Jane Eyre in Space: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

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Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.

But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet.

Source: GoodReads

Another day, another YA Jane Eyre retelling.  Someone get me a triple shot of vodka please.  Oh, I already used that in another review in recent past.  Too bad using it again.

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Seriously, though, I did not like this book.  Big surprise.  I feel like I’ve been saying that since Memorial Day.  God will this slump ever fucking end?

Don’t answer that, I’ll probably be disappointed.  To be fair, the last have been more meh reads than actual hate reads but still.  Is it so much to ask for a decent Jane Eyre retelling?  That was the question I kept asking myself as I read Brightly Burning and earlier in the weekend when I read My Plain Jane.

Unlike the previous book, Brightly Burning follows the source material pretty closely at least in regards to the romance.  If anything it overly romanticizes things and diminishes things like Rochester’s age to make the book more appropriate.

No.  Rochester is not nineteen it does not work.  If you’re going to do a Jane Eyre retelling you should keep the ages of the characters relatively similar to the original.

I’m just saying the dynamics aren’t going to work if Rochester is nineteen which doesn’t even make sense with the weird ass world building that’s going on here.

So, essentially this is Jane Eyre in Space!  Yeah, that’s literally what it is.  The space part is pretty much thrown in there.  They try to make Jane do something useful like be an engineer-I think Donne got that off of Cinder– but it really serves little purpose.

Much like Jane Eyre being in space served very little purpose.

The world building is pretty bad here.  And I’m not that strict with world building.  I mean, I can overlook a lot of things here but this literally screamed I’m going to set my story in space because that’s different and that equals a publishing contract.

I know, I know, I’m a very cynical person.

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I think what the general consensus of wrong-ness with Jane Eyre retellings is that they just focus on a random element of the story-usually the romance-and fail to capture what really made the book a classic.  I guess that’s expected since most of these YA writers are not near the caliber that Bronte was.  BUT…I still could hope that a book might be able to capture the strength of Jane without making her seem too much of a Pollyanna or to recreate the Rochester/Jane dynamic showing its thrones and all and not romanticizing Rochester.

I digress though…

This book Pollyanna-izes Jane plus it adds sugar upon sugar to the Rochester/Jane relationship where it makes my teeth hurt.

I get it governess themed stories are popular, but if you want to do a Jane Eyre retelling, you probably will want to actually flesh out the characters and you know keep elements of the original.  Meaning, don’t diminish certain plot points or try to justify Rochester’s actions to make the story.

Also, if you’re going to use space as your backdrop.  Do some actual world building and not have a random plot hole that is our big twist.

Overall Rating: A C.  It’s decent ( I guess).

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How Droll: My Plain Jane

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You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

Source: GoodReads

In theory this book could’ve been written for me.  It has all the sorts of things I love: Jane Eyre retellings, ghost hunting, a team of authors who wrote probably one of my favorite books in 2016.  But in the end the book sort of flopped for me.

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Note, I’m giving it a middle of the road rating though.  For all intents and purposes I have read way worse in 2018.  Which isn’t a good thing.  I’m honestly thinking of hitting some backlist books pretty soon to get me out of this rut of awfulness.

The concept of this book I said it cat nip for yours truly.  I am currently watching that stupid Ghost Adventures show (fondly referred to Ghost Douche Bros) while I am drafting this.  And yes, I enjoy Ghost Douche Bros more than this book.  Because at least that show has a sense of style about it that this book does not.

Hell, if I even knew how the mythology worked in this book when I finished it.  All I got is you die and come back to life you can see ghosts.  Okay…that really doesn’t make sense and there’s something called beacons that are never really fully explained…okay.

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Also, it make a fairly lousy Jane Eyre retelling.  Jane Eyre is one of those books that’s constantly retold over and over again in YA.  Some retellings I like better than others, this one really did not work.

