Review: Stalk Me – Jillian Dodd

Dodd_Jillian-StalkMeTitle: Stalk Me
Author: Jillian Dodd
Series: Keatyn Chronicles #1
Bandit Publishing
Rating: 1 / 5

Keatyn has everything she ever dreamed. Her life is following the script she wrote for the perfect high school experience. She’s popular, goes to the best parties, dates the hottest guy, and sits at the most-coveted lunch table.

She’s just not sure she wants it anymore.

Because, really, things aren’t all that perfect.
Her best friend is threatening to tell everyone her perfect relationship is a scam.
Her perfect boyfriend gets drunk at every party they go to.
It’s exhausting always trying to look and act perfect.
And, deep down, she isn’t sure if she has any true friends.

To add to the drama, her movie star mom has a creepy stalker.
A hot, older man flirts with her and tells her they should make a movie together.
And she’s crushing on an adorable surfer. Dating him would mean committing social suicide.

So she writes a new script. One where all the pieces of her life will come together in perfect harmony.
But little does she know, there’s someone who will do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen. (goodreads.com)

So… What the hell did I just read?

It took almost two days to finish this book. It was filled with a lot of nothing-happenings. Mixed in with the actually important plot was a lot of slice-of-life stories. Conversations with Keatyn and her mom, with Keatyn and pretty much anyone. Unimportant things she does. Lots of descriptions of her clothing, which I actually started skipping over, because beyond a simple “jeans a t-shirt” or “dress and heels”, I really just don’t care. Throwing around a lot of designer names and spending what feels like half a page on a description of one outfit really crosses the line for me into “overkill” zone.

Not to mention that the book is written in first person, and not done so well. Keatyn gives a day and time for each section of narration, as well as a quick little title that shows up within that narration somewhere. If she needs to describe something that happened in the past (and usually, it’s unnecessary description because if it was important, it wouldn’t have been ignored in the first place). By “in the past” I’m not talking about something that happened years ago, but only an hour or so before her narration began.

The jumping back and forth gave me a headache after a while. I had to keep putting it down because a lot of what she talks about in past tense just wasn’t that important.

There’s also a lot of “valley girl” speak (using the word “like” as something other than describing or verbage). It’s. Annoying. It’s one of those peeves I have that I didn’t really know I had until it came up while reading one day. And it stuck with me, apparently, because it’s still really annoying.

Keatyn’s “friends” are back-stabbing, money-grubbing, no-good people. I know people like this exist, but if you go by this book, the entire existance of them are all holed up at some rich-person high school in Malibu. Keatyn fits in with them pretty well, despite her insistance that she’s different and wants to be different. She caves every. single. time. And it is beyond ridiculous.

Despite Keatyn only being 16, she obviously is much more mature and is also so awesome at doing practically everything. She plays soccer (and is apparently so good that her coach is okay with her skipping practices and games, because she never plays in one single game during the entire novel, even during the parts that actually take place during the school year), she dances, takes martial arts lessons, kickboxing lessons, and surfs. She’s fluent in a few languages and is passable in others. On top of all that, she still has time to party, party, party.  (This entire paragraph brought to you by sarcasm.)

And that’s pretty much my entire take-away from this, because not only did Keatyn seem like an annoying brat with too much time on her hands, she’s also entitled and more than a little indecisive. Let’s not talk about her boy-hopping and who she decides is the love of her life this week. We don’t really get to know much about any of the boys, except possibly Brooklyn. Even Cush gets very little screen time. Keatyn doesn’t give us a feel for any of them, except that they’re all, apparently, really hot.

The “stalk me” drama that happens over the course of the novel actually feels a little thrown in there because someone realized there wasn’t much of a plot otherwise. It feels paper-thin and watered down. Keatyn doesn’t concern herself with any of it unless it’s happening in the now–ten minutes later, it’s pretty much forgotten again. Keatyn also is more than a little stupid during the whole thing, which doesn’t help her case any.

Overall, I was very unhappy with the book. I won’t be continuing the series, especially if any of the sequels are as vapid and boring as this one.

