The TBR Pile: Why Does May Hate Me

May is always a bad month for the wallet.  It doesn’t matter what year it is, its always bad.  I think it’s because its technically the beginning of the summer season, and with that beach book season is back as well.  As usual I’m doing this feature to note awareness for upcoming releases AND more importantly to try to budget (FYI it always fails)

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Fashion.  Also, there’s a Meg Cabot blurb.  Truthfully though, I’ve always sort of been on the fringe about Juby’s stuff.  Sometimes it’s a little too much for me.  Like her Alice series.  I remember liking moments of those books but it got annoying fast. I like fashion though, so I’m willing to give it a try.

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Because I am morbidly curious in what happens next in this series about extremely rich people.

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I have a feeling this one could be disastrous but I am curious about it enough to give it a try.

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I haven’t had that much success with this author.  But the subject matter is so timely right now and if it halfway gets it right I will probably recommend this one.

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A Swan Lake retelling, give me.

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This is the first out of two books that are coming out this year about someone winning the lotto.  You want to know what I’d do with the lotto-obviously, I’d pay off my student loans and then probably move to Canada where they actually have a sane leader right now that doesn’t look like an orange boob.

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Another Cinderella retelling.  And of course, I’m eating it up because….reasons.

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A complex looking contemporary that I actually want to read.  Yay.

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Let’s hope YA gets K-Drama better than it got K-Pop.

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Destination Egypt via book.

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So much hype surrounding this book it better be good.

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There is so much controversy about this one already which is a little ridiculous.  Apparently, a lot of people are in a fuss because the character (who thinks she’s a lesbian) discovers she’s bisexual.  As long as its done tastefully, I think it could be an interesting read.

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Erin Watt my go too author for completely ridiculous soap opera fluff.

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Hopefully, May is the correct release date.  Originally Amazon said March.  Shrugs.

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More fandom based YA, it is almost becoming a sub genre of its own.

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More Royal Lit.  Again, give me.  Though side note, if I was Princess Kate I’d be slightly creeped out with these books.

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I really need to reread this series.

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I should shoot myself for continuing to read this cash cow series, but I’ll console myself without reviewing it.  I mean, what’s the point I know it’s going to be formulaic as shit but I’ll probably enjoy it in a fan fiction-ish sort of way.  Honestly, this series sort of reminds me of Once Upon a Time the series has been overdone to death but for some reason I keep watching it.

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I’m on the fence about this one.  It’s a Mulan retelling which I like, BUT it is taking place in Japan instead of China and that’s just all sorts of wrong.

 

And that’s it.  Thankfully, for my wallet.  I did cancel two pre-orders when drafting this.  So that’s something, right? Still though, I’m inwardly grimacing.

When the Exploitation Network is More Classy: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

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Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Source: GoodReads

A few years ago, a coworker recommended that I watch My 600 Lb Life. I was a little dubious about watching it because it was on the exploitation channel (aka TLC) but after some constantly pestering I decided to watch an episode and was pretty much horrified with I saw.  Like I thought, TLC exploited the situation for what it’s worth.  But unfortunately, by watching some of these episodes (mostly, when I was halfway asleep) I did learn a couple things enough that when I read Holding Up the Universe my eyes almost did a complete revolution in rolling  because it was so God offensive and awful on so many levels.

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First of all, if you are easily triggered do NOT read this shit.  It’s probably the most offensive book I’ve read featuring an overweight protagonist after My Big Fat Disaster and that one book I read from the 80’s where the character develops an eating disorder after lots and lots of body shaming (I think the title had “Big Fat Blimp” in it, but I couldn’t find anything when I searched on GoodReads so maybe title forgotten is best).  And the only reason its not as offensive as those books is that the main character does not attempt self harm.

Still though, even there’s no suicide attempt or grotesque depiction of an eating disorder, this book is pretty offensive.  There’s a whole twenty page sequence about how a crane is used to remove then 600 pound something Libby from her home.

Okay.

