The Egypt Book I Wanted: In a Perfect World by Trish Doller

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Caroline Kelly is excited to be spending her summer vacation working at the local amusement park with her best friend, exploring weird Ohio with her boyfriend, and attending soccer camp with the hope she’ll be her team’s captain in the fall.

But when Caroline’s mother is hired to open an eye clinic in Cairo, Egypt, Caroline’s plans are upended. Caroline is now expected to spend her summer and her senior year in a foreign country, away from her friends, her home, and everything she’s ever known.

With this move, Caroline predicts she’ll spend her time navigating crowded streets, eating unfamiliar food, and having terrible bouts of homesickness. But when she finds instead is a culture that surprises her, a city that astounds her, and a charming, unpredictable boy who challenges everything she thought she knew about life, love, and privilege.

Source: GoodReads

I love books about travel.  I love emerging myself into other country’s history and culture.  If done right a book about traveling will very easily end up on my favorites lists since I’ll feel like I’m emerging into a whole new world.  If done wrong, it will have me raging so hard.

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Luckily, for Trish Doller In a Perfect World had me smiling throughout the entire book.  Was it perfect, no there were some parts that were a little unbelievable, but I think overall the general feel of the novel worked.

Full disclosure I have never been to Egypt or anywhere near that area of the world, but from what I read it did seem like Doller did her research.  Or at the very least, she did a better job than Colleen Houck did with that God awful mummy book of hers, which isn’t exactly a high bar.  And it did address the geopolitical issues in the area that many other books that take place in the area often overlook.

The Egypt that Doller depicts is multi-dimension you see the good and bad bits of it, and above else it feels real.  I think the fact that the location itself is a character, its much the same way where I felt that Paris and San Fransisco were a character in themselves in Stephanie Perkins books.

The plot of this book isn’t really there that much.  Sure, there is a love story and sure the character grows, but it’s not that plot heavy.  And maybe that’s why I didn’t really like what happened to the eye clinic at the end of the book.  It just seemed too random and out of place more than anything else.  Merely a way to end the story sooner rather than later.

And while I understand why Doller chose this plot point, it still came off a little cheap.  Just like the end of the book.  Don’t get me wrong, the romantic part of me liked the ending but the more realistic part of my brain was crying foul since I know that the situation would be a lot more complicated than Doller made it seem though.

That aside though, I really did like this book a lot.  It’s the perfect summer book for escapism.  The characters were depicted and their parents were more than just merely there because-hey, seventeen year olds need parents.

The main character’s parents, in particular, are well drawn out and felt like real people.  I particularly liked the father’s relationship with Caroline throughout the book.

I also liked the romance for the most part too.  The relationship builds up realistically and it does address the problems that the two characters are going to face.  Again though, not such a big fan of the ending even though it was cute.

If you can’t get away this summer and want something that can transport you to another location if only for a few hours.  This is your book.

Overall Rating: A-

I Gave Up: The Truth About Happily Ever After by Karole Cozzo

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Chin up, Princess, or the crown will slip.

A theme park princess must put her life back together after her happily ever after falls apart in this contemporary YA romance from Karole Cozzo, author of How to Keep Rolling After a Fall and How to Say I Love You Out Loud.

Everything was supposed to be perfect. Alyssa has a job she loves, working as Cinderella at her favorite theme park; a fantastic group of friends; and a boyfriend who will no longer be long distance. But as the summer progresses, her prince becomes less charming and more distant, and Alyssa’s perfect summer falls apart.

Forced to acknowledge that life is not always a fairy tale, Alyssa starts working to pull her herself back together. Fortunately, she doesn’t have to do it alone. With her friend Miller’s support, she’s determined to prove that she’s more than just a pretty princess. And with his help, maybe she’s finally ready for something better than dreams. Maybe she’s ready for something real.

Source: GoodReads

I will give myself this after nearly five  years of consistent blogging (six if you count the sporadic first year) I know when to DNF something.  I decided that The Truth About Happily Ever After wasn’t for me after thirty pages.

To be fair, it’s not horrible if  you like super saccharine books that you can pretty much figure out the entire plot from the blurb.

In a lot of ways this book reminds me of a Hallmark movie, it’s not going to be anything special but it will entertain you if you’re in the right sort of mood.

I wasn’t in the mood.

To be frank about it, it actually reminded me of one of those Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies I read when I was a teen.  Unpredictable fluff that is kind of cornball and cheesy.

