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review 2018-12-23 02:16
Book Review: The Art Of Falling In Love by Eli Summers
The Art Of Falling In Love - Eli Summers

There be spoilers. I'm pretty pissed off at the moment. What a waste of time this was.

CW: Homophobia, racism, cheating, and sexual assault.

I only liked Holden. And even he was an idiot. But I could empathize with this struggles - coming to terms with his feelings for another boy, figuring out that he's bi-sexual (though I'm not sure why he'd think that, since he hasn't even had a girlfriend), and dealing with being bullied at school, on top of living with an asshole father and a doormat mother, unable to live up to his Golden Boy older brother, who was much less an asshole than I expected based on how his character was initially set up. Holden's best friend of 14 years (Tiffany) is abandoning him for a boy, though I'm honestly not even sure why Holden thought of her as his friend in the first place - she was nothing but a bitch to him. 

All the characters in his book are one-dimensional card board cutouts. You have the rich boy jerkface who thinks he can throw his daddy's money in everyone's face, the bitchy-only female, the pedophile principal (ew, ew, ew, what the fuck was that shit, touching Holden inappropriately, talking about blow jobs to make a record go away, and then comparing his dick to Aaron's whose dick he presumably knows NOTHING about), and the cheating daddy fucking Holden's best friend, who's - you guessed it - suddenly pregnant.

None of the characters, including Aaron, the love interest, made any fucking sense with their actions. Not a single one. Not Holden thinking he can just go to the city and enroll in college, and find a job that will pay him enough to cover his cost of living, not Aaron, whose pillow talk was the most ridiculous thing I've ever read in a romance novel, not Jeff, the jerkface, not Tiffany, the bitch, not the principal (what the FUCK was that shit), and not Holden's parents. 

At one point Aaron's father leaves for a conference of some sort in Seattle - which, super convenient, amirite, so Aaron and Holden can have a sleepover and sex it up (virgin ass and all), and we're supposed to believe that a small town mechanic goes to a conference, leaving no one to work on the cars in the shop? 

This book was an utter mess, and I don't just mean the stilted, unrealistic dialogue and ridiculous plot. The editor was MIA, and the proof-reader took a vacation, I guess. Grammar seemed optional. 

Men don't have a g-spot. A virgin like Holden, never having even CONSIDERED gay sex, has likely not heard of the prostrate. And he sure as fuck wouldn't call it a g-spot. 

At one point, Aaron says "Open Says Me". I suppose the author meant OPEN SESAME. How was that not caught? Then a few pages later, Aaron opens the condom and puts it on, with HIS TEETH. On himself. Uhm, sure, whatever floats your boat. I guess you're super bendy. Never mind the holes you just made with your teeth, you moron, which sort of defeats the purpose of putting on a condom in the first place. 

And to top off the editorial proof-reading fuckery, in one instance HOLDEN is called AARON. 

And, and, and... there's no HEA, not even a HFN - the couple has broken up at book's end because Holden is leaving town and Aaron isn't. We get a "To Be Continued" as if that isn't something you should tell your readers up front.

Not recommended. Possibly the worst book I've read this year. JFC. Yeah, I know it's YA, but young adults would like to read good books. And this isn't a good book. 

I'm so sorry, Secret Santa. I was swayed by the blurb and the positive reviews, and I now regret putting this book on my wishlist. I kind of hate that you wasted your money on this, even though I truly appreciate you getting it for me. 

Not recommended.

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review 2018-11-13 20:16
A powerful and poignant drama recommended to book clubs
The Swooping Magpie - Liza Perrat

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you are interested in getting your book reviewed) and was provided with an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This is the fifth of Liza Perrat’s novels I read, so you won’t be surprised to hear that I am a fan. I have read her historical novels in The Bone Angel Series, and also The Silent Kookaburra, set, like this novel, in the 1970s. It seems that the author intends to write a new series of independent novels, set in Australia in the 1970s, reflecting the everyday lives and realities of women in the period, and this is the second one. All of the author’s novels have female protagonists and closely explore their subjectivities and how they adapt to their social circumstances in the different historical periods. They might be fictional but the pay close attention to details and are the result of careful research.

