Needs More Heart Pullage Less Teenage Angst: Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

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Zera is a Heartless – the immortal, unageing soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.

Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a Prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum; if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy her heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him – every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him – until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The Prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.

So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.

Winner takes the loser’s heart.

Literally.

Source: GoodReads

I get so tired of DNF’ing.  Seriously, my second DNF of the week.  I’m put out with it.  But after almost 200 pages of this one-I did give it the good college try-I couldn’t waste any of my time to it.

Perhaps, I was being too daring YA high fantasy and I usually do not mix.  They are heavily trope-y, and while I do have my fair share of tropes that I love the tropes often used in high fantasy aren’t my cup of tea-I mean, how many long lost princess stories can one have?

Bring Me Their Hearts intrigued me.  The idea of a heartless MC has intrigued me since Once Upon a Time did Cora’s backstory.

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Of course, Once Upon a Time being the show it was fucked the whole idea up.  But it was a great premises, and I looked forward to seeing how something similarly would be handled in book form.

However, Zera was probably one of the most immature brats I’ve seen in awhile in YA.  And mentally she’s suppose to be 19, so I really can’t blame her behavior totally on youth.  I mean, I’ve read 13 year-old protagonist with more maturity and grace than her.

I think with a character like Zera you expect angst.  But I didn’t really get the sort of angst I was expecting.  I was thinking I would get more gritty actual angst, than YA I’m a surly teenager angst.  I mean, come on, girl has her heart ripped out, is essentially some witch’s slave, AND her entire family was killed she should have issues more than the fact she can’t wear her so called slutty dresses.

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But I digress…

The crux of this novel goes into the standard typical forbidden love trope that high fantasy loves to play with.  I’m not a particular fan of this trope.  It’s not that it can’t be done right, it’s just that it usually isn’t.  Also, when you describe the love interest in a term that’s best used for plants and furniture makes me want to throw up a little bit in my mouth….

His face is his father’s, too, sun-kissed oakwood, and yet his eyes are his mother’s-piercign dark iron and sable darkness, and every part of me hates it-hates the fact that someone who’s to inherit so much power and wealth is striking as well (4)

Yeah, that was only four pages in.  The writing is this God awful throughout the entire book-well, the 200 pages I read.    I mean, look at this beauty

Two witches stand before us, radiating power; a bald man in an immaculately pressed gold-threaded suit and a woman with short, impossibly blue hair and a flowing gauzy dress that hides little of her midnight skin.  Both of them are so tall-though not as tall as Nightsinger-and with that same eeriness about them that gives me goose bumps (31)

Do I really need to fucking know that one of these witches has blue hair?  Seriously. Aggressive descriptions like this annoy me and weigh down the book.

It doesn’t help  that the interactions in the book seem unrealistic at best.  Like, the witch who has Zera’s heart…honestly, doesn’t seem that much of a bad guy.  But Zera detests her.  And then we get two other witches with one being just a complete a-hole.  Is this suppose to make me sympathize for the witch who has Zera’s heart because it seemed like a complete cop out to me?  Same as trying to save the children by killing them and making them zombies.

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Yes, save a child and make it them your own personal zombie solider.

Yes,  I said zombies.

Because Zera is a quasi zombie.  It’s really the best way to describe the heartless.  Though, she calls herself a monster.  I was like dude, just say zombie.  She has to eat raw flesh not to be totally out of control and I have to say it is an interesting twist if it ever amounted to anything.  But out of the 200 pages I read, the only thin I really ever saw was Zera getting stupid Princess Diaries 2 etiquette lessons and frilly dresses.  And no, just no.  I honestly, thought I was reading a recap of Throne of Glass for a bit with how pointless these scenes were.

Look, I like dress porn as much as any girly girl does, BUT when I am on a very limited reading schedule and its just adding unnecessary fodder to a book that is already filled with necessary fodder, I get annoyed especially when we’re almost 200 pages into a fucking book and little has been done developing any of the side characters.

The blurb heavily hints that romance is going to be a primary focus of the book, after all there is some weird sort of court ritual going on here.  BUT 200 pages into the book and you barely see interaction between Lucien and Zera.

