Important Topic But…: Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

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It feels like there’s no ground beneath me, like everything I’ve ever done has been a lie. Like I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong?

Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.

Source: GoodReads

I’ve outgrown Melissa de la Cruz’s books.  It’s a sad fact.  At some point I plan to reread the Blue Bloods books, but I feel like it is going to be a sea of disappointment and embarrassment that I ever liked her stuff.  Still, she writes really good premises and I find myself ridiculously attracted to her blurbs.  Like this one.

But still, it sat on my shelf for awhile.  However, after the God awful month of executive orders that the Trump administration has thrown on us I have been wanting to read more issue relevant books.

And I did remember liking Melissa’s Fresh Off the Boat, I at least remember thinking that book had more heart to it than some of her frothier rich people novels-not that some of those can be okay, they just get very stale after awhile.

The thing is, that Something In Between didn’t have that realness quality about it, even though it dealt with some topics that were very near and dear to Melissa’s own personal life.

I got to say, the romance was cringe worthy and completely unrealistic.  Jas and Royce fall ridiculously in love within a couple of pages of looks and text messages.  It make Skyjack (Jack/Schuyler from Blue Bloods ) look more realistic and in hindsight that pairing was illy paced, but to its credit it was a paranormal romance.  Here though, other than he’s handsome/she’s hot I didn’t get the attraction.  Maybe because both of these characters came off as bland.  Like Cinderella and Prince Charming Disney movie bland.

I often think it’s harder to write a contemporary than a paranormal or fantasy novel, because the characters are often the focus of the novel.  Unless it’s bitchy blonde vampire socialites, I always think Melissa’s characters suffer from vapidness and this book was no exception to that.  I honestly did not get how Jas won this big scholarship.  She doesn’t come off as particularly smart or driven, and while she did do some cheerleading she didn’t really have the sort of resume that most Ivy bound kids have.  Royce was even duller than Jas, I can’t even remember if he had a hobby outside of sending really embarrassing texts to his girlfriend and then getting his Paul Ryan Wannabe father go against his core conservative values.

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And that had me roll my eyes and just seethe with anger.  I am already not a huge fan of the Republican party-in fact, I’d say right now I have no tolerance for what they’re preaching at least before the tea party and the racist party of Trump, I could at least sort of get where they’re coming from in the Bush era  but that’s besides the  point.  Here, seeing Royce’s asshole of a congressman make an exception for one family had me rolling my eyes.

And yes, I did vaguely recall reading about private bills very briefly in the Immigration Law course I took 2L year, but I also remember hearing that they hardly ever happen and other than being briefly mentioned we didn’t discuss them hardly any.  Instead, we talked a lot about work visas and I find it difficult to believe that Jas’s working class family would even acquire a visa in the first place.

Unskilled workers have the burnt end of the deal immigration wise, and this book didn’t seem to even discuss that.  Yes, I understand that Ms. de la Cruz is not a lawyer and that it’s possible in her own case that her family could’ve gotten in on such visas-but it doesn’t happen that often.   Part of the reason why is in order to get a work visa the company has to show that there are no qualified American workers.  Sort of hard to do with an unskilled job.

And then there was that farce of a court hearing…I’m not even going to talk about it.

And while I think there was some work into looking up the immigration process I don’t think it encompassed a lot of the issues on a whole of what is going on.  About how broken the process is-and it’s even more fucked up now, for obvious reasons most involving a big fat Orange Boob.

Look, I can’t fault Ms. de la Cruz too much on the legalities.  Immigration law itself is a beast, and there’s a lot of reasons why attorneys don’t practice it.  And even very seasoned lawyers can’t figure out some of the nuances involving the process-and I’m quoting some lecturer on an online CLE I took a couple of weeks ago almost verbatim on that one.

