Mars-ish mystery with a Muslim protagonist.

Library Reads:

None on the current schedule.  It’s a bit weird.  Sometimes it will seem that this branch will be slow to get new releases and then randomly something that just came out will be on the shelves.  Their website is nowhere near the quality as my old branch either, so that makes things even more difficult. Plus, they don’ t have auto checkout and the librarian talks to everyone (well, the locals).  She just glares at me like I’m an evil new person.  And I probably am.

Houston Buys:

Because the nearest book store to me is about an hour away-seriously, live in the middle of freaking nowheresville now, I do book shopping whenever I go to a city.  And when I visited my parents Memorial Weekend I picked up some titles (naturally).  The sad thing is my old Barnes and Noble’s crew was like where have you been.  It’s nice to know someone misses you.  And for anyone who’s interested, everyone in my family (both Houston and Dallas) is fine-thank the lord.  Most of the flooding happened in the areas where it happened during Allison (surprise, surprise).  Although, I did hear that creek that was relatively near my house was getting rather high.

  • Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos: Honestly, I heard nothing about this one and I just saw it and it looked like it could be my thing.  So yeah, sort of going in blind here.  I think that could be fun since usually I go in with an idea of what I’m getting myself into.
  • Charisma by Jeanne Ryan: My sister actually picked this one out for me to read.  She liked the pink rabbit on the cover.  Being an extremely reserved person,  I am interested in seeing how this plot is going to work.
  • Immaculate by Katelyn Detweiler: A pregnant virgin.  Pretty any virgins worse nightmare unless their name is Mary.  Honestly, I’m hoping this is a bit like the CW show and not too religious because I really don’t do Religious Lit.  Still though, the whole virgin being preggo thing calls for some major drama and color me intrigued.
  • Daughter of Deep Silence:  I wasn’t sure about this one till I read about The Count of Monty Christo  comparison.  I can watch that movie all day abs….and scarred hot guys getting revenge. So a retelling of it or quasi retelling, um good.
  • Made You Up by Francesca Zappia: Mental illness is so stigmatized especially when it comes to mental illness in youth.  Having relatives that suffer from mental illness, I think it’s a very important to shed light on the fact that dealing with these conditions is not abnormal and  I have lots of hopes for this one.

Backlist Commitments

As you notice usually when a promise to read something from my pile for the month before I hardly ever get through more than one or two of the titles.  So, for now on I’m just going to feature one book I am going to make an effort to read the next month.  I figure if I can at least make a one book commitment that’s something-right?

I had some preorders that were accidentally sent back to Texas last month, this was one of them.  And I was really excited about reading it too.  So, I’m pretty sure it will get read in June.

Most Look Forward to Book

Um, again.  Duh.  Look at the title of the post.

DNF Roundup: BOOOOOOORRRRRREEEEDD

I’ve seen several other blogs do a DNF round up post and I decided to follow suit.  Usually when I DNF a book I give it a full review if I read a substantial part of the book-usually this is about fifty percent of there abouts.  These are books though that I couldn’t even get that far into for whatever reasons.  More or less that I find life to short to try to give books enough chances to give them a proper review.

1) Stars are Like Us: They Shop

 

The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen.

Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…

When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.

Source: GoodReads

I actually didn’t check this one out at the library I received a sample from Amazon because I was unsure whether or not I wanted to purchase it.

Thank God for samples.

I think my expectations did not meet this one.  I wanted a book that was a bit of a satire on YA in the movies.  This wasn’t remotely satire.  The first five chapters were full of insta love and cliches.  Which I guess is typical for these sorts of books, but makes it less than enjoyable.

What DNF’d it for me was the main character.  Paige just felt a little too goody goody for me to be true. I’m sorry, unless your name is Mother Teresa you’re not going to be like-oh, I don’t need any of that nasty money I made from my movie-go give it all to the homeless.  Never mind, I’m wearing a dress I’ve had since fourth grade on a date with a movie star.  Ho, hum, hum….

Just no.

