Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

By: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Awesomeness (Although some people might call this YA fantasy)
Rating: PG-13 for some kick-ass kali
Spoilers: I’m gonna try not to
Coffee Beans: 5
Cover: Pretty good. Not particularly enjoying the half naked Ethan, since nowhere in the book does he show up that way
Instalove Factor: zilch                                                                                    
My Personal Recommendation: Please sir, can I have some more?
Opening Line: My name is Ethan Chase. And I doubt I'll live to see my eighteenth birthday.
Favorite Line: So many
Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for this honest review

Publisher’s Summary

Don't look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase's unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he'd dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister's world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

My Review

Awesomeness, awesomeness, followed by some brilliance and more awesomeness.

The end.

For realz, though. Julie became one of my favorite authors after reading The Immortal Rules. I own the Iron Fey series now, but haven’t read them yet, and when this book came up for grabs from NetGalley, I jumped all over it (and probably mauled a couple people in the process).

Oh, keep in mind that this review is based on only the Lost Prince and not the Iron Fey series (as I haven’t read those yet). So any spoilers as to the first series are completely unintentional.

This book picks up 15 years after Megan has left to become the Iron Queen in Nevernever. Ethan has been trying for that long to forget the Fey even exist and live a normal life. Sucks to be him, because that ain’t happening. The fey know he can see them so the follow and torment him where ever he goes and as a result he’s switching schools constantly and just started another one, midterm.

Enter school newspaper editor and resident cutie, Kenzie, and resident Halfbreed, Todd. Of course Ethan tries to keep himself away from those two, but it’s a losing battle. The Fey know he’s there and start to harass him. Maintaining as low of a profile as he can, he discovers that outcast fey and halfbreeds are disappearing from the real world, and no one knows why.

When mysterious and deadly Fey come after him and Kenzie, Ethan has no choice but to escape with her to the Nevernever. And so begins his journey.

This story really is kickass. Like I said, having not read Megan’s story, I really had no idea about the world or Ethan’s history. But that didn't matter. This book was a standalone story and everything was explained to me outright or in context ad was easy to pick up on.

As always, Julie’s plots are detailed and sound, her world real, and I’m particularly in love with her dialogue and the fact that all her MCs know how to fight (which comes in handy in her books, obvs.). It always feels like I’m there with the characters and I want to hurry up and get to the end to know what happens, but then am always so sad when it’s over.

For sure pick up a copy and read it for yourself. If you’re a fan of awesome writing, good plots, engaging characters, and the Iron Fey/Julie Kagawa, this one will be another book added to your Favorites list. 


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Feis (fesh): An Irish dance competition

This might be somewhat of a sporadic post…sorry in advance; I’m still tired and recuperating.

An Irish dance solo dress. But not MY dress.
But I am in love with it. It's a 2010 creation by
Allison Thrasher and I saw it at the feis.
As some of you may know, I had my first feis (Irish dance competition) lat weekend in a looooooong time. I’m talking upwards of 12 years, people.

I’m an extremely competitive person; I like to push myself and know that I’m better than other people at certain things. Irish dancing is one of them. So, when the opportunity came up for me to find out, I pounced on it. And so did my good friend, and fellow dancing buddy.

Now, she is just as competitive as I am, so this feis was a good thing. The only problem: We’re both in the same level and the same age category and in the same dances. Which meant that we would be competing against each other in every dance. Which meant, that no matter how many other people we were competing against, one of us would win and the other would lose.  So, we sat down and had the “talk”. No matter the results, we would still be friends and not be mad at whoever the “winner” turned out to be.  

Hubby’s main concern when I told him this predicament: “You two had better not get mad at each other, they’re our camping buddies.”

*insert eye roll here*

Our trip started out with an adventure, almost missing our flight because security was busier at 5:45 a.m. than it should’ve been. We touched down at PDX bright and early, caught the shuttle and puttered our way to the Hilton on 6th.

Soft shoes, or ghillies, are worn to dance ceili dances,
reels, light jigs, slip jigs, and single jigs.
We grabbed our suitcases, rolled into the hotel and up to the front desk and gave our names for check in. tappity-tap-tap-tap went the keyboard before the gentleman looked up at us. “I’m not showing you in our system at all.”

Annnnnnd cue heart attack.

We told him we got our confirmation email. Then he gave a knowing nod. “For the Hilton in Portland or the Hilton in Vancover?”

“Uh….the Hilton on 6th?” I said.

