This Cover Makes Me Happy: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Khan

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Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Source: GoodReads

I was really excited about reading this book because asexuality is something you barely see in YA (I think it might’ve been in one other book-which unfortunately was no bueno).  I don’t know much about the subject, so this book was fairly educational for me, which is good.  However, while I read it I was currently how the book would be received from an Ace perspective-so I am going to keep my eyes out for reviews in the future.

That aside, I really didn’t care for this book that much.  I think it was hit by the curse known as Swoon Reads.  I swear I do not have luck with this imprint, which is a shame because they probably have some of the best premises going in the market.  The execution of these books though…

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I don’t know why this one was labeled as YA.  Clearly, it is NA minus the  cringe worthy sex.  And honestly, I don’t think the sex in NA makes it NA.  More or less the fact that the characters are in college makes it NA.  Still though, I guess since this book was really light on the sex they should label it YA?

Light on sex might be a misnomer.  There is a lot of talk about sex and love, BUT as far as people getting in other people’s pants scenes it was fairly minimal.  Still though, the classification to me is confusing at best.

I think I’ve been mentioning it a lot lately, but a good contemporary is only as strong as its characters.  Here, I did not feel any connection to Alice whatsoever.  I first thought maybe it’s because it’s in third point of view and it would just take a little bit more time to get into Alice’ head.  But nope, nope, nope, nope.  I couldn’t really feel her as a character even by the end of this story.

She just didn’t seem fully formed.  Kahn tried to make her your typical TV obsessed YA/NA protagonist complete with Supernatural obsession.  She also had a Cutie scale which I thought was juvenile, but did I feel this character when it came to her issues…not really.

Even her relationship with Takumi while cute didn’t really seem that emotional to me.   It was more like he’s cute but can I have a relationship with him because I’m asexual and that was pretty much the crux of the issue.  And by the end of the book my eyes were just glazing over.

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This book just barely touched the surface on a lot of surfaces, which is sad because it had a lot of potential.  I wanted more interactions with Alice in her family.  I wanted her best friend’s backstory more fully developed.  I wanted more interactions with her ex.  I wanted to see Alice and Takumi’s relationship evolve and develop.  But by the time I finished reading this book, it just seemed like there was more telling than showing in this book which was sad.

So, I’m really on the fence about recommending this one.  As someone who doesn’t know much about asexuality, I thought this was fairly informative.  But not being Ace myself I’m not sure exactly how good the rep is-again, will need to keep my eye out for future reviews.  I liked the fact that it showed that an Ace person could have a satisfying relationship with a person that to me is always a misconception, like sex is the primary focus of a relationship (uh, no, it’s just part of a relationship) and so I liked the book because it tackled that issue.  I also liked how much diversity was in this novel and how it didn’t feel like it was there merely for tokenism purposes.  HOWEVER  I just felt disconnected to this book and felt that so many things were underdeveloped.

So, that leaves to a very awkward ending to this review.  On one hand, I want to say that it’s informative and that’s why (if any reason) you should check it out BUT again I really don’t feel like I’m the person who should say that it’s informative than not.  And if it’s not really informative the only other trait it really has going for it is its cover and I really don’t know if that’s reason enough to buy the book.

Overall Rating: I’m going to be generous and give this one a C.  Honestly though, it could be in the D range.  It barely held my interest (unfortunately).

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No to the Ship, Okay Book Though: Starlight by Stacey Kade

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At twenty-three, Calista Beckett is trying to overcome her early fame and fortune. The former savior of the world on Starlight is now a freshman at college–miles away from L.A. and her former existence. She sees it as her start to a new life, a normal life, one where she won’t make the same mistakes she made before–a brush with heroin addiction and losing her freedom to her controlling mother, thanks to a court order.

