Half Baked and Full of Shitty People: Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

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Despite sending him letters ever since she was thirteen, Taliah Abdallat never thought she’d ever really meet Julian Oliver. But one day, while her mother is out of the country, the famed rock star from Staring Into the Abyss shows up on her doorstep. This makes sense – kinda – because Julian Oliver is Taliah’s father, even though her mother would never admit it to her.

Julian asks if Taliah if she will drop everything and go with him to his hometown of Oak Falls, Indiana, to meet his father – her grandfather – who is nearing the end of his life. Taliah, torn between betraying her mother’s trust and meeting the family she has never known, goes.

With her best friend Harlow by her side, Taliah embarks on a three-day journey to find out everything about her ‘father’ and her family. But Julian isn’t the father Taliah always hoped for, and revelations about her mother’s past are seriously shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.

Source: GoodReads

This one was a bit of a disappointment.  It had a nice set up, but it sort of fell flat on its face when it came to its resolution.  The good thing was it was a quick read.

Wow, just realized I sort of summarized this review in two sentences.  So if you’re on a rush for time, I guess you can stop reading now.  However, if you like reading my diatribes (and if you’re reading this blog you probably do or at least get quasi amused reading  my diatribes) please continue on.

I’ll be honest, I probably would’ve ignored this book had it been for it’s cover alone (it’s sort of blah) but the long lost successful daddy trope is a favorite of mine and I sort of had to read it based on that.  I mean, What  a Girl Wants  is one of my all time favorite movies and it exploits this trope to the fullest, so what could go wrong with this book…

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It’s not that it has a bad set up.  I thought the set up was fairly decent for the most part.  Although, I’ll admit it was sort of clunky for this famous rock star to appear out of nowhere  and take his daughter to middle of nowhere Ohio, BUT I’ll let some things stretch.  The character development seemed like it was good at first.  We had a fractured friendship, the MC’s relationship with her estranged long lost father and mother, a dying grandfather, the MC becoming confident in her own talents, and a potential love interest for the MC.  But honestly, none of those plots were ever fully dissolved.

A part of me gets it.  In real life, nothing would be tied up in a bow, but there were some pretty horrible plot twists here that made me find the MC’s parents to pretty much be horrible shitheads all around.

For most of the book, the relationship between Tal and her long lost family had me intrigued.  I liked the relationship that was developing between her and Julian, and I thought that there were some nice scenes between her and her long lost grandmother.  However, that was quickly swept against the rug with that stupid twist.

Look, I get people aren’t perfect and I think that Warga probably included that twist to make the mother character more sympathetic, but it just seemed cheap to me.  It completely destroyed what I thought about Julian’s character and motivations throughout the novel.  It also didn’t absolve Lena of anything.  She is still pretty much a terrible person.  Sure, Julian might’ve acted like an ass, but Tal at the very least should’ve known.  Or at the very, very, least Julian should’ve been held accountable enough to pay child support or something.

Okay, I know that little last tidbit is from me handling too many family law cases, BUT still…you get what I mean.  I also could care less for Tal’s relationship with her b.f.f. who she’s grown distant with.  B.F.F. (whose name I want to say is Harley or something-I forgot and am too lazy to get the book out of my suitcase) is a jerk.  She pretty much disses Tal because she has a girlfriend and makes demands of her about calling her mom-Tal should’ve told her to stuff it.

I’m sorry Harley was shitty.  I’m sure she’ll grow out of it eventually, but the book makes it seem likes its all Tal’s fault.  But it’s really not.   Talk, you need to make friends with some decent people.

The romance or squint of it was okay, but after finishing the book I really wondered why it was included.  It’s clear Tal is leaving Ohio and probably won’t see this guy again.  And they only knew each other for three day so…pointless.

The flashbacks, while nice, and gave some introspection again were useless.  There was all this build up between Julian and his father, and Julian and Lena and the payoff was just pathetic.  It just really annoyed me all together.

