Banal: Lucky in Love by Kasie West

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Can’t buy me love…

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment—

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun…until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

Source: GoodReads

If I ever win the lottery, I am going to start my own publishing company.  This will, of course, be after I pay off my student loans, buy a decent house somewhere that is away from annoying neighbors,  and get myself a Moluccan cockatoo, but details.  The publishing company is totally in the works.  It will be called We Don’t Publish Shitty Books and this book won’t be invited ’cause it sucked.

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Cockatoo and cat gif because I can.

Okay,honestly, Lucky in Love didn’t completely suck but it was utterly predictable and the chemistry between the characters wasn’t even that palatable.  In other words, it completely felt like Kasie West was phoning this one in.  Which is sad, because Kasie West can write some good books.  Some really good books, this just wasn’t one of them.

The set up for this one was cute enough.  Girl wins the lottery and doesn’t tell the guy she’s interested that she won.  But an interesting premises can only go so far, and here it’s only that an interesting set up.

All the characters are poorly sketched and are stereotypical at best.  The main character (whose name I’m already forgetting) has stereotypical parents who always fight.  A stereotypical brother with gambling problems.  Two friends one who stereotypically betrays her.  A love interest who is stereotypically as flat as the paper he is written on and whose only true purpose is to be this big prize that our heroine gets at the end of the novel.

By that paragraph alone, you should see why this book will not be getting published from We Don’t Publish Shitty Books.

As banal as the characters are the plot is even more to the point.  Like I said, it totally seems like West wrote this on autopilot.  Nothing out of the extraordinary happens here. Just that What’s Her Face makes some dumb purchases and trust some people who use her.

I mean, hasn’t anyone seen any news special on lotto winners?  Like I knew when she went for the lump sum that she had made a big mistake.  And also, those parents completely didn’t even try to help her deal with the fact that she was a millionaire overnight.

What losers.

At the very least, I would’ve told my kid to talk to an accountant and get a good lawyer to read over “business contracts” that long lost relatives sent me.

Again, a lot of this is common sense.

Also, if UCLA turns down an acceptance because you spent money to rent a lot, I’m surprised that Stanford wouldn’t deny acceptance either.  But you know, plot point.

Anyway, I really do not recommend this book.  It’s blah at best.  Not specifically annoying, but not memorable by any means.  If you are going to read it, I suggest borrowing it at the library not buying it.  It’s just not worth it.

Overall Rating: A C.  It’s half ass and it shows.

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Because Time Travel, I Guess: No Good Deed by Kara Connoly

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Fans of Dorothy Must Die will love this reimagining of the legend of Robin Hood. Girl power rules supreme when a modern girl finds herself in the middle of a medieval mess with only her smart mouth and her Olympic-archer aim to get her home.

Ellie Hudson is the front-runner on the road to gold for the U.S. Olympic archery team. All she has to do is qualify at the trials in jolly old England. When Ellie makes some kind of crazy wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle—yes, that Nottingham—she ends up in medieval England.

Ellie doesn’t care how she got to the Middle Ages; she just wants to go home before she gets the plague. But people are suffering in Nottingham, and Ellie has the skills to make it better. What’s an ace archer to do while she’s stuck in Sherwood Forest but make like Robin Hood?

Pulled into a past life as an outlaw, Ellie feels her present fading away next to daring do-gooding and a devilishly handsome knight. Only, Ellie is on the brink of rewriting history, and when she picks up her bow and arrow, her next shot could save her past—or doom civilization’s future.

Source: GoodReads

I picked up this book, despite its hideous cover because the author has written some of my favorite books (under a different name-Rosemary Clement Moore).  I didn’t particularly like No Good Deed though.  While there were occasional glimpses of the wit that I loved in the author’s other novels,  it was overall a very meh book for me.

It probably didn’t help that I kept comparing it to all of those medieval Disney movies of the week that aired back in the 90’s.

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Seriously, what was it?  Did Disney like get a good idea on sets and medieval themed costumes?

Regardless, you can’t deny that they tried to style the MC to look like Kiera Knightly on Princess of Thieves.   Which actually came out in 2001, not the late 90’s but whatever.  It’s odd that they decided to style the book as such since the Ellie in my head looked fairly androgynous.

