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review 2017-11-06 20:49
Filled with Cliches, but hey, it was a quick guilty pleasure read!
Dangerous Boy - Mandy Hubbard

I would call this a guilty pleasure book. Why? Because it’s not the most greatest read out there but you read it anyway because something about it just draws you to continue reading. Whether it be characters, or the cheesy plot albeit ridiculous as it may be.

 

This is supposed to be a modern day retelling of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I see some similarities although the way it’s explained (the soul thing) is a bit of a stretch. At least with Jekyll/Hyde he had something concrete and explanatory (eg; the serum that gets him to change personalities).

 

The book itself is filled with oodles of cliches so it’s not for everyone. It may induce eye rolls and may have some readers frustrated and quit reading altogether. Why did I keep reading? It’s a very simple plot and there’s not much when it comes to twists and turns, there’s a bit of a creepy and chilly factor which was actually pretty well done and I stuck with it. Despite the plot being as it is, the writing was pretty good and I enjoyed it.

 

A couple of things however. I’m not sure what Madison really had to do with the story. She’s just your average mean girl but doesn’t really add to the plot (except for being a previous romance. Woopie) so to me, this was just unnecessary filler moments in the novel.

 

Harper isn’t really that likable and there were moments where she goes off the deep end into the realm of stupidity. I do admit though, she’s got good chemistry with Logan and the writing that conveys their feelings towards each other is well done. Logan seems to be a great boyfriend if it wasn’t for that fatal flaw. Harper does tend to have some annoying qualities to herself - being a forgiving doormat for one, and lacking common sense in particular stages of the story (seriously? You’re going to break into a house and you say: “hello?” can we say first one to die in a horror movie here?)

 

Although this book has quite a few flaws, I couldn’t help but enjoy reading it. It’s a very quick read and it’s like you’re watching a B movie but you enjoyed it despite the many cliches and things you normally wouldn’t watch. There’s just something about it that makes you want to continue reading it. I’m not going to recommend this one, but if you’re up for a quick read to get back into the reading groove, why not?

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review 2015-08-25 12:07
Extremely (but unintentionally and apologetically) Rambling Review: Fool Me Twice
Fool Me Twice - Mandy Hubbard

Fool Me Twice -- Mandy Hubbard

Book 1 of If Only... series

 

 

First of all--Yes, this review got really long-winded and I got carried away.  I'm sorry.  Second of all--I'm too lazy to go through and shorten it at the moment and there might be some duplicate sentiments here and there.  Again, I'm sorry.

 

Moving along now...

 

 

I have a lot of wavering feelings about this book, but in the long run, Fool Me Twice was simply one of those cutesy, yet bipolar-ish experiences where parts of the story make you wince and get all irritated and frustrated, and parts of the story are actually quite enjoyable and fun.

Because from the beginning, Book and I got off to quite the rocky start; however, by the time Book got going, past the halfway point, I had trouble continuing my resentment of Book and we came to a mutual understanding. I simply allowed myself to just be entertained (it was a short and easy to read story, after all), even if I wasn't a hundred percent enamored by Book; and Book seemed to tone down on the things that bothered me. Unfortunately, Book also didn’t give me a sense of satisfaction about the story line or the romance, even if Book managed to maintain a semblance of story.

However, the conclusion to the romance felt a little too easy... I'm not sure I agree with how easily Landon gets his 'Get Out of Jail Free' card. I still don't think he's made up for how he treated MacKenzie at the beginning of the book and what we know of their back story. But I'm moving on anyway, because Happily Ever After™ was had by all, and really, that's all we can ask for anyway.

However, redux,

it just rankled me a little bit that he never really had to prove anything to Mack and she just readily fell back into his arms and in love with him. And while the revenge card always comes back to bite you in the ass and so is usually not the best way to manage a situation, I just don't feel like Mack managed to get her point across--that Landon had hurt her, continues to be a jerk about it, doesn't even deny that he knows he broke her heart, and that he should be making up for it. He should be given trials and tribulations and begging for forgiveness. He should NOT be getting the girl without working to win her back just because she never stopped being in love with him.

