Important Topic But…: Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

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It feels like there’s no ground beneath me, like everything I’ve ever done has been a lie. Like I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong?

Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.

Source: GoodReads

I’ve outgrown Melissa de la Cruz’s books.  It’s a sad fact.  At some point I plan to reread the Blue Bloods books, but I feel like it is going to be a sea of disappointment and embarrassment that I ever liked her stuff.  Still, she writes really good premises and I find myself ridiculously attracted to her blurbs.  Like this one.

But still, it sat on my shelf for awhile.  However, after the God awful month of executive orders that the Trump administration has thrown on us I have been wanting to read more issue relevant books.

And I did remember liking Melissa’s Fresh Off the Boat, I at least remember thinking that book had more heart to it than some of her frothier rich people novels-not that some of those can be okay, they just get very stale after awhile.

The thing is, that Something In Between didn’t have that realness quality about it, even though it dealt with some topics that were very near and dear to Melissa’s own personal life.

I got to say, the romance was cringe worthy and completely unrealistic.  Jas and Royce fall ridiculously in love within a couple of pages of looks and text messages.  It make Skyjack (Jack/Schuyler from Blue Bloods ) look more realistic and in hindsight that pairing was illy paced, but to its credit it was a paranormal romance.  Here though, other than he’s handsome/she’s hot I didn’t get the attraction.  Maybe because both of these characters came off as bland.  Like Cinderella and Prince Charming Disney movie bland.

I often think it’s harder to write a contemporary than a paranormal or fantasy novel, because the characters are often the focus of the novel.  Unless it’s bitchy blonde vampire socialites, I always think Melissa’s characters suffer from vapidness and this book was no exception to that.  I honestly did not get how Jas won this big scholarship.  She doesn’t come off as particularly smart or driven, and while she did do some cheerleading she didn’t really have the sort of resume that most Ivy bound kids have.  Royce was even duller than Jas, I can’t even remember if he had a hobby outside of sending really embarrassing texts to his girlfriend and then getting his Paul Ryan Wannabe father go against his core conservative values.

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And that had me roll my eyes and just seethe with anger.  I am already not a huge fan of the Republican party-in fact, I’d say right now I have no tolerance for what they’re preaching at least before the tea party and the racist party of Trump, I could at least sort of get where they’re coming from in the Bush era  but that’s besides the  point.  Here, seeing Royce’s asshole of a congressman make an exception for one family had me rolling my eyes.

And yes, I did vaguely recall reading about private bills very briefly in the Immigration Law course I took 2L year, but I also remember hearing that they hardly ever happen and other than being briefly mentioned we didn’t discuss them hardly any.  Instead, we talked a lot about work visas and I find it difficult to believe that Jas’s working class family would even acquire a visa in the first place.

Unskilled workers have the burnt end of the deal immigration wise, and this book didn’t seem to even discuss that.  Yes, I understand that Ms. de la Cruz is not a lawyer and that it’s possible in her own case that her family could’ve gotten in on such visas-but it doesn’t happen that often.   Part of the reason why is in order to get a work visa the company has to show that there are no qualified American workers.  Sort of hard to do with an unskilled job.

And then there was that farce of a court hearing…I’m not even going to talk about it.

And while I think there was some work into looking up the immigration process I don’t think it encompassed a lot of the issues on a whole of what is going on.  About how broken the process is-and it’s even more fucked up now, for obvious reasons most involving a big fat Orange Boob.

Look, I can’t fault Ms. de la Cruz too much on the legalities.  Immigration law itself is a beast, and there’s a lot of reasons why attorneys don’t practice it.  And even very seasoned lawyers can’t figure out some of the nuances involving the process-and I’m quoting some lecturer on an online CLE I took a couple of weeks ago almost verbatim on that one.

