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

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Not Another YA Superhero Book: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

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Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

Source: GoodReads

YA superhero novels are becoming more common than they used to be.  A few years back, I remember wanting desperately for such a novel to exist and finding none.  Now there are a few to pick from.  When I heard that Marissa Meyer had a superhero themed book coming out I hit the preorder button and had no regrets.

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Okay, I was a little bit wary.  Until last year, Meyer was definitely a do-no-wrong author, but I was not a fan at all of Heartless.  And I was a little skeptical about this one coming in.

I was pleasantly relieved to find that I liked Renegades.  I didn’t love it, but I liked it.  However, there were a lot of cliches and plot holes in this one and an extremely slow beginning that drags.  So, so, much.

That being said though, I do plan on picking the next installment up next year.

The general gist of the story is that there are two groups of superpower people, the Renegades and the Anarchists.  I think the best comparison would be to the X-men and the Brotherhood, with some minor variations.  However, one of the characters uses a helmet much like Magneto and I was like really Meyer…

Okay, that aside there are some tragic Batman-ish backstories going on in this book and the two leads have sort of a Batman and Catwoman relationship going on.

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The world building is okay for the most part.  Again, I will say that there were several plot holes in the book.  Where I had to wonder why certain characters were too dim not to realize certain things about other characters.  I mean, because some of the secrets that the characters were hidden were fairly obvious.

Then again, the super hero genre has always been generous with having oblivious characters.  I mean, Lois Lane clearly can’t see past Clark Kent’s glasses so I shouldn’t be giving Meyer’s characters too much grief for being stupid.

Still though, it does frustrate me as a reader that Meyer doesn’t even address some of these things.

If you can look past the plot holes though, the book is pretty decent.  Renegades has a fairly diverse group of characters an not one of them is tokenized.  The relationships for the most part are fleshed out, at least with the leads.  The supporting cast isn’t as strong as it was in Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, but they are still decently form.  If this series was going to be longer than duo-logy I could see several of the characters being explored more.  As it was though, I thought the two leads were pretty decent and I sort of liked that they were mirror images of each other in an odd way.

Despite the plot holes my other issues with the book was that it was ridiculously predictable.  Even the cliffy at the end didn’t phase me (much).  I’m guessing there will likely be some twists thrown in the sequel of the novel.  The pacing probably didn’t help since the first 250 pages of this book were glacier slow.

Side note, when I first read Cinder and when I read that abomination better known as Heartless, these issues were prevalent too.  Cinder was difficult to read the first time around because of how slow it seemed, Heartless was even worse.  This book has that same slow start.but it holds my interest like Cinder did.  However, I do think that overall Cinder is a better book.

I know that sounds sort of harsh, but I do think that Cinder was a slightly better book than Renegades, even though this book was written much later in Meyer’s career.   Maybe it’s because Cinder was a retelling so some of the lack of originality (in plot twists) wasn’t as groan worthy as it was with Renegades.

In all, if you’re a superhero fan or a Meyer fan, I’d recommend this one, but it’s hardly awe inspiring by any means.  I’m hoping that the conclusion to the duology will sort of do the series justice, but right now I’d hardly say it was anywhere near Lunar Chronicles levels.

Overall Rating: A  solid B.

 

Studying for Torts (This Book is an Issue Spotting Novel): The After Life of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

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On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn’t.

And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

Source: GoodReads

Note this review is going to be pretty spoiler heavy because I’ve got issues with what occurred in this book-you really think you couldn’t screw up with A Christmas Carol (but you can apparently).

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One of the things you learn to do very early on in law school is issue spot.  Pretty much all your exams in law school are issue spotting.  And for the most part, if you finish an exam in the three hours or so you’re given to finish it that’s not exactly a good thing.

You also use this skill on bar exams and in actual practice as well.  So, it’s sort of hard to turn off when you know..it’s the weekend and you decide to chill for a bit to get away from your crazy clients.  And you read  a book and am like-hell, this could be a torts essay right here.  Also, there’s some criminal law issues cross referencing it.

Yeah…not exactly a good thing for a book.  Especially when said reader reviews books, but that’s how I felt when I was reading The After Life of Holly Chase.

