This Belongs in a Giveaway Box: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

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When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Mia and Jules’ different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race’s secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race…

Source: GoodReads

Indiana Jones is probably one of my favorite trilogy of films.  I do not consider that asshat abomination of a fourth movie to be included in the series- in fact, I notice that a lot of networks don’t since they don’t show it when they’re airing an Indiana Jones marathon (which is like every weekend it seems).   That being said, YA authors just don’t….compare yourself to that series.  It’s an invitation for your reader to get drunk out of misery of being duped.

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Don’t blurb your book to be like Indiana Jones.  Because it’s never going to live up to mine and many film nerds expectations.  Unearthed might’ve DNF’d because of this comparison.

Okay, so there were other reasons that this book was DNF’d but comparing it to Indiana Jones was probably one of the biggest faux pas.

Sigh…

Spooner and Kaufman are known for producing sci-fi books together.  I have a lukewarm relationship with sci-fi.  I like it in theory, BUT I find a lot of sci-fi to be homogeneous and really just a stand in for YA dystopia where the alien planet is really a stand in for a dystopia Earth.  This sort of fits this pattern, especially since I getting lots of Captain Planet vibes with the pollution of the Earth bits and the freaking Gaia mentions.

When one thinks Indiana Jones one thinks action.  The action in this book is sort of meh.  I mean, the first chapter is interesting enough but it really feels like someone who is trying to write an action scene for the first time and sort of succeeds but not really.

I mean, all the elements were there, but was I intrigued not really.  The tone of the book just felt really stilted.  The book itself was in two points of view, BUT I didn’t feel either Mia or Jules.

In regards to Mia I thought if she was that destitute how did she have all that money to make her hair look so freaking awesome.

In regards to Jules, if he was really that rich/important why didn’t his parents send body guards?  It’s really not explained.  Also, he’s a scientist.  Because, I guess Indiana Jones is a scientist?

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Thee archeological mystery is weak too.  The reason the first three Indiana Jones movies work they’re identifiable. They all encompass quests involving items that are relevant to three religions.  There is significance in the items they’re looking for with the abomination movie and in this book I could care little to less about because they involve an alien world that I have no commitment to or knowledge or-save for the info dump done by the Russian Tolt in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and by Jules in this book.  I mean, if we’re going to have aliens can we just have the dude from Ancient Aliens make an appearance because he’s entertaining at least.

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And let’s be honest, info dumps are never entertaining.

I watch Ancient Aliens pretty much every Friday to help unwind my seemingly over stimulated brain.  That being said though, when you try to have an archeological mystery built around them in a dystopian world…well, things sort of become half baked.

I kept thinking can we get away form the typical man is evil and destroyed his world with greed and pollution plot line.  I mean, I have Captain Planet for that.  Not Indiana Jones.  If we’re going to do an Indiana Jones-ish storyline.  We need some Nazi punching or something.

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Anyway, from my comments you see that I got bored with this one quickly.  As a result I DNf-d it.  I don’t know if the DNF is more my expectations weren’t met because Indiana mother fucking Jones comparisons or if the book was just meh.  I’ll concede that it was probably a combination of both.

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A Book I Finally Liked This Summer: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

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Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?

Source: GoodReads

I bought a few Jenn Bennett books after finishing Starry Eyes to save for a rainy day.  If you’ve seen the shit I’ve read this summer, you know it was a very rainy day in reading land for me so I decided to break out the last YA book of Bennet’s that I haven’t read The Anatomical Shape of the Heart.

You can definitely tell it’s an earlier work because it was not as good as her other contemporaries.  That being said I did enjoy the book and it was a nice break from the shit I’ve been reading (don’t worry I read The Kiss Quotient  right after so the shit quota for the summer of 2018 has continued if you like hearing about me being miserable, which I’m sure some of you actually do).

I think if I was to describe this book in one word it would be deliciously weird.

The subject matter, drawing dead people is morbid in itself and there are a few chapters that get fairly graphic and remind me why I didn’t have the guts to go to medical or veterinarian school.  Dissections in high school always made me feel borderline cautious too, come to think of it…anyway, if you can get through the slightly creepy subject matter, the book is pretty good.  Even though it’s pretty much about nothing.

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Unlike, Starry Eyes and Alex, Approximately   which both have a respectable plot (even though like this book are fairly focused on romance, and summer romance at that) The Anatomical Shape of the Heart (that is a mouthful) is quite flimsy.  I mean, there is a plot but it’s not really the focus of the book if that makes sense.

