Friday, October 30, 2015

What Makes It Work?

Because of two books I've read recently and because of a post on my friend Kara's Blog I've been thinking about the ingredients in books.

Ingredients? There's ingredients in books? Why yes, yes there are. If you were to look at the perfect book for me the recipe would look a little something like this.

4 cups of unsifted plot (unsifted meaning no skimping on plot)
3 cups suspense (I don't mean murder mystery, just something that hooks me and makes me keep reading)
1 cup relatable, fleshed out characters
2 table spoons of romance ( not too much)
1 tsp humor
2 tsp wow factor
a pinch of unpredictability.
Stir well, add a lovely cover and serve

That's how I like my books...but what happens when you read a book that has all the necessary ingredients you enjoy and somehow it falls flat? Tastes sour? Doesn't satisfy? The book Storm Siren was such a book for me. It had everything I enjoy just didn't work for me. Maybe it was my mood or maybe there was an ingredient that got overlooked or maybe the author substituted artificial sugar for real...I don't know. It just didn't work.

So, what would your perfect book's recipe look like? Do you ever read a book that has everything you normally love and it just doesn't work?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Book Banter #4 High School Love

It's time for another Book Banter! Aren't you excited?! Today's Topic that Suey and I shall be discussing is High School Love: Is it possible? If you read as much YA as I do, you know what I'm talking about. Girl meets boy. Boy suddenly is the love of her life and she could't live with out him if she tried, she just couldn't and if you tell her that she has to, she'll run away with him, they'll elope. She knew she loved him from the moment she saw him and parents and family and friends be dammed, she'll be with him forever and ever! Ahem, I guess you can tell what side I'm taking today. ;)

Suey: I lived it.
Yes, I’m one of those people. I started dating my husband in January of our senior high school in year. Probably three months later (I can’t really remember the exact moment!) I was pretty sure he would be in my life forever. We had ups and downs of course. And we still waited a long time before we got married (three years) but it all began in high school and it was real and true and all that! I always like to say that I enjoyed being 17 because when I was 18 suddenly things were serious and real. Not to say that was a bad thing, but it definitely felt like something changed that year. So having lived it, I can say for certain that it CAN happen in high school.

Ah, but wouldn't you say you love your husband much more now then what you thought you did back then? I think love comes in levels. When you first meet someone you like them and then comes infatuation. I love infatuation. It's the only reason sane people would ever get married! No, I tease but it does help. Marriage with all it's ups and downs and boring times and stressful times is what brings people past infatuation and into a deeper level of love.

Suey: I’ve seen it. 
The example that always stands out to me is my grandma’s sister, my great aunt, someone who I knew (know actually, as she is still alive) fairly well. She got married at age 15. And not during a time when this was normal. (I think I remember my grandma saying that she, her older sister, was pretty freaked out by this!) I’m not sure the year they got married but I’d guess it to be late 50’s. So 15 even at that time, was pretty shocking. (And no they were not pregnant… at least I don’t think they were!) And anyway, they had a long and happy (I assume) marriage which only ended when my uncle died a year or so ago. I’ve always been impressed with her story and I’m sure there are many more examples like hers out there.

Wow! 15? Crazy. See, this example is great but it does go against the norm. Getting married at 15 and not being pregnant is nearly unheard of nowadays. If a teenager was, for what ever reason, to get out of the house and get married and start all the responsibilities of adulthood with her husband then, yes, I'd imagine love would become a real thing for her while she was still a teenager. But maybe not so strong a love as would come in adulthood. Teenagers are still babies themselves. They are still growing up and need to figure out who they are and what life is all about before they are really capable of love. And that goes for adults too. Some adults who are still incredibly immature, probably aren't capable of love either.

Suey: Anything is possible! 
I can’t really think of another reason, except for the the fact that anything can happen really. And teenagers can most certainly find their soul mates at a young age. I do agree that they shouldn’t make major life decisions (like my aunt did!) when they are so freaking young, but by 18 or 19 (even though that is still so freaking young!) they can pretty much know what their gut and hearts are telling them. (I’ve had sisters and sisters in law get married this young and all is well… so far!) I think that high school love stories in the YA books we read are so much fun because it does touch that romantic place in all of us and gives us the satisfaction of a great storybook happily ever after.

