Stereotypical Contemporary Melodrama: After the Game by Abi Glines

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To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…

Source: GoodReads

I feel like there’s a sub category of YA contemporary that should be called YA melodrama.   Usually, these are books that are guilty pleasures like Katy McGarry or Miranda Kennealy.  Pretty much most of the plots in said books involve having a dual point of view with two teens who have problems that are usually only seen on daytime soap operas and they are only able to get through these issues through the power of love.

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Yes, the plot can vary from book to book, but this is pretty much the standard fare for these sorts of books.  They’re enjoyable but they’re formulaic and there are a lot of them out there.  And I’ll admit it, on a rare occasion I crave these sorts of books.

They’re like bad fast food.  You know it’s not going to be the best meal ever (in taste or in health purposes), but for those few minutes you’re eating it, it is enjoyable.

Abi Glines Field Party series was advertised at my local book store.  Where I live is a pretty big football town (full disclosure, I don’t know shit about football) and they were advertising the series as a deal.  I was interested in a gushy melodramatic romance so I purchased the lot of them.

Originally, I was planning on doing a back to back reading binge.  But after the first book, I was like I need a break from this shit.

It wasn’t God awful-or least God awful in terms of the books that I read-but it was bad.  First of all, I don’t feel like Glines did her research on selective mutism or hospice care.  I don’t know how anyone would NOT know that West’s father had cancer.  If he was as big of a deal as he was made out to be, surely someone would notice.  Or at the very least if he was working a job, you’d think that his boss and fellow employees would notice when he went to get chemo or whatever.

What bothered me more than the handling of West’s disease was Maggie’s selective mutism.  It was merely there to present Maggie and West with an obstacle.  She’s able to talk again with no therapy and other than a quick info dump about what happened to her mom, we never really see how her death impacted Maggie.

I also did care one bit about the ship.

The first interaction between these two characters involves West forcing himself on Maggie.  It’s just gross.  And you might be saying, it was just a kiss, MJ.

It might’ve been just a kiss, but he still kissed her without her fucking consent, thinking she was mute and thinking she didn’t want to be kissed.  It was fucking messed up, sick daddy or not.  And it sort of made the relationship gross before it even beyond.

It probably also didn’t help the ship that West was extremely possessive and creepy throughout the entire damn book too.

I get it, possessive boyfriends in YA are an unfortunate main stay, but it really annoyed me how nonchalant West’s actions were.  And yeah, there is a part of the book where Maggie tells him off for being a stalker, but it’s only for like five pages.

I think what really bothered me about the handling of all of this, was Maggie’s background.   Her backstory had a lot of domestic violence involved, to the point where you would think that West’s actions would alarm her more than they did.

But it’s never really mentioned, or comparisons are never really made.  Instead, West apologizes and they go on with things together even though you know they’ll inevitably blow up again and…

Yeah, I’m cynical about this sort of stuff.  I’ve also seen it too much in real life, so that’s probably why I hated West/Maggie.  And to be fair, I have seen way, way, worse ships in YA.

The sad thing is, I didn’t hate this though.  I have read way worst things in YA and as far as rage inducing books go, it only caused my eye to twitch just a little.  It should’ve made me a lot more angrier than I was, but at the end of it I was apathetic and just sort of shrugged.  I just decided not to do a binge read because I think the twitch could develop into something a lot more dangerous for my sanity.

Anyway, if you can get by with the shitty relationship (which is debatable) this book isn’t outright terrible wast of time, but if you have something better on your shelf read that first.

Overall Rating: A C.

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To Summarize Misogyny, Emails, Russia, and Morons: What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

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“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net. Now I’m letting my guard down.” —Hillary Rodham Clinton, from the introduction of What Happened

For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.

In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterward. With humor and candor, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet—the rituals, relationships, and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. She speaks about the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age, and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.

She lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a foreign adversary. By analyzing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future.

The election of 2016 was unprecedented and historic. What Happened is the story of that campaign and its aftermath—both a deeply intimate account and a cautionary tale for the nation.

Source: GoodReads

Disclaimer: I voted for Hillary Clinton in both of her presidential campaigns, and I’d vote for her again in a damn heart beat.  So, yeah…obviously, this is not going to bash her.  And before you mansplain that I didn’t do my research on her, I’ll have you know that I did PLENTY.  I just, you know, didn’t get my news from Info Wars or Facebook.

Oh, also if you decide to troll on this review your comment is never going to get to see the light of daylight (or if you post junk on my GoodReads review of this you’ll her blocked and deleted).  And don’t think you’re going to get a rise out of me, I’ll just be laughing as I block and delete because it makes it easier to know who to avoid.

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Okay, that aside.  I will say right away that I’ve always considered HRC to be a role model.     A lot of the choices I have made in my career have been influenced by her, and I try to live up by the motto that she refers a lot to in this book, “Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can.”  The quotes actually a product of Hillary’s Methodist and I’m Catholic but it has really influenced a lot of my decisions.  And Hillary Clinton has made the path forward a little bit easier for professional women going forward, and she needs to be given praise for that.

 

The book (obviously) deals with her run for president.  It was an enthralling read.  A bit bittersweet, melancholy, and desperately needed.  When I finished reading it, I did feel like the country would eventually be okay.  Though, now as I write this review watching the latest Trump-catastrophes that are airing on MSNBC that feeling is quickly disintegrating.  I think what I liked best about this book was how relatable I found Hillary in the pages.

Hillary Clinton relatable?  I know a lot of people are laughing at that.  And I’ll probably get some flak for that remark, but as a professional woman reading about Hillary’s own struggles with misogyny I found myself nodding my head throughout the pages.  It’s amazing that the struggles she faced at the beginning of her career are similar to struggles that I’ve experienced in my own.    One of the many reasons, why she will always be a feminist icon.