I just don’t know, having this conservative congressman who is described as being an asshole towards immigrants for a big chunk of the book being Jas’s savior  rubs me the wrong way.  Why is it okay for her to have a private bill while the congressman roots for legislation to harm constant others in her position?  I just didn’t like this congressman and wanted to go to a town hall to tell him what a hypocrite he was and that even though Jas situation was awful and she deserved help all the other undocumented immigrants in his district deserved to be treated like real people and not criminals.  He doesn’t even have a come to Jesus moment in the book and realizes that his hardline stanch is that of an asshole.

But I digress..

If you can look past the hypocrisy and the cringe worthy romance, this one is readable.  That is one thing I will always give de la Cruz, her stuff is readable.  But God there’s so much cringe and hypocrisy that I did close it a couple of times throughout reading it just to rant.  The immigration stuff while researched (enough) isn’t fully researched in some aspects.

The parts that rang truest about the book were the brief insights we got into Filipino culture, but those for the most part were very brief.

Overall Rating: A C

 

 

 

Never Ever Will I Finish This: Never Ever by Sara Saedi

Wylie Dalton didn’t believe in fairy tales or love at first sight.

Then she met a real-life Peter Pan.

When Wylie encounters Phinn—confident, mature, and devastatingly handsome—at a party the night before her brother goes to juvie, she can’t believe how fast she falls for him. And that’s before he shows her how to fly.

Soon Wylie and her brothers find themselves whisked away to a mysterious tropical island off the coast of New York City where nobody ages beyond seventeen and life is a constant party. Wylie’s in heaven: now her brother won’t go to jail and she can escape her over-scheduled life with all its woes and responsibilities—permanently.

But the deeper Wylie falls for Phinn, the more she begins to discover has been kept from her and her brothers. Somebody on the island has been lying to her, but the truth can’t stay hidden forever.

Source: GoodReads

I DNF’d this book within 40 pages.

It just wasn’t for me.

I am going to bullet point this review and it’s probably going to be really short.  If you want a more thorough review of this book I suggest you check out other reviews because honestly I gave up on it so soon that I don’t even know if this review is worth a shit.

Anyway, here’s the reasons I DNF’d it.

  • Stiff Style: It was one of those hard to connect to styles that just kind of hard to get into.  This might not bother a lot of people, but it bothered me.
  • Another Evil Peter Pan.  At least there’s no sexy Hook (so far) so it’s not a complete Once Upon a Time rip off yet.
  • A MC who gives a rat’s ass about anything else other than her love life even though she claims to care about her family.
  • Note, she treats her family like crap.
  • Usual sullen teenager dealing with divorce trope.
  • Modernization of the characters names from the original because you know you can’t name characters Wendy, John, and Michael anymore.  Wylie, Joshua, and Micha sound better and Phinn sounds better than fucking Peter Pan.
  • Because everyone has a party on a roof top in New York.
  • That whole going into Neverland drug induced scene-yeah, I stopped after that because that was just so stupid.

Like I said, not really a lot to go off of here if you’re really interested in the book, but just for you to know, it didn’t work for me.  It was just really bad and cliche…and when it’s only redeeming feature is not having the obligatory Sexy Hook! (or at least as far as I know, he still might’ve popped in there after the thirty or so pages I read).

Overall Rating: A mother fucking DNF.

Predictable Fluff: All That Glitters by Holly Smale

 

My name is Harriet Manners, and I am still a geek.

Harriet Manners has high hopes for the new school year: she’s a Sixth Former now, and things are going to be different. But with Nat busy falling in love at college and Toby preoccupied with a Top Secret project, Harriet soon discovers that’s not necessarily a good thing…

Source: GoodReads

If we’re going to be honest about it, this series has gotten a bit pedantic (which seems to be the word of the week, FYI).  The good thing is if  you’re reading it with its publication schedule you’re not going to notice as much the repetition.  The bad thing is if you’re an American who has gotten tired of waiting for these things to be released in the states and decided to just buy them at the Book Depository you’re not exactly going to binge on them as I was planning…

Yeah.