To explain it further, in Starry Eyes there was an ongoing plot line with the family dynamics that affected the romance.  With Alex, Approximately there was a You’ve Got Mail-ish subplot that winded its way through the book as well, with this book there’s sort of a plot but it doesn’t really connect as well as the other two books plots did.

And to be fair, this book is much shorter than Bennett’s later contemporaries.

Don’t get me wrong, the books not bad by any means.  I did think the relationship with the love interest moved a little fast and some of the subplots really I thought were shafted over, but it wasn’t bad.

It’s just not my favorite Bennett book.

Even though, I thought the romance was rushed I still enjoyed the chemistry that the characters showed.  Bennett really has a talent for that.  I will literally ship any ship she writes, even though I knew I shouldn’t be into this ship the way I was.

Would I call this book good…um, in terms of plot not so much.  I mean, there were a few interesting things that happened during the course of the story, but I wouldn’t say it really made the book or for that matter connected with anything in the book.  The characters also while interesting, were nowhere near the quality of Bennett’s future characters.  HOWEVER, if you don’t look at any other Bennett books I would say it’s decent.  Or at the very least, it’s better than the recent shit I’ve been reading.

Despite having a slightly morbid twist to it, I found the characters relatable.  I liked the relationship and I did think there was potential.  I just think there was just something awkward about this book, thankfully it seems that Bennett has improved with time.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it a B.  I really should probably give it a B- BUT I enjoyed it so that’s giving it that bump up to regular B status.  If you like Bennet’s work you should check this one out, just be prepared to be a little disappointed.

Man Whore, Strippers, and Porn Stars Oh My: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

Source: GoodReads

Disclaimer: I am not going to discuss the depiction of Autism in this review.  Since I am not on the spectrum, I really have nothing to say about how Hoang depicted it. I will mention the fact that there were some things I wish would’ve been fleshed out better (i.e. Stella’s behavior at certain event, I do wish to know if she had any treatment etc.  prior to it because some of her interactions seemed a bit OTT)  That being said, I am interested in reading reviewers who are on the spectrum to see if Hoang’s portrayal was.

That being said, I did not like this one.  I read it hoping that it more or less a self discovery story of a woman who comes into her own skin and likes it.  Instead, it essentially was a bad gender swapped Pretty Woman story that is obviously trying to get turned into porn since there are five billion reference to the adult sex industry in the book.  And not one of these characters is tested for STD’s mind you, even though the male lead is literally a man whore.  At least, Pretty Woman sort of addresses that.

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Seriously, that’s all I kept thinking during these sex scenes has Michael been tested?  I get I was suppose to have myself lost in the romance.  But I couldn’t get lost in the romance because anytime there was a love scene one of the following things was mentioned: man whores, strippers (especially in reference to Stella’s body), and porn stars (see Stella’s breasts).

Seriously, how is that suppose to get me into the mood?

It’s superficial at best.  And I know we all talk about book boyfriends (which I personally find to be an obnoxious term) but here’s the thing you can’t see a book boyfriend.  At the end of the day he is text unless there is a movie adaptation made about him.  And most people aren’t turned on by the mention that X looks like a K-Pop actor especially if they don’t know said K-Pop actor.  Rather, what turns on people to fictional characters is how they’re depicted.

And I didn’t care for Michael.

He is like a sad male version of Julia Roberts’s character in Pretty Woman with an Alpha douche twist.  At the very least if you’re going to do that, have Richard Geere a la Pretty Woman era come out of the book with those roses.  You know what, I’ll insert a gif of him doing that in this review so that I get that pleasure (albeit ,belatedly).

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Anyway, Michael complains about having to be be a  ho to pay for his mother’s  medical bills because he can’t get his fashion design business off the ground.  Then its later on mentioned that he was valedictorian of his high school class, which made me wonder if he had potential skills then designing clothes that apparently show off someone’s voluptuous stripper like body in a modest like fashion.

I kid  you not.  While that is not a direct quote from the book some asinine description like that regarding Michael’s clothes or Stella’s body would make a frequent appearance in this book.

Besides, Michael’s seemingly lack of logic skills in the book.  I just didn’t like him.  I think Hoang wrote this back story involving his mother hoping that it would make me sympathize for the character, but other than it being his reason for being a hooker I really could care less.  Especially when it seemed he had other options.  And the rest of the aspect of the backstory-his mother’s illness, his father’s misdeeds-we’re pretty much thrown into the background in order to compare Stella to a porn star some more.