Eric Stone played her older brother, Byron, on Starlight. But she’s been in love with him pretty much since they kissed–her first kiss–while auditioning. When Eric shows up on campus out of the blue asking her to return to California for a role, Calista’s struck immediately by two things: first, in spite of everything that’s happened, she still feels something dangerous for him, and second, she’s absolutely determined not to let him ruin her life again.

Only Eric’s not giving up so easily.

Source: GoodReads

I’ll be blunt I like Stacey Kade.  However, none of her books are really what I’d consider to be “favorites”.  She has interesting concepts, the ships are usually okay, but there’s usually a quality about them that makes them fade into the back of my mind after reading them.

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Like, the last Stacey Kade book I read looked like it had been loosely based off of the Cleveland kidnapping story  with Hollywood thrown in for a good measure.  I enjoyed it, but the book didn’t really stick with me.

Starlight Nights is a companion sequel to that book-meaning it’s another NA set in Hollywood.  It’s not bad per say.  But it contains a God awful ship and I got annoyed with both characters wanting to shake them and tell them you’re mother fucking adults.  Now act like it.

It’s bad when a romance novel’s romance fails to deliver.  And that’s what happens here. However, surprisingly it did not end my enjoyment of the book.  That being said, I cringed whenever I read Calista (Callie) and Eric’s interactions.

Let’s me be blunt, Eric is a douche.  A douche, douche, douche canoe who would normally be the bad boyfriend in a Hallmark movie.

Hell, Eric’s fiancee-yes, he is attached to get married at the beginning of this thing-could pretty much have a Hallmark movie of her own.  I can just see in now, coming to Hallmark Countdown to Christmas 2018  A Veterinarian for Christmas: Dr. Katie goes back to her own town for Christmas after her douchey boyfriend ditches her for a size two actress.  When an old boyfriend’s Corgi  Beagle (is that better, Patty) needs emergency surgery and Dr. Katie is the only vet there because Hallmark Reasons, Dr. Katie finds herself her reconnecting with her past.  Movie is complete with Hallmark gazebo and Christmas lights and an adorable Beagle wearing bows.

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The Star of A Veterinarian for Christmas, Patricia C Beagle.  Note adorableness is up for debate, the damn beast bit me when I was trying to save her life from an Irate Corgi at New Year’s. 

Faux Hallmark movie with Christmas Beagles aside, I really thought Eric could be the douche character in a Hallmark movie.  In fact, I was pretty sure after closing this book that five pages post epilogue Callie was going to wake up and dump his ass.

I just hated him that much.

Not only is he a cheater-because he was totally eye fucking Callie when he was with Katie-he manipulated Callie and was just as bad as Callie’s mother and his father.

Really, this book more or less to me was Callie’s story.  It was about her finding out who SHE was.  That was what kept me reading the book.  Seeing her and Eric together at the end made me sort of dislike the book much to my disgust.  It was what bogged down the book more than anything else.

I’ll be frank about it, I’m always in the mood for a good redemption story, where a character is able to overcome rather impossible looking obstacles and all that jazz and I do think Callie did overcome a lot.

Her mother is just God awful.  In fact, she had me in lawyer mode when reading this wondering how any judge in their right mind ever thought of giving her guardianship of her daughter-I’m pretty sure California, like most other states have laws about how a ward’s funds and can be used but what do I know I only practice law in two states that aren’t California.

I wish more attention would’ve been spent on Callie’s down spiral.  It kept being mentioned, but save for her accident with Chase it is really only a blip on the radar.  As for Chase and Amanda, it’s been so long since I read their story their cameos didn’t really do much to excite me.

Eric’s story on the other hand…

Um, okay.

It sort of parallels  Callie’s story in some ways.  But while I felt Callie got her shit together, I felt like Eric more or less just sort of was given a hand out and we were told that he got his shit together (he really didn’t).

Is it really sad that I just skimmed his sections.  Hell, I  rooted for Katie-future star of A Veterinarian for Christmas than him.  Wait a minute…you know what would’ve made for a better ship.  Scratch Katie going back to her hometown, instead she and Callie get it on. And yeah, I know there wasn’t that much chemistry between those two characters either, but there was more between them than Eric and Callie.