In all, this book had so much promise, but totally flopped upon execution.  If you like the long lost father trope or books that explore relationships, I don’t recommend this one.  Rather, pop in What a Girl Wants again or read The Wrong Side of Right.  Seriously, this isn’t worth it.

Overall Rating: I was originally going to give it a C+ but upon reflection I’m thinking a C- might be more accurate.  It’s not half bad, but it is very poorly executed.

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It’s a Family Thing: Kissing Max Holden by Kathy Upperman

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Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea…

After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn’t himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn’t know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn’t let him kiss her. But she can’t resist, and when they’re caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it’ll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.

With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?

Source: GoodReads

Books that deal with cheating and infidelity always have an ew factor to them.  And Kissing Max Holden is no exception.

First of all, I was reluctant to read this one in the first place because of that, its imprint (Swoon Reads has had a lot of misses for me), AND its hideous cover and title.  However, I found myself oddly liking and hating the book at the same time.

In the end I gave it a middle of the road rating, though it’s more of a higher middle of the road than lower book because it was ridiculously readable.  But God, was I frustrated with the characters throughout reading this book.  Seriously, I wanted to scream at every single one of them for being repugnant assholes.

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I think the cheating is the obvious factor.  But the cheating was more of a result of really weak characters who had a lot of issues.  At least I guess I should give them props for having issues, rather than being perfect caricatures.  But God if not everyone in this book was an asshole.

Asshole Number One: The Title Character

I did not find how Max Holden was this guy that everyone wanted.  Throughout most of the novel, he was a mess.  I really don’t know what Jill found interesting about him other than the fact he probably looks like a young Captain Hook via OUAT.  Because seriously, dude is a disaster for most of the book with him being constantly drunk, having a girlfriend, and just being a dope in general.

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He drives drunk twice in this book.

That in itself should make him unattractive.  He also cheats on his girlfriend who we’re told is a bitch so that makes it okay, but no it doesn’t.

Asshole Number Two: The Main Character

She knowingly cheated with Max (multiple times) and is super judge-y.  Also, she’s a hypocrite.

Asshole Number Three: The Main Character’s Father

He is a controlling dick throughout most of this book.  He also is a hypocrite.  AND did I mention he drained the main character’s college savings account so that he and his new wife could undergo fertility treatments.

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No.

Just no.

If you do not have enough money to pay for fertility treatments and have to use your other child’s money in order to pay for such treatments, you don’t have the money for a second child.

Those actions were just too repugnant of me not to be outraged for the MC.  And no, MC don’t try to downplay it by saying when you looked into the baby’s eyes you melted into a pool of baby love.  It just doesn’t work that way.

That’s your future.

Be pissed.

If that was my father and stepmom I’d still be pissed and I’d probably be resentful of my $10,000 petri dish sibling.

But hey, I’m a Slytherin so…

Asshole Number Four: Stepmom

See money on fertility treatments rant.  But she can apparently afford fancy dinner parties, Pottery Barn nurseries, and Nordstrom maternity wear.

Need I say more.

Asshole Number Five: Becky

Becky is the girlfriend that Max cheats on.  She is depicted as an asshole, so that the cheating between Max and Jilly didn’t look too bad.

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Note, it didn’t work.

Honestly though, even though everyone and their mother seemed like assholes in this book, I did enjoy this one.  I don’t know why exactly.  Looking at it post read, I should’ve liked it a lot less than I did since everyone was annoying and honestly I don’t think the character really developed or Max changed enough where the ship was tolerable.

And I’m trying to think about something good to write now.  Because really the book wasn’t that realistic.  The way infidelity was handled her was sort of confounding.  It was okay for one party, but not for another party….I don’t know, it sort of left me with a weird feeling.

But again, when I closed the book I didn’t hate it.  It was readable and even though I didn’t like the character or thought that certain members acted a little unrealistic, I still found it to be an enjoyable enough read.  But I don’t exactly know why.

