Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (7/26/22) – Follow Your Arrow

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Ever read a book because of one aspect people have been telling you about? That was me about Follow Your Arrow—I don’t know if I would have picked it up if not for several people telling me how good the bi rep was. And you know how much of a sucker I am for good bi rep. So I picked it up—and yes, the bi rep and discussions around biphobia were great, but the rest of the story I found to be a little lacking.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Follow Your Arrow – Jessica Verdi

CeCe Ross is an influencer with nearly a million followers. Her relationship with her girlfriend of two years, Silvie, has gained an extensive following, with thousands of fawning followers making #Cevie all the rage. But when she and Silvie break up, her life is turned upside-down—both on and offline. To make matters more complicated, she’s met Josh, a musician who has no idea about her online following. Will she be able to reckon with the storm she’s stirred up online—and keep her secret from Josh?

TW/CW: Biphobia, cyberbullying, homophobia

My feelings about Follow Your Arrow can essentially be summed up by that one Reductress article—“Why I Couldn’t Care Less About Your Relationsh—Oh, It’s Gay? Tell Me More.” I don’t think I would’ve picked up this book if not for several people telling me about how great the bisexual rep was, and I liked it on that front. However, it was definitely lacking for me in some of the other departments.

So, the bisexual rep! That aspect of Follow Your Arrow was what stood out most to me, and it was the most well-executed aspect of the book! Verdi did a fantastic job of discussing so many aspects of bisexuality and biphobia, especially about the stigmas of bisexual people in straight-passing relationships. Even though some of the social media aspects of the book weren’t very well-done (more on that later), the backdrop of social media was a perfect setting for CeCe to come into her own. There’s so much discussion about how bisexual people are pigeonholed as simply straight or gay, depending on their relationship, and how even within the queer community, there’s still so much biphobia present. Follow Your Arrow is a solid book for anyone who wants to learn more about bisexuality, and Verdi did a great job of representing it respectfully.

As far as the other aspects of the book…I wasn’t quite as invested. The romance, although the representation of bi people in a straight-passing relationship was great, didn’t hold a lot for me. It’s a pretty standard setup—”she’s an influencer, he’s a hipster musician who doesn’t even have social media! oh boy, how will this work out? he doesn’t even know what ‘ship’ means, tee hee!” It didn’t help that neither CeCe nor Josh were characterized much more beyond a few base character traits. The combination of the cliche pairing without much of an original spin on it (other than CeCe being bi) and the lack of characterization for both parties made me lose interest more than not.

I also had an issue with the writing—it tried way too hard not to date itself, but it ended up backfiring spectacularly. Even though app names (Instagram, Twitter, etc.) weren’t specifically mentioned (there was only the mysterious App…oookay) , the slang peppered in and the excessive use of hashtags at the end of every other paragraph made it feel painfully like a Gen X-er trying to sound “hip.” (How do you do, fellow kids?) CeCe’s status as an influencer didn’t make the hashtags make any more sense—I doubt that even influencers think in random hashtags. It felt weird. Additionally, Follow Your Arrow couldn’t seem to make up its mind about the message it was trying to share about social media; all it got was that there are good and bad aspects of social media, but it never got much more nuanced than that. Given how large of a role social media played in this book, I wish that were more developed.

All in all, a decent rom-com with great discussions around biphobia and bisexuality, but not-so-great writing and an underdeveloped romance. 3 stars.

Follow Your Arrow is a standalone, but Jessica Verdi is also the author of And She Was (really hoping that’s a Talking Heads reference lol), The Summer I Wasn’t Me, What You Left Behind, and several other novels.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Book Review Tuesday (4/5/22) – Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!! I’m still reeling from finally seeing Spiritualized last night—such a transcendental show!

Rom-coms aren’t my go-to as far as genres go, but I really enjoyed The Henna Wars, so I wanted to given Adiba Jaigirdar’s newest rom-com a try. It ended up being one of those books that I put off for no good reason—I had it on hold at least twice at the library and left it on the shelf too long because of trips or something—but I ended up picking it up on Kindle over spring break. Having read it, I liked it overall, but generally, I have a few mixed feelings about it.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating – Adiba Jaigirdar

Humaira Khan—Hani for short—has started coming out to her friends and family as bisexual, but her friends don’t believe her. In their (horribly biphobic) beliefs, Hani can’t be bi if she’s only ever dated boys. So to save face, Hani blurts out that she’s dating Ishu, a top-of-the-class perfectionist and the only other Bengali girl at her school.

From then on, Hani and Ishu make a pact to orchestrate a fake relationship—as soon as both of their goals are achieved, they will stage a fake breakup worthy of the Oscars. But as they get deeper into their plan, they realize that their relationship might not be so fake after all.

TW/CW (from Adiba Jaigirdar): racism, homophobia, biphobia, lesbophobia, Islamophobia, toxic friendships, gaslighting, parental abandonment

I loved The Henna Wars, but despite all the hype that Hani and Ishu is getting, I’ve come away with mixed feelings. The setup is all there and the diversity is fantastic, but it’s difficult to enjoy a rom-com when the romance itself feels forced.

