Saturday, March 5, 2016

My TBR List -- March 2016 Voting


My TBR List is a monthly meme hosted by Michelle @ Because Reading.
The basic gist of this activity is to have others help decide on which book out of three I'm selecting from my TBR pile I should read for the month via votes.  Posts for voting, the winning book, and the final book review will go up on Saturdays.
Click on the above links for more information.


First of all, I have done something I should have done a long time ago:  I have disabled the Facebook comments section on my blog.  When I realized that I wasn't getting notifications whenever people commented through Facebook, I started googling and reading FAQs and discussions around BL and FB and finally found out that there's some sort of problem with the Facebook comments plugin... or something and that it is currently a work in progress.

If anyone else has any ideas, feel free to let me know.  Thanks in advance.

For anyone who is not a BL member and prefers commenting through the Facebook comments plugin, I apologize.  I just like to be able to know when someone comments on my posts so that I don't look like I'm deliberately ignoring people.  I found a comment from a blog post from months ago and felt kind of bad that I never saw it.


Anyway... moving along to the actual reason for this post now!

I'm trying to kill two birds with one stone with this month's My TBR List meme.  The three books I'm selecting will be books I intend to read this year anyway, but I couldn't quite decide which book to pick; and I also wanted to continue participating in the My TBR List meme each month.  It looks like it'd be quite a bit of fun if I decided to stick with it, and, again, it'll also help me satisfy my Bonus Blogging Goal for my 2016 Bookish Resolutions.

This month's My TBR List will be a March 2016 Reading Assignment edition; I've already my first three books to read for March for this challenge and need a fourth one, so I decided to have everyone help me choose from three other books I would like to read from my 2016 Reading Assignment list.  Because my own personal book draw revealed that I'm still indecisive as heck, I decided it might be a good idea to let someone else to choose one of these books for me.

Don't worry, either way, I will be reading all of these books at some time this year.  It's just a matter of when, and I'm at a standstill on which one I want to get to first.

Thank you in advance to everyone voting!


The Books
Again, I also went ahead and put in a personal vote for one of these books, so I'll get to see how majority turns out in comparison to my own personal vote.  Exciting!  :D


Whirlpool by Elizabeth Lowell

As a child, Laurel Swann barely knew her father.  Always an enigma, intriguing and inscrutable, he was an elusive shadow flitting in and out of her life.  Even now, years later, he remains a stranger to her.  Still, when a mysterious parcel arrives containing a priceless Faberg√© egg, Laurel is certain it came from him.  But she doesn't realize that her father's gift has brought death and terror into her world...

Against her will, Laurel is being dragged down into a swirling vortex of betrayal and violence.  And there's nowhere to turn for help--except to Cruz Rowan, an ex-FBI agent and her father's sworn enemy.  A strong, secretive, and dangerous man, Cruz has his own agenda and is spinning his own webs.

And he is her last and only hope...



Un Lun Dun by China Miéville

What is Un Lun Dun?

It is London through the looking glass, an urban Wonderland of strange delights where all the lost and broken things of London end up . . . and some of its lost and broken people, too–including Brokkenbroll, boss of the broken umbrellas; Obaday Fing, a tailor whose head is an enormous pin-cushion, and an empty milk carton called Curdle. Un Lun Dun is a place where words are alive, a jungle lurks behind the door of an ordinary house, carnivorous giraffes stalk the streets, and a dark cloud dreams of burning the world. It is a city awaiting its hero, whose coming was prophesied long ago, set down for all time in the pages of a talking book.

When twelve-year-old Zanna and her friend Deeba find a secret entrance leading out of London and into this strange city, it seems that the ancient prophecy is coming true at last. But then things begin to go shockingly wrong.


The Carriage House by Carla Neggers

Fun and a little hard work. That's all Tess Haviland has in mind when Ike Grantham pays her for her graphic design work on the run-down nineteenth-century carriage house on Boston's North Shore.