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So yeah…I gave up.

To be fair, going in I knew it was either going to be hit or miss.  With books like this, in order to be successful the voice needs to be great or there needs to be some sort of twist that makes the otherwise mundane story interesting.

With this book there was none.  I guess the biggest twist was that the obvious love interest wasn’t classically handsome, BUT honestly that’s not much of a twist if you look at all of the various sitcoms out there where the slightly chubby and average looking guy gets the supermodel wife.

Oh, and the theme park that was pretending it wasn’t Disney World but so obviously was.

But honestly, there are a lot of YA books that take place at various theme parks and I haven’t really found any of them THAT interesting.

Overall Rating: DNF.  I only read thirty pages, so I don’t really feel like giving this one a rating.  Just know that this one was not for me and unless you like cliche, it’s probably not for you either.

Just Because You Gender Bend Doesn’t Mean You’re Mulan: Flame in the Midst by Renee Ahdieh

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The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

Source: GoodReads

It’s time to be a Debbie Downer, while there have been lots of positive reviews for this book this review isn’t going to be one of them.  Instead, it’s going to be me being extremely grumpy about said book that I gave up on about 90 pages from the end because NOTHING interesting had happened and I didn’t understand what Mariko was trying to do.

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First of all, the Mulan retelling bit?  Other than gender bending and hanging out with a group of guys, don’t see it.

Oh, and this book takes place in feudal Japan NOT China.  Big difference there, publishers.  I know that both countries are in Asia.  BUT they are different countries with severally different histories and cultures.  For example, did you know Japan is where the novel originated (thank you, Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego PC Game that I beat about 40K times during my childhood).  I bet unless you played that game or studied Japanese history you didn’t know that.   Also, if you only watched the Disney movie you probably don’t know that Mulan actually was not an original Disney project-shocking, not, since Disney usually adapts various folklores and stories rather than having original projects.  The origins of the story, obviously, are from China.

So…yeah, I don’t necessary know if calling this a Mulan retelling is a good idea, but I guess I could see where marketing was going with this one…

Anyway, the initial set up is an interesting one.  The MC escapes for her life because bandits are trying to kill her and then decides to infiltrate the bandits to find out why they killed her.

And that’s when the book flops because the character does every stupid thing possible when with the bandits, while being depicted as clever.

Look, I get it, you need to have some moments of stupidity to fuel the story but when the character keeps acting stupid and doesn’t do anything to further her plan except make stupid mistake after stupid mistake with to add to another stupid plot point which results with her making out with a guy who probably tried to kill her…

Yeah, I’m not a happy reader.

In Ahdieh’s first series she used a love/hate relationship too and that worked because it was a Scheherazade retelling and you know…kind of happens in that story.  Here though, it annoyed me.  I didn’t like any of these bandits.  I didn’t care for them.  I didn’t care for the lead, or any one else.

I pretty much hated everyone and wanted to tell them they were fucking stupid.

Which isn’t how the jacket described the book at all.  Like, Mariko was described as being this clever character.  Yet, everyone and I mean EVERYONE can figure out her motivations.  Which is ridiculous beyond words.

I am not going to even start on how abusive and annoying I found the love interest.

In the end though, what drove me to DNF this book was the extremely slow pacing of this book.  The fact that I had gotten so far in the book and it seemed like nothing had happened, was enough for me to DNF it.  That and the random make out scene that came out of nowhere.

If you really like the gender bend trope, you might want to give this one a try.  But for me it didn’t work.  I think if anything it made me long to write that book where a boy has to pretend to be a girl in order to save his life/spy on the evil rulers or what not and falls in love with the MC who is all powerful and shit and deals while the guy who is a gal in disguise has to deal with the unfortunate shit that comes with being female-i.e. sexism.   And yeah, I sort of feel pumped to write that now.

Overall Rating: A DNF.  I think this might’ve been a bit of a more subjective than objective DNF though.  The writing is decent, but man did I get annoyed with the characters and the snail pacing of this one.

Eight Steps to Write a Cliche YA Fantasy: Frostblood by Elly Blake

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The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Source: GoodReads

I remember when I read Red Queent that I commented that it was pretty much standard cliche YA fantasy.  However, I’ll give Red Queen credit for being mildly entertaining and attempting to try something because after reading Frost Blood it seems like its not trying one fucking bit.

