Enchanted Meets Beauty and the Beast: A Curse So Darkly and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

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An instant New York Times Best Seller! In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

Source: GoodReads

I was looking forward to this book since I saw the blurb.  It sort of reminded me of Enchanted meets Beauty and the Beast and if you know how I feel about those two movies this would be an MJ book…only thing is I didn’t really love this book.

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It’s not bad.  I like Brigid Kemmerer’s writing for the most part.  Her contemporaries were some of my favorite reads of last years, this book just really drags on its feet and really the first 200-250 pages were a bit of a bore.

All it was was angst.  And to be fair, that’s what a fair bit of the original fairytale is (angst).  However, I really couldn’t care less for the angst of these characters.

Also, I  couldn’t help think that these characters were only slightly different versions of the characters in Kemmerer’s contemporaries.

I did like the disability rep for whatever it’s worth.  I’m not going to go into the particulars of cerebral palsy since I do not suffer from it, but I like how it didn’t define Harper’s character.  It was just a part of her every day life that she dealt with.  It wasn’t a huge part of the story, but at the same time it was a nice deviation from what you normally see in YA MC.

The mechanics of going back and forth between Emberfall and the real world didn’t work for me.  In fact, Emberfall didn’t really work for me.  The world building was sketchy at best.  With YA fantasy, I really don’t have that high of expectations.  It’s sort of sad really how low my expectations have gotten but that is the case.

Emberfall is pretty much your stereotypical YA fantasy minus the long lost princess bit.  Oh, also besides turning into random creatures and being able to jump worlds the world building really is lacking.

There’s this whole takeover plot line that is very loosely done to the point where one of the big bad is pretty much a glorified plot point at best.  It just doesn’t really work.

I also really didn’t care for Harper’s family.  Her mother and her condition really were at best a convenient plot line to explain how Harper will stay in fairytale land.  Her brother is a douche.  His boyfriend is only there to connect them to the real world and provide conflict.  In all, they were just real lame characters.

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Yet, somehow this book was interesting enough to have me read it and intrigued by the sequel.  Maybe in part because I found the character Grey to be a future intriguing lead and I want to know about his backstory.  Maybe in part because I’m a sucker for Beauty and the Beast retellings.  And maybe a part because I wanted to see the freaking monster and had to wait like 300 pages for that to happen.

And the monster was glorious, if a little too overpowered by the power of love…but isn’t that everything?

Overall, I don’t know if I’d recommend this one.  I enjoyed it, but I wonder if I would really enjoy it if it didn’t feature tropes that intrigued me.  At the end of the day, it’s fairly run of the mill.  There is a couple of neat things   thrown in it but I really did skim a bit which is probably why I was able to finish it in one afternoon.

Overall Rating: B-

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It’s Raw: I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

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From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella, an irresistible story of love and empowerment about a young woman with a complicated family, a handsome man who might be “the one,” and an IOU that changes everything

Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” But since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will? It’s simply not in her nature to say no to people.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. Turns out the computer’s owner is an investment manager. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, Sebastian scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. But Fixie laughs it off—she’d never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she?

Then Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie’s buttons. She wants nothing for herself—but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. And Seb agrees, until the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?

Source: GoodReads

I remember my last couple of years of high school, I was all about Sophie Kinsella.  My sister gave her a couple of her books to read and I loved them.  Especially the early Shopaholic books.  Of course, if you have read that series you’ll notice that the series goes in a decline after awhile since the character never grows and is in a never ending cycle of  Becky regressing into her shopaholic ways and never seeking proper therapy and her rich boyfriend/hubby/whatever Luke is that particular day of the week putting up with her shenanigans.

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Of course, this review isn’t about the Shopaholic series.  I mean, if someone buys me enough liquor I might be willing to read them but I doubt anyone would really want me to reread and review them because it would just pretty much be me yapping about how stupid Becky Bloomwood is.

But I digress..

I Owe You One, is Sophie Kinsella’s latest and I’ve got to say for an author who has so many titles under her belt this book at best can be described as blase and choppy.