Then Ike disappears and Tess finds herself with much more than a simple weekend project to get her out of the city. It's not just the rumors that the carriage house is haunted—it's the neighbors: six-year-old Dolly Thorne, her reclusive babysitter, Harley Beckett…and especially Dolly's father, Andrew Thorne, who has his own ideas about why Tess has turned up next door.

But when Tess discovers a human skeleton in her dirt cellar, she begins to ask questions about the history of the carriage house, the untimely death of Andrew's wife…and Ike's disappearance. Questions a desperate killer wants to silence before the truth reveals that someone got away with murder.

Let's Vote!
For Booklikes members reading this in dashboard view, I don't know why the voting thingy doesn't show on dashboard view... at least it doesn't for me.  If you see it, then go ahead and put in your vote, otherwise, my voting form appears in blog view just fine...  So for everyone else reading this post, just ignore this little tangent.  >.<

Or I guess you could click here to generate the voting box on a different page.



 This post originally posted at My TBR List - March Voting @ Ani's Book Abyss

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Not a Review... More like Fangirl Squee: Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

Review:

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography - Neil Patrick Harris, Neil Patrick Harris

Let's just start off with this:

 

NPH did this thing!  NPH did lots of things!  NPH gave us a life story!  And it is so damn AWESOME!  Because then he went and narrated it and made it even more AWESOME!

 

Ahem...  Moving along now.

 

I don't often read (or rather in this case, listen to) autobiographies. In fact, I'm sure I haven't touched a non-fiction book since I graduated from college years ago. Fiction is just so much easier to just melt yourself into. Which is probably why I chose to listen to NPH's autobiography rather than sit and read it, even IF I had a good inkling I would enjoy it whether I read the written book or listened to the audio book.

Because, let's face it, Neil Patrick Harris is all sorts of charming and funny and fun and entertaining and charismatic and so, so AMAZEBALLS! (I don't think I've ever actually used the word "amazeballs" in a review before... not that this is really a review, because I had so much fun listening to NPH narrate his book that I really don't know if I have all the right words to describe how much I loved this autobiography.)

And honestly, despite some moments that I thought kind of dragged a bit, I still thoroughly enjoyed NPH's life story--how much of it is true and how much of it is exaggerated and how much of it was simply a part of his humorous "Choose Your Own Adventure" formatting to elicit loud guffaws from me doesn't even matter. The entire telling of his life story was entertaining at all the right points, hilarious at all the right points, and even managed to make you seriously think about his life and your own life and lots of other people's lives around you because a lot of the things he presents are very insightful.

And to be honest, I have never really followed pop culture and the only thing I truly know about Neil Patrick Harris is whatever I've known about his fictional characters from Doogie Howser to Barney Stinson. I knew that he hosted award shows, but because I don't really follow many actors or actresses or their careers, I didn't know that he'd been a big hit in on-stage theater or Broadway. But it's extremely impressive and made me very glad I picked up his autobiography. I knew the name of the man he'd married, but I hadn't know that he had a set of twins (one boy and one girl) and that he's so sweet around them.

I love his natural comedic timing and wit, I love his random, sometimes bemusing side quips, and I loved that even Neil Patrick Harris isn't immune to tacky dialogue or lame jokes. It all shows in his book. All of which just further made me love NPH and love his autobiography so much more.

I haven't laughed so hard at a book in a long time.

And my only conflict about this book right now is whether or not I should just go ahead and get the actual hard copy format and read NPH's "Choose Your Own Autobiography/Adventure" the way it had been intended to be read. Except that I don't regret listening to the book in audio form because between the anecdotes told and NPH's narration, the entire thing was just a delight.

This is definitely not a critical review; this is just me squee-ing about how much I loved and enjoyed this book and how much I think it is the most awesome of awesome!

