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Cynically Sweet (Booklikes)

I'm not the most active user here on Booklikes. In fact, sometimes I forget that it even exists. However, I endeavor to come back and post more stuff that I enjoy.

My reviews aren't guaranteed to be something you agree with and my perspective on books isn't something most people generally want. However, I still hope that there's something you can gain from them and you don't feel as if you've wasted your time reading them.


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Wicked Appetite

Wicked Appetite - Janet  Evanovich A few years back, at the end of 2012, I was recommended the Stephanie Plum novels. My mother and I were at a fete and we saw several of the books for sale. She mentioned that my father had read them a few years prior and had really enjoyed them. The lady at the stall also thought they were brilliant. So, I began reading the first few, obtaining copies of the later books soon after and reading them as well. I thoroughly enjoyed them. So, there are a set of novellas within the series that are fantastical in nature. They have Stephanie meet a fellow called Diesel and the pair goes on little adventures with each other, she trying to catch various bounties while he goes about his own business. I quite liked Diesel in those stories. I thought he was particularly sweet. So, around that same time, soon after I'd finished reading the available Stephanie Plum books, I began to read into the Lizzy & Diesel series. Though, I only got about 19% finished on Wicked Appetite, according to my Kindle. I gave up because I disliked them the first time I began reading it. The book was a bit dull for me. So, I recently saw that book three in the series will be released later this year, and I've decided to give the series another go.

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich is the first book in the Lizzy & Diesel series, though Diesel is featured in several of the Stephanie Plum books as well, if you're interested. Elizabeth "Lizzy" Tucker is a pastry chef at Dazzle’s Bakery in Salem. One day, Gerwulf "Wulf" Grimoire turns up at the bakery and brands her. Soon after, another man called Diesel turns up. He's looking for her to help him find some stones, one for each the Seven Deadly Sins. She can apparently detect these stones using special powers she had not known about until now. Though unwilling, she helps Diesel, beginning with the stone for gluttony.

The characters are pretty dull. Lizzy is meant to be the most interesting, being the main character, yet she's rather lacklustre. Plus, Evanovich seems very undecided on how she ought to be. In the beginning, we're meant to think of her as ugly because one kid had bullied her in childhood. Yet, we're then meant to think of Lizzy as pretty because of plastic surgery and a few hormones. Again and again the author tries to change our opinion of Lizzy by making her ugly, pretty, ugly and then pretty again. She isn't a particularly strong character, either; she just takes demands from other characters and takes little real interest in the plot at hand. I've often followed a strong mantra when reading: if even the main character doesn't have an interest in what's going on in the book, why should I? Diesel is pretty stereotypical as well. He's big, strong and does whatever he wants, without much concern for other peoples' feelings. He forces Lizzy to help find these stones, into her life and has a complete disregard for her feelings. Many times, she comments that she doesn't want him sharing her bed, or touching her inappropriately. However, he does. To me, that's the beginnings of rape. She did not consent to that kind of touching, even asked him to stop, and yet he continues. Yet, from the way he's written, he's meant to be a character we all like and want to be with. The author tries to make him seem charismatic and attractive. However, to me, he just seems demanding and tries forcing himself on her. That doesn't make him seem really attractive to me.

