Reviews

Review: THE CROWNS OF CROSWALD

34944590Title: THE CROWNS OF CROSWALD
Author: D.E. Night
Publisher: Stories Untold Press
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
ARC?: Yes, provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Release: 7/21/17
TW/CW: Abuse/neglect, lines that promote fatphobia, MC seems to have an aversion to food.
Rating: 4/5

In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret…

For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic––and her life––is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.

When I was offered this book, I thought it was going to be YA but I was delighted that this story is much more Middle Grade and I was able to read this with my two oldest godchildren. As many people have said before me, if you loved the magic and wonder in Harry Potter, you’re going to enjoy THE CROWNS OF CROSWALD.

Ivy is our main character and at the beginning of the story, she is a scaldron caretaker- a person who tends to the dragons that bake with their mouths. Grant was particularly excited to see the inclusion of dragons in this world and I think it was an A+ choice on the author’s part because that really sucks the reader in… because who doesn’t love dragons? After a mishap in the kitchens, Ivy is thrown out of the home where she lives and works and is promptly thrust into a world of magic with her tiniest scaldron. A magically floating cab picks her up and whisks her away to a school of magic where she will develop her skills as a Scrivenist.

But there are secrets upon secrets in the Halls of Ivy and when the Dark Queen threatens Ivy’s magic (and life), Ivy scrambles to uncover her own history.

The pacing in the book was great. Usually my 10 year old godkid can’t keep still (or interested) in fantasy books because there’s usually such a build up to the action, but this book pretty much leaps into all the action right off the bat. I did think it got a tad bogged down with the day-to-day school stuff at one point, but it recovered nicely.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who likes dragons, magic, and spunky main characters with heart!

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Reviews

Review: IN REAL LIFE

20575446Title: IN REAL LIFE
Author: Cory Doctorow, Jen Wang (illustrations)
Publisher: First Second
Pages: 175
ARC: Yes, provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
TW/CW: casual use of the word b*tch, violence in game.
Rating: 3/5

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends.

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer–a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake.

I have complicated feelings about this one.

On one hand, I love the art. Jen Wang is obviously a huge talent and it shows through each panel. I loved that Anda was fat and that she enjoys playing online games and is in a club that plays D&D. It was also super cool to see this all girl gaming league. Anda’s parents are definitely on top of what’s going on in their daughter’s life and it was refreshing to see her mom take a stand against Anda receiving money from strangers online. I’ve seen a few reviews that talk about “What parent would care?” and the answer is… most parents. In the end, I was glad Anda’s mom relented on letting her play (even though she was still playing at internet cafes. It showed a nice balance between worrying for your child and monitoring their internet activity and letting them continue to pursue their hobbies and interests.

As for the subject matter in the book, I think it was a little heavy for the medium and the length of the book. Anda is being hired to kill other players in this game- “farmers” who collect gold that’s used for currency in the virtual world and selling it for actual money. I don’t know enough about online gaming to really comment on how this works, but Anda finds out that this person works 12 hours a day harvesting gold. They make a connection and she finds out that he is sick but isn’t allowed (or is to poor) to go to the doctor. This is really where the story lost me. I think it glosses over what’s going on in these game sites concerning poor people being used to harvest online currency to sell for real money. I’m still a little confused about how it all works. If the author wanted to bring up the terrible workplaces these people have to work in, I would think they would spend a little more time explaining it.

But they don’t. Instead, Anda tells Raymond (his “American” name) that he should stage a protest… which ends up costing him his job. But in the end, it all turns out ok because Raymond finds another job and the workers stage a protest and, hey, since a white girl led the rebellion, everything is super ok!!! White saviorism once again save the poor PoC and she did this from thousands of miles away! WOW!!!

And that’s where it lost two stars.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for the artwork, this would probably be a 2 star book. Maybe even a 1.

I’m not recommending this one.

 

Reviews

REVIEW: T IS FOR TREE

35700353Book: T IS FOR TREE
Author: Greg Fowler
Publisher: Ink Road Publishers
Pages: 384
ARC?: Yes, provided through NetGalley for an honest review.
Release: 08/10/17
TW/CW: Abuse of a disabled person, slurs against a disabled person, child abuse, alcohol abuse, suicide.
Rating: 1/5

Eddy knows he’s not like other teenagers. He doesn’t look like them. He doesn’t think like them. He doesn’t go to school or have friends like they do. Eddy’s not even allowed to leave his bedroom – except on shower day of course. He doesn’t know why; all Eddy knows is that he’s different.