The good thing though, is if the real world is being particularly hellish as it has since Biff stole Doc and Marty’s machine and somehow stole the presidency from HRC Donald Trump has become president (that sounds so wrong) this series can at least buy you some hours of peace at least another Executive Order has been dropped.

Sorry for all the current events references, it has really been hard to read or really  lately.  And really do anything else especially when all this shit has been thrown in your face on a 24/7 basis.  If you follow my Twitter feed you know I’ve been very vocal in my disdain.

Anyway, back to the book.  Its the predictable fluff that is needed right now in this world and I am grateful for that.  Honestly, I will probably be reading a lot of fluff in the coming months.  It’s needed and wanted and this book does the trick.  It’s easy to look past the faults, but they are there and it’s pretty obvious to anyone who has read this series what they are.

Harriet is a stagnent character.  She doesn’t grow, and at this point I don’t expect her too.  Most of the books center around ridiculous misunderstandings that anyone with adequate emotional skills would be able to pick up on but this is Harriet we’re talking about.  So…yeah, don’t expect her to pick up on social cues.

And to be honest, her friends are sort of shitty in this one.   I get that they want to help her, but come on.  They should know that she wasn’t going to exactly take their behavior the way she wanted them too.  And really, at this point…ugh.

The more I think about it, the more I want to pull my hair out.  But again, I don’t hate this book.  It’s sort of like the Princess Diaries series.  Sure, there was a slump in the middle of that series where all I wanted to do was deck Mia, but it didn’t make me hate or stop reading the series and I sort of hope that in the next two full installments there’s some growth with Harriet-again, don’t expect there to be but I still can’t help there is some.

As far as the romance department goes, this installment of Geek Girl is ridiculously light on that as well as the modeling stuff.  I did enjoy the modeling antics though.  I think they’re often some of my favorite parts of the book surprisingly.  Even though they are more or less the same-Harriet going to some exotic location and making a fool of herself.

So yeah, there was nothing surprising or really unprecedented about this particular installment of Geek Girl if it was a more serious series, I’d probably would give it a lower rating.  But as it stands, it did its job in getting to me forget about the crap that’s been going on in this world right now.

Overall Rating: A B- it’s flawed but enjoyable.

Disappointing: Dreadnought by April Daniels

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but between her father’s dangerous obsession with curing her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and the classmate who is secretly a masked vigilante, Danny’s first weeks living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined.

She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer, a cyborg named Utopia, still haunts the streets of New Port City. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

Source: GoodReads

Out of all the books I had in my January TBR list, I think I was the most excited for Dreadnought which was a superhero book featuring a trans main character.  That in itself had so much potential and it was an #ownvoices book which made the prospect of it feel even better.  The sad truth of it was, when it came down to it Dreadnought just wasn’t  a good book.  So much, I DNF’d it.

Before I go into my criticisms though I want to praise the book for what it did do right: the premises.

The premises was just awesome.  A trans character being a superhero and fighting crime, talk about empowering.  I had great hopes for this one especially since it’s not often we have a book featuring a non-WASP character that isn’t an “issue” oriented book.

However….well, this book didnt’ focus that much on superheroes.

Mostly it was about Danielle coming out as trans in probably one of the most awful ways possible-her body changes in the first chapter of the story so she’s sort of forced to reveal her true self like it or not.  And unfortunately, pretty much everyone acts like a MAGA asshole.

I kid you not.

Her father is transphobic and her mother is just an enabler.  Which would be fine for the book if there was anyone that Danny could talk too.  But her best friend is a perverted dick and other than a new girl where I think-hope-something might be brewing between those two she really has no one to talk to and it sucks becuase girl needs to have someone to lend an ear too.

And I get it, trans people often are isolated it’s a sad reality which why having books like this is important, but it just angered me so much and I really wanted there to be some mentor or someone else Danny could talk too.  Even a trans support group would be nice.

But nope.

