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

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

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I digress..

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

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

Overall Rating: A C

 

 

 

Predictable Fluff: All That Glitters by Holly Smale

 

My name is Harriet Manners, and I am still a geek.

Harriet Manners has high hopes for the new school year: she’s a Sixth Former now, and things are going to be different. But with Nat busy falling in love at college and Toby preoccupied with a Top Secret project, Harriet soon discovers that’s not necessarily a good thing…

Source: GoodReads

If we’re going to be honest about it, this series has gotten a bit pedantic (which seems to be the word of the week, FYI).  The good thing is if  you’re reading it with its publication schedule you’re not going to notice as much the repetition.  The bad thing is if you’re an American who has gotten tired of waiting for these things to be released in the states and decided to just buy them at the Book Depository you’re not exactly going to binge on them as I was planning…

Yeah.

The good thing though, is if the real world is being particularly hellish as it has since Biff stole Doc and Marty’s machine and somehow stole the presidency from HRC Donald Trump has become president (that sounds so wrong) this series can at least buy you some hours of peace at least another Executive Order has been dropped.

Sorry for all the current events references, it has really been hard to read or really  lately.  And really do anything else especially when all this shit has been thrown in your face on a 24/7 basis.  If you follow my Twitter feed you know I’ve been very vocal in my disdain.

Anyway, back to the book.  Its the predictable fluff that is needed right now in this world and I am grateful for that.  Honestly, I will probably be reading a lot of fluff in the coming months.  It’s needed and wanted and this book does the trick.  It’s easy to look past the faults, but they are there and it’s pretty obvious to anyone who has read this series what they are.

Harriet is a stagnent character.  She doesn’t grow, and at this point I don’t expect her too.  Most of the books center around ridiculous misunderstandings that anyone with adequate emotional skills would be able to pick up on but this is Harriet we’re talking about.  So…yeah, don’t expect her to pick up on social cues.

And to be honest, her friends are sort of shitty in this one.   I get that they want to help her, but come on.  They should know that she wasn’t going to exactly take their behavior the way she wanted them too.  And really, at this point…ugh.

The more I think about it, the more I want to pull my hair out.  But again, I don’t hate this book.  It’s sort of like the Princess Diaries series.  Sure, there was a slump in the middle of that series where all I wanted to do was deck Mia, but it didn’t make me hate or stop reading the series and I sort of hope that in the next two full installments there’s some growth with Harriet-again, don’t expect there to be but I still can’t help there is some.

As far as the romance department goes, this installment of Geek Girl is ridiculously light on that as well as the modeling stuff.  I did enjoy the modeling antics though.  I think they’re often some of my favorite parts of the book surprisingly.  Even though they are more or less the same-Harriet going to some exotic location and making a fool of herself.

So yeah, there was nothing surprising or really unprecedented about this particular installment of Geek Girl if it was a more serious series, I’d probably would give it a lower rating.  But as it stands, it did its job in getting to me forget about the crap that’s been going on in this world right now.

Overall Rating: A B- it’s flawed but enjoyable.

First DNF of the Year: Flower by Elizabeth Craft and Shea Olsen

These are the things that I’ve always wanted:

To get the top grades in my class.

To make my grandmother proud.

And most of all, proof that I could succeed where the rest of my family had not: a Stanford acceptance letter, early admission.

My mother and my sister were obsessed with boys and love and sex. So obsessed that they lost sight of their futures, of what theywanted. And in the end, they lost everything.

I’ll never let a boy distract me. I promised my grandmother that.

But that was before Tate.

Before the biggest pop star on the planet took an interest in me.

Before private planes and secret dates and lyrics meant for me alone.

There’s so much I don’t know. Like why he left music. Where he goes when we’re not together. What dark past he’s hiding. But when we kiss, the future feels far away. And now…I’m not sure what I want. 

Source: GoodReads

Well, I knew it had to happen but honestly I was hoping it would be a little later than fourteen years within the New Year before I DNF’d my first 2017 book.  But hey, Flower can’t help that it sucked donkey’s balls.

Actually, that’s an insult to donkey’s balls.

Anyway…Flower was bad.  Really, really, bad.  Just to give an idea of how bad this book is here is a sample of writing from the first few pages of the book.

Love can undo you.  It can take everything away.

And so, I promised myself: no boys, no prom, no parties on Saturday nights.  I would stay home, I would get straight As, I would go to college and make a different kind of future for myself. I wouldn’t let anything stop me. I wouldn’t let anyone stop me.

But that was before everything changed.

That was before him (1).