If he can be a douche once, then it's always possible to be a douche again, and Daddy Issues™ is always the oldest trope in the book for why Contemporary Romance heroes act like douchebags--it doesn't justify his actions. His logic was illogical. He “dumped” Mack because his ex-girlfriend wanted to get back together (and I use the term “dumped” loosely because the jerk couldn’t even be bothered to end his relationship with Mack before running back to his ex-girlfriend). And then he had all this time to try to win MacKenzie back, but because he knew she’d never forgive him for treating her like crap, he doesn’t even bother with an apology or an explanation or anything at all.

And as fun as the pranks might have been, they really were just that: fun. Good, clean, youthful, fun. Aside from one prank that got a little disastrous, it's not like any of the pranks really served to put the boy in his place. In fact, he had fun with those pranks. They didn’t hurt him or even remotely make him wary or make him think: “Why is she doing this?” And then you find out that he had started regaining his memories and now I’m wary because I don’t know what game he was playing by playing along with Mack and her pranks… which just makes it feel like Mack was being duped all over again.

And in the end, all Landon had to do was say, "I'm sorry. I was a fool," and everything was right in the world, when he should have tried to reconcile with Mack a long time ago instead of starting off acting like a jerk at the beginning of the book knowing full well how badly he'd hurt her already.

(spoiler show)

And so I feel like he got off too easily and I'm still not happy with him.

But then again, maybe that's the whole point and maybe a simple love story is better than a dragging, angst-strewn one. I don’t know. I didn’t feel satisfied with the way the reconciliation happened.

I get the underlying message in this story, because it's presented in two-fold: Between Mack and Landon's rekindled second-chance romance, and even between side characters, Bailey and Adam's budding romance. It never hurts to toss a little "Be true to yourself" self-revelation into a young adult novel--it's a good message no matter the type of book, anyhow, and just makes it a little bit harder to resent a book that tries so hard to very subtly fling the message at the reader.


The Story:
MacKenzie and Landon had had a perfect, whirlwind summer romance that she had thought would continue outside of their summer locale at Serenity Ranch. But when the two return to their hometown and to high school, Mack finds Landon kissing his ex-girlfriend and eventually getting back together with her, leaving Mack heart-broken.

A year later, Mack and her best friend are back working at Serenity Ranch and Spa for the summer, and of course, Landon is there, too. And no matter what she does, it seems like the boy won't leave her alone. But then he takes a nasty fall off his horse and all memory of the past year has been wiped away in Landon's mind--he thinks it was the summer before and that he and Mack are in the middle of their summer romance.

With the need for some emotional revenge, Mack let's her best friend convince her that this is the perfect chance to get back at Landon--pretend that they're still together, make him fall in love with her much harder than she had for him, then dump his ass when all is said and done. Of course, for this plan to actually work, it means that MacKenzie cannot fall for Landon this time around.


More of My Rambling Thoughts:
Revenge plots are hard to do, because revenge is always a tricky subject--and I don't just mean in book plots. Revenge typically leads to stooping to the same level as the person who hurt you so that you can hurt them equally, sometimes twice as badly. And it's hard for anyone with a guilty conscience to NOT feel bad about intentionally striking out to hurt someone else, no matter how much the other person might deserve it.

But when done in a cute and breezy rom-com fashion, these plots may be a little easier to follow with. So I kind of expected something cute and breezy and not quite so emotionally trying... and y'know, that's probably what Fool Me Twice turned out to be: Cute and breezy and superficial... and frustrating as hell.

Admittedly, I started off by listening to an audio book sample of Fool Me Twice a few days before I actually decided to pick it for one of my four August Reading Assignment Challenge choices (a decision also reinforced by the fact that this is a short read and I realized that I was running out of month to finish my assignment for August). The short four minute sample audio clip was all I needed to decide that I probably wasn't going to like this book.

