Eight Steps to Write a Cliche YA Fantasy: Frostblood by Elly Blake

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The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Source: GoodReads

I remember when I read Red Queent that I commented that it was pretty much standard cliche YA fantasy.  However, I’ll give Red Queen credit for being mildly entertaining and attempting to try something because after reading Frost Blood it seems like its not trying one fucking bit.

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 I know, I already wrote a recipe for cliche YA fantasy with with Red Queen, but hey, since YA fantasy isn’t being original why should I be that original with my reviews.  For those of you who want the Red Queen derivative of the recipe you can click here.  So, without further ado here’ s how you can make your very standard very cliche YA Fantasy using these ten eight easy steps with  Frost Blood as a guidepost :

Step One You Must Have a  MC with a Special Power or Some Sort of Specialness.  

In this case, we have Ruby and her power is the power of fire.  Get it, ’cause her name is Ruby.  I should’ve added that her name has some symbolism shit involved in it, but I’m not.  Her power is like forbidden in this fantasy dystopian world that makes her ultra special, especially since everyone is killing fire bloods off.

Step 2 The MC’s Family Gets Killed or Put into Dangerous Peril Which Gets MC in Some Dicey Situation

Check. Check. Check.  Ruby’s mom gets killed within the span of fifteen pages and she’s thrown into jail accordingly.

Step 3 MC is Rescued by Mysterious Rebel Group

Yep, by two hooded figures one’s an old  monk and the other’s a grumpy guy that has a tragic backstory.  You can totally tell that the old monk’s going to be the love interest, right?

That’s sarcasm by the way.

Of course, the old monk’s not the love interest its the rude broody guy who keeps his face covered-we later learn becuase he’s disfigured.  But still has breathtaking eyes-’cause you know this is YA and these books have to be a little bit shallow.

Step 4 MC Has “Problems” Controlling Her Power But Essentially Solves Them in a Book Montage

Because we need a montage…..every book’s got to have a montage…but without a catchy theme song unfortunately.  No just boring passing of time scenarios where the MC does boring shit for a few pages and we are told she has control over her powers with not really any progress shown save for maybe the occasional scene of verbal banter.  She just needs  that to get good enough to deal with the ridiculous tournament/competition that happens in these books because said tournament in Hunger Games, Throne of Glass,  etc. (though I digress about Throne of Glass, but people disagree with me so…)

Step 5 The Ridiculously Hard Tournament/Gladiator-ish Competition that Our MC Defies the Odds

‘Cause we have to show the MC is bad ass.  Of course, she’ll struggle a bit but you know she’ll survive when no one else does…  Also, again Huger Games and Throne of Glass did it so we should do it too.

Step 6 Someone in the book has a secret royalty

Big spoiler twist it’s not the MC, but there’s always the second book.  And considering little was said about daddy dearest I’m sure that bombshell is a coming.

Step 7 Standard Fantasy Prophecy Made about Saving the World

Enough said.

Step 8 Obligatory Sequel Even Though Book is Resolved

Uh, duh. $$$$

Okay, I tried to think of two more steps but totally failed at that. The OCD part of me is annoyed though because I wanted a whole ten steps of cliches, but considering this book has two more installments coming out I think there’s plenty of room for it to fit more cliches in here.

The thing is even though Frost Blood is extraordinary cliche, the writings not half bad.  I was able to get through it pretty fast-grant it, after about page 200 I started skimming pretty hard.  Mainly, because the book was so bland.  There were no interesting characters, they were all pretty much your typical archetypes of a YA fantasy.  And honestly, after I finished reading Frost Blood  I just felt a mixture of sadness and anger.

Has the trend on YA fantasy gotten to the point where anything that’s halfway decently written with the requisite tropes tends to get published?

With Frost Blood it would seem that way.

And honestly, I shouldn’t be that surprised.  The same thing happened when YA paranormal got oversaturated, the YA dystopia, and New Adult.  So, it really shouldn’t surprise me that the fantasy shared the same fate.

The thing is, it just seems more glaring obvious to me with high fantasy than those other genres. I think maybe it’s because the sky’s sort of the limit with this genre.  And YA tends to take it in only one direction. Does that mean, I don’t expect to see tropes?

No.