Now here we could get into a discussion about maturity levels. Some people are incredibly mature. They have old souls. So, yes, maybe they could fall in love at a younger age but I still stand by my convictions. Teenagers are too young to fully  know what they want out of life let alone fall in love. I'm perfectly fine with romance in YA books. I'm a strong believer in infatuation. I just don't believe in one true loves in YA books. *cough* *cough* Twilgiht *cough* *cough*.

So where do you stand? Is True Love possible in your teen years? Or, like me, do you believe it's impossible and what teenagers think is love, is simply infatuation?

Don't forget to check out Suey's post for my thoughts and her rebuttal.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: The Fill-In Boyfriend

Title The Fill-In Boyfriend
By Kasie West
Genre YA Contemporary Romance
Pages 352

Gia is in the IN crowd and she wants to keep it that way. But when her College boyfriend dumps her in the parking lot at prom she's devastated. Her friends have been hanging with a new girl who has it out for her. If her friends think she made her boyfriend up she'll never hear the end of it. Enter the poor sap she sees in the parking lot and convinces to pretend to be her boyfriend for the night. Things are about to get complicated.

First Sentence
In some part of my brain, probably the logical part that seemed to be missing at the moment, I knew I should let go and walk away, maintain some of my dignity.

What it has going for it
I love, love, LOVE the fake boyfriend troupe. I really do. I know it's always the same but I just can't help myself. If I hear mention of a fake boyfriend in a synopsis the book might as well say, "free slice of cake with purchase". Done and done! So...yeah, this one had one of my favorite troupes in it and it had all the things that go along with that troupe that I enjoy.

What's lacking
Sadly, besides my enjoyment of the fake boyfriend scenario, this one kind of fell flat for me. Gia was the biggest beotch at the beginning of this one. Yeah, yeah, I know! That was kind of the point. We're supposed to watch her change, come clean and become a better person but, I don't know, it was just so so for me. See, if you're going to write a story with a been there done that plot it needs to pop! Either with humor or amazing characters or a fun twist. Something! I was just underwhelmed. I really wanted to like it. Sigh!

Yea or Nay
Uh, sure. Give it a read. Just don't expect it to stand out or stay in your memory for long.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

In My Thoughts This Fine Day #10

I just read this book for book club. I thought it might take awhile so I go an early start. I was wrong. It didn't take me long. I flew through it. If you haven't read this one yet you haven't let it drop despondently from your hands as it ends and flung yourself on the floor in despair! I seriously need to discuss this book!!!! Sigh! Here's my question: Should I read the sequel After You? It just came out but I've heard really negative things. See, I figured either Moyes' wrote the sequel to give her poor readers some closure or she just wrote it because she knew she'd make bank. From what I can gather from people's reviews it's the latter. Ugh! Maybe just discussing it would be enough. If only I had someone to discuss it with!

I have five books to review...I'll attempt to write up some reviews after posting this but all I want to do is read! Considering my dismal reading numbers lately, I guess at least I'm reading, right? But when I keep flying though books I need to review them before I forget all about them and I don't wanna!!!!  I just want to read...I blame it on the season. When fall comes with its colder temperatures, I want hot chocolate, hot baths and books!!!

Hey look! A movie review shoved into my random post! Let me just admit right now that (sorry Jenni and Suey) I just don't get the obsession with Tom Hiddleston. I do, however, enjoy a good horror movie so I went to see Crimson Peak this past week. I seriously want those two hours of my life back!!! First off, ALL the scary scenes are shown in the previews! It wasn't even a horror movie. It was a disgusting drama involving a pathetically naive and weak heroine, incest and dubious plot. If you wanted to see it for the horror, don't! Just watch the previews. If you wanted to see it for Tom, don't! He's kind of a jerk in it and not in a Loki kinda way.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dewy's 24 Hour Read-a-thon Fall 2015

Let's get this party started!  I've got my snacks my books and my kitties.