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The tone of the book has almost a blunt quality about it.  And I loved it.  She doesn’t waffle around subjects.  She depicts the election for what it was.  She takes blame for her own mistakes (think the comment on coal miners) but also states the very obvious that there were a lot of outside factors that contribute to her loss and the idiot we now have as president.  Honestly, her tone reminds me a lot of my sister which is bonus points for her.  It’s also interesting to note, that a lot of people don’t like my sister because she’s direct…funny, how being direct is considered a plus when you have a penis and not a vagina.

There is also an intimate quality to the book.  Hillary talks about her personal life: Bill, Chelsea, the grandkids,  her friends,  even the dogs.  We also learn what she likes to eat for breakfast and what’s on her DVR (though, if you read any of those stupid emails you’d know she watched The Good Wife, so it’s not really that big of a spoiler, but apparently Bill likes NCIS: LA).  It also dives into some of the darker emotions that she experienced after the election, and the hope she has for the future.  You also see her disdain for how the coverage was handled during the election and how Matt Laurer was pretty much an idiot (Hillary, girl, I agree).

As much as this book is about Hillary and about the fallout of the disastrous election in 2016, the book also touches on policy.  Policy, oh lord, how I missed you.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned this to you guys, but I minored in political science during college, and that in part made watching the whole mess of an election really hard for me.  Even during the primaries it seemed policy was overlooked (and yes, even the democratic primary).

Sure, St. Bernard promised the moon but he never explained how we were going to get there.  Hillary clearly had a plan of how she wanted to enact policies, and how she thought we could feasibly get there.  Her website was filled with them, and I always annoyed me how a certain idiotic morning news host with bad hair that used to be B.F.F.’s with Donald Trump until he insulted his fiancee said she had no message.  Because her website was nothing but message after message.

But hey, ration was thrown away in this election.  Especially the general election.  In the later part of the book, there are sections of this book that almost feel like they’re written as an indictment against Russia, Wikileaks, the media and in part to Comey  for what they did to unravel the momentum that she had.  And it’s a damn it’s a beautiful written thing.  Hate her all you want, but if it wasn’t for Comey’s interference the media would’ve been talking about that damn bus and it’s more likely than not that pervert wouldn’t be turning the White House not the Golden Showers House (God, I feel for whoever will be POTUS next, they’ll have to fumigate the place).

Yeah, crude.  But I really don’t care.  Again, this is my review and I’m just sick of having to be the adult while all the Trump, the Russian bots,  trolls, Bernie supporters, etc. can act like the idiots they are.

Okay…back to the book. I think my overall thought when I closed this one is how much I missed Hillary and what could’ve been.  Even if she never runs for office again, I hope her voice continues to resonate.  It also makes me more energetic to keep on resisting, to fight the good fight.

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Overall Rating: An A.  I enjoyed it and it was needed.  An articulate summation of what went wrong by the woman who should be president of the United States.

 

If That’s the Case then I REALLY Regret Today’s Reading Choice: If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L Armentrout

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Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be epic—one of opportunities and chances.

Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.

Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian might never forgive her for what happened.

For what she let happen.

With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when her and her friends’ entire existences have been redefined? How can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?

Source: GoodReads

If you’ve looked at the contents of this blog lately, you’ll know except for rereads I have been on a bit of a dry spell.  When trying to chose a book to read this weekend, I wanted something that I could sort of guarantee to myself that I’d enjoy, so I picked up Jennifer L Armentrout’s latest release.  With Armentrout, I might not get a great read but I usually will get something that I enjoy.  However, I really did not like If There’s No Tomorrow, in fact I would say I outright hated it.

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To be fair though, I went back and forth at first of whether or not to give it one or two stars on GoodReads.  Ultimately, I decided one star because I didn’t like it AT ALL..

The book focuses on the making one bad choice, but honestly I feel like the MC really didn’t make a bad choice so much as was just stupid.  It wasn’t like she could stop the events that happened from happening, and there really wasn’t much she could do.

But God knows, the sanctimonious characters in this book constantly blame the character for not stopping the drunk douche who drove the car in the tree from driving.  Literally, like after she woke up.  And for that matter they equated her not being able to grab the keys, not having enough common ass sense to get into the car with drunk people, to grown ass grownups providing their teen and his friends with alcohol…I have no fucking words.

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So yeah, pretty much this book is about the MC having a guilt trip for the duration of the book.  It’s not very good.

It reminded me a lot of a preachy PSA-a bad preachy PSA.  Look, I don’t think you have to be too smart to realize that drinking and driving is wrong AND that the idiotic MC should’ve been smart enough not to go in that car.  But to be fair, the MC had drank a beer  which could’ve affected her judgment(which, leads me to another diatribe how one or two drinks is completely brushed off even though the MC is freaking underage).   But for real, this book reminded me of that one episode of Full House (yes, I admit that at one point in my life I did watch that show) where Stephanie and Gia were going to ride with the guys who were on something-but it being Full House they just said they were just drunk-and DJ threw this hissy fit that kept Stephanie from getting in the car, but Gia of course got in and there was a wreck-but she didn’t die because it was Full House and only the un-named dead mother died and….

You get where I’m going here with this.

It’s cheesy.  It’s is preachy.  And to add crap on to this book, there is some ass kissing to some of Armentrout’s friends by referencing their YA books in her story.

It was sort of cute and original in the Lux series where the character had a blog and pandering wasn’t done by every YA authors in the world.  But on this one the pandering is so laughable its not even funny.  If you look at anyone who blurbed this book, their book is pretty much referenced in said book.

Not lying about that.

And when I see the ACOTR referenced  multiple times especially now after the third book  I cringe.

It’s not that I don’t think characters who love to read should be featured, but when it clearly plays no part of the story-like in this case-it just makes me roll my eyes.  All I have to say is at least she’s not a Booktuber.