That is way melodramatic especially considering you can watch a couple of episodes from the exploration show and see plenty of 600 + pounders get out of houses  that aren’t as near as fancy as Libby’s.  PLUS if you watch the expoitation show, or really do any sort of research about morbidly obese people it takes years to get that heavy with a very high caloric intake.  And for that matter, changing someone’s lifestyle like Libby seemingly did is not that easy.

Hell, Libby eats pizza at one point in the novel and I’m just cringing because I know it has to be against her diet but it’s fluffed over.  Also, Niven only says that Libby went to a couple of fat camps to lose weight and leaves it there.  We don’t have the discussion of weight loss surgery, which I’m sure has to be at least a consideration in this case and really other than some bullying and Libby’s mother dying, we aren’t really given any insight in what drove her to over eat or what sort of methods she learned to cope with it. Hell, the excess skin that I’m sure Libby has from losing 200 + pounds isn’t even addressed.  Sure,  I guess there’s a creepy counselor-ish character who comes off more as Libby’s b.f.f. than counselor but come on…that’s the only

Also, I HATED the fact that the father’s role as an enabler was diminished. Libby makes excuses for him, that he didn’t know she was eating all that crap she had hidden in her room but considering the caloric intake that she had to have to maintain and add to that weight, considering she was house bound for six months, Dad was accountable at some level.  I’m sorry…

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Also, in addition to pretty much dramatizing Libby’s weight, Libby is just not a likable protagonist.  She’s prickly, borderline annoyingly mean, and quite honestly she’s one of those people who will not take responsibility for her actions.  Also, she suffers from YA heroines who quote from classical literature way too much and makes me want to deck her in the face.  I know that not being likable is arguably a part of being  a teen, but here’s the thing there could be bits and pieces of her that I liked while still being annoyed with her.  Also, cease with The To Kill a Mockingbird quoting already.  I like that book too, but I don’t go quoting around it even when I was a precocious teen.

The other main lead, Jack, is a big douche.  There’s no other way to describe him.  Niven tries to use his face blindness as an excuse for how he acts and what he does, but it doesn’t work.  Also, I found it laughable throughout the entire thing that no one in his whole family ever picks up on the fact that he has face blindness or that when he fell of that roof which was the cause of his injury that the doctors didn’t run an MRI and pick up on the brain damage.

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I’m just saying.

While the main leads were annoying, I think what bothered me about this one the most was that there was something “after school special” about it.  What I mean by this, is it just seems that the two leads are thrown to teach some big lesson and that the only way that Niven can justify that the two of them are even together is that they both have “issues”.

Personally, I could not find myself getting into this ship.  The fact that the so called hero meets the heroine when he pretty much assaults her just makes the whole ship have nasty feels throughout the entire time.  The fact that they are forced to attend useless counseling sessions that come out of a mid 90’s movie together even further the feeling of this nastiness.  The fact that the narrative constantly goes into questioning whether the Jerkwad lead could fall in love with a heavy set protagonist made me want to clobber someone.

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This book is just not healthy when it comes to relationships in general and like I said I cringe at the thought of a teenager reading this.  It’s NOT good for body image and it does not give a healthy view on what a healthy relationship requires.

Even those flashbacks where Jack creepily goes into Libby’s house after a crane (I am not even going to go into detail again about how ridiculous those fucking scenes were)  that are supposed to humanize him just make him feel like even more like a creeper.

I’m sorry, me no likey.

I can’t find any justifiable reason to recommend this one to anyone.  It’s trigger inducing. The romance is forced.  Sure, the face blindness seems like it would be something interesting to explore, but at the end of the day it really was more or less a justification to get the so called popular guy to like the heavy girl.  And no, it didn’t work it just cheapened this already horrible book.

Overall Rating: F as in fail.

Like TCM Lite : Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

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The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

Source: GoodReads

Okay, the blurb completely ruins the book because it pretty much reveals the entire plot of the book. And that is annoying.

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Sigh.