I just don’t know, having this conservative congressman who is described as being an asshole towards immigrants for a big chunk of the book being Jas’s savior  rubs me the wrong way.  Why is it okay for her to have a private bill while the congressman roots for legislation to harm constant others in her position?  I just didn’t like this congressman and wanted to go to a town hall to tell him what a hypocrite he was and that even though Jas situation was awful and she deserved help all the other undocumented immigrants in his district deserved to be treated like real people and not criminals.  He doesn’t even have a come to Jesus moment in the book and realizes that his hardline stanch is that of an asshole.

But I digress..

If you can look past the hypocrisy and the cringe worthy romance, this one is readable.  That is one thing I will always give de la Cruz, her stuff is readable.  But God there’s so much cringe and hypocrisy that I did close it a couple of times throughout reading it just to rant.  The immigration stuff while researched (enough) isn’t fully researched in some aspects.

The parts that rang truest about the book were the brief insights we got into Filipino culture, but those for the most part were very brief.

Overall Rating: A C

 

 

 

And She Persisted: A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

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Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.

After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky is torn. Just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

Source: GoodReads

This book takes place 107 years ago, but it is ridiculously timely to what’s going on right now.

Because it deals with women’s rights.

I think if anything can be learned from the past few years, is that while women have made it a long way since the time this book took place, we’re hardly in a place where we have equal rights and sexism very much exists.  We have to keep fighting for our rights every single day.

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Case in point, the whole thing that happened with Senator Warren this week.  In fact, Senator Warren has dealt with a lot of flak the gag order in the senate is only the latest one.  During many of these sham cabinet hearings (because the GOP decided to pretty much gut them to where no one could ask adequate amount of questions and then in turn gut the vote because they are smug little assholes) Warren was patronized multiple times and it was just disgusting.  Add the fact that Trump keeps referring to her derogatory as Pocahontas, mocking the fact that she comes from Native American heritage it just makes me angrier.

And I know I’m about to go on a political tirade, but it’s relevant to this review of the book because sexism does exist in this world and this book shows how we as a society have to fight it and combat it.  The reason I loved A Mad Wicked Folly so much is while it is a discussion of the suffragette movement and feminism, it is as much as a coming of age story.

Vicky really develops as a character and that’s refreshing.  The blurb made me think I’d be getting more or less a water downed version of Downton Abbey, but that’s hardly the case.  Sure, there are bits and pieces that I guess you could say were Downton Abbey-ish but I think this was more of a thought provoking book than fluff.  And it honestly, was sort of inspiring.

Honestly, the cover and blurb were sort of a disservice to this book.

I’ll admit, I’ve been a little depressed lately with current events, but this book sort of gave me hope that things could change.  Victoria had the deck stacked against her, but somehow she was able to make her end choices at the end of the book and get what she wants.  That was refreshing.

I also enjoyed reading more about the historical aspects of the period.  Briggs did a great job describing the time period and there were some things I learned about the suffragette movement that I did not know before.  It didn’t feel like she was spoon feeding it to me either, there was something ridiculously organic about the whole thing.

It was also how scary how some of the misogyny that existed in this period is very much prevalent in the present.    The same techniques and objections that were used to keep a woman from voting in the early 1900’s are still used today.  A woman is too emotional.  Her place is at there home or with the family.  That women with ambitions are evil and unnatural.

It’s just sickening.

And it really makes you want to say fuck the patriarchy and kick some ass.

As frustrating as this is though, it also left me feeling hopeful because progress has been made.  A lot of progress.  But we still have a long way to go, but this book gave me hope that anyone can make a difference.  So, that was a plus.

Overall, I highly recommend this read.  It’s thought provoking and relative.  This book exemplifies my reason for resisting.  I am going to fight for that progress that we’ve made in the past and further it again.  And damn right, I’m going to be persistent about it.

Oh, and yeah, fuck the patriarchy.

Overall Rating: An A.

 

Story Sells Not the Art: Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer

In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure — with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team.

