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review 2017-06-02 23:58
Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia | READ THIS NOW!

This past Tuesday, Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia was released into the world, and you all need to get a copy. Now.

I was an Eliza beta reader about a year and a half ago, and I finished reading my hardback yesterday. All the praise that I had already given the beta version? Oh, wow. Magnify that by a hundred. This book is fantastic. Here are my 5 reasons for why you need NEED to read it.

 


1) Fantastic Characters--

It's a well known fact that Chessie makes amazing, multi-layered characters, the type to delight fans of all ages (cc: Made You Up). Her characters feel flesh and blood. They make you want to cry and scream, and you get frustrated on their behalf. Chessie's attention to detail makes her characters come alive, with their own little habits and phrases. And with such fantastic characters, you're guaranteed to be engaged in the story, even if you don't always agree with what the characters do.

Eliza and Her Monsters - Francesca Zappia
2) Breaking Gender Norms--

The romantic interest in this book is a hulk, former football player and now fanfiction writer and a selective mute, with a soft voice. The main character is a girl with greasy hair and social anxiety, and she's this super popular creator of a webcomic. Society tends to portray female creators as being Nice, Polite Women - women need to comprise, to smile more often, etc. Here, we have another story to rival that. And many of the side characters also break gender norms. I don't know about you, but I'm very pleased to have a story where the characters aren't in these flat cardboard boxes of what we expect (e.g., alpha male). This also makes the characters feel more real to me.

3) The Unique Formatting--

You can look at several of the Goodreads reviews that mention the photos - here, for instance. Or just at look at the EpicReads post of the first two chapters. You can see the inclusion of the Monstrous Sea webcomic pages, and the prose transcription beneath. You can see private messages between the characters - the moderators of the webcomic and Eliza, the romantic interest and Eliza. You can see forum interactions and forum profiles. Most of the YA books out right now don't have this amount of layering within their stories. Horror YA sometimes includes pictures, and other fandom related books might have some stories, some fanfiction--not to this extent, not to this level of metaness. See point below.

4) Unlike Anything Else You've Read--

This book has been compared to Fangirl and Afterworlds and Nimona, because every book needs to be compared to something, so you have an idea of its marketing. It's a fact of life that you build on schemas that people already have of the world. But this book is unlike anything else that you've read. You only get Cath's fanfiction in Fangirl, some of the story from the main character in Afterworlds. Nimona started off as a comic. None of these is quite the same as Eliza and Her Monsters. Here, you get the main character's creation and see how she interacts with her fans, and you see how fanfic writers interact with the creator and the fandom. You also get to hear about a series of books that she loves, too. Chessie has posted this online - the Children of Hypnos story. The main character has a drive to create after the fandom that she loves no longer exists. You have access to that story too. There's this amazing level of metaness in this story that ties so well into the themes of creation, fandoms, etc. I repeat: unlike anything else you've read.

5) So Easy to Relate to--

If you're reading this book, there is a good likelihood that you will relate to SOMETHING in this book. Whether it's the main character's social anxiety, the need to create, the desire to interact with the fandom, or just loving how the fandom interacts-- there is something for everyone. And you know that Chessie has interacted with or been a part of fandoms, because it shows in her writing. It shows in how fandoms a portrayed. Marieke Nijkamp wrote the blurb, "A love letter to fandom, friendship, and the stories that shape us, Eliza and Her Monsters is absolutely magical." Yes, yes, yes. A love letter to fandom and friendship and stories. Yes. 100% true.

READ THIS BOOK!

PS - This wonderful novel got a starred review from Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal.

PPS - Here is my original pre-review: I read a manuscript of this book about one year ago to date. If you like Made You Up, you will most certainly love Eliza! Chessie brings back her trademark endearing humor in another wonderful mix of adorable romance, quirky characters, and multilayered plotting (plus the cool formatting here, which is typically reserved for YA horror, but hey, Eliza is just that awesome). I would also recommend this book to fans of Fangirl and Afterworlds.

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review 2016-07-11 15:06
Afterworlds
Afterworlds - Sheetal Sheth,Scott Westerfeld,Heather Lind,Simon & Schuster Audio
The Characters:

Lizzie
Yamaraj
Darcy Patel
Imogen Grey


The Story:

I don’t even know where to begin with this book. There was soooo much. It was all very good. I was way into Lizzie’s story. I could have read that as a stand alone. Lizzie’s first scene is gripping. It is scary and tragic but really pulls you into a story that won’t let go.

Darcy’s story was interesting but not as compelling as her character’s. I did like the behind the scenes look into publishing that we get from Darcy. The waiting, the rewriting, the anticipation of your first release.

Overall this was a fantastic book to listen to. The narrators did a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life.

