Graphic-novels don't just have to be all pulp and superheroes. They can also be a medium...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
Graphic-novels don't just have to be all pulp and superheroes. They can also be a medium for artists to tell a story with drawings and artwork and impressive color schemes. THE UNDERTAKING OF LILY CHEN is one of these latter, and oh, what a beautiful job it does of telling the story.
THE UNDERTAKING OF LILY CHEN deals with a superstition that still plagues rural China - that of the "ghost bride". When Deshi accidentally kills his older brother, Wei, his parents are furious, and demand that he find a bride for the funeral, so that Wei will not have to be alone in the afterlife. A ghost bride. Unfortunately, because of China's one-child policy and a preference for sons, fresh female corpses are in short supply.
Enter Lily Chen.
Lily is the daughter of a peasant family who is about to get evicted off their land. She's caught the eye of the landlord, however, and her family wants to marry her off to the creep. When she encounters Deshi, who seems wealthier and has experienced much of the city life and its comforts, she runs off with him in the hopes of making it big and gaining her independence.
Meanwhile, Deshi continues to search for female corpses- in morgues, cemeteries, funeral parlors, and shrines. As he continues to come up short, time and time again, he must decide how far he is willing to go to honor his parents' wishes, because there is only one suitable bride around...Lily.
I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. It had such an intriguing premise, and was so dark and spooky. The watercolors really add to the overall effect, making the panels themselves seem ghostly. It's funny, because the drawings are quite childish and remind me of the almost deformed-looking characters you used to see on Saturday morning cartoons, like Teacher's Pet, or Pepper Ann, but the story is so dark and so obviously adult that there's a bit of a disconnect.
THE UNDERTAKING OF LILY CHEN played with my heart. It made me bite my nails and fear what was going to happen next, but it also made it impossible to look away.
Note: I am friends with the author on Goodreads, and was gifted a copy by a mutual friend...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
Note: I am friends with the author on Goodreads, and was gifted a copy by a mutual friend of ours for a fair and impartial review, but that has not impacted my rating.
Reading this book reminded me of the early psych studies. You know, the ones like Milgram's "obedience" studies, or Zimbardo's infamous "Stanford prison" experiment. The ones so cruel that they border on sadistic, and you're left wondering, "Just what the fuck was the purpose of that?" That's what reading this book is like.
It's difficult to give a summary without spoiling anything. The main character is a lower-middle-class cop in England named Joe McNeil. He's a bit of a wreck, and has been ever since his girlfriend, Kit, went missing. He's convinced she's still alive but everyone else, even her father, has given up hope. He's become a bit bent, getting into drugs, alcohol, and even fights, but because of his good record he's still kept around.
One day he's called to a gruesome murder scene. There's a young woman there who the paramedics pronounce dead, but as with Kit, McNeil is convinced that she is not. He gives her CPR and she comes back to life like a bruised Snow White- only this one isn't as pure as snow. She might very well be evil. She's certainly crazy. This is the enigmatic Nell, and she knows things.
Things like...whether Kit is still alive.
Things like...who really committed those murders.
Things like...whether Joe McNeil himself is in danger.
Part of the fun of reading this book is figuring out what the fuck is going on. I entertained about ten or twenty various theories while reading this book, all of them wrong (one was close, and I was proud of myself for even getting that far- but what can I say. I've read a lot of books. It's hard to completely take me off guard). Everything does make sense at the end, though. It's just hard to wrap your brain around it. I'm still a little confused....
One thing that really impressed me was the quality of this book. It's indie but reads really well- clean formatting, beautifully edited, great storyline. I'm sad this book doesn't have more reviews than it does; the author is quite talented, and I'm definitely interested in reading more of her stuff.
Thanks again, Jahy, for providing me with a copy. And thanks to Ms. Morton for writing such an engaging story!
The book starts out with a girl named Hillary tied up to a cot in a strange room. She doesn't remember anything about her past, only that she has terrible nightmares - and that the doctor who is taking care of her has questionable professionalism (gloves? who needs 'em? and so what if you enjoy inserting your patient's catheter just a little *too* much).
