Friday, July 31, 2020

DNF&Y [31]

DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative! If you would like additional information, please click on the DNF&Y tab at the top. If you want to join, you can link up at the bottom!

A Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Korean-American author Jayci Lee delights with this delicious and light-hearted romantic comedy that readers will devour and ask for more.

Bake a chance on love.


Aubrey Choi loves living in her small town nestled in the foothills of California, running her highly successful bakery away from the watch of her strict Korean parents. When a cake mix-up and a harsh review threaten all of her hard work and her livelihood, she never thought the jaded food critic would turn out to be her one-night stand. And she sure as hell never thought she’d see her gorgeous Korean unicorn again. But when Landon Kim waltzes into her bakery trying to clean up the mess he had a huge hand in making, Aubrey is torn between throwing and hearing him out.

When she hears his plan to help save her business, Aubrey knows that spending three weeks in California wine country working with Landon is a sure recipe for disaster. Her head is telling her to take the chance to save her bakery while her heart—and her hormones—are at war on whether to give him a second chance. And it just so happens that Landon’s meddling friends want them to spend those three weeks as close as possible...by sharing a villa.

When things start heating up, both in and out of the kitchen, Aubrey will have to make a choice—to stick it out or risk her heart. 

This review was originally posted on 7/9/20. You can find it here.

"Her jaws went slack, and her tummy dipped and swerved at the appreciative gleam in his eyes."
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I really wanted to like A Sweet Mess, and thought the idea of two Korean-American foodies sounded adorable, but it was sooo cheesy and unromantic. I honestly thought this was the author's first book until I talked to Karen (from For What It's Worth). We'd unknowingly been trying to read it at the same time, but both struggled with the story. It was after messaging her that I realized the author has been published previously.

I'm also not a fan of telling over showing. I should be able to see and understand the humor without someone screaming, "LOOK! RIGHT HERE! THIS IS FUNNY! LAUGH!" I really struggled with the dialogue as well, since their conversations made them seem like teenagers in high school, and not adults with their own businesses and careers.

The formatting was atrocious. I'm already not a fan of POV changes in the middle of a chapter, but this book gives you absolutely no warning before dropping you into someone else's head. I would be reading thinking I was one person, but a few pages later realize that I'd been someone else all along. I would have to backtrack and start over, but even that was hard to do since there were no page breaks or any indication that there'd been a switch. Additionally, the story skips ahead a month without making that abundantly clear, and there wasn't a confirmed chapter until CHAPTER 4. How does that work?

The relationship between Aubrey and Landon wasn't all that believable either. Yes, people have one-night stands, but it felt like they rushed through everything at the start. I wanted there to be more build up before they banged. Basically, they meet at a bar, start to drink together while enjoying some light conversation, then abruptly jump up to act on their "uncontrollable" urges. I wish they'd deepened their conversation, explored their connection, and then left to go boink their brains out.

Finally, I cannot stand it when someone is attracted to a person that has screwed them over, like it's completely out of their control. Landon did something that was truly terrible, and other than "feeling bad" about it, doesn't really give a shit. He doesn't want to risk his reputation to do right by someone else. His "reasons" for staying out of it were crap, and I hated that Aubrey still wanted to hump his leg whenever she saw him again.

"Standing on the brink of losing her dream, she still wanted the man."

"She was determined to hate him, but the thought of him naked on her bed stalled her brain."

"She mentally slapped herself, annoyed as hell at her body’s reaction to him. He was the bringer of destruction. The pusher of her rage buttons."

Aubrey was a smart, successful woman, but the thought of this jerk naked made her act like a hormonal teenager. She should have had more respect for herself and the dream she'd worked so hard for. He could have easily remedied his mistake, but his pride was nearly as large as his ego. It also felt like the author was trying to justify her interest in Landon, despite him clearly being an asshole.

The parts of the book that I think were meant to be funny (like Darth Dimple) ended up making me cringe instead because of the context. She's justifiably mad at him, but mentally making excuses for his behavior. Nope. Sorry, bucko. You don't get any v-candy after being an asshat. His "roving eyes" should have made her angry, not horny. Instead of writing to him and his employer, she should have complained publicly and shared her story with the world. His review of her business was done unfairly, and she shouldn't have sulked around waiting for him to fix things for her. DNF at 20% (★★☆☆☆)


𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋

Memory Clouds by Tony Moyle

Synopsis (via Goodreads): The Circuit knows everything about you…because they are you.

