These Bones Are Fractured: Mammoth by Jill

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The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin. Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and perfect lipstick aren’t compatible with prospecting for fossils in the Texas heat. But nothing is going to dampen Natalie’s spirit — she’s exactly where she wants to be, and she gets to work with her hero, a rock-star paleontologist who hosts the most popular paleo podcast in the world. And then there’s Chase the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch.

It’s a summer that promises to be about more than just mammoths.

Until it isn’t.

When Natalie’s hero turns out to be anything but, and steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, Nat has to unearth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by dudes. To do this, she’ll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying all the rules for the sake of a major discovery.

Source: GoodReads

Note, if you’re going to state to have a book about body positivity  do not have your character guess every lady’s weight and have the “Mean Girl” be the cliche skinny girl.  It will annoy your reader who would’ve otherwise enjoyed your book.

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Okay, that opening paragraph is pretty much a summation of my thoughts of Mammoth.  It had a lot of potential, there were parts I liked but with many so called “empowerment” books this one ends up skinny bashing AND emphasizing weight more than it should’ve.

At least it had paleontology.  That was cool, and it was the primary reason why I kept reading the book.  Because I was interested in the paleontology bits, even though it got ridiculously unrealistic with how successful the MC was.

Also, seriously, she really thought wearing a dress and heels was smart for a dig sight?

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Really, all of the clothes she bought weren’t fit for Texas summers let alone being outside all day long in the Hill Country.

Digressing…

The MC, Nat, was really annoying.  Baguchinsky does excerpts of Nat’s fashion blog throughout the book, and she is one of those obnoxious fashion bloggers that I would absolutely hate.  Seriously, I don’t need to know what lipstick you like to wear Nat (Pinup Girl, it’s always fucking Pinup Girl).  Nat has that over the top quirky style that I think the audience is suppose to find quirky and empowering, but soon it’s revealed she relies heavily on Spanx and that’s a good part of the novel besides telling us what every single FEMALE character weighs.

Oh, yes, this is just the female characters.  As for the love interests not surprisingly weight isn’t mentioned just abs and biceps.

Oh, and did I mention that the 110 pound girl is obviously a bad character for flirting with a boy that Nat might like and having a rich dad.  She’s skinny and rich so…

Here’s the thing about books that state they’re about body positivity, if THAT’S true the book needs to be accepting of all body types.  It just annoys me when there’s skinny shaming as much as there is fat shaming.  Honestly, I wish that the main character’s size wasn’t mentioned all the time.  Just have it mentioned she’s a plus size blogger and leave it at that.

And really, while I get the fashion thing was used to show her self esteem it really had little to do with the rest of the novel.

The paleontology internship itself was a little eye rolling.  Again, I’d had a hard time believing a complete novice like Nat would have as much success as she did.  Also, her randomly finding a document that dismisses a lawsuit….ha, ha, ha, no.  If only it was that easy.  I’m sure her randomly finding fossils with next to no experience would be just as laughable to paleontologists too.

There’s a part of the novel that had my inward Slytherin (yes, Slytherin and DAMN proud of it) fuming when we hear about how being too ambitious is bad.

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Nope.

Nope.

Nope.

Pro tip if you’re a woman in any professional industry you’re going to have to be helluva ambitious or else…well, your fucked.  Nat being told to get over someone taking the credit of her work had my little head exploding.

At the end of the day, I didn’t hate Mammoth enough where I DNF’d it or anything like that.  It also wasn’t terribly bland because it did have the paleontology plot to it-though the love interests in this book can die a slow death.

So, I’m giving it a middle of the road rating.  As annoyed as I got about finding everyone’s weight out within the first twenty or so pages, after I go past it, I enjoyed it (enough).

Overall Rating: C+

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Twilight Aliens Revamp: The Darkest Star by Jennifer Armentrout

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When seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher is caught up in a raid at a notorious club known as one of the few places where humans and the surviving Luxen can mingle freely, she meets Luc, an unnaturally beautiful guy she initially assumes is a Luxen…but he is in fact something much more powerful. Her growing attraction for Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world she’d only heard about, a world where everything she thought she knew will be turned on its head…

#1 New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout returns to the universe of the Lux in this brand new series, featuring beloved characters both new and old.

