Book Review: Bascomville by Mark A. Calde

Genre: Contemporary, Teen

Page Count: 284

Average Goodreads Rating: 4.67 out of 5 stars

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Welcome to the life of Max Bascom, whose home is Bascomville. Bascomville has its own special kind of normal, where fathers can get job leads from their sons and Christmas dinners can end up to be Chinese take out. Max does his best to navigate Bascomville and to keep it running as smoothly as possible through good times and tragedy. And he also forms a special bond with the girl next door, Janice, who understands Bascomville despite coming from a world much different. 

This book is so fabulously written. I usually don’t take review requests, but I’m glad I did for this book. It’s part romance, part literary masterpiece, and it captures “growing up” so well. I wish I had this book when I was in middle school or high school because I can relate to making your own kind of normal.

“Us? Normal?”

“How do you know we aren’t? How do we know everybody doesn’t make their own?”

She considered this for a moment then dismissed it. “If everybody made their own then nothing would be normal. Nothing could ever be normal.”

“Exactly.”

That’s my kind of definition of normal. And I think everyone needs to remember that normalcy doesn’t really exist a little bit more.

I didn’t see the plot twists coming ahead of time and I never got bored. On top of that, this book is incredibly quotable. There’s some good life advice in here, like when Max helped Janice cover up vandalism on her house:

And I knew then that ultimately we can save neither ourselves nor our loved ones from life. We can only live it.

Max is a complex character that I like and dislike. He is, ultimately, human, not a hero. He tends to overreact sometimes when Janice is involved, but for the most part he’s likeable. He’s loyal to his family, loves his little sister, and wishes for a world with a level playing field.

My favorite character is his little sister Lily, though. She actually has it worse than Max. She lives at home with her parents after Max goes to college and has to deal with her mother pretending she doesn’t exist and her father pretending to be her best friend to make up for it. Her home life is lousy at best and she practically raises herself for her last years of high school. But she’s strong enough to not break under pressure and she’s not one for self-pity.

“Fair is for dorks. I don’t need fair to make things work.”– Lily Bascom

So why only a 4.5 instead of a 5?

It’s because of the long descriptions, like this one that characterizes Mr. Birnbaum, Janice’s father, through his workshop.

I stepped inside and caught my breath. It was, to me, a foreign wonderland, this workshop. I am not a particularly handy person, and the panorama of neatly arranged rows of tools hanging on pegboards, the fittings categorized in plastic bins, the copper piping slung above the rafters, the worktables and vises and clamps and braided electrical cords all echoed the prowess of this man. I felt humbled, and strangely calm. I still wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing but I was no longer nervous about it. I could leave disappointed, even chastised, and be all right with it. Such was the power of Sheldon Birnbaum and this place.

While these descriptions certainly add character and depth to the story, they can sometimes be a little excessive and make my attention lag. This book is certainly not a fluff book and isn’t meant to be one, but the long descriptions make it slightly more harder to get through than it has to be.

This is a good book for anyone to read and I can’t recommend it enough, especially to teens. It helps us remember that we all need to make our own normal.

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Book Review: The Remnants

51c2jlnk8ilGenre: Historical Fiction

Average Goodreads Rating: 4.26/5 stars

My rating: 3/5 stars

Danny Pulbrook is a handsome and rebellious young man. Born the bastard son of a minor royal and orphaned at birth he is determined to find a new life far beyond his “pre-ordained oblivion”. His only way out – a forced enlistment into the army brings him to an inevitable confrontation with his own demons in the cauldron of the first world war.

Rose Quayle is a beautiful and confident hazel-eyed housemaid who, like her mother and her mother’s mother is employed in service at Meaford House – an expansive vice-regal estate near Tunbridge Wells. Like Danny she longs for a life beyond the tyranny of the rigid class system that defines her humble destiny.

Their chance meeting becomes the catalyst that changes both of their lives forever.

The Remnants is like a fixer upper. It’s unpolished and a bit of a hot mess, but you can still see the potential. Unfortunately, The Remnants was published before it got the TLC it deserved.

Not only is the text plagued with typos and missing punctuation, but there are too many storylines and character to keep straight. It’s a hot mess that could have been amazing.

The story starts out on a seemingly inconsequential day, with two minor characters talking. Yes, minor. They’re barely in the story but they make up the opening scene that eventually introduces Rose as a young, innocent girl going on her first car ride. So far there’s promise. After all, the boggy description will clear up when the story gets going, right?

I wish.

But it does pick up when we meet lovable bad boy Danny. Straight from an orphanage and now working at a general store, he’s a troublemaker and has never known love of any sort. He’s convinced he’s unlovable. Perfect for a love interest. I do have a thing for the bad boys. Give them a vulnerable side and I’m practically putty.

Rose and Danny have an excellently sweet and innocent chance encounter that clashes with the darkness in the rest of the book. Actually, there’s no foreshadowing at all that things will go so horribly awry when they met, or how dark most of the book is.

But dark it is. Danny goes off to fight in India, leaving Rose behind, but promising to still see her. After realizing he will die unless he deserts the army, he runs away and Rose goes to live with him in Canada

Had this been split into two or three full-length novels with the first novel ending here, I would have liked it a lot. But instead this great beginning with Danny’s and Rose’s innocence isn’t given the full detail and development it deserves, instead being condensed to the beginning of the novel.

But unfortunately it gets worse. Because the story continues. With so many characters that it’s impossible to keep them straight.

Danny’s character takes a sharp left when he feels the need to go to war again, this time with the Canadian army. He and Rose had practically just found each other and now he’s going back to fight, and after he had almost died the last time? Yeah. That makes total sense. What is he, an addict all of a sudden?

