Weekly Wrap Up #16

OH HEY LOOK WHO FINALLY MADE IT TO FEBRUARY! I know I shouldn’t be proud of this fact because, like, I’m still a million weeks behind schedule. But here we are.

Anyway. Let’s wrap up January 28th to February 3rd!

Books read: 8
Pages read: 2,386 pages

#1: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Audience: YA
Genre: Paranormal

Plot summary: A teenage girl is intrigued by the mysterious boy who moves into the granny flat in her back garden. But shit is getting weird in town. Is he maybe the Devil?

Thoughts: This book was literally EVERYWHERE in the bookish community when it came out in 2013. And so of course I bought it on my Kindle and then promptly forgot about it forever and ever. Until this year and my attempt to reread all of the unread things on my Kindle.

And ooh boy, do I wish I’d continued to forget about this one. It’s meant to be a gothic story with fantastical elements and a swoony romance. But I hated every single character in the story. I wasn’t a fan of the writing. There was no swoon at all. It was full of insta-love and a male lead who dresses like he’s from the 1950s and who has a mysterious power that lets him compel people to do his bidding. And apparently his bidding a lot of the time is for Violet to share his bed. Which, OH MY GOD NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

I didn’t find it creepy or spooky or gothic at all. I just found it to be full of misogyny and slut shaming and really problematic relationships. I honestly do NOT understand why this book was so hyped back in the day, because yikes.

Rating: 1 stars

#2: Mr Darcy’s Bite by Mary Lydon Simonsen (Reread)

Audience: Adult
Genre:
 Paranormal romance

Plot summary: Mr Darcy is a werewolf. He wants to tell Elizabeth before he proposes. Will she still love him when she knows he has fur and fangs?

Thoughts: After three 1 star books in less than a week, I was feeling SUPER slumpy and totally unmotivated in terms of reading. So I picked up something I knew would be fast paced and utterly ridiculous. This was the third time I’d read this book. It’s basically fan fic – the author says as much on the first page.

And while the ending sort of trails off awkwardly because the author ran out of ideas, the story as a whole is surprisingly enjoyable. Anne de Bourgh plays a significant and delightful role. There’s some fun insights into the werewolf world as a whole. There’s plenty of sexytimes. And there are a bunch of laugh-out-loud moments. So all in all, I’m calling this a win.

Rating: 4 stars

#3: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Audience: YA/NA
Genre: Contemporary

Plot summary: A bi-romantic asexual black girl deals with her girlfriend dumping her and falling for her new coworker.

Thoughts: I’ve been anticipating this book ever since I heard about it a year or so ago. Everything about it sounded phenomenal to me. I was kind of terrified when the ARCs came out, because there were some very concerning criticisms emerging about the romantic relationship in the story.

But thankfully, it seems like all of those criticisms were taken on board because everything those reviewers discussed seems to have vanished in the finished copy.

This was absolutely adorable from start to finish. Alice is a huge fangirl of a whole lot of stuff that I’m a fangirl of, and I absolutely LOVED her as a protagonist. The friendships and found-family side of things was wonderful. I loved Alice’s struggles between doing what her family expects of her and doing what makes her happy, academically. And the romance was delightful.

It was funny and heartfelt and feelsy and I loved every single second of it. It’s being billed as YA, but I’d probably call it new adult simply because Alice has just finished freshman year of university, but that might just be me.

Rating: 5 stars

#4: Blackout by David Rosenfelt

Audience: Adult
Genre: Thriller

Plot summary: A cop ends up in a coma while chasing down a suspect, and wakes up ten years later, determined to pick up where he left off.

Thoughts: This was MAJOR struggle bus territory for me. It jumped between first person and third person narratives with a ton of short chapters, which I couldn’t stand. The chapters were so short that it felt like it was cutting between characters constantly without ever providing any depth to the story.

Ultimately, I reached the point where I just didn’t give a shit. I mean, I still finished the book. But I just…didn’t care. I didn’t care about who the villain was. I didn’t care about whether or not the protagonist was going to actually get his memories back. I didn’t care when secondary characters were injured. So the premise was cool. But the execution was…eh.

Rating: 2 stars

#5: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Audience: Adult
Genre: Romance

Plot summary: Guy meets girl in a hotel elevator and begs her to be his date to the wedding of his best friend and his ex-girlfriend. Sparks fly.

Thoughts: Okay, so let’s get my little gripe of out of the way first: I hate hate HATE the UK cover for this book. It makes the story look almost juvenile. It certainly makes the story look fluffy and chick-lit-esque and generally lightweight. And this book, while definitely a contemporary romance, is a lot more than this cover makes it look. And I think the black, white and red cover that it got in the US is ten thousand times better.

ANYWAY.

This was delightful. I loved the elevator meet-cute. And I was obviously going to love this when it features fake!dating because I am traaaaaaaash for fake!dating. The two protagonists were fabulous and I really enjoyed the moments where Drew realised just how many micro-aggressions Alexa deals with on a daily basis, being an African-American woman in a predominantly white environment. The secondary characters were great, and I loved that it dealt with a long distance relationship.

