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

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

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

Oh, boy.

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

It’s not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you say ew?

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I can.

Ew.

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

You can like pink and have a brain I know.

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

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

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

Overall Rating: DNF

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

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

Yeah, I’m that sort of person.

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

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

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

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

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

No.

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

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

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

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It fucking is not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Yeah…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Retrospect: The Worst Books I Ever Blogged About

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I wanted to do a retrospect for this half of the year, then I realized even though I had read a fair amount of books-I think it’s been like 59 or so-I really don’t have a definitive best or worst list.  To be honest, this year has sort of been average.  I had a few good picks but  most of them have bene contemporaries and that doesn’t make for a well rounded list.   As for the bad ones, there hasn’t been one book that has me screamed or if there has I’ve been smart enough to DNF very early in the game.

Still though, I wanted to do some sort of recap post especially since I’ve been blogging regularly for five years (six if we count the year that I started this blog, but considering I got really sick and only did like four or five posts that year I really view my start of blogging as 2012 rather than 2011).  That being said, I’d thought I’d do a couple of retrospect posts.  This one is over the worst books I’ve ever read since blogging.

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Getting retrospective like with Patty wearing bows. 

Why did I choose the worst rather than the best?

For one thing, it’s easier to talk about all the horrible books I read than gush over the good ones.  I find it’s more pedantic if I list all the great books I’ve read (though I do plan on doing it at some point, though I’m going to have to contain them because there’s a lot) also in retrospect some of those books I really liked I might not like so much now.  It’s sad, you blog and your taste changes.   Also, should I do such a list its going to be way longer than this one.

Because I’ll be honest, the really bad books I’ve read.  They’re going to stick with me for a long, long, time.  Without further ado here are some of the worst books that I ever blogged about.

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Original Review

I’ll be honest with you, I really didn’t think Alexandra Adornetto would still be publishing books at this point.  I thought she’d be one of those YA authors who fade into oblivion.  But she actually released a book not too long ago to that Mediator rip off series of hers-I’m not even attempting to check it out or library it.  That’s how done I am with her.  Anyway, Halo is pretty much an even more  Christian-fied version of Twilight that gets a movie produced by Kurt Cameron and that is given approval by the Dove Foundation and has some God awful original Christian rock.  And if you’ve seen any of those God awful Dove Foundation movies and how sanctimonious and patronizing they are, THAT should give you an idea how bad Halo is.

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Interesting enough, I was curious enough to see how the series would end that I ended up reading the entire trilogy which really means I had way too much time on my hands.  Honestly, I don’t know how I did it since I think I was reading this through law school and when I took my first bar.  Of course, reading this might’ve encouraged me to study.  So…yeah.

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Original Review

I love stories about witches and even though the premises of this one was a little cliche-because we can all see where this story is going-I still thought it could be cute.

But that was until I read it.  There are so many things wrong with this one, just even thinking about it has me raging. The main character practically gives herself radical plastic surgery via magic.   I think this book was what turned me off of Wattpad and anything that originates there.  It is THAT bad.   Had I reviewed this book today, I think the review would’ve been a lot more graphic than it was back then.

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Original Review

This one makes me rage thinking about it.  While I am aware that situations like Colby’s do unfortunately occur and that there are some cray cray parents out there like her mother, there was not one thing I liked about this book.  I think in part because this book offered no hope.  Everyone and their mother was an asshole, even Colby to some degree. Even though she seemed better after two sessions of therapy, you know she really wasn’t.  This book really was depressing, nasty, trigger inducing, and I just want to forget about it.  Plus, now that I think of it, Colby’s father reminded me of Chris Christie and that makes the book even more disgusting because Chris Christie (like Colby’s dad) is pretty much a horrible person.