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Originally, when I was issue spotting this one I though-hey, it might be fun to write you know a legal style memo or what not over this book review.  But guys, memos are long and when there are multiple torts involved like in this case it would probably be the length of a full length novel.  Plus, it would be super boring with me citing case law or made up case law that you either wouldn’t be interested in or like she’s butchering the law for the sake of being mean to a book.  But just if you’re interested Holly Chase and her father  could probably charge Project Scrooge with kidnapping a minor as well as suing them for the following torts: false imprisonment, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, possible negligence issues.   There’s probably lots of employment issues as well (it’s mentioned she’s being intentionally under paid).  I could go on, of course, but I won’t.

And we’re not going to analysis them.  Just know that based on this issue spotting, I thought that Project Scrooge was just as shitty as the person they were trying to reform (Holly Chase).

That’s right, Holly Chase is despicable.  And honestly, I don’t see  her growing that much throughout the course of the novel except that she finally gets rid of her bad dye job at the end of the novel.

So the general gist is that Holly was Scrooge one year and failed big time, because hey-emotional blackmail didn’t work for her.

Because at it’s core that’s what A Christmas Carol is.  Emotional blackmail intended to scare a greedy old miser into reforming himself into a somewhat better man.

I actually enjoy the original Dickens work and watch two or so versions per year.  Of course, one of these versions is the hilarious Blackadder version where there’s kind of a reversal effect, so I’m always looking for a good retelling (note, if you haven’t seen that version you need to watch it, it is available on Hulu).  But here, I couldn’t help but think that Project Scrooge was filled with assholes.

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I’m not joking.

What they do to Holly  is pretty terrible.  Yes, she is a terrible person, but the fact they let her live through this quasi purgatory/hell for five years and emotionally manipulate her is just wrong.   In fact, all of the interactions in this book were pretty much set up and weren’t even really real to begin with.

On second thought maybe it’s not Holly I’m so mad at them about, but about how we the readers were duped into all of this.

At the end of the book there’s this twist that I absolutely hate.  That all of this was more or less a version of the future and Holly goes back to her old life after pretty much committing suicide so this guy she falls in love won’t bite the dust.

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First of all, not going to go into how wrong that scenario is BUT I ABSOLUTELY FUCKING HATE THE DREAM/ILLUSION TROPE.

I’ve always hated the trope ever since I saw The Wizard of Oz for the first time.  Don’t get me wrong, I do understand why Hand decided to go in this direction.  It helped close a lot of the loose ends with this book, but at the same time it sort of failed quite epically.  Any ship that was built up, was worthless.  We didn’t get to see the payoff to any of them, since they didn’t really exist.  And one of them just ended on an extremely awkward note.

It was almost as if the author wrote herself into a corner and couldn’t figure out how to get that particular ship to work and didn’t even want to bother any further.  Even though that ship was the reason the character changed.

It just made me as a reader mad because again no payoff for the ship that the author spent at least a good chunk of the book building.  And you know what, until the end I really didn’t even care for the ship that much.  That tells you how much all of this sucked.

The book is going to be adapted to a movie per the author’s website, and I can tell you if I didn’t like that ending in a book it’s going to be worse on the small screen.

I also didn’t feel right as a retelling.  A good rule of thumb for A Christmas Carol retelling is the Scrooge.  And God does Holly suck at it.  Yes, she’s a self absorbed little twit, but while the Scrooge character of Dickens fame gradually changes throughout the course of his hauntings.  Holly doesn’t change really, until the end of the book.

Yes, there are some romantic moments in the book and moments where she’s not totally being an a-hole, and where she occasionally treats her assistant like a normal person, but for the most part.  Total a-hole.

I think her reformation was more or less when we got flashbacks about when her mother died, how she stalks her ex best friend who moved to NYC, and how she will go and sit and watch her dad’s newest movies at the movie theater.

But did I feel sorry for her, nope.

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I can really see this book working as a TV movie though.  It seems like it was written for that medium.  If you like cheesy holiday stuff, you might like this.  Just be aware that any emotional attachment towards any ship will be yanked from you at the end.

Overall Rating: B-

 

And the Golden Charlie Goes To: Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

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Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

Source: GoodReads

Starfish was one of those books I felt raw after I read it.  I highly recommend it, but the book can be trigger inducing.  It touches on issues of childhood sexual abuse, attempted suicide, and emotional abuse.  If you can read through all those harsh issues, its a great read.  But it is a doozy.   It will leave you feeling emotionally drained, but at the same time the book ends on a hopeful note.