I’ll start out with what I enjoyed; Adiba Jaigirdar’s writing is consistently charming and funny. Her style is perfect for a rom-com, filled with wit and sarcasm. I can’t exactly say that she hit the perfect balance of levity and dealing with the aforementioned content in the TW/CW section (especially the biphobia, in my experience—more on that later), but it almost hit that sweet spot for me.

Adding onto that, it’s always wonderful to see POC characters at the forefront of rom-coms, and the fact that they’re LGBTQ+ makes it so much better! I can’t speak to the accuracy of the representation myself (Hani is Bangladeshi-Irish, and Ishu is Indian-Irish, and they’re both Muslim), but most of the LGBTQ+ rom-coms out there are…pretty white. So it’s always a breath of fresh air to see non-white LGBTQ+ characters in literature.

My main problem, however, is with the excessive biphobia throughout the book. I fully recognize that all of it was challenged, but there was just so much of it that it became unnecessarily triggering. Hani’s “friends,” in almost every scene they’re in, invalidate her every chance they get, and a lot of the extreme bigotry they displayed definitely triggered me as well. All of the biphobia was challenged and I appreciate Adiba Jaigirdar for putting the trigger warning there, but for a book that was advertised as a feel-good rom-com, it decidedly did not make me feel good as a bisexual person. I feel like Hani’s bisexuality was well-depicted and relatable, but there didn’t need to be that much biphobia to sell the point of how bigoted and toxic Hani’s “friends” were—there was already enough evidence towards them being disgusting people. (I will say, though—Jaigirdar did a great job of writing how difficult it is to break out of toxic friendships. So props to her for that.)

Other than that, I never got on board with the romance. The setup was all there, but even through all of the bonding that Hani and Ishu had, I just never felt like they had any chemistry at all. There was just this feeling of…neutrality throughout the whole thing. Like their relationship was just acquaintances at best, even though they were sold as an almost enemies-to-lovers kind of deal. They just didn’t seem to click for me. And seeing as Hani and Ishu was billed as a rom-com, I didn’t get a whole lot of the “rom.”

All in all, an LGBTQ+ rom-com that was sweet in concept, but messy in its execution. 3 stars.

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating is a standalone; Adiba Jaigirdar is also the author of The Henna Wars and the forthcoming A Million to One.

Today’s song:

this was the third song they played last night…still in awe of how smoothly they transitioned from “She Kissed Me (It Felt Like a Hit)” to this. beautiful song 💗

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (1/4/22) – Rise of the Red Hand

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Since I haven’t been able to go to the library lately, I’ve been going through some books on my wish list at the Kindle library. I found this in the sci-fi section, and despite a lot of mediocre to bad reviews, I figured that I would give it a try. And yes, it was a little messy at times, but it presented a unique addition to the YA dystopia genre.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Rise of the Red Hand (The Mechanists, #1) by Olivia Chadha

Rise of the Red Hand (The Mechanists, #1) – Olivia Chadha

25 years after a devastating nuclear war, Ashiva ekes out a living in the slums of the South Asian province. While the rich gorge on new technology, the poor barely get by on secondhand tech and scarce food and water.

Ashiva works for the Red Hand, a revolutionary organization with the goal of dismantling the oppressive government of the South Asian province. As a new sickness ravages the province, Ashiva is forced to ally with Riz-Ali, a rich uplander who may hold the key to exposing a dark conspiracy within the government.

ohapplejuice.tumblr.com - Tumbex

TW/CW: human experimentation, pandemic, graphic violence, emergency medical procedures, death, blood, faked disability, attempted murder

Rise of the Red Hand was more than a little messy, but it had enough unique takes on the average dystopia to pull it through.

What sets Rise of the Red Hand apart from most everything else in the YA dystopian genre is its setting; it’s set in a futuristic South Asia, which is really cool to see, especially since 90% of the dystopias I’ve read are set somewhere in the U.S.! That, along with the atmosphere of the future world that Chadha created and the interspersed South Asian culture and slang, was a breath of fresh air.

Along with that, the highlight of Rise of the Red Hand is that it made dystopia feel…human. There were slices of life that the reader witnesses amidst the horror and destruction—the last real-food vendor in the market, a group of children putting a “kick me” sign on a government robot—that made the setting feel genuine. Dystopias are supposed to be bleak and horrible, of course—that’s the definition of a dystopia in the first place—but elements like these are what make it believable. No matter the circumstances, little pockets of life always thrive. Or, in the words of Jeff Goldblum, “Life finds a way.”