There were certainly odd moments where I wanted to yell at the characters to use their freaking words, but on the whole this was absolutely wonderful from start to finish.

Rating: 4 stars

#6: Kingdom Come by Jane Jensen

Audience: Adult
Genre: Crime

Plot summary: A female detective relocates from New York to Amish country Pennsylvania after the death of her husband and finds herself investigating the death of a young girl that may or may not involve the Amish community.

Thoughts: I have to admit, I borrowed this from my local library solely because it’s set in Pennsylvania and therefore let me tick a box for one of my goals. And…I didn’t love it.

I mean, the mystery side of things? I definitely enjoyed that. There was some serious creepiness going on as the story unfolded and plenty of twists that I didn’t see coming. HOWEVER. There was a romance shoe-horned into the plot that was really unnecessary. And it meant that the female protagonist – who’s meant to be a hotshot New York detective – made a string of truly terrible decisions that could have completely destroyed her career and made me want to reach into the book and slap her.

So ultimately, this one balanced out to middle of the road territory.

Rating: 3 stars

#7: Anastasia by Colin Falconer

Audience: Adult
Genre: Historical fiction

Plot summary: A young reporter in 1920s Shanghai comes across a young woman going by the name of Anastasia Romanov. Is she THE Anastasia?

Thoughts: JFC, this was a giant pile of nope. I gave up on page 124. The first chunk of the book is from the perspective of the Russian royals as they’re imprisoned in Ekaterinberg, and every single one of their personalities went against documented history.

Fast forward to the chunk that takes place in Shanghai, and Anastasia has been forced into sex work by the Chinese triad that brought her into the country. Add in a healthy dose of racism, some badly handled suicidal tendencies, and some unnecessary domestic violence and I noped my way to the exit.

Aaaaaand really, I should have known this would happen because I tried to read another one of Falconer’s books a couple of years ago and hated literally everything about it. So.

Rating: DNF

#8: Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski

Audience: YA
Genre: Contemporary

Plot summary: A teenage girl doesn’t want to move to Cleveland with her dad and stepmother, so she convinces him to let him move in with her best friend and her mother. Except that the best friend’s mother is actually out of state for the next six months…

Thoughts: This one’s set in Connecticut, so it ticked another box. And it was pretty much what I expected it to be – a prime example of why teenagers shouldn’t be given large sums of money with no adult supervision.

Like…April’s dad decides that he’s going to give her $1400 a month – $400 for rent and groceries, $1000 presumably because he feels guilty for bailing on his kid. So obviously she buys a cat and a hot tub and a whole bunch of other crap and generally makes a fuckton of terrible decisions.

There were definitely moments of this that I liked and moments where I felt for April and the fact that her parents basically abandoned her. But OMFG. STOP TRYING TO BE BEST FRIENDS WITH YOUR KID AND BE THEIR FUCKING PARENT INSTEAD. You know??

Rating: 3 stars

What have you been reading recently?

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Thrillerathon TBR

Now that the Contemporaryathon is underway, it’s time to focus on the NEXT readathon. That’s how this works, right??

The Thrillerathon runs from the 17th to the 24th of February, so there’s a day of overlap before the Contemporaryathon wraps up. I’d originally planned for a crossover book, but considering there are only five challenges for the Thrillerathon, it felt a little bit like cheating…

You can find all the details on the Thrillerathon here.

Challenge #1: Read your most anticipated thriller
There are a lot of thrillers that I’ve been dying to read recently. But I think the one that’s at the top of my list would have to be This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong. It’s the third book in the Rockton series, in which a female cop from Toronto ends up living in a town in the Yukon where people can go to hide from their past and get a fresh start.

But when a bunch of these people are hiding in Rockton because the cops are looking for them down south, things often get…complicated. I’ve really enjoyed the first two books in this series – they’re very atmospheric and creepy – so I’m super excited to pick this up!

Challenge #2: Read the thriller that’s been on your TBR the longest
Apparently (because I just searched the depths of my inbox) I bought this book in June 2016 and still haven’t read it. In my defence, it’s translated from Icelandic and instead of translating the books to English in series order, the powers that be decided it would be a great idea to translate book 2, then book 6, then book 3, then book 4. And I bought book 2 and book 6 at the same time, then found out it was book 6 and that book 3 was about to come out, so I figured I’d hold off on reading book 6 until I’d read that and are you exhausted yet? Me too.

ANYWAY. The short version is that I’ve had this for 18 months and still haven’t touched it. But I’m finally going to rectify that next week and read Nightblind by Ragnar Jonasson.

Challenge #3: Read the thriller you most recently added to your TBR
This is where I’d originally planned on doubling up with one of my picks for the Contemporaryathon and reading The Woman in the Window. But as I said before, it kind of felt like cheating. Also, The Woman in the Window is no longer the thriller I’ve most recently added to my TBR, so…it would have been double cheating??

Anyway, I’m going to be reading Final Girls by Riley Sager, which I’ve heard a TON of great things about.