 

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Original Review

I only read about forty pages of this shit, but that was enough to make it on the list.  I think why I hated it so much-besides the fact that the heroine and her kids all had names dealing with the fucking weather or a season or something-was that in most books Brody McDouche would be the villain.  He knocked up two women and left town.  Instead, his second baby mama (no the heroine) is portrayed as being this evil slut.  Can you say hello DNF pile.

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Original Review

This fucking series.  I really hate how Braswell handled what should’ve been an interesting series but has to be some of the most banal drivel I’ve read.  This one is particularly offensive because it ruins Beauty and the Beast by focusing on Maurice of all people.  Though to be fair to Braswell, Disney sort of took her storyline and threw it in the new movie.  BUT that movie had Kevin Kline.  This book does NOT.  Therefore, it sucks.

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Original Review

This is one had one of those reviews where I’m still getting trolls years after I originally posted.  That means, I must of done something right (I think).  Honestly, I’m sort of surprised since this is an Indy published book but whatever.

What makes this one so memorably bad about it, is I read it right after I passed the bar and it’s just so offensive on so many levels.  I can just imagine how bad it would be now after practicing a little bit and becoming certified in guardianships.

Look, I love Cinderella stories more than anything, but you know when you act like its easy peasy to have some one committed or to have their freedom be declared incompetent so easy, you are really preaching a dangerous idea.  Thing is, it wouldn’t have been that hard for Oram to make her protagonist a year or so younger to avoid this.  But just thinking about it makes me rage.

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Orignal Review

Colleen Houck’s writing embodies an average Trump supporter.  That’s how fucking offensive I find her books that stereotype the cultures and religions they’re exploring.  And she’s so fucking ignorant about the various mythologies she’s embodying.  Her characters often exemplify the worst behavior of American tourists too, come to think of it.

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Take this book, for example.  Rather than exploring Egypt, the character stays at her luxury Americanized hotel and eats a whole fucking IHOP menu.

I  could’ve also put the Tiger Curse series on this list too, but I didn’t.  Because honestly all of Colleen Houck’s books are the fucking same.  I’m actually surprised Trump hasn’t named her ambassador to India  or Egypt.  She’s fucking ignorant enough for him too.

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Original Review

Another books starring a stupid American who’d rather eat at McDonalds than be in Europe.  Yes, that’s said n the book and it’s pretty much why this book is on the list.  Also, it doesn’t help that the books intriguing premises is pretty said ruin by the exasperating main character and a prince that’s dumb as a box of rocks.

 

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Original Review

This is another one that I’ll occasionally get the random troll comment (still) on GoodReads.  I remember throwing this book against a wall when I read it.  It made me that angry.

I get that marching band is different from state to state or really program to program , but even the little minute couldn’t help some of the inaccuracies that this book had.

AND I don’t care if you can fucking do it but you do NOT transpose a solo for piccolo on horn.  You just DON’T do that.

Okay.

Okay.

And come to think about this, I still probably would throw this book against a wall.

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Original Review

Of course, this one is going to be on here.  I read the whole freaking series and if I would’ve actually drank real alcohol during it, I’m pretty sure I’d be dead.  Zoe Redbird is one of the most annoying characters out there in YA.  In fact, I find her more offensive than Bella Swan.

Actually, I find a lot more people offensive than Bella Swan.  Zoe was created in the hey day of paranormal YA and her authors seem to think she’s as famous as Bella (she’s not).  The series as a whole focuses on Zoe’s bizarre love life, the Casts weird fetishes, and Aphrodite appearing naked in every book.  God, just talking about this series makes me want to drink.

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Seriously, I sometimes wonder if the Casts had a drinking game when writing them (it would explain a lot).