For one, MacKenzie came off sounding like a pretentious, uptight, anti-snob wannabe with her stereotypes and her "holier than thou" attitude. Secondly, the attempts at dry sarcasm in the narration felt tacky and awkward. I know it sounds like very little to go on for me to dislike the book already, but the short sample just gave me a really bad first impression. But since I had already pre-chosen this book for a reading challenge, I thought that I should at least give it a shot.

The story itself, when I started reading it, was a bit of a haphazard throw-together of anecdotes akin to "A Summer at Serenity Ranch" with romantic escapades, a background revenge plot, and lots of mundane, daily activities sprinkled around. The brief mentions of ranching activity and horses were entertaining and there was a definite direction for the romance. I very much enjoyed the friendship between Mack and Bailey--this is a pair of best friends to be reckoned with and it's great to see girls in YA scheming with each other rather than against one another for a change.

The relationship between Mack and Landon could even be said to be cute and sweet... if you can forget what a tool Landon had been towards Mack pre-amnesia (see my spoiler above). If not for his douche-y actions described in full at the beginning of the story, I would have found it easier to root for him. But even up until the very end, I STILL find it hard to like him or to forgive him his douche-holery, and the conveniently inserted Daddy Issues™ device that was supposed to give him his excuse for being a jerk didn't help me understand any better why he did what he did.

The amnesia angle could have been done a little bit more believable. Because I found it hard to believe that Mack and Bailey could maintain the farce that without a proper calendar and if they just ran interference enough, Landon would never suspect that the setting wasn’t last summer. I find it hard to believe that Landon didn’t notice the dates on his Facebook page, or that of all the people he had contact with at the ranch NOTHING gave away the fact that an entire year has already gone by and that he’s eighteen and not seventeen. How would no one have spoken to him about the stuff that happened last summer or quiz him about what he has planned to do now that he's graduated from high school? How is it that even his mother wouldn't have called to talk to him and they wouldn't have struck up a conversation about him going to college in the fall? Either everything was just oh, so convenient, or Landon was THAT oblivious, because unless Mack kept him hidden in his cabin, there was NO WAY he could have been kept from realizing he’s no longer living his previous summer.

The pranks that Mack plays on Landon (outside of the really big one where she lies to him about still being together) are also harmless, youthful fun (except for that one disastrous prank that got a little out of hand). At best, they're the kind of pranks that all friends play on each other when they're young and stupid and look back on in the future to laugh about; at worst, they were kind of juvenile and tacky.

But what bugged me the most at the beginning of the book had been the narration. One moment the book would be breezing along just fine with serviceable writing and progression, fun dialogue, some cutesy stuff here and there... and then it felt like someone came along and decide to edit in really awkward instances wherein one of the following would jump out and irritate me:

 

  • Extremely critical stereotyping of all types of people, such as the rich, the cowboys, the tourists...
  • Random classic horror lines being quoted too frequently as if lives depended on it.
  • Moments wherein a simple sentence or a simple piece of dialogue or action tries too deliberately to infuse a whole basket full of meaning into it.
  • Some things said by Mack that made me quite annoyed with her and continue to believe she was a pretentious bitch who made big assumptions about the people around her in the most negative way just because she could.
  • All the times that Landon comes around with his cryptic words and declarations and how, rather than just ignoring his ass, Mack continued to let him push her around and do as he pleased.

 

(Okay, maybe that last one wasn't one of the "this feels randomly out of place" scenarios, but it DID frustrate me a lot.)

But as the book progressed things seemed to get a bit better. I found myself actually starting to find the classic horror movie quote-dropping kind of cute... especially when they got dialed back a little bit and I understood that it was more of a game than anything else. I kind of enjoyed some of the mundane, everyday activities every other chapter. And the stereotyping monologues were more infrequent which was a relief.