Challenge #4: Read the thriller you think has the best cover
There are a lot of books with absolutely stunning covers out there, but in my personal opinion? Thrillers often have decidedly average covers. So this one was a bit of a struggle for me, especially as I didn’t want to buy anything new solely for this readathon.

Ultimately, I ended up picking The Dying Game by Åsa Avdic, which sounds like a creepy Swedish version of And Then There Were None but with more of an intentionally psychological element to it?? It’s pretty short, the story sounds intriguing and the cover is STUNNING in person:

Challenge #5: Revisit a thriller
For this one, I’m going to go with Skin Privilege by Karin Slaughter (published in the US as Beyond Reach). It’s the last of the Grant County books, and I seem to remember it being my least favourite. But I’m curious to see if I like it more now that I’ve reread the series in order, you know? Plus, this means I can dive into the Will Trent books, which I far prefer anyway. HUZZAH!

Are you joining in with the Thrillerathon? What’s on your TBR?

Weekly Wrap Up #15

At what point do you think I’ll finally accept that I genuinely won’t catch up to the present day with my weekly wrap ups??? Apparently not yet. I still have some small degree of hope that I’ll get there…

Anyway. Let’s talk about January 21st to 27th, shall we?

Books read: 10
Pages read: 3,714 pages

#1: Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton

Audience: Adult
Genre: Historical fiction

Plot summary: Two rival groups of fossil hunters head to the depths of South Dakota, searching for dinosaur remains.

Thoughts: Apparently, this is another one of Crichton’s books that his family dredged out of his filing cabinet of abandoned books after his death. This one, it seems, was written in the 1970s and then he just…gave up on it. His family, in a somewhat icky manoeuvre, decided that they’d publish it.

I’ve been kind of intrigued by this since it was published, but I also didn’t want to a) buy it and encourage his family to publish more of his abandoned work and b) pay $30 for it. Luckily, my library had it on Overdrive so I could read it mostly guilt free.

And frankly? This was a snoozefest of racism. The initial premise was decent. And I actually quite enjoyed the part where the main character is stuck in Deadwood, trying to work out how he can make the money to get himself and the fossils back to civilisation. But the actual excavation stuff and all the 1950s attitudes towards Native Americans? UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH. It was both enraging and indescribably boring.

Rating: 2.5 stars

#2: New Girl by Paige Harbison

Audience: YA
Genre:
 Contemporary

Plot summary: A young adult retelling of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

Thoughts: I’ve been intrigued by this book for the better part of a year now, after seeing it on the shelf at work. So I finally borrowed it over the summer, because I was super intrigued to see how a YA retelling of Rebecca would even work.

Unfortunately this was………..the actual fucking worst, to be perfectly honest. There’s constant drug and alcohol abuse. The reader knows all about Rebecca’s personality from the beginning because it’s a split narrative between the present day (the nameless protagonist) and a year ago (Rebecca), which cuts all of the suspense out of the story.

Add in the fact that the writing was atrocious, the characters were utterly unlikeable, and there was non-stop slut shaming interspersed with a bunch of weird rape subplots that were never actually dealt with, and I was ready to throw this book into the swimming pool when I finished it.

Rating: 1 stars

#3: Faithless by Karin Slaughter (Reread)

Audience: Adult
Genre: Thriller

Plot summary: The fifth book in the Grant County series features teenage girls being buried alive.

Thoughts: This was one of the books that I enjoyed least the first time I read it. Now that I’ve read the series in order, I enjoyed it SLIGHTLY more – enough that I bumped it up half a star, anyway.

The mystery was creepy and compelling, but I felt like the balance between the crime side and the lives-of-Jeffrey-and-Sara side was a liiiiiiiittle unbalanced. I wanted more of the crime side of things than I got.

Still, I was pleasantly surprised by the way my attitude towards Lena’s story shifted in this one, and I’m intrigued to see what happens next because I have literally no memory of what happens in book 6 (well. Other than THE BIG THING that happens in book 6, that is…)

Rating: 3.5 stars

#4: A General Theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa

Audience: Adult
Genre: Literature

Plot summary: On the eve of Angolan independence, a young woman boards herself up in her apartment. Over the course of 30 years, the world changes dramatically around her.

Thoughts: Not gonna lie, even though I’d heard good things about this, I only picked it up because it’s translated from Portuguese and it’s set in Angola. I read another book by this author last year and liked the writing but was thoroughly confused by certain elements of the plot.

When I read that back in November, I said that I wished I’d known more about Angola. And yet I went and read another book set in Angola knowing literally nothing about Angola. Go figure.

The book is made up of a variety of formats, from poetry to letters to journal entries to standard prose. The writing was often beautiful but again, I wish I’d known more about Angola because I didn’t have enough of an understanding of the politics to know what was going on.

Rating: 3.5 stars

#5: The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto

Audience: Adult
Genre: Crime

Plot summary: A Finnish police officer goes to Serbia on holiday to visit her family. While there, her handbag is stolen and she ends up involved in a murder investigation.

