This is how you write about drug addicts and love triangles. And cunthounds. The most irrepressible cunthound there ever was!
Seriously though, I thinThis is how you write about drug addicts and love triangles. And cunthounds. The most irrepressible cunthound there ever was!
Seriously though, I think this is one of the best love triangles I've ever read in that there's never really a question about who is going to end up with whom, but the dynamic between all three people is so fantastic. The lingering physical attraction and familiarity between ex-lovers is so well depicted. Mostly though, I love all the characters involved. Halfway through, I noted that I loved where Terrible/Chess/Lex were and where they seemed to be going but then Stacia Kane went and pulled up ALL the stakes and raised them even higher. I'm almost afraid to read the next book!
I can't wait to read the next book. Terrible is a hell of a drug. ...more
I went from being ambivalent about Book 1 and the first half of this book to completely and utterly invested. Two words: Terrible, rooftop. Chess is sI went from being ambivalent about Book 1 and the first half of this book to completely and utterly invested. Two words: Terrible, rooftop. Chess is such a great character too -- complicated, messy, brilliant. I was having trouble with the dialogue or 'Downspeak' in Book 1 so Flannery recommended the audio version and the narrator is fantastic. I'd write more but I need to read the next book. ...more
Are you tired? Rundown? Listless? Do you poop out in the middle of a book -- even one you're really enjoying?
Try CINDER. It will bust you out of yourAre you tired? Rundown? Listless? Do you poop out in the middle of a book -- even one you're really enjoying?
Try CINDER. It will bust you out of your reading slump.
And Prince Kai is so tasty too!
I don't know whether I hit the rookie reviewing wall, but I haven't written a review since... November 15?! Don't get me wrong, I've been reading (and taking notes while I read) but that's it. With Cinder, I didn't take any notes or make any highlights. I just read... and read... and enjoyed the hell out of this book.
Cinder is a cyborg mechanic living in a futuristic New Beijing. She has to work to support her stepmother and two stepsisters. Her stepmother, resentful at being forced to take her in, refuses to buy Cinder a new mechanical foot so she's stuck with the little one from when she was 11 years old. Already, I love this take on Cinderella. Cinder may be the ward of her stepmother, but she's also a feisty, badass mechanic, a la Mercy Thompson. She meets the heir to the throne, Prince Kaito, when he comes to her booth to get his android fixed. Kai's father, the Emperor, is dying of letumosis, an incurable disease that has already taken the life of his mother and many people around the world. As if the letumosis plague wasn't enough, there is the constant threat from Queen Levana, the powerful Lunar queen who has mind altering abilities.
Basically, this book has a little bit of everything -- action, political intrigue, romance, science fiction, and fantasy. Since it's a retelling of a well known story, the plot is fairly predictable. This isn't Sherlock (one of the many shows I watched in its entirety during my book slump -- what up, Cumberbitches!), where the plot is driven by its mystery. Rather it's the creativeness and freshness of Marissa Meyer's writing that kept me interested in the story. The Cinderella story is the roadmap, but Meyer blazed a completely different and unique trail to take us up to the stroke of midnight. I had so much fun reading this book and her wink wink nudge nudge references to Rapunzel and future characters in this series.
Did I mention this book is set in Asia with a hot Asian prince? Seriously, it's so nice to be able to reference a hot Asian male character other than freakin' Shang from Mulan. So help me God, movie studios, if you cast Jackson Rathbone as Kai, I will throw shit! I pictured a young Takeshi Kaneshiro as Kai. For the androids, I pictured Rosie from The Jetsons.
If you haven't read this already, you should join the thousands of happy, peppy readers and get a copy of Cinder tomorrow. Hi, Fred! Hi, Ethel!