Dr. Dumbass and his wife clearly take lessons from Nurse Ratched in their bedside manner. At first I felt sorry for Hillary but she proved what a psycho she could be early on in the book, and I didn't trust her. I kind of stopped feeling sorry for her, too, although I've been told that the second book will make me feel differently. At least, in the first half. The second half will make me want to puke.
What a fun rollercoaster ride of fuckery that will turn out to be!
I'll be honest (well, aren't I always?) Reading HILLARY was not fun for me. I'm kind of a horror-phobe. I've never seen SAW, or any of those other new horror movies, and I don't like violent video games. However, a lot of my friends were reading this book and the author seemed nice and the book was free, and I thought I'd give it a try.
The first half of the book is, with the exception of one horrible scene, diet-WTF. I was confused, and annoyed with Hillary and Dr. Dumbass & co. Then, halfway through the book, things get NASTY. (Incidentally, my mom got me a hamburger for dinner. Um, no spoilers or anything, but while reading this book, I suggest becoming a vegetarian for the day.) Like, if Patrick Bateman from American Psycho was Jigsaw, and happened to live on Shutter Island with a whole bunch of live-in victims.
There are a number of errors I noticed while reading this book, by the way. For example, dialogue tags that are misplaced (one character is talking, but the dialogue tags make it look like there are two or three people in the convo), typos (Bellefluer instead of Bellefleur, etc.), and awkward sentence structure. Sometimes the word "yelled" or "screamed" would appear five or six times per page.
I received all three books in the author's trilogy during a promotion. I'll probably read books 2 and 3 eventually, but first I think I could use a break.
LION HEART reads like two pretentious, affected books combined into one needlessly tireso...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
LION HEART reads like two pretentious, affected books combined into one needlessly tiresome volume.
There are two meandering plotlines. One follows Richard Cathar, the son of a hippie academic who did too much acid in his heyday. Now he is dead and the son is going through his papers and decides to find more about Richard the Lionheart's handling of the True Cross via gratuitous globetrotting and lots of bad sex.
The other plotline is very heavy-handed historical fiction following Richard in the Plantagenet court. I'm actually really into the Plantagenets. Eleanor and her sons were, in their own way, just as crazy as Henry VIII. Basically, I was all set up to like this book, but my hopes were knocked down like a house of cards.
-accidental incest (except figuring out it was incest doesn't kill their interest - ew!)
-too much discussion about whether rape makes a women less of a human being (do we really need to philosophize about this? the answer is NO, bitch. N-O)
-Marty-Stu character every female character ends up fucking for no apparent reason
-really, really terrible writing, e.g. "When ____ comes, she cries, a brief Freudian squall, bringing relief to the parched sexual prairie..."(203)
-a desperation to sound erudite and literary that renders the effects of the prose impotent as a result
-lack of closure in the ending
If the book still appeals to you after all these things I listed, go for it.
If not, there's A.S. Byatt. She's pretentious, yes, but at least she's good at it.
Maybe it's the writer in me, but whenever I read an ambiguous summary where it's not quit...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
Maybe it's the writer in me, but whenever I read an ambiguous summary where it's not quite clear what the causes were behind something bad happening to one of the characters, I immediately assume it was attempted murder(!)!!
There was no attempted murder in THE ART OF FALLING, though. Just an incredibly selfish - and stupid - protagonist.
THE ART OF FALLING is a debut effort, and it shows. It's like when parents dress up their little kid in big people clothes and force him or her to perform for the "benefit" of the adults (i.e. captive audience). This kid has no business spelling words like antidisestablishmentarianism or reciting the periodic table. The spectacle is embarrassing for all parties concerned.
I got the impression that the author was trying quite hard to be erudite, channeling the stylistic choices of other established authors in this genre, like Gillian Flynn or Janet Fitch. Penelope Sparrow (oh God, that name -that name; it screams to me, "I am an unrepentant Mary Sue!") definitely fits into the crazy lady with crazy family and equally crazy goals in life stereotype, but she's the odd one out in this party because most of her problems, she's created herself and not had foisted upon her.
Let's get something straight here. Mental illness- it's a serious issue. It really makes me angry when mental illness is portrayed as some kind of conflict that the character must overcome, because mental illness is not a plot device. It cannot be resolved in a single "Eureka!" moment, like solving a math problem. Penelope Sparrow (*cringe*) has a very serious problem, but it is never specifically addressed in the book. Nobody encourages her to seek treatment, even though at one point her mother could have - and should have - phoned in for a 51-50.
