Better than I remembered. (Seriously, I remembered only the vaguest things about this... I'm wondering if I was sick the first time I read it or somet...moreBetter than I remembered. (Seriously, I remembered only the vaguest things about this... I'm wondering if I was sick the first time I read it or something)(less)
I hate reality tv. Hate it. Which is why I didn’t initially request Something Real by Heather Demetrios, which was SUC...morePosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
I hate reality tv. Hate it. Which is why I didn’t initially request Something Real by Heather Demetrios, which was SUCH a huge mistake.
Because it’s utterly and 100% fantastic. Thankfully a slew of positive reviews from bloggers I trust convinced me to buy it, for I now have a new favorite sitting on my shelf.
Reality TV sets the stage in Something Real, certainly, but it provides the framework for our main character who has a simple problem: she wants only to be the version of herself that she feels she is. Born Bonnie™ Baker, she goes by Chloe now– the name that she chooses. Her mom, the producers of the show, and, well… America press her to act like someone she’s not and the situation grows increasingly fraught with tension.
This point was particularly driven home by the author’s mention of 1984 and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. A character analogizes being knowingly observed, as with cameras and the like, to the social media age, where we send versions of ourselves out into the ether. She goes a step further and makes the point that people act differently with their friends or family than at school. We are constantly oscillating between versions of ourselves based on what people expect from us.
Something Real is about finding the courage to stand up for who you are, despite what others want you to be.
Thankfully, Chloe has a great support system in certain members of her family. Benton™ is her brother and he’s AMAZING. Benny is funny and wonderful and cares very genuinely for his sister in a way that comes off the page as real. He’s exactly the sort of brother you’d want to have. One who is your best friend, but who doesn’t try to convince anyone that means he’s the boss of you.
There’s also Patrick, aka The Boy. Despite a relationship that is only just budding, Patrick not only stands by Chloe, but becomes one of her biggest support systems. Patrick is funny and sweet, and I loved that he doesn’t charge in to try to save Chloe. He helps where he can, but he gets that she needs to save herself.
There’s also Chloe’s best friends Mer and Tessa, who are great. They’re the types of friendships that I love– strong, non-antagonistic female friendships. Other authors, more like this, please!
Actually, you know what I can say about the relationships in Something Real across the board? They grow. None of them remain stagnant, which is perfect. Because as people grow and change, their relationships must too. From the first spark with Patrick to a boyfriend. From friends that know her only as Chloe, but get her past as Bonnie™. To Chloe’s sibling Lexie™ who is still pissed about her past as Bonnie™, but grows to forgive her as Chloe. To Benny’s relationship with his boyfriend, WHICH IS SO PERFECT I’M STILL BEAMING ABOUT IT.
To Chloe’s relationship with her mother, already pulled tight and fraying at the seams.
I wanted a different ending to this book, but the one that Heather Demetrios gave her readers was absolutely the right one for Something Real. (view spoiler)[What I hoped to be given was a mother that stood up for her daughter, and a family that stood clapping in the stands at Chloe and Benny’s graduation. Chloe’s mom keeps her family on the show. Lexie™ is the only one who comes to the graduation.
And that’s what was right for Something Real. It would have cheapened the book’s theme of standing up for yourself if Chloe’s mother had been the one who “saved” her in the end. The proud and smiling family at graduation is what I wanted– which is how I know it’s how MetaReel, or reality tv, would have scripted things. It would have felt false for this story. (hide spoiler)]
It was a simple message that life isn’t all it appears to be in media. Life simply is.
It may be fiction but readers will find ~something real~ in the characters["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
After following J.C. Lillis on Twitter, I had a pretty good idea that I’d find some laughs within We Won’t Feel A Thin...morePosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
After following J.C. Lillis on Twitter, I had a pretty good idea that I’d find some laughs within We Won’t Feel A Thing. But I don’t think that I could have predicted how unique the humor in We Won’t Feel A Thing. It’s quirky and unusual and at times almost over the top, but that just lends to We Won’t Feel A Thing’s incredible charm.