I sort of hated the fact that Charlotte Bronte was included in the book.  I get that this was a fictionalization of the author and all that jazz, but I kept thinking of Charlotte’s actual life during this and was like no…plus, lady died extremely young so that sort of sours the ending besides the fact…

I get it’s alternative history but still.  CHARLOTTE BRONTE HATED JANE AUSTEN.  I just have to fucking say it.  There were so many Austen references I figured Ms. Bronte is rolling in her grave over them.

Also, the way Jane’s story is written completely ruins Jane Eyre. And yes, while I do find the romance between Jane and Rochester problematic, I found the ending of this book even worse.  It made me grimace at how they resolved things to hit at Jane getting a happy ending.

FYI, the look alike replacement love interest is never a good thing.  The reader doesn’t care if they look like X.  We can’t see X in the story.  We like X based on how he’s described his personality, not his looks.  Having a character fall in love with someone instantly because they look X just grates of my fucking nerves.  Not that I loved X here, but you get the idea.

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It’s a trope that needs to burn.

While My Lady Jane was full of humor and had an understated Princess Bride-ish quality about it.  This one one is like yeah we know we’re funny and trying to be like The Princess Bride let’s literally rift one of the most iconic scenes from the book and movie out and place it in the book.

All I have to say is My Plain Jane, you have offended The Princess Bride, prepare to die.

The one thing in this retelling I did like was that they expanded on the character Helen.  In the original source material, she merely is there to die.  While dead here, the character does have some growth development as a ghost which is nice.

I don’t really recommend this one if you loved the past book or are a fan of the authors or Jane Eyre.  It sadly doesn’t work.  However, it’s not a complete failure since there are some things about the book that interest me.  However, I really wasn’t a fan and the only reason it is staying on my shelf is I’m a bit peculiar about having an entire series on my shelf.

Overall Rating: A C+

Super Vanilla: Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian

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A summer read about first love, feminism, and ice cream.

Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best of friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…

Source:GoodReads

I have been on a  slew of shit reads lately.  Yeah, I know a harsh way to start the review, but I’ll just say it now, Stay Sweet isn’t bad.  It’s a little bland and other than the twist towards the end of the novel there’s nothing that really stuck out to me, but it didn’t turn me into a rage inducing Book Hulk like some of my other recent reads being said.

That being said, this book is a little forgettable.  I started writing my review about thirty minutes after I finished the book, only because I know it’s going to go from my memory fast.

What I liked about the book: it was very summery.  I like light hearted books in the summer time, and while there were a few darker moments in this book it was for the most part pretty light.  I mean, there’s only so many ways you can make ice cream dark.

I also found the characters to be relatively unoffensive for the most part, although bland.  Though I do have to say, the book overall underwhelmed me.

The blurb says that feminism is going to be a strong theme throughout the novel.  Honestly, other than one character’s decision I didn’t really see any shades of feminism throughout the book.  I looked.  So, to quiet the disappointment I am inserting a gif that defines feminism.

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I thought that this book could’ve been a strong story about female friendship, however the friendship ended up being a bad friendship and took a backseat to the kind of weird romance.

I did not like the ship in this book.  For one thing, there was a weird power dynamic that gave me the icks.  And for another, I really did not like Grady he seemed like a weak character who didn’t have a spine.  And I don’t do spineless and neither should Amelia.  But Amelia was sort of spineless too…so.

God, Amelia.  She is the main character in the book.  Though, the novel is not told in her point of view.  It’s in this weird stilted third person POV.  I don’t know if that’s Vivian’s typical style-this is the first book I read by her-but it just made the book seem off to me.  This is just a preference thing, but it just didn’t work.  It probably didn’t help that the lead was also extremely weak and pretty much devoid of any personality, other than she wants to work at the ice cream parlor for the summer.

The ice cream was the most interesting part to me.  I actually bought a fairly decent ice cream machine  this year, so I’ve been trying out different recipes and was interested in reading this.  However, I was just shaking my head at how ridiculous hard it was for these characters to make some decent ice cream.  Seriously, couldn’t they just invest in a copy of The Perfect Scoop already and call it a day?