It is clear that she is a danger to herself or others. She constantly makes poor decisions, and she never learns from her mistakes. She tried to commit suicide, for God's sake! It's like everyone, including her mother, forgot that. Plus, she has an eating disorder, which is kind of brushed off as a necessary side-effect of being a dancer. No. Just. No. I'm sorry, but when you go entire days without eating anything, when you starve yourself to the point that eating a slice of pizza gives you a stomachache from having something so substantial in your belly, when you starve yourself deliberately just to feel the euphoria that comes from your body's own debilitating weakness, you have a problem.
But this is never really addressed in the book.
Her reasons for the suicide attempt also really made me angry. I mean, I get it, sort of. It ties into her own complex about her appearance and about her weight, but it was also more than that. It made me think about Twilight- New Moon, specifically- and how our culture basically advocates doing stupid things for men (or boys). I just watched the movie ENDLESS LOVE, and it was like seeing the world through new eyes when I watched it without letting myself feel any of the emotions I was so clearly supposed to. During one point of the story, the female character who is being slut-shamed does the same exact thing that the male love interest did to her early on in the story for the benefit of the female love interest. But when the male love interest did it, it was sweet, whereas when the slut-shamed character does it, we're obviously supposed to go, "You evil bitch!"
I felt like when we find out why Penelope did what she did, we were supposed to go, "Ahh, that makes sense." But it doesn't. Not really. She is surrounded by characters who have their own problems- in some case, nearly identical problems- but she chose the worst option. The selfish option. The fact that she completely lucked out by surviving fourteen stories with only a broken arm never seems to occur to her, and she refuses to see it as an almost divine second chance. I got tired of her lecturing the other characters about their problems while refusing to delve further into her own. The things she says to her overweight mother are revolting. The things she says to her friend with cystic fibrosis are cringe-worthy. At one point in the book she as much as admits that she finds her dying friend's life so fascinating, she wants to move in with her to witness this spectacle firsthand. She says even worse things to her dying friend's mother, to the point where I nearly threw the book down in disgust. And don't even get me started on want she did to Marty.
I wanted to like THE ART OF FALLING, I really did. But it took a great premise and turned it into something completely unlikable. I know it's a debut effort, and that with debut efforts you want to be daring and attention-catching, but this was a really cheap way of doing it. Mental and physical illnesses are very serious, and because of the stigmas they face in society, need to be accorded with the respect and dignity that is their due.
The book has two alternating timelines - one features Jerome has a young, rich playboy/motivational speaker. The other, has a middle-aged, rich advertiser. In both timelines, he has the distinct (and dubious) privilege of being one of the most unpleasant, misogynistic, disgusting, hate-filled, loathsome excuses of a male narrator that I have ever seen in my twenty years of reading.
Much of this book reads like hypersexual fanfiction of AMERICAN PSYCHO. Despite its literary pretensions, 80% of this book is smut. Imagine if you told an adolescent boy to sit down with his friends and write erotica. (Note: for the sake of literature, do not tell an adolescent boy to sit down with his friends and write erotica.) This would be the result.
"If I was one of those Hentai octopus monsters with like 20 tentacle penises, I'd fill every hole with tentacle penises and pump her with semen until she explodes (209).
I look at my pink toro sashimi, the most expensive cut of sushi at this restaurant. It is the color of pomegranate sorbet, and, in my imagination, Maddie's nipples, her pussy, and her asshole (11).
Her asshole is the color of pomegranate sorbet (76).
The sex in this book is so unsexy, and yet it is repeated so much throughout that I couldn't help but wonder whether it was meant to shock or titillate. Or is AND THEN RUN the product of Fifty Shades of Rape Culture that has become embedded into our society? Is it okay to treat a woman like a sex object without a mind or a soul as long as you're adverbily attractive?
I want to kill my enemies. I don't want to apologize to them, or to women, or to anyone. I want to conquer my foes and take their women as my chattel, and make them do every porn thing I can think of (44).