Source: GoodReads

The Lux series is pretty much a Twilight ripoff, but replace vampires with aliens.  I liked it.  It wasn’t great, but it was typical Armentrout fare, and to be fair some of her better work.  It was enjoyable, light, fluffy, and fun.    I was actually excited when I heard that the Lux series was getting its own spinoff, as ripoff-y (is that a word?) as it was it was a fun read and I was interested in reading Luc’s story.  However, its pretty much a duplicate of Lux.

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To be fair, there is potentially a good backstory here.  The story, without getting too spoilery, relies on one of my favorite soap opera tropes.  It should’ve worked.  I mean, I have been wanting a book that exploits this trope but it just didn’t work.

Also, I really didn’t like how Evie rationalized the situation.  It didn’t seem realistic.  Yes, there was some anger, but not near the amount I would’ve felt.  Also, you would’ve thought…

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Again spoilers.

Okay you really want to know what I thought….

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MAJOR SPOILERS

Pretty much the big twist is that Evie is really Nadia (Luc’s not so dead girlfriend) who has amnesia because of some weird ass alien drug that Luc got her to save her life.  The fact that she doesn’t really remember the first 12 years of her life is oddly scoffed over.

I thought Nadia (I’m calling her fucking Nadia because that’s who she is, not the dead girl whose name her creepy ass pseudo mom gave her) took in everything relatively nonchalantly.  I probably would’ve been beyond pissed with that sad sack of a mother.  Because seriously, she pretty much used Nadia as a replacement as her dead stepdaughter.

That’s so wrong.

As for Luc….yeah, that was not cool letting Nadia have no say in her life whatsoever.  I don’t care if it’s because he loves her or not it’s just wrong to take someone’s choice away from them.

Period.

End of Spoilers

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Let’s just say that whole reveal could’ve been developed better.  And it didn’t make sense.

I should note that even though it made no fucking sense, I totally guessed what the twist was and rolled my eyes at the reveal.

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That’s not exactly a good thing, people.

However, as far as books being offensive goes this one is fairly inoffensive.  It’s just not that original.  Will I finish the series…probably.  Likely.  Because I’ve read seven books total in this universe and I am interested if maybe the series picks up as it gains steam.  That doesn’t mean I have high hopes for it though.

I really think at the end of the day when it comes to Jennifer Armentrout books you are going to get something that’s quick and enjoyable enough but it’s always going to lack something.  They’re not bad books but at the end of the day…well, it could be better.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it a B-

If Ariel Was a Murderer: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexander Christo

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Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Source: GoodReads

To Kill a Kingdom has been on my shelf for awhile.  I’ve always had a thing for Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  Yes, it’s underdeveloped.  Yes, Ariel’s an idiot.  But it has this dark potential there with Ursula and her nefarious plan.  To Kill a Kingdom sort of is like a retelling with a mesh up lead of Ariel and Ursula and goes with it.  So, it’s essentially like a Vanessa book only…well, different.

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The only thing about this one is while it had a fantastic first third the book fell flat fast once Lira became human and developed emotions.

This is one of those rare instances, where I think the book might’ve been better off if it had not been a standalone.    The relationships just seemed too forced for my liking, especially after the revelations.

Had there been a couple of books for character evolution, I might’ve bought the ending a little bit more than I did.  As it was, it just seemed rush.

TBH, I would’ve been okay without the romance.  It’s rare for me to say that, but I really felt like the major ship in this book was forced.  Both leads are horrible to each other and put each other in some near death situations-some of them premeditated- it’s not a healthy relationship by any means.  And I just want more with my ships…this was no bueno.

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That being said I love how the female lead was introduced.  Lyra came off as this villainess in training and I wanted to read more about her and her embracing the darkness.  But her power is pretty much stripped fairly early on in the book and she becomes useless.

