Half Baked and Full of Shitty People: Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

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Despite sending him letters ever since she was thirteen, Taliah Abdallat never thought she’d ever really meet Julian Oliver. But one day, while her mother is out of the country, the famed rock star from Staring Into the Abyss shows up on her doorstep. This makes sense – kinda – because Julian Oliver is Taliah’s father, even though her mother would never admit it to her.

Julian asks if Taliah if she will drop everything and go with him to his hometown of Oak Falls, Indiana, to meet his father – her grandfather – who is nearing the end of his life. Taliah, torn between betraying her mother’s trust and meeting the family she has never known, goes.

With her best friend Harlow by her side, Taliah embarks on a three-day journey to find out everything about her ‘father’ and her family. But Julian isn’t the father Taliah always hoped for, and revelations about her mother’s past are seriously shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.

Source: GoodReads

This one was a bit of a disappointment.  It had a nice set up, but it sort of fell flat on its face when it came to its resolution.  The good thing was it was a quick read.

Wow, just realized I sort of summarized this review in two sentences.  So if you’re on a rush for time, I guess you can stop reading now.  However, if you like reading my diatribes (and if you’re reading this blog you probably do or at least get quasi amused reading  my diatribes) please continue on.

I’ll be honest, I probably would’ve ignored this book had it been for it’s cover alone (it’s sort of blah) but the long lost successful daddy trope is a favorite of mine and I sort of had to read it based on that.  I mean, What  a Girl Wants  is one of my all time favorite movies and it exploits this trope to the fullest, so what could go wrong with this book…

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It’s not that it has a bad set up.  I thought the set up was fairly decent for the most part.  Although, I’ll admit it was sort of clunky for this famous rock star to appear out of nowhere  and take his daughter to middle of nowhere Ohio, BUT I’ll let some things stretch.  The character development seemed like it was good at first.  We had a fractured friendship, the MC’s relationship with her estranged long lost father and mother, a dying grandfather, the MC becoming confident in her own talents, and a potential love interest for the MC.  But honestly, none of those plots were ever fully dissolved.

A part of me gets it.  In real life, nothing would be tied up in a bow, but there were some pretty horrible plot twists here that made me find the MC’s parents to pretty much be horrible shitheads all around.

For most of the book, the relationship between Tal and her long lost family had me intrigued.  I liked the relationship that was developing between her and Julian, and I thought that there were some nice scenes between her and her long lost grandmother.  However, that was quickly swept against the rug with that stupid twist.

Look, I get people aren’t perfect and I think that Warga probably included that twist to make the mother character more sympathetic, but it just seemed cheap to me.  It completely destroyed what I thought about Julian’s character and motivations throughout the novel.  It also didn’t absolve Lena of anything.  She is still pretty much a terrible person.  Sure, Julian might’ve acted like an ass, but Tal at the very least should’ve known.  Or at the very, very, least Julian should’ve been held accountable enough to pay child support or something.

Okay, I know that little last tidbit is from me handling too many family law cases, BUT still…you get what I mean.  I also could care less for Tal’s relationship with her b.f.f. who she’s grown distant with.  B.F.F. (whose name I want to say is Harley or something-I forgot and am too lazy to get the book out of my suitcase) is a jerk.  She pretty much disses Tal because she has a girlfriend and makes demands of her about calling her mom-Tal should’ve told her to stuff it.

I’m sorry Harley was shitty.  I’m sure she’ll grow out of it eventually, but the book makes it seem likes its all Tal’s fault.  But it’s really not.   Talk, you need to make friends with some decent people.

The romance or squint of it was okay, but after finishing the book I really wondered why it was included.  It’s clear Tal is leaving Ohio and probably won’t see this guy again.  And they only knew each other for three day so…pointless.

The flashbacks, while nice, and gave some introspection again were useless.  There was all this build up between Julian and his father, and Julian and Lena and the payoff was just pathetic.  It just really annoyed me all together.