I am not Casanova. I am no seducer. I am a raw, primal warrior. I am like Achilles claiming Briseis after killing her guards, or Og the caveman claiming Ug the cavewoman after killing a saber tooth tiger and some rival cave warriors (56).
There is nothing on earth that I want more than to live in a primal fantasy world and rule over Madison through her libido. I absolutely, definitely do not want to be "better" than that. The only way to get anything better would be if I could rule over like 10 women through their libidos, or just through fear, and also fight people to the death (and win) like every day (89).
I was born for sex, and I was built for killing (89).
Jerome is a womanizer with fantasies of polygamy. He keeps between 3-5 girlfriends at a time, lying to others about the seriousness of his relationships with the women.
"I would say that if a man has inherently polygamist desires, and he does monogamy in response to social pressure, then his soul has been neutered" (205).
One of the things I actually did like about this book is his weird anarchist views. Jerome has some truly funny observations about society and societal norms. I think his motivational speeches and his media manipulations were some of the best passages in the book, and I thoroughly enjoyed them.
But then, everything came back full circle to these weird, twisted sex fantasies.
He forces his girlfriends to have anal sex with him and threesomes, and rapes them or threatens them with physical violence when they do not comply. 99% of these encounters end up with the women crying. They plead for him to pick one of them and put the matter at rest once and for all. Jerome refuses, gets angry at the women for trying to force him into their "monogamist fantasies", ignores their calls or kicks them out of bed, and eventually the women always come crawling back, because he's sooooo rich and sexy, you guys.
At one point, one of the women actually apologies to him for getting upset about him raping her.
""I'm sorry I raped you," I mumble.
"If you hadn't, I would never have forgiven you," she replies (198).
Here's where the similarity to AMERICAN PSYCHO comes in. Jerome's friends, Paul and Aris, are enablers. They know their friend is an asshole- and possibly a murderer- but they don't do a thing about it. Rather, they seem to admire their friend for having the balls to do what they secretly want to do themselves, but are forbidden from doing legally, socially, etc. In that sense, I feel that AND THEN RUN is misandrinistic and misogynistic. Why?
Because it paints men as objectifiers and women as objects.
It gets worse, though. Jerome gets so frustrated with his American girlfriends that he decides to go to Cambodia and score some underage pussy.
[I]t might be interesting to buy a girl from Kenya or Cameroon or Cambodia. Or better yet, kill her village and take her as my prisoner. And her sister (251).
He ends up purchasing two child brides, ages 13 and 15. He sends them to an expensive hospital on the pretense that they were raped to make sure that they are really virgins. Then he has sex with both of them- at the same time.
That's right, you guys. Jerome Esterson is a pedophile.
I suddenly feel like I'm being ripped off in my own relationships. Why in the fuck am I settling for twenty-four year olds when I prefer fifteen year olds? (213)
"I plan to do the thirty-five year olds in the form of two twelve year olds and one eleven, obviously" (316).
Here's more quotes from Prince Charming.
The movie Shallow Hal is playing. That's the movie where a guy gets hypnotized so that he only sees inner (i.e. nonexistent) beauty. Making us satisfied with monogamy isn't enough. Now they need to make us satisfied with monogamy with disgustingly fat girls (179).
He thinks fat girls are gross! At one point, while picking up a chick at a bar, he makes a comment and she thinks he's calling her fat. He's like, if you were fat, I wouldn't be talking to you, because that would be gross. And she thinks he's soooo funny, because he's soooooo good-looking!
Maybe there is such a thing as true love. Or stupidity. Or maybe they are the same thing (276).
Women equate our desire for multiple women to their desire for multiple men. Which they have. But it's not like ours. Not just because it's harder for a guy to do it. As they say, if one key can open many locks, it's the master key, but if a lock gets opened by many keys, then it's a shitty lock (279).
Between the slut-shaming, fat-shaming, pedophilia, rape, misandry, misogyny, and pointless violence (he isn't a serial killer. He's a guy who loses his temper and kills people), I could not get on board with this book.
What was this book meant to be? A work of literature? Or a depraved sexual fantasy?
The ambiguity does not benefit the work.
Quotes were taken from an ARC and may or may not appear in your edition.
