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review 2018-03-23 15:07
A dystopian novel that really seemed like a glimpse into the future: global warming has taken its toll at last, but is there any slice of hope? Fascinating read!
Pills and Starships - Lydia Millet

I really enjoyed this ‘glimpse into the future’, because while this is indeed a dystopian novel, it sure seemed like I was reading a real journal (that of the main character, Nat, who writes it in the week leading up to her parent’s planned death). I chose this book for a group read on Litsy, where we send a book, marked up with our notes, along to the next person, and the other three do the same with their picks, so that we have a book mailing circle.
This first caught my eye in my local indie bookstore, where it had a recommendation tag (and an awesome cover), and the premise is this: teen siblings named Nat and Sam, accompany their parents to Hawaii who together have decided to spend their ‘Final Week’ before the contract for their deaths is carried out. Nat and Sam are long to say their goodbyes. That’s right, in this imagined future, where global warming has finally made the world so unbearable and everyone gets through their days by taking moodpharms (ie happy pills because the world is so depressing), you can take out a contract for your death when you get old enough, and you can pay for assisted suicide on the Big Island (it’s not illegal anymore and quite encouraged, and rather embraced).
The world that is in this dystopian future is so sadly believable that I read it as if I had some sort of special peek into what was going to happen if we continued with what we are already doing to this planet, and I have a feeling author Lydia Millet has distinct opinions on what’s to blame for the ruin to come (I tended to agree!); it’s not hard to imagine much of our wildlife gone, whole states like Florida under water, a whole garbage vortex in the ocean....
I can’t say too much about the plot but this was a great, thought-provoking, interesting story, and I will say there was some hope at the end. It’s not a long book but it packs in a lot to think about. I hope for everyone reading it, that it makes them think a little bit more about their carbon footprint and about how we really are lucky to have this Earth.
*And I don’t care too much about a future without pet cats. That will be a sad day.

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review 2018-03-23 12:37
Between Us
Between Us - Clare Atkins

This book. I have feelings. They’re conflicting.


On the one hand, this book is well-written. The three POV characters all have distinct voices. The mix of prose and verse is interesting and is used quite cleverly, in my opinion. It tackles important issues like racism and the deplorable state of immigration in Australia. It’s sad, it’s poignant, it’s heart-wrenching, it’s relevant, it’s disturbing, it’s thought-provoking.


And it made me really, really uncomfortable.


Anahita is a great character. She’s smart. She’s a rebel. She loves loud, ugly music and science. She’s got undiagnosed PTSD and dreams of the simple freedoms people take for granted.


Jono is a great character. He’s dealing with his parents’ divorce, depression, and his casually racist friends who call him Nip because he’s half Vietnamese and they thought he was Japanese and racial slurs make such endearing nicknames.


Kenny is a great character. He’s a legal immigrant from Vietnam who tries his best to fit in and be Aussie enough to gain acceptance. He’s working a job he hates to provide for Jono, and it’s killing his soul and bringing out the very worst in him.


That all sounds pretty compelling, right? And it is!


On the other hand . . .




Something really bothered me about it.


Between Us seeks to confront the Australian attitude toward and treatment of asylum seekers and refugees and the inhumanity of the detention centers, and that’s a good thing—it needs confronting—but it does so at the heavy expense of Anahita, who has to experience a metric ton of messed-up shite in order to convey the author’s message. It’s obvious Atkins did a ton of research and approached the character with a great deal of care and sensitivity, and Ana does feel like a fully-realized character, but I can’t help feeling this is yet another well-meaning book that exploits the pain of marginalized people to raise awareness and teach a lesson. Would I feel differently if Atkins was an Iranian Muslim? Yeah, probably. As a Vietnamese-Australian, she brought Jono and Kenny to life in a way that someone without her cultural background probably could not. Their stories were hers to tell. I’m not sure Anahita’s was. And therein lies the root of my conflict.

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review 2018-03-22 21:21
2 Out 5 "A little too much Y and not enough A" Stars
You Look Different in Real Life - Jennifer Castle




You Look Different in Real Life

Jennifer Castle



For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they're real life.


The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There'd be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.


Now sixteen, Justine doesn't feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment.


But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what's on film. They've all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else's eyes.






While You Look Different in Real Life wasn't really for me, I think for a younger audience it may work.  The only reason I listened to this in the first place is for a reading challenge (I needed a narrator whose name started with a Q). 


Overall, for me, the characters were not memorable and it was really difficult for me to see where this story was going.  Ultimately, there is a message there and that's why the ending is the only part that got a decent rating from me.











Plot~ 2/5

Main Characters~ 2/5

Secondary Characters~ 1/5

The Feels~ 1/5

Pacing~ 2/5

Addictiveness~ 1.5/5

Theme or Tone~ 2.5/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 2/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 2/5

Ending~ 3.5/5 Cliffhanger~ Nope.


