Disappointing: Dreadnought by April Daniels

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but between her father’s dangerous obsession with curing her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and the classmate who is secretly a masked vigilante, Danny’s first weeks living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined.

She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer, a cyborg named Utopia, still haunts the streets of New Port City. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

Source: GoodReads

Out of all the books I had in my January TBR list, I think I was the most excited for Dreadnought which was a superhero book featuring a trans main character.  That in itself had so much potential and it was an #ownvoices book which made the prospect of it feel even better.  The sad truth of it was, when it came down to it Dreadnought just wasn’t  a good book.  So much, I DNF’d it.

Before I go into my criticisms though I want to praise the book for what it did do right: the premises.

The premises was just awesome.  A trans character being a superhero and fighting crime, talk about empowering.  I had great hopes for this one especially since it’s not often we have a book featuring a non-WASP character that isn’t an “issue” oriented book.

However….well, this book didnt’ focus that much on superheroes.

Mostly it was about Danielle coming out as trans in probably one of the most awful ways possible-her body changes in the first chapter of the story so she’s sort of forced to reveal her true self like it or not.  And unfortunately, pretty much everyone acts like a MAGA asshole.

I kid you not.

Her father is transphobic and her mother is just an enabler.  Which would be fine for the book if there was anyone that Danny could talk too.  But her best friend is a perverted dick and other than a new girl where I think-hope-something might be brewing between those two she really has no one to talk to and it sucks becuase girl needs to have someone to lend an ear too.

And I get it, trans people often are isolated it’s a sad reality which why having books like this is important, but it just angered me so much and I really wanted there to be some mentor or someone else Danny could talk too.  Even a trans support group would be nice.

But nope.

The superhero aspect of the book was extremely weak.  The powers and origin stories are explained in paragraphs at most and there’s really not much to them.  Even fighting crime is sort of boring.  And of course, we get the obligatory asshole superhero transphobic character too.

Really, I would say that a good 80% of the cast in this book were transphobic or pervy.

It is not good.

The vague world building with hodgepodge to non-existent plot made the book hardly enjoyable to the point where I reluctantly DNF’d it.

Which I’m actually sort of upset about because again that premises.

Sigh.  I feel like this book might be interesting enough if you’re not trigger sensitive to extreme bigotry but really everything is only halfway done.  It really would’ve been nice had this book lived up to half of the potential that it had.

Overall Rating: A DNF.

X-Men in the USSR: Sekret by Lindsay Smith

An empty mind is a safe mind.

Yulia knows she must hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive in Communist Russia. But if she sometimes manipulates the black market traders by reading their thoughts when she touches their skin, so what? Anything to help her survive.

Russia’s powerful spy agency, the KGB, is recruiting young people with mind-reading capabilities for their psychic espionage program. Their mission: protect the Soviet space program from American CIA spies. Why shouldn’t the KGB use any means necessary to make the young psychic cooperate? Anything to beat the American capitalist scum to the moon.

Yulia is a survivor. She won’t be controlled by the KGB, who want to harness her abilities for the State with no regard for her own hopes and dreams. She won’t let handsome Sergei plan her life as a member of elite Soviet society, or allow brooding Valentin to consume her with his dangerous mind and even more dangerous ideas. And she certainly won’t become the next victim of the powerful American spy who can scrub a brain raw—and seems to be targeting Yulia.

Source: GoodReads

I think a lot of YA authors are obsessed with X-Men.  May it be the comic book, the awesome 90’s cartoon, or the movie series, X-Men themed plots have sort of saturated the YA market first in dystopias, then in fantasies, and now it appears in historical fiction as in the case of Sekret.

Note, I DNF’d Sekret mainly because it had nothing new to add to the YA meets X-Men formula.  Don’t believe me.  Tell me if this seems familiar (this another time I wanted to make a top ten list but had to stop at like eight because I found myself repeating myself) :