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 I know, I already wrote a recipe for cliche YA fantasy with with Red Queen, but hey, since YA fantasy isn’t being original why should I be that original with my reviews.  For those of you who want the Red Queen derivative of the recipe you can click here.  So, without further ado here’ s how you can make your very standard very cliche YA Fantasy using these ten eight easy steps with  Frost Blood as a guidepost :

Step One You Must Have a  MC with a Special Power or Some Sort of Specialness.  

In this case, we have Ruby and her power is the power of fire.  Get it, ’cause her name is Ruby.  I should’ve added that her name has some symbolism shit involved in it, but I’m not.  Her power is like forbidden in this fantasy dystopian world that makes her ultra special, especially since everyone is killing fire bloods off.

Step 2 The MC’s Family Gets Killed or Put into Dangerous Peril Which Gets MC in Some Dicey Situation

Check. Check. Check.  Ruby’s mom gets killed within the span of fifteen pages and she’s thrown into jail accordingly.

Step 3 MC is Rescued by Mysterious Rebel Group

Yep, by two hooded figures one’s an old  monk and the other’s a grumpy guy that has a tragic backstory.  You can totally tell that the old monk’s going to be the love interest, right?

That’s sarcasm by the way.

Of course, the old monk’s not the love interest its the rude broody guy who keeps his face covered-we later learn becuase he’s disfigured.  But still has breathtaking eyes-’cause you know this is YA and these books have to be a little bit shallow.

Step 4 MC Has “Problems” Controlling Her Power But Essentially Solves Them in a Book Montage

Because we need a montage…..every book’s got to have a montage…but without a catchy theme song unfortunately.  No just boring passing of time scenarios where the MC does boring shit for a few pages and we are told she has control over her powers with not really any progress shown save for maybe the occasional scene of verbal banter.  She just needs  that to get good enough to deal with the ridiculous tournament/competition that happens in these books because said tournament in Hunger Games, Throne of Glass,  etc. (though I digress about Throne of Glass, but people disagree with me so…)

Step 5 The Ridiculously Hard Tournament/Gladiator-ish Competition that Our MC Defies the Odds

‘Cause we have to show the MC is bad ass.  Of course, she’ll struggle a bit but you know she’ll survive when no one else does…  Also, again Huger Games and Throne of Glass did it so we should do it too.

Step 6 Someone in the book has a secret royalty

Big spoiler twist it’s not the MC, but there’s always the second book.  And considering little was said about daddy dearest I’m sure that bombshell is a coming.

Step 7 Standard Fantasy Prophecy Made about Saving the World

Enough said.

Step 8 Obligatory Sequel Even Though Book is Resolved

Uh, duh. $$$$

Okay, I tried to think of two more steps but totally failed at that. The OCD part of me is annoyed though because I wanted a whole ten steps of cliches, but considering this book has two more installments coming out I think there’s plenty of room for it to fit more cliches in here.

The thing is even though Frost Blood is extraordinary cliche, the writings not half bad.  I was able to get through it pretty fast-grant it, after about page 200 I started skimming pretty hard.  Mainly, because the book was so bland.  There were no interesting characters, they were all pretty much your typical archetypes of a YA fantasy.  And honestly, after I finished reading Frost Blood  I just felt a mixture of sadness and anger.

Has the trend on YA fantasy gotten to the point where anything that’s halfway decently written with the requisite tropes tends to get published?

With Frost Blood it would seem that way.

And honestly, I shouldn’t be that surprised.  The same thing happened when YA paranormal got oversaturated, the YA dystopia, and New Adult.  So, it really shouldn’t surprise me that the fantasy shared the same fate.

The thing is, it just seems more glaring obvious to me with high fantasy than those other genres. I think maybe it’s because the sky’s sort of the limit with this genre.  And YA tends to take it in only one direction. Does that mean, I don’t expect to see tropes?

No.

I get it that tropes are going to be a part of most things, but its how you utilize them and make them your own.  And unfortunately, it seems with YA fantasy that’s not the case.

Overall Rating: A C- hardly original but it’s not the worst thing I ever read.

Creepy: Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Hedicker

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Sixteen-year-old Jaxon is being committed to video game rehab . . .

ten minutes after he met a girl. A living, breathing girl named Serena, who not only laughed at his jokes but actually kinda sorta seemed excited when she agreed to go out with him.

Jaxon’s first date. Ever.

