Friday, 27 October 2017

F*ck Love by Tarryn Fisher

F*ck Love
by Tarryn Fisher
Summary: Helena Conway has fallen in love.

Unwillingly. Unwittingly.

But not unprovoked.

Kit Isley is everything she’s not—unstructured, untethered, and not even a little bit careful.

It could all be so beautiful…if he wasn’t dating her best friend.

Helena must defy her heart, do the right thing, and think of others. Until she doesn’t.
In case it wasn't obvious by now, I have a soft spot for angsty romances. Even if the characters frustrate me, even if their choices are too stupid to justify, even if a teeny tiny part of me is rooting for the couple to get the hell over each other and move onto something healthier than their obsession with each other...I still love angsty romances.

They're addictive, and when they're done right, they hit me right in the feels and I can't help but go on an emotional roller coaster right along with the characters. Character is happy? My face'll hurt from smiling. Character is angry? I'll want to throw the book in solidarity. Character is hurting? My heart will be aching right along with them.

And this book...it delivered all of that. It's not the most amazing book I've read, but I really enjoyed it.

It was surprisingly funny and it was one of those rare romances that doesn't use sex as a crutch or a substitute for really developing the relationship between characters.

And the characters? I really liked them. I loved Helena and Kit, and I really liked the side characters.

Did the book have its issues? Sure. But it never bored me -- I picked it up and didn't stop reading until I was done and I'd devoted a few hours of time to read it cover to cover. It had some girl hate in the form of a toxic friendship, but it made up for it with other positive female friendships and I liked that.

Genuinely the only part of the book I'd say I really didn't like at all was this section with a character named Muslim, which just seemed sloppy and felt thoroughly out of place in the story (I don't know if it was a cameo of a character from another of the authors books?).

But yeah, other than that, I really enjoyed this one. I'd rate it 4 out of 5 stars for not only being the first book in weeks I've managed to finish but for holding my interest enough that I read it in one sitting. I'm definitely going to be checking out some of the authors other books when I need to claw my way out of a reading slump.

Later.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Roomhate by Penelope Ward

Roomhate
by Penelope Ward


Summary: Sharing a summer house with a hot-as-hell roommate should be a dream come true, right?

Not when it’s Justin…the only person I’d ever loved…who now hates me.

When my grandmother died and left me half of the house on Aquidneck Island, there was a catch: the other half would go to the boy she helped raise. The same boy who turned into the teenager whose heart I broke years ago. The same teenager who’s now a man with a hard body and a hardass personality to match.

I hadn’t seen him in years, and now we’re living together because neither one of us is willing to give up the house. The worst part? He didn’t come alone.

I’d soon realize there’s a thin line between love and hate. I could see through that smug smile. Beneath it all…the boy is still there. So is our connection. The problem is…now that I can’t have Justin, I’ve never wanted him more.
This book has been in my Kindle TBR for ages, it sounded fun and I went into it just wanting to be hooked by a classic hate-to-love trope-y romance.

And this book did deliver what I wanted. Sort of. It did have me hooked and I did really like it. And the hate-to-love trope? It was there, though not the best I've read. But it just lacked a certain spark -- it didn't give me that ache in my chest that I get when I'm reading a book I'm so thoroughly emotionally invested in that I'm feeling so much empathy towards the characters. This one...it was just dull echoes of emotion I was getting, when I wanted to feel all of the things, if that makes sense?

The plot took me by surprise. It really wasn't what I was expecting. I actually ended up really loving those unexpected plot elements, even though they're things that might've put me off reading the book had I known about them beforehand. The things I thought I wouldn't have wanted in the story ended up being some of the things I loved most.

I think another issue I had was that 99% of their issues could be solved if they just used their words. Which, granted, is often the case in romance books. Miscommunication is one of the most utilized plot devices and it doesn't always bug me, but in this one it did because their justifications for not communicating better were pretty weak.

And on the topic of weakness, the main character was pretty weak too. Not in terms of strength, but her character. She had no real personality. Or at least that's how it felt when reading. It was almost like she didn't exist in the years when she wasn't with him, the only bits of her life without him were thrown in their for convenience rather than to make her a more fleshed out and believable character.

We find out about one friend and an ex boyfriend. But nothing really beyond them. I can't even really think of anything about her as a character, a like or a dislike or something but all I've got is that she likes seafood.

Also, the sex scenes in this made me cringe a bit. I think there was only one scene like that that didn't make me cringe. It wasn't that they were necessarily badly written exactly, I just didn't like them.

...I don't know why, whenever I'm reviewing a book like this, my review ends up way more negative than my rating. Because I did actually like this one. I had some issues with it, but I sped through it quickly and there were parts of it I genuinely loved (and I really liked that it didn't play the catty girl hate card), it just wasn't a favourite. I'd rate it 3 stars out of 5.

Later.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Rival by Penelope Douglas

Rival 
by Penelope Douglas

Summary: Madoc and Fallon. Two estranged teenagers playing games that push the boundaries between love and war…

She’s back.

For the two years she’s been away at boarding school, there was no word from her. Back when we lived in the same house, she used to cut me down during the day and then leave her door open for me at night.

I was stupid then, but now I’m ready to beat her at her own game…

I’m back.

Two years and I can tell he still wants me, even if he acts like he’s better than me.

But I won’t be scared away. Or pushed down. I’ll call his bluff and fight back. That’s what he wants, right? As long as I keep my guard up, he’ll never know how much he affects me….
So I've been reading quite a few books like this recently. I have such a love/hate relationship with them. When I'm in a reading slump, only certain books can pull me of it (usually romance books of some sort because they're fun, they're addictive and they're more often than not quite predictable but in a good way).

Books like this are on the list of good reading slump books for me. And the love/hate thing? This one was no exception. The problem is, there's usually a downside to these books (maybe I'm just finding the wrong ones?) and that downside tends to come in the form of girl hate, awful girl stereotypes, borderline problematic love interests and occasionally toxic relationships that you probably shouldn't root for but can't quite help it.

