December TBR List

AKA my Subway distraction list!

I’ve seen this floating around and think it’s an excellent idea. I read 8 and a quarter books in November, so I’m going to make my list based on that. I also need to wrap up the books I’ve started and have sitting on my Goodreads list. So we’ll go with 8-10 books this month, being way too optimistic as my mom comes at the end of the month. I am currently at 45 books for this year, when my original goal was 24. 24! I am definitely out of my book reading funk.

  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (Currently reading)
  • The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainin (I bought this for my sister’s Christmas present, and it sounded so darn cute! I figured it’d be a quick read.)
  • Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (120 pages. I can do this.)
  • Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker (Netgalley read/review for the month)
  • Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore
  • Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  • A Scarlet Bailey Christmas Chick-Lit (because loneliness is fun and Christmas is magical)
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (So I can see the movie in January!)
  • Famous Last Words by Katie Alender

Book Review: Landline

Catching up on reviews! After this I’ll only be one behind-slash-right on track. After the last review/ramble, I decided to change up my format a little, as well as adding a festive moose for the Christmas season. It’s always a work in process of course.

I’m super debating reading a ton of Christmas chick-lit during December, due to my wonderfully single life. Anyone think this might be a bad idea?

This was my first Rainbow Rowell book. It’s not the first one I bought (Carry On was, but it’s been in a book until recently) and I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. Everyone I know seems to enjoy her books, so of course I had to try. I suspect I’ll have finished the three I own before the end of the year.

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Landline

By Rainbow Rowell

Publish Year: 2014 – Goodread’s 2014 Winner for Fiction

Genre: Contemporary, Chick-lit

Format: Paperback

Rating: moosemoosemoose 3/5 Moose


Quick Synopsis: 

Georgie McCool’s in a typical female battle:  Job vs. Family. And clearly, her marriage has hit a point where it may not be able to turn back. Neal and her daughters have gone to his mother’s house in Nebraska for Christmas, while Georgie is left working in California on the job of a lifetime.

Deflated and torn between what is apparently ever female’s struggle, she goes to her own mother’s house for dinner and calls Neal on her old landline phone. The Neal that picks up isn’t quite the Neal that she knows now, but instead, the Neal back before they married. It’s not exactly a TARDIS, but it’s a way to fix her marriage before it even started.

Or maybe end it.

Characters:

There are two main characters: Georgie and Neal, and a gaggle of supporting characters. Here are the four worth knowing:

Georgie – A wannabe Tina Fey, in my mind. A comedy writer on the verge of a great new show while writing on a relatively successful show with her best friend. Married to Neal, two girls.

Neal – A stay at home dad, half because he never could figure out what he wanted to do with his life, and half because he seems to enjoy it. Artistic, quiet, introverted to a fault.

Seth – Georgie’s best friend from college, her co-writer on her new show. A gorgeous man who is also a bit of a womanizer. The guy that everyone treats as Georgie’s “the one that got away.”

Heather – Georgie’s much younger (like 15+ years younger) sister, who helps give Georgie some perspective on the whole situation

Rants and Raves:

Gah. This should not have been my first Rainbow Rowell book. That being said, the cover of this book made is sound so much more interesting than what it turned out to be.

Two important things: I am a sucker for good chick lit, and no matter how I feel about this book, I loved Rainbow Rowell’s writing style.

If I had read this years ago…or maybe if I had even read it last year when it came out, I probably would have loved this book. But given where I currently am in my life, I found Georgie whiny and frustrating as hell. Job….marriage. Marriage…job. Which is more important?!

I’m so tired of this argument. I fully believe that a woman can have both. And if the roles were reversed, a man would not be doing everything he could to try and save his marriage. He wouldn’t blink an eye at his wife’s frustration!

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No really, I’m tired of it. This is something she’s been working for her entire life, and her husband throws a hissy fit causing her life to crumble.

And what makes me even more angry is that I CAN SEE THIS ALL HAPPENING. (Okay, the time machine phone, not so much. That’s a lie. It can totally happen.) Georgie basically admits having kids was a mistake (which I love — not all women want to be moms and some shouldn’t be) and she comes off as selfish and baaaaaaaaaaaah. I can’t.