God, Stella really should just get into the business already.  She already has a ready name: Stella Lane.

Fun fact, that was the street where I grew up: Stella Lane.  So, I had a hard time taking any of this seriously when I read it-the comparisons to porn stars, strippers, and the occasional K-Pop icon didn’t help much either.

Autism representation aside (because again, not my place to discuss it) I found Stella’s sections of the book just as painful as Michael’s.  I couldn’t sympathize with her.  It’s mentioned that she has Autism, but nothing is discuss in terms of therapy or coping mechanisms are mentioned.  There are some painfully awkward very obvious social miscues that she made that just have me shaking my head, especially if you take into effect how successful Stella is at her job in freaking Silicon Valley where there probably has to be some smidgen of social cues to get up as high as she did on the corporate ladder.

Also, Stella, girl, really looking up male escorts on a freaking work computer?  Come on.

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Speaking of the whole hiring a male escort angle there were never any repercussions for either Stella or Michael for their involvement in the business.  With Michael, I expected there would’ve been some fall out from his family.  With Stella, with her company and family, but nope.  All it did was allow the cliche break up scene of the book.

Other than the raunchy superficial romance (and please Stella, for the love of God get tested for STD’s already, God knows where Michael’s dick has been) the book had very little plot.  Romances generally don’t have much in plot to be fair, unless they’re a Lisa Kleypas book and have a ridiculous climax that comes with a gun totting villain in the last 100 or so pages of the novel, but I was really hoping this one would’ve been more character oriented.  I would’ve loved rather than Phillip merely being the very obvious office perv turned NO guy in a love triangle, for him and Stella to have some sort of office rivalry going on regarding a promotion or something and maybe have Stella stressing out because of her lack of social cues to get said promotion.  Like, maybe that could be why she hired Michael-to show that she can be sociable kind of like in that Halmark movie The Mistletoe Promise than just hiring him because she wants to appease her parents and thinks she needs sex lessons because of some gross comment Phillip makes.

I digress though.

That almost got me as mad as the stupid Tiny Tim trope being used at the end.  For those of you, who are unaware of that trope that is where some rich character seemingly  donates all their money to a character that is described as pathetic for no apparent reason.  You know, calling it the Tiny Tim Trope might not be a good name for the trope because at least Scrooge was haunted into giving Tiny Tim’s family his money.  And I guess here, Stella was pretty much paid in sex.  But it still seemed illogical and just plain dumb and annoying.  Girl, don’t give away fifteen million dollars because some sad sack is good in bed.

At the end of the day, I’m not going to recommend this shit.  I have a very short fuse for bull shit right now, and this book doesn’t pass the mustard which is a shame.  I was actually looking forward to this one.

Overall Rating: A D which is not the cup size Stella wears based off of Hoang’s description of her porn star breasts.  Yeah, I know crass joke but I put up with this shit.

Solid Premise, Piss Poor Execution: The Supervillain and Me by Danielle Banas

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Never trust a guy in spandex.

In Abby Hamilton’s world, superheroes do more than just stop crime and save cats stuck in trees—they also drink milk straight from the carton and hog the television remote. Abby’s older brother moonlights as the famous Red Comet, but without powers of her own, following in his footsteps has never crossed her mind.

That is, until the city’s newest vigilante comes bursting into her life.

After saving Abby from an attempted mugging, Morriston’s fledgling supervillain Iron Phantom convinces her that he’s not as evil as everyone says, and that their city is under a vicious new threat. As Abby follows him deeper into their city’s darkest secrets, she comes to learn that heroes can’t always be trusted, and sometimes it’s the good guys who wear black.

Source: GoodReads

Another day another DNF…

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I say that too much than I should.

And to be fair, that imprint should’ve warned me enough to steer clear of it.  I’m pretty sure that imprint was created in mind to raise my hopes that it would be full of great books and then ruin them ’cause why not.

I hate that imprint.

Seriously, with Swoon Books I have terrible luck with them.  But with The Supervillain and Me I had high hopes.  Because men in tights, ya’ll.  Well, and super heroes.

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The thing is, the world building for this book was incredibly bland and so were the characters.  Also, within the 100 pages I read this book really didn’t hold my interest so…DNF.

To be fair to the book, I read it during vacation so my reading experience of it was sporadic at best.  However, if it was good enough I would’ve focused my attention on it and finished it.  However, I was just damn bored with the thing if we’re going to be honest.

