The Corgis Disapprove (Well, Mine Do): Royals by Rachel Hawkins

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Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond.

While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady . . . but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.

Source: GoodReads

It’s Royal Wedding weekend which meant that during my Benadryl induced insomnia last night, I caught part of Harry and Meghan’s wedding that I later watched via DVR.  I have to say Meghan was so on point with that dress.  Unfortunately, I was less on point when  I decided that Royals would be perfect reading material this weekend.

Instead it was rage inducing, me to using the below gif.

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This book, people…skip it, please.  If you want to read something with royalty read The Princess Diaries series again, The Royal We, A Prince in Disguise, I can go on but I  won’t.  Hell, you can even watch on of the various Hallmark movies that have been made and they’re better than this shit.

Okay…so what has pissed me off.  Pretty much that there love interest in this book is a misogynist asshole   who blames the MC for getting assaulted by his drunk ass best friend.  Seriously, it’s her fault that she was kissed against her will  and that said best friend passed out drunk on his ass in her room.

Do you see why I don’t like this book?

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And what really bothers me is that at the end when said scumbag best friend is put in his place, it’s not for coming on to the MC or other girls randomly.  It’s for declaring his love to the MC’s sister and her fiancee accidentally overhearing it.

Did I mention that said best friend is a minor while his attacker has at least graduated from college?

Yeah…

Oh, and said attacker is a prince.

Yeah….

And that all of this is pretty much brushed under the rug within twenty pages.  Just like the non-existant romance and anything else involving this storyline was resolved pretty much within twenty pages.

But there’s a sequel, but without this character as the lead I’m suspecting.  And which I really care about because this book was so poorly crafted I’m not checking out the follow up.

Obviously.

Especially if the would  be rapist gets his own book.

Because seriously, going into a stranger’s room forcing them to kiss them and probably forcing them to do more if you didn’t pass out drunk isn’t exactly attractive.  Neither is a douche who defend’s said best friend’s behavior but apparently Hawkins felt it  deserved a pass.

No it did not.

Overall Rating: Total failure.  This book just gives me a headache.

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Like An Embarrassingly Bad But Good Fan Fic: Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas

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The Winter Solstice. In a week. I was still new enough to being High Lady that I had no idea what my formal role was to be. If we’d have a High Priestess do some odious ceremony, as lanthe had done the year before. A year. Gods, nearly a year since Rhys had called in his bargain, desperate to get me away from the poison of the Spring Court to save me from my despair. Had he been only a minute later, the Mother knew what would have happened. Where I’d now be. Snow swirled and eddied in the garden, catching in the brown fibers of the burlap covering the shrubs My mate who had worked so hard and so selflessly, all without hope that I would ever be with him We had both fought for that love, bled for it. Rhys had died for it.

Source: GoodReads

I bet Sarah J Maas wrote fan fic at one point.  Fan fic where cannon characters are flipped on their head as being evil, and cannon baddies are fannon heroes.   You know like where Draco Malfoy is revealed to have been a good guy all along while Ron is a Death Eater bastard(there are a ton of Dramione fan fictions out there that follow that trope, it’s sad I know that and I really hate Ron so I don’t mind them). While this was made exceedingly apparent in the second book in this series-which I annoyingly enjoyed way more than I should’ve, becuase hello character assassination galore- I feel like it’s exemplified here because this installment is an unnecessary epilogue that is purposely written so that it can sell the next series in this mega series.  However, unlike a certain other author who was actually a fan fiction author that I’ll try not to reference too much so her fan bots won’t attack me, I sort of like this series and this book so I’m only mildly annoyed.

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However, I have my eye on you Sarah J Maas.  You have one trick pony tendencies and this book shows it…

And so do all those Throne of Glass books-side note, I have told you guys I’ll try to read that series but I swear someone is just going to have tie me and hold me hostage before I actually do.  I just haven’t been able to work myself up to doing that especially since I found the first book annoying…

And I’m digressing again.

I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

I think that’s because there really isn’t a lot of new for me to say about this series.  I enjoyed the first two books, sort of had meh feelings about the third, and sort of have meh feelings about the novella.  I know the series is problematic, and from the reviews that I read that have pointed out the criticisms regarding these books-I get ya’ll.  I’m honestly surprise I enjoy it as much as I do, since I just cannot get into TOG-one of these days I swear I’m going to read another book and give it a try, I mean they are on my shelves…

The point is this is a guilty pleasure series for me.  I will probably continue on only because I am interested in seeing the spinoff series, but I could easily see this thing going into full Cassandra Clare territory (yes, I said the name)  in obnoxiousness-it’s already halfway there.

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Fans of Feyre and Rhys’s eyeball worthy floor play, will likely enjoy this one.  For me it was just meh at best.  I know that their will banter with Rhys saying something suggestive, Feyre calling him  prick, and them having sex on some sort of unsanitary surface that should have you cringing but Maas thinks is romantic.

