Phoned In: Listen To Your Heart by Kasie West

36127456

Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend … until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West’s adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.

Source: GoodReads

Kasie West is the 2010’s version of Meg Cabot.  That is both a good and bad thing.  Like Cabot, she write cute, fluffy books that give you the feels and she’s extremely prolific.  Also, like Cabot, sometimes the quality suffers as a result of the prolificness.

Listen to Your Heart feels very phoned in, which is kind of ironic because it’s about a girl who who has a podcast show where people call in to ask for advice.

The concept of the story itself isn’t that original.  There are lots of stories that share the sort of plot line that this story has.   I probably watched a couple of Hallmark movies with similar plots.  What would make this concept good, is the execution.  Are the characters fully fleshed out? Is the chemistry with the characters palatable?  Is there some sort of plot twist that makes the story original despite having what appears to be a fairly generic concept/plot?

giphy

All the answer to these questions is no with this book.  It was as if West was clearly  phoning this one in.  The MC lives near the lake  that’s her defining characterization.  And she has lots of cousins.  One whose four.  This is pointed out every time, Cora-the four year-old, makes an appearance. The only reason I remember Cora is it’s made pretty fucking clear through the book that she’s four-years-old.

There’s lots of other cousin’s too.  Most of them are as blah as wallpaper.  The only one besides Cora I remember is Liz or it Liza, whoever she is she’s the one who randomly goes to a tutoring center so that Kate can interact with Diego.

Diego is the love interest, BTW.  Though, Kate doesn’t really have feelings or decent interaction with him for most of the book.  Hell, I thought her love interest was going to be someone else who she at least sort of shared chemistry with.  But apparently, I was wrong.

Me missing ships  does happen occasionally.  See the Harry Potter books where I was not able to guess the horrid cannon couples we got-Heron is totally going to go to wizard divorce court you know it and I know it and I won’t even get started on my hatred for the shallow ship that is Hinny (it should’ve been Harmony, damn it, even Rowling knows it and now admits it).

If you made it past my Harry Potter ship rant (it really doesn’t take much to get me started) you’ll see that I really didn’t get the Diego/Kate relationship because other than a couple of interactions with the two of them, there isn’t that much interaction with the two of them.

The story itself was vanilla.  I was hoping for a couple of more plot twists than we got.  I really felt this could’ve been developed more than it was.  Even the podcast itself was boring, nothing really developed from it and I kind of was surprise that a high school teacher would actually okay an advice podcast for high school kids.  Then again, what do I know…

After reading this, a part of me felt cynical.  Contemporary YA is usually my jam.  Yes, it can be cheesy and unrealistic, but that’s part of what I love about it.  With this book I just felt complete blah-ness there was nothing that had me loving the characters or  interested in the story.  I knew what was going to happen.  Even worse, the only thing  that really was unexpected was the ship.  And it wasn’t because the ship itself was unsuspected.  Rather, it was how  banal and chemistry-less the ship was.  Hell, I thought the interaction between the MC and her archenemy was better than her interaction with Diego.

If you are a die hard Kasie West fan you’ll probably read this one and moderately enjoy it.  I’ll admit that during the days Meg Cabot was uber prolific I read every book by her even if it was not so good and told myself it was good.  I could see West fans doing that too.  However, the book is not going to sit on you later on when you look at West’s backlist.  Much like when I think of Meg Cabot’s books I do usually not think about How to be Popular (which I think is one of Cabot’s worse).

Would I say it’s the worst book ever?  Hardly.  But it’s not worth its space on my shelves and for someone who gets as much praise as West does, it was a bit of a fail.

Overall Rating: An F.

Advertisements

Banal: Lucky in Love by Kasie West

30285562

Can’t buy me love…

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment—

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun…until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

Source: GoodReads

If I ever win the lottery, I am going to start my own publishing company.  This will, of course, be after I pay off my student loans, buy a decent house somewhere that is away from annoying neighbors,  and get myself a Moluccan cockatoo, but details.  The publishing company is totally in the works.  It will be called We Don’t Publish Shitty Books and this book won’t be invited ’cause it sucked.

giphy6

Cockatoo and cat gif because I can.

