Disappointment: The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

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He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson

The accidental governess.

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart… without risking her own.

The infamous rake.

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling… and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

Source: GoodReads

I’m not a fan of the governess trope.  Often because they involve cute little moppets who are simply there to push the two leads together.

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Note, moppets are not at all how children act in real life. Either they’re ridiculously unruly and then turned sweet when the governess with the magic touch comes to play or they’re just bland little creatures who are just there for the characters to meet (see the brat in Jane Eyre, whose name I always forget-I do know that it starts with an “A” though, but considering I’ve read that book more than a few times I should know the brat’s name).

In this book, we have the ridiculous brat who has a personality change and the kid with the cute little quirk.  Both are generic and have me groaning.  Seriously, plot moppets should just be gone.

I think the only time I tolerate them is in The Sound of Music and that is because Christopher Plummer tears up Nazi flags.

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Anyway, there’s already a huge strike against this book because of the governess plot.  I know you’re probably asking why I read it knowing this.  Because The Duchess Deal was the best damn romance I read in 2017 and this was written by Tessa Dare.

And there were some cute moments in this one.  I enjoyed the one plot moppet’s quirk of giving her doll disastrous diseases but I digress…overall, I really didn’t like this one.

It has very little to no plot, and honestly I didn’t really feel like I learned much about these character other beyond their archetypes.  One of the reasons I loved The Duchess Deal so freaking much was I thought Dare did a wonderful job into digging into the characters and what made them tick.  Here….I was skimming.

They like each other, they think they’re hot, they have some arguments that are clearly sexual frustration, and then they boink each other.  There’s really not much more to it.

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I was utterly and throughly bored, save for the occasional laugh from a witty one liner.  I really am a plot and character reader though, and in this book I did not really get the satisfaction of putting this book down and feeling like I knew the characters or wanted more.

If you are a die hard Tessa Dare fan and love plot moppets, this might be your thing more than mine.  I didn’t outright hate it, so that’s something.  However, it does not reach the caliber as her previous book which I outright loved.

Overall Rating: I’m going to give this one a C.

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I Kept Thinking of the Shake Weight; To be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin

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Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her sister goes off to college. But if she can just get through senior year, she’ll be able to escape to college, too. What she doesn’t count on is that her mother’s obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss show, and now Savvy’s mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats.

Between her mom’s diet-helicoptering, missing her sister, and worrying about her collegiate future, Savvy has enough to worry about. And then she meets George, the cute new kid at school who has insecurities of his own. As Savvy and George grow closer, they help each other discover how to live in the moment and enjoy the here and now before it disappears.

Source: GoodReads

Full disclosure, I kept thinking of the Shake Weight throughout this book. The mother is on some show called Shake the Weight and that was just what stuck with me throughout the entire book.  So, sorry, not sorry you’re getting that stuck in your head too.  Those things are useless BTW.

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Digression aside….

I was pleasantly surprised by this one.  I probably have made it pretty clear, but I have a low opinion of Swoon Reads.  Usually their premises are spot on but fail epically for me.  This one, was tolerable.  Grant it, I sort of ignored the romance.  It is the most cringe worthy and useless thing about this book.  Everything else though…I could get behind.

When I read this, I read it more or less of a story about Savannah coming into her own skin.  The weight bits annoyed me, especially with the mother being so out there.  But there are stupid  people out there like that.  I like that it never stated what exact size Savvy is (I picture her looking like the cover model, BTW but with better clothes).  For the most part, I would say that Savannah’s weight isn’t the primary focus of the book (thank God) but it does play a role with her relationship with her mother which is unfortunate.

I felt that the mother was unrealistic.  I get that there are people out there who become warped by reality TV and become hyper focused on ridiculous things like Savannah’s mother but it still flummoxed my mind how relatively put together she felt at some moments and bat shit crazy she was at others.

And I really felt as far as family problems go, this was left fairly unresolved to a degree by the end of the book.  Because really, Savvy’s dad is the worst.  Well, maybe her mom’s the worst, but her dad is a close second.

There is another subplot involving a journalism story that illy fits in with the rest of the story about as bad as the romance fit in, but at the same time I wanted more of the journalism story.

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Again, could care less about the romance with banal saxophone player.

BTW, my father plays the saxophone.  That is enough to have me find a love interest repulsive.  This I guess is a pet peeve, but still thinking of your father when you should be thinking of the love interest it’s not exactly a good thing.

