Review to Rant: 36 Questions that Changed My Mind about You

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36 Questions that Changed My Mind about You

Vicki Grant

Rate: 3

Review

36 Questions that Changed My Mind about You is a cute story. It’s nothing to be taken seriously or to be analyzed deeply. It’s a mindless read, or if you’re like me, a mindless listen. It’s best to read 36 Questions if you’re in a rut or just finished a serious series and want something lighthearted.

As mentioned in the book, this story is based on The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness by Arthur Aron, which is why the best part of the story is when Hildy (Betty) and Paul (Bob) are answering the questions. If it wasn’t for the banter between these two characters, 36 Questions would be a waste of time. You can tell that Grant tries to make the book a fleshed out story by adding a problem (rom-com style) and adding side drama to Hildy’s life. However, these aspects fall flat and drag the story on since you can tell that it wasn’t Grant’s central focus.

All in all, 36 Questions is decent given the cliche romance. You have the wounded nice guy with the outward jerk persona fall for the clumsy, privileged girl who thinks any little problem means her world is ending. Stay for the banter, leave if you want depth.

Rant

Why are protagonists rarely given more than two friends in a story? Is it because developing a third perspective is too difficult? Maybe it’s because having a third perspective sets a majority when it comes to a two-sided problem and that means less inner dialogue for the protagonist. But maybe that’s not a bad thing. It would be interesting for a change to have a protagonist and their friends decide yes, pursue the love interest, or no, don’t do it, instead of there being a split decision, which means at least one chapter dedicated to the protagonist going back and forth between the two options before making a decision.  Sometimes I can forgo the drivel.

Also, why do friends have to be a ragtag bunch? I’m not saying they aren’t possible, but they’re not common. Like how, exactly, did these people become friends? They may have things in common, but not enough for long lasting friendships. And why are they mean or uncaring at times? I understand getting on a friend’s nerve every once in awhile, but book friends don’t seem to enjoy helping the protagonist through their problem, as if the problem is inconveniencing them. I demand better book friends and more book friends because I want a better narrative.

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Review to Rant: The Selection (Book 1 and 2)

The Selection (The Selection #1)

Rate: 4

The Elite (The Selection #2)

Rate: 3

Kiera Cass

Series rating average (thus far): 3.5

TLDR: This isn’t a review, it’s a rant. I’m disappointed at my time wasted reading The Elite. Continue at your own risk.

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Two books and Maxon still hasn’t picked a wife, obviously this series is being dragged on. The only reason I picked up The Elite was because The Selection left me anxious about what would happen next. I figured things would work out in one of two ways:

  1. Cass would go the romantic route and Maxon and America would fall in love, thus America would win the selection.
  2. Cass would go the dystopian heroine route and America would manipulate the system so she’d win and work with the rebels (probably the Northerners) to dismantle the caste system.

However, I should’ve known things wouldn’t’ve been that simple since there are a billion more books to go in this series (there are only 3 more full books and a handful of novellas, but I’m annoyed so hyperbole), but I had hope.

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My dislike stems from the fact that The Elite continues with none of the interesting qualities of The Selection. Mostly, the whole selection process is putting on the back burner while America flips back and forth over whether to go home or stay at the palace. And ultimately, she doesn’t make a decision, Maxon does. She doesn’t fight to stay or refuse to go, she allows Maxon to persuade her into staying. Actually, Maxon lies to keep her around and she stays because, well what we’re supposed to believe is “hope”, but really it’s how else are we gonna find out who won if she leaves? (An epilogue that’s how) Plus, it gives Cass an opportunity to write a whole other book, which is great for the fans and the publisher.

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I’ll probably read The One just because I’m a curious cat and what doesn’t kill me just wastes my time, right? Ugh, I’m reluctant to say the least, but also so, so curious about how much worse it could get.

That’s What S/He Said Thursday #50

“You’re going to face many disappointments, my girl, and you’ll probably fail at something many more times. But if you keep going and don’t let it defeat you, no one is going to remember what you didn’t get done.”

– Mildred’s Mother, Mildred’s Resistance by Katie Cross

That’s What S/He Said Thursday #48

“I’m the assassin and spy for the dark elf king. I kill without remorse. I live for myself and my own pleasure. I come from a dark people with dark hearts. How do you think she’s going to handle hearing that?”

“Who knows? I’ve never been able to understand humans.”

– Trik and Lorsan, Elfin by Quinn Lotis

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Stuck in an Elevator: The Network Series

Premise: Imagine you’re in a particular standalone or series world and absolutely had to be (because no one ever wants to be) stuck in an elevator with a character from that universe. Who would you most like to be in the elevator with? Why? What would it look like?

Book/Series: The Network Series

Person: Derek Black or Stella

Miss Mabel's School for Girls book cover

Aside: For this to work, I couldn’t be living in The Network Series universe – because of the lack of modern technology. However, I couldn’t live in our current reality either – because of the lack of magic. For this to work, I would need to live in a realm with modern technology and where magic was present, but not everyone had magical capabilities. Kinda like the Harry Potter universe except less magic and no wands.

Reason: I’d rather be stuck in an elevator with Derek Black, Bianca’s father, because of how powerful he is supposed to be. Katie Cross writes Derek as a very powerful witch so he should be able to transport us out of the elevator onto one of the nearby floors without any problems.

However, if Derek wasn’t powerful enough to transport both of us out of the elevator, I would want to be stuck with Stella. Stella is known for her calming nature during tense situations so I feel like she’d be able to calm me down until we got out.

