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.

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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.

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 is 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.

 

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

34569846

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.

Reviews

Review: The Night Child

CaptureBook: THE NIGHT CHILD
Author: Anna Quinn
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Format: eBook
ARC?: Yes, provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 1/30/2018
TW/CW: child abuse, graphic sexual abuse of a child, blood mentions, needle mentions, hospitalization for mental disorder.
Rep: Schizophrenia (never said as exact diagnosis), multiple personalities/split consciousness, child sexual assault survivor.
Rating: 4/5

35390279All Nora Brown wants is to teach high school English and live a quiet life in Seattle with her husband and six-year-old daughter. But one November day, moments after dismissing her class, a girl’s face appears above the students’ desks—a wild numinous face with startling blue eyes, a face floating on top of shapeless drapes of purples and blues where arms and legs should have been. Terror rushes through Nora’s body—the kind of raw terror you feel when there’s no way out, when every cell in your body, your entire body, is on fire—when you think you might die.

Twenty-four hours later, while on Thanksgiving vacation, the face appears again. This time, it whispers, Remember the Valentine’s dress. Shaken once again, Nora meets with neurologists and eventually, a psychiatrist. As the story progresses, a terrible secret is discovered—a secret that pushes Nora toward an even deeper psychological breakdown.

There are some major, major trigger warning on this one. I wish there had been some hint that the “big secret” was that her father sexually abused her and I also wish that it hadn’t been so graphic. I’m not sure if I’ve just gotten so used to young adult and middle grade books that handle the subject more delicately, and even though, there was a little hint of what was to come right before the secret was revealed, it was still a huge shock that it was so graphic. Even more shocking was what happened when she told the priest what happened. If you decide to read this, please keep in mind that there is nothing glossed over about the abuse Nora endured.

I can’t speak on the split consciousness rep because that’s not something I have experienced, but I did feel like the mental health rep as far as the therapist and the hospitalization felt pretty real. I’m not sure that they would have allowed Nora to be alone with anyone but other than that once incident, it was fairly accurate.

I also enjoyed Nora’s utter devotion to her daughter, even when she was going through her mental breakdown. I’ve read a lot of novels where the parent gives up caring about their child when things happen and it was interesting to see Nora working very hard to break the cycle of mother/daughter neglect that she had experienced with her own mother.

The one thing I didn’t like in this book was the continued assessment that sex = a sound marriage. I think this story would have been a 5 star for me if Paul and Nora had pulled through this together and if the author hadn’t insisted that if a married couple aren’t having sex, it means one of them are cheating. There are many, many reasons why couples stop having sex and it doesn’t mean they lack love and trust in one another or that one partner is going to cheat.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. I would not, however, recommend this to anyone who is easily hurt by sexual abuse.

Reviews

Review: THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER

Capture.JPGBook: THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER
Author: Jen Wang
Publisher: First Second
Pages: 288
Format: eBook (graphic novel)
ARC?: Yes, provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: 2/13/2018
TW/CW: being outed without consent
Rep: Non-gendered clothing. I wasn’t sure how to label this because it’s never explicitly stated that the Prince is genderfluid, but they do sometimes feel like wearing “masculine clothing” and sometimes they feel like wearing “feminine clothing” and being referred to as a woman.
Rating: 5/5

34506912Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend?

I’m usually not a fan of graphic novels. I can count the graphic novels I’ve read on one hand, but when I saw the summary of THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER, I knew this was one that I definitely wanted to read… and I was not disappointed.

The art is beautiful in this book. Not just the characters and scenery, but also the dresses that Frances creates for Lady Crystallia. I spent a ton of time just looking at each panel, admiring the art.

This does have romance in it, which was something I did not expect. Generally when you have a character that is genderfluid but was deemed male at birth, their creator has them be attracted to people who were also deemed male at birth. It was AMAZING to see Frances and Sebastian slowly fall for each other, and I think it’s a good reminder for people who are not apart of the Queer community (and even some that are) that “dressing as a woman” doesn’t equal “gay”.