Here, the main character is Lindsay Townsend, who narrates the story in the first person, in three different time periods, the early 1970s, the early 1990s, and the final fragment, set in 2013. The first part, and the longest shows us, Lindsay, when she is about to become 16. She is (at least on the surface), a very confident girl, clever, pretty, with plenty of money, from a good family, although not all is at it seems. She seems to lead a charmed life, but her home life is rather sad, with a violent father more interested in keeping up appearances than in looking after his wife and daughter, and a mother hooked on pills and spending as much time as possible out of the house on her charity work. Despite all that, Lindsay is not a particularly sympathetic character, and I know that might be a problem for readers who are not that keen on first-person narratives, as placing you in the skin of a character you don’t like might make for an uncomfortable reading experience, even if it is for a very good reason. She is a typical teenager, overconfident, and a bit of a bully, showing no sympathy for anybody’s circumstances at the beginning of the book. She dismisses her peers, feeling superior to all of them, and, as usual at that age, she believes she knows better than anybody and is invincible. That lands her in a lot of trouble, as she falls for one of the teachers, with consequences that readers might guess but that, at the time, don’t cross her mind. At a time when society was far less tolerant of alternative families, and women’s liberation had not taken hold, Lindsay is faced with an impossible decision and is suddenly confronted with a reality miles away from her everyday life. Her intelligence (unfortunately not accompanied by common sense) and her stubbornness don’t provide her with any answers when confronted with a teenage pregnancy. Faced with hard work, and thrown in the middle of a group of girls from different walks of life and social classes, she discovers what she is really made off and learns a very bitter lesson.

Although Lindsay herself is not likeable, especially at the beginning of the story, when she goes to St. Mary’s we learn about the varied experiences of other girls in her same circumstances and it is impossible not to feel touched and care for them. We have girls from the rural outback, abused by relatives, others who are the children of immigrant families who have no means to look after their babies, and with Downey, the little aboriginal girl whose story is, perhaps, the most heart-wrenching because she is a child herself, we get a representation of the scale of the problem (and a pointed reminder of the aboriginal experience in Australia). This was not something that only happened to girls of a certain social class or ethnic origin. It happened to everybody.  Through the different timelines, we get to follow the historic and social changes that took place, how laws affected adopted children and their biological parents, and we also get a picture of the ongoing effect those events had on those women, the children, and their families. We have women who never want to learn what happened to their babies, others who try but cannot get any information, others who get reunited with their children many years later, some who suffer ongoing negative consequences from their experiences, whilst others manage to create new lives for themselves. But the wound of the loss is always present.

The author deals with the tragic topic skilfully. If at times some of the scenes seem to have come out of a horrific version of a fairy tale (there are characters who are like evil witches, and Lindsay and her friends confront tasks that would put Cinderella to shame), and the degree of corruption and conspiracy stretches the imagination, we only need to read the news and listen to personal accounts of women who have been in such situation to realise that, whatever the concessions to fiction, the writer has done her research and has managed to capture the thoughts and feelings of the many women affected by this issue.

The action is set in Australia, mostly in Wollongong, New South Wales, with some events taking place in Sidney and other areas of the country. I have always admired the author’s talent for recreating the locations of her stories and for making us experience them with all of our senses, submerging us in the smells, the sounds, the tastes (I don’t know some of the foods and labels included, but they do add to the feel of authenticity), the flora and fauna, the clothing, the music, and the language of the time. Although forced adoptions are a widespread problem and it has affected a number of other countries (we might not know its full scale yet), the realistic location (and the family connection and research the author refers to in the author’s note at the back of the book) makes it more immediate and real still.

The story is extremely well-written, with enough description, both of the place and of the period, to ground the action without making it drag, but although it manages to combine action and surprises with reflective passages, the strongest point of the novel is its exploration of the psychological effects of losing a child, especially in those circumstances. The author manages to capture the thoughts and feelings of the character and through her conversations; we also get some insight into the experiences of others. In the first part of the book we have a young girl, and we get to share her thought process, her hesitations, doubts, and we feel trapped with her by a situation she is not in control of, and even though we might not have much in common with her, we do empathise and get to see things from her point of view. We do suffer with her and her friends, and although we might not like everything she says or does, we appreciate her kindness and the way she gets to bond with the other girls at St. Mary’s. Lindsay lives through much heartache, and grows and changes as a result, but people reading this book need to be aware that there are disturbing scenes and the topic of adoptions and depression might hit close home for many.

This is another great novel and although it can be read simply as fiction, I would recommend it in particular to readers interested in adoptions, particularly forced adoptions, and the perspectives of the families involved. I think it would make for a great book club choice, as the subject is one that will interest many readers, and it will bring much discussion, and the author includes a detailed list of some of the resources she has used to research the topic, providing extra material for those interested. Personally, I felt more empathy for other characters than for Lindsay, but no matter how much or how little we like each individual who went through such experiences, this novel will give readers pause and make them reflect upon the horrors that have been enforced in the recent past in the name of morality and decency. A powerful and poignant novel, to add to the catalogue of an accomplished and talented writer.

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review 2018-10-09 03:14
‘Chilling Adventures’ of Sabrina’ is the perfect graphic novel read for Halloween; this is full-on retro HORROR with a capital H
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Vol. 1 - Jack Morelli,Robert Hack,Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

I fancied some ‘light’ horror and since a whole bunch of my pals on Litsy have been reaching for graphic novels this Halloween season, I thought I’d try this. And don’t be fooled: this version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ is most definitely HORROR with a capital H. If you are looking for something along the lines of what you would find on the CW when Sabrina was a sitcom, this is NOT it. Forget PG-spooky, it’s definitely the other end of the horror spectrum: S for Sabrina is now Scary. 