If you don’t get mad by infidelity and double standards, you could foreseeably pick this one up.  Like I said, it’s not that bad.  It’s just full of assholes.

Overall Rating: A B-

Rom Com Horror Fusion: There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

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Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.

Source: GoodReads

I applaud authors whenever they step out of their comfort zone, though I’m also a little skeptical.  Which is what describes my feelings when I saw that Stephanie Perkins was writing a teen slasher novel.

If you’re not familiar with Perkins’s work,  she has previously written three incredibly fluffy rom coms and has contribute two stories to two anthologies that focus on seasonal romance stories.  Needless to say, seeing that she was writing a horror driven story was a little unexpected.

Though, if you kept up on her blog you would know she had a penchant for such movies.

Anyway, overall after I finished There’s Someone Inside Your House, I was feeling a bit meh.    It wasn’t the worst book ever by any means, but I really think had it not had Perkins name attached it might’ve not been picked up.

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I’ll start with the good stuff.  This novel has a set of fairly diverse characters and they’re not token characters by any means.  The main character, for example, is biracial and her best friend is transgender.    They all have fully formed personalities and the interactions for the most part flow fairly naturally.

I will give Perkins this, her strength always seems to be her characterizations. Each of these characters for the most part seems fully formed.  Yes, I felt more disconnect than I did from her other books since the book was in third person, but I still felt like these characters could be real people.

I wasn’t such a fan the ship though.  I think, in part, because I felt it was rushed.  I guess this might’ve been in part because I’m so used to Perkins’s rom coms where the ship is the focus of the book.  But even then..the characters go from having an awkward conversation in a grocery store to having sex in a corn field ridiculously fast.

It just felt really fragmented if you want to be honest about it.

In general, the book felt very fractured.

I’ll be blunt, I’m not a huge fan of horror movies unless its a black comedy horror movie like Arachnophobia or Serial Mom, but in order for any of these movies to work the suspense has to be built up appropriately.   That’s why Hitchcock was as successful as he was with his classic suspense films.  Here, the suspense was minimum at best.  I mean, the killer was a random character that was revealed halfway through the book and I really didn’t care.

Honestly, this book should’ve gone in two ways.  It could’ve gone really dark or black comedy sort of dark, but it went neither here.  Instead, it was not that humorous and while the killer was creepy, he was fairly generic and the plot didn’t intrigue me enough.

And as for the deep dark secret that our heroine has….um, yeah.  I really had a hard time buying all that.  And her parents…again, yeah.  I had a hard time buying they were that heartless.  I guess it was possible, but yeah…it just was a bit eye roll worthy.

I really don’t know if I’d recommend this one.  Even if you are a die hard Stephanie Perkins fan, I don’t think you’re going to be a fan of this one.  It’s not bad, it’s just sort of blah.  Again, I think it’s one of those books that if it didn’t have a name attached to it, it would be thrown into the slush pile.  There’s nothing really original or intriguing about it, but was it terrible?

Hardly.

It’s just one of those books I know that I’m really not going to remember which is sad.  Again, I love when authors try new things, but this just does not seem to work for me which is sad, I’ve been waiting pretty much since 2014 for Perkins to release something else.

Hopefully next time, it will be a cute and fluffy rom com.

Overall Rating: A C.  The writing was halfway decent and it was readable, but it was also definitely forgettable.

Fucking Just Google It: Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey

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In this heartwarming debut by HelloGiggles blogger Kerry Winfrey, a young agoraphobe begins a journey of first love that leads her to the true meaning of home—just by taking one small step outside of her house.

My name is Mallory Sullivan.

My therapist says I have an anxiety disorder.

My brother says I’m an “optimistic recluse.”

Everybody else says I’m a freak.

And they kind of have a point, because I haven’t left the house in 67 days and only attend class via the webcam on my laptop. The person I talk to the most other than my mom and brother is the completely obnoxious BeamMeUp, and all we do is argue on New Mexico’s premiere alien message board.