Anyways, the romance that is heavily featured in the blurb was kind of pointless.  Yes, Sebastian and Lena do have some decent moments BUT I didn’t really even care about them since the book was mostly focused on guilt.

And yes, Sebastian played a huge role in why Lena got in that car, BUT all of their melodrama was really pointless.

I’ll be blunt about it, I read Armentrout for the cheese in the relationships that she creates.  The cheese was here, but the darkness and preachiness of the story made it too much for me to enjoy the book.

Funny, I didn’t have problems with Armentrout’s other books that had darker themes- The Problem With Forever and Don’t Look Back-but this book.

Blargh.

Overall Rating: For me it was a total fail.  I think objectively I’d give it a D, I finished it and there are (unfortunately) worse things out there in YA land.

Reread: Maggie Quinn Girl Vs Evil by Rosemary Clement-Moore

I always like to reread a couple of series throughout the year.  It’s a good way to recoup from a series of bad books which I sort of had in August.  Also, since August has been hectic in terms of work (got a shit load of a transferred coworker’s cases) it helps to read something that you’re familiar with and boy do I know Maggie Quinn.

I actually bought the first book way back when it came out in 2007 and it made me an instant fan of Rosemary Clement-Moore.  I even had the pleasure of meeting her a few years back when Texas Gothic came out (I’m even inserting the bad photo where I am doing my full Tony Blair-fake smile, because I cannot  smile on cue).

Spirit and Dust: Rosemary Clement-Moore

See super awkward photo, I just tend to look extremely stiff in these photos.  At least my rabbit dress was sort of cute though.

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Maggie Quinn, girl reporter. Honors student, newspaper staffer, yearbook photographer. Six weeks from graduation and all she wants to do is get out of Avalon High in one piece. A sensible nerd would have kept her head down, done her drive-by photo shoot of the prom, and continued the countdown to Diploma Day. But fate seems to have different plans for Maggie.High school may be a natural breeding ground for evil, but the scent of fire and brimstone is still a little out of the ordinary. It’s the distinct smell of sulfur that makes Maggie suspect that something’s a bit off. And when real Twilight Zone stuff starts happening to the school’s ruling clique—the athletic elite and the head cheerleader and her minions, all of whom happen to be named Jessica—Maggie realizes it’s up to her to get in touch with her inner Nancy Drew and ferret out who unleashed the ancient evil before all hell breaks loose.Maggie has always suspected that prom is the work of the devil, but it looks like her attendance will be mandatory. Sometimes a girl’s got to do some pretty undesirable things if she wants to save her town from soul-crushing demons from hell. And the cheerleading squad.

Source: GoodReads

This is such a fun book.  Even ten years later.  It wasn’t as great as I remembered it though.  There were definitely parts of the book that dragged, but I still think out of all the books in the series it was probably the best.

Which I guess is sort of downer since there are two other books, but to be fair those books aren’t bad.  This one just is the best one out of the bunch.

I think what I like the best about it is Maggie’s sass.  It’s in the other books to some degree too, but here, I felt like the character was in her element the most.  Plus, I felt like the side characters were the most developed here than in other books.

D&D Lisa was and probably will be my favorite character in this series.  I had always hoped she’d get a spinoff of her own or would crossover into the Goodnight series, she’s just that great.  She actually did have quite a bit of a story arc too as a supporting character here.  Though, upon reread this book is much more predictable than it was when I first read it.

Also, I really wish that more time would’ve been spent on the fallout to what happened to Lisa.  It’s really never mentioned again after this book, and she is the MC’s B.F.F. you’d think they talk about THAT a little more.  Regardless, it presented an opportunity to develop the character further and I sort of think Clement-Moore missed it.

The book also seemed a lot less exciting second time around.

There were still some scenes that got my heart pumping, but it wasn’t as much of the roller coaster that I remember it being.  And the Brian character really was completely useless.  I didn’t know his whole purpose.

Overall though, I’d say that Prom Dates From Hell  was one of the better YA paranormal books in its era. Even with its flaws, it was still a good revisit and I think it still holds up fairly well today.

Overall Rating: A B+

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MAGGIE QUINN IS determined to make her mark as a journalist. The only problem? The Ranger Report does not take freshmen on staff.

Rules are rules. But when has that ever stopped Maggie?

After facing hellfire, infiltrating sorority rush should be easy. It’s no Woodward and Bernstein, but going undercover as the Phantom Pledge will allow her to write her exposé. Then she can make a stealth exit before initiation. But when she finds a group of girls who are after way more than “sisterhood,” all her instincts say there’s something rotten on Greek Row. And when Hell Week rolls around, there may be no turning back.

If there is such a thing as a sorority from hell, you can bet that Maggie Quinn will be the one to stumble into it.

Source: GoodReads

Talk about sophomore slump, this book is the definition of it.  To be fair though, it’s not terrible.  I have read way worst, but it could’ve been a lot better than it was.

I think the thing that bothered me the most about this particular installment was how isolated the book felt.

And I think part of that was intentional, after all, a large part of the book dealt with Maggie becoming isolated from pretty much everyone in her life and it sucked big time since part of the reason that I at least returned to the series was the characters.

Here, Maggie’s relationship with all the returning cast seems stunted. .  Sure, we’re introduced to new characters.  But honestly, the new characters in this particular installment (and the next, for that matter) I really don’t care about and I think that’s what makes both of these sequels weak.

Again, I think the introduction of these characters is intentional.  The books are supposed to have a Nancy Drew-ish vibe to them, and for anyone who has read Nancy Drew you probably know that in each book there’s essentially  a new cast.  I think, what falls flat for me, is I wanted to see all the great characters from the book before grow a little.

But they don’t.

The book takes on a theme that very early pre NA books took on-sorities.

