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review 2017-06-04 19:13
Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce
Pull Me Under: A Novel - Kelly Luce

I heard about this book from Book of the Month. The premise sounded so intriguing to me. I love any book that has to do with Japan and Japanese culture so when I saw that this book dealt with what it's like being half-Japanese and what happens when a murder takes place within the country, I was intrigued. Unfortunately, the execution was poorly done.

 

I thought Kelly Luce had a beautiful writing style. I did like that her depictions of the area in Japan sounded beautiful. However, that's where my admiration ends. I has a problem with how she described Japanese people. Yes, I know that Japan is not some holy land with kind people all around. But Luce made it sound like the majority of people in Japan treated foreigners as less than human with maybe three people being the exception. Where as America treated Asians a lot more kindly. Which, if you know anything about history, you know that isn't the case. I just didn't like how Luce painted this picture of how America was somehow better than Japan. It left a disgusting taste in my mouth. No country is better than another. We have different ways of life and that's it. 

 

Another problem I had with the book was the main character. The story was promising enough when it focused on Chizuru Akitani, but when she moved to the States and changed her name to Rio Silvestri, the story took a dip. I found "Chizuru" and her struggles a lot more interesting than "Rio." Rio was a self-absorbed, dimwitted, exercised-obsessed woman. She forced what she wanted onto people and made so many stupid mistakes that a forty-year-old woman should know better about. Plus, I felt like a lot of the problems she faced in Japan as an adult happened because she wanted it to happen... then she has the nerve to complain about it the entire time. 

 

If the book had focused more on Chizuru and her past, I think I would have enjoyed this book more. If Luce didn't let her biases into the story about Japan being a certain way, I definitely would have enjoyed the book more. If the main character wasn't so self-absorbed and didn't make such stupid decisions, this book would have been amazing. But no. This book was one of the biggest disappointments I've read this year because I was so excited to read it. I really thought I was going to love this book.

 

If you're still curious about it, go ahead and give it a read. You may like it more than I did. There's sexual assault, bullying, murder, suicide, and child negligence so keep that in mind with picking up this book. Hopefully, you end enjoying it.

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review 2017-05-10 19:50
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Allegedly - Tiffany D. Jackson

When I first heard about this book, I was intrigued. Allegedly is about a black girl named Mary who was convicted of killing a three-month-old white baby when she was only nine-years-old. The story follows her life of imprisonment to when she is sixteen-years-old and gets pregnant herself. Now she must prove to the criminal justice system that she is a capable loving mother so they won't take her child away from her to put him in foster care. 

 

That premise alone was so enticing to me. I wanted to see how Tiffany D. Jackson was going to cover the subject of race, especially when it comes to a serious topic such as murder and the justice system. I wanted to know what happened to Mary when she was young that ended up with a baby being killed. I was interested in finding out so, naturally, when I saw this book at my library, I decided to bring it home... and I was utterly disappointed.

 

Let's start with the only positive comment I have for this book. The writing. Jackson clearly has talent. She was able to weave a story about a girl and the unfairness of her trial because of her race. And that, I feel, makes this story an interesting one. I managed to read this book in one sitting because it was an engaging read. Her writing is strong and I can see her improving as time goes on and I hope she does continue to write.

 

Now on to things I did not like about this book. Most of them having to do with the perpetuation of stigmas. The main one being of mental illness. There's already the belief that anyone with a mental illness will become murderers at some point. That stereotype is not only false but it's dangerous. For the one who has a mental illness and the people who surround them. Mental illness is something many people must live with, but with therapy and (sometimes) medication, they can live happy and healthy lives. What this book mentions is that mental illness gets you into trouble. You end up hurting maybe even killing people. Especially the people you love. And I do not agree with that sentiment. As I've said, there are many people living with a mental illness that are able to live happy lives. And I understand that the characters in this book have harsh lives, I do. But almost all the characters in this book have a mental disorder and they all end up wanting to hurt someone. Not one person with a mental illness in this book is shown to be a good person. They are all "crazy." That is harmful representation. It uses a stigma that's already well ingrained into our society and further enhances that stigma without challenging it one bit.

 

Another problem I have with the book is the fat-shaming. Every time someone that was slightly overweight, the main character had to call them disgusting. She mentioned that how she couldn't understand why people wouldn't change their diet if they were over two hundred pounds. And there are other times when she just says really nasty things when it came to people's weight. There's also quite a bit of homophobic slurs spread throughout the book in reference to one of the girls who stays at the group home with Mary. The worst part about these two horrendous actions is that it is never challenged within the text. Much like with mental illness, the book further adds to the notion that people who are fat or people who are gay are disgusting. That they are going to "rot in hell." And not once does the main character or another character question it. Meaning they agree with such toxic sentiments.