The superhero aspect of the book was extremely weak.  The powers and origin stories are explained in paragraphs at most and there’s really not much to them.  Even fighting crime is sort of boring.  And of course, we get the obligatory asshole superhero transphobic character too.

Really, I would say that a good 80% of the cast in this book were transphobic or pervy.

It is not good.

The vague world building with hodgepodge to non-existent plot made the book hardly enjoyable to the point where I reluctantly DNF’d it.

Which I’m actually sort of upset about because again that premises.

Sigh.  I feel like this book might be interesting enough if you’re not trigger sensitive to extreme bigotry but really everything is only halfway done.  It really would’ve been nice had this book lived up to half of the potential that it had.

Overall Rating: A DNF.

X-Men in the USSR: Sekret by Lindsay Smith

An empty mind is a safe mind.

Yulia knows she must hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive in Communist Russia. But if she sometimes manipulates the black market traders by reading their thoughts when she touches their skin, so what? Anything to help her survive.

Russia’s powerful spy agency, the KGB, is recruiting young people with mind-reading capabilities for their psychic espionage program. Their mission: protect the Soviet space program from American CIA spies. Why shouldn’t the KGB use any means necessary to make the young psychic cooperate? Anything to beat the American capitalist scum to the moon.

Yulia is a survivor. She won’t be controlled by the KGB, who want to harness her abilities for the State with no regard for her own hopes and dreams. She won’t let handsome Sergei plan her life as a member of elite Soviet society, or allow brooding Valentin to consume her with his dangerous mind and even more dangerous ideas. And she certainly won’t become the next victim of the powerful American spy who can scrub a brain raw—and seems to be targeting Yulia.

Source: GoodReads

I think a lot of YA authors are obsessed with X-Men.  May it be the comic book, the awesome 90’s cartoon, or the movie series, X-Men themed plots have sort of saturated the YA market first in dystopias, then in fantasies, and now it appears in historical fiction as in the case of Sekret.

Note, I DNF’d Sekret mainly because it had nothing new to add to the YA meets X-Men formula.  Don’t believe me.  Tell me if this seems familiar (this another time I wanted to make a top ten list but had to stop at like eight because I found myself repeating myself) :

  1. A Main Character Who Has Powers She Must Hide: Usually in X-Men YA books they go for the Rouge type.  Meaning, that the character usually  has some sort of power to impediment the relationship-with the Rouge character herself, she couldn’t touch anyone  without drawing off power and a kiss could kill them-if I recall correctly.  Luckily, Yulia isn’t a Rouge wannabe so props for the book on that but she still has a devastating power of being a psychic like Jean Grey so…I think a check mark can be put in this category.
  2. A boarding school or training school for the gifted: Check.  There’s just no bald guy in a wheelchair here to train them.  Just Russian spies with guns.
  3. Other kids with psychic powers.  Check, check, check.  Sort of goes with the school of the gifted trope.  But often these kids because the lead’s team mates and/or love interests.
  4. Powers are viewed as strange in the universe.  Yep, happens here main character is on the run becuase of them.  Only robots don’t capture her like they did with Jubilee in the cartoon series.  Though, I don’t give the robots much credit for catching Jubilee in the cartoon version since she was very easy to spot-I mean, she wears dishwashing gloves as every day wear.
  5. There are evil people with power.  Some work for the government.  The government wants to make sure they have all the people who have powers in check.
  6. People who have powers are in danger of getting killed/maimed/taken by the government.
  7. Did I mention super powers.
  8. Psychic powers are used to find other psychics.  Though to be fair, I don’t think this facility has a Cerebro but still.

Yeah, see an X-Men wannabe.  That’s not exactly a bad thing, BUT (yeah, that but is in all caps for a particular reason) when you add nothing else to the story it gets to be grating and fast.  I mean, I really felt like I was going through the motions with this one.  So much that I just DNF’d it there wasn’t anything interesting that was holding my attention.  Really, despite one brief mention of the Cuba Mission Crisis this book could’ve taken place anywhere.