 

 

Original post: anitactruong.booklikes.com/post/1178868/not-a-review-more-like-fangirl-squee-neil-patrick-harris-choose-your-own-autobiography

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Top Ten Tuesdays: Summer Beach Reads

Top Ten Tuesdays is an original and weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

 

 

Ten Books I Plan To Have In My Beach Bag This Summer

 

- OR - 

 

Ten Books I Think Make Great Beach Reads

 

 

 

I think the best way to look at this topic would be as a Ten Books That I Think Would Be Good Summertime Reads.  Or something to that extent.  Because, to be totally honest, I don't really read too many books based on the seasons, or even holidays.  If I really want to read a book, I will read it even if it's a Christmastime book and it's the middle of June.

 

But here's a list anyway:  (and, just so everyone knows, there is no rhyme or reason to this list, really)

 

 

THE BOOK I Will Definitely Be Reading This Summer, On The Beach Or Off, Because Author!

And also because I fell for the main character in this book already when he was a side character in a previously novel where he very readily said the word "penis" before the first chapter was even over.

 

 

Suddenly One Summer by Julie James

 

Books I Have Read That Would Make Great Summertime R&R Reads... on the Beach, I guess..

She Drives Me Crazy by Leslie Kelly

She's Got the Look by Leslie Kelly

And One Last Thing... by Molly Harper

On the Fence by Kasie West

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

 

 

Books I Have Not Read That Would Make Great Summertime R&R Reads... on the Beach, I guess.

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch

Also Known As by Robin Benway

Wife by Wednesday by Catherine Bybee

 

 

And A Few Extras Just For the Heck Of It, 'Cause, Hey, I'd Read Them On the Beach Anyway For A Good Summertime R&R Even Though I Hadn't Already Listed Them When I First Read This Topic...

Because I Can.

 

Given the choice of laying around on a beach all day to do nothing but rest, relax, and read, I would totally pack all of my Cindy Gerard books, start from the beginning and read them all over again and then finish the One-Eyed Jack series while I'm at it.  But this is entirely a personal preference and does not mean I think they would make great summer beach reads for anyone else.

 

Then again, it's not like any of the other books I chose would make the best summer beach reads, but they DID happen to be the first books that came to mind.  

 

I know, this week's Top Ten Tuesday was totally half-assed.

 

I'm sorry.

 

 

Original post: anitactruong.booklikes.com/post/1148846/top-ten-tuesdays-summer-beach-reads

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Three Book Thoughts: KGI series 1, 2, 3


Review:
The Darkest Hour - Maya Banks No Place to Run - Maya Banks Hidden Away - Maya Banks
KGI series -- Maya Banks
Book 1: The Darkest Hour
Book 2: No Place to Run
Book 3: Hidden Away
2010 - 2011 -- Berkley Sensation

Adult, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, Crime, Military

Average Rating for all three books: 3.66 Stars


I’m going to have to admit that I’m having a hard time detaching myself from the Kelly family and the KGI world.  If there is anything in fiction that gets right at all my FEELS, it’s family interaction.  I’m a character-biased reader and live for fun, witty, entertaining quips and banter between characters in any book.  Friendships, romances, family, siblings… if the interactions are good, I eat it all up.

But nothing gets me like family interaction, whether they be family by blood or family through adoption or even unofficially family through association.  It was one of the reasons why I loved reading Jill Shalvis’ Simply Irresistible (three half-sisters with excellent banter and strange interactions) as well as all of Cindy Gerard’s Romantic Suspense books (the Garrett family and extended family in the Bodyguards series, and the extra extended family of the BOIs in the Black Ops, Inc. series).

But I hadn’t been prepared for the tumult of FEELS hurtling at me from the random collection of the extremely large Kelly family in Maya Banks’ first three KGI books.  Especially the second book, No Place to Run, which had angst and FEELS up the wazoo!  And it wasn’t even the lame, eye-roll-worthy type of angst, but a feel good kind of angst.

And that family interaction between the Kelly brothers, their parents, their significant others, their team members… and also with Rusty.  I never thought I’d love seeing angsty teenage drama in an adult book, but it was there and it somehow melted my dark pit of a heart.

So even though the KGI series was just your typical Romance novel with a dash of Suspense to bring a little substance to it, tacky dialogue and declarations of unity and love, and fairly standard Romance plots, it hooked me into it BIG TIME.