Yeah, I know I’m a  Debby Downer who’s a little germ obsessed.

Shrugs.  I really don’t care.

At the end of the day though, I found this to be rather inoffensive if expected.  I mean, I could tell his book was pretty much setting up the next arc of the story.  I had a suspicion where Rhys and Feyre were going to go with their relationship, as well as a suspicion whose story is going to be told next.

So there really wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

While I do find the romance at times to be cringe worthy, I was okay with it.  I probably could’ve done less with the Tamlin bashing though.  God, I get dude is a douche but he is really old news now unless he’s going to be redeemed and get his own series of books (which I honestly feel meh about since he was a huge douche especially in the second book).

Regardless, if your a fan of this series you’ll probably want to read this one.  Sure, you can skip it, but if you really like the series you’ll probably want to have picked it up at some point in time.

Overall Rating: A B- like I said it was pretty much  a tacked on epilogue of smut, but uber fans are going to like it.

What Was the Point of This?: Love, Pizza, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams

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Can a spot on a teen reality show really lead to a scholarship at an elite cooking school AND a summer romance?

Sixteen-year-old Sophie Nicolaides was practically raised in the kitchen of her family’s Italian-Greek restaurant, Taverna Ristorante. When her best friend, Alex, tries to convince her to audition for a new reality show, Teen Test Kitchen, Sophie is reluctant. But the prize includes a full scholarship to one of America’s finest culinary schools and a summer in Napa, California, not to mention fame.

Once on-set, Sophie immediately finds herself in the thick of the drama—including a secret burn book, cutthroat celebrity judges, and a very cute French chef. Sophie must figure out a way to survive all the heat and still stay true to herself. A terrific YA offering–fresh, fun, and sprinkled with romance.

Source: GoodReads

Well, I finished this book.

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So that’s a plus.

But God, what a waste of time. I literally felt that nothing.  Oh, stuff did happen.  There was a reality TV contest with characters that were flatter than the creepy bow twins on the latest incarnation of Master Chef Junior (and yes, I know the bow twins are just kids but  their stylist really needs to be canned for making them look like they should belong on the set of The Shining), a couple of cute boys who’s main characteristics was that they were cute and either culinary institute student or the MC’s B.F.F. who makes her enter the contest.  Oh, and yes the MC was Italian and Greek and that was her big thing besides her butt which she called “the tank” but other that…

Nope nothing happened here.

I feel like I need to back up on things Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous came out a few years back and was sort of on my radar but ended up in the pits of TBR pile.  I’ll admit it, I like cooking shows.  When I was in undergradthe Food Network was pretty much on 24/7 when I was in my dorm room just because it was entertaining enough  to block out noise but not too entertaining for me to get distracted when I wrote essays about why Oprah should run for president (yeah, I actually did that-we were suppose to pick a person who we thought would likely get elected back in 2008,  this was pre-Obama’s running announcement ) and the various Shakespeare plays I was forced to read because I was delusional enough to be an English major.  I still watch cooking shows today-which mostly consist of Gordon Ramsay yelling at people because for some odd reason it is cathartic for me to listen him to yell at incompetent jackasses (probably because I can’t do that myself, even though I purposely became a lawyer to  yell at people-’cause I’m not a nice person, ya’ll).   So, seeing it in book form totally going to go for it.  And a few years back a couple of books we’re introduced this being one of them and Taste Test being another.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Taste Test either, but unlike this book there was a semblance of a plot and it didn’t feel like 250 pages had been a complete waste of time.  This book though, that’s the feeling I got.  As you probably saw from the introductory paragraphs of this review.  The book had 1D characteristics at best which is a shame.  Yes, I get the MC has Greek and Italian heritage that she lost her mother and is torn in a love triangle between the boy next door and the hot cooking whiz she shares two lines of dialogue with-but Williams never made me care about them.  Or for that matter, she never resolved that plot.

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She never resolved anything.  Okay we’re heading to major spoiler territory now.  So if you’re one of those weirdos who actually cares about things like that you probably don’t want to read the next paragraph because it’s going to be a very spoiler filled rant…

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The book just ends exactly how it starts.  The MC doesn’t win.   There’s really no explanation for her loss.   She’s just back to working at her dad’s restaurant except she’s okay with being called Sophia now (okay, I didn’t get the whole not liking Sophia thing to begin with anyway).   And she’s sort of involved with both boys at the end of it, but sort of not (just like the entire book!).  She doesn’t really learn anything about herself, he new friends problems are never explained.  And I never did find out if Phillip was related to the producers or not (I assume he was because that’s the only way someone who can’t cook a fucking egg could’ve won a cooking contest).  Not that that was ever discussed.  The book just mentioned that this random minor character named Phillip seemed to win all the time and cooked horribly and no explanation was ever made for it, so I’m saying he’s related to the producers.