3rd And Final Update
I finished my second book, Ruby Oliver #4. I serisouly loved these books. I couldn't have asked for a better ending! I at pizza for dinner and put all the snacks away. I'm thinking I need ice cream though. After that I'll probably dig into another book and read till I fall asleep! It's been great as usual. Good luck to those who are sticking with it for the 24 hrs! You guys rock!

Update 2 5:10pm
I finished a book! YAY! Last time 'round, I didn't even finish one book. Anywho, I finished The Fill In Boyfriend. Meh. It was OK and a good read-a-thon read as it was fast and easy but it just didn't do it for me. I read a chapter in The Happiness Project. That's about all this pessimist can handle at a time. Now I'm going to start in on Ruby Oliver #4 Real Live Boyfriends. Very bittersweet finishing this series! I finished off my bag of Gummy Bears but haven't really eaten too much else. My husband has gone to get pizza for dinner, though. How's things going in your neck of the woods?

Update 1 1:45pm

It's been about five hours and I've only read about 200 pages. Sigh! I'm such a slow reader! I've broken into my Gummy Bears and Chex mix and feel delightfully sick! I've been posting on Instagram. My kitties have both passed out. I've been reading The Fill In Boyfriend. It's OK but I'm not blown away by it. I think  I'll take a break and take a shower, stretch and finish The Fill In Boyfriend and start on Ruby Oliver #4. Happy Reading!

I'll be honest,  in my neck of the woods the read-a-thon starts at 6am. I never get going that early and I usually pass out at midnight.  I'm not as awesome as you hardcore read-a-thoners. My hats off to you.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Orem UT USA.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Definitely the final book in the Ruby Oliver series.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

All of them! I tried to get a nice selection of salty and sweet.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

My name's Jenny. I'm married to the hottest guy ever and have two kitties. I may or may not be considering the crazy cat lady life! Obviously I love to read and am in the middle of building a library for all my books!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I try to participate every read-a-thon and I usually do the same old thing. Maybe this time I'll actually participate in a mini challenge or two.

I'll be posting my updates here throughout the day. Happy reading!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Book Banter #3 The DUFF

It's time for another Book Banter! This week's topic, The DUFF by Kody Keplinger and guess what? For a change, I will actually be taking the positive on this one! Let's Get started.

1. Terrible Characters. I didn’t like anyone in this book. And I’m usually okay to find the good in even a questionable character. I’m often rooting for the villain, or liking the mean guy, or wanting good things to happen to the underdog, etc. But everyone in this book was just dumb and stupid. They had no brains, like, at all. I couldn’t root for anyone and when that happens, it makes me sad and the book becomes not fun at all.

I don't think the characters in this one were great role models for teens or anything but they were characters I could sympathize with. I felt for Bianca. Too many teens have absent or fighting parents on the brink of divorce and add on a alcoholic father and I get it. I can see why Bianca did what she did. Besides her "bad" decision, Bianca is a good student. She's smart. She's succeeding at school and has plans for college. By the end of the books she owns up to her mistakes, takes responsibility and learns to be okay with herself.

2. Sex without romance.Call me old fashioned, but I find sex without love and romance to be no fun. Wrong for sure. Boring even. No chemistry. No feeling. No intense emotions. Mix in the fact that these are teenages and, yeah. Just, no. I kept hoping throughout the whole book that maybe, just maybe, they’d find some romance to throw into the mix. But nope. It never happened. Well, maybe at the very bitter end. And even then, I’m not sure they ever decided for sure if they really liked each other. Or if they were just jealous of anyone else who got to, you know, “be” with that person. Which was the reason I kept reading just to see if it would appear, the romance angle. I was disappointed and let down.