In rehab, he can’t blast his way through galaxies to reach her. He can’t slash through armies to kiss her sweet lips. Instead, he has just four days to earn one million points by learning real-life skills. And he’ll do whatever it takes—lie, cheat, steal, even learn how to cross-stitch—in order to make it to his date.

If all else fails, Jaxon will have to bare his soul to the other teens in treatment, confront his mother’s absence, and maybe admit that it’s more than video games that stand in the way of a real connection.

Prepare to be cured.

Source: GoodReads

I DNF’d this sucker in less than 50 pages.  Full disclosure, I’ve noticed lately after I binge a series there’s a higher rate for me to DNF and unfortunately for this book I finished it after I binged on A Court of Thorns and Roses and the Travis book series respectfully.

It stood no chance.  But it probably would’ve helped had the book actually been good-I’m just saying.

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Second disclosure, I’m not really much of a gamer.  The only gaming system I ever owned was the old NES system that my dad bought and eventually got tired of and gave to my sister and I,  and my mom was ridiculously strict about not letting us play on it and hid it from me  and my sister, and then lost it when she hid it and refused to get any other gaming system for us, so most of the gaming I’ve done besides the old old versions of Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario Brothers 2, and that crappy Where’s Waldo game,  oh and Tetris, has been  primarily  PC games.  Mostly the Nancy Drew games.  I found that my mom couldn’t pick up a desktop and take it a way, so those games made a lot more sense to me.  Plus, she could never complain about Nancy Drew.  She though they were educational (and she was right to some degree, but not really).

As an adult, I don’t have a gaming system either because of budget reasons and again, I’m more prone to play something on my computer.  Though, I am more than a little pissed off at Her Interactive these days for not releasing any credible update on Midnight in Salem (it has been 2 years, Her, and don’t give me that bull-shitty excuse that you’re changing engines even Miss Freaking Clue has been able to produce and update its games faster than you…)

Digressing aren’t I?

Guess that happens when you’re trying to talk about a book you only read 50 pages on.  Hell, I thought awhile before even drafting a review of this like if it would even be worthwhile pointing out what bothers me about it.  Well, I decided it would.  But this is going to be a bullet point review:

  • We didn’t really see the character at rock bottom: I mean, yeah he was in his room all the time gaming.  But the MC pointed out he has a 4.0 at school and it’s not like he does drugs or anything.  It seemed more like his dad and stepmom were concerned he wasn’t going to get laid.
  • Creepy Parents: Really, you want proof that your son/stepson is talking to a girl and demand to know her number or Facebook page and if the MC would’ve showed you this you would’ve let him out of rehab…priorities.  Also, stepmom is extremely young and it adds to the creepiness.
  • Creepy Rehab Center: Rehab does serve a purpose sometimes, but something about this place rubbed me the wrong way.  Maybe because I didn’t think the character’s problem was severe enough to warrant rehab.  Yes, 125 hours playing games in a month is a lot.  But honestly, if you think about it, its probably not that much in hindsight.  And honestly, if the MC is still functional (which he is) I don’t see the fucking point.
  • Creepy Counselor Cliche: Enough said.
  • Random hot chick  having instant connection with doofus MC.  Check.  At least she wasn’t a total MPDG but she was only in the book for about two pages so she might’ve actually been for all I know.

So, by looking at my bullet points I think I didn’t like the  book because there was just an overall a creepy book or it comes off creepy to me.

Overall Rating: DNF

Heavily Flawed But Enjoyable: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

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Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Rosesseries.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

Source: GoodReads

Note this review contains lots and lots spoilers for the first three books in the series.

This book was the most anticipated follow up to A Court of Mist and Fury.  A book that seems to have very mixed feelings amongst fans of this series-I personally like it, but I can understand why some people might not like it.  Especially, if they favored a particular ship.  For me, upon reread, of the series the twist that was going to happen in the second book was much more obvious than it was first read.  But I can still get how fans of that ship were pissed, but overall I liked the second book better than the first because of the character development that was done (Feyre is a lot more tolerable in that installment than the first).  Not that some of the writing was atrocious.  I literally cringed with some of the descriptions  metaphors that Maas used, but usually I can give purple prose writing a pass if the story is good enough.

At least that was the case in A Court of Mist and Fury, as for the follow up though…

Eh.