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Original Review

To be fair to the book, I would’ve never read it if I knew it was Christian romance.  That in itself is sort of gag worthy to me.  It’s nothing against religion personally, I just really roll my eyes when people get all sanctimonious (and they do in these book and in Dove Foundation movies-see we went full circle in this post) and this book not only is sanctimonious with people randomly quoting Bible versus (WTF does that besides those creepy ass Duggars and those annoying Duck people) but it also has one of the creepiest love interests known to man kind.  If I were to rewrite this book I’d have some Gordon Ramsay asshole who gasps smokes, has lots of sex, drinks, and  sweeps the character off her feet (and we find out he’s not really that much of an asshole) and put creepy guy in his place.  Alas, I don’t write this shit and it’s probably a good thing since I can’t quote Bible versus and thus can’t write for the Dove Foundation, Duck Dynasty, or Christian romances.

Comfort Food in Book Form: When It’s Real by Erin Watt

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From #1 New York Times bestselling author duo Erin Watt comes the addictive contemporary tale of a teen rock star in need of an image makeover and the teen girl hired to be his fake girlfriend.

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?

Source: GoodReads

Normal girl falling in love with someone famous (albeit pop star, movie star, or prince) seems to be a typical YA trope these days.  And why not, I mean I’ll admit I enjoy reading these types of books.  They’re a guilty pleasure of mine.

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That aside though, a lot of them are really bad.  I was excited though when I heard that the team behind the Paper Princess series (Erin Watt) was writing a book with this theme since this is the sort of trope that that writing team is made for.

And like I expected, I enjoyed When It’s Real, yes it was watered down from Paper Princess in a lot of ways-this one was way more YA than NA- BUT it still worked.

Only it wasn’t as crack-tastic as Paper Princess.  Instead, When It’s Real is more like comfort food.  The perfect sort of book to read when you have a crap day.

That being said, it’s not that special of a book. You can pretty much figure out everything that’s going to happen in the book on the synopsis alone.

I did enjoy it though for what it’s worth.  While the characters were a bit cliche they were original enough and realistic enough they weren’t totally groan worthy.

Like, Vaughn.  Yeah, she had the sad little back story but the authors fleshed her out enough where she didn’t seem like a cliche.   Same with Oakley he wasn’t your typical burn out self absorbed rock star.

I did get annoyed because I occasionally think the authors were going for a sort of Justin Bieber feel with the character and if you know me I find Bieber to be grossly unattractive so….that sort of made me not feel Oakley.

But you know what as the story progressed it was pretty sure he was not a Biebs impersonator and for that I’m relieved.

Look, not everyone is going to like this book.  If you don’t like this particular trope-girl falling in love with a famous dude- I don’t recommend the book.  However, if you like that trope and don’t want something that will knock you off your socks but is solidly written this is a book for you.

Overall Rating:  I waffled between solid B and a B+.  In the end I settled on B+.  For what it’s worth, I  think the book did a fairly decent job

 

 

This Book is Making Me Think of That Stupid Gordy Movie: The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone

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One good deed will change everything.

Sadie is not excited for the summer before her senior year. It will be her first without her college-bound best friend and (now ex-)boyfriend by her side, so Sadie braces herself for a long, lonely, and boring season working at a farm stand in the Hamptons. But things take an unexpected turn when Sadie steps in to help rescue a baby in peril and footage of her impromptu good deed goes viral.

As she’s recovering from “the incident” and adjusting to her Internet fame, Sadie receives an invitation to a lunch honoring teem homegrown heroes. The five honorees instantly connect and soon decide to spend their time together righting local wrongs. Sadie and her new friends embark on escalating acts of vigilante Good Samaritanism, but might be in over her heads when they try to help a heroin-addicted friend. Are good intentions enough to hold unlikely friendships—and an even unlikelier new romance—together?

Source: GoodReads

I didn’t like Carrie Firestone’s debut for various reasons, but the book had a cute premises AND I thought well, maybe with some experience the books will get better.

They don’t.

This will probably be the last Firestone book that I review.  Based on the two books she has so far released I think her style and mine do not mesh and that’s perfectly fine to admit and move on from.  That being said, if you’re not as cynical as me and can over look some things-like a character thinking that you can literally see the equator and a so called bright eighteen year-old never hearing of molly-then, well, more power to you, but this is where I write my Dear John Letter to the author:

Dear Ms. Firestone,

This is it.  We’re parting ways.  I wish you well in your career, but I am no longer going to be fooled by your bright cotton candy summer covers because your books are anything but bright.