  1. A Main Character Who Has Powers She Must Hide: Usually in X-Men YA books they go for the Rouge type.  Meaning, that the character usually  has some sort of power to impediment the relationship-with the Rouge character herself, she couldn’t touch anyone  without drawing off power and a kiss could kill them-if I recall correctly.  Luckily, Yulia isn’t a Rouge wannabe so props for the book on that but she still has a devastating power of being a psychic like Jean Grey so…I think a check mark can be put in this category.
  2. A boarding school or training school for the gifted: Check.  There’s just no bald guy in a wheelchair here to train them.  Just Russian spies with guns.
  3. Other kids with psychic powers.  Check, check, check.  Sort of goes with the school of the gifted trope.  But often these kids because the lead’s team mates and/or love interests.
  4. Powers are viewed as strange in the universe.  Yep, happens here main character is on the run becuase of them.  Only robots don’t capture her like they did with Jubilee in the cartoon series.  Though, I don’t give the robots much credit for catching Jubilee in the cartoon version since she was very easy to spot-I mean, she wears dishwashing gloves as every day wear.
  5. There are evil people with power.  Some work for the government.  The government wants to make sure they have all the people who have powers in check.
  6. People who have powers are in danger of getting killed/maimed/taken by the government.
  7. Did I mention super powers.
  8. Psychic powers are used to find other psychics.  Though to be fair, I don’t think this facility has a Cerebro but still.

Yeah, see an X-Men wannabe.  That’s not exactly a bad thing, BUT (yeah, that but is in all caps for a particular reason) when you add nothing else to the story it gets to be grating and fast.  I mean, I really felt like I was going through the motions with this one.  So much that I just DNF’d it there wasn’t anything interesting that was holding my attention.  Really, despite one brief mention of the Cuba Mission Crisis this book could’ve taken place anywhere.

Which is why I DNF’d it.

Le sigh.

Anyway, if you really like the X-Men formula you might want to read this one.  It didn’t hold my interest, but I could see some people liking it which is why on GoodReads I gave it a two star DNF rating rather than a one star DNF rating.

Anyway, going to watch some reruns of the X-Men cartoon right now.  Righting this has gotten that theme song stuck in my head again.

The TBR Pile: Publishers Wanted You to Forget About How Awful Valentine’s Day Is

First of all, obligatory baby corgi photo.  Yes, my mom and sister got another corgi.  His name is Emory Edison Nelson  and he is very cute and mild mannered and I’m meeting him this month (very excited).  He’s sort of my sister’s dog even though he’s technically my dog’s  since my sister lost her fur baby, Dolly, in December.  It’s been really difficult without Dolly who we sort of fought over who got to have her sleep in their room back when I lived with my parents (even had a custodial agreement worked out), so it’s good to know she has another puppy to cuddle with.  And I mean, look at those eyes.  He is just adorable.

emory-2

Anyway, February is one of those months.  Where you look at the preorder list and am like did I order all of this…and yes, yes, you did.  And you’ll probably order more as other people’s TBR list progress and you sort of hate yourself.  Though to be fair, when I reviewed this list I think May is going to be the month that really kills me this year.  Anyway, here’s the books that I’ll be getting in the mail and will (try) to read this month:

Yeah, I’ve seen this summary before-rich folks with magical powers lowering the masses because they have magic powers and live the Downton Abbey life style, but yeah.  Can’t help but want to pick up books like this.

Revenge seeking princess. Sold.

I hope this isn’t cliche.  This one’s a Romeo and Juliet retelling that works in real life issues of the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict.  I have seen some really good fiction in the past that talks about this conflict, there was one movie that we watched in my International Issues course I took in undergrad that really did an excellent  dealing with this conflict and I hope this book is slightly like that.  If it focuses more on the love gunk, I might be less than impressed.  So….yeah, going to either love this one or I might vent.

Because internet fame is something I want to read more about.

Pirates.  Honestly, I’m sort of on the fence about this one because it does seem rather tropey.  I’ll probably be checking out a lot of pre-release reviews before I make up my mind but call me intrigued.

Not really a sports fan, but there are lots of undertones of feminism that have me intrigued.

Another socially relevant YA book.  I’ve had this one of my list for awhile.

I liked but didn’t love the author’s retelling of Snow White last year.  Interested to see what she does with the Rumpelstiltskin tale.  And you can bet your ass I’ll be using Rumple gifs from Once Upon a Time in that review.

I like Armentrout’s stuff as long as it has a plot.  And this one seems to have a doozy of a plot, so I will be checking it out.

This one looks dark and delicious.  I see shades of Labyrinth and Beauty and the Beast in the blurb.