Yep, blase and choppy.

To be fair, the premises in general seems pretty cliche.  But cliche can be good if written correctly and that’s sort of what I expected Sophie Kinsella to do.  But this story was so bland I really just couldn’t believe it got a pass.

I couldn’t even really enjoy the ship too since about 95% of the book the love interest was involved with someone else.  Hell, he broke up with his girlfriend and got with the MC in a span of less than 24 hours and when he broke up the MC he did the same thing with his ex and then again…that’s not romantic.

I don’t know if it was so much the time frames (though they bothered the hell out of me) or if it was the lack of development and chemistry between the characters that bothered me.  For a love interest, Sebastian really doesn’t make a lot appearances.  And a part of me would be okay with it if Fixie (God, that fucking name) was doing something more than being a doormat for most of the movie.

In addition to probably one of the lamest romances I’ve read in awhile, this book had some of the most underdeveloped side characters and side plot lines I’ve seen in awhile.

Fixie’s family is horrible.  Save for her mom, but her mom is kind of at fault too sort of thinking about it. Seriously though, these guys are just awful.  With how awful Kinsella made them I wanted some retribution, but instead we got family forgiveness shit.

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I hate forgiveness.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand it’s a part of a healthy relationship.  You have to forgive, but there’s forgiving and then being a doormat.  And there are some things you shouldn’t have to forgive anyone from.

Fixie’s family shouldn’t be forgiven.    They did some more than horrible things to Fixie throughout the novel and the payoff was sort of weak.

I know IRL it’s probably more realistic what happened to her relatives to have occurred, but this is fictions.  Readers want a pay off and it didn’t happen here.  It was just 300 pages of Fixe getting shitted on, her losing her temper once and things falling into place.

It really was a fail.

Yet, I didn’t completely hate it…

Given the diatribe you think I would, but there was something oddly readable and enjoyable about it.  Maybe, it was because it was a trip down nostalgia way.  And it was easy to read, but take away those two things…

Yeah.

I can’t recommend that someone spends their money on this one.  If you need a Sophie Kinsella kick check it out from the library, but it definitely was a bit underbaked.

Overall Rating: C-

 

 

Disappointment, Plot Moppets, and Fan Pandering: Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas

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New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas delivers a scintillating tale of a beautiful, young widow who finds passion with the one man she shouldn’t…

Although beautiful young widow Phoebe, Lady Clare, has never met West Ravenel, she knows one thing for certain: he’s a mean, rotten bully. Back in boarding school, he made her late husband’s life a misery, and she’ll never forgive him for it. But when Phoebe attends a family wedding, she encounters a dashing and impossibly charming stranger who sends a fire-and-ice jolt of attraction through her. And then he introduces himself…as none other than West Ravenel.

West is a man with a tarnished past. No apologies, no excuses. However, from the moment he meets Phoebe, West is consumed by irresistible desire…not to mention the bitter awareness that a woman like her is far out of his reach. What West doesn’t bargain on is that Phoebe is no straitlaced aristocratic lady. She’s the daughter of a strong-willed wallflower who long ago eloped with Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent—the most devilishly wicked rake in England.

Before long, Phoebe sets out to seduce the man who has awakened her fiery nature and shown her unimaginable pleasure. Will their overwhelming passion be enough to overcome the obstacles of the past?

Only the devil’s daughter knows…

Source: GoodReads

Usually, Lisa Kleypas has over the top climaxes that really don’t fit in with the rest of the book.  Spoiler alert, Devil’s Daughter really doesn’t have that climax.  I mean, there is someone held at gunpoint but compared to some of the bat shit insane things that happen in her book nothing happened in Devil’s Daughter.

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Yes, this book was boring.  If anything what I liked was the foreshadowing to the next book which is sort of a sad thing.  Really, that is all the Ravenels are good at, foreclosing to the next boring and disappointing book.  I digress though.