Oh, you might try to fool me with light beachy atmospheres but there are really dark subsets to your books.  I mean, come on, assisted suicide and now heroin dens.

And speaking of heroin, I really hated the way you treated addiction.  Having several relatives that are addicts, some that are addicted to opioids, I thought this was a fairly unrealistic account of how an addict behaves.

Seriously, drug dens?  I know they exist, but most addicts will pick up their dope from a friend or in a ditch or something.  Plus, as rich as the character that is addicted is I’m surprised she’s not abusing other opioids since heroin is often seen as a last resort for these addicts.

And I’m not even going to go into the OD bits.

Yes, drugs are bad.  They are dangerous.  But I feel like you should’ve at the very least watched a couple episodes of Intervention to see how a lot of these addicts act and decline.  Because got to tell you, your depiction of drug use seemed pretty unrealistic and these scenes were rather trigger inducing.

Even if it wasn’t for the whole weird drug subplot, I probably wouldn’t have been much of a fan of this book.  For one thing,  you named the love interest Gordy.

Do you know what I think of when I think of Gordy?

That pig movie that Babe ripoff-ed better.  Yeah, a movie starring a pig.  So yeah, I kept thinking of that pig as the love interest. And then I thought about that “Pig Power in the House” music video and you can see where things were going…

But yeah, to get through the book I substituted Gordy’s name with Joe and I still didn’t like the characters relationship.  Also, it didn’t help that there’s this big revelation that Gordy isn’t gay in part because he uses protection.

Because I guess gay people don’t need to use protection….

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Quite honestly, the MC was a bit of a jerk.  I know she saved a baby and that made her a hero, but that still didn’t keep her from being extremely judgmental (cough, cidiots, cough).   Oh, and she’s described to look like a Kardashian.

Pro tip, Firestone, NEVER EVER describe your character being anything like a  Kardashian that will get you instant minus points for me.

By its surface, the cast in this book is fairly diverse.  Sadie is from Iranian and Irish heritage, one of the Unlikelies is Haitian, another comes from hispanic heritage (I don’t think the country was ever named, or if it was I regrettably skimmed over it), Gordy is at one time reported to be gay but really he is a rich farm pig turned CEO turns out to be a rich WASP guy with a father who’s on the Spectrum, Alice is a WASP, and that’s pretty much it.  Honestly though, the diversity feels more or less there for tokenism purposes.  Which is a shame.  Note to Firestone, the reader doesn’t need a translation of what gracias means.  Probably most people, even if they haven’t taken a Spanish class knows that it means thank you.

Sigh.

As for the Unliklies themselves, they were pretty lame.  This book in a lot of ways reminded me of The Cinderella Society a book I tried repetitively to read multiple times and failed to finish.  Pretty much they had similar premises, good doer teens team up to do good, but at least in your case, Ms. Firestone, I finished the book.  I still had to roll my eyes at these teens efforts to do good.

Oh yes, I’m so sure they’d be able to make a website go viral.  I’m soo sure they’d be able to get the police’s attention with a random anonymous note.  I’m soooo sure that their parents’ wouldn’t at the very least get suspicious of what they’re doing when they’re staying up late Batman time.

It’s ridiculous and you even though you tried to maybe address it once with Sadie’s mother forcing her to a see a shrink-even though she’s 18 and could theoretically tell her mom to fuck off-it wasn’t really handled well.  The same reason why we never knew why Sadie had taken a gap year, it’s not like she really had anything planned and you never told us why she was having a hard time making a decision about college in the first place.

