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review 2014-03-28 14:49
Cover Love
Etiquette & Espionage - Gail Carriger

Super cute. Super sassy. Super witty.

Strike that. It looks like I'm trying to sell glitzy fashion to tweens. 

3.25 stars. But it is super cute and fun and all that stuff.Werewolves are wearing top hats! Just the names alone are awesome, and I really hate off-the-wall names 99% of time, but how can you not love the idea of mechanical butler named Frowbritcher? I'm pretty sure that Carriger is one of the only people who can pull off all of the strange names with finesse.

And I don't even know what this means, but I want to start saying it -

"So I can be a puffed-up poodle-faker like you?"

Parasol Protectorate fans are probably going to flinch when I mention that I think I liked E&E a slight bit better than Soulless for book 1 of a series. I get that Soulless had more snark and overt humor than E&E did, but I took to Sophronia's fresh and spunky attitude more than I did Alexia's musings about her large nose. I laughed out loud when Sophronia considered a purple flannel night garment to be salacious (to quote her : imagine that!). 

Gail Carriger's writing style is sort of a weird thing to explain. She has all of the parts present which make for an excellent book - unique characters, harrowing situations, charming imagery, witty banter, etc. - but there's something about the sum of the parts which doesn't quite register in my brain as a complete success. 

Every time I would pick up the book, I'd read a few chapters and be entertained, but I could never go much further in one sitting. I felt like I was on this constant loop of intricacy, and I couldn't make my brain stop moving enough to take it all in large doses. Imagine going to the same tea party every day. The tea is good. The company is good. The conversation is interesting. But you feel like you need to get off the tea party for a minute and have pizza and beer. That's what I feel like when I read Carriger. 

In small doses, the words are charming and fun and stimulating. In large doses, I want to wander off and read something else. And that's why it took me a couple of weeks to read the book, even though I liked it. 

But sometimes, it's okay to slowly savor the things that are good. I'm looking forward to savoring book 2 of this series.

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review 2014-02-12 02:34
Born to be Wild (yes, that crappy song will now be stuck in our heads)
Wild - Alex Mallory
Marooned in an empty, devastated world.

Cade thought he was alone. His parents had prepared him to live in a world ravaged by a pandemic. He was an uncivilized young man living in the wild. He imagined that only a few survivors remained - until the day Dara wandered into his territory while on a camping trip with her boyfriend and shattered the realm of everything he thought he knew.

What I loved best about this story is how authentic it felt. While there was an undercurrent of attraction between the two main characters, the amount of romanticism was dialed down in favor of two characters being simply curious about one another. After all, they were from different worlds.

"There's some guy living in the middle of nowhere in clothes from the 1800s, fishing with a spear, disappearing and reappearing anywhere he wants to, and the only reason you can come up with that I'm interested is that I might want to do him?"

I mean, yeah, I was rooting for the wild boy and city girl to get together. How could I not be? But what made this story great is that it wasn't just another romance with little to no plot. Most of the fun was in seeing an untamed person adjust to life as the rest of us know it.

Fingers sliding along the surface, he made it bleat and squeal.
Ms. Fourakis popped her head out of the kitchen. "Don't buy anything else from the appstore."

As one could imagine, trying to take a boy from the wild and integrate him into society wasn't going to be easy. Throughout the read, I never really knew if Cade would be able to fit in with his new life. I think most readers are going to struck with a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

"It's okay Cade. You're doing fine."
Cade closed his eyes. He was so sick of fine.

Not gonna lie. When I saw Cade described with dark eyes and dark hair in dreads, it wasn't hard to immediately imagine Samuel Larson in my head.

I really have no complaints. It probably wouldn't have hurt for the publishers to cut a few chapters because some of the day-to-day happenings started to meander on there for a moment, but hey, I have no problems admitting to skimming those few chapters. Otherwise, I am happily surprised by what a great gem this turned out to be. I'd love to see what others think of the story! This book had characters I could get behind, a unique twist on the Tarzan theme, and the perfect amount of humor and emotional moments to tie everything together. 

...and the ending. Never, have I seen an open ending handled quite this perfectly. When I was a few pages from finishing, I started to panic a little, almost unsure if I could handle this story being over without a book 2 to fall back on. But then, the ending came and I loved exactly how it finished. 

Two cultures, both building pyramids to lift them to the heavens. People were beautiful.

This book provided from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All quotes taken from the pre-published copy and may be altered or omitted from the final version.

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review 2014-02-07 15:53
Not the same old switcheroo.
Static - L.A. Witt
"Step right up, see the fourth-floor freak show! What once was a woman is now a man, have a peek, have a look!"

(internal monologue from the main character)

I enjoyed this unique take on shifters. People aren't shifting into animals or other mythical creatures. People are shifting into another form of themselves. Man becomes woman, and woman becomes man. Yes, I can say that I haven't read this specific story before. 

It wasn't hard to root for Alex and Damon because I felt for the two of them, being thrown into a strange situation together without warning. Alex was forced to live in his male body full time; Damon had no clue his girlfriend was actually two sexes.

Books like these always raise the "What would you do?" question. Would most people be able to see the person inside of the shell? Would I? 

It's a tough question to look at. Some relationships crumble over things like weight gain, or other physical changes which are far less minor. I think even the strongest of relationships would be put through the ringer if one person revealed themselves to be something or someone else, especially if it could become full time and permanent. Even putting any sort of secrecy aside, it would be a challenge to look at a person and try to see them for who they were before, merged with who they are now, which is why I was fascinated with how everything was going to unfold.