I get it that tropes are going to be a part of most things, but its how you utilize them and make them your own.  And unfortunately, it seems with YA fantasy that’s not the case.

Overall Rating: A C- hardly original but it’s not the worst thing I ever read.

Creepy: Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Hedicker

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Sixteen-year-old Jaxon is being committed to video game rehab . . .

ten minutes after he met a girl. A living, breathing girl named Serena, who not only laughed at his jokes but actually kinda sorta seemed excited when she agreed to go out with him.

Jaxon’s first date. Ever.

In rehab, he can’t blast his way through galaxies to reach her. He can’t slash through armies to kiss her sweet lips. Instead, he has just four days to earn one million points by learning real-life skills. And he’ll do whatever it takes—lie, cheat, steal, even learn how to cross-stitch—in order to make it to his date.

If all else fails, Jaxon will have to bare his soul to the other teens in treatment, confront his mother’s absence, and maybe admit that it’s more than video games that stand in the way of a real connection.

Prepare to be cured.

Source: GoodReads

I DNF’d this sucker in less than 50 pages.  Full disclosure, I’ve noticed lately after I binge a series there’s a higher rate for me to DNF and unfortunately for this book I finished it after I binged on A Court of Thorns and Roses and the Travis book series respectfully.

It stood no chance.  But it probably would’ve helped had the book actually been good-I’m just saying.

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Second disclosure, I’m not really much of a gamer.  The only gaming system I ever owned was the old NES system that my dad bought and eventually got tired of and gave to my sister and I,  and my mom was ridiculously strict about not letting us play on it and hid it from me  and my sister, and then lost it when she hid it and refused to get any other gaming system for us, so most of the gaming I’ve done besides the old old versions of Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario Brothers 2, and that crappy Where’s Waldo game,  oh and Tetris, has been  primarily  PC games.  Mostly the Nancy Drew games.  I found that my mom couldn’t pick up a desktop and take it a way, so those games made a lot more sense to me.  Plus, she could never complain about Nancy Drew.  She though they were educational (and she was right to some degree, but not really).

As an adult, I don’t have a gaming system either because of budget reasons and again, I’m more prone to play something on my computer.  Though, I am more than a little pissed off at Her Interactive these days for not releasing any credible update on Midnight in Salem (it has been 2 years, Her, and don’t give me that bull-shitty excuse that you’re changing engines even Miss Freaking Clue has been able to produce and update its games faster than you…)

Digressing aren’t I?

Guess that happens when you’re trying to talk about a book you only read 50 pages on.  Hell, I thought awhile before even drafting a review of this like if it would even be worthwhile pointing out what bothers me about it.  Well, I decided it would.  But this is going to be a bullet point review:

  • We didn’t really see the character at rock bottom: I mean, yeah he was in his room all the time gaming.  But the MC pointed out he has a 4.0 at school and it’s not like he does drugs or anything.  It seemed more like his dad and stepmom were concerned he wasn’t going to get laid.
  • Creepy Parents: Really, you want proof that your son/stepson is talking to a girl and demand to know her number or Facebook page and if the MC would’ve showed you this you would’ve let him out of rehab…priorities.  Also, stepmom is extremely young and it adds to the creepiness.
  • Creepy Rehab Center: Rehab does serve a purpose sometimes, but something about this place rubbed me the wrong way.  Maybe because I didn’t think the character’s problem was severe enough to warrant rehab.  Yes, 125 hours playing games in a month is a lot.  But honestly, if you think about it, its probably not that much in hindsight.  And honestly, if the MC is still functional (which he is) I don’t see the fucking point.
  • Creepy Counselor Cliche: Enough said.
  • Random hot chick  having instant connection with doofus MC.  Check.  At least she wasn’t a total MPDG but she was only in the book for about two pages so she might’ve actually been for all I know.

So, by looking at my bullet points I think I didn’t like the  book because there was just an overall a creepy book or it comes off creepy to me.

Overall Rating: DNF

Like TCM Lite : Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

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The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

Source: GoodReads

Okay, the blurb completely ruins the book because it pretty much reveals the entire plot of the book. And that is annoying.

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Sigh.

Also, is it just me or was it annoying that this book got all these You’ve Got Mail comparisons when a good chunk of the book deals with old movies and in turn the comparison should’ve been made to The Shop Around the Corner-which for all you non-classic film buffs, is the movie that You’ve Got Mail based itself on.