In all, this book had so much promise, but totally flopped upon execution.  If you like the long lost father trope or books that explore relationships, I don’t recommend this one.  Rather, pop in What a Girl Wants again or read The Wrong Side of Right.  Seriously, this isn’t worth it.

Overall Rating: I was originally going to give it a C+ but upon reflection I’m thinking a C- might be more accurate.  It’s not half bad, but it is very poorly executed.

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Not Another YA Superhero Book: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

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Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

Source: GoodReads

YA superhero novels are becoming more common than they used to be.  A few years back, I remember wanting desperately for such a novel to exist and finding none.  Now there are a few to pick from.  When I heard that Marissa Meyer had a superhero themed book coming out I hit the preorder button and had no regrets.

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Okay, I was a little bit wary.  Until last year, Meyer was definitely a do-no-wrong author, but I was not a fan at all of Heartless.  And I was a little skeptical about this one coming in.

I was pleasantly relieved to find that I liked Renegades.  I didn’t love it, but I liked it.  However, there were a lot of cliches and plot holes in this one and an extremely slow beginning that drags.  So, so, much.

That being said though, I do plan on picking the next installment up next year.

The general gist of the story is that there are two groups of superpower people, the Renegades and the Anarchists.  I think the best comparison would be to the X-men and the Brotherhood, with some minor variations.  However, one of the characters uses a helmet much like Magneto and I was like really Meyer…

Okay, that aside there are some tragic Batman-ish backstories going on in this book and the two leads have sort of a Batman and Catwoman relationship going on.

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The world building is okay for the most part.  Again, I will say that there were several plot holes in the book.  Where I had to wonder why certain characters were too dim not to realize certain things about other characters.  I mean, because some of the secrets that the characters were hidden were fairly obvious.

Then again, the super hero genre has always been generous with having oblivious characters.  I mean, Lois Lane clearly can’t see past Clark Kent’s glasses so I shouldn’t be giving Meyer’s characters too much grief for being stupid.

Still though, it does frustrate me as a reader that Meyer doesn’t even address some of these things.

If you can look past the plot holes though, the book is pretty decent.  Renegades has a fairly diverse group of characters an not one of them is tokenized.  The relationships for the most part are fleshed out, at least with the leads.  The supporting cast isn’t as strong as it was in Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, but they are still decently form.  If this series was going to be longer than duo-logy I could see several of the characters being explored more.  As it was though, I thought the two leads were pretty decent and I sort of liked that they were mirror images of each other in an odd way.

Despite the plot holes my other issues with the book was that it was ridiculously predictable.  Even the cliffy at the end didn’t phase me (much).  I’m guessing there will likely be some twists thrown in the sequel of the novel.  The pacing probably didn’t help since the first 250 pages of this book were glacier slow.

Side note, when I first read Cinder and when I read that abomination better known as Heartless, these issues were prevalent too.  Cinder was difficult to read the first time around because of how slow it seemed, Heartless was even worse.  This book has that same slow start.but it holds my interest like Cinder did.  However, I do think that overall Cinder is a better book.

I know that sounds sort of harsh, but I do think that Cinder was a slightly better book than Renegades, even though this book was written much later in Meyer’s career.   Maybe it’s because Cinder was a retelling so some of the lack of originality (in plot twists) wasn’t as groan worthy as it was with Renegades.

In all, if you’re a superhero fan or a Meyer fan, I’d recommend this one, but it’s hardly awe inspiring by any means.  I’m hoping that the conclusion to the duology will sort of do the series justice, but right now I’d hardly say it was anywhere near Lunar Chronicles levels.

Overall Rating: A  solid B.

 

Research, Hallmark, Research: Christmas Festival of Ice

Hallmark has finally done it.  It has made me want to completely rewrite one of their horrible movies.  At this point, I’ll admit that about 85% of the movies they air are crap.  However, I usually am not forced to watch Hallmark productions where the MC is a lawyer.   However, my luck was out with Christmas Festival of Ice.