So yeah, the book obviously didn’t work for me.  And I honestly am at the point where I know we’re never going to have a great reading relationship.   At first, I wanted to blame your covers.  You know they look so light and fluffy looking, but the thing is, I don’t think it’s the books cover that makes me despise your books.  Its the contents it just doesn’t gel with me and that’s okay.

I’m sure you have a reading audience out there somewhere.  Just probably not a cynical reader who had been exposed to a movie about a stupid pig and that they constantly think about whenever the love interest’s name is written.

Best Regards,

MJ

Blogger at Howdy YAL

Let’s Get Meta: Literally by Lucy Keating

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A girl realizes her life is being written for her in this unique, smart love story that is Stranger Than Fiction for fans of Stephanie Perkins.

Annabelle’s life has always been Perfect with a capital P. Then bestselling young adult author Lucy Keating announces that she’s writing a new novel—and Annabelle is the heroine.

It turns out, Annabelle is a character that Lucy Keating created. And Lucy has a plan for her.

But Annabelle doesn’t want to live a life where everything she does is already plotted out. Will she find a way to write her own story—or will Lucy Keating have the last word?

The real Lucy Keating’s delightful contemporary romance blurs the line between reality and fiction, and is the perfect follow-up for readers who loved her debut Dreamology, which SLJ called, “a sweet, quirky romance with appealing characters.”

Source: GoodReads

When reading this book, I wondered what if reviewers got trapped in the God awful books that they are trying to read and review accordingly.

I imagine I would want to punch a lot of the characters that I would come upon.  Like Annabelle in Literally,  she and her author got into this battle of sorts in the book and honestly I sort of wanted Lucy Keating to erase AB out of existence, but I never was so lucky instead the ending was a bit of a cop out but…

Back to the review.  If you read the blurb, you’re probably expecting something akin to that Will Farrell movie Stranger Than Fiction where Will finds out he’s a fictional character that’s expected to die.  And yeah, there are vibes of that here.  But I suggest seeing the movie and skipping the book, because honestly the movie’s better.

That’s not something you say every day on a book blog.  But all kidding aside, the movie  was much better done than this book was.  I think in part because it was not near as cliche as the book was, or Farrell’s acting saved the day.

Here, there were no actors to help the story and while the movie had a few moments of ingenuity to it this book didn’t.

And I kept getting creeped out that the author used herself as a character.  I mean seriously, if I was writing a book I would not like depicting myself as a character let alone a villain.

Although, if I did have a death ray to destroy annoying book characters it might be worth it…

Zoey Redbird and Bethany Church, I am coming for you.

But seriously, can you just imagine how annoying that must’ve been writing yourself as a character, constantly referring to yourself in third person.

Keating must have felt like a house elf.

No bueno.

Also, the self grandizing  of the author character was a bit too much.  Lucy Keating made herself seem like JK freaking Rowling and while I get it was to add to the story, it came off as kind of…well, kind of annoying.

If you really are intrigued by this premises I don’t think trying this book out would kill you.  It was dull as shit but it was short too.  I was able to finish it fairly quickly-it’s not even 300 pages long.  The characters aren’t really that well formed out.  In fact, I would say the Will character in a mere caricature.   Really, the most well formed character is the dog and that’s not saying a lot for this book.

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Emory has much more development than the dog in this book.  At the very least he’s been featured on the Daily Corgi and that’s saying a lot for a corgi.

Still though, I really didn’t like this one.

Overall Rating: A C- it’s bad but it’s not like the worst thing I’ve ever read.  If you want this premises and can overlook a lot, it’s worth a try.  However, and I stress the however, you’ll have to be tolerant of paper thing characterization and blatant self inserts.

Fandom Done Right: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

Source: GoodReads

I loved this book.

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I have read many books about fandoms this year, I think it’s almost a sub genre in YA contemporary.  Lots of them have been good.  Lots have been mediocre.  And some of downright pandered to their audience.  With Eliza and Her Monsters I think I found one of these books that’s actually scary identifiable.

