If Ariel Was a Murderer: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexander Christo

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Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Source: GoodReads

To Kill a Kingdom has been on my shelf for awhile.  I’ve always had a thing for Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  Yes, it’s underdeveloped.  Yes, Ariel’s an idiot.  But it has this dark potential there with Ursula and her nefarious plan.  To Kill a Kingdom sort of is like a retelling with a mesh up lead of Ariel and Ursula and goes with it.  So, it’s essentially like a Vanessa book only…well, different.

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The only thing about this one is while it had a fantastic first third the book fell flat fast once Lira became human and developed emotions.

This is one of those rare instances, where I think the book might’ve been better off if it had not been a standalone.    The relationships just seemed too forced for my liking, especially after the revelations.

Had there been a couple of books for character evolution, I might’ve bought the ending a little bit more than I did.  As it was, it just seemed rush.

TBH, I would’ve been okay without the romance.  It’s rare for me to say that, but I really felt like the major ship in this book was forced.  Both leads are horrible to each other and put each other in some near death situations-some of them premeditated- it’s not a healthy relationship by any means.  And I just want more with my ships…this was no bueno.

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That being said I love how the female lead was introduced.  Lyra came off as this villainess in training and I wanted to read more about her and her embracing the darkness.  But her power is pretty much stripped fairly early on in the book and she becomes useless.

It’s a shame.

There’s a McGuffin like quest that fuels the second half of the novel.  Honestly, not a huge fan of it.  It just went from point to point.  I really felt no rush or excitement towards it, it was surprisingly dull.

Overall, my feelings towards this one were lukewarm.  There was so much potential throughout it, however the execution faltered.

Overall Rating: B-

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Good Check on Privilege : The Impossibility of Us by Katie Upperman

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The last thing Elise wants is to start her senior year in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move from San Francisco to a sleepy coastal village.

When Elise meets Mati, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town too, visiting the U.S. with his family. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.

But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact—Mati is Afghan.

Beautifully written, utterly compelling, and ultimately hopeful, THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US asks—how brave can you be when your relationship is questioned by everyone you love?

Source: GoodReads

I wish someone would’ve told me that a good chunk of this book was drafted in verse.  If I knew that it would’ve never been bought.

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As it was, because I wasted money on this book I thought I should give it a good try and it was mercifully short and I finished reading it.  But surprise, surprise, when I ended up hating it and it’s now in my giveaway box.

Let’s just put it this way, had I read this book pre-2015 Escalator of Doom incident I would’ve said that certain characters were painted in a very 1D fashion.  Blame my privilege, but I would have found it hard to believe the blatant hatred these characters have against a character that they never even met.

That being said,  the Trump administration has happened so I am very aware that asshats like this do exist.

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The thing is though, reading about people like this still leaves me flummoxed and like people don’t act like that.

Even though reality check, they do.

It’s a good check on privilege, I suppose, but it’s not going to make the reading experience any less squirm inducing.  And to be fair, I think it should be squirm inducing.  We need to wake up to how seemingly “good” people like in this book are really racist bigots at their core.  Do I wish the depiction of said characters was better…..yes…but again I can’t say it was unrealistic.

What I really didn’t like about this book, at it’s core was that there really wasn’t much story to it.  The blurb was the book.  The relationships were pretty cardboard.  Maybe Mati and Elise develop more in his verse sections, but since I hate verse and skimmed (or even skipped) these sections I’ll never know.

And seriously, the verse.  It added nothing to the book.  If you like these sort of books that’s fine, but they’re not for me.

I really felt like there was a lot of potential to this one, but at the end of the day it was just a very flat story with very flat characters.  I just don’t recommend.  However, if anything reading it reminded me just how awful society is.  It’s hard to rationalize that sounds like something that doesn’t sound realistic is, and that’s why I think it’s so important to keep on reading books that touch on these sorts of topics.

However, I don’t think that Upperman’s book is probably the best book out there that touches on xenophobia.

Overall Rating: God, the writing was so flat.  I think I’m just going to give it a D and call it a day.

A Mutual Break Up (Well, the Series Ended): Geek Girl (5 &6) By Holly Smalle

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a double review.  So, yeah…double review time.  Disclaimer: before I begin this thing, I have already read and reviewed the first four books of this series.   To recap I started really liking this series and my feelings have sort of settled to meh by book four.