This one featured one of my favourite romance tropes: the hate-turns-to-love thing, with lots of snark and arguing and chemistry. And it also featured a lot of those down sides I mentioned, though not quite as extreme as some I've read.

My biggest issue was that this was one of those cases where it seemed like it was aiming for the kind of bad boy player trope, but sometimes it strays into just actual bad guy territory with his toxic arrogance (for example, there's a scene where the love interest, in his POV, makes an internal comment about when he will start having kids and basically says that the mother of those kids will agree to it because no one says no to him...which is just - no).

My review of this book has kind of turned more into a general rant/discussion of a pattern I keep seeing in books from this genre (again, I'm probably just reading the wrong ones, maybe there's some fantastic ones out there that don't do these things)... But that's because I don't really have all that much to say about this specific book.

I'm in a reading slump, but I managed to read this in one sitting. It hooked me, it's fast paced and it kept me entertained. I really enjoyed the friendships and the characters. It was pretty much what I expected it to be (and it actually touched on a subject I wasn't expecting it to, but in a good way because it should be represented more).

Basically, I did actually really enjoy this book. I think I've read two? maybe three? of the authors books now and I can genuinely say I'm a fan. But I know a lot of people who would be so angry reading a book like this, so I'd only recommend it if you can tolerate the issues I mentioned in this review (if books like Beautiful Disaster are your kind of thing, this one and the first book--a companion to this--will probably be right up your street).

I'd rate this one 3.5 stars out of 5.

Later.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Top Ten Unique Book Titles

The topic of this weeks Top Ten Tuesday is pretty self-explanatory really, so let's just jump right in.

I love book titles. I have been swayed into buying a book or even put off buying a book, purely based on the title before. I write too, so I know how difficult it can be to find something that is unique and something that fits the story, and how good it feels when you come up with the one that is just right.

I'm not sure if all of these are necessarily unique book titles, but they do stand out to me as distinctive and memorable. I've noticed (many people have probably noticed really) the book title trend in YA over the past few years...they all tend to follow the same kind of pattern, and it's made titles that used to seem unique and beautiful all kind of blend together and become easy to mix up.

But these ones, I think, are still holding their own (though not all YA and not all recent). In no particular order:

1. Like Water for Chocolate - I'm pretty sure this is an expression that makes more sense untranslated (or at least when you understand the origin of it), but I still love it as a title even if I don't really fully understand it. 

2. The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night - This one is just so satisfying to say, almost tongue twister-y and poetic. It's like two unrelated sentences have been smooshed together and it leaves me wanted to pick up the book to find out why, why that title, what's the context. And even if it turned out to be just a pretty, quirky title, with little or no relevance to the book I'd like it still...for being a pretty, quirky title.

3. Exit, Pursued by a Bear - This one is perfect. It puts a more sinister twist on the famous Shakespeare stage direction, when you have the context of the story. 

4. Strange the Dreamer - Strange the title. I don't know why I love this one, but I really love it. It stuck in my head like a catchy song I can't stop singing. Laini's titles are awesome in general, Daughter of Smoke and Bone would've made the list but that kind of title is trendy now.

5. Eyes Like Stars/Perchance to Dream/So Silver Bright - I love the titles in this series. I love titles that are taken from quotes and these ones are catchy, memorable, and fitting with the story.

6. Turtles All the Way Down - John Green's titles in general are all pretty worthy of being on the list. They're all pretty memorable and distinctive and the titles usually tie in really well with the content of the book (although in this case, probably not literally). I've never heard a title like this one, it's odd and kind of beautiful in it's oddness. 

7. They Both Die at the End - I haven't read the book yet, so I don't know if it follows through on delivering the spoiler promised in the title, but it's a damn good title. Spoiling the end in the title? I love it. Especially given the context (how hurtful the Bury Your Gays Trope is), I don't know if Adam was deliberately confronting that trope with the title, but even if he wasn't, it still does it wonderfully.

8. There's Someone Inside Your House - This one. I don't like it as a title really, but I also kind of love it? It's odd. I think I love it because it reminds me of a scene from one of the only horrors to genuinely freak me out (if you're curious: When a Stranger Calls). It's wonderfully creepy and not the usual title style of horror novels.

9. Moxie and Illuminae - I'm lumping these two in together, because my reasoning for both is the same. In case it wasn't obvious from my list so far, one word titles aren't my thing. I like long titles. But these two, they've used words that fit their books, that are distinctive and not commonly used, and they're also ones that just...satisfying to say? 

10. You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson - This is the lone memoir on my list, but it's definitely one of my favourite memoir titles ever. I love that even if someone doesn't choose to read her book, she still manages to confront an aspect of racial ignorance with the title alone. 

Do you prefer long titles or short?

Later.

Monday, 23 October 2017

The Princess Bride: Book vs. Movie

I don't remember when I first saw The Princess Bride movie, but I remember loving it and it feels like I've loved it forever. I actually didn't realise it was a book until years after I'd first seen it, and it's one of those ones I've been meaning to read for such a long time but I kept putting it off because I was afraid it would be a disappointment in comparison to the movie.

When I was contact about doing a post for the 30th anniversary of the movie, I figured now was the time to finally read it and stop putting it off.

If you don't know what The Princess is about, here's a  summary:
What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be...well...a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad's recitation, and only the "good parts" reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He's reconstructed the "Good Parts Version" to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What's it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it's about everything.

Or, you could just watch the trailer:


So... Let's start with the easy part, shall we? The movie:

I don't have adequate words to fully describe my love for this movie. It's one of those movies that just makes me smile so much. The cast is fantastic, and it manages to simultaneously mock and celebrate fairytale tropes, getting the balance of each just right.


It's funny, it's fun, it's sweet. It's a love story, a fairytale, an adventure story, a pirate story, a revenge story -- basically, it's ALL OF THE THINGS. And it works as each thing individually but also as a perfect combination of all of them.


And the side characters? I adore the side characters so much. Few side characters win me over quite so thoroughly as Inigo and Fezzik did.