Advertisements

Review: Magan Vernon – The Only Exception

Vernon_Magan-TheOnlyException

Title: The Only Exception
Author: Magan Vernon
Beautiful Broken Books
Rating: 1.5 / 5

Fiercely liberal Monica Remy prefers to blend in. Despite her tattoos, piercings, and outspoken personality, she transferred to Central to escape—before she finds out that her next door neighbor is the uber conservative governor’s son, Trey Chapman.

No matter how hard she tries to avoid Trey, he still finds a way to get under her skin. Monica can’t stand his crisp white shirts or his staunch views on women. But she can’t help counting every freckle on his face and wondering what it would feel like to have him stop talking politics and kiss her.

A class debate project forces the unlikely pair to work together, and the political lines are blurred in late-night make out sessions. But despite their fiery chemistry, Trey’s politics threatens to smother their relationship for good.

I had serious problems with this book.

First, let me say that I was hopeful. Monica is labeled as a “fiercely liberal” college student with a hidden past. She’s got tattoos and piercings and the whole lot. I was hopeful that it would be a nice little story that wraps up neatly and didn’t leave me with a lot of questions. And, at least in that respect, it was solid. But that was the only thing I didn’t have problems with.

Trey is an egotistical asshole who doesn’t understand the word ‘no’.

So let’s start: Monica moves into her apartment building, and immediately has a run-in with not only Trey, but with his bodyguards, who are apparently screening everyone coming onto the floor. Monica’s first meeting with Trey seems promising, he offering to help her with a box of her belongings and introducing himself all polite-like, then he does this when Monica dares to criticize his father’s politics:

“If you want, I can always give you some literature to read up on regarding his policies and plans for the state.” (p 3)

Great. Not even 3 pages into the book, and not only are we talking politics (which I expected), but the conservative agenda is being shoved down our main character’s throat. Joy. Monica, to her credit, quickly ends the conversation politely and disappears into her apartment.

Of course, Monica’s relief is short-lived as, when she steps back out to go get dinner, Trey is apparently waiting for her to make another appearance, probably by looking out the peephole in his door every 5 seconds:

“Hanging out at the place I left you and waiting for my return?” (p 5)

Monica gets off a few zingers in regards to conservatives and their views on women before turning Trey down when he asks her to dinner. Trey, being a gentleman, leaves it at that and Monica dines at the local pizza parlor in peace, right?

Oh, sorry. What bizarro world do I live in where that’s acceptable?

Trey follows her to the pizza parlor, sits with her uninvited, and suggests that he was trying to be “neighborly” when she blatantly tells him he isn’t welcome to sit with her.

He orders a diet soda for himself, and Monica isn’t even allowed to tell the waitress what she wants before she (the waitress) rushes off, saying she’ll bring back a diet and a water.

Did I miss where Monica ordered a water? There goes your tip.

Trey’s idea of good dinner talk is politics. Trey apparently has no other interests outside politics. We never see him reading, watching sports, or anything. It’s on level with Bella Swan, in terms of boring protagonist.

Trey feels it’s okay to snoop in someone’s personal belongings (including e-mails, text messages, and voicemails) despite this being an invasion of privacy.

“Trey must have gotten to my emails when I left my computer open, and probably the voicemail that I thought I deleted.” (p 146)

Monica is weirdly not angry over this invasion of privacy, but it had me screaming inside that Trey had no boundaries, and would do whatever necessary if it got him whatever he wanted, which sent up red flags so fast in my head it was like a colorguard performance at halftime.

Monica makes some assumptions and does a few things that are questionable.

While at dinner her first night there, Monica and Trey debate about emergency contraception, and she compares birth control to Viagra. Trey suggests that argument bites the conservatives in the butt, and suggests that infringing on birth control is infringing on men’s rights due to medical conditions. Monica replies with:

“A guy not getting up is not a medical condition.” (p 10)

Um, actually, it is (or, can be). The very fact that you don’t know that makes you incapable of committing to a full debate, and would, in fact, cause you to lose that debate horribly. Erectile disfunction is, in fact, a medical condition (once diagnosed by a professional).