I was pleased to see that the book didn't skimp on the story for the sake of sex scenes. I liked that the mood fell closer to a dramatic story for the sake of realism. There was no way that a sex scene could happen too early in the book or any sort of sex (whether it was between the two main characters or showing them with other people) wouldn't have felt organic to the progression of events. This is one instance where it was important (in my mind) to have the characters take their time figuring out who they were and who they needed to be.

As far as stumbling blocks...I might have had some issues with the preachy moments. I believe that if a story is good enough on its own, the message will come through without having to beat people over the head with the point. If the story is a success, readers will most likely examine their feelings in the process. 

For the sake of characters, I probably preferred Damon's PoV to Alex's. While it must have sucked to be Alex and stuck in a situation beyond his/her control, I think as a reader, I was more curious to see where Damon's head was at. It was easy for me to skim Alex's chapters because I had less of an interest in his work situation (yes, it was partially a coming out story, but the draw here for me was in the Damon/Alex dynamic).

Overall, I thought it was an interesting read, if a little heavy handed at times with the execution.

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review 2014-02-04 22:15
Still a carnie girl
The Mysterious Madam Morpho - Delilah S. Dawson

I kind of feel bad for The Mysterious Madam Morpho. Sometimes, when you read stories in reverse, the earlier works don't always come out as strong as the later ones. I liked Morpho, but mainly it was because I got to see a bludbadger and Criminy again (albeit briefly). I didn't get the same exact crazed passion that I felt for the other two short stories I'd read (which were fabulous - I'm not even kidding. The one in Carniepunk was absolute perfection).

Then again, reading Delilah S. Dawson is sort of like reading Richelle Mead or Lisa Kleypas for me. Most likely, even a weaker story is still going to be satisfying enough, which was the case here. There were some funnies and a bit of sexy time. So there we go. Decent, but nothing to write home about, even though I love this series overall. L O V E. 

Anyway, I only have one short story left in the series, then I can move on to book 3 finally. Woo hoo!

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review 2014-01-16 03:43
Revisiting my past in 3...2...1...
Painted Faces - L.H. Cosway

I love when book characters or experiences take me back in time to moments which make me smile, and I'm not just talking about the shopping cart ride scene in this book.. The male lead of Painted Faces could have easily been one of a few past male friends (If you've never had a male friend who thinks it's peachy to constantly stare at your boobs and ask for sex repeateadly, I almost kind of feel sorry for you in a weirdly backward way.). Oh, well, except for the drag queen part. This isn't to say that I never brushed elbows with some hot guys in drag (I am a northern California native, after all), but I never had one for a BFF. Darn. 

Speaking of northern Cali...the mention in this book of one of the characters managing a club in San Francisco had me immediately recalling memories of a club I'd gotten to experience in the city by the bay - Finocchio's - which sadly closed not long after I was old enough to go, but I'm thankful to have gotten a chance to have gone before the legend was put down. *sniff* It was there that I had my first crush on a man in drag. True Story. I could so tell that he was hot under the dress. I would've hit that.

Because of this memory, it was super easy to imagine Nicholas (a male impersonating a female) in my head. I just went back in time and pictured my crush on fake-Madonna (hell, he was way hotter than actual Madonna, who I never found attractive), and then I was able to understand why Freda was able to see through the high heels and corsets to the masculine sexiness underneath. When a person has the confidence to be who they want to be, sometimes that's sexier than any cookie-cutter portrayal of what's perceived as normal.

Even though I was grinning while lost in memories past, this doesn't mean that the story was a light read. There were real moments, emotional moments at that. Both Freda and Nicholas (or Fred & Viv, as their nicknames appeared to switch genders) had internal struggles. Freda was a healthy, beautiful woman who'd been made to feel less than others for being size 14. Nicholas was a straight male who needed the escape of becoming a woman to cope with past trauma. Neither one knew how to let the other in, but they both wanted to connect. In a way, it was so sweetly endearing to watch. Freda's insecurities didn't annoy, but instead showed the true musings of a woman who knew that she should think of herself better, but didn't know how. Her hesitance in this book was one of the few times where I completely got why a person would guard their heart. 

Nicholas/Viv was a cad, but still a loveable cad. He had his moments worthy of a slap across the face, but the reader could see plain as day that he did view Freda as someone special, someone he felt unworthy of. Sometimes the stories about damaged people can get tiring, but there is something about watching two people helping each other heal which can be beautiful if pulled off right. This is one of those times where it worked for me.

The mood was dead-perfect for what I'd been wanting to read. Contemporaries rarely resonate with me, but this one did on many levels. Nicholas had these flashes of himself when he'd say or do something which would make me respond emotionally, as if I could imagine what it would be like to be in Freda's place in that exact moment. The scene where he put his hand on her neck was drawn beautifully.

Have you ever read a book and almost wanted to gag over a character internalizing their feelings for another character? On the flip side, have you ever read a book where you witnessed a character internalizing their feelings for another character and had that moment of - OH MY GOD, MY HEART. I GET THESE FEELS.

I had instance number two of those two previous examples happen to me.

I love him because he makes me laugh when I don't feel like laughing.
I love him because he challenges my view of what a man is.
I love him because I know I shouldn't love him and that he'll break my heart.
I love him because he's a complete and total anomaly.
I love him because I want to kill the sadness inside him more than I want anything else in the world.

I don't know if the last sentence actually counts as a reason you'd love someone, but I'm not going to nitpick because the emotion behind it is beautiful. :p

The book cover of Painted Faces states : An Unconventional Tale of Love.

Unconventional, indeed.
Sometimes, unconventional kicks conventional's ass.

Minor complaints : some editing and typo issues, but they were minimal.

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