When Flannery first recommended this book to me with the promise of Boston and baseball, my exact reaction was, "........" The opening paragraph of heWhen Flannery first recommended this book to me with the promise of Boston and baseball, my exact reaction was, "........" The opening paragraph of her review cracks me up because what I remember most about Boston is: rats. Lots and lots of rats. Since "everywhere" is too general, let me tell you 3 specific places where I saw a rat.
1. Subway (as in Eat Fresh®) 2. California Pizza Kitchen, Prudential Center 3. My dorm room
My friends refused to walk on my left because whenever I saw a rat charging out of the bushes, I'd push them out into the street. Excuse me for trying to save your life! Did no one see the episode of Little House on the Prairie where everyone in Walnut Grove nearly died of typhus?! That wasn't just a TV show, that was a PSA.
Second only to rats in Boston are Red Sox fans. The SAWX. I grew up watching sports (not baseball, as if) but nothing in my life prepared me for Red Sox Nation. I lived 5 minutes away from Fenway Park and got a very rude awakening the first (and only) time I tried to take the T after a game. My PTSD still prevents me from talking about it.
Imagine my surprise when not only did I end up finishing this book, I loved it. It reminded me that aside from the rats and the Sox, Boston was also where I first fell in love, strolled through a park at night while someone played the saxophone, and had a chocolate chip cannoli from Mike's Pastry. (Don't knock it til you've tried it! My love for Mike's has outlasted that first love.) Every so often, I need to be reminded that hope exists. I need it to wrap me in a bear hug and refuse to let go until I surrender because anything less won't work with me. Some Disney magic also helps.
My Most Excellent Year refers to the year Alejandra Perez and a 6-year-old named Hucky entered the lives of T.C. Keller and Augie Hwong. T.C. and Augie declared they were brothers in 1st grade and never looked back. T.C. had just lost his mother and he bonded with the quiet kid who was the one person who didn't look at him like he'd just lost his mother. Of course, Augie didn't stay quiet. Have you ever met a quiet Ethel Merman fan? While Augie shared his love of musicals during their weekly sleepovers, T.C. shared his love of baseball. When Alejandra (that's Alé with an é) transferred to their school freshman year and politely rejected T.C.'s offer to consider a relationship with her, while talking to Augie about musical theater, both boys were goners. Their story is told through journal entries, emails, IMs, and texts.
First, I loved that two of the main characters are minorities. This was such an issue for me growing up, and it's still an issue for me now, but it's so important to see last names like Hwong and Perez and not deal with stereotypical characterizations. Augie is the son of a Chinese immigrant mother and American-born Chinese father. His mother terrorizes the Boston theater community with her reviews for the Globe. Here's a sample of her review of Carousel:
"Nice songs to beat your wife to. Attend at your own risk."
She instilled her love of theater in Augie, but made sure to warn him about Carousel when he was 8. Alé is the daughter of diplomats and her father was the ambassador to Mexico until he accepted a position at Harvard. She's used to hobnobbing (and accidentally insulting) diplomats, actors, and (I'm assuming) Bono. Her closest friend before moving to Brookline was a Secret Service agent.
Second, I loved the fathers in this. T.C.'s dad, Ted, named after Ted Williams naturally, and Augie's dad, Craig, are such presences in their sons' lives. T.C. uses a vocabulary word in one of his journal entries and a few pages later, Ted ends up using the same word in an email to T.C.'s counselor. You can just see T.C. using it around the house with Ted, making up ridiculous sentences along the way.
Third, Augie Hwong is who I tried to get my little brother to be. Yes, the one who is now a big bad cop. I just think children, particularly boys, need a well-rounded education, especially of the musical variety. Also, I knew even back then that he was destined for a career involving weaponry so I wanted to get to him before the mouthbreathers did. Since I controlled the radio in the car (ah, the perks of being the oldest), I played a steady stream of Rent, Les Miserables, and Ragtime. (Wicked came later.) I was so proud when I heard him humming "Would you light my candle?" I was even prouder when Rent the movie came out and he went to watch it on his own.