Though, I do not have near the anxiety issues Eliza has, I see a lot my teen self in her and I have had panic attacks before.  I also can relate to her as an introvert.

Extroverts, like Eliza’s parents, always have a hard time realizing why introverts like being by themselves.  Why we have to have that alone time.  Why it’s so crucial that an introvert has a people free day and be a RAT (rude antisocial troglodyte).

Yeah, I know.

Introvert whining.  But when you are constantly told that parties are fine and find yourself only looking at your watch the entire time wanting to know when you can go home and binge watch something on Netflixs…

Okay, end of introvert pity party.

The point, I’m trying to make-digressions aside is this book is so relatable.  It also goes into the pitfalls of how one can get absorbed in fandom in an almost unhealthy way.  And honestly reading this sort of scared me because I could see shades of myself in Eliza and while I loved her, that isn’t exactly a good thing.

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Okay, it was actually a great thing it made me feel for the character and made her journey seem even more real, but it also scared me on some level that some of the darker moments of this characters journey…well, I could see it happening to me if I were in her shoes.

The romance in this book was delightful.  I liked both Wallace and Eliza.  They both had this awkwardly cute quality about them.  I did get annoyed with Wallace towards the end of the book when he pressured Eliza to finish her comic.  His reaction, however, as douchey as it might’ve seemed wasn’t really that unrealistic.  In fact, had he not acted the way he did I probably would be calling the book out for not being realistic.

One of my biggest issues with Fangirl was that the fan fiction that Cath wrote was a very obvious watered down Harry Potter fan fic (the fact that, that got its own spinoff is another story for another day) the fandom in Eliza and her Monsters actually is its own thing and it sounds pretty cool.

Really, I wouldn’t mind reading a spinoff of Eliza’s story. which seemed to be more than Harry/Draco fan shipping.

Just saying.

I think what drove me into liking this book was that it was relatable.  It had its moments of darkness, but it also had its moments of hope.  If you want a good book about fandom, I highly recommend you check this contemporary out.

Overall Rating: An A

 

The Quotes Show Its Stupid: Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean

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Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.

With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.

Source: GoodReads

I know I’ve ranted about YA fantasy being eerily the same.  Well, YA paranormal also falls under the same rut.  The only thing is, I was hoping since this genre has sort of disappeared in the past five or so years, that when there was a YA paranormal released-like Toward A Secret Sky– it would be something different.

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Only thing is, this book is probably as cliche as the books that were being released in the heyday of this genre.

Usually I’m not one for using quotes in my review, but I think this is one DNF where quotes sill exemplify why I didn’t finish this book.

Exhibit One:

My mother was totally beautiful-a former Miss Springfield-and I  looked nothing like her.  While she had olive skin and shiny black hair.  I got my Scottish father’s pale white coloring, light green eyes, and cray, thick, curly blonde hair.  The kind of hair that once made a hairdresser cry because the haircut came with a free blow-dry, and she counted on the whole process taking three hours.  Of course, it wasn’t California blonde or even all-the-same-color blonde.  It was someone once told me, “dishwater blonde.”  Just what my self-esteem needed: hair that reminded people of dirty water. (9-10)

Of course, this is our description of our MC who is described as being “Plain” because she has dirty blonde hair that’s curly.  I should mention later on when she starts attending school in Scotland, everyone is envious over said hair.  Furthermore, being a dirty blonde myself, I always find it insulting when people talk this way.

Exhibit Two:

I was kissing the hottest guy ever.  He was so hot, even his hair was red.  We were logging in the long grass, kissing deeply, like it was our new way of breathing.

It was hot outside, and the kissing was making me even hotter.  Everywhere he touched me, my skin burned.  I never kissed anyone before, and certainly like this.

(13)

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Do I even need to say anything about this?