But after yesterday, I have something: a chance. If I can win the homecoming crown by convincing resident hot popular guy and Friday Night Lights spawn Brad Kirkpatrick to go as my date, then maybe #stayathome will never appear next to the name @Mallory_Sullivan ever again.

First, I have to leave my room.

Source: GoodReads

Awhile back (think a couple of years ago) I read this self published book called Cinder and Ella and I ripped into it.  And when I mean, ripped into it.  I went off on it big time because of the author’s obvious lack of research about committing someone.  Look, I know not everyone’s been to law school BUT it’s not that difficult to Google what commitment proceedings will entail.   There was no research done in that book, and I felt like I was having a flashback to that reading experience when I read Love and Other Alien Experiences. 

I’ll give Love and Other Alien Experiences this though, it had a cute ship going for it.  If it would’ve exploited the ship and not have dramatized and poorly executed the mental health stuff out I could’ve really enjoyed this one.

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I think that’s what makes me so angry.  A lot of times in YA I hate or don’t get the ship, but here I totally get it.  I wanted it damn it, even though the MC online acts completely different than she does in her narration and IRL interactions.

But man, the banter that was going on in the online chatroom was cute.

What wasn’t hot, again, was the rest of the story.  I don’t know what made me angrier the indifferent mother, the incompetent shrink, or the ridiculous online school bit with the stupid internet timer.

Um, yeah, that was just dumb and annoying.

Which is a good way to describe the mother character in general dumb and annoying.  She has no idea how to deal with daughter’s mental illness.  When her daughter tells her she wants to try to go to school again, the mother things its perfectly acceptable for her to walk to school alone despite having agoraphobia and anxiety issues.

And it’s not even like the mother was busy or anything like that, she was sipping coffee and listening to Michael Buble while her daughter had a panic attack while walking on her way to school. Plus, I should mention said MC has a brother who could’ve taken her too but plot point (I guess).

The shrink’s no better she was like ho hum do you really think you’re ready to go to school ho hum, um okay.

Yeah, both are POS adults in my opinion.

It gets worse though.  After Mallory (not surprisingly) has said panic attack her mother threatens to send her to a place to deal with other kids like her (aka an institution).

Lady, you definitely get a Golden Charlie nomination for that if not the damn award for 2017 (note to self, I actually need to give a Golden Charlie on my end of the year wrap up, I talk about them all the fucking time it seems).  For those of you who haven’t been regular followers of my reviews, a Golden Charlie is an award I give to YA’s worst parents named aptly after the OG poor YA parent, Charlie Swan.

The shrink is also one of those people who gives shrinks bad names.  She constantly pressures the MC to do things, without even acknowledging what sort of progress she makes.  For example, when the MC tries to talk about her online relationships the shrink rolls her eyes at her and says they’re not “real” relationships and then forces her to go outside.

Obviously, this shrink does not know how agoraphobia works, neither does it seem the author since Mallory can at times go outside with no fear whatsoever because the plot needs it.  Oh, and did I even mention how the agoraphobia was triggered?

I didn’t.

Well, Mallory mistakes a guy as her absentee dad at the Cheesecake Factory and can’t live down the embarrassment.

You can stop rolling your eyes now.

Honestly, did it clue the author to Google the condition and how actual shrinks treat it?

Also, the home school/being embarrassingly connected to the school via a web cam.  Again, research much?  There are a lot of online accredited home schools that would’ve just been easier for the MC to attend .  I just felt like this book was either 1) poorly researched or 2) ignored the obvious just for the plot and it drove me crazy.

If you’re able to look past these things you might be able to enjoy it.  As I said, it had a cute ship I just couldn’t handle these sorts of major faux pas.  There are lots of people suffering from mental illness.  Chances are either you or your family member suffers from something, and it just disgusted me how easily characters in this book were threatening to commit someone.  It’s just not that easy.  Trust me.  There are a lot of rules in place that even trying to find out if your love one is in treatment and is taking their medications can be a difficult if not impossible task.