And I can tell you after finishing this one, I feel for all you pediatricians, vets, actresses, teachers, and any other occupation Hallmark has shit on.

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If you don’t keep up with my Twitter, you should be notice that a lot of my Hallmark watching has been condensed to live Tweeting horrible movies (well, semi live Tweeting since I DVR-Equity it-thanks, Professor F for coining that term) there’s so many Countdown to Christmas crap-tacular films I can’t do full reviews for all of them.

However, there are some…well, there are so that just make me upset enough that make me write a review and this is one of them.

If you read my blog entries about Hallmark movies, you know I find them deeply flawed.  They’re in this own little bubble of privilege beyond privilege that only someone as foul  as DJ Tanner herself can love them-note, I actually have had to block people on Twitter when talking about things because I have been told I’m “mean” and wrong (we’ll get into what I’m supposedly wrong about later).

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Anyways, the premises of this one is pretty simple.  Every year Hallmark has to do some movie about ice sculpting.  I guess there is someone related to a higher up who has an ice sculpting fetish.  Honestly, maybe it’s because I’ve always had a green Christmas, but I’ve never associated ice sculpting with Christmas before.   But Hallmark does, and in this designated movie a law student-turned later in the movie law school grad-decides to get her ice sculpting fetish on with a guy who lives in a van down by the river who sales Christmas trees on the side when he’s not make the big dough from ice sculpting.

He’s hot, I guess which compensates the fact that his job is seasonal, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

For about the first hour or so of the movie, we’re told that this chick Emma is a law student.  And it’s at Christmas time, and I’m like girl this movie should be called That-Stupid-Chick-Who-Failed-1L-Because-She’s-More-Concerned-With Ice-Than-Torts.  Okay, I actually simplified the title to How I Failed 1L Year.  It’s not great, but it’s better than the alternative.   So, of course, I was obsessed with how this chick was not studied when my three years of law school was pretty much considered to be hell during the holidays.

But halfway through the movie, were randomly told that the MC took the bar and is waiting for her results (before Christmas?)

Um, no.

That’s not how it works.  The exam is taken in July and February respectfully.  Even the states that get their results back last-usually California-get them by mid November.  The reason why, people who fail have to register in time for the February exam.  They have to enroll in BARBRI or Kaplan which usually starts in December (near the time this movie takes place-agian, I know because I took the bar in February for one state).  Furthermore, you’re not going to get a text to tell you if you are going to pass or not.  You’re going to be sitting obsessively refreshing the state bar’s website until they post their pass/fail list.  Trust me, I’ve done it twice and it’s not pleasant.  If you don’t want to be refreshing your browser you’ll get a letter a couple of days letter.  Again, not a text.

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It wouldn’t take Hallmark a fucking lot of work to do this.  I mean, all they would have to do is Google the fucking thing.  They probably could’ve had a God damn intern do it during revisions.

But gun-ho Hallmark fans were arguing about this with me.  Because apparently Hallmark knows the schedule of bar exams a lot better than anyone who has ever waited for their bar results.

And stating the MC is a law student to waiting for her bar exams…Yeah.  You can’t take the bar if you haven’t graduated from law school yet.

God.

Or for that matter, apparently you don’t need a license to do a deposition let alone do it unsupervised.  And that your mom is immediately going to name you partner after you pass the bar exam.

Would it just kill Hallmark to do some sort of research?

There are people who actually believe everything they say is true, like that lady  on Twitter who told me all law offices had American flags featured prominently throughout their offices (they don’t).

You want to know what is in my office: law books, a desk, some old chairs, bookshelves, Chihuahua pictures, a candle, and can of Lysol, and a couch.  Oh, and last week I had it decorated for Halloween with a big spider hanging from my door.  No American flag in sight.

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One of the pictures I have in my office of baby Brainy.

Hell, none of the attorneys at my office or are sister office have a flag in their office.  The law office I worked before didn’t have a flag.  And neither did the office where I volunteered right after I graduated.  I’m sure they’re in some offices, BUT they’re not a mainstay.

