Put Downs

1 out of 5 stars for The Baller by Vi Keeland

The Baller: A Down and Dirty Football NovelThe Baller: A Down and Dirty Football Novel by Vi Keeland
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Ugh. No.

Look – this book had a lot of potential. What’s not to like? Super hot and talented football player and equally hot and talented reporter fall for each other. Let’s make it happen.

But man – in the end, what WASN’T wrong with this book? Okay, so here are the reasons why I, personally, pick up a book like this (in no particular order).

1) For the laughs
2) For the sex
3) For the characters/story

If it can grant me, honestly, even one of those three, then I’m pretty happy. If it can give me one of those three without irritating me with other things, then I’m really happy. This book didn’t do ANY of it in the end.

Let’s review:
1) For the laughs – there was some serious potential here. I mean, a cocky, sexy football player? and when he first meets the reporter he drops his towel? That scene made me laugh for sure. It was perfectly awkward. Annnd that was pretty much the only time I laughed in this whole book. The rest of the jokes were just blah. I mean, Brody made a joke about wanting to “eat” Delilah like 100 times. Original. Not.

2) For the sex – the sex sucked. No really – I know you think I’m joking, but I’m not. It really, really sucked. First off, it was dragged way too far out and when they finnnnally bumped uglies it was just that – ugly. It was rushed and didn’t even make a lot of sense physically. And that was probably the best sexual encounter of the book. Most of it was just glossed over, to be honest with you. At one point the author literally said “many hours and multiple orgasms later” – uhhh, HELLO? I don’t pick up a book with THAT cover to have you skip that shizz! Light it up, lady!

3) For the characters/story – this genre doesn’t always have the greatest reputation for characters and stories and I’ll admit, sometimes I’m okay with generic or cliche if it means I get numbers 1 and 2. But It still has to WORK. Ultimately, this book was just sigh-worthy. First off, cocky and arrogant Brody fell way too hard and way too fast. I mean, honestly, why? Apparently Delilah was love at first sight? Even though we later learn he was still hung up on his girl-next-door-druggie-whatever-that-was? That was a stretch.

Regardless, Brody was just a shell of the ‘perfect’ guy. Hey, ladies, I’m super hot and arrogant but oooh wait no I’m really super sweet and caring and do everything perfectly. Gah. The attractive cockiness dissolved into stupid one-off (not funny) comments and we were just left with a super sensitive man with muscles. Boring.

And don’t even get me started on Delilah’s mess of humanity. She made no sense. At ALL. I mean, Delilah was doing a sex ‘cleanse’ but then claimed she didn’t ever have sex with anyone without being in a relationship first? Uuuh, okay? Then he can’t be with Brody because she never gave up on her old fiance who died? I mean, I guess but that only came up halfway through the book. And what was the point of her fear of flying? No point. None. I kept thinking it was going to matter but it didn’t. It didn’t even matter for a funny scene. Stuff like that really irritates me in stories. Make people’s quirks matter!

I’m not even going to mention how the book ends. Not the last real chapter and not the epilogue. I was ROLLING my EYES so hard they almost popped out, I swear.

There is lots more I can complain about, but I’m going to leave you with my one really big, HUGE, issue with this book. There is no FOOTBALL. NONE. A couple of stats are thrown out here and there but otherwise we see NOTHING. And the man plays (and wins!) the damn SUPER BOWL.

I just. I cannot. Stop before you start here, people.

Categories: Put Downs, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2014 End Of Year Book Survey


Each year, Jamie from the Perpetual Page Turner does a Year-End Book Survey. I’m a total sucker for surveys – so here is my own take from this year! (P.S. – if you don’t know about Jamie’s blog yet – GO there! It’s amazing!)


Number Of Books You Read: 58
Number of Re-Reads: 1
Genre You Read The Most From: Hard to tell – probably a tie between YA and women’s fiction


Best Book You Read In 2014?


In my opinion, Sue Monk Kidd blew this away.  This book is just perfect in so many ways – fascinating historical fiction, great characterization, excellent writing, good pacing. It’s perfection and she deserves all the praise!

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?


As a lover of women travel memoirs, I thought this was going to be a great read.  I really didn’t like it though – it just fell flat.

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?


This book was surprising in a number of ways – one because Atwood is one of my favorite authors but I wasn’t 100% in love with the book (it took me FOREVER to get through) and two because of it’s shocking ending!

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?


I didn’t have to push too hard – this book is well-known for being excellent (and it is!)

Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?