I keep going back to that God awful ship in this review.  And I guess I’m doing that because Eric/Callie was the main reason this novel failed for me.  But God did I despise this ship.  It is everything I don’t want in a relationship.  Yes, it’s obvious that the two characters are physically attracted to each other but that’s it.

I’ll give it to Kade, she at least attempts to give them a backstory-though the transitions into flashbacks could’ve been handled much better.  Since it was sort of jarring how one moment the story would be in the present and then it would swiftly transition to the past.

Overall, it’s hard for me to recommend this book, but I did enjoy it enough (which I still can’t pinpoint why exactly).  The ship is just toxic.  If there’s anything about it that’s making me enjoy it, perhaps it’s Callie’s arc.  It was nice seeing her get her act together, she just really needs to ditch the boyfriend.  ’cause girl, you’re in danger.

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Overall Rating: A B-.  I enjoyed it more than I should.  This is one of those books where the ship could definitely die in fire.

Phoned In: Don’t Cosplay with My Heart by Cecil Castellucci

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When Edan Kupferman dresses up like her favorite character, Gargantua, she feels tall and powerful. That’s important right now, because her family is a mess, her best friend is gone for the summer, her crush is confusing, and Edan’s feeling small and not sure which end is up.
When Edan’s cosplaying, she can be angry, loud, and not the good girl everyone thinks she is. And when she’s at conventions, she feels like she’s found her own Team Tomorrow. But when her personal life starts to spiral out of control, Edan has to figure out whether she needs a sidekick, or if she has the strength to be the hero of her own story.

Source: GoodReads

Ugh.

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I don’t know how this book got published.  Actually, I probably do.  It’s likely that Castelluci either had connections or knew someone that allowed this garbage to get a contract while someone else’s work  was ignored.

But still it flummoxes me that books like Don’t Cosplay With My Heart exist.  This book read more like a skeleton outline of a story than an actual book.  The characters were cardboard flat, the story didn’t have any unexpected pothole.  And honestly, I was kind of insulted reading it.

The general premises of the book is about a girl who finds herself through cosplay.  Okay, not that original of a premises but it could work.  Good contemporaries don’t have to have the most original of plots if they have good characters.

Unfortunately, the characters in this book are even weaker than the plot itself which is saying a lot.  The main character, Edan, sounds ridiculously young.

It’s YA.  I get that the characters are going to sound young at times becuase they’re young, but I wasn’t exactly sure how old Edan was suppose to be.  And by the time I finished the book, I realized it wasn’t her sounding ridiculous naive so much as being completely undeveloped.

It’s really quite pathetic.

There are a lot of things going on with Edan’s personal life that should’ve made her an interesting character to watch grow and develop.  Her dad is being investigated and later tried for embezzlement (though, it was probably one of the most unusual and ridiculous investigations I had ever seen), her mom is having what appears to be a nervous breakdown, and her grandmother is just one of those obnoxious characters who thinks you’re having a complete meltdown if you’re not being an ultra perky extrovert.

Seriously, there is a random fight where the character barely says ten words and she’s sentenced to having to volunteer at the grandmother’s hospital.

It’s a lame plot point at best, let alone one that makes me roll my eyes.

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Every character though is sort of shitty.  I mean, the best friend completely overreacts and betrays Edan with very little evidence.  One of the guys that Edan is interested with turns into a total misogynist.  In fact, he’s a misogynist from the get go, but he does stuff that should at the very least get him suspended from school but doesn’t.  Instead, everyone vilifies Edan and she’s surprisingly okay with it.  The love interest is bland with a backstory that is suppose to get us to cry but instead has me rolling my eyes.

Honestly, the best bits of the book were those that talked about the fictional comic book hero/villainess that Edan idolized.  I would’ve much rather read her story than Edan’s.  That’s how bad Edan’s story was.

