Category Archives: Book Reviews

Like the Fight Club of YA Novels

91cMHG1mVaLSo I’ve been watching a lot of BookTubers lately, and almost all of them have unanimously been telling me for months that I need to read E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars. And then, frustratingly, they’ve all said, “but we can’t tell you anything about the book.”

ARGH.

So you’ll have to forgive me if I am here to tell you now that you should totally go read We Were Liars and also that I can’t tell you anything about the book. Yes, just smack me now. I get it.

I feel like lately I’ve been on a series of very high highs and very low lows with books, and this was one of the very high highs. I loved this book. It was beautifully written, and had one of my favorite literary devices – an unreliable narrator. It’s about a group of three teenage cousins and their other teenage friend and  summers spent on their grandparents’ island in New England (I KNOW). And then one summer, everything changes…

Seriously, that’s it. That’s what I can tell you. But you should really go read it, because the writing was just lovely and the story was intriguing. I’ve heard the writing style itself was hit or miss with people actually reading the book, as it was unusual and in many places very stream of conscience. But I listened to the audiobook, where this translated perfectly.

If you’re looking for something a bit different than the standard YA this summer, I’d put this at the top of your pile. Then hit me up – I have some book related feelings I need to discuss.

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Fug or Fab: The Royal We

Look familiar?

It’s a classic story: regular girl and aristocratic boy meet, fall in love, have relationship issues due to the fact that the boy is second in line to the English throne, and then eventually get engaged. Who hasn’t heard that plot a million times? Actually, substitute a Duke or whatever, and I believe that is the plot for approximately 83% of regency-era historical romances. Anyway, authors Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s (aka The Fug Girls) first adult novel, The Royal We,  is heavily based on the Prince William/Kate Middleton romance. And they’re not subtle about it either. It’s been in all the promo copy and just look at that cover (which I love, by the way). In fact, I’m not even sure how much of a plot summary is necessary, but here we go.

American Rebecca Porter (aka Bex) arrives for her year abroad at Oxford and is surprised to find that Prince Nicholas, the aforementioned heir to the English throne, living down the hall from her dorm room. Though Nick is initially reserved and Bex is uninterested in the royal drama, they eventually bond over their insomnia fueled love of junk food and bad, supernatural teen soaps. And yes, they fall in love. Once out in the real world though, the pressure of royal expectations, invasive paparazzi, and the snooty British class system cause tension in their relationship and they eventually break up. Tragedy and twu luv eventually bring the two lovebirds back together, but a big secret threatens Bex and Nick’s happiness on the eve of the wedding of the century. Dun, dun ,DUN! Continue reading


Spot’s House of Horrors!

It is safe to say that it has been a while since I have contributed our blog. My excuse is being pregnant and having a baby. I don’t know what those other slackers are using for an excuse. As my baby boy hits the one year (and some change) mark, I felt like it was time to dust off the blog and jump in again. While I have managed to still carve out time for myself to read, a lot of my time during the day is spent reading board books. Board books are an amazing invention, because pretty much everything ends up in my kids mouth. The few “regular” picture books I have let him go near have ended up with ripped pages, which hurts my soul. He has a few books that he insists that we read every day, and I will be slowly reviewing them, along with more YA and adult books. This brings me to todays book, Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill. Spot I know what you’re thinking. Cute picture book? Lift the flaps to play hide and seek with Spot? WRONG! Lift the flaps and you DIE! Spot’s mom, Sally, goes looking for Spot around the house because he has not eaten his supper. First she looks behind the door. What could possibly be behind a door in a normal home? Coats? Boxes? No. It’s a fucking BEAR people. He is eating honey, but there is nothing that says that once he is done that he won’t be eating your face off. 11H5531040-01-lpThat’s cool. We just found a giant bear in the house. We should TOTALLY keep looking.

Maybe Spot is inside the clock? This is a rational place to hide… if you are a giant PYTHON lying in wait to strangle innocent puppies! You hear that?! Puppy murder by asphyxiation! Why is Sally not phased by this? What kind of mother is she?! How is she not showing any concern as to whether or not her baby boy has survived a bear and a python?

The piano. Definitely has to be hiding in the piano. That is where I would go to hide from a bear and a python. Oops. NOPE. Just your friendly neighborhood HIPPO. First, hipppn-618b_3zos are mean and will crush you. Second, what the hell kind of piano do they have that can hold a hippo (maybe a baby hippo?), and how do they even play the piano with their paws? BURNING QUESTIONS IN CHILDREN’S LIT. Again, Sally is not shocked. This may be because the hippo does appear to be high, and thus, not a threat. Unless he got the munchies and really wanted puppy. My bet is on Sally being the worst mom ever. This makes me feel better about my own mothering skills.