This book had the same energy of Sorta Like a Rock Star and it was what I hoped Will Grayson Will Grayson would be. The format of journal entries and emails and texts made it an easy, fun read. You don't need to know all (or any) of the baseball and theater references to get this book. Just read a short synopsis of All About Eve so you understand one of my favorite Augie moments. I know it's not perfect, but it had so much heart that like Mary Poppins, My Most Excellent Year is practically perfect in every way.
This is the second book of The Readventurer Challenge and... it didn't work for me. I'm not giving White Cat an official gooAudiobook rating: 2 stars.
This is the second book of The Readventurer Challenge and... it didn't work for me. I'm not giving White Cat an official goodreads rating because the narration didn't hold my attention enough for me to completely follow the story. This is now my 7th or 8th audiobook, and I love listening to them, but Jesse Eisenberg and I just didn't mesh well together. And I'm not a virgin and I can drive! TMI?
The premise of mafia controlled curse workers sounded like The Godfather meets Misfits, which is definitely up my alley. It had my attention in the beginning, when the main character wakes up teetering on the roof after a dream where a cat literally takes his tongue. He also has a non-stereotypical Asian roommate, which is an automatic 10 points. I liked the explanation of his cons and betting schemes, which had an Ocean's 11 vibe.
However, it wasn't long before my attention was wandering, and not because I didn't like the story. My main issue with Jesse Eisenberg is that he has a quiet, kind of whiny voice. It was fine in my car when I could really blast the speakers, but around my house, I was mentally yelling at him to put some bass in his voice. SAY IT WITH YOUR CHEST! I followed along for about half the story until Cassel's brothers entered the picture and I couldn't remember who was who or who Maura was married to. I also thought the main character's name was "Castle" and totally judged him for it.
Once I started imagining Armie Hammer reading me the book instead (and missing a few chapters in the process), I know I should've stopped and switched to reading the book for myself. However, the CHALLONGE was for the audiobook specifically and I wanted to see if I could stick to it. By the time the audiobook ended, I was completely lost and wondering if I had missed a file. I'll probably end up giving this another shot in paper form because the beginning was really promising.
Since I did manage to get through the entire audiobook (that's TWO out of three She Made Me Do It books) I decided to make a gif.
Note to VH1: No one loves the 80s as much as YA authors. This is the 3rd book I've read this year set in the 80s, and it's BY FAR the most comprehensiNote to VH1: No one loves the 80s as much as YA authors. This is the 3rd book I've read this year set in the 80s, and it's BY FAR the most comprehensive.
This may end up being one of those "on the other hand" reviews where I seemingly have 3 hands and keep contradicting myself because while I enjoyed the book, I also had issues with it.
Good hand: The premise was intriguing and grabbed my attention immediately. A virtual scavenger hunt for billions of dollars based on a rich man's love of the 80s? I'm game! Bonus points for keeping my attention in audiobook form. I've listened to exactly one audiobook in full before -- Finnikin of the Rock -- which had 3 things working for it: 1) It had an Australian narrator, 2) I'd read the book before, and 3) Hello, it's Melina Marchetta. None of those factors were in play for Ready Player One, and since I'm more of a visual person, I worried about how much of the story I would be able to retain without reading it. I actually didn't have any problem understanding or retaining the story because...
Bad hand: ...the beginning was really repetitive. I started this while stuck in my car for hours and at one point, I checked to make sure I hadn't accidentally hit the back button on my iPod because he was saying the same. thing. I think part of the reason may have been to make sure the audience understood this virtual world but the thing is...
Ugly hand: ...the world Ernest Cline is describing isn't SO incomprehensible or wildly imaginative. It's a few steps beyond our current reality, but nothing I can't easily wrap my brain around. I think many readers would say that this is a good thing, but when I read sci-fi, which isn't often, I want to be wowed and blown away. For example, I loved 1984. I loved that it was the world as George Orwell saw it in 1948. Ready Player One is looking at 1984... from 2012. A lot of the world building felt tedious because we don't need all that explanation in 2012. We're already there. It's like when I read articles in the New York Times last year explaining Twitter. Gee, thanks for the tutorial 20,000 tweets in.