Digression aside, I think Vivian did over complicate the process.   Probably on purpose to give the plot some extra fodder, but still.  A basic Philadelphia style vanilla isn’t that complex.  You’re not even making a custard, but I digress (again).

A lot of things were either over complicated or essentially all realities were suspended in order to add to the plot.  It annoyed me.  I also hated how a GoFundMe was essentially used to resolve all of the MC’s problems (including the rift with her friend) at the end of the book.  Did I mention I fucking hate GoFundMes.  Now occasionally, there will be a worth while cause up there, but its not an adequate way to raise money for a business.  And there is a lot of pandering that goes on on that website as well.

At the end of the day, I found Stay Sweet to be fairly inoffensive.  I just don’t think it’s one of those books that’s going to stick with me a week or so from writing this.  It wasn’t bad though.  If you like quick little summer time reads, you might want to give it a try, but it is far from perfect.

Overall Rating: C+

 

Phoned In: Listen To Your Heart by Kasie West

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Rating: An F.

Needs More Heart Pullage Less Teenage Angst: Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

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Zera is a Heartless – the immortal, unageing soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.

Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a Prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum; if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy her heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him – every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him – until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The Prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.

So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.

Winner takes the loser’s heart.

Literally.

Source: GoodReads

I get so tired of DNF’ing.  Seriously, my second DNF of the week.  I’m put out with it.  But after almost 200 pages of this one-I did give it the good college try-I couldn’t waste any of my time to it.

Perhaps, I was being too daring YA high fantasy and I usually do not mix.  They are heavily trope-y, and while I do have my fair share of tropes that I love the tropes often used in high fantasy aren’t my cup of tea-I mean, how many long lost princess stories can one have?

Bring Me Their Hearts intrigued me.  The idea of a heartless MC has intrigued me since Once Upon a Time did Cora’s backstory.

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Of course, Once Upon a Time being the show it was fucked the whole idea up.  But it was a great premises, and I looked forward to seeing how something similarly would be handled in book form.

However, Zera was probably one of the most immature brats I’ve seen in awhile in YA.  And mentally she’s suppose to be 19, so I really can’t blame her behavior totally on youth.  I mean, I’ve read 13 year-old protagonist with more maturity and grace than her.

I think with a character like Zera you expect angst.  But I didn’t really get the sort of angst I was expecting.  I was thinking I would get more gritty actual angst, than YA I’m a surly teenager angst.  I mean, come on, girl has her heart ripped out, is essentially some witch’s slave, AND her entire family was killed she should have issues more than the fact she can’t wear her so called slutty dresses.

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But I digress…

The crux of this novel goes into the standard typical forbidden love trope that high fantasy loves to play with.  I’m not a particular fan of this trope.  It’s not that it can’t be done right, it’s just that it usually isn’t.  Also, when you describe the love interest in a term that’s best used for plants and furniture makes me want to throw up a little bit in my mouth….

His face is his father’s, too, sun-kissed oakwood, and yet his eyes are his mother’s-piercign dark iron and sable darkness, and every part of me hates it-hates the fact that someone who’s to inherit so much power and wealth is striking as well (4)

Yeah, that was only four pages in.  The writing is this God awful throughout the entire book-well, the 200 pages I read.    I mean, look at this beauty

Two witches stand before us, radiating power; a bald man in an immaculately pressed gold-threaded suit and a woman with short, impossibly blue hair and a flowing gauzy dress that hides little of her midnight skin.  Both of them are so tall-though not as tall as Nightsinger-and with that same eeriness about them that gives me goose bumps (31)

Do I really need to fucking know that one of these witches has blue hair?  Seriously. Aggressive descriptions like this annoy me and weigh down the book.

It doesn’t help  that the interactions in the book seem unrealistic at best.  Like, the witch who has Zera’s heart…honestly, doesn’t seem that much of a bad guy.  But Zera detests her.  And then we get two other witches with one being just a complete a-hole.  Is this suppose to make me sympathize for the witch who has Zera’s heart because it seemed like a complete cop out to me?  Same as trying to save the children by killing them and making them zombies.