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

Source: GoodReads

While I love the original Lunar Chronicle series (though the last book didn’t quite lead up to the expectations I had), I have been weary of its various bonus installments.  The short story series (save for that epilogue) was a bit of an obvious attempt to cash out.  The coloring book-well, all popular YA series are getting one.  And I waited for the spinoff to happen.  Because spinoffs always happened and then Marissa Meyer announced a graphic novel and I inwardly groaned since I have not been a fan of graphic novel YA adaptations in the past.

Only thing is though…this YA graphic novel actually works.

In part because it is new story.  While it doesn’t take place after the epilogue of the series, or even the epilogue of Winter it does take place between the end of the action and epilogue in Winter.  And its location surprisingly works.

I think a lot fit is because the main focus is on Iko who is the best character in the series.

Yes, I said BEST.

And yes, I know Iko was only a side character in the actual series but I love her.  She was great comic relief at the beginning of the series but grew over time as the books progressed and I’m so glad she’s now getting some narration of her own.

I oddly ship the ship in this too, even though I’m not exactly sure how things between those two would work.  But hey, it worked between Vision and the Scarlet Witch-well, for awhile at least.  So…it could work.  Maybe?

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I am not going to think about that though for now.  Instead, I am going to focus on what a fun and quick read this was-I think it took like forty-five minutes tops.  It went by that fast.

One problem I did have was the artwork.  It really was quite hideous to me, at least.  I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but a lot of the characters looked the same to me.  Especially the male characters.  And the wolf hybrid characters were just hideous.

I’m sorry, Holgate, I know your art work might be liked by others but it wasn’t my thing.  Beauty of the beholder and all.  But you did an okay job on Iko and the cover was quite nice if that’s any consolation….

Overall though, I really liked this graphic novel.  I might’ve not have been a huge fan of the art.  But….the story made up for it.  But at the same time, I’m like it is supposed to be a graphic novel so I just don’t know.

Overall Rating: A B+ I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel. Meyer did her part.  I just…the art work is a big fat no.

 

Never Ever Will I Finish This: Never Ever by Sara Saedi

Wylie Dalton didn’t believe in fairy tales or love at first sight.

Then she met a real-life Peter Pan.

When Wylie encounters Phinn—confident, mature, and devastatingly handsome—at a party the night before her brother goes to juvie, she can’t believe how fast she falls for him. And that’s before he shows her how to fly.

Soon Wylie and her brothers find themselves whisked away to a mysterious tropical island off the coast of New York City where nobody ages beyond seventeen and life is a constant party. Wylie’s in heaven: now her brother won’t go to jail and she can escape her over-scheduled life with all its woes and responsibilities—permanently.

But the deeper Wylie falls for Phinn, the more she begins to discover has been kept from her and her brothers. Somebody on the island has been lying to her, but the truth can’t stay hidden forever.

Source: GoodReads

I DNF’d this book within 40 pages.

It just wasn’t for me.

I am going to bullet point this review and it’s probably going to be really short.  If you want a more thorough review of this book I suggest you check out other reviews because honestly I gave up on it so soon that I don’t even know if this review is worth a shit.

Anyway, here’s the reasons I DNF’d it.

  • Stiff Style: It was one of those hard to connect to styles that just kind of hard to get into.  This might not bother a lot of people, but it bothered me.
  • Another Evil Peter Pan.  At least there’s no sexy Hook (so far) so it’s not a complete Once Upon a Time rip off yet.
  • A MC who gives a rat’s ass about anything else other than her love life even though she claims to care about her family.
  • Note, she treats her family like crap.
  • Usual sullen teenager dealing with divorce trope.
  • Modernization of the characters names from the original because you know you can’t name characters Wendy, John, and Michael anymore.  Wylie, Joshua, and Micha sound better and Phinn sounds better than fucking Peter Pan.
  • Because everyone has a party on a roof top in New York.
  • That whole going into Neverland drug induced scene-yeah, I stopped after that because that was just so stupid.

