Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer

A brilliant, hilarious, and touching story with a Texas twist from Liza Palmer, author of Conversations With The Fat Girl (optioned for HBO)

Queenie Wake, a country girl from North Star, Texas, has just been fired from her job as a chef for not allowing a customer to use ketchup. Again. Now the only place she has to go is home to North Star. She can hope, maybe things will be different. Maybe her family’s reputation as those Wake women will have been forgotten. It’s been years since her mother-notorious for stealing your man, your car, and your rent money-was killed. And her sister, who as a teenager was branded as a gold-digging harlot after having a baby with local golden boy Wes McKay, is now the mother of the captain of the high school football team. It can’t be that bad…

Who knew that people in small town Texas had such long memories? And of course Queenie wishes that her memory were a little spottier when feelings for her high school love, Everett Coburn, resurface. He broke her heart and made her leave town-can she risk her heart again?

At least she has a new job-sure it’s cooking last meals for death row inmates but at least they don’t complain!

But when secrets from the past emerge, will Queenie be able to stick by her family or will she leave home again? A fun-filled, touching story of food, football, and fooling around. 

Source: GoodReads

Liza Palmer’s book Seeing Me Naked is one of my favorite books of all time.  I’ve been meaning to check out her backlist for awhile and picked up Nowhere But Home on a whim.

The result.

Mixed.

The writing itself is enjoyable and as readable as ever.  Palmer knows how to make a book readable that in itself gave the book a huge plus.

On the downside though, the story itself is extremely trite.  I could predict almost everything that was going to happen before it did.  And there was nothing surprising or unusual to set the book aside from the blandness that it was.

Even the character development was lacking.

Arguably, you could say that Queenie’s arc was decent character development.  The thing is though, is that I thought a lot of her character’s development felt rushed and unrealistic at best.  Especially how things wrap up.

That was a big fat no for me when I read that Queenie went through with that, I was like are you shitting me?  Because who in their mother fucking right mind would cook their mother’s murderer’s last meal.

And yes, I know that was her job at the prison where she was working, but come on.  No one would do that, but I had a bad feeling when I found out about Queenie’s mom’s death and her new job this was what Palmer was going to do.

And it didn’t work.  It was stupid.

Much like the love triangle in this book.  Honestly, Queenie’s whole romance could’ve been scraped all together and the book might’ve been better off for it.  I get that Everett was a part of her past, but in the present he barely makes an impression on me throughout the whole story so how things got resolved between them seemed a little WTF to me.

Really, all the character development was like that.  All the secrets that were to come out, apparently didn’t need to come out since everyone knew them already.  It was like what’s the point.

You read the book for the reveal and the reactions of the reveal, and the reveals had already been done.

To be fair though, a part of me really did enjoy this one.  Like I said, the writing was good and as unrealistic as the town Queenie lived in felt, for what it was worth it was atmospheric.  I did get emerged in the setting, but from my experience with Texas and small towns that town would likely only exist in a Hallmark movie.

I’m being honest here.  I just found it so difficult to buy some of the conflicts that went on with the community and the added bonus of Texas big hair made it feel even faker.

I guess what I’m saying is even though I had a lot of problems with Nowhere But Home, is that if you can look passed all the cliches and a plot that doesn’t surprise you, you might want to give it a try.  Like I said, Palmer does have a quality about her writing that makes is charming and hard to put down.  But if you are one to get swept up into decent writing and you start noticing all the flaws you might not like this one that much.

Overall Rating: A C+

2017: Some of My Reading List

2016 has been a dumpster set on fire year.  It’s been bad.  I don’t want to say that 2017 has to be better because that cursed 2016, but one has to hope.   Regardless, I thought I’d list some of the books I plan on reading next year.  At the very least, they’re something to look forward to.

I’ll admit I do like geeky books where the main character goes to a con.  I also like the whole Cinderella angle this one has.  Yes, I know the Cinderella story is extremely sexist and its roots aren’t exactly geared towards feminism, but its a guilty pleasure for me.  And look at that cover, it’s adorbs.  Though really, vegan?  It sort of makes me wonder about the taste-ability of the stuff that The Magic Pumpkin serves since most of the vegan things I taste have been a little off-and I do eat a fair bit since they’re often gluten free, but they don’t use butter and that’s just wrong.

Indiana Jones, mother fuckers.  That in itself makes me want to read it then there’s a mother fucking Tomb Raider reference and it’s so going to be preordered.