Oh, man! What?! No! There was definite chemistry with these two. Romance comes in all shapes and sizes. This wasn't love at first sight or a slow burning love like we all might be used to but this was romance all the same. While I agree this should be a  NA book not YA, I still am okay with the sex. Mostly because the writing of it isn't too explicit. This isn't a erotica by any stretch of the imagination. And, honestly I could go into way too much personal info on my feelings about sex, but I won't scar anyone for life. I get that it started as a stress release for Bianca. Maybe a stupid decision and, yes, she was very lucky that the relationship turned out okay, but it's not like their relationship didn't progress beyond just sex. It did.

3.No point. Most books do try to make one. Sometimes it’s pretty vague. Sometimes it’s in your face. But usually you come of off a read with some sort of satisfying feeling, some sort of redeeming thought, some sort of accomplishment. This one had nothing for me. Nothing. Except maybe, “hey kids, perhaps if you feel bad you should talk it out with someone and not have nonstop sex with a guy you can’t stand.” Maybe that was it.

What?! There was a point. The book is called, The DUFF. Designated Ugly Fat Friend. How many teens feel like a loser, unpopular, The DUFF? The whole message to this book was that we all feel like shit about ourselves at times no matter how perfect or put together our lives feel. Because of those feelings we stupidly lash out at others. But nobody is perfect and we can embrace ourselves and love ourselves in spite of everything and stop worrying about what others think. We're all the popular kids and the DUFFS wrapped into one awesome person!   

Have you read this book? How did you feel about it? Don't forget to check out Suey's post today and see what I loved and her rebuttal! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Review: Storm Siren

Title Storm Siren (Storm Siren book 1) 
By Mary Weber
Genre YA Fantasy 
Pages 320

Nym has spent her life as a slave being sold from master to master. She's an Elemental. Her kind is only born male and usually killed at birth. Her newest master knows what she is and plans on using her. Cast into a world of politics and danger Nym must learn to control her powers before it's too late.

First Sentence "Fourteen circles for fourteen owners."

What it has going for it
I read Storm Siren on a whim. It came up on Amazon as a Kindle Daily Deal. I loved the cover and after downloading a sample and enjoying the witty writing and plot set up I decided to give it a go. I love the idea of a girl who can control the weather, one who's broken and tortured for the deaths she's accidentally caused. I loved the idea that she was going to be used as a tool to win a war. I loved the idea that the man who was going to train her to control her powers was handsome with beautiful green eyes and an ability to calm her and keep her under control. I loved the idea that there were two characters who's friendship with Nym would teach her to trust and have fun again. I loved the idea that Nym was more powerful than she ever could have imagined and that she was beginning to understand and control her powers at last.

What's lacking
 The problem was, that I loved all the ideas but the execution fell flat. For me, this was a book full of great ideas and all the right ingredients but somewhere in the mixing process something went wrong. I had to force myself to keep reading. I wanted to be patient and understanding of poor Nym but I also wanted to see her go all badass and unleash the full extent of her powers with more finesse and skill. This is only the first book in the series so maybe all that comes later but I don't have the patience to find out. I won't be finishing the series even if the author threw in a cheap slap in the face cliffhanger at the end. Especially because the author threw in a cheap slap in the face cliffhanger at the end.

Yea or Nay?
My dislike for this one may be unique to me. It did have all the right ingredients and humor I usually love but it just ended up disappointing.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Review: Big Little Lies

Title Big Little Lies
By Liane Moriarty
Genre Adult Contemporary/Suspense
Pages 460

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.
New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all. (From Goodreads)

What it has going for it
I wasn't even going to try to write up a synopsis for this one so though it was long I just used the synopsis from Goodreads. I've been hearing great things about Liane Moriarty's books for a while now and since she's Australian and I have a theory that all Australian authors are amazing, I knew I was going to have to give her a try. Big Little Lies seems to be everyone's favorite so I picked it up...and blew through it three days. It would have taken less time if I didn't have to eat and sleep and have a life. I'm telling you, there's something in the water down there in Australia because the books that come out of there are so wonderful! While I wouldn't call the beachside town these characters lived in a small town, it definitely had the feel of one. Everyone seems to know everyone and as a result it has this whole gossipy soap opera feel to a good way. These characters were great! I loved getting to know each of them and their secrets and worry and care about them. I was enthralled by the plot and while I saw one twist coming, I was totally blindsided by another. The writing is that perfect writing that evokes all the emotions it should and it all came together to make a splendid read. Now I want to gobble up all of Moriarty's books! 