Abandoned by his mother and kept locked away by his grandmother, Eddy must spend his life watching the world go by from his bedroom window. Until Reagan Crowe moves in next door and everything starts to change. She’s kind, funny, beautiful, and most importantly, she’s Eddy’s first friend. Over time, Reagan introduces Eddy to the strange and wonderful world outside his bedroom: maths, jam, love.

But growing up isn’t that simple for either of them. And Eddy has a secret. The tree that’s slowly creeping in through his window from the garden is no ordinary tree. But then again, Eddy’s no ordinary boy. He’s special…

THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS AND DISCUSS EVERYTHING LISTED IN THE TW/CW ABOVE.

It takes a lot to truly horrify me when it comes to books. This book horrified me and a day later, I am still raging mad that anyone would think this book was a good idea.

While this book never openly says what Eddy’s disability is, I received an email that this book was originally self-published as JAM SANDWICHES and the blurb for that book stated Eddy has Down Syndrome. I’m not sure why this was omitted from this version of the book. The only thing mentioned about Eddy’s disability is that his face “doesn’t look normal”, he stutters, and has supposedly has a learning disability.

The book starts with Eddy as a newborn. His mother, Hailey, is running away from the hospital because she says couldn’t “bear the thought of a lifetime of disapproving glances. All of those ‘I told you so’s’ “. She approaches Eddy’s crib and thinks “I can’t love this thing.” When I first read this, I thought that maybe Hailey was extremely young and the disapproving looks would come from her being a young, unwed mother. But when the first chapter starts and we’re introduced to Eddy as a 12 year old, it become apparent that his mother fled because he has some kind of disability (again, it’s never said in this version what Eddy’s diagnosis was). Right away, that put me on the defense. Not only does this girl abandon her child because of his disability, she even says she can’t love this thing.

Hailey takes away Eddy’s personhood before he’s even a few hours old. She doesn’t see him as her child, she sees him as some disposable thing- a mistake she can simply walk away from.

The first chapter starts with Grandma Daisy, Hailey’s mother and Eddy’s grandmother, waking Eddy up for “shower day”. Eddy undresses and waits naked by the door of his attic room for Grandma Daisy to escort him to the shower. Eddy says that he doesn’t mind shower days because it gives him a chance to ‘see new stuff’. It’s then that we are told that Eddy is not allowed to leave his room. Grandma Daisy escorts him to the shower which is already running with lukewarm water. Eddy says that she makes him shower on days that she does laundry, so he doesn’t get but a few seconds of warm water and then it turns icy cold. He is not allowed to leave the shower until she comes back to get him which means he would have to squeeze into the corner of the shower to try and avoid the spray when the water became to unbearably cold. During this time, Eddy looks at himself in the mirror (something he says he has to hide from Grandma Daisy) and explains that he looks different “in the eyes… but the rest of the face, too.” He says when he asked Grandma Daisy about why he looks different she simply said, “That’s what dumb looks like.”

Grandma Daisy’s abuse doesn’t end there. Throughout the book, she withholds meals from him when he does something she doesn’t like or when she just doesn’t feel like bringing his dinner up (Eddy, again, is not allowed to leave his room even for meals). When she does bring him food, it seems very sparse. Cornflakes and water seems to be most of his meals.

When Eddy’s caseworker comes out, Grandma Daisy tells him that he has to be on his best behavior because if he doesn’t, she’ll take him to a “special school” where they beat children like him. She puts this fear into Eddy so that he doesn’t say anything about the conditions or his treatment because if Eddy was taken away from her, she would lose the money the government gives her to care for him. When the caseworker comes, it’s apparent that Grandma Daisy also neglects Eddy’s intellectual needs. At 12, he doesn’t know his alphabet and when she asks him to name something that starts with a T, he says ‘bed’.