Honestly, as a whole I haven’t really been a fan of The Ravenels series and I haven’t really been that keen on the return of Sebastian and family.  I’m sorry but The Devil in Winter was probably my least favorite Wallflower book, in part because of what Sebastian put Lillian through in the previous book and it’s just water under the bridge… and by this point you’d thought it never had happen.

Digressions aside, as exciting as a character as Sebastian was his kids are utter snoozes.  Really, there is nothing interesting about Phoebe’s arc.  She is your standard single widowed MC with plot moppets.

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God, do I hate plot moppets.

Going into this, I knew there were going to be a couple of them but I didn’t realize it was going to be cute kid central to the part of vomiting.

Let me be blunt about it, I don’t like children.  It has taken me several years to admit it to my self but I just don’t…I might be okay with having my own maybe one day, but kids in general I don’t care for.  I don’t care for reading about them doing stupid stuff that apparently gets the characters together because other wise our MC wouldn’t have gotten together with her dead husband’s tormenter.

Which leads me to the second grievance I had with this book, these two just don’t work.  I’m sorry, I know people change but I had a really hard time believing that Phoebe would get with her husband’s tormenter.  I also hated how Kleypas tried to down play bullying.  It made me shake my head.  A part of me wrote a fan fic in my head where Henry somehow came back to dead and was the hero of this book.  But hey….that would be too much effort and this is the Ravenel family series so we got to force Phest on everyone even though it makes no fucking sense.

God, I really do love the back to dead trope when done right.  And I’m digressing…

To be fair, West was one of the Ravenels that intrigued me.  He wasn’t so one note like Pandora (ugh) or stereotypical like Devon (I barely even remember him or his story at this point, that’s just sad).  Really, he had the Leo thing going for him a la the Hathways (another series by Kleypas).  You know, reformed rake who went from not to hot.  Only thing is, probably shouldn’t have gotten with his victim’s wife that’s a little icky.  Just saying…

The writing as always is easy to get through.  It did seem a little bit more descriptive to me than usual, but again I haven’t really read Kleypas since Hello, Stranger (which sucked by the way).

For what it’s worth, there was more chemistry here than with the characters in the aforementioned book.  I still found the ship icky though but…yeah.

So far, as a whole I really don’t care that much for the Ravanels.  I think the best book is likely the second book.  There’s some fan service in the third book that will make a lot of people like it, but God Pandora is annoying.

In this book, the fan service is so so.  There’s a ridiculous Evie and Sebastian tub scenes..because we have to be reminded that Sebastian is still sexy middle age.  And there’s cameos by some of the other Wallflowers as well.   It’s more gratuitous than anything else though since they don’t even add anything to the plot.  I was hoping at the very least that  maybe Merritt would’ve been ore a confidante to Phoebe but nope.

I think my overall feelings of this book was underwhelming.  There was nothing really to it that made it memorable other than the character’s bloodline.  And the ship was just icky.  God, just have Henry come back from the dead and go to that place that cured Win from her similar ailment.  It would’ve made a better story.

Overall Rating: Going to be generous and give it a B- but really it should be more like a C+ it was tolerable but boring as hell.  I’m ready for Kleypas to write a new series without so much pandering.

And So It Begins 2020: The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris

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From one of America’s most inspiring political leaders, a book about the core truths that unite us, and the long struggle to discern what those truths are and how best to act upon them, in her own life and across the life of our country.

Senator Kamala Harris’s commitment to speaking truth is informed by her upbringing. The daughter of immigrants, she was raised in an Oakland, California community that cared deeply about social justice; her parents–an esteemed economist from Jamaica and an admired cancer researcher from India–met as activists in the civil rights movement when they were graduate students at Berkeley. Growing up, Harris herself never hid her passion for justice, and when she became a prosecutor out of law school, a deputy district attorney, she quickly established herself as one of the most innovative change agents in American law enforcement. She progressed rapidly to become the elected District Attorney for San Francisco, and then the chief law enforcement officer of the state of California as a whole. Known for bringing a voice to the voiceless, she took on the big banks during the foreclosure crisis, winning a historic settlement for California’s working families. Her hallmarks were applying a holistic, data-driven approach to many of California’s thorniest issues, always eschewing stale “tough on crime” rhetoric as presenting a series of false choices. Neither “tough” nor “soft” but smart on crime became her mantra. Being smart means learning the truths that can make us better as a community, and supporting those truths with all our might. That has been the pole star that guided Harris to a transformational career as the top law enforcement official in California, and it is guiding her now as a transformational United States Senator, grappling with an array of complex issues that affect her state, our country, and the world, from health care and the new economy to immigration, national security, the opioid crisis, and accelerating inequality.

