Monday, February 29, 2016

Something Like Summer by Jay Bell

2 Stars
Look at that bright and shiny 4.17 Goodreads rating. You know what that means, right?

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Usually I’m willing to take the hit and say it was me, but not this time. I picked up Something Like Summer mainly because it was free, but also because the synopsis interested me. I bumped it up on my TBR because the cover was pretty. (I’m more than willing to admit I’m shallow.) Alright, so this was the story of Ben and Tim, the new boy around the block that Ben takes a fancy to. When a not-so-cute meet/cute happens Ben offers to help Tim out, a friendship develops, and eventually even though Tim claims to be 100% hetero, somehow he ends up requesting Ben to . . . .

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You know what happens next, right????

“Teach me how to fly, my beautiful butterfly.”

And then I may have had a feeling because we’re talking about teenage boys, one of whom was firmly planted in the closet so you know things weren’t going to be totally peachy keen and I thought for sure I was reading a 5 Star book. But then Part I ended and a fastforward occurred that brought us to Part II and everything became nothing but . . .

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From the cardboard cutout which was Ben’s adult love-interest to the new and way unimproved Tim to the awful love triangle that left me wanting to punch everyone in the gonads to the ending that was JUST. SO. CONTRIVED. The air was quickly let out of my 5 Star balloon.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Shift Just Got Real by Ruby Dixon

3 Stars
One thing I’ve come to realize about my Goodreads friends the more I get to know them is . . .

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Sh3lly takes the blame for any Ruby Dixon book you see me reading. Every. Single. Freaking. One. Of. Them. In case you haven’t met Ms. Dixon or experienced her foray in to the shifter novella, here’s a brief synopsis: These stories are below the 100 page mark and are 100% smut. And even though the leading male in this story was supposed to be not good looking (kudos to the author for that), as soon as there is talk of a 40 year old dude who turns into a bear my brain tells me it should be King Leonidas and my ladygarden is all like . . .

Sorry not sorry. Anyway, this tromp through bear country leads us to Mal and Ryann. Ryann moved to town a few years ago when she was still a teenager and Mal was smitten. However, due to the age difference he immediately told himself to simmah down nah and has avoided Ryann as much as is humanly (bearishly????) possible ever since. Well, at least to her knowledge. Sometimes he watches her from afar – but ONLY when she’s in the kitchen. I mean, he’s not a perv. Or at least that’s what he’s been able to tell himself until one night while in bear form he catches a peak of Ryann doing a little self-diddling. Before you can yell GRIZZLY, Ryann catches Mal uhhhhhhhhhhhh . . . .

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outside her window.

Which of course leads to Mal getting a taste of that honey pot and let me tell ya somethin’ – young Ryann’s honeypot doth overflow . . .

Excluding all the juicy talk and some other commentary that made me question whether my ladybud is actually the wrong size . . .

(Seriously? That sounds not so very appealing but thanks for the offer.)

This one was going okay and I even got a chuckle or two . . .

“If you’d just say the word, Mal, I’d climb right on top of you.”



But then this happened . . . .

“Why, Daddy, whatever do you mean?”

*insert record scratch noise*

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This momma no likey the daddy talk. No judgment to those who do. You might like that naughty girls get spankins too *wink*

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

3 Stars

“The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?”

And that’s one thing you’ll never find out, so it’s better to go in knowing it. Riley Cavanaugh’s story is one you probably haven’t read before – that of a gender fluid teenager. As the book says regarding gender . . .

“Honestly, there’s so much information out there, and a lot of it contradicts itself. The pronouns and the terminology, it’s very complex.”

It is and that’s why it’s so important that MANY stories like this get written. For Riley, gender identification works as “a dial, not a switch.” Sometimes Riley feels feminine, some days masculine. However, Riley always remains “gender neutral” due to the fact that he/she has not yet come out to the parental units (or anyone else for that matter).

You’re probably wondering why the low(ish) rating if I thought this was such an important book, huh? Well, the problem for me (dear trolls, really think a second about coming to any reviews on a book about treating others with respect and then commencing to disrespect the reviewer) was with the execution. Riley was not a very likeable character for me throughout the majority of the story. He/she was quick to take offense at nearly everything and everyone while being super quick to place labels on others immediately without giving it second thought. And while Riley did end up experiencing horrible things that no one should ever have to, the words of one of the characters early in the story really rang true . .

