Lot of Action Not A Lot of Else: Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

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Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president’s son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie’s dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

No phone.
No Internet.
And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it’s okay. After all, she’s the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.

Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.

Source: GoodReads

Ally Carter is known for writing cute action pack books in the YA scene.  This book fits the bill.  If it’s action alone, this book is great.  There’s also chemistry between the two characters.  Her ships are great.

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However beyond that… this book is sort of weak.

I just felt throughout the entire reading experience that there was a lack of development with the characters.  There was potential, but often that development fell through to make way for action.

Hell, the action kept the plot from even making much sense at points in the book.

This made the action in some ways seem less exciting because there was no build up.

To be fair, there were good bones for a story here.  I was fairly impressed with the initial set up.  However, jumping from one event through the next with little to no explanation weakened the book.

Throughout the reading experience, this book reminded me of one of my favorite movies Romancing the Stone.  If you haven’t seen that movie it’s pretty much about this romance writer who gets trapped in the South America with mercenaries after her.  Replace South America with Alaska and gender swap the romance novelist with the president’s son you get this book.

Funny enough, this isn’t the first book that takes cues from Romancing the Stone and sets a book in Alaska.  Meg Cabot also did it with She Went All the Way.  However, that book took a different approach than Not If I Save You First.  It was much more comedic while this was much more action oriented.

While this book wasn’t intended to be comedic, I kept hearing Tina Fey’s version of Sarah Palin talking about seeing Russia from her house since Russians are the bad guys in this book.

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Yes, until the very end the bad guys are just referred to as Russians.

This book had a very interesting set up, but at the end of the day it was a bit of a hot mess.

Again though, it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever read and I didn’t like it better than Carter’s Embassy Row series.

Overall Rating: A C+

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Keep Striking Out: Jillian Cade Fake Paranormal Investigator by Jen Klein

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Jillian Cade doesn’t believe in the paranormal. But her famous professor father does, and now that he’s gone, she decides to milk his reputation—and all the suckers who believe in the stuff—to open a private investigation firm. After all, a high school junior has to take care of herself, especially if she’s on her own.

Ironically, it’s when she takes on a case that might involve a totally non-paranormal missing person that things get strange. Particularly when Sky Ramsey—a new boy at school and an avid fan of her father’s—forces his way into becoming her partner and won’t shut up about succubi, of all things.

Before Jillian knows it, she finds herself navigating both her growing feelings for Sky and a sneaking suspicion that the poor saps she’s been scamming know something she doesn’t. Yet.

Source: GoodReads

This premise looks so freaking awesome and somewhat similar to something I have in a “Need to Write this Someday” folder on my computer.  To bad it is a complete and utter hot mess.

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I finished it though so that’s a plus…

Okay, that’s not really a plus.  I really finished this book hoping it would get better, but it was just a in-cohesive mess.   It was like it didn’t know what it wanted to be.

The world building aspect of this book is poorly done.  While the first chapter showed promise of Jillian scamming someone I had such high hopes.  The book promptly derails from there.

I really wanted more about the scamming ghost business, and the plot sort of doesn’t even acknowledge it for the rest of the book.  Well, I take that back it will throw an occasional nugget her and there but it does not explore it to the depth that it should be.

Instead, we have this weird mystery with a succubus  and someone’s weird paranormal origins that’s just randomly thrown in the book blender and doesn’t make sense.

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Hell, you’re probably like what is she talking about.

I wonder that myself as I write this.

This book was just weird.  It was incoherent at times, and it was really under developed on a lot of levels.

As far as Jillian goes.  I didn’t like her.  Her chemistry with Sky was pretty much non-existent.  I did not understand how the two of them were a legitimate couple because no such chemistry existed.  Really, they shared nothing in common except for being jerks.  They just didn’t work together much like the book really didn’t work.

Ugh, this one just sort of makes me angry.  It had all the elements that should’ve made it interesting but at the end of the day fell completely flat.

Overall Rating: A D.  I’ve read worse, but it was definitely a waste of my time.

Epic Fail Is More Like It: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by FC Yee

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Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code.

But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tale and penchant for peaches.

Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance.

Source: GoodReads

Once upon a time, a blogger was at the targeted YA age at the height of YA paranormal.  Although, Twilight was admittedly gross.  There were a lot of YA series released in the mid to late 2000’s that I liked even loved.  And admittedly the market got over saturated.  There were just so many books.

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Okay, way over saturated.  There was a lot of trash out there and eventually dystopia took over the market.  I understood and welcomed it at the time, but I’ll admit in October I’m usually nostalgic for this sort of shit which was why when YA paranormal does make an appearance in the market the book is likely to interest me.

I’ve had The Epic Crush of Genie Lo on my shelf for awhile.  It interested me because it featured a diverse heroine, Chinese mythology, and the blurb made genie sound bad ass.  Unfortunately, I ended up throwing the book against my wall after about 60 pages.