By reckoning with the big challenges we face together, drawing on the hard-won wisdom and insight from her own career and the work of those who have most inspired her, Kamala Harris offers in The Truths We Hold a master class in problem-solving, in crisis management, and leadership in challenging times. Through the arc of her own life, on into the great work of our day, she communicates a vision of shared struggle, shared purpose, and shared values. In a book rich in many home truths, not least is that a relatively small number of people work very hard to convince a great many of us that we have less in common than we actually do, but it falls to us to look past them and get on with the good work of living our common truth. When we do, our shared effort will continue to sustain us and this great nation, now and in the years to come.

Source: GoodReads

Right now, Kamala Harris is probably at the top of my 2020 picks for president.  That could all change of course, but out of the candidates that are likely to run she is leading the pack for me at least.  Her book sort of shows why.

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To be fair, I’m going to be trying to read something or analyzing something 2020 oriented every month or now before the election.  I feel its important.  There were a lot of misconceptions made by irresponsible media outlets about a certain overly competent candidate in 2016 and her stupid emails and look what we got stuck with…Putin’s puppet (God, how I wanted HRC so fucking bad to be POTUS).

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So I’m sure while idiots like Mika and Joe (yes, I had to call those two ignoramuses out for still bashing that very competent candidate this very morning-seriously, those two always get me raging within ten minutes of being awake) I thought for like the two or so people reading this  review I’d at least try to inform you of the literature that’s out there involving the candidates.

Note, there will be personal biases in these reviews.   Such as the fact that I find Donald Trump to be a total racist asshole (though, is that an opinion that’s sort of fact see asshole’s reaction to Charlottesville).  Anything Pro-Trump is not going to be tolerated.  Also, Bernie Sanders is NOT a democrat unless it suits his purposes-i.e. getting funds for another failed campaign.  Don’t believe me, see that little “I” next to his name that says it all… Also he’s full of  bull shit which oddly enough fits considering his initials.

Yes, I’m juvenile.

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And if you’re going to whine…we’ll this is my space find some other review to express your disgusting MAGA love and Bernie Bro-ness (seriously, those supporters are the ultimate internet troll).

Anyway, back to Kamala.  Even though she’s only been a senator for a couple of years, in some ways she’s one of the more qualified candidates that the democratic party has.  She has experience in local, state, and federal government.  And I think it’s really important for anyone who is trying to be president to know how these three different factions of government work.

She is also very personable.  The structure of this book tries to integrate Harris’s personal life with her policies and for the most part it works.  The anecdotes will make the Mika and Joe’s of the world happy , while the more policy wonks (i.e. people who actually make a SMART choice when they vote) will be happy to know that Harris knows her stuff and you can see that she is very passionate about certain issues.  I will say though, at the beginning of the book when Harris is going over her childhood there were parts of these personal anecdotes that felt a bit wooden.

Again, this was only for the first few chapters though.  The only other problem I had with this book was it was clearly an I’m running for president book.  And okay, yeah she is.  And yeah, candidates do in fact often write books before campaigns, but it does sort of effect the overall quality to the book.

It still though did what it set out to do, it really did a nice job introducing Harris.  You can see how her career choice as a prosecutor influenced her policies regarding criminal justice reform.   I especially like the fact that some of her solutions aren’t something that you would find in a typical politician stump speech.  Like, bail reform.  It’s an important thing, but unless you’re familiar with the bail system (which most Americans aren’t) you’re not going to really know how much an effect that these reforms would make.  Harris is pretty clear in laying out her case for it.