 

Really, This is a Sherlock Retelling: Lock and Mori Mind Games by Heather W Petty

Sherlock Holmes and Miss James “Mori” Moriarty may have closed their first case, but the mystery is far from over in the thrilling sequel to Lock & Mori, perfect for fans of Maureen Johnson and Sherlock.

You know their names. Now discover their beginnings.

Mori’s abusive father is behind bars…and she has never felt less safe. Threatening letters have started appearing on her doorstep, and the police are receiving anonymous tips suggesting that Mori—not her father—is the Regent’s Park killer. To make matters worse, the police are beginning to believe them.

Through it all, Lock—frustrating, brilliant, gorgeous Lock—is by her side. The two of them set out to discover who is framing Mori, but in a city full of suspects, the task is easier said than done. With the clock ticking, Mori will discover just how far she is willing to go to make sure that justice is served, and no one—not even Lock—will be able to stop her.

Source: GoodReads

FYI, if you read Ellie Marney’s Every series you’ll probably be slightly disappointed with the Lock and Mori series (though there are other reasons to be disappointed in it, that I’ll get to in a bit).  The thing is the Every trilogy is a thing of beauty sort of like the TV show, Sherlock.  The Lock and Mori series in turn reminds me of the CBS series, Elementary. It has some awesome moment, BUT it doesn’t live up to the alternative series and has some major flaws.  It should also be pointed out that, this series takes the whole Sherlock/Moriarty trope that Elementary did so  there’s that.

What did I enjoy: this book is very readable.  Once I had time to actually read it, I think I finished it within a couple of hours.  The plot is not that outrageously hard to follow, but it’s intricate enough to keep you engaged so there’s that as well.

What I didn’t like…well, in hindsight its going to sound like a lot.  BUT the book really wasn’t that bad.  I think what really annoyed me was how unnecessary Sherlock’s presence was.  Hell, this could’ve been about Moriarity’s gradual descent into becoming a sociopath and it would’ve been fine.  Better even.  Trying to include the romance just seems sort of forced, and I’m really over them.  Plus, I really wondered why Sherlock even was in the novel.

I also didn’t care for the characterization of both leads.  They’re supposed to be smart, but man are they dense in this.  And Moriarity is supposed to be a cold hearted SOB.  Even in the last installment she showed more glimpses of darkness than in here than here.  Hell, it was kind of embarrassingly naive both she and Lock were.  I guess Petty wanted to make her more sympathetic by having her face these moral dilemmas that she didn’t necessary agree with, but based off of what we saw in the last book she should’ve been able to hold her own a bit more.

I know that the flaws I pointed out sort of sound like deal breakers and they might be if you want a “purer” retelling.  Here’s the thing though, if I didn’t focus on these aspects that much the book   enjoyed it.  If this was just about a teen from an abusive home and had a boyfriend that was interested in criminology I might’ve found it to be decent.  Especially had the first installment not been released and said MC wasn’t already developing signs of becoming a mastermind sociopath and turned those signs around to being an idiot in this one.

Sigh.

Overall Rating: B-

In Honor of the Women’s March: Ten Iconic (Well, In My Opinion) Feminist Characters

Unfortunately, I live in a city without a Women’s March and the nearest one is about a five hour drive away which didn’t logistically fit with all the IRL obligations that I have.  However, because I am inspired by the many women out there who are marching to show solidarity and voice their feelings that women deserve equal pay, quality health care, etc.  I thought I’d make a list of ten YA characters that I believe are iconic feminists-okay, some are more overt and  gritty nitty feminists than others and I’m sure I missed a few.  But I will tell you that there were a few characters on this list who inspired me to push myself and go into a filled where quite frankly there is a lot of sexism and fight the good fight.