 

Last thing I want to cover is how there were a lot of unnecessary scenes throughout the book. One is the mutilation of a cat. Why? Why kill the cat? Especially if you're not going to do anything with it. We don't even find out who killed the cat. It's just there to be there. The cat-killing scene served no purpose to the plot whatsoever. I guess it was there just to show that the girls in the group home are "crazy." Another thing that was unnecessary is introducing Sarah, making her to be Mary's (only) friend, just to take that away. Because Mary doesn't have enough to deal with, let's add "crazy" best friend to that list. Oh, and the fact that Mary's only solace is in a man's arms? Really? A man that helped his friends rape a girl? A man who cheats on her? A man who claims he loves her but does everything to contradict that? Not to mention he shows signs of being abusive. There are times when he and Mary get in an argument and he forcefully grabs her and pushes her against walls. But is that ever challenge? No. Mary LIKES that he's being forceful with her. She even says so in the text! So not only does this book maintain the ideas that mental illness, fat-shaming, and homophobia are okay, it's also advocating for abusive relationships. All these aspects are what really ruin the book for me.

 

There's so many things that I don't like about this book. Everything that I mention are the main reasons why this book rubbed me the wrong way. I could go into further details, especially when it comes to Mary because she's another reason why this book didn't work for me, but that will reveal some things about the ending that I don't want to spoil in case you still want to read the book. I will just say that the negatives outshine the positive.

 

If you still want to read this book, go ahead. Like I said, the writing is actually pretty good. Just remember there's rape, strong language, murder, violence to every degree manageable, fat-shaming, homophobia, and domestic abuse. If you're okay with reading about those things, then give this book a read. I hope it enjoy it a lot more than I did.

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review 2017-03-15 00:00
Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me.
Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me. - Lily Collins I really liked some of her movies and naturally with this book I had some expectations. The memoir seemed dry and at times the author was, trying too hard to portrait either her problems or the road to a healthy lifestyle. I imagined that the daughter of a songwriter would be friendlier with words.
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review 2016-12-13 04:57
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
Hot Milk - Deborah Levy

I'm going to start off by saying I did not like this book and that I did not finish reading it. If you are looking for a review for the whole book, this is not it. This is just me talking about why I decided to stop reading this book.

 

The writing didn't pull me in and I felt the characters were flat. And towards the beginning of the book, I just couldn't stomach how the main character was flat out racist, sexist, and judgmental. There's a part where she is commenting how the owner of a diving-school kept yelling at his Mexican workers that they were doing a horrible job and they couldn't say anything about it because they're "illegal." ...but of course they had to be Mexican and illegal. Mexicans in Spain are obviously there illegally... I'm just getting really sick and tired of seeing Mexicans being treated as filth because of that "illegal citizens" mentality.

 

Another thing that upset me was when Sofia, main character, showed how bloody sexist and judgmental she is. Shortly after the racist portion, she goes into a bathroom and notices the person in the next stall has men shoes. To which she overreacts to the highest degree! She runs to the owner of the pub, tells him there's a man in the next stall trying to see up her skirt, and that she thinks he has a knife. Mind you, all she saw was a person wearing men's shoes! She had no idea whether it really was a man in the women's bathroom nor did she know if he really had a knife or not. Turns out she was completely wrong! It was a woman and she did not have a knife. It just made me upset to see her react in such a manner. Trying to get someone in trouble without knowing the full details. And I know she might just be really stressed out with how her mother has been treating her, but I don't think that gives her the right to be so outright judgmental without knowing the full details.

 

After that, I had to put the book down. I just couldn't bring myself to read the rest of it. I am sick and tired of reading books that treat people like trash without reason. Just done with it. It's just not something I want to read. If you think that this book is something you want to try out then give it a shot. Just because I didn't like it doesn't mean you won't. Personally, I can't read things like this anymore. It makes me upset and I want to be able to enjoy what I read.

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review 2016-11-01 18:36
All the Feels by Danika Stone
All the Feels - Danika Stone All the Feels - Danika Stone

I am so disappointed in this book. I'm not going to lie, I had high hopes. Mostly because I had never seen a book that was all about fandom before. I like fandom a lot. I love finding a video game/anime/manga/book series to nerd out over. I love reading fanfics, seeing fanart, and watching multiple AMVs over and over again. And I wanted to see this book portray fandom as something fun and exciting! And, at first, this book did that. 

 

Let's start off with the positives. This book praised the creative side of fandom. When people get involved and create their own stories and art and images promoting their passion for a particular show/game/book etc. And I loved that! I loved that this book was saying so many positive things about fandom and how fans love something so much they want to share it with others because that IS what happens when you get involved in something you love. You create things, you share things, you talk to other fans about that thing that you love. It's so much fun and this book portrayed that accurately.

 

Another thing I think this book did great on was its portrayal of sexuality. I love how it talked about how sexuality can be fluid. How it's normal to be bisexual or gay or straight or anything in between. I love that. Because a lot of time, for many of us, sexuality is fluid. Perhaps you thought you were gay but it turns out you're pansexual. All of that is normal and for many of us, it takes time to discover who you are and that's okay, too. I liked that about the book.

 

Now... the things I didn't like about the book... EVERYTHING ELSE! I praised this book for representing fandom correctly, yes? Well, that only pertains to ONLINE fandom. Because the moment everything was taken into reality, the book does a 180 and starts shitting on fandom. I kid you not. There's a part where the two main characters Liv and Xander, who also get on my nerves but I will talk more about that later, go to Dragon Con and they are both so bloody rude! Liv never met any of her online friends so they all begged her to come to Dragon Con, to which she kept saying, "I don't know if I'm going." (Another thing that annoys me about her is she is such a downer to everything!) But the moment her love interest, Xander (not a spoiler; we all know he's end game), tells her to come, she jumps right in! Anyway, so she's finally there, meeting her online friends and the entire time she and Xander are rude to them all!