Look, I’m okay with younger YA books.  I think they’re needed.  While I do like more mature YA books, the younger audience obviously needs something to read, but this one was just insulting.  I think there’s often that fine line between a “young” voice and just a quite frankly “bad” voice and this falls into the latter.

Edan was unrealistic.  The rest of characters were unrealistic.  The plot was insipid and boring and it had potential.  It had so much fucking potential and failed so epically.

Castellucci tries to brings in some deeper parts to the novel-some brief discussions of sexism but they’re hardly a blip on the page count that they’re barely worth mentioning. It’s like she was like oops got to add something in here and added that and a major supporting character is mentioned to be a lesbian like 3/4 of the way through the book for the first time.

It’s like really, you’d think that the MC would say that before since she is so close to said character but nope.  It’s was like that supporting character’s sexuality was merely thrown in there so that the author could claim that her book had some diversity in it.

I just cannot in good faith recommend this one.  If you like geek culture or books about cons check out Eliza and Her Monsters or Geekerella both books don’t have extremely complicated plots, but what they have they make the most of it.  The characters in those books are well developed and you are interested in them.  Not so much here.

Overall Rating: I give it a D.  It wasn’t particularly offensive for the

All About Steve and Some Really Inept Slytherins and Maybe a Couple of Really Dumb Hufflepuffs: Fire and Fury by

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With extraordinary access to the Trump White House, Michael Wolff tells the inside story of the most controversial presidency of our time

The first nine months of Donald Trump’s term were stormy, outrageous—and absolutely mesmerizing. Now, thanks to his deep access to the West Wing, bestselling author Michael Wolff tells the riveting story of how Trump launched a tenure as volatile and fiery as the man himself.

In this explosive book, Wolff provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office. Among the revelations:

— What President Trump’s staff really thinks of him
— What inspired Trump to claim he was wire-tapped by President Obama
— Why FBI director James Comey was really fired
— Why chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner couldn’t be in the same room
— Who is really directing the Trump administration’s strategy in the wake of Bannon’s firing
— What the secret to communicating with Trump is
— What the Trump administration has in common with the movie The Producers

Never before has a presidency so divided the American people. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.

Source: GoodReads

Had the illegitimate president not throw a tantrum over this book I probably wouldn’t have read it.  Neither would a lot of other people come to think of it.  But because I hate President Shithead, I decided to read it.  It wasn’t as explosive as I expected.  Maybe because I watch the news all the time during the work week now.  However, the book pretty much solidified my hatred for anyone who works for Trump’s Shit House.

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Note, I’ll be using the word shit frequently throughout the review since the US’s  so called not so eloquent president likes to use the noun/descriptor and I thought I’d you’d know take a page out his book (oh, wait he doesn’t know how to read-even Wolff said he’s quasi illiterate).

Anyways, as far as gossip is concerned this isn’t that extraordinary.  It’s obvious to anyone after listening to Trump talk  or reading his Tweets that he’s a moron.  It’s obvious based on his policies and rampant executive orders that he has no sense of how the United States government works.  And based on his appearance, you know he’s been hitting the Mickey D’s too hard.  What was the most interesting thing to me about Fire and Fury was how fractured the Shit House is.

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Or the fact that Steve Bannon was stupid enough to interview with Wolff and not think that Trumpy Dumpy and Co weren’t going to catch on.

To the first point, it is clear from Wolff’s book that everyone in that place has a motive and no one is loyal to Trump.  Well, save for maybe Hope Hicks.  But I don’t know if she’s really loyal to Trump or Jarvanka.  Either way she’s  one sad Hufflepuff.

The rest or are inept Slytherins.

Seriously, a bunch of dunderheads that give Salzar’s house a bad name.