Ascension Eve. 


Jake Montana waits for the letter every eighteen-year-old receives on their birthday. It’s the one from the Circuit. It’s the one that determines the rest of your life. Your life partner, job, home, and crucially, your importance factor, all selected for you. In the year 2054 your ‘importance factor’ is everything, but it’s not random. It’s based on a detailed assessment of every thought, emotion and memory you’ve ever stored in your Memory Cloud since the day you first received the implants. Your fate, the Circuit insists, is always yours.

But the future that Jake wants most won’t be inside his letter. It can’t be. His childhood sweetheart, Christie, won’t reach her Ascension Day for months so it’s impossible that her name will appear. He’s right, but there are bigger surprises in store. The Memory Cloud has chosen a life for Jake that no one would want. A life that will drag him into the murky world of the Spectrum, a community who denounce the Circuit and refuse to comply to their rules. A life designed to keep Jake from Christie and to hide the truth that lives deep inside him.

A truth that the Circuit will stop at nothing to keep from the world.

Memory Clouds is book one of the 'Circuit' series, the brand new dystopian thriller from Tony Moyle. if you liked 1984, A Brave New World or The Hunger Games then this is a must read. Grab hold of this wickedly dark, fast-paced page turner today. 

𑁋𑁋𑁋

I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I liked the premise for Memory Clouds, but really struggled with the story from the start. There is a lot of telling instead of showing, which is something I dislike when reading a book. If I'm being introduced to a new world, I want to experience it through the characters. I don't want a lot of info-dumping right at the beginning. The author tried to cram too much world-building into the first few pages, and it left me feeling overwhelmed and disconnected from the story. DNF at 2% (★★☆☆☆)

𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋𑁋

The Mall by Megan McCafferty

Synopsis (via Goodreads): New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty returns to her roots with this YA coming of age story set in a New Jersey mall.

The year is 1991. Scrunchies, mixtapes and 90210 are, like, totally fresh. Cassie Worthy is psyched to spend the summer after graduation working at the Parkway Center Mall. In six weeks, she and her boyfriend head off to college in NYC to fulfill The Plan: higher education and happily ever after.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans...

Set entirely in a classic “monument to consumerism,” the novel follows Cassie as she finds friendship, love, and ultimately herself, in the most unexpected of places. Megan McCafferty, beloved New York Times bestselling author of the Jessica Darling series, takes readers on an epic trip back in time to
The Mall.


"Then Dad kissed Mom on the cheek, and I was ready to leggo my Eggos all over the Volvo’s leather interior."
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Reading this book was the equivalent of listening to someone scrape their fingernails down a chalkboard. My mind recoiled at the unwitty dialogue and over-the-top attempts at humor (see previous quote). Cassie is an obnoxious, offensive character, and there's no way I would have been able to finish this book with her as the only POV. 

Let's look at some of the horrible things she says, shall we?
  1. "...until I saw Troy’s tongue in Helen’s snaggletoothed yuck mouth."
  2. "This Helen was not beautiful. She was tiny and terrifying like a feral Chihuahua with a horrendous home perm."
  3. "Helen stopped groping Troy and casually twirled a crusty curl around her finger."
  4. "But I couldn’t avoid passing him in the halls, this denim-on-denim dirtbag who reeked of weed and Designer Imposters Drakkar Noir even at a distance."
I get that Cassie was upset her boyfriend had been cheating on her, but she just goes on and on with her hateful thoughts and commentary. I don't care that she didn't actually verbalize most of what she was thinking, she's still the sort of person that belittles others to make herself feel better. Additionally, what she says about Sonny Sexton (the dirtbag comment) was totally unrelated and said for the sake of being mean. She admits to not knowing him - - to never even having a conversation with him - - yet she's quick to judge him based on appearances and perceptions. All of this happened within the first 10% of the book, so I can only imagine how it would've progressed from there.