Parker is on a quest to make herself the most unpopular girl in school. Why? So she...moreYou can read more of my reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
Parker is on a quest to make herself the most unpopular girl in school. Why? So she can be left alone.
Unfortunately, nobody will let her carry out her plan. Because it's kind of hard to start a one-person train wreck when you used to be a) head cheerleader, b) the girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, c) on the principal's honor roll and a serious contender for valedictorian and d) friend to all the teachers.
Now, though, her life is a mess. She's a bitch on wheels, shows up to school drunk or on drugs, the school has her on suicide watch and her parents don't trust her.
All of that changes when a new kid arrives on the scene...
He's determined to find out what really happened.
And Parker is determined not to tell him. Or fall for him.
But, of course, she's going to fail on both counts.
I wasn't popular in high school. I was, like, the antipopular. So it's weird reading mean-girls-type books like these written about popular people and their fall from grace. Parker did a lot of things that I did in high school. Not the drinking, but, like, drawing weird and disturbing drawings for school assignments or being a snark - that was so me. Even though she was a bitch, I found myself chuckling at a lot of her antics, sucking me in, making me want to know her story.
The gradual reveal was very well done, especially for a debut. It made me want to keep reading, even when things got a little slow. Unfortunately, I feel like the big secret was a little anticlimactic. It was awful, yes, but I feel like Parker's reaction to it was very strong, and I feel like that's the author's intention, to show how much of what happened was a result of some underlying psychiatric thing.
Still, I wish the author had taken a more decisive approach to the mystery. I felt like I should have been shocked, but wasn't. Maybe because the author didn't feel comfortable talking about such a topic in detail (totally understandable); but sometimes, to show how horrible things are, you have to shine a light on them in the dark.
That half-hearted approach is a recurring theme in this book. For example, Parker's personality started out very strong in the beginning and I got a definitive sense of who she was as a character. But as the book went on, she kind of became a shadow of herself. I feel like this was less about character development and more about the author maybe having trouble writing bitchy things because she isn't a bitch. Part of it was character development, though, so it's hard to tell, but the drop-off point was sudden and abrupt. I feel like it could have been spaced out more evenly to make more of an impact.
And okay, I won't lie and say I wasn't disappointed by the end. I was kind of hoping for an HEA. But I'm actually glad the author didn't give in to her readers on this point. Real life doesn't always have an HEA, and actions like Parker's result in consequences. So that was satisfying, and so was this book.
I really struggled with how to rate MY SINGAPORE LOVER. The writing isn't horrible...moreYou can read more of my reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
I really struggled with how to rate MY SINGAPORE LOVER. The writing isn't horrible so much as pretentious; it's a bit like reading fortune cookie fortunes set into dialogue.
At first I thought I might give this book a three-star rating. But the more I read, the less I liked, and that rating devolved into a two-star, and then, ultimately, a one-star rating.
I don't even hate this book as much as I normally hate the books that I give one-star ratings to, but I didn't like MY SINGAPORE LOVER, either, and the more I meditated on why I didn't like the book, the more I realized it was a racist, grandiose piece of crap.
First, let's talk about the female main character. She's blonde-haired and blue-eyed, so of course everyone in the book is fascinated by her "exotic" Aryan good looks.
She's also completely self-absorbed and a materialistic whiner, to boot. She spends most of the book talking about how beautiful she is, and how this has always gotten her everything she's ever wanted since she was young. There's some rationalization - "Why shouldn't I have affairs with whomever I want?" "My Father cheated on my Mother, so it's okay that I do the same with other married men" "It's the men's choice to sleep with me despite being married, I am guiltless, I'm having a good time and so is he, it's love, dammit, blah blah blah," and so on - but you can't really successfully rationalize selfish behavior. Basically Sara is a bitch who doesn't care about anyone but herself.
There's a lot of designer name-dropping. She buys expensive things because they make her look even more beautiful and special, and cause people to pay more attention to her. She treats her coworkers like crap, ditching them as soon as better employment opportunities come along.
I think what disturbed me the most about MY SINGAPORE LOVER is the fetishization of Asian men and women. There's a lot of really anti-feminist sentiments in this book, such as that Western women are responsible for the lack of interest that men hold in them because they've become too focused on having careers and being independent. There's lots of talk about how Asian women are feminine (not feminist), submissive, family-oriented, petite, beautiful, and docile.