Monica has a weird view of pot and potheads that I found a little more than ridiculous and beyond stereotypical.

So Monica escapes the hallway with her box of items on move-in day…

Only to be confronted with a pot smoking roommate and her friends. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with people smoking pot… Outside, where I don’t have to smell it (the smell makes me ill). But Monica’s reaction to their choice recreation is over-the-top and more than a little ridiculous. The author’s description of potheads is also more than a little stereotypical, and again, ridiculous:

“I stepped out into the living room to see Sam sitting on the couch where I left her, but next to a guy with long, greasy hair.” (p 4)

When Monica returns from dinner, she’s greeted by a cloud of smoke, and promptly does something no half-way smart person does with pothead roommates: puts her leftovers in the fridge.

They won’t be there when you go for them tomorrow, genius.

Her entire attitude towards potheads is weird and angry, and for apparently no reason. She blatantly judges her roommate based on the clothes she wears, and is surprisingly close-minded about everything related to Sam. The whole thing just left me feeling like I was reading something out of Bizarro-land.

Apparently, being feminist means being anti-man.

“Women’s studies and Political Science? You really are a bleeding-heart liberal. I hope you aren’t going to tell me that you’re a part of the feminist group and don’t want to date me because you prefer the company of females.” (p 31)

Okay, let’s talk about this because I saw red. I. Saw. Red.

Being feminist does not mean being anti-man (that would be mysandry, and is another ballgame all together). Nor does it mean being a lesbian, which Trey suggests a little later.

It means we recognize the inequalities between men and women in society, and we want to do something about it. Not drag men down, but raise women up so that we are on equal footing. It’s disgusting and insulting to see feminism being talked about in such a way, and also it suggests to me that the author did not do her homework.

“Isn’t that against some sort of rules of feminism? To cook your boyfriend dinner?” (p 119)

*headdesk*

And a few other random, weird things that just didn’t fit anywhere else.

-Trey drives a Mustang because they’re in a recession and he needs to drive something fuel efficient. Um, no. Bro, I’ve driven a Mustang (owned one for 7 years). They’re nowhere close to being fuel efficient. If Trey really wants to be fuel efficient, may I suggest a small car, like the Ford Focus, or Chevy Cavalier? Both small cars, decent gas mileage, and are American (and we know conservatives love to buy American, don’t we?).

-Trey brings Monica a pumpkin latte, and Monica says it isn’t coffee. Oh, no, honey. A latte is coffee with milk, and in your case, a flavor shot or two. If you’re going to drink it, you should know what’s in it.

The complications were wrapped up neatly with a bow, and the epilogue was… bizarre.

So two things: Monica’s past is revealed partly because she admits everything to Trey, but also because Trey does the snoopy thing (see above). Charges are pressed, everyone apologizes, everything is all happy hunky-dory. Except… It’s a neat little wrap-up to a problem that was never developed and just didn’t add anything to the story except angst that I felt was unnecessary.

Second, the ending. Monica is happily shown on-screen with Trey and the rest of his family when his father does some kind of debate or interview or press conference or something. Except, Monica is a liberal. What–? None of this made sense. The only thing Monica and Trey have in common is their love of debate, and they debate on two different sides.

That being said, they seem to both be politically minded on opposite sides, so why in hell would Monica stay with him? Especially if his political views are such a problem for her? Obviously she either A) doesn’t mean what she says when she says she wants to stop Mr. Chapman’s political agenda, or B) she has switched sides.

Both options don’t agree with me and left me with a bitter taste.

Overall, I didn’t like it. I went into it hopeful, but I was greatly disappointed. I’d have loved to see Monica’s background and issues expressed more, and had her healing more than what is shown. I’d have loved to see more character development. The book was too short with too many stereotypes and bad assumptions that just didn’t work for me at all.

Copy obtained from publisher via netgalley. All opinions herein are mine and were not influenced by the author or publisher in any way.

