The TBR Pile: April Showers Mean Time for Reading

It seems a little unbelievable that it is already April.  It seems like just yesterday it was 2016, and now a quarter of the year is over-not that 2016 has been that great of a year so far.  Anyway, here is my intended preorders for the month,

  • Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum: This one seems like it could be ooey gooey or heartbreaking.  Regardless, it’s going to be interesting because a lot of relationships in today’s world are internet based.  I just hope it’s not all Lifetime-ish.
  • Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw: Any book that deals with fanfiction forums and their drama totally has me ready to read it.
  • The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead: Please be better than Soundless.  Please be better than Soundless. 
  • Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins: I still need to read the second book 😦
  • The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh: Sequel squeal.
  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi: Inspired by Indian mythology.  Enough said.

Rather short list for April, which is always a good thing because you can almost be guaranteed that the next month is going to be really busy (FYI, May is FILLED with books).

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Kill, Kill, Kill: Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

From debut author Goldy Moldavsky, the story of four superfan friends whose devotion to their favorite boy band has darkly comical and murderous results.

Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.

We didn’t mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he’s tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it’s Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn’t be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn’t mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn’t. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that’s what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.

Source: GoodReads

Man, Kill the Boy Band it’s one of those books that you just have to stare at when you finish it.  And are like what did I read….

And I honestly still don’t know what to think of Kill the Boy Band.

A part of me really liked it, but a part of me was just sort of squemish about it.

I think the problem was that Kill the Boy Band was borderline on that fine line of being too much. While I enjoyed upon first read, I do not know if I will like it when I reread it.  While the dark humor worked for the most part this time around, it bordered heavily on cartoonish.

I think I’ll talk about what I liked about this book.  I think the best thing about this one was the narrator.  The protagonist’s real name is never identified and really we don’t know much about her other than a few facts.  The ambiguity with this character is actually a good thing because it leaves the reader questioning what they read.

The protagonist’s friends though I have issues with. The best thing about the friends is that their pretty much a diverse cast of people with different backgrounds.  However, that being said there was some major stereotyping going on.  I think I’ll discuss the worst depiction of any character in the book: Apple.

Oh God.

Apple is just, well, horrible.  And she could’ve been an interesting character.  Apple is of Chinese descent and was adopted by presumably WASP parents (I can’t remember if it’s ever specified in the book).  The character is heavyset and this is pretty much a cue for rampant fat jokes which just have me groaning and shaking my head.  To make matters worse, at best she is cartoonish.

A part of it might’ve been the tone the book was trying to go it is a black comedy in the vein of such classics like Serial Mom, but I’m sort of done with the sort of jokes/characterizations that were thrown at Apple.  It was just childish and pretty much ridiculous.

The other characters weren’t that much better. You have Isabel who comes off as being a psychopath, but is never really explained.   And then there’s Erin who…wow, just wow.  In a way she was my favorite of the lot because she was just so cold and it was pretty amazing.

Then there are the Ruperts.  Ah, the Ruperts.   I grew up in the days of the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC.  Though to be honest, I never really did get the boy band phenomenon like some people.

I still really enjoyed this book though, despite the facts that I couldn’t exactly connect to this level of fandom.

More or less, it was hilarious with the little nods that were made that could apply to any boy band.   There’s always one semi talented member in the band, and the rest are really crap.  There is one outright useless one.  One sort of ugly one that’s suppose to be the rebel.  And all boy bands break up eventually.  I love how all these cliches  were used to add to the story.

It was very entertaining.

The thing is, there were a lot of things about the book that didn’t make sense.  The plot was a little too ludicrous for 2016.  If this was written in the 80’s or really pre-internet I would’ve bought the characters getting away with it, more than I could post internet world.  Though, the random Twitter and Instagram bits were interesting, though I could see them being viewed as very jarring in a few years (much like the Justin and Britney forever mentions in the early Princess Diaries books are very cringe worthy today).

I will give this to Moldavsky though, this sort of book is fairly new for YA.  I haven’t seen or if they exist adequately sought out dark comedy YA and it was sort of nice to read it.  The thing is, I sort of enjoy my dark comedies better in movie and TV form, I think maybe the acting helps deal with some of the OTT.