In addition, to her career influencing her choices in policy.  You can see how important Kamala’s mother was to her and what an impact she had on her life.  There really was a strong mother–daughter relationship there that I think has impacted her life and it really shows.

At the end of the day, a book is a book.  I thought the memoir once it got past the Harris’s childhood years was quite compelling.  I managed to get through it in about two hours after being exhausted after a long day at work.  Between the book and the town hall that Harris did at CNN last night, she is definitely a top contender for me.

I’m sure as the race continues to evolve I’ll have more books and or town halls to read and review. However, if you are interested in voting for Kamala I do suggest checking out her book.  If anything, it will give you a good indicator of what her values and policies are.

Overall Rating: An A- rocky beginning but I think overall the book did what it was intended to do.

I Hate Everyone: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

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When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs. So she convinces her best friend, Harvey, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge as it is about hope.

But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission, and now she must face the consequences of all she’s said and done.

Source: GoodReads

I DNF’d this one at about 146 pages.  I know a lot of people really like Julie Murphy and I did sort of enjoy the Netflix version of Dumplin BUT I have to say I haven’t been that impressed with the books I read. Dumplin was middle of the road for me and I really didn’t care for Ramona Blue, still the premises of this book interested me enough where I wanted to give it a try.

Why did I DNF.

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It’s simple I hated the MC.  To be fair, I don’t think Murphy wanted you to like Alice.  She is suppose to be this bitter character.  And she does do a fairly good job depicting her, it’s just that there’s nothing redeemable about Alice and I couldn’t really feel sympathy for her despite the fact she’s dealing with a lot of shit.

Harvey (the male MC) is just if not more unrelatable  than Alice.  Honestly, I thought he was even more so.  With the Alice character I got her motive for her being the way she is.  With Harvey, I don’t know why he was such a doormat.  I get that he liked Alice, but come on…this girl was just mean.  Sick or not.  And the fact that she would randomly drop him like a hot potato…

Ugh.

I just couldn’t.  I mean, I’m sure there were some interesting things there but after 140 the book was going  no where except that I hated everyone.  So DNF….

Privilege Brat Has a Meltdown: Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo

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She had a plan. It went south.

Harper is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.

Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.

Source: GoodReads

I love Antartica.  This might be in part because my favorite animal is a penguin (okay, puffin sort of falls in there too) or the fact that there’s hardly any people there, but it’s on my bucket list.  And I will read a book if it takes place there.  However, after reading Up to this Pointe, I really don’t know if I’ll read any book that features Antartica if it involves privilege brats.  I mean, that’s sort of a fail.

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And God, is Harper one of the most privileged brats I’ve had the distaste of reading about in recent years.   Said brat, takes someone’s rightful spot to go to Antartica based on her family heritage.

I have no words.

Also, said privilege brat was such a genius she only had one plan in her life.  Her useless parents didn’t do their job of telling her that hey sometimes life doesn’t work out.  Especially ballet dancing.  The fact that they were just able to go with the whole I’ll audition around after I graduate with no alternative plans says a whole lot.

And her feet…yeah, I know some ballerinas and that they have messed up feet, but I thought there would’ve been more parental interference than there was on that.

One thing that got brought up a lot and annoyed the hell out of me was the character’s weight.  I am well aware that the world of dance is messed up when it comes to bodies, HOWEVER it doesn’t appear that the MC had an eating disorder yet it’s constantly shoved in the reader’s face that she needs to eat a cheeseburger.

Telling someone to eat a cheeseburger is about as offensive as telling someone they should lose a few.  In a world where body positivity is becoming more and more of a factor in YA, I don’t understand the skinny shaming.