Like I said, not really a lot to go off of here if you’re really interested in the book, but just for you to know, it didn’t work for me.  It was just really bad and cliche…and when it’s only redeeming feature is not having the obligatory Sexy Hook! (or at least as far as I know, he still might’ve popped in there after the thirty or so pages I read).

Overall Rating: A mother fucking DNF.

Best Thing About the Book is the Fucking Cover: The Siren by Kiera Cass

Love is a risk worth taking.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. And though she can’t talk to him, they soon forge a connection neither of them can deny…and Kahlen doesn’t want to.

Falling in love with a human breaks all the Ocean’s rules, and if the Ocean discovers Kahlen’s feelings, she’ll be forced to leave Akinli for good. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.

Source: GoodReads

Kiera Cass really has a great cover designer and can come up with interesting concepts, I think those are the only two reasons I keep giving her chance after chance when she keeps giving me crap book after crap book.

The Siren was as shitty as the rest of her books were, so don’t get your hopes up.

Yeah, sorry to be the Debbie Downer here.  Though, I really don’t know if it’s being a Debbie Downer since I’m only speaking the truth.

The book sucked ass.

Some background information, the book was originally self published before Cass decided to torture the rest of us with The Selection-whatever it is now, originally trilogy now never ending books series.  When she conned sold so many people the Selection books Harper decided to pick it up a plaster a new cover on the heap of crap  revise the book so that it could be published traditionally.

The result.

It’s still shitty.

Honestly, the book reads very much like a Twilight fan fic would’ve read about eight or nine years ago.  Hell, some of the tropes are common.  From insta love, to beautiful paranormal creatures, to stupid boys who just need to be punched this book has it all.

I DNF’d it in 154 pages.

The main character, Kahlen bemoans about killing people decide making the concentrated choice to become a siren eighty years ago.

Look, I had no sympathy for bitch.  She knew what she was getting herself into and how can I feel sorry for someone who constantly puts people in peril and kills them.

Oh, yes, because she saw the error of her ways and fell in wuv…

Yeah, I know my eyes almost got stuck from all the eye rolling too.  I think what really got to me about this book, was that it could’ve been really cool if Cass went more into what the sirens could do rather than the fact that being a siren allows them to have lots and lots of pretty salt water dresses (don’t ask me how that works, but I’m guessing Cass was sort of inspired by Ariel’s Triton created dress at the end of The Little Mermaid).

As for the romance, that has made my eyes stuck in the back of my head.  It’s laughable and too instant lovey for me to care about.  Plus, the hero has one of those stupid unique name cliches-fact, he says the stupid name is unique.  I kept calling him Anklet in my head, though his real name is Akinli or something of the other.

The pacing is also off in this book and I really didn’t understand any of the world building save for the hundred years and the salt grass crap bits.

Overall, the book really didn’t work for me.  Perhaps, if you haven’t been overexposed to the world that was paranormal YA back in the late 2000’s this one might be okay for you, but for me blragh.

Overall Rating: DNF

The First Five Star Book of 2017: Every Move by Ellie Marney

Rachel Watts is suffering from recurring nightmares about her near-death experience in London. She just wants to forget the whole ordeal, but her boyfriend, James Mycroft, is obsessed with piecing the puzzle together and anticipating the next move of the mysterious Mr Wild – his own personal Moriarty.

So when Rachel’s brother, Mike, suggests a trip back to their old home in Five Mile, Rachel can’t wait to get away. Unfortunately it’s not the quiet weekend she was hoping for with the unexpected company of Mike’s old school buddy, the wildly unreliable Harris Derwent.

Things get worse for Rachel when Harris returns to Melbourne with them – but could Harris be the only person who can help her move forward? Then a series of murders suggests that Mr Wild is still hot on their tails and that Mycroft has something Wild wants – something Wild is prepared to kill for.