Eddy is also subjected to cruelty by the neighborhood kids. Eddy’s only interaction with the outside world is what he can see from his window. Early in the book, two of the neighborhood boys approach the window and while they call Eddy a freak, they offer him friendship if he will stand up on a chair, wet his pants, and then throw his clothes down to them and stand naked in front of the window. Eddy tells them he’ll get in trouble but they promise they will wash his clothes and bring them right back ‘in five minutes’. Eddy, starved for friendship, does what they ask. After he throws the clothes out of his window, they openly mock him before running away, leaving him naked in front of the window and his soiled clothes on the lawn. Grandma Daisy comes in and instead of trying to figure out what happened, flies into a rage, and makes Eddy wear nothing but a diaper for a week. Even when she starts realizing what happened when the boys come back to taunt Eddy, she still treats him badly. Eddy says, “… from that point on she hadn’t been so angry. In fact, he’d even had some sugar on his cereal this morning.” So instead of apologizing to Eddy, she throws some sugar on his cornflakes and water and seems to think that makes up for making a 12 year old wear nothing but a diaper. He mentions that she catches the boys jeering at Eddy and “really lets them have it” but later in the book she says that she will not be made fun of because of Eddy. It wasn’t Eddy she was trying to protect by running those boys off, it was her own feelings.

During this time, the tree outside Eddy’s window starts growing inside of his bedroom. The tree is apparently magical and becomes Eddy’s friend. It’s around this time that the caseworker threatens to take Eddy away if he doesn’t start improving. She tells Grandma Daisy that many kids “like him” are able to learn and she was troubled that Eddy didn’t know the basics. Instead of trying to teach Eddy, Grandma Daisy tells him “he better learn” or he’d have to go to the place where “they beat boys”. This is what bothers me about his story as far as Eddy’s “learning disability” goes. The book wants us to believe that the tree helps Eddy learn. But it’s clear that Eddy had taught himself how to read a little before the tree even started to invade his room. Does Eddy actually have a learning disability? I lean towards no. If a child is stuck in the attic with no one to teach them, no social interaction, and no knowledge of the world outside of their room… but still manages to teach themselves ANYTHING, that’s not a disability. That’s pretty damn smart.

Reagan moves in next door when Eddy is 12. I don’t want to talk about their friendship too much because, honestly, the whole thing was kind of boring. They had a pretty regular friendship, sharing their days and stories. The book skips 3 years and Eddy and Reagan are still friends and end up sharing a kiss. Reagan’s family dissolves after her dad loses his job, becomes an alcoholic, and gives Reagan a black eye.

Two years later (when they are both 17), this story reaches it’s absolute worst point.

Grandma Daisy has “realized the error of her ways”. The whole thing was really strange (the tree told Eddy to remind her who planted the tree) and while she sort of apologizes and lets Eddy leave his room, that doesn’t make up for the years of abuse and neglect. It doesn’t and I hate that she is never held accountable for what she did. In fact, no one is ever punished for how they treated Eddy. He just forgives them and their half-assed apologies. How CPS never intervened is beyond me.

Reagan is now a troubled teenager. She’s dating an older boy, sneaks out of the house, and becomes enraged when Eddy refuses to accept an expensive gift that he knows she stole. One night the tree “tells” Eddy that the other boy is trying to rape Reagan outside of their house and Eddy rescues her.

Eddy is studying hard for his GCSE exams. When he gets his grades back, he has apparently gotten nearly perfect scores and is offered a scholarship to the best sixth-form college in their area. Reagan failed but decided to redo the year over with Eddy’s help.

While she’s studying, Reagan becomes weaker and weaker. After several months of being sick, they discover she has cancer and she isn’t going to make it. Eddy figures out he can use the magical tree to give his life for Reagan. So he does. Eddy commits suicide so that Reagan can live.

And that is fucked up.

Eddy admits that he loves Reagan several times. People know Eddy loves Reagan, knows that he has gone above and beyond to help her out, but no one expects Reagan to think of Eddy as anything more than her buddy because he’s “different”. And in the end, Eddy gives up his life, his chance to go to college, to save the “normal” girl. I can’t put into words how angry that makes me. Eddy’s life isn’t worth less than Reagan’s. Eddy is a boy who worked hard to learn, to grow… and he lets that all go because Reagan “deserves” life because she isn’t “different”.

The book ends with Eddy’s mother coming back… with her two “perfect” children in tow.

The finally lines of the book are a note Eddy sent Hailey. It says: “I’m not a stupid boy anymore. I’m a beautiful boy now, Mum.”