“There are two Hilton’s on 6th. Portland, here, and then the one across the river.”

Oh, well, that explains everything. Guess we should’ve known to specify WHICH Hilton on 6th street. After all, they are a whole FIFTEEN minutes away from each other.

So, we hailed a cab and headed across the river to the right Hilton. I’ve never been so happy to see fake tans, hair, and make up as I was when I walked through that revolving door. “Welcome Irish dancers!” proclaimed a sign by the front desk.

We had some amazing breakfast at the café there. It cost me $20 bucks for a small skillet breakfast, and  I could only eat half of it because I was so stinking nervous. After that, it was off to the ballrooms to watch the competitions and get a feel for how things were going to go. It was intimidating to see all the dancers pounding their hearts out on those plywood stages. They were all such amazing dancers. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I wasn’t competing against them. We spent a good three or so hours taking that all in, before going to the gym and working off some of my nerves. Practiced a bit. Then went and watched some more.

A sports bar was recommended to us for dinner, where we were told their truffle fries were amazing. And amazing they were! Holy crap, I want to go back to Vancouver just for those fries.

So we got back from dinner, practiced on the stages so we could get a feel for the floor, the space, and actually being up on there. And I have to say,
These are some typical wigs worn by most competition
dancers (but not all Irish dancers). They also have side
ponytails and buns. Long and short. 

I. kicked. Ass.

It’s true. I nailed everything. I was confident. I was precise. I was doing good. And that’s what I needed. I knew that I would be fine the next day and that if I failed, it was only because I got in my own way.

So, the next morning, I got all ready. Yes, the wig, the makeup, the outfit, the whole nine, (And I love it, btw), and went out onto the dance floor.

Our first competition was at 1:15, a two hand. We schooled it.

Then there was about a 3 hour break before the rest of our dances which were back-to-back. The feis was running about an hour behind because of unexpected dancers signing up.

Reel? Aced it.

Light Jig? First.

Slip Jig? In the bag.

Single Jig? Boo-ya! Gold medal.

Trophy Reel? Yup, I got the trophy.

Trebble Jig? Second.

Hornpipe? Tied for second.

Trophy Trebble Reel? 4th. :(

Traditional Set Dance? Call me Michael Phelps.

These are hard shoes, or jig shoes, and are worn dance
treble reels, treble jigs, hornpipes, and traditional set dances,
as well as misc. choreographed dances. 
So, as you can see from the pattern, soft shoe dances are my forte. I rock at those. Hard shoe, I’m a little weaker in. Over all, it was a good feis.

Until we looked at a clock and realized we were going to miss our flight if we didn’t get out of here. So we begged and pleaded to get our trophies early, won, and then skedaddled to the airport.

Where my friend’s carryon got held up by the TSA. I’m not even kidding, this is how it went down:

Conveyor belt stops. TSA agent looks at screen with a frown.

Me: I bet that’s your bag holding it up.

Friend: No way.

TSA guy waves over another agent who looks at the screen, scratches his chin and waves over another guy.

TSA: What’s in your bag?

Friend: Clothes, shoes, trophies.

TSA: Hmmm….well, it doesn’t look good. It looks suspicious.

(At this point, our plane is scheduled to take off in about 20 minutes, and there are approximately six TSA agents now gathered around the screen, analyzing the screen and trying to guess what’s in the bag. Including an “upper management” guy.)

Me: Our plane’s boarding and about to take off, can you guys just take the suitcase out, look at what’s inside instead of guessing what it could be based on what you see on the screen so we don’t miss our plane?

So, they do that. Take it to the side. Open it up, and pull out her two trophies.

TSA: Oh, this is what it was. They were two different sizes, so they looked funny.

Uh-huh, sure.

He proceeds to put them back and let us go, when an old TSA man says, “No, you need to go through protocol.”


So, he puts on the gloves, pulls out something to wipe her suitcase down for bomb stuff or something. At this point I tell her I’m going to run to the plane and tell them not to take off without us.

Me: This will teach you to stop winning trophies.

Luckily we made the flight. Because it was the last one out of PDX to get home.

So, I got my trophies and metals, kicked some serious butt and am prepping for my next feis in February in SLC. Where I plan on kicking some more butt and bringing home even more bling.


Here's a fun short(er) video for a Seniors Parade of Champions


Friday, October 26, 2012

So, I promise to start writing more post-y things on here. I've just been so INCREDIBLY busy. Finishing up the final rounds of edits to CASTE so I can get it off, then preparing for the feis this weekend (that's an Irish dance competition). My poor knees and feet. Oye!