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Yes, save a child and make it them your own personal zombie solider.

Yes,  I said zombies.

Because Zera is a quasi zombie.  It’s really the best way to describe the heartless.  Though, she calls herself a monster.  I was like dude, just say zombie.  She has to eat raw flesh not to be totally out of control and I have to say it is an interesting twist if it ever amounted to anything.  But out of the 200 pages I read, the only thin I really ever saw was Zera getting stupid Princess Diaries 2 etiquette lessons and frilly dresses.  And no, just no.  I honestly, thought I was reading a recap of Throne of Glass for a bit with how pointless these scenes were.

Look, I like dress porn as much as any girly girl does, BUT when I am on a very limited reading schedule and its just adding unnecessary fodder to a book that is already filled with necessary fodder, I get annoyed especially when we’re almost 200 pages into a fucking book and little has been done developing any of the side characters.

The blurb heavily hints that romance is going to be a primary focus of the book, after all there is some weird sort of court ritual going on here.  BUT 200 pages into the book and you barely see interaction between Lucien and Zera.

I just didn’t like this one.

Maybe someone else will enjoy it more than me.  Maybe Zera stops being incredibly annoying .  Maybe Zera actually sort of deals with the fact that she’s a glorified slave and doesn’t have montages upon montages of dress porn.  But you know what, I didn’t care to stay to find out.  I don’t get to read as often as I used to, and when I do something this isn’t going to hold my interest.

Overall Rating: DNF

How to DNF In 77 Pages: The Art of French Kissing by Brianna R Shrum

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Seventeen-year-old Carter Lane has wanted to be a chef since she was old enough to ignore her mom’s warnings to stay away from the hot stove. And now she has the chance of a lifetime: a prestigious scholarship competition in Savannah, where students compete all summer in Chopped style challenges for a full-ride to one of the best culinary schools in the country. The only impossible challenge ingredient in her basket: Reid Yamada.

After Reid, her cute but unbearably cocky opponent, goes out of his way to screw her over on day one, Carter vows revenge, and soon they’re involved in a full-fledged culinary war. Just as the tension between them reaches its boiling point, Carter and Reid are forced to work together if they want to win, and Carter begins to wonder if Reid’s constant presence in her brain is about more than rivalry. And if maybe her desire to smack his mouth doesn’t necessarily cancel out her desire to kiss it.

Source: GoodReads

Oh, boy.

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I’ll be fair to this one it’s shit, but not shit in the sort of way where I’m raging.  It’s just bland shit, where I can really say I hate the love to hate trope.  Especially when it involves misogynist  assholes like Reid who I still can’t understand how the blurb thought it was reasonable to describe him as cute.

Reid is pretty much the defining reason why this trope can fail so hard.  Let me be frank, the enemies to lovers trope is one of those tropes I hate an ironic love/hate relationship with.  When done correctly it works amazingly (see It Happened One Autumnwhen it fails it can be worse than the very worse Dramione fan fiction (I shouldn’t be admitting that I even ventured into reading those but whatevs).

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Reid falls into what make me get my belly full of Dramione fan fics.  He is obnoxious.  A budding “well, actually” bro on the internet.  Within ten pages of meeting our MC he tries to destroy our MC but it’s all in the name of competition ya’ll so that’s okay.

The MC’s not that much better.  I really don’t know much about her other than she has the latest Star Wars merchandise which I guess is suppose to make he relatable.  Fun, really not related to this review fact, I have never seen Star Wars which is kind of weird considering what a huge Indiana Jones nerd I am.

You really didn’t need to know that.

Overall, the set up of the book really reminded me of Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous except there was no actual TV show here.  Still though, the formula stayed eerily the same.

And quite honestly, if you’re going to write the book like an actual recap of Chopped I’d be much better off actually watching the show or going on Previously TV or some other TV recap site on the internet and read their recaps.