Still, the story made me curious enough to stick around for all FIFTEEN+ HOURS of the audiobook, and I'm definitely not the target demographic. The Comic-Con crowd would probably eat this book up. I went to Comic-Con with my friend and when we saw Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, our reaction was,
"Eric from Days of Our Lives!" "And Dean from Gilmore Girls!" "What are they doing here?"
Wil Wheaton as the narrator was great, except for when he went into his Asian voice for Shoto. Um, why? He didn't suddenly make his voice higher for the female characters so I don't get why he went all Joy Luck Club for Shoto.
Ready Player One was an intriguing concept that lost its novelty for me partway through, but one that I had to finish nonetheless.
Well, this short story made me cry more in 15 pages than any other book I've read this year -- except for Patrick Ness's gut punches masquerading as bWell, this short story made me cry more in 15 pages than any other book I've read this year -- except for Patrick Ness's gut punches masquerading as books. This story of the Chinese-American son of a mail order bride who learns of his otherness from cruel neighborhood kids and begins to resent the source of his difference, his mother, was heartbreaking, poignant, and familiar. It reminded me of all the times my brother and I would refuse to eat with chopsticks or speak Korean, how we demanded nasty Lunchables instead of kimbap, the DELICIOUS Korean version of sushi that was packed in our lunches.
When Jack demands that his mother speak only English, she says,
“If I say ‘love,’ I feel here.” She pointed to her lips. “If I say ‘ai,’ I feel here.” She put her hand over her heart.
These two lines sum up why so many immigrants cling to their native tongue despite the protestations of their non-immigrant children.
Thanks to Flannery and Leanne for bringing this story to my attention. It's definitely worth the few minutes it'll take to read. Just be sure to have tissues handy....more
Timing, as they say, is everything. I read most of Eleanor & Park while sitting by the pool and listening to Call Me Maybe... on repeat. This bookTiming, as they say, is everything. I read most of Eleanor & Park while sitting by the pool and listening to Call Me Maybe... on repeat. This book though couldn't be further from a Carly Rae Jepsen song and I wondered if I would've enjoyed it more had I read it at a different time.
It's 1986. Eleanor is the new girl in school. She lives on the wrong side of the tracks, wears unstylish secondhand clothes on her larger than average body, and has flaming red hair. Basically, she is a walking target. From the minute she first steps on the school bus, she is heckled and called "Big Red." She can't even find a seat on the bus until the one Asian kid silently moves aside for her. Park is the son of an American soldier and a Korean woman. Being half-Korean puts an easy target on his back, but he's friendly enough with the popular kids to keep himself out of the crosshairs. He takes pity on the new girl, but instantly regrets it and hopes she doesn't take it as an overture. They slowly and silently open up to one another through Park's comic books. Eleanor reads them over his shoulder, Park realizes this and takes his time turning the pages. The volume on their silent connection eventually turns up and they begin to talk about comics and music and Shakespeare and Han Solo.
But it isn't all comics and mixtapes. While this is a love story, it isn't a light story. Eleanor has just started living with her mother, siblings, and abusive stepfather again after he kicked her out of his house. Everyone lives at Richie's mercy. He's their only source of income, as he's quick to remind them. Park, on the other hand, has a pretty close to perfect family. His parents still make out like newlyweds and they live next to his grandparents. The main issue is his relationship with his father, who calls him a pussy for not being able to drive stick.
I asked my friend to send me this book because I couldn't wait for the US release. Attachments, Rainbow Rowell's debut published novel, was one of my favorite books last summer. She actually wrote Eleanor & Park before Attachments, but sold it after. I make the distinction because Eleanor & Park feels more like a first novel. For example, there's a scene where our two leads are talking and Eleanor thinks,
"Park's eyes got wide. Well, sort of wide. Sometimes she wondered if the shape of his eyes affected how he saw things. That was probably the most racist question of all time."