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This series eerily reminds me of The Princess Diaries, which is a good and bad thing.  Good at the beginning of the series, bad by the end.  And to Meg Cabot’s series’ credit, I do think that by the end of the series, several of the issues I had with Mia were resolved.  With Harriet…I hated her still by the end of the book series.

That being said, let’s dive into the double review so I can explain my grievances against Ms. Manners.

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“My name is Harriet Manners, and I will always be a geek.”

The fifth book in the bestselling, award-winning GEEK GIRL series.

Harriet Manners knows almost every fact there is.

She knows duck-billed platypuses don’t have stomachs.
She knows that fourteen squirrels were once detained as spies.
She knows only one flag in the world features a building.

And for once, Harriet knows exactly how her life should go. She’s got it ALL planned out. So when love is in the air, Harriet is determined to Make Things Happen!
If only everyone else would stick to the script…

Has GEEK GIRL overstepped the mark, and is following the rules going to break hearts all over again?

Source: GoodReads

This one was cringe worthy on so many levels.  By this point, Harriet is suppose to have developed as a character somewhat.  But she hasn’t.  If anything, I feel like each of these books goes on a cyclic pattern of of character regression that seems to resolve itself by the end of the book.  Only to reset itself by the beginning of the next installment.

Hell, I skimmed through the 400+ pages in less than 90 minutes and really didn’t miss much.  Want the basic outline for one of these books , here you go:

  1. Harriet starts out with an annoying introduction of how perfect her life is (it’s not).
  2. Something happens that causes her to freak out and act like an ass-could be as simple as having a pimple or not getting a modeling job (because she’s an ass).
  3. Harriet overreacts
  4. This causes people to (rightfully) hate her.
  5. Somehow she gets hired for a modeling job when she really shouldn’t.  Because God knows, girl is a liability.
  6. Exotic local photo shoot time!
  7. Obsession about boys/friends
  8. Time to make an ASS over self again.
  9. Harriet’s parental units act like asses because she had to pick it up from someone.
  10. At this point in the book, if this was a movie there’d be a sad montage.
  11. Somehow the problems are simply resolved with a couple of conversations.
  12. Harriet’s life is perfect again!

Seriously, that is your typical Geek Girl novel.  This one was especially more squirm inducing than the rest with all that Team JINTH nonsense.

I was hoping by this time that Harriet would’ve matured a little bit.  But she has not.  Again, I think she’s regressed.  I also wondered as I read this book if she’s on the spectrum.  It really would make sense in a lot of ways.    Especially if it was undiagnosed.  But nope, Harriet is just an ass and nothing else which is a shame.

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I wanted something to explain her actions, but other than her being an ass there’s nothing to explain her lack of social decorum or lack of empathy.

Besides, Harriet’s unrealistic actions.  This book like the others is just ridiculous when it comes to modeling.  Honestly, I feel like America’s Next Top Model does a better job portraying the industry and that’s saying something.

To be frank about it, had this not been the next to last installment of the series I probably would quit here.  Just like a cameo-supporting character in this book I was ready to tell Harriet goodbye.

Overall Rating: A C-.  I mean, it follows the formula to a T and that’s not exactly a good thing.

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My name is Harriet Manners and I’ll be a geek forever…

Harriet Manners knows almost every fact there is.

Modelling isn’t a sure-fire route to popularity. Neither is making endless lists. The people you love don’t expect you to transform into someone else. Statistically, you are more likely to not meet your Australian ex-boyfriend in Australia than bump into him there.

So on the trip of a lifetime Down Under Harriet’s to-do lists are gone and it’s Nat’s time to shine! Yet with nearly-not-quite-boyfriend Jasper back home, Harriet’s completely unprepared to see supermodel ex Nick. Is the fashion world about to turn ugly for GEEK GIRL?

It’s time for Harriet to face the future. Time to work out where her heart lies. To learn how to let go…

Source: GoodReads

Talk about Princess Diaries similarities, this book’s title is almost identical to the last book in the first series.

Pretty much what I said about the standard formula applies to this one but with two big differences.  Smalle decides to throw a curveball with her audience and adds a serious dramatic plot point to this installment that is suppose to be a poignant moment from the series.

Spoiler alert: it’s not.

Instead, it felt oddly placed and I was like I’m really suppose to care for this character….Also, the character’s death was ridiculously fast.  Especially considering that Harriet didn’t even know said character was ill and then once she knows she kicks the bucket within the span of a week.

Le sigh.

So, the big death.  Didn’t really make a difference to this book.  The other thing that was different about this particular installment was the love triangle.