What’s a shame is this thing had an interesting set up.  Had the relationships been explored some more, the dynamics played up some more, I feel like I could’ve enjoyed this one.  As it was though, I felt like I was merely getting a skeleton outline of a story that wasn’t fully fleshed out.

I can also see that some weird sort of a triangle was developing, but when your characters are barely formed who cares.

And that was my whole attitude with this book who cares.

And that’s how I knew I had to stop.

I am really tired of being on a  reading slump.  Sometimes actively I pick books I know that are going either be a hit or a miss for me, but not in this case.  I genuinely thought I would like it.  I wanted to like it, but it just didn’t work for me.

It’s a shame I hate saying, but there’s a reason this imprint is on my shit list and this sort of epitomizes it.

Overall Rating: A DNF

Cat Murders Are Horrible Boyfriends: Not Cinderella’s Type by Jenni James

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Indy Zimmerman has a new stalker who won’t leave her alone, no matter what she says to him. Never mind the fact that he’s one of the most popular guys at school—she’s positive Bryant Bailey is only trying to appease his own conscience after pretty much destroying her life. But when Bryant doesn’t back down and insists on having some sort of bizarre friendship with her, his magic works, and her walls slowly start to crumble. He’s not her type. She’s never been into guys like Bryant, but then again, she’s never really known anyone quite as stubborn, or caring, or who can get her to confess stuff she wouldn’t even tell her best friend.

Source: GoodReads

If you read this blog you know I like crap movies.  They relax me.  Especially when I’m on an airplane and said crap movie is free.  Like, in the case of Not Cinderella’s Type.  HOWEVER I was not expecting Not Cinderella’s Type to be based on a book.  Or for that matter to find out that the author was all over the movie version like her book like Johnny Wiseau was all over The Room.

Okay, in James’s case she only worked on the script in addition to the novel of Not Cinderella’s Type but it rang vanity project throughout the entire run of the movie, especially after reading the book and noticing that the most obnoxious lines were kept in.  I mean, seriously do you think people are going to find lines like this charming:

Indy, you’re wrong.  You think you’ve got the whole world sorted into little boxes, and when someone steps out of their box and does something you aren’t expecting, you try tour hardest to push them back in.  Well, I don’t fit.  I’m not meant to fit.  Your walls are high and thick, but I’ll get through them somehow.  Wait and see (22)

Creeper much.  This is the love interest ya’ll.  Well, the main one.  Not the one who halfway appears and disappears in the book and randomly thinks he’s the MC’s boyfriend ’cause they’re friends ya know and that equals boyfriend.  There’s much more to quote, but I’m too lazy to do so.Again, I should mention that said speaker is a pet murderer.  Yes, I said murderer.  He runs over the heroine’s cat in the movie.  We see the poor thing get hit by a car within ten minutes of the fucking movie, and in the book its just gazed over.  Oh, in the movie he makes it all better because he buys her a new fucking kitten at the end.

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Do you really think buying someone a pet can replace their deceased one?  It doesn’t work that way.  I can attest to that personally.  Because when I was ten and my beloved Penny Beagle got and quickly passed from cancer, my parents were pretty much freaked out when they saw how depressed I was (Penny was like the best dog ever) and they bought me a puppy (PJ).  PJ helped, but didn’t replace the hole or the dog I lost.  She wasn’t a replacement pet by any means.   And it really annoyed me how Cat Killer thought because he bought a kitten he was redeemed.

God, what an asshole.  Watching/Reading this I couldn’t help but hate Bryant.  First the actor with his bad Draco Malfoy dye job  (sorry, boo it was hideous and I am having a shallow moment because its my review damn it) to complete the arrogance and mansplaining-oh yes, mansplaining-and then there was Book Bryant who was pretty much identical to Wannabe Draco except he was described as having dark hair.

So in fairness to the actor, I don’t think it was his performance that turned me off.  It was just Bryant.

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The other love interest was actually built up a bit better in the movie, believe it or not.  It’s sad when a movie does more character exploration than the book.

Really, sad.

The MC was kind of meh.  I couldn’t hate her too much for having a love triangle especially since the mansplainer and self dubbed knight in shining armor (though I’d call him a asshole in shining armor) pretty much told her to string love interest two who randomly thought they were dating because they were friends along.

I just…

Then there was how the whole idiotic relatives were handled.  James butchered the reporting thing to CPS big time.  Also, if you know anything about CPS they wouldn’t have time to deal with a case like Indy’s because they are dealing with so much shit already.