Outlander is still so incredibly fantastic.  This isn’t the season ender (thank goodness!) but it’s going to be AGES before the next one comes out!

Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?


It’s a little hard to say that Alexandra is a favorite author since I’ve only read one book,but this one was incredible and I am absolutely going to try another one from her ASAP.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?


This is definitely a newer genre for me – in truth I don’t know if I’ve ever read a crime thriller.  I had some issues with this first book in the series but I liked the second one much better.

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?


Definitely “unputdownable” – I read this all in one sitting and was completely taken with it. Highly recommend.

Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?


I love to re-read parts of series in preparation for the next one!

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?


Women in pretty dresses on the front of romance novels are always wonderful, but I find this one particularly gorgeous.  Look at that color!

Most memorable character of 2014?


It’s not really fair to say just “character” – I think all the characters in this series are totally memorable. Very unique (as is the whole story) and it all works so well together. Karou is fantastic.

Most beautifully written book read in 2014?


I adore the way this story unfolds. I’m a sucker for any kind of novel that includes letters but I really enjoyed how this one left mystery throughout.  The life was an unveiling – very well done!

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?


Okay, so I think “life-changing” is a bit heavy-handed but thought-provoking, certainly.  There’s a lot to ponder about who are and aren’t the bad guys – and the ending through a wrench into everything. I found it fascinating (and really readable!)

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?


This book has seriously been on the list forever.  I am sad I waited so long, too, it’s an incredible story and I’d like to try more of Kingsolver’s books.

Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?


“I love you,” he whispered. “I hope you don’t mind.”

Okay, so I technically finished re-reading this in 2015 but I read 80% of it in 2014.  I love how simple this line is and it totally works for the story.  Ahhh, Touchstone!

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2014?

fierycross hishaven

I was really surprised to see that Fiery Cross was longer than the latest George R.R. Martin.  It did not feel like it at all – I plowed through this installment so fast!

Book That Shocked You The Most


With any biography like this, there are things that will shock me, but maybe I was most shocked by how tame this one ended up being.  I really felt like a lot of it was sugar-coated or glossed over.

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year


Cinder and the Captain ❤

Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously


This was just a wonderful second installment – and it almost made the list for the book that shocked me the most!

Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:


I read this book only because it was for my sci-fi book club and absolutely LOATHED it.  Ugh!

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?


Graham was frickin’ adorable, even if the book overall was not. I wish we could have seen MORE of him. (If you know what I mean!)

Best 2014 debut you read?


I actually didn’t really read many/any debuts this year. It’s kind of a cop-out to call this a “debut” but it is, technically, her only publication.

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?


As many things as I don’t like about Martin’s writing, you certainly have to give him credit for world building.

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?


Oh my goodness, this book is the definition of a fun read.

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?


Oh yes, this book has ALL the feels.  Add in the fact that it’s based on fact and it’s impossible not to get misty-eyed.

Hidden Gem Of The Year?


Per what I said before, this is a book that can easily sweep you away if you let it.

Book That Crushed Your Soul?


Okay, so “crushing my soul” is a little dramatic, but I was really disappointed by this book. It had so much potential and it all just fell so flat.

Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?


It wasn’t so much the story that was unique, but the way in which it was written.  Definitely a nice change of pace.

Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?


It made me mad just because I really want to like Hemingway and I can’t do it.  This book was a beast to get through and I definitely consider it a waste of my life to have trudged through it. That direct Spanish to English translation of dialogue is just horrible.


One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?


I don’t buy a lot of YA books because I read them so quickly and this was always checked out at the library.  I hope some of the popularity will go down and I can get my hands on it this year!

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?


Oh man, I loved the first installment of this series and I can’t wait to listen to the next!

2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?


I actually don’t keep up much on debuts, but I saw Jamie’s review for this one and my interest is definitely piqued!

Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?


Seriously. So excited.

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

Successfully have my baby in March!  That’s pretty much the one life goal. It would be great to keep reading some books, too, but let’s be honest, I’ll have some other priorities. 🙂

Categories: Lists, Pick Ups, Put Downs | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

YA Book Review: Mila 2.0 – 1/5

MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza


My rating: 1 of 5 stars

No. This book is just a giant no.

There are so many obnoxious things about this story. I really, really wish I hadn’t even finished it. I slogged through it because I had a theory and, of course, it wasn’t until I got to the end that it occurred to me I might not be able to test my theory until the next book in the series, and there’s no way I’m picking up that brick.