I have mixed feelings about the worldbuilding. On the one hand, Chadha did a good job of making a thorough buildup to the current state of her world, and I didn’t feel as though I were missing anything as I read it. On the other hand, this information was delivered in chunks that were often hefty and distracted from the present dialogue. Good worldbuilding, but ruined by getting dropped on the reader’s head like cinderblocks. Also, on the subject of the provinces…if Asia was divided into the South Asian province and the Asian province, why were North America, South America, and Africa just provinces on their own? It made sense for Europe and Australia, since they’re both fairly small as far as continents go, but…North and South America and Africa are huge. How could that be one province?

The plot itself wasn’t terribly unique; Chadha’s writing made it compelling enough, but underneath all its trappings, it was your garden-variety “take down the oppressive government (that is oppressive for very vague and unspecified reasons) kind of dystopian plot. It’s not to say that it isn’t bad, just overdone. Take away the thorough worldbuilding and unique setting, and this could have been something from 10 years ago, post-Hunger Games. However, I will say that at least it was specified why the government was so oppressive—and a lot of it’s horribly sinister. But again, the setting was the saving grace here—not much else.

Other than that, the characters were decent—not terribly interesting, but not cardboard either. The romance between Ashiva and Riz-Ali felt very rushed and insta-love-y, and was ultimately very unnecessary. Taru’s chapters didn’t feel very necessary, and her voice bothered me. And on the subject of Taru—why exactly did they fake her having brittle-bone disease? Not only are we supposed to be rooting for Ashiva, who conspired to do this, how is that even a solution? That part just felt…weird.

Overall, a dystopia that boasts a unique setting, humanity and atmosphere—but not a lot else. 3 stars.

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Rise of the Red Hand is the first book in the Mechanists duology, and it is followed by an untitled sequel set for release this year. Olivia Chadha is also the author of Balance of Fragile Things.

Today’s song:

the harmony at the very end is so pretty 🥺

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (12/7/21) – This Isn’t Happening: Radiohead’s “Kid A” and the Beginning of the 21st Century

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

For the past two years, I’ve started to read more nonfiction (though still not much, admittedly), but it’s rare that I ever review any of them. But I figured I would review this book since a) I’m a major Radiohead fan, and b) I have Some Thoughts™️ on it, so here goes nothing…

Enjoy this week’s review!

This Isn't Happening: Radiohead's "Kid A" and the Beginning of the 21st  Century - Kindle edition by Hyden, Steven. Arts & Photography Kindle eBooks  @ Amazon.com.

This Isn’t Happening: Radiohead’s “Kid A” and the Beginning of the 21st Century – Steven Hyden

From its tumultuous inception to its profound impact on release, Radiohead’s 2000 album “Kid A” is seen as a landmark of modern music. Though critics and fans alike were divided on it when it first hit stores, its impact stretches far beyond the world of music—for many, it was an unintentionally prophetic vision of the future. 20 years later, music critic Steven Hyden dives deeper into the mythology around this iconic album, from its creation in the studio to the cultural impact it had in the years after its release.

TW/CW: this is nonfiction and it’s mostly just music history, but be aware that there are some (mostly brief) mentions of mental breakdowns, suicide, 9/11, and substance abuse.

This Isn’t Happening reads like a 244 page Pitchfork review, but I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily a bad thing. What’s clear, though, is that it’s by Radiohead fans and for Radiohead fans, which is exactly what it should be.

It’s clear from every page of This Isn’t Happening that, like many Radiohead fans, that listening to “Kid A” was a life-changing experience for Steven Hyden. Hyden’s love for the album bleeds for the page, and every bit of analysis was so clearly crafted out of love and admiration. This isn’t simply bare analysis: it’s imbued with a well-deserved appreciation for a band that may well have changed the fabric of modern rock music forever. Every track—even “Untitled“—gets some degree of attention (although I’m stunned that more praise wasn’t given to “Motion Picture Soundtrack”—come on, now), and the most minute details are reported on with simultaneous tact and love, from Thom Yorke’s inner conflict while creating the album to the many bands whose influences shine through on the album.

However, the price of This Isn’t Happening clearly being from the heart of a Radiohead fan is that it tends to ramble. Smaller, more unimportant points during the course of the book were often extended to a near-ridiculous degree, digressing from the subject matter of that particular section. This resulted in passages like “yeah, I just mentioned post-rock here. You know what my favorite post-rock band is? It’s this obscure band that you’ve never heard of, beat that!” or “Many wonder what ‘Kid A’ would have been like had it been a double album with ‘Amnesiac.’ You know what? Screw it, here’s how I would organize it if it was a double album. Ooooh, look at me, I’m putting in all the singles that got cut from the album…”, etc., etc., etc. With how short This Isn’t Happening is (only around 244 pages on the hardcover edition), a lot it felt like nothing more than stream-of-consciousness digressions that only served to plump up the page count.

What was also fascinating to me was some of the more cultural aspects of This Isn’t Happening and the aftermath of “Kid A.” All of this happened just before I was born, and from a younger perspective, it was so interesting to see Hyden’s picture of the cultural landscape. It’s not from the perspective of a historian—it’s from the perspective of a music critic, and something about this view, from somebody who knows everything just from living through it, made it all the more engrossing to read.