I think what I like most is that it doesn't take itself too seriously, and I loved that. You can accuse it of being ridiculous or cheesy or unrealistic, but it's supposed to be, it is all of those things and it's knowingly so. For some reason that makes it easy to not only forgive, but enjoy, things that would annoy me in other movies.



And it's timeless. Even the technical side of it...the special effects are comically dated now, but that actually really works in the movies favour rather than against it (see: the trailer for R.O.U.S's scene). And I think that's enough gushing specifically about the movie now.


The 30th anniversary edition DVD? It includes a bunch of extras that I really enjoyed. I particularly loved the behind the scenes documentary that went over their casting decisions and things (all of the Andre stuff made my heart hurt).

Now... The book:

(Answer: Yes. Yes it is. But that's not all it is.)


My thoughts on the book are a little bit more complex than my adoration of the movie. I will start off by saying this though: I did love it.

What I didn't like, at times, was the narration. 

Basically, in the book, the author has written a fictionalised version of himself into the story...and The Princess Bride is supposed to be a book by S. Morgenstern that he loved as a child and wrote an abridgement of. Of course, in reality, S. Morgenstern doesn't exist and Goldman is the author of the entire thing, and the version of himself in the book isn't the real version.

It's an interesting narrative style for sure, but where it went wrong for me was that Fictional-Goldman was really, really hard to like. 

The Fictional-Goldman is cynical and bitter. He would frequently body shame fat people (including his fictional son -- although in reality, he has daughters) and there's a couple of racist remarks, homophobia and a load of misogyny on his part. Fictional-Goldman seemed like a crappy human, is what I'm getting at (I'm sure Real-Goldman is a lovely dude though, because it seemed like he was deliberately writing his fictional self as unlikeable).

So. Having to read through his perspective and having him chime in on the story from time to time irritated me (his mid-story commentary wasn't all bad though, I'll admit, but some of it wasn't necessary).

But the actual Princess Bride bit? I still loved that part. Really, really loved that. And I went into it not expecting to gain much more from the book than I got from the movie, but I was proven wrong. 

We get more backstory on how Buttercup ended up engaged to Prince Humperdink, more info on Humperdink himself and the country. And we get more of Inigo and Fezzik too, more backstory, more scenes and I loved all of that.

So. Book vs. Movie: which is better?

Well...


I genuinely loved both. I think the execution of the narrative style worked better in the movie than the book, but the book also added a bit more depth to the story and characters that the movie couldn't manage to do given time and budget constraints.

I think that the movie is still my favourite, if for no other reason than I loved it first and it was so perfectly cast.

Also, as a side note on the book: personally, I adore the cover of this edition, but if you're going to buy a copy I'd recommend getting this one instead because it includes about 80 pages of extra content (sort of an epilogue/snippets of a would-be sequel called Buttercup's Baby).

Ratings:
Movie: 5/5 stars
Book: 4/5 stars (it really did just lose points due to my intense dislike of the narrator in the beginning of the story)

Later.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins


There's Someone Inside Your House

by Stephanie Perkins
Summary: Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.
I've been looking forward to this book for years, ever since Stephenie Perkins first announced she was writing a YA slasher story...and I really liked it, it just didn't live up to the expectations I had for it.

I loved the cast of characters (particularly the fact that the main character is mixed race and one of her best friends is trans* -- though I can't judge how good the representation is), but I also feel like that's what held it back from being a 5 star book for me. So much effort and page-time was put into character development and character back story, that it didn't totally deliver on the Scream-like slasher plot.

Like Makani's secret -- great for adding depth to the character, but it was more drawn out than the murder plot and didn't feel necessary for the story. And her relationship with Ollie, while I loved it, it definitely made it feel like this was primarily a romance story most of the time with a slasher subplot rather than the other way around.

Generally, well developed characters are a good thing, but with this genre, I read for the plot, not the characters.

The plot wasn't bad, far from it. It did keep me hooked, but part of the entertainment of these types of stories is trying to guess who the killer is and all of the red herrings that try to lead you down the wrong path, and the build up to the final reveal, but there was none of that in this. You don't even get a hint at who the killer might be until quite far into the book, the identity is revealed way too soon, and the ending is rushed and abrupt (this is one of those books that could've really benefited from having and epilogue) and the motive fell a bit flat.

Again...that's not to say it was bad, it just wasn't really what it was hyped up to be. There were some slasher vibes to it, but it still felt lacking in that area.

Overall, it is a really good book. It kept me hooked right from the start, I was never bored while reading it...I just wouldn't recommend going into it expecting a novel version of a good 90's slasher movie, because for the majority of the book that takes a backseat to the relationships between the characters.

I'd rate it 3.5 out of 5.

Later.

*In the ARC version of the book, there is a passage with harmful trans representation (dead naming), but it was brought to the author attention and she apologized and promised it would be fixed for the final printing.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Book & Movie Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Ten
by Gretchen McNeil

Summary: Shhhh! Don't spread the word! Three-day weekend. Party at White Rock House on Henry Island. You do not want to miss it.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?
So I've been meaning to read this book for ages and finally got around to it because I wanted to watch the movie adaptation that Lifetime did. And, well, the book was a pleasant (or not so pleasant, given the genre?) surprise but the movie was a let down.

Let's start with the book: it had me thoroughly hooked right from the start and it kept me guessing right the way through, even when I'd guessed right I still didn't lose interest. The book was pretty much what I was hoping for when I read There's Someone Inside Your House but this one really delivered that 90's slasher movie feel in a way TSIYH didn't quite pull off.

Basically, I really enjoyed the story. I read it in one sitting. The only thing I kind of hated was the mental health representation in the book, I felt like that aspect was kind of done poorly, but other than that, it was good.

Now...the movie. I loved the cast (especially Meg, TJ, Kumiko and Gunner), but the rest of it was kind of a hot mess. 

