Book Recommendations

Best of 2018 #2

Your fav is problematic: me

*is emotionally and physically incapable of choosing between her favs*

All the ladies & gents & enby folks who are too indecisive to pick favourites, make some noise!!!!

Alright, SO. I wrote a post a couple days ago that featured exclusively my favorite releases of 2018 (you can find it HERE), but I’ve also gotten around to reading some amazing books from previous years that were collecting dust on my tbr pile, and I had the good fortune of being sent some equally amazing 2019 ARCs, all of which I really wanted to include in Best of 2018!

So, without further ado… Continue reading “Best of 2018 #2”

Book Recommendations

Best of 2018!

Me, struggling to hold all my overflowing love for these books in my tiny grinch arms: where the hell do I put all this?

Not to curse myself but I’m so content with 2018 in terms of reading. Everything else? Well, if the technology from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind existed, I would use it to wipe every trace of this year from my consciousness. But, alas…

I was initially going to do a “TOP 10 READS OF 2018” but making the conscious decision to leave out some of my favs seemed too emotionally taxing to contemplate and so here we are! This post is going to solely center around my favorite books that were released this year, and I have another post coming that will feature my favorite backlist books and also some of my favorite 2019 releases and I’m really excited for that!

But before we get into this list, I want to give some shoutouts:

  • Shoutout to all the series I’ve started this year and didn’t finish…It’s not you, it’s me. I have commitment issues. I still love you, though.
  • Shout out to all the books I missed out on because someone decided to give you bad covers. I’m so sorry, I wish things were different so I could love you.
  • Shoutout to all the unread books on my shelves. I’m sorry you’re stuck with an idiot who buys a bunch of books that she has nowhere to put and no time to read.
  • Shoutout to me for being a reader because that’s literally the only interesting thing about me.
  • Shoutout to my friends with whom I don’t feel weird about sending an essay length text screaming about my favorite fictional character. You’re the real MVPs.

But, mostly…

  • Shoutout to all the diverse and inclusive books that allowed me to see myself and my community reflected on the page and told me that I deserve to take up space in the world, that I deserve to be represented and valued and celebrated. Thank you.

Now without further ado…(You can click on the title to read my full review!). Continue reading “Best of 2018!”

Reviews

Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

36199084SYNOPSIS:

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…


RATING: ☆★

This book had the nerve…the audacity…the unmitigated gall…to come into my home…where I pay the bills…and let me down.

On the bright side, however, at least it’s not a Percy Jackson movie.

I relish stories that give voices to cultures and experiences that are unfortunately too rarely represented on page or screen, so when I heard this book is an ownvoices story about a woman with Asperger’s, I immediately added it to my TBR.

Although this novel isn’t as winning as I expected it to be, there’s certainly plenty to admire in it: the fact that this is a book version of Pretty Women but with a refreshing subversion that’s embodied in the gender role reversal, the exploration of money and how fortune doesn’t touch everyone with the same hand which was by turns careful and unflinching, how there’s a real sense of culture and history in the depiction of Michael’s community (his Vietnamese heritage shines through and there’s tremendous joy in his interaction with his family: the banter, the support, the kindness threaded through pitiless teasing), and the knowledge that the events in this book and the author’s continued research has inspired her to seek out a therapist and be diagnosed on the spectrum. It’s very important to see autistic women at the forefront of efforts at representation, expanding the conversation and the vision for autistic characters.

That said, I fault this book for many things—each one jabbing at my initial excitement, until it deflated completely. I fault it for being boring, averagely written and riddled with clichés. Most important, though, I fault it for demonstrating knowledge of important issues only to lampshade the significance of its premise rather than delve deeper into something more nuanced. I expected more from this—more rigor, more thoughtfulness, more craft. Instead, I was left staggered and uncertain how to feel about the whole thing—about an ending that felt trivial, almost mocking the seriousness of the rest of the book, and a fizz of uneasiness that I couldn’t quite shake afterwards.

This is the story of a woman who was smart and beautiful and accomplished, and who simply had the poor fortune of coming across men who had never cared for more than their own entertainment, who didn’t have her welfare anywhere remotely near at heart and who treated her more like a boring convenience than an exciting toy. So, she stood there and accepted the weight of the blame, because clearly, if someone hurt you, there’s something wrong with you to deserve it. For Stella, it was her autism.

If it were obvious and unmistakable at any point in the book that the author was highlighting this attitude as a problem, I might feel more kindly disposed toward it. Instead, it’s relying on the misguided belief that autism is an inherent flaw that you’re supposed to overcome, and it’s positioning the love interest, Michael, as someone who will, and I quote, “seduce [perhaps more aptly termed in this context: fuck] the anxiety out of [Stella]”, failing to examine the crucial fact that Stella’s past sexual encounters didn’t go awry because of her autism—her past dates were simply pieces of shit who didn’t treat her like a human being. And then, Michael comes along, shows Stella the barest scrapings of human decency, and she feeds off that, because she’s been starving and thought such crumbs a feast.