BFTA Review: Charlaine Harris – Dead Until Dark

Harris_Charlaine-DeadUntilDark

Title: Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Southern Vampire Series #1
Ace
Rating: 1/5
Read for: 2011 Urban Fantasy Challenge

Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She’s quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn’t get out much. Not because she’s not pretty. She is. It’s just that, well, Sookie has this sort of “disability.” She can read minds. And that doesn’t make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He’s tall, dark, handsome–and Sookie can’t hear a word he’s thinking. He’s exactly the type of guy she’s been waiting for all her life….
But Bill has a disability of his own: He’s a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of–big surprise–murder. And when one of Sookie’s coworkers is killed, she fears she’s next… (goodreads.com)

It took me several tries to finally read this book. Not because I kept getting interrupted, but because it couldn’t hold my attention. Too much attention is paid to Sookie’s day-to-day life, and it takes a long time (more than 100 pages) to start getting to anything important. I kept wanting to put the book down in favor of other, better reads, but forced my way through it.

A lot happens during the course of the first novel. As with any first novel in the series, the focus is on introducing the characters; however, we not only meet Sookie’s family (her brother and grandmother), but we meet Bill, Eric, and a whole slew of Southern good ol’ boys that I couldn’t keep straight. I even had a hard time keeping straight Sookie’s co-workers; everyone bled into each other, and without names and details (such as referring to the sheriff as “Sheriff”), I’d never have remembered who was who. On top of meeting what seems like everyone in Bon Temps, we have three murders, and Sookie’s brother is one of the main suspects.

Sookie herself is a confusing character. She is constantly back-and-forth, moving between a naive girl and a knowing woman. She spends a lot of time describing what she’s wearing, and her fashion sense is appalling. I felt like she was living in the 80s, but sometimes Sookie would wear something so knock-your-socks-off that I wondered if she was really as naive as she seemed. Sookie’s feelings towards vampires, too, were back and forth. Initially, she is happy about meeting Bill, a somewhat civilized vampire. When she meets Bill’s “friends”, however, she is disgusted. No matter how open-minded she wants others to be, especially regarding her relationship with Bill, she is considerably close-minded when it comes to other vampires.

By the time the book go to the “who-dun-it”, I’d lost a lot of interest. Even Bubba’s true identity felt like more of a grasp at straws to keep the reader interested; Bubba could have been just another random vampire, but instead he is someone who was famous and came back wrong, so he’s not all that bright.

I wish this book had something redeeming, but it didn’t. It was filled with stereotypical Southern talk, and half the time I had to re-read sentences to try to figure out what Sookie (or another character) was trying to say. Between that and the bipolar narrator, I had a hard time staying with the story.

Originally posted 21 January 2011.

Review: Jenn Cooksey – Shark Bait

Cooksey_Jenn-SharkBait

Title: Shark Bait
Author: Jenn Cooksey
Series: Grab Your Pole #1
CreateSpace
Rating: 1 / 5

Previously homeschooled Camie Ramsey is being shoved into the shark-infested waters of public high school, where even helium filled, penguin bespeckled arm floaties likely won’t help keep her inexperienced, fifteen-year old head above water in that rip current of hormones and emotions.

Camie’s worldly wisdom might be severely lacking (i.e., the closest she’s come to being kissed was sitting too close to the TV whilst Jake Ryan leaned in to give Samantha that fateful 16th birthday kiss), but she does understand her only hope for survival is if she’s thrown some kind of “social” life preserver before she sinks like a freaking rock. However, what will her fate be when she endeavors to flag down the only lifeguard on duty, the enormously popular and ridiculously beautiful Tristan Daniels? The most sought after and virtually most unattainable guy in school who not only makes Camie’s heart flatline on a recurring basis, he’s also the one guy who seemingly doesn’t know she exists.

Feeling like an inept piece of chum that could ultimately be swallowed by Jaws, can Camie get Tristan to rescue her from floundering in the treacherous deep, or is she destined to be Shark Bait? (goodreads.com)

TooSoberForYourBS

Can I just… Ugh. Okay, so this book was terrible. I rated this book before I even finished it. But don’t worry, I finished it, even though I knew the rating wouldn’t change. I don’t even know where to start, but I’ll try my damnedest to make sense.