One of the reasons I like to read so much is its a great way to learn about other cultures and places you would’ve else never known about.  Arranged marriages intrigue me and I always sort of wanted to read about what might gear one person into accepting one versus another person being freaked out at the process of their parents or whoever playing matchmaker.

I’m excited about this one because it takes place in Tokyo but looking at the cover I’m quite annoyed that it appears that the love interest is not Japanese.  Seriously, what do I have to do to get some hot Asian love interests?  Still though, the premises intrigues me.

I am very curious about Ramona Blue despite the controversy it’s getting.  I do feel like there aren’t a lot of books featuring bisexual protagonists in YA so I am interested in seeing how this one is.

Erin Watt’s Paper Princess trilogy was my crack series in 2016.  I am interested in seeing what these two authors have up their sleeves.  This book involves a pop star so I already know it’s going to be good.

Pretty much everyone has a winning the lotto fantasy and Kasie West finally decided to write about it.  Sold.

Give me royal lit.  If anyone knows me, you know I’m a  whore for royalty stories.  My DVR can attest to this fact since it taped like fifty million Hallmark movie this holiday season dealing with royalty.

I vaguely remember Gray writing an android love story in a short story collection I read a couple years ago.  It seems like she decided to develop that idea or a variation of it into a full blown book.  Regardless, love the cover.

This one looks intriguing to me and I’ve been seeing it everywhere.  Love me some space operas.

 

 

Ain’t Got No Time For This: The Infinity of You and ME by JQ Coyle

What if every life-altering choice you made could split your world into infinite worlds?

Almost fifteen, Alicia is smart and funny with a deep connection to the poet Sylvia Plath, but she’s ultimately failing at life. With a laundry list of diagnoses, she hallucinates different worlds—strange, decaying, otherworldly yet undeniably real worlds that are completely unlike her own with her single mom and one true friend. In one particularly vivid hallucination, Alicia is drawn to a boy her own age named Jax who’s trapped in a dying universe. Days later, her long-lost father shows up at her birthday party, telling her that the hallucinations aren’t hallucinations, but real worlds; she and Jax are bound by a strange past and intertwining present. This leads her on a journey to find out who she is while trying to save the people and worlds she loves. J.Q. Coyle’s The Infinity of You & Me is a wild ride through unruly hearts and vivid worlds guaranteed to captivate. 

Source: GoodReads

I’ve sort of been into alternate worlds lately.  I think it’s because I’d like to believe that somewhere out there there is a sane universe where America wasn’t stupid and elected a president that kicks ass instead of a bad recast of The Manchurian Candidate, but I digress.  Simply stated, the idea intrigues me and there’s a lot of directions you can go in.  It has so much potential and I’m not lying about that.

When I started this book it seemed like it had a nice set up.  I enjoyed the fact that the character was experiencing these things and it was being noticed as mental illness.  Usually, strange events are ignored in YA, so it was nice to see them being seen and being rationalized as something but…but that idea was quickly blown out of the water later on.

Anyway, back on point the initial set up looked good.  Like I said, I liked the logic to it.  I liked the struggles that Alicia had as a student that had special needs.  You don’t see that a lot in YA which is a shame, because there are a lot of kids out there diagnosed with something or the other and having a book that they can identify with is always a good thing.

That being said, as an attorney I sort of got more than a little annoyed when the principal started going on about how Alicia should be denied an education because of her issues.

Her issues weren’t even that bad.  I wanted to tell him that what he was suggesting was illegal.  And I started wondering why they didn’ t have an ARD meeting-though I guess it would be called something else since this book isn’t taking place in Texas-but it made me want to hire a former Children’s Defense fund advocate who should’ve been president to represent her.

You see, this book keeps making me refer to that dumpster fire of an election.  Again, sort of goes back to my introduction paragraph when I keep thinking of that alternate world where all the moronic Neo Nazis didn’t vote because they thought some guy who makes ties in China  and drinks vodka with Putin is going to bring back their offshore job.

Yeah…

Okay, I will go back to talking about the book now.  It had an interesting premises.  And I really was looking forward to reading it because it did have that whole gas lighting plot to it that I find ridiculously irresistible.  What didn’t work though, was that we quickly find out that what Alicia is experiencing is real and that her uncle, therapist and everyone who seemingly has authority in her life is out to get her.

Oh, save for her mom.

At least as far as I got her mom just appeared fucking stupid.  Though, she might’ve been out to get her. Add a mysterious good looking boy.

And fuck me.

All the potential is squeezed out of this one.