Mack's personality became less of an irritation because she quit making snide comments about the Serenity Ranch and Spa vacationers and tourists as frequently; I might even say that her character's personality shifted slightly and and started presenting a lot less frustratingly "holier than thou" and more "almost-Mary Sue" with a touch of likable female protagonist.

(On the point about the whole "rich snobby people" schtick: I found those frequent references at the beginning of the book pointless anyway because those details don't seem to strengthen the story at all and only managed to make Mack annoying for constantly making snide, sarcastic quips about them. Because there are no instances of Mack being treated poorly or unfairly by any of the vacationers at the ranch and neither do any of the managers or higher ups give her a hard time about catering to the tourists every whim and every need. In fact, these background characters don't even play any role whatsoever in the story line, and all that talk about "Don't let the snobs bite." and "Don't let the horses condescend!" seemed unnecessary and got old really fast. It feels like the "rich snobby people" references were just dropped into the story for the sake of just being there and no other purpose.)

Anyway... MOVING ALONG...


Final Thoughts:
This review turned out a lot longer than I had intended (as is typical of my rambling). Really, if not for all the quibbles I found in the book at the beginning and with the conclusion, this review would have been a lot shorter if only because the romance is pretty short and straight-forward and predictably formulaic.

Fool Me Twice was easy to start liking as the story progressed--while finding it irritating for the first 20% or so, we started easing off on all the things that I had found irritating. The cute and sweet romance continued to progress in predictable fashion and the whole "Summer Romance in Serenity Ranch" starts to find its conclusion.

And to be honest, I really DID find it entertaining enough and easy to finish reading without too many other issues.

 

***

 

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

 

 

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text 2014-05-26 09:38
Fool Me Twice: An If Only Novel - Mandy Hubbard

I just adored Mackenzie (well for most of the book, she is a bit over the top at times, not just character but also with clothes/hair and other things), she is a cute and wonderful character, and I felt for her when we found out about Landon and her being dumped because he cared more for his ex. (stupid guy *rolls eyes*). However, while the book was fun, I had hoped she was more honest sooner. Instead of pretending to be his girlfriend the whole time, I just wish she would have told him, and sure he might have gotten angry, but now I was just waiting for the inevitable to happen and when it happened it was a bit anticlimactic, especially considering what happened.

She is a strong character and I love how dedicated she is to things (though if we have to believe everything, she might be a bit over dedicated (painting your hair in blue/red, too much, just too much).

I did love how she thought up the pranks (her pranks were, at times a bit painful, but also hilarious fun). And I loved how a prank war ensued between Mackenzie/Bailey and Landon. How they each tried to do better than the other. (which ended in hilarious situations)

I disliked Landon in the beginning. He was a total asshole and I just wanted to smack him. Using Mackenzie like that, just no. Luckily he changes (yeah for hits to the head) and he becomes more sweet and nice. I really loved that Landon. 

Bailey, ah my favourite side-character. I loved her, she was a fantastic person and I loved how she was there for Mackenzie and tried to help her. I do hope these two will stay friends even when they are away from each other. *crosses fingers*

All in all a fun, interesting book and I would certainly recommend it. A nice summer read. But I will have to warn people, you will have to push yourself at times. I also had a few parts where I just wanted to close the book, but I continued, and dang I am happy I did.

Review first posted at http://twirlingbookprincess.com/

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review 2014-05-24 00:00
Fool Me Twice
Fool Me Twice - Mandy Hubbard I just adored Mackenzie (well for most of the book, she is a bit over the top at times, not just character but also with clothes/hair and other things), she is a cute and wonderful character, and I felt for her when we found out about Landon and her being dumped because he cared more for his ex. (stupid guy *rolls eyes*). However, while the book was fun, I had hoped she was more honest sooner. Instead of pretending to be his girlfriend the whole time, I just wish she would have told him, and sure he might have gotten angry, but now I was just waiting for the inevitable to happen and when it happened it was a bit anticlimactic, especially considering what happened.