Exhibit Three:

Even the “normal” food in Scotland wasn’t normal.  French fries, which were called “chips”, looked like the fries back home, but instead of being crispy and yummy, they were soggy and not.  Chips were called “crisps”, which was a true description, but they didn’t have any fun flavors like ranch or hickory barbecue.  In fact, they didn’t have barbecue anything at all.  They’d never heard of brownies or cornbread (“Why would you put corn in bread?” my grandmother asked).

(14)

Disinterested teen,  who insults the area the area that she’s in.  I’ve been to Ireland-I know different country than Scotland, BUT we the area I was staying at had a Tesco (the same store this ingrate went to) and the store was fairly large, though not Super Walmart size, and they pretty much had anything you wanted.  Also, having had chips/fries in both the US and Ireland, I can tell you there really is not that much different.   So, I’m guessing that Scotland’s version isn’t that different either.

Anyway, a pet peeve of mine in any YA book is when the character will trash the area they just moved to.  Especially if its a foreign country.  America’s reputation has pretty much been shot by Donald Trump, we don’t  need little fictional ingrates like Maren to ruin it further.

Exhibit 4:

Hew as the most breathtaking guy I had ever seen and-thank you, God!-seemed to be about my age.  His wavy chestnut-colored hair fell over his forehoead, but not enough to hide his dark blue eyes.  He was tall and broad shouldered, but had a thin waist.  he carried his bulging frame like he  was wearing football shoulder  pads, but I could see from where his white tunic shirt hung open at his chest that he was all bare skin and muscle.

(30)

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Do I need to say more?

Exhibit 5:

I could tell by Jo’s flat tone that Elsie was not her favorite person.  I’d have to remember to cheer her up later by letting her know “Elsie” was mainly a name for cows in America.

(44)

Wrong.  Elsie is the name of a very cute diminutive Corgi  (AKA Wonder Corgi) who is upset that she is being compared to a cow.  She says she is going keep barking  into  Maclean’s ear until this is rectified.

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Wonder Corgi not Wonder Woman, but close enough.

These quotes are pretty much why I quit the book.  I could find more, but honestly I don’t want to.  Like I said, usually I avoid doing quote reviews, but I think in this book’s case the quotes exemplify why I didn’t want to continue.

Overall Rating: DNF.  Avoid.

All Unhappy Readers Are Different: Tash Hearts Tolstoy by

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After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” Zelenka finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust into the limelight: She’s gone viral.

Her show is a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the forty thousand new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr GIFs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.

And when Unhappy Families is nominated for a Golden Tuba award, Tash’s cyber-flirtation with Thom Causer, a fellow award nominee, suddenly has the potential to become something IRL—if she can figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual.

Tash wants to enjoy her newfound fame, but will she lose her friends in her rise to the top? What would Tolstoy do?

Source: GoodReads

I was really excited about this book since it was suppose to feature an asexual protagonist.  And God knows, there’s hardly any rep of that in YA.  The thing is Tash Hearts Tolstoy didn’t really work for me.  And no, it wasn’t a representation issue.

Though, it’s not even mentioned that the character is asexual until about a hundred or so pages in the book, but that’s besides the point.

Why did I quit this book?  Well, to put it bluntly I did not like the main character and more or less the book was another contemporary taking of the trend of 2017 (social media break out star).

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Yeah, yeah, yeah, I knew going in it was going to feature this trope.  But there was something just noxious to me about it, I think because it was more or less the cliche of fame going to your head…or at least that’s what the author was trying to go with, but really from what I saw the MC’s friend was really an asshole a la Lily Moscovitz from The Princess Diaries books,  though to be fair though the MC, Tash, is also annoying.  And not annoying in an endearing way like Mia Thermpolis.

No.  She was just so, so, annoying.

In part, because this book has major shades of pandering in it.  I mentioned pandering in my review of Queen of Geeks a few months.  One thing I will give Tash Hearts Tolstoy is at least the MC’s TV web episodes weren’t immediately successful.  They had to get noticed first, but still the whole going viral bit was a bit unexplained.  And, well, boring.  Getting that many views, you’d think there would be more fall out than there was.