Also, I don’t think this would’ve been a mandatory reporting case.  There wasn’t an imminent threat of abuse or that abuse was going on right there and then.  And then don’t get me started on how foster parents work and.. and…

I need to breathe.

This book is just a disaster.  The only saving grace (besides the fact I paid nada for it) was that it was mercifully short.  So short that I was sort of aghast when I saw how the author was charging for the book’s physical copy-though, with the cost of printing and everything I do admittedly understand it from her POV.

Still though, 152 pages is hardly a novel.

This one will mystify me for awhile.  I didn’t totally hate the movie.  Like I said when I watched it, I thought something was off.  It’s sort of like those really bland Christian movies* that they put on Netflixs that they try to act like they’re not Christian movies to sucker you in and make borderline offensive comments throughout the entire 90 minute torture and then in the last five minutes they some revolting comment about how God solves everything and God has a plan while causing something horrific to happen to the only decent member of the cast because he/she was full of sin…

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Yeah, it was like one of those demented movies but without the big lesson.  Which was appreciated.  But I can see what sort of adult the sanctimonious cat killer is going to become and I just want to Indy to run that she’s in danger.

Overall Rating: An F.  The movie I admit amused me, the book not so much.

Note, after drafting this review I found out that the production company produces a lot of those films.  Go figure.

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Jane Eyre in Space: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

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Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.

But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet.

Source: GoodReads

Another day, another YA Jane Eyre retelling.  Someone get me a triple shot of vodka please.  Oh, I already used that in another review in recent past.  Too bad using it again.

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Seriously, though, I did not like this book.  Big surprise.  I feel like I’ve been saying that since Memorial Day.  God will this slump ever fucking end?

Don’t answer that, I’ll probably be disappointed.  To be fair, the last have been more meh reads than actual hate reads but still.  Is it so much to ask for a decent Jane Eyre retelling?  That was the question I kept asking myself as I read Brightly Burning and earlier in the weekend when I read My Plain Jane.

Unlike the previous book, Brightly Burning follows the source material pretty closely at least in regards to the romance.  If anything it overly romanticizes things and diminishes things like Rochester’s age to make the book more appropriate.

No.  Rochester is not nineteen it does not work.  If you’re going to do a Jane Eyre retelling you should keep the ages of the characters relatively similar to the original.

I’m just saying the dynamics aren’t going to work if Rochester is nineteen which doesn’t even make sense with the weird ass world building that’s going on here.

So, essentially this is Jane Eyre in Space!  Yeah, that’s literally what it is.  The space part is pretty much thrown in there.  They try to make Jane do something useful like be an engineer-I think Donne got that off of Cinder– but it really serves little purpose.

Much like Jane Eyre being in space served very little purpose.

The world building is pretty bad here.  And I’m not that strict with world building.  I mean, I can overlook a lot of things here but this literally screamed I’m going to set my story in space because that’s different and that equals a publishing contract.

I know, I know, I’m a very cynical person.

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I think what the general consensus of wrong-ness with Jane Eyre retellings is that they just focus on a random element of the story-usually the romance-and fail to capture what really made the book a classic.  I guess that’s expected since most of these YA writers are not near the caliber that Bronte was.  BUT…I still could hope that a book might be able to capture the strength of Jane without making her seem too much of a Pollyanna or to recreate the Rochester/Jane dynamic showing its thrones and all and not romanticizing Rochester.

I digress though…

This book Pollyanna-izes Jane plus it adds sugar upon sugar to the Rochester/Jane relationship where it makes my teeth hurt.

I get it governess themed stories are popular, but if you want to do a Jane Eyre retelling, you probably will want to actually flesh out the characters and you know keep elements of the original.  Meaning, don’t diminish certain plot points or try to justify Rochester’s actions to make the story.

Also, if you’re going to use space as your backdrop.  Do some actual world building and not have a random plot hole that is our big twist.

Overall Rating: A C.  It’s decent ( I guess).

How Droll: My Plain Jane

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You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

Source: GoodReads

In theory this book could’ve been written for me.  It has all the sorts of things I love: Jane Eyre retellings, ghost hunting, a team of authors who wrote probably one of my favorite books in 2016.  But in the end the book sort of flopped for me.

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Note, I’m giving it a middle of the road rating though.  For all intents and purposes I have read way worse in 2018.  Which isn’t a good thing.  I’m honestly thinking of hitting some backlist books pretty soon to get me out of this rut of awfulness.