 

Set back in the 1960’s, Sabrina is the illicit lovechild of a warlock called Edward Spellman, and a mortal named Diana, and she is raised by her aunts Zelda and Hilda (no news there). Sabrina is approaching her 16th birthday, which means she can become a fully-fledged witch, and pledge herself to the Dark Lord*. Complicating things are having a mortal boyfriend, and deciding if she can kill living animals on the spot. More fun ensues when Madam Satan shows up in town, and she is none too happy about having been sidelined by Edward for Sabrina’s mom. Enough said.

 

There are all sorts of horror goodies in this jumbo comic edition (it contains comics 1-5 of the ‘Chilling Adventures’, and in the back, has the variants that were printed with the different covers). The fabulous intro by the author Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa lays it all out for the reader, pointing out that the adventures are like ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, plus ‘The Exorcist’, ‘The Omen’, and Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ all rolled together. It’s ALL in here. As well as Ray Bradbury’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’, zombies, and vengeance against men who have picked up innocent hitchhiking women. 

 

The retro style of illustration harks back to comics of decades ago, and Roberto explains it’s because he wanted them to have the feel of a ‘period piece’, and it all works flawlessly. There’s plenty of dark humor (very dark), a definite feel of classic horror influencing every frame, and it’s actually no wonder that it’s being adapted into a show on Netflix. I hope they keep it just as gory, retro, and bloody though...

I’ll be continuing the series!

 

*To any heathens asking: no, REAL witches do NOT pledge themselves to ‘Satan’ or the ‘Dark Lord’.

 

**You can find this omnibus edition on hoopla!

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review 2018-08-10 14:44
Saved by the Shell! (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) - Golden Books
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Entertaining book for Ninja Turtle fans. This book basically goes through a brief backstory and how they met April. 

The illustrations are entertaining with a few fights scenes (and an epic explosion!). 

The story is pretty simple, but entertaining. 

I picked this book up from the library to look at with a kid I work with. He liked the pictures of the Ninja Turtles, especially when they were fighting.

Overall, a good read.
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review 2018-06-15 13:33
I Was a Teenage Weredeer by C.T Phipps and Michael Suttkus
I Was a Teenage Weredeer - Michael Suttkus,C. T. Phipps

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was entertaining. I am not going to lie - the thing that really caught my attention about this book was the title. Weredeer? Have I ever read a book about a weredeer? Of course not so you know I had to give this book a try just to find out more about this weredeer. It ended up being a really clever story with some great world-building. I am glad that I took a chance on this fun little story.

Jane Doe is a weredeer. I should probably mention that there are little bits of humor sprinkled all over this story as you may have guessed as soon as you saw Jane's name. Anyway, Jane's family owns a local diner where Jane works as a waitress alongside other members of her family. Since Michigan is one of only two states that are safe for shifters, the town of Bright Falls has a rather large shifter population. Jane's best friend is a werewolf and there are all kinds of colorful characters around town. 

Jane learns that her best friend's sister has been killed and that her brother has been accused of the murder and decides to investigate. Weredeers often have special abilities and Jane is able to gather a lot of knowledge just by touching objects. Jane and her best friend hope that her special abilities will make finding out what really happened a simple task. Of course, things quickly get complicated and they find themselves uncovering a mystery that goes back quite a few years.

I liked Jane. I thought she was pretty brave to get involved with everything and she was never afraid of asking the hard questions. It was fun to watch her try to figure everything out. There were a lot of other characters in the book and I liked most of them. I did find it a bit difficult to keep everyone straight at times since there were so many characters that had a role. I did think it was odd that Jane's parents were almost always referred to as Judy and John instead of Mom and Dad.

I thought that Arielle DeLisle did a great job with this story. This was the first time that I have had the chance to listen to this narrator and I was impressed by her delivery. I thought that she was able to bring Jane to life and added a lot of emotion and excitement to the story. I wouldn't hesitate to listen to her work again in the future.

I would recommend this book to others. I had a lot of fun with it and found myself chuckling from time to time. There were a lot of pop culture references and puns worked into the story that kept everything rather light. I felt that the ending of this book was pretty satisfying but I may decide to pick up the second book at some point in the future.

I received a review copy of this audiobook from the author via Audiobook Boom.

Initial Thoughts
I found the book to be quite clever and enjoyed learning about the world that it was set in. I have to admit that the idea of a weredeer is what really made me want to pick up this book and Jane was even more interesting that I could have expected her to be. There were some parts of the book that had me chuckling and I thought the narrator did a fantastic job with the story so it was a good overall reading experience. 

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