My hatred for this book is overwhelming. Not only is Eddy treated like shit, abused, and kept locked away for most of his life, the author pounds it in that Eddy’s life is only worthy, only beautiful because he GAVE IT UP FOR A ‘NORMAL’ PERSON. Who thought this book was a good idea? Who read this and thought it was a great story? I am disgusted beyond belief that this book is seeing the light of day.

Disabled people are not here to make nondisabled people look good. Disabled people aren’t here to lift nondisabled people’s lives. Eddy should have gotten his chance to go to college, to live outside his bubble. Eddy should not have had to die in order to feel like he was good.

I don’t recommend this book. If I could go back and unread this, I would.

 

Reviews

Review: PRINCE IN DISGUISE

Capture.PNGBook: PRINCE IN DISGUISE
Author: Stephanie Kate Strohm
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
ARC?: Yes, provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Release: 12/19/17
Rating: 4/5

25844635Life is real enough for Dylan—especially as the ordinary younger sister of Dusty, former Miss Mississippi and the most perfect, popular girl in Tupelo. But when Dusty wins the hand of the handsome Scottish laird-to-be Ronan on the TRC television network’s crown jewel, Prince in Disguise, Dylan has to face a different kind of reality: reality TV.

As the camera crew whisks them off to Scotland to film the lead-up to the wedding, camera-shy Dylan is front and center as Dusty’s maid of honor. The producers are full of surprises—including old family secrets, long-lost relatives, and a hostile future mother-in-law who thinks Dusty and Dylan’s family isn’t good enough for her only son. At least there’s Jamie, an adorably bookish groomsman who might just be the perfect antidote to all Dylan’s stress . . . if she just can keep TRC from turning her into the next reality show sensation.

Clearly, I am on a reality show kick. First I fell in love with NICE TRY, JANE SINNER and now I’m in love with PRINCE IN DISGUISE.

Here’s a secret I’ve never shared before- I am a sucker for Christmas based romance stories and I am SO in love with all those cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies. The Nine Live of Christmas (also a book!)? Yes. A Royal Christmas? Uh huh. The Christmas Ornament? I cry every time. When I saw PRINCE IN DISGUISE on NetGalley and realized it was set during Christmas, I knew this book was for me. What I didn’t know until I read it was that this book REALLY needs to be turned into a Hallmark Christmas movie. I would watch the shit out of it.

Our story starts in Tupelo, Mississippi, where Dylan has been sucked into her sister’s wedding preparations and the subsequent reality TV show that has followed (the channel’s clever name in the book is TRC, haha). When Dylan is swept off to Scotland for the wedding, she finds herself falling for one of the groomsmen and fighting for her privacy as TRC catches wind of this new romance… this time with an actual prince.

I think it was terribly clever to show how reality TV warps what is real. The title of the show is ‘Prince in Disguise’ but we find out pretty early on that Ronan is a Lord, not a prince. And while TRC goes to great lengths to make his castle seem very glamorous, the estate is actually kind of falling apart and Dusty even admits that all of Ronan’s money is tied up in the estate. There were also times when they would force Dylan to tape confessionals, but she would have to repeat certain lines over and over until they sounded just right for the camera.

Dylan is a super likable character. She’s been thrust into this peculiar place and because she’s a minor, she wasn’t given the option to opt out of being on the show. I totally related to her need for privacy and why she was so irritated with her mom and sister for getting her involved in something she wanted no part of. Dylan is also “not like other girls” but it wasn’t in the typical YA fashion- instead of berating other girls for liking makeup and fashion, Dylan admits that she just doesn’t understand it and isn’t bothered by not knowing how to do hair and typical “girly” things. The only time she ever comments on her sisters routine is a quick jab at her sister getting carried away with the fake tan. Dylan even comments on how beautiful Dusty is several times in the book and it’s never in a way that degrades Dusty. While Dylan and Dusty do have a very tension filled relationship (most of it stemming from Dylan’s non-compliance with the shows rules), it’s very obvious that the sisters love each other. When Dylan finds out Dusty’s secret, she offers to let the show focus more on her budding romance in hopes that the eagle-eyed producer won’t find out what’s going on with Dusty.

Then there’s Jamie. Sweet, awkward, poetry reciting Jamie. Yes, he is TOTALLY unreal and perfect but that just adds to my desire to see this made into a Hallmark movie. From the trapdoors he finds, to the the over the top date he plans, Jamie is a swoon worthy love interest and a very princely fellow.