Also, is it just me or was it annoying that this book got all these You’ve Got Mail comparisons when a good chunk of the book deals with old movies and in turn the comparison should’ve been made to The Shop Around the Corner-which for all you non-classic film buffs, is the movie that You’ve Got Mail based itself on.

In fact, it’s sort of referenced in the movie.

Okay…so I probably watched that movie and too many old movies way too much but oh well.  I’ll have to say reading this book and all its old film references, was exciting to me.  It was like finally meeting with someone who shared your weird old hobby and this book did with its love for old films.  And wasn’t even TCM  snobby about it which was great.

As far as The Shop Around the Corner reduxes go, this one is pretty good.  Both characters are surprisingly well fleshed out and have imperfections.  I also liked the sleepy beach town setting for the novel.  I thought it fit appropriately with the tone of the novel, and the town had enough quirks about it where it was sort of a character of its own.

The romance is so of slow burn, and it really worked for me.  It takes awhile for Porter and Bailey to tolerate each other, let alone like each other and the growth of the relationship is enjoyable to see with its gradual evolution.   On the flip side, we also get to see how their online relationship grows as well.  And I’ll be honest I sort of love the hate to love trope when done right.  Especially when they finally admit that they want to be together despite all the  obstacles.

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One thing that did annoy me, was that the dad character wasn’t at least a little freaked out about the fact his daughter had a quasi boyfriend online.  Given all the shit that happened to Bailey in the past, you would think he’d be at least skeptical.  And for that matter, maybe it’s one too many Lifetime movies (for yours truly) AND being an extremely paranoid person I would really have issues if I had a teenage daughter who randomly met some dude who was trying to get her to fly across the country online.

I mean, that’s reality talking.  And normally, I would sort of give it a pass.  But given the ultra dramatic back story that this book has, it sort of had me raising a couple of eyebrows.

Another problem I had with this book was the random dramatic backstory.  It felt a little bit out of place, and in all honesty I felt like it served no purpose other than to describe why the main character was scared of guns.

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Um, because they’re guns. That’s why.

But really, that and a couple of the dramatic side plots could’ve been cut out and the book may have been better for it.  Honestly, I was sort of on the fence about it.  Which is why I rated this book lower than five stars on GoodReads.  Still though, it was a very enjoyable read.

Overall Rating: An A-

An Excuse to Use 90’s Gifs: Fireworks by Katie Contango

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From Katie Cotugno, bestselling author of 99 Days, comes Fireworks—about a girl who is competing with her best friend to become the new pop star of the moment—and all the drama and romance that comes with it—set in Orlando during the late-’90s boy-and-girl-band craze.

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.

Source: GoodReads

Note: I DNF’d this one at about 60 pages.  It was stale as old bread and predictable.  Cliche filled.  I was really hoping this would’ve been a nostalgia trip to the 90’s but it wasn’t.  Instead, it really could’ve been in 2017 save for the fact we’re not getting five million references to social media.  Which was nice because I often roll my eyes when authors decide to hide Twitter with Chirpy or whatever and Facebook by MyFace or whatever.  It’s annoying.

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So, so, annoying.  But so is using the 90’s as a setting when the period has nothing to whatsoever with the fucking book.

This is the first Katie Cotugno book I’ve read and likely I won’t read another one for a long time unless I get  good deal on it  or venture out to the library.  When I read the book I was unaware it was packaged but after reading a few pages and seeing the little Alloy imprint on it I wasn’t so surprised becuase God knows this piece of shit felt so, so, packaged.

The characters were really weak.  I barely remember the leads names and had to pause for a moment to recall them.  Dana is your typical best friend who is really talented but doesn’t realize it shit.  Olivia is the jealous best friend who you know is really going to be a shitty friend, but we won’t realize this towards the in.  Alex is the boy who will fall in love with Dana and ruin Dana’s relationship with Olivia.

Add a lot of midriff wearing and you have the mid to late 90’s save there’s no Britney and Justin which is just sort of sad.