Which is why I DNF’d it.

Le sigh.

Anyway, if you really like the X-Men formula you might want to read this one.  It didn’t hold my interest, but I could see some people liking it which is why on GoodReads I gave it a two star DNF rating rather than a one star DNF rating.

Anyway, going to watch some reruns of the X-Men cartoon right now.  Righting this has gotten that theme song stuck in my head again.

Best Thing About the Book is the Fucking Cover: The Siren by Kiera Cass

Love is a risk worth taking.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. And though she can’t talk to him, they soon forge a connection neither of them can deny…and Kahlen doesn’t want to.

Falling in love with a human breaks all the Ocean’s rules, and if the Ocean discovers Kahlen’s feelings, she’ll be forced to leave Akinli for good. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.

Source: GoodReads

Kiera Cass really has a great cover designer and can come up with interesting concepts, I think those are the only two reasons I keep giving her chance after chance when she keeps giving me crap book after crap book.

The Siren was as shitty as the rest of her books were, so don’t get your hopes up.

Yeah, sorry to be the Debbie Downer here.  Though, I really don’t know if it’s being a Debbie Downer since I’m only speaking the truth.

The book sucked ass.

Some background information, the book was originally self published before Cass decided to torture the rest of us with The Selection-whatever it is now, originally trilogy now never ending books series.  When she conned sold so many people the Selection books Harper decided to pick it up a plaster a new cover on the heap of crap  revise the book so that it could be published traditionally.

The result.

It’s still shitty.

Honestly, the book reads very much like a Twilight fan fic would’ve read about eight or nine years ago.  Hell, some of the tropes are common.  From insta love, to beautiful paranormal creatures, to stupid boys who just need to be punched this book has it all.

I DNF’d it in 154 pages.

The main character, Kahlen bemoans about killing people decide making the concentrated choice to become a siren eighty years ago.

Look, I had no sympathy for bitch.  She knew what she was getting herself into and how can I feel sorry for someone who constantly puts people in peril and kills them.

Oh, yes, because she saw the error of her ways and fell in wuv…

Yeah, I know my eyes almost got stuck from all the eye rolling too.  I think what really got to me about this book, was that it could’ve been really cool if Cass went more into what the sirens could do rather than the fact that being a siren allows them to have lots and lots of pretty salt water dresses (don’t ask me how that works, but I’m guessing Cass was sort of inspired by Ariel’s Triton created dress at the end of The Little Mermaid).

As for the romance, that has made my eyes stuck in the back of my head.  It’s laughable and too instant lovey for me to care about.  Plus, the hero has one of those stupid unique name cliches-fact, he says the stupid name is unique.  I kept calling him Anklet in my head, though his real name is Akinli or something of the other.

The pacing is also off in this book and I really didn’t understand any of the world building save for the hundred years and the salt grass crap bits.

Overall, the book really didn’t work for me.  Perhaps, if you haven’t been overexposed to the world that was paranormal YA back in the late 2000’s this one might be okay for you, but for me blragh.

Overall Rating: DNF

The First Five Star Book of 2017: Every Move by Ellie Marney

Rachel Watts is suffering from recurring nightmares about her near-death experience in London. She just wants to forget the whole ordeal, but her boyfriend, James Mycroft, is obsessed with piecing the puzzle together and anticipating the next move of the mysterious Mr Wild – his own personal Moriarty.

So when Rachel’s brother, Mike, suggests a trip back to their old home in Five Mile, Rachel can’t wait to get away. Unfortunately it’s not the quiet weekend she was hoping for with the unexpected company of Mike’s old school buddy, the wildly unreliable Harris Derwent.

Things get worse for Rachel when Harris returns to Melbourne with them – but could Harris be the only person who can help her move forward? Then a series of murders suggests that Mr Wild is still hot on their tails and that Mycroft has something Wild wants – something Wild is prepared to kill for.