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Bannon was the most heavily featured of these inept snakes.  At times it felt like Wolff was trying to have him be the “Everyman” protagonist but it sort of failed because anyone who has seen Steve Bannon on cable news knows that he’s more like a anamorphic slug than a hero.

Note, has an anamorphic slug ever been the hero in any book before this?  This is something I need to look up…but not today since I have a review I must write.

Regardless of how Bannon and some degree Wolff try to make him seem like an Everyman clearly Steve Bannon is NOT.  In fact, areas where I felt that Bannon and his hateful rhetoric needed to be dived into more they weren’t (cough, Charlottesville, cough).  The fact that the book tries to state that Richard Spencer, Milo, and other alt righter weren’t like Bannon or Trump has me SMH.

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Anyways, it’s very easy to tell from the narrative that Wolff talks out of both sides of his mouth.  Honestly, his narrative reminded me a lot like Joe Scarborough with the way liberals were constantly trashed and the Russian conspiracy was dismissed.  True though, he was interviewing Trumpeters, but it’s still a little annoying when you see an investigation with two guilty pleas and two indictments be downplayed in parts of the book.

And speaking of Joe Scarborough, this book further solidified my hatred for him.  The book once again shows that Joe talks out of both sides of his mouth, and thought of himself as a Trump unofficial strategist of some sort.   To be fair though,  that’s how most of the characters individuals were that Wolff interviewed.

It was sort of laughable about how transparent their motivations were.

According to Wolff there are three factions in the White House

Big Stevie’s:  And the rest of the alt right assholes of Brietbart.  Note, that also includes Little Stevie who wrote the God awful ban.

Jarvanka: Trump’s precious little family who try to act like they’re Kate Middleton and Prince William and fail epically.  Oh, and it’s quite obvious that they’re scared out of their mind that Mueller time is going to hit them eventually (one can only hope).

And

Rancid Preibus and the rest of the GOP: Who have pretty much become lapdogs for Trump as long as he’ll sign their disgusting tax bill.

The book doesn’t cover the tax bill though.  It only goes up to the point where Big Stevie is fired, again giving credence that the book was really about Bannon’s Shit House not Trump’s Shit House.

Honestly, Trump is more or less the character that its talked about but rarely seen.  Besides the Mickey D’s in bed and getting lost in the Shit House with his  bathrobe on, and Ivanka talking about his Cheez Whiz hair, there’s really not that much direct interaction with Trump.    In fact, I think Grimace from Mickey D’s had more interaction with Trump than Wolff.

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It might be because he’s not really running things.  And from the book it didn’t seem like anyone was running things, even though they all think they are. And that’s what scares me the most about this dumpster fire of an administration.

It is no secret that I voted for Hillary Clinton and that I would do so again in a heartbeat if she ran again (though, I doubt she will).  The reason is epitomized in this book.  Hillary Clinton was anything but incompetent.  She knew what she was doing.  She was a policy wonk.  And you could as well expect her White House would be organized and ran on a tight ship.  Exactly the opposite of Trump whose shit house seems to be in a constant incompetent Game of Thrones-ish battle minus the decent acting and fake blood.

It’s not a way to run a country by any means. And if Wolff’s account is even half true it scares me to death.   The executive branch is being ran by literally no one.  Sure, the overgrown toddler is technically in charge but not really.  All his minions think they’re in charge but they aren’t.  Really, it’s a shit house full of hubris.

Overall Rating: A B.  I mean, it was relevant but it’s definitely not going to be a reread by any means.   I’ll probably hold on to it and loan it to my friends, but honestly had Trump not threw a childish fit about this one I doubt it would be getting the attention it is.

Cute Wintery Romance: Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Strohm

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Someday I want to live in a place where I never hear “You’re Dusty’s sister?” ever again.
Life is real enough for Dylan—especially as the ordinary younger sister of Dusty, former Miss Mississippi and the most perfect, popular girl in Tupelo. But when Dusty wins the hand of the handsome Scottish laird-to-be Ronan on the TRC television network’s crown jewel, Prince in Disguise, Dylan has to face a different kind of reality: reality TV.