Overall, while Kill the Boy Band wasn’t exactly an A read for me,  it did its job.  It entertained me, but it didn’t come free of problems.

Overall Rating: I think I’m going to give it a solid B, but I have a feeling the rating would slip greatly upon reread.

Another DNF-Joy: Joyride by Anna Banks

A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

Source: GoodReads

Another DNF!

Party time.

I really hate DNF-ing things.  I think I’ve discussed this several times already.  But man, I really wanted to love this book.

The premises looks like it’s going to discuss a really divisive issue-immigration.  God knows there needs to be a few books that discuss it especially YA books.  Immigration issues are not only a US issue but a world issue, and I was excited to read a book that was going to discuss them in such a way that would be applicable to real life (full disclosure: I studied and did a little work in Immigration law).

Skip this book.  It is a cliche.

So much that after a whopping sixty pages I DNF the book.

The book more or less was another YA cliche romance where The Mouse (female protagonist) falls in love with Mr. Tarnished Golden Boy (male protagonist) and each of them help deal with their various real life melodrama.

Barf.

The thing is, had the book been less of a cliche, I would have enjoyed it more.   The premises made it look like it was going to be more about the characters’ personal struggles than their romance.  But as soon as Arden set his eyes on Carly he was like-damn, she is a fine piece of spunky ass and all of his problems were secondary.  Much like with Carly, I didn’t really feel her dilemma becuase her focus was more on her relationship with Arden.

The structure of this novel is off putting.  It is duel points of view, which I have no problem with, but what made it confusing was that one point of view was written in first while the other was in third.  This made reading the book jarring and honestly I couldn’t connect as much with Arden since his part of the story was in third and it was a distant third at best.

This actually saddens me, because I would like a really powerful book about this subject matter especially with the harsh, xenophobic attitudes that certain people seem to exhibit these days.  There are so many different problems and issues that immigrants face, and so many issues that people who aren’t immigrants do not know about (just see a Trump rally, if you need an example if you need any other proof of ignorance).  Unfortuantely, this is not the book.

Overall Rating: A DNF.  The writing itself wasn’t the best and it just made me even more displease to see what could be an interesting and relevant topic to explore be condemned to YA cliche-ness.

Interesting World Building But Meh On Characters: The Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

Source: GoodReads

I was sort of scared about reading this one.  Oh, don’t get me wrong I’m always game for a Snow White retelling,but after seeing some of my friends reviews for this one I figured it was going to be a disappointed.  It was…sort of…but I didn’t exactly hate Shadow Queen.  There were parts of it, that I really enjoyed.

I was actually surprised with how much I didn’t find this to be offensive, because usually I find myself to be on the harsher side when it comes to books.

I’ll talk about what really worked for me in this one the world building.  Particularly I liked the use of magic and the dragon shifting thing did not bother me as much as it could’ve.  Sure, the thing with heart magic was a slight rift off of Once Upon a Time, but I thought Redwine made it enough of her own where it wasn’t a complete ripoff.  In fact, I liked the nuances that were involved in casting spells and such.  Of course, Redwine used faux fantasy language which is always a pet peeve of mine, but it’s not enough to completely derail my feelings of a book.  Rather, it’s just something I roll my eyes at (sorry, high fantasy authors I do it anytime I read high fantasy).

As far as retellings go, it is does rely on the source material.  Snow White, Evil Queen, Huntsman/Prince (which is becoming a bit of a retelling cliche to combine them),  though there are no seven dwarfs, and no suffocating corsets.  The thing with the apples is also handled differently, but at its core (ha, ha, bad pun) this is a Snow White story and if anything is really different it is more or less that Redwine made Snow White a sort of Robin Hood figure-but again, this was already sort of seen already on Once Upon a Time (I’m sure it’s in some other Snow White retelling as well, this is just the first one on top of my head because of the heart magic thing).  It’s not bad per say, and it was an interesting quick read (and I’m pretty sure a standalone, which is something I haven’t seen in awhile in YA)  it’s just not that gripping of a read.

And I blame it partially on the characters.  The two main leads were nice…but I didn’t feel any romantic tension between them and throughout the story I just felt distant from them.  I didn’t even really feel for one character when she had to deal with a death.  Maybe it’s because the character that died barely had any impact on the story, but I really couldn’t give a rat’s ass and it seemed like she got over the death sort of quickly.

