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

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One good deed will change everything.

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

They don’t.

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

Dear Ms. Firestone,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sigh.

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

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

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

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

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

Best Regards,

MJ

Blogger at Howdy YAL

EW: A Kiss at Midnight Eloisa James

Miss Kate Daltry doesn’t believe in fairy tales . . . or happily ever after.

Forced by her stepmother to attend a ball, Kate meets a prince… and decides he’s anything but charming. A clash of wits and wills ensues, but they both know their irresistible attraction will lead nowhere. For Gabriel is promised to another woman—a princess whose hand in marriage will fulfill his ruthless ambitions.

Gabriel likes his fiancee, which is a welcome turn of events, but he doesn’tlove her. Obviously, he should be wooing his bride-to-be, not the witty, impoverished beauty who refuses to fawn over him.

Godmothers and glass slippers notwithstanding, this is one fairy tale in which destiny conspires to destroy any chance that Kate and Gabriel might have a happily ever after.

Unless a prince throws away everything that makes him noble…

Unless a dowry of an unruly heart trumps a fortune…

Unless one kiss at the stroke of midnight changes everything.

Source: GoodReads

Ew.

Just ew.

I hated this book.

The good news is I got it very cheap, the bad news in the words of the great Gordon Ramsay it sucked Donkey’s balls.

To sum up this book you could make a drinking game whenever any of the following things are mentioned/happened:

  1. Kate tells us how she’s so unattractive because she’s skinny/old/tan/etc. (this happens around  5k times throughout the novel)
  2. Kate slut slams her half sister (about 1k times)
  3. Kate wears a wig (oh, a good three hundred and some odd times).  You can vary shots on this one depending on the color of the wig-the more audacious the color the more fancy the cocktail can be.
  4. Anytime, the prince comes up with a lame excuse why he can’t be with Kate(pretty much anytime save for the last chapter).
  5. A conflict is solved with little to no fall out (the entire book)
  6. Kate becomes miraculously beautiful or is told she’s beautiful and instantly rebuffs it

Based on this impromptu drinking game I made it, it’s very obvious this book was grating to me.

To be fair, I read it in the course of another very boring work day where I had nothing to do because I reviewed my notary chapters and I can’t calculated the figures yet for the report I’m working on.  So…reading time.

Yay!

Until you read crap like this.

I purchased this book because I read somewhere it was nominated for some award and was fairly cheap.  I don’t know how this got nominated for an award because it was awful.  The characters were flat, I didn’t really get the conflict, and any semblance of a plot there was was pretty much resolved with no freaking fall out save for a rushed explanation in the epilogue.

Epic suckage.

The sex scenes even felt lifeless.  Grant it, in historicals I usually skim them anyway-because the imagery is more often than not painful-BUT in this one those scenes were more or less an afterthought.

To be honest, I didn’t think the characters liked each other enough to have sex.

The plot, also was a hot mess.  There was no logic at all holding it together.  I didn’t get how this scheme was suppose to work, or why the sister’s boyfriend was in on it.

It didn’t make sense.  Let alone, why the Idiot’s (hero) approval was needed.

Yes, he was a prince.  But they downplay that a LOT through the novel.

While this wasn’t offensive in a way a old fashion 70’s or 80’s bodice ripper would’ve been, it’s its own brand of offensive.   It’s the sort of book that thinks their readers are raging idiots.  I understand that sometime that you have to stretch you imagination to believe that some things in a book can/have happened, but this was just ridiculous.  The author was just plain lazy.

Look, I’m going to advise you to pass on this one.  I feel like it got way more recognition then it really deserved.

Overall Rating: A big fat F.

Hades: Alexandra Adornetto

Other reviews have mentioned it, but I will say it again Hades is not hell.  Hades is the Greek god of the underworld, Adornetto.  Jesus, do a Google search.

 

I hated Halo and I vowed to stay away from any of the sequels it spawned.  But Hades was just sitting there on my library’s shelf laughing at me.  Plus, I think part of becoming a good writer is occasionally reading a shit book and Hades easily filled in that category for me.

General Summary: Bethany is stupid enough to get on a motorcycle with Jake Thorn and end up in hell. The rest of the book is about her moping/some weirdo version of the Persephone myth that makes me want to punch someone due to Bethany’s twisted values.

