And the DNF’s Keep Coming: The Enchantment of Ravens by Margret

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A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

Source: GoodReads

I was really looking excited to this long weekend because reading time (I mean, hello).  Unfortunately, I ended up picking up some really big dudes this weekend and rather than knocking out four or so books like I hoped, I ended up DNF’ing two books.

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An Enchantment of Ravens had been in my shelf for awhile.  I picked it up mostly because after reading A Court of Thorns and Roses I sort of developed a guilty pleasure for fae oriented stories.

Unfortunately, Rogerson’s book was not a guilty pleasure to read.  I will point out for the first fifty or so pages I was pleasantly surprised with the book.  While it was a bit mundane following the typical human girl gets herself entangled into the world of fame plot line that is so familiar with these books, the writing was engaging enough.  And then came the insta love.

And when I mean insta love, I mean insta love.  The characters barely interact and then out of nowhere Isabel proclaims her love for Rook just conveniently before he kidanps her.

And honestly, the kidnapping cam out of nowhere.

The pacing for this book was just as hastily paced as its characterization and needless to say it didn’t work.

Because I am a veteran of reading shitty YA books with shitty love interests, I thought I could continue the book primarily because insta love sometimes doesn’t completely ruin a book.  But the ill pacing kept me from fully engaging with the book.  I just kept feeling like I got whiplash as I tried to figure out what was going on and honestly after awhile I had enough of that.

And even though I was lost in the book, I sort of had a feeling where this book was headed and I was just bored with it and didn’t want to bother finishing it.

It’s a shame.

I really shouldn’t feel that way.

But that’s how I felt.  And I ended up DNF’ing the book because of it.

It sounds really bad, but it’s true.

Sigh.

When it comes down to it, I can’t recommend An Enchantment of Ravens while the beginning of the book might’ve seemed promising, once the romance started the book essentially ended.  If you’re going to have a book about face, actually make them fae.  Don’t make them essentially super hot humans with special powers that fall in love with the otherwise very bland heroine.

Overall Rating: Another DNF.  Oh, well, I can reclaim some  shelf space.

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In Which I Sort of Go Off on Ginny Weasley: Roomies by Christina Lauren

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Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realise that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

Source: GoodReads

Oh, boy.

Remind me to always, ALWAYS look at an author’s backlist before making an impulse buy.  Had I known that this author published some PP’d fiction in the past I would’ve never picked up this book.  That being said, I can see the roots of the authors’ fan fic  past in this book.  God knows, the MC reads like a hybrid of Bella Swan and Ginny Weasley which pretty much makes her an insufferable stalker girl.  And that’s the reason I didn’t finish the book.

Yeah, first DNF of the year.  I’m actually surprised that I’ve maintained for this long.  It is the middle of February after all.  I think last year I had DNF’d extremely early like in January so at least I’ve made relatively decent reading choices this year until this point-save for that Katie McGarry book with the dog murder.

And I’m getting off track.

I need to talk about why I DNF’d the book.  The issue is pretty simple, it’s the MC.  She is twenty-five years old but pretty much acts like Ginny Weasley did in Chamber of Secrets minus the whole you know talking to a diary/horcrux and setting a giant snake against her classmate bits.

But really, from the 100 pages I read the only thing I knew about Calvin (the hero) was that for some reason Holland found him irresistible even though she freaking doesn’t even know how his face looks at the beginning of the book.  Hell, she doesn’t even know much about him and decides to commit a felony to help him.

I mean, really girl.  Get a clue.

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Okay, going in I knew that going into this that there was going to be a marriage of convenience BUT the way it was handled was just so sudden and stupid.  I don’t even practice immigration law, but from what I know about it, Lauren completely watered down the particulars about it.

Yes-I know, I know- it’s a book.  A book isn’t going to get into the nitty gritty, BUT it could at least keep some of the bare bone basics so it seemed realistic.  Though, honestly, I’m not even going to get mad about that.  What I am going to get mad about is the stalker-ish attitude that Holland had towards Calvin.