It’s a shame.

There’s a McGuffin like quest that fuels the second half of the novel.  Honestly, not a huge fan of it.  It just went from point to point.  I really felt no rush or excitement towards it, it was surprisingly dull.

Overall, my feelings towards this one were lukewarm.  There was so much potential throughout it, however the execution faltered.

Overall Rating: B-

Good Check on Privilege : The Impossibility of Us by Katie Upperman

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The last thing Elise wants is to start her senior year in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move from San Francisco to a sleepy coastal village.

When Elise meets Mati, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town too, visiting the U.S. with his family. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.

But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact—Mati is Afghan.

Beautifully written, utterly compelling, and ultimately hopeful, THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US asks—how brave can you be when your relationship is questioned by everyone you love?

Source: GoodReads

I wish someone would’ve told me that a good chunk of this book was drafted in verse.  If I knew that it would’ve never been bought.

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As it was, because I wasted money on this book I thought I should give it a good try and it was mercifully short and I finished reading it.  But surprise, surprise, when I ended up hating it and it’s now in my giveaway box.

Let’s just put it this way, had I read this book pre-2015 Escalator of Doom incident I would’ve said that certain characters were painted in a very 1D fashion.  Blame my privilege, but I would have found it hard to believe the blatant hatred these characters have against a character that they never even met.

That being said,  the Trump administration has happened so I am very aware that asshats like this do exist.

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The thing is though, reading about people like this still leaves me flummoxed and like people don’t act like that.

Even though reality check, they do.

It’s a good check on privilege, I suppose, but it’s not going to make the reading experience any less squirm inducing.  And to be fair, I think it should be squirm inducing.  We need to wake up to how seemingly “good” people like in this book are really racist bigots at their core.  Do I wish the depiction of said characters was better…..yes…but again I can’t say it was unrealistic.

What I really didn’t like about this book, at it’s core was that there really wasn’t much story to it.  The blurb was the book.  The relationships were pretty cardboard.  Maybe Mati and Elise develop more in his verse sections, but since I hate verse and skimmed (or even skipped) these sections I’ll never know.

And seriously, the verse.  It added nothing to the book.  If you like these sort of books that’s fine, but they’re not for me.

I really felt like there was a lot of potential to this one, but at the end of the day it was just a very flat story with very flat characters.  I just don’t recommend.  However, if anything reading it reminded me just how awful society is.  It’s hard to rationalize that sounds like something that doesn’t sound realistic is, and that’s why I think it’s so important to keep on reading books that touch on these sorts of topics.

However, I don’t think that Upperman’s book is probably the best book out there that touches on xenophobia.

Overall Rating: God, the writing was so flat.  I think I’m just going to give it a D and call it a day.

A Mutual Break Up (Well, the Series Ended): Geek Girl (5 &6) By Holly Smalle

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a double review.  So, yeah…double review time.  Disclaimer: before I begin this thing, I have already read and reviewed the first four books of this series.   To recap I started really liking this series and my feelings have sort of settled to meh by book four.

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This series eerily reminds me of The Princess Diaries, which is a good and bad thing.  Good at the beginning of the series, bad by the end.  And to Meg Cabot’s series’ credit, I do think that by the end of the series, several of the issues I had with Mia were resolved.  With Harriet…I hated her still by the end of the book series.

That being said, let’s dive into the double review so I can explain my grievances against Ms. Manners.

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“My name is Harriet Manners, and I will always be a geek.”

The fifth book in the bestselling, award-winning GEEK GIRL series.

Harriet Manners knows almost every fact there is.

She knows duck-billed platypuses don’t have stomachs.
She knows that fourteen squirrels were once detained as spies.
She knows only one flag in the world features a building.

And for once, Harriet knows exactly how her life should go. She’s got it ALL planned out. So when love is in the air, Harriet is determined to Make Things Happen!
If only everyone else would stick to the script…

Has GEEK GIRL overstepped the mark, and is following the rules going to break hearts all over again?