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Seriously, what is the point of that?  Yes, I’m sure the cooking competition was suppose to show conflict but when your just giving us a blow by blow of what happens, not giving us a culinary point of view or anything…

Holy shit, I’m starting to sound like I could be one of those obnoxious judges on The Next Food Network Star I really need to stop it.  The point I’m trying to make though, is there was a lot of telling in this book not a lot of showing.  It felt stunted and very manufactured.  It didn’t really  anything about it that made it memorable or made me excited.

Again, it’s a shame.

I like reading about food.  This book took place in Savannah.  I went to Savannah last summer, I would’ve liked to relive that.  However, the book could’ve taken place anywhere.  Never mind that Savannah actually has a pretty big foodie scene,that would’ve been fun to explore.  No this book makes its self a fucking Chopped recap with a love interest that should just go ahead and get neutered because he is an obnoxious asshole.

What do I know though, other than I DNF’d this fucker.

Overall Rating: DNF

 

Bet On the Sanderson Sisters Not These Dweebs:The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

Source: GoodReads

Just because this book involves three sister witches that are resurrected do not think it’s going to be like Hocus Pocus.  That was my mistake.  This book sucked.  Hocus Pocus does not suck.  It is campy, awesome, and probably one of my favorite Halloween movies.

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This book does suck.  It annoyed for more than too many reasons to count.

The premises had everything I would want in a book.  The blurb makes it look like going to be atmospheric, that it’s going to be full of history, that there will be shades of female empowerment throughout the book…

Get those dreams out of your head, dear readers, because you ain’t getting it with this book.

Oh, there is a cake maker who makes forget me cakes that seem to feature lavender.  There is a lot of lavender eating in this book, which I really don’t understand.  I’m not a huge fan of lavender in food.  I like it in bath bombs and laundry detergent, but in food it can easily become overpowering.  Hearing about it just makes me gag a little.

But besides the mystic cake maker there really isn’t anything mystic about this small town by the island besides three people being murdered every summer and as a result they use it as a tourist attraction.

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Does that even compute with you?

I mean, it doesn’t to me.  If three people are randomly going to be killed every summer, I MUST have to go to said town to get killed right?

Um, no.

Then again, nothing computes in this book.  The big twist for instance.  It really didn’t work for me, really didn’t work.  Or make sense for that matter.  And then the way everything was resolved…it really left a nasty feeling in my mouth.

The one thing I got out of this book after I finished reading it was that this book really does not give a shit about consent.   This is felt very early on in the book when inappropriate advances towards the MC are used to facilitate a “meet cute” moment.

This is NOT a meet cute moment.  This is disgusting.  I don’t know why authors think that such a scenario would facilitate romance.  I guess they think the reader’s are going to go for the knight and shining armor type.

Note, that’s not the case at all.  When you are in an situation like Penny was at the beginning of the novel the last thing you’re going to look for is romance.  Even if your “savior” is a nice enough guy, you’re not going to want to instantly hook up with him because he eliminated a douche from your line up.  Trust me, it’s going to be the furthest thing from my mind and I’m sure the minds of most people who end up in that particular situation.

Yet, in YA books it’s ALWAYS used as a fucking meet cute.

While I don’t want to go into spoiler specifics-since the book was only released a couple of months ago-I do want to point out that this isn’t the only time where consent is flippantly handled.  Much of the book ignores the issues of consent in it, and it really soured the book more which I didn’t think was possible.

Because the pacing in this one sucked, ya’ll.  Sure there was the occasional cliff hanger murder thrown in here and there but it was more or less mentioned in passing and was always off screen.  The big climax of the book really didn’t work for me either it was just sort of random and didn’t really work.

I still don’t even get how the whole curse thing came to being.  And that might be my own fault since I started singing the skim song during this book.

Don’t know what the skim song is.  Well, since I am feeling in a generous mood I’ll give you a few lyrics.  Note this can be sung to “The Merrily Old Land of Oz”, “Skim, Skim, Skim, Skim, Skim, Ska, Skim, Skim/That’s How You Get Through All  This Shit by Skimming Skimming Along.”