The entire story goes in a whirlwind. Danny has such a steep character arc, from innocent teenaged boy to hardened veteran, it might as well be a character cliff. Rose, on the other hand, doesn’t have that much character to arc. She’s slightly more bitter by the end, but she had already been bitter in the beginning of the story. Her lack of character frustrates me to no end.

There are some good parts to this story, though. Rose’s experience in the workplace was well-written, as was the death of Grace, Danny’s girl on the side. His war buddy, Mitch, is an excellent character and funny as hell, even if he is a bit cliched. The dynamic between Danny and his comrades is actually very good and I wish I had seen more of that and less flowery description about the war atmosphere.

While this story is mildly entertaining, well-researched, and interesting, it’s not my favorite and I will definitely not be reading it again. What do you think? Does this book sound interesting to you?

Disclaimer: I was given a small amount of money in exchange for this honest review. 100% of my compensation for paid reviews goes toward the upkeep of this website.

 

Horrifyingly Sappy: The Band 4 The Air We Breathe

417drlnhqhl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational

Page Count: 324 pages (of nauseation)

Average Goodreads Rating: 3/5 stars (why, Goodreads? You’re usually so tough on books)

My Rating: 1.5/ 5 stars

Truthfully, this is actually a great story. Yeah. So great. It’s the perfect backstory for its horror sequel: The Martins Trump Manson on Body Count. 

As a romance it fucking sucks.

I don’t even know where to begin. This book is so full of sugary sap that it makes pasta covered in maple and chocolate syrup and marshmallows look appetizing.

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Holiday Book Review: The Mistletoe Bride

Sometimes we all need a little bit of a pick-me-up during the holiday season. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year and all that, but it’s frickin’ stressful. Between the in-laws and the holiday shopping (not to mention the calories. Yikes!), December can quickly turn into a jolly nightmare. However, The Mistletoe Bride is perfect for getting into the holiday season.

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Book Review: Claiming Her Highwayman by Michelle Grotewohl

claimingherhighwaymanGenre: Historical

Words: 17,970

Average Goodreads Rating: 3.8/5 stars

My rating: 2/5 stars

Cass runs one of the greatest band of highwaymen around. Despite being a woman, she’s respected by her crew, and every night they return to camp richer than they were and she can enjoy being in the arms of her second-in-command, Will Carpenter. But that all changes when Will accepts a position in the King’s Guard. Cass knows Will wants more than what she can give him. He wants marriage and kids, as well as honest work instead of thieving. But Cass doesn’t know if she can ever give him up.

Claiming Her Highwayman is free on Smashwords.

I found myself underwhelmed by this story. When it starts, Will and Cass are already a couple, and the chemistry between them already feels forced, as well as the heist they’re about to go on. It’s like a bad first draft that hasn’t developed into something greater yet. Cass and Will feel more like paper dolls than people and unfortunately, I never get that attached to them. They just don’t have the chemistry.

It doesn’t help that my suspension of disbelief took a huge beating when Will’s offered a job with the King’s Guard, as the princess’s personal guard. He’s a highwayman! Since when do they let criminals guard princesses? Um, never. Not only that, but he’s still in contact with his old gang, and he’s not even in training to be a soldier! He just is. Apparently the standards for becoming a member of the King’s Guard is really low.

It would make a hell of a lot more sense to me if there was a scarcity of guards for some reason, like the country was at war, and that’s why they’re turning to criminals to keep up with the demand of soldiers. That would flesh out the plot, too. But nope. Apparently we’re supposed to accept that a robber can become a princess’s bodyguard easily after mugging her with his gang of bandits. Oh, and he almost becomes her husband. Because every king wants his little girl to marry a common criminal.

Despite everything wrong with the story, I like Will’s and Cass’s characters. Even though Will only exists to be Cass’s lover, he’s got some pretty charming lines in the story. His need to protect her is incredibly sexy.

Cass’s character is a little more complex. She’s strong and independent, and she knows what she wants in life. She’s the type of girl who would be bored to death in most respectable professions for a woman, instead enjoying being a bandit. But I hated her when Bryce, one of her men, attacked her in her tent. All she did to defend herself was bide her time until she could scream for help

What. The. Fuck.

She’s a damn gang leader and she doesn’t know how to defend herself against one man who gets too handsy? Please. That’s fucking ludicrous, and all of my respect for her is just gone because of that one scene. How the hell did she become a leader in the first place if she needs to scream like a damn damsel whenever she gets attacked? Not cool.

This book really didn’t do much for me. While it’s all right, it’s not that good. The characters aren’t good, and neither is the writing. I suggest you look elsewhere for your historical romance bad boy.

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Book Review: Note to Self by Belinda LaPage

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Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQ

Goodreads rating: 3.73 out of 5 stars

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Anna never considered herself bisexual or a lesbian. She’s totally in love with her husband and happy with her life as a wife, mother, and cop. But that all changes when she meets Susan, a pretty, feminine doctor, who turns Anna’s world upside down. Confused and full of guilt from thinking erotic thoughts about Susan while married to Nick, Anna turns to her journal to sort it all out. 

Okay, once this story gets going, it’s great. But in the beginning it is so damn boring. Journal or not, Anna does not get to the frigging point for like four or five pages! I was tempted to go wash the dishes at least twice in the beginning of the book. When the dishes are pulling me away from a book, and not the other way around, something is very wrong.

However, it does read like a real diary, so kudos on that.

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Only He Knows by Hiranya Borah

Words, 3,330

Average Smashwords Rating: 5/5 stars

My rating: 2/5 stars

I’ve had such mixed feelings about Hiranya Borah’s stories and Only He Knows is no different. It’s about a married couple that seem perfect but not everything is as it seems. Himangshu cheated on his wife Seema for years, even when she’s dying of cancer. But as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Seema wronged her husband first.

Continue reading “Only He Knows by Hiranya Borah”