The books are more Romance than they are Crime Thriller or Suspense.  Book #2, No Place to Run, was probably the only one that even had a more equal balance of both worlds with the constant intensity of our characters being in danger and a somewhat angsty, yet sweet romance to tie things together.  But the other two were pretty mellow for a Romantic Suspense, not that I’m complaining or anything, because stories were told and enjoyed by all and they kept me reading.  I don’t know that I would change the story outlines for any reasons.

However, I would suggest a more meticulous editor as well as some beta reading to sniff out all those grammar errors, typoes, and repetitive dialogues.  More than once in each book, the same fact would be repeated within pages of each other using the same words and sentence structure.  At least once, a phrase was repeated in the same sentence using the same words.  And each time these phrases or facts were repeated, they made it sound like it hadn’t already been said moments ago.

It struck me more as an editing error rather than the character trying to emphasize a point, mainly because the sentence sounded awkward.

At the very least, a really good editor would have made Book #3, Hidden Away, more enjoyable; the grammar, punctuation, and missing pronouns and missing words in a sentence errors were more pronounced in this third KGI book and DID bug me just a little bit.



The Darkest Hour
3.5 Stars

Ethan Garrett has been living in a depressed funk for the past year after the announcement of his wife’s death--her incinerated remains along with her wedding band, the only part of her left after a plane crash in South America while she was on a mercy mission.  But on the anniversary of her death date, Ethan receives a mysterious package that hints that Rachel may not be dead after all; instead, she’d been held prisoner in Colombia in a drug cartel camp all this time.

Knowing he has no other choice, Ethan enlists his brothers and the KGI to help bring Rachel back home.  As for Rachel, her memory of her life before imprisonment has dwindled to nothing but a few selected faces and names; she has blocked out everything else, including why she’d been held captive for so long in the first place... as well as any inkling of the crumbling marriage between her and Ethan before she disappeared.

My Thoughts:
The Darkest Hour was a pretty strong springboard for the rest of the KGI series, but to be totally honest, if not for the characters, the Kelly family, and some unknown source of FEELS, I may not have liked it as much.  As is typical of any first book in an extensive series, the author introduces, not only the main players of this book and series, but also various side characters as she works to build back story for other books later down the line.

We get a glimpse of all the six Kelly brothers (which was a given), as well as several of the KGI team and some local family friends such as Sean Cameron, the young sheriff (whom all fans are apparently screaming for him to have his own book presently).

Fortunately, the character intros are neat and clean and not awkwardly forced; all the brothers have a place in the story line of The Darkest Hour, all the side characters part of the KGI team have their significance, and even the stray teenager, Rusty, has her own role… even if it might have been slightly awkward.  The important thing is, it makes you want to keep reading the series so you can see for yourself how the rest of side characters and their stories will turn out.

The only thing that DID bug me about The Darkest Hour was the relationship between Rachel and Ethan.  As sweet as they were together after being reunited, I’m almost thinking that things might have been a little bit smoother and a lot of unnecessary angst (the eye-roll-worthy type) could have been avoided if the couple would have just learned to communicate with each other.  Also, the way in which Rachel’s memory loss was played out was also a bit sketchy and felt a bit forced at times.

Then again, her memory loss was caused by psychological trauma rather than any kind of head injury.  And the human brain is a complex thing, so...

Otherwise, all is well and the book was highly enjoyable.





No Place to Run
4.0 Stars

Sam Kelly uncharacteristically involves himself in a spontaneous relationship with a girl he thought was just a poor, sweet waitress during one of his undercover ops.  But after the mission is over, it seems that so is his affair with Sophie Lundgren, who has mysteriously disappeared.  Over the following months, however, Sam realizes that he hasn't been able to get Sophie out of his mind.  So it comes as a shock to him when this same woman appears in Kentucky Lake right behind his home, half-dead and carrying, five months pregnant, and on the run.  What comes as an even bigger shock to him is that Sophie isn't simply the sweet little bar waitress, as he’d thought.