The story in We Won’t Feel A Thing sounds like it may rehash familiar YA plotlines, but no. It’s utterly different and new. Dare I say, super fresh! (…No, I won’t say that because it’s true, but dang, I sound like a cheeseball.)
The characters of Rachel and Riley are also fantastic. I love that Lillis sidesteps any gender tropes with them. Rachel and Riley don’t play into gender roles. Like at all. It’s not, “Oh Rachel, is more of a guy and Riley’s kind of girly.” They’re simply people and it is so damned refreshing. AND, they’re people I like. I enjoy Rachel’s empathy with villains in her favorite series and her love of grammar. I love Riley’s talent of glass mosaics.
And honestly they’re kind of the cutest when they are trying muy, muy hard to stop loving each other. It only exacerbates their ‘symptoms.’ And I was all ‘d’awww.’
You will feel ALL the things with We Won’t Feel A Thing(less)
“Hard” sci-fi isn’t the first genre I’ll pick up. In fact, it’s often close to the last. But after reading and loving...morePosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
“Hard” sci-fi isn’t the first genre I’ll pick up. In fact, it’s often close to the last. But after reading and loving Jamie Grey’s debut novel, Ultraviolet Catastrophe, I knew I’d be on board for whatever she had in store for her readers in her first New Adult book: The Star Thief.
The main character of The Star Thief, Renna, has an edge, which I kind of love. She’s used to relying on herself and with good reason. The girl has skills as a mercenary. Skills that include fighting and thieving, maiming and killing, and seduction. I love that she doesn’t make any apologies for who she is.
And that includes her sexuality. I adored the fact that Jamie Grey doesn’t use the fact that Renna likes sex to teach some false-sounding lesson. Seeking out sex without love doesn’t have to mean some sort of psychological issues are at play. Renna enjoys sex, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It was damn refreshing.
The ~romance in The Star Thief makes great strides. Especially since, at the beginning, Finn is pretty friggin’ unlikeable. I wouldn’t say I quite fell for him by the end of the book but I did grow to like him and like where his character (and his relationship with Renna) are going.
The Star Thief is ACTION-PACKED. From the very first chapter, we’re off with a bang and race along. The Star Thief is the sort of sci-fi that puts me in the mind of sci-fi like Star Trek. It takes place in different worlds, among spaceships and technology we could only dream of. Plus, the aliens look like aliens, with purple skin, multiple eyes, ridged foreheads… you get the picture.
All of these elements add up to a winning combination. I can’t wait to read book 2!
HOME, LOVE, FAMILY; THERE WAS ONCE A TIME I MUST HAVE HAD THEM TOO [song]
This was one of my favorite parts of A Lady by Midnight. Kate was raised in an orphanage and has virtually no memory of any life before that. But she believes she was loved and she doesn’t give up searching. And her hunt bears fruit!
When the Gramercys enter the picture, we meet a cast of characters that are quirky and heart-warming. Unconventional, and as ready to love Kate as she is them.
I particularly loved how Dare expressed modern ideals, while still ensuring that A Lady By Midnight feels authentic to its historic setting.
SHE’S BEEN GOOD TO ME AND SHE DESERVES BETTER THAN THAT [song]
Thorne. Thorney, Thorne, Thorne. I just… *sigh.* I did grow to like Corporal Samuel Thorne, but his schtick with not being “good enough” for Kate got old real quick and it’s the biggest obstacle in their relationship here because the attraction and feelings they have for each other are quite obviously there. So this part was, while fun, a bit contrived.
Bow-chicka-bow-wow. Seriously, after reading A Week To Be Wicked followed by A Lady By Midnight, I am convinced that no one writes a sex scene like Tessa Dare. Things were hot, heavy, and sexy. And… yeah. BEST. Best sex.
I think that I’m one of many, many people who find Russian culture all kinds of fascinating. And like those many, many...morePosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
I think that I’m one of many, many people who find Russian culture all kinds of fascinating. And like those many, many people, the Russian revolution and Romanov family is of a particular interest to me. Even if Tsarina was written by someone else and J. Nelle Patrick wasn’t the penname of a favorite author of mine, Jackson Pearce, I would have found my way to this book.