Thoughts: There were a lot of things I really enjoyed about this and a lot of things I wasn’t keen on. The friendships in this were really solid. I enjoyed the way the main character sought assistance from the Romani community and shut people down when they used ethnic slurs.

But at the same time, the story featured a wholly unnecessary romantic relationship that was more or less cheating. And I really struggled with the fact that the characters were all referred to as “Surname First Name” when the blurb used the conventional English First Name Surname approach.

It’s probably just me because I’m not familiar with that way of setting out names, but I spent at least half the book being all “Who the fuck is this? I have literally never come across this name before…” until I finally worked it out.

Still, the mystery was solid, so……… *shrug*

Rating: 3.5 stars

#6: Every Day by David Levithan

Audience: YA
Genre: Contemporary-ish

Plot summary: ‘A’ wakes up in a different body every single day. They also fall in love with Rhiannon and do everything they can to spend time with her.

Thoughts: I’ve been meaning to read this book for YEARS now after seeing so many rave reviews about it. And now that I’ve read it, I kiiiiiiiind of wish I’d left it a mystery? I really loved the writing, I loved that it features an agender (genderqueer? It’s never specified) protagonist, and I loved seeing A adapt to being in a different body every day.

But for me, the romance fell completely flat. A became very obsessive about seeing Rhiannon, to the point where they basically stopped giving a shit about the lives of the people whose bodies they were in and every single day became “OMG I HAVE TO SEE RHIANNON RIGHT NOW”, which just made me roll my eyes constantly.

So there were definitely things that I really liked about this. But there was also a lot I didn’t love. And so it balanced out to the middle of the road.

Rating: 3 stars

#7: Act Like It by Lucy Parker

Audience: Adult
Genre: Romance

Plot summary: A young actress finds herself falling for her highly respected but utter bastard of a coworker.

Thoughts: You guys should know by now that I am absolute trash for a hate-to-love romance. And I had high hopes for this one because it ALSO includes fake!dating, which is my all time favourite ridiculous trope.

And it was…pretty damn solid. I mean, it’s completely and utterly ridiculous from start to finish. But in a good way? Basically, I sped through this and it was a blast.

Rating: 4 stars

#8: China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

Audience: Adult
Genre: Contemporary

Plot summary: The sequel to Crazy Rich Asians fast forwards two years and features Rachel reconnecting with her long-lost father. Mayhem ensues.

Thoughts: This series is such an absolute delight. It’s hilarious, it’s over-the-top bonkers, and I really loved seeing the juxtaposition between the old money of Singapore and Hong Kong and the new money of mainland China.

I have to say, I didn’t love this quiiiiiiite as much as I loved Crazy Rich Asians, but it was still pretty stinking great.

Rating: 4 stars

#9: Fever by Deon Meyer

Audience: Adult
Genre: Dystopian

Plot summary: After a fever killed off like 90% of the population, a father and son in South Africa found a new community.

Thoughts: I picked this up on a whim at the library because it’s translated from Afrikaans. And it BLEW MY MIND. It’s partly Nico’s story, growing up in this new, post-epidemic world. It’s partly the story of the events that led to his father’s death (totally not a spoiler, it’s in the blurb). And it’s partly the story of the community that his father founds.

It was so compelling and so well written. There are all these little oral history bits at the start of each chapter and it was such a great insight into the various background characters. This book is over 500 pages and I absolutely FLEW through it. Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5 stars

#10: Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington

Audience: YA
Genre: Contemporary-ish

Plot summary: A teenage girl switches between two bodies every 24 hours. When she breaks her arm, she realises that injuries don’t transfer between bodies and she might be able to choose between her two lives.

Thoughts: Oof. This was…yeah, no. No. Nope. Not good.

I probably shouldn’t have read this so close to reading Every Day, because the concepts are very similar. But even then, this was a big ol’ hot mess.

When Sabine discovers that injuries don’t travel between bodies, she basically decides that she’s going to kill herself in one life and then she can be happy forever in the second. Her parents find out and send her to the psych ward, where she falls in love with her mid-20s psych nurse, who reciprocates her feelings.

Like………………WHAT. WHAT THE FUCK. WHAT EVEN IS THIS???? And the whole thing is billed as this epic love story for the ages, but I hated literally everything about it. I hated the flippant way it dealt with mental health problems and self harm. I hated Sabine as a narrator. I hated that Ethan was abusing his power as her psych nurse. I hated the big plot twist so, SO much. I just hated this. A LOT.

Rating: 1 stars

What have you been reading recently? (Hopefully better things than me!)

Weekly Wrap Up #14

Another week, another very late wrap up. I AM SO GOOD AT THIS.

Let’s talk about January 14th to 20th, shall we?

Books read: 8
Pages read: 2,270 pages

#1: Vulture’s Gate by Kirsty Murray

Audience: YA
Genre: Dystopian

Plot summary: Girls are extinct. OR ARE THEY?

Thoughts: I’d been intrigued by the concept of this book for a while, especially after reading Who Runs The World? last year. But I only made it 45 pages in before I quit this. There’d been no world building. No explanation for the weird speech patterns. No explanation for the robot birds that seemed to be all over the place.