In fact, it’s sort of referenced in the movie.

Okay…so I probably watched that movie and too many old movies way too much but oh well.  I’ll have to say reading this book and all its old film references, was exciting to me.  It was like finally meeting with someone who shared your weird old hobby and this book did with its love for old films.  And wasn’t even TCM  snobby about it which was great.

As far as The Shop Around the Corner reduxes go, this one is pretty good.  Both characters are surprisingly well fleshed out and have imperfections.  I also liked the sleepy beach town setting for the novel.  I thought it fit appropriately with the tone of the novel, and the town had enough quirks about it where it was sort of a character of its own.

The romance is so of slow burn, and it really worked for me.  It takes awhile for Porter and Bailey to tolerate each other, let alone like each other and the growth of the relationship is enjoyable to see with its gradual evolution.   On the flip side, we also get to see how their online relationship grows as well.  And I’ll be honest I sort of love the hate to love trope when done right.  Especially when they finally admit that they want to be together despite all the  obstacles.

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One thing that did annoy me, was that the dad character wasn’t at least a little freaked out about the fact his daughter had a quasi boyfriend online.  Given all the shit that happened to Bailey in the past, you would think he’d be at least skeptical.  And for that matter, maybe it’s one too many Lifetime movies (for yours truly) AND being an extremely paranoid person I would really have issues if I had a teenage daughter who randomly met some dude who was trying to get her to fly across the country online.

I mean, that’s reality talking.  And normally, I would sort of give it a pass.  But given the ultra dramatic back story that this book has, it sort of had me raising a couple of eyebrows.

Another problem I had with this book was the random dramatic backstory.  It felt a little bit out of place, and in all honesty I felt like it served no purpose other than to describe why the main character was scared of guns.

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Um, because they’re guns. That’s why.

But really, that and a couple of the dramatic side plots could’ve been cut out and the book may have been better for it.  Honestly, I was sort of on the fence about it.  Which is why I rated this book lower than five stars on GoodReads.  Still though, it was a very enjoyable read.

Overall Rating: An A-

An Excuse to Use 90’s Gifs: Fireworks by Katie Contango

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From Katie Cotugno, bestselling author of 99 Days, comes Fireworks—about a girl who is competing with her best friend to become the new pop star of the moment—and all the drama and romance that comes with it—set in Orlando during the late-’90s boy-and-girl-band craze.

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.

Source: GoodReads

Note: I DNF’d this one at about 60 pages.  It was stale as old bread and predictable.  Cliche filled.  I was really hoping this would’ve been a nostalgia trip to the 90’s but it wasn’t.  Instead, it really could’ve been in 2017 save for the fact we’re not getting five million references to social media.  Which was nice because I often roll my eyes when authors decide to hide Twitter with Chirpy or whatever and Facebook by MyFace or whatever.  It’s annoying.

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So, so, annoying.  But so is using the 90’s as a setting when the period has nothing to whatsoever with the fucking book.

This is the first Katie Cotugno book I’ve read and likely I won’t read another one for a long time unless I get  good deal on it  or venture out to the library.  When I read the book I was unaware it was packaged but after reading a few pages and seeing the little Alloy imprint on it I wasn’t so surprised becuase God knows this piece of shit felt so, so, packaged.

The characters were really weak.  I barely remember the leads names and had to pause for a moment to recall them.  Dana is your typical best friend who is really talented but doesn’t realize it shit.  Olivia is the jealous best friend who you know is really going to be a shitty friend, but we won’t realize this towards the in.  Alex is the boy who will fall in love with Dana and ruin Dana’s relationship with Olivia.

Add a lot of midriff wearing and you have the mid to late 90’s save there’s no Britney and Justin which is just sort of sad.

Just saying.

To be honest, I only have vague recollections of this period of time.  I was still pretty young and my mom really didn’t like me listening to boy bands and she always seem to have me doing some sort of something during the CW Prime Time so instead of watching teeny boppers trying to be America’s Next Top Pop Starr my mother thought Judging Amy would be a better show for her young impressionable daughter to watch.

Well, it did get me interested in the legal profession (sort of), so I guess she did have a point.  Though, it still pains me that I did not get to watch Charmed when it first aired-thanks, Mom (not).