We’re running out of room for large dangerous animals here. Under the stairs seems like a safe place to hide. Maybe go into your little closet and pretend to be Harry Potter? Wrong AGAIN. wheres-spotThat is obviously where they keep their LION. He’s trying to play it cool and is all “No, I haven’t seen Spot,” but what are you hiding back there Mr. Lion? Could it be blood and guts? How do they feed all of these wild animals?

Next, we find a monkey in the closet, which would be fine and cute and cuddly if I didn’t know that monkeys have sharp teeth and throw their poop. From a hiding standpoint, this is not good.

We move on to under the bed. Kids across the board pretty much fear what is under their bed at some point in their lives. So what does Sally keep under the bed? A hungry crocodile with razor sharp yellowed teeth! This guy has been around the block and is biding his time to snatch you as soon as you close your eyes!

Now I don’t want to ruin the end for you, but suffice it to say that reading this book might give you night terrors. Go buy it. The kids will love it!


The Young Eh-lites

I started this book (The Young Elites, Marie Lu) at the same time as 81JbgVO-5sL, and they started out so similarly I got really confused.  Both have lead girls who are supposedly ‘anti-heroes,’ sisters that are too nice and caring, and sadistic dads who try to sell their daughters into nasty marriages.

However, while Nyx was getting sold into demon sex slavery, Adelina Amouteru runs away from the old creepy dude her father has promised her to, and then accidentally murders her father with a horse.

I would think a horse murder would usually be written off as an accident, but in this world (or is it ancient Greece with a twist, I can’t tell), Adelina is a malfetto, a surivivor of a fever-sickness that left her with silver hair and missing an eye. I’ll be quite honest I’m not positive how you lose an eye because you have a high fever but WHATEVER and also even though she’s disfigured it’s important that Adelina is still hot because that’s where us girls get our real value, am I right? Continue reading


Demon Princes Get All the Girls

51kLYnddfHL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Lately I’ve been reading a lot of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ type YA. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, or I’m subconsciously picking out bestiality fanfic, but expect to see several B&B reviews.

In Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, Nyx was raised from birth knowing that one day she’d have to marry a Demon Prince. Her father had made a bad deal–in exchange for having children, one of the kids would have to be given back in to the Prince. I mean, those kind of wagers really never end in happiness right? and this is no different, as his wife dies after childbirth.

So after that happy beginning…Nyx is not really the happy-go-lucky twin, knowing that she’s going to be a virgin sacrifice. She resents her too sweet and loving twin sister, her harpy aunt, her vengeful father who has been training her to kill her new husband. I particularly enjoy that irony–we’re going to sacrifice you, but also we expect you to save us by killing this dude and freeing us forever.

Arcadia, Nyx’s hometown, is set in the world of Greek Mythology, but has been cut off from the rest of the world since the Demon Prince came to town. There’s a pretty complicated explanation on what happened to the monarchy and why their world’s in danger, and the sky looks like paper, etc. but I’m not going to try to explain that. Basically, there’s some magic that the humans have learned that Nyx is supposed to use to destroy the Demon Prince’s house, and that will bring down his empire too.

SO, Nyx rolls up to the DP’s (I’m tired of typing Demon Prince) crib, and it is like the Department of Mysteries in there, rooms rearrange themselves, doorways change, and most of the doors are locked, courtesy of the hundreds of keys the DP wears.

Oh and of course the DP is smoking hot. Also hot? His shadow Shade, who immediately starts macking on Nyx and making out with her on the sly and trying to help her solve the mystery of destroying DP. Then there’s a weird love triangle going on between Nyx, Shade, and the DP.

I am totally team DP because Shade is kind of drippy, and DP has some great sarcastic lines, plus in general demons have that whole bad boy vibe going on. Nyx is torn because she’s promised Shade she’d help him escape, but also she feels like she’s a Not Very Nice Person, and DP has all the best one-liners and is good in bed.

The pendulum on who she’s into keeps swinging back and forth. DP locks her in a room with all his former dead wives (point for Shade). Shade almost kills her trying to show her a magic room that will help her in her quest to destroy the house and free Arcadia and DP saves her (point DP).

Finally Nyx figures out the secret of the house and how to save Shade and DP, but it’s too late. Then shit gets weird and mad confusing. I understand basically what Hodge is trying to do here, but the ending was very convoluted, and not very satisfying.

So while it was an enjoyable read, I’m taking off ten points for the rushed ending.