Sophie Lundgren is the daughter of Alex Mouton, a ruthless baddie that the KGI had been tasked to help take down five months ago during Sam’s last KGI operation.  Having killed her heartless father and stolen his vault key, Sophie is now on the run from her father’s assassins and her Uncle Tomas who means to make an example of her for betraying her father and his organization.  Mainly, Tomas wants the vault key that Sophie has kept hidden because it is the only way into Alex Mouton’s stash of wealth.

My Thoughts:
Okay, so I suck at creating my own short, paraphrased summaries.  But so much happens in No Place to Run that it's hard to figure out what to say and what NOT to say so that a fairly accurate synopsis is presented, but not too much of the plot twists are given away.  From the short-lived romance between Sam and Sophie, to Sophie’s betrayal of her father and his organization, to Sophie’s subsequent reappearance in Sam’s life to warn him of danger as well as beg for protection because she’s not sure she can continue to protect herself and her unborn baby… then more stuff just keeps happening with a presence of danger continually looming in the background…

The Kelly family is in danger, the Kelly brothers are all suspicious of Sophie because she’s still keeping secrets, and now the CIA wants in on all this action.

It was quite a bit to take in, while at the same time, it kept the book propelling forward at a fast-paced, action-filled read.

This second book of the KGI series is probably the better of the first three books, with the right balance of romance, suspense, angst, and FEELS.  Because the progress was nonstop, the love story was sweet, the characters were their usual kickbutt selves…  And as a reader, you've already gotten to know enough about the main players of KGI to relate and feel for them when all the shit hits the fan.

Also, there was no holding back on the shit hitting the fan.  When you thought things couldn't get worse
[spoiler]
Frank Kelly goes and has a heart attack while Marlene Kelly gets abducted, and all our Kelly boys are now simmering in turmoil, and things just keep getting more and more personal and more and more effed-up.
[/spoiler]

So, yeah.  I enjoyed the hell out of No Place to Run even if things tended to start getting a little out of control.  It was pleasurably entertaining and enjoyably addictive to read.




Hidden Away
3.5 Stars

Sarah Daniels witnessed her half-brother, Marcus, murder a man in a fit of rage after learning what that man did to her.  Not wanting to be used against her brother by the law, knowing that he’d only acted to protect her, Sarah flees the country to go into hiding.  But now there are a plethora of agencies searching for her, whether to try to use her to lure Marcus out, or to silence her for whatever reasons.

The CIA, among others, is particularly interested in using Sarah as bait to lure Marcus Lattimer into the open so they can arrest him for all the crimes he’s committed over the years.  Garrett Kelly, who has his own personal agenda against Marcus Lattimer volunteers his help to get close to and keep an eye on Sarah so that he can personally bring Marcus Lattimer to justice.  What he didn't expect was how quickly he’d become drawn to Sarah, developing a primal protective instinct towards her, a fast attraction, and then falling hard for the girl with a haunted past.

My Thoughts:
There are several things about this book that bothered me.  So it’s probably a good thing that Hidden Away also had a lot of superficially good things going for it that worked for me--I’m easily, and readily, pleased by a lot of specific things in Romance novels.

For one, the character interactions, relationship interactions, and family interactions in the book were excellent.  Despite the main conflict taking place on the Isle de Bijoux (which I assume is in France?) with Sarah and Garrett, we still get a good glimpse of what’s concurrently going on with the Kelly family (Sophie’s pregnancy and labor, Rusty’s adjustment to life in her new family and school, Rachel’s continued recovery of her emotional mind and memories…).

Secondly, Garrett Kelly has very easily become my favorite Kelly brother.  I believe “soul mate” and “swoon-worthy” came up in some of my thoughts about him.  I mean, any guy who leaves a present of books, chocolate, and wine on a girl’s doorstep to make her feel better gets at least 10,000+ points.

Also, this:
”Let me guess.  You’re scared of children too?”

He scowled.  “Not scared.  Cautious.  Maybe a little apprehensive.  Okay, terrified.  I mean, they’re terrorists disguised as cute little people.”