Okay, point is the late 90’s was the era of cotton candy pop.  It should’ve been fun to explore but it wasn’t.  More or less this swept up my fears in having a series featured in the late 90’s it was really more or less a tool to address social media and the changes it has had on teenage-hood.  But really, would it have killed Contugno to at least have one character wear a midriff?

I know it might seem like I’m asking for a lot, but there really wasn’t anything else in this book that felt  90-ish. Maybe it improves as the book progresses, but man I would’ve been exploiting those out dated pop culture references to the limit.

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Anyway, this one really didn’t work for me.  I was intrigued that it was going to use a period of time that’s really not that long ago but it just didn’t work on various levels.

Overall Rating: DNF.

Nothing Special But OK: The Wish Granter by CJ Redwine

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An epic, romantic, and action-packed fantasy inspired by the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, about a bastard princess who must take on an evil fae to save her brother’s soul, from C. J. Redwine, the New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Queen. Perfect for fans of Graceling and the Lunar Chronicles.

The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop.

Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown.

So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself.

But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul.

Source: GoodReads

I think a part of my reading experience was ruined by Robert Carlyle’s portrayal of Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon Time.  While the writing of the show has gone down the tubes a la Charmed by having black and white morality on the show Carlyle can still make his now demonized character seem complex.  And to be fair, the writing in the first two seasons and half made the character complex before they decided to give everyone on the show 1D morality .  I think it’s why I expected more from the Rumpelstiltskin character than I got.  To be fair, the book description made it seem more interesting to than it really was.

Which was really more or less a Rumpelstiltskin retelling where we get a bland peasant helping a princess who likes to eat pie.

We’re reminded that Ari likes to eat pie every other page of the book which is why I even bring that up.

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It’s really annoying since I just read about another pie loving princess a few months ago in Heartless.

To be fair though, I give props to Redwine for having a full figured MC it’s just that it annoyed me how we reminded of the fact she wasn’t the size of a twig every other page.  In fact, the villain states she’s fat at one point of the book and I just…I don’t know, I just wish that there wasn’t so much emphasis on her size.  Though, on a positive note Ari seems comfortable with her body so the fact that everyone is talking about the size of her butt isn’t really bothering her.

Then again, she has her mind on a lot of other things. So there’s really no time to focus on hateful vitriol.

When I first started reading this book, I thought it was eerily similar to Shadow Queen in its set up.  Two kids on the run from their stepmother, but then it changes.  The thing is like Shadow Queen it never reaches its fullest potential and never veered far enough from the source material to make it original.

The Rumpelstiltskin character, for instance, was as evil as they come.  About three quarters of the way through the novel, after he has done despicable after despicable thing Redwine tries to give him some backstory to humanize him BUT it doesn’t really work.  Maybe it would’ve been if it was a TV show (maybe).  But as it was, there just seemed no evolution for this character or his motives.

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The reason the Rumple character works on Once Upon a Time in the early seasons  is that they had spent time developing him throughout the series.  Here, the Rumpelstiltskin character is pretty much the stereotypical evil character.   Much like everyone else in this book is stereotyped to their specific role.

Aria besides liking pie is the princess who gets things done.

Sebastian is the handsome noble peasant with a sad backstory that helped her.

Thad is the douche brother who gets them in the bad situation from the get go, because his name is Thad and he’s an idiot.

Most of the world building here is loosely done.  Sure, there’s some stuff about fae but nothing out of the ordinary or interesting enough to keep you really that engaged.  And some of the stuff, about how the magic worked (specifically with the souls) was never really fully explained.  Like, can anyone remove someone soul?  Becuase it only seemed like a fae thing at first and then…

Yeah, complication not explained.  Just like the whole servant’s backstory.  The stupid brother who still gets to be king even though his sister and her peasant hero boyfriend save the day.

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It’s just a little ridiculous.

I think if you can look past the faults, this one is okay.  Great no, but okay.    Harmless would probably be the perfect word to describe it.  I mean, I don’t think it’s one I’m  really going to remember one way or the other.

Overall Rating: C+

 

Powerful: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Source: GoodReads

The Hate U Give is probably one of the heaviest YA books I’ve read in 2017.  It’s also probably one of the best.  This book is exactly why we need diverse books written by own voices authors. The perfection of this book  epitomizes this on so many levels.