I just didn’t like this one.

Maybe someone else will enjoy it more than me.  Maybe Zera stops being incredibly annoying .  Maybe Zera actually sort of deals with the fact that she’s a glorified slave and doesn’t have montages upon montages of dress porn.  But you know what, I didn’t care to stay to find out.  I don’t get to read as often as I used to, and when I do something this isn’t going to hold my interest.

Overall Rating: DNF

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How to DNF In 77 Pages: The Art of French Kissing by Brianna R Shrum

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Seventeen-year-old Carter Lane has wanted to be a chef since she was old enough to ignore her mom’s warnings to stay away from the hot stove. And now she has the chance of a lifetime: a prestigious scholarship competition in Savannah, where students compete all summer in Chopped style challenges for a full-ride to one of the best culinary schools in the country. The only impossible challenge ingredient in her basket: Reid Yamada.

After Reid, her cute but unbearably cocky opponent, goes out of his way to screw her over on day one, Carter vows revenge, and soon they’re involved in a full-fledged culinary war. Just as the tension between them reaches its boiling point, Carter and Reid are forced to work together if they want to win, and Carter begins to wonder if Reid’s constant presence in her brain is about more than rivalry. And if maybe her desire to smack his mouth doesn’t necessarily cancel out her desire to kiss it.

Source: GoodReads

Oh, boy.

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I’ll be fair to this one it’s shit, but not shit in the sort of way where I’m raging.  It’s just bland shit, where I can really say I hate the love to hate trope.  Especially when it involves misogynist  assholes like Reid who I still can’t understand how the blurb thought it was reasonable to describe him as cute.

Reid is pretty much the defining reason why this trope can fail so hard.  Let me be frank, the enemies to lovers trope is one of those tropes I hate an ironic love/hate relationship with.  When done correctly it works amazingly (see It Happened One Autumnwhen it fails it can be worse than the very worse Dramione fan fiction (I shouldn’t be admitting that I even ventured into reading those but whatevs).

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Reid falls into what make me get my belly full of Dramione fan fics.  He is obnoxious.  A budding “well, actually” bro on the internet.  Within ten pages of meeting our MC he tries to destroy our MC but it’s all in the name of competition ya’ll so that’s okay.

The MC’s not that much better.  I really don’t know much about her other than she has the latest Star Wars merchandise which I guess is suppose to make he relatable.  Fun, really not related to this review fact, I have never seen Star Wars which is kind of weird considering what a huge Indiana Jones nerd I am.

You really didn’t need to know that.

Overall, the set up of the book really reminded me of Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous except there was no actual TV show here.  Still though, the formula stayed eerily the same.

And quite honestly, if you’re going to write the book like an actual recap of Chopped I’d be much better off actually watching the show or going on Previously TV or some other TV recap site on the internet and read their recaps.

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Seriously, what is the point of that?  Yes, I’m sure the cooking competition was suppose to show conflict but when your just giving us a blow by blow of what happens, not giving us a culinary point of view or anything…

Holy shit, I’m starting to sound like I could be one of those obnoxious judges on The Next Food Network Star I really need to stop it.  The point I’m trying to make though, is there was a lot of telling in this book not a lot of showing.  It felt stunted and very manufactured.  It didn’t really  anything about it that made it memorable or made me excited.

Again, it’s a shame.

I like reading about food.  This book took place in Savannah.  I went to Savannah last summer, I would’ve liked to relive that.  However, the book could’ve taken place anywhere.  Never mind that Savannah actually has a pretty big foodie scene,that would’ve been fun to explore.  No this book makes its self a fucking Chopped recap with a love interest that should just go ahead and get neutered because he is an obnoxious asshole.

What do I know though, other than I DNF’d this fucker.

Overall Rating: DNF

 

Bet On the Sanderson Sisters Not These Dweebs:The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

Source: GoodReads

Just because this book involves three sister witches that are resurrected do not think it’s going to be like Hocus Pocus.  That was my mistake.  This book sucked.  Hocus Pocus does not suck.  It is campy, awesome, and probably one of my favorite Halloween movies.