Can Watts and Mycroft stay one step ahead of the smartest of all criminal masterminds? The stage is set for a showdown of legendary proportions… 

Source: GoodReads

Okay, so this book was actually released way back in 2015 (in Australia) but I only now bought a copy because I vainly hoped the US would get off it’s fat ass and publish it so that I could have a matching hardback set-I am OCD about these sorts of things.  Really, I will often buy an extra copy of a book just to have either a matching copy or hardback, I’m too hard of a reader for paperbacks.  But alas…the US decided to be a dumb ass about the publication of this one, and I had to get over my matching books/hardback and buy the Aussie edition.  And I’m glad I did.

I freaking loved the book.

Not that I didn’t expect I wouldn’t.  The past two Marney books-from this series have gotten five freaking stars (or A to A+ ratings)  from me.  So, it was a safe bet when I decided to read this one it would get five stars as well.

There are so many things about this book that work.  From a retelling standpoint, what works is while here are nods/homages/parallels to the original Sherlock stories  but was its own thing at the same time.  Honestly, I have my own little fan fantasy in my head where they could actually fit Marney’s series into the BBC series  or make a spinoff series with only some minor changes I think it could work.  That  aside though, I like the approach she took because it allowed the characters to do their own thing and it made the Mycroft/Watts relationship more likely than it would’ve been had they stayed purely in Watson and Holmes territory.

This installment, isn’t really so much as a who done it-though there is a mystery to some degree but not near to the extent of the earlier books.  There is, however, a lot of character growth that I appreciate.  Both leads have to come to terms with what happened to them in London, and they both deal with it differently.  I have to say the aspects of PTSD felt fairly realistic to me, and I liked Watts’ interactions with her mother.

I also really like Marney’s version of Sherlock.  Often the Sherlock character can come off as cartoonish, butJames isn’t.  This character I don’t think is a functioning sociopath like other Sherlock’s, but a complex human who is dealing with a lot.

I also really liked the portrayal of the two characters’ relationship.  It felt realistic as far as teen YA relationships do.  Watts and Mycroft have their ups and downs, but overall the relationship is fairly healthy and their interactions felt realistic.  Even awkward at times, which is always a joy to read about in YA.  To say the least, I ship the hell out of these two.

Much like I ship the hell out of Sherlolly even though I know it's probably not going to happen.

Much like I ship the hell out of Sherlolly even though I know it’s probably not going to happen.

Now, there is a bit of a love triangle in this one, but it’s not really a love triangle.  More like one sided love triangle where one of the other characters at least acknowledges that the potential love interest is attractive.  It’s not though a back and fourth psychological torture Twilight triangle so I’ll give it props for that.

I felt like the series wrapped itself up nicely here.  Am I glad to see it gone, no…but I thought it was a good place to stop and I did think Marney did a nice job wrapping things up.  It was a really good book and I will be reading pretty much anything that she publishes again soon-just won’t be wasting my time for American publishers to get some common sense and publish the shit out of her books like they should.

And really, American publisher, it’s just cruel for you not to let me have my matching set of books.

Overall Rating: An A+ a great book to start off the year.

First DNF of the Year: Flower by Elizabeth Craft and Shea Olsen

These are the things that I’ve always wanted:

To get the top grades in my class.

To make my grandmother proud.

And most of all, proof that I could succeed where the rest of my family had not: a Stanford acceptance letter, early admission.

My mother and my sister were obsessed with boys and love and sex. So obsessed that they lost sight of their futures, of what theywanted. And in the end, they lost everything.

I’ll never let a boy distract me. I promised my grandmother that.

But that was before Tate.

Before the biggest pop star on the planet took an interest in me.

Before private planes and secret dates and lyrics meant for me alone.

There’s so much I don’t know. Like why he left music. Where he goes when we’re not together. What dark past he’s hiding. But when we kiss, the future feels far away. And now…I’m not sure what I want. 