Anyway, time for an entertaining Freebee Friday!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Freebee Friday!!

There are a lot of funny commercials on tv right now. And since I'm in the market for a new phone, I notice those the most. Here's the one I want. And they just happen to have one that makes me laugh. Enjoy! Happy Friday, my friends!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Drain You blog hop & giveaway is here! RIGHT HERE! RIGHT NOW!

This is so exciting! I have the AMAZING opportunity to be a part of the Drain You blog tour!! Yay! And guess what comes with that? All sorts of wicked cool things. :) Like my review (obvs), the book trailer, prizes (at the bottom), and finding all sorts of other cool blogs participating.  I mean, with a summary like this: 

"Summer. The 90s. The rich, sun-bleached neighborhoods of the Los Angeles canyons. Enter Quinlan Lacey, a cool, bored, sarcastic, sexy 17-year old with a dull part-time video store job and a mild case of teen ennui. That is, until she meets the alluring, River Phoenix-esque James, and realizes the hills are alive with the undead. Inspired more by the early, dry L.A. short stories of Bret Easton Ellis than the current crop of serialized vampire fiction, the supernatural grunge romance, Drain You, narrates the headaches and heartbreaks Quinn undergoes in her quest to stay sane and cool and in love and alive."

How can you say no, right? So, let's get started, shall we?

My Review:
Rating: Strong PG-13. Open door sex scenes, but no really details given
Coffee Beans: 4/5
Favorite Lines: So I loved Libby, but in a vintage way. Like a childhood blanket, or my dad's mac and cheese. A deep love, but not one you tap into on a daily basis. (Ebook, pg 25) Okay, no big deal, I'd just call Stiles…at his underground lair, where he most likely had Libby chained to a radiator and she was loving it. Stella gave me the number, which contained not even one six, let alone the three in a row I'd expected. (Ebook, pg 76) …I drew on so much eyeliner I looked like a sobbing drunk raccoon on a tequila bender… (Ebook pg 134)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased review.

I admit, when I read the first chapter, I wasn't that impressed. The voice was a little off and the writing didn't grab me. But I kept reading and figured out that this was pretty much awesomeness. It instantly reminded me of The Lost Boys, but now. It also reminded me of the 90's (which I loved) and made me want to move back to SoCal and remember the good times I had while growing up.
There were multiple things that impressed me with this book:
  • The dialogue. Snappy, witty, snarky, and funny, Bloom's dialogue is just downright good. I was there, it was real, and it carried the story much more than just narrative alone
  • The MC's voice. Quinn has a dark sense of humor and is so quick with everything, and her attitude of "whatever" is the icing on the cake. There were so many funny lines that were added that perfect certain something, which made the entire reading experience that much better
  • The MC. Quinn, for me, is very real. She cares deeply about those who mean something to her. She doesn't know what she wants when it comes to boys. She's shallow and selfish at times, but she has drive. And I didn't find that off-putting at any point. Mainly because she gets called on it (several times) and she knows it's the truth. But we've all been there. Admit it.
  • The relationships. There are several different, unique relationships Quinn is a part of, and they all come to life so realistically. Her absentee parents but their very functional relationship. Her coworker and complicated relationship-er, Morgan. Her casual best friend, Libby. The snobby girl from school, Naomi. James, the hot brother Quinn never knew existed. The equally hot other brother and instant best friend when crush disappears, Whit. And the evil twins, Stiles and Sanders. They all work brilliantly.
  • The package. I'm assuming this is going to be a series. Depending on how well this one goes. I thought it was a tight, well-written story encapsulated into one book. The ending was finite but there are definitely LOTS of questions that still need answering.
There was one thing that didn't sit well with me, though.
  • Instalove. I'm not a fan of this. It's unbelievable and really jars me out of a story. Yeah, we get Quinn thinks James is hot and she's majorly crushing on him and they have to get together for the sake of plot progression. But getting as close and invested as they did—and in only a week—is a little hard for me to swallow. (update: after reading it for a second time in prep for this tour, I want to amend this statement. The second time around, I got a better sense of who Quinn was and the intensity of her life. And while there still was Instalove present, it wasn't nearly as obvious as before. That is all. Thank you.)
  • The MC sleeps. A lot. Which isn't bad, I guess. But she's always tired and sleeping. *Shrugs shoulders* Just thought I'd mention that.
If you're a fan of the 90's (and if you aren't, you should be), if you liked The Lost Boys (and if you didn't, shame on you. Watch it again and change your mind), and if you enjoy dark humor, pick up the book. You'll probably be pretty entertained. Pick it up and decide for yourself. :) And yes, this is another vampire book. I love them so much

