All Unhappy Readers Are Different: Tash Hearts Tolstoy by

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

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

No.  She was just so, so, annoying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sigh.

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

Overall Rating: DNF.

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry, Desi but that was crazy.

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

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

But GMAFB.

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

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

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

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

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A cappella just got a makeover.

Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.

In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Jordan finds herself enmeshed in a precarious juggling act: making friends, alienating friends, crushing on a guy, crushing on a girl, and navigating decades-old rivalries. With her secret growing heavier every day, Jordan pushes beyond gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and—most importantly—what it means to be herself.

Source: GoodReads

Good news guys, I finished my reading goal for 2017.  Fifty books.  Grant it, I did DNF a few of them but I still technically read fifty books.

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Anyway, Noteworthy was the book that pushed me over the top.  I had mixed feelings about this book.  Overall, I’m giving it a sold B rating but there were some things that didn’t work for me.

What worked.  The setting.  From what I could tell it was pretty spot on.  My sister went to a performing arts boarding school, and it was pretty much like Kensington-Blaine (grant it, her focus was in playing the oboe, not singing or theater, but still same sort of deal).  I also really liked the way that Redgate explored how economically disadvantaged kids fare at such schools.

To be blunt about it, my sister experienced hell when she was at her fancy pants performing arts high school mainly becuase she was a scholarship student.  Grant it, my family was pretty solid middle class-my parents own their home and we never were on any benefits like Jordan and her family-but without a scholarship there would’ve been no way that she could’ve gone to that school and it was the first time she really had to deal with classism.

My mom actually had more of a home life like Jordan-her dad was in a wheelchair and even though her parents worked they survived in part because of Social Security and ate pretty much a staple diet of dried beans for a lot of her childhood.  Reading Jordan’s narrative, reminded me of a lot of the issues my mom described that she faced growing up, so those two parts of the book were very relatable to me even though I had not directly experienced either of them.

So those two parts of the book-the handling of the setting and poverty were at least really well done from what I have experienced.  I also loved how diverse this book is.  There are a variety of different character from different backgrounds and the boarding school really leads to a great setting for them to interact.

Jordan was also an entertaining narrator and sort of atypical.  She is actually one of the few YA character who gender bends who I think realistically could pull it off-at least from a physical perspective.

She’s actually described as looking androgynous, which I know shocking as this may sound doesn’t happen a lot with this trope.

The gender bend storyline didn’t drive me that crazy either.  I did think before reading it, that Jordan would question her gender identity, but really that’s not a factor in this book. I am glad that some discussion was made about the difference between cross dressing and being transgender.

The relationships between the singing group were also nice.  The dynamics make it perfectly acceptable for a companion sequel-just saying-and I felt like there was a lot to explore here.

The romance also didn’t bother me, though I don’t really know if it was needed.  I was satisfied enough with the character development for Jordan and the platonic relationships she developed with the rest of the team.

What didn’t work?

The pacing.

Oh, the pacing.

It dragged so freaking much in parts.  I felt like if the book could’ve cut down a little bit of the page count it would’ve been better off for it.

Also, the sheet ludicrousness of Jordan’s gender bending experience made me roll my eyes.  You would’ve thought that the faculty sponsor would’ve at least looked to see if Julian existed for the pure purpose of checking his eligibility to see if whether or not his grades allowed him to compete in the group.

But…

Stephenie Meyer excuse, it’s fiction.

Still, it’s hard to let something like that go when you’re reading, especially if you are the super neurotic reader like yours truly.

Overall, I do recommend Noteworthy.  It does have some really good bits to it, but there were some issues.  If you can handle the slowish pacing and can suspend logic then you might should give this one a try.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

Contrived: The SUn is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Source: GoodReads

I think Nicola Yoon’s stuff is overrated.

Don’t get me wrong, I found Everything, Everything to be okay but it was contrived.  The Sun is Also a Star is even more contrived than her previous efforts (though it probably didn’t help that I skipped to the end and wasn’t impressed at all with how things resolved themselves.

I think the thing that was supposed to be innovative about this one is its style.  And I’ll give it this, I did like the style.  Though I hardly found it unique or innovative.  Side character POVs aren’t exactly a new thing.  So that really didn’t give it any sort of leg up.