There’s something vaguely Gemma Doyle-ish about the beginning feel of Tsarina. I think it comes from the friendship between two girls from a wealthier class, and the magical tumult. It may have been added to by the character of Leo, who both opposes and supervises Natalya and her friend Emilia, but is kind to them. I was reminded in very slight ways of Kartik’s character.
The sense of danger and mysticism is palpable in Tsarina, and Patrick lays out the landscape of Russia in a lovely prose that readers of her work as Pearce have come to expect. I was very pleased with it in that regard.
But, although I did really enjoy, Tsarina, there were a couple of aspects that fell flat for me. I was a bit disappointed by the romance in this book. It’s not that it couldn’t be seen coming, but I didn’t feel the chemistry, so it didn’t work for me. And well… the ending was another thing. It’s another thing that you can see coming, but it just doesn’t quite work. Some of it is too convenient, and the pacing feels a little abrupt.
Still, those complaints are minor ones for me. Patrick gave me Russia and magic. She gave me hints of the Romanovs and a strong female friendship. She gave me lovely words and interesting characters. Tsarina was a read that I really enjoyed.
Have you heard? There’s a rumor this book is pretty good.*
Oh wait, I’m supposed to tell you WHY you should go buy this book first, right? Well,...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
GOOD MORROW, FRIENDS.
Go buy this book.
Oh wait, I’m supposed to tell you WHY you should go buy this book first, right? Well, then, let’s hop to it!
We all know what a big fan of Tamora Pierce I am, right? Which is why a pitch that includes her name is guaranteed to draw my eye. But nothing besides the quality of a story will guarantee that it will hold my attention.
And boy oh boy, did The Cadet of Tildor hold my attention.
It wasn’t only that it held so many of my favorite elements: there was magic, a castle, and a strong female MC– it was that Alex Lidell crafted those elements so well.
For instance, our strong female MC, Renee de Winter is so proud of her future as a Cadet and so fearful that it won’t come to fruition– so she works at it. And the best thing about her is how much she grows as a character over the course of the novel. When the novel starts, she sees the world as very black and white. It was interesting as things changed for her so that she could see that there wasn’t always a clear answer.
Another character that I really enjoyed was Savoy, who was absolutely fascinating. He’s almost surly when he is called back to the castle in order to teach the cadets, but does a good job teaching. It was particularly interesting when we caught glimpses of what his character may have been like back when he was a student himself.
But the political unrest present in its pages is what gives The Cadet of Tildor life. The royal family fights against two crime families, who, in turn fight against each other as well. The seed of corruption runs deep in the world and as more was revealed about the families’ beliefs and the laws of the realms, I found myself actually understanding why different characters would ally themselves in certain ways.
The Cadet of Tildor is a fantasy novel that you’ll want sitting on your shelves alongside other YA fantasy favorites like Throne of Glass, Graceling… and yes, Tamora Pierce’s novels too.
I finished Just One Day hours ago. And I’ve been almost useless since I closed the book because wow. WOW.
I have just been busy marinating in my own feelings.
I related to Allyson a whole hell of a lot. At the beginning of the book, she’s the quintessential “good girl.” She does what she’s told, does what’s expected of her, and lets other people’s expectations be thrust upon her. But then she meets Willem, swoony dutchy boy extraordinaire, and she takes a big risk. For once, she does what no one expects.
And she has the best time doing it.
Lord, did this book make me want to go to Paris. Which is interesting because Willem and Allyson don’t necessarily do a lot of “sight-seeing.” But France comes alive through their spur of the moment adventure. And over the course of “Just One Day,” not only does Allyson (or, as Willem knows her, “Lulu”) fall for Willem in a big way (and trust me, as a reader, you will too), she sort of finds herself. Or who she wants to be, anyway. Someone that has adventures, does things that are a little unexpected. Someone who lets herself free of the box that she’s shut herself inside.