I thought about sticking around to see if things got better, but by this point I was through a good chunk of the book and it didn’t seem likely that that was going to happen.  It is a short book and honestly Alicia was acting like a bit of an idiot and…

Yeah.  I have a short attention span these days.  The thing is as far as DNF’s go, I feel bad about giving this one a total fail of a grade.  I mean there were glimpses here and there where it could’ve been a pretty cool book, but it just ended up not really out well for me in the end.  If you can handle some of the annoying cliche tropes better than me, then maybe this one will work for you.

As for me, overall rating: DNF

 

 

A Small Improvement: See How They Run by Ally Carter

Inside every secret, there’s a world of trouble. Get ready for the second book in this new series of global proportions–from master of intrigue, New York Times bestselling author Ally Carter.

Grace’s past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

The twists get twistier and the turns get even more shocking in the second thrilling installment of Embassy Row.

Source: GoodReads

I wasn’t really that impressed with the last Embassy Row book and had reservations about the sequel, but with the third book coming out I decided to give the series another go.  And…well, this installment is better than the first one.

That’s something, right?

I still had a lot of problems with said book though.

I really think my crux with the series is the main character.

God, I can’t stand her.  Which is a shame because Ally Carter does usually create enjoyable leads.  I think my issue with Grace though is that she’s just a pain in the ass in general to everyone she comes in contact in.  In the first book, I sort of understood why Carter had her be so ugh.  I mean, she was supposed to be an unreliable lead.  Thing is, the truth’s been revealed and rather than developing as a character like one would hope, she’s still committing the same bone headed mistakes.  And a lot of the mistakes she makes this time around aren’t exactly fixable.

The romance isn’t bad.

I mean, that’s something, right?  While I don’t care for Grace there is decent chemistry between her and the male lead.  Of course, Grace does a lot of stupid stuff which makes me think dude you can do so much better, but it’s not exactly terrible.

The other real issue I had with this one was that things were sort of oddly paced.    There was so much that happened in this book, and it was all sort of thrown at the audience which while making it an interesting enough read, made it sort of hard to follow.

That being said, I am going to continue on with the third book because there are lots of interesting things that are going on in this series.  But there are bits and pieces of it that are really just a hot mess.

Overall Rating: A B-, some good bones but lots and lots of flaws.

Contrived: The SUn is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Source: GoodReads

I think Nicola Yoon’s stuff is overrated.

Don’t get me wrong, I found Everything, Everything to be okay but it was contrived.  The Sun is Also a Star is even more contrived than her previous efforts (though it probably didn’t help that I skipped to the end and wasn’t impressed at all with how things resolved themselves.

I think the thing that was supposed to be innovative about this one is its style.  And I’ll give it this, I did like the style.  Though I hardly found it unique or innovative.  Side character POVs aren’t exactly a new thing.  So that really didn’t give it any sort of leg up.

The overall story arc is pretty weak.  I did like that both characters were from diverse backgrounds though, Ill give it that.  But the thing is, maybe it’s being an attorney who has actually taken an Immigration law course and dealt with some immigration cases I knew how the book was probably going to end before it started AND when Natasha just showed up at the UCIS office, I just shook my head knowing that this was not going to end well.

There’s not a lot of twists you can thrown in when you decide to deal with immigration law, and actually go through the motions of stating that they exhausted all of their options.

Yeah, sort of makes the story suck.

And God knows, I wish Natasha was a little bit more of a compassionate character than she was.  From the pages that I read, I really didn’t like or care for her.  She was hateful and seemed to blame everyone for her situation.  Plus,  I still couldn’t get over the fact she went to the UCIS alone as a minor.    Or that she actually thought she had a chance after the appeal options had been exhausted.  And the fact she was bemoaning over the fact that she wasn’t able to use that stolen SSN her mom got her.

Yeah, identity theft is really going to endear me to a character.

And yes, I know she’s undocumented and has to deal with some terrible shit that’s not her fault.  But come on, you’re talking about stealing someone’s social security number.  That is so wrong.

Daniel, the love interest, was just as whiney in a lot of ways.  But I sort of got where he was coming from more.  Again, he hadn’t exactly been exploited that much in narration so maybe I would’ve hated him had I continued.

Again, I don’t think The Sun is Also a Star is the worst book I’ve ever read, but it was blase and something I honestly didn’t want to finish it which is why I DNF’d it.

Plot, What Plot: Mr. President by Katy Evans

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katy Evans comes a sizzling new contemporary romance.

He’s won the hearts of millions. But is he willing to lose his?