YA THINK? This passage though didn't make me reach for the That's Racist GIF mainly because it was so awkwardly placed. Eleanor thinks this then goes on talking about X-Men, but it doesn't have the effortless feel of, say, Jessica Darling, who you know says some shit.
The alternating points of view also highlight the lack of gray in the novel. Eleanor's family life is SO low while Park's family life is SO high. Eleanor doesn't even own a toothbrush thanks to her wicked stepfather, and Park is comparing his parents to Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. While we're on the subject of Park's parents, they have an amazing, wonderful marriage... that I found completely unbelievable. I definitely appreciate minority characters, especially Koreans, but if you're going to use them, use the experiences they bring to the table too. You don't have to, but in the case of an Asian war bride in the Midwest in the 80s, not doing so just made it seem unrealistic.
Before you think I didn't like this novel, I really liked that the two main characters weren't your standard leads. Eleanor isn't some quirky but cute Molly Ringwald character, or someone who only sees herself as big and awkward. She IS big and awkward, and that's not the central storyline either. Park says of Eleanor,
"Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something."
The way Park and Eleanor's relationship slowly unfolded and evolved was so well-paced. Behold the power of the mixtape! Their connection to one another was believable and sweet. The cover of the US edition is perfect:
I think people who enjoyed Ernest Cline's Ready Player One would also enjoy this book. There are a ton of references to 80s bands and discussions about comics and Star Wars. I don't know who Boba Fett is and I missed the snap, crackle, pop of Attachments, but I think an audience would appreciate the low, steady beat of Eleanor & Park.
J'adork. I know I was just THIS BOOK GETS ME-ing about Holier Than Thou but... this book gets me! Adorkable gets the online me -- the one who tweets aJ'adork. I know I was just THIS BOOK GETS ME-ing about Holier Than Thou but... this book gets me! Adorkable gets the online me -- the one who tweets and tumblrs and blogs and pins. If the last sentence makes no sense to you, this book may not be for you because one of the things I love about Adorkable is that it doesn't feel the need to explain all that. You either get it or you don't.
Jeane Smith gets it. She's a 17-year-old student and blogger who runs a mini online empire based on all things adorkable. #4 on The Ad♥rkable Manifesto is:
Suffering doesn't necessarily improve you but it does give you something to blog about.
Jeane is smart and sassy. She's Jessica Darling meets Tavi Gevinson. Tavi, for those unfamiliar, is a fashion blogger who at 13 was sitting front row at fashion shows around the world and featured in magazines, including French Vogue. Now 16, Tavi turned her Style Rookie blog into Rookie Magazine and even got Jon Hamm to contribute to her 'Ask a Grown Man' series.
No big deal. Jeane Smith has a million followers on Twitter and is flown around the world too. Tavi and Jeane also both had gray hair at one point.
Michael Lee, on the other hand, doesn't get it. Who cares about online popularity when you're actually popular, right? He's the Big Man On Campus -- perfect looks, perfect jock, perfect family. He's also half-Asian, which made me very happy. The main thing upsetting his life is his girlfriend, Scarlett, who is suspiciously spending a lot of time with Jeane's boyfriend, Barney. And there's nothing adorkable about Barney -- he is a straight up dork. Michael decides to confront Jeane about her boyfriend, and thus begins a series of encounters, both online and in real life.
I freakin' loved this book. At first, I was hesitant about the dual points of view because the male voice wasn't convincing. Michael says something about Jeane's "fugly face" and immediately an image of Regina George popped into my head. Thankfully, this was short-lived and Manning got Michael's voice. The star, though, was Jeane. She was as infuriating as she was endearing, but she cracked me up. My notes at one point were just a series of LOLs.