This book is definitely swoontastic (and goodness gracious, I use this word a lot, but it just FITS). Willem is enthralling, makes Allyson feel sometimes like she’s the only one who matters– but sometimes, making her feel like she’s not special at all when she sees him interact with other girls. That’s part of the growing she does over the course of the novel, I think. She’s less threatened by other women he’s interacted with, makes herself face them and that he has a past. And Willem is definitely flawed. Like Allyson, we only know him for a day and we don’t know his whole history, but we definitely see both the good and the bad.
And can’t help falling for him anyway.
But yes, though the swoon made me grow wide of eye and short of breath, it was when Willem leaves Allyson that I connected the most. Because then Allyson has to find her way back to that person that she wants to be without someone to guide her.
And it takes some doing.
This was the point at which I started to cry because honestly knowing you have every reason to get over someone, knowing it was short-lived and that the l-word shouldn’t fit in the situation, and knowing that you’re expected to be over it– it’s hard when you’re just not, and feel like you’ve lost a bit of yourself along the way.
I think that beyond swoon and that discovery of self, Just One Day is about changing relationships. Allyson does a lot of working to get her parents to see who she wants to be and she drifts apart from her childhood best friend. It’s frustrating at time, but I never felt like Gayle Forman pigeon-holed Allyson’s mother other former BFF as ‘villains.’ In the case of her mother, they have some work to do, but in the case of the best friend, they simply grow into people that don’t mesh as perfectly as they used to. And that’s okay. It’s life. In every way possible, Just One Day is a book that will stay with you. At least… I know it will stay with me.
To sum up: Read Just One Day if you want to feel and feel a lot. You will not be disappointed.(less)
It was impossible for me to resist the lure of Robin Wasserman’s The Book of Blood and Shadow once I read reviews that liken...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
It was impossible for me to resist the lure of Robin Wasserman’s The Book of Blood and Shadow once I read reviews that likened it to a YA (and better) version of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Quite honestly, I loved Dan Brown’s novels when I last read them. Would I feel the same if I read them today? Who knows? But I did love The Book of Blood and Shadow.
The parallels are easy to draw; a murder involving secret societies takes the main character across the sea to solve and necessitates the knowledge of certain academia to solve.
Beside plot minutiae, there is a huge difference between the two. Not to sound pretentious douche, but while The Da Vinci Code is rather plot driven, The Book of Blood and Shadow is driven a great deal by the actions and motivations of the main character, Nora. The impetus for Nora’s movements are solid and real and make sense given what she knows and what she’s lost.
Excepting a painfully sad flash-forward narrating prologue (which didn’t bother me as much as it usually does, surprisingly), the beginning of The Book and Blood and Shadow is rather light. We’re not yet encumbered with a dangerous mystery that results in bloodshed. Nora has two wonderful best friends and an interesting work study position. She’s in love.
She’s even beginning to feel a kinship with the woman who wrote the supposedly unimportant letters she was assigned to read for her work study. And why not? The similarities of their lives are impossible to miss, despite the centuries separating them.
It’s all so perfect… until little things start to go wrong. Wasserman masterfully builds smaller moments of tension. That is, until we arrive back at that opening moment when we know there’s been a death and Wasserman delivers a wallop in the form of a murder.
That’s when the adventure really begins.
Many novels that take us overseas get the label of a “romp.” Not so with The Book of Blood and Shadow. The foreign backdrop reinforces the mystery. Our characters are in an unfamiliar place stuck in a situation that they don’t truly understand. Robin Wasserman pulls you into her mystery, leaving a trail of clues from a history that is half-fabricated and half-legitimate.
The amazing thing about this is that while the focus is, of course, untangling the mess they’re in, Nora is still so authentic. She spares thoughts for grief and for her relationships and friendships. It’s balanced properly so that I don’t want to strangle her for being either a) inhuman or b) foolish for ignoring her bigger problems.
One note that I have to make was that The Book of Blood and Shadow made me a little sad. Two sets of people with differentiating ideals were moved to violence over it. And that’s real… but as a commentary on humanity, depressing.
Overall rating: 4/5. The Book of Blood and Shadow is an amazingly crafted mystery that draws on history to further it.(less)