She is a strong character and I love how dedicated she is to things (though if we have to believe everything, she might be a bit over dedicated (painting your hair in blue/red, too much, just too much).

I did love how she thought up the pranks (her pranks were, at times a bit painful, but also hilarious fun). And I loved how a prank war ensued between Mackenzie/Bailey and Landon. How they each tried to do better than the other. (which ended in hilarious situations)

I disliked Landon in the beginning. He was a total asshole and I just wanted to smack him. Using Mackenzie like that, just no. Luckily he changes (yeah for hits to the head) and he becomes more sweet and nice. I really loved that Landon.

Bailey, ah my favourite side-character. I loved her, she was a fantastic person and I loved how she was there for Mackenzie and tried to help her. I do hope these two will stay friends even when they are away from each other. *crosses fingers*

All in all a fun, interesting book and I would certainly recommend it. A nice summer read. But I will have to warn people, you will have to push yourself at times. I also had a few parts where I just wanted to close the book, but I continued, and dang I am happy I did.

Review first posted at http://twirlingbookprincess.com/
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review 2014-03-16 00:00
In Too Deep
In Too Deep - Amanda Grace,Mandy Hubbard Actual rating: 3.5

*cue chatshow music*

image

So today on the show we have SAM!

image

HOLD YOUR HORSES, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! The story we have prepared for you today revolves around one single, simple question:

How do you undo a lie?

By telling the truth, you say?

What if it's slightly harder than that?

What if it's easier to go along with the lie, than it is to tell the truth?

image

Now, now. Let's not judge before we hear the story! Welcome, Sam!

Sam: Hello!

Me: So Sam, care to tell us what story you are here to teach us today?

Sam: Well, it's complicated--

Me: It's not.

Sam: Okay, fine, it's not. So basically, I was in love with my best friend Nick--

image

Sam: ANYWAY. So I was in love with Nick, but he wasn't, although I was convinced he WAS, so I decided to go to a party and flirt with Mr Popular: Carter.

Me: image

Sam: So, anyway, we got to the party and I saw Carter disappear upstairs, so I thought I'd follow him. He goes into his room and I go after him, and tried to flirt...

Audience: image

Sam: *tearfully* Well, I tried to flirt and he humiliated me! He called me a two-bagger and laughed in my face!

Me: Visual of a two-bagger: image
So not a nice thing to say now, is it?!

Sam: I was quite drunk at that point and tripped and ripped my top. When Carter left, I ran out of his bedroom in tears and bumped into a schoolmate. Crying coupled with my ripped clothes... Well, she jumped to conclusions.

Me: And that was...?

Sam: That Carter raped me.

Audience *le gasp*

Me: And what did you do?

Sam: I... I didn't correct her. Well, at first I didn't really know what people were talking about, but then I remembered the humiliation and embarrassment and realised that Carter really was a horrid person, and decided to continue living the lie.

You see, some times, it's easier to go along with a lie than it is to face up and tell the truth. By that point, I had too much at stake and couldn't do it. I thought, hoped, that because we only had a week of school left, that things would quickly blow over by the time we broke up for summer, and then Carter would leave and it would never be spoken of again.

Me: Did it work out that way? And HOW did the teachers/families not get wind of this?!

Sam: Of course not. And hey, it's a book, the hell you asking me for? All I know is, shit hit the fan by the end and, well, you need to read the book. It did make me realise though, and I guess this is the message, that lying, no matter how easy it might be, is not the right way. You should always 'fess up, admit your mistakes and move on.

Me: Thank you, Sam, for coming on the show! A round of applause, please!

Audience: image

The End

So basically, this book was really rather good. Although incredibly short, and with many questions unanswered (like, how did the teachers and families not hear anything? I mean, they live in a small town, right? Surely EVERYONE would know) it's a brilliant story about right and wrong, and admitting your mistakes.



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