If a book makes me feel like a terrible person because I bought something at Anthropologie last month then I really don’t need to read it.

2) When I Have No Earth What I’m Reading After Fifty Pages…Get Out of Here

The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.

On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely ally – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel.

In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?

Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.

Source: GoodReads

Yeah, I came into this one not really feeling it-I heard things.  And I came out sort of like, well, that was unexpected.

I’ll be frank, I’m not tired of vampires or angels.  I know that both paranormal creatures have been overplayed, but done right it still can be interesting.

With Lailah it wasn’t interested.  It wasn’t even boring.  I was just confused.

It’s probably not the best to throw a reader into the midst of battle when they have no idea what is going on.  No freaking idea-I repeat.

And I was still clueless after sixty pages.  So, I was lazy and gave up.

End of story.

3) Bird People and Me Don’t Mix

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

Source: GoodReads

This one was really boring.  So, so, boring.  I mean I had it on my e-reader for like three weeks adn I just couldn’t read it.

And I don’t exactly blame the book.

I blame me.

It just wasn’t really an MJ book.

Plus, the main characters name was Echo.  Do you know how horrible that is?  It makes me want to make mean jokes about her name throughout the entire reading process where I lose track of what the book is actually about.

To be honest, it was so boring I really couldn’t keep track what was going on  just some little orphan who was a thief ends up being raised by bird people and stealing special things.

Yippie.

I didn’t even make it to the special boy, people.  Well, there was a boy or creature’s POV I got to..but it didn’t hold my interest.

The writing was nice though, and I really think if this would’ve been my thing.

Oh, well.

Pass.

4) This Book Date Has Gotten Awkward

In this hilarious, action-packed conclusion to The Ever-Expanding Universe trilogy, teen mom Elvie Nara is on a quest across the universe to save her daughter (and maybe stop an alien race war in the process).

After dealing with killer whales, evil scientists, the return of her long-lost mother and, certainly not least of all, the challenges of breastfeeding, Elvie Nara has just about had it. And then the Jin’Kai (along with the aforementioned estranged mom) kidnap her baby.

And before she knows it, another Jin’Kai attack puts her on the run again, but not before discovering that Olivia was implanted with a genetic tracking device. So along with Cole, Ducky, and her dad, Elvie goes back out into space to follow the signal. There she finds evil Dr. Marsden up to some evil tricks and realizes that Mars may hold the secret to defeating her enemies once and for all. So, off to Mars she goes. Because alien race war aside, Elvie really wants to be back with her daughter. For a kid she wasn’t even sure she wanted, Olivia has come to mean the world to Elvie—and she’ll search the universe to be with her again.

Source: GoodReads

Let me explain my relationship with this series in the terms of dates

First Book:

AHHHHHHHMMMAAAAAAZZZZZZZIIIIIIIINGGGGGG.  You’ve never met someone like this before.  And there’s something just oddly attractive about this individual even though he’s typically not your type.  Seriously, I usually just don’t do books with teen moms. I think it just brings too many memories of my Torts/Plaintiff Law finals.  My prof was obsessed with those shows, and there’s  so many times using Amber Portwood in a Torts issue spotting essay is funny (not really).

The thing is Mothership oddly enough worked.  There was just something uniquely original about it that made it compulsively readable.  But the more I look back, the more I feel like it would’ve been better as one book.

Why….

Book Two:

Well, let’s just say book two I start seeing the flaws of this amazing first date.  I remember why I hate books that typically use babies as a plot devices.  And all of his snark is gone, but I still hold hope. I still think…well, no one’s perfect.  I should give it another try.

Oddly, none of the characters felt like their selves.  And I remember losing interest fast.  But I didn’t hate this one.  But as I reflect on it, maybe that’s because the first one just had so much going for it.

This one did not.

It was like the less attractive sibling in the siblings.  Still though…

This Book:

I went through the appetizer course (first hundred pages)  and realized that all those things that attracted me to this book are gone and when I have another more attractive book suitor.