It stayed pretty true to the book but the script was kind of mediocre and the direction was pretty terrible (the pacing was all off, the transition between scenes wasn't done well and in the book, a lot of the story takes place during a storm and yet in this, it was all bright and broad daylight, which didn't really give the story the atmosphere the book had). Large parts of it had a very high school class project vibe to it rather than professional movie.

It is worth watching for the cast or if you like the book, or you just want something quick and fun to watch, but I wouldn't recommend going into it with high expectations.

Overall, the book gets 4 stars out of 5. The movie gets 2 out of 5.

Later.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Top Ten Books From My First Year of Blogging

I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday in a while (if one showed up last week or the week before? I wrote this one first)...but I saw this topic and couldn't not post. It was fun going back to see the books I was reading back in 2008/09 (blog started late 08).

So...these are the books I was loving almost 10 years ago:

1. Jellicoe Road and Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Melina is one of my favourite authors, and I'm including two books from her because after I read Jellicoe I went on to read and love her other books as soon as I could. My love for Jellicoe Road and her as an author have definitely stood the test of time, I still love that book just as much (if not more) and have loved her more recent books too.

2. Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

I don't remember too much about this book beyond a micro pig and a snow storm, but I remember loving it at the time...and I think I might actually give it a reread this year nearer Christmas.

3. Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

I think this one might have been my first Sarah Dessen book and I obviously loved it enough to put her on my insta-buy list. I think I own all but a couple of her books, though I've yet to read them all. And I think I need to have a week dedicated to Sarah Dessen catch up reading sometime soon.

4. The Boys Next Door and Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

I remember loving these books so much at the time. I had an addiction to those little Simon Pulse romcoms with the awful cartoon covers and Jennifer's were some of my favourites, she used to be on my insta-read list (she didn't do anything to warrant not being on the list anymore, I just got distracted by other books by other authors and fell behind with hers). I still have the new bind up of The Boys Next Door with the sequel she wrote for it, but I've not read it yet.

5. The Mediator series by Meg Cabot

I lovelovelove this series so much. I remember binge reading all of the books in a few days (granted, they are tiny, but the point was that I was hooked). I've been struggling so much trying to read the newest edition she wrote for the series, it's made me question whether it's just a really bad sequel or maybe the other books were like that too and I just didn't notice...so I guess I'll need to reread at some point to find out.

6. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

This is another one I used to love so much. I still have so much love for the original trilogy, but I'm still trying to drag my way through the last few books in the series, I just want for the series to be over now (a trilogy, extended to 6 books, with a prequel trilogy, spin off books/novella's, and a sequel spin off series and more planned for after that...there can be too much of a good thing).

7. Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell

I think I won this book in a contest and ended up loving it way more than I expected to. I'd quite like to reread it now just to see what the representation is like now that I'm more aware of it...the main character is a fat girl, the love interest is a guy in a wheelchair, so it's a pretty diverse romance (I just wasn't paying much attention to whether or not it was good representation at the time).

8. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

I loved this book and this series (again, I'm not sure if it would be considered good racial/cultural representation or not), and I think Simone was actually the second author we ever interviewed on the blog (I think I actually reached out to her to see if she'd like to be interviewed on the blog because I loved her books so much and she was kind enough to say yes).

9. Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

I...can't remember if I loved this book or not (I actually didn't read the reviews for the books on this list because my old reviews make me cringe). I think I at least liked it because I bought Dash and Lily's Book of Dares (another David and Rachel co-authored book that came out later). I do remember not loving it as much as I loved Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist...but I was really excited when I saw they'd adapted this one into a movie too, so I must have some fondness for it, I just don't really remember how I felt when reading it.

10. Evernight by Claudia Gray

I think I loved this book. I remember reading it back when I wanted a vampire book to fill the Twilight void and this one was fun and I remember loving the twist in the story...and I bought at least one of the sequels. Problem is, I never got around to reading the rest of the series and I'm not convinced I'd enjoy the series if I went back to it now.

But anyway, it was fun wading through some old blog nostalgia for a while.

Later.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Franklin's Flying Bookshop by Jen Campbell and Katie Harnett

Franklin's Flying Bookshop
written by Jen Campbell
illustrated by Katie Harnett


Summary: Franklin the dragon loves stories and loves reading stories to people too, but everyone is too scared to even talk to him. One day, he meets a girl named Luna who, rather than being afraid, is fascinated to meet Franklin, having recently read all about dragons in one of her books. They instantly become friends and talk nonstop about what they’ve read: books about roller-skating, King Arthur, spiders, and how to do kung fu. Together they hatch a plan to share their love of books with others by opening a bookshop―a flying bookshop, that is―right on Franklin’s back!
I don't read/review many picture books, but I love Jen's Youtube channel and my best friend is having a baby next month so I got this book for her because...well, dragons and books, how could I not?

The artwork is absolutely stunning (and the quality of the finished book with the foiling is beautiful), the style matched the story perfectly. And the story? I loved the story, it's just as adorable as I expected it to be.

I didn't love the writing style (which is what lowered the rating), but that might be because I like writing in picture books to have a bit more rhythm to them and to be memorable than it was in this one (although lines like "Luna and Franklin feel like they are made out of stories." were lovely). I think maybe my expectations for the actual writing might've been too high given some of Jen's poetry I've read before.

Overall, it's an excellent book. I'm tempted to get a copy for myself just for how aesthetically pleasing it is.

Rating break down:
Story: 4.5/5 stars
Writing: 3.5/5
Artwork/aesthetics: ALL OF THE STARS!
Overall: 4.5 stars out of 5

Later.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Ten Books I Struggled With

So the theme for this week was basically books we struggled with (whether it's ones we DNF or ones we loved in the end or whatever).

This topic interests me because I have such a hard time giving up on books, even if I'm struggling with them. There haven't been many books I've definitively decided to DNF, usually I put them down with the intention of going back to them at some point...and that frustrates me so much. I wish I could quit books more easily, but this list explains why I don't.

The Ones I've Left in Limbo

These are books I've been struggling to finish for over a year but haven't entirely given up on yet.