Can Watts and Mycroft stay one step ahead of the smartest of all criminal masterminds? The stage is set for a showdown of legendary proportions… 

Source: GoodReads

Okay, so this book was actually released way back in 2015 (in Australia) but I only now bought a copy because I vainly hoped the US would get off it’s fat ass and publish it so that I could have a matching hardback set-I am OCD about these sorts of things.  Really, I will often buy an extra copy of a book just to have either a matching copy or hardback, I’m too hard of a reader for paperbacks.  But alas…the US decided to be a dumb ass about the publication of this one, and I had to get over my matching books/hardback and buy the Aussie edition.  And I’m glad I did.

I freaking loved the book.

Not that I didn’t expect I wouldn’t.  The past two Marney books-from this series have gotten five freaking stars (or A to A+ ratings)  from me.  So, it was a safe bet when I decided to read this one it would get five stars as well.

There are so many things about this book that work.  From a retelling standpoint, what works is while here are nods/homages/parallels to the original Sherlock stories  but was its own thing at the same time.  Honestly, I have my own little fan fantasy in my head where they could actually fit Marney’s series into the BBC series  or make a spinoff series with only some minor changes I think it could work.  That  aside though, I like the approach she took because it allowed the characters to do their own thing and it made the Mycroft/Watts relationship more likely than it would’ve been had they stayed purely in Watson and Holmes territory.

This installment, isn’t really so much as a who done it-though there is a mystery to some degree but not near to the extent of the earlier books.  There is, however, a lot of character growth that I appreciate.  Both leads have to come to terms with what happened to them in London, and they both deal with it differently.  I have to say the aspects of PTSD felt fairly realistic to me, and I liked Watts’ interactions with her mother.

I also really like Marney’s version of Sherlock.  Often the Sherlock character can come off as cartoonish, butJames isn’t.  This character I don’t think is a functioning sociopath like other Sherlock’s, but a complex human who is dealing with a lot.

I also really liked the portrayal of the two characters’ relationship.  It felt realistic as far as teen YA relationships do.  Watts and Mycroft have their ups and downs, but overall the relationship is fairly healthy and their interactions felt realistic.  Even awkward at times, which is always a joy to read about in YA.  To say the least, I ship the hell out of these two.

Much like I ship the hell out of Sherlolly even though I know it's probably not going to happen.

Much like I ship the hell out of Sherlolly even though I know it’s probably not going to happen.

Now, there is a bit of a love triangle in this one, but it’s not really a love triangle.  More like one sided love triangle where one of the other characters at least acknowledges that the potential love interest is attractive.  It’s not though a back and fourth psychological torture Twilight triangle so I’ll give it props for that.

I felt like the series wrapped itself up nicely here.  Am I glad to see it gone, no…but I thought it was a good place to stop and I did think Marney did a nice job wrapping things up.  It was a really good book and I will be reading pretty much anything that she publishes again soon-just won’t be wasting my time for American publishers to get some common sense and publish the shit out of her books like they should.

And really, American publisher, it’s just cruel for you not to let me have my matching set of books.

Overall Rating: An A+ a great book to start off the year.

Not My Cuppa: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Source: GoodReads

Truthwitch was probably one of the most hyped books of 2016.  I bought it and it set on my shelf for about a year, and then I picked it up before the sequel came out this year because I wanted to know whether or not it was worth reading the sequel-and preorder prices are usually so much more cheaper than post release prices. And I read it and I was…well, not impressed.

But it’s not horrible.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I have issues with fantasies. I feel like a lot of YA fantasies rely too much on tropes and can be difficult to get in to.  Especially when they involve lots of fantasy names, inconsistent world building, and the God damn lost princess trope.

Hey, if you like those things, all the power to you.  But I’m just saying whenever I read a fantasy there has to be elements to really get me into the God damn book.

Unfortunately, Truthwitch only halfway gained my interest.  While it wasn’t bad the stupid names and WTF-ckery pacing made it a little difficult for me to completely enjoy and I really don’t think I’ll be continuing with the series.  But I did like aspects of the book.