For a book about an android/cyborg/whatever you want to call Mila, it was freaking boring. Mila is the lamest machine-like-thing ever. She can do crazy ninja-like moves, which is cool if predictable, but what else? She can insert a microchip into her wrist (but can barely process it) and she has GPS. That’s it. So. Lame.

Nothing about what she is makes sense. “Mila” is supposedly some kind of weapon the U.S. has made? Why in the world would they EVER design an android weapon to take the shape of a teenage girl? Dumb. And this entire project is run by two scientists? Equally dumb.

There is just so much about this that is absurd. I can’t resist naming a few:

1) Kaylee, her so-called best friend of a month, tries to kill her over a boy who moved into town two days before. The crazy of that situation was so glossed over.

2) Mila’s “love” for a boy who, again, had been around for two days. Why? There is zero connection. I’m so suspicious of him but we don’t get any more information before the end of the book, so I have no way of knowing if my guess is right (seriously, though, Mila is on the run from a “secret organization” who “knows no bounds” and a strange guy shows up, all handsome, decides he loves Mila, and his name? HUNTER. *slow blink*)

3) Mila has all this attachment to her school, and friends, and horse, and mother, etc, but she’s truly only been “alive” for a month. For a machine with human feelings she has about 500% the amount of feelings anyone has for anything in that length of time.

And then – there’s the biggest, most ridiculous thing of all. It’s after Mila and her mother’s capture (sorry for the spoilers, seriously though, you don’t want to read this book) and the scientist is putting her through “tests. ” Apparently if she can show that she doesn’t have emotions (when they already know she does) then she can live. So they decide to put her through these tests using emotion as the main incentive for her to succeed. In the final test she literally has to go through a Tough Mudder-like course all the while watching TV screens of her mother slowly being burned to death.

I’m sorry but if Mila works so hard to win at these games isn’t that showing exactly how her emotions are controlling her actions and not her logic? A true machine would look at this obstacle course and be all like “that seems like a risk to a lot of people and myself just to save one woman.”

I always feel a little guilty when I go into these rants, but I just can’t get over how little sense this book made. If you were thinking about picking this up, just stop. If you want to read a good book about a young adult cyborg lady, pick up Cinder instead.

Categories: Debuts, Put Downs, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

YA Book Review: Instructions for a Broken Heart – 2 of 5

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson


My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sorry, folks, this is not good. I know some of you loved the book, but this was cringe-tastic. It’s like Culbertson took all the bad parts of a YA novel and shoved it all into a beautiful package.

This book has so much potential! A recent break-up, an Italian vacation, twenty dares from a best friend – I love the premise. The execution was total blerg.

Where do I begin? Let’s start with my biggest frustration – the trip. That was the most boring, god-awful travel log I have ever read. Seriously, how do you write a book about a trip to Italy and focus only on the bad parts? I’d done a trip like what Jessa experienced in this book and I know what Culbertson was getting at – school trips abroad are generally terrible ideas. You sit in a boring bus all day, you barely have any time at locations, etc. I don’t want to read about it. I don’t need to see all the nuances of why traveling in a group sucks.

This book, to me, is just littered with Culbertson’s life experiences. It’s so obvious to me that each experience Jessa has Culbertson likely had in life. I’m all for authors drawing on true experiences, but this is just too much. All the referrals to specific musicals and games and whatnot – it was all too exact. Television shows and movies were just too alienating; as a reader I didn’t know a lot of the pop culture that was mentioned. None of it had meaning to me and so I just felt like I was listening in on a young girl’s (boring) life.

And then, of course, my main issue. Every single character needed to just get over him or her self. I know people are self-absorbed at that age but I don’t want to read about it in the extreme. Jessa’s pity party went on for far too long – blah blah you loved him blah. Based on everything we learned from Carissa, he obviously sucked, so you shouldn’t have loved him. And this whole “being too busy” thing was just lame. And can I mention how apparently everyone in their brother was poet or a singer? I know they were drama kids, but still.

I don’t know, it seems like very little in this book rang true (what’s up with Jessa having like six incredibly close guy friends? And everyone on the trip hooking up? What was up with her telling a new story for her scar all the time?) or, when things did ring true, I didn’t want to know (I don’t need to know how bored you are on the bus. I really don’t,)

It’s not my intention to be completely mean.  I did finish it, after all. The writing was decent and there were some really nice lines but I just couldn’t get lost in it. So not worth it.

Categories: Put Downs, Travel, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Earth Abides by George Stewart – 1 of 5

Earth Abides
by George R. Stewart


My rating: 1 of 5 stars


Normally I make it a point to keep my reviews free of spoilers, but with this I just couldn’t.  There were too many going-ons that need to be revealed.  Even if you haven’t read the book, I think you should still read this review – I don’t really care if I spoil it. I don’t wish this book upon anyone.