When I compare her to Ginny Weasley I don’t do it lightly.  I despise Ginny Weasley.  In some ways, I hate her more than I hate Bella Swan.  Both are annoying with Sue like characteristics.  However, I thought the Ginny Weasley comparison was more apt than a Bella one more in this case because other than the character’s lust towards the so called hero (seriously, Calvin is not a hero for not reporting Holland’s attacker-I mean, come on immigration aside there is a mugger on the lose because of him) there’s nothing showing why these characters should be together within a hundred pages of this book.

And I’m sorry, I would not marry some random guy.  Even if he’s hot.  I’m sure most twenty-five-year-old women wouldn’t marry a random guy who plays music on the subway either.  But Holland does.

Like I said, it reminds me much like Ginny’s crush on Harry in book two which was superficial at best.  Hell, in my opinion that entire relationship was superficial since until book six they barely had any interaction but that’s another rant for another time.

The point, I’m trying to make with all the Ginny Weasley references is that the relationship was pretty much one sided at best and came out of nowhere.  Sure, I guess you could make the point that Holland was trying to be nice, but her choices seem illogical and just plain dumb.  Really, it’s like the choices a twelve year old in a One Direction fan fic would make.

Hence, the Ginny comparisons.

Seriously, I just don’t know how this relationship can be viewed as okay, healthy, or even romantic.  It just doesn’t work.

It’s a shame.

I was interested in the plot.  I liked the idea of the book.  The premises intrigued me, but the execution was just hideous.

Overall Rating: DNF.

Panda, Panda, Panda: American Panda by Gloria Chao

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An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

Source: GoodReads

American Panda probably has one of the best covers out there and it fits with the book (only way it would be better is if it had actual pandas on it).  I didn’t realize that the drinkable looking hot chocolate would actually be significant but it is.  However, besides having an excellent looking cover the book was actually pretty well done too.

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Panda Dog because PANDAS.

Culture clashes are a common issue discussed in YA.   I think American Panda  did a fairly good job with these issues.  I really felt for Mei, and unlike in a lot of books I totally get where the conflict is coming from.

However, I think her dad’s actions go past being merely a culture issue and go more into the abusive dick territory.  Seriously, at the end of the book I wanted some sort of lifeline thrown out to Mei’s mother becuase no one should have that much control over his wife and family…

And I’m starting to diverge more and more into spoiler territory which I really hate doing in reviews.

Here’s the thing about American Panda if you’re expecting this to be a cute contemporary that focuses primarily on romance, it’s not.  Yes, the romance does play a role in the story, but it’s more or less bout Mei finding herself and becoming an independent bad ass who doesn’t give a fuck about what anyone thinks.

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I really liked the themes that were brought up in this book.  In addition to Mei’s Taiwanese background butting up against her growing up in America, there were also conflicts with parental expectations and general self discovery.

Finding out that she wasn’t suited for medical school, played a substantial part of the story.  And I liked that.  People change their majors frequently, though not near with the amount of drama as Mei had to endure, but finding that medical school was not the right path for her was something that I’m sure many people can identify with.

I also liked how Mei developed as a character from the course of the novel, being so dependent on her family and then not being so much.  It was a good arc.

The relationships that she had with her brother and boyfriend were also endearing and nice to watch being developed.

The parents seemed a  little OTT to me at first.  However, while I originally could not stand Mei’s mother, by the end of the book I felt like I had a good idea why she was the way she was.  That being said, I wanted to shake her and some of the comments she said were just outright awful, but at least there was an underlying reason why she was acting the way she was.  Mei’s father and his family though.

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God, I hated them all.

They didn’t seem realistic.  I mean, yeah, I get that people act that way but usually there is some speck of humanity there.  But in this book, not so much.  One other thing that felt unrealistic and was never explained was how Mei’s spring tuition was being paid.  It was sort of the plot hole that was never explained.

Anyway, I recommend you check out American Panda.  For the most part, it is everything I wanted from this book.  In some ways it was better.  I thought that this book actually took the disownment pollen and it expanded it more than I usually see.  It was also refreshing to see a book set at a college campus that didn’t focus so much on sex.

Was it perfect: no.  But it certainly made for an enjoyable read.

Overall Rating: B+

Patty Beagle Presents (“I’m a Prosecutor Now”) : Say You’ll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

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When Drix was convicted of a crime–one he didn’t commit–he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the new Second Chance Program, the governor’s newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor’s daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn’t may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle’s parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix’s messy life.