And maybe, if I kept reading the book I could’ve seen more of it.  But again, I read a little over a hundred pages and was completely underwhelmed with the whole thing.

I skimmed through the end to see if things picked up, from what I saw the book took the cliche route and really I did not have enough time to read that sort of shit.  My reading time is tight enough as it is, and with Tash being so obnoxious I didn’t want to waste my time with her or her story.

Which is a shame, because like I said I was interested in reading a book with an asexual main character.

But instead, I got whiney Tash who just seems to go in her room, talk about how she’s going to get into freaking Vanderbilt because she works at Old Navy, and complains about how evil her sister is for looking like Scarlett Johansson and occasionally mentions something interesting about her Czech heritage-alas, there is a lack of kolaches in the part of the book I read.  Being of Czech heritage myself that is so, so wrong.

Man, writing this makes me wish that I could find a good gluten free recipe for kolaches. I miss kolaches. Especially the poppy seed ones.  Poppy seed kolaches are the best.

I’m not kidding you about the character’s activities.  Given the synopsis of the book, I thought that the characters sexuality would play more of a role in the book than it did.  And maybe it did further on in the book, but it really was only merely thrown out there.  And in a way I think that might’ve been how it should be, but given how it was presented even though it was so sudden…you could tell it was going to be a plot that was further developed.

Sigh.

So yeah, me and this book just did not connect.  I wouldn’t say it was exactly a horrible book, but Tash and I just did not get a long and I didn’t see us ever getting along.  Add the fact that the plot was going the cliche route, I really wasn’t interested in staying around and seeing how things played out.

Overall Rating: DNF.

Cringe Drama: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo

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Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

Source: GoodReads

I have mixed feelings about this book.  It’s very cringe worthy, but at the same time I think it’s suppose to be cringe worthy.  Honestly, I probably could’ve read it in one big swoop, but because I didn’t want to throw it against the wall (I didn’t).  Oh, yes, I had great self control.

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Again, it’s not a bad book but the premises is cringe worthy.  And there were things in it that happened that wanted me to shake the main character.

Like that thing with her college interview, I wanted someone to snap at her harder than they did.  And really, it left a real sour taste in my mouth how that plot point played out but I digress…

K-dramas are something I’m always wanting to try out, but never get around to a actually watching for various reasons (I think the main thing is that usually when I want to watch TV I’m too tired to read subtitles, which is a shame because they are they seem to have a crack soap opera  like quality about them that I would like to watch).  That being said, I was excited for this book and while I do think it did a good job exploring the K-Drama angle I did think at times the book was a little formulaic and Desi was more than a little annoying.

If you’re seen Election Reese Witherspoon’s character is pretty much Desi, except Desi isn’t near as psychotic.  Though that thing with the boat and the car comes pretty close.

Sorry, Desi but that was crazy.

Honestly, I wasn’t crazy about the ship.  This is one time, I would’ve been happier if Desi would’ve gotten together with her friend.  Luca seemed blasé to me, and I really felt like Desi had to compromise parts of herself to be with him.  Also, again the whole college subplot towards the end really grated under my skin.

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I know it probably wasn’t Goo’s intention, but it really annoyed me that the MC’s dreams were essentially squashed because of a boy.  And yeah I know, Desi still ends up going to a good school and its closure to said boy.

But GMAFB.

Maybe it’s because I’m older than the intended audience who probably found the ending perfect, but I was not satisfied with this ending at all.

Anyway, I can see younger readers and less cynical readers liking this more than me.  If you can’t stand cringe worthy moments, I recommend staying far, far away.  I knew going in that this could be a problem so I took the proper precautions (short reading periods, with lots and lots of breaks).

Overall Rating: Um, a B-.  I could see it maybe being a B, but honestly Desi had psychotic tendencies and the college subplot drove me insane.