The Evil Queen character was interesting enough, but I thought that she could’ve been more formed especially her relationship with her henchman.  That plot twist came a little bit out of nowhere to me.  And I wish that her health and its condition were explained as well.  I think I sort of have an idea of why she was in the condition she was, but it was one of those things I would’ve liked a better explanation for.

So, I did end up liking Shadow Queen.  It was a decent retelling, but it had it’s issues and it’s probably a book I’m not going to be prone to remembering in the long run.

Overall Rating: A B-.

One Trick Pony: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

Source: GoodReads

I always feel like I have to take a bath after I read a Cassandra Clare book.  This part of my review will be eliminated from the GoodReads version of it due to its policies.  But as a person I find Cassandra Clare to be rather foul.   I’ve read multiple reports of past behavior particularly concerning her behavior in fandom, and it has me wanting to take a sip of something really strong after every revelation I read.  Then there’s the fact that TMI series has been exploited to the point you want to call protective services (if book series had protective services) to keep it from being pimped out anymore.

Still though, despite ethical dilemmas I ended up reading her books.  And when Lady Midnight came out I was sort of in the mood for a throw back to early 2000’s plagiarized fan fiction.  Plus, I really was interested to see if Clare could actually make me eat my words that the series hadn’t been milked completely dry.

Note, I did not eat my words.

Rather, I got drunk with how predictable Cassie Clare is and always will be.

Before I discuss the rampant use of cliches, I want to discuss Clare’s writing.  I really wonder if the editor’s read some of the crap she wrote.  Seriously, some of the prose is just awful.  There are metaphors that just don’t make sense.  Descriptions that are unnecessary and just plain stupid.  The change in viewpoints can get confusing as well because there’s no breaks clearly indicating that the perspective is changing.

I usually overlook the technical aspects, but this is this woman’s tenth publication and by this point I would hope that there would have been some growth in prose.  But yeah, it’s not going to happen.

I am not going to rant on the technical aspects though, because their pretty common in all Cassie Claire books.  Rather, I’m going to discuss the formula for a typical Cassandra Clare book.  After reading ten of them and part of the infamous fan fic (because I live such an excited life, I tell you)  Cassie Clare almost always follows the same formula and uses the same tropes.

1) Love Triangles:

 Oh yeah, there is a love triangle in this one.  Or should I say love pentagons or octagons or whatever happens when several triangles overlap.  I sort of got a headache over the potential relationships in this book.   And honestly, while the ship that will probably be the main ship was a lot more tolerable than Clace, the relationships here were even shallower than those in TMI.

 

2) Abusive Relationships:

 There is at least one maybe two potentially abusive relationships here.   One characters relationship I really didn’t live because it basically seemed like this character had stockholm syndrome with the other character and it didn’t seem totally consensual.  I didn’t like how Clare tried to romanticize it.  It was just bad and a cheap way to insert diversity into the book.  I really hope that that one character dies a firey death beause I don’t want his victim to get back with him.   Said victim is better off in the potentially annoying love triangle that they’re being set up to be with.  Also, the jury is out on another abusive relationship which seemes to more emotionally abusive than the previous discussed relationship, but I’ll have to read more information before I make a final verdict.

3) Bad Ass=Dumb Ass Main Character: 

Seriously.  Emma might’ve been able to use a sword better than Clary, but she still had to be rescued just as much as her and Tessa.  It just gets exhausting how impulsively stupid the shadow hunters are.  I’m like really.  Common sense, it’s a thing.  Get it Clare, please.

 

4) Jace (aka fannon Draco) Ass Kissing: Yeah, still happens here.  Even though Jace isn’t physically in the book until the end of this masterpiece..  The adoration is that eye roll worthy.  I’m like get a room already.  Because you totally know Clare wants to be with Jace despite being a fictional character.

5) You Must Read All My Books to Get My Inside Jokes: Yeah.

6) Counteradictory Information: The whole forbidden love angle.  Um, yeah, that doesn’t really explain the whole Alec attraciton to Jace if parabatai were forbidden from being in a relationship in an earlier book.  I’m sure Clare has explained this on her Tumblr or Twitter account.  But I really could care less.