Just for kicks here are a few of my IRL women icons: Hillary Rodham Clinton,  Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Queen Elizabeth the I, Ida B Wells, Susan B Anthony, Sacagawea,  Marie Curie, Corrie ten Boom,  Elizabeth Warren, Frida Kahlo,  Harriet Tubman, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen,  Princess Diana, Harper Lee, Audrey Hepburn,  Meryl Streep,  Meg Cabot, my mother, my sister.  I know there are a lot of heavy hitters on that list, and some people who you’re like why are they on there, and some you’re like who is that…well, I only listed a few.  In fact, I could probably do a post on iconic real women alone.  You’d be surprised when you think about it there are a lot of female role models out there.  Often under looked.  Women’s history really needs to be taught more in the schools, unfortunately with the ignoramus who thinks that grizzly bears are in our schools being nominated as the secretary of education…it looks like it’s a pipe dream at the moment. Still though, the more you look into it there are a lot more female role models than you originally would think of.  And there’s some good fictional ones too which brings me to this list:

10) Elle Woods (from the movie, Legally Blonde)

Yep, she was going to get on this list.  She actually really helped me get through last year’s bar prep for Louisiana.  I really didn’t have any support where I was living so watching that movie (well, having it on for background noise), listening to the broadway soundtrack-over and over again-throughout the study process helped with that stress.  Also, the movie though exaggerated in part did prepare me for some of the more unsavory parts of the legal community.

Hard truth being a lady lawyer can suck.  Your faced with sexism often for both genders.  I experienced this very early on in law school because my Mac was covered with a pink hard case-big whoop dee doo, it was pink.  I like pink it doesn’t make me a dumb person, it’s just who I am but some yahoo laughed and was like there’s always one “Elle” in the class.  Well, honestly when the dick said that I smiled and acted like it didn’t bother me and I just thought in  my head everyone underestimated Elle Woods and look how she turned out at the end of the movie.

Honestly though, showing that you can overcome people’s perspectives of yourself isn’t the only thing that I got from Legally Blonde, it’s being true to yourself.  While it’s true I probably wouldn’t wear some of the outfits Elle wore to court, she didn’t try to change herself in order to fit such a rigid community.  And that’s something I try to take in with me to my practice.  Yes, I am going to be a professional and follow the guidelines that my profession has for me, but am I going to change myself to  satisfy the dick who made that remark about my Mac’s cover.

Hell no.

9) Mia Thermopolis (The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot):

In my brief mention of IRL superheroes, you might’ve saw that I stated Meg Cabot’s name.  That’s because in some ways Meg was the first person to really introduce me to feminism through her books.  I actually wrote an essay for my senior project in high school over female empowerment and Mia was one of the characters I used to show how feminism has evolved into what it is today.  While Mia was privilege (okay, ridiculously privilege) she has to struggle with making several choices throughout the series that requires her to embrace the power that she has.  In particular, I think the latter books of the series show this-which I really wish were out when I wrote that essay back in high school because I would’ve had a lot more things to quote.

8)  Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer):

She’s a princess, lead a revolution, and can pretty much fix any machine.  At this moment we definietly need a Cinder to defeat that Queen Levana wannabe.

7) Nancy Drew (The Nancy Drew Series and its various incarnations by Carolyn Keene):

Because she was solving mysteries long before you were alive.  And she has been an enduring symbol of lady  power so to speak.  Seriously though, Nancy has been around and she has evolved with teh times.  What I really like is that her stories are all about the mystery, not about boys (even though she is in a realtionship with a very cardboard character named Ned, should dump him for the delectable Frank Hardy but I digress) with Nancy its always about the mystery.

6) Jane Eyre:

Another pick from that high school  essay.  I actually picked up Jane Eyre because of The Princess Diaries (it was referenced a whole lot in that book) thinking I’d enjoy the romance aspects of the book.  However, when I read the book the romance was the thing that I LEAST loved about the book.  Jane Eyre worked for me, because of Jane’s journey of becoming a self assured woman.  I actually liked the fact that she and Rochester were separated for awhile.  He had to get his shit together and Jane knew it.

5)  Wonder Woman (from the DC Universe):

Wonder Corgi not Wonder Woman, but close enough.

Wonder Corgi not Wonder Woman, but close enough.

Okay, so if you look into details about her origin story not the most feminist-a bigamist came up with the idea for her.  But Wonder Woman has evolved into one of the most powerful super heroes in the DC Universe.  Is the portrayal, perfect, no.  But she has become an iconic figure.  Quite frankly, I think a lot of women superheroes need to be portrayed better than what we got, still waiting for that Black Widow movie.  But Wonder Woman is iconic and I remember as a little girl being impressed that hey a girl can be just as powerful as Superman and on the same page as the Bat.  Runner up superhero/antihero I guess in her case goes to Catwoman, who I just adore.  However, given the fact that Wonder Woman is much more known, I’m giving Diana the spot.