Through it all, there’s a profound appreciation—not worship, but still immense admiration—for music as a whole. Hyden’s writing is full of dry humor and clever references, and it makes for a read that wholly appeals to the music nerd in all of us. Hyden treats listening to “Kid A” as an almost cinematic experience, encouraging the reader to sit back, relax, and start playing “Everything In Its Right Place” as he dives into the creation of the album. This is the kind of book that only a music critic could write—otherwise, it would sound disingenuous.

All in all, a loving but flawed exploration into the most groundbreaking albums of the 21st century. But before I go:

That’s all.

3 stars!

submitted by invisible-rainbow) | Radiohead kid a, Album art, Radiohead  albums

(since this is a book dealing with an album, click here if you’d like to listen to “Kid A” for yourself. I highly recommend it!)

Stephen Hyden is an author and music critic; besides This Isn’t Happening, he is also the author of the nonfiction books Your Favorite Band is Killing Me and Twilight of the Gods.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (11/9/21) – Columbus Day

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

A close friend of mine was the one who recommended this week’s book to me; we’re both sci-fi fans, and she had been listening to this whole series as audiobooks and highly recommended it. Since it was cheap on the Kindle library, I bought it and read it while I was in LA last week. While it certainly wasn’t my favorite sci-fi book I’ve ever read, it wasn’t bad for my first jump into military sci-fi.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Columbus Day (Expeditionary Force #1) by Craig Alanson | Goodreads

Columbus Day (Expeditionary Force, #1) – Craig Alanson

Humankind has barely breached outer space, but it’s already in the midst of an intergalactic war.

Caught up in a war between the Ruhar and the Kristang—two alien species with unparalleled interstellar might—Earth creates the Expeditionary Force to fight for themselves on the side of the Kristang, bringing in soldiers from the world’s most powerful militaries to aid in the effort. Joe Bishop, a U.S. army soldier from a sleepy town in Maine, finds himself caught in the conflict when he is whisked off-world to join the Expeditionary Force. Amongst old friends and new enemies, he is entrenched in a war beyond his comprehension. But the more he learns, the more he ponders the question: are humans fighting for the wrong side?

Starwars Battle GIF - Starwars Battle Clones - Discover & Share GIFs

TW/CW: graphic violence, xenophobia, misogyny, sexual content, war, death

I’ve been a fan of sci-fi for years, but I think Columbus Day is one of the only military sci-fi books that I’ve read. (The only other one I can think of might be Ender’s Game, but it’s been a while since I’ve read that one.) After reading this, I wouldn’t say that I was impressed, but I wasn’t fighting the urge to vomit, either. Columbus Day was entertaining, but it got bogged down by a series of flaws that built on top of each other.

Columbus Day largely hinges on the prospect that your average reader knows a substantial amount of military jargon. And there is quite a lot of jargon here; on multiple occasions, I found myself lost in a thick, murky swamp of unexplained slang and technical terms. The same treatment was given to the worldbuilding, which, although it was clearly complex and well thought-out (which was great!), it was delivered in such dizzyingly long chunks that it all felt more convoluted than it was intended to be. The frequent comma splices didn’t exactly help, either. I would’ve gone for a few more rounds of editing on this one.

I found most of the characters to be fairly bland and unlikable, but the one thing I will say in their favor is that they worked as characters in this novel specifically. Joe Bishop was infuriating; he’s the kind of heroic but unknowing everyman who is supposed to appeal to everybody, but falls short big time. There isn’t an original thought that goes through his head, and he’s constantly going on about how “humble” and “down to earth” he is and thinks he’s cooler than everyone else because he can…I don’t know, live off the land, or whatever. He’s a horrible character, to put it lightly, but for this kind of military sci-fi, he almost works. It’s supposed to be centered around soldiers with no control over their lives, so Joe…strangely fits?

The same went for most of the characters; the only depth we got out of any of them (Joe Bishop included) was the prospect of “wait, are we fighting on the right side of this war?” and the concept that nothing is black and white. Most of them came out with the same factory settings, and were then assigned a single personality trait. However, there is one delightful exception to the rule: Skippy! He really stole the show—yeah, he got saddled with all the banter, but the banter was somehow LEAGUES better than any of the other dialogue in the entire rest of the book. I know that it’s way too common for sci-fi to hand all of the comic relief in the entire book to the sassy ship’s AI, but you know why everybody does that? Because it works! And Skippy was certainly a highlight of Columbus Day. Maybe even the best part.

One more thing that I’ll say in Columbus Day‘s favor—it has some pretty solid action scenes. They’re a little drawn out at worst, but Craig Alanson does a great job of throwing in twists and keeping you on your toes when you least expect it. I did enjoy the final battle scene quite a bit, even if there wasn’t a whole lot of substance to it. That’s another thing—Columbus Day is more candy than anything; if you’re looking for a book that muses on the nature of man’s place in the universe or something along those lines, you won’t find it here. But that’s okay! It’s somewhat shallow, but that’s just fine. It’s the perfect book if you’ve just read something heavy and you need something to distract yourself. That’s the merit of these kinds of books—if you’re looking for substance, you’ll be disappointed, so think of it as a 300-page action movie.