Also, it seems like everyone in this book is having an affair. Chapman kind of makes it seem like Singapore is some sex-crazed society, like turn of the century Paris, where libertines and their debauchery are, if not encouraged, then tacitly accepted. Has this woman even been to Singapore? I'm thinking not, if she said that adultery is more accepted in Singapore than it is in Western countries (which she does, in fact, say). ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? Singapore is so strict. I highly doubt that they would encourage affairs, especially public ones. That was very annoying.
I skimmed the book all the way to the end, but by the last eighty pages I was getting really fed up with Sara's selfish behavior, and all the attempts to make Asian people seem like some "exotic" taste. Sara at one point brags that people tell her she acts Asian, and I think she compares herself to a geisha at some point. She really doesn't. She acts like a half-grown hipster who's not ready for adulthood, and who leaches off the emotional happiness of others rather than making a commitment to happiness herself.
My luck with the new adult genre has been terrible. I hate to be closed-minded - especially since I have found a few diamonds in the coal pile - but oh my goodness, so many of the books in this genre test my patience. TEN TINY BREATHS is like a slightly better written, slightly less stupid THE EDGE OF NEVER (and if that sounds like it's a compliment, it's not - I loathed, loathed that book, as you can see in my review of it here.)
TEN TINY BREATHS revolves around Kacey and her little sister Livie. Their parents died in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. Afterwards they went to live with their aunt and uncle, except the uncle is a child molester, and also gambled away their inheritance at the blackjack table. So Kacey waits until the aunt's off running errands, drugs the uncle with sleeping pills in his beer, and then steals from their cashbox and wallet and hitches the next pimpmobile outta town.
Kacey is not an easy character to like. Several reviewers (including the aforementioned Rose) have said that she's like the female Travis Maddox. I would endorse that view wholeheartedly. She has issues but she's too biased and intolerant to participate in therapy. Rather, she self-medicates by violence (pushing herself too hard physically, and kicking the crap out of anyone who pisses her off - and at one point, she even tries to literally murder someone) and casual (and unprotected) sex.
And she thinks she's a good guardian for her vulnerable fifteen-year-old sister.
Not only is Kacey violent, promiscuous, mentally unbalanced, and just a bitch, she's also a hypocrite. You would think her own active sex life would make her more tolerant about women who are forced into desperate times. Nope. When she meets her neighbor, Storm, she immediately starts thinking bitchy things about her, like how she looks like a slutty Barbie doll and how her boobs can't possibly be real. Despite Storm's many overtures of friendship, Kacey rebuffs her at practically every turn, and thinks and says the most hideous things about her. It's nauseating.
And then let's talk about the love interest, Trent. I hate that he's named Trent because that reminds me of the awesome love interest from the TV show, Daria, and this guy is so not awesome. First off, he embodies the creepy stalker stereotype that is so prominent in NA fiction these days, only it's not creepy because, you know, he's hot.
Trent is one of those men who don't respect boundaries. He shows up at her work - at a strip club! - to stare at her creepily until she eventually talks to him. Even though Kacey says she's not interested, she slut-shames and even precipitates acts of violence towards any women who get close to him or express an interest, including her own alleged friend, Storm. He pushes her to confide in him even though they've only known each other for days, but then doesn't tell her his own secrets - even though this secrets of his actually affect Kacey in a very real and important way. Also, let's not forget that he practically molests her when she's wearing nothing but a towel.
Just in case you think I'm being too harsh, here are some quotes from Kacey:
"I feel the men's eyes on me, the questioning stares....They're probably taking bets already on who gets me in the shower first" (25).
"You want to make friends with old men, Livie? If that's the case, we could have stayed home" (27).
She is saying this to her sister, the one who almost got molested/raped by her uncle. Compassion. Kacey has it. In spades.
I decide maybe I can "try" to be friends with Storm Matthews, giant fake breasts and all (37).
Great. My gorgeous Barbie neighbor thinks Trent is hot. All she has to do is adjust her shirt and she'll have him on his knees (40).