Which is why I ended up throwing this book against the wall and hissing a lot of expletives under my breath and decided to rage write this review after working all week and having a poor reaction to allergies that caused me to take a Benadryl.

Yes, I wrote this review even though I should be drooling on my pillow right now because that’s how pissed I am about this book.  In a way, I think I am angrier with this one than Cinder and Ella.  While it is true that Cinder and Ella  in a lot of ways was worse than this book in its handling of mental health issues, this book annoyed me more because aside from that issue it had potential.  And I think that’s where it failed me the most.

Overall Rating: From me it’s a total flop and a F.  I could’ve given it a higher rating, but I’m not this book just made me too angry and admittedly it’s the first book I’ve thrown at the wall in awhile.

 

 

Stereotypical Contemporary Melodrama: After the Game by Abi Glines

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To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…

Source: GoodReads

I feel like there’s a sub category of YA contemporary that should be called YA melodrama.   Usually, these are books that are guilty pleasures like Katy McGarry or Miranda Kennealy.  Pretty much most of the plots in said books involve having a dual point of view with two teens who have problems that are usually only seen on daytime soap operas and they are only able to get through these issues through the power of love.

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Yes, the plot can vary from book to book, but this is pretty much the standard fare for these sorts of books.  They’re enjoyable but they’re formulaic and there are a lot of them out there.  And I’ll admit it, on a rare occasion I crave these sorts of books.

They’re like bad fast food.  You know it’s not going to be the best meal ever (in taste or in health purposes), but for those few minutes you’re eating it, it is enjoyable.

Abi Glines Field Party series was advertised at my local book store.  Where I live is a pretty big football town (full disclosure, I don’t know shit about football) and they were advertising the series as a deal.  I was interested in a gushy melodramatic romance so I purchased the lot of them.

Originally, I was planning on doing a back to back reading binge.  But after the first book, I was like I need a break from this shit.

It wasn’t God awful-or least God awful in terms of the books that I read-but it was bad.  First of all, I don’t feel like Glines did her research on selective mutism or hospice care.  I don’t know how anyone would NOT know that West’s father had cancer.  If he was as big of a deal as he was made out to be, surely someone would notice.  Or at the very least if he was working a job, you’d think that his boss and fellow employees would notice when he went to get chemo or whatever.

What bothered me more than the handling of West’s disease was Maggie’s selective mutism.  It was merely there to present Maggie and West with an obstacle.  She’s able to talk again with no therapy and other than a quick info dump about what happened to her mom, we never really see how her death impacted Maggie.

I also did care one bit about the ship.

The first interaction between these two characters involves West forcing himself on Maggie.  It’s just gross.  And you might be saying, it was just a kiss, MJ.

It might’ve been just a kiss, but he still kissed her without her fucking consent, thinking she was mute and thinking she didn’t want to be kissed.  It was fucking messed up, sick daddy or not.  And it sort of made the relationship gross before it even beyond.

It probably also didn’t help the ship that West was extremely possessive and creepy throughout the entire damn book too.

I get it, possessive boyfriends in YA are an unfortunate main stay, but it really annoyed me how nonchalant West’s actions were.  And yeah, there is a part of the book where Maggie tells him off for being a stalker, but it’s only for like five pages.

I think what really bothered me about the handling of all of this, was Maggie’s background.   Her backstory had a lot of domestic violence involved, to the point where you would think that West’s actions would alarm her more than they did.

But it’s never really mentioned, or comparisons are never really made.  Instead, West apologizes and they go on with things together even though you know they’ll inevitably blow up again and…

Yeah, I’m cynical about this sort of stuff.  I’ve also seen it too much in real life, so that’s probably why I hated West/Maggie.  And to be fair, I have seen way, way, worse ships in YA.