I seriously commend Rainbow Rowell though. While I hated the story concept, I enjoyed her writing. I could see the talent. I’m not entirely sure she wrote this expecting us to like Georgie. This is the only reason I’m giving her books another shot — and because Carry On seems amazingly wonderful.

Final Verdict:

Don’t start with this book if you haven’t read anything by Rowell. If you are already a fan, you’ll probably enjoy it. If you love the woman’s age old question of work vs. love, read it.

Book Review: Linked

So I can’t post about how I’m behind on my book reviews and not actually post a book review. This one will be short. I read the first book in the Cage of Lies series this month — Chained — and found it to be a quick and interesting read. I was happy to find that the second book was already on Amazon. I didn’t read it immediately…as anyone who actually follows my reviews knows, I’m usually a few reviews behind…but I read them close enough. Be forewarned, there are spoilers for Book 1 below!

So without further ado, here’s….

Linked (Cage of Lies 2)

by Susanne Valenti

Review: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 3/5 Moose

A Quick Blurb:

Maya continues her adventures a few months later outside the city wall with Coal, Alicia, Taylor, Laurie and Hunter. There are also new characters thrown into the mix, with Luca, Gregor, “Adam” and Crystal.

I had to look up their names, because honestly, most of these characters can be thrown away. Is Luca gay? Can he and Adam/Blane just get together then? Cause I can’t figure out why else someone would be as grumpy as he seems to be about what he seems to be grumpy about. Vague enough? So are his frustrations.

Crystal was a bit stereotypical — I loved Chained because there wasn’t any female bitchiness. Alicia wasn’t a stuck up sister who didn’t want Maya near Coal, and Laurie might be my favorite character of the whole series. So I wasn’t surprised when Crystal (who was hinted at in Chained) joined the group. But honestly, half the time I forgot she was there.

The end of Chained had Maya ready to break into the city to save her parents. So when the story begins and they aren’t on their way…well I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a good thing that they didn’t rush off immediately, especially as Taylor spent all of Book 1 knocked out.

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And the whole not knowing the outside world and all. It’s good to prepare. And while Maya seems to be constantly overly confident of her abilities, Hunter is there to knock her on her ass.

All most immediately, Maya’s in trouble and has been kidnapped. Not once (which was resolved quickly) but twice.

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Now seriously, I want to like Maya.. I do. She seems smart and typical, but occasionally she is an idiot. (Okay, who isn’t??) But when people are constantly trying to save one character, I get tired. I was almost happy that Laurie got hurt, only from the stand point that it wasn’t just Maya needing saving.

Eventually, after more than half the book, the group finally sets out to save her parents and tell the citizens of the City how everything is really okay. There are a few twists towards the end that keep it interesting.

Verdict:

I’m starting to wonder if I’m no longer the target audience for these kinds of books. I enjoy Susanne’s writing, but I found a portion of the story just lacking. I don’t find Coal to be dreamy or swoon worthy, nor do I dislike him — I just mostly find him underdeveloped. But he’s a pretty typical YA love interest I guess.

My review is reading a little whiny and definitely all over the place. I really didn’t dislike this book, it just left me completely underwhelmed after the first book. Not a lot happens to push the story forward in my opinion, despite a lot of action happening in this book. I would have rather had a tamer book with more character development — I just don’t feel like I know or understand the characters much at all.

TL;DR — Susanne can write some action pretty well. The mutated animals in the book are great…the swamp scene was easily my favorite. If you are looking for a YA dystopia that reads quickly, pick these up. I’ll probably read book 3 when it comes out — I hate leaving series unfinished.

A Salinger Character Moment

Despite its thin walls and lack of air conditioner, I love my new apartment. I good portion of it is still in boxes (most of my bedroom and half my kitchen?) but I can sit in my living room and pretend that the rest of the place is unpacked.

And getting rid of a car and commuting by subway is much better than I expected. I’ve read eight…maybe nine books this month, 90% of which was done on the subway. I’m three reviews behind, but I’ll catch up soon enough.

You might be thinking that clearly, living in a city with so much going on, you’d never stay home. Well, I’m not that kind of person I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I go out and explore — I try to explore a new area (hopefully of Brooklyn) at least once a week. This weekend I walked the Brooklyn Bridge, then found Kee’s Chocolate, which was featured on Best Thing I Ever Ate on Food Network. (Levain Bakery is another stop from the show that I’ll make at some point!)