Source: GoodReads

This one was cringe worthy on so many levels.  By this point, Harriet is suppose to have developed as a character somewhat.  But she hasn’t.  If anything, I feel like each of these books goes on a cyclic pattern of of character regression that seems to resolve itself by the end of the book.  Only to reset itself by the beginning of the next installment.

Hell, I skimmed through the 400+ pages in less than 90 minutes and really didn’t miss much.  Want the basic outline for one of these books , here you go:

  1. Harriet starts out with an annoying introduction of how perfect her life is (it’s not).
  2. Something happens that causes her to freak out and act like an ass-could be as simple as having a pimple or not getting a modeling job (because she’s an ass).
  3. Harriet overreacts
  4. This causes people to (rightfully) hate her.
  5. Somehow she gets hired for a modeling job when she really shouldn’t.  Because God knows, girl is a liability.
  6. Exotic local photo shoot time!
  7. Obsession about boys/friends
  8. Time to make an ASS over self again.
  9. Harriet’s parental units act like asses because she had to pick it up from someone.
  10. At this point in the book, if this was a movie there’d be a sad montage.
  11. Somehow the problems are simply resolved with a couple of conversations.
  12. Harriet’s life is perfect again!

Seriously, that is your typical Geek Girl novel.  This one was especially more squirm inducing than the rest with all that Team JINTH nonsense.

I was hoping by this time that Harriet would’ve matured a little bit.  But she has not.  Again, I think she’s regressed.  I also wondered as I read this book if she’s on the spectrum.  It really would make sense in a lot of ways.    Especially if it was undiagnosed.  But nope, Harriet is just an ass and nothing else which is a shame.

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I wanted something to explain her actions, but other than her being an ass there’s nothing to explain her lack of social decorum or lack of empathy.

Besides, Harriet’s unrealistic actions.  This book like the others is just ridiculous when it comes to modeling.  Honestly, I feel like America’s Next Top Model does a better job portraying the industry and that’s saying something.

To be frank about it, had this not been the next to last installment of the series I probably would quit here.  Just like a cameo-supporting character in this book I was ready to tell Harriet goodbye.

Overall Rating: A C-.  I mean, it follows the formula to a T and that’s not exactly a good thing.

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My name is Harriet Manners and I’ll be a geek forever…

Harriet Manners knows almost every fact there is.

Modelling isn’t a sure-fire route to popularity. Neither is making endless lists. The people you love don’t expect you to transform into someone else. Statistically, you are more likely to not meet your Australian ex-boyfriend in Australia than bump into him there.

So on the trip of a lifetime Down Under Harriet’s to-do lists are gone and it’s Nat’s time to shine! Yet with nearly-not-quite-boyfriend Jasper back home, Harriet’s completely unprepared to see supermodel ex Nick. Is the fashion world about to turn ugly for GEEK GIRL?

It’s time for Harriet to face the future. Time to work out where her heart lies. To learn how to let go…

Source: GoodReads

Talk about Princess Diaries similarities, this book’s title is almost identical to the last book in the first series.

Pretty much what I said about the standard formula applies to this one but with two big differences.  Smalle decides to throw a curveball with her audience and adds a serious dramatic plot point to this installment that is suppose to be a poignant moment from the series.

Spoiler alert: it’s not.

Instead, it felt oddly placed and I was like I’m really suppose to care for this character….Also, the character’s death was ridiculously fast.  Especially considering that Harriet didn’t even know said character was ill and then once she knows she kicks the bucket within the span of a week.

Le sigh.

So, the big death.  Didn’t really make a difference to this book.  The other thing that was different about this particular installment was the love triangle.

Going back to The Princess Diaries series…because I can’t help but think of that series when I read the Geek Girl books.  PD had its own love triangle that was hit and miss with many fans.  At the time I first read the book, I liked it and wanted Mia to jilt Michael because I was tired of Michael and knew it would be the unexpected choice.  Looking back, that was kind of dumb but JP and Mia even made more sense than Jasper and Harriet and that’s saying something.