And Publisher's Weekly (<--link) loved it, too!:  "Bloom debuts with a languid, stylish novel that reads like a love letter to cult vampire flicks like The Lost Boys, the work of Francesca Lia Block, and Southern California in the 1990s." Want to buy this book and devour it like I did? Check it. BN Amazon

Because book trailers are all sorts of awesome:

Plus, Bloom's really kinda some sort of AWESOME:

"Bloom's first short story “Love And Other Catastrophes: A Mix Tape” was featured in Story Quarterly and selected by Dave Eggers for inclusion in The Best American Nonrequired Reading: 2003 (Houghton-Mifflin), which he curates annually. Bloom is the founder of underground dance label 100% Silk (profiled here in LA WeeklyAND the producer/lead singer of the band LA Vampires (written up in The Guardian as well as Pitchfork and Fader). Her next book will be published through HarperTeen.

M. Beth lives on the east side of L.A. where she indulges in raw fooding, magazine subscribing, thrift shopping, Sunday matinee'ing, and ladies book clubbing." 

And now, what we all really want. FREE STUFF!

 Okay, wanna know what you could win? Here it is!
  • 5 copies of Drain You signed by Bloom
  • $50 credit at Wasteland (Quinn's favorite store. And it IS pretty awesome if I do say so myself)
  • Pages from Quinn's notebook (pics below)
  • 10 Drain You bookmarks handmade by no other than Quinn herself (probably while she was hanging out at the video store with Morgan)
  • 10 90's mixtapes curated and created by Quinn (Guys. For real. This is my favorite prize above all. Do you know how COMPLETELY AWESOME the music was in the 90s???? It was, like, epicly awesome!)
Now, for the winning part. Simply fill out the raffle copter below. That's all. Easy-peasy life is breezy. (I had to do a link rather than a widget because I'm still trying to figure Wordpress out and I'm not html savvy...yet...Hopfully I can get someone WAY smarter than I am to help me out very soon...)

That's all I have for you today, but seriously, pick up the book and read it. I loved it and think you will, too. Also, make sure to enter and win all the prizes you can. And check out all the other blogs this hop will be making an appearance on. Peace my friends!

The next stop on the tour (copied from Mundie Moms blog):
October 18th
October 19th
October 20th
October 21st
October 22nd
October 23rd
October 24th
October 25th
October 26th
October 27th
October 28th
October 29th
October 30th
October 31st

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Second thoughts....

It would seem that this blog address is still getting LOTS of hits. :) Which makes me want to do a little dance. I'm still over at my Wordpress blog, but I'm thinking I might come back to Blogger, too.

Now, I'm all for being honest, direct, and admitting my mistakes. I went over to Wordpress initially because I was frustrated with Blogger on a few tiny things. And while I LOVE the look of my new blog, I'm beginning to wonder if moving wasn't a mistake.

The grass isn't always greener.

So, starting tomorrow, (and I'll probably be banging my head against my desk every day going forward), I'm going to post on BOTH blogs and see how it goes. Which means I'll have to get to this new Blogger format.

Yay! Or No!!!! We'll see. :)

Happy reading my friends!


Friday, October 12, 2012

A nice effort, but Andy Squared dropped the ball

Andy Squared
By: Jennifer Lavoie
Genre: YA (Coming of Age, LGBT)
Rating: Strong PG-13 for closed door sex scene
Spoilers: Heck to the yes. I have to in order to show you why this book failed for me
Coffee Beans: 1 (for the cover)
Cover: Awesome Sauce (if it were a book set on the coast)
Instalove Factor: Not present
My Personal Recommendation: Skip, please
Opening Line: “The neon yellow ball rolled to a stop in front of Andrew.”
Favorite Line: “Andrew left to make the call, standing outside of the living room but close enough for help should his father, say, climb through the phone to kill him.” (Pg 142 of ereader)
Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for this honest review. Also, I'm pretty honest and at times harsh. You have been warned. 

Publisher’s Summary
Seventeen-year-old twins, Andrew and Andrea Morris, have always been close. They share everything—from their friends to a room—and they both enjoy star positions on their high school’s soccer teams. All’s right with the twins...or is it?