As the camera crew whisks them off to Scotland to film the lead-up to the wedding, camera-shy Dylan is front and center as Dusty’s maid of honor. The producers are full of surprises—including old family secrets, long-lost relatives, and a hostile future mother-in-law who thinks Dusty and Dylan’s family isn’t good enough for her only son. At least there’s Jamie, an adorably bookish groomsman who might just be the perfect antidote to all Dylan’s stress . . . if she just can keep TRC from turning her into the next reality show sensation.

Source: GoodReads

I think Stephanie Strohm spied on me for a year and then wrote this book to make me happy.

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Because that’s what this book did: made me happy.  And I’m glad about that because after getting through the last book I read I was sort of thinking I was getting near to having a reading disaster.

Prince in Disguise, however alleviated these concerns.  Oh, sure, I’m pretty sure I’ll be ranting about some other book sometime very soon on this blog because I have a pretty bad track record in picking out stuff, but for a few hours I enjoyed reading again.  And the fact that I have a couple of Strohm’s other books on my TBR list made this book even more of a sweet read.

The plot for this one is a little bit ridiculous.  Pretty much the MC’s sister competes in some sort of reality show for this guy who’s secretly a prince (he’s actually a lord).  I vaguely recall there actually being a similar reality show like this on TLC at some point, but I read in an interview with Strohm somewhere she was inspired by the I Want to Marry Harry show that aired on a different network.  Regardless of the inspiration, based on the show’s success the MC’s sister’s wedding to said lord is going to be filmed and the MC is roped in to participate which involves a trip to Scotland during Christmas time.

The book was actually released around Christmas and I can see why after reading it.  It is the perfect winterly read and romance.  If you enjoy banter, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up Jaime and Dylan have awesome chemistry.  Of course, some of their barbs are heavily warped in pop culture and I sort of wonder how much longevity this book will have.

Then again, for the most point books in YA longevity isn’t really that long.  Still though, I know when I reread some earlier YA especially some of Meg Cabot’s books that I read when I was in high school I cringe at how outdated the pop culture references are.  It’s just something that…well, as you age it makes you more embarrassed than when you originally read it.

Anyways, the pop culture references while a foreshadows an uneasy future for the book’s longevity didn’t really ruin the book for me.  It was a cute story.  The characters were for the most part pretty drawn out.  There were some characters that I thought could’ve been fleshed out more-the parents in particular-but it wasn’t like it ruined the book for me.

The ship was pretty solid.  Probably the best part about this book.   Honestly, I couldn’t help but think throughout the book what a cute movie this book would make during the holiday season.  Really, Hallmark should contact Strohm about getting rights to this one because they usually do a royal themed movie every year and this one would actually be an interesting one.  The chemistry is truly foot popping (sorry had to use a blasphemous Nicholas gif instead of Michael gif)

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I also thought there were some interesting subplots within the book.  Again, I wish some of them would’ve been explored a little bit better, but unfortunately that  didn’t happen.   I think that was my biggest grievance about this book certain characters and plots had a great start to them, where they could’ve been expanded further but weren’t.

While I  do think Strohm wanted the book to primary be about the romance, there were plenty of places to dig deeper and I think doing that would’ve taken the book up a level.

Still though, if you’re looking for a cute and fluffy book with a decent ship I recommend this one.  Just realize if you’re not a fan of pop culture references you’re going to get plastered with them in this book.

Overall Rating: A B+

Trigger Inducing with Bonus Paul Ryan Wannabe Asshole: Someone to Love by Melissa de la Cruz

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Constantly in the spotlight thanks to her politician father’s rising star, Olivia Blakely feels the pressure to be perfect. As the youngest girl in her class, she tries hard to keep up and to seem mature to the older boy she’s crushing on, even as she catches his eye. But the need to look good on camera and at school soon grows into an all-consuming struggle with bulimia.

