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review 2018-02-22 02:48
Burning Girls by Veronica Schanoes
Burning Girls - Veronica Schanoes

*Enters room filled with cobwebs and dust* 

 

Uh... hello? Is anyone still here? *Coughs from ball of dust* 

 

Phew! It's been a while since I've been able to sit down and read anything. Life has not been kind to me. The beginning of 2018 was so peaceful and productive... for about two weeks. Then Hell came and slapped me in the face and I've been trying to get back on my feet ever since. And let me tell you, it has not been easy. However, I am back and I am ready to tackle my TBR head-on! With that said, I was able to read a short story which I enjoyed quite a bit.

 

Now, seeing as how it's been a while since I've read anything, I decided starting off with a short story to ease me back into reading was a good move to make. And I was right. I read Burning Girls from Tor.com and it was such a harrowing read. It follows a Jewish girl's life living in Poland where she faces discrimination from the Cossacks and how magic can be a double-edge sword for the young witch. This short story covers so many topics. From Jewish tradition to history to even mythology. I was intrigued by the story from the very start.

 

Schanoes's writing style is very crisp. Since her main character is rather blunt and cold-hearted, her writing showed that very same bluntness without ever becoming bland. She has an incredibly flowing writing style and I really am interested in reading more of her works in the future.

 

As for her characters, I felt that a lot of them didn't have enough time to develop into fully fledged beings. I suppose that's what happens sometimes with short stories. Her main character, Deborah, was the only one that actually showed any type of growth. Although she is someone I consider to be highly unlikeable, she does learn to empathize a little with those around her and learns not to judge as harshly as she did at the beginning of the story. Shayna, Deborah's sister, throughout most of the story acted like a petulant child, which annoyed me greatly. I did, however, enjoyed her transformation towards the end of it. Still, I wish I got to know these characters a bit more before reading the end of the story.

 

Speaking of the ending, wow. That was well done and fit well with the rest of the story. I liked how it grabs you and reminds you of the harshness of reality. Life is rough and you don't always get what you hoped for no matter how hard you try... and that sucks. Man, this story made me feel so many emotions!

 

In short, read this story. It's really good. I did have my problems with some of the characters but I did enjoy the magical and fairy tale elements. If you love learning about Jewish culture, fairy tales, and a bit of history, read this story. It's quite the harrowing, dark read, but a good one nonetheless. 

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review 2018-02-22 01:17
Disappointed
She was Born a Good Girl: An all girls boarding school story - Garfield Whyte

This is the tale of a group of girls at an exclusive boarding school in Jamaica. Families who send their daughters to Rosemount expect their daughters to become ladies and it comes at a hefty price. The group of girls seem to have different goals than what is expected of them, to trap a man, the richer the better using any means necessary. The exception is Nola who has goals, wants and education and to make her family proud. 
I am not sure how I feel about this book as the majority of the girls were far outside my realm of experience, even when I was a teen. With the exception of Nola, the rest are nasy, slutty, foul- mouthed, scheming, without morals and just plain disgusting. They don't care if they destroy marriages and break up homes as long as they get a man they deem worthy... but in the end there is a moral... 2 of the nastiest, who were the group's role models, end up pregnant, the men they had connived for had only used them, and learn the hard way that their goals weren't quite so lofty. I think the moral gives it some redeeming quality, but these girls were just so bad-- I did not like them at all-- so that it sort of taints my view of the book. I would give the book a 3.5 if we could do halfsies. 
I received this book for an honest review from the author.... thank you.

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review 2018-02-20 15:55
The Atomic City Girls
The Atomic City Girls: A Novel - Janet Beard

During WWII, a small farming town in Tennessee was quietly demolished and a government facility popped up nearly overnight.  The facility at Oak Ridge hired many young woman to spin dial and push levers, but none of the young women knew what they were working on, only that they received decent pay and housing.  Among the young women were scientists, military and families all living and working under tight security and keeping secrets.  Many people working there didn't know what they were working on or the consequences.  One of the women working at Oak Ridge is eighteen year old June, a local girl whose grandfather once lived where Oak Ridge now sits.  June and her roommate Cici quickly become acclimated to the strange life at Oak Ridge.  Cici's goal while at Oak Ridge is simple to strip away her penniless background and emerge as a well-bred young woman who can catch the eye of an affluent man.  June, on the other hand would like to move on from the death of her fiance, Ronnie and enjoy life again.  June may find the answer in physicist, Dr. Samuel Cantor.  However, as their relationship grows, Sam shares the secrets of what exactly everyone at Oak Ridge is working on and the mental toll of what they are doing begins to trouble Sam more and more.

