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.

 

 

Die, Dude Brow, Die: Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

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Cameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

Source: GoodReads

I really liked Chaotic Good, but I felt like it was missing a certain oomph.  This was one book where I wanted 200 more pages than the mere 250-ish pages I got.  However, what I got I can’t complain about too much.

Though, is it so wrong that I want a certain character to die a slow death.

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This book hit home in a lot of ways.  Any woman has probably encountered a dude bro (aka a misogynist asshole)  at some point in her life.  It’s like an experience that we all experience but all wish we could  have not experienced- I  sort of equate it to  having a period except misogynic assholes just don’t tolerate biological women but ALL women and  birth control cannot make misogynists  tolerable, though it can prevent their existence technically I guess.  God knows you have  if you’ve ever been told to smile, been honked out when you’re jogging, or for that matter have been told you’re not a real fan because you’re female and might like aspects of a series or game that those of the masculine persuasion might not because you know dude bro’s opinions are so much better than yours…

I could go on, but you get the picture.  Chaotic Good tries to conquer misogynist assholes and while I do feel like a lot of important aspects were raised, at the end of the day I wasn’t so satisfied with how everything was dealt with.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.  I probably wouldn’t be satisfied unless Brody was castrated and they made a section at his store for nincompoop dicks, but I’m ahead of myself.  I think what really bothered me about Chaotic Good was that everything just clicked into place seemingly easily.  Up until the last fifteen pages, it seemed like Cameron’s life was one big dumpster fire.  But a picture of her gets liked by some costume designer, the dude bro gets an exorcism, and her twin brother and his boyfriend like her again, so everything in hunky dory.  Life just doesn’t work that way…

Also, really, why are you friends with that dude bro, Cameron?  He is the type of guy you block on the internet and run, run away from.

Besides the ridiculous fast wrap up, I did like the book though.  Although, the whole premises could’ve been avoided with Cameron ordering her comics online to avoid dude bros.   God knows, I order stuff on the internet just because I’m too lazy to drive, and I have also ordered stuff online come to think of it to avoid annoying people.  It is so much easier than wrapping my breasts up, stuffing my hair in a beanie, and going around as a guy just to avoid  assholes.

Honestly, I wish rather than having the whole I’m going to avoid the misogynist at the comic store that Cameron would’ve just been androgynous looking or gender queer.    God knows, it would’ve been refreshing and a lot hell more realistic than this complicated scheme that could’ve been avoided by just Amazon-ing it, BUT hey it’s fiction, so..

I will say I do love the gender bending trope.  It’s a timeless favorite of mine ever since I saw that old black and white film, Some Like It Hot, it’s just that a lot of times the situation that has the character flipping genders doesn’t really make sense as in Chaotic Good.

Other than the suspension of logic, I liked the book.  The romance wasn’t my favorite but it worked.  Honestly, I could’ve passed on it either way, but it wasn’t terrible.  It sort of reminded me of the Penny/Lenard relationship on The Big Bang Theory which wasn’t really my favorite ship but it had it’s adorable moments.  I liked the D&D crew too save for Brody, who really needs to die a slow death.

God, I hate Brody.  I wish there was a way to block a character in a book.  I have to give Gardner credit though for making me hate that asshole.

I didn’t like that he was still part of the group at the end though.  He really shouldn’t have been…

I guess overall, I liked this book.  I was just hoping that some things would’ve been fleshed out a little more.  It seemed to me that this was a story that could’ve dived into the meat of things more than it did.  What I got I liked but I just wanted more…

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Overall Rating: A solid B.  The book is timely.  I liked that it did address issues.  I just wanted more.

 

What I Wanted vs What I Got: And She Was by Jessica Verdi

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Dara’s lived a sheltered life with her single mom, Mellie. Now, at eighteen, she’s dreaming of more. When Dara digs up her never-before-seen birth certificate, her world implodes. Why are two strangers listed as her parents?

Dara confronts her mother, and is stunned by what she learns: Mellie is transgender. The unfamiliar name listed under “father”? That’s Mellie. She transitioned when Dara was a baby, shortly after Dara’s birth mother died.