7) Clare Pretending She’s JK Rowling: So now there’s a Shadow Hunter Academy.  I guess I would’ve known this if  I read all the little short stories that Clare outsourced to her friends, but I didn’t.  Instead, I was  just snorting about how much Clare WANTS to be Rowling.  There was even  the return of the flying motor bike in this installment.  All  kidding though, I get so tired of it.  TMI might have scored a bad movie and a quasi bad TV series, but it is no Harry Potter it is like a poor Harry Potter knock off  had a relationship with Edward Cullen and had a baby that was about as ugly as Michelle Tanner.   That’s not a good thing, people.  The characters are even HP knock offs.  Though, these newer characters were a little bit harder to place to their HP counterparts, so I suppose that is progress (somewhat).

9) Herondales: Because there always must be one long lost Herondale in these stupid books.  I hate that fucking family.  We know their name is really Malfoy and they just went to Idris when they were put in the Wizarding World Witness Protection (aka let Cassandra Clare disguise them with golden eyes  and darker blonde hair).  This further supports the reason that Jo really should’ve just done us a favor and killed them off instead of letting them go into Clare protection.

I really wanted to list ten cliches for this review because it would’ve been nice to do a top ten list, but a lot of the other cliches sort of overlap.   At this point in the review, I am going to be fair and list the sort of new elements that The Dark Artifacts series provides:

1) Setting: It’s in Los Angeles so that has to count for something I guess.

2) A Blonde Main Character: This makes identifying Emma as either Hermione or Ginny much more difficult.  The trick is she’s really a female Malfoy.  You realize this when there’s the comparisons to Jace.

3)A New Warlock: Don’t worry, Magnus just had to go on vacation for most of the book, I’m sure he will still have the go to warlock position in future installments.

Okay, I’m done bitching (for now).  Honestly, I will probably finish this series.  As I said, these books are sort of a weird trip down nostalgia and honestly I sort of want to see when it’s finally going to all crash and burn.  Much how I watched Fuller House for the same reason (hence, the Full and Fuller House gifs in this review).   BUT, but I don’t know if I’ll be reviewing them after this one.  I don’t like giving Clare’s books press  and honestly I’m afraid my reviews for this shit are getting a little repetitive.

Overall Rating: A C.  The writing is bad, but the story is oddly engaging.

Awesomely Hallmark: Unleashing Mr. Darcy

Okay, first of all this Hallmark movie is actually based off a book.  I didn’t know it at the time I watched it (at three a.m. after a long day of bar studying way back in January).  All I knew was that it featured Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Ryan Paevey of General Hospital fame (okay, that might be pushing it to far, everyone just knows his character (Nate) as the guy who has his shirt off for most of the episode-wait theirs a lot of guys that do that).  Regardless because of the dogs AND Mr. Darcy I had to tape this.

I think before we start this great analysis of this oh so wonderful movie, I need to address the Mr. Darcy phenomenon.   It seems like these days a lot of persons put a Mr. Darcy label on their character in order to make it considered sexy.

Honestly, the side effects of these can vary.  I really don’t understand the stark raving that Mr. Darcy is the sexiest beast in the universe appeal.  he’s okay.  And I did enjoy the Colin Firth version, but putting a label on some drip to give him attractiveness points.

No.

Just no.

That being said Ryan Paevey is pretty to look at so  I guess he didn’t really need the Mr. Darcy label to begin with.

The Gist:

Dog show handler/teacher Lizzy gets canned after the rich brat she’s teaching complains to daddy and gets hired by her mother’s friend to take care of her terriers and get them ready for Westminster or its Hallmark version of Westminster.  In addition to being allowed to take her super cute Cavalier (Bliss) with her, she also has a cantankerous soap opera actor turned rich tycoon/dog show judge Mr. Darcy living right across the street (note, the actor not the character is a soap opera actor).

Review:

Think a very, very, loose retelling of Pride and Prejudice meaning just too singletons who don’t get along but later find themselves passionately and hopelessly in love fall in love together with their cute dogs.

The best part of this movie was the dogs, despite the fact that Hallamark was trying to capatalize what General Hospital  has been doing with Ryan Paevey since they hired him (get him without his shirt on).