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I don’t know why mid 2000’s book thought that every college centered book had to include a sorority but they did.  As far as sorority themed books go, it wasn’t bad but…I’m just not a sorority person.

Or really a fan of this book really.  I didn’t even like Maggie in it. At least  till the end until she got a clue.  But again, everything comes together a little fast here.  Characters easily forgive Maggie for her actions.  Everything is summed up very quick and fast, with no explanation about how the curse was put into the place in the first place.

Overall, it just wasn’t my favorite book.

Rating: A C+ not terrible but it is lacking something.

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Maggie Quinn was expecting to find plenty of trouble with Lisa over Spring Break. Give a girl a bikini, a beachfront hotel, and an absent boyfriend, and it’s as good as a road map to the dark side. But Maggie doesn’t have to go looking for trouble. Trouble has started looking for her. One dead cow and a punctured gas tank later, she and Lisa are stuck in
Dulcina, Texas—a town so small that it has an owner. And lately life in this small town hasn’t been all that peaceful. An eerie predator is stalking the ranchland.

Everyone in town has a theory, but not even Maggie’s psychic mojo can provide any answers. And the longer the girls are stranded, the more obvious it becomes that something is seriously wrong. Only no one—not even Maggie’s closest ally—wants to admit that they could have been forced on a detour down the highway to hell.

Source: GoodReads

By all accounts, this book should be my favorite because it looks very Lisa centric and Lisa is by far my favorite character in this book.  Only thing is it’s not Lisa centric in hindsight.

God, the pacing is extremely off in this one.

I mean, rereading this series wasn’t exactly a horrible experience BUT it was easier to see the problems in this series and in this installment pacing is an extreme issue.

Don’t get me wrong there are some parts I like.  I did like Maggie’s friendship with Lisa, and I did like her interactions with Justin. But the whole chupacabra thing was never really explained and sort of…well, sort of fell flat.  Most like the relationship between Lisa and Zeke.

I just felt like as far as characters went, the Zeke character was poorly sketched.  He was very archetypical at best and so are the rest of these characters.

Again, I get what Clement-Moore is trying to do, she’s going for a Nancy Drew vibe BUT again I didn’t feel these characters.  In the first book, I felt like the side characters were vibrant enough.  You had the stereotypical popular jerks, but you also had Maggie’s science teacher who was interesting, and some of her classmates actually had personalities that differed from being a complete stereotypical.  With the supplement books though…yeah.  I mean, here we have cowboys.  And they’re…well, cowboys.

Overall Rating: A B- I liked the third book better than the second, but it still wasn’t great.

Overall, this reread was kind of meh.  It took three weeks (which is a long time for me to read-grant it, my work load has gotten worse BUT I still took my time with reading these).  While I enjoyed the first one, the second and third installments weren’t as rosy as I remember.

So yeah, there were some nostalgia goggles here.

Still though, there are some great things about this series and as far as mid 2000’s paranormal books go it sticks out as one of the better series.  However, I still think Clement-Moore’s Texas Gothic is probably her best books so far.

So, should you check out the Maggie Quinn Girl Vs Evil Series (what a mouthful) yes, but upon reread there are some reservations.  Still though, it is a fun series.

Banal: Lucky in Love by Kasie West

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Can’t buy me love…

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment—

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun…until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

Source: GoodReads

If I ever win the lottery, I am going to start my own publishing company.  This will, of course, be after I pay off my student loans, buy a decent house somewhere that is away from annoying neighbors,  and get myself a Moluccan cockatoo, but details.  The publishing company is totally in the works.  It will be called We Don’t Publish Shitty Books and this book won’t be invited ’cause it sucked.

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Cockatoo and cat gif because I can.

Okay,honestly, Lucky in Love didn’t completely suck but it was utterly predictable and the chemistry between the characters wasn’t even that palatable.  In other words, it completely felt like Kasie West was phoning this one in.  Which is sad, because Kasie West can write some good books.  Some really good books, this just wasn’t one of them.

The set up for this one was cute enough.  Girl wins the lottery and doesn’t tell the guy she’s interested that she won.  But an interesting premises can only go so far, and here it’s only that an interesting set up.

All the characters are poorly sketched and are stereotypical at best.  The main character (whose name I’m already forgetting) has stereotypical parents who always fight.  A stereotypical brother with gambling problems.  Two friends one who stereotypically betrays her.  A love interest who is stereotypically as flat as the paper he is written on and whose only true purpose is to be this big prize that our heroine gets at the end of the novel.

By that paragraph alone, you should see why this book will not be getting published from We Don’t Publish Shitty Books.

As banal as the characters are the plot is even more to the point.  Like I said, it totally seems like West wrote this on autopilot.  Nothing out of the extraordinary happens here. Just that What’s Her Face makes some dumb purchases and trust some people who use her.

I mean, hasn’t anyone seen any news special on lotto winners?  Like I knew when she went for the lump sum that she had made a big mistake.  And also, those parents completely didn’t even try to help her deal with the fact that she was a millionaire overnight.

What losers.

At the very least, I would’ve told my kid to talk to an accountant and get a good lawyer to read over “business contracts” that long lost relatives sent me.

Again, a lot of this is common sense.

Also, if UCLA turns down an acceptance because you spent money to rent a lot, I’m surprised that Stanford wouldn’t deny acceptance either.  But you know, plot point.

Anyway, I really do not recommend this book.  It’s blah at best.  Not specifically annoying, but not memorable by any means.  If you are going to read it, I suggest borrowing it at the library not buying it.  It’s just not worth it.

Overall Rating: A C.  It’s half ass and it shows.

Because Time Travel, I Guess: No Good Deed by Kara Connoly

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Fans of Dorothy Must Die will love this reimagining of the legend of Robin Hood. Girl power rules supreme when a modern girl finds herself in the middle of a medieval mess with only her smart mouth and her Olympic-archer aim to get her home.