But Dara still has more questions than answers. Reeling, she sets off on a road trip with her best guy friend, Sam. She’s determined to find the extended family she’s never met. What she discovers—and what her mother reveals, piece by piece over emails—will challenge and change Dara more than she can imagine.

From rising star Jessica Verdi, this is a gorgeous, timely, and essential novel about the importance of being our true selves.

Source: GoodReads

What I Wanted: A book with a mother-daughter relationship that was a bit Gilmore Girls-is but instead of running away from rich parents because of teenage pregnancy, the Lorelai ran away because she came out as transgender and Grandpa and Grandma Gilmore couldn’t handle it.  Also, some coffee would’ve helped too.

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What I Got: A book where the MC and her mother really have a nonexistent relationship and once the MC found out that her mother was transgender, she pretty much flips out on her and runs away with some random guy we’re told is her b.f.f.

Yeah…

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Okay, going by the premises I knew that there was going to be a road trip and all of that, but I was hoping at the very least that the relationship between Melly and Dara would’ve been a little bit more than it was.

Even before Melly’s secret is revealed she and Dara are distant at best.  Dara has her head in the clouds and Melly was just…I don’t know not all the way there and sort of rigid.  The premises to me just seemed like there would be more of a mother and daughter connection than there actually was.

As I mentioned before, I really didn’t care for Dara.  She was was self absorbed and really had no realistic ambitions.  While I know that not every teen is college bound, I wish she would’ve had a slightly more realistic plan for the future than work for a juice bar and attempt to play pro tennis.  It just annoyed me, especially since Verdi has all the supporting cast point out several times throughout the narrative that it isn’t likely that Dara is going to advance in the pro circuit.

As for how trans issues were handled…honestly, I only made it about 110 pages in the book, and as a cis female I’m probably not the person you want to ask about sensitivity issues.  Still though, I found Dara’s behavior sort of disturbing at least from my perspective.  She instantly wants to meet her grandparents, despite hearing from her mother that they are essentially bigots.

Oh, it’s okay if they hate the woman that raised me for eighteen years they’re my grandparents…and I’m not a bigot because I follow sport stars that preach LGBTQ issues.

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You see where we’re going here.

Given that I DNF’d this, I didn’t see every cringe worthy moment that results from Dara’s betrayal and stupidity.  However, being the spoiler loving junkie that I am (and the should I even bother addict that I am) I took a peak at the end and it seems as disappointing as I predicted it.

Some of you might be wondering what I was expecting.  After all, the blurb clearly illustrates that there’s going to be some sort of separation between Melly and Dara throughout the duration of the book.  And I expected it, but I also expected them to have some sort of bond besides liking to eat hot sauce.

Instead, it was more about Dara’s relationship with stupid Sam who had a girlfriend until like two minutes ago which totally means he’s going to be in Dara’s pants by the end of the book.

Look, this book just wasn’t for me.  Maybe it gets better as it progresses, but quite honestly I wanted to read more about Melly than Dara.  And unfortunately I had to read more about Dara who is more f’d up than Rory Gilmore on the Netflix’s revival (seriously, Rory look at your choices).

Overall Rating: DNF.  I’d rather watch Rory and Dean and that’s saying a lot.  Because, ew Dean.

 

A Book That Makes Me Like Camping (Or Reading About It): Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

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Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Source: GoodReads

Jenn Bennett is officially on my favorites list.  This book sort of solidified it for me.  Starry Eyes took a topic I really didn’t think I’d like-camping-and turned it into an interesting foot popping story.

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Because really Bennett is the master of ships.  I adored Zorie and Lennon and all of their love hate-ness.  And despite being an extremely ship book, here were a lot of things about this book that resonated with me.  It was a book that I could really identify with because I shared a similar experience to what Zorie dealt with this book when I was roughly her age.

The emotions that Bennett has her going through throughout the book was something that I could identify with.  How a parent’s betrayal can have ramifications on not only their significant other but their kids as well.  I thought that Bennet did a good job showing this.

