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review 2017-06-26 20:57
Please Don't Tell My Parents I Have A Nemesis
Please Don't Tell My Parents I Have A Nemesis - Richard Roberts

[I received a copy of this book from the publisher.]

I remember being disappointed with the previous instalment. This one, although not as strong as the first volume in the series, I felt was better—probably because it deals less with slice-of-life/school moments, and tackles more seriously the matter of Penny wanting to come clean to her parents about the Inscrutable Machine. Well, ‘seriously’ being a tentative word, because her plan is, as Ray and Clair put it, just crazy enough to actually work. (On the other hand, well, it’s a plan crafted by a 14-year-old mad scientist, soooooo... why not!)

... And you can sense this plan smells like Eau de Backfiring from the moment it is formulated, and can’t help but wait for the train wreck to happen, and... I admit, I liked that part of the plot. Even though it didn’t cover the whole book (too bad). In a twisted way, the mistakes Penny keeps committing seem to me like they’re actually her subconscious, or perhaps her power, acting her to act: she wants to be a hero, she regularly tries to help people and do good deeds, but somehow she seems more cut out to be an ambiguous hero at best. More suited to be filed with the likes of Lucyfar than Marvelous.

(I’m also thinking that IF this is what the author is indeed going for, then it might also explain the Audit’s lack of insight about her daughter: maybe the Audit does know, has known for a while, and isn’t saying anything because she wants Penny to realise by herself what her true decision will have to be.)

What I regret:

- Like in the previous two books, we don’t see much of Ray and Claire, both in terms of development and sidekicking (summer camp kind of gets in the latter’s way). Hopefully the last volume will take care of the whole ‘Ray’s family’ issue. Or maybe it’s not worth it? I don’t know, I’ve always felt there was something off to them, and not merely as in ‘they don’t like superheroes/villains so I can’t tell them I’m one now.’

- The coming back of a friendtagonist: I was expecting it, I wanted to see it happen, yet at the same time, the way it was dealt with felt like a plot device. Kind of ‘this character is needed to help Penny build one specific machine, and then will be unneeded for the rest of the book.’ Meh.

What I’m in between about:
- The ending. It is fairly depressing, and a cliffhanger... yet at the same time, I’m glad the whole thing wasn’t solved just like that, since it would’ve been too simple, and... ‘too clean?’

Conclusion: Not on par with volume 1, howeve it did leave me with a better impression than volume 3.

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url 2017-06-09 13:25
Because You Love to Hate Me | Q&A with Ameriie

Hey everyone!

By now, you've probably heard me say a lot on Because You Love to Hate Me, a YA villain-themed anthology edited by Ameriie that pairs booktubers with authors (cc: pre-order promoback cover reveal & anthology pairingfront cover reveal, original book blog post announcing the anthologyoriginal EW cover reveal post (read Ameriie's introduction)).

So then you won't be surprised that today I have a Q&A with Ameriie, who is both the anthology editor and the author with whom I was paired. If you're curious at all about the anthology, check out what Ameriie has to say!

 
TRANSCRIPT:

TB: All right, our Hangout on Air is live. I am here with Ameriie tonight to have a Q&A about, uh, Because You Love to Hate Me. Hey, everyone! I'm --

A: Hi, everyone!

TB: -- Tina Burke, and there's Ameriie. [laughs]

A: This is our first Hangout. Neither of us have ever done a Google Hangout (on Air) before.

TB: All right, so maybe for our starter question, let's get Ameriie talking about what inspired her story from that blurb. How did she go through her process?

A: Oh, so you know, of course I have the sampler, woohoo! It's so crazy 'cause it --

TB: [holds up sampler to the camera]

A: -- aaahh, yeah! It's so beautiful. It's going to be so great. Just in case, just in case anyone is wondering, this is going to be velvet touch, so it's like soft touch - I believe that's the technical term for it. And the black blood is going to be shiny and also 3D. And this [points to the flower] is going to be foiled, it's going to be very shimmery. It's going to be very --

TB: Beautiful.

A: -- pretty.

TB: Right?