I will say as boring as the romance was it was fairly realistic if you get past the gross meeting between the two of them where the LI is described as being some YA Adonis.  I mean, it seemed something that could happen IRL which is better than I can say for a lot of YA books.  Still that doesn’t mean I liked this aspect of the book.

Again, I really don’t think it should’ve been in the story.

Overall, To Be Honest isn’t a perfect book.  I enjoyed aspects of it, but at the same time there were parts of the book that I found to be poorly added on to the book and that didn’t really add to the story.  As far as a Swoon Reads book goes though, this one was halfway decent.

Overall Rating: A B-

A Really Dumb Twist: As She Fades by Abi Glines

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On the night of her high school graduation, Vale McKinley and her boyfriend Crawford are in a terrible car accident that leaves Crawford in a coma. They were supposed to spend the summer planning for college, for a bright future full of possibility. Together. Instead, Vale spends long days in the hospital, hoping Crawford will awaken.

Slate Allen, a college friend of Vale’s brother, has been visiting his dying uncle at the same hospital. When he and Vale meet, she can’t deny the flutter of an illicit attraction. She tries to ignore her feelings, but she’s not immune to Slate’s charm. Slowly, they form a cautious friendship.

Then, Crawford wakes up . . . with no memory of Vale or their relationship. Heartbroken, Vale opts to leave for college and move on with her life. Except now, she’s in Slate’s territory, and their story is about to take a very strange turn.

Source: GoodReads

I have taken sort of a sabbatical reading YA this month, and of course I broke the sabbatical by reading some puerile garbage.

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To be fair, I would say that for the most part As She Fades is a fairly insipid YA/NA book.  However, it has one dumb ass twist that I didn’t even really see as relevant to the book.  It’s saving grace though was that it’s mercifully short.

Going into this one, I sort of knew that there was a high likelihood that I would hate it.  While I have a penchant for contemporary romance, I know that there is a high likelihood for shit when I read it.  Abi Glines books especially.  I have her Field Party series on my shelves, but after the first one they have been sitting there collecting dust.  But I figure one day I’ll get to them (i.e. sometimes I like reading trash).

As She Fades was a standalone that came out earlier in spring 2018, the blurb interested me because it sort of had a While You Were Sleeping storyline only turns out the book wasn’t like that.

First of all, the book relied heavily on exhausted tropes such as the “Mean Girl” “Man Whore with Heart of Gold” and “Squeaky Clean But Bad Boyfriend”

Can you say gag me?

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To be fair, these tropes can be done correctly.  Not that they’re often done correctly, but when done correctly it can make a story engaging.  I wasn’t engaged when reading this.  In fact, I just started skimming after awhile.

The general setup is weak at best.  The blurb makes it seem like What’s-Hear-Face (Vale-I had to look that up) and Crawford had this amazing relationship.  However, other than being told how in love Vale is with Crawford we really don’t see them interact.  Even after the book gets sort of weird.

As for the obvious love interest Slate all I know is that he’s a man whore, has a dying uncle, and is named after a rock.

I just really didn’t care for this one.  Even after reading it, I’m trying to figure out the purpose of that twist.  It made half of the story irrelevant.  I get having it in there for shock and awe and all that jazz, but what was the point other than that?  It didn’t add to anything, it was only usually referenced in a sort of flippant fashion.

Sigh.

Was this the worst thing that I ever read?  Hell no.   It was bland and banal and stupid.  There were also some mildly offensive things said in the book too.  For example, at one point in the novel, the character gets a job at a Hooters type of restaurant and states that the outfit is offensive.  She is told to suck it up and show her ass because she’ll get decent tips.  And then the entire thing is dropped.

Okay, that’s not the dialogue verbatim, but that’s pretty much how the scene plays  out.  To say the least I was disgusted with the justification of this.  Or for that matter why it was even included in there in the first place.

But again, I’ve read way worse YA.  Which seriously has me wondering about the choices I’ve been making in my reading to be desensitized  so much.

Regardless, I don’t recommend this one even as a guilty pleasure.  It is poorly written, and quite honestly it sucks.

Overall Rating: A D

I stayed for Chastrid: Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

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When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside–but he’s not alone. It seems the entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe, ostensibly to care for their matriarch but truly to stake claim on the massive fortune that Su Yi controls.

With each family member secretly fantasizing about getting the keys to Tyersall Park–a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore–the place becomes a hotbed of intrigue and Nicholas finds himself blocked from entering the premises.

As relatives claw over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu, but tormented by his ex-wife–a woman hell bent on destroying Astrid’s reputation and relationship. Meanwhile Kitty Pong, married to billionaire Jack Bing, finds a formidable opponent in his fashionista daughter, Colette.