The overall story arc is pretty weak.  I did like that both characters were from diverse backgrounds though, Ill give it that.  But the thing is, maybe it’s being an attorney who has actually taken an Immigration law course and dealt with some immigration cases I knew how the book was probably going to end before it started AND when Natasha just showed up at the UCIS office, I just shook my head knowing that this was not going to end well.

There’s not a lot of twists you can thrown in when you decide to deal with immigration law, and actually go through the motions of stating that they exhausted all of their options.

Yeah, sort of makes the story suck.

And God knows, I wish Natasha was a little bit more of a compassionate character than she was.  From the pages that I read, I really didn’t like or care for her.  She was hateful and seemed to blame everyone for her situation.  Plus,  I still couldn’t get over the fact she went to the UCIS alone as a minor.    Or that she actually thought she had a chance after the appeal options had been exhausted.  And the fact she was bemoaning over the fact that she wasn’t able to use that stolen SSN her mom got her.

Yeah, identity theft is really going to endear me to a character.

And yes, I know she’s undocumented and has to deal with some terrible shit that’s not her fault.  But come on, you’re talking about stealing someone’s social security number.  That is so wrong.

Daniel, the love interest, was just as whiney in a lot of ways.  But I sort of got where he was coming from more.  Again, he hadn’t exactly been exploited that much in narration so maybe I would’ve hated him had I continued.

Again, I don’t think The Sun is Also a Star is the worst book I’ve ever read, but it was blase and something I honestly didn’t want to finish it which is why I DNF’d it.

Good But: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

Source: GoodReads

I have really ambivalent feelings about this one.

Part of me loves it.  I love how Garvin wrote a character that was gender fluid.  It is something I haven’t seen at all in YA and something that I, myself, know very little about.

Riley is hilarious.  I really love the character and how faceted Riley is.  I also have to give Garvin major props for not revealing what Riley’s biological gender is or for how he masterfully avoided not using pronouns throughout the book regarding Riley’s gender because writing this review is hard for me because I am so pronoun dependent.

As a character study this book would totally win.  Unfortunately, it is not just a character study and that’s where the problems come in.  Because the plot of the novel gets a little too PSA-ish.

Look, I knew this book was going to be a little bit after school-ish.  It was focusing on a group of people that most people have no idea exists so there is going to be some “schooling” going on.  But there were just some things in the novel that made me shake my head and might be a little trigger inducing to some people.

While I do think that events that happened to Riley should be depicted in fiction, because they do (unfortunately) happen the event itself seemed a little out of space in tune to the rest of the book.  Let’s just say I was hoping this book would be like Simon vs the Homo Sapien Agenda and was surprised that it went with that subplot.

And I almost felt like that subplot was a little unresolved at the end and wrapped up a little too quickly.  It wasn’t that I didn’t think Garvin addressed the issue appropriately.  It was handled with class, BUT it just seemed rushed.

Sigh…

I still recommend this one.  Again, Riley is great.  I like the friendships and interactions that this character has and the fact that the character opens up my eyes to a group of people I knew very little about before reading this book.  This is why reading diverse books is so important.  I would highly recommend assigning this one to a class to read.

Overall Rating: A solid B.  I really could round this up to a B+ but that one subplot just really didn’t sit right with me.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Celebrate Diversity

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

10)

While a bit on the preachy side, you still have to give IW Gregorio’s debut credit for featuring a group of people (intersex individuals) who are not only marginalized, but who’s general existence is not known to society.

9)

This is such a cute little book, that deals with some serious issues.  While the MC’s recovery might’ve been a little too fast for my tastes, I still enjoyed how this book focused on the family aspects and how they helped Audrey come to terms with things.

8)

There is so much diversity in the Lunar Chronicles.  All of the characters come from all different sort of backgrounds, some aren’t even from this planet.  How’s that for diversity?

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While I found this book to be obnoxiously preachy (seriously, if you want to read a  non-offensive White House themed book either read All American Girl or Right Side of Wrong) I did like how how the fact Sparrow’s heritage was portrayed.  It’s rare to get an adopted MC in YA so that was nice.

6)

I really think this is a good account of how it is to be a first generation American.  It’s been years since I read this one, but just thinking about it has me wanting me to pick it up again.

5)

It rare to find a book with a biracial character, even today.  And I liked how this one explored the issues that come with dealing with a dual heritage.

4)

It’s rare to find a book that features bisexual characters properly, and this is one of them.  I hear that Under the Lights is also an excellent choice (I haven’t read it yet, despite it being on my list).