That should give you an idea how cringe worthy this is.  I mean, yeah the premises made me think it was going to be on the cheesy side, but it could’ve been done in such a way where the reader didn’t think they were reading some 13 year old’s One Direction fan fiction with a self insert character and token gay best friend that was straight out of a bad early 2000’s Lifetime movie.

But alas, this was not the case with Flower.

It was published by not only one, but two real authors (meaning, people who actually have legitimate past credits and aren’t a celebrity with a ghost writer peddling crap).  And it still sucked.  Hell, it was a packaged book and it still sucked.

Usually with package books they’re at least homogenous enough where they aren’t painfully bad, but this one is painfully bad.

As the premises points out our main character, Charlotte, is turned off of love because everyone in her family gets knocked up at the ripe old age of 17 or what not and she decides to do the no boys thing until a pop star comes into the flower shop she works out.  Only she doesn’t realize he’s a pop star and…I don’t know how she doesn’t realize he’s a pop star.  I mean, I’ve never listened to Justin Beiber, but I still know who that foul specimen is.  I just couldn’t buy it that this MC didn’t know who he was.  Or that a pop star would be so interested in a high school girl.  Or that Charlotte would somehow have a job in a florist’s shop designing bouquets with no florist training whatsoever.

The book really felt like it was a skeleton of a story that could be interesting but turned out to be no better than a self insert fan fic.  Like I said, I stopped at page 58 when Tate-the wannabe Jonas Brother-was essentially pulling an Edward Cullen on Charlotte.

I often feel like there is a misconception in YA that there does not need to be any effort put in fluff books that just having two characters kissing each other is enough.

It’s not.

A good fluff novel has complex characters that have interesting relations together and you want them to be together.  This book has none of those.   I had a real hard time believing that this was even a finished product, that’s how lazy it came across.

Usually, Alloy is one of the better packaging companies (note, that’s not saying a lot since I think most packaged books suck), but this one is particularly wretched.

Avoid at all costs especially if you love fluff.

Overall Rating: DNF

2017 Is Off to a Decent Start: The Secret of A Heart Note by Stacey Lee

An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs

Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.

At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.

Source: GoodReads

This book was the perfect way to start off my 2017 reading list.  It wasn’t a perfect book mind you, but it was a nice book to read on a quiet New Year’s Day and I really enjoyed it.  Though, I’ll be honest I don’t think it will probably be a very memorable read in the long run.

Prior to this book, I had only read one Stacey Lee book and I wasn’t exactly a fan.  I think in a lot of ways because it relied so heavily on dialect and I’m not a big fan of dialect.

This book though didn’t use dialect and I thought it had a very interesting concept with it’s aroma witches.  Honestly, when I was reading it I thought this would be a pretty good Hallmark movie.  And I could see it being made as one, save for the fact that the protagonist is a teen and Hallmark protagonists are like constantly 30 somethings but whatever.

But it had that same sleepy, lighthearted quality about it that made it enjoyable.  The protagonist is likable-though not that memorable-and her relationship with the love interest was also cute.  I also liked the world building was with this one.

Save for the aroma magic stuff, it could very much be a contemporary.  There were plenty of subplots that were contemporary based-the falling out with relatives, Mim and her mother’s relationship, the romance.  But the way that magic incorporated the book wasn’t annoying either.

I think one of the reasons why The Secret of a Heart Note worked for me was that the paranormal elements weren’t so do or die like they are in a lot of young adult novels.  It was refreshing to read how out of the world elements could be wrapped up into every day life.

Were there some things about this book that I didn’t like.

Well, yeah.

I did think the ending seemed a little rushed with how some of the familiar relationships were resolved and I wasn’t exactly a fan of how the magic situation was resolved either.  Though to be honest, on the whole magic subplot concerning Mim’s nose I sort of falter back and forth about the conclusion of it.  At times I got annoyed because it was an easy fix to what seemed like a huge problem.  But on the other hand, I sort of liked that the problem wasn’t near as catastrophic as it was described to be.

I think if you want something on the lighter side you should give this one a try.  I enjoyed it, though releasing it in winter might’ve been a mistake on the publisher’s plot.  The book really reads spring to me.  Still, as my first 2017 read I can’t complain (that much).

Overall Rating: A B+

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

It’s Not You It’s Me (But Its Pretty Cringe Worthy): My Unscripted Life by Lauren Morrill

Perfect for fans of Jennifer E. Smith and Huntley Fitzpatrick, you’ll love this funny and sweet contemporary romance about a Southern girl ready for a ho-hum summer until she meets the boy of her dreams who happens to be an international pop star.