The sad thing is, I didn’t hate this though.  I have read way worst things in YA and as far as rage inducing books go, it only caused my eye to twitch just a little.  It should’ve made me a lot more angrier than I was, but at the end of it I was apathetic and just sort of shrugged.  I just decided not to do a binge read because I think the twitch could develop into something a lot more dangerous for my sanity.

Anyway, if you can get by with the shitty relationship (which is debatable) this book isn’t outright terrible wast of time, but if you have something better on your shelf read that first.

Overall Rating: A C.

If That’s the Case then I REALLY Regret Today’s Reading Choice: If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L Armentrout

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Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be epic—one of opportunities and chances.

Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.

Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian might never forgive her for what happened.

For what she let happen.

With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when her and her friends’ entire existences have been redefined? How can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?

Source: GoodReads

If you’ve looked at the contents of this blog lately, you’ll know except for rereads I have been on a bit of a dry spell.  When trying to chose a book to read this weekend, I wanted something that I could sort of guarantee to myself that I’d enjoy, so I picked up Jennifer L Armentrout’s latest release.  With Armentrout, I might not get a great read but I usually will get something that I enjoy.  However, I really did not like If There’s No Tomorrow, in fact I would say I outright hated it.

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To be fair though, I went back and forth at first of whether or not to give it one or two stars on GoodReads.  Ultimately, I decided one star because I didn’t like it AT ALL..

The book focuses on the making one bad choice, but honestly I feel like the MC really didn’t make a bad choice so much as was just stupid.  It wasn’t like she could stop the events that happened from happening, and there really wasn’t much she could do.

But God knows, the sanctimonious characters in this book constantly blame the character for not stopping the drunk douche who drove the car in the tree from driving.  Literally, like after she woke up.  And for that matter they equated her not being able to grab the keys, not having enough common ass sense to get into the car with drunk people, to grown ass grownups providing their teen and his friends with alcohol…I have no fucking words.

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So yeah, pretty much this book is about the MC having a guilt trip for the duration of the book.  It’s not very good.

It reminded me a lot of a preachy PSA-a bad preachy PSA.  Look, I don’t think you have to be too smart to realize that drinking and driving is wrong AND that the idiotic MC should’ve been smart enough not to go in that car.  But to be fair, the MC had drank a beer  which could’ve affected her judgment(which, leads me to another diatribe how one or two drinks is completely brushed off even though the MC is freaking underage).   But for real, this book reminded me of that one episode of Full House (yes, I admit that at one point in my life I did watch that show) where Stephanie and Gia were going to ride with the guys who were on something-but it being Full House they just said they were just drunk-and DJ threw this hissy fit that kept Stephanie from getting in the car, but Gia of course got in and there was a wreck-but she didn’t die because it was Full House and only the un-named dead mother died and….

You get where I’m going here with this.

It’s cheesy.  It’s is preachy.  And to add crap on to this book, there is some ass kissing to some of Armentrout’s friends by referencing their YA books in her story.

It was sort of cute and original in the Lux series where the character had a blog and pandering wasn’t done by every YA authors in the world.  But on this one the pandering is so laughable its not even funny.  If you look at anyone who blurbed this book, their book is pretty much referenced in said book.

Not lying about that.

And when I see the ACOTR referenced  multiple times especially now after the third book  I cringe.

It’s not that I don’t think characters who love to read should be featured, but when it clearly plays no part of the story-like in this case-it just makes me roll my eyes.  All I have to say is at least she’s not a Booktuber.

Anyways, the romance that is heavily featured in the blurb was kind of pointless.  Yes, Sebastian and Lena do have some decent moments BUT I didn’t really even care about them since the book was mostly focused on guilt.

And yes, Sebastian played a huge role in why Lena got in that car, BUT all of their melodrama was really pointless.

I’ll be blunt about it, I read Armentrout for the cheese in the relationships that she creates.  The cheese was here, but the darkness and preachiness of the story made it too much for me to enjoy the book.

Funny, I didn’t have problems with Armentrout’s other books that had darker themes- The Problem With Forever and Don’t Look Back-but this book.