Source: GoodReads

Everyone knows the movie version of this series (well, first book) was released fairly recently.  At some point, I want to write a post about the movie, but I don’t know when I’ll get around to it.

Let’s just say, seeing the movie made me interested in finishing the series.  And I did enjoy reading the book.

If you haven’t read this series it is a gluttonous reading experience full of shallowness and it makes you realize just how poor you are.  Also, there are ships.  So many ships.

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It is divine.

Save for the realizing how poor you are because while you cringe about spending $200 on a dress these people are spending two million on a dress without even blinking an eye.

However, if take away all of the excess the book is pretty thin on plot.  Especially this installment.  The two central leads in the previous novels aren’t really even central to  to the story.  Well, I guess you could argue that Nick is but Rachel has defineitly been moved to supporting cast member.

The story in this one is driven by Astrid and Kitty Pong to a lesser degree.

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I like both of them, so that’s okay.

Actually, it sort of surprises me that I like Kitty.  But she has really grown on me in the past couple of installments.

However, I think Astrid was what made the book get a decent rating from me.  While the primary story is the grandmother’s death (and it’s not that big of a spoiler if you read the blurb).  Honestly, I really didn’t care much about the old biddy or her estate.

I was more intrigued with the side plots such as the Astrid’s relationship with Charlie and Kitty trying to top Colette.

That was what made the book enjoyable to me.

Everything  else sort of failed to wayside.

I will say that things are tied up in this installment.  To the point it might’ve been tied up a little too easily.  Everyone seemed to be coupling up, everyone seemed to have babies.  It just seemed a little ridiculous.   But it is the end of a series so…

Shrugs.

I do recommend this trilogy though.  It is a fun series.  I started reading it when I got stuck at an airport and I don’t regret it.  It definitely has its moments, but this one probably isn’t the strongest installment.

Overall Rating: A B

Series Resignation: Royal Crown by Meg Cabot

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It’s the first coronation of a female monarch of Genovia in 200 years, and Her Royal Highness, Princess Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison, is giving you the inside scoop in this newest (illustrated!) diary from New York Times–bestselling author and illustrator Meg Cabot!

Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison should be having fun. Her best friend is visiting from America, her sister’s royal coronation is only three days away (the first coronation of a female ruler in two centuries), and she’s even got a new boyfriend who is actually a very smart and charming prince!

But it’s hard to celebrate when her royal cousins are scheming to take over the throne. And with everyone running around, Olivia and her friends have been saddled with royal babysitting duties. Then, to make matters worse, Olivia’s snobby cousin Luisa insists on gossiping about her, especially about things that should be personal . . . it’s none of her business whether Prince Khalil and Olivia have kissed or not!

When did growing up royal get so complicated?!?

Source: GoodReads

I really wish Meg Cabot would   write stuff for her older fans again.  I get that she’s trying to expand her audience.  But God damn it, I have read her stuff for seventeen years and I feel like I’m at my wit’s end since she’s only published kiddie books the past few years.

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Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think her new Princess Diaries series is bad.  I’d probably enjoy it if I was like ten.  But I am a grown ass woman, and even the mere thought of seeing artwork of Michael Moscovitz’s ass (it hasn’t happened and its been four books) isn’t going to keep me from reading this series anymore.

Or for that matter, getting updates on my favorite characters isn’t going to keep me reading either.

I mean, you there  has to be  a lot of older fans who grew up on Diaries who are reading it for the updates, right?

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Okay, maybe I’m the only person.

And to be fair, I do think it is a decent middle grade book if a bit cringe-y.

Honestly, as this spinoff series has progressed it has gotten moreccringe worthy.  Palace life in Genovia is essentially like Princess Diaries 2 and I hate that fucking movie for being so full of cheese.   And I’m not talking about the enjoyable sort of cheese.  They got rid of Michael, how can you fucking do that?

Olivia is a Mary Sue.  After four books, I am just going to say it.  Mia had faults.  She might’ve been exasperating whiney and immature for a few books, but she seemed semi-realistic.  Olivia is just too perfect to the point of me wanting to punch her stupid fictional face in.

The books have also gotten ridiculously formulaic.  It’s like the series is stuck in middle Princess Diaries territory which is not a good thing.

I don’t feel a connection to any of these characters either except for the characters in the original series-who except for Grandmere (who I personally find to be  OTT) are relegated to cameo appearances.