The romance itself was very blah to say the least.  I didn’t really get the attraction between these two other than cute puppies and the fact that Lizzy’s rich friend and Darcy’s sister kept trying to throw them together.  And we were suppose to root for them because Darcy had an evil quasi girlfriend (who wasn’t related to Bingley) and Aunt Catherine  hated Lizzy.

I just rolled my eyes at this.

Otherwise, it wasn’t very Pride and Prejudice-y.

While there was a Jane, the Bingley subplot was basically zero.  There was not Lydia, no Wickham, no Mr. Collins, and there was no lake scene.

Damn it.

I wanted to see Ryan Paevey drive into a lake a la Colin Firth.

That scene will never get old, I tell you.

The important question is do the cute dogs make up for the lack of a lake scene.

That is difficult to say, but the dogs at least made it tolerable.  And I guess that was something.

Hallmark Squeal:

Ryan Paevey is good eye candy as always.  And to be fair, his character here has a little bit more substance than his General Hospital character, but that really doesn’t say much since his character on General Hospital 

OMG Hallmark Moment:

The whole firing scene.  Seriously, that in itself was a lawsuit in the making and just plain embarrassing on Hallmark’s part for writing such drivel.

Dean Cain Rating

I liked this one in the embarrassing way you’ll accidentally end up binging on Fuller House even though it is the worst show in the world.  I kept it on my DVR for nights of insomnia because cute dogeys and Ryan Pavey.

I am really easy to please.

Overall Rating: Six out of ten Dean Cains.

Bad Ass is Not the Proper Adjective: A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood

From an impressive sisterhood of YA writers comes an edge-of-your-seat anthology of historical fiction and fantasy featuring a diverse array of daring heroines.

Criss-cross America — on dogsleds and ships, stagecoaches and trains — from pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago. Join fifteen of today’s most talented writers of young adult literature on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own course. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos. They’re making their own way in often-hostile lands, using every weapon in their arsenals, facing down murderers and marriage proposals. And they all have a story to tell.

With stories by:
J. Anderson Coats
Andrea Cremer
Y. S. Lee
Katherine Longshore
Marie Lu
Kekla Magoon
Marissa Meyer
Saundra Mitchell
Beth Revis
Caroline Richmond
Lindsay Smith
Jessica Spotswood
Robin Talley
Leslye Walton
Elizabeth Wein

Source: GoodReads

I was excited about this one to say the east, I mean look at that title and cover and little descriptive blurb “15 stories of belles, bank robbers, and other badass girls”.    That has to be awesome, right?

Well, not so much.

To be honest, I almost stopped reading the collection after the first three or four stories.  They weren’t really that bad ass, more lame ass and a little poorly written.

Le sigh.  Luckily, I kept on and there were some good ones amongst the muck.  Reviewing short story collection is always a difficult thing to do, because if I do a thorough review every story the review becomes a bit of an omnibus.  On the other hand if I just review it as a whole it sort of falls flat.  What I’m going to do here is review the best and the worst stories in the collection and the ones that were so so.  If you want to know more about one of the stories leave a comment after the review and I’ll do my best to get back to you (wait, that was basically blogger voice mail).

The Good

  • The Red Raven Ball (Caroline Tung Richmond): This one was fun and could be continued on.  I really want some more YA set in the Civil War era.  There is a lot to explore in said era, and I liked that Richmond dealt with Lady Spies.
  • Pearls (Beth Revis): Oddly enough, I liked this one.  Which surprises me because I haven’t exactly been a huge fan of the author’s previous work.  I don’t even think I finished her sci fi series.
  • Gold in the Roots of the Grass  (Marissa Meyer): It’s by Marissa Meyer it has to be golden, right?  Actually what made me love this one was the fact that Meyer was able to write outside of her Lunar Chronicles series.  I love the set up for this one and it has the tiniest shades of The Mediator which is always a good thing.
  • Bonnie and Clyde (Saudra Mitchell): Maybe my favorite in the entire book.  Very engaging and I would very much like to see something like this developed into a larger story.
  • City of Angels (Lidsay Smith):  I liked the light Casabanca connection.  The story was easy enough to follow and the relationship was realistic with the page count and the constraints of the time period.