And I Darken by Kiersten White - I started reading this book last year. Still haven't finished it. So many people seem to love it and I can get why they do...the main character is really interesting, she's so unlike most of the female narrators I've read...the problem is the book is boring. At least, it's boring to me. I'm determined to finish it, I just don't know when. 

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray - I tried reading this one a couple of times but the style just isn't my kind of thing...but everyone speaks so highly of it that I feel like I can't just quit it entirely. I will read it. At some point. Someday. In a galaxy far far away...perhaps. 

Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey - I absolutely adore the first book in this series and I was so excited for this one...but what I read of it was kind of boring and I wasn't really into the way the plot was going and it lost the spark the first book had...but my love for the first book is making me refuse to quit this one entirely.

The Ones I Loved in the End

These books were ones I struggled with, but I ended up loving... More than that, they ended up on my favourites shelves. These books are to blame for my inability to just put a book down and decide its not for me -- because had I given into that impulse to give up on these books, I would have missed out on fantastic books, so whenever I'm struggling with a book there's always that little "but what if it gets good?" voice that won't shush.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - I had so many false starts with this book. The writing was beautiful, but I found it so easy to put down and forget about...until one time I just sat down and finally read it all and I've never forgotten it since. 

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta - The first 50-100 pages of this were...not a struggle, per say, but it took me a while to get into the rhythm of the story, to really click with the characters and get what was going on. Melina is now one of my top 5 authors, this book is my favourite of hers. 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - The first two thirds of this book were quite dull...and then the last third happened and it was love at first big plot twist. I adore this book so, so, so much and I was majorly close to giving up on it, was so baffled by all of the hype surrounding it because I was so bored...and then that last chunk of the book totally made up for it. 

The Ones I'll Never Go Back To

I should maybe explain the primary reason I struggle with certain books: boredom. I can hate the characters, hate the story, be absolutely furious at the content...or a combination of all of these things (lookin' at you, Fifty Shades of WHY DID I READ THAT BOOK?!). I can tolerate a lot of crap in a book, is what I'm getting at. But I hate being bored when reading, that's one of the worst things a book can be for me, and these ones bored me (as well as having other issues).

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff - This book was...Well. It had potential to be fantastic (and this was before all of the issues with the author happened) but it felt like it was trying way too hard and the footnotes were so beyond annoying and completely boring and ruined the whole book. The footnotes were what made me quit the book entirely, but the plot moving at a snails pace didn't help matters.

A Brighter Fear by Kerry Drewery - This was a combination of boredom and hating the writing. I remember this book was one I was so excited for but I just could not finish it. 

Off Magazine Street by Ronald Everett Capps - I love the movie A Love Song for Bobby Long and then I found out it was based on a book. The book was not only duller than watching paint dry, but what I read of it was such pretentious, misogynistic trash. It's one of the rare occasions where the movie is better (the movie was written by a woman, I don't know how she managed to create something beautiful from the hot mess that was this book but she did). I think I got about a third of the way into the book before I threw it (literally) across the room and decided I was done with it.

The Ridiculous One

Just to make it an even ten...

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente - This book makes the list through no fault of its own  really. I remembered it when trying to think of DNF books for this section and this one made me laugh. 

What it boils down to is this: I'm scared of chalk. The sound of chalk, the feel of chalk...it makes me feel sick, it makes me want to cry. I cannot touch it. And this book had chalky pages (because of the paper it was printed on). I literally tried wearing gloves to read the book but I could still feel it and just - it's bothering me even trying to explain it. Trying to read this book was the biggest of reading struggles and in the end I gave the book to my best friend and sulked about the whole thing because I'm ridiculous. I'll probably read the Kindle version at some point.

There are way more books I could include on this list (especially the limbo section) but let's just leave it with the ten.

Later.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final Girls
by Riley Sager

Summary: Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancĂ©, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.
I was so excited for this book as soon as I heard about it. I'm a big fan of 90's slasher movies, and seeing a book that revolved around the final girl trope? Definitely on my insta-read list. Unfortunately, the book was kind of a let down. It wasn't bad, I did like it, it just didn't hook me the way I expected it to.

The main problem was that the story progressed at a snails pace. It was pretty boring for large portions of the book. I went into it thinking it was going to be this gripping, thriller read but most of the story was pretty much just the main character in her apartment barely interacting with anyone or doing anything besides baking.

The story didn't start to pick up and deliver the kind of story the summary implied until maybe 80% into the book...and that bit was exciting, it was fun to read, but it was also quite predictable. I'm fine with predictability in this sort of book, but because I'd guessed all of the twists long before they were revealed it meant that the reveal didn't really make up for the story being boring through the first 3/4's of the book.

The characters were interesting, but also really annoying. There wasn't really any of the main cast that I particularly liked or any relationship (friendship or otherwise) that I felt invested in (except for one that I can't mention because of spoilers).

This review is way more negative than my overall opinion of the book, because in the end it definitely wasn't a bad book. Even the bits that bored me weren't bad, it just wasn't what I was expecting...it felt more character driven than plot driven, and I was reading for the plot. That's why the book gets only a 3 star rating from me but it's definitely worth checking out, especially if character driven stories are more your thing.

I'd be up for reading more books by Riley Sager, I'd just go into them with different expectations than I did with this one.

Later.

Friday, 4 August 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon
Summary: Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?
I went into this book expecting to love it. It sounded so good and there was so many glowing reviews, I thought there was no way I wouldn't love it. And it did get there in the end, but for the first two thirds of the book I really struggled to get through it. 

But anyway, let's start with the positives: the characters.

Rishi? He was a little ball of adorable. I love seeing actual nice guy characters rather than "Nice Guys" (you know the ones...where they think they're good guys and we're supposed to think they're good guys but they're actually really not).

And Dimple? I loved her. I loved that she was strong and complex and realistic, I loved that she was a bit of a steel coated marshmallow at first (reminds me of my best friend in that way). I've seen a lot of people criticise her character for basically being a teenager, for being flawed and realistic, but those reasons many people had for not liking Dimple were a big part of the reason I did like her. I loved her and Rishi together, they were so cute and they balanced each other out.