 

There's one character there named Joe and she is a very popular fic writer in the fandom of Starveil to the point where everyone knows who she is and loves all of her work! Anyway, when they finally meet her, all they did was comment on the fact that she was way too old to be in the fandom and poke fun at her weight. The compared her fingers to sausages! They said it must be embarrassing to write fics in her spare time! What, just because she is older and a bit heavy doesn't give her the right to have fun? What the hell?

 

When it came to another girl in the group, Sarah, she had extreme anxiety, to the point she couldn't talk in person, only text. And we know what that's like. Most of the time, we readers know exactly what it's like to have anxiety to the point it's almost crippling. But do you think Liv cares? No. Xander gave Liv a "sympathetic look" because Liv had to deal with Sarah being awkward. I don't know where they are coming off. Liv couldn't go on a bloody see-through elevator without having to cower into Xander's chest. Hypocrite.

 

One more character I want to talk about before moving on to the main characters. Brain, he's known for making manips for the fandom, was completely awesome and supporting and badass online but the moment they met him in real life, he's a completely asshole. Like getting drunk and cursing at waiters kind of asshole. Now, I know not everyone you meet online is going to be a nice person, but Liv has known these people for years online. They each formed a friendship. Why is it that even when you've known each other for so long, you're treating each other like strangers? It's like the author wanted to give the message that fandom is only good if you keep it online and "online friendships aren't real friendships." No! We've all heard that crap before from close-minded people. Online friendships are just as legit as "real life" friendships. Don't give me none of that crap that fandom only belongs online. That is NOT true! You can have fun with whatever fandom you're in online as well as real life! If you've ever been to a convention, you know this to be true!

 

Now for the main characters. Liv is so annoying. I already mentioned how she is a downer. Well, she also overreacts. TO EVERYTHING. At the beginning of the book, she meets a guy, asks him out, finds out he has a girlfriend, and makes the biggest scene out of nothing. All she had to do was say, "Oh. Okay. Cool. I didn't know." And move on! Not run away crying like a dolt. Then, later on, she does the same thing when this guy and his girlfriend invites her to be in the relationship with them. Polygamous relationships are not for everyone and I understand that, but don't judge those who are comfortable in that relationship. As long as there is consent on all parties then what's the big deal? Liv had to CALMLY and COHERENTLY tell him that she was not into that sort of thing. The guy is actually understanding. He would probably have dropped it and continued to have a friendship with her. But no. Liv had to freak out and continue to judge him and his girlfriend. By the way, inviting Liv into the relationship was his girlfriend's idea. See, Liv? Judgmental. 

 

And she's also a horrible friend! Remember, she has never met any of her online friends before. They all begged her to come to Dragon Con so they can all hang out. And I already said how horribly she treated them. But not only that, the moment Xander said let's go, she ditches her friends! Saying that she was relieved he did that. What kind of a person does that!? Her attitude about it was no better. She just laughs at every single thing Xander does as if he's the funniest dude to walk on this planet and she's completely fine with doing whatever as long as she's with Xander!

 

And speaking of Xander... I hate his guts. I do. He's possessive to the point of concerning. He didn't want Liv to talk to other guys even though he had his own girlfriend. He kept flirting with Liv even though he had his own girlfriend (and this is not the same thing as with the polygamous relationship. In that relationship, the girlfriend was aware of what her boyfriend was doing with another girl. In Xander's case, his girlfriend wasn't aware of his flirting with Liv. WHICH IS WRONG! That's close to cheating, Xan.) And he also kept commenting on Liv's body as if she were a piece of meat! Nothing but lewd and crude comments about how she has all the right curves and how he wanted to ravish her. Just horrible comments like that, and Liv fell for it every time. As if that was romantic. No! That is NOT romantic! That's bloody creepy and disgusting! How could anyone fall for someone talking nonstop about their body? Making obscene comments about their breasts? It was revolting to read.

 

Okay. That's it. I think I ranted long enough about this book. It's been a while I felt the need to rant about how much I disliked a book so much but I had to. I was insulted, being someone who is very much active in fandom myself, that someone would write something like this to try and paint a negative picture about something that is fun and good. Fandom is not perfect, no. But it's not as bad as this book makes it out to be, It can be fun and can be good. There are so many talented people who pour their hearts into the medium they love AND it's not just something they do only online. They carry that passion with them into the real world and that's what makes going to conventions fun! Because you get to see other people like yourself out there doing the same thing you're doing and it's amazing!

 

I can't recommend this book. It is a horrible representation of what fandom is truly like. The characters are terrible, The story is not even resolved properly with one of the characters and... ugh... this book is just a mess. I probably could go on and on about all the things wrong with this book... but I'll stop here. I'm just so disappointed in this book. I wanted to like it. I really did. But I didn't.

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