And I was singing this song a lot through the book.  I didn’t care for any of the characters.  They all were cardboard at best.  The relationship between Bo and Whoever the MC was just didn’t work.  Bo was pretty much the random hot guy that comes into town with a secret.

It just didn’t work for me.

I just can’t believe the hype this book is getting.  It shouldn’t be getting this hype.  It shouldn’t be getting a Netflix deal.  It’s not worth it people.   I guess I can see some media company just using the essence of this book and making something great out of it, but for a direct interpretation itself.  Not so freaking much.

Overall Rating: Fail.  Fail.  Fail.

 

Her Name Should’ve Been Tinkle: From Twinkle With Love by Sandhya Menon

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Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

Source: GoodReads

I loved Menon’s debut but man her sophomore effort, I really, really, hated it.  There’s no other way of putting it.

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One of the things that bothered me the most about From Twinkle With Love was that I was never really able to find myself attached to either its characters or plot.  It just felt flat.  Also, Twinkle….gah, she annoyed me.

The book itself sort of has a little bit of Princess Diaries meets Boy Meets Girl feel to it.  I just realize I’m referencing two Meg Cabot books, surely that most be a good thing since I love Meg Cabot books, right?

Um, no.  At least not in this case.   Twinkle annoyed me.  Sahil annoyed me.  Twinkle’s idiotic parents and grandmother annoyed me.  Her best friend annoyed me.

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Everybody annoyed me.

Most of the story is told through Twinkle’s POV in letters to famous female directors.  A cute idea, but honestly after awhile I thought why not just have it be a regular diary.  There’s not really any connection to any of these directors except that Twinkle wants to be a famous director like them.  Even in Beverly Clearly’s Dear Mr. Henshaw, after awhile the main character drops addressing the letters to Mr. Henshaw.  It just seemed redundant after awhile.

Funnily enough, the lack of evolution with the salutation is also sort of synonymous with the lack of character development when it comes to Twinkle.  And God, I want to call her Tinkle throughout this review.

You know what, fuck it.  We’re going to call Twinkle Tinkle because I keep calling the idiot Tinkle in my head throughout the entire duration of reading this shit.  Did I mention that I hate this bitch?

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Based on that sentence alone, you can tell I’m not in a good mood.  Honestly, I felt frustrated throughout the entire reading process.  This was just not an enjoyable experience to read.

Usually, I am a fan of first person more than third person, but this is one case where first person did not work.  In fact, I actually preferred Menon’s first book which was in third person-that is a rarity for me.

Tinkle and I just did not get along.  I couldn’t connect with her.  At first I thought maybe it was because the narration sounded really young.  I know I’ve addressed this issue in the past in my blog, if it’s really a fault in the novel or not.  And in this case, I think it is.  I just had a hard time believing that a character with this maturity level was capable of being in a relationship and for that matter completing a movie.  She sounded at most she should’ve been twelve.  Actually, come to think of it, I know twelve year-old’s with better social skills than Tinkle.  Again did I mention I hated Tinkle….

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On paper, what Tinkle discusses throughout the book are good things.  I like books that discuss gender issues and diversity, but the gender issues was really more or less just randomly dropped a couple of times and that was it.  More of less, it was just used to give Tinkle’s movie original and give it credence and it annoyed me.  Especially since there was so much sexist behavior going on with the love interest, who even though he says he’s a feminist is just really an “Actually” guy.

God, I hate those fuckers.

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Sahil gets pissed because Tinkle because she thought her secret admirer was his brother not this random dude who obviously has a crush on her.  And it’s like her fault for thinking this and as a result we get the thirty page boo hoo scene of how it’s all Tinkle’s fault her life is shit.

Well, it might be in part but Sahil and Maddie are fucking idiots too.