Sometimes love stories go off script.

Another sultry Georgia summer is about to get a lot hotter. Dee Wilkie is still licking her wounds after getting rejected by the precollege fine arts program of her dreams. But if she’d gone away, she wouldn’t have been around to say yes to an unbelievable opportunity: working on the set of a movie filming in her small Southern town that just happens to be starring Milo Ritter, the famous pop star Dee (along with the rest of the world) has had a crush since eighth grade.

It’s not like Dee will be sharing any screen time with Milo—she’s just a lowly PA. And Milo is so disappointingly rude that Dee is eager to stay far away from him. Except after a few chance meetings, she begins to wonder if just maybe there’s a reason for his offensive attitude, and if there’s more to Milo than his good looks and above-it-all Hollywood pedigree. Can a relationship with a guy like Milo ever work out for a girl like Dee? Never say never. . .

Source: GoodReads

Dear Ms. Morrill:

I think you and I were never meant to be. You’re intended audience obviously isn’t me but Justin Beiber or One Direction fangirls. I’ve tried three of your books and only sort of like one of them because of figure skating. Because I’m always up for a good Hollywood romance, I thought why not and gave My Unscripted Life a try.

I quit after sixty pages though because I just could not handle it. Like how everything for the MC works out because of conveniences ya’ll.

I cringed with how easy it was for Dee to get her job working as a PA. I cringed at how immature Dee was for a sixteen-year-old. I get that I’m a few years older than the intended audience, but come on I don’t remember being that dumb when I was a teenager.

I feel like your books should be geared towards the lower age bracket in YA or middle grade which isn’t exactly a bad thing it just makes older readers not so happy with the reading experiences. And to be fair, even if this marketed towards the Disney Channel sect, I don’t know if they would exactly like this book.

It’s pretty cliché. And yeah, I know any book that deals with celebrities will have their brunt of clichés, but this one…there’s nothing really original about it.

The characters are bland. The story is plain drivel. There’s every YA token you can think of—average but not really average MC, token diverse bestie who only has two lines, fabulous guy that would normally not look MC’s way that’s a movie star. And yeah…

So Ms. Morrill, rather than forcing myself to get through this thing, I stopped reading it about 68 pages. I just don’t think we’re meant to be.  And even if you’re premises look promising, I think I’ll be passing on your books in the future.

Sincerely,

MJ

Cantankerous Book Blooger at Howdy YAL

Overall Rating: DNF

Ugh: The Last TIme We Were Us by Leah Konen

A passionate summer love story about a girl, her childhood best friend recently released from juvie, and the small-town lies that have kept them apart. A teen romance debut with a dark edge.

Liz Grant is about to have the summer of her life. She and her friend MacKenzie are getting invited to all the best parties, and with any luck, Innis Taylor, the most gorgeous guy in Bonneville, will be her boyfriend before the Fourth of July.

Local teen convict released early.

Jason Sullivan wasn’t supposed to come back from juvie. A million years ago, he was her best friend, but that was before he ditched her for a different crowd. Before he attacked Innis’s older brother, leaving Skip’s face burned and their town in shock.

“Everything is not what you think.”

Liz always found it hard to believe what they said about Jason, but all of Bonneville thinks he’s dangerous. If word gets out she’s seeing him, she could lose everything. But what if there’s more to that horrible night than she knows? And how many more people will get hurt when the truth finally comes out?

“You’re the one person who believes in me.”

Leah Konen’s southern romance swelters with passion as it explores the devastating crush of lies, the delicate balance of power and perception, and one girl’s journey to find herself while uncovering the secrets of so many others.

Source: GoodReads

I think I can tell I’ve been blogging for awhile. Used to I was slightly horrified when I had to DNF something. After all, I had to pay money for the book. I should feel some financial guilt and sometimes I do, but I have gotten to the point where I’ve read so many of these things if it’s crap or I don’t feel it I’m not going to bother and that was my feeling with The Last Time We Were Us. Sixty pages of this sucker read and I was like, “Okay, bye bye.”

As always with DNF reviews, I try to at least give you some content on why I didn’t have the stomach to finish it. With this one it was the main character who was already showing signs of being a real insipid twit. I guess it didn’t help that the first thing she does when we’re introduce is try to buy a beer using a fake ID which coincidently causes her to have a remeet with her old best friend who had to do time in juvie and as the description of the book shows is most likely the love interest.

I wasn’t endeared to this ship by the meeting, and it didn’t help that the hero was described as having greasy hair.

Greasy hair?