Ellie Hudson is the front-runner on the road to gold for the U.S. Olympic archery team. All she has to do is qualify at the trials in jolly old England. When Ellie makes some kind of crazy wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle—yes, that Nottingham—she ends up in medieval England.

Ellie doesn’t care how she got to the Middle Ages; she just wants to go home before she gets the plague. But people are suffering in Nottingham, and Ellie has the skills to make it better. What’s an ace archer to do while she’s stuck in Sherwood Forest but make like Robin Hood?

Pulled into a past life as an outlaw, Ellie feels her present fading away next to daring do-gooding and a devilishly handsome knight. Only, Ellie is on the brink of rewriting history, and when she picks up her bow and arrow, her next shot could save her past—or doom civilization’s future.

Source: GoodReads

I picked up this book, despite its hideous cover because the author has written some of my favorite books (under a different name-Rosemary Clement Moore).  I didn’t particularly like No Good Deed though.  While there were occasional glimpses of the wit that I loved in the author’s other novels,  it was overall a very meh book for me.

It probably didn’t help that I kept comparing it to all of those medieval Disney movies of the week that aired back in the 90’s.

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Seriously, what was it?  Did Disney like get a good idea on sets and medieval themed costumes?

Regardless, you can’t deny that they tried to style the MC to look like Kiera Knightly on Princess of Thieves.   Which actually came out in 2001, not the late 90’s but whatever.  It’s odd that they decided to style the book as such since the Ellie in my head looked fairly androgynous.

After all, she’s mistaken for male  for a good chunk of the novel without even trying to hide her gender at the beginning of the book-she’s wearing a sweater and relatively form fitting  jeans.  The chick whose posing on the cover, wouldn’t be mistaken as a guy.  And it is mentioned that Ellie has enough of a chest to later have to masker a makeshift sports bra so…maybe they thought her version of Robin Hood had moobs?

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But digressing…

But seriously, I think it’s one of the worst covers I’ve seen this year.

But this book isn’t about dissecting book covers (well, most of the time).  It’s about talking about the contents of the book and I’m afraid there’s not much to say.  At the beginning of the story, there seemed to be some interesting storylines-Ellie clearly had issues with her father, her brother was missing, and she somehow travels in time.

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Seriously, the time travel itself is never explained it just randomly happens.  ’cause you know, time travel just randomly happens.

I honestly, even wondered why she traveled in time because she kept saying how she wasn’t going to change history.

Trope Rant Time: Why the fuck have a time travel book, if you’re not going to change history.  I’m sorry, I know that some good time traveling adventures where they avoid changing the past (Back to the Future) BUT it just seems like it’s become an unnecessary cliche.

I mean seriously, you traveled through time.  You’re going to change history just by freaking being there.    Besides, how do you know that the history you live in is the right one.  Like, for instance, if I could go back in time before say the election from hell of last year I would be changing history you can bet you ass so that we wouldn’t have the Russian-phile  orange doofus in office and the US wouldn’t currently be the laughing stock of the world right now.

I digress though…it’s just one of those annoying trope that I’ll never get used to. And in this book, when the character is like, “I can’t change history.”

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I’m like, well, you are by pretending to be freaking Robin Hood, dearie.  I mean, think about it.

Anyway, I’ll never get used to that trope especially since the whole point in freaking time travel is to fuck things about.  But I seriously, don’t think much was changed.  Pretty much the only thing that was changed was the character’s clothes at the end.

I wouldn’t say the book was a complete loss though, not if you liked history.  There was some nice use of historical detail here and there.  I can tell that Connolly researched the novel.  But that’s not really that much of a surprise concerning her other books.  However, and I can’t stress this enough, if you are going to write a book about medieval England be aware that they did not speak modern English.

Modern English did not exist until Shakespeare’s day.  While Connolly acknowledges that it’s difficult for the characters to understand Ellie (but ultimately they do end up understanding her) it should be next for impossible for them to understand her.  Don’t believe me, take a semester of early Brit Lit and then we’ll talk.

After reading Chaucer and all that shit (which by the way was written about a hundred and fifty or so years after this book took place give or take a few decades) I can tell you that I’d have a hard time speaking that shit even then.

What bothered me more though was the  the lack of characterization.

It was just pathetic.  I could care less about these characters as the book progressed.  There’s one guy that I sort of think was suppose to be a love interest, but things never really developed that far and at the end we just sort of have the future look alike trope which I absolutely despise.

Trope Rant: Just because there’s a guy in the future that looks eerily similar to a past love interest does NOT mean that they are the same person.  Ever heard of identical twins, authors.  Thought so, considering everyone and their mother uses the evil twin trope.  But I guess a thousand years of time travel doesn’t mean that genetics randomly made a person look alike a long ago dead relative. No, it means they must share the same soul especially if they share the same name…

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And honestly, this trope wouldn’t have bothered me as much if there was an actual relationship.  But there wasn’t a relationship.  There was just a hint of one, and it was so small you had to literally do a squint bend and snap to see it.  In this case, I feel like it would’ve been better for the novel to go sans romance all together.

The other characters were merely there to serve a purpose to the plot.  I hate to say this, but when I read this book, I actually was thinking that Scarlet did a better job at telling the Robin Hood story, and we all know I had issues with that series.  But no, this book made me want to pick up that series again just because you know even though the characterization sucked, the characters actually served more than means to an end.

Really, the only character who had any development at all was Queen Eleanor (and FYI, YA authors I wouldn’t mind a retelling of a young Eleanor story she is bad ass on multiple levels even though her kids and husband ended up kind of sucking).