If I had to fault the book, I think what bothered me is the drama did get a little over the top at times.  Especially the fall out with Reagan.  Honestly,  I didn’t even get why Zorie was friends with Reagan.  It seemed so forced.  She more or less existed as a plot point to get Zorie and Lennon stranded-which by the way happens much later in the book than I thought it would.  But anyway, back to Reagan and her friends they really were just pointless.  When they abandoned Zorie and Lennon I was glad, I was like finally….

While Reagan annoyed me, I did like some of the supporting characters which is better than a lot of YA books.  I thought Lennon’s family was pretty well fleshed out and I did like Zorie’s mother.  Her dad though was a douche.  But I have to say the depiction was pretty much spot on, living through a similar situation the dad character did make sense to me.

As I mentioned earlier, I was pleasantly surprised with the whole how lost in the wilderness thing was handled.  I’m not an outdoors girl.  I freak out when there is even a fly in my house.  Honestly, I don’t even like reading about the outdoors.  Yeah, there was that one somewhat interesting Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys super mystery  where she goes camping, the Hardy boys pop out of nowhere-they always popped out of nowhere in the super mysteries-, Nancy and Frank almost make out again and their chased by the mob who apparently their trail guide owes a lot of money too but….not your typical outdoors book.  No, when I think of outdoorsy type of books I think about that stupid Literature and Culture class I took where I had to read that book about that guy who went to Alaska to live in a bus and die, oh and write a stupid paper about my local park that used to be the site of a Confederate powder mill.

Ah, memories that the blog reader does not  know or care about…

Weird discretion that probably has you confused aside, I think it shows just how good and enjoyable a book is when they can make a subject you find meh at best enjoyable.  Not that I’m planning on going camping anytime soon, but after reading Starry Eyes I don’t think I would mind so much reading it.

If you like love-hate romances, second chance romances, have an interest in the outdoors, or for that matter astronomy you should definitely give Starry Eyes a try.  Bennet is definitely on my to buy list now.  And it seems I have a bit of a backlist to get too.

Overall Rating: An A-

North of Nope: North of Happy by Adi Alsaid

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His whole life has been mapped out for him…

Carlos Portillo has always led a privileged and sheltered life. A dual citizen of Mexico and the US, he lives in Mexico City with his wealthy family, where he attends an elite international school. Always a rule follower and a parent pleaser, Carlos is more than happy to tread the well-worn path in front of him. He has always loved food and cooking, but his parents see it as just a hobby.

When his older brother, Felix—who has dropped out of college to live a life of travel—is tragically killed, Carlos begins hearing his brother’s voice, giving him advice and pushing him to rebel against his father’s plan for him. Worrying about his mental health, but knowing the voice is right, Carlos runs away to the United States and manages to secure a job with his favorite celebrity chef. As he works to improve his skills in the kitchen and pursue his dream, he begins to fall for his boss’s daughter—a fact that could end his career before it begins. Finally living for himself, Carlos must decide what’s most important to him and where his true path really lies.

Source: GoodReads

Amendment: I just noticed from the blurb that the MC is a duel citizen.  I probably skimmed over this when I read the 88 pages or it’s addressed later on.  That at least gives the book more factual credence than I previously thought it had-re the employment situation.  That’s what you get for not reading the entire thing I guess (shrugs).  

 

Another day, another DNF.  I have to tell you guys I really do hate DNF’ing books.  The thing is after reviewing books for seven years and reading bull shitty books even longer, I just don’t have the tolerance like I used to to stomach through.

And even though I know it’s better for me to stop, I keep hearing the whole quitters never win lecture my mom always spewed when I throw a book against the wall.

However, one thing I don’t think my mom ever really conceptualized is that it sometimes its better to cut your loses than to continue with something you’re going to hate and that’s sort of the situation I was in with North of Happy.

I made it through about 88 pages of this one before I threw it into the giveaway pile-and yes, I have a huge box of books in my garage that I need to get rid of.  Usually that means, giving it away to a library or maybe to a needy family or two at the holidays.  Note, I’d probably do a giveaway at some point on this blog too-only thing is I’d have to go to the post office and pay probably a ridiculous amount in shipping and I’m not that fond of doing that (sorry, not sorry).