4) President MacKenzie Allen (from Commander and Chief):

President Allen was portrayed by Geena Davis in a very short live ABC show about the first woman/independent president.  It was a wonderful thing to see, I really wish the show would’ve continued because Mac kicked ass.  But someone in programming f’d up the show when they put it on constant hiatus.  You can still watch the series on Hulu though, and I suggest you do.  Mac not only has to deal with being president, but with all the sexism that comes from being in US politics.  I sort of view it as a “What If” America didn’t have a fucked up electoral system and didn’t discount almost 4 million votes but…hey, I’m not bitter at all.

3) Celie (from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple):

The Color Purple is probably the most serious fictional work I’m putting on this list.  Again, I used this book as part of the essay I wrote in high school.  And this book pretty much touches on every single important issue out there that faces women and people of color.  The lead character,Celie, goes through so much in this novel.  If you haven’t.  Read it.  It’s a bit graphic, I remember reading it as a high school student and crying several times.  But it is so worth it.  In fact, IRL feminist HRC recently attended the broadway show.  If HRC thinks that this needs to be seen, it needs to be seen.

2) Suze Simon (from Meg Cabot’s The Mediator Series):

Another Meg Cabot character, and probably my favorite character (I think I’ve mentioned this already in lots and lots of posts) but Suze takes action and kicks ghost butt and is completely self reliant while wearing Kate Spade shoes.  She also makes mistakes, which she cleans up and then some which is another reason why Suze is on this list.  Best YA character ever.

1) Hermione Granger (from Hermione Granger  Harry Potter series by JK Rowling)

And bonus, she serves justice to bigots.

Okay, I know the book series might’ve been called Harry Potter, but can you imagine how much better the already fantastic series would’ve been had it been in Hermione’s POV.  She’s the only reason that Harry survived.  The one boneheaded move she made was getting together with Ron, but hey…no one is perfect.  But Hermione is pretty close.

Okay, I know I missed a whole bunch.  But these were the ten that immediately came into my head.  Feel free to add your own list in the comments.  And for all those who are marching, I am with you in spirit today.

Best Thing About the Book is the Fucking Cover: The Siren by Kiera Cass

Love is a risk worth taking.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. And though she can’t talk to him, they soon forge a connection neither of them can deny…and Kahlen doesn’t want to.

Falling in love with a human breaks all the Ocean’s rules, and if the Ocean discovers Kahlen’s feelings, she’ll be forced to leave Akinli for good. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.

Source: GoodReads

Kiera Cass really has a great cover designer and can come up with interesting concepts, I think those are the only two reasons I keep giving her chance after chance when she keeps giving me crap book after crap book.

The Siren was as shitty as the rest of her books were, so don’t get your hopes up.

Yeah, sorry to be the Debbie Downer here.  Though, I really don’t know if it’s being a Debbie Downer since I’m only speaking the truth.

The book sucked ass.

Some background information, the book was originally self published before Cass decided to torture the rest of us with The Selection-whatever it is now, originally trilogy now never ending books series.  When she conned sold so many people the Selection books Harper decided to pick it up a plaster a new cover on the heap of crap  revise the book so that it could be published traditionally.

The result.

It’s still shitty.

Honestly, the book reads very much like a Twilight fan fic would’ve read about eight or nine years ago.  Hell, some of the tropes are common.  From insta love, to beautiful paranormal creatures, to stupid boys who just need to be punched this book has it all.

I DNF’d it in 154 pages.

The main character, Kahlen bemoans about killing people decide making the concentrated choice to become a siren eighty years ago.

Look, I had no sympathy for bitch.  She knew what she was getting herself into and how can I feel sorry for someone who constantly puts people in peril and kills them.

Oh, yes, because she saw the error of her ways and fell in wuv…

Yeah, I know my eyes almost got stuck from all the eye rolling too.  I think what really got to me about this book, was that it could’ve been really cool if Cass went more into what the sirens could do rather than the fact that being a siren allows them to have lots and lots of pretty salt water dresses (don’t ask me how that works, but I’m guessing Cass was sort of inspired by Ariel’s Triton created dress at the end of The Little Mermaid).