The book is so relevant.  It’s educational. It’s pretty much worth all the hype its getting and needs to be to read at some point.

Unfortunately, the premises of Thomas’s debut is one that we’ve seen over and over in the news lately.  A young POC will be killed for seemingly no reason in what should’ve been a routine traffic shop or some other should be mundane event.  After hearing news story after news story, I literally cringed when I saw how Khalil reacted to the officer in the opening chapter.  Like, Starr I wanted to tell him to not say anything to not even blink and…it was too late.

The fact that I had such a strong reaction to a character who probably had only about twenty pages of the book alive says a lot about the writing.

The book handled the fall out of the situation properly focusing both on micro and macro reactions.  I liked that we got to see Starr’s reaction and how it affects her family, as well as how it effects her neighborhood too.

I really liked that the neighborhood itself was more or less a character in this story and that Thomas related to all the problems that the neighborhood had to the shooing.  I feel like it was very informative in explaining issues that inner city neighborhood’s might face-gang violence, police brutality, amongst them.

The book is heavily character driven.  While it deals mostly with the aftermath with Khalil’s death.  We not only get the ramifications that his death has on the community, but also on Starr’s life and on her relationships.  We get to watch Starr makes terms with who she is, her friends, and her relationship with her boyfriend as well.

I liked that there wasn’t one thing that consumed Starr’s life.  Usually, YA falls to the problem of a character having an unbalanced life-i.e. a lot of the time the main character finds herself wrapped up in relationship woes-but here the character has a lot going on.  Not only dealing with the aftermath of the shooting, but dealing with interpersonal relationships with friends and family as well.

If I was to point out some flaws, one thing that did bother me was that Starr never saw a therapist.  I know this is  a nitpick thing but girl had endured a lot, and I wished she had a professional to talk to.  There were clearly signs that she had PTSD throughout the book and I just wish that Thomas would’ve explored this a little bit more.

However, over that didn’t detract from the book.

If there’s YA book that’s relevant  and as good as the hype its getting this year, it’s The Hate U Give.

Overall Rating: A solid A.

The Nostalgia Shelf: Samantha and the Cowboy by Lorraine Heath

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Samantha

When she manages to get herself hired for the cattle drive, all of Samantha’s prayers seem to be answered. The hundred dollars she’ll earn will pull her family’s Texas farm out of ruin and pay off their debts. But keeping the cowhands fooled that she’s a boy becomes harder than she’d expected where one cowboy in particular is concerned.

The Cowboy

Matthew Hart wants two things: to forget the tragedies he witnessed on the front lines of the War Between the States, and to reclaim his cowboy life. The last thing he wants is the responsibility of a tagalong youngster on the cattle drive. His closed mind and hardened heart are territory best left unexplored, until a fateful moment turns his world upside down.

Matt discovers what and who “Sam” really is, and he is furious. But soon a stronger emotion takes hold, and bound by Samantha’s secret, Matt is torn between revealing her identity and his own sudden and frightening love for her.

Source: GoodReads

When I moved recently, I took a lot of the books that I had in my storage unit out and moved them into my new town home.  I bought one of those huge Container Store shelves so I was able to fit a lot more of my stash on there then I had been previously.  And I discovered a whole bunch of books I had in the past from a few years ago.  And I was like..hmm, might be fun to revisit them in a nostalgia sort of way.

So once a month or so-depending on how annoyed I get with some of these oldies-I’m going to start reviewing them.  All of these books have to be pre-2006 and I haven’t picked them up in the last five years.  Which brings us to Samantha and the Cowboy (that title is just cringe worthy enough).

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Samantha and the Cowboy is the first out of twelve or so books produced in the Avon True Romance series.  The series is supposed to be a gateway series into historical romance.  At least I think that’s what it is supposed to be.  However, after reading this book for the second time I think it would turn me off of romance.  And maybe that’s why I haven’t picked up a lot of western centric historicals because this one is cornball bad.

Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in Texas for most of my life (save for a horrible year and a half in Louisiana) but I really get annoyed with so called western slang.  It’s awful and I just want to say that nobody talks like that.