Just saying.

To be honest, I only have vague recollections of this period of time.  I was still pretty young and my mom really didn’t like me listening to boy bands and she always seem to have me doing some sort of something during the CW Prime Time so instead of watching teeny boppers trying to be America’s Next Top Pop Starr my mother thought Judging Amy would be a better show for her young impressionable daughter to watch.

Well, it did get me interested in the legal profession (sort of), so I guess she did have a point.  Though, it still pains me that I did not get to watch Charmed when it first aired-thanks, Mom (not).

Okay, point is the late 90’s was the era of cotton candy pop.  It should’ve been fun to explore but it wasn’t.  More or less this swept up my fears in having a series featured in the late 90’s it was really more or less a tool to address social media and the changes it has had on teenage-hood.  But really, would it have killed Contugno to at least have one character wear a midriff?

I know it might seem like I’m asking for a lot, but there really wasn’t anything else in this book that felt  90-ish. Maybe it improves as the book progresses, but man I would’ve been exploiting those out dated pop culture references to the limit.

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Anyway, this one really didn’t work for me.  I was intrigued that it was going to use a period of time that’s really not that long ago but it just didn’t work on various levels.

Overall Rating: DNF.

Nothing Special But OK: The Wish Granter by CJ Redwine

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An epic, romantic, and action-packed fantasy inspired by the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, about a bastard princess who must take on an evil fae to save her brother’s soul, from C. J. Redwine, the New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Queen. Perfect for fans of Graceling and the Lunar Chronicles.

The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop.

Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown.

So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself.

But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul.

Source: GoodReads

I think a part of my reading experience was ruined by Robert Carlyle’s portrayal of Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon Time.  While the writing of the show has gone down the tubes a la Charmed by having black and white morality on the show Carlyle can still make his now demonized character seem complex.  And to be fair, the writing in the first two seasons and half made the character complex before they decided to give everyone on the show 1D morality .  I think it’s why I expected more from the Rumpelstiltskin character than I got.  To be fair, the book description made it seem more interesting to than it really was.

Which was really more or less a Rumpelstiltskin retelling where we get a bland peasant helping a princess who likes to eat pie.

We’re reminded that Ari likes to eat pie every other page of the book which is why I even bring that up.

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It’s really annoying since I just read about another pie loving princess a few months ago in Heartless.

To be fair though, I give props to Redwine for having a full figured MC it’s just that it annoyed me how we reminded of the fact she wasn’t the size of a twig every other page.  In fact, the villain states she’s fat at one point of the book and I just…I don’t know, I just wish that there wasn’t so much emphasis on her size.  Though, on a positive note Ari seems comfortable with her body so the fact that everyone is talking about the size of her butt isn’t really bothering her.

Then again, she has her mind on a lot of other things. So there’s really no time to focus on hateful vitriol.

When I first started reading this book, I thought it was eerily similar to Shadow Queen in its set up.  Two kids on the run from their stepmother, but then it changes.  The thing is like Shadow Queen it never reaches its fullest potential and never veered far enough from the source material to make it original.

The Rumpelstiltskin character, for instance, was as evil as they come.  About three quarters of the way through the novel, after he has done despicable after despicable thing Redwine tries to give him some backstory to humanize him BUT it doesn’t really work.  Maybe it would’ve been if it was a TV show (maybe).  But as it was, there just seemed no evolution for this character or his motives.

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The reason the Rumple character works on Once Upon a Time in the early seasons  is that they had spent time developing him throughout the series.  Here, the Rumpelstiltskin character is pretty much the stereotypical evil character.   Much like everyone else in this book is stereotyped to their specific role.

Aria besides liking pie is the princess who gets things done.

Sebastian is the handsome noble peasant with a sad backstory that helped her.

Thad is the douche brother who gets them in the bad situation from the get go, because his name is Thad and he’s an idiot.