A: I'm really excited. It's going to be a lot thicker than this obviously, because this is just the samples, so make sure you guys all pre-order that baby. So yeah, so it was kind of cool, you gave me a lot of great prompts, 'cause you know a lot of people don't know that. But um, a lot of people don't know that uh, you know each, each contributor was giving each author a set of - I think it was four - four, was it? A set of four, four, at least four. Could've been more, but at least four. And you were prepared--

TB: --I broke the rules. [laughs]

A: It was awesome. It was like a list. That was awesome, though. Um, and so I chose, you know, "Jack and the Beanstalk" as well as a certain Evil Tyrant That Shall Remain Unnamed, because we don't want to let the cat out of the bag. We don't want people to google him yet. You'll know that it's a he. So I'm really excited about that. But there was another one, too, that was like I was very tempted to do, and it was really neck in neck, and that was, I forgot her name, but she's the, like the vampire. The uh--

TB: --Countess, but I can't remember her name right now either, [laughs], oh! [Note: this is who we were discussing].

A: --on her too. I just love villainous-- see, I always rooted for the villain. We've had so many conversations about this, it's always about the villain. Seeing the other side, and trying to understand what's going on with that person, and I think it's just, that's kind of, I've been obsessed with that. Like forever. Just 'cause I always, I have a lot of empathy for the villain, I think I always do. Ever since I was a kid. So a lot of those things that people would think are funny, like a lot of the Roald Dahl books in which the child is playing all these pranks on the teacher, I was just thinking, maybe the teacher is sad and lonely when they go home, there's no one there. There's so many reasons why they're this way. How about you? How easy was it, or how difficult was it to come up (not only) with so many prompts, but just getting into that head space in the first place?

TB: Oh, I love ideas. It's just like looking up research and then I'm not the one who actually has to write them. [laughs]

A: [laughs]

TB: You know, I mean anyone can daydream.

A: But you write, too. You do write, so you know, you know all about that side of things as well.

TB: I don't know. I think the, the stage of writing that's literally the easiest to do is coming up with the ideas. The ideas, right? 'Cause you can think of so many different things, you're like this would be so cool if I got read about it, but then like, actually exploring the details and making them come to life is what's really key and what's really fascinating whenever you're reading. Right? And that's what you do so well with, like, the little details in your story are excellent.

A: Oh, thank you! For those of you guys who don't know, Christina's also my critique partner. And she's awesome. She's really helped me a lot, um, she's, I think you've read everything. You've read everything. You've read everything, I believe.

TB: Not what's-its-name, Chloe, right? I don't think I've--

A: --Oh, no one's read The Chloes yet. It's now called The Chloes. No one has read that yet. Just me. I'm the only person who's read it, and yeah, it's got some freshening up to do. For those of you guys who don't know, Christina and I met on Maggie Stiefvater's critique partner find--

TB: Yeah.

A: --which is, if you're a writer, definitely check out Maggie Stiefvater's critique partner find. It's kind of a love match thing. It's really hilarious the way she sets that up. But we met that way, and we kind of exchanged some papers, and then we kind of just you know, it really just worked for us, we really trust each other's opinion. So then of course when we did this project, I was definitely like, I must have Christina give me my prompts. [laughs]

TB: [laughs]

A: I just, I knew that I would love any prompt that you would give me, so I was less, I wasn't as nervous. 'Cause the idea of getting a prompt from someone is really nerve-wracking--

TB: It is, but I have no doubt that you would've been able to succeed with any prompt that you were given.

A: Thank you. I actually broke into a little mini sweat when I just said it 'cause just thinking about it was like, what if you can't deliver? What if you don't know what to do? What if you don't know how to write the right short story? And then you're getting a prompt. It was really, really cool. I'm really happy that the two combined, because I was able to throw in my love for "Jack and the," well, it's not even a love for "Jack and the Beanstalk" 'cause I always really liked that story, but because I was always indignant about that story. About the giant--

TB: Really?

A: --Dying in the end, and how he was just like after his gold that Jack was stealing. I was like, well, hold up--

TB: Hold on, Jack--

A: --Jack is horrible! He's a thief.

TB: [laughs]

A: Why is the giant the bad guy? I didn't understand why the giant was the bad guy. I, I, for the life of me, could not understand that.

TB: Giants are always the bad person or the bad creature, and when they're not, it's just like the exception to the rule.

A: You wrote a great breakdown on giants and what they've always meant to people and how what they symbolize. Do you want to go into a little bit of that as far as what you wrote in there?