When new student Ryder Coltrane moves from Texas to their small New York town, he spins Andrew’s world upside down. All of Andrew’s past relationship troubles begin to make sense and his true feelings start to click into place after Ryder comes out to him. His friendship with Ryder turns secretively romantic, but secrets, they soon find out, are hard to keep. Once rumors start to fly, so-called friends turn on them, and the boys’ relationship turns into a bomb about to explode. But Andrew never expected it would be his own twin, Andrea, holding a lighter to ignite it.

My Review
I’m giving you all fair warning now: I did not like this book (although there are many others out there who’ve given it 4/5 star reviews who would vehemently disagree with me). In order to show you why I feel this way, there will be spoilers in this review. Which, to me, doesn’t matter as I won’t be recommending it to anybody.

So, if you really liked this book and you don’t want to get upset by what I have to say, or if you’re a sensitive person and don’t want your feelers hurt, I wouldn’t blame you for turning away, but if you’re sticking it out, good for you.

Oh, where do I begin?

How about my first impressions? Those were positive. I read the description and coupled with the cover, I thought this was going to be a pretty cool book. Here’s why:

  • ·         The cover’s sweet (although it looks like it belongs more on a book about a beach than upstate, small-town New York)

  • ·         There are twins involved. I’m a twin. I write books about twins. I. Love. Twins. As well as the whole family dynamic and how different it can be

  • ·         The premise sounded really promising and had the potential to grab a very specific audience

  • ·         I thought this could really be a splash in the book-reading world and could maybe be one of those “Well, Andy had the strength to do it, so maybe I can too” kind of experiences for any kid struggling with a situation similar to the MC’s

  • It was a short read; on my Nook, only 180 pages

Okay, now down to the nitty-gritty of where my problems were:

The family factor: I thought the dynamic was unrealistic and it really kind of got under my skin. Mom and Dad are there but not, but when they are there, they’re kind of portrayed as being the perfect parents. 
Andrea is forceful, belligerent, controlling, and overall a horrible human being. Andrew always mention that he and his twin are BEST FRIENDS but I don’t understand why based on the information I was given in the book. IMO, she’s someone that needed to be ditched at the curb.

The meh factor: This is the most unacceptable of the short comings, especially when dealing with this kind of topic. It’s an important issue. A real issue that carries a heavy impact and to not give it everything it deserves—in the plot, the “lesson” at the end, the writing—is inexcusable. The writing was just meh. The plot was okay, the lesson wasn’t anything powerful, and nothing grabbed me the way I felt it should. Bottom line. The only character I really felt anything for was Andrea and that’s because hate is a strong emotion.

The execution factor: I have noted in my Nook, over and over again: telling. I was told the story, not shown. I wasn’t there. There was far too much narrative that propelled it along. Not enough dialogue (both internal and external) to give me the connection I needed to be invested in Andy’s story. It felt overworked while at the same time, not doing very much. The writing feels “simple”, like it was written for middle-grade readers instead of the high school readers the 17yo characters would attract. Also, I felt like the author was summarizing the scene for us before hand and then telling it to us again through the characters and at times it felt like I was reading a screenplay.

The horse factor: This one’s small, but it’s mine, dang it. I’m a big horse person. Have been since I was about seven. I know a thing or two. Not sure if the author does or not, but when love interest (See, I can’t even remember his name. Oh! Ryder), when Ryder puts Andy in an English saddle THE FIRST TIME HE’S EVER BEEN ON A HORSE, I almost threw my Nook across the room. If you want to know the specifics as to why, let me know and I’ll tell you. But let’s just suffice to say I’ve never seen a first time rider get acquainted with a horse in an English saddle.

(Somewhat connected, I’m a little disappointed that the gay love interest is a cowboy. Is that all anyone can think of because of Brokeback Mountain?)

The coming out factor: Here’s my confession: this is the first book I’ve ever read that had gay characters that weren’t the token “stereotypical” gay guys. So, that being said, I know next to nothing about this genre or what I should expect or what the standard is. So, my following comments may be rendered null and void in light of that confession. For the most part, being gay isn’t taboo anymore, but because my brain isn’t wanting to function fully right now, I’m going to use that word because that’s the closest thing I can think of to get my point across.

These kinds of books frustrate me deeply. It almost seems like quality writing is forsaken because the topic that’s being written about is taboo or “shocking” and therefore it’s okay. It’s not. I think with controversial books, quality is in even higher demand; otherwise it’s just another reason to write it off.