As far as Jasper is concerned, I really view him as being a background character that was randomly added to give Harriet more of a social life.  I honestly found his attraction to her to be out  of place.  This is in contrast to the PD series where at least JP’s attraction to Mia is relatively explained.

TBH though, I find it hard to believe that anyone would be attracted to Harriet.  She really is a horrible character.  As I had mentioned she does not grow any at all throughout the books and her quirkiness is no longer cute.  In fact, I really do believe that the character is on the spectrum and undiagnosed.  It was really the only thing that kept me reading and from outright wanting to throttle her, but I digress.

At the end of the day, I was relieved when I closed Forever Geek.  This is one series that sort of left me with a sour taste in my mouth.  There was definitely potential with this series but rather than expanding upon said potential it was squandered and left a bit of a mess.

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If you want a fun light hearted series, I’m not going to be recommending this one.  Check out it’s obvious inspiration (The Princess Diaries) some of the middle books might be blah but at least Mia grows as a character.  Harriet does not.

Overall Rating: A C

 

The Biggest Question is Was There Octopus Sex: Part of Your World by Liz Braswell

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What if Ariel had never defeated Ursula? Five years after the (twisted) events of the film, Ariel is now the queen of Atlantica, and Ursula is running Eric’s kingdom on land. But when the sea witch threatens Atlantica once more, Ariel finds herself returning to a world (and a prince) she thought she’d left behind forever.

Source: GoodReads

Liz Braswell is far batting 2-0 for me in her Twisted Tale series (otherwise known as Disney sanctioned fan fiction).  To the point, where I was at the point of not even bothering with these books anymore. Because they’re all sort of pathetic.

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Only thing is, I really was obsessed with The Little Mermaid when I was a kid and as I grew up I couldn’t help but realize how stupid and incredibly lucky Ariel was.  This premises sort of was like my ideal fan fiction BUT Liz Braswell was writing it so my hopes weren’t up.

I’ll be frank, it exceeded my expectations but it still wasn’t a good book.

If you’ve seen Linday Ellis’s review of the Disney live remake of Beauty and the Beast many of the things she points out that failed with that movie were similar failures that this book had.  Most notably, it tried to correct with much epic failure the problems the movie.

I.E. that Ariel is a lovelorn idiot.

How is this fixed?  We are told Ariel is now a powerful queen who wears her hair in braids and that’s pretty much it.  Just FYI, Ariel wears her hair up in Little Mermaid 2 and is even a bigger idiot in that movie.

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And forget about development with the Eric/Ariel relationship.  They pretty much want to just shag each other without getting to know each other.  Much like in the movie.  Except Ariel wears her hair up….oh, wait Little Mermaid 2.

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And speaking of sex, you know being married for at least eight or so years that Vanessa (Ursula) and Eric had to consummate their relationship, but this is never even addressed.  But still, I know I couldn’t help but think throughout this entire book how Eric was feeling about having sex with an octopus for the past eight years.

However, there were so many dumbfounded boneheaded idiot parts about this book that I was just shaking my head over.

Like, the ruling of Eric’s kingdom.  His parents are still alive, yet Ursula is still able to make all the military decisions and the kingdom just goes for it…Or for that matter, if Eric and his parents are still technically the rulers  how is Ursula pretty much usurping the kingdom with no magic and then gets afraid of the marriage contract.  Or if Ariel is using the power of the triton why is she still so weak, except putting her hair in a bad ass bun?  And why is her punishment to be queen most people want to be mother fucking queen?  And for that matter why send the mother fucking queen to clean up the mess, you’d want to protect her surely there’s some sort of mermaid CIA or something?   Save for the annoying OC seagull character that Braswell brings on because I guess she wants to make it her own….And again, how come Eric didn’t realize Ursula was an octopus when he had sex with her, because based on the conversation they had about producing an heir you know they had to at least copulate once….