Well, bye bye book.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books in my Beach Bag

Summer is a time filled with beach reading-light, feel good reads that you can just spend your day getting absorbed in.  The only thing is, I don’t go to the beach.  Add the fact that some of the books I have scheduled are a little less than the generic beach read….Well, let’s just look what’s in my beach bag.  Again, Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

10)

This is a June release and features a POC  main character.  Diverse main character already equals instant interest to me, add the fact that  the summary states she’s mute and it adds even more of an interest.  You don’t see a lot of YA character’s dealing with some sort of disability so color me intrigued.  And then look at that cover, total beach read there are shells on it.

9)

I have some reservations about this one (the early reviews haven’t exactly been good), but the summary reads typical beach read but with a Korean twist.

8)

This is a July release and I wanted something quasi patriotic and this seems to fit the bill to a degree.

7)

Because I am just so curious about how Scandal is going to be done YA style.  And it’s the summer time so Scandal isn’t actually going to be on TV.

6)

I think Kasie West books are nice light hearted books, which would theoretically make them the perfect beach read.  I haven’t read On the Fence yet, so…

5)

Definitely probably not a light hearted book read, but I think this will be the perfect book to sink my teeth into on a hot summer day.

4)

The cover totally says read when hot outside.  Doesn’t it?  Okay, it might not but I think this would be the perfect beach read.  It’s probably not a light hearted book, but there are probably a lot of swoon scenes it it to help handle the serious subject matter. Though, after last weeks events it’s sort of going to be weird reading it.  Just saying…

3)Something about warm weather makes me want to read mysteries.  And the whole premises to this mystery intrigues me.

2)

This one looks cute. bit serious at the same time.  Sophie Kinsella can write some pretty good adult chick lit.  I just haven’t seen her take on more serious issues, so we’ll see.  It doesn’t involve Becky Bloomwood though, so that is a good thing right there.

1)

No explanation necessary to why this is a beach read.

The Unofficial Princess Diaries Binge Read: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot

Olivia Grace Clarisse Harrison has always known she was different. Brought up by her aunt’s family in New Jersey, book-and-music-loving Olivia feels out of place in their life of high fashion and fancy cars. But she never could have imagined how out of place she really was until Mia Thermopolis, Princess of Genovia, pops into her school and announces that Olivia is her long-lost sister. Olivia is a princess. A dream come true, right? But princesses have problems too.

In FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCESS a new middle grade series, readers will see Genovia, this time through the illustrated diaries of a spunky new heroine, 12 year old Olivia Grace, who happens to be the long lost half-sister of Princess Mia Thermopolis.

The original Princess Diaries series sold over 5 million copies in the US (15 million worldwide), spent 82 weeks on the USA Today bestsellers list, and inspired two beloved films.

Source: GoodReads

Truth be told, I was sort of worried about this book.  I think because I’ve seen a lot of disastrous YA spinoffs when they go into other genres may it be adult or middle grade.  Thankfully, this book didn’t fall down that path.

Overall, this is a cute little book.  I feel like it might be on the younger side of middle grade though.  Honestly, Olivia sounded more like ten than twelve, but that might just be me.  Regardless of that, it surprisingly worked really well for me.

For long time fans like me, it was a nice way to get reacquainted with these characters before Royal Wedding and for younger readers it’s a nice entrance into the main series.  Though when I was Olivia’s age I think that’s when I began reading Diaries.  So…

Okay.

Let’s avoid how old I am.

The point is, this one has all the charm of the original book series, but without all the othings that made it for older readers.  And Grandmere is halfway normal in this book because Olivia hasn’t seen that shes’ a super villain in disguise yet.

I really liked the contrast between Olivia and Mia.  They are the same, but not.  And Olivia was an interesting enough character.  I really do look forward to seeing how she develops later on in this series.

As far as plot goes, this one is pretty bare bones.  I don’t even think the book is over two hundred pages if even that.  Sure, there’s the whole Olivia custody part-which I had to give the whole stink eye to as a lawyer-but that was overall pretty anticlimactic.