Let me issue a huge warning here: I hated this book. Hated. It took more than two days to get through because I was so damn busy highlighting and making notes in my e-reader. Also, I kept having to take facebook and TV breaks. I started watching wrestling again to get away from this book, FFS. I ended up with 207 notes and highlights. To put this in perspective, on a regular read, I usually end up with 20 or less.

The writing is atrocious.

No, it really is. I often ran into sentences that were either much longer than they needed to be, sentences that were seemingly out of order on purpose to make the narrator seem smarter than she really is (all it really made her seem like was a pretentious snob, as if she doesn’t do a good enough job of that on her own within the first 15 pages), phrases that could have been simplified down to one word…

“I told he who’s now kissing my back thereby sending waves of heat through my body with much force as my blood started to rush to my head from hanging upside down.” (p. 216, e-book version)

“Him” would have been much simpler, but of course not.

Not only that, but the writing switches often between past and present tense, which to me just indicates horrible writing skills. The only time present tense should be used, if past tense is used as the general narrative, is in quotations, such as in dialogue.

“Obviously I did fine on my own. Yes, I’m flattered, but please, hold your applause.” (p. 189, e-book version)

Camie likes to jump in time. She’ll be talking about doing something, then pause in her narrative to tell the readers how she got to that point:

“We left the restaurant and all the way to my house and into my room, we talked about every instance we could think of and how this new theory about how he works could explain the things he’s done. We’d decided during breakfast (or brunch, whatever…) that we’d come back here to hang out and just recoup.” (p. 284-285, e-book version)

Not only do we have the jumping back and forth in time, but we have parenthetical asides, which I FUCKING HATE WITH A BOILING PASSION! I really, really do. Unless you’re doing math problems, I don’t want to see fucking parentheses at all. And they’re severely over-used in this book.

And, finally, we have the fact that Camie can’t be assed to put her text conversations in narrative, so she gives us script. As in, it reads like a play script. I got sudden flashbacks reading Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”, Shakespeare, and anything else I may or may not have conveniently forgotten since my own foray in high school. Needless to say, it’s fucking annoying and doesn’t belong in a novel.

Overall, the writing style and skill reads like badly written fanfic.

The narrator, Camie, is annoying, snobby, and less smart than she thinks she is.

I cannot stand know-it-alls. No, really. I can’t. Camie has a habit of “speaking” (rather, narrating) down to her readers. Of course, the best example was (bolding mine):

“He’s using his more than decent vocabulary and movie knowledge to be polite. Allow me to translate: Chaste = Virginal. Ingenue = Innocent or inexperienced girl. Promiscuous reprobate = Um, well…pretty much the opposite. Thunderdome = A Mel Gibson movie entitled Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in which two men enter a giant cage and fight until one of them is dead.” (p. 316, e-book version)

And another, for good measure:

“…let it go to voicemail at least thrice times (that means three)…” (p. 151, e-book version)

She also has a habit of talking herself up, both in the intelligence department as well as the beauty department. Camie goes well out of her way to assure the readers that she doesn’t think of herself as anything special, although she repeatedly insinuates that others are stupid or less beautiful. She also says that she doesn’t wear makeup because her parents insist that she doesn’t need it, and others have told her she’s beautiful so she just goes with it.

Please, gag me with a spoon.

Tristan is a liar, an asshole, and possibly abusive.

Yes. Really. I went there.

Case in point for lying: Tristan gets so stoned at a party that he doesn’t realize the girl who’s crawling all over him isn’t Camie and makes out with her. Camie witnesses this. Of course, Jeff calls Kate’s voicemail and doesn’t hang up, so Camie and Kate overhear, via voicemail recording, that Tristan has no intention of admitting his fuck-up to Camie, even though she already knows about it. Jeff warns him that it’s a bad idea, to Jeff’s credit.

Case in point for abusive: Tristan bodily carries Camie away from a party and up a flight of stairs (as a quick note, I was disgusted by the girls in the novel who thought this was romantic. This is not romantic; this is caveman bullshit, carried out by a boy who thinks it’s okay to demand who Camie is and isn’t friends with and who she talks to, despite the fact that he can’t admit they’re dating).