3)

 

I really love the exploration of other cultures.  I love Saeeds depiction of Pakistan and how the culture has different views about women and marriage than Western society.  The book is brutal, brief, and realistic.

2)

I think my favorite thing about this one was that yeah it featured diverse characters, but guess what we’re not taught a huge lessons and it’s actually a fairly realistic depiction of a gay teen without melodrama.  Which I think makes the book really fantastic, especially for LGBTQ teens who WANT and NEED to feel normality.

1)

Mental illness is more often than not stigmatized in society.  What I like about this book is that you really did get to experience paranoid schizophrenia and the havoc it plays with the MC’s life.  This book is really heartbreaking-in a good way.

Informative But Maybe a Little PSA: None of the Above by IW Gregorio

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex . . . and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned–something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

Source: GoodReads

I recieved a DRC from Edelweiss this did not effect my opinion of the book.

When I received a DRC of this one I literally downloaded and started reading.  That’s how excited I was for this book.  That’s sort of a bad way to start a book, because unless the book is just spectacular it’s probably not going to give you the book-gasm you expected.

None of the Above wasn’t the book-asm I was expecting, but it wasn’t bad.  It had a lot of good things going for it.  I really liked how Gregorio explained what intersex is and that’s it’s a medical condition.  Lots of people aren’t aware of it.  The discussion on gender and the various dimensions it has, was probably my favorite part of the book.  All the factual information.

 

However, the problem was that the book borderline-d on PSA on a lot of levels.  While the intersex information was great and while I appreciated Gregorio going into what a gynecological exam entails (because let’s face it most sex ed programs DON’T do that) sometimes I wanted the book to feel a little bit more real with its emotions.  Also, there was a remark about Catholics and their views on family planning that was just a little ill placed.  While I have my own issues with the church’s family planning guidelines, I really don’t think the book was a place to drop disdain about it.  Even if it was as small as a remark Gregorio made it.

For the most part, I liked the main character.  Her reaction was pretty realistic given her situation.  The confusion, self revulsion, were pretty natural.  What I didn’t like was that Kristin never really seemed to accept herself.  Everything seems to be resolved within the last few pages, but I didn’t really think we saw Kristin come okay with being who she was.  It just sort of happened.

I also didnt’ get the ship.  I think it was because dude had a girlfriend for what my Kindle said was roughly about 92% of the book before he dumped her for Krissy.  I mean, a little out of left field, don’t you think?

The other love interest could’ve came out of Alex As Well.  Yeah, his reaction was that deplorable.  I couldn’t believe a lot of Krissy’s classmates reactions to be honest.  But at the same time, kids are horrible.  What I really couldn’t believe was Kristin not going to a gyno sooner when certain life events-i.e. getting her period-didn’t happen when she was eighteen.

I get that her mother passed away, but they usually ask you when you have a head cold when the last time you menstruated was.  Plus, you have to watch that horrible movie when you’re like ten that tells you that if you don’t get your period by your late teens you should probably see a gyno.

So, that part was a little unrealistic.

And that was the thing about this one, the intersex stuff.  Beautifully done.  I thought it did a nice job explaining Kristin’s medical condition and I lacked how it depicted support groups.

I liked Kristin’s reactions and her dad being supportive.

Completely realistic.

Her friends…not so much.

Their betrayal was awful.  Both of her best friends are bitches.  Her new friends…meh.  I liked Gretchen.  She had her act together.  But as I said before, the Love Interest seemed almost underdeveloped and a little meh at that.

I think the best thing about None of the Above  is that it open the gate to a discussion on intersex issues in YA.  I learned a lot from Kristin’s story.  One of the reasons I requested it is because I love to support diverse reads like None of the Above, I think they have something to offer about life that we would otherwise not know.  And learning about how gender isn’t exactly a binary was fascinating.

Overall Rating: B.  Good on the actual issue, but rough around the edges.  I do think Gregorio’s writing could mature with future books though.

Motion to Change the Blurb: Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman

Alex is ready for things to change, in a big way. Everyone seems to think she’s a boy, but for Alex the whole boy/girl thing isn’t as simple as either/or, and when she decides girl is closer to the truth, no one knows how to react, least of all her parents. Undeterred, Alex begins to create a new identity for herself: ditching one school, enrolling in another, and throwing out most of her clothes. But the other Alex—the boy Alex—has a lot to say about that. Heartbreaking and droll in equal measures, Alex As Well is a brilliantly told story of exploring gender and sexuality, navigating friendships, and finding a place to belong.