I really have mixed feelings about A Court of Wings and Ruin, there were some parts that worked alright.  Some parts that had me rolling my eyes.  And every time there was a sex scene I had to roll my eyes.  xtitndc8wjdnqupxnq

Let’s talk about what worked: the book held my interest.  That’s something.  Especially considering this is a big book at almost 700 pages.  Stuff happens throughout all of it, so that’s good and some of the interactions are nice. Some is the optimum word though because when Rhys and Feyre get too mushy this book turns into fae porn.  It’s that eye roll worthy.

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That’s who bad it is.

It’s probably in part that I hate the whole mate trope.  I know Maas tried to remedy it by saying there was some choice to it-whether or not you accepted the bond-but come on, with the amount of pressure that is given on these characters if they choose not to except the bond you know that there’s going to be some dastardly consequences.

Just going to say it now, poor Elain.

I didn’t get why there was a bond between her and Lucien to be honest about it.  Other than to have a reason for Lucien to not keep being Tamlin bitch-sorry for the grotesque language, but that’s pretty much what he is throughout most of the series.

The other randomness when it came to romantic relationships in this series was Mor.  There was build up between her and Azriel throughout most of the last two books, but because-and this is me totally theorizing on this aspect and it’s ONLY a theory-Maas was called out on the fact that her books lack diversity she decided for Mor to randomly be revealed as bi, with little or no character development to show that she had a preference for women in the past-in fact, she has the character state she tried to hide this aspect of herself by randomly sleeping with men to get away which I guess allowed Maas to get away without having character development.   I would be perfectly fine with this if it wasn’t so random, and if the relationship that had been building up was’t so sweet.  It was way better than Lucien and Elain at least, just saying.  But now knowing that’s not going to be an end game, I’m a little sad.  Especially since it just seems like the ship was thrown away to make Mor into a token character.  Had there been more development with Mor’s sexuality, I think I would’ve enjoyed this plot point better than I did.  As it was, it was more or like Maas was like, “Oh, shit.  They’re right.  I don’t have any diverse characters in this book, what if I make Mor bi.  That will fix it, and I’ll just change this ship with this ship and…I’m a genius”.

I should note though, Mor is not the only diverse character in the book.  There is a minor character that is mentioned to be bi and who is into threesomes and a minor extra whose a lesbian.

Yeah….it was pretty much tokenism.

gnjgblpghtcnsHonestly, if she wanted an actual QUILTBAG relationship that actually worked she should’ve just had Tamlin and Lucien get together already.  I would’ve been behind that, a lot more than I’m behind Lucien and Elain or Tamlin and anyone right now.

Probably my favorite character in this book (really in the series at this point) is Nesta.  I feel like this character remained the truest to what we were presented with in the earlier groups and grew accordingly.  I hope in future installments she’ll be a main character because she’s bad ass, vicious, and I just really like her over all.

So Nesta kept the book from completely falling apart in its later half.

Because God was the later half a bit of a hot mess.  Especially since Tamlin was such a douche canoe throughout the whole book.

It’s odd when I reread the first one, I thought maybe I’l see that Tamlin was a douche canoe from the start and Rhys wouldn’t come off as creepy as he did the first time I read the book.  And yeah, some aspects of that were there.  I mean, he’s practically useless Under the Mountain and once he and Feyre have sex the relationship pretty much falls apart, but he wasn’t near as controlling as he was in the later books or possessive.  And the creepy priestess made no impact on his life in the first one.  Hell, he even tells Feyre to leave in the first book and that she was not forced to stay in their lands.  While Rhys in the first book, I know Maas keeps saying he did what he had to do.  But drugging Feyre was not cool, even if it was to spare her from pain and a lot other shit that went down under the mountain.

And honestly, Rhys made a number of douche canoe decisions in this book that he said needed to happen but really were just made to facilitate drama.  And what he did to Mor….

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Mor really got shafted in this book on so many levels.  It’s like Maas took her hate out for this character in this installment and it just makes me fucking mad.

Is this book a great book, no.  Like the rest of the series, it is heavily flawed but it is an enjoyable read.  It has that crack-ish like quality to it that I see a lot in fan fiction and like fan fiction it suffers from a lot of problems.  While I would say that Feyre has developed over the series and is less of a Mary Sue than the lead character in Throne of Glass, there are still some obvious Sue-isms to her.  While I did like the turn the romance took in book 2, I’m not naive and know that the scenes that were between Rhys and Feyre have a cringe like quality to them.  Especially when Maas decided to bring in the whole mate trope.  Still, it’s a fun series.  And if you can look past the flaws and the ridiculousness of the series, and borderline offensiveness when it comes to how Mor was treated its an okay book.   Not what I hoped for, but it could’ve been much worse.