After all, she’s mistaken for male  for a good chunk of the novel without even trying to hide her gender at the beginning of the book-she’s wearing a sweater and relatively form fitting  jeans.  The chick whose posing on the cover, wouldn’t be mistaken as a guy.  And it is mentioned that Ellie has enough of a chest to later have to masker a makeshift sports bra so…maybe they thought her version of Robin Hood had moobs?

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But digressing…

But seriously, I think it’s one of the worst covers I’ve seen this year.

But this book isn’t about dissecting book covers (well, most of the time).  It’s about talking about the contents of the book and I’m afraid there’s not much to say.  At the beginning of the story, there seemed to be some interesting storylines-Ellie clearly had issues with her father, her brother was missing, and she somehow travels in time.

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Seriously, the time travel itself is never explained it just randomly happens.  ’cause you know, time travel just randomly happens.

I honestly, even wondered why she traveled in time because she kept saying how she wasn’t going to change history.

Trope Rant Time: Why the fuck have a time travel book, if you’re not going to change history.  I’m sorry, I know that some good time traveling adventures where they avoid changing the past (Back to the Future) BUT it just seems like it’s become an unnecessary cliche.

I mean seriously, you traveled through time.  You’re going to change history just by freaking being there.    Besides, how do you know that the history you live in is the right one.  Like, for instance, if I could go back in time before say the election from hell of last year I would be changing history you can bet you ass so that we wouldn’t have the Russian-phile  orange doofus in office and the US wouldn’t currently be the laughing stock of the world right now.

I digress though…it’s just one of those annoying trope that I’ll never get used to. And in this book, when the character is like, “I can’t change history.”

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I’m like, well, you are by pretending to be freaking Robin Hood, dearie.  I mean, think about it.

Anyway, I’ll never get used to that trope especially since the whole point in freaking time travel is to fuck things about.  But I seriously, don’t think much was changed.  Pretty much the only thing that was changed was the character’s clothes at the end.

I wouldn’t say the book was a complete loss though, not if you liked history.  There was some nice use of historical detail here and there.  I can tell that Connolly researched the novel.  But that’s not really that much of a surprise concerning her other books.  However, and I can’t stress this enough, if you are going to write a book about medieval England be aware that they did not speak modern English.

Modern English did not exist until Shakespeare’s day.  While Connolly acknowledges that it’s difficult for the characters to understand Ellie (but ultimately they do end up understanding her) it should be next for impossible for them to understand her.  Don’t believe me, take a semester of early Brit Lit and then we’ll talk.

After reading Chaucer and all that shit (which by the way was written about a hundred and fifty or so years after this book took place give or take a few decades) I can tell you that I’d have a hard time speaking that shit even then.

What bothered me more though was the  the lack of characterization.

It was just pathetic.  I could care less about these characters as the book progressed.  There’s one guy that I sort of think was suppose to be a love interest, but things never really developed that far and at the end we just sort of have the future look alike trope which I absolutely despise.

Trope Rant: Just because there’s a guy in the future that looks eerily similar to a past love interest does NOT mean that they are the same person.  Ever heard of identical twins, authors.  Thought so, considering everyone and their mother uses the evil twin trope.  But I guess a thousand years of time travel doesn’t mean that genetics randomly made a person look alike a long ago dead relative. No, it means they must share the same soul especially if they share the same name…

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And honestly, this trope wouldn’t have bothered me as much if there was an actual relationship.  But there wasn’t a relationship.  There was just a hint of one, and it was so small you had to literally do a squint bend and snap to see it.  In this case, I feel like it would’ve been better for the novel to go sans romance all together.

The other characters were merely there to serve a purpose to the plot.  I hate to say this, but when I read this book, I actually was thinking that Scarlet did a better job at telling the Robin Hood story, and we all know I had issues with that series.  But no, this book made me want to pick up that series again just because you know even though the characterization sucked, the characters actually served more than means to an end.

Really, the only character who had any development at all was Queen Eleanor (and FYI, YA authors I wouldn’t mind a retelling of a young Eleanor story she is bad ass on multiple levels even though her kids and husband ended up kind of sucking).

It pains me to say that I can’t recommend this one.  I love the author’s other books (in fact, I am tempted to do a reread of some of her stuff soon), but this book doesn’t work for me.   Had it spent more time developing the characters actually explaining why the character went back in time and exploring her life with the characters a bit more, I might’ve cared for it more.  As it stood though, it could’ve very easily been the blah Disney movie of the week.