Ugh, writing this paragraph just frustrated me.  But as you can see from it, this book was just full of plot holes.  I wanted to take Braswell out of the story and rewrite some of the aspects myself.  That is how frustrated I got with it.

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Still though, a part of me enjoyed it because…nostalgia goggles?

I mean, if you took away the crap plot holes and the bad characterization there was potential here.  It was a contender.  I just…Braswell just makes me angry.

I really wish Disney would try to hire other  YA authors to take some these stories.  To be fair, this was an improvement than the previous installments I read.  But that’s not really saying a lot.

Overall Rating: If I think it’s a D.  If I’m being generous maybe a C.  It kept me entertained at least.

 

Better Known As Greek Mythology and Captain Hook OUAT Crossover Fan Fiction: A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

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King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?

Source: GoodReads

If you read this blog regularly, you know that YA fantasy and I usually don’t mix.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy the idea of a fantasy in general, and I have read a few good ones.  It’s just at the end of the day, they are usually highly flawed in some sort of way.  Usually I find they follow the same derivative and are just too blah for my tastes.  And I get angry, I always get angry with YA fantasy (hence, why it’s rarely on this blog even though it’s the prevailing subgenre these days)

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I really do like Greek mythology though, which was why I gave A Touch of Gold a chance.  Overall, I didn’t think it was bad, but the characterization was on the weak side.

This might’ve gone hand and hand with the pacing that seemed to be going at warp speed at some points in the book.  I wanted more moments before the action started.

There was so much possibility here.  One thing that I had wished had been explored in more detail would’ve been the relationship between Kora and Midas.

I mean, just telling me they were estranged after the great touch incident isn’t really enough, I wanted more regarding this rather than the weird love triangle that sort of develops on the ship.

That might just be me though.

At the very least, it would’ve given Kora more depth.  I mean, she was a bit of a bore.  I get it, she was sheltered throughout most of her life, but would it kill her to have a bit more personality than woo is me my skin is gold.

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Also, she is ridiculously naive.  I get it, isolation.  Though, to me being isolated from society would make me a bit more cynical.  Not going to analyze this too, too, much though, because different folks different reactions to life.  But come on, girl, get a brain…

I will say, even though I felt short sided on the plot and characterization, there was potential in this one.  I did like how this was a continuation of a Greek myth, and there was a nice set up to it.  Illy paced, yes. but nice.  However, I felt like the world that it was based on was lost for a story featuring pirates of all things.

Pirates are good and all, but when you have a story featuring Greek mythology and they just randomly show up one is kind of like WTF!?!?!??!?!?!?!?

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Or at least I was.

Especially when the pirates took over the story and the Greek mythology sort of fell to the wayside.

It was just sort of weird.

Again, not a bad book.  I just felt like it offered more and didn’t deliver.

So, at the end of the day.  Do I recommend this one…um, maybe as a library read.  I mean, I don’t regret reading it, but I’m not continuing on with this if is indeed a series and I am likely going to give away my copy, so take that for what it’s worth.

Overall Rating: A C+ good potential, execution was sort of wobbly.

I Kept Thinking of the Shake Weight; To be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin

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Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her sister goes off to college. But if she can just get through senior year, she’ll be able to escape to college, too. What she doesn’t count on is that her mother’s obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss show, and now Savvy’s mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats.

Between her mom’s diet-helicoptering, missing her sister, and worrying about her collegiate future, Savvy has enough to worry about. And then she meets George, the cute new kid at school who has insecurities of his own. As Savvy and George grow closer, they help each other discover how to live in the moment and enjoy the here and now before it disappears.

Source: GoodReads

Full disclosure, I kept thinking of the Shake Weight throughout this book. The mother is on some show called Shake the Weight and that was just what stuck with me throughout the entire book.  So, sorry, not sorry you’re getting that stuck in your head too.  Those things are useless BTW.

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Digression aside….

I was pleasantly surprised by this one.  I probably have made it pretty clear, but I have a low opinion of Swoon Reads.  Usually their premises are spot on but fail epically for me.  This one, was tolerable.  Grant it, I sort of ignored the romance.  It is the most cringe worthy and useless thing about this book.  Everything else though…I could get behind.