The book also managed to make me laugh out loud quite a few times (the dancing scene was golden -- if I rated the book purely on that scene it'd be 5+ stars), which doesn't happen very often when I'm reading and I loved that Sandhya managed to make me laugh.

And I really loved that they were both Indian-American. There is countless YA romcoms featuring white protagonists but there's barely any Indian-American representation. That racial and cultural diversity matters, it is so important. It matters that Indian-American teens have books like this they can read and relate to because the characters reflect them positively and I hope to see more of them on the shelves soon.

The reasons I struggled so much with the first chunk of the book: a pet peeve of mine, and the plot.

The pet peeve? I really don't like stories, particularly romance based stories, with alternating POV's and unfortunately this book was not one of the rare exceptions (I wasn't a fan of the way it's done in this, with the POV switches often happening mid-scene, sometimes multiple times in one scene). So that one wasn't an issue with the book, it was just down to personal preference.

As for the plot, it just wasn't as strong as I expected it to be. The pacing felt a bit off, at times it bored me quite a bit. It took a long time to hook me. But again, this is down to personal preference. I'm okay with a romcom not having much to the plot beyond the romance, but the romance has to keep me interested for that to happen and romances that are primarily cute don't really hold my interest well, especially when the couple gets to that point really quickly.

I think my expectations for the coding aspect were a bit too high too, I wanted more from that than it delivered. I was happy about seeing a female character into coding and tech stuff but it fell a little flat there, it was very tell instead of show (Rishi's passion for art was shown much better).

In the last quarter of the book, I found the parts that started to draw me in the most were the scenes that weren't just focusing on the romance...like when Dimple would have chats with Celia or when they talked about their families, or scenes with Rishi and his brother. That was when the book really started to win me over (basically everything from the dance scene onward).

Anyway, I'd rate the book 4 stars out of 5. It didn't quite wow me to the same extent as it did other people, but I loved it in the end, it was absolutely adorable and such an important read. I definitely look forward to seeing what Sandhya writes next. 

Later.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The DNA of Orphan Black by Abbie Bernstein

The DNA of Orphan Black
by Abbie Bernstein


Summary: Get under the skin of clone club. This comprehensive guide to Orphan Black has an access-all-areas pass to the most innovative drama on TV. Includes interviews with the show’s creators and cast, exclusive behind-the-scenes photos, production and visual effects secrets, plus everything you need to know about the Dyad Institute, the Proletheans and Neolutionists, Projects Leda and Castor, and more. This is a must-have for all fans of Orphan Black.
I don't read many books like this -- books that are about the creation of a TV show or movie or something (beyond the Harry Potter ones) -- sometimes I'll get them just to flip through every now and then, or because they're aesthetically pleasing... This one? This is the first one I've actually sat down and read cover to cover.



The book goes over how the creators came up with the idea for the show, how they went about making it, then it goes into the casting process and then how all the different departments worked together to create the characters was fascinating to read about...I honestly didn't expect it to hold my attention so well but it did.

I think it's because the show itself is so great and original. Tatiana Maslany is literally half of the cast, and when you're watching it is so easy to forget that each of the Leda clones is played by the same actress and they're not actually different people. The book goes over how Tatiana made each character distinctive and how everyone from the writers to the wardrobe and hair and make-up departments worked together, taking even the smallest details into consideration.

And I loved reading about the actress who plays the clones in scenes where more than one clone is present, so Tatiana is acting with someone. I hadn't really considered that someone would have to act that, I figured it was all camera trickery and editing, so it was fascinating reading how she analysed all of the idiosyncrasies and ways of moving Tatiana had for each clone so she could recreate it.

Basically, the book was just really fun and interesting and I loved the pictures and the behind the scenes look we got into the world of the show (plus, it was fun getting to kind of recap the previous seasons and all of the back stories).

I'd really recommend it for fans of the show, or even just people interested in some element of show/movie making be it acting or writing or directing or being part of the make-up or wardrobe department.

I'd rate it 4 stars out of 5.

Later.

Monday, 17 July 2017

When Rosie Met Jim by Melina Marchetta & Shoeboxes by Kathryn Barker

Review of Australian Fiction 
(Volume 22, Issue 6)

When Rosie Met Jim & Shoeboxes
by Melina Marchetta & Kathryn Barker

I don't read Review of Australian Fiction very often, because short stories aren't my cup of tea really, but occasionally I will if an author I love writes a story for them.

And, if you've been following this blog or any of my bookish social media for any length of time you'll know that Melina Marchetta is one of my top 5 favourite authors and she could literally announce she's rewritten the phone book and I'd want to read it...so there was no way I was skipping this edition of RAF.

I'm going to just do a short review for each of the stories included, starting with the one I bought it for in the first place:

When Rosie Met Jim

I really, really loved this story (which, as you may have guessed from what I said about short stories, is a rarity for me). It revolves around a girl stranded in a small town during a flood and while stuck there, she meets Jimmy Hailler (the same Jimmy Hailler from Saving Francesca).

I'm surprised by how quickly Melina managed to make me care about the characters in the story (which is usually one of my issues with short stories) and how thoroughly hooked I was by the plot. It was one of those ones that left me wanting more of the characters without feeling like there was something missing, which isn't always an easy balance to achieve in short stories.

And that's all I have to say really. The story was definitely worth it, and it has me so excited for Melina's next book (the Jimmy Hailler book she's been talking about for a few years now...I think this story was a prequel to that book and she's working on the book now, based on her blog posts?).

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Shoeboxes

This one...this one was a pleasant surprise. I didn't expect to love it, but I sort of did. Not quite in the same way as I loved When Rosie Met Jim, where I really cared about the characters, this one was different. It was more...subtle, clever.

It starts off with two women in a basement and we don't know if they've been kidnapped or why they're there really but bit by bit little details trickle into the story and...well, that's all I'll say because I don't want to ruin it.