Of course, every good Christmas romance needs its comedic relief and that’s where Kit Kirby comes in. Kit is short and full of life but I think this line sums him up the best.. and I’ll leave it at that.

Capture

This book is predictable. It’s apparent who the real prince in disguise is and you can pretty much guess the plot. Unpredictability is not what makes this book a jewel. This is just a feel good story. This is a curl up in bed with a hot drink and wish for a prince kind of book.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who like a little romance, a little sisterly love, and whole lot of heart.

Reviews

Review: I’M THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY

Capture.JPGBook: I’M THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY
Author: Andrea Jarrell
Publisher: She Writes Press
Format: eBook
ARC?: Yes, provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Release: 09/05/17
TW/CW: Mental abuse, alcoholism.
Rating: 2.5/5

34014136When Andrea Jarrell was a girl, her mother often told her of their escape from Jarrell’s dangerous, cunning father as if it was a bedtime story. In this real-life Gilmore Girls story, mother and daughter develop an unusual bond, complicated by a cautionary tale of sexual desire and betrayal. Once grown, Jarrell thinks she’s put that chapter of her life behind her–until a woman she knows is murdered, and she suddenly sees how her mother’s captivating story has also held her captive, influencing her choices in lovers and friends. Set in motion by this murder, Jarrell’s compact memoir is about the difficulty that daughters have separating from–while still honoring–their mothers, and about the perils of breaking the hereditary cycle of addiction.

I requested this book because it sounded like a magnificent true crime story or at the very least, a book about a woman discovering hidden facets about her mother.

It was neither.

Jarrell starts the book off with the murder of her neighbor, a woman Jarrell admits to actively shunning because she was young, pretty, and a single mother. The woman is killed by another neighbor after a domestic dispute and besides Jarrell talking about how she cried about it, we never hear about the woman or her murder again.

She then launches into her own story. I was expecting something… more. The summary reads as if her life was extraordinary but, honestly, this book could be about anyone who grew up in a single parent household. Jarrell’s mother leaves her father, who is a charming, alarmingly possessive and abusive alcoholic actor. Besides a few attempts to sweet talk her mom back, he disappears from their lives for 16 years. In that time, Jarrell’s mother goes to school, becomes a paralegal, and the two go on vacations across Europe several times. When she’s older, Jarrell’s father comes back in the picture and her mother and father reunite for a brief period of time before it ends once again.

Jarrell tells about a few shitty boyfriends and then about getting married and having children.

The only thing that makes this story “extraordinary” is how full of herself Jarrell is. Everything seems to revolve around her. When her husband admits that he has black outs when he gets drunk, she acts as if his drinking was some huge secret that he kept to himself but later admits that she knew he was drinking a lot. When he goes to AA, she acts like his sobriety should revolve around her and often refers to it as “our transformation”.

I was not impressed with this book. I usually enjoy memoirs but this one read like the diary of the middle aged white lady who lives across the street and thinks your lawn ornaments are offensive. Save yourself some time and skip this one.

Reviews

Review: THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO

CaptureBook: THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO
Author: F.C. Yee
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
ARC?: Yes.
Release Date: 08/08/2017
TW/CW: Violence, fighting, talk of servitude, description of torture (briefly shown on page).
Rep: Chinese-American

30116958The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.

Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.

Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…

Let me start this post off with some honesty: I never planned to read THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO. I’m not big on demons in YA because, well, demons kind of scare the shit out of me and I can’t relate to finding romance while fighting a demon horde. I’d be too busy crying and changing my pants every 10 minutes.

I had an ARC sent to me, though, and after seeing a few friends rave about how good this book is, I figured I would at least give it a chance. I went in thinking that I might not finish it but I pretty much devoured this book. The pacing is incredible- there wasn’t one moment where I was bored or wishing something would happen. Not every minute is spent fighting demons, but you get so into Genie’s “normal” life with her friends and school that you start rooting for her friendships and college applications as much as you root for her to kick demon ass.

Genie is the perfect YA character to me. She’s angry, she’s confused, she gets fed up with being pushed around, she isn’t self-sacrificing all the time, and my girl KNOWS when she’s being a shitty person. I LOVE self-aware YA characters and I love that Genie can admit that she’s more interested in protecting the people she loves than complete strangers. I don’t think that’s a character flaw, I think that’s real human emotion. I would definitely be more concerned about the immediate safety of my best friend versus someone I barely know.