“High school sucks for everyone.”

Okay, maybe not everyone, but for a lot of people. You just have to seek out the ones who will accept you for you . . .

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Another issue I had with the story was the parents. It was refreshing to actually have parents in a YA novel, but these two were pretty terrible. To begin with, there are only 535 people in Congress period. Of those there are even fewer of breeding age so seriously with the “can’t come out because my dad is running for reelection” storyline. It’s hard enough to come out if your parents are Average Joes so there was no need for Riley’s father to be anything other than that. Speaking of coming out. It’s effing 2016. Riley’s parents obviously loved him/her and were simply not sure of what was going on with regard to Riley’s gender/sexuality. The idea that parents like that would never bother asking questions or offer support was not realistic to me at all. Speaking as a straight old lady, we may not always understand everything, but parents like Riley’s were the type who would listen and accept without judgment.

Finally, the message itself. It was wonderful, but it was repeated sooooooo many times that it became almost preachy. This book could have easily been cut by 50-100 pages to eliminate the repetitiveness.

Bottom line is this was a good addition to the world of LGBTQIA young adult literature and will hopefully help to finally get the message to sink in that . . .

“Maybe blending in is overrated.”

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Parental warning: This book deals with heavy subject matter such as bullying, suicide and rape. While no graphic details are included, this is a book I would encourage you to read with your child so you can answer any questions.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

5 Stars (actually a billion stars)
♪♫♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫ “O, I believe
Fate smiled and destiny
Laughed as she came to my cradle
Know this child will be able
Laughed as she came to my mother
Know this child will not suffer
Laughed as my body she lifted
Know this child will be gifted
With love, with patience and with faith
He'll make his way” ♪♫♪♫♪♫
For anyone who even is thinking about saying this is a kid’s book . . . .

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And also you are wrong. Wonder is a book for EVERYONE. Seriously. Like every single human being on the entire planet. And maybe even your dog. Hands down the best Middle-Grade book I’ve ever read. So much so that I just did a re-read and I never do a re-read.

This is the story of August Pullman and his experiences during 5th grade – which just so happens to be the first year he ever attended school after being homeschooled. Why was Auggie homeschooled???? Well . . .

“Rat boy. Freak. Freddy Krueger, E.T. Gross-out. Lizard face. Mutant. I know the names they call me. I’ve been in enough playgrounds to know kids can be mean. I know, I know, I know.”

Fifth grade is the year that Auggie’s parents decide they need to attempt to expose him to the real world. They realize that reality for Auggie might be harsh and offer him the opportunity to go back to homeschooling at any time, but remain hopeful that people will look past Auggie’s exterior and see the exceptional person he really is.

A little backstory: Awhile back it came to my attention that my youngest child was claiming to be doing his required reading, but really was . . . well, pretty much just staring off into space and doing anything except reading. (He is my child so you have to figure there’s some buttholery that rears its ugly head every now and again.) The easiest solution to the problem? Buddy read with dear ol’ mom. So I forced him to read my favorite “kid book” and guess what happened?????

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He started flagging quotes just like his nutcase mother . . .

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Know what else? It really kind of kicks all the butt to have “book club” with a small human. We’d read 20 pages a day (the required amount – unfortunately I’m not a miracle worker so he still doesn’t loooooooooove the process of reading like I do) and then drink hot cocoa and talk about what we read (to confirm he really was reading this time and not pretending). Sometimes we would share tears and sometimes we would share laughs. We always shared the importance of being a “Jack” rather than being a “Julian.”

Small humans final reaction? “PHENOMENAL. 5 Stars. Every kid should read this and we should read books like this in class instead of the boring stuff they make us read.”

My reaction?????

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This book will break your heart . . . but then it will put the pieces back together again. Filled with lessons of being a decent person that it teaches in the best, most non-preachy way possible. Bottom line is it is just . . .

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Have you seen Hot Rod? It’s kind of the worst movie ever while simultaneously being the best movie ever. My kid is a freaky movie quoter like his mother and encouraged me to overshare this gif. If you read the book you’ll see it makes sense. What are you waiting for? Go read it right now. Here, I’ll even help you with the supplies you’ll need before starting . . .

I bought a hardback of this book because it is seriously one of the best things I’ve ever read. I look forward to forcing my future grandchildren to experience all of its Wonder just like I did to their daddy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

3 Stars
♪♫♪♪That's great, it starts with an earthquake. Birds and snakes, an aeroplane ♪♫♪♪
Okay, maybe just the aeroplane part. Like this . . . .