The Bad

  • Mother Carey’s Table (J Anderson Coats): It was interesting enough, but confusing and what disappointed me the most about this one was that it barely touched the surface in what could’ve been an interesting story.
  • The Journey (Marie Lu): Boring.  Then again, I wasn’t exactly a fan of Alaska survival stories.
  • El Destinos  (Leslye Walton): Confusing as hell.   I know that the writer was trying to use magical realism or whatever, but it just didn’t work for me.
  • High Stakes (Andrea Cramer): This one was just a headache.  A lot of it doesn’t make sense and unlike other authors who employed paranormal elements quite effortlessly with the page count they were given this one just has random vampires, jinn, and random anything else that was popular in 2006.

The Forgettable

  • The Legendary Garrett Girls (YS Lee) This one wasn’t bad and it might be more interesting to me upon reread but I was just sort of blah about it.
  • The Color of the Sky (Elizabeth Wein): This one read like a textbook to me.  The premises looked so exciting, but blah.
  • Hard Times (Katherine Longshore): This one wasn’t bad it was just that nothing happened.  The character development was decent though and I liked the character interactions.
  • Pulse of the Panthers (Kekla Magoon): This one just seemed like there was a fictional character witnessing history and I really didn’t pay attention.
  • The Whole World is Watching (Robin Talley): The pacing was ridiculous.  Had this been a full novel, it might’ve worked better.  As it was though, eh.

Overall the collection squeaks by with a C+ from me.  There were some stories I really liked and then there were some stories I really did not like.

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR List

So, I have a lot of books on my TBR pile that have accumulated over  along period of time.  Rather than list books on my preorder list, I am going try to list books that I intend to review in the next few months.

Top Ten Tuesday, as always, is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

10)Because Regency era and demons.  So, it will be an obvious read.

9)

I wasn’t really impressed with how this series went.  But I do want to finish the trilogy, and I want to finish it soon so I can move on to other things.

8)

I remember when the first book was released back in 2014, it was one of my most anticipated reads.  Turned out it was a bit of a disappointed, but I am interested in seeing how this series develops.

7)

Another time travel book.  Seriously, there were a lot of books with this theme introduced in the early months of this year.  I have a lot of them sitting in my pile and will probably open up this one first since it was the first one released.

6)

Always looking for more contemporaries to read.  This one looks really good because it deals with so many relevant issues in today’s society.  And I like that they used an actual trans woman for the cover model.

5)

This looks like whacky screwball fun. In space.

4)

Fairytale retellings.  I’m interested in seeing how this one is oging to turn out.  The premises looks  intriguing.

3)

Um, duh.

2)

Another duh.

1)

I actually have three Peter Pan themed books, so the goal is to read all three and do a miniseries over them this spring.

Last Years Purchasing Mistake: Last Year’s Mistake by Gina Ciocca

Before:
Kelsey and David became best friends the summer before freshman year and were inseparable ever after. Until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke, and everything around her crumbled—including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey’s parents decided to move away, she couldn’t wait to start over and leave the past behind. Except, David wasn’t ready to let her go…

After:
Now it’s senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David’s family moves to town and he shakes up everything. Soon old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey’s second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never truly let him go. And maybe she never wants to.

Told in alternating sections, LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE is a charming and romantic debut about loving, leaving, and letting go.

Source: GoodReads

Another DNF!

It’s funny because I read this one the same day after I quit reading The Notorious Pagan Jones.   Both of the books I ended up giving up on but for different reasons.

Last Year’s Mistake I was hoping would be a light forthy read.  Light forthy reads are actually sort of a hard thing to pull off successfully.  Unfortunately for this book, it was not a success.  I quit after reading roughly 90 pages of the book.

The structure sort of has the same structure as The Last Five Years in the fact that it will flip back and forth from the present to the past.  It doesn’t work too well in book form, because it just makes the book just jarring.   Plus, I didn’t really feel like I could get emotionally attach to any of these characters since it did take place in the same point of view (Kelsey’s) and I feel like the flashbacks could’ve been better even inwoven through the story or written in a purely chronological order.

Speaking of Kelsey, I could give a flying flip about her.  Apparently, there’s a new guy who caused her problems in the past so she’s tempted to cheat on her new hot piece of ass.

That’s all I really know about her.

David just seems as much as a cardboard cut out as the hot boyfriend whose name I can’t even remember.