Is that supposed to be attractive? Because it makes me want to give the hero a bottle of Herbal Essence to give that crud out of his hair.

Whatever. The meet up was bad. But after that brief scene that the two characters have together, they didn’t interact for the rest of the book that I read and based on how the main character kept whining, I really didn’t care to read further.

Liz was just someone I would not be friends with. As previously mentioned she’s whiney, is willing to commit a misdemeanor/felony (not sure what it would be considered under North Carolina law) for a guy, and just seemed like pretty much a self-involved person. And because of that.

Book is going into the giveaway bin.

Overall Rating: DNF

This is NOT a Retelling: Beast by Brie Spangler

Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

Source: GoodReads

Beast sort of reminds me of a furby. A toy, or in this case a book, you desperately want and when you play—or in this case read it—you are like more than a little annoyed and end up throwing the damn thing in the garbage because it’s so fucking annoying.

Fucking furbies.

Fucking furbies.

Note: I didn’t throw this book in the trash like I may or may not have thrown away a furby (God, I just aged myself there). But I did throw it in the storage/giveaway chest after I finished the nonsense that was Beast.

This is not a Beauty and the Beast retelling. The only thing it had in common with Beauty and the Beast was that it featured a slightly hairy dude and hot chick. If you really want what this book was about it was about a transphobic brat who falls in love with an awesome trans girl not realizing she’s trans and when he finds out acts like a dick for the rest of the book.

See the problem here?

To be fair, while I didn’t like Dylan’s reaction or several of the characters’ reactions to finding out that Jamie was transgender, it was unfortunately realistic. The thing is; I just wish there were some characters that had a more positive outlook than Dylan, his mom, or that dick (JP).

Though, I think we’re supposed to take that dick as being a misguided best friend. Nope, he’s a dick who bullies. I couldn’t stand him. And I didn’t get why Dylan was able to be friends with him in the end based on all the shit he put him through. Also, Dylan’s mom needs a Golden Charlie for pimping that toxic relationship and being to horrible to Jaime.

Really, lady, if you’re son thinks his so-called wonderful friend is a dick maybe you should listen rather than being a hateful bigot about his new girlfriend.

On the bright side, I really did like Jaime. I mentioned in my status updates that had the book been in her point of view or even if the book had been in dual point of view it would’ve been better. Jaime has some of the better dialogue and realistic character development—save for wanting be with Dylan—throughout the book. So more of her would’ve been worth it.

I think in the end Beast was not what I wanted for a transgendered Beauty and the Beast retelling. The shades of the fairytale that were there were shallow at best and probably the only reason the comparisons were made were to sell the book. And honestly, it probably worked here with me because I’m a junkie for Beauty and the Beast retellings. As far as a book about transgender issues go, I can only give a limited opinion on this as a cis female. However, I did not like how transphobic so many of these characters seemed.   While I get that that is an unfortunate element of reality, it annoyed me that the male lead was so transphobic throughout most of the book. Also, since this book focused on trans issues, I really think the trans character should’ve been given her own point of view. This is one of the big reasons this book didn’t work for me and I would recommend If I Was Your Girl for someone who is interested in exploring these issues instead. Because while a little preachy, that book does a good job exploring issues that a trans character has to face.

Overall Rating: I’m going to be generous and give it a solid C. I was able to finish it, which is actually saying a lot. I just didn’t like a lot of the choices made in telling this story and for fuck’s sake it’s NOT a Beauty and the Beast retelling. If anything comparing it to that fairytale made me a more pissed off reader.

Black Sheep Time: This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera’s twin brother and the most serious person Sloane’s ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins’ late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins’ lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed. 

Source: GoodReads

I used to be excited about YA novels that discussed fandom, now I sort of hate them.

This will probably be a bit of a black sheep of a review. I have read several reviews prior to reading this book, and most of them—even by critical reviewers—have been positive.

I did not like this book.

And I know some of you are like big shock there. She doesn’t like a lot of books, but this one actually did shock me because about the first fourth of the way through the book I thought I was going to fall in with the majority. But in the end, it just didn’t work for me.

Let’s talk about what did work. First the best thing about this book is its cover. This is probably one of my favorite covers all year, and it’s probably what’s keeping it on the shelf and not in a storage box at the moment. This is how I wished all YA covers looked it’s tasteful and you can totally take it out in public without getting stared at.