I’ll get to the Maddie mess in a minute, after I eat some more of this watermelon sorbet infused with saki I made.  I need something to get this vile shit fest out of my head.

Watermelon sorbet

I needed a lot of sorbet after this book.

Okay, so yeah Sahil is a dick who has an inferiority complex because of his identical twin brother and Tinkle is somehow the bad guy.  And look, I don’t even want to defend Tinkle throughout all of this because she annoyed the shit out me…but portraying her as wrong in all of this GMAFB.

Anyway, now we’re on to Maddie.  If I was actually drinking while writing this review or eating watermelon sorbet I’d be rip roaring drunk right now because the book annoyed me THAT much.  That being said, Maddie is a terrible friend, terrible person.  Not really much else to say about her than terrible.

Not really much to say about these characters but terrible.

Terrible is the theme of the book, and it doesn’t only apply to characters but plot as well.

This book pretty much is about nothing.  However, unlike Seinfeld it fails at perfecting the art full of nothing .  I was so, so, freaking bored.  This book was a lot of tell and not a lot of show.   Really, nothing happened.  I was just told that Tinkle was making a movie, and somehow her movie was a success even though the production of it sounded more amateurish than when my AP US History class had to do a video presentation over the 20th century.  And that’s saying something.

I just wasn’t impressed…at all.  Which is sad, because again I really liked this author’s debut.  I just can’t recommend this one without grimacing.

Overall Rating: A C- and THAT’S being generous.

 

The Corgis Disapprove (Well, Mine Do): Royals by Rachel Hawkins

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Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond.

While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady . . . but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.

Source: GoodReads

It’s Royal Wedding weekend which meant that during my Benadryl induced insomnia last night, I caught part of Harry and Meghan’s wedding that I later watched via DVR.  I have to say Meghan was so on point with that dress.  Unfortunately, I was less on point when  I decided that Royals would be perfect reading material this weekend.

Instead it was rage inducing, me to using the below gif.

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This book, people…skip it, please.  If you want to read something with royalty read The Princess Diaries series again, The Royal We, A Prince in Disguise, I can go on but I  won’t.  Hell, you can even watch on of the various Hallmark movies that have been made and they’re better than this shit.

Okay…so what has pissed me off.  Pretty much that there love interest in this book is a misogynist asshole   who blames the MC for getting assaulted by his drunk ass best friend.  Seriously, it’s her fault that she was kissed against her will  and that said best friend passed out drunk on his ass in her room.

Do you see why I don’t like this book?

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And what really bothers me is that at the end when said scumbag best friend is put in his place, it’s not for coming on to the MC or other girls randomly.  It’s for declaring his love to the MC’s sister and her fiancee accidentally overhearing it.

Did I mention that said best friend is a minor while his attacker has at least graduated from college?

Yeah…

Oh, and said attacker is a prince.

Yeah….

And that all of this is pretty much brushed under the rug within twenty pages.  Just like the non-existant romance and anything else involving this storyline was resolved pretty much within twenty pages.

But there’s a sequel, but without this character as the lead I’m suspecting.  And which I really care about because this book was so poorly crafted I’m not checking out the follow up.

Obviously.

Especially if the would  be rapist gets his own book.

Because seriously, going into a stranger’s room forcing them to kiss them and probably forcing them to do more if you didn’t pass out drunk isn’t exactly attractive.  Neither is a douche who defend’s said best friend’s behavior but apparently Hawkins felt it  deserved a pass.

No it did not.

Overall Rating: Total failure.  This book just gives me a headache.

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What Was the Point of This?: Love, Pizza, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams

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Can a spot on a teen reality show really lead to a scholarship at an elite cooking school AND a summer romance?

Sixteen-year-old Sophie Nicolaides was practically raised in the kitchen of her family’s Italian-Greek restaurant, Taverna Ristorante. When her best friend, Alex, tries to convince her to audition for a new reality show, Teen Test Kitchen, Sophie is reluctant. But the prize includes a full scholarship to one of America’s finest culinary schools and a summer in Napa, California, not to mention fame.