Book Cover~ It's whatever…

Narration~ Samantha Quan is not bad in this, but I really didn't like the book…so maybe that makes it kind of difficult to figure out how I feel about her as a narrator.

Setting~ New York and the surrounding area…I think

Source~ Audiobook (Scribd)



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review 2018-03-22 12:45
Insecure Main Character Drags Book Down
The Art of French Kissing - Brianna Shrum

Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my review or rating. 


Well the book started off promising and then faltered for me pretty early on. And even when the book tries to right-side itself it goes back down again due to the actions of the main character (Carter Lane). I did read the book synopsis so the author/publisher is up front about the fact that Carter is going to get revenge on a boy that screwed her over in a culinary competition she is competing in. The issue is for me, what the boy did was minor, he apologized repeatedly, and the actions that Carter took could have gotten him sent home so I was not on her side. But the words he used when talking to her were sexist so they pretty much cancelled each other out. There was also very little discussion of food to be had. I didn't get a sense the author was a cook. I wanted more descriptions of what the food they were making was and the ingredients they were using. 


"The Art of French Kissing" has 17 year old Carter Lane going to Savannah, Georgia to compete in a culinary competition. Carter wants the win so bad she can taste it (pun intended). However, the first day of the competition, a rival, Reid Yamada lies about cheese she needs for a grilled cheese sandwich and she vows to get revenge on him. The revenge consists of Carter tripping the guy in a kitchen and I was not down for that. All I could think of was how he could have been hurt and injured someone else. 

So most of this book is Carter hating Reid and doing things to get back at him and bah. It was not that interesting to me. Besides the big issue I really had is that they both like each other and you are supposed to be rooting for two people who acted like a couple of assholes towards each other when they first met and afterwards.


The competition is mentioned, but the author doesn't even bother describing the secondary characters beyond a few. And for me, I was more interested in two secondary characters (Will and Riya) than I was in Carter and Reid. I wish we had gotten a chance to know more than just four characters. We also have a bigoted ass in the competition which I think we are supposed to be happy gets taken down a peg by Carter, but she actually shoves this guy at one point and I just rolled my eyes. She goes around shoving and grabbing to the point I wanted to say "just because you are a teen girl does not mean you don't respect others spaces." 


The writing is just okay. I wanted more description of the food, the recipes, I wanted to see why Carter was supposedly so good at cooking cause I didn't get that at all. I said in one of my updates, that a good idea would have been to end each chapter with a recipe of the food that Carter was cooking in the competition or something she mentions so that way there is a nice linkage there. 

I also had a huge issue with most of the story reading about Carter's feelings of doubt, insecurity, and immaturity. I just was over it by the end of this book. You find out she's lashing out at Reid because even though he never said anything, she feels inadequate and like she shouldn't be at the competition. This comes out of nowhere by the way. I think it was just a justification for once again why Carter is an ass to Reid. It also doesn't work for me that it would be Reid making her feel this way since bigoted ass character flat out tells her repeatedly she's not good enough to be there, so her ire should really be focused on him. 


The flow was not great. I thought things got better once Carter and Reid came to their "truce" and actually seemed to be working together and were not being jerks. Of course that all comes to an end due to Carter being an ass again. I was so happy to be done with this book.

This takes place in Savannah, but besides the author talking about how hot and humid it is, she didn't work a lot of the city in this book which is disappointing. Savannah is a great place to eat some Low Country food. I would have thought a culinary competition taking place in the south would have at least thrown a soul food or country challenge at the teens. Also speaking of the competition, it was not interesting at all. Probably because we only follow four (well five if you count bigot and okay six because the author does mention another female competitor by name) and you don't get a chance to really hear how others cook. I love Top Chef and other food shows like that so I was thinking this book would be up my alley. Instead I was just bored and really annoyed you had people hiding food and sabotaging recipes and the "judges" not saying anything about it.

The ending was okay, I just was glad to be done with this book when I finished.  

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review 2018-03-21 19:18
Finally, finally finished.
Ink, Iron, and Glass - Gwendolyn Clare,Mike Heath

This book was painful to make it all the way to the end of, but I've already DNF'd so many books this month and this one was a request I actually made. So I powered through. It took me a month, but I finished.


It feels like Clare had a general idea of what she wanted to write, even a set of rough character sketches, and then never hammered it into anything solid. There were a lot of fabulous ideas here, but they were all over the place. Worldbooks are a really cool concept. The ability to create an entire world, simply by scribing it into one of these, sounded like something I'd normally fall in love with. The problem was that the descriptions only skimmed the surface. I never saw deeper than the idea itself, and that was the case for most of what is in this story.


Add in the fact that the pace feels maddeningly slow for most of the book, and then picks up in a mad rush to the end, and you have a book that drove me nuts. I never felt invested. Every time I thought sometime was starting to peak my interest, the book would meander away on a tangent and my questions weren't answered. Argh.


So 2 stars to this one, because I only 1 star books I didn't finish. Sorry book. Your cover was so promising.

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