The concept of this book I said it cat nip for yours truly.  I am currently watching that stupid Ghost Adventures show (fondly referred to Ghost Douche Bros) while I am drafting this.  And yes, I enjoy Ghost Douche Bros more than this book.  Because at least that show has a sense of style about it that this book does not.

Hell, if I even knew how the mythology worked in this book when I finished it.  All I got is you die and come back to life you can see ghosts.  Okay…that really doesn’t make sense and there’s something called beacons that are never really fully explained…okay.

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Also, it make a fairly lousy Jane Eyre retelling.  Jane Eyre is one of those books that’s constantly retold over and over again in YA.  Some retellings I like better than others, this one really did not work.

I sort of hated the fact that Charlotte Bronte was included in the book.  I get that this was a fictionalization of the author and all that jazz, but I kept thinking of Charlotte’s actual life during this and was like no…plus, lady died extremely young so that sort of sours the ending besides the fact…

I get it’s alternative history but still.  CHARLOTTE BRONTE HATED JANE AUSTEN.  I just have to fucking say it.  There were so many Austen references I figured Ms. Bronte is rolling in her grave over them.

Also, the way Jane’s story is written completely ruins Jane Eyre. And yes, while I do find the romance between Jane and Rochester problematic, I found the ending of this book even worse.  It made me grimace at how they resolved things to hit at Jane getting a happy ending.

FYI, the look alike replacement love interest is never a good thing.  The reader doesn’t care if they look like X.  We can’t see X in the story.  We like X based on how he’s described his personality, not his looks.  Having a character fall in love with someone instantly because they look X just grates of my fucking nerves.  Not that I loved X here, but you get the idea.

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It’s a trope that needs to burn.

While My Lady Jane was full of humor and had an understated Princess Bride-ish quality about it.  This one one is like yeah we know we’re funny and trying to be like The Princess Bride let’s literally rift one of the most iconic scenes from the book and movie out and place it in the book.

All I have to say is My Plain Jane, you have offended The Princess Bride, prepare to die.

The one thing in this retelling I did like was that they expanded on the character Helen.  In the original source material, she merely is there to die.  While dead here, the character does have some growth development as a ghost which is nice.

I don’t really recommend this one if you loved the past book or are a fan of the authors or Jane Eyre.  It sadly doesn’t work.  However, it’s not a complete failure since there are some things about the book that interest me.  However, I really wasn’t a fan and the only reason it is staying on my shelf is I’m a bit peculiar about having an entire series on my shelf.

Overall Rating: A C+

Super Vanilla: Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian

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A summer read about first love, feminism, and ice cream.

Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best of friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…

Source:GoodReads

I have been on a  slew of shit reads lately.  Yeah, I know a harsh way to start the review, but I’ll just say it now, Stay Sweet isn’t bad.  It’s a little bland and other than the twist towards the end of the novel there’s nothing that really stuck out to me, but it didn’t turn me into a rage inducing Book Hulk like some of my other recent reads being said.

That being said, this book is a little forgettable.  I started writing my review about thirty minutes after I finished the book, only because I know it’s going to go from my memory fast.

What I liked about the book: it was very summery.  I like light hearted books in the summer time, and while there were a few darker moments in this book it was for the most part pretty light.  I mean, there’s only so many ways you can make ice cream dark.

I also found the characters to be relatively unoffensive for the most part, although bland.  Though I do have to say, the book overall underwhelmed me.

The blurb says that feminism is going to be a strong theme throughout the novel.  Honestly, other than one character’s decision I didn’t really see any shades of feminism throughout the book.  I looked.  So, to quiet the disappointment I am inserting a gif that defines feminism.

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I thought that this book could’ve been a strong story about female friendship, however the friendship ended up being a bad friendship and took a backseat to the kind of weird romance.

I did not like the ship in this book.  For one thing, there was a weird power dynamic that gave me the icks.  And for another, I really did not like Grady he seemed like a weak character who didn’t have a spine.  And I don’t do spineless and neither should Amelia.  But Amelia was sort of spineless too…so.

God, Amelia.  She is the main character in the book.  Though, the novel is not told in her point of view.  It’s in this weird stilted third person POV.  I don’t know if that’s Vivian’s typical style-this is the first book I read by her-but it just made the book seem off to me.  This is just a preference thing, but it just didn’t work.  It probably didn’t help that the lead was also extremely weak and pretty much devoid of any personality, other than she wants to work at the ice cream parlor for the summer.