What guy wouldn't fall in love with Sweet Stripper Barbie? (46)
"I've never read that book," Storm says...."I'm not surprised," I mumble... (47).
"Why would me smiling make them give me more money when they can save it for the person humping their leg?" (59)
"...even Gandhi would have a hard time not looking over her barely clad frame" (125)
"What, are you afraid you'll wake up duct-taped to your mattress?" (129)
I just can't jump on board with a story that's so...awful. It perpetuates everything I hate about society today - growing acceptance about stalkery men who don't respect women just because they're hot, the idea that love can fix what therapy can't, the idea that it's perfectly okay to say horrible and degrading things about women over men even if they're your friends, and especially the idea that if you're pretty enough and willing to put out you can treat people as badly as you want and they'll still fall over themselves wanting to be your best friend/lover/savior/helper/etc. What kind of a message is that?
TEN TINY BREATHS is exactly like every other new adult book out there...just slightly better written. And in all honesty, that's really not saying much.
Etched on me is an unapologetic story about how hard it can be to be a girl. Lesley Hollo...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
Etched on me is an unapologetic story about how hard it can be to be a girl. Lesley Holloway is just sixteen-years-old, but already she's had more crap flung at her than most people have to deal with in a lifetime.
✓ Her father has raped her since she was sixteen, and her mother knew but never did anything.
✓ She then had to face him in court, without maternal support.
✓ At sixteen, she is living on her own while attending an elite private school. But she has PTSD and ends up trying to commit suicide.
✓ She goes to a mental institution where she starts a relationship with a young woman, but her father's abuse makes it difficult for the two of them to connect.
✓ Naturally, as soon as Lesley does get comfortable, they're discovered and that gets both of them kicked out.
✓ Her one consensual heterosexual encounter results in pregnancy.
✓ CPS wants to take her baby away.
Obviously there is more to ETCHED ON ME than all this, and really, the details I've mentioned barely scrape the surface. Lesley is a troubled teen by anyone's standards, but she has a lovely support group. I loved Miss and her husband, and Imogen, and the lawyer, Bradford.
What's troubling is how cruelly many people treated her - the other girls in the private school, the sneering doctor who wasn't going to give her any anesthetic because since she was in for self-harm he figured she'd be all right with pain, the condescending social workers, the hardened inpatient nurses...it just goes to show how sometimes the people who are supposed to help can hurt the most.
This is not an easy read, and contains many potential triggers. Nothing is sugar-coated or glossed over; the down and dirty of the hardships teen girls face every day somewhere in the world are revealed in their full hideousness. What with new adult novels glamorizing the hard-knock life, I think ETCHED ON ME does a great job of showing that no, this is not romantic, and that a lifetime of abuse can't be solved by finding love: it's a problem, and one that needs fixing.
There's a dash of Rebecca in THE INNOCENTS. When Charlie and Alice's mom remarries rich N...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
There's a dash of Rebecca in THE INNOCENTS. When Charlie and Alice's mom remarries rich New England money, things seem like they're finally shaping up. Suddenly, they have easy access to the creme de la creme of society.
Only Charlie is excited; she's the social butterfly of the two girls, and immediately hooks up with residential bad boy and bad girl, Cybille and Jude. Alice, however, is less than thrilled by the superficial charm of the societal elite.
There's also something dark about their mother's remarriage. It happened shortly after their stepdad's first wife and daughter died. And people think Alice looks an awful lot like Richard's dead daughter, Camilla. Even Tommy, the boy Alice is interested in.
I've been craving drama-laden trash lately (case in point, watching The Borgias and Desperate Housewives), so this light gothic novel with vapid teen debauchery was the perfect fix. It has a low rating on Goodreads but I don't quite understand why. I thought Peloquin captured the drama of teen life perfectly, and they were all such a petty bunch of bitches that I found the whole thing uproarious.
I'm guessing that people disliked this book because of the slut-shaming and the drugs and alcohol, and how everyone in this book is kind of evil in one way or another. At first that annoyed me too. But when I realized that was the point, and that the book wasn't taking itself- or the protagonists- seriously, I was able to suspend my disbelief and enjoy the drama.
There are a decent amount of twists and turns too. I saw most of them coming, to be honest, but others might not.