All in all, a sci-fi novel that was bogged down with excessive jargon and unlikable characters, but partially made up for it in fast-paced action and sassy AI. 3 stars.

star wars battle gifs | 2048

Columbus Day is the first book in Craig Alanson’s Expeditionary Force series, which spans over 12 books (!!) and counting. In addition to Expeditionary Force, Alanson is also the author of the Ascendance trilogy and the Mavericks series, which are Expeditionary Force spin-offs.

Today’s song:

excuse me for a moment [SOBS]

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (9/28/21) – Final Draft

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

This book has been on my radar for at least a year and a half. I was drawn to it because of the premise of a character who is an aspiring sci-fi writer (like me!) going through high school. I bought it on my Kindle recently, and though my expectations were high, I found Final Draft to be enjoyable, but a little lacking–both in development and length.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Final Draft by Riley Redgate

Final Draft – Riley Redgate

Laila Piedra dreams of becoming a sci-fi author, and she spends every moment she can crafting new worlds on her laptop. Her biggest supporter is her creative writing teacher, Mr. Madison, who is always there to lend a word of advice or support. But when Mr. Madison gets in a car accident and can no longer teacher, he’s replaced by Nadiya Nazarenko, a renowned author who doles out scathing critiques faster than the speed of light. Pressured to impress her new teacher, Laila stretches herself into places that she never would have dreamed of. But what will it cost her dream of writing–and her mental health?

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actual footage of me once I finished the book

TW/CW: underage drinking, fatphobia, depression, death, descriptions of injury

Final Draft had the makings of a great story, but it only felt like half a book. It left me wanting more in the end–everything felt so crammed and rushed, and as a result, all that could have been good ended up suffering. However, that wasn’t to say that it wasn’t at least enjoyable–it was a decent story, but it felt unnecessarily truncated.

I’ll start out with what I liked–the representation! Final Draft was a very diverse book–Laila is mixed-raced and half-Latina, and her rep made me feel so seen! She’s also plus-size and pansexual, and that combination of representation is always fantastic to see. Additionally, her love interest is Korean-American and a lesbian, and there are several Latinx side characters. So I owe a big thank you to Riley Redgate for all of that great rep!

Now, Final Draft started out with a lot of promise. The setup in the first third or so had the makings of a great story–a clear setup and a difficult conflict for Laila to overcome. But at about the 40% mark, everything felt crammed into a scant amount of pages. Everything happened at almost breakneck speed, shoving key conflicts into far fewer pages than was necessary to develop the events of the novel. (For reference, the Kindle edition of Final Draft was only 272 pages, so there could have been so much more content to bulk everything up and make it coherent!) It all felt so rushed, and as a result, the message came across muddy and underdeveloped. There are so many themes that are so important to discuss–the cautionary tale of the “suffering artist,” mental health and depression, and grief, to name a few–but they were all glossed over in such a short amount of time that they were all unfinished and badly handled.

That being said, although the story was unnecessarily rushed, at least the topics discussed were there. For creative people, mental health is so often neglected in the face of criticism and perfectionism, and having a story like Laila’s is an important one not just for writers, but any young person with creative passions. Laila’s story needs to be told–I just wish it was fully fleshed out.

All in all, a book that had the potential to be potent and powerful, but suffered from excessive rushing. 3 stars.

i love you ! [ 𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗿𝗶 ]. | Anime scenery, Anime gifts, Aesthetic gif

Final Draft is a standalone, but Riley Redgate is also the author of Noteworthy, Seven Ways We Lie, and the forthcoming Alone Out Here, which is slated for release in April 2022.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (7/27/21) – It’s My Life

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I figured that I should scour my TBR for books for disability pride month (and to read beyond that, of course), and I found this one that I had shelved back in 2019. The cover immediately caught my eye (AAH THE COLOR SCHEME), but I still have mixed feelings about the book itself – not ragingly bad, or anything, but not amazing either.

Enjoy this week’s review!

IT'S MY LIFE | Kirkus Reviews

It’s My Life – Stacie Ramey

Jenna has lived her whole life believing that she was born with cerebral palsy, and she’s never let it stop her from doing what she wants to do. But after discovering that her parents hid the fact that her CP was caused by an injury at birth, she’s infuriated with them – and the fact that she hasn’t been able to make her own decisions regarding the surgeries she gets. With the help of her lawyer uncle, she decides to push for medical emancipation.

All the while, Jenna’s childhood crush, Julian, has moved back into town. She reconnects with him over text with an anonymous persona, but will she have the courage to reveal her true self to him?