I met the president’s son when we were both young. Matthew Hamilton was handsome, polished, and intelligent. I’d never met a guy like him.

He promised me that he’d never run for president. I promised that if he did, I’d be by his side.

Three terms later, an invitation to join Matthew Hamilton’s campaign is the most exhilarating opportunity I’ve ever experienced. I’m determined to make a difference; he is determined to win.

Focused on his goal, Matt is steadfast, ruthless, and disarming. All eyes are on him and his popularity is surging. But soon, the next possible president of the United States is possessing me in more ways than one—and despite the risks, I’m helpless to resist.

We’re stealing touches, stealing moments, and stealing away at night. But our chemical connection is quickly becoming dangerously combustive, putting not only my heart, but Matt’s chance at the presidency on the line.

Winning will take everything. Walking away will be the hardest thing of all.

Source: GoodReads

Rarely, do I ever get embarrassed admitting I read a book.  I mean, I have read some pretty horrible books in the day-just read the archives for this blog if you don’t believe me.  But I am a little embarrassed that I read Mr. President.

It is bad ya’ll.  I mean, yeah I knew it was going to be a romance novel and it was going to have all the trimming that romances have (way too many sex scenes with bad metaphors) but all this book was was one bad sex scene after the next.  There wasn’t even a good plot to have a sex scene skimmer like yours truly interested in this book.

The romance itself was even lacking.

It was so banal.

To the point I didn’t even get the attraction between the two other than that they both found each other hot-aka Matt has dark eyes and Charlotte is a redhead.

The thing that bothered me about this one the most is that there was potential here.  I wanted to explore more into Matt’s dad’s assassination and his campaign. I wanted to know more about the other candidates that made Matt’s third party run viable.   I wanted Charlotte to have some semblance of a personality, but did I get what I wanted.

Big fat nope.

Instead, I was left with some interesting bread crumbs while being WTF out of how unrealistic Charlotte’s situation is.

Girl is twenty-two and with no experience whatsoever is working for a major presidential candidate, and yeah the book points out that there was a connection and a stupid hokey promise made when girl was like teen but still.

Ugh.

That’s all I have to say big fat ugh.  If you’re above the age of twenty-two and have been in the job market/don’t come from privilege, and if you are below the age of twenty-two and don’t come from any sort of privilege you’re going to hate this girl.  She makes Rory Gilmore on the Gilmore Girls revival look likable.

I mean, I was annoyed.

Is it really that hard for an author to write a background for their MC that’s age appropriate and why not age up Charlotte a little.  She could’ve been a little bit older than 22 and it would be perfectly acceptable.  I’m just saying.

Anyway, don’t recommend.  I find books like this odd.  If you go to their GoodReads page they usually have five thousand reviews oohing and aweing about it with lots and lots of pictures of models who are supposed to be the main characters.  But really, those sorts of reviews should’ve been my tip off that this book focused too much on bad sex scenes and not anything else.

Overall Rating: Big fat F.

 

2016 Year in Review: Thank God Its Almost Over

2016 has been a mixed year in real life and book wise as well, come to think of it.  Obviously, not enough people in the US paid attention to Orwell’s Animal Farm and acted accordingly.  In my personal life, while I did  pass another bar exam and got a new job (yay!) I had some horrible things occur as well.  I lost two of my beloved dogs, Dolly and Skeeter, in addition to my grandmother passing away.   In all, I’m hoping 2017 will no be as drama filled or at the very least I hope things stabilize a bit.

Dolly and Skeeter.  BFFs, forever.  You to will always be loved and missed.

Dolly and Skeeter BFFs forever. You two will always be loved and missed.

As I usually do in December is write up a post of the more memorable books I’ve read-good and bad-for the year.    Here are the usual statistics.

Total Books Read:

When I started drafting this post (December 10th) I read 160 books.  That’s sixty books over my goal.  I had an extremely slow work summer which explains it.  I don’t think I’ll get as much reading done next year, which oddly I’m sort of glad about  in a weird way.  The funny thing is when I started this year, I was so far behind on my reading goal because of bar prep.  How things change.

Most Read Genre:

Probably historical romance.  I read pretty much of all of Lisa Kleypas back list this summer.  Like I said, my old job got extremely slow and I had lots and lots of time to read.

Reading Report:

Mixed.  Like the year, it’s been lots of ups and downs.  The good books have been really good.  The bad books not so good.   I would say though, that there hasn’t been one memorable kill it with fire book this year.  Which is good.  Oh, don’t get me wrong there were some bad ones but they weren’t like Halo bad.