Even if the character was anorexic (which she wasn’t) the whole situation wasn’t handled delicately and it sucked.  And what’s wrong with eating salad?  Seriously.  The fact that she’s not guzzling down cinnamon rolls is looked like some big sin.  Well, considering I can’t eat wheat I guess I would be sinning here…

Seriously, it annoyed the hell out of me.  Especially when they went on how having a muffin top is healthy for Antartica.  I was like seriously…can we stop with the weight talk?  Can we just agree to accept someone for the size they are and not devote thirty or so pages telling them how imperfect they are because Jesus….

It really made the book lose at least a letter grade.  The other reason the book was rated so low as I said before was the selfish privilege of the narrator.

Again, the privilege and lack of caring the MC showed everything else really soured me to the book.  I couldn’t even connect with any of the side characters save for the MC’s best friend who she hated because she was talented and the MC was not.

A part of me wanted to like this book.  I wanted to enjoy the Antartica setting and learn a couple of things, but at the end of the day it was a mope fest for a spoiled brat.  Hell, I would even be more concerned about the mope fest if the main character wasn’t such a self entitled shit.  That and the constant skinny shaming annoyed the hell out of me.

Overall Rating: A C.  Good premises but sort of a fail.

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Henry is a Jerk: Love a la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

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Take two American teen chefs, add one heaping cup of Paris, toss in a pinch of romance, and stir. . . .

Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent’s school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn’t all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes.

Henry Yi grew up in his dad’s restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent’s school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie’s growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away.

Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs.

Perfect for lovers of Chopped Teen Tournament and Kids Baking Championship, as well as anyone who dreams of a romantic trip to France, Love la Mode follows Rosie and Henry as they fall in love with food, with Paris, and ultimately, with each other.

Source: GoodReads

I really didn’t care for the love interest in this rom com.  That being said it’s not a bad book.  It’s actually quite enjoyable.  It’s warm and fluffy and reminded me of a lot like Anna and the French Kiss if it had some weird baby with Chopped or some other cooking related show.

Stephanie Kate Strohm has wrote some of my favorite books this year.  That being said while I found this book to be incredibly cute and sweet, at the same time the book was flawed in parts.

I like cooking stuff.  I have a ridiculous collection of cookbooks.  Watch a shit load of cooking shows.  And even attempt to cook when I don’t make a fool of myself by cutting myself  when chopping fennel (for this stupid sheet pan) and needing three stitches of a result (aka this is why I haven’t been blogging as of late, because typing with nine fingers is a bitch)

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So, I sort of like reading stuff about it.  And I even like reading stuff about baking even though I don’t eat a lot of bake goods because of the gluten thing.  I have even thought about doing a cooking feature on this blog before where I review cook books, but given my lack of finesse presentation wise and my tendency for getting in cooking related accidents. That being said, I found the cooking portion of this book to be very artificial in some regards.

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See I can post pictures of food.  My first attempt at fudge, don’t judge.

One of the reasons I have quit watching a lot of competitive reality cooking shows is the whole lack of heart in dishes crap that is usually used to make a chef peg themselves to a particular type of cuisine-usually this is where the chef’s from or their family’s from (i.e. your Italian you must cook Italian, you’re Southern you must cook Southern food) and that’s sort of thrown in here with Henry’s background and is a part of the story.  Never mind that his French food is just as damn good as his Chicago and Korean fusion food (which does sound pretty good now that I think about it) we’re told it doesn’t have heart.

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Okay?

Do you taste heart?  No.

In a cookbook or on a food show, I can get the argument.  Those things have narratives.  We’re just talking about the taste of the food though.  It just annoyed me…especially since Ms. Annoying (aka Rosie who I’ll get to in a minute) didn’t have any story to how she rips off Christina Tosi’s (who by the way has one of the most obnoxious wardrobe on food TV) cakes or why she’s so obsessed with lamination.  But whatever.

It’s just a pet peeve.  Besides, constant name dropping (seriously, every Food Network celeb gets a name drop).  The food stuff was interesting.  I did think though the stuff about Henry’s heritage was just pigeon toed in there at the end and was annoying.  Henry though in general was annoying and creepy.

While this was a cute book, I did not really root for this couple.  Henry is just so damn insecure and ridiculously possessive.