Buzz lightyear meme hmmmm - Caption | Meme Generator
eh what the heck, I’m putting this here bc a) adequately describes said mixed feelings and b) I can’t think of any gifs to put in

TW/CW: internalized ableism, mild violence (punching), hospitalizations, ableist slurs (challenged), descriptions of injury

WARNING: this review may contain some minor spoilers, so tread lightly!

This is…complicated. I picked this book up for disability pride month, and while I can’t speak to the representation itself (as I don’t have cerebral palsy), there were good and bad parts of this book, in terms of how disability was represented and the plot itself.

Let’s start off with the good stuff. Jenna as a character was definitely a great protagonist – she’s not perfect, but she’s incredibly determined and a very independent thinker. She’s a little messy at worst, but I really didn’t mind. She had a great personality, for the most part, and her struggle with getting medical emancipation was incredibly eye-opening.

Again, I can’t speak to how accurate the CP rep was, but for the most part, it seemed well researched. The author mentions in a note at the back of the book that she worked with kids with CP, which seems to have informed part of Jenna’s story. A good portion of it seemed to work – there was clearly a lot of research put into the different kinds of mobility aids that Jenna uses and the kinds of surgeries she went through. It also deftly defied the dreaded “cure narrative” – Jenna’s attitude towards her disability was more one of reaching for freedom than seeking to “overcome” it in anyway. It’s not often that we get this kind of story from abled authors, so I appreciated that.

However, I’m still a little miffed by how they represented Jenna’s disabled identity. At a point in the book, she reaches out to someone who went through a surgery that her parents want her to have (part of why she seeks to be medically emancipated). This person responds to Jenna later in the book via email, and explains that she leads a “differently-abled” club at her school; she explains how she prefers that term, even though most of the disabled community doesn’t. (For those of you who don’t know: it’s generally accepted that the majority of the disabled community prefers not to use the term “differently abled,” as the terminology is seen as sugarcoating or patronizing them and their experiences. Some disabled people may use the term, but when referring to the community, it’s good to just stick with “disabled.”)

Now, if this had come from a disabled author, I might have passed it by; as I said, not everybody in the disabled community dislikes the term “differently abled,” but disabled is usually the more accepted term. But since this is coming from an abled author, I’m really not sure how to feel about it; it’s generally abled people that have used started using the term (which is where the discourse comes from), so putting that on disabled people in a book – especially someone who Jenna looks to for advice – doesn’t sit right with me. Additionally, Jenna never explicitly says that she’s disabled; maybe I’m reading into it too much, but it just seems a little strange, coming from an abled writer writing a disabled character. (And on the subject of the club…did everybody in said club actually agree to call it the “differently abled club?” I find that hard to believe…)

Hmm Emoji GIF - Hmm Emoji ThinkingEmoji - Discover & Share GIFs | Emoji gif,  Thinking emoji, Emoji
this gif comes to mind…

Other than that, there were a lot of hospitalization scenes that felt a little too much like plot devices, and the scene with the rival hockey team (this is where the ableist slurs TW comes in) didn’t need to happen; all it did was give a bit of “I love my girlfriend!” points for Julian (he punches the guy who yells ableist slurs at Jenna), which created some conflict that I felt was completely unnecessary. It’s My Life certainly had a rom-com feel to some of it, so why not just keep it that way? CAN I GET SOME MORE DISABLED BOOKS THAT DON’T CENTER AROUND THE PROTAGONIST GETTING SLURS YELLED AT THEM, PLEASE?

My only other complaints were that some of the high school scenes weren’t super authentic, and I didn’t care a whole lot about the romance, but that’s the most minor of my issues. But overall, mixed feelings on this one – the themes of medical emancipation and Jenna’s character were great, but the disability representation, while I can’t speak to the CP accuracy, had some good intentions and research, but uncomfortable messages surrounding the identity itself. 3 stars.

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It’s My Life is a standalone, but Stacie Ramey is also the author of The Sister Pact, The Homecoming, The Secrets We Bury, and Switching Fates.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: May 10 – 16, 2021

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you all well.

The last week and a half has been [ahem] something…I had three AP exams and a final all this week, so there was quite a lot of studying, sitting for hours on end, and pen stains on the sides of my hands this week. I feel pretty good about two out of the three exams, at least (@ ap bio why must you hurt me in this way), and I got a good score on that final, so I’m just hoping that the others pay off.

Top 30 Exercise Sesame Street GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat
my last brain cell trying to comprehend the ap bio FRQs

I haven’t been able to read as much as I wanted to, but I had loads of fun re-reading the Six of Crows duology! The show made me want to go back and read them, and I love them even more than I did when I first read them.