Most of the world building here is loosely done.  Sure, there’s some stuff about fae but nothing out of the ordinary or interesting enough to keep you really that engaged.  And some of the stuff, about how the magic worked (specifically with the souls) was never really fully explained.  Like, can anyone remove someone soul?  Becuase it only seemed like a fae thing at first and then…

Yeah, complication not explained.  Just like the whole servant’s backstory.  The stupid brother who still gets to be king even though his sister and her peasant hero boyfriend save the day.

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It’s just a little ridiculous.

I think if you can look past the faults, this one is okay.  Great no, but okay.    Harmless would probably be the perfect word to describe it.  I mean, I don’t think it’s one I’m  really going to remember one way or the other.

Overall Rating: C+

 

Powerful: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Source: GoodReads

The Hate U Give is probably one of the heaviest YA books I’ve read in 2017.  It’s also probably one of the best.  This book is exactly why we need diverse books written by own voices authors. The perfection of this book  epitomizes this on so many levels.

The book is so relevant.  It’s educational. It’s pretty much worth all the hype its getting and needs to be to read at some point.

Unfortunately, the premises of Thomas’s debut is one that we’ve seen over and over in the news lately.  A young POC will be killed for seemingly no reason in what should’ve been a routine traffic shop or some other should be mundane event.  After hearing news story after news story, I literally cringed when I saw how Khalil reacted to the officer in the opening chapter.  Like, Starr I wanted to tell him to not say anything to not even blink and…it was too late.

The fact that I had such a strong reaction to a character who probably had only about twenty pages of the book alive says a lot about the writing.

The book handled the fall out of the situation properly focusing both on micro and macro reactions.  I liked that we got to see Starr’s reaction and how it affects her family, as well as how it effects her neighborhood too.

I really liked that the neighborhood itself was more or less a character in this story and that Thomas related to all the problems that the neighborhood had to the shooing.  I feel like it was very informative in explaining issues that inner city neighborhood’s might face-gang violence, police brutality, amongst them.

The book is heavily character driven.  While it deals mostly with the aftermath with Khalil’s death.  We not only get the ramifications that his death has on the community, but also on Starr’s life and on her relationships.  We get to watch Starr makes terms with who she is, her friends, and her relationship with her boyfriend as well.

I liked that there wasn’t one thing that consumed Starr’s life.  Usually, YA falls to the problem of a character having an unbalanced life-i.e. a lot of the time the main character finds herself wrapped up in relationship woes-but here the character has a lot going on.  Not only dealing with the aftermath of the shooting, but dealing with interpersonal relationships with friends and family as well.

If I was to point out some flaws, one thing that did bother me was that Starr never saw a therapist.  I know this is  a nitpick thing but girl had endured a lot, and I wished she had a professional to talk to.  There were clearly signs that she had PTSD throughout the book and I just wish that Thomas would’ve explored this a little bit more.

However, over that didn’t detract from the book.

If there’s YA book that’s relevant  and as good as the hype its getting this year, it’s The Hate U Give.

Overall Rating: A solid A.

The Nostalgia Shelf: Samantha and the Cowboy by Lorraine Heath

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Samantha

When she manages to get herself hired for the cattle drive, all of Samantha’s prayers seem to be answered. The hundred dollars she’ll earn will pull her family’s Texas farm out of ruin and pay off their debts. But keeping the cowhands fooled that she’s a boy becomes harder than she’d expected where one cowboy in particular is concerned.

The Cowboy

Matthew Hart wants two things: to forget the tragedies he witnessed on the front lines of the War Between the States, and to reclaim his cowboy life. The last thing he wants is the responsibility of a tagalong youngster on the cattle drive. His closed mind and hardened heart are territory best left unexplored, until a fateful moment turns his world upside down.

Matt discovers what and who “Sam” really is, and he is furious. But soon a stronger emotion takes hold, and bound by Samantha’s secret, Matt is torn between revealing her identity and his own sudden and frightening love for her.