As for the romance, that has made my eyes stuck in the back of my head.  It’s laughable and too instant lovey for me to care about.  Plus, the hero has one of those stupid unique name cliches-fact, he says the stupid name is unique.  I kept calling him Anklet in my head, though his real name is Akinli or something of the other.

The pacing is also off in this book and I really didn’t understand any of the world building save for the hundred years and the salt grass crap bits.

Overall, the book really didn’t work for me.  Perhaps, if you haven’t been overexposed to the world that was paranormal YA back in the late 2000’s this one might be okay for you, but for me blragh.

Overall Rating: DNF

The First Five Star Book of 2017: Every Move by Ellie Marney

Rachel Watts is suffering from recurring nightmares about her near-death experience in London. She just wants to forget the whole ordeal, but her boyfriend, James Mycroft, is obsessed with piecing the puzzle together and anticipating the next move of the mysterious Mr Wild – his own personal Moriarty.

So when Rachel’s brother, Mike, suggests a trip back to their old home in Five Mile, Rachel can’t wait to get away. Unfortunately it’s not the quiet weekend she was hoping for with the unexpected company of Mike’s old school buddy, the wildly unreliable Harris Derwent.

Things get worse for Rachel when Harris returns to Melbourne with them – but could Harris be the only person who can help her move forward? Then a series of murders suggests that Mr Wild is still hot on their tails and that Mycroft has something Wild wants – something Wild is prepared to kill for.

Can Watts and Mycroft stay one step ahead of the smartest of all criminal masterminds? The stage is set for a showdown of legendary proportions… 

Source: GoodReads

Okay, so this book was actually released way back in 2015 (in Australia) but I only now bought a copy because I vainly hoped the US would get off it’s fat ass and publish it so that I could have a matching hardback set-I am OCD about these sorts of things.  Really, I will often buy an extra copy of a book just to have either a matching copy or hardback, I’m too hard of a reader for paperbacks.  But alas…the US decided to be a dumb ass about the publication of this one, and I had to get over my matching books/hardback and buy the Aussie edition.  And I’m glad I did.

I freaking loved the book.

Not that I didn’t expect I wouldn’t.  The past two Marney books-from this series have gotten five freaking stars (or A to A+ ratings)  from me.  So, it was a safe bet when I decided to read this one it would get five stars as well.

There are so many things about this book that work.  From a retelling standpoint, what works is while here are nods/homages/parallels to the original Sherlock stories  but was its own thing at the same time.  Honestly, I have my own little fan fantasy in my head where they could actually fit Marney’s series into the BBC series  or make a spinoff series with only some minor changes I think it could work.  That  aside though, I like the approach she took because it allowed the characters to do their own thing and it made the Mycroft/Watts relationship more likely than it would’ve been had they stayed purely in Watson and Holmes territory.

This installment, isn’t really so much as a who done it-though there is a mystery to some degree but not near to the extent of the earlier books.  There is, however, a lot of character growth that I appreciate.  Both leads have to come to terms with what happened to them in London, and they both deal with it differently.  I have to say the aspects of PTSD felt fairly realistic to me, and I liked Watts’ interactions with her mother.

I also really like Marney’s version of Sherlock.  Often the Sherlock character can come off as cartoonish, butJames isn’t.  This character I don’t think is a functioning sociopath like other Sherlock’s, but a complex human who is dealing with a lot.

I also really liked the portrayal of the two characters’ relationship.  It felt realistic as far as teen YA relationships do.  Watts and Mycroft have their ups and downs, but overall the relationship is fairly healthy and their interactions felt realistic.  Even awkward at times, which is always a joy to read about in YA.  To say the least, I ship the hell out of these two.

Much like I ship the hell out of Sherlolly even though I know it's probably not going to happen.

Much like I ship the hell out of Sherlolly even though I know it’s probably not going to happen.

Now, there is a bit of a love triangle in this one, but it’s not really a love triangle.  More like one sided love triangle where one of the other characters at least acknowledges that the potential love interest is attractive.  It’s not though a back and fourth psychological torture Twilight triangle so I’ll give it props for that.

I felt like the series wrapped itself up nicely here.  Am I glad to see it gone, no…but I thought it was a good place to stop and I did think Marney did a nice job wrapping things up.  It was a really good book and I will be reading pretty much anything that she publishes again soon-just won’t be wasting my time for American publishers to get some common sense and publish the shit out of her books like they should.