I also just bought a ticket to see Misery on Wednesday with Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf:

But I tend to be introverted, so days like yesterday are spent inside, writing and playing video games and cooking. Lori’s taco soup is going in the crockpot soon for this week’s lunches, and I spent the better half the night working on a few book ideas. I’m a little stuck, but that’s mostly because my desk and boards aren’t se up yet. And with alcohol delivery as simple as food delivery, well.

Fireball whiskey with amaretto or vanilla coke is wonderful.

And so thus, my best friend pointed out to me this morning that while my night sounded boring at first, I was writing in Brooklyn drinking whiskey. And something about the “in Brooklyn” part made is that much more magical? I truly regret not sitting on my fire escape pondering my wasted youth.

Unfortunately, unpacking boxes in Brooklyn doesn’t have the same ring.

Anyways, I did not participate in NaNoWriMo like I wanted to (thanks move!) so expect my December to be a bit more NaNoWriMo-ish. Especially while I flesh out a potential chick-lit idea, loosely based on my life drama. It’s hard to write, knowing the characters are kind of based on real people.

Book Review: Vicious

Today is just a quick update / review today, as all my boxes and stuff have finally come in. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not climbing over boxes all day, and everything is starting to look normal. But I did read two (or three? subway rides are blending!!) books this past week, so here’s the first review.

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Vicious
By V.E. Schwab
Published: 2013

Rated: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md4.5/5

I stumbled across this book at the store Books of Wonder. This was an odd thing as Vicious is not a Young Adult novel, but that’s okay. This is my second book by V.E. Schwab this year. She’s definitely an author I’ll be paying attention to and looking forward to read her books! Seriously, A Darker Shade of Magic is probably the best book of 2015, and if you haven’t read it yet, add it to your list (even for simply the cover!) Anyways, Vicious is almost as good as ADSoM, though maybe not as riveting.

Side note: I follow Victoria Schwab on social media, and she seems awesome. And she’s a few months older than me, which strangely makes her more of an idol than other authors.

Summary

Victor and Eli are college roommates. Both seem to have a darker side underneath their masks of brilliance, arrogance and snarky sides. For Eli’s senior thesis, he decides to explore EOs— ExtraOrdinary people, or people who have, essentially, super powers. Their research leads to a possible formula: is there a way to make EOs?

Fast forward ten years later, Victor has broken out of prison, with only one thought: find Eli for revenge. He’s surrounded by a team of odd characters — his jail mate and a young girl he picked up on the side of the road. On the other hand, Eli has been on a mission to rid the world of EOs, aside from his own personal sidekick.

Thoughts Thoughts Thoughts

Who is the villain, and who is the hero, especially when both guys are sociopaths?? Even the characters ask them of themselves in the book:

“If Eli really was a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that make him a villain?

He took a long sip of his drink, tipped his head back against the couch, and decided he could live with that.”

Whoa.

I mean, Victor and Eli in my head:

dexter1 benedict-cumberbatch-sherlock

(Not as much Sherlock, but I couldn’t think of a closer sociopath. The master is too…too. But imagine both of them with SUPERPOWERS.)

This book is written in a manner similar to how ABC seems to be doing all their shows these days: modern day moments with flashbacks to the past (or future). I think if this wasn’t SO POPULAR, I wouldn’t have been tired of it by Part 2 of the book. That being said, how else would this story be told? (I blame ABC more than anything, honestly.)

The concept of this story is amazing. The second part drags a little, though it was definitely interesting to see the story from Eli’s POV as well. And the side characters — Sydney and Mitch especially — are just as interesting to learn about.

So how does one become a superhero? Well, you have to have some kind of gene (never really explored or explained) and you have to come back from death. Not have a NDE, but literally flatline and come back. And for early 20 year old guys, this means WE HAVE TO TRY IT IN OUR APARTMENT. While drunk. Cause you know, it’s just death. You’ll totally come back from it.

What I didn’t care for so much was the ending. Something about it felt lacking a bit. I’m not sure what, but it wasn’t the epic battle I was expecting between the two. And I think I’m in the minority on this opinion. And I think it’s more of a “me” thing, because I really suck at epic battles I think.