Overall Review: A C.  It’s not horrible, per say, but I hardly recommend it.  At best it is average.

I’m Too Old For This: Royal Crush by Meg Cabot

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Being the newest princess of Genovia is WAY more complicated than she expected, but Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison is getting used to it. She gets to live in an actual palace with two fabulous poodles, a pet iguana, her very own pony, and, best of all, a loving family to help her figure things out!

And right now Olivia, having finally admitted that she likes Prince Khalil as more than just a friend, could REALLY use some advice. What is a princess supposed to do once she’s found a prince she likes? With her half-sister Mia busy enjoying her honeymoon, Olivia turns to Grandmere for help.

The third book in the middle-grade Princess Diaries spin-off series, written and illustrated by New York Times-bestselling author Meg Cabot.

Source: GoodReads

The good news: I got through this book maybe within two hours.

The bad news: I am way too old for this book, and I honestly don’t know if I’m going to continue reading this series now that Mia’s babies are born and I still haven’t gotten any Michael face after three installments. Meg is really going to have to do something to hold my interest but I doubt it will be held.

So yeah, I really didn’t care too much for Royal Crush.  It wasn’t that it was a bad book, but I am clearly way over its age group AND I couldn’t help but think throughout reading this book, these characters are only one year younger than Mia and Co in Book 1, but they might as well have been about ten years younger.

And yeah, thinking that they were only a year younger and that Michael was technically 18 at the start of the original series kind of gave me “Ew” thoughts about Michael and Mia because the age difference really was pretty big.

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Though you couldn’t tell it with the original series (as much).  Even though Mia was a grossly immature 14 year old in the first few books she was a lot mature than Olivia was about a lot of things (she certainly knew about a lot of things that Olivia seems naive about).  I think in part, it’s because the book is a middle grade series so the tone is going to be different.  Like, in book one of the original series Lily and Mia’s conversation is a lot more mature than Olivia’s conversations with her friends.  But honestly, out of the two series  I think Olivia’s conversations are a bit more realistic.

Still though, I think I prefer Mia and the original series on a whole a lot better.  For one thing, Mia was a lot less of a Mary Sue than Olivia is.  There is something annoyingly perfect about Olivia that rubs me the wrong way.  It’s not that she’s a bad character, but at the same time…she’s just too perfect.

The plot of this one was also utterly predictable, save for Mia’s twins names.  Honestly, sort of hated the names that were chosen.  I know there was sentiment and all, but pretty much they were named after Mia’s parents dead significant others AND one of them Mia nor Michael never even met.

That being said, if I was about twenty years younger I think I would’ve enjoyed this more.  I wouldn’t have side eyed it near as much when I read about the stupid boarding school that seems to have just royalty in it and seems even more fake in this installment than the less.  I wouldn’t groan as much at how ridiculous Mary Sue like Olivia was either.  Or how I could predict almost every plot twist.  And seriously, the Genovia here is starting to become more and more like it was in that hideous Princess Diaries 2 movie (you know, the one where Disney’s version of JP gets with Mia when Michael dumps her to tour with his band).

Like I said, just not my age group.  The thing is the first (and to a degree, the second) of these books were enjoyable enough for me to continue reading despite not being in the age group, but not this one.  I think if anything, this book has me wanting a new Meg Cabot book written for adults or a new YA series.

Looking at her backlist, I noticed that it’s been years since a new YA title has been released (last one was Awaken) and while I adored her YA characters being aged up, and her newest Boy book last year, I want something new in the YA market from her.  So, so, much (seriously, Meg, we need your supreme fluff in the market)  Alas, when I checked to see if she had anything coming out soon I didn’t see anything listed which was sad.  And with some internet sleuthing based on her answers in some interviews, I don’t think a new YA is likely from her anytime soon (major, MAJOR, bummer).

Anyway, if you have younger kids who are too young to read about the hijinks of Norman the foot stalker, I’d recommend it.   It’s definitely lot more kid friendly than the original books were, yet there’s still that Meg Cabot-y quality about it that will real you again.

So yeah, not a bad book but for someone who is not in the targeted audience and grew up on the original I couldn’t help but make some cringe worthy comparisons.

Overall Rating: A B.