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One of the things I like best about Starfish is that it deals with an issue that is timely for all ages, when plans go array.   Though, honestly, I wanted to shake Kiko for only applying to one school.  And them not letting her know until a week or so before graduation seems a little over kill but…

I’m ignoring it.

There’s actually a lot of things where I sort of had to give a passing glance through throughout the book to enjoy it.  A lot of easy passable coincidences that happened too easily for my liking, but it was easy to overlook when this book hit me at an emotional level.

The core of this book is Kiko’s growth, and that growth had to come directly from her and not anyone else in the book.  She doesn’t have a savior.  Yes, she does have help along the way, but ultimately its up to her to decide what to do with her life.

And I think that’s what I liked best about Starfish.  I could ignore all the coincidences because in the end it wasn’t randomly meeting an old friend or finding a mentor that pulled Kiko up from her problems.  It was herself, and while she had made progress she still had issues.

Admittedly, I did think some things were over the top.  The mother characters depiction especially.  Yes, I get she was a narcissist, but I can tell you from growing up with one that her mother seemed a little too extreme.

While some of the classic narcissist behavior was there, the mother was too obvious.  Her gas lighting wasn’t that skillful and she didn’t come off remotely charming.  The narcissist that I know can hide his true colors, and if you didn’t know him you would think he was this really outgoing, caring guy (which he’s not).  With this character,   everyone knew she was toxic, which isn’t exactly the way narcissists operate on.  She is definitely a contender though for a Golden Charlie, if there ever was one.  It amazes me that she was able to get custody, let alone full custody of these kids through the book.  Everything was just so messed up on so many levels.  Then again, I don’t know much (okay, anything) about Nebraska family law but I can’t seem it deviating two much from the two states that I do practice in.

I also found the romance in this book a little meh.  I started out hating it, but in the end I grew found to it.  Again, I think why I ended up liking it, was that it wasn’t the relationship that was saving the character from her problems but herself.  After I realized that’s what was going to happen, AND they didn’t get together right away.  I started liking the relationship more.  Still though, I could’ve dealt without it and it wasn’t my favorite thing about the book at all.

In all I do recommend Starfish.  There were some problems with it, but if I look over the coincidence make way for a plot twist, and while I did find the mother to character to be a bit on the extreme side, it was a worth while read.  The character’s evolution throughout the story really made the book for me, and it’s an oddly empowering story.  Again though, it is trigger inducing so if any of the above referenced themes bother you, you might want to considering at least going into this one with those things in mind.

Overall Rating: B+

 

 

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

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Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea…

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

Asshole Number One: The Title Character

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

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He drives drunk twice in this book.

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

Asshole Number Two: The Main Character

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

Asshole Number Three: The Main Character’s Father

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

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No.

Just no.

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

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

That’s your future.

Be pissed.

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

But hey, I’m a Slytherin so…

Asshole Number Four: Stepmom

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

Need I say more.

Asshole Number Five: Becky

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

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Note, it didn’t work.

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

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

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

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

Overall Rating: A B-

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

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In general, the book felt very fractured.

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

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

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

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

Hardly.

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

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

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

Needs More Intersectionality and Less Douchey Love Interests: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

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Moxie girls fight back!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Source: GoodReads

Before I start off this review, I should mention the elephant in the room, the Kirkus review.  Fuck that.  Honestly, if I would’ve wrote this book that reviewer would’ve probably had an even more sourer review because I thought the douchey love interest/s were in part the worst part of this book.

Let’s talk about what worked first.  Feminism.

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For the most part I think Mathieu did a fairly good job with exploring feminism.  I did wish that some areas would’ve been fleshed out more especially dealing with intersectionality issues that appear in feminism.  While issues with race were sort of  dealt with, there was not one QUILTBAG character in the book which made me frown a bit.  In fact, the closest thing we get to having a QUILTBAG character is one of the male douches calling one of the characters as lesbian as an insult.