And Grandmere is severally watered down.  I remember how her reaction to a certain event was in Mia’s life and it was the exact opposite of how she treated the situation with Olivia’s (yes, Cabot I remember these things I read these books way too many times in my teen years).  And honestly, Mia’s dad does not seem like Mia’s dad in this series either.  And neither does Mia’s mom.  Or Mia.  Or Michael.  Or Lily.  Or Tina.  It’s almost as if they’ve been his with a bland gun to make Olivia and her crew seem interesting.

But Olivia and her friends at the end of the day are dull.  I still cringe every time I read about her friends at “princess” school.  Because hello, these are preteens not the cast of Sophia the First.  And I also cringe with the various attempts to usurp the Genovian throne.  Like, hasn’t this plot line with its five thousand plot holes been used like ten thousand times already?

At the end of the day, I ended this book missing the original series which was a kissing book and not afraid to use profanity.

Interesting note, any long time readers might be interested that only a year separates the age of Mia from book one from Olivia.  But it might as well be four years ’cause Olivia acts like she’s about ten years old.

Overall Rating: For what it is probably a B.  For me probably a C-.  I don’t think I’m going to continue with this series.  I don’t really see how much further it can go either.  I’m just praying to the reading gods that Cabot will write another YA series again because I miss her swoon in the genre.

My Opinion Has Not Evolved: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

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Who is the real McLean?

Since her parents’ bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother’s new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Combining Sarah Dessen’s trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.

Source: GoodReads

I have a couple of Sarah Dessen books on my shelves, but I’ve always been lukewarm to her.  It’s not that the writing isn’t there.  Her stuff is easy enough to read, it just doesn’t excite me and in the case of this book I couldn’t find one character I liked which was why I DNF’d the book after almost 200 pages.

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Yeah, DNF.

It’s been happening a lot lately.

This one though, is a purely subjective DNF.  The book and I just didn’t gel.  I could see other people being more interested in it than me.  And it’s not poorly written.

The thing is, I knew I had difficulties with Dessen books in the past.  The one Dessen book I read, Lock and Key wasn’t my favorite.  From what I can recall (note, this was like a decade ago) it involved a mopey MC and an overall meh plot.

Funny, What Happened to Goodbye was similar.  It had characters I could care less about like McLean who randomly changes her name every time she moves…okay?  I get that it’s suppose to represent the MC running away form her past, but I really don’t think her father would be so nonchalant with her changing her name and shit.

Also, it’s sort of creepy with her multiple Facebook accounts (though, it’s not called Facebook here because reasons…).  Okay, I know someone is going to tell me that Dessen did that in order not to pay licenses fees or whatever, but that is bull shit.

Because I don’t want to go into a legal debate right now, I’m just going to got to the second point why creating all these accounts and then not deleting them was idiocy because…um, hello search function.  Besides, I really don’t see someone creating multiple email accounts to have multiple Facebook (or Wannabe Facebook) accounts but stranger things have happened.

To add to the MC’s backstory the deterioration of her parents’ marriage seems to be the crux of this otherwise non-existent  plot.

God, the lack of the plot so annoyed me with this one.

Yes, I know it is a contemporary.  And contemporaries are often more character oriented than plot oriented.  But when you don’t like the characters…

And yes, I said characters.  I couldn’t even feel sorry for the dad character who I am suppose to have great sympathy for since his wife up and left him for a Paul Ryan look alike-or at least that’s who I imagined annoying stepdad looking like.  If you’re imagining who I thought the father looked like I was thinking Alton Brown (even though he’s described having Sirius Black locks in the book).  Oh, and Opal looked like that Abby chick from NCIS.

As for the rest of the characters…I don’t know. Except ew when it comes to their personalities-so, maybe the Khardashians or the cast of some show on TLC?

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It’s bad when I start talking about how I picture characters looking in a review because it means I have nothing else to say about the book

Reading this book though, did make me come to a conclusion.  I have hit burn out.

It’s happened to me before when blogging, and it’s happened again.  Only this time it sort of snuck up on me.  All summer I have been having meh reads.  I don’t know if it’s the books I’m picking up or what, but I haven’t been having a happy time reading.  Which sucks, because reading is my unwinding outlet.

I feel like I need to do something, which is why I think I’m probably going to take it easy on the reviews for a bit.  Meaning, if I read something meh or DNF worthy that really doesn’t stick out (much like this book) I am not going to force myself to review it.  I’ll probably do a bullet point review which I’ll post on GoodReads and then cross post here in batch.

Back to this book though, for me it was a skip.  I wasn’t engaged.  And from what plot there was, I sort of could guess what was going to happen next.   It just didn’t work.

Overall Rating: DNF.  More it’s you than me variety.