There is a lot of self exploration in this book. Not just from Sebastian/Crystallia, but also from Frances. It was great to see Frances stick up for herself. She wanted to protect Sebastian and understood why they did what they did, but still knew that it wasn’t fair to her. It was a good commentary on how we can understand that something may be good for our friends, but it isn’t good for us and we’re allowed to leave situations that hurt us.

The ending was spectacular! I think I screamed during the fashion show scene and I can’t wait until this comes out so I can make the king my profile picture.

If you’re a fan of gender noncomformity, friends turned something more, and people discovering who they are, this cute graphic novel is for you!

Reviews

Review: #NOTYOURPRINCESS

Capture.JPGBook: #NOTYOURPRINCESS: Voices of Native American Women
Author: Lisa Charleyboy & Mary Beth Leatherdale
Publisher: Annick Press LTD.
Pages:
Format: eBook
ARC?: Yes, provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: 9/12/17
TW/CW: Sexual assault, abuse, suicide.
Rep: Native American, abuse survivors.
Rating: 5/5

CaptureI saw #NotYourPrincess on NetGalley and knew I had to read it.

Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian, #NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.

I don’t know where to begin with this review. It’s a short book but it’s a powerful read for those of us who have been overlooked in society and even in marginalized movements. #NOTYOURPRINCESS explores what it means to be a Native woman and looks at the experiences of several woman through poetry, art, comics, and stories.

There were 2 stories and 1 comic that really stuck with me with I was reading this. The first was BLANKETS OF SHAME by Maria Campbell which talks about how we all wear blankets of shame. The story starts with Maria talking about how her Cheechum told her that the government stripped Natives of everything that made them living souls and then gave them blankets to hide their shame and we still carry those blankets of shame through intergenerational trauma.

INVISIBLE INDIANS by Shelby Lisk explores what it’s like when Native people don’t meet the expectations of how white people view us and how they try to strip away our identities in order to make themselves feel superior.

THE TALE OF TWO WINONAS by Winona Linn is a comic that deals with tragedy porn, the weight of names, and heroes.

I loved every piece of this book and I cannot wait to have a finished copy in my hands. You can preorder here.

Reviews

Mini Reviews: GOBLINS OF BELLWATER/MASK OF SHADOWS

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Book: GOBLINS OF BELLWATER
Author: Molly Ringle
ARC?: Yes. A free eARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 2/5

gbw

Most people have no idea goblins live in the woods around the small town of Bellwater, Washington. But some are about to find out.

Skye, a young barista and artist, falls victim to a goblin curse in the forest one winter night, rendering her depressed and silenced, unable to speak of what happened. Her older sister, Livy, is at wit’s end trying to understand what’s wrong with her. Local mechanic Kit would know, but he doesn’t talk of such things: he’s the human liaison for the goblin tribe, a job he keeps secret and never wanted, thrust on him by an ancient family contract.

Unaware of what’s happened to Skye, Kit starts dating Livy, trying to keep it casual to protect her from the attention of the goblins. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Kit, Skye draws his cousin Grady into the spell through an enchanted kiss in the woods, dooming Grady and Skye both to become goblins and disappear from humankind forever.

It’s a midwinter night’s enchantment as Livy, the only one untainted by a spell, sets out to save them on a dangerous magical path of her own.

Full transparency: I did not finish this book. I DNFed it around 73% but since I read the majority of the book, I did rate it.

Honestly, what killed this book for me was the insta-lust between Skye and Grady. Skye is under a goblin spell but to everyone else, it looks like she is having a mental breakdown and has gone almost completely silent. Instead of trying to help this girl, Grady spends most of his time trying to get in her pants which feels a lot like taking advantage of a situation. Even though Sky has chosen him “as her mate”, it bothers me to think about this character trying to start a relationship with someone who needs help, who had gone almost completely mute, and has suffered some form of trauma. Kit and Livy weren’t much better. Just the way the characters are described was a little weird to me. There was a lot of focus on how many women the male characters had been with and how thin and desirable the female characters were. Not for me.