But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can’t imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves–Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence–and each other to finally get what they deserve.

Source: GoodReads

I haven’t written a book review in quite a while.  MJ says it’s just because I’ll end up talking about how cute I am and then talk about my food or my feud with the Corgis and not about actual books like I’m suppose to.  But after reading Say You’ll Remember Me and her pulse rate going up ridiculously high, she was like Patty you do this one.  And I read it and I just saw red.  Because DOG MURDER.

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Look at my face.  This is the I am APPALLED face.

Yes, literal shoot a dog with a gun murder.  And no, they couldn’t even take it to Dr. Jeff Rocky Mountain Vet to get it surgery (and yes, Dr. Jeff saved a puppy in one episode after being shot), they just put it to sleep ’cause extra drama and…people are just horrible.

And yeah, MJ, wants you guys to know that’s sort of spoiler but who cares.  It’s dog murder and the book deserves to rot in hell for that alone.  And that’s what I prosecutor, Patty Beagle am asking for).

However, as disgusting as it is to have a senseless plot twist that results in the death of an innocent puppy (YES PUPPY, the dog is still a PUPPY when it was shot and murdered) there were other things that were bothersome, disgusting, and disturbing about this book.

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This is Emory when he was a puppy.  Around the same age that the puppy in this book was killed.  Seriously, look at this face.  Having a puppy murdered even half as cute as this one is DISGUSTING.

On one hand, MJ wants me to note that she’s glad that McGarry at least made the book interesting enough where she did have a strong emotional reaction to it.  However, at the same time she just hated how a lot of the issues were handled.  I personally am only interested in prosecuting the book for dog murder-because that was the senseless death of a puppy-BUT the other grievances have to be made apparent as well.  It should be note though, that when grading this book the dog murder deducted an entire star from this book (or in terms of grading it deducts sit by one letter grade). My owner and I were both appalled by it.  But even if it hadn’t been for the senseless death, the book would’ve had a low score for the following reasons:

  1. The Handling of Plea Bargains:

Throughout the book, plea bargains were handled like they were this dirty thing.  On the contrary, plea bargains in general keep the courts from being backlogged and allow first time offenders a way to have reduced sentences.

That being said, there are occasionally cases that skip through the cracks like Drix (that sounds like some sort of drainer cleaner) BUT their not bad things on their face and I wish it was brought up that it wasn’t the plea bargain that got Drain Cleaner in his predicament so much as the lack of resources available for someone in poverty.

But nope, it was blame it on the plea bargain and the bad lawyer that was the public offender.

Rolls Beagley eyes.

Oh, and then there was that little line that Drain Cleaner’s brother makes about how maybe juvie was the best place for Drainer Cleaner even though he didn’t commit the crime.

Really?

Fucking really?

My owner had to pop a pill at that point.

Also, there will be no plea bargain for this book.  Just saying…

2. Sexual Harassment/Sexism

God, was it rampant in this book.  MJ wonders if some of this was revised after the #MeToo movement started gaining full steam.

At the beginning of the book, Elle finds herself in an uncomfortable position of being harassed by two idiots at the fair.  It’s set up to be her “meet cute” moment with Drain Cleaner.  Honestly, MJ and I were a bit disgusted the set up.  Having experienced a similar situation that Elle has, she didn’t see how being “rescued” by someone like Drain Cleaner would make the character interested in romance.

It just doesn’t work that way.  Sure, Drain Cleaner helped Elle out but having that be the start of their relationship and romanticizing it made MJ want to barf.

Me too, come to think of it.

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I am not amused.

There was a lot of barfing during this read.

It got worse though.

Halfway through the book, a phony relationship between Elle and Andrew (Faux Mitch McTurtleman’s son) is set up .  To the point the campaign choreographs a kiss without Elle’s permission.  Even more disgusting, her parents completely agree to it.  Much like they completely agree for her image to be changed.

McGarry sort of fluffs over it as more or less an obstacle  for Drain Cleaner and Elle not to get together.  But nope, it’s disgusting.  Elle is essentially being pimped out by her parents and she just excuses it as part of the campaign.

Um, hell, no.

I’m a dog and we’re paraded around Westminster once a year and even they have some sense of standards.  Not much, mind you.  But more than Elle’s parents had for her.