Gloria "Glo" Binkly is the counter girl at the bakery. She's pretty much useless, both while she's in character and as a character. When she's in character, she's often late to work, having bad excuses and when she's actually working, she causes trouble and seems entirely day-dreamy. As a character, she has effectively little to do. She causes a lot of trouble for other people. For starters, in the beginning of the book, she is drawn into some sort of magic shop. While there, she buys a book of spells, which later leads the small team into a lot of trouble. In fact, because of those spells, she causes a hindrance to the case and actually prevents Lizzy and Diesel from finding out valuable information. Not far into the book, she comes along to Lizzy's house and, on the way, she is drawn to adopt a cat which was about to be put down. However, her landlord was allergic to it and, for some reason, the cat was dumped with Lizzy. Cat 7143, as it was so called in the animal shelter, is pretty useless as well. There's little point to its plot line, other than that it is later on determined to have been owned by Lizzy's aunt. The ridiculous thing is that later on, it also turns out that she's adopted a monkey, Carl, who has appeared in the prior Diesel contributions to Janet Evanovich books. Finding the landlord is allergic to Carl as well, Lizzy gets dumped with the monkey. Even in the Stephanie Plum episodes of the books with Diesel, I never thought that Carl had any use. To me, Carl is useless because his only real intention in any of the books he's been in seems to be to lighten the mood or to provide humour. Though, to me, I'm just completely embarrassed by Carl. His character is so useless that it's cringe worthy. All he does is make a mess of things, release gas and give people or things the rude finger every now and then. I wouldn't mind it as much if he actually had something useful to do, but as it stands, he has no real use to the plot. There was no legitimate reason to include him in this book. If he's useful to the next one, than he ought to have been introduced then. To get back to Glo, I think she's the weakest point of the book. Just about all of her plot and influence on the novel could be removed, being that they're unnecessary. The author keeps on trying to force Glo into the story, but the thing is that Glo is ultimately useless. She has the premise to be an interesting and useful character, but all the things she does in the story just don't have any importance. I do hope that if she's in the next, that she finds something useful to do. If anything, she hinders as only takes attention away from the real plot.

There's a lot of here and there portions about the plot as well. My main problem is that Lizzy openly says she doesn't like Diesel touching her, yet he continues to anyway. She complains about his attention often, yet announces to us about her lust towards him. He makes a comment that they can't be together, anyway, yet continues to touch inappropriately touch her for no real reason. He then explains that "Unmentionables can’t join with other Unmentionables." He continues to say that if they were to be together, than one would lose their powers. They both act as if it would be a horrible thing if either one of them lost their powers. For Diesel, I can understand; he has some very useful skills and it would be unfortunate if they were lost. As for Lizzy's Unmentionable powers, however, she didn't know she had any until very recently. More to the point, she has very little idea as to what they actually are, though. So, to her, they could legitimately be lost and her life would not be much different. It's silly for the author to place so much concern for her to lose her abilities when she knew little of them in the first place. More to the point, why is she so worried about it in the first place? She has openly said that she doesn't like that sort of attention from Diesel, to which he so rudely disregards. Why should it be such a worry to her if she doesn't consent in the first place? Going back towards the Unmentionable abilities for a moment, it appears that her cupcake making abilities are part of these powers. Later on in the book, she makes a few terrible batches of cupcakes and then everyone assumes that she's lost her powers. Yet, she later on uses them when holding the stone. It was a useless point in the story; it was really irrelevant. Moving back to these Unmentionables in general, the idea of them is an interesting premise; that people are born with very rare abilities. For example, only two people have the power to detect these stones, albeit in close range. The other guy who had the power to detect the stones was off in Florida, or so we find in the beginning of the book. When Lizzy suspects she's lost her abilities, her boss and the owner of Dazzle's Bakery, Clarinda "Clara" Dazzle, mentions that the same thing had happened to her. She could bend spoons and had been brilliant at baking cookies, went home one night and the next morning she'd found she'd lost them. It's incredibly unlikely, being that the author makes it out as if these Unmentionables are very rare, that one just happens to be her boss. Not to mention, it would be even rarer that they have an incredibly similar ability.

The plot has an interesting premise; several people hunting for stones which represent the seven deadly sins, which might be dangerous if their power is released. However, the overall plot was poorly executed. The book relies predominantly on intended humour rather than actually looking for the stones. Though it's meant to be a prominent story line, the search for the stones is somewhat lost in the stupid antics of many other characters. Glo, mixed with a one-eyed cat and a monkey make the real plot ultimately lost behind unfunny jokes and ridiculous antics which leave me cringing at how stupid they were. Overall, the book was bearable, but really poorly executed. I might read the second, just to see whether it gets any better. Ultimately, I am interested in finding out what happens with these stones. However, it's the background elements that really ruin it. Two stars; like I said, it's bearable, but not good.