The lack of proper punishment factor: There may be a few of you who don’t agree on this next part, and that’s totally a-okay with me. But I’m gonna say it and say it loud. (If you don’t want spoilers, I suggest you stop reading now).


Here’s why. New Year’s Eve rolls around and everyone goes to a party in the park. Andrew and Ryder sneak off and share a kiss. Andrea sees them and freaks out. I don’t have a problem with that. I’d probably freak out seeing that, too. She demands to be taken home, refuses to sit next to Ryder in the truck (the three of them rode together). Andrew does the right thing and tells her to suck it up and takes Ryder home. All of that is okay.

When Andrea and Andrew get home, Andrea’s pissed and tells their parents everything. Proceeds to badger and verbally abuse her brother, in front of her parents. The mom starts crying, the dad is in shock, Andrea keeps beating the dead horse and Andrew runs away to Ryder’s house to get away from everything.
His parents end up handling everything pretty well , but Andrea refuses to talk to her brother about it, only sparing enough words to notify him that she’s not keeping his dirty little secret and says that everyone has the right to know about him and Ryder and she’s going to tell them.

Witch that rhymes with a B.

I don’t know of any sibling who loves the other that would cause that kind of hurt and spew that kind of hatred. I just don’t. The author did one thing right here: she invoked such a strong emotion from me, I wished Andrea were a real person so I could practice my right hook and upper cuts on her face. (ßWow, see! This is bringing it all the emotion back!)

So, until Andrew’s room can finish getting remodeled (he had been bunking with Andrea), he’s staying at Ryder’s. The first day of school comes and both boys are teased, bullied, and whispered about by classmates and friends. Andrew’s pushed around a bit, but other than that, the first day isn’t as bad as they thought it would be.
The second day, though, takes the cake. Apparently, Andrea had gone up to Andrew’s old best friend (I want to call him Peter, but I don’t think that’s right) and tells him her brother’s secret, that he’s gay and sleeping with Ryder, and to give her brother a hard time and teach him a lesson.


Seriously? You’re calling a hit on your brother because you don’t like who he is and you feel that he lied to you and betrayed to you because he didn’t tell you the minute he maybe kinda thought he could be gay?????

So, it’s lunch. Peter comes over to the table where Ryder and Andy are sitting. Andrea watches with a grin from another table. And Peter and some other goon start to pick a fight. It’s going down Ugly Ass Shite Road and who steps in? Andrea? Hell no. It’s some other girl, a friend that knows what’s happening is wrong. It’s only after that that Andrea freaks out and says, “Stop it! I only told you to give him a bad time and teach him a lesson!” (And yes, I wrote that in a whiny, annoying voice).

Okay, at this point, any logical and normal human being would be pissed at Andrea tell her to “Get the &%@$ off, you told him to do this. You’re my sister and you told him to hurt me.” Then I’d push past her, tell her she’s as bad as they are and proceed to give her the tongue lashing of a century that she’s due.
But I like to hold grudges. And I still think she deserves it.

And what really makes me mad is that Andrew doesn’t hold his sister accountable for her actions AT ALL. No, I’m sorry. She doesn’t get a free ride because she’s your sister. That fact alone makes her betrayal all the worse. She doesn’t get to say “sorry” and then the two of you get to skip through the snow holding hands singing “tra-la-la-la-la” through fluffy white flakes.


Okay, rant over. But I hope I got my point across. Anyway, my standard farewell applies here as well as to all other books: pick it up and read it for yourself. You may feel differently than I did.
But I’m not going to recommend this book to anyone. Ever.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

By: Jamie McGuire
Genre: Seriously messed-up dysfunctional YA romance
Rating: R (for bedroom scenes and language)
Coffee Beans: 3.5/5
Spoilers: Nothing major
Favorite Line: “It looks like Vegas threw up on a flock of vultures,” America sneered.
Warning: This is going to be long, but I promise you, it will be interesting and entertaining to make the ride smooth. Also, I will not be commenting on the technical side of the book (writing, etc), I will only be commenting on the story itself. Point 3, this is, 100% a guilty pleasure review, because that’s the only way I could review this book.

How I would catagorize this book: Fight Club + a Lifetime Original movie = this train wreck of a romance.

Publisher’s Review
The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

From me
I’m learning my lesson this time around and writing my review as I go. Mainly because with this book, there’s a lot I want to say and I don’t want to forget any of it.