It is really disgusting that these people who are suppose to protect Elle at their own interest pimp her out.  However, the more my owner read about Elle’s parents the worst it got which leads me to the next point I was told to mention.

3. Corrupt Politicians

As a candidate for dog president, I can tell you that we canines are not near as corrupt as our human counterparts.

Seriously, humans, you elected a piece of poo with an orange wig.  You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.  If your incompetency in 2016-for not wanting to vote for that bad ass lady over the turd-occured, I would’ve thought that the dad politician’s reaction to wanting to cover up Drain Cleaner’s innocence was a bit over the top.

But nope.

Not anymore.

It’s pretty disgusting to say the least.  My owner thinks it would’ve been a better use of time had McGarry focused on how corrupt politicians were than how bad plea bargains are.  Because it seemed to me that’s where the real issue was.

However, all we get is essentially Elle blackmails her daddy into doing her bidding  and there are absolutely no consequences for his actions.

At the very least he should’ve been suffering Chris Christie approval ratings.

But hey, then again there are no consequences going on right now in Washington either.  So….

In all, this is one of those books that lead my owner and I feeling angry.  There was necessary dog murder in this book and then everything else was just anger inducing as well.  My owner is really skeptical about reading more McGarry after this.

Sure, the books are page turning enough, but after awhile they are really formulaic.  Rich girl and guy from the wrong side of the tracks meets and falls in love with problems that result in some sort of gun violence at the end.  Occasionally, McGarry will switch it up having the boy be rich or vice versa the girl being from he wrong side of the tracks.

And yes, every author has their tropes my owner wants to point out.  However, some become more invented over time and don’t kill dogs.

Overall Rating: An F with the dog murder.  Had it not been for the dog murder probably a very low C-.

Genre Confused: Love, Hate, And Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

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A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

Source: GoodReads

I liked this book, but to be honest about it it felt very fractured.  The first 2/3 of the book are more or less a rom com with a subplot of the main character dealing with a bit of a culture clash.  Then the last third…well, things got heavy.   Like this is another book sort of heavy.

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I get that real life isn’t one genre (duh), but having a book going from being almost resolved to shit just got real was a little strange.

Really, it felt like the book was about to end then the author realized the page count was not there and then threw in the curveball to continue the story.

It just really felt odd to me.  A book that discusses islamophobia is a must need in this current administration.  I was sort of hoping this book would be like The Hate U Give.  However, it’s not.

While Angie Thomas’s book is able to weave light hearted moments with the darkness that surrounds  real life issues such as racism and police brutality, I didn’t feel like the issues in Love, Hate, and Other Filters were woven  in that well.    Or even that there was an attempt to weave the two stories together.

I did enjoy the little rom com/culture clash storyline that was going on in the first 2/3 of the book.  It wasn’t anything I haven’t seen before.  In fact, I had watched Bend It Like Beckham the same weekend I read this book, so it was really fresh on my time at the same time and many of the same issues that the MC had with her parents and her relationship were the same as the MC in that movie had with her family unit.  Obviously, there were some differences but I kept wishing that there was something about the characters’ relationships that set it up that set it a bit apart from other stories that shared similar themes.  Still, though, I enjoyed it.

What I thought didn’t work was the more serious subplot.  Mainly because it was rushed.    While there were a few good points mentioned with this subplot, I just thought that not enough time was spent exploring the nuances of it.  And again, the book pretty much went back to it’s primary focus of discussing the romance and then having the parents in the book act like assholes.

And that annoyed me.

The parents acting like assholes bit.  Until the incident that lead to the islamophobia subplot, I thought they had a relative decent character arc.  However, that was completely blown with how OTT they acted after the incident.

To me, it was almost as if they had taken OOC juice and were acting like completely new characters.  I didn’t like them.  I thought they were overreacting and were cartoonish.  Which is a shame, because up to that point they did seem seemingly realistic.

I guess overall this one isn’t a bad book, BUT at the same time it’s heavily flawed.  I really want to recommend it, but at the same time I feel like anyone who reads this book is going to be a tad bit disappointed.  It does raise some good points, and the ship isn’t horrible, but I just felt that the various plot points did not connect and the book overall felt disjointed as a result.

Overall Rating: B-