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It didn’t take long for people to realize that . . .

“The arrival of the mothership was not the beginning, but the beginning of the end.”

Nope, the first wave was followed in quick succession by waves two . . .

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three . . .

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and four . . .

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Leaving only the fifth and final wave before it truly is the end of the world as humans know it . . .

(Come on. You really didn't think you were getting out of an alien review without a little Goldblum did you????)

“How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.”

Obviously I’m super late to this party so there’s not a whole heck of a lot left to say. I’ll be totally honest and say I had a “been there/done that” attitude with respect to The 5th Wave for eternity and had zero intentions of reading it. Then the movie was released and it was my kids’ reward for being brainiacs (I know, hard to believe I’m actually raising NOT juvenile delinquents, right?) so I requested it from the library. Along with everyone else. Yeah, the kids saw the movie weeks ago but my turn at the book just now came around. I was lucky to not get spoiled (I mean AT ALL – I never even bothered reading the blurb) so I’m going to not spoil any of you and just briefly cover what worked and didn’t for me.

First question I was faced with was: Is it possible to enjoy a book while mostly wanting to murder one of the main characters? Answer? Surprisingly so. The world building in this book was off-the-charts good. I assume many have complained about it being too detailed, but it was just what I was looking for. AND HALLELUJAH TO A FEMALE LEAD IN A SUPERAWFUL NEW ‘MURICA TALKING ABOUT THE NEED TO STOCK UP ON TAMPONS. Finally! Praise Jeebus! That being said, unfortunately said female character also talked about a male MC’s eyes being “chocolaty warm – so melty and sad.” Excuse me a moment . . . .

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Ahhhh. All better.

But as much as I’m done with the instalust bullshittery that gets thrown in to every YA story like this, I was able to keep on keepin’ on – mainly because there was a whole other cast of characters who were not idiots. And even though I could figure out what was coming and things sometimes seemed a bit too familiar . . .

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I still had a pretty good time. If this is on your TBR, don’t give it the boot. 3 Stars for the simple fact that even though this is a series I could really give a rat fart about reading book 2.

“Review” (term used as loosely as possible) portion aside, let’s talk about casting choices for the film. Female lead is a wallflower with frizzy hair that no one has ever given a second glance to. This I love because at least the “oh I’m plain but errrryone magically falls in love with me” Bella Swan syndrome wasn’t in play. However, the film version looks like this . . .

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Wallflower my fat ass. I guarantee this chick has old men the world over Googling her birthday to make sure Dateline doesn’t show up at their door.

Which leads us to the boy she worshipped from afar all throughout high school . . .

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Srsly? I don’t get it. Also note that I had to Google him because I thought he was like 14 playing the part of a 16 year old.

Which leads us to the other guy who is pretty hearthrobby . . .

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Except for the whole “melty chocolatey eyes” thing. Whoops.

I haven’t yet watched the movie, but I will say I hope to shout it focuses on the action and no the luuuuuuuurv.

Generally Sh3lly and I end up reading porn the same thing because she pushes me down and won’t let me up until I submit to her. This time it was just coincidental (probably because we are the only people left on the planet who had not yet read this. I like that she shared my opinion of the punchability factor contained in the character Cassie and yet was still able to enjoy the book as a whole. See kids? No need to rage out about everything just because some stupid stuff was thrown in to the mix.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

3 Stars
“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.” What did I think about this???? Hmmmmmmm . . . . .

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Honestly I’m still not quite sure and since none of my friends have read it yet I don’t have anyone confirming I (once again) read something wrong so I’m going to leave myself planted firmly in the middle of the road.

Every Exquisite Thing is the story of Nanette, an average teen who has always done the right thing and followed the path chosen for her by her parents – that is until she is given a copy of The Bubblegum Reaper . . .

After reading (and re-reading and re-reading) the cult classic, Nanette is full of questions about the book and life in general which leads her to seek out the paperback writer . . .

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(Get it? I’m hilarious.)

The only problem? The author refuses to discuss his work. However, he is more than willing to befriend young Nanette – NOT IN THE GROSS WAY YOU’RE THINKING . . . .

“If you are one of those pessimistic people who think that an old man can’t befriend a teenage girl without some sort of perverted, deviant ulterior motive, let me end of the witch hunt right here and now.”