And seriously, what was up with Olivia’s Dursley like relatives.  She might as well been sleeping in a cupboard.  Two Ferraris, seriously?

To be honest, the abuse that she suffered shouldn’t have been as glossed over as it was.  Because while it wasn’t Lifetime movie bad, it was bad enough to issue Olivia a few sessions in Dr. Knutz’s office.  I really hope Meg explores this issue in future additions, but I really don’t think it probably will be.

The one thing I’m really worried about is how the whole royal thing will be treated in future books.  There were hints in this one-teh whole lady in waiting thing and Phillipe dressed in full prince regalia while he was just at home-that makes me think that it might be heading in a cheesy Princess Diaries 2 fashion.  I get that this is geared for younger audience, but I pray to the book gods that it doesn’t go there. The Nostalgia Critic reviewed that movie, I think that tells you right there that that’s not a good idea to try to imitate.

Another thing that I wanted more in this book was Michael.  I wanted an illustration of him damn it, since this was Meg doing the art work and it’s probably the closest representation I’m going to get to him-it’s sort of nice seeing how author’s view their characters and most of the drawings were pretty spot on to how I thought the characters looked, though Mia was a lot more glamorous than I thought she’d be.  But then I remember book ten and am like yeah…

Overall, this is a sweet addition to The Princess Diaries book.  I recommend it to any die hard Princess Diaries fan or if you have a princess obsessed tween give it to them.

Overall Rating: An A-.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ick Ships

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.  I decided to use this freebie to discuss ick ships.  Ships I can’t help, but ship even though I know I shouldn’t.  The inspiration for this topic, was my recent reading of The Wrath and the Dawn.   Where I found that…well, I actually ship a lot of ick ships.

10)

While I did swoon over St. Anna moments, I really wasn’t a fan of this romance.  It involves cheating and I really do not do well with cheating.  It’s sort of a trigger issue for me.  The mind games he plays with Anna and his ex just have me wanting to throw my copy of this book at him.  The thing is, there are a lot of layers to the character and sweet moments between him Anna that I did end up reluctantly shipping them together.  But still, definite ick ship.

9)

A Meg Cabot book on the ick lips.  I know, blasphemy. All her ships are generally swoony.  But this one eh.  I really did not ship it in the  first book, but then it sort of got an ick ship vibe about it. That I couldn’t help but find these two characters compelling together.  Even though he technically did kidnap her to the underworld.

8)

A Beauty and the Beast retelling is on this list, no big surprise there to be honest.  This relationship has all the makings of an ick ship, yet it oddly is shippable.  And it is no exception with this book.

7)

I’m pretty sure I’m shipping Nalia with the wrong guy, but there’s just a creepy intensity between her and Malek that is oddly attractive.  On the surface, this one of the worst relationships ever.  I should not condone it.  And I don’t but….they have chemistry.  And he can be nice.  Seriously, what is wrong with me for shipping this awful ship.

6)

Roth and Layla.  He might a have used her and be a demon.  But damn.  Speaking of hot demons, why do I have an aversion towards them. I was such a Phole shipper in Charmed and look where that got me.  And come to think of it, Phole was an icky ship too.  Dude.  What is wrong with me?

5)

I’m not a huge fan of Rose/Dimitri but they were okay in the first book and they definitely have the ick couple vibe.  Dude, you’re her teacher.  Just stop.  But there’s chemistry, yeah until Adrian comes a long.  Well, at least there’s Sydrian.

4)

A definite ew ship if there was ever one.  Or ew ships if you shipped Jack Force with anyone in his triangle.  Mimi is technically his twin sister-EWWWEEWWWEEWWWEEWEWEWEWEEWWEW-and Schuyler is technically his cousin.  Add the adultery aspect and EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.  Yet, I do oddly like him and Schuyler because they’re really not cousins and the whole secret romance thing was sort of cute before they actually got together because then they got sort of boring.