Call me an uncultured swine but I think this book is dirt. It’s one of those stories where the main character has too much damn self-knowledge. We as readers just sit there and watch as the main dude knows everything about himself and everyone else. The reader doesn’t get to figure out anything on her/her own. Instead we have to watch Ish-the-Magnificent watch everything around him. This, in theory, may be interesting except the man never changes. He just thinks the same obnoxious things over and over again.

I kept trying to speed the audiobook up to x2 so I could get through it faster but the narrator sounded so silly I had to turn back down. I never felt anything and was,therefore, bored. Society goes to pieces and I calmly read on. I don’t care because the protagonist doesn’t care.  He’s so stoic and thinks through everything without a shred of emotion. For crying out loud, Ish’s parents are dead, Ish’s KID dies, there’s a massive plague that wipes out his favorite son and other UNNAMED CHILDREN, and he just doesn’t care. It’s insane and infuriating.

Even with that aside, let’s just say that’s just how the main character is. I thought I was going to rip out my hair on two main points…

1) The Society (or lack-thereof) – What is this insistence that everyone else is stupid and that no one in his little tribe would care about anything, ever? The idea that this group of people would raise a whole family of children and only Ish, over the course of 21 years, would have the idea to teach them anything at all is stupid and offensive. No one thought learning to read was a good idea? You don’t have to be a magnificent scholar believe in education and history and society. The concept that this group of people could just lie around for years and years and do NOTHING – no hunting, no planting, no improvements, nothing is the most unrealistic thing I have ever heard.

I know this sounds dramatic but, according to the protagonist, he is the only person out of a group of about 30 or so people who think that reading and writing are valuable.

Dumb. Just dumb.

2) Just Die Already – The last however-many pages where Ish is an old man by myself? I was listening by audiobook and I swear for the last half hour of the book I was certain he was going to kick off and he never did. It was agony. I just didn’t care.

There was about 50 pages near the end where I thought maybe, just maybe this book would earn two stars. But the ending dissolved that completely.

I think I should probably stop here – I have so much I can rant about (somehow these supposedly uber-lazy people managed to train dog teams to drive sleds around the city? I just- I can’t- just no.  The impossibility of such a thing is straight up laughable).

My final word? Unless you’re just aching for some faux, boring as all hell philosophy just stay far away from this book.

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Reviewing a Classic: For Whom The Bell Tolls – 3(ish) out of 5

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.

I first read that quote graffiti’d on a bathroom stall at College Library at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Man, I miss that place.

Anyway, this line turns up in the last few pages of For Whom the Bell Tolls. It’s pretty much the only line I enjoyed reading. It’s a good line on its own, but I think my nostalgia helped. Otherwise who knows if I would have even noticed it.

But this book was hard to get though. I probably would have given up but I promised myself I would give Hemingway a second chance. I mean, he loved Spain and I love Spain. And my husband and I just bought a house in Oak Park, Illinois, where Hemingway was born. It’s blasphemous for me to not like him. I do not like him.

Here’s the thing – this book, it’s not like the story is bad. It’s quite decent in fact. There’s Robert Jordan, foreigner, who’s working with a guerrilla Spanish group during the Spanish Civil War. The story talks about their relationships and what it’s like to try to complete a very hard order. I find the relationships sudden and shallow, but overall, it’s interesting.

The problem is, Hemingway mucks it all up with his writing! That’s right, I’m going out there and I’m going to say it. I don’t care what his reputation is, I don’t care that he’s a famous writer and I’m just some shmoe. Hemingway’s dialogue sucks. It’s stilted, doesn’t represent actual development between characters, and to top it off, it’s all full of thys and thees and back-asswards crap wording.

I get it, I speak Spanish too, Hemingway, and I realize that the Spanish language will use formal terms that would, I suppose, directly translate to thee and thy. The thing is, though, we don’t use that in English so it sounds stunted and annoying. And some things are false cognates, Sir, and it’s really annoying to read “I did not mean to molest you.” When in Spanish the verb “molestar” means to bother, not physically grope someone. The direct translation of all of the dialogue is obnoxious and unnecessary.

Okay, sorry, I know that the language has changed through the years and it likely didn’t read as awkward when he wrote it as it does now but it’s still annoying. Because the rest is good. When Robert Jordan is just thinking all normal in his head it can be downright interesting. But that’s maybe 10 pages out of 400. This book was torture.