Review:

Let’s start off by being nice.  Because it’s always good to be nice right?  Unlike Halo. Hades actually had a plot.  Sort of.  Things actually happen in Hades.  Grant it, the plot is still pretty flimsy but it’s there.

Okay, now that’s the only good thing I have to say about this piece of shit.  I have read a lot of awful books in the day, but nothing has offended me quite like Hades (at least as of recently).  It not only suffers from awful characterization, pacing, plot holes, poor writing, but it offended me several times personally as well due to the arcane values it preaches.

Let’s start talking about the plot.  As I said we actually have one here but it is paced horribly.  This book could’ve easily been at least a hundred and fifty pages shorter.  Adornetto tends to over describe (even bit characters are described to a T) and when things actually did happen they happened so rapidly I felt like I had whiplash.   Plus, did I mention that it seems like all the conflicts in this book are resolved ridiculously easy with little to no struggle.  This would be one thing if Adornetto didn’t spend three hundred pages telling the audience how impossible it would be for Gabriel and the gang to get Bethie out of hell.

Speaking of Gabriel and the gang, they’re insufferable as ever.  There was little character development in this installment.  Even moments where Adornetto could’ve easily done some character exploration-with the whole Molly crush on Gabriel scene- she didn’t.  I thought, hmm, this is a place where maybe Bethany can think about her poor decision making.  But nope, Adornetto just uses this place to reconfirm the obvious: that Bethany is a special snowflake.

Let me be frank authors, no one likes reading about a special snowflake.  No one.  Good characters have flaws.  Take some of my favorite characters in YA literature: Mimi Force, Mia Thermopolis, and Maggie Quinn.  All these girls are screwed up a little bit.  Mimi can be a bitch, Mia can be neurotic, and Maggie can be stubborn as hell.  And the rest of the characters of the book note this and you know what….I like these characters a lot better than Bethany.  This really was a moment for you to make your character, who isn’t very likable despite what you think, seem a little bit more relatable.  Maybe if Bethany was a little bit more realtiable I wouldn’t be rooting for Big Daddy to roast her.

Yeah, Big Daddy did I mention that’s what they call freaking Lucifer.  I kid you not.  I kept thinking of that character in Cat on the Hot Tin Roof played by Burl Ives until Adornetto described the big bad as looking like Colonel Sanders.  I kid you not.

Oh, and how can one forget about the inconsistencies with the plot.  Remember how poor wittle Bethie was a vegetarian in the first book…well, she is no longer anymore.  She likes ribs because Xavier (excuse me huggie bear) likes them.
Essentially her likes and dislikes are based on his.
No, but we’re constantly told indiscreetly by Adornetto that being codependent on each other in a relationship is healthy.  Even though Cosmo and other reasonable people would disagree.
Ah, codependency it’s what my parents always wanted for me to be dependent on someone else and have no views of my own…not.
But it’s twue love you might say
Individuality is important in a relationship. Having no separation whatsoever can twist a relationship into becoming unhealthy.  And it wasn’t only that codependency was being celebrated in the book that bothered me, but the fact that the book told us what sort of love was real and what sort of love wasn’t real.
To put it simply one of the characters has a unrequited crush on another character in the book.   And we are told that, that love that that character feels isn’t real.
What sort of bull shit is that?
I get that unrequited love isn’t shared between both parties, but that doesn’t change ones feelings for the other.  Look at Lily and Snape in the Harry Potter series if you need any further example about how powerful unrequited love can be.
It wasn’t only the talk about love that bothered me.  There were subliminal messages that Adornetto put in her writing that offended me from a religious purpose as well.  Specifically, there was a priest in hell performing a demonic ceremony, whose name was Father Benedict, who was put there because he failed to protect the innocent.
We can all see what Adornetto is alluding to.  The Catholic sex scandals.  And honestly, when I read this part I wanted to hurt someone.  I am a Catholic.  I usually only go to mass a few times of the year, but I’m still Catholic and this sort of trash offends me.  Let me explain, what happened in the church was deplorable and I think it needs to be talked about, but to be discussed in a YA book like this?  No, just no.  Furthermore, was it really necessary of Adornetto to name the priest Benedict when the pope’s name is Benedict as well.  Really?  What did she think she was accomplishing with that other than offending a large group of people.  The situation with the scandals itself is a complicated one that I really thought was handled quite tastelessly here being scuffed over in a couple of paragraphs.  Maybe I am overreacting, but I think such delicate issues should be handled with care.
This also goes into probably my biggest beef with the book how women and sex are handled which I’ll talk about briefly here.  Not only are the views that Bethany preaches arcane and limited, a lot of them are backwards.  I will be disgusting my feelings about this more in the worst feature part of the review.
Look, I get that Ms. Adornetto is young, but it’s really no excuse.  She is a published author.  Not a self published author who doesn’t have resources available to her to help with the editing process of this book.  But an author with an actual publishing house who is backing her who can supply her with editors to help refine her work. This book really should’ve been written better.  It really shouldn’t have been published.  I have read fan fictions that read better than this book.  That are not offensive as this book.  I feel like even if this book went through a couple more drafts it could’ve been slightly more tolerable.  But no, it’s clear that her publisher only has one thing in mind….