I liked the idea of friendship that the book promises.  Did I think it lived up to this idea?  Um, no.  I thought the bond between Safiya and Iseult-and I had to look up both of those spellings-could’ve been explored more.  Hell, they didn’t interact near as much as I thought they would.  But I did like the idea of how powerful there friendship was.

The ships in this book were kind of eh.  I didn’ t love the ship that everyone else seemed to rave about it, but I didn’t hate it either.

There was lots of potential in this book, but there was also too much going on and not enough development for me to feel totally connected.

And I got lost.

I’ll admit it, if I can’t follow some aspects of a fantasy I will get lost and sort of fast.  Things move at a lightning quick pace in this one and I think it was one of the things that got my goat.  Like I said before, if you’re really into fantasy books this isn’t going to get to you but it got to me big time.

In the end, I parted Truthwitch with the acknowledgment while not a bad book this series is not for me and I don’t think I’ll be continuing it.

Overall Rating: A B- rushed pacing and made up names sort of killed this one for me.  But for fantasy lovers this might be your cup of tea.

When Obnoxious Characters Happen to Good Books: Jess, Chunk and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

The last time Jess saw her father, she was a boy named Jeremy. Now she’s a high school graduate, soon to be on her way to art school. But first, Jess has some unfinished business with her dad. So she’s driving halfway across the country to his wedding. He happens to be marrying her mom’s ex-best friend. It’s not like Jess wasn’t invited; she was. She just told them she wasn’t coming. Surprise!

Luckily, Jess isn’t making this trip alone. Her best friend, Christophe—nicknamed Chunk—is joining her. Chunk has always been there for Jess, and he’s been especially supportive of her transition, which has recently been jump-started with hormone therapy.

Along the way from California to Chicago, Jess and Chunk will visit roadside attractions, make a new friend or two, and learn a few things about themselves—and each other—that call their true feelings about their relationship into question.

Source: GoodReads

The main character ruined the book.

Just saying.

I think one of the hardest things to get right as an author is to write an unlikable character.  If done right, it can really make a book.  Let’s face it unlikable characters are pretty realistic.  I can’t stand most people in real life, so it makes sense that there are going to be unlikable characters.  But the thing is if there’s nothing that you can identify with that person, then the book is going to be a disaster.

Such as in the case of Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity.  To be fair, I did think portraying Jess the way she was, was realistic-but it didn’t keep me from hating her guts.

God knows, I didn’t want to hate her guts. Girl had been going through a lot.  I wanted to like her, I wanted to feel her.  But she ended up being one of the most self absorbed protagonists I’ve read in awhile.  And again, that was probably realistic BUT

It didn’t make her that likable especially with all the fat shaming she did.

Which was a lot and bring me to the crux of my problem with the story Jess and Chunk’s Chuck’s relationship.  Note, for the duration of this review I will be calling Chuck, Chuck since the name that Jess calls him for 90% of the novel is hateful and derogatory and she never once fucking thinks it hurts his feelings.

And he’s not the only character who she fat shames there’s like two other characters she shames.  And yeah, there’s an epiphany at the end-sort of-but it’s almost too little too late.  Honestly, the ending that Jess got to me seemed rushed and unrealistic.  I wanted Chuck to cut ties to this bitch and never look back.

Yes, I called our MC a bitch because she is.

On the bright side, having such negative feelings for Jess means that the book did leave an impression on me.  It’s just not the right impression.

Besides from having a very judgmental transgender main character, the book is your fairly typical road trip story with blatant generalizations made about Middle America that I could care less about.  There are random characters that make appearances and disappear into the story and serve no purpose.  Even the only obstacle-besides Jess’s foulness- to Jess getting together with Chuck is gone within a few pages.

Le sigh.

I just don’t know.  This book really didn’t work for me, and while I appreciate what it was trying to do it just didn’t do it.   I don’t feel like completely failing it though because it wasn’t exactly terrible.

Overall Rating: A C-.  A part of me wants to give it a higher rating, but I hate Jess and it ruined any sort of relationship she and Chuck could’ve had and made me ship him with the Lizard.