When I read this, I read it more or less of a story about Savannah coming into her own skin.  The weight bits annoyed me, especially with the mother being so out there.  But there are stupid  people out there like that.  I like that it never stated what exact size Savvy is (I picture her looking like the cover model, BTW but with better clothes).  For the most part, I would say that Savannah’s weight isn’t the primary focus of the book (thank God) but it does play a role with her relationship with her mother which is unfortunate.

I felt that the mother was unrealistic.  I get that there are people out there who become warped by reality TV and become hyper focused on ridiculous things like Savannah’s mother but it still flummoxed my mind how relatively put together she felt at some moments and bat shit crazy she was at others.

And I really felt as far as family problems go, this was left fairly unresolved to a degree by the end of the book.  Because really, Savvy’s dad is the worst.  Well, maybe her mom’s the worst, but her dad is a close second.

There is another subplot involving a journalism story that illy fits in with the rest of the story about as bad as the romance fit in, but at the same time I wanted more of the journalism story.

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Again, could care less about the romance with banal saxophone player.

BTW, my father plays the saxophone.  That is enough to have me find a love interest repulsive.  This I guess is a pet peeve, but still thinking of your father when you should be thinking of the love interest it’s not exactly a good thing.

I will say as boring as the romance was it was fairly realistic if you get past the gross meeting between the two of them where the LI is described as being some YA Adonis.  I mean, it seemed something that could happen IRL which is better than I can say for a lot of YA books.  Still that doesn’t mean I liked this aspect of the book.

Again, I really don’t think it should’ve been in the story.

Overall, To Be Honest isn’t a perfect book.  I enjoyed aspects of it, but at the same time there were parts of the book that I found to be poorly added on to the book and that didn’t really add to the story.  As far as a Swoon Reads book goes though, this one was halfway decent.

Overall Rating: A B-

This Belongs in a Giveaway Box: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

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When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Mia and Jules’ different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race’s secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race…

Source: GoodReads

Indiana Jones is probably one of my favorite trilogy of films.  I do not consider that asshat abomination of a fourth movie to be included in the series- in fact, I notice that a lot of networks don’t since they don’t show it when they’re airing an Indiana Jones marathon (which is like every weekend it seems).   That being said, YA authors just don’t….compare yourself to that series.  It’s an invitation for your reader to get drunk out of misery of being duped.

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Don’t blurb your book to be like Indiana Jones.  Because it’s never going to live up to mine and many film nerds expectations.  Unearthed might’ve DNF’d because of this comparison.

Okay, so there were other reasons that this book was DNF’d but comparing it to Indiana Jones was probably one of the biggest faux pas.

Sigh…

Spooner and Kaufman are known for producing sci-fi books together.  I have a lukewarm relationship with sci-fi.  I like it in theory, BUT I find a lot of sci-fi to be homogeneous and really just a stand in for YA dystopia where the alien planet is really a stand in for a dystopia Earth.  This sort of fits this pattern, especially since I getting lots of Captain Planet vibes with the pollution of the Earth bits and the freaking Gaia mentions.

When one thinks Indiana Jones one thinks action.  The action in this book is sort of meh.  I mean, the first chapter is interesting enough but it really feels like someone who is trying to write an action scene for the first time and sort of succeeds but not really.

I mean, all the elements were there, but was I intrigued not really.  The tone of the book just felt really stilted.  The book itself was in two points of view, BUT I didn’t feel either Mia or Jules.

In regards to Mia I thought if she was that destitute how did she have all that money to make her hair look so freaking awesome.

In regards to Jules, if he was really that rich/important why didn’t his parents send body guards?  It’s really not explained.  Also, he’s a scientist.  Because, I guess Indiana Jones is a scientist?