I started this book at 7pm last night, read to 11 (past my bedtime) and then sat in my car before work and read as much as I could there, too. Repeat the process for lunch, add in reading under my desk and then in the car on the ride home. This book is addicting, and pulls you through with such force, you’re bound to get whiplash.

But that in no way means that this is a “good” book.

It just means I couldn’t put it down. And based on a lot of the reviews out there, that’s how the majority of the readers felt, too; no matter how slight.

Guilty Pleasure Review
I’m probably going to offend a lot of people out there with this next statement, but here we go!
Any woman who says, that deep down, she doesn’t have some sort of fantasy of or desire for (on any level), a man to be an Alpha Male around her is lying to herself. Girl Power is all over the place (yay, I support that! I’m all for strong women and doing things for ourselves, etc), but deep down, I think it’s a primal instinct of our gender that we want to have the big, strong, burly, somewhat aggressive/protective/dominant male to single us out, find us attractive, and then defend us against any other encroaching male. It’s also a strange (and somewhat stupid, IMO) desire to find the broken man and be able to “fix” or “change” him because we’re that special or he loves us that much.

That being said, I want to make it clear that I don’t think that that’s what this book does. AT ALL. I think this book supports more of an abusive, co-dependent, dysfunctional relationship. But that’s obvious, so I’m not going to talk about it anymore than that.


As I was saying, it’s not that this book is particularly well written or has a very strong plot. The female is a worse flip-flopper than Kerry during the 2008 presidential election and weak, but for some blasted reason, I couldn’t put the book down, and when I wasn’t reading it, all I thought about was picking it up to read it some more. I think the reason is this: That’s a pretty dangerous/exciting/thrilling life to be living vicariously through Abby. Admit it. Going back to your early college years. The partying, the hooking up, the careless fun with no consequences or responsibility….Psychopathic boyfriend with anger and obsession issues…..Oh, wait…

Moving on.

On a safe, light level, this is probably a life that some women secretly long for or wish they could go back to. And this entire book was one fustercluck of a dysfunctional, twisted train wreck that you couldn’t pass by without slowing down to gape at.

You all know how I feel about books being written glorifying this type of relationship, so I’m not going to get up on my soapbox…much. Instead, let’s break down what’s going on here, in a somewhat light-hearted manner.

The Setting
Okay, really, what college has a cafeteria and an hour lunch period devoted strictly to eating? Any hands? Bueller? That’s right…none. That I know of. I got the distinct impression that this was supposed to be/originally written in a high school setting. Here’s how I pictured the author’s original scenario playing out:
  • Two girls in high school, maybe a private away-from-home school. America falls for an older guy from the nearby college. Abby follows suit with the guy’s cousin. (It would explain why the girls are living in the dorms and the guys are living in an apartment instead of in dorms or in the frat house, like they should be. Which is also why they have lunch hours – to develop the Travis-Abby relationship dynamic and the Travis-gets-to-pummel-the-football-team opportunities.)
  • But wait! If I have it set in high school, then I can’t really have the content in the book that I want to (because, let’s face it, even though “anything goes” in YA, there are some decency limits). And, it’d be weird to be publicly talking about and okaying the fact that they’re sneaking off to their college boyfriend’s apartments and doing the unmentionable (Mare, at least).
  • So I’ll make it college. Voila! Everything is fixed and now it’s okay that they’re dating older guys and there are underground fight circles and I can push the limits EVEN MORE!
  • The end.
I’m sure it didn’t go exactly like that, but probably pretty close.

The Best Friend Factor
America sucks as a best friend. I’m putting that out there now. She encourages Abby to like Travis. Then tries to protect her from Travis because he’s “scary” and “dangerous”.  Then she doesn’t really give any merit to what’s happening in her best friend’s relationship. BUT, when her boyfriend, Shepley, makes some stupid wrong decision, the world is ending and she breaks up with him.Multiple times.

And what’s up with Shep? Always warning Abby to be patient with Travis and to overlook the “mistakes” he’s going to make. Uh, okay…is that what they’re calling psychotic-jealousy-induced-violent tantrums now a days? Mistakes?

Then there’s the scene where Abby ends up leaving in the middle of the night. Travis wakes up and freaks out. Tearing down drapes, throwing stereos, punching mirrors, ripping doors from hinges, etc. America actually has the nerve to call Abby and tell her what’s going on, confess that she’s really scared of Travis right now, and then tell Abby that she has to come back.

What the hell?????