And when you add in the fact that I didn’t like either of the protagonists or the writing style? I noped my way to the exit.

Rating: DNF

#2: The Scholl Case by Anja Reich-Osang

Audience: Adult
Genre:
 Non-Fiction

Plot summary: In a small town south of Berlin, a woman is murdered by her husband, the former mayor.

Thoughts: Thanks to Casefile, I’ve been tumbling down a true crime rabbit hole recently. Luckily, my local library had this on hand. Reich-Osang is a journalist, who’s interviewed the killer and various people involved in the case. The story unfolds in a very linear fashion, starting with Scholl’s childhood.

There were some serious “……………wtf are you doing with your life?” moments in the story, but on the whole, this was a compelling and somewhat bizarre true crime story.

Rating: 3.5 stars

#3: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Audience: YA
Genre: Contemporary

Plot summary: An African-American boy is the victim of police brutality as a result of racial profiling. A white boy witnesses it.

Thoughts: I read this for my book club, and I was kind of baffled (as was the rest of the group) that we did this in January having read The Hate U Give in November. We all agreed that we would have had a stronger reaction to this if we hadn’t already read The Hate U Give.

I mean, I still loved this. I really liked the juxtaposition of Rashad’s narrative and Quinn’s narrative, I liked Quinn being forced to confront his privilege. Overall, it wasn’t the emotional punch-to-the-feels that THUG was, but there were still moments in the story – particularly reading the list of names at the end – that made me cry.

So I loved this, but I agree with the book club assessment that this is almost a slightly younger version of THUG because it’s more cut and dried, the bad guy is more obviously bad, there are far less grey zones involved. But it was still an incredible story and I’d still highly recommend reading it.

Rating: 5 stars

#4: In the Dark Spaces by Cally Black

Audience: YA
Genre: Sci-Fi

Plot summary: Set in space, this tells the story of a teenage girls whose aunt is killed by aliens. For some reason, she’s spared and kidnapped and ends up reluctantly joining the alien society. But she’s determined to get back and rescue her baby cousin.

Thoughts: This is a massively unpopular opinion, but I really struggled with this book. Everyone I know has given it five stars, has raved about it for days. But personally? I wasn’t a huge fan.

I mean, I REALLY liked the beginning of the story, this girl who has to be silent at all times because she stowed away in her aunt’s quarters on the spaceship. But once the kidnapping part happened? Uuuuuugh.

The aliens were so obviously symbolic of Aboriginal and Maori cultures, what with their connection to their ships and their area of space and the emphasis on harmony with the universe. And while I LOVED the concept of that, the whole thing was so heavy handed that I felt like I was being hit over the head with it.

And the spaceships names. OH MY GOD, THE SPACESHIP NAMES. They were all named after songs with women in the title. Hey There Delilah. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. Jolene. Layla. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The whole thing was cringeworthy to me.

So I suspect this was a Me Thing rather than a Book Thing, but it still balanced out to a hefty dose of meh.

Rating: 3 stars

#5: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Audience: Adult
Genre: Historical fiction/crime

Plot summary: One of Canada’s most notorious nineteenth century murderers, Grace Marks, tells her life story to a psychologist from prison.

Thoughts: I’ve been wanting to read this ever since the miniseries came out on Netflix. So when Lianne suggested buddy reading it, I jumped at the opportunity.

I was initially hooked by Grace’s story, but whenever the story switched to Simon’s perspective, it was like wading through quicksand. Partly because his story didn’t interest me and partly because he had pretty gross attitudes towards women and I didn’t want to be in his head.

On the whole, I found Grace’s side of things fascinating and I sped through it. The ending was a little more open-ended than I would have liked, but it was still great. Simon’s story, on the other hand, I gave zero fucks about. So.

Rating: 4 stars

#6: Falling for Trouble by Sarah Title

Audience: Adult
Genre: Romance

Plot summary: After an embarrassing debacle on stage with her rock band, Joanna has returned to the hometown she hates. But maybe she’ll hate it less when she meets the local library director……..

Thoughts: Apparently 2017 was the year in which I went on massive guilty romance reading binges and 2018 is the year in which I just admit that I really like romance books.

Anyway. This is the second book in the Librarians in Love series. I have a major issue with that cover and the fact that a) it features terrible Photoshopping and b) neither of the people on the cover look like the characters they’re supposed to be.

The supporting characters are delightful, the romance is fun, and Liam, the library director, is dealing with budget cuts which were all too real and very realistically described. Was this memorable? Not especially. Did I get my $1.42 worth of enjoyment from it? Definitely.

Rating: 4 stars

#7: Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Audience: Adult
Genre: Literature

Plot summary: The story of a family living in small town Idaho and the tragedy that befalls them.

Thoughts: I…still don’t quite know what to make of this book, to be perfectly honest. The blurb very much made it sound like it was going to be a thriller, the story of a little girl being killed by a member of her family and the consequences of that.