I’m going to start using that description on all kids from now on.  Because it’s true.

If this were a Contemporary Romance, it would totally rate high in the few Contemporary Romances I've come to love.  If this book hadn't included subterfuge or a murder or the CIA, Garrett’s and Sarah’s relationship development might have simply been a sweet, cute, and fun love story as a simple Contemporary Romance about a girl recovering from a tragedy and a man taking some time off from work after an injury.  They meet on an island getaway, are attracted to each other, and help each other heal.

Of course, this book may as well have been a Contemporary for the first half; much like The Darkest Hour very little Suspense happens until well into 50% of the book.  We spend a lot of time watching Garrett snuggle his way into Sarah’s secluded life and doing a very good job of it as well.  Very simplistic, mundane scenes unfold slowly in the "Getting to Know You" phase of Garrett's and Sarah's love story.

Then the Suspense part of the book rears it's head and everything just starts rushing forward at an awkward pace of trying to balance the Romance with the Suspense, and things start to stammer out of control a little bit.

Not to mention the big ball of angst just waiting to happen because this is a book filled with murder and subterfuge, after all, and Garrett isn't just some random guy taking a break from overworking himself.  Despite gaining Sarah’s trust in sincerity, Garrett has omitted information and told the biggest lie bound to push the poor woman off her final edge.

I know he meant well, and I know that Sarah probably wouldn't have let him protect her if she knew the truth.  And you'd think that keeping her alive, time and time again, would have mattered more to her in the grand scheme of things.  But in the long run, she was still being used to lure her brother (whom she loves dearly) out into the open.  It was still a bit disconcerting considering one of the Kelly clan mottoes is to defend and protect the weak; but here they are, lying to and using Sarah when she’s just now starting to recover from her most recent tragedy that caused her to lose all faith and trust in people, specifically men.

No one likes being unknowingly used as bait.

On a side matter, despite how sweet their love story was starting to turn out, there is still a semblance of insta-love in there that is a little hard to ignore.  Garrett Kelly was always described as the cranky, “don’t-give-a-shit” type who lives for his job.  He was the first person to go into extreme suspicion mode when he first met Sophie, and also one of the first to reject Rusty’s sudden appearance in the Kelly family.  Obviously he doesn't warm up to people easily.  But the first time he lays eyes on Sarah, his softened, protective instincts are rearing like crazy.

It just felt a little out of character, is all.

And I don’t even know if I should get into all the typos and editing errors and repetitive dialogue throughout the book.  It almost felt like this was the last book on Ms. Banks’ yearly contract and she just needed to get it done and screw all those sentences missing proper pronouns or transitions.  Or the fact that the same issue got repeated in the same sentence twice.  Or that we've got run-on sentences, fragmented sentences, and strangely structured sentences all over the place.

Not that I’m really complaining all THAT much, but this book would have been a lower rating if I hadn't fallen in love with Garrett Kelly after his little books, wine, and chocolate peace offering, right off the bat.

Yes.  I'm shallow like that.  So sue me.

Overall Thoughts:
The KGI series is proving to be highly addictive and entertaining, even if it isn't the best written Romantic Suspense in the world.  I've already, very easily, fallen in love with the Kelly family (and extended family) and continue to look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.

I have to admit, even if the story lines or the writing or the ideas aren't much to write home about, the lovely character interactions will always do it for me if everything else is done decently enough to like.

Original post: anitactruong.booklikes.com/post/1169921/three-book-thoughts-kgi-series-1-2-3

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Thoughts: The Boyfriend App

Review:

The Boyfriend App - Katie Sise

The Boyfriend App -- Katie Sise

Book 1 of App series

2013 Release -- Balzer + Bray

Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

 

 

**There might be some spoiler bombs here and there... but I'm not certain which ones are.  I got a little carried away writing this post.  Just read at your own risk.