The Random Thoughts:



3.5 Stars
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review 2015-09-16 09:50
Afterworlds/Scott Westerfeld
Afterworlds - Scott Westerfeld

Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love.
Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved—and terrifying—stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love…until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.

 

Though at points too brilliantly meta for me to handle, this book was incredibly well thought out and cost me far too much sleep because I had to finish it. You know those literature classes when you had to figure out what the author was thinking? Here, you know what the author was thinking. And it's superb.

 

This book was written with two stories told in alternating chapters. The two stories could have stood well on their own separately. Darcy's tale wouldn't have been as compelling, but Lizzie's tale, the book Darcy wrote, would have still been wonderful. However, as someone who adores reading with all her being, I absolutely LOVED seeing the process Darcy went through as an author. Though I've been interning with a few agencies and have quite a feel for the industry, I think sometimes publishing is such a mysterious concept for readers and as such seeing the writing process live for a book I was reading was just so much fun! I always love to hear what authors changed and improved from their first drafts to the final copies, and seeing it as it happened was the best.

 

I kept getting frustrated because each chapter left me wanting more and as such, I couldn't stop reading and just didn't sleep though I kept promising myself I would after one more chapter (which of course turned into two because I wanted to know what happened to the other girl!) This is really a credit to Westerfeld's writing--but then again, he's Westerfeld. What did I expect?

 

Props for having non-binary sexualities. (I wish we lived in a world where this was a normal thing, but we don't, so many props.) Also, Darcy totally wrote her book during NaNoWriMo. Thank you, Westerfeld, for validating so many NaNoers' dreams.

 

Darcy's story on the surface wasn't as exciting as Lizzie's--no evil forces sewing souls or anything--but it was brilliantly clever. There's a part where characters are asked which of the five parts of storytelling is most important and the answers are brilliant. There are parts where subtle fun is poked at authors and the writing process.  I love how much attention she pays to respecting her religion and how she uses mythology in a way. There's a regular teenage girl who happened to write an awesome manuscript and make it, and if you're an avid reader, you've probably wanted to be there for at least a millisecond, making Darcy a fabulous character to relate to.

 

Lizzie's story was intriguing and I loved the world that Darcy/Westerfeld built. It was easy to believe and very vivid in my mind. I would have liked to have seen more substance to Lizzie's romance, but then again, I'd be more excited to read this book in a literature class and analyse how there is little substance because Darcy hadn't experienced any romance before she wrote it. This is so meta. So brilliant.

 

I'm going to be raving about this concept for months. And this book doesn't deserve all of the stars just for the concept, but also for how brilliantly executed this was. I'm crazily impressed by this one.

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review 2015-05-06 13:12
Review: Afterworlds!
Afterworlds - Scott Westerfeld

**I would like to thank NetGallery for providing me an advance copy of this book, all opinions are my own.**

At A Glance

Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Love Triangle/Insta Love?: Insta love
Cliff Hanger: nope.
Rating: 3 stars

Score Sheet
All out of ten

Cover: 7
Plot: 9
Characters: 8
World Building: 9
Flow: 8
Series Congruity: n/a
Writing: 7

Total: 8

In Depth

Best Part: Two stories in one :D
Worst Part: The ending felt too rushed.
Overall Feels Felt: Interesting; Wait...what?; Huh?

Conclusion

Continuing the Series: n/a
Recommending: sure
Misc.: Trigger Warning; there's kidnapping and hints of child rape.

Short Review: So this is two stories in one. One is Darcey getting a novel published and dealing with that world. One the book Darcey wrote. I loved Darcey's storyline, i grew crazy bored of the book she wrote. I eye rolled too much reading the 'afterworlds' storyline. I loved the idea, but it was very bad writing in my opinion. The MC is a a girl who is in a major relationship with a girl, so there a plus as well :D The 'afterwolds' storyline did a bad job of ending, i have no idea what really went down at all.

Review In GIF Form

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review 2015-04-30 06:02
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Afterworlds - Scott Westerfeld

Let me start off by saying I love Scott Westerfeld. I've read a couple of his books now and I've adored each one that I have read. So it's really no surprise to my adoring little heart that I have fallen in love with yet another one of his books.

 

This man is a genius! I love his lyrical writing, his amazing plot, and authentic characters! I just love everything this man creates and I have a feeling I will always love whatever he creates, which is just a plus if you ask me.

 

One thing I really want to highlight about this book is getting to read about the publishing industry. It's just so nice getting to learn more about what happens to authors and their books once they are published. I really recommend this book to those aspiring authors or those who are interested in publishing.

 

In fact, I recommend you read this book if you are interested in the premise or if you're a face of Scott Westerfeld in general, because you will not be disappointed.

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