3)

Because I really shouldn’t kidnap this one.  There’s no need to hijack and kidnap someone.  Even if you are a wrongfully fugitive who used to be a hot movie star.  Hot movie star.

2)

I don’t think your suppose to ship this couple first.  They’re clearly just having quick hook ups and the way Wesley treated Bianca at first I was just like ick.  But as this evolved the ickness level disappeared.  Leaving me with an adorable couple.

1)

Khalid has murdered all of his other wives.  Why would I even want his in Shahrzad together.  I just do okay.  It’s sort of like Rumbelle.  The poor girl should dump him, he’s all dark and borderline creepy and you could say abusive, but there’ s just something that makes you find the relationship compelling even though you’re like secretly-dude, that’s messed up.

There’s Something There: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Source: GoodReads

There are things about this book that should really bother me, but there is something that is utterly compelling about this book.

And I couldn’t keep it down.

Likewise, there was something about this ship.  I shouldn’t have liked it.  It is the antithesis of what I like in ships.  But it’s a bonafide ick ship-a ship that even though it make my nose wrinkle I can’t help but be like I want them together.

I think the closest thing I can compare it to is like Rumbelle on Once Upon a Time or St. Clair and Anna in Anna and the French Kiss.  It is so messed up in this book, because dude has killed so many women-never mind, that he may or may not have a quasi legit reason for doing so-and he’s planning on killing her.  And said chick wants to kill him to avenge her best friend, even though she sort of acted like an idiot about it throughout the entire book by doing nothing but mooning over how he’s not so kissible.  And I will remind you that, dude has homicidal tendencies.

Seriously, who’d want to be with someone like this?  People in Ick Ships that’s who.

Yet somehow,  Ahdieh’s writing make me want to root for these two.  There was something about the way that these two interacted that you were able to see beyond the monster that Khalid is.  He’s still a monster though, even if he might have a semi valid excuse.

Much like this episode wanted me to root for this toxic couple.

I think the strongest thing this book had going for it was the writing.  The descriptions are just so luscious.  Usually I sort of get annoyed when author’s go into details about what so and so is wearing or eating, but here I loved absorbing myself in the world.

I also liked that this was slow on the world building, we are given pieces of the world, but it’s not all given out to the reader on a plater.  The magic aspects of the book are only hinted at which I liked because it allowed the reader to get a view of the non-magic world of this book.

In addition to the ship being an ick ship, there is also a love triangle in this book.  Though it is a light love triangle at book, more or less a past relationship.  It actually didn’t bother me as much as I thought.  It actually added to the book showing that Shazi had other relationships before Khalid and adds dimension to the ick ship.

Though, the other guy is a bit of an idiot.

A brave idiot, but an idiot.  Much like Gaston on Once Upon a Time.

Seriously, I keep comparing this ship to Rumbelle.  There is something wrong with that

Another, Rumbelle gif for the win. See they can (sort of) be healthy.

Ships aside, the two leads are done well enough.  I sort of wanted more character development, but since it’s an intro to a series I’m giving it some slack.  However, I do think character development would’ve given the ick ship less ickness.  There were just some things like Shazi’s marrying Khalid without a plan to how to kill him to Khalid not even trying to get out of his awful situation that just had me baffled a bit.

If this book would’ve caught me on a bad day….

It should just be glad that it’s use of language and quick dialogue made up for it.

I am recommending this one.  If you’re extremely picky it might grate on you, but as a debut it is lovely. I have lots of hope for it’s sequel.

Overall Rating: A B+  I thought about giving it an A- but as I reflect on it the writing itself hid a lot of problems.

Reading Schedules: How Do I Decide What to Read Next

One of the best things about being a small blog, is that I can sort of set my own reading schedule.  Oh, I try to read things that come out recently and all of that.  But having a limited ARC pile and sort of limiting my reviews to books I want to read makes the process a little easier.

It’s still a little aggravating though because I DO want the reviews I do to vary.  And you do end up with a lot  titles, even if you only buy a few books a month.