What's lacking
There were a few, just a few, unbelievable things that happened in the town that I found myself raising an eyebrow at. I also like my stories to have a little more substance. Something to learn. This one had things that were great, but I'm not sure I learned anything or feel bettered by the story. Other than that, I have no other complaints. 

Yea or Nay?
Yes, yes. A thousands times yes! 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

September Wrapup 2015

Another month has come and gone. I love autumn. It's my favorite time of year. Sadly, it hasn't been very autumn-ey. It's still way too hot and muggy. The heat has been keeping me inside, though, so I've gotten some reading done. Here's what I read in September.

The Girl on the Train
Somehow grips you and pulls you into the story but predictable ending and terrible characters made this one only OK.

Whirlwind story! I don't know who can be trusted and what's coming next but I'm excited to find out.

Unique and interesting premise but the writing really needed more editing.

Big Little Lies
I suspected I'd be a Moriarty fan as soon as I read one of her books and I was right! Absolutely brilliant!

Favorite of the month was definitely Big Little Lies. Least Favorite was Eleanor.

Plans For October
Finish the two books I'm reading and then I'm not sure....I guess we'll see. Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Book Banter #2 John Green

It's time for another Book Banter with my friend Suey! This week's topic: John Green. In typical Jenny fashion I shall be taking the against side. Suey has sent me three things she loved about John Green and I will rebuttal them here. Likewise, I have sent her three things I dislike about John Green and she will be rebuttal-ing them on her blog. Check it out!  Here we go!

1 I love that he’s smart and funny and witty. I love that he says things that make me think. I love that he says things that make me feel. I love the way he says things and the words he uses. I think he’s a great writer full of real emotion. 
Truthfully, I can't complain about his actual writing. It's OK. It's the characters he writes that bother me. Are they characters you can love and relate to? Do they make you feel? Sure. If you want to love John Green. See, I have this theory that John secretly sees a therapist and that said therapist has assigned him to write stories about himself as a way to discover his inner self...either that or he's just a little narcissistic.

2 I love that he’s relatable. He’s normal. He’s gets people. He’s geeky like we all are. He owns up to it. He embraces it. He makes other geeky nerdy kids feel proud of that. He makes people feel like they can do anything. Because if he, a nerdy guy, can do it, we can all do it. 
Well, I'm a nerd but I certainly don't relate to John. Sure, he's a nerdy little inspiration to people but I can name about a bazillion different author's that write about relatable, flawed, unpopular people that are an inspiration as well. I guess what I'm saying is, John is not unique. He's a nerd in a million that is showing the world that nerds can be cool too. Other's just do it without talking so fast in You Tube videos that really aren't THAT funny. 

3 He uses his fame to teach and inspire other people. I mean, he’s probably pretty busy, and yet, he makes videos about history and literature and gets people excited about them. (His brother Hank does the science-y videos.) I love that he has so many projects all for bettering others. He has inspired so many people to go out and do their own projects and start their own things and be their own kind of creative. It’s just cool. And I love it.
Well, I'm glad he's such a great role model for person. I really haven't watched very many of his You Tube videos. His characters, however, are probably not the greatest role models for kids. Yes, they are real and gritty and honest. I love that! But I'm an adult not a teen. I would imagine parent's probably wouldn't be comfortable letting their kids read his books. The women are terrible, self loathing bad girls and there's smoking and swearing and scenes alluding to sex.  So these kids love John Green and his Videos and are all inspired...and then they read his books. At this point they probably think he can do no wrong and are perfectly OK reading about these things...thinking it's normal.