The Last Review of 2016 (well, drafted in 2016): Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

When Caroline’s little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself. In the aftermath, Caroline can’t help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home. And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can’t see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories. But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend–and their best option just might be each other

Source: GoodReads

There are a few YA books and NA books that deal with post kidnapping experiences.  And I have to say I’m interested in reading about the aftermath.   This one seemed to  have the unique perspective of two narrators.  The thing is, that it didn’t totally work.  One of the narratives was much more stronger than the other and the book dealt with boat loads of cliches.

I’ll talk what I liked, Ethan’s POV.  The character did seem realistic given his experience and I thought for the most part his narrative flowed well.  I was interested in reading his story, which made Caroline’s POV harder and harder to read.

By all accounts, Caroline’s POV should’ve been just as interesting, but instead it was depressing and a bit unrealistic.  I found it hard to believe that her autistic brother who was kidnapped and all likely sexually abused would not get any counseling whatsoever.  It just seemed more than ridiculous to me, especially given all of her brother’s needs.

There were also parts of the book that I really thought made no sense to include.  Like the possibility of romance between Caroline and Ethan, it seemed suddenly and really didn’t work.  Also, there really is no resolution to that part of the storyline, though there is an indication of what is going to happen.

And it just disturbs me because the romantic chemistry between these two is zip.  Those scenes with them together made me feel uncomfortable.  I think in part because I sort of hated Caroline.

Yeah, I get girl was going through a lot but God she was one MC I wanted to punch in the face.  It’s not like she has her moments, and arguably you could state that she is acting realistically for someone in her position.  But at the same time I wanted to shake her.  She just comes off as sort of mean.  And yeah, I get it things aren’t going  her way but the way she approaches Ethan at first really seemed intrusive to me.  And despite the fact that there is a reason for it-i.e. finding what happened to her brother-I really didn’t see that motivation throughout the book.

The book wasn’t exactly free of cliche moments.    The shrink character was a bit of one and well..the whole story to a degree was a cliche.  But there are only so many ways you can go with a kidnapping story.

Still, I liked the book even though I thought the whole Caroline story was underdeveloped and unresolved.

Overall Rating: A B- and that is my final book that I reviewed during 2016-whew.

 

Last DNF of 2016: The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

Source: GoodReads

I think one of the things I hate the most is reading a book you were really excited for and being disappointed with.  Such was the case with The Girl From Everywhere.  I had this book on my shelf for awhile and delayed it because the reviews were mixed.

And boo, I fall in with the critical crowd which always sucks.  I couldn’t even finish the book because I got so bored with it.  It wasn’t necessary bad per say, but for what it was supposed to be it was boring and I sort of knew where it was headed.

The world building was also sort of illy explained which is a shame because there was a lot of potential with this book.  Time travel.  Dimension traveling.  That should be such an MJ book, but in the end it wasn’t my book.

The main character, Nix, is sort of boring.  I feel like she should’ve felt more desperation than she did.  Her relationship with her father is just odd.  She sort of has this friendship with the potential love interest that is sort of interesting but it didn’t hold my attention long enough to continue.

It was a box full of mehs.

Which is never a good thing especially with a book described to be full of adventure.

I also feel like the scenes that take place in these different worlds are never really explained in much detail.  If you’re going to do multiple worlds, describe them.  I want to experience that mother fucking world just describing a stupid dress in the Victorian era that you’re visiting isn’t going to have me experience said world.  Though, dress descriptions are important (I guess).

And like I said, you never really get a sense of how this time and world building works.  Yes, there’s the thing with maps but other than getting the maps I’m still a little flummoxed on how it works.  Maybe if I could’ve stayed the course and finished the thing I would know, but again I just couldn’t.

A part of me feels bad about closing 2016 on such a disappointment but honestly my feelings for the book sort of sum up the year.  There were great opportunities and they were missed.  Yes, there were a few good things that happened but on an overhaul.  Not thanks.

Overall Rating: DNF