The small town element was spot on though.  Mathieu is from South East Texas and being originally from that area,  she has does it spot on.  The sad thing about this book is it takes place in Rockport- the area that Harvey’s eye directly hit so I just sort of winced a little bit when I read that.  However, that aside, many of the  interactions with the students and the administration were stuff that I could relate to when I was growing up.  For example, I remember being harassed by these jerks on the football team in front of their God damn coach (who was my Physics teacher) and it wasn’t until my father pretty much threatened to sue the school that anyone did anything about it.  Thanks, Coach, for not doing your fucking job.  You were a fucking bad teacher too just showing us Bill Nye the science reruns the entire semester too, come to think of it (also, Bill believes in science so you might not actually like him).

Moral of that story is that sometimes it’s good to have a slightly scary/psychotic parent who school administrators are scared of and who makes his living yelling at people so he’s actually pretty good at it (yelling at assholes that is).  And yes, you can make a living do that.

Honestly though, it’s  sad when you have to get a parent to threaten litigation to get someone to actually fucking do something and even then it only worked halfway.  They would still act like jerks when they thought they could get away with it.  However, it happens a lot and the situation established in Moxie was unfortunately believable.

I also liked that there was clear character growth.  I did think that Viv treated Emma horrible throughout part of the book, but I did like the fact she acknowledged this and grew from it.  I wish she would’ve dropped the douchey boyfriend with the bad haircut though because he was a total mansplainer and Bernie Bro in the making.

Seriously.

Anytime, a guy did something horrible he told her to stop overreacting and that not all guys are like that.  And don’t believe the girl when she says someone tried to rape her because you haven’t heard the guy’s side of the story.

In other words,  he could totally work for Professor Umbridge’s Department of Education (oh, wait that’s not Umbridge, that’s Betsey Devos but they are so much alike even share the same fashion sense….)

Digressing.

Seriously though, I am done with mansplaining and character like Seth want me to gouge  his eyes out.  It also doesn’t help that excuses were made for him so that he and the MC would get together.

Her mother literally tells her that Seth is a guy and he doesn’t know better ’cause that’s who guys are.

Right…

I’m pretty sure human decency exists regardless of what sort of junk you have down there, but that’s just me.

It also doesn’t help that the mother also gives a lecture about how you can date people with other political views even though they voted for reprehensible things because that’s not who they are as a person. And adults know that.

DISAGREE. FUCKING DISAGREE.

I’m sorry, you vote based on what you believe.  Your beliefs influence your actions.  The 2016 election showed that and the outright and blatant displays of hatred that has happened in the country since that turd of a president of ours has taken over is more proof to why I will NEVER EVER date a  conservative and why I don’t like being told that I should give them a fucking chance.   Because obviously they didn’t give a damn about human decency when they voted in November, instead they irrationally hated a woman  who was probably the most qualified candidate for president in a long while.

But I’m digressing…and to be fair, when I read this I was still angered by an article I read earlier this week in The Federalist ( here’s a related article not going to directly link to that trash)  so that probably was part of the reason I saw red.

Still though, I didn’t buy that jack shit argument and as a relatively mature adult I can say that if you voted for Trump or for that matter are still planning on voting Republican I would not date you in a million years.

And yes, I know I live in Texas and my standards are probably too high according to the mother character in this book.  But I don’t mother fucking care.  I don’t want to be stuck with douche which is what it looks like the mother character and the MC are doing in this book.

Okay, I really ranted on that longer than I had attended.

I also wish the best friend who said that feminism was a bad thing would’ve got schooled a little more.  I also fucking hate it when people are like feminism ew.  Seriously, guys, seriously.  Learn what feminism fucking is.

Problems aside, I did think this one had some good messages.  Was it the best feminist centric book I’ve read this year, probably not.  Like I said, it could’ve dealt dealing with more intersectionality issues and not stuffed the creepy romances down our throat.  But other than that it was enjoyable.  Just not my favorite Mathieu book.

Overall Rating: A very solid B.

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

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

My name is Mallory Sullivan.

My therapist says I have an anxiety disorder.

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

Everybody else says I’m a freak.

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

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

First, I have to leave my room.

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

Um, yeah, that was just dumb and annoying.

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

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

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

Yeah, both are POS adults in my opinion.

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

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

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

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

I didn’t.

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

You can stop rolling your eyes now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Stereotypical Contemporary Melodrama: After the Game by Abi Glines

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

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I also did care one bit about the ship.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Rating: A C.

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

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

Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.

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

For what she let happen.

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

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

You get where I’m going here with this.

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

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

Not lying about that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blargh.

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