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Thee archeological mystery is weak too.  The reason the first three Indiana Jones movies work they’re identifiable. They all encompass quests involving items that are relevant to three religions.  There is significance in the items they’re looking for with the abomination movie and in this book I could care little to less about because they involve an alien world that I have no commitment to or knowledge or-save for the info dump done by the Russian Tolt in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and by Jules in this book.  I mean, if we’re going to have aliens can we just have the dude from Ancient Aliens make an appearance because he’s entertaining at least.

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And let’s be honest, info dumps are never entertaining.

I watch Ancient Aliens pretty much every Friday to help unwind my seemingly over stimulated brain.  That being said though, when you try to have an archeological mystery built around them in a dystopian world…well, things sort of become half baked.

I kept thinking can we get away form the typical man is evil and destroyed his world with greed and pollution plot line.  I mean, I have Captain Planet for that.  Not Indiana Jones.  If we’re going to do an Indiana Jones-ish storyline.  We need some Nazi punching or something.

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Anyway, from my comments you see that I got bored with this one quickly.  As a result I DNf-d it.  I don’t know if the DNF is more my expectations weren’t met because Indiana mother fucking Jones comparisons or if the book was just meh.  I’ll concede that it was probably a combination of both.

A Book I Finally Liked This Summer: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

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Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?

Source: GoodReads

I bought a few Jenn Bennett books after finishing Starry Eyes to save for a rainy day.  If you’ve seen the shit I’ve read this summer, you know it was a very rainy day in reading land for me so I decided to break out the last YA book of Bennet’s that I haven’t read The Anatomical Shape of the Heart.

You can definitely tell it’s an earlier work because it was not as good as her other contemporaries.  That being said I did enjoy the book and it was a nice break from the shit I’ve been reading (don’t worry I read The Kiss Quotient  right after so the shit quota for the summer of 2018 has continued if you like hearing about me being miserable, which I’m sure some of you actually do).

I think if I was to describe this book in one word it would be deliciously weird.

The subject matter, drawing dead people is morbid in itself and there are a few chapters that get fairly graphic and remind me why I didn’t have the guts to go to medical or veterinarian school.  Dissections in high school always made me feel borderline cautious too, come to think of it…anyway, if you can get through the slightly creepy subject matter, the book is pretty good.  Even though it’s pretty much about nothing.

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Unlike, Starry Eyes and Alex, Approximately   which both have a respectable plot (even though like this book are fairly focused on romance, and summer romance at that) The Anatomical Shape of the Heart (that is a mouthful) is quite flimsy.  I mean, there is a plot but it’s not really the focus of the book if that makes sense.

To explain it further, in Starry Eyes there was an ongoing plot line with the family dynamics that affected the romance.  With Alex, Approximately there was a You’ve Got Mail-ish subplot that winded its way through the book as well, with this book there’s sort of a plot but it doesn’t really connect as well as the other two books plots did.

And to be fair, this book is much shorter than Bennett’s later contemporaries.

Don’t get me wrong, the books not bad by any means.  I did think the relationship with the love interest moved a little fast and some of the subplots really I thought were shafted over, but it wasn’t bad.

It’s just not my favorite Bennett book.

Even though, I thought the romance was rushed I still enjoyed the chemistry that the characters showed.  Bennett really has a talent for that.  I will literally ship any ship she writes, even though I knew I shouldn’t be into this ship the way I was.

Would I call this book good…um, in terms of plot not so much.  I mean, there were a few interesting things that happened during the course of the story, but I wouldn’t say it really made the book or for that matter connected with anything in the book.  The characters also while interesting, were nowhere near the quality of Bennett’s future characters.  HOWEVER, if you don’t look at any other Bennett books I would say it’s decent.  Or at the very least, it’s better than the recent shit I’ve been reading.

Despite having a slightly morbid twist to it, I found the characters relatable.  I liked the relationship and I did think there was potential.  I just think there was just something awkward about this book, thankfully it seems that Bennett has improved with time.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it a B.  I really should probably give it a B- BUT I enjoyed it so that’s giving it that bump up to regular B status.  If you like Bennet’s work you should check this one out, just be prepared to be a little disappointed.