And really, American publisher, it’s just cruel for you not to let me have my matching set of books.

Overall Rating: An A+ a great book to start off the year.

First DNF of the Year: Flower by Elizabeth Craft and Shea Olsen

These are the things that I’ve always wanted:

To get the top grades in my class.

To make my grandmother proud.

And most of all, proof that I could succeed where the rest of my family had not: a Stanford acceptance letter, early admission.

My mother and my sister were obsessed with boys and love and sex. So obsessed that they lost sight of their futures, of what theywanted. And in the end, they lost everything.

I’ll never let a boy distract me. I promised my grandmother that.

But that was before Tate.

Before the biggest pop star on the planet took an interest in me.

Before private planes and secret dates and lyrics meant for me alone.

There’s so much I don’t know. Like why he left music. Where he goes when we’re not together. What dark past he’s hiding. But when we kiss, the future feels far away. And now…I’m not sure what I want. 

Source: GoodReads

Well, I knew it had to happen but honestly I was hoping it would be a little later than fourteen years within the New Year before I DNF’d my first 2017 book.  But hey, Flower can’t help that it sucked donkey’s balls.

Actually, that’s an insult to donkey’s balls.

Anyway…Flower was bad.  Really, really, bad.  Just to give an idea of how bad this book is here is a sample of writing from the first few pages of the book.

Love can undo you.  It can take everything away.

And so, I promised myself: no boys, no prom, no parties on Saturday nights.  I would stay home, I would get straight As, I would go to college and make a different kind of future for myself. I wouldn’t let anything stop me. I wouldn’t let anyone stop me.

But that was before everything changed.

That was before him (1).

That should give you an idea how cringe worthy this is.  I mean, yeah the premises made me think it was going to be on the cheesy side, but it could’ve been done in such a way where the reader didn’t think they were reading some 13 year old’s One Direction fan fiction with a self insert character and token gay best friend that was straight out of a bad early 2000’s Lifetime movie.

But alas, this was not the case with Flower.

It was published by not only one, but two real authors (meaning, people who actually have legitimate past credits and aren’t a celebrity with a ghost writer peddling crap).  And it still sucked.  Hell, it was a packaged book and it still sucked.

Usually with package books they’re at least homogenous enough where they aren’t painfully bad, but this one is painfully bad.

As the premises points out our main character, Charlotte, is turned off of love because everyone in her family gets knocked up at the ripe old age of 17 or what not and she decides to do the no boys thing until a pop star comes into the flower shop she works out.  Only she doesn’t realize he’s a pop star and…I don’t know how she doesn’t realize he’s a pop star.  I mean, I’ve never listened to Justin Beiber, but I still know who that foul specimen is.  I just couldn’t buy it that this MC didn’t know who he was.  Or that a pop star would be so interested in a high school girl.  Or that Charlotte would somehow have a job in a florist’s shop designing bouquets with no florist training whatsoever.

The book really felt like it was a skeleton of a story that could be interesting but turned out to be no better than a self insert fan fic.  Like I said, I stopped at page 58 when Tate-the wannabe Jonas Brother-was essentially pulling an Edward Cullen on Charlotte.

I often feel like there is a misconception in YA that there does not need to be any effort put in fluff books that just having two characters kissing each other is enough.

It’s not.

A good fluff novel has complex characters that have interesting relations together and you want them to be together.  This book has none of those.   I had a real hard time believing that this was even a finished product, that’s how lazy it came across.

Usually, Alloy is one of the better packaging companies (note, that’s not saying a lot since I think most packaged books suck), but this one is particularly wretched.

Avoid at all costs especially if you love fluff.

Overall Rating: DNF

Not My Cuppa: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Source: GoodReads

Truthwitch was probably one of the most hyped books of 2016.  I bought it and it set on my shelf for about a year, and then I picked it up before the sequel came out this year because I wanted to know whether or not it was worth reading the sequel-and preorder prices are usually so much more cheaper than post release prices. And I read it and I was…well, not impressed.

But it’s not horrible.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I have issues with fantasies. I feel like a lot of YA fantasies rely too much on tropes and can be difficult to get in to.  Especially when they involve lots of fantasy names, inconsistent world building, and the God damn lost princess trope.