Cassie's inner dialogue was also way too wordy, and it's clear the author was trying too hard to be funny and make her character seem more relatable than she actually was.
  • "Slade was just so predictable with his handsomeness, the quintessence of every uncreative football-playing, homecoming queen– dating, keg-tapping high school stud stereotype. It’s as if he’d enrolled in a master class at the Cobra Kai Academy of Asshole Arts and Sciences but took it pass- fail because he couldn’t be bothered to put in the extra effort required for a unique spin on teenage cockiness."
Cassie is a shallow, self-centered character that isn't even remotely relatable. Her 90210 references were peppered in to make the 90's connection, but it wasn't explained at all. If someone picks up this book and is unfamiliar with the show, most of the commentary will go over their heads. It's going to alienate a lot of readers and significantly reduce this book's potential audience. The Mall might make some people feel nostalgic, but it just made me cringe. DNF at 10% (★★☆☆☆)

*Share your DNF&Y post! Please leave the direct link to your DNF&Y post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

My Weekly Pull [126] & Can't-Wait Wednesday [101]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Sleeping Beauties #2 by Rio Youers, Alison Sampson, Annie Wu
Spider-Man Noir #2 by Margaret Stohl, Juan Ferreyra, Dave Rapoza
Firefly #18 by Greg Pak, Davide Gianfelice, George Kambadais

Mirka Andolfo's Mercy #4 by Mirka Andolfo

💥 Jacob's comics for the week! 💥

Symbiote Spider-Man Alien Reality #5 by Peter David, Greg Land
Spawn #308 by Todd McFarlane, Ken Lashley, Francesco Mattina
Amazing Spider-Man #45 by Nick Spencer, Ryan Ottley, Josemaria Casanovas
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #107 by Sophie Campbell, Nelson Daniel, Kevin Eastman
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol 5 Annual 2020 by Tom Waltz, Adam Gorham, Kevin Eastman

Lost Soldiers #1 by Ales Kot, Luca Casalanguida, Heather Moore

📚 Books for the kiddos! 

Disney Moana by Golden Books
Pokemon ABC Book by Golden Books, Steve Foxe
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Totally Turtles! by Golden Books, Matthew Gilbert, Lawrence Christmas

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature that's hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. It highlights the upcoming releases we're really excited about reading! CWW is a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday (WoW), that was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Ink & Sigil (Ink & Sigil, #1) by Kevin Hearne
Expected publication: August 25th 2020
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Al MacBharrais is both blessed and cursed. He is blessed with an extraordinary white moustache, an appreciation for craft cocktails – and a most unique magical talent. He can cast spells with magically enchanted ink and he uses his gifts to protect our world from rogue minions of various pantheons, especially the Fae.

But he is also cursed. Anyone who hears his voice will begin to feel an inexplicable hatred for Al, so he can only communicate through the written word or speech apps. And his apprentices keep dying in peculiar freak accidents. As his personal life crumbles around him, he devotes his life to his work, all the while trying to crack the secret of his curse.

But when his latest apprentice, Gordie, turns up dead in his Glasgow flat, Al discovers evidence that Gordie was living a secret life of crime. Now Al is forced to play detective – while avoiding actual detectives who are wondering why death seems to always follow Al. Investigating his apprentice’s death will take him through Scotland’s magical underworld, and he’ll need the help of a mischievous hobgoblin if he’s to survive.

*Share your My Weekly Pull post! Please leave the direct link to your My Weekly Pull post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Unready Queen (The Oddmire, #2) by William Ritter

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Human and goblin brothers Cole and Tinn are finding their way back to normal after their journey to the heart of the Oddmire. Normal, unfortunately, wants nothing to do with them. Fable, the daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, has her first true friends in the brothers. The Queen allows Fable to visit Tinn and Cole as long as she promises to stay quiet and out of sight—concealing herself and her magic from the townspeople of Endsborough.

But when the trio discovers that humans are destroying the Wild Wood and the lives of its creatures for their own dark purposes, Fable cannot stay quiet. As the unspoken truce between the people of Endsborough and the inhabitants of the Wild Wood crumbles, violence escalates, threatening war and bringing Fable’s mother closer to the fulfillment of a deadly prophecy that could leave Fable a most Unready Queen.