Source: GoodReads

Well, I knew it had to happen but honestly I was hoping it would be a little later than fourteen years within the New Year before I DNF’d my first 2017 book.  But hey, Flower can’t help that it sucked donkey’s balls.

Actually, that’s an insult to donkey’s balls.

Anyway…Flower was bad.  Really, really, bad.  Just to give an idea of how bad this book is here is a sample of writing from the first few pages of the book.

Love can undo you.  It can take everything away.

And so, I promised myself: no boys, no prom, no parties on Saturday nights.  I would stay home, I would get straight As, I would go to college and make a different kind of future for myself. I wouldn’t let anything stop me. I wouldn’t let anyone stop me.

But that was before everything changed.

That was before him (1).

That should give you an idea how cringe worthy this is.  I mean, yeah the premises made me think it was going to be on the cheesy side, but it could’ve been done in such a way where the reader didn’t think they were reading some 13 year old’s One Direction fan fiction with a self insert character and token gay best friend that was straight out of a bad early 2000’s Lifetime movie.

But alas, this was not the case with Flower.

It was published by not only one, but two real authors (meaning, people who actually have legitimate past credits and aren’t a celebrity with a ghost writer peddling crap).  And it still sucked.  Hell, it was a packaged book and it still sucked.

Usually with package books they’re at least homogenous enough where they aren’t painfully bad, but this one is painfully bad.

As the premises points out our main character, Charlotte, is turned off of love because everyone in her family gets knocked up at the ripe old age of 17 or what not and she decides to do the no boys thing until a pop star comes into the flower shop she works out.  Only she doesn’t realize he’s a pop star and…I don’t know how she doesn’t realize he’s a pop star.  I mean, I’ve never listened to Justin Beiber, but I still know who that foul specimen is.  I just couldn’t buy it that this MC didn’t know who he was.  Or that a pop star would be so interested in a high school girl.  Or that Charlotte would somehow have a job in a florist’s shop designing bouquets with no florist training whatsoever.

The book really felt like it was a skeleton of a story that could be interesting but turned out to be no better than a self insert fan fic.  Like I said, I stopped at page 58 when Tate-the wannabe Jonas Brother-was essentially pulling an Edward Cullen on Charlotte.

I often feel like there is a misconception in YA that there does not need to be any effort put in fluff books that just having two characters kissing each other is enough.

It’s not.

A good fluff novel has complex characters that have interesting relations together and you want them to be together.  This book has none of those.   I had a real hard time believing that this was even a finished product, that’s how lazy it came across.

Usually, Alloy is one of the better packaging companies (note, that’s not saying a lot since I think most packaged books suck), but this one is particularly wretched.

Avoid at all costs especially if you love fluff.

Overall Rating: DNF

Not My Cuppa: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Source: GoodReads

Truthwitch was probably one of the most hyped books of 2016.  I bought it and it set on my shelf for about a year, and then I picked it up before the sequel came out this year because I wanted to know whether or not it was worth reading the sequel-and preorder prices are usually so much more cheaper than post release prices. And I read it and I was…well, not impressed.

But it’s not horrible.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I have issues with fantasies. I feel like a lot of YA fantasies rely too much on tropes and can be difficult to get in to.  Especially when they involve lots of fantasy names, inconsistent world building, and the God damn lost princess trope.

Hey, if you like those things, all the power to you.  But I’m just saying whenever I read a fantasy there has to be elements to really get me into the God damn book.

Unfortunately, Truthwitch only halfway gained my interest.  While it wasn’t bad the stupid names and WTF-ckery pacing made it a little difficult for me to completely enjoy and I really don’t think I’ll be continuing with the series.  But I did like aspects of the book.

I liked the idea of friendship that the book promises.  Did I think it lived up to this idea?  Um, no.  I thought the bond between Safiya and Iseult-and I had to look up both of those spellings-could’ve been explored more.  Hell, they didn’t interact near as much as I thought they would.  But I did like the idea of how powerful there friendship was.