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This book does suck.  It annoyed for more than too many reasons to count.

The premises had everything I would want in a book.  The blurb makes it look like going to be atmospheric, that it’s going to be full of history, that there will be shades of female empowerment throughout the book…

Get those dreams out of your head, dear readers, because you ain’t getting it with this book.

Oh, there is a cake maker who makes forget me cakes that seem to feature lavender.  There is a lot of lavender eating in this book, which I really don’t understand.  I’m not a huge fan of lavender in food.  I like it in bath bombs and laundry detergent, but in food it can easily become overpowering.  Hearing about it just makes me gag a little.

But besides the mystic cake maker there really isn’t anything mystic about this small town by the island besides three people being murdered every summer and as a result they use it as a tourist attraction.

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Does that even compute with you?

I mean, it doesn’t to me.  If three people are randomly going to be killed every summer, I MUST have to go to said town to get killed right?

Um, no.

Then again, nothing computes in this book.  The big twist for instance.  It really didn’t work for me, really didn’t work.  Or make sense for that matter.  And then the way everything was resolved…it really left a nasty feeling in my mouth.

The one thing I got out of this book after I finished reading it was that this book really does not give a shit about consent.   This is felt very early on in the book when inappropriate advances towards the MC are used to facilitate a “meet cute” moment.

This is NOT a meet cute moment.  This is disgusting.  I don’t know why authors think that such a scenario would facilitate romance.  I guess they think the reader’s are going to go for the knight and shining armor type.

Note, that’s not the case at all.  When you are in an situation like Penny was at the beginning of the novel the last thing you’re going to look for is romance.  Even if your “savior” is a nice enough guy, you’re not going to want to instantly hook up with him because he eliminated a douche from your line up.  Trust me, it’s going to be the furthest thing from my mind and I’m sure the minds of most people who end up in that particular situation.

Yet, in YA books it’s ALWAYS used as a fucking meet cute.

While I don’t want to go into spoiler specifics-since the book was only released a couple of months ago-I do want to point out that this isn’t the only time where consent is flippantly handled.  Much of the book ignores the issues of consent in it, and it really soured the book more which I didn’t think was possible.

Because the pacing in this one sucked, ya’ll.  Sure there was the occasional cliff hanger murder thrown in here and there but it was more or less mentioned in passing and was always off screen.  The big climax of the book really didn’t work for me either it was just sort of random and didn’t really work.

I still don’t even get how the whole curse thing came to being.  And that might be my own fault since I started singing the skim song during this book.

Don’t know what the skim song is.  Well, since I am feeling in a generous mood I’ll give you a few lyrics.  Note this can be sung to “The Merrily Old Land of Oz”, “Skim, Skim, Skim, Skim, Skim, Ska, Skim, Skim/That’s How You Get Through All  This Shit by Skimming Skimming Along.”

And I was singing this song a lot through the book.  I didn’t care for any of the characters.  They all were cardboard at best.  The relationship between Bo and Whoever the MC was just didn’t work.  Bo was pretty much the random hot guy that comes into town with a secret.

It just didn’t work for me.

I just can’t believe the hype this book is getting.  It shouldn’t be getting this hype.  It shouldn’t be getting a Netflix deal.  It’s not worth it people.   I guess I can see some media company just using the essence of this book and making something great out of it, but for a direct interpretation itself.  Not so freaking much.

Overall Rating: Fail.  Fail.  Fail.

 

It’s Not Terrible: Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

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Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind.

So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.

And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.

That is if they don’t get completely lost along the way.

Source: GoodReads

I really feel like I’m the odd one out with Jenna Evans Welch.  I know a lot of people love her contemporaries, but I am just not part of that team.  Love and Gelato while not terrible, was not a wow read for me.  And unfortunately, Love and Luck sort of followed the same pattern, though I do think there were misogynist undertones in the book that made me want to puke.

Why did I read this in book in the first  place…well, it is nearing the seventh anniversary since I visited Ireland so that’s why.  I wanted some nostalgia, so kill me.  And there were several places in the book that I visited though my recollections were a lot different than Addie’s.

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Seven years ago I was spending my summer with the highs in the 50’s and 60’s. After last week it doesn’t feel exactly real.