Basically, it hooked me from the start and had me confused but intrigued right until the very end...and the end -- I loved the ending. It surprised me and left me wanting to read a full thriller novel by Kathryn Barker because if she can pull off a full novel as well as she can a short story then I'm sure I'll love it.

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Overall: If short stories are your kind of thing, I definitely recommend checking out Review of Australian Fiction (every two weeks they release a new edition featuring two stories by Australian writers). Even if short stories aren't your kind of thing, like me, you might still enjoy some of the stories they publish.

Later.

Friday, 14 July 2017

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

The One Hundred Nights of Hero
by Isabel Greenberg
Summary: From the author who brought you The Encyclopedia of Early Earth comes another Epic Tale of Derring-Do. Prepare to be dazzled once more by the overwhelming power of stories and see Love prevail in the face of Terrible Adversity! You will read of betrayal, loyalty, madness, bad husbands, lovers both faithful and unfaithful, wise old crones, moons who come out of the sky, musical instruments that won’t stay quiet, friends and brothers and fathers and mothers and above all, many, many sisters.

"In the beginning was the world. And it was weird."

Graphic novels are really not my kind of thing. Occasionally, I'll find one that I really like but mostly I just find them disappointing. Even when I like the story, I find myself wishing it were a novel instead because I was more story than pictures and a handful of words can deliver (which may explain why some of the graphic novels I've loved have been adaptations of novels).

But back to the point: graphic novels = not for me. And yet I still keep taking chances on them...and this one, this was one of the ones that make me glad for that because I really, really loved it.

I mean, if I'm honest, I would still adore a novelization of this story with these characters but I still loved this format of it.

The illustrations were quirky and beautiful, the world was wonderful and wonderfully weird. I loved the way real issues of our world were woven into the fantasy world Greenberg created (it was very much a feminist read, in the very best ways).

I loved that the characters of the story got under my skin way more than I expected them to. And speaking of unexpected? I was not expecting the main love story in the book to be between two woman, and I loved that. I love going into a book and finding LGBTQIA+ representation when I wasn't expecting it, and it was done beautifully in this. I wanted to read this because it was a retelling of The 1001 Nights, but if you told me it was a lesbian retelling of The 1001 Nights I'd have probably picked it up way sooner.

I'll definitely be picking up a physical copy of this one at some point for my shelves (I read the e-book...would not recommend, it was a struggle to read the text in that format) as well as checking out the first book in her Early Earth series.

I'd rate this one 5 stars out of 5.

Later.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

We Are Okay
by Nina LaCour

Summary: You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.
Okay, I'm not going to lie: I completely judged a book by its cover. I literally went into this book not knowing what it was going to be about...a few Goodreads friends had rated it highly, but I got it purely for the cover. And I am so glad I did, because I loved it.

It wasn't at all what I expected it to be but every way it surprised me was a good way.

I didn't expect the lesbian/bi/pan representation, but I was so happy it was there and that it was executed so well. It wasn't made into a huge deal, it wasn't a story revolving entirely around their sexuality, it was just this truth about these characters that wasn't prioritized any more or less than their other truths and I loved that.

I loved that while romance was present, the book wasn't entirely about that. And I loved that it showed the complexities of going from friends to something more then trying to get back to friendship again.

I loved that the way the book wrote about grief, and love, and family and friendship and the complexities and variations of those things. I just - I loved all of it. And it was written so beautifully.

I don't really have much else to say about it really. I wasn't expecting such a little book to get under my skin in such a big way, but it did and I adored it. I'd rate it 5 stars out of 5.

Later.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson

You Can't Touch My Hair:
And Other Things I Still Have to Explain
by Phoebe Robinson

Summary: A hilarious and affecting essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from celebrated stand-up comedian and WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson.

Phoebe Robinson is a stand-up comic, which means that, often, her everyday experiences become points of comedic fodder. And as a black woman in America, she maintains, sometimes you need to have a sense of humor to deal with the absurdity you are handed on the daily. Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: she's been unceremoniously relegated to the role of "the black friend," as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she's been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel ("isn t that . . . white people music?"); she's been called "uppity" for having an opinion in the workplace; she's been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she's ready to take these topics to the page and she s going to make you laugh as she s doing it.
I've recently discovered that I'm scared of flying. I wasn't always afraid of flying, but I haven't been on a plane since I was in my early teens and somewhere between then and now, I seem to have developed a fear of it. What has that got to do with this book? Well... This book was the only thing that kept me calm and pleasantly distracted while being stuck thousands of feet off the ground in a big metal tube. I tried others, but this was the only one that worked.

Basically, I loved the book...partly because of my gratitude for it keeping panic at bay for a few hours, but mostly just because it was excellent.

I listened to it on audiobook and the narration was great. I'll admit, I wasn't a fan of Phoebe Robinson before starting this book (because I didn't really know much about her, wasn't familiar with her work, etc.) but I definitely was by the end of the book.

She manages to perfectly juggle the balance between humour and seriousness and she opened my eyes to a lot of issues I was ignorant to either because I'm white (or in some cases, because I'm not American) and I haven't had the same life experiences as women of colour have.

The tl;dr version: Both Phoebe Robinson and her book are fantastic and I really recommend checking it out, especially the audiobook version because her narration just brought it to the next level. It's funny and honest and important. I'd rate it 5 stars out of 5.

Later.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Gemina by Aimie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina (Illuminae Files #2)
by Aimie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Summary: Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.
This review is going to be relatively short, because there isn't much to say about the book except that I really loved it.

The first book in the series took a while to grow on me, I did love it in the end but it was a long process getting to that point, but this one hooked me fast and kept its grip right until the end. I stayed up all night reading it and I regret nothing about that decision.

The format of this series is so unique, I've never read any other books quite so stylistically distinctive and I adore that about them. And I'm surprised by how easy it is to care about and feel invested in the well being of these characters, given the fact that we're not inside their heads in quite the same way we would be with a normal book but yeah -- I love the characters.