Source: GoodReads

When I moved recently, I took a lot of the books that I had in my storage unit out and moved them into my new town home.  I bought one of those huge Container Store shelves so I was able to fit a lot more of my stash on there then I had been previously.  And I discovered a whole bunch of books I had in the past from a few years ago.  And I was like..hmm, might be fun to revisit them in a nostalgia sort of way.

So once a month or so-depending on how annoyed I get with some of these oldies-I’m going to start reviewing them.  All of these books have to be pre-2006 and I haven’t picked them up in the last five years.  Which brings us to Samantha and the Cowboy (that title is just cringe worthy enough).

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Samantha and the Cowboy is the first out of twelve or so books produced in the Avon True Romance series.  The series is supposed to be a gateway series into historical romance.  At least I think that’s what it is supposed to be.  However, after reading this book for the second time I think it would turn me off of romance.  And maybe that’s why I haven’t picked up a lot of western centric historicals because this one is cornball bad.

Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in Texas for most of my life (save for a horrible year and a half in Louisiana) but I really get annoyed with so called western slang.  It’s awful and I just want to say that nobody talks like that.

But the reckons and pardon me ma’ams were ridiculous beyond belief here.  I get that Heath was trying to make the book atmospheric but it added to the cornball-ness that was this book.

Oh yes, this book was corny beyond belief on so many levels.  Obviously, it is trying to be a rated “G” YA book but it’s so squeaky clean it’s ridiculous.  And no, that doesn’t mean I miss the seventy or so pages that are frequented in so many romance books describing someone’s  quivering member, BUT the fact that we spend a lot of the book focused on what color Matthew Heart (yes, that’s the hero’s freaking name) eyes are I just wanted a little more development.

I mean, the plot is pretty much non-existent.  The characters pretty much are making googly eyes at each other the entire time-well, Matt didn’t until he found out that Samantha Jane was a girl and then he goes on and on about how he didn’t realize she was a girl before because her curves are that obvious.

During all of this, I was thinking what would actually be cool would’ve been if Matt would’ve been bi and would’ve had feelings for Sam when she pretended to be a guy.  Is it so wrong that I want a gender bend story where the romance is two sided before the reveal?  And it would be interesting watching the characters interact with each other.

I want that book.

I didn’t get it here.

The reveal was probably the best part of the book and to be honest, it really wasn’t that great.  Sam almost drowns and Matt notices that gosh golly she has breasts and must be a girl.

I guess he never heard of man boobs.

Of course, after this Matt turns into an utter tool of a misogynist which I think the reader is supposed to find sexy because he’s supposedly so protective of Sam.

He’s not.

He’s a tool.

He threatens Sam throughout half of this that he’s going to turn her into the foreman, despite the fact that he knows her family is on the verge on poverty…but that doesn’t matter ’cause she’s a girl.  And has evil breasts.

Okay, he doesn’t outright say evil breasts, but he does talk about the problems a woman can cause on the cattle drive. So, I’m just paraphrasing it with the evil breasts talk.  But I guarantee you, if this book implies just as much.

And I just want to say goodbye to Matt at this point.

But because he’s the cowboy in Samantha and the Cowboy I don’t get that pleasure. Instead, I get to read about Sam being treated like dirt and how when Matt finally turns her into Jake it’s to protect her.  Because screw her family…

Oh, and side note, Sam’s brother was a real dick for sitting on his ass and eating bonbons all day and not even at least trying to do something to help his family.  I get he lost an arm in the war and all, but dude totally does nothing during the entire book.  You’d think at the very least he’d try to help his sister when he found out what she was trying to do rather than…um, yeah, that’s nice go cut off your hair and risk your life to go on a trail ride.

Ugh.

So as you can see, it hasn’t exactly been a pleasant revisit of a book for me.  But at the same time, I don’t think re-reading Samantha and the Cowboy has been a total waste of time.  If anything looking at it gave me an insight of how the genre has developed since the fifteen years that this book was published.

Overall Rating: A total fail.