He and Ms. Annoying aren’t even dating yet and another guy flirts with her and he freaks out and gets all sulky.  God, what a moody character.

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Seriously, he sulks a lot.

It’s not attractive.

His moodiness also makes me realize I’m not in the targeted demographic but I digress…

I just didn’t like the way Henry acted and as much as Rosie annoyed me, she deserved better.  Guys like Henry are guys that usually become MRA fuckers.

As for Ms. Annoying…gah.  My problem with Rosie is she’s just such a stereotypical YA protagonist and her supposed improvement in cooking seemed almost miraculous.  Really, she shouldn’t have been at an elite culinary school.

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Surprisingly, I didn’t have a problem with the secondary love interest.  Yes, his backstory was a little outlandish, but Strohm didn’t result to the jerk in disguise trope and I have to give her a plus on that.

Surprisingly, while I did have a lot of nitpicking with the characters I did like this book.  It was a fun little escape.  I’m always down for a book with traveling and cooking, also I like rom coms.  So while I didn’t feel the ship it was sort of written to be an MJ book.

Overall I do recommend Love a la Mode.  There are better books out there, but it is a cute little escape from the dumpster fire that is the world.

Overall Rating: I’ll be generous and give it a B.  And now I’m going to rest my finger.

These Bones Are Fractured: Mammoth by Jill

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The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin. Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and perfect lipstick aren’t compatible with prospecting for fossils in the Texas heat. But nothing is going to dampen Natalie’s spirit — she’s exactly where she wants to be, and she gets to work with her hero, a rock-star paleontologist who hosts the most popular paleo podcast in the world. And then there’s Chase the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch.

It’s a summer that promises to be about more than just mammoths.

Until it isn’t.

When Natalie’s hero turns out to be anything but, and steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, Nat has to unearth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by dudes. To do this, she’ll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying all the rules for the sake of a major discovery.

Source: GoodReads

Note, if you’re going to state to have a book about body positivity  do not have your character guess every lady’s weight and have the “Mean Girl” be the cliche skinny girl.  It will annoy your reader who would’ve otherwise enjoyed your book.

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Okay, that opening paragraph is pretty much a summation of my thoughts of Mammoth.  It had a lot of potential, there were parts I liked but with many so called “empowerment” books this one ends up skinny bashing AND emphasizing weight more than it should’ve.

At least it had paleontology.  That was cool, and it was the primary reason why I kept reading the book.  Because I was interested in the paleontology bits, even though it got ridiculously unrealistic with how successful the MC was.

Also, seriously, she really thought wearing a dress and heels was smart for a dig sight?

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Really, all of the clothes she bought weren’t fit for Texas summers let alone being outside all day long in the Hill Country.

Digressing…

The MC, Nat, was really annoying.  Baguchinsky does excerpts of Nat’s fashion blog throughout the book, and she is one of those obnoxious fashion bloggers that I would absolutely hate.  Seriously, I don’t need to know what lipstick you like to wear Nat (Pinup Girl, it’s always fucking Pinup Girl).  Nat has that over the top quirky style that I think the audience is suppose to find quirky and empowering, but soon it’s revealed she relies heavily on Spanx and that’s a good part of the novel besides telling us what every single FEMALE character weighs.

Oh, yes, this is just the female characters.  As for the love interests not surprisingly weight isn’t mentioned just abs and biceps.

Oh, and did I mention that the 110 pound girl is obviously a bad character for flirting with a boy that Nat might like and having a rich dad.  She’s skinny and rich so…

Here’s the thing about books that state they’re about body positivity, if THAT’S true the book needs to be accepting of all body types.  It just annoys me when there’s skinny shaming as much as there is fat shaming.  Honestly, I wish that the main character’s size wasn’t mentioned all the time.  Just have it mentioned she’s a plus size blogger and leave it at that.

And really, while I get the fashion thing was used to show her self esteem it really had little to do with the rest of the novel.