But that’s okay though, because apparently a sequel is on the way!

Who would I recommend this for?

Superhero/Antihero fans, even if they aren’t big fans, and especially if they root for the villains on occasion. If you need the name Serena to mean something to you other than the UES It Girl. This isn’t a YA book, but I wouldn’t say teens shouldn’t read it. Actually, everyone read it. You should just support this rising star of an author.

Book Review: Hellraisers

Hellraisers (The Devil’s Engine #1)
by Alexander Gordon Smith

Expected Publish Date: December 1, 2015

Rating: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 3.5/5 Moose

I downloaded this ARC from NetGalley during a Halloween give away. It’s a YA book by Alexander Gordon Smith, who is not an author I’ve read before. Apparently he’s a pretty well known YA horror writer, with two series that look finished (maybe?) called Escape from Furnace  and The Fury. Both series sound good and have ended up on my “To Read Eventually” list.

Hellraisers is his newest series, which I’m guessing will be no more than two or three books in total. A good bit happens in the first book. It’s like a back story book — like how the superhero became the superhero story. An Origin story, I guess. It didn’t scare me as much as I thought it would, especially for a book that advertises being the Stephen King of YA literature (I’m also not a huge Stephen King fan, though I have the upmost respect for the man.) In fact, I may let my brother read it is he wants. There isn’t any language really, and maybe he can be the judge of how scary it is.

So what’s the book about?

The book is told from two point of views — Marlow, a 16 year old asthmatic kid with a difficult life and Pan, a somewhat older female (I think 17 or 18?) who is already fighting to save the world with the help of the Devil’s Engine. The Devil’s Engine is a machine older than anything else, concealed in an impossible location, found during World War II. The machine has the ability to grant any kind of wish, and the small price to pay is your soul.

Sounds super Faustian, right?

Marlow gets mixd up in the war between two groups with two Devil’s Engines after accidentally getting in the middle of a battle. One of the groups is trying to save the world, while the other group is trying to bring literal hell on earth. Both believe they are fighting for the right cause. Pan is already a warrior in the battle, who at the beginning of the story is dealing with the end of a Faustian contract.

How is the book?

My first instinct was to put this book down at page one. A book clearly about Faustian bargains, and the main character is named Marlow?

I am glad I stuck with it though. It is even addressed in the book how it’s silly that he, Marlow, got roped into a Faustian deal possibility. The action portions of this book are great, but there seemed to be a lack of character development outside of that. There are so many characters with backstories that just kind of get glossed over or not discussed. Marlow and Pan have some development, sure, but not enough that I would have felt bad if either of them died. But the action scenes are really great and dark.

I loved the description of the Devil’s Engine. It’s not an easy task to undertake (as it shouldn’t be) and it sounds appropriately terrifying and difficult. I also enjoyed the “Lawyers” — those people that are working to break the Faustian contracts before their time runs out (which is 666 hours, or roughly 27 days). You can wish for anything, but not everything is going to come out right, and not everything is easily broken.

I think I’ll leave my horror reading for the adult genre — I haven’t had much luck in the YA section. But this book was a pretty good attempt, and I think will entertain younger audiences. I’ll definitely pick up the second one to see the conclusion (I hope?)

Top Ten Tuesdays: Books to Film Adaptations

Broken Record Moment: I’m so glad to be able to settle down and write a Top Ten Tuesday post!

I’ve actually been debating whether or not to do The Broke and the Bookish‘s Secret Santa this year too. It seems like a great idea! But as those of you who know me well know, I am terrible at remember Christmas cards, much less anything else. Has anyone participated? Is it as cool as I think it would be?

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is film adaptations of books I am looking forward to or haven’t seen. I decided to go with film adaptations I’m looking forward too, as well as movies that are coming out that I now want/need to read the book.

1. Deadpool – February 12, 2016

Okay, I tried to keep any type of comic book or graphic novels off my list, but I absolutely love Deadpool! He’s my favorite … superhero… and one of two comic books that I’ve actually ever kept up with. PLUS, the movie is to have an R rating, which makes it that much better. Seriously, I will have the best Valentine’s Day date (probably with myself but WHO CARES) that will include seeing this movie. Even though I’m not certain I love Ryan Reynolds, it’s going to take a lot for me to hate this movie.