Digressing, digressing.

Anyways, back to the book.  The general gist of the book is that Addie and her Douche Brother and Family are attending her aunt’s wedding the two of them get in a fight on the Cliffs of Mohr and don’t die and their mother gets pissed and condemns each of them if the other fucks up when they go to Florence.  Only they don’t go to Florence because the first book takes place in Italy and this one takes place in Ireland ya’ll.

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The Cliffs of Mohr, not exactly the sort of place you’d want to fall off of a hill on. Also, the day I went wasn’t exactly idyllic wedding weather.

Instead, we get an Irish road trip.  Which is yay I guess?

Side digression, I got completely car sick any time I traveled in Ireland.  Which was mostly through bus and some really weird cab rides.  I think it’s because the whole driving on the other side of the road thing.  And then driving up mountains when you’re used to driving in the coastal plains of Texas thing.   Just thinking about being on a road trip across Ireland makes me feel slightly barf-y right now.  Perhaps, that’s why I never did the whole Ring of Kerry tour-even though I know I sort of missed out.

Honestly, the road trip seemed like it went incredibly fast to me.  For example, I can’t imagine just spending an hour in the Burren.  Grant it, my memories of the Burren consist of me getting slopping wet and later ending up getting an infection that lead to me getting pneumonia in the fall but digressing AGAIN…

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Me at the Burren  with terrible hair,slopping wet, and going to be hating myself three months later when all I can eat is popsicles.  But at least I have a nice scarf, so that’s all that matters. 

The same goes with going to Cork.  I loved Cork more than Dublin, which I personally think is overrated much like New Orleans-but I ‘m digressing yet AGAIN.  The fact that a mere visit to these places can be described in a few pages and the trip can go onto the next place sort of flummoxes my mind.

I get it, it’s a book.  But I really hate how pretty much this was a point by point book and didn’t take time to relish its surrounding.

One the biggest things that I was able to pick up from my short six weeks in Ireland was to savor things, to take your time and I just didn’t feel like this book did that.  It was more or less pain by the numbers get to the ending of the book.

As far as the characters go, I was sort of meh about Addie.  I hated that it was acted like she made this huge mistake during the book and that her brother had a right to be mad at her.  Honestly, her brother needed to be slugged in the jaw for acting the way he did towards her.

It drove me crazy throughout the book.  The fact that Ian’s (the brother) feelings were more important or stated to be more important-though, indirectly stated-throughout the entire thing drove me crazy.  It took the focus off of what happened to Addie and quite honestly I was a little disgusted by it.

The love interest, Rowan, I was a little meh over.  I really didn’t know why there even needed to be a love interest in this book because for the most part it was about the two siblings hashing out their weird fight.  Rowan wasn’t God awful by any means he just felt unneeded and unnecessary as did the connection with the protagonist of the first book.

God, you can tell I’ve read a lot of books because I completely forgot about the protagonist in the first book and had to reread my review just to know the basics-pretty much, I found the first book to be rather meh as well.

I think what I found so disappointing about these two books is that they should’ve been fantastic.  Summer time is always the perfect time to read a book about traveling because when it’s 112 outside-yes, it was 112 this week-you’d like to imagine yourself somewhere else like Ireland where it’s currently 65 outside (and yes, I have Galway’s weather on my phone because I’m that type of person).  And as the contents of this blog has  probably revealed I like light, fluffy, contemporaries but this book.  So did not work.

I think this book suffered from trying to pigeon toe itself around the heartache guidebook.  It’s a similar problem I’ve seen suffered from other books, the one I can think on top of my head being How to be Popular.  

By trying to revolve the book around this guidebook, I felt like there were many things that were lost.  Again, we’re in Ireland we need to go off the beaten path a little bit.

At the end of the day though, this wasn’t exactly the worst book I have ever read.  Have I read better, oh yeah, but it wasn’t a total time sunk.  I knocked it out one  very hot evening when my thermostat wouldn’t go down from 85 despite being set at 77.

Overall Rating: A C+ it doesn’t quite do Ireland justice but it’s not going to kill you to read it.