And somehow I just surpassed 100 books! I’m almost halfway to my goal of 250 by the end of the year…

Other than the endless studying, I haven’t done a whole lot, but I had a bit of time to draw, and I’ve been listening to a whole lot of R.E.M., and as of Friday, the new St. Vincent album. (To both: GAAAAAAAAH AMAZING)

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) – Leigh Bardugo (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Six of crows Book 2: Crooked kingdom – Estoril Books

Hellboy: The Bones of Giants – Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola (illustrations) (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: Hellboy: The Bones of Giants Illustrated Novel eBook: Golden,  Christopher, Various: Kindle Store

Let the Great World Spin – Colum McCann (finished reading for school) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Let the Great World Spin: A Novel: McCann, Colum: 9780812973990:  Amazon.com: Books

Hellboy: The Lost Army – Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola (illustrations) (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Hellboy: The Lost Army: Golden, Christopher, Mignola, Mike, Mignola, Mike:  9781840235692: Amazon.com: Books

I Love You So Mochi – Sarah Kuhn (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: I Love You So Mochi (9781338302882): Kuhn, Sarah: Books

THE ONE, LONELY POST I MADE THIS WEEK:

THE ONE, LONELY SONG THAT WENT ALONG WITH IT:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Scavenge the Stars (Scavenge the Stars, #1) – Tara Sim

Amazon.com: Scavenge the Stars (Scavenge the Stars, 1) (9781368051415):  Sim, Tara: Books

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know – Samira Ahmed

Amazon.fr - Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know - Ahmed, Samira - Livres

Broken Wish (The Mirror, #1) – Julie C. Dao

Broken Wish (The Mirror, #1) by Julie C. Dao

Velocity Weapon (The Protectorate, #1) – Megan E. O’Keefe

Velocity Weapon (The Protectorate, 1): O'Keefe, Megan E.: 9780316419598:  Amazon.com: Books

Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Today’s song:

That’s it for this (very short) week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (1/26/21) – Cold Falling White (The Nahx Invasions, #2)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

After adoring Zero Repeat Forever last week, I knew I had to get my hands on the sequel. As luck would have it, book 2 was available at my library, and I was able to get it along with the rest of my library haul. But even though it was still entertaining, Cold Falling White lost the tender spark that made Zero Repeat Forever so memorable.

Now, TREAD LIGHTLY! This review may contain spoilers for book 1, Zero Repeat Forever!

For my review of book 1, click here!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Cold Falling White (The Nahx Invasions Book 2) eBook:  Prendergast, G. S.: Kindle Store

Cold Falling White (The Nahx Invasions, #2)–G.S. Prendergast

Left for dead, Raven wakes up in an unfamiliar place in clothes that aren’t hers. And she’s not alone. Many of her friends from camp that had been killed by the Nahx are there, but they’re still alive. Aboard a Nahx ship, she must escape with her life, but she may discover secrets about these invaders of Earth. And above all, she must find August.

Xander believes that Raven, along with all of the former campers, is dead. On his own, he flees a refugee camp, only to find August, the Nahx who saved Raven’s life not long ago. Forming an uneasy alliance, the two connect with a rebellious faction of Nahx who may hold the keys to halting the ongoing invasion.

With the odds against them, these three must reunite or fall under Nahx rule.

Will-o'wisp | Will o the wisp, Creature concept art, Rise of the guardians

TW/CW: human experimentation, violence, loss of loved ones, mentions of freezing to death

What in the resurrection trope was this?

I’m glad that I read Zero Repeat Forever right before reading this, because otherwise, I would’ve been so lost. Come to think of it, I was still a bit lost through some of the book, but regardless, Cold Falling White was a rambling mess compared to its predecessor.

One of my main problems with this novel was the new POV. Xander was a character that I sort of liked in book 1; he didn’t bug me, but I didn’t get super attached to him. Having his POV in the book made almost no sense. Not only was his voice rather bland, his subplot dominated the other two POVs for no good reason. The only thing that connected his plot to the rest of the book was the eventual Nahx rebellion, and that part didn’t even come into play until the last half of the book. (For reference, this book is nearly 600 pages.) However, I will say that it’s cool that we have a queer Asian lead as one of the POVs. (Xander’s sexuality is never specified, from what I remember, but we see him in an mlm romance. The romantic subplot definitely felt shoehorned in, but hey, at least it’s decent rep.)

I really wish that Raven’s POV had a more prominent role; her chapters were often shorter than Xander’s, and we didn’t learn much from them. One of my complaints about Zero Repeat Forever that I forgot to mention in my review was that we really didn’t get any context/backstory for the Nahx and why they invaded. We got some interesting stuff on their culture/anatomy/physiology in Cold Falling White, but there’s still no reason given for why they invaded Earth in the first place, or why they started resurrecting and modifying humans at will. The tidbits that we got were interesting, I will say, but as a whole, it felt very rushed and full of holes. (I sort of liked Blue’s species…I forget what they’re called, the little alien will-o-the-wisp things?)

And even though we got some of his chapters in the latter half, I really missed August’s POV. However, somewhere down the line, all of the poetic tenderness and philosophical musings got lost, and I don’t know where they went. I’m not sure if Aurora (from Xander’s POVs, mostly) was an attempt at a female stand-in for him, and I liked her a little, but she just didn’t hit that tender spot like August did in book 1. All of the other rebel Nahx were kind of interchangeable, too. Sigh.