But this was very much literary fiction. It jumps back and forth between several perspectives and several time periods. It’s quite confronting at times, particularly where domestic violence is concerned. It raises a hell of a lot of questions and provides literally no answers. So I liked the writing, but the story ultimately jumped around so much that it balanced out to middle of the road territory.

Rating: 3 stars

#8: Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

Audience: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy

Plot summary: The third book in the Peter Grant series features Peter investigating the death of the son of a US senator when it’s discovered that the death involves magic.

Thoughts: I’ve been reading this series for YEARS now and only made it to book 3. Why? Because every time I’m not literally reading this series I forget how much I like this series. Anyway, I’m rectifying that now – I already have book 4 out from my library.

This was fast paced and action packed. The characters are delightful, the writing is great, and the stories are wonderful. This one was no exception, although I do kind of wish I’d reread the first two books so that some of the continuity stuff made a liiiiiittle more sense. But on the whole? I sped through this and it was wonderful.

Rating: 4 stars

What have you been reading recently?

Contemporaryathon TBR

You guys, I cannot even BEGIN to emphasise how excited I am for the Contemporaryathon. Contemporary books are my jam, and a whole week of reading them? Y.E.S.

The Contemporaryathon is being hosted by Chelsea, Julie, and Natasha, and it’s being held between February 12th and 18th.

There are seven challenges, and I’m going to try and get through all of them because OVERACHIEVING IS FUN.

Challenge #1: Read your most recent contemporary acquisition
I’m not entirely sure what my most recent contemporary acquisition *IS* – partly because I suck at keeping track and partly because I bought a stack of thrillers recently and I don’t know if they count or not – but the one I *suspect* is my most recent acquisition (and which is straight up contemporary) is Laws of Attraction by Sarah Title. I’ve been a fan of the Librarians in Love series so far, so I’m hoping this one is pretty solid too.

Challenge #2: Read a contemporary with pink on the cover
There were a range of things I could have gone with for this one, but I ultimately decided on Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. I’ve enjoyed both of her previous books, so I’m hoping that this one is equally delightful!

Challenge #3: Read a hyped contemporary book
I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. And, after reading Roomies recently? I’m SUPER excited to read this. I mean, I was excited to read it anyway because I saw it on a lot of people’s best-of-2017 lists (which reminds me, I should really get around to writing mine…), but now I’m over the top excited.

Challenge #4: Read a diverse contemporary book
Again, I had a bunch of stuff to choose from, but I’m going with one that I’m suuuuuuuuper interested to read and that I’ve heard incredible things about. In January, I read All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, and it was AMAZING. Shortly after that, Jason Reynolds’ new book, Long Way Down, came out. The premise is so interesting and I can’t wait to see how this novel in verse plays out.

Challenge #5: Read a dark or taboo contemporary book
Taboo contemporaries are definitely not my thing. Thrillers, on the other hand… I’m tempted to reread Skin Privilege by Karin Slaughter for this one, because you can always rely on Karin Slaughter to bring the dark and creepy. But instead, I think I’m going to go with The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. I’m slightly hesitant about this one, to be honest. I think it sounds a LITTLE too much like Rear Window, which I adore. But it was $3 on Kindle, so…

Challenge #6: Read a contemporary graphic novel
I had originally intended to get something from my local library for this challenge, but they’ve moved the graphic novels somewhere weird and I literally cannot find them anywhere. Could I ask a staff member? Yes. Will I instead borrow something from work? Also yes. I’m going with Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge. I know nothing about it except that it’s contemporary.

Challenge #7: Read a contemporary book that has been recommended to you
Because I think Saajid will kill me if I don’t get around to this one soon, I’m finally going to pick up Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali.

So there you have it, friends. That’s what I’ll be reading during the Contemporaryathon. I just wish it wasn’t another 11 days away so that I could start reading all of these RIGHT NOW.

Are you participating? What are you planning on reading?

Weekly Wrap Up #13

As of today, I’m back at work, which means the chances of me ever catching up on these freaking weekly wrap up posts is increasingly non-existent. Sorry I suck?

Still, three weeks behind is better than six??? Let’s talk about January 7th to 13th, shall we?

Books read: 10
Pages read: 3,162 pages

#1: Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Audience: YA
Genre: Contemporary

Plot summary: A teenage girl finds herself in an abusive relationship.

Thoughts: I was hoping that this book would prove to be similar-ish to The Girl Who Fell by S.M. Parker, which deals with the same subject matter in a compelling way. However, The Girl Who Fell deals with psychological abuse, where this deals with domestic violence.

On the whole, I felt for the protagonist here but I found it predictable, and there were a ton of supporting characters that I couldn’t stand. So this one ended up being middle of the road territory for me.

Rating: 3 stars

#2: The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Audience: Adult
Genre:
 Thriller

Plot summary: People in Reykjavik are being brutally murdered. The police investigate, with assistance from a child psychologist.

Thoughts: This is the third book I’ve read by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, and of the three, it’s the one I’ve enjoyed the least. There were a lot of characters to try and keep track of, a lot of tangents, a lot of repetition. The murders were horrifying and I was really intrigued by the case initially, but the more the story progressed, the more I found it dragged.