TB: Aw, I only have like two pages, you can't tease that. [laughs]

A: [laughs]

TB: Um, oh, there's something you said that, oh, I mean you're also the person who came up with the entire idea for the book. Do you want to walk us through that? 'Cause you're the one--

A: Yeah!

TB: --who gathered everyone, gathered the idea of Because You Love to Hate Me.

A: Oh, just combining the two worlds, 'cause you know we both have been very involved in the bookish side of things as far as bookish internet things, you know, definitely been through so many iterations of that. When, if we ever meet you guys in person, we will have stories. It's, people are so passionate about it on the internet and then I felt like it'd be a really good way to combine the two. My agent also really, really helped. You know, it's definitely like both of our brainchild. Brainchild? Our brainchild. It was our brainchild. And I've always loved villains, so it just made sense to combine you know, villains, and then bringing in youtube, doing something that hadn't been done before, not that there are always anthologies, but to have an anthology, a YA anthology with villains and adding in booktube was just such a cool element. And then you know, it was just trying to bring everything together. And that was kind of hard, because you know, I was trying to reach other people I didn't know, most of the people I didn't know, and I just kinda had to go out there and then ask. Asking the authors was really hard as well 'cause booktube, we kinda, you know, there's like one degree of separation really, and with authors, it can be like that, kinda sorta maybe. But it's just different because you don't want to be the crazy person on twitter like, hello, I've got this --

TB: [laughs]

A: --project, and I would love for you, you know what I mean? People ask them things like that all the time. I just did not want to add myself to that list. So, but, I was really happy, because I made some new friends, and I was able to pull together the project, and I did not do it by myself, because I mean, like, without everyone involved, every single contributor, without my agency, there's no way that it would've happened. There's just so many moving parts, 'cause I think there's like twenty-six of us, right? Yeah, I mean, usually I think an anthology, my agent was saying, is like thirteen 'cause you know you're dealing with the contributors. And you might have a little more if you have someone writing a foreword and that kind of thing, but to have like twenty-six, it's just, that's a lot. But actually it's gone pretty smoothly.

TB: Do you think that you would do something similar like this in the future?

A: Oh, yeah! Absolutely. Absolutely. It did kinda take over my life a little bit more than I thought it would--

TB: [laughs]

A: --'cause there was a lot of emailing, and like logistical things, and I was like hold on, what is going on? [laughs] But it was really cool. It was, it was a different, a different kind of exercise I guess, you know. But I definitely would do it again. I have some ideas. I've got some ideas. There are some cool pre-order options, pre-order swag by the way. We have notepad, an exclusive notepad and pencil, like a matching set, which is really cute, and a bookplate, which is going to be signed by me. I would love it if everyone could sign it, but logistically that would be really--

TB: --it'd be impossible. [laughs] Also, you're responsible--

A: [laughs]

TB: --you're the responsible one.

A: Yes, that would definitely be a little crazy.

TB: So I was thinking that maybe we could wrap it up with uh, just like if there was one thing that you wanted to tell everyone about the anthology, what would it be?

A: Oh, that's a really good question. Um, if there was one thing that I would say I would want everyone to know, it's that a lot of people put a lot of work into it. Like everyone really, really brought out their creative guns. The essays, the booktuber contributions, they're so different, um, people chose different formats, they, they each offer something, something different to say about villains. You could obviously say we love morally grey characters, and we love when things aren't so black and white, however, everyone has more. Everyone expands on that in a different way, in a different angle. And that, that was really difficult, because when you have thirteen people who are talking about villains, you are going to get, obviously everyone -- well, actually we did have one person who didn't really love villains, but you're going to hear things--

TB: what--

A: --the, yeah, one person usually does not root for the villain. And was like nope, the villain is never my favorite, that was one person. [laughs] So that was interesting. But for the most part, people were like, I like the morally ambiguous grey character, but then you went deeper, and from a different angle, and each essay, each writing contribution is so specific, which was amazing, and on the author side, we got to see some really, really, it's, there's a big diverse list of villains there. It goes from the really atrocious to some of the more empathetic, um, villains. There are different styles of the story as well. Um, we have some straightforward tales as well as there's a really cool texting story that's told all in text, so I think we really got to have fun, and I think just having the prompt parameters made everyone start thinking, what's a different way I can structure the story? Or my writing piece, which I thought that was really cool. My story's not like any text or writing backwards or anything like that, it's pretty much straight up story. [laughs]

TB: But don't be underselling your story. I love it and everyone else is going to love it, too, girl.