Non-foodie food porn

If you know me, you know that I have an obsession with food that borders on the unhealthy. I am always hungry. I know you’re thinking that I’m exaggerating and that there is no way that I could be hungry immediately after I eat, blah blah blah, but I’m here to tell you that it’s a thing that happens. Everyone here can vouch for this. My friends know that I need to be fed every 2-4 hours or serious hanger sets in. I lose all of my charm when I’m hangry. When I used to have a real job, my boss knew that a meeting had been going on too long when she looked at my glazed expression and realized that it was time for me to eat again. Basically, food is my favorite. That’s why I knew that Jim Gaffigan’s Food: A Love Story might be my spirit animal.

FOOD-A-Love-Story-Book-JacketJim and I share a lot of food opinions. For instance, we agree that both sushi and salad, while perfectly acceptable food items, do not count as meals, although our reasoning is vastly different. Here’s mine: how can it be a meal when I’m hungry again in 30 minutes? This is just a snack or an appetizer. THIS IS NOT A MEAL. STOP TRYING TO CONVINCE ME THAT SUSHI WILL KEEP ME FULL. I never thought I’d quote Dolores Umbridge, but this is a lie. I’m happy to go for sushi, of course (it’s food, after all), but you should be prepared to take me for more vittles less than an hour later. Sushi is really just a warm-up for whatever I’m actually going to eat for my meal. The same goes for salads. I keep trying to eat salad as a meal. It always looks so healthy and refreshing, but I don’t understand how people can survive on this. I’ve heard all of the propaganda about putting more stuff in there (“Add chicken! It will totally keep you full!” More lies.), but at the end of the day we’re still talking about a bowl of lettuce. Salad-as-a-meal really only works if it’s one of those late night meals that you eat right before you go to bed. By the time I’ve brushed my teeth and put my pajamas on, the salad is fully metabolized and will not be sticking around to give me crazy Cliff Huxtable dreams. These rules don’t apply to taco salad, of course. Jim and I agree that the taco salad is the king of salads and the only acceptable salad meal. The fried tortilla bowl has a lot to do with this.

Be warned: reading or listening to this book is going to make you hungry. It’s like when you get sucked into watching Diners, Drive-ins & Dives on Food Network and start grazing on whatever you can find in the kitchen while you fantasize about the shrimp sandwich that that guy is making on the beach in Key West and start checking out plane fares to see how feasible it is to have that sandwich in your immediate future. Not that I was doing that yesterday at all. This book has chapters praising the wonders of bacon, barbeque, french fries, cheese, cheeseburgers, and cake just to name a few. (There’s also a chapter about a guy who is drinking a cup of KFC gravy, but that one actually didn’t make me hungry. Just awed at this man’s dedication. It’s possible that he’s trying to join The Church of Bloggessianism where there is extra gravy for everyone.) Even Jim’s complaints about seafood don’t make me not crave it. Instead, I start thinking about how it’s actually better that he doesn’t like fish or shrimp it because it leaves more for me, and then we’re right back to looking at plane fares to Key West. I’ll trade him all of his seafood for all of the hotdogs and McDonald’s that the universe has allocated for me. I think we’ll both be happier this way.


Ten Girls to Watch

13260167Dawn West’s post-college life isn’t going exactly as planned. She wants to be a writer, but so far, her only lucrative writing gig is answering questions about fertilizer and grass seed in an online lawn care column. Her ex-boyfriend is now dating the perfect girl – a girl who not only has everything, but is convinced that she and Dawn are instant friends. She can barely afford the run-down Brooklyn apartment she shares with her crazy roommate, and now the roommate is leaving the city and leaving Dawn to pay her half of the rent.

So when she gets the opportunity to work on the 50th anniversary issue of Charmed magazine’s Ten Girls to Watch contest, she jumps at the steady paycheck and chance to beef up her resume. She’s tasked with finding out as much information about the past winners as possible – five hundred women from all over the country, and from all walks of life, who were all considered the best and brightest of their time.

My coworker suggested Ten Girls to me a few months ago, and I am so glad she did. I loved the story of Dawn trying to navigate those first few post-college years and finding inspiration in the stories and words of the women she encounters. Author Charity Shumway based the novel on her own experience tracking down the fifty winners of Glamour‘s Top 10 College Women and how that one job influenced her. Yes, there’s a romance in there, but the story is much more about Dawn’s struggles as a young adult and finding her way through an overwhelming new world by learning from the incredible winners of the Ten Girls to Watch contest. In the world of chick lit, it’s actually a pretty rare concept for a heroine, and one I really enjoyed and related to. I also loved the look back at the criteria for the selection of winners and how that changed over the years, how the “best dressed” girls of the ’60s transformed into the brilliant minds of the ’70s and beyond – and how even those original girls that were just chosen for their fashion sense had a lot more than a pretty smile and fancy dress to offer. I also loved how each chapter featured a profile of a different winner, bringing them even more to life.

Ten Girls to Watch is a great, fun, easy ready, but still packs a little more substance than the average twenty-something novel. Check it out.