Best Fargo GIFs | Gfycat

That being said, Cold Falling White was still somewhat entertaining. It all went progressively downhill, but the writing was still good, and I liked the harsh setting of the Canadian wilderness. Plus, you’ll always get brownie points from me for peppering in lots of Frankenstein references. Like the Edgar Allan Poe in book 1, I liked how all that tied into the theme of the novel.

And all that for…such a weird cliffhanger? I was under the impression that this was a duology, so what was that all about? [confused screaming]

All in all, a sequel that retained good writing and imagery, but lacked in plot and worldbuilding. 3, sad little stars.

My Disappointment Is Immeasurable, And My Day Is Ruined HD 1080P GIF |  Gfycat

Cold Falling White is the second book in the Nahx Invasions duology, preceded by Zero Repeat Forever. G.S. Prendergast is also the author of the Ella series (Audacious and Capricious), as well as the middle grade novel Pandas on the Eastside.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Uncategorized

Book Review Tuesday (12/8/20)–Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, #2)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

After finally getting to Serpent & Dove back in July, I found out that the sequel was slated to come out in September. I put in on hold at the library soon after, and it finally arrived about a week ago. But sadly, although book 1 managed to stay afloat of its messy worldbuilding with a fast-paced plot and lovable characters, Blood & Honey lost momentum–and stretched it out over 500 pages. Disappointing, but still entertaining.

WARNING: This review will likely contain spoilers for book 1, Serpent & Dove.

For my review of book 1, click here!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove) (9780062878052): Mahurin,  Shelby: Books

Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, #2)–Shelby Mahurin

After a near-fatal encounter with Lou’s mother and the Dames Blanches, she, Reid, and the rest of their band of misfits are on the run. Under the radar and stranded in the woods, they know that making the wrong move could result in death, or discovery by Morgane, Lou’s sadistic mother. But their paths are forced to separate, and they find themselves going on strange journeys. And as both roads begin to lead to certain doom, they must find each other before time runs out.

black and white coraline gif | Coraline cat, Coraline aesthetic, Coraline  jones

Judging from most of the reviews, Blood & Honey has become very divisive–the reviews are either gushing or utterly disappointed. Sadly, I’m leaning more towards the latter camp, even though this one wasn’t as anticipated of a read for me as it was for a bunch of readers I know. A bit of a letdown for me, but it was still entertaining nonetheless.

From what I’ve heard, Serpent & Dove was originally slated to be a duology, but got turned into a trilogy at the last minute. And it shows–Blood & Honey fell into the unfortunate trap of becoming the disappointing middle book. One of the things that I loved most about book 1 was the plot; it constantly kept me guessing, and I loved going along for the ride with Lou, Reid, and the rest of the gang. But in book 2, the plot felt tragically weak. We’re led up to an anticlimactic event with a series of loosely tied subplots that didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose save for a bit of tension in having the characters separated. And Blood & Honey is a pretty thick book–the hardcover edition that I read was a whopping 528 pages, and a good 80-90% of it felt like filler. I hate to say it, but it almost felt like a chore to read.

Another aspect that shone for me in book 1 was the characters. Luckily, Mahurin stayed true to them for the most part in Blood & Honey. I loved being back with Lou, Reid, Coco, Ansel and the rest of the gang again, and there’s certainly an interesting direction being taken with Lou. There’s…a hint of a corruption arc going on with her? Maybe that was just me? Either way, I liked the almost “descent into madness” plot Mahurin was alluding to with her. (Also, THE WHITE HAIR!) Lou and Reid’s romance was also a joy to see blossom, as always. But some of the characters from book 1–namely Beau and Madame Labelle–didn’t serve much of a purpose. They didn’t have much of a role, and I remembered next to nothing about them from the previous book. The side characters were similarly forgettable, and I didn’t see much point in them aside from fleshing out parts of the world. However, I will say that I LOVED the twist with Claud–but no spoilers, of course. I’m not that heartless. 😉

Even though the worldbuilding is still kind of a mess, I like all of the new aspects that were added to it in Blood & Honey. I mean…blood witches? Werewolves? The possibility of MERMAIDS? OTHER SIMILARLY SPOOKY WOODLAND CREATURES? Oh, and I loved all of the little ghost creatures that tagged along with the gang. (I forget the technical term they had for them.) Absalon has my heart.

Animated gif about gif in Oh my Goth! by 𝕷𝖎𝖘 𝕮𝖑𝖎𝖔𝖉𝖍𝖓𝖆

And even though Blood & Honey was certainly a letdown, I think I’ll stick around to see what happens to the gang next. Even though that ending was awful. Nope.

All in all, a sequel that failed to live up to its predecessor, but still provided for some fantasy fun. 3 stars.

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Blood & Honey is the second book in Mahurin’s Serpent & Dove trilogy, preceded by Serpent & Dove (book 1) and soon to be followed by Gods & Monsters (2021).

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!