Biggest Surprise:

I read so many Lisa Kleypas’s books this year its not even funny.  I think that’s why I put her stuff in the “biggest surprise” category.  I didn’t think this would be the year of Kleypas reading, but that’s how it ended up being.

Biggest Disappointment:

Oh, boy this one was a major suck zone for me.  It’s by Marissa Meyer.  Marissa Meyer who wrote the Lunar Chronicles.  This was her first non-Lunar chronicle book and it did not work for me at ALL.  The world building was haphazard at best and the story was so predictable I didn’t even bother finishing.  No, Ms. Meyer, this is not what I expected from you.

Best Contemporary:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.  But here’s the thing, no one does contemporaries like Meg Cabot.  There’s always something quintessentially charming about her books.

Worst Contemporary (YA):

Oh my.  I just can’t.  There was potential with this one, but there were a lot of things that were gouge worthy about this book.  The love interest and MC had zero romantic chemistry whatsoever.  It could’ve been an interesting ship though, but the way it was it wasn’t.  The MC is way too judging, and there seemed to be very little character development in the book.  It was a fail.

Worst Contemporary (Adult)

This one got a special spot on the list!  Mainly because it was so downright awful.  I bought it thinking it would be a cute little romance that dealt with a baking competition, not realizing it was quasi Christian lit-insert groan.  Look, nothing against people who love Christian romance but the books always seem a little self righteous to me and no one, no one in real life unless they are a Duggar or a member of some religious cult quotes that many Bible versus.  I’m just saying.  Anyway, this book is sexist and it had one of the most creepy heroes that I’ve read in awhile.  Avoid.  Avoid.  Avoid.  Yeah, it was sort of a kill with fire book.

Best Fantasy:

Yeah this one.  I can’t help it.  I know it’s going to be on a lot of people’s list and some people are going to find it cliche, but I really did enjoy it.

 

Worst Fantasy:

Eh.   This one was just so choppy.  I could’ve put in the retelling category, but I feel like at least it sort of tried to be true to its source material.  Still, that doesn’t mean it didn’t suck.  And as a fantasy the world building was pretty horrible.

 

Best Paranormal:

An easiest enough one to put on here, I feel like I’m almost cheating.  It’s The Mediator so it’s going to end up on here.

Worst Paranormal:

Ugh.  Such a promising premises.  Such a big fat let down.

Best Retelling:

This was a very loose Persephone retelling that I loved.  It was so, so, so, good.

Worst Retelling:

I was more meh about this book than hating it.  But the reason it made the “worst” retelling spot is because it is nothing, nothing like its suspected source material.

Best Historical:

The ship was just perfect in this one.  Yeah, it sort of has shades of Pride and Prejudice to it, but you can’t deny that that one is a classic.

Worst Historical:

Cream does not equal consent.  Obviously.  But then again, a large sum of this country things that talking about grabbing a woman’s vagina without her permission is perfectly presidential conversation so….yeah.

Best Diverse Book:

What gives this one props over the other diverse books I read is it really felt like it’s audience was driven towards a diverse audience than trying to teach white straight people about diverse populations. I think that’s my problem with several diverse books, they seem to be pigeon holed with making the book more about for example trans issues than having a book featuring a trans character that is just living her life and that’s what Hold Me is and that’s why I really liked it.

Series Beginner:

I was so happy to find out that this one is getting a couple of companion sequels.  It is hilarious and one of my favorites of the year.

 

Middle Book Slump Avoider:

Dear author, if you need a pro tip how to do a middle book in a series read The Long Game.  I think it’s even better than the first book in the series which is saying something.

Series Ender:

Talk about an explosive ending to a dulogy this book ends on the perfect note with a cliffie that’s so evil I just had to vent to someone after reading it.  Still though, the perfect ending to an interesting little duology.

Best Cover:

This wasn’t my favorite book, but I love the cover.  It even has a neat texture thing going with it.  So, so, pretty.

Worst Cover:

This really looked like a placement cover that I was a little surprised when I got my book and found out it was the final version.  It didn’ t help the book, needless to say.

Worst Overall Book:

Ah, yes, The Return of Brody McDouche where the hero knocks up two woman at the same time and all the blame is placed on the woman that’s not the heroine because it doesn’t take two to tango.  And oh yeah, heroine is forced to raise both brats while Brody McDouche is getting his shit together

Best Overall Book:

It was a reread, but this is one of my all time favorite books this is the first time in several years I’ve done a full reread.  There is just so many feels in this one.  If you haven’t picked up a copy of Paradise, what are you waiting for?  Go.

