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.

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.

A Review With a Snazzy Chart: Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

A teen is forced to make a fresh start after witnessing a violent crime—but love and danger find her anyway in this novel from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.

Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.

After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.

But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.

As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks…

Source: GoodReads

The dog has reviewed a truly bad book in the past week, so I am not forcing her to review this subpar excrement but I wish she was.

It blew.

My first DNF of 2016.  It might be in part that I’m studying for another bar exam-yes, becuase when you move states your license doesn’t transfer right over.  They force you to take another soul eating exam.  And the God forsaken state I moved too doesn’t even have the multi-state portion so I can’t use all the mad skills I acquired the last test for them (though to be honest, they weren’t really that great).

Anyway, you’ll probably notice a decrease in posts since I am mostly studying these days save for the time where I sleep and decide to have an hour or two of Me Time that doesn’t involve showering or eating.

You’ll be surprise how very little time that is.

It will only get worse too before the test is over.

Yeah…you probably don’t want me to post that much.

Anyway, talking about Dangerous Lies is sort of difficult.  To be frank, I should’ve known better.  Fitzpatrick and I don’t mix.  And it’s just not that crappy “let’s be nice” chat she had back in the day.  It’s the fact that her stuff has this weird misogynic undertones to it.

Yet, somehow I made it through all of the Hush Hush series.

Don’t ask me how.

It was a very painful experience filled with alcohol.

I decide though to spare my liver and skip Black Ice, but Dangerous Lies interested me if anything because it involved witness protection.

And witness protection set books are something I’m always interested in (I blame that USA show In Plain Sight-which was fairly decent for it’s first few season.

If you think about it the subject matter makes perfect sense for a YA book, since it allows a character to really reinvent themselves which is the premises for a lot of those makeover YA books.

Of course, having characters in Witness Protection can make things ore interesting especially if it involves a bad ass marshall who the teen has an inappropriate crush on.

That doesn’t happen here people.

Instead, we get a whiny teen who gets sent to live with this lad who basically could be Kim Davis’s long lost sister in Nebraska where she continues being sanctimonious and self righteous despite you know…not having access to her trust fund.

Oh, wait, we’re told she doesn’t have a trust fund.  But her mother is getting a nice chunk of child support, so call her Your Poor Little Miss Upper Middle Class.

Estella was what drove me not finish the book.  Well, her and her caretaker who annoyed me.

I kept making a chart which one annoyed me more.  In the end, Stella (or Estella) did.  But it was really a close call (she toppled Carmela–aka Kim Davis- in the Whiny Bitch Moment Category (don’t worry Carmella, I still hate you).

Estella vs Carmela: A Highly Scientific Chart of Annoyingness

Name Imposing Moment on A-Holeness Self Righteous Fuckery Whiny Bitch Moment Dick Move
Stella (Estella) Making ass-sumptions about everyone. Or anytime she breaths. Mocking a pregnant girl because…she’s pregnant and making assumptions about her sex life. Whining about how she doesn’t want a job—does anyone really? Basically stealing Carmela’s car and acting like it was no biggie because she was “borrowing” it.  Try telling that to the judge, bitch.
Carmina Forcing Stella to go to church with her. Um, hello, she might not worship your God Carmela’s reaction to wearing shorts: You’re wearing cut offs.   How dare you wear cut offs, you slut. Not really whiney so much as sanctimonious. Though she does lose it a bit over the car. I give her a pass over that one though. I’d be pissed too. Telling Stella to get a job after she wakes up traveling half way cross country and forcing to shed her foul identity. True Stella needs to learn responsibility because she is a privileged brat, but she just arrived in Nebraska at least allow her to unpack.

 

Highly scientific if I do say so myself.

Really though, there is nothing special about Dangerous Lies.  At best it was pretty cliche, I could already see what was coming without finishing the book and I didn’t care to finish it.  I could already see that we were going to get the quasi evil city slicker goes to rural America and learns some true life lessons.  That Kim Davis’s long lost sister and her church going ways has a heart of gold and is going to cause STEEELLA (sorry, I had to put in one reference to Streetcar Called Desire in here, I mean you just have to with that name) to lose that chip on her shoulder and warm up to the country boy next store.  Who is turn is really going to change Stella, but of course she’ll face danger and he’ll rescue her and at the end of the day she’ll stay in nowheresville like they always do in Lifetime movies.

Oh wait, not Lifetime movie, it’s a Fitzpatrick book.

But same difference.

In the end, I couldn’t finish it to see if I’m right.  Stella was insufferable and I hated the community she was in-even though I’m pretty sure it was supposed to have the desired effect on her that I described before.   Maybe it’s because I currently reside in a small town and can only say it sucks.

I am not learning lessons for the yokels, or want to for that matter.  It’s not an idyllic place because not being able to get a Starbucks sucks.  Not being able to buy decent produce sucks.  And yes, I know this book is fiction and that it’s just a plot point but….grrrr…does it have to be cliche?

Overall Rating: A DNF.  Fitzpatrick and I don’t mix, don’t think we ever will.  Some might like it though, but there was nothing from the hundred some odd pages I read that really made it that exciting or interesting of a read.