It pains me to say that I can’t recommend this one.  I love the author’s other books (in fact, I am tempted to do a reread of some of her stuff soon), but this book doesn’t work for me.   Had it spent more time developing the characters actually explaining why the character went back in time and exploring her life with the characters a bit more, I might’ve cared for it more.  As it stood though, it could’ve very easily been the blah Disney movie of the week.

Overall Review: A C.  It’s not horrible, per say, but I hardly recommend it.  At best it is average.

I’m Too Old For This: Royal Crush by Meg Cabot

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Being the newest princess of Genovia is WAY more complicated than she expected, but Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison is getting used to it. She gets to live in an actual palace with two fabulous poodles, a pet iguana, her very own pony, and, best of all, a loving family to help her figure things out!

And right now Olivia, having finally admitted that she likes Prince Khalil as more than just a friend, could REALLY use some advice. What is a princess supposed to do once she’s found a prince she likes? With her half-sister Mia busy enjoying her honeymoon, Olivia turns to Grandmere for help.

The third book in the middle-grade Princess Diaries spin-off series, written and illustrated by New York Times-bestselling author Meg Cabot.

Source: GoodReads

The good news: I got through this book maybe within two hours.

The bad news: I am way too old for this book, and I honestly don’t know if I’m going to continue reading this series now that Mia’s babies are born and I still haven’t gotten any Michael face after three installments. Meg is really going to have to do something to hold my interest but I doubt it will be held.

So yeah, I really didn’t care too much for Royal Crush.  It wasn’t that it was a bad book, but I am clearly way over its age group AND I couldn’t help but think throughout reading this book, these characters are only one year younger than Mia and Co in Book 1, but they might as well have been about ten years younger.

And yeah, thinking that they were only a year younger and that Michael was technically 18 at the start of the original series kind of gave me “Ew” thoughts about Michael and Mia because the age difference really was pretty big.

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Though you couldn’t tell it with the original series (as much).  Even though Mia was a grossly immature 14 year old in the first few books she was a lot mature than Olivia was about a lot of things (she certainly knew about a lot of things that Olivia seems naive about).  I think in part, it’s because the book is a middle grade series so the tone is going to be different.  Like, in book one of the original series Lily and Mia’s conversation is a lot more mature than Olivia’s conversations with her friends.  But honestly, out of the two series  I think Olivia’s conversations are a bit more realistic.

Still though, I think I prefer Mia and the original series on a whole a lot better.  For one thing, Mia was a lot less of a Mary Sue than Olivia is.  There is something annoyingly perfect about Olivia that rubs me the wrong way.  It’s not that she’s a bad character, but at the same time…she’s just too perfect.

The plot of this one was also utterly predictable, save for Mia’s twins names.  Honestly, sort of hated the names that were chosen.  I know there was sentiment and all, but pretty much they were named after Mia’s parents dead significant others AND one of them Mia nor Michael never even met.

That being said, if I was about twenty years younger I think I would’ve enjoyed this more.  I wouldn’t have side eyed it near as much when I read about the stupid boarding school that seems to have just royalty in it and seems even more fake in this installment than the less.  I wouldn’t groan as much at how ridiculous Mary Sue like Olivia was either.  Or how I could predict almost every plot twist.  And seriously, the Genovia here is starting to become more and more like it was in that hideous Princess Diaries 2 movie (you know, the one where Disney’s version of JP gets with Mia when Michael dumps her to tour with his band).

Like I said, just not my age group.  The thing is the first (and to a degree, the second) of these books were enjoyable enough for me to continue reading despite not being in the age group, but not this one.  I think if anything, this book has me wanting a new Meg Cabot book written for adults or a new YA series.

Looking at her backlist, I noticed that it’s been years since a new YA title has been released (last one was Awaken) and while I adored her YA characters being aged up, and her newest Boy book last year, I want something new in the YA market from her.  So, so, much (seriously, Meg, we need your supreme fluff in the market)  Alas, when I checked to see if she had anything coming out soon I didn’t see anything listed which was sad.  And with some internet sleuthing based on her answers in some interviews, I don’t think a new YA is likely from her anytime soon (major, MAJOR, bummer).

Anyway, if you have younger kids who are too young to read about the hijinks of Norman the foot stalker, I’d recommend it.   It’s definitely lot more kid friendly than the original books were, yet there’s still that Meg Cabot-y quality about it that will real you again.

So yeah, not a bad book but for someone who is not in the targeted audience and grew up on the original I couldn’t help but make some cringe worthy comparisons.

Overall Rating: A B.

Audrey Hepburn Would Be Ashamed of You: Breakfast at Bloomingdale’s by Kristen Kemp

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What’s it take for a girl to make it in the big city? A sense of humor, a sense of self, and a desire to succeed in fashion. A stylish novel for teen PROJECT RUNWAY and DEVIL WEARS PRADA fans.

Kat’s come to New York City with a dream: to be a big fashion designer and to see her name on a label in Bloomingdale’s. Back in upstate New York, she imagined a city paved in Prada . . . but the reality isn’t quite so fashionable. Still, there are friends to be made, boys to be flirted with, and amazements to be found . . . sometimes when she least expects it. Even when her lame hick boyfriend from back home comes to the city to try to reclaim her, Kat knows she’s found her place . . . now all she has to do is have the place find her back.

Source: GoodReads

There was a period in time a few years ago where there was a mini trend of Audrey Hepburn centric YA books.  This book actually came out a few years before that trend and I had it, and thought…hmm, maybe it’s actually fairly good to have a mini trend inspired by it.

So after sitting on my shelf for almost ten years-yeah, it’s been that long-I decided to give it a whirl and read it.

I only got through about thirty pages in it.  It was that bad.   I almost didn’t even bother writing this brief DNF review over it, that’s how disgusted I was over it.  But since I haven’t had time much to read something that I I’d like to review in the past couple of weeks and this was the closest book I could think of writing a review for…well, it’s getting this brief “Why Audrey Hepburn Would Be Ashamed She’s On the Cover” type of review.