Source: GoodReads

Introduction:

This Motion arises from another hellish reading experience by the writer of said motion.  Once again, I am seeking the Book Court to remedy a horrible situation.  Rather, than forgetting this POS, I wish to have the Court force this book to change its blurb so that people (like yours truly) won’t get tricked into reading it and wanting to pound fictional characters as a result of this-I hear this effect is called being a Book Hulk.  The only way to cure such an effect is to watch Beauty and the Beast for the five thousandth time and then complain about how Once Upon a Time made Belle an idiot.  That just isn’t right since it makes said reader upset about how Belle is an idiot and how she shouldn’t have sided with Team Stupid in that stupid midseason finale.

I digress.

A Motion in this case should be granted and the following proposed blurb should be used instead:

Alex decides to whine a lot, about not being accepted as a girl.  Her parents are unrealistically horrible/bonkers and talk to what most people to deem as internet trolls.  And apparently, lawyers can do think with only a single phone call….then why is there all that pesky appellate case law?  Compared to such classics like Big Fat Disaster meets Transparent meets America’s Next Top Model meets The Pregnancy Pact this is one Lifetime like book you’re going to sit there and let your jaw drop too.

Statement of Facts:

See the blurb to this book (exhibit A).  It is enticing.  It fits perfectly with the diverse reads movement.  An intersex character is something you never see in YA.

In fact, most people have no idea what intersex is and this seemingly looks like a good opportunity to educate.  Which is the whole point of diverse books….duh.

Only, it doesn’t educate.  The reader, who knew little about intersex going in (just a quick Wiki read to familiarize her with terms and an NPR interview or two) and was interested in learning more.  However, she ended up getting a big fat Lifetime movie in book form.

The book started off promising enough.  Alex had just started identifying herself as a she, this would’ve been an interesting place to start if the book actually had flashbacks showing how Alex came to this realization.

I’ll correct that for the Court, flashbacks that made sense.  Not, I was depants and when everyone saw how small Alex’s noodle was that’s when I (Girl Alex) decided to be a girl.

On that note, what was up with Alex talking about herself in third person?  I thought I was dealing with a main character who had dissociative identity disorder.  It would make sense, after all, this book read like a melodrama.

And a sleazy porn too with the amount of scenes describing the main character jerking off when she looks at herself in the mirror.

I don’t think that this is the sort of message intersex activists want to get out-but what do I know?

The whole book reads like this.  From over the top horrible parents, to lawsuits that make very little sense* it just read like a Lifetime movie.  So much, that I couldn’t help but continue reading at what a train wreck it was.  And when I finished…I wept for the youth of tomorrow.

Argument:

I. A MOTION TO CHANGE BLURB SHOULD BE GRANTED BECAUSE THE ELEMENTS ARE MET

The elements to having a blurb change are as followed and are met in the above case: 1)The blurb contains social value that the book does not have, 2) The blurb states the book explores issues that it does not, 3) The blurb is inconsistent with the actual story, and 4)An annoying comparison that does not exist would be better than the current blurb.

A. THE BLURB CONTAINED SOCIAL VALUE THAT ALEX AS WELL DID NOT HAVE.

Social value has a broad definition.  Arguably it can be about anything, but after such classics like Fallen and Hush Hush the Book Court has defined social value in YA as followed, “Any book that discusses anything that isn’t total nonsense and stupidity.”  Nonsense and stupidity have been defined the court in subsequent cases to be a variety of things included and not limited to the following 1) Bella Swan obsession, 2)Relevant conversations that don’t involve how hot someone supposedly is, and 3) cats are never viewed as nonsense (see popularity on the internet).

Classic example of something that lacks social value.

Alex As Well would not be viewed as social value test.  While on its surface,it might have interesting topics that are socially relevant total nonsense and stupidity confound it and ruin the book.

Bella Swan obsession and hot conversations can be seen in the novel.  While there is not that much in terms of romance, in the book there is a lot of talk about sex (in particular jerking off to one’s own boobs-not even boobs really but buds).  One could make the argument that Alex is exploring her new body, however the author makes it truly feel like there are two Alex’s and hearing how hot girl Alex is by boy Alex is just kind of eh.