Possible Interaction: I’m not sure what either of these scenarios would look like, but I’m sure it would include them mumbling spells under their breath and me impatiently waiting to be released from the elevator.

War of the Networks by Katie Cross

War of the Networks book cover

War of the Networks (The Network Series #4)

Katie Cross

Rate: 3

Twenty-seven chapters in this book and I’m going to focus on one scene towards the end of the book: the final showdown.

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Throughout the series, Cross has positioned Bianca as a fierce, strong witch. With each book, Bianca’s physical and magical abilities increase and her knowledge of Miss Mabel’s behavior increases. At the same time, Cross positions Binncn’s dad, Derek, as the most powerful witch in all the Networks. Both seem capable of defeating Miss Mabel and yet at the end of the series, the secondary character (Derek) gets all the glory. And in a lackluster battle too.

I wanted a more epic final battle. I wouldn’t have minded Bianca’s dad beginning the fight, but I don’t think he should have been the one to finish Miss Mabel. I think Derek should have fought Miss Mabel to the point of exhaustion and right when it appeared that Miss Mabel was about to strike the finishing blow, Bianca would have appeared in front of her father and blocked the shot. Then, she would have moved out of the defensive into the offensive and brought her sword down like Sailor Saturn’s Silence Glaive decimating Miss Mabel.

Sailor Saturn gif

That’s the ending to the series we deserved. But that’s not what we got.
Cross allowed Bianca her baby showdown with Miss Mabel while still placing her in the shadow of her father’s greatness. Why create a capable protagonist if you’re not going to use her?

War of the Networks wasn’t bad. I just wanted better.

The High Priest’s Daughter By Katie Cross

The high priest’s daughter book cover

The High Priest’s Daughter (The Network Series #3)

Katie Cross

Rate: 3

What was this book about again? What happened? I don’t remember. That’s how memorable it is. If I told you what I did remember, I’d be spoiling the ending for you.

This book focuses on events occurring throughout the Central Network and along its borders that are bringing the network closer to war. During this time, Bianca mentally feuds with Angelina, the villain of this book, while physically doing nothing different. Bianca basically exhibits the same actions day in and day out until the end of the book. You’ll read a lot of words, but the story doesn’t progress much. I guess Cross is going for a more realistic timeline without many time jumps, but it makes the story drawn out.

The High Priest’s Daughter isn’t boring, but there isn’t much to gush about either. 

Antebellum Awakening by Katie Cross

Antebellum Awakening book cover

Antebellum Awakening (The Network Series #2)

Katie Cross

Rate: 2.5

It’s been awhile since I read Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, but Cross does a good job of providing snippets of information to remind the reader what happened – Bianca and Miss Mabel engage in a Mactos (a magical fight) and Bianca’s mother ends up dead. Once the background is established and we get to the meat of Antebellum Awakening, I soon realize that the story isn’t going to continue on this interesting swing. Overall, Antebellum Awakening is boring and only gets interesting in the last three chapters. The story is predictable and Bianca exhibits the same self destructive behavior over and over which makes her an annoying protagonist. The story accurately takes on the pace of someone grieving the loss of a parent, but this doesn’t make for an interesting read.

My Likes

  • Romance: It would have been so easy for Cross to commit the cliche and have Bianca fall for her instructor Merrick, but she maintains a professional relationship between the two. I’m sure this will change as the series progresses, but it’s refreshing that they don’t fall into insta-love.

  • Showdown: Cross knows how to write a showdown scene. Similar to Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, Bianca and Miss Mabel engage in a fight. The battle is interesting and doesn’t seem repetitive at all – then again it’s been some time since I read the first book so maybe I just don’t realize that the scenes are similar, but I’m going to hope they’re different.

My Dislikes

  • Bianca: Like I briefly mentioned above, I didn’t like Bianca because of her behavior. She acted in ways that prevented her growth and that was very repetitive. This book would have been a whole lot shorter if Bianca didn’t keep exhibiting the same regressive behavior. But I guess that was the point: to lengthen the book and express someone going through the grieving process. It was annoying though.

  • Predictability: There’s really no big twist in Antebellum Awakening. I don’t know if Cross intended there to be some shocking moments, but the story is very predictable. I could see all the big decisions and actions coming from a mile away.

Overall, Antebellum Awakening is a decent story: boring and annoying at times and interesting in the end.

The Queen of Hearts Backstory You Didn’t Know You Wanted: Heartless By Marissa Meyer

Heartless By Marissa Meyer book cover
Heartless

Marissa Meyer

Rate: 4

I’ve never read the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland so I’m not sure if or how much Lewis Carroll goes into the backstory of the Queen of Hearts so I’m not completely sure if Heartless is a retelling or not. Nonetheless, the story is good. I enjoyed watching Catherine’s descent into madness and I knew she had truly arrived when she began thinking “Off with his head.” A Queen of Hearts isn’t a Queen of Hearts until beheading is involved. Anyway, Heartless totally fits the Wonderland universe, at least in my knowledge of the animated and live action movie, and I totally believe these events could have been the actions leading up to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

“I reject the jury’s verdict,” she seethed. “As the Queen of Hearts, I declare this man guilty. Guilty of murder. Guilty of thievery and kidnapping and all the rest, and for his sentence – I call for his head. To be carried out immediately.”

Off with his head gif

“For the murder of Jest, the court joker of Hearts, I sentence this man to death.” She spoke without feeling, unburdened by love or dreams or the pain of a broken heart. It was a new day in Hearts, and she was the Queen.

“Off with his head.”