The ice cream was the most interesting part to me.  I actually bought a fairly decent ice cream machine  this year, so I’ve been trying out different recipes and was interested in reading this.  However, I was just shaking my head at how ridiculous hard it was for these characters to make some decent ice cream.  Seriously, couldn’t they just invest in a copy of The Perfect Scoop already and call it a day?

Digression aside, I think Vivian did over complicate the process.   Probably on purpose to give the plot some extra fodder, but still.  A basic Philadelphia style vanilla isn’t that complex.  You’re not even making a custard, but I digress (again).

A lot of things were either over complicated or essentially all realities were suspended in order to add to the plot.  It annoyed me.  I also hated how a GoFundMe was essentially used to resolve all of the MC’s problems (including the rift with her friend) at the end of the book.  Did I mention I fucking hate GoFundMes.  Now occasionally, there will be a worth while cause up there, but its not an adequate way to raise money for a business.  And there is a lot of pandering that goes on on that website as well.

At the end of the day, I found Stay Sweet to be fairly inoffensive.  I just don’t think it’s one of those books that’s going to stick with me a week or so from writing this.  It wasn’t bad though.  If you like quick little summer time reads, you might want to give it a try, but it is far from perfect.

Overall Rating: C+

 

The Time I Almost Threw A Book in a Toliet: One Small Thing by Erin Watt

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Beth’s life hasn’t been the same since her sister died. Her parents try to lock her down, believing they can keep her safe by monitoring her every move. When Beth sneaks out to a party one night and meets the new guy in town, Chase, she’s thrilled to make a secret friend. It seems a small thing, just for her.

Only Beth doesn’t know how big her secret really is…

Fresh out of juvie and determined to start his life over, Chase has demons to face and much to atone for, including his part in the night Beth’s sister died. Beth, who has more reason than anyone to despise him, is willing to give him a second chance. A forbidden romance is the last thing either of them planned for senior year, but the more time they spend together, the deeper their feelings get.

Now Beth has a choice to make—follow the rules, or risk tearing everything apart…again.

Source: GoodReads

Even though my father has a tendency to be an all around terrible person, he has his moments of wisdom.  One Dad signature phrase that came into mind after reading One Small Thing  was, “I need a triple shot of vodka.”

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Because seriously, after reading this shit if I was a drinking lady (which I’m not for health reasons) I’d totally be getting smashed right now.

Instead, I put in a Burn Notice DVD so I can watch Jeffrey Donovan kick ass when he was moderately attractive-season one Michael is where it’s at folks, before the severe bulking up and Paul Ryan hair dye.

Television diversion aside and Dad quoting wisdom (seriously, my asshole father having actual wisdom still confound me) aside, I really hated this book.

The concept in just general should’ve gotten it a one trip visit to the slush pile.  Pretty much falling in love with your sister’s murderer should be a no no.  But hey….I get it.  There have been storylines that took this stupid plot line before.  Like the late great All My Children in which big shot journalist Brooke English fell in love with this pastor who got drunk and killed her daughter all those years ago before becoming a pastor.

However, All My Children was smart enough to cut their loses and end this ship.  It’s really hard to do in a book and God this ship really never got off the ground.  I’m sorry but random drunk hookup does not equal sexy like Watt would like the audience to think.

I think my biggest concern with this book was that it just pushed too many buttons and there wasn’t any redeeming features.

The parents are assholes.  They angered me.  The whole taking off the door off of the MC’s room was something similar that happened to me when I was a teen.  It still annoys me to this very day that my mother thought that was all funny hahaha that she took my door off because God forbid I wanted some privacy.

Thankfully, my mother even though idiotic in that moment wasn’t nearly as bad as the parents in this book.  I think that Beth’s parents are seriously in contention for the Golden Charlie of 2018.

They are just outright terrible people.  So is most of the cast of this book.  Funny, titling this book Terrible People might’ve actually been more in its benefit than how it was presented.

I’m not naive.  I knew going in that the concept was going to make me squeamish.  However, I thought it would’ve been done with a little finesse just not a little you’re like so hot at a party and then instant hook up and pretty much forget that the guy killed your sister because he’s hot.

The book, honestly, sort of goes against the Erin Watt brand.  While it does have its signature flare for the over dramatic never going to happen bat shit insane bits.  It’s not a fluffy romance.  In fact, romance was the last thing I thought about when I read this book. I did not want a romance with this book.  Instead, I wanted to hit the protagonist with a big stick of reality and get her out of her psycho parents’ house and away from her so called friends.