Anyway, digression about the give away box aside, North of Happy was a book I knew I was not going to like.  The set up itself seemed interesting- it involves cooking and fish out of water tale.  BUT add seemingly pointless delusions that seem to indicate the MC has mental illness but is never addressed as such, a MPDG of a love interest, AND a suspension of lack of reality when it comes to immigrants getting a job in the US (it’s not that easy) I got annoyed fast.

I ended up giving it more of a it’s me not you DNF score.

Let’s start with what bothered me the most.  The delusions the MC has.  I think they’re meant to sort of have a magical realism quality about it, but God knows they came more or less as delusions as someone who is mentally ill and I wished that would’ve been addressed.  Maybe it was as the book progressed, but I didn’t see it happening anytime soon.  Also, I got to say the delusion of his brother annoyed me.  He was one of those characters I wanted to smack and shake.  Just so sanctimonious with his follow your dreams, screw stability in life, and I manifest myself as a random pigeon shit.

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Yeah, that probably doesn’t make sense unless you read the book.  Though, it’s probably the only time I’ll be able to use a gift of that weird Bird Lady from Home Alone 2: Trump Makes a Prequel Pee Pee Tape at the Plaza! 

But hey, my review my thoughts, and that was what I was thinking when I read this book.

Here’s the thing what really annoyed me about the Felix delusions.  If the book was going to have delusions in it, I wanted them addressed for what they are-mental illness.  Having them as a plot point or being used in this weirdo quasi magical realism thing just didn’t work.  It honestly cheapened the story more than anything else.  And honestly is kind of insulting.

The other big issue that annoyed me was Emma.  She’s your stereotypical MPDG (manic pixie dream girl) I just rolled my eyes at her entrance and could really care less about her.  Also, I really can’t see some girl suggesting some random dude to be hired for her mother’s five star restaurant.  It just seemed out of the blue, and again characterization wise it seemed just out there.   Especially since when What’s His Face-I don’t even remember his name and it’s been a little less than a day since I quit this book-shows up at Emma’s mom’s restaurant he’s acting a little less than sane.  I mean, unless Emma wants to sabotage her mom, I really don’t think asking to hire the random weirdo was a good idea.

Which brings me to concern three.  Even if I didn’t take immigration law, I have I still would’ve rolled my eyes with What’s His Face getting a job because of filling out various employment verification forms your have to fill out when you’re hired by a job.  Add the fact I did take immigration law, and know (unlike the current ignoramus who is sadly president) that low wage jobs are usually not in abundance for immigrants.  Let alone tourists like What’s His Face.

And yes, I know people could technically be paying him under the table…but Emma’s mom is a celebrity chef and I doubt she was going to be hit with a scandalous expose on Eater.com but hey what do I know…Mario Batali liked to flaunt labor laws in the past so…

Even the recipes that were introduced at the beginning of each chapter were lackluster to me.  It was more or less a list of ingredients.  Which is more less like my grocery list.  Yes tomatoes, flank steak, onion, garlic, cilantro, and corn tortillas can be appetizing but just listing the ingredients isn’t going to make me salivate.  There is an art to food writing.

Which reminds me, at some point I really do need to start reviewing my stash cookbooks.  Especially my mom’s.  She has some cookbooks published in the 80’s and 90’s that would be fun to review-though probably not very gluten free friendly.

Digression, digression.

I am doing that a lot in this review.  Which does not bode well for the book.  At the end of the day, ask me two or three weeks about North of Happy and I probably won’t be able to tell you much just that it had a lot of potential and just didn’t deliver.

Overall Rating: DNF

I’m In a Funk: Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider

34220850It’s Christmas Eve at JFK in NYC.

Charlotte is a British student, waiting for a flight home after the worst semester of her life. Anthony is a native New Yorker, surprising his girlfriend at the airport after three months apart. Charlotte has just been dumped, and Anthony is about to be dumped, right in the middle of the holiday crowd.

Charlotte’s flight is canceled when a blizzard blows in, and Anthony can’t bear to go home. So, they set out into the city together, clutching a book Charlotte picks up in the airport gift shop: Ten Easy Steps for Getting Over Your Ex. For this one night, they’ll focus on healing their broken hearts … together.