1)  Audrey would not approve of the main character’s nasty attitude:

Seriously, our narrator Junebug/Cat is a POS if there ever was one.  She’s rude and nasty to practically every one.  For example, she calls her mother a heifer (and yes, she’s not exactly a nice person but still HEIFER) and she pretty much gets in a cat fight with your stereotypical “Mean Girl” at her fucking grandmother’s funeral.

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2) Audrey would probably be disgusted that Breakfast at Tiffany’s (the film) is associated with being about Audrey rather than being, you know, a movie.

Yes, I know the movie was one of Audrey’s most iconic roles (though, personally give me SabrinaCharade, My Fair LadyFunny Face, or even Roman Holiday any day over Breakfast at Tiffany’s).  Yes, the fashion in that movie is fantastic, but there are some scenes (like anytime that Mickey Rooney appears) that I just grimace at.  PLUS, it’s completely different than the short story its based on and I think a lot of people forget that when they try to write one of these YA Audrey Hepburn centric books.  Did you know that Capote actually had Marilyn Monroe in mind for the role?

Yeah, probably not.  I get that it’s easy to blend the two things together because it was an iconic role for Audrey-probably because of that Givenchy dress-BUT the movie is NOT about Audrey.  And it seems in all these books pretty much the character is more or less Audrey’s version of Holly Golightly.

3) Audrey would be disgusted with  this character’s problems.

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Seriously, a “mean mother” and a small town full of assholes is nothing to growing up in WW2 Europe and being forced to eat tulip bulbs.  Just saying.

Had I spent more time reading this book, I probably could’ve added more reasons to the list.  It boils down to this though, the book suffers from many problems that late 2000’s Post Mean Girls YA books have.  The tropes are just noxious.  I don’t know why it’s necessary-even these days-to use the Mean Girl trope or for that matter the nasty mother trope.

People are complex.  We have are good days and our bad days. This book just depicts everyone at their worst.  One of the things I like best about Audrey Hepburn movies is that there is a hopeful optimism to them.  This book is devoid of that optimism.  It consists of a sullen, unlikeable character whose only resemblance to Hepburn’s character is Breakfast at Tiffany’s is she has a LBD and uses a fake name.

Overall Rating: DNF.

Stab Me In the Eye: Romancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney

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Scandal, secrets, and heartbreak abound in this juicy, modern girl-meets-prince story—perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Jennifer E. Smith. “Maybe sisters aren’t supposed to fall for the same guy, but who can mess with chemistry? A divine romantic comedy” (Brightly.com).

For the first time ever, the Weston sisters are at the same boarding school. After an administration scandal at Libby’s all-girls school threatens her chances at a top university, she decides to join Charlotte at posh and picturesque Sussex Park. Social-climbing Charlotte considers it her sisterly duty to bring Libby into her circle: Britain’s young elites, glamorous teens who vacation in Hong Kong and the South of France and are just as comfortable at a polo match as they are at a party.

It’s a social circle that just so happens to include handsome seventeen-year-old Prince Edward, heir to Britain’s throne.

If there are any rules of sisterhood, “Don’t fall for the same guy” should be one of them. But sometimes chemistry—even love—grows where you least expect it. In the end, there may be a price to pay for romancing the throne…and more than one path to happily ever after.

Source: GoodReads

Oh, boy.

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I knew going into this one, I probably wasn’t going to like it.  The reviews have been blah at best and most people I know (and trust) have hated this one and sad to say with good reason.  When I read the original premises to this book, I thought it was going to be the YA version of The Royal We but with more focus on the relationship between the two sisters in the book.

It’s not.

The Royal We is charming.  It doesn’t pretend what it isn’t.  For example, the main character is American probably in part because the writers of that book were American.  Here the protagonist in English, but doesn’t sound remotely English save for using the occasional “Mummy”.

Seriously.  There were so many Downton Abbey-see, I’m British! references here I ended up rolling my eyes way fucking too much.

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Look, you want to have a book set in the UK with a British character fine.  But do your research, I’m American and I could even tell that the author was Americanizing the shit out of these characters. That’s saying something.

Besides being what I call faux British, the book suffered from having a horrible lead whose main concern was about what outfit she was going to wear and being a prince’s girlfriend because he’s a prince.

Number one thing of having a plot dealing with a prince or a princess is that you have to make royalty approachable and relatable.  And God knows, you don’t make the main character attracted to the lead just because he’s royalty.

See, Josh Ritcher if you want to understand why this can never happen.

But apparently, Courtney  has never read The Princess Diaries-the grandaddy of all YA princess things.  Hell, even the bastardization that is the Disney version of said book even uses this principle.

But nope, this book pretty much features a social climber female version of Josh Ritcher as the lead.

Can you say ew?

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I can.

Ew.

What I really hated was how much this book enforced stereotypes.  Is it so wrong I want a girly girl main character to not be a villain like Charlotte so obviously is.  Or not shallow for that matter.

You can like pink and have a brain I know.

There’s a little movie called Legally Blonde that’s proof of that, just saying.

Anyway, I only made it through like 70 pages of this before I called it a day.  I’m telling you guys, this is the year I’m giving no fucks to DNFs.  If you suck, I’m just not going to try to force myself to read you.  It’s really a liberating feeling, BTW.

Years ago, I would’ve forced myself to finish this and I would’ve been miserable.  I have to say, I am really glad that I don’t force myself to read shit anymore.  And it makes me a happier person.

Overall Rating: DNF

Better Known as Privilege Teens Make Asses of Themselves in Europe: I see London and I See France by Sarah Mlynowski

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I see London, I see France
I see Sydney’s underpants.

Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.