 

 

Does the DTPA Work for Blurbs: Alterations by Stephanie Scott

If anyone saw the prom boards Amelia Blanco makes on her favorite fashion app, they’d think Ethan Laurenti was her boyfriend. They wouldn’t know that all the plans she’s made for them are just dreams, and that she’s the girl who watches him from the kitchen while her parents cook for his famous family.

When Amelia’s abuelita enrolls her in a month-long fashion internship in NYC, Amelia can’t imagine leaving Miami–and Ethan–for that long. As soon as she gets to New York, however, she finds a bigger world and new possibilities. She meets people her own age who can actually carry on a conversation about stitching and design. Her pin boards become less about prom with Ethan and more about creating her own style. By the time she returns to Miami, Amelia feels like she can accomplish anything, and surprises herself by agreeing to help Ethan’s awkward, Steve-Jobs-wannabe brother, Liam, create his own fashion app.

As Liam and Amelia get closer, Ethan realizes that this newly confident, stylish girl may be the one for him after all . . . even though he has a reality TV star girlfriend he conveniently keeps forgetting about. The “new and improved” Amelia soon finds herself in between two brothers, a whole lot of drama, and choice she never dreamed she’d have to make. 

Source: GoodReads

I was really excited for Alterations mainly because it was pitched as a Sabrina retelling.  Which is one of my favorite movie(s).  I like the old one for Audrey Hepburn, though I can’t stand Bogey and I like the new one for Harrison Ford.  The point is, it’s a movie I’m always watching when I have a bad day and I was excited to see how a YA adaption would be.

This one…calling it a Sabrina retelling was a stretch.  Some people will like it better than me, but I really didn’t care for this one for multiple reasons.

The first and main one dealt with the lead, Amelia.

Ugh.

Ugh.

Ugh.

While Sabrina-the character-was annoying in the beginning of the movie, she quickly finds her own footing.  Yet, Amelia flounders for a good chunk of the book AND even though she grows up at the end it’s more of a half hearted attempt at growing up than it should’ve been.

True, we’re dealing with a YA protagonist but still this girl…

She does so many bone headed moves, that I just want to slap her.  So many freaking times.

Like the whole thing at the fashion camp.  The lies, I just–I just couldn’t.  It was like watching a bad ABC sitcom in the 90’s.  You know the ones with the lessons of the week whose stars careers ended up into doing just Hallmark movie.

And for that matter, way too much time was spent on the fashion camp stuff if this was supposed to be a Sabrina retelling.  Most of the movie(s) explored the relationship between Sabrina and Linus-or here Amelia and Liam.  Yeah, we got that a little bit but the whole set up and wooing surrounding it was completely changed.

Yes, that’s going to happen with with retelling.  Plot elements are going to be change and such, but this was one of those cases where really the only resemblance I saw to Sabrina was that there was a working class girl who fell in love with her parents’ employer’s two sons.  It really didn’t do it for me.

The crux of Sabrina the whole David (or in this instance Ethan) notices Sabrina (Amelia) was completely missing.  The whole Linus has to seduce Sabrina but finds himself falling in love with her was missing.  Again, I was like WTF why are we even calling this a Sabrina retelling. Anyway,  besides the very disappointing blurb comparison-seriously, I feel like there needs to be some sort of DTPA-Deceptive Trade Practices Act-for false blurbs and the annoying YA protagonist who falls for the wrong person, this one is okay.

Yeah, there are some things that really bother me besides the two major cruxes that I pointed out.  Like, the fact that the book seemed to try to make itself sound “hip”  Writing that sounds so weird because it’s trying to ID with it’s intended audience not realizing that hey younger people aren’t so different than older people.  FYI, it’s probably not the smartest thing to have fifty some odd references to Project Runway and Tim Gunn.  Just saying.

So, Alterations, do I recommend it…not really.  It has more than it’s fair share of issues.  But I could see people liking this one and that’s totally okay.  It just has a heinous blurb comparison.

Overall Rating: A C-.  Yeah, not my cuppa BUT if you like contemporary romance and you’re not a die hard Sabrina fan and won’t be annoyed with how this book doesn’t live up to those fabulous movies then go for it.

Double Feature: Wolf by Wolf and Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

Her story begins on a train.

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.

But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

From the author of The Walled City comes a fast-paced and innovative novel that will leave you breathless.