Here are some ways I try to plan:

1) Once a month I do a TBR Pile feature which I’ll post on the blog.  These posts are more to my benefit than to the readers of this blog.  It helps me go over what I ordered and decide whether I still want it.  Sometimes, some of the things I preorer I end up canceling for various reasons.  Sometimes I can be a little to trigger friendly with that one click button on Amazon and then later when I read reviews I’m like no just no.  The results that I actually post is an edited list-and yes, still sometimes I cancel orders after I post that list or buy more titles.

2) I try to vary my reading sub genres.  Though I personally read mostly YA-because adult titles in general don’t really interest me except on rare occasions-there are a ton of different types of YA within YA.  If I read to much of a certain type of a YA novel, the most recent example being fantasy in one setting I can get burn out fast.  A lot of the high fantasies I’ve seen recently have just sort of been so predictable and formulaic.   Seriously, long lost princess much?

3) I try to make sure I read something light after I read something really serious.  A the same time, I don’t try to overdo it on the light books.  As much as I love both sort of  books, I think it’s important (for me) to factor in burn out.  However, I probably can get away reading more fluff than a lot of serious books.  I think it’s just because real life is so serious (for me at least).  But if I read a few bad light books…ooh not good.

4) Snark Reads.  I don’t do as much of these as I used to because they’re predictable and after reading the abomination that is the Halo trilogy, followed by reading the entire House of Night series, and a couple of other dubious series I just have no fun trying to even rationalize the publication of these books anymore.  Occasionally, if I’m morbidly curious I might still give one a try.  But life is too short for these sorts of books so it has to be a real compelling reason.  Other than let’s see how bad Alexandra Adornetto can screw up writing a screenplay about gender identity (oh yeah, the author of Halo wrote and starred in  a film about such an important issue-I don’t even…well, let’s say I wish her the best).

4) I try to make sure I get to my ARCs that I do have by making a point to read them in their release month.  Occasionally, there will be a Read Now title that sort of gets left on my Kindle but I feel less pressure to read those.  Honestly, I am sort of over the whole Thou Must Read an ARC thing.  Really, I’m a lawyer.  I know I didn’t sign a contract with said publisher to read it and that it’s a gratuitous promise if anything else.  But still, I feel guilt.  A whole bunch of guilt if I don’t at least give the few ARCs I get the good college try which is why I’m really trying hard NOT to request that much unless I really want to read the book.  Since Edelweiss usually  acts like I don’t exist, and I usually find a title I desperately want late in the game on Netgalley this is not a huge issue for me.

5) Whim Reading.  I make an effort to do a whim read a couple of times a month.  It’s nice to break out of schedule and keeps me from getting burn out.  Overall, I keep a very loose schedule so a whim read might seem more common than it should be.  But I find loose reading schedules are better than thou must read X book X day of the month.  Generally, if I do any planning it will be for a week rather than a month.

Below, is an example of what I tentatively have planned for next week:

  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh: I am actually almost done with this one (probably will be done when I post).  It was sort of heavy, so I will be reading a couple of lighter reads after this.
  • The World Forgo by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal: A series ender.  I think the best idea to explain this one is that it’s just sort of out there.  I’m sort of in the mood for that, so I’ll more than likely be reading it tomorrow.
  • The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey: Sigh, I’ve been reading this one on and off for two weeks.  I got an ARC from Netgalley and I feel obligated to give a nice try.  But I am bored with it.  I’m going to give it a few more pages and decide whether I should at least give it to the fifty percent mark and review or just DNF it and not even bother except for maybe in a DNF Roundup post.
  • From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess  by Meg Cabot: It’s being released this week and I sort of have a It’s Meg Cabot drop everything you’re reading and read Meg’s stuff policy.

6) I usually read one book at a time.  Because that’s how I roll.  If I’m reading more than one book it usually means I’m struggling with said book. Primarily example, see above example.