"Dinna be afraid of a few sparks or a burnout from time to time. That’s na failure. That’s fine-tuning.”
I received a complementary copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Finally finished reading The Unready Queen with my son! Normally, I'm able to read several chapters to him at night, but we've been having some late evenings, and he kept falling asleep. Not wanting to read without him, I paused wherever we were and continued from there the next night. It took us about a month to get through this book, but it had nothing to do with the story, and everything to do with life. 

Warning! Potential (small) spoilers if you haven't read the first book. Review for the first book can be found here.

I really love the cast of characters in this series! They're all so unique and interesting. Fable is both fairy and human, her mother is Queen of the Deep Dark (and her grandmother before that), Cole is a human, but Tinn (his twin) is a goblin changeling. They're all trying to figure out how to exist in a world that views them as different, and I enjoyed seeing their individual journeys. I do wish the characters had been developed more over the course of the story, but they seem like the same kids we read about in the first book. More character growth and this book would've been a five-star read for me.

Tinn has started to embrace his goblin side, and I thought his moments with Kull were sweet and endearing. Kull did a bad thing for the right reasons, but he was also hurt in the process. He was willing to give up something precious to him if it meant saving his entire clan, and now he's getting a second chance. Their interactions were some of my favorite parts of the book, especially there at the end. 

The first book was mostly about Tinn, the second focused on Fable, and I believe the third will be about Cole and his desire to find his father. I'm sure the others will still be around, but I like that each character is getting their own story of sorts. Evie (another human) joining the group in this book just made things better! I really loved her interactions with the spriggans. 

Speaking of spriggans, I like that the author includes mythological creatures we don't often see in stories. Spriggans, hinkypunks, rock trolls (not like the ones depicted in Frozen or Trolls World Tour). Ritter keeps their outline (what's generally known about them), but fills his characters with a uniqueness that makes you want to know more. For example, I would love to visit the spriggans and see their caves and whatever else their guarding on their side of the forest. 

If you have a child that loves magic and the mythological, definitely consider giving this book a shot! The characters do talk about bodily functions a lot, but that's something my adult brain can overlook in the grand scheme of things. My son thought those comments and conversations were hilarious, but it's just something that doesn't appeal to me personally. (★★★★☆)

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

My Weekly Pull [125] & Can't-Wait Wednesday [100]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Wynd #2 by James Tynion IV, Michael Dialynas
Daredevil #21 by Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto
Wicked Things #3 by John Allison, Max Sarin

💥 Jacob's comics for the week! 💥

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Urban Legends #25 by Gary Carlson, Frank Fosco
Transformers #21 by Brian Ruckley, Billie Montfort, Blacky Shepherd, Casey W. Coller
Usagi Yojimbo #10 by Stan Sakai
Amazing Spider-Man Sins Rising Prelude #1 by Nick Spencer, Guillermo Sanna, Ryan Ottley

FCDB 2020 X-Men #1 by Jonathan Hickman, Tom Taylor, Pepe Larraz, Iban Coello
FCBD 2020 Spider-Man Venom #1 by Various Artists 

Daredevil is HOT. 🔥🤤

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature that's hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. It highlights the upcoming releases we're really excited about reading! CWW is a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday (WoW), that was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

It Came From the Sky by Chelsea Sedoti
Expected publication: August 4th 2020 by Sourcebooks Fire

Synopsis (via Goodreads): From the author of The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett and As You Wish comes the unforgettable story of the one small town's biggest hoax and the two brothers who started it all.

This is the absolutely true account of how Lansburg, Pennsylvania was invaded by aliens and the weeks of chaos that followed. There were sightings of UFOs, close encounters, and even abductions. There were believers, Truth Seekers, and, above all, people who looked to the sky and hoped for more.

Only...there were no aliens.

Gideon Hofstadt knows what really happened. When one of his science experiments went wrong, he and his older brother blamed the resulting explosion on extraterrestrial activity. And their lie was not only believed by their town―it was embraced. As the brothers go to increasingly greater lengths to keep up the ruse and avoid getting caught, the hoax flourishes. But Gideon's obsession with their tale threatened his whole world. Can he find a way to banish the aliens before Lansburg, and his life, are changed forever?