Step-by-step, the two struggle to put the past behind them. But the snow is so enchanting, and the holiday lights are so beguiling, that soon their shared misery gives way to something else. Soon, they’re not only over their exes — they’re falling for each other.

Then a subway ride splits them up by mistake. Will they reunite before Charlotte’s flight leaves New York forever?

Source: GoodReads

I love Christmas themed stuff.  Which is probably why I spent a good chunk of my weekend watching bad holiday movies on Hallmark and Lifetime.  Whenever there’s a YA book that looks like its cute and holiday themed, I’m always willing to grab it.  However….well, a lot of them suck  And Kiss Me in New York is one of these books.

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Honestly though, I sort of wonder if some of my disdain for this book was that I’ve hit burn out.  I have about a shelf worth of books that I haven’t read and nothing sounds good to me right now.  And I have sort of been on a DNF streak lately.  Don’t ask me why, I just have been.  I don’t even think if I was in a funk I would enjoy this book.

This book just feels very packaged.  In part, that is expected.  After all, the book isn’t going to be that original.  There’s only so many ways you can do a Christmas centered romance or any contemporary really.  What makes a book special though, is its characters.  And God knows, this book is filled with insipid twits if there ever were some.

Charlotte is dumped by her boyfriend and she acts like it’s pretty much the end of the world until he meets this random new guy at an airport bookstore.  It’s not a cute meet.  It feel contrived and just blah.

I get having a teenage girl upset about a breakup is realistic, but the way Charlotte was acting it was like it was the end of the world.    It was annoying, and then as soon as she finds a somewhat cute guy that through luck becomes single pretty much after they have a twenty second talk at said book store that she falls instantly in love with him.

I mean, come on.  I get that instant love is going to be standard fair in YA.  And to some degree, it’s standard fair in adult romance as well, but this goes beyond the pale in what you usually see.

For example, in the most notorious example of insta love I can think of (The Twilight Saga) while there is pretty much instant attraction between Bella and Edward, it takes a good 200 or so pages of them to profess their love in a disgusting way.  Here, while vows weren’t exchange the two randomly decide to spend a day together after a fifteen second conversation in the airport.

Can you imagine that?  Getting in a taxi with a random person you see in the airport.  Doesn’t that creep you out a little bit?  I know it creeps me out.  But I guess in the authors (yes, authors Rider is a pen name) didn’t think of all the weirdos you meet in the relationship and if Charlotte randomly met a cute boy it would be okay…

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Side note, I actually have been stuck in JFK’s international terminal for a six hour layover.  It was not romantic.  I remember getting very annoyed about having to wait six hours and wanting to go to the Jet Blue terminal which was loads better, but couldn’t because then you’d have to go through security again and who’d want to get patted down again.

Digression, I know.  But it was hard not to digress with this book.  Or not get bored.  I stopped reading honestly, after they went to Macy’s to get makeovers.

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Side note: You don’t go to Macy’s to get a makeover.  Or anything really, now that I think about it.  I had a horrible experience the last time I went there, so I’m not very fond of it right now.  And honestly, if you’re in New York Barney’s and Bloomingdales’s are better options than Macy’s unless you’re wanting to visit 34th street because of that movie.  But as far as actual makeovers though….yeah just stick with Nordstrom’s.

Also, I found it sort of funny that this random stranger would agree to get a makeover.  But you know what, you meet a lot of strange people at the airport.

And that’s pretty much when I decided to DNF the book.

At this point, I feel pretty disillusioned when it comes to my reading choices.  I want to read a few new things before the year is over, but I’m starting to get to the point where I feel like the only way to remedy this funk will be to read some good old reliables.   Because reading has not been fun lately.

This book was not fun.  It had all the potential to be fun, but at the end it seemed like canned garbage.  I hate books like this.  I hate the fact they sold this book as a hardcover and it was not even 200 pages.  That my friends is a ripoff.

Don’t read this book, you’d be better off getting a makeover at Macy’s.

Overall Rating: DNF

 

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

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Another YA Superhero Book: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Rating: A  solid B.

 

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

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

She didn’t.

And then she died.

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I’m not joking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But did I feel sorry for her, nope.

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

Overall Rating: B-