The paleontology internship itself was a little eye rolling.  Again, I’d had a hard time believing a complete novice like Nat would have as much success as she did.  Also, her randomly finding a document that dismisses a lawsuit….ha, ha, ha, no.  If only it was that easy.  I’m sure her randomly finding fossils with next to no experience would be just as laughable to paleontologists too.

There’s a part of the novel that had my inward Slytherin (yes, Slytherin and DAMN proud of it) fuming when we hear about how being too ambitious is bad.

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Nope.

Nope.

Nope.

Pro tip if you’re a woman in any professional industry you’re going to have to be helluva ambitious or else…well, your fucked.  Nat being told to get over someone taking the credit of her work had my little head exploding.

At the end of the day, I didn’t hate Mammoth enough where I DNF’d it or anything like that.  It also wasn’t terribly bland because it did have the paleontology plot to it-though the love interests in this book can die a slow death.

So, I’m giving it a middle of the road rating.  As annoyed as I got about finding everyone’s weight out within the first twenty or so pages, after I go past it, I enjoyed it (enough).

Overall Rating: C+

Twilight Aliens Revamp: The Darkest Star by Jennifer Armentrout

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When seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher is caught up in a raid at a notorious club known as one of the few places where humans and the surviving Luxen can mingle freely, she meets Luc, an unnaturally beautiful guy she initially assumes is a Luxen…but he is in fact something much more powerful. Her growing attraction for Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world she’d only heard about, a world where everything she thought she knew will be turned on its head…

#1 New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout returns to the universe of the Lux in this brand new series, featuring beloved characters both new and old.

Source: GoodReads

The Lux series is pretty much a Twilight ripoff, but replace vampires with aliens.  I liked it.  It wasn’t great, but it was typical Armentrout fare, and to be fair some of her better work.  It was enjoyable, light, fluffy, and fun.    I was actually excited when I heard that the Lux series was getting its own spinoff, as ripoff-y (is that a word?) as it was it was a fun read and I was interested in reading Luc’s story.  However, its pretty much a duplicate of Lux.

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To be fair, there is potentially a good backstory here.  The story, without getting too spoilery, relies on one of my favorite soap opera tropes.  It should’ve worked.  I mean, I have been wanting a book that exploits this trope but it just didn’t work.

Also, I really didn’t like how Evie rationalized the situation.  It didn’t seem realistic.  Yes, there was some anger, but not near the amount I would’ve felt.  Also, you would’ve thought…

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Again spoilers.

Okay you really want to know what I thought….

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MAJOR SPOILERS

Pretty much the big twist is that Evie is really Nadia (Luc’s not so dead girlfriend) who has amnesia because of some weird ass alien drug that Luc got her to save her life.  The fact that she doesn’t really remember the first 12 years of her life is oddly scoffed over.

I thought Nadia (I’m calling her fucking Nadia because that’s who she is, not the dead girl whose name her creepy ass pseudo mom gave her) took in everything relatively nonchalantly.  I probably would’ve been beyond pissed with that sad sack of a mother.  Because seriously, she pretty much used Nadia as a replacement as her dead stepdaughter.

That’s so wrong.

As for Luc….yeah, that was not cool letting Nadia have no say in her life whatsoever.  I don’t care if it’s because he loves her or not it’s just wrong to take someone’s choice away from them.

Period.

End of Spoilers

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Let’s just say that whole reveal could’ve been developed better.  And it didn’t make sense.

I should note that even though it made no fucking sense, I totally guessed what the twist was and rolled my eyes at the reveal.

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That’s not exactly a good thing, people.

However, as far as books being offensive goes this one is fairly inoffensive.  It’s just not that original.  Will I finish the series…probably.  Likely.  Because I’ve read seven books total in this universe and I am interested if maybe the series picks up as it gains steam.  That doesn’t mean I have high hopes for it though.

I really think at the end of the day when it comes to Jennifer Armentrout books you are going to get something that’s quick and enjoyable enough but it’s always going to lack something.  They’re not bad books but at the end of the day…well, it could be better.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it a B-

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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However beyond that… this book is sort of weak.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Rating: A C+