Best Feature: Are you fucking kidding me?  There was no redeemable feature about this book.  I didn’t even care for the cover as much I cared for it’s predecessor.  I mean, look at that girl’s neck on the motorcycle. It looks ridiculously thin.  And the wings that looked so beautiful on the Halo cover look very costume shop like here.  So yeah, nothing, nothing was good about this book I didn’t like one aspect at all about it.

Worst Feature: What about everything…Okay, if I was going to pinpoint what my biggest pet peeve is with this book is the twisted values it preaches.  I don’t like preachy books in the first place.  But it’s one thing when the values are actually something you can sort of agree with.  In Hades though, I wanted to slap Bethany silly many times for the things she talked about.  Let’s talk about how women are treated in general in this book.  Bethany is almost raped in the book until the calvary comes and rescues her.  Xavier is about to throw a temper tantrum too until Gabriel explains that Bethie was being duped by Jake….

Um…I don’t have words.  The point is a character was almost raped.  This should have been handled more delicately and there should’ve been some psychological side effects attached as well.  Like trust issues.  But nope, five pages down the road.  Bethie decides to be Xavier’s teenage bride.

It’s not only sexual assault or attempted sexual assault that is handled so tastelessly in this book.  It is the nature of sex itself.  People have sex for numerous reasons.  I didn’t like being told by Bethie it’s purpose was purely to have children.  And yeah, sex can result in pregnancy.  But conceiving children isn’t the only purpose of sex, as the contraception industry would tell you.  I also just loved how sex was referred to by Beth and Jake.  Let me just tell you how much I hate the term “make love” by a demon who is preparing to rape his kidnap victim.

No.  Rape isn’t making love.  Rape is rape.  It is a violation of ones body.  It is usually act of power by some asshole-in this case Jake- who has decided to violate ones personal space in the worse of ways by having coitus.  Equating it to making love is atrocious.

It’s not just sex and rape that are handled deplorably as well.  Morals are also handled horribly.  Many of the people who are in hell shouldn’t be in hell.  They’re not evil people.  They made mistakes.  If Adornetto truly done her research on Christianity she would know that there is a place called purgatory.  Where people who have committed sin, but aren’t totally sadistically evil go before they’re allowed in heaven.  Having people who are in hell from merely sinning from omission is the biggest load of bull shit I ever heard.  Christ is suppose to be a merciful figure, I don’t think he would send children who have sinned a bit but aren’t evil to the likes of serial killers and murders to hell just because they failed to report something to the authorities or whatever.  Is Though Shall Report/ or Though Shall not be Indirectly Responsible a commandment let alone a mortal sin, I think not.

Adornetto there’s a place in the middle called purgatory you could’ve just ran a search on Google for it, girl.

Appropriateness:  Once again, this is a book that tries to present itself as being squeaky clean but I wouldn’t let my preteen near it with an eighteen foot pole.  The values it preaches are awful.  Despite Bethany’s stanch to not drinking and cuss, there is drinking and cussing in the book.  As I stated before there’s lots of sex talk in this book and I don’t like the way the author approaches it.

Overall Rating: No wings.  None.  I’m not giving this book even the dignity of getting one angel wing.  It offended me on so many levels as a woman, as a Catholic, and as a member of the human race in general.  Am I planning on reading Heaven?  Not if I have to pay for it, but if I’m in the mood to be snarky and I can get it for free like I got Hades then why not?    It would be interesting how all this shit gets solved.