But the reckons and pardon me ma’ams were ridiculous beyond belief here.  I get that Heath was trying to make the book atmospheric but it added to the cornball-ness that was this book.

Oh yes, this book was corny beyond belief on so many levels.  Obviously, it is trying to be a rated “G” YA book but it’s so squeaky clean it’s ridiculous.  And no, that doesn’t mean I miss the seventy or so pages that are frequented in so many romance books describing someone’s  quivering member, BUT the fact that we spend a lot of the book focused on what color Matthew Heart (yes, that’s the hero’s freaking name) eyes are I just wanted a little more development.

I mean, the plot is pretty much non-existent.  The characters pretty much are making googly eyes at each other the entire time-well, Matt didn’t until he found out that Samantha Jane was a girl and then he goes on and on about how he didn’t realize she was a girl before because her curves are that obvious.

During all of this, I was thinking what would actually be cool would’ve been if Matt would’ve been bi and would’ve had feelings for Sam when she pretended to be a guy.  Is it so wrong that I want a gender bend story where the romance is two sided before the reveal?  And it would be interesting watching the characters interact with each other.

I want that book.

I didn’t get it here.

The reveal was probably the best part of the book and to be honest, it really wasn’t that great.  Sam almost drowns and Matt notices that gosh golly she has breasts and must be a girl.

I guess he never heard of man boobs.

Of course, after this Matt turns into an utter tool of a misogynist which I think the reader is supposed to find sexy because he’s supposedly so protective of Sam.

He’s not.

He’s a tool.

He threatens Sam throughout half of this that he’s going to turn her into the foreman, despite the fact that he knows her family is on the verge on poverty…but that doesn’t matter ’cause she’s a girl.  And has evil breasts.

Okay, he doesn’t outright say evil breasts, but he does talk about the problems a woman can cause on the cattle drive. So, I’m just paraphrasing it with the evil breasts talk.  But I guarantee you, if this book implies just as much.

And I just want to say goodbye to Matt at this point.

But because he’s the cowboy in Samantha and the Cowboy I don’t get that pleasure. Instead, I get to read about Sam being treated like dirt and how when Matt finally turns her into Jake it’s to protect her.  Because screw her family…

Oh, and side note, Sam’s brother was a real dick for sitting on his ass and eating bonbons all day and not even at least trying to do something to help his family.  I get he lost an arm in the war and all, but dude totally does nothing during the entire book.  You’d think at the very least he’d try to help his sister when he found out what she was trying to do rather than…um, yeah, that’s nice go cut off your hair and risk your life to go on a trail ride.

Ugh.

So as you can see, it hasn’t exactly been a pleasant revisit of a book for me.  But at the same time, I don’t think re-reading Samantha and the Cowboy has been a total waste of time.  If anything looking at it gave me an insight of how the genre has developed since the fifteen years that this book was published.

Overall Rating: A total fail.

Trend I Hate the Famous Youtuber: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

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When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Source: GoodReads

A YA recent trend that I cannot stand: the famous vlogger/Youtuber.

Because Youtubers are annoying (for the most part).

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Okay, that was a huge generalization and I feel bad about saying it for those of you who are not annoying Youtubers but I do get annoyed with a lot of Vine/Youtube  celebrities.  And I know the main reason we’re seeing them is the same reason we had a lot of characters be bloggers a few years back, it’s supposed to appeal to the reading (reviewing) audience and honestly it reeks of pandering.  And unless you’re part of the Youtube elite you’re not going to get that famous (just saying) though you’d never realize it by books like this one.

Seriously, it seems like every Youtube star gets a movie contract in this book.

No lie.

Plus, the whole book tube thing really annoys me.  Especially since a few known ones are sponsored and I just…if you’re going to review a product you shouldn’t be paid for it.

There I’m saying it (and if I go on even more about it, it’s going to get ugly fast).

So reading about all these pretty much talentless wannabe celebrities becoming famous overnight because they know how to apply eyeliner-um, I don’t think so.

Then why did you read the book, you might be asking?

Um, because it involved cons and even the summary showed that this book was going to have lots of diversity on several different levels.  And I have to get the book credit for that.  This book is very inclusive-people of all different races, nationalities, sexual orientations, and it even features characters with disabilities  and it’s refreshing since the book depicts what we see in real life.  However, there was something that felt oddly superficial about it.