The premises seems fascinating enough too, but when I actually read the book I felt like all the characters were a bit caricatures. Especially the dad character. I’m sorry, I do know that a lot of published authors write fan fic, but the way the dad dropped his career for fandom so randomly and had never heard of fandom before was a little startling. Also, he seemed grossly immature for an almost fifty year old. And yes, I know he’s an artist, but if I was his wife there would be words. Especially since he sort of uses his kids problems as basis to write his depressing Nicholas Sparks like stories.

Ugh.

Honestly, if there is going to be a pseudo Nicholas Sparks like dad I prefer the way the character was characterized in Anna and the French Kiss as the douche that he is. The immature-ness of the character just sort of made me cringe.

I also cringed about a lot of aspects of this book. The characterization I felt for the most part was very weak. Argue with me all you want, but I did not connect or identify with any of these characters.

While the plot was fairly non-existent, the book is a contemporary so it’s not like it had to have a strong plot if it had strong characters. But like I said the characters were just caricatures and I just—I really did not like this one.

I did like Mills’s debut, but I was sort of lukewarm to it. If I remember correctly it was a lukewarm Pride and Prejudice retelling—which actually means it was a fairly decent Pride and Prejudice retelling. This Adventure Ends, wasn’t even lukewarm it was just another fandom YA book that annoyed me.   But alas, it’s not the worst fandom book I read. That displeasure still goes to All the Feels.

From the reviews, I seem to be in the minority on this one so you could very easily like it better than me. For me, it was just a forgettable contemporary that I’m probably only going to remember for the fact it had a grossly immature parent.

Overall Rating: C+

I Really Should Go to Bourbon Street After This One: Even the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia

All she needs is one night to be anyone she wants.

Julie is desperate for a change. So she heads to New Orleans with her youth group to rebuild houses and pretend her life isn’t a total mess. But between her super-clingy team leader and her way-too-chipper companions, Julie feels more trapped than ever.

In a moment of daring, she ditches her work clothes for DIY fairy wings and heads straight into the heart of Mid-Summer Mardi Gras, where she locks eyes with Miles, an utterly irresistible guy with a complicated story of his own. And for once, Julie isn’t looking back. She jumps at the chance to see the real New Orleans, and in one surreal night, they dance under the stars, share their most shameful secrets, and fall in love.

But their adventure takes an unexpected turn when an oncoming hurricane changes course. As the storm gains power and Julie is pulled back into chaos she finds pretending everything is fine is no longer an option.

Source: GoodReads

Immersion contemporaries are one of my favorite genres of books.

What is immersion contemporary?  It’s a term that I just came up with that features contemporaries set in vacation destinations.  When I found out about this book and that it took place in the French Quarter I had to read it.  Since moving to Louisiana, I’ve been to the Crescent City quite a few times.  And while it’s not my favorite city, I could see why it would be interesting to set a book there.  The city itself has a rich, vibrant history and past that would be fun to play around with. And it’s in a great location.  I mean, come on, even Disney appropriately exploited it in The Princess and the Frog.

 

This book though doesn’t do that.

Instead, it focuses on mid summer Mardi Gras and the hoopla-or randomness for better of a word that surrounds it that doesn’t include getting plastered and falling on your ass on Bourbon Street-an event that is very common in NOLA.

The getting plastered part that is.  The randomly walking around in fairy wings and falling in love with a random guy doesn’t happen.  Save for in this book, and I’m still trying to figure out how it happened because this book just felt…well, random.

And I get where Garcia was trying to go with this.  I think she wanted to encompass the spirit of Mardi Gras in the tone of her book-though why the book is set in mid summer Mardi Gras, rather than regular Mardi Gras I do not know.

Full disclosure, ever go to NOLA in the summer and it stinks so, so, so, bad.  It’s bad in the winter too, but the smell in the summer is just God awful.  Which might be why I wasn’t charmed by Garcia’s descriptions of the architecture in the French Quarter, I was just like where are the bums, the drunk people, and the sometimes good but lots of times bad street performers.

Okay, after writing that paragraph I realized just how cynical it sounded, but you know what…that’s my experience of New Orleans. And maybe Garcia’s is of noting how gorgeous the architecture is then buying tutus and cheap fairy wings from those cheap tourist shops that they have near Cafe Du Monde-or at least that’s where I imagine her getting them.

Maybe if I continued the book, it would’ve explored the city more but after meeting “Miles” the designated lover boy of the book and getting that good old annoying insta love feeling I had to say goodbye.

It just wasn’t my cup of tea.  With immersion contemporaries, I want something that makes the city as much as a character as the characters in the book.  Not so much here.

I think this book wanted the narration to work in part with the story, however the choppiness and randomness of it really failed to me which was why I didn’t finish the book.