There are no cats in this book, so unfortunately, they can not save the book either.

Intersex issues also do not really play a role in the book, even though the main character is intersex.  Alex as Well has met the criteria of the social value element for a motion for name change.

B. ALEX AS WELL DOES NOT HIGHLIGHT THE ISSUES IT PRESENTS IN ITS BLURB.

Alex As Well meets the scope of this very narrow rule.  The Book Courts have taken  a very staunch view on this element.  All of the issues presented in the blurb have to be presented in the work. Alex As Well fails on its face on this test.

Alex as Well  is similar to The Conspiracy of Us.  The Conspiracy of Us failed the issue test as well, since it was suppose to present its audience with a tantalizing puzzle that was similar to The Da Vinci Code.  It wasn’t.  It was just another boring YA book with a stupid love triangle.  The Conspiracy of Us was unique because at first glance the case does not look like it was going to meet the criteria of the issue element.  However, the Court ruled that, “Trying to loosely cover up YA stupidity with ‘issues’ that really aren’t relevant to the plot.  Does not make them issues.”

The ruling in The Conspiracy of Us case applies to Alice as Well, while the gender issues that were presented in the blurb were presented they were almost secondary.  Most of the book contents could be described as one of the following things: 1) Alex getting a makeover.  Yes, I know it talks about her getting rid of her closet in the blurb, but it doesn’t talk about her being told she’s beautiful and hot stuff by her everyone including her boy self.  2) Alex jerking off when looking at how gooorgeous she is (happens two or three times in the book, at least).    3) Alex’s mom talking like a freak on the internet.  I got from the blurb that there were going to be issues with the parents, but I didn’t think I’d be forced to read the mother’s point of view.  4) Legalities that just don’t make sense.  Oh, yeah it happens.  And even though I know squat about Australian law, I have to think that it’s probably similar enough to US family law (which I do know) where this whole book would’ve never fucking happened.

So, yes, it meets the issue test.  Ba da bing, ba da bung!  Happy now.

C. ALEX AS WELL”S  BLURB IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE REST OF THE STORY WHERE YOU SAY POPPYCOCK FIVE MILLION BILLION TIMES.

The Motion to Change Blurb should be granted because Alex As Well  blurb makes it sound like it’s an intelligent novel that grapples on real issues, rather than a wannabe Lifetime movie starring Tory Spelling’s less attractive and less talented long lost half sibling (a.k.a. whoever the Disney Channel rejected) .

The element must be met by having something so outrageous happen in contrast to the verb that you want to say poppycock.

Alex as Well meets this test.  The book is filled with melodrama, instead of being thoughtful.  Most notably is the way the legal proceedings and the reactions of Alex’s friends and family were handled.

The blogger  states that she knows nothing about Australian family law (again).  However, it does feel odd to her that a couple of phone calls and with the mere word of a sullen teenager that the state would take the teen away from her home.  This isn’t South Park  and Alex is not Eric Cartman therefore it doesn’t make sense.  Arguably you can make the case that because her birth certificate was changed against her will at the ripe old age of six months that she is being abused.  But…

Excuse me while I go laugh.

Or maybe I shouldn’t be laughing if this is accurate.  Maybe I should be scared for Australians-parents and kids.  Is it really that easy to take away your kids?  Here in America it’s a very drawn out, long, process full of case assessments, court hearings, the works.

The only time kids get taken away as fast as Alex was, if there’s actual danger to the kid and it’s obvious that they could be injured.  And a lot of times, we’re too late (see the case of one Bella Swan).

The reason why?  Legally speaking, taking someone’s kids away from them is akin to the death penalty in civil law (or at least that’s how my family law prof talked it up).  So, I really don’t see Alex being able to ditch the ‘rental units as fast as she did.

And let’s not talk about the getting hauled to the funny farm business either…

All I have to say, is it’s very difficult to get someone committed in the US because you’re holding them against their will.  And I doubt they’d have internet access.  Surely, it would be similar in Australia?

But then again, what do I know?  Except that I found this whole thing ridiculous and meeting the outrageous test necessary to meet the requirements of the element.

D. ALEX AS WELL WOULD BE BETTER IF IT WAS COMPARED TO TWILIGHT, THE HUNGER GAMES, THE BIBLE, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, MEETS THE JETSONS.

Think of the most ridiculous blurb you can (see above) if it sounds better than what you’ve currently got then you meet this test.