It shouldn’t have.  I mean, it recited the right messages.  I liked how social anxiety and talk about the Autistic spectrum were brought up.  Those were good messages.  Some of the messages about feminism and intersectionality were good as well.  BUT and I hate to say this, it almost felt like the author was copying and pasting these messages so to speak.

Yes, she said the right words.  But the book almost felt like a PSA since I didn’t really feel these characters.  For example, Charlie is bi and her ex boyfriend is a close minded bigot and there’s one scene where they have a discussion where he states he doesn’t believe that bisexual people exist.  It’s told in Taylor’s POV and we see that Charlie is upset but where this could’ve dived more into Charlie’s emotions and her reactions it just stops there.

Note,  if I would’ve wrote this review a couple of years ago I probably would’ve remarked that the bigot boyfriend was depicted unrealistically because surely most bigots wouldn’t be that openly disgusting with their hatred but after last year I’m going to give this a pass and actually state that his reaction is realistic.  It’s a shame I have to say this because how he acted should’ve been considered cartoonish.  But horrible is now acceptable now by a stupid part of society and…I’m going to have to stop myself again before I start ranting about stupid frogs.

The other lead, Taylor, has social anxiety, is on the spectrum, and is heavyset.  I thought there were some moments that really went into the issues she faces really well then it was dropped really sudden.  Same with the romance this character had, it really was never developed much and disappeared whenever it needed to.

Hell, I didn’t really care if any of these characters even got into a relationship they all sort of well, blended in.  Which is a shame because the book had so much to offer…

To be fair though, it’s one of the better books I’ve read by Swoon Reads.  I have had such bad luck with this imprint, I’m almost at the point of washing my hands with it all together but this one interested me so I was like why not.

And to be fair, it wasn’t that bad.  I mean, like I said it was probably one of the most inclusive books I’ve read this year and it did have a couple of moments that I really felt were well written but then it sort of turned into mush.

So, do I recommend this one…yes and no.  If you like the Convention Geek trend that’s going on in YA and don’t get annoyed with Youtube celebrities you’ll probably like this one.  However, if you read that premises and see all those scenes of  potential and then get annoyed with all the mush in-between then…sorry?

Overall Rating: C+ a lot of potential here but in the end I didn’t care for this one.  Still, a C+ from this imprint is almost like an A so hey….improvements.

Cool Concept, Bro BUT…: Freya by Matthew Laurence

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Freya is myth. She is legend. And she’s about to make one hell of a comeback.

Sara Vanadi is more than she appears to be.

In her prime, she was Freya, the Norse goddess of love, beauty, war, and death. Now all that’s left of her legacy is herself. Her power comes from belief, and for an ancient goddess in the 21st century, true believers are hard to come by.

She’s been lying low for a few decades, when all of a sudden a shadowy corporation extends an offer: join them and receive unlimited strength and believers—or refuse and be destroyed. Sara chooses neither; she flees with the help of a new friend named Nathan.

With a modern power rising that wishes to bend the divine to its will, Sara decides to fight back—but first she needs some new clothes.

Source: GoodReads

Eh.

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This is a DNF but it’s a me not you DNF. I do think for the right person, this book might work but for me.  Not going to happen.

It had an interesting concept, don’t get me wrong.  That is why I picked it up after all, I don’t read a book that’s concept I know is going to dull me, I just didn’t like the execution.  Especially the depiction of the main character.

I get that Sara/Freya is supposed to be a goddess, but she comes off being completely unrealistic.  Much like the plot was a series of unrealistic events as well.  It seemed more or less like it was just an advertisement for the Orlando tourism circuit.

And I’ll admit it, when I first heard that the characters were running away to Disney World I was excited.  Until I actually read it and was like nope…just nope…

It just felt like an advertisement and as much as Freya was supposed to be this spunky fish out of water protagonist, I did not like her.  She seemed more like and idealization than a person (think the stupid MPDG cliche)

As a whole the book  felt very stilted.  And I didn’t care for Nathan either who was more or less an idiot just along for the ride.  Things might’ve improved but…

No just no.

By the time I got through about a hundred pages of this and could spot half a dozen plot holes, I really didn’t care to continue further.