Going back to The Princess Diaries series…because I can’t help but think of that series when I read the Geek Girl books.  PD had its own love triangle that was hit and miss with many fans.  At the time I first read the book, I liked it and wanted Mia to jilt Michael because I was tired of Michael and knew it would be the unexpected choice.  Looking back, that was kind of dumb but JP and Mia even made more sense than Jasper and Harriet and that’s saying something.

As far as Jasper is concerned, I really view him as being a background character that was randomly added to give Harriet more of a social life.  I honestly found his attraction to her to be out  of place.  This is in contrast to the PD series where at least JP’s attraction to Mia is relatively explained.

TBH though, I find it hard to believe that anyone would be attracted to Harriet.  She really is a horrible character.  As I had mentioned she does not grow any at all throughout the books and her quirkiness is no longer cute.  In fact, I really do believe that the character is on the spectrum and undiagnosed.  It was really the only thing that kept me reading and from outright wanting to throttle her, but I digress.

At the end of the day, I was relieved when I closed Forever Geek.  This is one series that sort of left me with a sour taste in my mouth.  There was definitely potential with this series but rather than expanding upon said potential it was squandered and left a bit of a mess.

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If you want a fun light hearted series, I’m not going to be recommending this one.  Check out it’s obvious inspiration (The Princess Diaries) some of the middle books might be blah but at least Mia grows as a character.  Harriet does not.

Overall Rating: A C

 

The Biggest Question is Was There Octopus Sex: Part of Your World by Liz Braswell

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What if Ariel had never defeated Ursula? Five years after the (twisted) events of the film, Ariel is now the queen of Atlantica, and Ursula is running Eric’s kingdom on land. But when the sea witch threatens Atlantica once more, Ariel finds herself returning to a world (and a prince) she thought she’d left behind forever.

Source: GoodReads

Liz Braswell is far batting 2-0 for me in her Twisted Tale series (otherwise known as Disney sanctioned fan fiction).  To the point, where I was at the point of not even bothering with these books anymore. Because they’re all sort of pathetic.

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Only thing is, I really was obsessed with The Little Mermaid when I was a kid and as I grew up I couldn’t help but realize how stupid and incredibly lucky Ariel was.  This premises sort of was like my ideal fan fiction BUT Liz Braswell was writing it so my hopes weren’t up.

I’ll be frank, it exceeded my expectations but it still wasn’t a good book.

If you’ve seen Linday Ellis’s review of the Disney live remake of Beauty and the Beast many of the things she points out that failed with that movie were similar failures that this book had.  Most notably, it tried to correct with much epic failure the problems the movie.

I.E. that Ariel is a lovelorn idiot.

How is this fixed?  We are told Ariel is now a powerful queen who wears her hair in braids and that’s pretty much it.  Just FYI, Ariel wears her hair up in Little Mermaid 2 and is even a bigger idiot in that movie.

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And forget about development with the Eric/Ariel relationship.  They pretty much want to just shag each other without getting to know each other.  Much like in the movie.  Except Ariel wears her hair up….oh, wait Little Mermaid 2.

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And speaking of sex, you know being married for at least eight or so years that Vanessa (Ursula) and Eric had to consummate their relationship, but this is never even addressed.  But still, I know I couldn’t help but think throughout this entire book how Eric was feeling about having sex with an octopus for the past eight years.

However, there were so many dumbfounded boneheaded idiot parts about this book that I was just shaking my head over.

Like, the ruling of Eric’s kingdom.  His parents are still alive, yet Ursula is still able to make all the military decisions and the kingdom just goes for it…Or for that matter, if Eric and his parents are still technically the rulers  how is Ursula pretty much usurping the kingdom with no magic and then gets afraid of the marriage contract.  Or if Ariel is using the power of the triton why is she still so weak, except putting her hair in a bad ass bun?  And why is her punishment to be queen most people want to be mother fucking queen?  And for that matter why send the mother fucking queen to clean up the mess, you’d want to protect her surely there’s some sort of mermaid CIA or something?   Save for the annoying OC seagull character that Braswell brings on because I guess she wants to make it her own….And again, how come Eric didn’t realize Ursula was an octopus when he had sex with her, because based on the conversation they had about producing an heir you know they had to at least copulate once….

Ugh, writing this paragraph just frustrated me.  But as you can see from it, this book was just full of plot holes.  I wanted to take Braswell out of the story and rewrite some of the aspects myself.  That is how frustrated I got with it.