In this hilarious and unforgettable adventure, New York Timesbestselling author Sarah Mlynowski tells the story of a girl learning to navigate secret romances, thorny relationships, and the London Tube. As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera… wearing only her polka dot underpants.

Source: GoodReads

When I was in law school, I spent one summer studying abroad in Ireland.  During one weekend, my friend and I went to Cork’s Fota Wildlife Park.  The park was pretty cool, they let the animals walk around free range.  But unfortunately, there were these bratty tourists who chased around one of the animals to the point  where I complained to one of the employees that I suspected that there was animal cruelty going on and got their asses kicked out of the park.

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Lemurs at the park.  And yeah, no cages.  If you ever get around to going to Ireland you need to visit this place. 

Yeah, I’m that sort of person.

Anyway, why am I talking about this…because those obnoxious teens, they reminded me of Sydney and her friends the stars of this book.

Though to be fair, Sydney’s friend, Kat, isn’t obnoxious for most of the book.  Till the end, where its randomly revealed that the guy who had blatantly been hitting on Sydney was really into Kat and Kat ditches her boyfriend for a random hookup but…details.

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Oops, spoiler.  But honestly, Kat is not a major character so its not that much of one.  Just that she goes from being the only decent human in the book to sort of being a douche herself.

The major characters in this book Sydney and Leela are both fucking annoying though.  Especially Leela.  Oh God, this bitch needed to be ditched so many times by Sydney I can’t even count.

She is the epitome of bad friend.  And yeah, Sydney loses her cool with this bitch at one point, but it’s quickly white washed over like…oh, I was mad at you will you forgive me.

No.

Leela isn’t the sort of person you want to be friends with.  Sydney should’ve just said screw you and left her way back in Paris when she was being a bitch to Kat and dictating everything they do.

Sydney though isn’t much better.  She is the epitome of a dumb tourist.  Doing dumb touristy things that make Americans looks bad.

Case in point, she doesn’t make reservations and wants accommodations.  Instead of trying local cuisine in freaking Italy, she eats pink slime.  Seriously, authors..why do you always act like Mickey D’s is the best thing ever.

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It fucking is not.

She also suffers from major insta love/lust in this book.  While a part of me is glad that this book is some ways kept it so casual with the relationships, on the other hand I got majority annoyed when those causal flings started going for the more generic YA twue love trope when the book started winding down.

Seriously, the relationship went from just being mostly physical to I can have a long distance relationship that’s three thousand miles apart shit.

I wouldn’t have mind it so much if there was more development than the relationship mostly being the two characters trying to hook up with each other while hiding it from their besties.  Also, had Jackson’s history also been explored more.  Leela keeps making references that he’s a man whore and there was some evidence that he was hooking up when he and Sydney were involved but it’s quickly smoothed over with the main character believing that “nothing happened” with the Kardashian model look alike.

Yeah, and collusion didn’t happen in the 2016  presidential election…

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Anyways, besides having really bad case in guys and thinking she should get a break because she was too stupid to watch watch Rick Steves’ Europe, Sidney also suffers from being a completely shitty friend herself.

She lets Leela treat Kat like crap for example.  And her behavior is Amsterdam was pretty obnoxious.

Sorry if this makes me a prude, but the scenes in Amsterdam were entirely inappropriate for a younger YA audience.  Yes, I know that smoking pot and prostitution is legal in Amsterdam.  And yes, I did expect the characters to at least go into one of the pot shops in Amsterdam when they went there, it’s sort of like the elephant in the room.  BUT having them go into a sex club in a YA book where people are having coitus in front of them.

Yeah, I get that shit happens.  But this is a YA book.  And Mlynowski’s books up to this point have generally ran on the young side of YA.  Hell, she has a younger age series that she’s been heavily focused on lately AND further more the cartoon-y like cover of the book is going to make it seem like harmless fun.  But the scenes in Amsterdam went beyond get shit faced on pot.  And the one character who didn’t partake in the antics was looked at as being prude like and a bitch for getting mad that her boyfriend had decided to volunteer at the sex club.

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Yeah…

I’m sort of surprise the editor didn’t raise issue with that scene.  Like I said, as an adult it didn’t bother me but a thirteen year old reading this shit it would be too fucking much.  I know if I had a kid that age I wouldn’t want them reading that sort of shit.  And TBH it wasn’t so much the drug use or sex club that bothered me as was the characters reactions to the so called prude like character.

I mean, God forbid you didn’t want your boyfriend to take off some other woman’s bra.

Besides the obnoxious characters, I got annoyed with the fact that I couldn’t get absorbed into any of the settings.  This book does visit a fair amount of countries and honestly I didn’t feel any of them.

Sure we’ll get some touristy attractions thrown out there, but for the most part the characters could be vacationing anywhere and it would’ve been the same story.  And for fuck’s sake, how do these kids have money?  When I was in Ireland, I didn’t have time to hop on a plane fly to some random country not the continent and spend thousands of Euros on stupid shit.   Grant it, I was in school and these yahoos were backpacking but still.

And then there was Kat’s internship.  Must be some nice fucking internship that allows you to randomly take off long periods of time to just hang out with your idiot friends.

I know, it’s a book that suspends large parts of reality BUT it still got annoying.

As far as plot is concerned, other than the not so melodrama of the physical turned twue love relationship between Sydney and Jackson there’s really not much plot to this one.  Oh wait, there’s the annoying subplot about the agoraphobic mom that really goes nowhere.

I didn’t even know what the point was of that shit.

Anyway, this one annoyed me.  It wasn’t bad but I didn’t like a single character apart from Kat and like I said she started grating on my nerves at the end.  Apparently, this one is going to have a sequel (I’m betting companion) too.  Let’s just hope it doesn’t take place in that sex club in Amsterdam.

Overall Rating: A C- if you like the characters and are on the older side of YA this one might work better for you than me.