Phillip’s non-existing storyline seemed to be one of many that filled this book.  From the quasi romances going on.  To the long lost aunt.  To the burn book that the producer’s started.  To the contestant with the maybe eating disorder.  To the contestant with the romance with Phillip.  To the fragmented sentences of this paragraph.  There were that many plot holes.

The book just really seems to be going nowhere and it’s a fucking shame.  There was a lot of potential with Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous, but at the end of the day the book was more than a little bit of a let down.

Overall Rating: A C.  I have read worse and at least with this one it was painless short-I read it in the span of two hours.

 

 

Die, Dude Brow, Die: Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

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Cameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

Source: GoodReads

I really liked Chaotic Good, but I felt like it was missing a certain oomph.  This was one book where I wanted 200 more pages than the mere 250-ish pages I got.  However, what I got I can’t complain about too much.

Though, is it so wrong that I want a certain character to die a slow death.

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This book hit home in a lot of ways.  Any woman has probably encountered a dude bro (aka a misogynist asshole)  at some point in her life.  It’s like an experience that we all experience but all wish we could  have not experienced- I  sort of equate it to  having a period except misogynic assholes just don’t tolerate biological women but ALL women and  birth control cannot make misogynists  tolerable, though it can prevent their existence technically I guess.  God knows you have  if you’ve ever been told to smile, been honked out when you’re jogging, or for that matter have been told you’re not a real fan because you’re female and might like aspects of a series or game that those of the masculine persuasion might not because you know dude bro’s opinions are so much better than yours…

I could go on, but you get the picture.  Chaotic Good tries to conquer misogynist assholes and while I do feel like a lot of important aspects were raised, at the end of the day I wasn’t so satisfied with how everything was dealt with.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.  I probably wouldn’t be satisfied unless Brody was castrated and they made a section at his store for nincompoop dicks, but I’m ahead of myself.  I think what really bothered me about Chaotic Good was that everything just clicked into place seemingly easily.  Up until the last fifteen pages, it seemed like Cameron’s life was one big dumpster fire.  But a picture of her gets liked by some costume designer, the dude bro gets an exorcism, and her twin brother and his boyfriend like her again, so everything in hunky dory.  Life just doesn’t work that way…

Also, really, why are you friends with that dude bro, Cameron?  He is the type of guy you block on the internet and run, run away from.

Besides the ridiculous fast wrap up, I did like the book though.  Although, the whole premises could’ve been avoided with Cameron ordering her comics online to avoid dude bros.   God knows, I order stuff on the internet just because I’m too lazy to drive, and I have also ordered stuff online come to think of it to avoid annoying people.  It is so much easier than wrapping my breasts up, stuffing my hair in a beanie, and going around as a guy just to avoid  assholes.

Honestly, I wish rather than having the whole I’m going to avoid the misogynist at the comic store that Cameron would’ve just been androgynous looking or gender queer.    God knows, it would’ve been refreshing and a lot hell more realistic than this complicated scheme that could’ve been avoided by just Amazon-ing it, BUT hey it’s fiction, so..

I will say I do love the gender bending trope.  It’s a timeless favorite of mine ever since I saw that old black and white film, Some Like It Hot, it’s just that a lot of times the situation that has the character flipping genders doesn’t really make sense as in Chaotic Good.

Other than the suspension of logic, I liked the book.  The romance wasn’t my favorite but it worked.  Honestly, I could’ve passed on it either way, but it wasn’t terrible.  It sort of reminded me of the Penny/Lenard relationship on The Big Bang Theory which wasn’t really my favorite ship but it had it’s adorable moments.  I liked the D&D crew too save for Brody, who really needs to die a slow death.

God, I hate Brody.  I wish there was a way to block a character in a book.  I have to give Gardner credit though for making me hate that asshole.

I didn’t like that he was still part of the group at the end though.  He really shouldn’t have been…

I guess overall, I liked this book.  I was just hoping that some things would’ve been fleshed out a little more.  It seemed to me that this was a story that could’ve dived into the meat of things more than it did.  What I got I liked but I just wanted more…

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Overall Rating: A solid B.  The book is timely.  I liked that it did address issues.  I just wanted more.

 

What I Wanted vs What I Got: And She Was by Jessica Verdi

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Dara’s lived a sheltered life with her single mom, Mellie. Now, at eighteen, she’s dreaming of more. When Dara digs up her never-before-seen birth certificate, her world implodes. Why are two strangers listed as her parents?

Dara confronts her mother, and is stunned by what she learns: Mellie is transgender. The unfamiliar name listed under “father”? That’s Mellie. She transitioned when Dara was a baby, shortly after Dara’s birth mother died.

But Dara still has more questions than answers. Reeling, she sets off on a road trip with her best guy friend, Sam. She’s determined to find the extended family she’s never met. What she discovers—and what her mother reveals, piece by piece over emails—will challenge and change Dara more than she can imagine.

From rising star Jessica Verdi, this is a gorgeous, timely, and essential novel about the importance of being our true selves.