As Liv works toward her goal of gaining early admission to art school, including taking part in an upcoming student show, her life spirals out of control. Swept up in demands to do more than she’s ready for, to always look perfect and to succeed, Liv doesn’t know who she is anymore. It will take nearly losing her best friend and even her life for Liv to learn that loving herself is far more important than earning the world’s approval.

Source: GoodReads

Warning, this book is trigger inducing if you suffer from body dysmorphia, have an eating disorder, experienced sexual assault, and have committed self harm you might want to avoid this book.  Because the book goes into in great detail, and God knows I could see it as trigger inducing.  Even though I haven’t personally suffered from any of these things, this book made me uncomfortable.  True, it did not make me as uncomfortable as I was a 15 Year Old Blimp (which pretty much gave you even more detailed instructions than this book on how to binge and purge-yeah, I remember reading that as a 12 year old and being  marginally freaked out) but it’s still bad.

Going into this, I was more than a little weary.  My more recent track record with de la Cruz’s books hasn’t been pleasant (to the point where I think my fondness for Bluebloods is merely driven by Nostalgia goggles)  and honestly I was sort of relieved this one wasn’t worse than I expected (then again, you can’t get much lower than that sad Pride and Prejudice retelling).

However, just not being that God awful, didn’t make me love this book by any means.  In fact, it’s all kinds of awful.  But it’s readable since it’s not name dropping some fashion designer every other pages.  Because really Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe really topped it with all of the Kate Spade pajamas the MC wore.

I’ll start out with my biggest grievances with this book the multiple sexual assaults that the MC experiences.    Several people make unwanted advances to Liv throughout the book, and she is slut slammed for it (one of those shamers being her asshole Paul Ryan Wannabe father, no less).  Even after the overdramatic climax– of this book the being assaulted is never really addressed.  It should’ve been.  It was one of the many underlying causes Liv had that was causing her to binge and purge.   The fact that this is never addressed left me feeling disgusted.  It seemed like de la Cruz merely had Liv grabbed and groped as a plot point, and it just made me mad.

Book Hulk mad.

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Honestly, the binging and purging, the binge drinking, and the random cutting were all plot points too you want me to get honest about it.  The book shows that Liv’s under a lot of stress, but one meltdown and her life seemingly gets back together.

That’s not how it works.

An eating disorder, just like alcoholism, and self harm is something you’re going to deal with the rest of your life.  You’re not going to get instantly better and be in a “good place” there’s lots of ups and downs and this book does not address it.  We don’t get to see Liv struggle at the rehab center when she has to gain weight.  We don’t see how she reacts to stress post rehab.  She’s just fine and dandy, and that’s not how it is in real life.  I get that de la Cruz might’ve wanted to end this on an uplifting note, but honestly it could’ve ended as uplifting with a little more realism.

Though to be fair, the entire book lacked realism.  Which brings me to my next issue the Paul Ryan Wannabe Dad.

Maybe it’s because I REALLY hate Paul Ryan (dude, I and any other American with a somewhat functioning brain can through your shitty tax plan and we know you’re gunning for Medicaid and Social Security cuts, you pathetic Trump kissing asshole) but I kept associating him with the dad character throughout the book and in turn it made me hate him (the dad character not Ryan) even more than I probably should.  Though to be fair, de la Cruz  made him utterly despicable when he went off on his daughter for purposely getting herself an eating disorder because it was going to mess up his campaign for governor.

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Seriously, anyone who has an eating disorder is not going to get it on purpose.  Personally, I would never vote for someone like Colin Blakey.  It perplexes me how he’s even in fictional office-oh, wait…look who we have as POTUS in real life.