Overall Rating: A B.

 

The TBR Pile: Why Does May Hate Me

May is always a bad month for the wallet.  It doesn’t matter what year it is, its always bad.  I think it’s because its technically the beginning of the summer season, and with that beach book season is back as well.  As usual I’m doing this feature to note awareness for upcoming releases AND more importantly to try to budget (FYI it always fails)

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Fashion.  Also, there’s a Meg Cabot blurb.  Truthfully though, I’ve always sort of been on the fringe about Juby’s stuff.  Sometimes it’s a little too much for me.  Like her Alice series.  I remember liking moments of those books but it got annoying fast. I like fashion though, so I’m willing to give it a try.

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Because I am morbidly curious in what happens next in this series about extremely rich people.

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I have a feeling this one could be disastrous but I am curious about it enough to give it a try.

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I haven’t had that much success with this author.  But the subject matter is so timely right now and if it halfway gets it right I will probably recommend this one.

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A Swan Lake retelling, give me.

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This is the first out of two books that are coming out this year about someone winning the lotto.  You want to know what I’d do with the lotto-obviously, I’d pay off my student loans and then probably move to Canada where they actually have a sane leader right now that doesn’t look like an orange boob.

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Another Cinderella retelling.  And of course, I’m eating it up because….reasons.

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A complex looking contemporary that I actually want to read.  Yay.

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Let’s hope YA gets K-Drama better than it got K-Pop.

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Destination Egypt via book.

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So much hype surrounding this book it better be good.

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There is so much controversy about this one already which is a little ridiculous.  Apparently, a lot of people are in a fuss because the character (who thinks she’s a lesbian) discovers she’s bisexual.  As long as its done tastefully, I think it could be an interesting read.

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Erin Watt my go too author for completely ridiculous soap opera fluff.

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Hopefully, May is the correct release date.  Originally Amazon said March.  Shrugs.

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More fandom based YA, it is almost becoming a sub genre of its own.

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More Royal Lit.  Again, give me.  Though side note, if I was Princess Kate I’d be slightly creeped out with these books.

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I really need to reread this series.

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I should shoot myself for continuing to read this cash cow series, but I’ll console myself without reviewing it.  I mean, what’s the point I know it’s going to be formulaic as shit but I’ll probably enjoy it in a fan fiction-ish sort of way.  Honestly, this series sort of reminds me of Once Upon a Time the series has been overdone to death but for some reason I keep watching it.

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I’m on the fence about this one.  It’s a Mulan retelling which I like, BUT it is taking place in Japan instead of China and that’s just all sorts of wrong.

 

And that’s it.  Thankfully, for my wallet.  I did cancel two pre-orders when drafting this.  So that’s something, right? Still though, I’m inwardly grimacing.

When the Exploitation Network is More Classy: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

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Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Source: GoodReads

A few years ago, a coworker recommended that I watch My 600 Lb Life. I was a little dubious about watching it because it was on the exploitation channel (aka TLC) but after some constantly pestering I decided to watch an episode and was pretty much horrified with I saw.  Like I thought, TLC exploited the situation for what it’s worth.  But unfortunately, by watching some of these episodes (mostly, when I was halfway asleep) I did learn a couple things enough that when I read Holding Up the Universe my eyes almost did a complete revolution in rolling  because it was so God offensive and awful on so many levels.

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First of all, if you are easily triggered do NOT read this shit.  It’s probably the most offensive book I’ve read featuring an overweight protagonist after My Big Fat Disaster and that one book I read from the 80’s where the character develops an eating disorder after lots and lots of body shaming (I think the title had “Big Fat Blimp” in it, but I couldn’t find anything when I searched on GoodReads so maybe title forgotten is best).  And the only reason its not as offensive as those books is that the main character does not attempt self harm.

Still though, even there’s no suicide attempt or grotesque depiction of an eating disorder, this book is pretty offensive.  There’s a whole twenty page sequence about how a crane is used to remove then 600 pound something Libby from her home.

Okay.

That is way melodramatic especially considering you can watch a couple of episodes from the exploration show and see plenty of 600 + pounders get out of houses  that aren’t as near as fancy as Libby’s.  PLUS if you watch the expoitation show, or really do any sort of research about morbidly obese people it takes years to get that heavy with a very high caloric intake.  And for that matter, changing someone’s lifestyle like Libby seemingly did is not that easy.