Tropes I Can’t Stomach

One of the biggest things for me when buying a book is looking at a premises.  Often if it looks like a book is going to feature certain tropes it will be an ex-nay from me from the beginning.  I thought I’d list tropes that I utterly dispose:

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10) The famous talentless Youtube or Other Internet star: This is a new one that has been heavily featured this year, but you can guarantee in the future I’ll be avoiding said books that feature a non talented famous persona.

Notable Offenders: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde and All the Feels by Danika Stone.

9) The Jerky Boy That Likes You: Way to promote unhealthy relationships, authors.  I know he’s only supposed to be a douche because he likes the MC but come on-please.  Why should we find said douche’s jerkiness to be attractive.  It’s not.  I want to tell this character to get the fuck out of my story and not come back.

Notable Offenders:  Too many to count.  See any Rom Com in the 90’s.

8)The Uptight Heroine Who Needs a Man to Loosen Up Her Problems: I hate this trope so freaking much.  One of my favorite author’s used it recently and I DNF’d the book just because of it.  I hate how women are told to “loosen up” maybe because I have been told his many times in the past because I have had other priorities in my life besides getting drunk and hooking up on Saturday night (i.e. my career ambitions and binge watching a ridiculous amount of Charmed)

Notable Offenders: Honeymoon Hotel by Hester Browne and the treatment of Rachel Berry on Glee (dear Lord, I could not stand Finchel because of this).

7) Black and white morality.  I hate it when the characters become idiots and consider one character pure evil and then destroy said character.  It has been the ruiner of plenty of interesting ships and deep storylines-especially in TV format.

Notable Offenders: The whole destruction of Phole on Charmed and the mess that Once Upon a Time has turned to.

6) Instant Love: Because obviously.

Notable Offenders: The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer and most paranormal romances that were released in YA after that.  That’s why paranormal romance has fallen to the wayward because insta love ruined it.  That and 2012 was approaching and everyone wanted an end of the world storyline that didn’t star John Cusack.

5) The everyone has to be a rich billionaire or duke trope.  Really, there is a ridiculous amount of peerage and money in the whole romance genre.  It’s like the entire 1% live in these books.  And yeah, I know it’s fiction and it’s more than likely going to continue but seriously there should be more books about rich gentlemen then dukes.  There aren’t that many dukes people, probably less than billionaires.  Although,  I have all my Boden packages list me as a marchioness for good laughs.  So, maybe all the romance dukes order their stuff from Boden and that’s how they’re dukes.  Also interesting to note, there are practically no stories featuring dukes in the modern era.  Did the sexy duke gene cease to exist post Downton Abbey?   Because with as much copulating as there is going on in romance books, you would think they’d have enough spawn to last them through the 21st century.

4) The nerdy hot girl.  Can’t we just have average heroine who’s a nerd get the guy without being secretive beautiful?  I mean, is that too much to ask?  Or for that matter, can we just have an average heroine whose okay with her looks be the center focus and not get a surprise makeover.  I mean, I do like makeovers but these books lead to unrealistic expectations about what a little lipgloss and mascara can do to a person.

Notable Offenders: 90% of YA books out there.  And most romance books out there too for that matter.

3) The seventeen year-old boy who acts like a thirty-five year old man.  Yeah, not going to happen in real life.  I often feel annoyed when I read YA romances because they’re not that realistic.  True, it’s fiction but these teens do not act like teens a lot of the time and..it’s frustrating. At least Edward Cullen has an excuse for really being like 117 when he hooks up with Bella, but that’s a whole other ball of ew.

2) Incompetent adults.  Because?!?!?!??!?!?  The author doesn’t want the book to be resolved quickly.  Seriously, a lot of the times if the character talked to a reasonable competent adult the book would be resolved so much quicker and while I know it makes for a less dramatic story.  Sometimes I would like the drama to be handled in a more realistic approach.

1) Mean Girl/Mean Women Misogyny: Come on, we’re better than that.  Still this trope is as rampant as ever.  One cannot get away from it as hard as one tries.  I used to shrug it off, but upon reflection I think it’s really unhealthy.