So no, random Twitter person.  You are wrong a law office doesn’t need an American flag predominately applied amongst Christmas stuff in their office.

I know I’m obsessing, I tend to have those tendencies, but it just really bothered me how Hallmark doesn’t care one shit about doing any form research.  I mean, I’m writing my NANOWRIMO story right now, and I’m marking areas where I know I’ll need to go back and at the very least Google something.

It also bothered me how Hallmark threw away an accomplishment such as passing the bar exam, getting three years of law school for freaking ice sculpting.

I don’t kid you.  The climax of the movie results with the main character realizing she doesn’t want to be a lawyer and would rather cut ice for a living (not that there is really much of a living for that except for tacky weddings, but again I digress) and move in with the guy that sells Christmas trees and has a weird ice fetish on the side.

I joked with my sister that he lives in a van down by the river, but in Hallmark cannon he probably has a cute Cape Code decorated out from Pottery Barn complete with a  Golden Retriever.

I don’t know how he would be able to afford it though, since selling Christmas trees is sort of cyclical work.

I know, I’m digressing.  And I can hear the naysayers, it’s just a movie.

But God, I couldn’t believe how selfish how beyond disgustingly privilege this character was in the climax.

I know people who have worked their butts off in law school and didn’t have the fortune of passing the bar or getting a job, let alone a partnership.  Or for that matter, I know people who couldn’t get into law school because of financial difficulties.  But this chick, doesn’t give one shit about anyone.

And her parents acted completely unrealistic.  Seriously, I couldn’t believe her mom was like, “Oh, ho, hum, it’s fine that you do ice sculpting as a living.  In fact, I put $10K down for your hobby.  We’ll forget you spent seven years being able to get your JD and that we spent thousand upon thousands of dollars for you to be able to study and take the bar.  And hey, let’s forget that I’ve pretty much been letting you work at my office and I’ve been paying you so you can get a coffee roughly every 7.5 minutes in the movie in a new coat.”

Yeah, but that’s what happens.  Sort of.  She doesn’t mention the coffee thing, but that is what happened.

Look, I could go into more details about this movie but it’s fairly predictable.  The acting was blah.  I’ve seen another movie with the actress in it, My Summer Prince (even reviewed it) and she did about as decent as a job as she did in that movie.  But the thing is, the character was just insufferable.  And I really don’t blame it on her, but the writing.

Would it kill Hallmark to differ from their usual format: ambition for a woman is a bad a little?  I mean, passing the bar becoming an attorney is a big accomplishment.  They could’ve written the storyline a little bit differently to make it work.  Emma could’ve found a passion for her community, used her law degree to run for office or something-rather than just giving mommy to give her a hand out so she could make sculpted ice cubes.

I’m sorry, so many things about this movie annoyed me.

I am not stupid.  I have alluded to it several times in the fact that Hallmark has privileged protagonists and this is one of the worst offenders I’ve seen in awhile.  I think it’s because I lived the situation.  When I graduated from school, I didn’t come from an affluent family I had to work for what I got and this chick just throwing everything away disgusted me…

It disgusted me how lazy this movie was.  How the writers couldn’t even just do a common Google search to know when bar results would be released.  To know that you couldn’t be a freaking law student when you took the bar.

It disgusted me on so many levels.

It disgusts me that a lot of people think that Hallmark is who the world operates.

It disgusts me that they keep pushing out the same slightly repackaged shit with the same lessons about how women who have goals other than popping out munchkins and having a career is bad.  How women’s career should only be as good as their significant others and that they’re not happy unless they have a significant others.

Look, I’m all about the feel good movie.  After watching this travesty, I watched After the Ball on Netflix.  That movie is cheesy, but it works.  You want to know why, while the main character got with a cute guy.  The movie wasn’t about her giving up who she was, it was about her getting what she wanted.

I don’t recommend this movie.  It’s about a spoiled, privilege, brat who is going to find herself living in a van by the river.

Skip.

Total fail.