The ships in this book were kind of eh.  I didn’ t love the ship that everyone else seemed to rave about it, but I didn’t hate it either.

There was lots of potential in this book, but there was also too much going on and not enough development for me to feel totally connected.

And I got lost.

I’ll admit it, if I can’t follow some aspects of a fantasy I will get lost and sort of fast.  Things move at a lightning quick pace in this one and I think it was one of the things that got my goat.  Like I said before, if you’re really into fantasy books this isn’t going to get to you but it got to me big time.

In the end, I parted Truthwitch with the acknowledgment while not a bad book this series is not for me and I don’t think I’ll be continuing it.

Overall Rating: A B- rushed pacing and made up names sort of killed this one for me.  But for fantasy lovers this might be your cup of tea.

When Obnoxious Characters Happen to Good Books: Jess, Chunk and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

The last time Jess saw her father, she was a boy named Jeremy. Now she’s a high school graduate, soon to be on her way to art school. But first, Jess has some unfinished business with her dad. So she’s driving halfway across the country to his wedding. He happens to be marrying her mom’s ex-best friend. It’s not like Jess wasn’t invited; she was. She just told them she wasn’t coming. Surprise!

Luckily, Jess isn’t making this trip alone. Her best friend, Christophe—nicknamed Chunk—is joining her. Chunk has always been there for Jess, and he’s been especially supportive of her transition, which has recently been jump-started with hormone therapy.

Along the way from California to Chicago, Jess and Chunk will visit roadside attractions, make a new friend or two, and learn a few things about themselves—and each other—that call their true feelings about their relationship into question.

Source: GoodReads

The main character ruined the book.

Just saying.

I think one of the hardest things to get right as an author is to write an unlikable character.  If done right, it can really make a book.  Let’s face it unlikable characters are pretty realistic.  I can’t stand most people in real life, so it makes sense that there are going to be unlikable characters.  But the thing is if there’s nothing that you can identify with that person, then the book is going to be a disaster.

Such as in the case of Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity.  To be fair, I did think portraying Jess the way she was, was realistic-but it didn’t keep me from hating her guts.

God knows, I didn’t want to hate her guts. Girl had been going through a lot.  I wanted to like her, I wanted to feel her.  But she ended up being one of the most self absorbed protagonists I’ve read in awhile.  And again, that was probably realistic BUT

It didn’t make her that likable especially with all the fat shaming she did.

Which was a lot and bring me to the crux of my problem with the story Jess and Chunk’s Chuck’s relationship.  Note, for the duration of this review I will be calling Chuck, Chuck since the name that Jess calls him for 90% of the novel is hateful and derogatory and she never once fucking thinks it hurts his feelings.

And he’s not the only character who she fat shames there’s like two other characters she shames.  And yeah, there’s an epiphany at the end-sort of-but it’s almost too little too late.  Honestly, the ending that Jess got to me seemed rushed and unrealistic.  I wanted Chuck to cut ties to this bitch and never look back.

Yes, I called our MC a bitch because she is.

On the bright side, having such negative feelings for Jess means that the book did leave an impression on me.  It’s just not the right impression.

Besides from having a very judgmental transgender main character, the book is your fairly typical road trip story with blatant generalizations made about Middle America that I could care less about.  There are random characters that make appearances and disappear into the story and serve no purpose.  Even the only obstacle-besides Jess’s foulness- to Jess getting together with Chuck is gone within a few pages.

Le sigh.

I just don’t know.  This book really didn’t work for me, and while I appreciate what it was trying to do it just didn’t do it.   I don’t feel like completely failing it though because it wasn’t exactly terrible.

Overall Rating: A C-.  A part of me wants to give it a higher rating, but I hate Jess and it ruined any sort of relationship she and Chuck could’ve had and made me ship him with the Lizard.