Told in a report format and comprised of interviews, blog posts, text conversations, found documents, and so much more, It Came from the Sky is a hysterical and resonant novel about what it means to be human in the face of the unknown.

*Share your My Weekly Pull post! Please leave the direct link to your My Weekly Pull post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Orphan Eleven by Gennifer Choldenko
[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway]

Hello lovelies! Welcome to the next stop on the Orphan Eleven blog tour, hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Gennifer Choldenko has written an amazing story, so be sure to check out the giveaway below! Thank you for stopping by! 🎪 For the full tour schedule, please visit the Rockstar Book Tours website.

About the Book:

Title: ORPHAN ELEVEN
Author: Gennifer Choldenko
Pub. Date: May 26, 2020
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 320
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD, Bookshop.org

Four orphans have escaped from the Home for Friendless Children. One is Lucy, who used to talk and sing. No one knows why she doesn't speak anymore; silence is her protection.

The orphans find work and new friends at a traveling circus. Lucy loves caring for the elephants, but she must be able to speak to them, and to warn others of danger. If Lucy doesn't find her voice, she'll be left behind when the circus goes on the rails. Meanwhile, people are searching for Lucy, and her puzzling past is about to catch up with her.

𑁋𑁋𑁋

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I read Orphan Eleven to my son, and we both really enjoyed it! Choldenko keeps you on the edge of your seat, and I often found myself mentally reading ahead when I supposed to be reading aloud to my kid. I wouldn't even realize I was doing it until he said, "Mama? What happens after..." and prompted me to start reading again. 😂 Something would happen in the story and I would momentarily forget where I was! My brain needed to know faster than my mouth was capable of reading, haha.
I haven't read any of the author's previous books, but they're definitely on my radar now! If those stories are anything like this one, I know I won't be disappointed.


About Gennifer:

With more than 2 and a half million books sold, Choldenko’s best known Tales from Alcatraz series, has been called “A cornerstone series in contemporary children’s literature.” Al Capone Does My Shirts—the first book in the series—was a Newbery Honor Book and the recipient of twenty other awards. All four books in the series were Junior Library Guild selections and garnered many starred reviews.

Gennifer’s newest novel: Orphan Eleven will be out May 26. Publisher’s Weekly has said this about Orphan Eleven: “This uplifting tale of hope, survival and belonging has all the ingredients to become a beloved middle grade book.” Gennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her loyal husband and naughty dog.

Giveaway Details:
3 winners will receive a finished copy of ORPHAN ELEVEN, US Only.


Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Sunday Post [52]

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at the Caffeinated Reviewer! It's an opportunity to share news, post a recap for the previous week, showcase books, and highlight what's planned for the week ahead.

News:

It's ridiculously hot here in VA. I honestly thought Texas was bad during the summer, but the heat index is supposed to be 115 tomorrow. It rained a few days ago - - bliss - - and we all played in the rain. We splashed in puddles, jumped on the trampoline, and just enjoyed being outside without feeling like our faces were going to melt off. We'd taken a bike ride earlier in the day, and it was sweltering. How are you guys dealing with the heat this year? I'm seriously considering an ice bath... 😉

We've elected to do online learning in the fall, so we're stuck with that option for the first semester. Other people will attend classes at the school, and then switch to online learning if there is a confirmed case at the school, or something else happens that requires them to stop teaching in person. If you have a choice, how are you proceeding with the upcoming school year?

Previous week on the blog:

What I'm currently reading:

The Unready Queen (The Oddmire, #2) by William Ritter
The Mall by Megan McCafferty
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig 🎧
  • I'm reading The Unready Queen with my son and we're almost finished with it! I think I might this book more than the first.
  • I just started The Mall, but it's been enjoyable so far.
  • House of Salt and Sorrows is creeptastic! I honestly don't know what is real and what is imaginary anymore. I have about two hours left in the audiobook, so I should finish it soon. 

What I plan on reading next:

More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn
Orphan Eleven by Gennifer Choldenko
The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay

What I'm watching:

Nothing right now. We're still trying to work our way through Space Force, but haven't watched an episode in ages. We did watch two movies last weekend! American Ultra and Booksmart. There was one scene in Booksmart that had me in TEARS. Hilarious!

Challenge updates: