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

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

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

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

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

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

Harriet Manners knows almost every fact there is.

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harriet Manners knows almost every fact there is.

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

Spoiler alert: it’s not.

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

Le sigh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Rating: A C

 

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

I.E. that Ariel is a lovelorn idiot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

That might just be me though.

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

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

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

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

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Or at least I was.

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

It was just sort of weird.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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Digression aside….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Rating: A B-

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

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

Sigh…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: GoodReads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s just not my favorite Bennett book.

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

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

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

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

Cat Murders Are Horrible Boyfriends: Not Cinderella’s Type by Jenni James

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Indy Zimmerman has a new stalker who won’t leave her alone, no matter what she says to him. Never mind the fact that he’s one of the most popular guys at school—she’s positive Bryant Bailey is only trying to appease his own conscience after pretty much destroying her life. But when Bryant doesn’t back down and insists on having some sort of bizarre friendship with her, his magic works, and her walls slowly start to crumble. He’s not her type. She’s never been into guys like Bryant, but then again, she’s never really known anyone quite as stubborn, or caring, or who can get her to confess stuff she wouldn’t even tell her best friend.

Source: GoodReads

If you read this blog you know I like crap movies.  They relax me.  Especially when I’m on an airplane and said crap movie is free.  Like, in the case of Not Cinderella’s Type.  HOWEVER I was not expecting Not Cinderella’s Type to be based on a book.  Or for that matter to find out that the author was all over the movie version like her book like Johnny Wiseau was all over The Room.

Okay, in James’s case she only worked on the script in addition to the novel of Not Cinderella’s Type but it rang vanity project throughout the entire run of the movie, especially after reading the book and noticing that the most obnoxious lines were kept in.  I mean, seriously do you think people are going to find lines like this charming:

Indy, you’re wrong.  You think you’ve got the whole world sorted into little boxes, and when someone steps out of their box and does something you aren’t expecting, you try tour hardest to push them back in.  Well, I don’t fit.  I’m not meant to fit.  Your walls are high and thick, but I’ll get through them somehow.  Wait and see (22)

Creeper much.  This is the love interest ya’ll.  Well, the main one.  Not the one who halfway appears and disappears in the book and randomly thinks he’s the MC’s boyfriend ’cause they’re friends ya know and that equals boyfriend.  There’s much more to quote, but I’m too lazy to do so.Again, I should mention that said speaker is a pet murderer.  Yes, I said murderer.  He runs over the heroine’s cat in the movie.  We see the poor thing get hit by a car within ten minutes of the fucking movie, and in the book its just gazed over.  Oh, in the movie he makes it all better because he buys her a new fucking kitten at the end.

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Do you really think buying someone a pet can replace their deceased one?  It doesn’t work that way.  I can attest to that personally.  Because when I was ten and my beloved Penny Beagle got and quickly passed from cancer, my parents were pretty much freaked out when they saw how depressed I was (Penny was like the best dog ever) and they bought me a puppy (PJ).  PJ helped, but didn’t replace the hole or the dog I lost.  She wasn’t a replacement pet by any means.   And it really annoyed me how Cat Killer thought because he bought a kitten he was redeemed.

God, what an asshole.  Watching/Reading this I couldn’t help but hate Bryant.  First the actor with his bad Draco Malfoy dye job  (sorry, boo it was hideous and I am having a shallow moment because its my review damn it) to complete the arrogance and mansplaining-oh yes, mansplaining-and then there was Book Bryant who was pretty much identical to Wannabe Draco except he was described as having dark hair.

So in fairness to the actor, I don’t think it was his performance that turned me off.  It was just Bryant.

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The other love interest was actually built up a bit better in the movie, believe it or not.  It’s sad when a movie does more character exploration than the book.

Really, sad.

The MC was kind of meh.  I couldn’t hate her too much for having a love triangle especially since the mansplainer and self dubbed knight in shining armor (though I’d call him a asshole in shining armor) pretty much told her to string love interest two who randomly thought they were dating because they were friends along.

I just…

Then there was how the whole idiotic relatives were handled.  James butchered the reporting thing to CPS big time.  Also, if you know anything about CPS they wouldn’t have time to deal with a case like Indy’s because they are dealing with so much shit already.

Also, I don’t think this would’ve been a mandatory reporting case.  There wasn’t an imminent threat of abuse or that abuse was going on right there and then.  And then don’t get me started on how foster parents work and.. and…

I need to breathe.

This book is just a disaster.  The only saving grace (besides the fact I paid nada for it) was that it was mercifully short.  So short that I was sort of aghast when I saw how the author was charging for the book’s physical copy-though, with the cost of printing and everything I do admittedly understand it from her POV.

Still though, 152 pages is hardly a novel.

This one will mystify me for awhile.  I didn’t totally hate the movie.  Like I said when I watched it, I thought something was off.  It’s sort of like those really bland Christian movies* that they put on Netflixs that they try to act like they’re not Christian movies to sucker you in and make borderline offensive comments throughout the entire 90 minute torture and then in the last five minutes they some revolting comment about how God solves everything and God has a plan while causing something horrific to happen to the only decent member of the cast because he/she was full of sin…

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Yeah, it was like one of those demented movies but without the big lesson.  Which was appreciated.  But I can see what sort of adult the sanctimonious cat killer is going to become and I just want to Indy to run that she’s in danger.

Overall Rating: An F.  The movie I admit amused me, the book not so much.

Note, after drafting this review I found out that the production company produces a lot of those films.  Go figure.

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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).

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+