The Boyfriend App had a completely interesting premise that promised all sorts of potential for Contemporary Romantic goodness in a YA. Before reading it, I foresaw all the possibilities you could think of for growth and development for our main female character, Audrey McCarthy as a non-standard geeky high school girl who has techie skills like none other, who’s going through a hard time in her life, and who is also kind of caught up in finding a boyfriend. After all, most girls in YA are pretty carbon copy across the board with their girly and their pretty and their flirty and their “speshul” statuses despite being a plain and ordinary girl.

Instead, Audrey has a penchant for computers and tech and has been learning the basics since she was a child from her father who is also a computer geek. She’s smart and she knows it. She even hacks into other computers effortlessly and creates apps with so much ease you’d think she was simply doing basic arithmetic.

I think it’s pretty cool and it made Audrey a unique character all on her own.

The Boyfriend App is one of those cute and breezy types of YA Contemporaries that you enjoy mainly because it’s refreshing and cute and adorable. And I will admit that despite the craziness that was the latter half of this book, I DID thoroughly enjoy The Boyfriend App and was mildly entertained.


The Story:
Ever since her father’s death, Audrey McCarthy has not only fallen out of friendship with former best friend Blake Dawkins, but managed to get on Blake’s daily hit list due to a misunderstanding. Because Blake’s father is a bonafide asshole, he took advantage of Blake’s and Audrey’s slowly crumbling friendship to blame Audrey for the fact that he knew Blake was being sexually active. For this, Blake believes her father and decided to take the Mean Girl persona to an all new cruel level. As Blake is the most popular, most powerful girl in school, it doesn’t take long for Audrey to fall into the category of those students constantly being bullied.

Because of this, Audrey can’t wait to finish high school, go away to college, and hope for a brand new start. But college requires money, which is something Audrey and her mother do not have ever since her father died and his name was slandered (by the ever constant evil ass, Blake’s father, because he’s rich and he can… of course). Audrey’s chance comes when there is a competition to design the best app with a $200,000 scholarship reward.

And what does Audrey choose to design? The Boyfriend App that will help all people find a significant other within a 500 mile radius. And then hijinks ensue with the designing and testing of the app… followed by even more hijinks as the story progresses.

 


Overall Thoughts:
I’ve gotta say that while The Boyfriend App wouldn’t have been the most unique or innovative creation in today’s society, Audrey’s got a good idea going on. After all, one of the largest consumer bases in America happens to be young teenage girls, so what better way to win “The Most Popular App” category than with an app design that would absolutely appeal to young, hormone driven teenage girls? It’s a smart idea. And it helps to catapult a YA Contemporary Romance to create interesting dynamics among the high school population.

The Boyfriend App is an interestingly insightful story on some levels, bringing to light the continually growing market of smart technology, easy to access media files, and innovative and popular apps to go with all of it. On other levels, the book actually ended up getting a little silly with a big conspiracy of some tech company taking place in the second half of the book; which is kind of disappointing considering how strong of a start The Boyfriend App had begun with.

Audrey’s relationships with the people around her are, for lack of a better word, very interesting to witness as they play out (between her and her mother; between her and Blake; between her and the rest of the geeky tech students called Trogs; between her and her love interest, Aiden; and between her and her cousin Lindsay). This book could have been a really insightful Contemporary with all the relationship dynamics fighting to surface and needing some sort of resolution or closure.

So it’s a bit disappointing that we don’t really get that in the end, and instead, we get some sort of strange, out of context tech conspiracy with even more bizarre happenings after Audrey uncovers this conspiracy. Her Boyfriend App 2.0 required a lot of suspension of disbelief to follow along with (as did the tech conspiracy and subsequent conclusion of said conspiracy).

In a word, things got crazy and I don’t know how to feel about it. Because while things got crazy, things also kind of got humorous while trying to propel Audrey’s little bit of personal growth along the way.

The subtle romance between Audrey and Aiden was low key and cute and actually quite adorable because the two of them are adorable. It’s nice that our main couple are just two nerdy tech geeks who are too shy for their own good, and are trying so hard to preserve their friendship that they don’t know how to take their relationship beyond that. And that’s what I loved about Aiden--that he isn’t the typical broody YA, popular boy with Daddy Issues™ or the like. He’s just a normal kid going through high school, trying to make it into college and start his life; he’s shy and introverted and a nice guy.