Hell, Libby eats pizza at one point in the novel and I’m just cringing because I know it has to be against her diet but it’s fluffed over.  Also, Niven only says that Libby went to a couple of fat camps to lose weight and leaves it there.  We don’t have the discussion of weight loss surgery, which I’m sure has to be at least a consideration in this case and really other than some bullying and Libby’s mother dying, we aren’t really given any insight in what drove her to over eat or what sort of methods she learned to cope with it. Hell, the excess skin that I’m sure Libby has from losing 200 + pounds isn’t even addressed.  Sure,  I guess there’s a creepy counselor-ish character who comes off more as Libby’s b.f.f. than counselor but come on…that’s the only

Also, I HATED the fact that the father’s role as an enabler was diminished. Libby makes excuses for him, that he didn’t know she was eating all that crap she had hidden in her room but considering the caloric intake that she had to have to maintain and add to that weight, considering she was house bound for six months, Dad was accountable at some level.  I’m sorry…

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Also, in addition to pretty much dramatizing Libby’s weight, Libby is just not a likable protagonist.  She’s prickly, borderline annoyingly mean, and quite honestly she’s one of those people who will not take responsibility for her actions.  Also, she suffers from YA heroines who quote from classical literature way too much and makes me want to deck her in the face.  I know that not being likable is arguably a part of being  a teen, but here’s the thing there could be bits and pieces of her that I liked while still being annoyed with her.  Also, cease with The To Kill a Mockingbird quoting already.  I like that book too, but I don’t go quoting around it even when I was a precocious teen.

The other main lead, Jack, is a big douche.  There’s no other way to describe him.  Niven tries to use his face blindness as an excuse for how he acts and what he does, but it doesn’t work.  Also, I found it laughable throughout the entire thing that no one in his whole family ever picks up on the fact that he has face blindness or that when he fell of that roof which was the cause of his injury that the doctors didn’t run an MRI and pick up on the brain damage.

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I’m just saying.

While the main leads were annoying, I think what bothered me about this one the most was that there was something “after school special” about it.  What I mean by this, is it just seems that the two leads are thrown to teach some big lesson and that the only way that Niven can justify that the two of them are even together is that they both have “issues”.

Personally, I could not find myself getting into this ship.  The fact that the so called hero meets the heroine when he pretty much assaults her just makes the whole ship have nasty feels throughout the entire time.  The fact that they are forced to attend useless counseling sessions that come out of a mid 90’s movie together even further the feeling of this nastiness.  The fact that the narrative constantly goes into questioning whether the Jerkwad lead could fall in love with a heavy set protagonist made me want to clobber someone.

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This book is just not healthy when it comes to relationships in general and like I said I cringe at the thought of a teenager reading this.  It’s NOT good for body image and it does not give a healthy view on what a healthy relationship requires.

Even those flashbacks where Jack creepily goes into Libby’s house after a crane (I am not even going to go into detail again about how ridiculous those fucking scenes were)  that are supposed to humanize him just make him feel like even more like a creeper.

I’m sorry, me no likey.

I can’t find any justifiable reason to recommend this one to anyone.  It’s trigger inducing. The romance is forced.  Sure, the face blindness seems like it would be something interesting to explore, but at the end of the day it really was more or less a justification to get the so called popular guy to like the heavy girl.  And no, it didn’t work it just cheapened this already horrible book.

Overall Rating: F as in fail.

Like TCM Lite : Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

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The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

Source: GoodReads

Okay, the blurb completely ruins the book because it pretty much reveals the entire plot of the book. And that is annoying.

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Sigh.

Also, is it just me or was it annoying that this book got all these You’ve Got Mail comparisons when a good chunk of the book deals with old movies and in turn the comparison should’ve been made to The Shop Around the Corner-which for all you non-classic film buffs, is the movie that You’ve Got Mail based itself on.

In fact, it’s sort of referenced in the movie.

Okay…so I probably watched that movie and too many old movies way too much but oh well.  I’ll have to say reading this book and all its old film references, was exciting to me.  It was like finally meeting with someone who shared your weird old hobby and this book did with its love for old films.  And wasn’t even TCM  snobby about it which was great.

As far as The Shop Around the Corner reduxes go, this one is pretty good.  Both characters are surprisingly well fleshed out and have imperfections.  I also liked the sleepy beach town setting for the novel.  I thought it fit appropriately with the tone of the novel, and the town had enough quirks about it where it was sort of a character of its own.