Honestly, I didn’t really care about any aspect about this book which was why I DNF’d it.

It’s going to be a weird thing to say, but I just felt like this book was shallow.  Can books even be shallow?  If they can be it would be this book.

There was just no substance to it.  To be fair, it used a pretty standard cliche, but it didn’t even attempt to make it something more like other contemporary writers have done in the past.  Here, it’s just the “gimmick” of the novel is it’s structure, and like I previously stated it bugged me more than pulled me into the story.

Obviously, I didn’t finish this one like I didn’t finish The Notorious Pagan Jones while the the first book at least had an interesting hook, there was nothing about this one that interested me rather than trying to perfect he simple plot the book was one it just decided that changing the structure of the novel was sufficient enough to make it different.

Overall Rating: DNF

Lindsay Lohan Meets Affluenza Meets the Cold War: The Notorious Pagan Jones by Nina Berry

Pagan Jones went from America’s sweetheart to fallen angel in one fateful night in 1960: the night a car accident killed her whole family. Pagan was behind the wheel and driving drunk. Nine months later, she’s stuck in the Lighthouse Reformatory for Wayward Girls and tortured by her guilt—not to mention the sadistic Miss Edwards, who takes special delight in humiliating the once-great Pagan Jones.

But all of that is about to change. Pagan’s old agent shows up with a mysterious studio executive, Devin Black, and an offer. Pagan will be released from juvenile detention if she accepts a juicy role in a comedy directed by award-winning director Bennie Wexler. The shoot starts in West Berlin in just three days. If Pagan’s going to do it, she has to decide fast—and she has to agree to a court-appointed “guardian,” the handsome yet infuriating Devin, who’s too young, too smooth, too sophisticated to be some studio flack.

The offer’s too good to be true, Berlin’s in turmoil and Devin Black knows way too much about her—there’s definitely something fishy going on. But if anyone can take on a divided city, a scheming guardian and the criticism of a world that once adored her, it’s the notorious Pagan Jones. What could go wrong?

Source: GoodReads

It’s been a DNF week.  I do not lie about that.  The one good thing about DNF’ing things left and right is that I am sort of catching up on my GoodReads reading challenge.  Though some people might find that a bit of a cheat, but I don’t.  And that’s all that matters.

With Downton Abbey ending I have been craving period pieces.  I’ve had The Notorious Pagan Jones in my TBR pile for what seems forever.  The premises intrigued me enough, but with the bar and everything else I just sort of forgot about it.

The Notorious Pagan Jones takes place in the 1960’s at the height of the Cold War.   Pagan is a fallen film star, think Lohan but with manslaughter added to her record.

Honestly, I didn’t like Pagan.

I like imperfect heroines, but I like them to own their fuckups.  Pagan really doesn’t seem to think she deserves to be in jail, she tried to escape, despite killing her entire family.

To be fair though, if this was 2016 she’d probably have a pretty good defense using the affluenza card.  Though in 1960, being a poor little rich girl couldn’t get you off on manslaughter.  It could though get you out of jail for free if you had the right connections and you were THE only actress who could play some minor film role.

To be honest, I think the book planned on expanding this point further, but as previous mentioned I DNF’d the book because 200 pages in, I still couldn’t see where they were going with this.

Pagan, obviously, wasn’t a very sympathetic character and other than her the only character were given any sort of details of was her guardian/love interest, Devin Black, and I didn’t care for him too much either.  The fact that he’s her nineteen-year-old guardian-who has no blood relation to Pagan (tell me exactly how that happens-current hypothesis is he’s a vampire or something that’s really a lot older than nineteen much like Edward Cullen) and sort of has a thing for her has me dumbfounded.  Much like the fact that a judge would allow a convicted felon to go to a foreign country to shoot a movie.

I did like that Berry was going to explore this era in history, but honestly with what I saw I lost interest.  Having a Ethan Couch/Lindsay Lohan hybrid who just mopes and complains about her circumstances is just really not that endearing to me.  All I wanted to do was shake her and tell her than she killed two people and that she is a horrible person because she doesn’t realize the severity of her circumstances or at least attempts to repent.

Overall Rating: DNF.  Construction wise, I think it fails becuase the characters are just flat beyond belief and the pacing is horrid.