The ending was solid though, so…????

Rating: 3 stars

#3: Lucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee

Audience: YA
Genre: Contemporary

Plot summary: A home schooled teenage girl meets the brand new boy next door, who wants help faking his own death in a variety of bizarre ways.

Thoughts: I read and loved Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee last year, so I was really interested to read another one of her books. There’s a ton of diversity in this story, it’s well written, and it’s fun as hell.

I loved the protagonist and the struggles that she goes through in the course of the story.  The romance is adorable, and the friendships are a delight. Basically? I wanted a liiiiittle more where the stories of some of the side characters were concerned, but on the whole? This was a delight.

Rating: 4 stars

#4: The Undateable by Sarah Title

Audience: Adult
Genre: Romance

Plot summary: When an academic librarian finds herself the subject of an unfortunate meme, she comes into contact with a journalist, wanting to write a story setting her up on a bunch of dates.

Thoughts: This is utterly ridiculous from start to finish, but in the best kind of way. The characters were fabulous, the banter was wonderful, and the librarian stuff is A+ because the author is a librarian herself. It was cheesy as hell, but I loved this from start to finish.

Rating: 4 stars

#5: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Audience: Middle grade
Genre: Fantasy

Plot summary: A 12 year old boy encounters an increasing number of monsters, and learns that his father is a Greek god.

Thoughts: I’ve been meaning to read at least one Rick Riordan book for years now, solely to see what all the fuss was about. It was fast paced and engaging. It provided details on Greek myths and legends without feeling like it was infodumping. And I sped through it, so I can definitely see why this is so popular.

That said, I found it predictable and the kids definitely felt way older than they were supposed to be. But on the whole, it was an enjoyable read!

Rating: 4 stars

#6: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Audience: Adult
Genre: Non-Fiction

Plot summary: Tells the story of Stevenson’s work with death row inmates or those given life imprisonment and his work to prove many of them innocent.

Thoughts: This book was ASTONISHING. Like, I finished it in the first week of January, and it’s in the running to be my favourite book of the year. It’s heartbreaking and eye opening and horrifying and WTF-worthy all at the same time. I cried multiple times in the last two chapters alone, and Stevenson is the kind of person I wish would become a politician rather than the endless stream of dumpster scum that the world currently has.

Trigger warnings for everything under the sun, but this was an incredible book and it’s definitely one that will stay with me.

Rating: 5 stars

#7: Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan

Audience: Adult
Genre: Literature

Plot summary: A young man murders someone and tells the people who find him afterwards that it was the tiger inside him that did it.

Thoughts: This was a peculiar little book. It’s translated from Indonesian, and I still can’t quite work out if it’s meant to be magical realism or not. The tiger elements of the story weren’t quite as developed as I would have liked, but that’s probably not all that surprising, given that it’s barely 200 pages long.

Given the choice between this and the author’s Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash, which I read last year, I’d definitely go with the latter. But this was still an interesting – if odd – little read.

Rating: 3 stars

#8: The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon

Audience: Adult
Genre: Thriller

Plot summary: A woman returns to her hometown when her childhood best friend dies. Returning to town forces her to confront her past.

Thoughts: This was kind of an odd book? The majority of it is straight up thriller. The remaining 10% or so was paranormal weirdness that I definitely didn’t see coming. I really liked the way it jumped around between multiple time periods, and I enjoyed the Bates Motel-y setting. Ultimately, this had sort of an X-Files vibe, which is totally my jam. But there were a couple of characters who annoyed me and some themes that I wasn’t keen on.

Rating: 3.5 stars

#9: The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Audience: Adult
Genre: Literature

Plot summary: When a 13 year old boy’s mother is brutally raped, he decides he’s going to investigate.

Thoughts: This story is brutal a lot of the time, it really is. Joe is Native American, growing up on a reservation in North Dakota. It’s equal parts him investigating his mother’s rape and a coming of age story. There were definitely parts of it that felt dragged out, and given that it’s the story of a 13 year old boy, I’m sure you can work out what those pertained to.

But the crime side of things? That was astonishing and heartbreaking and beautifully written and gut-churning all at the same time. Definitely worth the read.

Rating: 4 stars

#10: Roomies by Christina Lauren

Audience: Adult
Genre: Romance

Plot summary: Holland has a massive crush on the guitar player at her subway station. And she knows he’s the perfect person to save her uncle’s hit Broadway musical when the lead violinist quits. There’s just one problem: Calvin’s in the country illegally. Obviously the answer is for them to get married. Right?

Thoughts: Here’s the thing – I am 100% trash for anything involving the fake!dating trope. It brings me joy beyond all description. So obviously I was going to read this book. And obviously I was going to love it. Which I did.

It was adorable from start to finish. It was fast paced. It featured a ton of great side characters. It featured a LITTLE too much of people not-using-their-fucking-words, but what can you do… Overall, it was great and I loved it.

Rating: 4.5 stars

What have you been reading recently?