Okay,honestly, Lucky in Love didn’t completely suck but it was utterly predictable and the chemistry between the characters wasn’t even that palatable.  In other words, it completely felt like Kasie West was phoning this one in.  Which is sad, because Kasie West can write some good books.  Some really good books, this just wasn’t one of them.

The set up for this one was cute enough.  Girl wins the lottery and doesn’t tell the guy she’s interested that she won.  But an interesting premises can only go so far, and here it’s only that an interesting set up.

All the characters are poorly sketched and are stereotypical at best.  The main character (whose name I’m already forgetting) has stereotypical parents who always fight.  A stereotypical brother with gambling problems.  Two friends one who stereotypically betrays her.  A love interest who is stereotypically as flat as the paper he is written on and whose only true purpose is to be this big prize that our heroine gets at the end of the novel.

By that paragraph alone, you should see why this book will not be getting published from We Don’t Publish Shitty Books.

As banal as the characters are the plot is even more to the point.  Like I said, it totally seems like West wrote this on autopilot.  Nothing out of the extraordinary happens here. Just that What’s Her Face makes some dumb purchases and trust some people who use her.

I mean, hasn’t anyone seen any news special on lotto winners?  Like I knew when she went for the lump sum that she had made a big mistake.  And also, those parents completely didn’t even try to help her deal with the fact that she was a millionaire overnight.

What losers.

At the very least, I would’ve told my kid to talk to an accountant and get a good lawyer to read over “business contracts” that long lost relatives sent me.

Again, a lot of this is common sense.

Also, if UCLA turns down an acceptance because you spent money to rent a lot, I’m surprised that Stanford wouldn’t deny acceptance either.  But you know, plot point.

Anyway, I really do not recommend this book.  It’s blah at best.  Not specifically annoying, but not memorable by any means.  If you are going to read it, I suggest borrowing it at the library not buying it.  It’s just not worth it.

Overall Rating: A C.  It’s half ass and it shows.

It’s Like You’ve Got Mail Sans Product Placement: PS I Love You by Kasie West

Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds thatsomeone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mysteryand juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

Source: GoodReads

My mom is in love with the movie, You’ve Got Mail and I’ll admit I like it too.  But because of her I have seen it maybe one too many times, but whatever.  Still seeing the premises of this book gave me a nice flashback to the day’s of 90’s product placements, where Meg Ryan didn’t have bad plastic surgery, and Tom Hanks was…well, Tom Hanks.

I like that movie and I like this book.  Was it the best book ever-well, no.  But it suited it’s perfect now and rather than directly being a blow by blow to the movie, like A Week of Mondays was to Groundhog Day, I was pleasantly surprised.

The main characters were decent enough.  Lily was memorable enough with her song lyrics, I guess and I liked that it wasn’t obvious who the male lead was going to be at first.  That was one of the best changes made from You’ve Got Mail.

The one thing that annoyed me, if anything in this book was Lily’s family. This if anything solidified the fact that if I ever have children I don’t want more than two tops.  I hated how irresponsible these parents were having all these kids-though to be far it’s only four hardly Duggar level-and then not having stable and sustainable jobs where they can’t buy their fucking daughter a spool of thread.  Plus, the brothers getting into her room and not really even getting reprimanded for it and Lily being told to forgive and all that bullshit without even having them having to compensate her for her damage property….

Bad parent central.

Though, maybe it’s not bad parents so much as my parents raised me to understand personal and private spaces.  This just really annoyed me.

That aside though, fun book.  I did think after the reveal that the book did drag a bit, but other than that and the annoying family I say give it a try.  If you like that movie or like any story where there’s a mystery romance this will be a fun read.

Overall Rating: An A- very enjoyable with minor flaws that are mostly personal.

Or Regina George Goes to the Prom: The Fill in Boyfriend by Kassie West

 

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Source: GoodReads

I really liked the Kassie West books I’ve read, but I haven’t loved them like so many people do.  The Fill in Boyfriend had so many things going for it, but at the end of the day it didn’t wow me and I did have a few issues at it.

That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend the book.  For a quick light hearted soon to be forgettable read, I say go for it.  It’s a nice story.  Perfect to read for a beach read, but there’s nothing really memorable about it.

There are better contemporaries out there.

But it’s not bad.

I liked the character progression of Gia for the most part, and Not Bradley was a pretty swoon worthy guy.  And I think the romance really worked for me.