I don’t plan on this being a super long review, I’m just going to note the reasons why I DNF’D it.

  1. Forced Love Interest: I FUCKING hate this trope.  If the MC finds the guy obnoxious her family and friends shouldn’t push him on her.  Period.  This trope annoys me across genres.  I hate how the heroine is suppose to fall in love with douchiness and change her supposed high strong ways.  It just doesn’t work for me.  This is a personal preference thing, so if you like it you might be able to handle it better than me.
  2. The Big Reveal: The Obnoxious Hero of course explains the heroine her destiny.  I hate how dependent it is on the Douche Hero.  I long for a book where this is not the case.
  3. Info Dumping: Enough Said.  It’s even worse in this one since the book is written in first person and the entire book shifts for a chapter or so.

As you can see it’s pretty easy to see why I DNF’d it.  If you don’t hate two the tropes that I listed you might be able to finish the book.  Hell, you might like it. I however can’t tolerate this sort of shit so I threw it in the giveaway box.

Admittedly, it’s a shame.  There were a lot of things about this book that I should like.  However, at the end of the day the book and I just did not mehs.

Overall Rating: DNF

When Life Gives You Bad Books DNF: When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybaum

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Sixteen-year-old Shelby Black has spent the past year training to be an exorcist. Her great-uncle Roy—a Catholic priest and Shelby’s guardian—believes she has a gift for expelling demons, and he’s put her through exorcist boot camp hell, but he still doesn’t trust her to do an exorcism on her own.

High school is hard enough without having to explain that you fight demons for a living, so Shelby keeps her extracurricular activity quiet, especially from Spencer, her cute math tutor. Secrets run in Shelby’s family, though: her mother has been missing ever since an exorcism went horribly wrong, and Uncle Roy is tight-lipped about it. But Shelby’s hell-bent on finding her mom, no matter what—even if what it ends up costing her her soul AND a date with Spencer.

Source: GoodReads

It’s almost October which means I’m in the mood for some paranormal YA.

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The only thing is while paranormal romance was the big on trend back when I was in the targeted age of YA, it has really faded away.  Which is good.  Because there was a lot of crap out there in the late 00’s.  HOWEVER, while you think that newer paranormal YA books would have a tough bar to overcome.  The shit’s still getting published.  When Life Gives You Demons is one of these books.

Full Disclosure: My favorite YA series is Meg Cabot’s The Mediator (read my Reread feature on it if you want to know why).  It has been my favorite series since I was a teen and it’s still my favorite series since I first read it fifteen or so year ago.  So, when I’m looking at paranormal YA that’s my gold standard.  Nothing really ever meets it, especially When Life Gives You Demons.

Also full disclosure, this book is published by my “favorite” imprint.  That should’ve been my other clue.  I swear Swoon Reads likes to tease me with their interesting premises and then fuck with me with their execution.  It is, so, awful.

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I ended up DNF’ing this book for several reasons.  I made it to roughly 100 pages in, which I think is far enough to know I wasn’t amused by any means.  The set up just seemed very forced and it didn’t help that the MC was the last person you’d expect to be a teenage exorcist.

Plus, I took a sneak peak at the end and everything was resolved as I expected which was just ridiculous.   I shouldn’t be able to guess the big twist (and yeah, what I guessed was the twist).

Part of my problem with this book was the MC.  She is ridiculously immature.  I get that she’s only seventeen (I think, it might’ve been fifteen, I forget) but she is an exorcist and she’s been exposed to a lot of things.  That being said, you’d think she’d be a little more responsible and grounded than your typical teenage protagonist.  It can be done.  God, I hate that I’m constantly referencing it in my review-seems a bit unfair-but in The Mediator, Suze sounded like a teen but at the same time she’s a confidant spirit guide and knows how to pull off one hell of a Brazilian exorcism.

Shelby, on the other hand, can’t even mumble a few Latin words correctly.

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She is pathetic.

Also, the demon mystery in this one was sort of lame.

Yes, really, lame.  In the first 100 pages there really wasn’t that much build up to it either just two random cases.  One was the opening exorcism scene which was relatively dull, and the next was the random moody teenager who plays video games who must be possessed (but not).

There’s also a very boring and dull love interest, who needed to be possessed to be mildly interesting because boy was he dull.  Seriously, the interaction between him and the stupid MC is him helping her with her Geometry homework.

I was thoroughly bored with this one.  Which is the last thing I should think about a book full of demons.

Maybe I’m wanting too much with my YA paranormal.  I read another book this weekend and the experience of that book was almost eerily similar to this one.  The only difference was, that one was marginally better where I could finish the book.  This one not so much.   Regardless, I’ll just have to get my paranormal thrill by watching bad reality shows on TV and rereading The Mediator.

Oh, well.

Overall Rating: DNF