This is a fictionalized account of the historic town of Oak Ridge that captures a small piece of several employee's stories.  The Atomic City Girls is a lighter story than the non-fiction  The Girls of Atomic City; however, it is still just as important in the sense that it brings to light the important work that was done during the war by a variety of people.   Throughout the book, we follow the stories of June, Cici, Samuel and Joe.  So, I did find the title a little bit of a misnomer, although, all of their stories are important. One aspect that is very well highlighted are the stories of Ralph, Joe and Shirley, the African-American workers at Oak Ridge.  While working, they were segregated and discriminated against and worked towards as well as gained some equal rights while at Oak Ridge.  June's story was the most compelling to me as we learned about the tight security and how the young women were trained as well as the diverse social life offered at Oak Ridge.  Sam's point of view offered a look at the mental struggle of the people who knew exactly what they were building and what it would accomplish.  The story was accompanied by actual photos of Oak Ridge, which helped to beef up the historical aspects, however I do wish there was just a little more history in my historical fiction. 

This book was received in exchange for an honest review. 

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review 2018-02-15 18:29
It had some potential.
Some Girls Bite - Chloe Neill

I liked the set up with the bookworm turned vampire.

 

I liked how present her BFF was.

 

I was ok with the super hyper sexyness of all things vampire.

 

I wasn't a huge fan of the villain - very standard, not impressive at all.

 

What I didn't like: the inconsistencies in the story. The over the top attraction between Merit and Ethan. That was more than ridiculous.

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review 2018-02-09 20:49
The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs
The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs - Dana Bate

I weirdly liked this book. Even though the main character was a bit much for me and totally self-absorbed at times, I liked it. Probably because the author does a kick-ass job describing DC and the food the main character is making. She also included recipes in the back I want to try sometime soon as well.

 

"The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs" has Hannah Sugarman at a cross-roads in her professional/personal life. She works at a think tank she really hates and has a boyfriend she really loves. She really would love to quit her job and just cook full-time, but disappointing her parents (both professors) and her boyfriend is something she's not quite ready to do. When her relationship with her boyfriend crashes and burns, Hannah is forced to move out and needs a way to make some money. When her work friend Rachel suggest that they do an underground supper club, Hannah thinks she may have a way to feed her need to cook and save some money. Things would be great except she's hosting the supper club in her landlord's home without his knowledge. And he's running for a council seat in Dupont Circle with one of his mission's to wipe out the restaurants or other entities running around serving food and liquor without a license. 

 

As I said above, Hannah bugged me. I think the reason why is that I didn't get a sense she was trying hard at all. If she didn't want to work at the think tank then quit. Doing a terrible job wasn't winning me any favors. Same issue with her passive aggressively cooking when she's angry at her boyfriend. Or when she talks crap about her boyfriend's parents while they are eating dinner, or talks crap about a new love's interest's mom's cinnamon buns. So yeah, Hannah talks a lot of crap. I wanted to feel for her, but honestly most of the issues/problems are a result of her doing whatever and actually being shocked when she's called out. 

 

The other characters are sketched out pretty well. You get a sense of Hannah's work nemesis and her boyfriend. I loved Hannah and Rachel together, but found it sad when Hannah called Rachel her only DC friend when Rachel rightfully calls her out for being self absorbed. Hannah's landlord was great and I started to wish for a book told from his POV. 

 

The writing was good I have to say. Dana Bate does a good job of describing the food that Hannah is making, but also why Hannah is making certain things and what her food is trying to evoke with regards to eating/memories. The flow was off a bit though. Things get bogged down around the 80 percent mark (IMHO) and then I found myself skimming just a bit to get to the end. 


The setting of D.C. was written very well here. Bate has obviously been to the nation's capitol and doesn't just describe random places and have her character get from to and fro in 10 minutes (not even with the Metro people). She describes Georgetown, the farmer's market (I miss them right now), Dupont Circle, Chinatown (which is the world's saddest Chinatown), the Army Navy Memorial, and a whole host of other places that I have been. I really enjoyed this book so much since there's not a lot about DC I am in love with these days. This book brought it all back though.


The ending was a bit abrupt. I wish that Hannah had more closure (yeah I hate that word) with her boyfriend and that we could have skipped a head a bit. Still I give it four stars for holding my interest and making me laugh out loud several times. 

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