And boy do we meet it.  I feel like some Twilight might’ve given the book sparkle it lacked from Clinique products that it mentions every five pages (I use Clinique too, but I don’t think it’s the next best friend just over priced foundation and great smelling perfume).  The Hunger Games thing could’ve killed off the unnecessary annoying characters.  God could’ve smote some annoying characters as well, so that’s a plus for being compared to The Bible.  Orange is the New Black  could’ve added dimension to the gender aspects on the story and actually made it (you know) good.  And anything’s better if it has the Jetsons in it.  So there, element met.  Game.  Set.  Match.

Prayer of Relief:

The court has a duty to change Alex As Well’s blurb.  The blurb meets all the necessary elements for a Motion to Change Blurb to be granted.  If it’s not met, then this was really a waste of two thousand plus words.

Overall Rating:

If I’m doing any sort of a motion for a review.  You should know it’s an automatic fail.

*I know nothing about Australian law, but I’m guessing it would be similar enough to US law since they are both Common Law based systems to where it would probably take more than thirty seconds for a parent to lose their custodial rights to a child.

#DorkOn: Adorkable by Sarra Manning

Welcome to the dorkside. It’s going to be a bumpy ride…

Jeane Smith’s a blogger, a dreamer, a dare-to-dreamer, a jumble sale queen, CEO of her own lifestyle brand and has half a million followers on twitter.

Michael Lee’s a star of school, stage and playing field. A golden boy in a Jack Wills hoodie.

They have nothing in common but a pair of cheating exes. So why can’t they stop snogging?

Source: GoodReads

What I wanted to initially do with this review is just make it a series of fake Tweets.  However, since I don’t think I can limit my thoughts for the entire review to 150 characters or less.  I’ll only be making the headers for this review faux Tweets.  And be using a lot of K-Drama gifs because it’s been awhile and I could so imagine this book being a K-Drama (it just has that vibe for it cute, over the top, and you could imagine all the swoon-ish moments it would obviously  have).

@Adorkable you really know how to bring the fluff.

I rarely ever say that to anyone though.  But book you bought the feels in a way that’s not the typical feels of YA.  I felt that the relationship between Michael and Jeane was surprisingly real.  And cute.

Usually when realism is added to a novel it sort of takes out the fluff.  However, I think the realism of the romance added to it here.  I liked that things weren’t perfect with these characters-both emotionally and physically.  Honestly, their sex scene was one of the more realistic ones I’ve seen written in YA.

And (gasp) both of them aren’t virgins.

And the fact that one of them experimented is not a huge deal it’s just acknowledged.

Can we have more of this in this genre?

Honestly, the relationship between these two characters is sort of the relationship I wanted when I read the synopsis to  such as Isla and the Happily Ever AfterIt really gives a realistic depiction of a relationship.  And it’s not all bunny rabbits and roses.  And this relationship is definitely not instant love.

@Adorkable Michael is adorable.  And I love the fact that he’s not a WASP #diversity.

Michael is mouthwater worthy.  And he’s not a WASP.

Bonus points.

What I really like is that he’s a diverse character and for the most part (with a few exceptions-cough, almond eye description, cough) Manning doesn’t rely on cultural  stereotypes when describing him.

Thank the lord.

One thing I did like about this character is that he’s resound-idly grounded, but he does evolve as the story progresses. I liked how Manning made him look past his own prejudices and accept Jeane for who she really is.

Plus, he has an adorable family which he actually hangs out with (they watch the Muppet Christmas Carroll together willingly)  and that in itself equals more bonus points.

So yes, Michael you have gotten a place on my list of delicious YA male leads.

@Adorkable what the hell is wrong with Jeane #badlifechoices?

Oh, Jean.  There were times I wanted to hug you, but a lot of the time I wanted to slap you.

You closet makes less sense than Lola Nolan and you have a tendency to be a little (okay, a lot) self righteous.

And really, you think you’re going to be able to succeed without a high school diploma.

Successful blog or not, you’re no Grumpy Cat, Jeane.

Also, I had a really difficult time believing over five hundred thousand people would follow you.  Well, maybe to tell you off.  I know I wanted to do.  Maybe.  Once.  No twice.  No ten million times to reading this book.

But here’s the thing, even though I found you to have less social skills than Sheldon Cooper, I felt bad for you.  You were neglected. Had a shitty home life.  Were abused.   Lived in squalor.  But still girl…

Some of your choices?