It’s only the last few pages that held some redemption for me in the story. At the end, as we were back in his head, I had a few feels. So that’s why this made it to a shaky 3 stars.

Overall, if you’re going to try Hemingway, put up this book and read three pages. If you’re annoyed, STOP reading. It will not get better. If it doesn’t annoy you, or should I say molest you?, give it a shot, you’ll probably like it.

Anyway. At least Oak Park is home to Betty White, too. Now that is a celebrity I can stand behind!

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Book Review: Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

Sloppy Firsts
by Megan McCafferty


My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Man, this book was supposed to be a clincher! I had heard so many good things: “Jessica Darling is a great character,” “the people are hot, “her experiences are hot,” “it’s sooo much better than 50 Shades of Gray” – well, at least they got the last part right. Mostly because 50 Shades totally sucks.

Mmm, but yes, back on track. I just couldn’t get into this book. I’d blame it on me not actually being a young adult anymore, but I can’t even use that as an excuse. These characters are just annoying. Maybe I didn’t have a normal high school experience, but were people really this dumb and catty in high school? Did anyone out there actually have all these groups with various names and stereotypes? Did I miss something here? Everything about this book is so cliche it’s sigh-worthy. And sigh I did, a lot, while reading.

So – Sloppy Firsts. Enter Jessica Darling: the entire book is a continuous spot light on this whiny teenager who “doesn’t have any friends” even though everyone seems to inherently like her. She’s the typical girl who claims to be unattractive because she is “too skinny” – oh, sure. She’s the girl who is so “totally awkward” but cracks out witty conversations all the time. She’s a young girl who has a talent for books and writing because – another heavy sigh on my part – the author can’t freaking come up with any other passion in life. Seriously, how many characters have to love writing and/or Jane Eyre/Jane Austen/Tolstoy/Insert Any Other Famously Good Novel Here in order to show they have hobbies and intellect? It’s old.

Obviously, I just couldn’t get into her. I’ll give props to McCafferty for doing a good job on depression, I think Jessica’s feelings there were very believable and well done. I know this review is going to sound like I hated it, but I didn’t. It had some gems of dialogue in there, though I never quite got the laugh. It’s the supposedly good and happy parts that are lame. Marcus is a useless love interest. I didn’t get him at all, or her attraction. Did McCafferty even describe him for us? I had no idea he was important until I had already missed everything. Not a good sign.

Plus, can we please talk about the lack of period piece? And how she’s totally not concerned? Or not enough? I mean – what?

Anyway, I checked out the second installment for the library because the book is not stand alone (a pet peeve of mine about series, but I’ll let it go). I doubt I’ll crack it open. I do want to give it a second chance because so many people love it but, for now, I’m just going to go with meh.

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Book Review: Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart

Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart


Man. I should have loved this book. When I pulled the off the shelf at Half Price Books I knew I had to have it. It was perfect for me. Not only was it a travel memoir, one of my great weaknesses, but it was a travel memoir about Spain. Add onto that a quirky story and I’m sold.

So what happened? Why am I not head over heels for this story? The writing was quite good, the descriptions were also nicely done. There is nothing glaringly obvious throughout the entire length.

The problem is that I just don’t care. Stewart, whether he meant to or not, kept me at arms length. I felt no suspense nor any struggle. All of the characters, especially his wife, were more supporting cast than ever having real personalities of their own (except maybe Romero). At times he hinted at disappointment or challenges but I never felt it. Everything that was hard seemed easy – something which moving to a falling down farm in the middle of rural Andalucia should never seem.

Maybe I should have known. After all, the title says “an optimist in Andalucia.” That optimism definitely permeated the book. The problem was it wasn’t just over Stewart. You could feel it over every moment and every character. It watered it down and even though he was writing about an area of the world near and dear to my heart, I found myself just not caring.

This may be a bold statement, but I feel while Stewart didn’t do anything wrong, he also didn’t do anything right with this book. Though maybe that’s harsh. There was one piece that touched me, toward the end. Stewart mentioned how he didn’t feel like he fit in until he let himself be an outsider. Those are his exact words, but they are close enough. I understand that completely. My first time in Spain I tried so hard to fit in – I bought all European clothes, did European things, etc. Of course, it didn’t work. Everyone spotted me as American, and treated me as such. When I went back years later and lived in Salamanca, I did nothing to hide my foreignness, and somehow I just fit better. It’s funny how it all works.

So, Stewart, I do thank you for the one spark of inspiration in the whole of the book. However, even with that, I just can’t lay my recommendation to it.

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