Source: GoodReads

Alternative history is sort of a thing of mine.  And I really find the World War II period scary interesting to study which meant Wolf by Wolf seemed like a perfect book for me.  Oh, and did I mention it involved a very long trans continental race and I’m sort of got a weird obsession with trans continental travel-seriosuly, I’ve read all about the Mongol Rally.  And then I read this blog about traveling from Alaska to the tip of Argentina.  And then, you get the point.

Also what peeked my interest about this one was that someone compared it to one of my favorite movies, The Great Race.  Only thing is it really didn’t remind me of that movie-much.  Yes, with the big race but that movie was so much light hearted then this book.

To say the least, this book gets dark and heartbreaking.

I think the most strongest parts about this one were the flashbacks.  They were just heartbreaking.  So, so, heartbreaking.

And they were what made the book.  The actual race didn’t intrigue me as much as I wanted it too.  The locations weren’t very atmospheric and honestly I don’t like reading about Nazis as love interests.   Even though I sort of knew that was coming since this was an AU world where the Nazis won and of course Nazis are going to populate the world.   And.

Yeah, I needed to insert that Captain Von Trapp gif in here.

The thing is, there was one character who I wished was more than an impact character.  Had he survived, he would’ve actually been an interesting love interest.  But…I didn’t really read this book for the love story.

By the time Wolf by Wolf was over, I really felt that it was only starting.  There was so much potential with this book, but it just didn’t live up to what I wanted.  The ending is a cliff hanger and I’ll talk about how it resolves in my review of Blood For Blood, but I got to say right now that I really think the two books could’ve been convinced into one.

Overall Rating: A B- an interesting premises, but it was sort of illy placed and really didn’t utilize its setting to its fullest.  The flashbacks though were fantastic.

There would be blood. Blood for blood. Blood to pay. An entire world of it.

For the resistance in the Third Reich, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun. Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against Hitler’s army, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.

But in the midst of the chaos, Yael’s past and future collide when she comes face to face with a ghost from her past, and a spark with a fellow rider begins to grow into something more. Dark secrets reveal dark truths and one question hangs over them all—how far can you go for the ones you love?

Source: GoodReads

In a lot of ways I liked Blood For Blood, better than Wolf by Wolf.  Blood For Blood is better paced than its predecessor.   However, it does have flaws.

AKA Nazi love interests.

Again, I just can’t.  Though, I get why the author did it but still.  And for one Nazi, I wanted more revenge than we got.  He deserved to get beaten and then some and I thought got off pretty lightly.   The ending was sort of depressing in a lot of ways, but then I guess this book was sort of going to end that way.

Wolf by Wolf ended on a cliff hanger Blood For Blood, picked up soon afterwards.  And Blood For Blood does not stop once it gets started.  There are so many twists and turns to this story it makes the book hard to put down.

Did I like everything that occurred with Blood For Blood?  No.  There were lots of things that annoyed me.  I already mentioned the romance and the whole resolution seemed a little off to me.  It seemed too fast, too neat.  But at the same time I really enjoyed the book.  I never grew bored with it.  There was always some sort of twist and turn that kept my interest in it.

So yeah, I do recommend it.

But with reservations.

Do not read this book for the romance.

Again, I’ll repeat myself do not read it for the romance.  It is a fairly interesting take on an AU history.

Overall Rating: A B.

Series Rating: I’m going to give it a B.  Overall, this one was interesting and had some good moments but there were some things that really didn’t work-like the romance.  We really, really, didn’t need it.

Awesomly Hallmark: A Dream of Christmas

Ever since America decided to be stupid, I have been consoling myself with Hallmark Christmas movies.  They’re oddly addicting and comforting-no orange toupees or shit spewing spinners for people who have orange toupees.  But upon reflection, they are oddly sexist.  Seeing how I’ve seen about fifteen or so of these movies in the past month-they repeat  the same ones A LOT.

Why no new blog entry?  Well, there were just so many of them and I was moving.  To be fair though, I really did think about reviewing  A Broadcast Christmas  which starred 90’s reject stars-such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Lisa from Sister Sister, and Superman himself- aka Dean Cain.  And since I give a Dean Cain reading, I though that one until I saw Dean Cain and was like ew no.  We’re going to have to change the Dean Cain rating since he should not be playing a love interest anymore.  In fact, seeing and hearing Dean Cain in that movie sort of made me ditch my old review formula all together, besides the fact that Cain is a huge Dump supporter and, well, any nostalgia crush I had on him has been rendered dead three times over.  He could still look like he did in the 90’s and I would’ve ditched the formula after his support for Dump.