You are in desperate need of more intervention from those adopted dads of yours.

@Adorkable sometimes you bring me reals and sometimes I’m like whaaat?

As realistic as the relationship between the two characters might’ve felt, and the depictions of the characters.  What I had a hard time believing was Jeane’s blogging success.

Maybe if more foundation was built about how she started built up her blog, I could’ve bought it more.  But as it was, I had to suspend belief.

Just like I had to suspend the whole impromptu New York trip.  While fun and romantic, once again unrealistic.

Additional little details in the novel had me just shaking my head.  But what I find so strange about them is that apart from these details the story does feel oddly realistic.  So, it just gives the story almost a weird vibe.

@Adorkable why can’t I quit you even though you know how to bring the ridiculous.

Overall Rating: This book and I got along pretty well.  While I might’ve had some conflict with Jeanne’s rather strong personality, she grew on me.  And Michael is just adorbs.  Overall rating, a very solid B borderline B+

Ten Things I Hate About This Book: Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Ten Things is about Jamie, a teenage girl from Sydney’s south west who lives two lives: at school and in the outside world she is ‘Jamie’, a bottle-blonde with an apparently Anglo Aussie background; at home she is ‘Jamilah’ a Lebanese-Muslim who is proud of her cultural identity. Jamie struggles to maintain her two personas as the rules of her over-protective father collide with the normal adolescence she perceives other teenagers to have and which she so desires.

Life appears to be looking up for Jamie when the most popular boy in school begins to show an interest in her. Added to that she gets an after-school job and makes an email friend, John, the only person with whom she can be completely honest. However her fate as a social outcast appears sealed when her father’s Stone Age Charter of Curfew Rights threatens to prevent her attending the much-anticipated Year 10 formal and her Arabic band is hired to play at the formal.

Source: GoodReads

 

10) Have a Main Character That’s a Whiney Titty Baby:

Oh, sweet baby Jesus, how I could not stand Jamilah/Jamie.

She is such a weak and despicable character.

Honestly, I should’ve been warned enough with the premises of how she tries to hide her identity, but it’s even worse than that.

There is not one thing I like about this character.

I almost felt bad because she has a sexist father.  But she’s not mad at him for being sexist so much.  Instead, she’s just mad because she can’t go partying with her friends Saturday night and get drunk and laid.

And yeah, Abdel-Fattah tries to remedy this by trying to make Jamie look responsible by wanting a job, but the only reason she wants a job is to have a gateway into partying.

9) Have a Great Topic but an Epic Fail of an Execution:

You don’t know how much I wanted this one t work.  I think having a book with a Muslim protagonist of Lebanese descent would be a great addition to a rather bland world in YA.

But nopity.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.

The insight, I was given into the protagonist’s religion and culture was about on par with My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and to be honest the culture insight I got from that movie was probably better.

8)Have an Unrealistic Depiction of Racism:

This is an issue everywhere in the world.  However, the way that Abdel-Fattah talks about racism has me fuming.

Racism, generally is not that obvious.  Oh, sure sometimes it is.  But to the extent it was displayed in this book it was downright unrealistic.

People who are as outright racist as Peter generally are not viewed as the BMOC.  The majority of the population are going to look at him like he’s a loser. Especially when he starts throwing out racist slurs.

I wish this book would’ve talked about the undertones of racism.  The stuff that’s not outright said, but is obviously there.  The microagressions.   If it would’ve taken an approach of showing this side of society that’s backward rather than giving a hammy look at it, I think it would’ve been a lot more thought provoking than it was.

Caveat Post 2016 Election: While I still think that Peter is a cartoonish loser. His depiction is unfortunately more realistic than naive privilege me based at the time of writing this original review would like to think. Unfortunately, over the top overt racism like Peter’s is making a more common appearance than it should be in today’s society. While I still feel like the character was overall cartoon-like his behavior is unfortunately more realistic to today’s world than I originally wanted to give him credit for. While I still wish that Abdel-Fatah had focused more on microagressions, I can no longer say that Peter is a ridiculous caricature in good consciousness. I can also (unfortunately) no longer say that 99% of people would look at him like he is a creep that he is after all look at who the US voted for president. Shudders.

7) Have an Unrealistic Romance:

The romance or attempt at romance was laughable.  The fact that it was a love triangle.  Well, excuse me while I go empty my lunch.