Please don’t let me hate this movie.

2. Allegiant – March 18, 2016

Okay, these movies suck. They really, really do. Which makes me sad, because I actually really enjoyed the series. I read it for the first time this year, then read a pretty decent fan fiction that kept me from hating the ending. But three things about this movie help make it onto my list:

  • It was filmed in Atlanta, and I’m all for supporting more movies being filmed in Atlanta
  • The director and author have both come out saying they will not change the ending of the book. Extreme kudos for not caving on that front.
  • Theo James.

Yes I am female and occasionally shallow and I find Theo James super pretty:

Hey may or may not be the physical inspiration of my lead NaNo character.

3. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – February 5, 2016

I am actually not a big Jane Austen fan. I’m sorry, I know, it makes me a terrible female. I love Northanger Abbey and that’s about it. At the same time, I kind of love Pride and Prejudice adaptations. I love Lost in Austen (if you haven’t seen it, it’s full of wonderful silliness and a great cast) and Bridget Jones Diary. I actually haven’t finished Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but I enjoy what I have read. I think I ended up putting it aside because I was tired of zombies at the moment. But the cast looks fantastic! And Matt Smith!

4. The 5th Wave – January 15, 2016

I’ll admit, this isn’t a book I’ve read. I actually hadn’t heard of it until I saw the preview. It’s officially on my “to read” list now. I think it’s because I super love Chloë Moritz. I’m not a huge alien story person — I mean, they don’t usually make it to the top of my list. But I’m willing to give this one a shot.

5. The BFG – July 1, 2016

Who doesn’t love Roald Dahl? I had a copy of Matilda  that ended up falling apart. And The Witches was one I read frequently as a kid! I know there has been a movie made of The BFG, but I’ll take another one! There really is next to nothing out about this movie except a date, so I’m hoping they stick to it. And Harriet Jones, Prime Mister is one of the lead voices.

6. Victor Frankenstein – November 25, 2015

Okay, to be honest, every time I see a preview for this movie I flip flop. But Mary Shelley, guys! I can’t sit here and pretend I’ll support every female writer (I’m looking at you, 50 Shades of Grey author), but I will support those who write good gothic literature. Plus, it’s Daniel Radcliffe looking like this:

You make Snape proud, Alternate Universe Harry.

I’m waiting for some reviews to come in before I commit to this one, especially since Mockingjay and The Night Before come out this weekend.

7. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – 2016

This book was silly and cheesy, but I liked it. It’s chick lit and YA at it’s best, and I’m a sucker for a cute love story. It makes me wish my own was a little less dramatic and more dramatic at the same time. But that’s a conversation for a different day. This book was one of the first ARCs I ever received, long before I knew what ARCs were, and my favorite part of it is the cover:

I haven’t read any of her other books, mostly because reading love stories make me sad at times. But I’m willing to give her books another go. And I like the lead actress in this movie.

8. How to be Single – February 12, 2016

I’ll admit, this book is on my bookshelf that’s hidden in my room so that it never ever comes up in conversation. I never read Eat, Pray, Love, but I feel like this might have been my version of the book. I expected this book to be about a woman exploring different cultures and explaining how single women are perceived and how they act in different cultures. Alas, this is a bit more of a love story than factual, but that’s okay. It makes me happy to be single. I’m too much of a lot of things — independent, picky, stubborn — to really think I can find someone. Anyways, I’ll see this movie because I read the book, though I am super weary of the leading lady.

9. His Dark Material (or The Golden Compass) – TBA

I KNOW this isn’t a film adaptation, but if someone is going to do it right, it’s going to be the BBC! No seriously, I’m super excited about this, and we literally know nothing. Nothing about the cast, nothing about how long of a series, nothing! So, feel the pressure from the fans, BBC One!

10. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – March 2016

This book has been on my “To Read” for a long time, and now it’s a series. I plan to read it before seeing the movie, which seems to have an amazing cast! I’m weary about Tim Burton being the visual director, but his ex-wife and son Depp don’t seem to be involved at all. It’d be fun if this was filmed entirely in black and white, no? (it’s not, I know).