Blargh.

Overall Rating: For me it was a total fail.  I think objectively I’d give it a D, I finished it and there are (unfortunately) worse things out there in YA land.

Audrey Hepburn Would Be Ashamed of You: Breakfast at Bloomingdale’s by Kristen Kemp

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What’s it take for a girl to make it in the big city? A sense of humor, a sense of self, and a desire to succeed in fashion. A stylish novel for teen PROJECT RUNWAY and DEVIL WEARS PRADA fans.

Kat’s come to New York City with a dream: to be a big fashion designer and to see her name on a label in Bloomingdale’s. Back in upstate New York, she imagined a city paved in Prada . . . but the reality isn’t quite so fashionable. Still, there are friends to be made, boys to be flirted with, and amazements to be found . . . sometimes when she least expects it. Even when her lame hick boyfriend from back home comes to the city to try to reclaim her, Kat knows she’s found her place . . . now all she has to do is have the place find her back.

Source: GoodReads

There was a period in time a few years ago where there was a mini trend of Audrey Hepburn centric YA books.  This book actually came out a few years before that trend and I had it, and thought…hmm, maybe it’s actually fairly good to have a mini trend inspired by it.

So after sitting on my shelf for almost ten years-yeah, it’s been that long-I decided to give it a whirl and read it.

I only got through about thirty pages in it.  It was that bad.   I almost didn’t even bother writing this brief DNF review over it, that’s how disgusted I was over it.  But since I haven’t had time much to read something that I I’d like to review in the past couple of weeks and this was the closest book I could think of writing a review for…well, it’s getting this brief “Why Audrey Hepburn Would Be Ashamed She’s On the Cover” type of review.

1)  Audrey would not approve of the main character’s nasty attitude:

Seriously, our narrator Junebug/Cat is a POS if there ever was one.  She’s rude and nasty to practically every one.  For example, she calls her mother a heifer (and yes, she’s not exactly a nice person but still HEIFER) and she pretty much gets in a cat fight with your stereotypical “Mean Girl” at her fucking grandmother’s funeral.

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2) Audrey would probably be disgusted that Breakfast at Tiffany’s (the film) is associated with being about Audrey rather than being, you know, a movie.

Yes, I know the movie was one of Audrey’s most iconic roles (though, personally give me SabrinaCharade, My Fair LadyFunny Face, or even Roman Holiday any day over Breakfast at Tiffany’s).  Yes, the fashion in that movie is fantastic, but there are some scenes (like anytime that Mickey Rooney appears) that I just grimace at.  PLUS, it’s completely different than the short story its based on and I think a lot of people forget that when they try to write one of these YA Audrey Hepburn centric books.  Did you know that Capote actually had Marilyn Monroe in mind for the role?

Yeah, probably not.  I get that it’s easy to blend the two things together because it was an iconic role for Audrey-probably because of that Givenchy dress-BUT the movie is NOT about Audrey.  And it seems in all these books pretty much the character is more or less Audrey’s version of Holly Golightly.

3) Audrey would be disgusted with  this character’s problems.

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Seriously, a “mean mother” and a small town full of assholes is nothing to growing up in WW2 Europe and being forced to eat tulip bulbs.  Just saying.

Had I spent more time reading this book, I probably could’ve added more reasons to the list.  It boils down to this though, the book suffers from many problems that late 2000’s Post Mean Girls YA books have.  The tropes are just noxious.  I don’t know why it’s necessary-even these days-to use the Mean Girl trope or for that matter the nasty mother trope.

People are complex.  We have are good days and our bad days. This book just depicts everyone at their worst.  One of the things I like best about Audrey Hepburn movies is that there is a hopeful optimism to them.  This book is devoid of that optimism.  It consists of a sullen, unlikeable character whose only resemblance to Hepburn’s character is Breakfast at Tiffany’s is she has a LBD and uses a fake name.

Overall Rating: DNF.

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.

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