In corner one we have love interest one: the most popular guy at school, who’s an open bigot.  Obviously, our main character should hate him and stay out of his way.  But nope, he’s popular so that must equal love.

I freaking kid you not.  Fawn over someone who makes fun of your culture and religion just because he’s the most popular boy in school.

Yeah.

And then there’s boy number two who’s her secret online admirer.  Who’s  conversation is so wooden, it reads like a bad fan fic.  It’s obvious who this boy is, but are character of course is stupid enough to be clueless.  Also, the way he behaves online makes me want to get those guys from To Catch a Predator on the case.

6)  Have Teens Not Act Like Teens:

Or at least teens that I know.

I swear, these kids had the maturity rate of an eight-year-old, our darling protagonist included.

There was really not one character who acted their age.  Well, maybe the dad character.  But that’s it.

5) Have a Ridiculous Plot Twist:

Really?

You think a bad dye job and some contacts can hide your ethnicity?

Really.

It’s not only offensive but it reeks of potential body dysmorphia.  What’s next skin bleaching?

I wouldn’t put it past this character who is trying everything, to change herself.

Even WASP-ing her name.  Which really doesn’t make sense because I don’t think the school register is going to allow one to change their name.

4) Diversity ‘Smersity (hide your culture because-hey, no one wants to read about someone who lives a different life):

I’m sorry, I get that this is a book about finding yourself but the culture (okay, if we’re really going to be honest it’s more like religion) shaming is ridiculous.  Every time I hear Jamie say something about how her background is lame, I want to deck her.

Seriously, why are you shaming yourself for your beliefs?

While her father is a sexist jerk, I do think he is (in his own warped way) trying to do right by his family.

And the whole…ooh, I’m embarrassed to go out with my sister because she wears a head scarf.

Um, really?

Sydney is a very large city, I’m sure there are lots of people who wear the hijab there.  It’s really not that big of a deal.  I know, there were people wearing the head scarf the other day I went to Marshall’s and  no one acted like the apocalypse was coming.

3) Use Culture Stereotypes:

For a book that’s suppose to be about breaking cultural and religious stereotypes this book does nothing of the sorts.

Before I dive into this topic deeper, I want to state that Abdel-Fattah sort of has a problem defining the differences between culture and religion and it is seen throughout the book.

Yes, I get that religion plays a big part into culture but t does not define culture.  Much like culture does not define religion, however the two seem to be meshed up into one thing in the book and it just comes off being really weird.

Now, for the stereotypes.  We are told that Jamie and her family do not fit the stereotypes that are discussed in the book.  But low and behold every stereotype that’s mentioned and you can put a check mark that Jamie and her family hit the bill.

Why do this Abdel-Fattah.  Why?

Oh, you try to make Jamie’s family different by having her cab driver father really have a doctoral degree,but he never uses it because he doesn’t want to move to the country.

Okay, then why get a degree that requires you to live in the country if you don’t want to live in a country?

Once again, why reinforce the stereotypes?

I don’t know how Australia’s immigration system works, but in the US, it’s actually very hard for low wage workers to get into the country legally.  Just saying…

2) Try to be Hip and Make an Ass of Yourself:

Just because you use “Yo” at the beginning of a lame poem does not make it a rap.

Also, I get that this book was published in 2006, but being a teen at that time I could tell you that we would’ve considered that rap lame too.

1) Sexism, Sexism, Sexism:

This is what really killed this one for me.  Oh, the culture stereotypes and improper handling of racism was bad enough, but the way sexism was handled.

Wow, just wow.

According to this book, I should just deal with the fact that men are going to treat me differently because I have lady parts and therefore I can not have a semblance of  my own life because I’ll ruin my virtue.

Yes, the stupid virginity myth rears it’s ugly head in this book and is repeated over and over again by the main character’s over protective father.

But we’re told, by other characters in the book, that he’s just a concerned parent and that having a sexist parent is not as bad as having a cheater for a parent.

Um, both are bad.  But in completely different ways.  Trying to compare the two of them is like comparing apples and oranges.   I don’t know why sexism was so underscored in this book.

It is an issue that really needs to be dealt with and is just not something we have to deal with.

Overall Rating: I DNF’d this one.  Obviously.  What should’ve been a great book about exploring another culture and religion, turned out to be probably one of the worst books I’ve read this quarter.  I was raging by the fourth page.