The other guy, Xander (who really pales in comparison as a potential love interest) got that part of the stereotype covered and I’m kind of glad that he wasn’t the main love interest (or anywhere part of love interest territory).

As for Blake… I don’t know what to say about her. To be honest, she has potential for a lot of story, a lot of growth and development, and has the backstory and family life to work with. The second book in this series is about her, and there were a lot of underlying “Blake’s cruddy family life drama” being hinted at that I’m sure will be addressed in that second book. But to be honest, I’m not sure if I’d be able to bring myself to read about Blake. I just don’t like her and I’m not even sure an explanation of her insecurities, her crappy family life, her unhealthy relationship with her parents, or anything will make up for the fact that she just isn’t a good person.

Blake Dawkins really does bring the whole High School Mean and Popular Girl to a whole new level of cruel and unacceptable. And I know that some kids can be mean little assholes because they’re young and they don’t consider consequences until it’s too late. That’s why we have literature detailing these issues to help the world understand how devastatingly dramatic, yet miserable high school can be if you get an unlucky draw. That’s why we get second chances in life and that’s why kids are encouraged to make mistakes so that they can learn from them.  (Keyword: learn from them.)

I just can’t bring myself to let Blake’s horrible actions be justified by her lousy upbringing. And I can’t let myself allow those justifications with Blake’s own superficial reasonings. Which, I know, contradicts my entire “Kids will be kids” declaration from above, but at some point you have to draw a line and make them accountable for their own misdeeds.

Her father tells her that Audrey ratted out her sexually active behavior and so now Blake’s on an extreme vendetta to make Audrey’s life miserable by hurting her and her mother. Honestly, I think that Blake’s behavior was too over-the-top for one little betrayal she believed Audrey had done to her. So your father found out that you’re sexually active and you got in trouble. Get over it and move the eff on!

Now, even if it had been true, and even if Audrey had been the one to get her into trouble with her father, there was absolutely no reason to drag Audrey’s family members into the whole little spoiled princess war. Blake had no right to make light of or use Audrey’s father’s death to hurt her; Blake and her stupid friends had no right to carry out the bullying to Audrey’s mother (they practically assaulted the poor woman in the cafeteria), who is nothing but sweet and nice. Those actions were uncalled for. I’m not saying that Blake should be bullying Audrey at all, but her ire shouldn’t have included assaulting an adult who had done nothing to her, and knowing full well that, because of her status, said adult can’t do anything about it.

It’s kind of disgusting.

There are even instances of Blake’s bullying just being delinquent behavior--stealing some poor girl’s wheelchair and riding it down the hall? I’m not even sure how to respond to that one.

But I think the final straw was how, even at the end, Blake continued to grasp for reasons to explain away her mean behavior. That she was forced to act like a bitch because her hand was forced. That she continued to make Audrey’s life miserable because Audrey got too cocky about creating a popular app. That she had always tried to make Audrey’s life miserable because she envied Audrey’s loving family life. That she kept using Audrey’s father’s death to hurt her because Audrey had betrayed a friendship secret to Blake’s father.

 

Are these really good enough reasons to continually hurt someone and their family?  Is she really going to use these reasons to explain away her terrible behavior?

Because it just feels like she’s still unrepentant and doesn’t believe that she’s ever done anything wrong. A sad and terrible homelife does not justify treating other people like dirt and it sure as hell doesn’t get you a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for committing murder. If that ever happens. Just saying.

Anyway, climbing back down off of my “Blake Dawkins could have had more potential for story” soapbox that had come spontaneously bursting out…

The Boyfriend App is actually quite cute and entertaining once you turn your brain off. I enjoyed it. And that’s what matters.

 

 

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This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):

 

 

Original post: anitactruong.booklikes.com/post/1169949/thoughts-the-boyfriend-app