Anyways, when I saw A Dream of Christmas it sort of epitomized the problem I have with a lot of these movies that the internalize sexism.

No joke.

If you look at my Twitter feed I went on a rant about this one right after I watched it.  Pretty much it boils down to this: Hallmark likes to go on the trope that professional women are cold and evil and need the love of a man to be whole.

Guys, it’s not true.

I know, I know, everyone wants/need a man per Hallmark and being ambitious is evil.  But it’s not.

And often when I watch these movies it makes me angry how Hallmark emphasizes this.

A Dream of Christmas illustrates this.  The basis of the movie is that this woman gets pissed off at her slacker husband.  Okay, he’s not exactly a true slacker but he is a bit of a dick.  She’s trying to get a promotion at her job-I think it was marketing, but she’s like a copy editor- and he’s more like bitch, we need to readjust our schedule ’cause I got to get pictures of some reindeer for my book thing.

Note, I don’t think he had an actual book deal just an idea for a book which makes the whole thing even more ridiculous.  Anyway, so Meg/Peg (I can’t pinpoint which one was her name and I deleted the film from my DVR) gripes about this with her sister at the mall when Shirley-Cindy Williams from Laverne and Shirley- overhears and decides to teach Meg/Peg a crappy Hallmark lesson.

This creepy lesson occurs when Meg/Peg puts the angel on the Christmas tree, falls out and ends up in a swanky house with a faux white tree-throughout the movie we’re told how “bad” artificial trees are.  Which pisses me off because all I’ve ever had is an artificial tree thanks to Dad and the allergies that he passed on to his progeny (meaning me and my sister).  Anyway, Meg/Peg finds out that she’s no longer married but is actually doing something other than seeing if some executive  uses proper punctuation marks and flips out when she realizes she’s not married to Stew the Dick.Meg/Peg’s responsibilities are eased though when her assistant-there’s always an assistant-gives her an updated Working Girl makeover complete with several outfits that would get you sent home from the office.  Though, I guess, Meg/Peg doesn’t have to care because she’s the mother fucking Barracuda.

Oh yeah, they call her the Barracuda.   Only thing is to me, I didn’t see Meg/Peg as that tough.  It didn’t fit with her character.  I mean, there save for a couple of what is sitting in some random intern’s cubicle scene there’s nothing Big Bad Bitch about her.  Even the makeover she gets really didn’t do much for her except add a little curl to her hair and dare I say make her look even softer which is ridiculous.  Somehow she lands some rich guy who owns an apartment store’s account though and Hallmark cues the love interest music-though nothing ever develops between these two since Meg/Peg decides to use Stew the Dick as her photographer.

Because apparently Shirley didn’t do her job right  and dick still exists in this world.

Speaking of Shirley, in this movie, maybe they should rename her character “the devil” becuase this lady does nothing to help Meg/Peg in fact I have to say she’s the bitchest out of bitch characters in this movie.  She takes an off handed remark from a venting session and makes a mountain of suffering-aka about eighty minutes of viewing time-over it.  To be fair, we wouldn’t have had a movie otherwise BUT it was more than a little annoying.

Shirley does eventually figure out that she fucked up though and tells Meg/Peg to stay away from the dick.  Meg/Peg doesn’t listen though so Shirley Devil has to invent a fiance for Stew.  Meg/Peg of course doesn’t have any option but to tell the truth.

She doesn’t.

Instead, she just sort of cries around like Jennifer Garner did in Thirteen Going on Thirty and whines about how she wants her old life-crappy life and docuhey husband and wakes up getting both.

And has a complete psychotic breakdown because of it.

Okay, that part is not true.  At least Hallmark would tell you it wasn’t.  They would tell you that Meg/Peg than finds joy that despite getting a professional promotion that she quits her job to do marketing her loser hubby and the movie pretty much ends after that while any feminist who is watching the movie goes to gouge his/her eyes out.

To be fair, I have seen worse Hallmark movies, but it flummoxes my mind that in 2016 sexist ideas such as professional women=over ambitious bitches who have little to no personal lives just make me so angry.  Maybe it is because I am a professional woman.  I worked years to get my law licenses and to get a job that I felt was meaningful, and it pisses me off that this movie acts like professional achievements mean so little.  And especially that a woman like Meg/Peg would throw it away for Stew the Dick.

Look, I get what this movie was trying to do but at the end of the day the message is mixed at best.

Overall Rating: A big fat C.