Source: GoodReads

What I Wanted: A book with a mother-daughter relationship that was a bit Gilmore Girls-is but instead of running away from rich parents because of teenage pregnancy, the Lorelai ran away because she came out as transgender and Grandpa and Grandma Gilmore couldn’t handle it.  Also, some coffee would’ve helped too.

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What I Got: A book where the MC and her mother really have a nonexistent relationship and once the MC found out that her mother was transgender, she pretty much flips out on her and runs away with some random guy we’re told is her b.f.f.

Yeah…

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Okay, going by the premises I knew that there was going to be a road trip and all of that, but I was hoping at the very least that the relationship between Melly and Dara would’ve been a little bit more than it was.

Even before Melly’s secret is revealed she and Dara are distant at best.  Dara has her head in the clouds and Melly was just…I don’t know not all the way there and sort of rigid.  The premises to me just seemed like there would be more of a mother and daughter connection than there actually was.

As I mentioned before, I really didn’t care for Dara.  She was was self absorbed and really had no realistic ambitions.  While I know that not every teen is college bound, I wish she would’ve had a slightly more realistic plan for the future than work for a juice bar and attempt to play pro tennis.  It just annoyed me, especially since Verdi has all the supporting cast point out several times throughout the narrative that it isn’t likely that Dara is going to advance in the pro circuit.

As for how trans issues were handled…honestly, I only made it about 110 pages in the book, and as a cis female I’m probably not the person you want to ask about sensitivity issues.  Still though, I found Dara’s behavior sort of disturbing at least from my perspective.  She instantly wants to meet her grandparents, despite hearing from her mother that they are essentially bigots.

Oh, it’s okay if they hate the woman that raised me for eighteen years they’re my grandparents…and I’m not a bigot because I follow sport stars that preach LGBTQ issues.

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You see where we’re going here.

Given that I DNF’d this, I didn’t see every cringe worthy moment that results from Dara’s betrayal and stupidity.  However, being the spoiler loving junkie that I am (and the should I even bother addict that I am) I took a peak at the end and it seems as disappointing as I predicted it.

Some of you might be wondering what I was expecting.  After all, the blurb clearly illustrates that there’s going to be some sort of separation between Melly and Dara throughout the duration of the book.  And I expected it, but I also expected them to have some sort of bond besides liking to eat hot sauce.

Instead, it was more about Dara’s relationship with stupid Sam who had a girlfriend until like two minutes ago which totally means he’s going to be in Dara’s pants by the end of the book.

Look, this book just wasn’t for me.  Maybe it gets better as it progresses, but quite honestly I wanted to read more about Melly than Dara.  And unfortunately I had to read more about Dara who is more f’d up than Rory Gilmore on the Netflix’s revival (seriously, Rory look at your choices).

Overall Rating: DNF.  I’d rather watch Rory and Dean and that’s saying a lot.  Because, ew Dean.

 

A Book That Makes Me Like Camping (Or Reading About It): Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

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Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Source: GoodReads

Jenn Bennett is officially on my favorites list.  This book sort of solidified it for me.  Starry Eyes took a topic I really didn’t think I’d like-camping-and turned it into an interesting foot popping story.

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Because really Bennett is the master of ships.  I adored Zorie and Lennon and all of their love hate-ness.  And despite being an extremely ship book, here were a lot of things about this book that resonated with me.  It was a book that I could really identify with because I shared a similar experience to what Zorie dealt with this book when I was roughly her age.

The emotions that Bennett has her going through throughout the book was something that I could identify with.  How a parent’s betrayal can have ramifications on not only their significant other but their kids as well.  I thought that Bennet did a good job showing this.

If I had to fault the book, I think what bothered me is the drama did get a little over the top at times.  Especially the fall out with Reagan.  Honestly,  I didn’t even get why Zorie was friends with Reagan.  It seemed so forced.  She more or less existed as a plot point to get Zorie and Lennon stranded-which by the way happens much later in the book than I thought it would.  But anyway, back to Reagan and her friends they really were just pointless.  When they abandoned Zorie and Lennon I was glad, I was like finally….

While Reagan annoyed me, I did like some of the supporting characters which is better than a lot of YA books.  I thought Lennon’s family was pretty well fleshed out and I did like Zorie’s mother.  Her dad though was a douche.  But I have to say the depiction was pretty much spot on, living through a similar situation the dad character did make sense to me.

As I mentioned earlier, I was pleasantly surprised with the whole how lost in the wilderness thing was handled.  I’m not an outdoors girl.  I freak out when there is even a fly in my house.  Honestly, I don’t even like reading about the outdoors.  Yeah, there was that one somewhat interesting Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys super mystery  where she goes camping, the Hardy boys pop out of nowhere-they always popped out of nowhere in the super mysteries-, Nancy and Frank almost make out again and their chased by the mob who apparently their trail guide owes a lot of money too but….not your typical outdoors book.  No, when I think of outdoorsy type of books I think about that stupid Literature and Culture class I took where I had to read that book about that guy who went to Alaska to live in a bus and die, oh and write a stupid paper about my local park that used to be the site of a Confederate powder mill.