I also loved the character arc we get from Quentin. My dude is goes from WAY UP HERE to “I’m going to eat this bread and laugh at you while Genie owns your ass”. It was cool to watch Genie and Quentin become friends and then move towards something more and the fact that neither of them let their crushes get in the way demon fighting. Yes, they did have moments where they struggled against each other but it wasn’t “oh, unrequited love!”. It was two stubborn people struggling to dominate the other until they realized that they were better together. I loved it.

I could talk about the rep, but that’s not my experience. Here’s a few links to check out bloggers talk about the Chinese-American rep and how they felt about it:

One Way or An Author (WITH ART OMG!)

Artic Books

I would 100% recommend this book if you’re into mythology being applied to modern times, kickass girls, demon slaying, and boys wearing Minnie Mouse earrings.

Book Tags

Zombie Apocalypse Book Tag!

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Last week was a pretty terrible week for content on my blog. And by pretty terrible, I mean I didn’t post anything. Between work, seeing my godkids off to school, and some pretty devastating personal news, I just didn’t feel like being present.

But I am back this week with another book tag! The Zombie Apocalypse Book Tag, actually. While I’m not sure who created this, I think it’s super fun and if you know who credit goes to, please let me know so I can give props to them.

The rules are pretty simple: pick 10 books from your bookshelf and flip to a random page. The first character you see on that page becomes a member of your team. Write down the names on individual slips of paper and at random, choose a character for each question!

1

1. The first person to die?

Monty (THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE). You know it’s not hard to imagine Monty not surviving the zombie apocalypse. I’m not sure my dude would want to live in meltdown with no dances, spirits, or, er, prancing to keep his mind company.

2

2. The person you trip to escape the zombies?

Willowdean aka Dumplin’ (DUMPLIN’). Sorry, girl. Nothing personal.

3

3. First person to turn into a zombie?

Genie Lo (THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO). Wow, talk about being screwed. I don’t think even turning into a zombie would make Genie less badass and ready to kick ass. Let’s just hope we get a huge head start.

4

4. The person who trips you to escape the zombies?

Dimple Shah (WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI). I can actually see this happening and… I’m not even mad.

5

5. The idiot of the team?

Luna Lovegood (HARRY POTTER). I don’t think idiot is a good term. Luna would definitely be the dreamy one of the group, still talking about invisible creatures while the zombies are literally on our heels.

6

6. The brains of the team?

Prosper Redding (THE DREADFUL TALE OF PROSPER REDDING). Prosper is pretty good at thinking on his feet. While he’s not the smartest guy around, he’s dealt with demons… he’d know his way around a horde of zombies.

7

7. The teams medic?

Nikolai (SHADOW AND BONE). Nikolai has seen a lot of battles and wounds… I think we’d be in good hands with him.

8

8. The weapons expert?

Adam (THE RAVEN CYCLE). While Adam doesn’t seem to know that much about weapons, he is extremely smart and I don’t think it would take him long to figure out the ins and outs of it.

9

9. The Brawler?

Jane Sinner (NICE TRY, JANE SINNER). I can see Jane being the one not afraid of backing some zombies up.

10

10. The team captain?

Leah (SIMON VS). Leah would definitely be the level headed one to take charge and keep the team in line.

 

So, what do you think of my zombie apocalypse team? Think we’d survive or are we screwed?

Reviews

Review: NICE TRY, JANE SINNER

Capture.JPGBook: NICE TRY, JANE SINNER
Author: Lianne Oekle
Publisher: Clarion Books (an imprint of HMH)
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
ARC?: Yes, generously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Release date: 01/09/2018
TW/CW: Attempted suicide, sexist language (briefly), alcohol, drug mentions.
Rep: mental illness (especially depression), OCD (compulsive cleanliness), Indian-American, Korean-American, high school dropout, suicide survivor.

33413915The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.

Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don’t know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she’ll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.

As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

I’m always weary of book suggestions when people pitch them as “You’ll love this book. This character is 100% you.” Which I heard twice. I also had it generally recommend as “You’ll love this book because  you love crunchy characters” which I am much more accepting of. There’s also this hesitation with the first because it feels like I may be stepping into some introspection that I didn’t ask for. However, the whole “You are Jane Sinner” was spot on.

And I fell in love with this book.