And the plot, it was addictive and I loved the ways it tied in with the first book and left me desperate for the sequel.

Basically, I love this series. I'd rate this one 5 stars out of 5.

Later.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Ten LGBTQIA+ Books In My TBR

The topic for this weeks Top Ten Tuesday was "10 Books From X Genre That I've Recently Added To My TBR List" and given it's Pride month, I figured I'd give a list of the LGBTQ+ books I've added to my TBR recently (whether they're books I already own and plan to read, or ones that are out later in the year that I'm looking forward to).

In no particular order...

1. Wildthorn by Jane Eagland - This one has been in my TBR for years and I'm not sure why I haven't gotten to it yet, but I think it's a set in Victorian times and it's set in an asylum and the romance in it is F/F?

2. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst - F/F YA high fantasy novel about a princess who falls for the sister of the dude she's betrothed to. I've been saving this one...partly because my expectations are sky high, partly because I have a feeling I'm going to love it so I'm waiting for the right time to read it.

3. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo - This one didn't grab my attention from the summary, but I've heard nothing but good things about it and the main character is transgender and I want to read more books with good representation of trans characters so it's in my TBR now.

4. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy - There was a lot of controversy before this was released because the summary made it sound like the book was about a lesbophobic trope, but the author doesn't write the summary and the story is an own voices book about a bisexual and it sounds like it might tackle a lot of biphobic attitudes and stereotypes so I'm excited for this one.

5. Run by Kody Keplinger - This is another one with bi-rep, and I think of the main characters is blind too and it sounds like friendship will play a big role and I'm so here for more positive female friendships in books.

 6. Wild Beauty by Anna Marie McLemore - I know very little about this book, except that Anna Marie McLemore could write the phonebook and I'd read it in a heartbeat. I don't know what the LGBTQ+ rep in the book is specifically (beyond bisexuality), but the author has said that it's about a whole generation of queer Latina girls (and the author herself is queer and Latina and married to a transman, so it's own voices and I trust the rep).

7. The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie - Space monsters... Space pirates... Space lesbians. Lesbian space pirates who train monsters? *Pining for this book* (At least I think they're lesbians, I don't know if one or both of them ID's as bi/pan, but I'm sure I saw a review that said lesbian - correct me if you've read it and that's wrong).

8. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee - Julie and a bunch of other people speak so highly of this one, and it's one of the few YA books with asexual rep so...sign me up!

9. A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner - This one has actually been in my TBR for years. I remember starting it but I put it down and didn't pick it up again and I can't remember why, so I think it deserves another chance. I can't remember, but I think the main character is either a lesbian, bisexual, or pansexual? (I know there was some f/f romance going on but I'm not sure I read far enough for labels?)

10. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Seanz - Everyone seems to love this one, I think that's part of the reason I've put off reading for so long because I've found so many hyped up books to be a disappointment. But it has gay characters and the audiobook is narrated by Lin Manuel Miranda so I'm going to listen to this one on audio this month.

If anyone has any other LGBTQIA+ recs, feel free to leave them in the comments (particularly if they have LGBTQIA+ characters with identities unrepresented on this list).

Later.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Everything and the Moon by Julia Quinn

Everything and the Moon
by Julia Quinn

Summary:
Seven years ago she broke his heart...

When Robert Kemble stumbles across Victoria Lyndon in hedgerow maze, he can't believe his eyes. The girl who'd torn him in two, who let him plan on elopement and then left him standing by the side of the road, was suddenly within arm's reach, and even though his fury still knew no bounds, she was impossible to resist...

Seven years ago he left her all but ruined...

Victoria's father had told her an earl would never marry a vicar's daughter, and he was right. Robert had promised her marriage, then danced off to London while she suffered the shame of a foiled elopement. But even though Victoria doesn't particularly enjoy her new life as a governess, when Robert offers her a job of a different sort—his mistress—she refuses, unable to sacrifice her honor, even for him.

But Robert won't take no for an answer, and he vows to make her his, through any means possible. Can these star-crossed lovers learn to trust again? And is love really sweeter the second time around?
I had heard so many good things about this author, and this book in particular, and I was so looking forward to reading it. Few things can snap me out of a reading slump as well as a good regency romance novel...and this did accomplish that, but it was also such a disappointment.

By the end, I didn't hate it, but getting to a point where I actually liked it took ages and I had so many issues with it.

For starters, the insta-love. I loathe insta-love, with few exceptions. The author herself acknowledged at the beginning that those stories usually weren't her kind of thing but that she started writing these characters and there was just a spark there...okay. Except I felt absolutely no trace of that spark. Their relationship was so mind numbingly bland, nothing about it made me believe it was a case of love at first sight, nothing made me root for them as a couple. And because it attempted in a very deliberate way to show love at first sight, it skipped the best parts of these types of stories -- the falling in love bit, the bit where we get to go along for the ride on that journey with characters.

Plus, the conflict in the story was so ridiculously contrived. The conversations the characters have, for a large chunk of the story, were frustrating as hell to read because it was like they were having two entirely different conversations and they would make comments that should have the other being like "wait, what? could you explain that because that doesn't match up with my version of events at all." but instead those comments are ignored entirely because...well, contrived drawn out conflict.

And then there's the fact that rape is used as a plot device, not once, not twice, but three times. I can forgive the third because at least it wasn't used as an excuse for the male love interest to be a hero, unlike the first two...but yeah, I wish that trope would just go die in a fire and never be written again (also, the male love interest implies that he couldn't rape her because he knows she wants him so even if she protested it wouldn't be rape...uh, no. All of the no).

I'm sure there were other things....but I think that's the gist of my issues with the book. The frustrating thing was that it wasn't inherently bad -- at some point in the story, it did hook me enough for me to continue reading, so it must've done something right. But it was mostly boring or frustrating. I think I might have more luck with a different book by this author because this one just pushed so many of my Nope buttons.

I think the fact that so many people told me how great it was made it more of a disappointment than it would've been other wise. I'd rate it 2 stars out of 5.

Later.

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