Ah, memories that the blog reader does not  know or care about…

Weird discretion that probably has you confused aside, I think it shows just how good and enjoyable a book is when they can make a subject you find meh at best enjoyable.  Not that I’m planning on going camping anytime soon, but after reading Starry Eyes I don’t think I would mind so much reading it.

If you like love-hate romances, second chance romances, have an interest in the outdoors, or for that matter astronomy you should definitely give Starry Eyes a try.  Bennet is definitely on my to buy list now.  And it seems I have a bit of a backlist to get too.

Overall Rating: An A-

North of Nope: North of Happy by Adi Alsaid

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His whole life has been mapped out for him…

Carlos Portillo has always led a privileged and sheltered life. A dual citizen of Mexico and the US, he lives in Mexico City with his wealthy family, where he attends an elite international school. Always a rule follower and a parent pleaser, Carlos is more than happy to tread the well-worn path in front of him. He has always loved food and cooking, but his parents see it as just a hobby.

When his older brother, Felix—who has dropped out of college to live a life of travel—is tragically killed, Carlos begins hearing his brother’s voice, giving him advice and pushing him to rebel against his father’s plan for him. Worrying about his mental health, but knowing the voice is right, Carlos runs away to the United States and manages to secure a job with his favorite celebrity chef. As he works to improve his skills in the kitchen and pursue his dream, he begins to fall for his boss’s daughter—a fact that could end his career before it begins. Finally living for himself, Carlos must decide what’s most important to him and where his true path really lies.

Source: GoodReads

Amendment: I just noticed from the blurb that the MC is a duel citizen.  I probably skimmed over this when I read the 88 pages or it’s addressed later on.  That at least gives the book more factual credence than I previously thought it had-re the employment situation.  That’s what you get for not reading the entire thing I guess (shrugs).  

 

Another day, another DNF.  I have to tell you guys I really do hate DNF’ing books.  The thing is after reviewing books for seven years and reading bull shitty books even longer, I just don’t have the tolerance like I used to to stomach through.

And even though I know it’s better for me to stop, I keep hearing the whole quitters never win lecture my mom always spewed when I throw a book against the wall.

However, one thing I don’t think my mom ever really conceptualized is that it sometimes its better to cut your loses than to continue with something you’re going to hate and that’s sort of the situation I was in with North of Happy.

I made it through about 88 pages of this one before I threw it into the giveaway pile-and yes, I have a huge box of books in my garage that I need to get rid of.  Usually that means, giving it away to a library or maybe to a needy family or two at the holidays.  Note, I’d probably do a giveaway at some point on this blog too-only thing is I’d have to go to the post office and pay probably a ridiculous amount in shipping and I’m not that fond of doing that (sorry, not sorry).

Anyway, digression about the give away box aside, North of Happy was a book I knew I was not going to like.  The set up itself seemed interesting- it involves cooking and fish out of water tale.  BUT add seemingly pointless delusions that seem to indicate the MC has mental illness but is never addressed as such, a MPDG of a love interest, AND a suspension of lack of reality when it comes to immigrants getting a job in the US (it’s not that easy) I got annoyed fast.

I ended up giving it more of a it’s me not you DNF score.

Let’s start with what bothered me the most.  The delusions the MC has.  I think they’re meant to sort of have a magical realism quality about it, but God knows they came more or less as delusions as someone who is mentally ill and I wished that would’ve been addressed.  Maybe it was as the book progressed, but I didn’t see it happening anytime soon.  Also, I got to say the delusion of his brother annoyed me.  He was one of those characters I wanted to smack and shake.  Just so sanctimonious with his follow your dreams, screw stability in life, and I manifest myself as a random pigeon shit.

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Yeah, that probably doesn’t make sense unless you read the book.  Though, it’s probably the only time I’ll be able to use a gift of that weird Bird Lady from Home Alone 2: Trump Makes a Prequel Pee Pee Tape at the Plaza! 

But hey, my review my thoughts, and that was what I was thinking when I read this book.

Here’s the thing what really annoyed me about the Felix delusions.  If the book was going to have delusions in it, I wanted them addressed for what they are-mental illness.  Having them as a plot point or being used in this weirdo quasi magical realism thing just didn’t work.  It honestly cheapened the story more than anything else.  And honestly is kind of insulting.

The other big issue that annoyed me was Emma.  She’s your stereotypical MPDG (manic pixie dream girl) I just rolled my eyes at her entrance and could really care less about her.  Also, I really can’t see some girl suggesting some random dude to be hired for her mother’s five star restaurant.  It just seemed out of the blue, and again characterization wise it seemed just out there.   Especially since when What’s His Face-I don’t even remember his name and it’s been a little less than a day since I quit this book-shows up at Emma’s mom’s restaurant he’s acting a little less than sane.  I mean, unless Emma wants to sabotage her mom, I really don’t think asking to hire the random weirdo was a good idea.