 

 

mos

Book: MASK OF SHADOWS
Author: Linsey Miller
ARC?: Yes, provided by NetGalley for an honest review
Rating: 2/5

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

It took me 10 days to finish this book. 10. Days.

The first thing that came to me when I was reading this book was “Wow, this reads like someone who is trying very hard to copy Bardugo while pretending that they are totally not copying Bardugo.”

I couldn’t connect with the characters at all. Sal feels very bland and like every other MC in every other slightly awful dystopian/fantasy book. The fact that most of the other characters are referred to by a number and not a name furthered that feeling of being unconnected to them. I didn’t care what happened to them.

The world-building was sloppy, the writing patchy, and like a lot of other people I was confused as to why Sal was so emotional when people used the correct pronouns if this world is supposed to be so accepting that no one bats an eye at fluid pronouns.

I was very, very let down by this book. After seeing so many of my friends talk about how wonderful this was, it kinda felt like doing a bellyflop… on concrete.

 

 

Reviews

Review: SHADOW WEAVER

CaptureBook: SHADOW WEAVER
Author: MarcyKate Connolly
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Pages:
Format: eBook
Series: Shadow Weaver #1 (1/2)
ARC?: Yes, provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Pub date: Jan 2, 2018
Rating: 5/5
TW/CW: Child neglect, attempted kidnapping.

swThe shadows that surround us aren’t always as they seem…

Emmeline has grown up with a gift. Since the time she was a baby she has been able to control shadows. And her only friend and companion is her own shadow, Dar.

Disaster strikes when a noble family visits their home and offers to take Emmeline away and cure her of magic. Desperate not to lose her shadows, she turns to Dar who proposes a deal: Dar will change the noble’s mind, if Emmeline will help her become flesh as she once was. Emmeline agrees but the next morning the man in charge is in a coma and all that the witness saw was a long shadow with no one nearby to cast it. Scared to face punishment, Emmeline and Dar run away.

With the noble’s guards on her trail, Emmeline’s only hope of clearing her name is to escape capture and perform the ritual that will set Dar free. But Emmeline’s not sure she can trust Dar anymore, and it’s hard to keep secrets from someone who can never leave your side.

My goddaughter, Sidda, and I read this one together and we both loved it!

Emmeline is a shadow weaver, a girl blessed with the mysterious ability to turn shadows into tangible things. Unfortunately for Emmeline, no one in the giant estate she lives in appreciates her ability and she lives almost completely separately from the people around her. The only company she’s ever had was her own shadow- a creature named Dar that speaks to Emmeline and encourages her to do things that further ostracizes Emmeline from her parents.

When a neighboring dignitary comes from a visit and convinces Emmeline’s parents to let him take her back for “treatment”, Dar does something unspeakable and Emmeline and her shadow are forced to run for their lives. While escaping through the woods, Emmeline runs in Lucas, a light weaver, and his family who are working hard to make sure that no one discovers Lucas’s power.

As Lucas and Emmeline become friends, Dar becomes increasingly agitated and distant from Emmeline. When the shadow starts insisting that they must perform a ritual to make her human, Emmeline has to figure out who is really her friend and who is using her.

I think the thing I liked most about this story, aside from the amazing writing and characters, was the moral that it brought: just because someone claims they are your friend doesn’t mean that they are. It was interesting to see how this book handled abusive friendships. Dar continuously reminds Emmeline of all the things she has done for the little girl in the past and regularly claims that she (the shadow) is the only one who truly cares about Emmeline. It opened up a really great conversation with Sidda about how gaslighting and emotional abuse works between friends.

I definitely recommend this to fairy tale lovers of all ages but especially for young readers! This is a great lesson on friendship, family, and realizing when someone just isn’t good for you.