A: Thank you. I do really like my story as well. I do really like my story as well. I love it.

TB: Woohoo! All right, so Because You Love to Hate Me is being released on July 11th, and we hope that you all can pre-order between now and then. If you want to join us on twitter, from June 5th through July 24th, we're going to be talking about villains then, again, and you'll probably hear more from us in the future, soon, too, [laughs] about the anthology.

A: We're all on the internet. Make sure you guys pre-order! Support the anthology 'cause we want to also do this again.

TB: Woohoo! All right.

A: Bye!

---

If you want to pre-order, here are some links--

 
After all, there is a pre-order promotion!
 
Also feel free to add on Goodreads :D.

On Mondays, from June 5 - July 24, check out the Bloomsbury twitter feed, as we'll be discussing villains more generally. You'll also hear more about the anthology pretty soon from all of us!

The anthology releases July 11, 2017 from Bloomsbury. I hope you all are as excited about it as I am!
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url 2017-06-05 13:25
Because You Love to Hate Me Pre-order & Chatting about Villains

Hi, everyone!

Guess what? If you pre-order Because You Love to Hate Me, a YA villain-themed anthology that pairs booktubers/bloggers with authors (cc: initial announcement, cover reveal, back cover and author pairing reveal), you will get a notebook and pencil set, and a bookplate signed by Ameriie.

The pre-order is open to anyone in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand, and applies to both print and ebook formats.


As the Bloomsbury post says:

"Submit your proof of preorder here by July 10th, 2017 in the USA and Canada, July 12 in the UK and ROI, and August 31st, 2017 in Australia and New Zealand."


Read the post for the full details if you're interested.

 

If you want to pre-order, here are some links--

 

 

Also feel free to add on Goodreads :D.

 

And on Mondays from June 5 - July 24, check out the Bloomsbury twitter feed, as we'll be discussing villains more generally. You'll also hear more about the anthology pretty soon from all of us!

Yay, I hope you're as excited as I am!

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review 2017-06-01 15:53
Best Book Read in May
If We Were Villains: A Novel - M. L. Rio

Looking back at the month of May, I am astounded to find that I read 24 books.  Even better, only one of them was a dud.

 

But this book, this book stood out from the crowd.  An excellent, twisty mystery, lots of Shakespearean drama, and a surprising ending.  For a first novel, it is amazing, but since the author holds a Master's degree in Shakespeare Studies from King's College in London and Shakespeare's Globe and was herself an actor, she seems uniquely qualified to write this fabulous tale.

 

I would highly recommend it.

 

Happy June, everyone!

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review 2017-05-23 16:41
If We Were Villains / M.L. Rio
If We Were Villains: A Novel - M. L. Rio

Enter the players. There were seven of us then, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us. Until that year, we saw no further than the books in front of our faces.

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.

Part coming-of-age story, part confession, If We Were Villains explores the magical and dangerous boundary between art and life. In this tale of loyalty and betrayal, madness and ecstasy, the players must choose what roles to play before the curtain falls.

 

Wow, that was a first novel? For me, it was perfection. A good twisty mystery, lots of Shakespeare, and THAT ENDING.

Dellecher Classical Conservatory is like Hogwarts for Arts students and this novel focuses on the fourth year Drama students. They’ve been marinating in Shakespearean drama for four years and have maybe absorbed more than they think. The narrator, Oliver, is most often cast as a supporting character and the others agree that he is a giving actor and a giving person. Despite that, the reader realizes that he seems to be pretty clueless—not very observant, he makes some of his most important realizations during performances of the Shakespearean tragedies.

The little that we see of Oliver’s family indicates that there is something desperately wrong—Oliver doesn’t want to go home to them and can hardly wait to leave. One of his sisters has a serious eating disorder and Oliver resents that his family can’t pay for her treatment AND his tuition. There is a serious attitude of entitlement, not only in Oliver, but in all of these students. I didn’t like a single one of them, but I loved the story!

I would love to be able to conduct conversations in Shakespeare quotes! That level of expertise in the plays would delight me. If nothing else, this book has certainly inspired me to continue with my project to see all of Shakespeare’s plays.

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