I would like to start this review off with a warning. Jane did attempt suicide before this book picks up. What we see in NICE TRY, JANE SINNER is Jane living with the consequences and social stigma that follows a failed suicide attempt. No one warned me about this going in because I think it’s supposed to read almost like a plot twist- Jane mentions it as “The Event” until she reveals what actually happened. I’m sure someone is going to think that I’ve ruined some part of the book, but I haven’t. This book isn’t about Jane trying to die. This is about Jane trying to live, and she’s trying to live while being mentally ill, while dealing with her own shame. It was refreshing to see a character who wasn’t instantly like “Oh, I’m so glad I didn’t actually die.” Jane never says that she’s glad or regrets that she survived- she’s just trying to move forward which felt so authentic and real to me. Jane finds ways to be happy, she finds joy in parts of her life, but she still has an underlying sadness that made her feel so relatable. Jane is your best friend who slips in and out of focus- she’s there but not always. She’s surviving but not necessarily thriving… and she’s working hard to change all of that. That’s what makes Jane Sinner such an important character. Not what she did but that she’s trying to fix it.

The relationships in this book are amazing. I like that the love interest, Robbie, isn’t a perfect guy. He’s not your typical YA love interest- Robbie is a nice person who does shitty things. I’ve seen a lot of hate for him for things that happened in the book but I honestly loved him more for what he did. I think we’re so used to these self-sacrificing characters that when one breaks away from the mold, it seems horrifying. However, Robbie and Jane didn’t know each other that well. Yes, there was a friendship and it felt like they were moving towards more, but at the end of the day, they were two people who were competing in a game. I don’t blame Robbie for what he did and I don’t blame Jane for her reactions. Those emotions, those feelings, those actions are what made them real for me. Even the fights Jane had with her sister and her best friend were real- small fights that felt so devastating to the characters in the moment but were later forgiven. There were no giant grudges held. Jane and her best friend go weeks without seeing each other and guess what? They were still best friends! It was refreshing to see two best friends living separate lives and still loving each other.

I don’t have much to say about the Park siblings other than I love them. I love them so much. Especially Alexander who has tons of ambition and is trying to prove himself. Does he do really shitty things? Yes. And he feels guilty about them. And he apologizes.

The last thing I want to talk about in this book is religion. Jane grew up in a devout Christian family. She grew up going to church, being a part of youth groups, and surrounded by church people. She even admits that she used to tell her best friend she was going to hell for being bisexual (she admits this, has apologized, and feels terrible for it- this does not go unchallenged on page). But when Jane realizes she no longer believes the way her parents do, it shakes her world. I think that’s what tied in the realness of this book for me. In YA book, religion goes one of two ways: the character either finds God or the character doesn’t believe in God because lol science. This was the first book I’ve ever read where a character loses their faith and feels like they’ve lost a part of who they are. From personal experience, when you grow up in church and start questioning what you’ve been taught, what you believe, and what your family believes… it’s shattering. When I realized that I didn’t believe the same way my parents did, it felt like someone had died, like I had lost this person I loved, and I was worried that it would mean losing the people who still did believe the way I used to. Jane goes through those emotions. She questions herself. She is terrified. She mourns losing that part of her identity. That was such an important part of this book and I am SO glad that it was included.

I honestly feel like I could go on and on about this book, but I don’t want to get into spoilers. If you like Crunchy On The Outside, Soft On The Inside characters, this book is for you.

 

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Talking Tuesday: Why Did I Become Vegan?

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Since I posted this thread over the weekend, I’ve gotten a lot of DMs/comments asking why I became vegan and if I’m part of the zero waste or minimalist communities (because most YouTube vegans are). I would like to start this like I did my thread: I don’t think veganism is possible for everyone. I understand health issues, food deserts, multiple people sharing one small food budget. This is just my experience with veganism and it isn’t meant to shame anyone.

I was a vegetarian during high school and was an on/off vegan all through college. At some point, I stopped being a vegan and I justified it to myself by saying “Oh, I’m so tired and I’m sick so I don’t have enough energy to fix the sort of food I need to stay on a vegan diet.” Because that’s how I viewed veganism at the time- as a diet.