Which brings me to concern three.  Even if I didn’t take immigration law, I have I still would’ve rolled my eyes with What’s His Face getting a job because of filling out various employment verification forms your have to fill out when you’re hired by a job.  Add the fact I did take immigration law, and know (unlike the current ignoramus who is sadly president) that low wage jobs are usually not in abundance for immigrants.  Let alone tourists like What’s His Face.

And yes, I know people could technically be paying him under the table…but Emma’s mom is a celebrity chef and I doubt she was going to be hit with a scandalous expose on Eater.com but hey what do I know…Mario Batali liked to flaunt labor laws in the past so…

Even the recipes that were introduced at the beginning of each chapter were lackluster to me.  It was more or less a list of ingredients.  Which is more less like my grocery list.  Yes tomatoes, flank steak, onion, garlic, cilantro, and corn tortillas can be appetizing but just listing the ingredients isn’t going to make me salivate.  There is an art to food writing.

Which reminds me, at some point I really do need to start reviewing my stash cookbooks.  Especially my mom’s.  She has some cookbooks published in the 80’s and 90’s that would be fun to review-though probably not very gluten free friendly.

Digression, digression.

I am doing that a lot in this review.  Which does not bode well for the book.  At the end of the day, ask me two or three weeks about North of Happy and I probably won’t be able to tell you much just that it had a lot of potential and just didn’t deliver.

Overall Rating: DNF

Under Baked: Recipe for Kisses by Michelle Major

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Chloe Daniels doesn’t need a man—after escaping a marriage gone bad, she guards her heart as closely as the details of her past. So when hot-tempered celebrity chef Ben “the Beast” Haddox storms into her struggling toy store, Chloe is determined not to be drawn in by his broad shoulders…or baby-blue eyes.

In his hometown, Ben’s culinary career is almost as famous as his bad-boy rep. He’s out to prove to naysayers he’s a success by opening a new restaurant—and the only thing standing in his way is Chloe’s store. But before he has a chance to convert her space into his signature eatery, she cooks up a plan to show him that her shop is worth saving.

As things start to sizzle between them, Chloe must figure out how to avoid getting burned. Can she trust herself to love again, or has she jumped out of the frying pan and into desire?

Source: GoodReads

I haven’t posted lately.  It’s a mixture of just taking a mental health break from blogging, being on vacation, and just being too exhausted from work to blog.  But I have been reading.  Just a lot of romance instead of YA.

I get that way occasionally.  However, I have a stack of interesting YA books I need to get to get to, so I’m sure I’ll be chugging back YA books soon enough.

Recipe of Kisses interesting me mainly because it was suppose to be a romance featuring a celebrity chef.  I like watching cooking shows, and I read cookbooks in my free time.  So I was like..hmmm, could be good.  Especially since hero is suppose to be a loud angry Gordon Ramsay type.  Only thing is, Ben is not near as entertaining as Ramsay and I had such a hard time buying that a thing could develop between him and Chloe that I DNF’d this book.

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I’ll be honest, I could see this book as a Hallmark movie.  It had every single hallmark (ha, ha, no pun intended) that such a movie would have.  I could even see it now Ben being played by Colin Egglesfield and Chloe being played by Lacey Chalbert.   That’s not a good thing, people.

I mean, nothing against those actors but I shouldn’t be imagining a bad 90 minute TV movie in my head.  If I’m picturing a book as a movie it needs to be a fantastic movie,  not one where I snark at it at every turn.

Honestly, the Hallmark movie would’ve been more fleshed out.  At the very least there would’ve been a whole reason for the whole non-lease renewal thing.  And seriously, if Colorado law is anything like Texas or Louisiana law, I’m surprised that Ben couldn’t have thrown Chloe’s ass out for not paying rent.  It annoyed me how she kept acting like a victim because he didn’t want to renew her lease-I mean, bitch, please find another location.  You can still have your store.  And for that matter, pay your fucking rent.   And don’t act like Ben is a bad guy for kicking you out.  Also, can that annoying employee who wears the tie dye shirts and tells you how to run your business.  She was not endearing, she was an annoying old biddy who Gordon would’ve told to fuck off if she was on his show (actually, he did sort of tell off a woman who reminded me of that lady on Hotel Hell when he helped out that pentecostal looking woman in West Virginia who was a horder-I watch way too much TV).

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It’s amazing how many grievances I can find when I only read 40% of the book.

Ben is no saint either.  He has anger issues to say the least.  Furthermore, I did not understand for the life of me why he stayed with his ass hat father when he could rent an apartment or something.  It just didn’t make sense of me, the plot point brats (and yes, I’ll refer to the kids in this book as brats) wouldn’t that upheaved by moving away from their abuser grandfather’s house.  And quite honestly, the brief amounts the father character appeared he made me cringe.

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I could do without him.