There are so many things that I loved, but on the top of the list is that Jeane isn't secret pretty, meaning she sees herself as a dork while the rest of the world sees her as some supermodel. This is such a tired trope. Jeane is short with some wobbly bits, and she's totally fine with that. That doesn't affect her sex life because -- NEWSFLASH -- 17-year-olds have sex lives! Jeane says:
I wound myself around him and in that moment I just wanted to be closer still, even if it meant climbing inside him like he was a sleeping bag, which actually doesn't really work as an analogy and makes me sound like some kind of sick serial killer who likes to wear my victims' skins.
There's also mention of female masturbation, which actually is a newsflash to Michael. Oh boys.
Adorkable gets how we interact now and the disconnected connectedness of those social networks. Manning sums up their appeal with this line:
This was what I loved most about Twitter: riffing on utter nonsense with a complete stranger who turned out to be on the same bizarro wavelength as me.
The tone of the high school characters is also perfect, or totes perfect. Adorkable is a cute, contemporary story that won't give you a toothache (copyright: Cher Horowitz). Now read it so we can tweet each other about it!
This Is Not a Test reminded me of Lord of the Flies meets The Walking Dead -- the first season when you're actually cheering for the huIgetthehype.
This Is Not a Test reminded me of Lord of the Flies meets The Walking Dead -- the first season when you're actually cheering for the humans and not the zombies -- with a dash of The Breakfast Club. Not only was this my first Courtney Summers book, this was also my first zombie book. Verdict? I'd like more of both please.
Sloane, a physically and emotionally abused girl, finds herself barricaded inside her high school along with five other students. While they know each other, they aren't friends. They came together because they were the only ones who weren't infected in a town overrun by zombies. The only signal they get on the radio is a recorded message informing them that "This is not a test." The school seems secure, the perfect place for a group struggling to survive. The difference between Sloan and everyone else is that she doesn't care to survive -- and hasn't since before the first zombie appeared.
There are so many elements to this novel. To begin, the setting is perfect. This is a survival story, but by having the group camped out at the school, the two basic elements of survival -- food and shelter -- are taken care of. Now instead of having the characters scrounge around for basic physical necessities, Summers can focus on the psychological aspect of survival. Holy mindfuck, Batman. This is an area where Summers excels. Not only is this about the living versus the dead, it's about the living dead, the people whose lives make them feel dead already. Sloane's survival up to this point has been more of a reflex than a desire. She watches as the other people in her group make choices -- cruel, arguably necessary choices -- to improve their own chances of survival. There is so much tension and suspense in this book as you try to figure out how it's going to end while you piece together how it began.
Of course, I also have to mention that one of the characters is Asian! Cary Chen, the stoner-turned-de facto leader, is a complicated, non-stereotypical character. Thank you, Courtney Summers, for that. And because I like to be thorough, I went ahead and mentally cast him.
I was hesitant to try Summers' previous books because while the reviews were often glowing, they would also include the words "uncomfortable," "intense," and "raw." Honestly, I just thought they would be too much for me, like the literary equivalent of Requiem for a Dream, a movie that I'm still not over and it came out 10 years ago! Adding zombies, though, is the perfect filter for all the intensity. The very real exploration of human nature and cruelty is much more palatable to a wuss like me with the paranormal zombie element. Having said that, I wish there was more information on the zombies, particularly how they came to be or how widespread they were. I know zombies aren't the focus of the story, but since they were included, I wanted to know more. Nevertheless, This Is Not a Test was the perfect introduction to Courtney Summers.
More surprising/unusual than the protagonist being a deaf girl who manages a rock band is that the male romantic lead is *cue trumpets* Asian-AmericanMore surprising/unusual than the protagonist being a deaf girl who manages a rock band is that the male romantic lead is *cue trumpets* Asian-American! Yeah, he's nerdy and plays something called the marimba, but he ROCKS too! I loved this book. I want to hug this book....more