For the next few years, I was off and on veganism again. Last year I started watching vegan YouTubers and I really got into the idea of the raw food movement… but I quickly learned that’s just not for me. I also tried being a fruitarian but, again, not for me. I really felt like I didn’t have a place in the vegan community because all of the vegans I saw were vegan for health reasons. There were a few that were more planet oriented but at the end of the day, they were preaching exercise and that’s not helping the planet. While I want to be healthy, I feel like I could do the same thing eating a standard American diet. My reasons for being vegan are pretty simple- I don’t think a living creature should have to die so I can eat. I don’t think animals should be subjected to inhumane conditions so that I can drink milk or eat cheese or eggs. I don’t think I’m so above animals that their suffering doesn’t matter so long as I get what I want.

I always said that I would never “shock” myself back into veganism but I ended up doing that by watching Earthlings, a documentary that I have staunchly avoided since I found out about it. It is graphic and horrible and after watching it, I will never go back to eating meat or consuming animal products. Part of me wishes I had never watched it but part of me knows that I had to. I’ve always known that animals were treated cruelly but seeing it made it more concrete.

Honestly, the transition back into veganism hasn’t been hard. I feel a lot better mentally and physically, and meal prepping is so easy. Make a pot of beans on Sunday and a crockpot meal on Wednesday, and I am pretty much set for lunches or dinners the rest of the week. That helps out a lot since I take care of my Dad and he’s on a specialized diet. I don’t have to worry about making two meals.

As for minimalism, I try. I’m definitely not as hardcore about it as most people are but I am trying to declutter my house/not bring more junk in. It’s an ongoing process because my mind tells me that I need things to make me happy but I also know that having so much stuff makes me anxious because it has to be cleaned and stored or put to use.

As for Zero Waste… I think it’s a noble cause. I also don’t think it’s feasible. Even if you’re buying in bulk, there’s still waste being made.. it’s just being left at the store. I firmly believe in recycling when possible, using reusable containers and shopping bags, and trying to produce as little waste as possible, but I’m also not going to stop eating tofurkey or daiya cheese because they come in their own packaging. If you live that way and feel comfortable with it, more power to you. It’s not for me.

So, that’s all I have to say on that today! Next week I will post about what I generally eat in a week as a vegan/how much I spend on groceries.

Questions? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Reviews

ARC Review: AS YOU WISH

CaptureTitle: AS YOU WISH
Author: Chelsea Sedoti
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 432
Format: eBook
ARC?: Yes, provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 1/2/18
TW/CW: ace/arophobia, suicide attempt, violence.
Rating: 2/5

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In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.

Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.

I think I have finally accepted that Chelsea Sedoti’s books just aren’t for me. I struggled through THE HUNDRED LIES OF LIZZIE LOVETT (Review here) and while I didn’t have the exact same problems with AS YOU WISH in finishing it, the story was… uncomfortable and confusing.

I’ve seen other reviews where they talk about Eldon being an asshole. He is. He’s written that way, and I generally like unlikeable characters. Eldon was not my problem with this story. He was a kid who grew up in a very strange house and is dealing with extreme grief following his younger sister’s accident. I think all of his actions and the way he acted on page (we’re only told that he used to be an asshole who was full of himself) was justifiable. Including his belief that Norie liked him. I know this is supposed to be a moment of “oh, yeah, Eldon totally thinks EVERYONE wants him” but I actually thought Norie liked him as more than a friend, too.

There is also Queerphobic content in the book. One of the characters decides that he wants to wish his homosexuality away. I think Sedoti tried to redeem herself by saying that the feelings didn’t go away but she drops the ball when the character is not longer interested in sex/romance… which apparently makes him a sad and pitiful character that everyone should feel sorry for. As if ace/aro people don’t exist. I was deeply uncomfortable with Sedoti’s use of the “wish the gay away” because there’s also deep seeded Christianity in this book. Norie is the only character in the book who believes in God and she is also written as the best, most honest, most caring character in the entire story.

There is a suicide attempt in the book by a character that was bullied by Eldon. In fact, the last conversation the character and Eldon has is the one that pushes the character over the edge. After someone wishes him back, he returns to school and is continuously said to look like a corpse.

I think the author wasn’t sure what the message was supposed to be. Half of the book is about not playing God and the other half is about playing God. The ending was extremely weak and felt rushed. It was as if the author wasn’t sure herself how to end the book.

My final thought on this book is that it tried way too hard to be Nightvale. A secret town in the desert with a magic cave that grants wishes? Please.

I would not recommend this book.