As for the  plot point brats, we have the stereotypical sullen teenage girl who we all know Chloe is going to form a bond with and then the younger boy who was pretty much there for the cuteness factor.  I really could have done without them or the toy store business.

The toy store thing annoyed me, I guess because it just didn’t really fit and I didn’t see why Chloe was so driven to save her store.  She was more about saving the women who worked there.  It would’ve made more sense for her to work as a counselor or something, just saying.

Also, the characters interaction to each other didn’t make much sense.  Chloe wants the store so she is instantly mad at Ben.  She doesn’t seem to think that hey dude owes building.  And when she sprays him with pepper spray….uh, no.

This book just wasn’t for me.  I hate to say, I think I’m becoming a little cynical.  Maybe it’s because the line of work I do, but when I read a romance with shoddy characterization the first thing that comes into my mind is divorce court and that just isn’t right.  One thing I’m asking myself when I read romances lately has been would I have enjoyed this ten years ago.

And the answer with this one is no.  It’s just too flat.  It had potential to be a great story but it really failed on execution.  Let’s just put it this way, if this book was a beef wellington Gordon Ramsay would be throwing it against the wall.

Overall Rating: DNF

 

My Favorite Trope…Revenge:The Sins of Lord Lockwood by Meredith Duran

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Steamy romance sizzles between a resurrected earl and his repentant bride in USA TODAY bestselling author Meredith Duran’s latest historical romance.

BACK FROM THE DEAD, AN EARL SEEKS VENGEANCE…

Liam Devaliant, Lord Lockwood, was born into a charmed life. Charismatic, powerful, and wild, he had the world at his feet—and one woman as his aim. His wedding to Anna was meant to be his greatest triumph. Instead, in a single moment, a wicked conspiracy robbed him of his future and freedom.

…BUT WILL HIS LONG-LOST COUNTESS PAY THE PRICE?

Four years later, Liam has returned from death with plans for revenge. Standing in his way, though, is his long-absent bride. Once, he adored Anna’s courage. Now it seems like a curse, for Anna refuses to fear or forget him. If she can’t win back Liam’s love, then she means at least to save his soul…no matter the cost.

Source: GoodReads

The wronged hero seeking revenge, is a very  common trope in romance.  Just off the topic of my head I can think of at least two other books I’ve read that shared this theme.  It’s a trope I like quite a bit.  I blame the 2002 version of The Count of Monte Cristo for that.   I have probably watched that movie way too much.  That aside though, I am always willing to read a book that has this trope.

However, to be blunt about it a lot of them are kind of (okay, really) bad.

The Sins of Lord Lockwood though wasn’t halfway bad.  I mean, there were parts that I got annoyed with the book but as far as this trope goes it actually handled itself pretty well.  The hero didn’t go in full blown jerk mode like many heroes do after they’ve been wrongfully imprisoned and then make erroneous claims about what their wife/significant other had been up to while they were away .  Still though, it didn’t quite get into perfect territory for me.

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I think one of the things that annoyed me about The Sins of Lord Lockwood were the flashbacks.  On one hand, I do appreciate them.  On the other hand they felt out of place and I was so engaged in the present storyline I really didn’t care to read them.  It probably would’ve been better-for the story-if they had just been inserted prior to the present events.

I also had some issues with how Lockwood escaped and really the entire plot against him.  I felt like a lot of things were slopped over.  Again, the bones for a good story were there and I enjoyed it, but I was left with a lot of questions.

From looking at other reviews for the book, apparently a lot of the meat of the plot is in Duke of the Shadows which I have ordered in part because I am curious to have some of these questions resolved.  So, I guess as many holes in the plot as there are, at least Duran holds my interest…

The leads both were decently formed.  You can clearly see that Liam was altered and shaken up by his ordeal.  I will say that as illy placed as the flashbacks were, they did a good job showing Before Liam to the audience.  And I will also give Liam points for not being a total jerk like some heroes who suffer a similar ordeal (cough, Jordan from Some Kind of Wonderful, cough).

As for Anna, I liked her.  Honestly, she did seem a little forgettable to me.  But I liked that Duran had created a character that was fairly independent for the time period.  I wish that her interest in the sciences was dabbled into further.

Really, the biggest complaint I have with this book is that there were a lot of things about the plot that I wanted developed more.  I guess as far as complaints go that’s a lot better than hating the characters or finding the plot outright stupid, but still it leaves me a little disappointed.

If you’re a fan of this trope, you probably will want to pick this one out.  It does a fairly decent job with the plot line and I did learn a couple of things about the penal colonies in Australia during the period.  However, it wasn’t fully a wow read for me.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

Double Feature: Letters To the Lost And More Than We Tell by Brigid Kemmer

I’ve been a bad blogger lately.  Though to be fair work has been extra cray cray.  And last weekend cooking dinner for the week took longer than I’d like-I usually do one pot dinners, but I had the bright idea to make six sides last week in addition to my two meats and dessert for the week.  Needless to say, I hated myself by the time I finished my last dish ( a leek salad) and told myself that cooking this week would be a lot simpler-probably helps that I’m going out of town but I still  kimchi soup and a cucumber salad, as well as marinated some vegetables for some Korean brisket tacos (I made the meat a few weeks ago and the brisket was fantastic).  Regardless, I did make plans to write up some reviews though.