I just didn’t have the time or patience to carry on.

There’s really not a lot to say other than that.  I just really didn’t care for this one because it had such a cool concept.

Overall Rating: DNF

#Cringe: #Famous by Jilly Gagnon

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In this modern-day love story, Girl likes Boy, Girl takes photo of Boy and posts it online, Boy becomes accidentally insta-famous. And what starts out as an innocent joke spirals into a whirlwind adventure that could change both their lives—and their hearts—forever. But are fame and love worth the price?

Told in alternating points of view, #famous captures the out-of-control thrill ride of falling for someone in front of everyone.

Source: GoodReads

Is there a Meme solely devoted to cringe worthy yet?

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I know there are face palm gifs and the like, and there’s a cat that represents grumpiness but is there a meme just for cringing?

Probably.  But because I get annoyed with internet fads-Come on, The Dress.  Really,that was a thing that people got obsessed with for a week or whatever-I’m not going to do anymore research than maybe do a quick search for cringe worthy gifs to put in this review, but if this book  itself could be a potential cringe meme or hashtag though it’s trying for something else.

Side note, when thinking about how to draft this review I thought about looking up famous internet fads and using them in this review.  BUT…to be honest those sorts of things annoy me.  Except that cat playing the piano and all those Corgis.  Got to love the corgis.  But I did not love this book maybe if it had a Corgi I might’ve been able to like it but…

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Inserting corgi picture because after this book it’s needed to bring balance to this world. 

There is nothing about this book I liked.  Grant it, I didn’t finish it.  I read about 200 pages of it.  But with those 200 or so pages, I hated it to pieces and and those Corgis that become viral sensations have more personalities than the leads in this book.

It’s bad guys.  So, so, bad.

So, the basic premises of the book is this idiot takes a picture of a guy says something stupid about her crush online.  Gets Lifetime-ish bullied while guy becomes popular because (Misogyny Trope 101) and we get the painful scene of an Ellen wannabe trying to get them together give a stupid daytime TV talkshow scheme-note, I might love daytime soaps for their campiness but their cheap counterpart I cannot stand.

There are probably some of you reading this review wondering why I even read this book in the first place.  After all, it looks like based on everything I said I would hate it since I am not a huge fan of internet fads.  And yeah…to some degree that is true, but I thought it could be interesting to look at how an internet fad explodes and the aftermath it causes the people it surrounds.

That does not mean, I thought I’d get a cliche story with two characters who are pretty much being forced to be together when they shouldn’t.

Even though I DNF’d this mother fucker, I snuck a peak in the end and I did not like what I saw.   I think for this book to end well for me, it would’ve been for Gagnon to not do the cliche thing which she did.  I really wish, for example, that Kyle-fry guy-was not a main character.

He’s not bad, per say, but he is a dumb jock and adds nothing to the story other than being a dumb pretty jock.

Grant it, Rachel’s not that much better.  She’s one of those girls I would feel sorry for, but at the same time it would be hard to be nice to her because she is just annoying.  I’d probably just ignore her to be honest, but really she’s obnoxious and will be just as obnoxious as her mother when she’s older.

Spoiler alert, major bad parent alert.  I don’t think anyone in this book has decent parents which is always a shame, I’d rather the parents just be absent if their going to be jerks but Rachel’s mother brings bad parenting to another level.  Kyle’s mom is pretty horrible too.

Needless to say, I don’t recommend this one.  In my earlier blogging days, I might’ve tried to make  this review more amusing.  Have the Beagle review it with a  series of her internet “memes” but I’m just tired of books like this.  Overhyped and just blah and annoying.  It’s especially annoying because fandom/internet famous themed books seem to be popular these days and I think I’ve only read about two books where I just didn’t cringe at how “fake” the book sounds.  I know I’m technically on the older side of the social media trends, but I know enough that not everyone who has a blog, log, or Twitter account is going to go viral.

And Gagnon (and any other author) don’t use fake social media sites when you really mean Twitter or Instagram.  Your audience is not stupid, we know what you’re really talking about just use freaking Twitter.  Same goes with your Ellen wannabe.  I was easily able to see who the talkshow host was.  Be less obvious if you’re going to go with the fake celebrity host.

God.

Overall rating, DNF.  I wish I hadn’t bought it.