Note, if you’re not that political and getting annoyed with these digressive rants about the currently controlled GOP congress and POTUS right now.  Sorry, but not sorry.  It’s relevant to the book and will be coming up a lot throughout the review. Here’s why.  Maybe in 2012 I would’ve argued that Colin Blakey was a caricature at best.  But I can’t now, because I totally could see a certain orange asshole writing a Tweet about how bulimia is a choice.

I swear…

Anyways, besides these things it bothered me how much in detail that de la Cruz went into how to purge.  Look, I get that it’s easy to find out how to force yourself to purge but I really don’t like seeing it in such detail in a book when I know that there’s some impressionable 12 year old who’s probably going to read it and get as freaked out as I did when I read I was a 15 Year Old Blimp.  To be sure, I don’t think this book was as bad as that one, but it did go into detail and while the side effects of the disorder were mentioned they didn’t go into such detail as they should’ve.

Seriously, the most we hear about the MC’s side effects from binging is brief mention that read more or less like a Wikipedia article.

The self harm bits were even more ridiculous and were more or less an after thought.

I understand that de la Cruz was trying to write about a very sensitive and important issue, but it really did read like a melodrama after school special than anything else.  It probably didn’t help that I didn’t connect to any of the characters.

If I felt any emotion towards any of the characters it was hate.  The Paul Ryan wannabe and the One Direction Wannabe/ Pervert boyfriend, and the pervert who randomly groped Liv  I hated.  I also hated Liv’s best friend, Antonia.

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We were told she was a good friend, but pretty much every time she and Liv hung out she’d ditch Liv and Liv was just suppose to be okay with it.  That’s not how good friendships work, de la Cruz.  Oh, and wait, said friend gets pissy at Liv when she’s assaulted because she didn’t stay to help her out with her date…

Yeah, shitty friend.

Healthy relationships were really something that this book failed at.  The Paul Ryan wannabe dad is a prime example of this.  All the characters in this book are doing everything to make HIM happy and not giving any consequences to anyone else.  He has an aide that is outright mentally abusive towards his daughter, but Liv is suppose to deal because her dad needs to win the race.

Note, the last thing I want for the state of California is a Paul Ryan Wannabe.   Just saying…

It doesn’t extend to just the father though.  Liv’s mother forces her daughter to go to a shrink’s office, without telling her the therapy session is for her and literally ambushes her there when Liv was suppose to be there for the mother’s emotional support.

I’m actually surprise that the shrink was okay with that.  You don’t ambush someone like that in such a fragile mental state.  Especially not like that, and then tell them that you’ll be disappointed in them if they don’t continue mommy daughter shrink time.  That’s just asking for a dumpster fire.

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God, these people.

The older brothers are shit douches too.  One is a former addict and knows his sister is binging and let’s the behavior go on for months before telling the stupid mother.  The other brother has relationship issues with his girlfriend (note the other brother was the LI in de la Cruz’s Something In Between).

Oh, and there’s Liv’s other best friend/future love interest who is so bland that the only thing I know about him is he likes science, has a dead brother, and has surfer hair.

I really can’t compute…

Given the plot of this one, I thought this book would be very character driven. Eating disorders and self harm are complex issues and I felt like this book cheapened them to add “dramatics”.  Like in all of de la Cruz’s books there is a ridiculous sense of privilege about the book.  Though, in this particular book I think reality might’ve been suspended since I can’t see the cast of a CW show partying with high schoolers.  I also can’t see the speaker of the house ditching his position to become governor, or that more attention and scrutiny will apply to the family for running for governor when they’re already the speaker’s kids.

But whatever.

Like I said this one is trigger inducing.  I think something with this material could be gut wrenching.  But I wasn’t bawling after reading this, instead it was one of those books I threw into the give away box.  Only thing is, I sort of would feel guilty about donating this one to charity since I feel like there are a lot of things about this book that could cause potential harm.

Overall Rating: I gave it a D+ it was readable and I originally gave it two stars on GoodReads since I was able to finish it easily.  Only thing is, when I got my thoughts together it really made me angry and upset.