I read Letters to the Lost and More Than We Tell in the span of one weekend, pretty much back to back. Overall, I liked the series.  Though I really don’t know if it would classify so much as a series.  It’s true it did fall into many of the cliches that angsty teen novels fall into.  But I felt they overall were decently crafted.  And while you didn’t have to read Letters to the Lost to understand More Than We Tell, it certainly added to the reading experience.

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Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

Source: GoodReads

I was skeptical about reading Letters to the Lost, in part because the premises sounds so depressing.  And to some extent, I guess it is.  I mean, the book does deal with death and grief and that in general is depressing.  There’s no way around it.  But at the same time there were light hearted moments to the book as well.

I think the best way to summarize this book is like if You’ve Got Mail got hit by a big stick of morbid.

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You’ve Got Mail retellings are really popular in YA and a part of me wonders why.  Yes, I get the romantic side of having this weird attraction to this mystery person that you’re sending letters to but at the same time there is a creepiness about it.  And I really felt that creepiness with Juliet and Declan’s relationship especially when one party realized who the other party was and their handling of the situation.

Honestly, I liked neither lead.  Declan has anger management issues and quite honestly I could see him easily becoming abusive.  Grant it, when he and Juliet are together he’s not abusive towards her.  But he was verbally abusive towards her previously and was not above manipulating her.  I did not like him.  However, I will give Keemerer credit for making him realistic.

I thought the backstory was well done and it explained the motivations for this character.  Did I like him? No.  But I understood at least where he was coming from.  And to be fair I liked him more than Juliet.

Oh, Juliet

I think that name is cursed.  I can’t remember one book or show I’ve seen where a character named Juliet wasn’t a total goody goody asswhipe or a bitch.

This one goes more into self absorbed bitch than goody goody mode.  But still.  Throughout the book, Juliet is extremely depressed-which again understand the character’s actions BUT at the same time, I thought she was on the self pity train a bit too much.  I kept waiting for an adult in the book to force her into counseling.

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Of course that didn’t happen though. Should I be surprised..no this is YA.  Rather, than having the MC see an actual counsel we just have the school counselor shame her for grieving.

Ugh.

Still though, character faults and  lack of counseling aside, I enjoyed this book.  While it was pretty formulaic I thought the story did explore grief an death in a respectful enough way.  Again though, I just really didn’t care for the characters.  However, I did feel like for the most parts their behavior was understandable which is better than a lot of YA books out there.

Overall Rating: A B+

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Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.

Source: GoodReads

I liked More Than We Can Tell a bit better than Letters to the Lost.  The story at least wasn’t as morbid.  I mean, I’m sorry I still can’t get over the slight morbidness of a meet cute by a tombstone.  Anyway….like its predecessor More Than We Can Tell discuses some heavy issues while having decent characters.  Though, again I do not care for the heroine.  I don’t know if it’s just a Kemmerer thing but her female leads are blah.

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Emma has a bit of too stupid to live going on with her and she is ridiculously judgmental.  I get it, it is YA.  She is a teenager, but as savvy as she made herself out to be throughout the book, you’d think she’d have just a smidgen more of common sense.  She’s also completely absorbed and says some hurtful things to her bestie, her mother, and Rev.  Honestly, I wanted her to get smacked down a little bit more than she actually did.

I enjoyed Rev a lot more than I liked Declan.  And I was glad that he actually had competent adults to confide in.  his parents were great.  It was actually quite refreshing to read about parents like Rev’s in YA.

I thought that Kemmerer did a pretty good job with dealing with Rev’s past.  I would’ve much rather dealt with a book in his viewpoint than Emma’s.

Emma’s plotline is relatable enough.  Any woman or girl whose been on the internet has more than likely been harassed by some sort of troll.  God knows, I have dealt with enough on my review of What Happened, but Kemmerer veers the plot into Lifetime territory.  While I get that events like what happened int he climax of the book happen in real life, but what happened to Emma was a more dramatic version of events of what usually happens to someone who gets caught up in this situation.

It’s odd, I enjoyed More Than We Can Tell, but I really did not view it as a romance.  I read it as almost two separate stories about the characters.  Unlike Letters to the Lost which romance was a primary element to the story, the romance in More Than We Can Tell was secondary.  The characters really didn’t interact that much, and quite honestly I almost could’ve done without it.

Not that it was bad, BUTit really almost was out of place in this book.

That aside, I did enjoy More Than We Can Tell more than Letters to the Lost, while one of the subplots might’ve  gone in a Lifetime-ish fashion.  I think that overall, the sequel was better.

Overall Rating: A B+ close to an A- but no dice.