The romance is so of slow burn, and it really worked for me.  It takes awhile for Porter and Bailey to tolerate each other, let alone like each other and the growth of the relationship is enjoyable to see with its gradual evolution.   On the flip side, we also get to see how their online relationship grows as well.  And I’ll be honest I sort of love the hate to love trope when done right.  Especially when they finally admit that they want to be together despite all the  obstacles.

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One thing that did annoy me, was that the dad character wasn’t at least a little freaked out about the fact his daughter had a quasi boyfriend online.  Given all the shit that happened to Bailey in the past, you would think he’d be at least skeptical.  And for that matter, maybe it’s one too many Lifetime movies (for yours truly) AND being an extremely paranoid person I would really have issues if I had a teenage daughter who randomly met some dude who was trying to get her to fly across the country online.

I mean, that’s reality talking.  And normally, I would sort of give it a pass.  But given the ultra dramatic back story that this book has, it sort of had me raising a couple of eyebrows.

Another problem I had with this book was the random dramatic backstory.  It felt a little bit out of place, and in all honesty I felt like it served no purpose other than to describe why the main character was scared of guns.

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Um, because they’re guns. That’s why.

But really, that and a couple of the dramatic side plots could’ve been cut out and the book may have been better for it.  Honestly, I was sort of on the fence about it.  Which is why I rated this book lower than five stars on GoodReads.  Still though, it was a very enjoyable read.

Overall Rating: An A-

An Excuse to Use 90’s Gifs: Fireworks by Katie Contango

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From Katie Cotugno, bestselling author of 99 Days, comes Fireworks—about a girl who is competing with her best friend to become the new pop star of the moment—and all the drama and romance that comes with it—set in Orlando during the late-’90s boy-and-girl-band craze.

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.

Source: GoodReads

Note: I DNF’d this one at about 60 pages.  It was stale as old bread and predictable.  Cliche filled.  I was really hoping this would’ve been a nostalgia trip to the 90’s but it wasn’t.  Instead, it really could’ve been in 2017 save for the fact we’re not getting five million references to social media.  Which was nice because I often roll my eyes when authors decide to hide Twitter with Chirpy or whatever and Facebook by MyFace or whatever.  It’s annoying.

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So, so, annoying.  But so is using the 90’s as a setting when the period has nothing to whatsoever with the fucking book.

This is the first Katie Cotugno book I’ve read and likely I won’t read another one for a long time unless I get  good deal on it  or venture out to the library.  When I read the book I was unaware it was packaged but after reading a few pages and seeing the little Alloy imprint on it I wasn’t so surprised becuase God knows this piece of shit felt so, so, packaged.

The characters were really weak.  I barely remember the leads names and had to pause for a moment to recall them.  Dana is your typical best friend who is really talented but doesn’t realize it shit.  Olivia is the jealous best friend who you know is really going to be a shitty friend, but we won’t realize this towards the in.  Alex is the boy who will fall in love with Dana and ruin Dana’s relationship with Olivia.

Add a lot of midriff wearing and you have the mid to late 90’s save there’s no Britney and Justin which is just sort of sad.

Just saying.

To be honest, I only have vague recollections of this period of time.  I was still pretty young and my mom really didn’t like me listening to boy bands and she always seem to have me doing some sort of something during the CW Prime Time so instead of watching teeny boppers trying to be America’s Next Top Pop Starr my mother thought Judging Amy would be a better show for her young impressionable daughter to watch.

Well, it did get me interested in the legal profession (sort of), so I guess she did have a point.  Though, it still pains me that I did not get to watch Charmed when it first aired-thanks, Mom (not).

Okay, point is the late 90’s was the era of cotton candy pop.  It should’ve been fun to explore but it wasn’t.  More or less this swept up my fears in having a series featured in the late 90’s it was really more or less a tool to address social media and the changes it has had on teenage-hood.  But really, would it have killed Contugno to at least have one character wear a midriff?

I know it might seem like I’m asking for a lot, but there really wasn’t anything else in this book that felt  90-ish. Maybe it improves as the book progresses, but man I would’ve been exploiting those out dated pop culture references to the limit.

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Anyway, this one really didn’t work for me.  I was intrigued that it was going to use a period of time that’s really not that long ago but it just didn’t work on various levels.

Overall Rating: DNF.