It’s like the novel version of those heterosexual dating articles whose entire premise is basically: “How To Hack Men Into Treating You Like a Person.”

This is a frustration exacerbated by the fact that once Stella establishes that she enjoys physical contact with a man (read: a man who treats her decently and who doesn’t leave her laying on the bed like an unloved doll splayed out on the floor), she suggests that they now forgo the sex altogether and work together to figure out how to make her comfortable in romantic situations, and so begins a fake-relationship which of course blossoms into a romance.

I fault this book for trying to depict a well-balanced pairing only to deploy it in ways that feel manipulative and disingenuous. The bar was already set so low for Michael…and yet, he still managed to slide right under it. Michael says all the right things to make Stella feel comfortable, but his words stand in blatant contrast against his actions—which were infuriatingly manipulative and alarming. For instance, when Stella clearly voices her discomfort with something, Michael sweeps aside her comments like you’d brush crumbs from a table and assures her that she’ll enjoy it when she tries it, and of course, she doesher agency completely disregarded by this point. The relentless patronizing Michael was subtly practicing throughout this book left a deeper impression than anything else, and I couldn’t just chalk it up to character unreliability.

Also egregious is how Stella’s symptoms seem to conveniently disappear around Michael. In fact, it was pretty obvious early on that the narrative was charitably embellishing Michael’s traits, palliating his possessiveness, and only illuminating his character by villainizing literally every single other male character. This is made even more manifest in the second love interest, Philip, Stella’s coworker, who is painstakingly one-dimensional: he’s an unmitigated jerk. That’s it. That’s the extent of his contribution. I can’t overstate how exhausted I am of this trope. If the romance in your book is only inevitable because every character who’s not the potential love interest is an unbearable asshole…maybe you have a problem.

Speaking of problems, there was a particular scene in the beginning that stirred the most unpleasant riots of emotions in me: Philip comes into Stella’s office, casually asks her if she’s a virgin and gives an unsolicited advice from “a man who’s been around the block a few times” (I rolled my eyes so far back I could see the last of my brain cells dying) which is that if she went out and fucked a lot more men, she’d be more experienced and have more luck. The entire scene was howling “sexual harassment in a workplace” and, in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the fact that this whole encounter was carelessly glossed over was extremely disappointing.

I’m still very frustrated by this book’s refusal to explore and thoroughly examine so many prominent ideas in favor of escalating a plot that keeps a very tight, narrow focus on a romance with really questionable dynamics. I do recognize, however, the importance of books like The Kiss Quotient and how they help improve awareness and diagnosis rates for this under-represented group and I hope to see a greater plurality of representation for autism.

Reviews

Review: Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

38139409SYNOPSIS:

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.


RATING: ☆★☆★☆

Wow. The fact that lights didn’t start flickering ominously and the trees weren’t shaking and clattering in the wind and gusty voices weren’t rattling off the walls and grating my ears while I was reading this book is supremely upsetting and not at all excellent if you ask me… Continue reading “Review: Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand”

Book Tags

Bookish Naughty Or Nice Tag!

First of all, this tag was a personal attack. I didn’t ask to be called out like this. I don’t deserve this. I’m a good person. (Fine. I’m a mediocre person at best but STILL.)

I was tagged by Mel at meltotheany and it sounded way too fun to pass up! Thank you for the tag, dove! The original creator of this tag, I believe, is Jenniely! Continue reading “Bookish Naughty Or Nice Tag!”

Reviews

Review: Once & Future (Once & Future #1) by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

36233085SYNOPSIS:

I’ve been chased my whole life. As an illegal immigrant in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.

Now I’m done hiding.

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.


RATING: ☆★☆

If you aren’t someone an evil capitalistic corporation wants dead for being the on-the-run refugee who ignited a galactic revolution with the help of a cranky wizard, a mythical sword and a group of knights…. are you really living? Continue reading “Review: Once & Future (Once & Future #1) by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy”

Reviews

Review: Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson

29589074SYNOPSIS:

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.


RATING: ☆★☆★

Me: *reads the last page and closes the book with a thump*

Me, in a Buzzfeed Unsolved voice: with that in mind, let’s get into the THEORIES. Continue reading “Review: Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson”

Reviews

Review: Give The Dark My Love by Beth Ravis

37789836SYNOPSIS:

When seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy, she has only one goal in mind: learn the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student matriculating with the children of Lunar Island’s wealthiest and most powerful families, Nedra doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen, who all look down on her.

All, except for Greggori “Grey” Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that’s for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the North, and it’s making its way toward the cities. With her family’s life–and the lives of all of Lunar Island’s citizens–on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague.

Grey and Nedra continue to grow closer, but as the sickness spreads and the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy’s most dangerous corners–and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness.


RATING: ☆★☆★

It’s so interesting to me how everyone sleeps differently. Some people sleep on their side, some people sleep on their back and I’ve noticed that A LOT OF Y’ALL ARE STILL SLEEPING ON THIS BOOK. Continue reading “Review: Give The Dark My Love by Beth Ravis”