Once on-set, Sophie immediately finds herself in the thick of the drama—including a secret burn book, cutthroat celebrity judges, and a very cute French chef. Sophie must figure out a way to survive all the heat and still stay true to herself. A terrific YA offering–fresh, fun, and sprinkled with romance.

Source: GoodReads

Well, I finished this book.

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So that’s a plus.

But God, what a waste of time. I literally felt that nothing.  Oh, stuff did happen.  There was a reality TV contest with characters that were flatter than the creepy bow twins on the latest incarnation of Master Chef Junior (and yes, I know the bow twins are just kids but  their stylist really needs to be canned for making them look like they should belong on the set of The Shining), a couple of cute boys who’s main characteristics was that they were cute and either culinary institute student or the MC’s B.F.F. who makes her enter the contest.  Oh, and yes the MC was Italian and Greek and that was her big thing besides her butt which she called “the tank” but other that…

Nope nothing happened here.

I feel like I need to back up on things Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous came out a few years back and was sort of on my radar but ended up in the pits of TBR pile.  I’ll admit it, I like cooking shows.  When I was in undergradthe Food Network was pretty much on 24/7 when I was in my dorm room just because it was entertaining enough  to block out noise but not too entertaining for me to get distracted when I wrote essays about why Oprah should run for president (yeah, I actually did that-we were suppose to pick a person who we thought would likely get elected back in 2008,  this was pre-Obama’s running announcement ) and the various Shakespeare plays I was forced to read because I was delusional enough to be an English major.  I still watch cooking shows today-which mostly consist of Gordon Ramsay yelling at people because for some odd reason it is cathartic for me to listen him to yell at incompetent jackasses (probably because I can’t do that myself, even though I purposely became a lawyer to  yell at people-’cause I’m not a nice person, ya’ll).   So, seeing it in book form totally going to go for it.  And a few years back a couple of books we’re introduced this being one of them and Taste Test being another.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Taste Test either, but unlike this book there was a semblance of a plot and it didn’t feel like 250 pages had been a complete waste of time.  This book though, that’s the feeling I got.  As you probably saw from the introductory paragraphs of this review.  The book had 1D characteristics at best which is a shame.  Yes, I get the MC has Greek and Italian heritage that she lost her mother and is torn in a love triangle between the boy next door and the hot cooking whiz she shares two lines of dialogue with-but Williams never made me care about them.  Or for that matter, she never resolved that plot.

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She never resolved anything.  Okay we’re heading to major spoiler territory now.  So if you’re one of those weirdos who actually cares about things like that you probably don’t want to read the next paragraph because it’s going to be a very spoiler filled rant…

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The book just ends exactly how it starts.  The MC doesn’t win.   There’s really no explanation for her loss.   She’s just back to working at her dad’s restaurant except she’s okay with being called Sophia now (okay, I didn’t get the whole not liking Sophia thing to begin with anyway).   And she’s sort of involved with both boys at the end of it, but sort of not (just like the entire book!).  She doesn’t really learn anything about herself, he new friends problems are never explained.  And I never did find out if Phillip was related to the producers or not (I assume he was because that’s the only way someone who can’t cook a fucking egg could’ve won a cooking contest).  Not that that was ever discussed.  The book just mentioned that this random minor character named Phillip seemed to win all the time and cooked horribly and no explanation was ever made for it, so I’m saying he’s related to the producers.

Phillip’s non-existing storyline seemed to be one of many that filled this book.  From the quasi romances going on.  To the long lost aunt.  To the burn book that the producer’s started.  To the contestant with the maybe eating disorder.  To the contestant with the romance with Phillip.  To the fragmented sentences of this paragraph.  There were that many plot holes.

The book just really seems to be going nowhere and it’s a fucking shame.  There was a lot of potential with Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous, but at the end of the day the book was more than a little bit of a let down.

Overall Rating: A C.  I have read worse and at least with this one it was painless short-I read it in the span of two hours.