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)
DNF at 25%. I hate when this happens... this author is super nice and very helpful, but I could NOT get into this. Narration's very surface level, int...moreDNF at 25%. I hate when this happens... this author is super nice and very helpful, but I could NOT get into this. Narration's very surface level, introspection didn't have much emotion to it and felt like there was a lot of "telling, not showing." I just couldn't connect with the plot or any of the characters.(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!
I read very little of the MG persuasion– and typically recommend even less, excepting Rick Riordan and early Harry Pot...morePosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
I read very little of the MG persuasion– and typically recommend even less, excepting Rick Riordan and early Harry Potter, but I now add Jonathon Stroud’s Lockwood & Co. series to the shortlist.
In this first installment, we’re introduced to the small agency Lockwood & Co– unlike most other agencies, the underage agents do their jobs without the assistance of an adult supervisor. The owner of Lockwood & Co, Anthony Lockwood is a vaguely Sherlock-esque character. He’s obviously brilliant and comes to life at the mention of a challenging case. Though he’s not the main character, he was far and away my favorite.
There are moments of The Screaming Staircase where the main character really worked for me: in the scary moments when her fear comes to the forefront, when she’s angry at being pigeon-holed as “weak…” those are the moments that she stands out for me. Every now and then, in group settings Lucy felt almost like foil character against Lockwood and the other member of the agency, George; used to show how discerning Lockwood is, and how annoying George can be.
The varying powers… or Talents, as they’re known in this book are interesting as well. They are revolve around ghosts, (or Visitors), but vary in strength and which senses are used. There are also the various accoutrements to being in the ghost hunting business. The weapons were particularly interesting as they’re sort of “old school” like rapiers, but I still got the sense that we were somewhere in the modern world due to mentions of things like car alarms, etc.
And then there are the ghosts themselves. The beginning ghosts are creepy, yes, but the scenes near the end are straight out of a horror movie: CREEPY TO THE MAX. The mystery was resolved with just enough of a tease at the end to make me feel like a series is deserved. Add that to the fact that said mystery is engaging, that there were many, MANY instances of humor, and The Screaming Staircase won me as a reader.
Who ya gonna call? Lockwood & Co. (And please do)(less)
At first glance, the summary of Plus One sounds like dystopian fare. But then you catch a glimpse of that breathtaking...morePosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
At first glance, the summary of Plus One sounds like dystopian fare. But then you catch a glimpse of that breathtaking cover and start to pray that the beauty on the front matches the beauty inside.
IT TOTALLY DOES.
I knew Elizabeth Fama could write a beautiful book; I’ll never forget the lyrical prose of Monstrous Beauty. I was surprised at what a different style of writing the gritty, action-packed Plus One was. It’s the mark of a talented writer who can pull off both.
I think the thing that struck me the most in terms of the world is… Plus One is not actually a dystopian novel. Plus One isn’t hundreds of years in the future with mind-boggling technology. No, in many ways, it’s very much our world and it’s more of an alternate reality, where took a different turn than what actually happened. The technology isn’t so far off from ours and it’s easy to see how the simple alteration of segregating society into sects of day and night dwellers led to the world of Plus One.
The flashback structure Elizabeth Fama uses in Plus One is employed with great effect. It allows us to see the seeds of a love story, and builds main character Sol’s world and family life effectively. We get to experience the gritty feel of Sol’s day-to-day life throughout the novel.
Headstrong Sol is just one of many morally gray characters. She plunges into things without effective plans and isn’t too fussed if other people are caused trouble by her actions as long as it’s not someone she loves. That moral gray-ness comes to the forefront with people close to Sol and a particular group of Smudges: the Noma.
The Noma bring to mind my only issue with the book: [TRIGGER WARNING] (view spoiler)[ a threat of sexual violence. I understand why it’s used: it’s shocking and horrifying to imagine that sort of invasion. It comes from a female character who is razor sharp and coarse as all hell. But there are so many other threats that could have been used to intimidate in a way that isn’t as triggery. (hide spoiler)]
But let’s move on to happier things: THE KISSING. THE SWOONS. The romance in Plus One is parfait. If you squint, it’s a little instalovey, but I say to you: KEEP YOUR EYES WIDE OPEN. I mentioned the seeds of romance in the flashbacks and they’re important for the relationship’s development. The moments between D’Arcy and Sol as they begin to really fall for each other made me catch my breath.
Plus One is currently a standalone, and I’m not sure if I want it to become a series or not. On the one hand, yes, PLEASE. On the other, the important parts of the story feel closed and how do you improve upon something THIS GOOD?
Plus One will stay with me in brightest day, in blackest night["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Hmmm… what can I say about Unforgotten by Jessica Brody?
Unforgotten is one of the hardest types of books to review. It was enjoyable. It wasn’t bad. But it also wasn’t particularly remarkable. Let me think about what did strike me about this sequel to Unremembered.
The time travel stuff in Unforgotten was actually really interesting. I’d actually forgotten (haha) that this was a plot element of Unremembered and finding that utilized much more in Unforgotten was a pleasant surprise as we zipped from past to future.
I also definitely liked Seraphina more this go around as she comes more into the humanity that she’s chosen for herself. She’s less… robotic in the way she expresses herself. This go-around, Sera’s got more of a backbone, and has even learned to use sarcasm!
The romance between Zen and Sera still doesn’t do much for me, but I was fairly intrigued with the introduction of the new character Kaelen, and something of a twist on the tired old love triangle. It was a little different, which I appreciated.
I’m going to admit this: I was planning on quitting this series after Unforgotten. It’s not that I disliked either Unremembered OR Unforgotten, more that there wasn’t much about them that struck me. But Brody hooked me enough with her ending in Unforgotten that I’m curious to see what the grand finale takes her readers.
Basically, why I think Unforgotten (and Unremembered) didn’t hook me: Despite the fact that Unforgotten is fun and Brody’s easy writing flow, it fails to stand out from the masses of YA fiction. Plus, something about it makes me think that it would be better for actual teen readers. Somehow, it’s just missing that crossover appeal.
As the wave of dystopian fiction peters down to a trickle, there seem to be a few books that, while not actually dysto...morePosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
As the wave of dystopian fiction peters down to a trickle, there seem to be a few books that, while not actually dystopians, attempt to capture fans of the genre. Sekret by Lindsay Smith, a supernatural alternative history set in Russia during the Soviet era, is one such novel.
At first glance, Sekret sounds like it could be… well, different. I have a fondness for Russia (or even Russia-inspired) settings in fiction, and the KGB is something I haven’t done much research in. My hope was that it would lend something new to the plot if it felt like dystopian fiction, yet was grounded in a government that actually existed.
For me, at least, it did not.
Though there is a vaguely X-Men: First Class feel to it, my feelings for Sekret are lukewarm at best. I could appreciate the danger that Yulia and her family are in. The challenge that she faces in learning to shield her mind to other psychics is likewise interesting, but not enthralling.
The same could be said of the romance– and even of the characters in this book. Interesting. Not enthralling. I didn’t feel enough for anything for it to either offend or please me.
Parts of the plot in Sekret: the romance, the identity of their ~mystery enemy~ left me feeling weary, and like I had read this story before. The atmosphere was new, but watered down so much, it felt very much like same-old, same-old dystopian fare.
It’s no sekret: Die-hard fans of dystopians may love this, but it left me wanting more.(less)