7) Commitment Reads.  I do try to have a few commitment reads a month.  This is actually something new I’m starting.  Again, said commitment read will be on the TBR Pile List every month.  Usually it’s like a duh pick.

8) I am thinking about having a Reader’s Choice Pick for the month which leaves this entry with the below poll.

So, what should I read next month?  And how do you decide your reading schedule? Feel free to discuss.

Awesomly Lifetime and Hallmark: Murder She Baked, a Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery

Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?  If you don’t get this reference, you should thank God you were never forced to hear that song in the 199o’s.

Never the less, there’s apparently a mystery about chocolate chip cookies starring Ryan Lavery (Cameron Mathison) from All My Children and more importantly Sami (Allison Sweeney)  from  Days of Our Lives.  And I decided to review it, of course.

The Gist:

So Sami, whose name is Hannah here, is a small town bakery in a town that you know would never exist in America. Seriously, I’m currently living in what is considered a small town and it’s NOT this picturesque. More like aggravating in a lot of ways since it’s like an hour nearest to the nearest bookstore.  Plus, people sort of have to work in small towns too.  They don’t in this movie.  Anyway, she has a knack of figuring out small town crimes.  And then of course, someone is randomly murdered in town and-eek, murder mystery begins.  Enter big city cop, Mike (Ryan Lavery) these too start out initially sort of hating each other, but only in the your the obvious love interest Hallmark type of way.

Review:

Sami was actually engaging.

No surprise there.  When I tried to watch Days, she was one of the only characters that kept me interested the other being EJ.  What do I say, I’m an ABC soap fan.  Honestly, I wish GH would’ve stoled her because I think she would’ve been an awesome addition to the cast they have now.

Anyway, back to the movie.  The story starts out with her as a small town baker.  If  you seen her on Days, you know this is a bit of a different role for her.  So, it was nice seeing her play sort of the girl next door versus the bad girl.  Of course, after the typical day of normal life a murder of a pretty much insignificant character appears and the story really starts.

For the most part, this one follows the stereotypical mystery romance.  Ryan Lavery is the big city cop that comes in to help solve the case, Sami is the quirky bakery that gets involved in hijinks that annoy but later endure Ryan Lavery.

And yes, my eyes almost popped out of my head like half a dozen times.

There’s another love interest thrown in there that I just had to roll my eyes at because it was so obvious how this was going to play out.  But still, I didn’t mind it that much.

At it’s best Murder She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Mystery, was your stereotypical cheesy Hallmark mystery   I enjoyed it though, oddly enough.  Unlike My Gal Sunday, Allison Sweeney really takes charge of the movie and she does play an engaging heroine.  I would really like to see her in more things.  This just showcased that she was one of daytime’s and Hallmark’s better actresses.

The plot though and Ryan Lavery, eh.  While Ryan might’ve been pretty to look at and much more limited (thank God) than he was in My Gal Sunday, and I actually did like the chemistry between these two.

Shocking because except for Princess Gillian, I haven’t liked Ryan with anyone.  I give props to Sami on that.

Lifetime/Hallmark Squeal:

So, Ryan Lavery plays the love interest again.  Groans.  At least they casted him as a straight tight ass cop in this piece.  I think if he’s portrayed as the straight man, it works better than him being more of the at ease character.  Which is really weird because Ryan Lavery himself started out being a snarky character and when he was snarky, he was better than when he was sanctimonious.  But I find in these movies, it’s better for him to play straight man.  Also, it helps that there is no insta love in here either. So the swoonage is alright, not great, but develops as the movie goes along. And since there’s going to be a sequel, I’m totally okay with it.

OMG Lifetime/Hallmark Moment:

So many topes used here.  But there was really no OMG moments.  I say probably the biggest OMG to me was that a sequel to this one has been green-lighted and it’s going to be at Christmas time.  Totes watching it.

Overall Rating: Although, it’s cheesy and there were parts where I cringed and went in the other room to unload the dishwasher, overall this one really worked.  Solid B Hallmark, you deserve it. Or maybe I’ve just washed a lot of trash TV lately.