(Let’s face it, reality is seriously skewed in this book, which is why I can’t really give it a serious review)

Abusive relationships
Yes, there is more than one. For instance, with me. I felt like I was in an abusive relationship with this book. At first, it’s fine. I like the storyline, I like the characters. The book is nice to me. The extreme fantasy of this situation playing out the way it was was okay.

Then, little things started happening. The wrong reaction from Travis, the wrong decision from Abby. The flippant attitude of everyone involved when disturbing things start happening. But then, everything goes back to how it was in the beginning, normal. Gifts were exchanged, smiles flashed, compliments given. It’s all good, right?


I didn’t want to read. What I was reading was wrong. But I was promised everything would get better. And I had to know what was going on. So I read on. Which is the whole point, and the cycle starts again.
Even though there wasn’t any physical abuse going on between Abby and Travis, there was certainly some mental and psychological abuse present. From the outside, this was definitely a relationship that shouldn’t have been explored. But I can also understand how it may not have been so obvious for Abby. But, there’s no excuse for Mare and Shep not to have stepped in with the red flags.

Oh, crazy, emotional, dysfunctional, blind, inconsistent, Abby. Okay, so I understand why she took the bet and held to it. I mean, she just out of high school and not all that mature. I’m sure that if a lot of girls were in her position, and Travis was a guy they were interested in (because, let’s face it, she was lying when she said she wasn’t interested), they’d totally lose that bet on purpose and claim integrity and honor by fulfilling it. So, for a few people out there, it’s a realistic set up. Sometimes I think Abby’s smart, seeing that Travis is not a wise choice for a boyfriend, and then she surprises me and turns dumb again, ignoring her previous decision.

Lame “Secret”
That’s right, I’ve called you out, “mysterious reason as to why Abby doesn’t want to get close to Travis”. L-A-M-E. I mean, it could’ve been good, if it were executed better, given more weight, and showed up more throughout the story except for where it was convenient to move the plot forward or explain some back-assward reasoning for Abby’s actions.

Everyone and their dog has a nickname! For the love of Pete, can’t we just call ‘em by their names?? Pigeon/Pidge/Abs = Abby; Mare = America; Shep = Shepley; Trav = Travis. Pigeon kind of annoyed me at first, but then it grew on me.

I’ll admit, I thought this was a completely different book when I started reading it and was a bit confused when I saw it on an end cap in B&N next to 50 Shades and Ann Rice’s old books. (I thought I was starting the YA book Love & Other Perishable Items, the covers are so freaking similar. It’s not my fault).

But the more I read, the more addictive it became. And I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up past my bedtime the first night. Sat in the parking lot before work to read. Read on my lunch. Read under my desk. And went to read after work at Sbux, BUT MY NOOK BATTERY DIED!! So yes, this plot is strong enough and fast enough to pull you through the unbelievable crap that’s between the covers (and not the bed sheets kind).

I loved this guy’s review and in particular, this snippet:

“Anyhoo, with all this rambling it may seem like I hated this book. Not at all! Much like a junkie getting kicked out of rehab for shooting up the smack he smuggled in his anus, I continually keep coming back to these type of stories! It’s a love/hate relationship! I just want to see how the story is going to end…even though I sort of already do.”

For me, that’s the perfect description.

The Ending
It sucked. I’m not saying anything else, except: It was a little too cookie cutter of an HEA. I think there should have been a bit more dysfunction in the end. Like maybe a murder (Travis has it in him) or a mob contract, or something equally as interesting (Joking, but only slightly).

There’s Another One
And you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m gonna read it. It’s gonna be told from Trav’s POV so we’ll understand why he acted like he did and all fall in love with him. Awwww! (Every time Travis is in a scene, the song SmoothOperater comes to mind…)

My friend, Tiff, described it as a “train wreck of a romance” and I couldn’t agree more. There are two times when the characters describe the truth of the relationship. Abby says, “We are dysfunctional, Travis.”(amen) and then Shep tells Abby that when her and Travis are happy everything’s rainbows and butterflies but when they’re not, it’s like a tornado is destroying the world.

I think Beautiful Disaster is the perfect mash-up of Fight Club and some outrageous Lifetime Original Movie. In fact, I totally envisioned this as a movie and the success it would have if ever put into one, from the first scene at the Circle. Come to find out, it’s going to be made into one sometime in the future.
In the end, I think this book—as much as some people don’t want to admit it—is believable and a reality to a lot of girls out there. So deal, even if you don’t like it or agree. Overall, I liked it for the mindless, emotional abuse of a ride that it was.

Happy reading!