Hey, if you like those things, all the power to you.  But I’m just saying whenever I read a fantasy there has to be elements to really get me into the God damn book.

Unfortunately, Truthwitch only halfway gained my interest.  While it wasn’t bad the stupid names and WTF-ckery pacing made it a little difficult for me to completely enjoy and I really don’t think I’ll be continuing with the series.  But I did like aspects of the book.

I liked the idea of friendship that the book promises.  Did I think it lived up to this idea?  Um, no.  I thought the bond between Safiya and Iseult-and I had to look up both of those spellings-could’ve been explored more.  Hell, they didn’t interact near as much as I thought they would.  But I did like the idea of how powerful there friendship was.

The ships in this book were kind of eh.  I didn’ t love the ship that everyone else seemed to rave about it, but I didn’t hate it either.

There was lots of potential in this book, but there was also too much going on and not enough development for me to feel totally connected.

And I got lost.

I’ll admit it, if I can’t follow some aspects of a fantasy I will get lost and sort of fast.  Things move at a lightning quick pace in this one and I think it was one of the things that got my goat.  Like I said before, if you’re really into fantasy books this isn’t going to get to you but it got to me big time.

In the end, I parted Truthwitch with the acknowledgment while not a bad book this series is not for me and I don’t think I’ll be continuing it.

Overall Rating: A B- rushed pacing and made up names sort of killed this one for me.  But for fantasy lovers this might be your cup of tea.

Awesomely Hallmark: Love on Ice

Yes, I’m still watching Hallmark movies even after Christmas.  This time the endeavor is Love On Ice which involves figure skating and ex-Lulu from General Hospital.  Thankfully, it was a lot more endearing than the last Hallmark movie I watched where that housewife found out that you shouldn’t have ambitions after Cindy Williams gave her a ridiculous AU that made me think she was really the devil.

At least if that was the case it would explain my ever lasting disgust for Laverne and Shirley-the fact that it is a Happy Days spinoff still does not help its case.

Anyway, this one involves a very old figure skater at the ancient age of 27-true fact, pretty sure the actress is older than 27 since I remember her being on General Hospital when I was like 16 and her character was already drinking on the show, but that’s besides the point.  Anyway, she has fifteen million jobs yet still finds time to skate during the day.  The reason she gave up…cue the tragic backstory of a mother getting some sort of incurable disease and a sibling or something.

Anyways, one of Emily’s students is so good that they’re getting her some big shot coach-Spencer- and of course he’s Hallmark cookie cutter perfect looking-cue instant romance.

Spencer is ridiculously young for a skating coach but apparently he’s super talented and somehow he spots Emily thinks she’s hot and wants her to help him with his and Emily’s former student.  Spencer then learns that Emily is sort of like Ashley Wagner-gets better skating with age, unlike most people-and is like I want to coach her.

Though, I don’t know if this is why he really wants to coach her.  I also think he sort of wants to make out with her, but that’s besides the point.  Anyway, she goes through the process of deciding whether or not she wants to train again and of course she does.   In the meantime Emily’s former student’s stage mother gets a wind of this and hires Emily’s ex coach to coach her daughter.

Of course, this causes complications which ends up having the bitchy ex-coach almost ruining Emily’s comeback and Emily’s relationship with Spencer.

I think this was probably the weakest part of the movie, because it was sort of the cliche thing that Hallmark does.  Up until that point, I really liked it.  But I will give the movie this, it didn’t dwell too long on that aspect.

The side characters in the movie, are all right for a Hallmark film.  There’s one side romance with an older couple that was kind of cute and enjoyable.  Some of them were more one dimensional than others, but it wasn’t terrible.

One big flaw was the skating sequences.  Oh, you could tell that Hallmark didn’ t have a budget here to higher decent stunt doubles.  Any major jumps were cut and the biggest things that you did see were the spins  But whatever, it’s a  Hallmark movie so that sort of thing is like expected.

Though, that ending.  Really?  I know you were in kind of a hard spot movie about not making the ending too cliche, but I think in this case with as much emphasis as how good the lead’s skating was I’d prefer the cliche ending.

Overall, as far as Hallmark movies go this one wasn’t too bad.  I really did enjoy it.  Maybe it was because I’m into figure skating and it was nice seeing some familiar faces, but overall this one was highly enjoyable.

Overall Rating: A B+