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Still though, a part of me enjoyed it because…nostalgia goggles?

I mean, if you took away the crap plot holes and the bad characterization there was potential here.  It was a contender.  I just…Braswell just makes me angry.

I really wish Disney would try to hire other  YA authors to take some these stories.  To be fair, this was an improvement than the previous installments I read.  But that’s not really saying a lot.

Overall Rating: If I think it’s a D.  If I’m being generous maybe a C.  It kept me entertained at least.

 

Anastasia In Space: Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

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Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

Source: GoodReads

Anastasia in space is a common YA trope that is used tons and tons in sci fi today.  I mean, I’m not that surprised.  The long lost princess trope has been overly used in YA fantasy and it worked in mega series, Cinderso why shouldn’t it be used again?  I mean, The Once Upon a December trope has to be gold, right?

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And to be fair to Ashley Poston, I really enjoyed Heart of Iron even though I had a WTF look on my face throughout half of the reading experience because I was trying to figure out WTF was going on.

Heart of Iron is a gripping fast paced book that had me turning 400 pages in a little over a couple of hours of reading time.

It was good.  Not perfect, but good where I enjoyed what I read if I can figure out parts of what was going on.

That is my biggest beef with the book is I felt like it didn’t slow down any for exposition.  Even though I deplore info dumping, sometimes it’s necessary for the audience to understand what’s going on.  Rather than having the perpetual WTF face on their face throughout the book.

That’s not to say that I wasn’t able to put pieces of the world building together, but there were still holes left by the time I closed this book.

What I enjoyed this book that it was one helluva a dark and twisty ride.  I also liked that it was fast paced.  While there were a few moments I wanted the brakes pulled a little bit, I did appreciate that it was never boring.

The book also was driven by a diverse cast.  While I did wish to see some of the characters developed further, I did see great potential with several of them.  And all of the ships were swoon worthy.

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I think what this book had going for it overall was potential.  There is so much potential with this series, and I’m interested to see where it goes.  Sure, I was  a little caught off guard and confused with some of the things that were going on here, but overall I enjoyed this one.

Overall Rating: A B

Better Known As Greek Mythology and Captain Hook OUAT Crossover Fan Fiction: A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

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King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?

Source: GoodReads

If you read this blog regularly, you know that YA fantasy and I usually don’t mix.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy the idea of a fantasy in general, and I have read a few good ones.  It’s just at the end of the day, they are usually highly flawed in some sort of way.  Usually I find they follow the same derivative and are just too blah for my tastes.  And I get angry, I always get angry with YA fantasy (hence, why it’s rarely on this blog even though it’s the prevailing subgenre these days)

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I really do like Greek mythology though, which was why I gave A Touch of Gold a chance.  Overall, I didn’t think it was bad, but the characterization was on the weak side.

This might’ve gone hand and hand with the pacing that seemed to be going at warp speed at some points in the book.  I wanted more moments before the action started.

There was so much possibility here.  One thing that I had wished had been explored in more detail would’ve been the relationship between Kora and Midas.

I mean, just telling me they were estranged after the great touch incident isn’t really enough, I wanted more regarding this rather than the weird love triangle that sort of develops on the ship.

That might just be me though.

At the very least, it would’ve given Kora more depth.  I mean, she was a bit of a bore.  I get it, she was sheltered throughout most of her life, but would it kill her to have a bit more personality than woo is me my skin is gold.

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Also, she is ridiculously naive.  I get it, isolation.  Though, to me being isolated from society would make me a bit more cynical.  Not going to analyze this too, too, much though, because different folks different reactions to life.  But come on, girl, get a brain…

I will say, even though I felt short sided on the plot and characterization, there was potential in this one.  I did like how this was a continuation of a Greek myth, and there was a nice set up to it.  Illy paced, yes. but nice.  However, I felt like the world that it was based on was lost for a story featuring pirates of all things.

Pirates are good and all, but when you have a story featuring Greek mythology and they just randomly show up one is kind of like WTF!?!?!??!?!?!?!?

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Or at least I was.

Especially when the pirates took over the story and the Greek mythology sort of fell to the wayside.

It was just sort of weird.

Again, not a bad book.  I just felt like it offered more and didn’t deliver.

So, at the end of the day.  Do I recommend this one…um, maybe as a library read.  I mean, I don’t regret reading it, but I’m not continuing on with this if is indeed a series and I am likely going to give away my copy, so take that for what it’s worth.

Overall Rating: A C+ good potential, execution was sort of wobbly.