Notable Offenders: The House of Night Books by PC and Kristin Cast, the early Princess Diaries books (pre-book 9) by Meg Cabot.

 

Trend I Hate the Famous Youtuber: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

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When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Source: GoodReads

A YA recent trend that I cannot stand: the famous vlogger/Youtuber.

Because Youtubers are annoying (for the most part).

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Okay, that was a huge generalization and I feel bad about saying it for those of you who are not annoying Youtubers but I do get annoyed with a lot of Vine/Youtube  celebrities.  And I know the main reason we’re seeing them is the same reason we had a lot of characters be bloggers a few years back, it’s supposed to appeal to the reading (reviewing) audience and honestly it reeks of pandering.  And unless you’re part of the Youtube elite you’re not going to get that famous (just saying) though you’d never realize it by books like this one.

Seriously, it seems like every Youtube star gets a movie contract in this book.

No lie.

Plus, the whole book tube thing really annoys me.  Especially since a few known ones are sponsored and I just…if you’re going to review a product you shouldn’t be paid for it.

There I’m saying it (and if I go on even more about it, it’s going to get ugly fast).

So reading about all these pretty much talentless wannabe celebrities becoming famous overnight because they know how to apply eyeliner-um, I don’t think so.

Then why did you read the book, you might be asking?

Um, because it involved cons and even the summary showed that this book was going to have lots of diversity on several different levels.  And I have to get the book credit for that.  This book is very inclusive-people of all different races, nationalities, sexual orientations, and it even features characters with disabilities  and it’s refreshing since the book depicts what we see in real life.  However, there was something that felt oddly superficial about it.

It shouldn’t have.  I mean, it recited the right messages.  I liked how social anxiety and talk about the Autistic spectrum were brought up.  Those were good messages.  Some of the messages about feminism and intersectionality were good as well.  BUT and I hate to say this, it almost felt like the author was copying and pasting these messages so to speak.

Yes, she said the right words.  But the book almost felt like a PSA since I didn’t really feel these characters.  For example, Charlie is bi and her ex boyfriend is a close minded bigot and there’s one scene where they have a discussion where he states he doesn’t believe that bisexual people exist.  It’s told in Taylor’s POV and we see that Charlie is upset but where this could’ve dived more into Charlie’s emotions and her reactions it just stops there.

Note,  if I would’ve wrote this review a couple of years ago I probably would’ve remarked that the bigot boyfriend was depicted unrealistically because surely most bigots wouldn’t be that openly disgusting with their hatred but after last year I’m going to give this a pass and actually state that his reaction is realistic.  It’s a shame I have to say this because how he acted should’ve been considered cartoonish.  But horrible is now acceptable now by a stupid part of society and…I’m going to have to stop myself again before I start ranting about stupid frogs.

The other lead, Taylor, has social anxiety, is on the spectrum, and is heavyset.  I thought there were some moments that really went into the issues she faces really well then it was dropped really sudden.  Same with the romance this character had, it really was never developed much and disappeared whenever it needed to.

Hell, I didn’t really care if any of these characters even got into a relationship they all sort of well, blended in.  Which is a shame because the book had so much to offer…

To be fair though, it’s one of the better books I’ve read by Swoon Reads.  I have had such bad luck with this imprint, I’m almost at the point of washing my hands with it all together but this one interested me so I was like why not.

And to be fair, it wasn’t that bad.  I mean, like I said it was probably one of the most inclusive books I’ve read this year and it did have a couple of moments that I really felt were well written but then it sort of turned into mush.

So, do I recommend this one…yes and no.  If you like the Convention Geek trend that’s going on in YA and don’t get annoyed with Youtube celebrities you’ll probably like this one.  However, if you read that premises and see all those scenes of  potential and then get annoyed with all the mush in-between then…sorry?

Overall Rating: C+ a lot of potential here but in the end I didn’t care for this one.  Still, a C+ from this imprint is almost like an A so hey….improvements.