Tristan also seems to resort to violence every possible time he can. He hits Zack at the party, breaking his nose (in one hit, apparently, which is definitely not easy to do). There are several instances of Tristan being so angry that his eyes narrow and he blows a gasket (including, at the same party of the nose-breaking, Tristan can’t stand to see Camie having a little fun with her friends, and promptly causes a scene by shoving people out of his way and yelling at them).

And, to top it all off, Camie thinks Tristan is perfect. I’ve given enough evidence to the contrary, but to top it all off, he’s apparently the captain of the swim and polo teams, is more well-read than Camie is, knows about cars enough to not only take care of his own and Jeff’s Jeep, but also to have rebuilt the under-hood of his own. He’s good-looking (because, generally speaking, the main male character usually is), and he’s well-versed in pop culture, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Let me borrow a “word” from Bella (of Twilight fame): Ugh.

Camie’s sister, Jillian, shows sociopathic tendencies. Also, her so-called abilities are logistically improbable.

Jillian, at one point, takes 30 minutes to remove tires from a vehicle (where did she get the extra jacks?), put them inside the car with seatbelts strapped around them, and uses either window markers or shoe polish to paint a message on the windshield.

First, let’s discuss the fact that Jillian is 13, and probably can’t even lift those tires. There’s no mention of her having an accomplice, so how did she get the tires into a car that is, most likely, sitting on its brake discs (poor car), let alone get them seat-belted. Doing all this in a 30 minute time-frame, at a high school football game, is asking for trouble and I just can’t see it happening. At all.

Then there’s the fact that she sneaks out of the house to go to a party Camie has just left in order to exact revenge on her sister’s behalf. And she gets a sick kind of glee out of it:

“‘Do you want me to make an example out of him? I will if you want me to…just give me the word and I’ll teach him and everyone else what happens when they mess with my family.’” (p. 227, e-book version)

There also seems to be a lot of B&E going on: Jillian somehow manages to print out flyers of a girl, Teresa, who’d been tormenting Camie, vomiting at that party, and Jillian breaks into the high school and stuffs the fliers into lockers.

Either that or this school is seriously lax with the security.

This book ruined a lot of pop culture for me.

There are vast mentions of pop culture. And it’s not a vague reference here and there. Rather, Camie’s life seems to revolve around it, in particular Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Joss Whedon fan, but Tristan actually asks Camie out on their first date by quoting Oz from Buffy:

“‘I’m going to ask you to go out with me next weekend.’ Oh no he isn’t!!! ‘–And I’m kinda nervous about it actually. It’s interesting.’” (p. 149, e-book version)

Buffy isn’t the only book, movie, or TV show that’s mentioned, but it’s definitely the one mentioned most often. Of course, Camie also mentions music a lot, and she seems to notice that the “perfect” songs come on at the perfect times, providing the perfect soundtrack to her life. I don’t really care so much about that, because a lot of authors formulate soundtracks to their novels (they just don’t include them in the book, ffs), but I have one huge bone of contention:

You do not include Metallica and Miley Cyrus (whose name was spelled incorrectly as “Myley”) on the same mix. That’s blasphemy.

If it isn’t obvious that I hated this book, well then I’ve obviously failed as a reviewer. This book had no redeeming qualities what-so-ever. The writing was horrible, the characters were either full of themselves or vapid, and there was no chemistry between Camie and Tristan, no matter how much Camie insisted.

I was extremely unhappy to waste my time on this, and I won’t pick up the second one, even if it’s free.

BFTA Review: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Beautiful Creatures

Garcia_Kami_and_Margaret_Stohl-BeautifulCreatures

Title: Beautiful Creatures
Series: The Caster Series #1
Author(s): Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Little, Brown and Company
Rating: 1/5

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything. (goodreads.com)

WARNING: Here be lots of ranting and irritation. If you really liked this book and can’t stand to see anything bad written about it, don’t click. Thanks.

Continue reading