Worst of 2017

Look, let’s be real here. I…am a trashfire of a human being. The likelihood of me catching up on weekly wrap ups is increasingly slim. So I figure I’m going to try and at least get some of my 2017 wrap up stuff done before January is over. Just go with it, yeah?

Okay. Let’s talk about the most godawful pieces of trash I read last year, shall we?

By some astonishing miracle, there are only seven things on this list. Well. Seven things and one honourable mention that was a reread but deserves to be on this list anyway.

Let’s start with the honourable mention, yeah?

No surprises here if you know me at all.

Honourable Mention: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

This book is a fucking abomination that’s at least 400 pages too long, is racist from start to finish, features some terrifying bullshit about grown ass men falling in love with literal infants (and don’t give me any crap about it being fine because it’s not romantic until the kids are old enough to consent or I will puke), and has quite possibly the most disturbing childbirth scene in existence. Hard pass times infinity.

Right. Into the actual worst books I read this year.

#7 – Fever by Dee Shulman

This book is about a girl who gets into a genius high school and is instantly great at everything. Meanwhile, a gladiator in first century Rome dies of a fever and finds himself in this in between place where he can just have knowledge dropped into his head, and he can somehow travel to present day London to conduct scientific experiments?? Or something???

I don’t even know, you guys. The characters were terrible. The writing was average at best. There was a ton of instalove in the story. The cover is awful. Etcetera.

#6 – The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith

In the interests of full disclosure, I only made it about 40% of the way through this one before I had to DNF it. Why? Because Donald Trump. All the men in the story are basically Trump. Trump himself is name dropped multiple times. Add in all the racism and misogyny that goes along with Donald Trump and you’ve got yourself a big old pile of nope.

#5 – Under the Dome Part 1 by Steven King

I made it a whopping 323 pages into this book (which means I was less than 25% of the way through the overall story) before I rage quit. It’s INCREDIBLY misogynistic and, despite being published in 2009, features very 1970s attitudes towards women, people of colour, and the LGBTQIA+ community.

My breaking point featured a woman being gang raped by the town’s police force. So…yeah. No. (Incidentally, I made it two seasons into the TV show and it was MUCH better)

#4 – Nameless by Lili St. Crow

This book is billed as a dark retelling of Snow White, which…kind of meant I was doomed not to love it because I don’t particularly like fairytales or retellings thereof. But this was…a mess, frankly.

There was literally no worldbuilding to set up the magical world. I didn’t like the writing. I HATED the romance, which is between a 16 year old girl and the 20 year old guy who’s basically her brother. Aaaaaand a lot of the Snow White stuff got lost in a vampire subplot. So…yeah. No. Not for me.

#3 – Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck

This book is…essentially Twilight with tigers? Basically, a seventeen year old girl with zero skills gets hired by a circus to look after a tiger. After like two weeks, she’s deemed so great at looking after this tiger (because she reads it Romeo and Juliet every night??) that she’s offered the opportunity to go to India to take the tiger to a tiger sanctuary. On the way, she discovers that the tiger isn’t a tiger at all, but an Indian prince who was cursed like 300 years ago and can now only be human for 24 minutes a day.

It was as dumb as it sounds. Everything is massively overdescribed. I was squicked out by the fact that he was 21 when he was cursed. The dialogue for any person of colour besides the prince is gross in its attempts at conveying an accent. It’s non-stop infodumping. And just like Twilight, NOTHING FUCKING HAPPENS UNTIL THE LAST PAGE.

#2 – Roses and Rot by Kat Howard

This will probably come as no surprise to anyone because I hate the Fae. They’re boring. I don’t care about their mysterious allure or their dark powers or whatever the fuck they have. And I honestly wouldn’t have gone anywhere near this if it hadn’t been a book club pick.

This book was SO MONUMENTALLY DULL. It’s about a woman and her twin sister who go to an artist’s retreat thing where you can end up winning whatever you want if you’re willing to become a Fae muse for seven years. The protagonist writes fairytales based on her abusive childhood. Her sister is a ballerina. That’s…basically all we know about her.

I hated the pretentious af writing. I hated the protagonist. I hated her love interest, who was as interesting as a piece of white bread. I hated the story. I hated the protagonist’s fairytales that she writes at the retreat. I hated this from start to finish, basically.

#1 – Himmler’s Cook by Franz-Oliver Giesbert

One of my colleagues informed me that this was a dark comedy and said she thought I’d enjoy it. I…did not. Obviously. It’s also not a dark comedy. It’s the story of a woman who is raped multiple times, escaped genocide multiple times, was subjected to sexual slavery as a child, and who survives some of the most oppressive regimes of the twentieth century, and who instead of reflecting on all of that in any kind of meaningful way spends the duration of the book telling us about all the sex she had.

In a ridiculous amount of detail. No thank you please.

Add in the fact that it basically glorifies a whole bunch of high up people in the Nazi party and the Maoist regime, and this was a goddamn trashfire that I would quite happily run through the shredder if I could.

So there you have it, friends. The worst books I read in 2017. We’re 25 days into 2018 and I’ve already read two 1 star books, so this year’s list is off to a great start…

What was the worst book you read in 2017?