As their friendship develops, so does Nanette’s view of the world, of love and of life . . .

“Maybe it isn’t the motivating factors that matter so much as simply participating – thrusting your best true, authentic self into the universe with wild abandon.”

Nanette and Alex are what Holden Caulfield could have been if he weren’t such an asshole. Wait – scratch that. Nanette and Alex are what Holden Caulfield could have been if he weren’t a total asshole. I didn’t loooooooove this story like I did Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, but it wasn’t nearly as insufferable as The Catcher in the Rye. Bottom line is Matthew Quick is an author who writes solid characters who are realistic and relatable and who your heart will break for. And when he pairs it with a rebel anthem soundtrack for women everywhere?????

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Well, that just makes me say “Whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-oahhhhhhhhhh!”

Also appreciated was the douchebag song choice . . .

“The music – it sounds like a British guy rapping over acoustic guitar.”

Snort. Sorry, lil’ Ed Sheeran. I still like your douchey gingery song stylings.

Old lady confession time – the only time Matthew Quick really lost me here was with Alex’s playlist of Lightspeed Champion . . .

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But to each his own.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you, NetGalley!

Monday, February 22, 2016

We Can Never Go Home by Matthew Rosenberg, Patrick Kindlon, Josh Hood (Illustrations)

2 Stars

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What just happened?

Okay, so maaaaaaaaybe if this . . .

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(without the smoochyface)

had a baby it might look a little something like this crazy mess.

This is the story of Maddie and Dustin and what happens after Maddie gets a bit too PMS-y and starts zapping laser beams out her eyeballs. Unfortunately for Maddie, no one ever bothered having a heart-to-heart with her like this guy . . .

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But luckily for Dustin a wardrobe malfunction provided a “music montage” type of scene like this . . .

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(There’s a spoiler in there somewhere *wink*)

I have no clue what else to say about this story. I think maybe you’re supposed to do drugs before reading it but Whitney always told me that crack is whack so I refrained. Be forewarned, if you too just say no to drugs you’ll probably look like this the entire time you’re reading . . .

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I’m probably supposed to say something about the art before signing off, huh? It was aiight.

The source of this book is about the most coolio thing ever. A friend bought this and then gifted it to a mutual friend who then gifted it to me. Kind of a pay-it-forward for all of us booknerdy delinquents. Many thanks to both friends for thinking of me!

Friday, February 19, 2016

14 Days to Die by A.B. Whelan

3.5 Stars
“Is it possible that we all have darkness within us; only some of us never have a chance to act upon it while others are left with no choice?”

I read this book over a month ago, but never got around to reviewing it since I suck. I’m also currently dealing with a situation at work that looks like this . . . .

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Which has left me feeling a bit like this . . .

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(Hence today's featured coffee mug.)

So you’re gonna get what you get with this review. (I know, I know but somehow you’ll have to go on without the real high caliber quality you’re used to seeing in my review space.)

Alright, so 14 Days to Die was quite the unexpected little thriller. I’d never heard of this author before but couldn’t resist running to grab an ARC when several of my friends read/enjoyed it.

Things started off very well . . .

“It was a fine winter day that eighth of February when I decided to kill my husband.”

Uhhhhh, yes please . . .

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Sarah and Mike have been happily married for a long time. Or so Sarah thought . . .

“After fourteen years of marriage, caring, cleaning, dirty laundry, cooking, love, kisses, and hugs, all I’m left with are two options: kill or be killed.”

The decision is Sarah’s to make after she receives a call from her potential murderer. Sarah has two choices – let things play out as is and wind up dead at the hands of a hired killer or come up with double the amount of money and flip the script on her darling hubs instead. The only problem? Sarah has about zero dollars and killer-for-hire is severely lacking in the patience department . . .

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I’m pretty hard to please when it comes to psych thrillers (probably because I read so many of them), so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this one. Things that worked well for me? The ending was presented right from the jump so there was no let down or “boooooo I saw that coming” moment. The characters were well-developed and even though I wanted to kick Sarah’s ass sometimes she seemed fairly realistic. Speaking of realistic, there were some “Lifetime Television for Women” moments thrown in, but somehow I didn’t want to stab someone in the face when they occurred. And finally the pacing was spot-on. At barely over 250 pages there was little time for lulls in the story.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you, NetGalley!