One Small Thing is just really a bad book when it comes down to it.  I can’t find one thing about it that I can say I enjoyed. I mostly kept reading-then skimming-because it was so spectacular that it blew so much.

I will have to say my tolerance for this shit is really surprising me these days.  This used to be the sort of book I would bemoaning at and ranting about, but other than almost throwing it in my toilet when I read it-I know, sometimes it surprises me at how immature I still occasionally might be.  One would think that having a professional degree and being licensed to practice law in two states would make me a bit more mature, but nope book still almost went into the crapper.  Only reason it didn’t was because I didn’t want to call out maintenance agains for my apartment unit-the air was out most of last week AND then the place decided to just go ahead and flood on Saturday.

Overall Rating: Fail.  I don’t know what to say other than that.  There was nothing redeemable about this one.  Save your money, and if you are really desperate and live near me I’m donating my copy to the local library soon so check it out.

I Hate Clara: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maureen Goo

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From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

Source: GoodReads

I just cannot get into Maureen Goo’s books.  In theory they are everything I should like light hearted contemporaries with a diverse protagonist, but at the end of the day I just can’t.  The weird thing about The Way You Make Me Feel is that if it wasn’t for the God awful insensitive and just all around terrible human being of a protagonist, I probably would’ve liked this book.

I have been writing a slew of negative reviews lately, so I think I’ll start this one off by at least talking about the good points.  I liked the idea of the food truck being a central plot line to the book.  The food in this book made me hungry and as a result this book inspired me to make some fusion corn today-okay, no it really didn’t.  I had the fusion street corn planned since I got my copy of Milk Street in the mail last week but I digress.

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A Brazilian/Korean food truck sounds amazing and I enjoyed reading the food descriptions.  I also liked some of the side characters.  The dad character was great.  And I liked Rose.  Hamlet wasn’t terrible either, if a little bland (save for his name).  I mean, if you would’ve taken out Clara this book might’ve been a winner for me.

Hell, I wanted to read more about Rose.  She was interesting.  She wasn’t a douche canoe and she was definitely more relatable than I’m Gonna Be a Stupid Idiot Clara.

But I said I was going to talk about positives first, right?

I thought the dad character really was done.  Rather, than pitching this like a summer romance (which from the blurb it totally looks like it’s going in that direction.  I think this book would’ve been a lot more successful pitched as a general contemporary.  The father/daughter relationship was the strongest aspect of the book while the romance was the weakest.  And in a way I’m glad.  Finding a YA book with strong parent/child relationships is hard, but I really sort of didn’t get why they pitched it so hard as looking like a rom com when Hamlet is maybe a secondary character at best.

I also liked the fact that the book tried to do a storyline about strong female friendships.  The only thing was that I felt the friendship between Rose and Clara came out forced because Clara is such  jerk and I just don’t see a girl as strong as Rose dealing with her shit.  Also, I hated that while Rose was important at the beginning of the novel she merrily fell into supported best friend role as the story went on.

Which brings me to the crux of the problem with the book: Clara.

Going into this book, I knew she was going to be an issue.  My friend, Nenia, was reading this book the other week and based on her status updates I figured it was going to be a DNF for me.  However, somehow I think the advance warning made me ready to deal with it. Still though, Clara is one of the most absorbed twits I’ve read about in awhile and I really don’t think she grew as a character.  More or less, the other characters gave into her.

If you’re going to have a bratty heroine and the story is character driven (as it was in this book) you need to make sure your character grows and isn’t an obnoxious brat all the time like Clara is.

There were several jaw dropping moments of her stupidity.  I think the most notable one is where she is okay cooking a vegetarian’s dish in pork fat.  That’s no tokay.  There are religious, ethical, and health concerns with doing that.  But Clara brushes it off like she does with pretty much the rest of her life as one big funny haha joke and gets away with it.

After a slew of God awful books, this one is hardly the worst one that I’ve read in awhile. I do think Goo is improving.  If Clara wasn’t so insipid, I probably would’ve rated this one higher.  It did have some stuff I liked, but God did I want to punch Clara’s stupid fictional face in.

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Overall Rating: I’m giving it a C+ take away the punchable MC and it’s a decent book.  However, the MC does bring down the story a lot.  If you can’t stand stupid jackasses this probably isn’t the book for you.