In fact, it was probably the best thing about this book.

But there (obviously) were things that didn’t work for me. Mainly, the fact that a lot of the supporting characters were assholes and there was a lot of girl hate in this book.

While I understand that a lot of these secondary characters weren’t going to be perfect people, what I didn’t get was that we saw no explanation or no consequences for their a-holeness.  In particular,  I really couldn’t stand Jules and Gia’s brother.

Truly horrible people there.

But in the end, the brother barely gets a slap on the wrist for doing something that pretty much traumatizing and Jules well basically gets her cake and eats it too.

And yes, I know it was realistic to a degree.  But I’m reading I want some consequences where something bad happens to horrible people.

Because real life sucks.

I just felt like all the consequences were thrust on Gia, and a lot of the time she didn’t deserve it.  While she did do some stupid things, she wasn’t horrible like many of the above mentioned characters.  So THAT’S what I had a problem with.

I also hated the girl hate in this book.  Yes, Jules is a jerk, and I hated her, but I hated how female relationships in general were treated as if everyone is some sort of frenemy with each other.  Why can’t there be healthy female friendships in this books?  It felt like all the female friendships, save for maybe the tentative one that one that is formed between Gia and Not Bradley’s sister at the end of the book rely on the good old Mean Girls trope.

Whatever though.  Other than those two issues and some utterly groan worthy predictable plot twists ones, it was okay and what I expected.  Kassie West can write a good romance it just doesn’t hit the same swoon levels as say Meg Cabot or Stephanie Perkins books do.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

It’s Like Gilmore Girls but with Creepy Dolls: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

Source: GoodReads

In the mood for some fluff, you might want to give this one a try.

It almost just almost gives pandas a run for its money.

Surprisingly, this is my first Kasie West book.  A lot of my friends in the blogsphere recommend her stuff, so I decided to give one of her books  a chance.

The result: I really, really, liked The Distance Between Us, almost loved it. The reason why I didn’t full out love it, the pacing at the end was a bit off.  However, it didn’t hamper my overall enjoyment of the book.

What worked for this book:

I really loved almost all of the characters in this book.

The main character, Caymen, was particularly endearing to me.  Probably because I’m used to people staring at me after I make a joke.  Yes, Caymen shares my sense of humor and West managed to make her snarky without having any true squeam inducing moments.  She’s also just not a one note character.  West makes her complex by giving her insecurities as well.

The love interest is also tolerable.  If you know me, you know that I usually have a lot of issues with YA love interests, but Xander is not a jerk which is a big plus since he’s rich.  Oh yeah, Cayman thinks he might be a jerk, but I love how West twists the cliche to make him not a jerk.

The love triangle, if you could even call it that, is also tolerable.  The other guy isn’t underdeveloped or demonized, and Cayman doesn’t lead him on (much).  Or at least they never really get to the point where it got to where she was really leading them on.

Some of the more minor characters, like the best friend character, the mother, and the grandparents, could’ve been in the book more, but their appearances weren’t insufferable.

Even Cayman’s mom, who I got annoyed with big time, was tolerable for the most part because there were reasons for her actions.

The plot itself was very cute.  Not that complex-it’s a contemporary.  But made for some easy reading.  I really loved how it took place in a doll store of all places.  I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen such a place be used in a YA book.  It gave me a nostalgia feel about being back into my childhood where my grandma would buy me a porcelain doll every Christmas and I’d sort of be a brat about it then because I wanted an American girl doll.  But now, I love those porcelain dolls more.

What issues did I have with this book?

Well, the pacing was off with really the last third of the book.  All that build up we had lead to a too easy resolution.  I wanted more time with these characters.  Everything just seemed to snap together too fast.

To be fair, I think the ending could’ve worked if it would’ve been expanded on.  There was nothing that had me cringing, but I wanted more.  I wanted to see more interactions with the grandparents.  I wanted more build up for Xander and Cayman to get back together.  I wanted more resolution with the financial difficulties.

Despite these grievances, I am going to recommend this one.  It’s not often that I find a cute contemporary that I think most everyone will enjoy, but The Distance Between Us is just that.  If you’re a West virgin like I was, this might not be a bad place to start.

Overall Rating: B.  Very, very solid and enjoyable.