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Have I missed any exciting ones? I know I had a few runner ups: Live by Night, Beauty and the Beast, and Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them. I’d be happy to add more to my list!

Book Review: Academy Girls

The final book I finished on my drive up to New York! I’m quite thankful that I have a friend who was willing to drive me and my dog up to our new apartment, that also refuses to let anyone else drive. It’s the book I was in the middle of when we started the drive (I think I was around 40% in?) I had started this book last time I was in New York, read a few pages during the rush move, and I’m glad to be done with it.

I originally got this as an ARC book from NetGalley, but I think I lucked out by getting it only a few days before it was released. The summary of the book intrigued me, as well as the fact that I’ll pretty much read anything involving a private school (NANOWRIMO RESEARCH!!)

Academy Girls by Nora Carroll
Published September 2015

moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 2/5 Moose

Summary

Jane Milton is a recently divorced and newly debt writer with a teenage son. Her husband is now in jail for white collar crimes, and Jane spends literally her last dollar getting to her former private high school, Grove Academy. Prior to her husband’s arrest, Jane doesn’t seem to work or anything, though she did at one point write a book. The headmistress makes it abundantly clear that her job is strictly as a favor to a former Grove girl, but that she is certainly not qualified for the position. Jane is told upfront to take it easy on the students and essentially keep her head down and press forward. Her co-workers include past students, including Abby, the girl she hated and Josh, the guy she always had a crush on. Jane is pressured to help a student get a novel published by graduation in order to help her get into Yale. As Jane receives chapters from the student, the story sounds eerily familiar to her own secrets.

The book is also told in flashbacks to Jane’s senior year with her best friends Lissa and Kat. All three girls are superficial friends at best, viewing each other as the major competition. They believe that their new English teacher, Miss Pymstead, is responsible for the unsolved murder of a headmaster from when their parents were kids. As they delve further into the mysterious murder, recording all of their findings, the girls are met with tragedy at multiple turns.  The notebook recording all their thoughts and notions goes missing one day, until Jane’s student’s chapters start popping up.

Thoughts

I should have been weary when I read the last name “Milton” and the obsession with an English teacher. But the premises of the book sounded fascinating. Murder in a private school? Unsolved many years later? Yes please! This is one of the few non-YA books I’ve read this year, so I had high hopes.

Everyone in this book has way too much love for Emily Dickinson. Now, I like Emily Dickinson…her poetry makes sense to me more than others (I confess, I really am not a poetry fan). The whole book is written as bleak and grey as a Northeastern winter. I have a hard time liking any of the characters at all. They’re all too self absorbed and too irritating.

I’m also not sure this book has any resolution. It’s not like Gone Girl, where I felt like the author just didn’t know how to end the book. It just….fizzles. Jane doesn’t seem to grow at all, though apparently she kind of does? The love interest is incredibly forced then fizzled. Everything just… no release. Not even sure there is that much tension either.

Conclusion

I don’t know anything about the author, but from this book, I just felt like she was trying too hard. Maybe she was also an English major who wanted to show off what she knows (we all want to do that. It’s the English major way!) I fought to finish it because it was my first ARC. It’s certainly not the worst book I’ve ever read, but I’m not even sure I recommend it.

Book Review: Firsts (ARC)

I’m still going backwards in my reviews. This is the second book I read on my way up the East Coast, and to be honest, I’m still not certain how I feel about it. But then again, there are books from years ago that I still don’t know how I feel about them, and if I wait to sort all of that out, I’d never write a review.

I got this book from NetGalley. It’s not the first book I got from them (Academy Girl was….review still to come), but this is my first review of a NetGalley book. The concept of this book is what caught my eye originally. A teenage girl with potentially a healthy attitude towards sex? Sure, let’s see how that goes.

Firsts by Laure Elizabeth Flynn

Expected Publish Date: January 2016

moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 2.75/5 Moose

Overview:

Mercedes “Mercy” Ayres has one of the most interesting hobbies a seventeen year old girl can have: she helps teenage male virgins have their first awkward time while giving them pointers so that their girlfriends can also have the perfect “first time.” This is an easy hobby to have, as her mother is an absentee mother at best and her father is not in the picture at all. She sets out just to help five, but at the beginning of the book, she’s helping out number ten. There is one guy, Zach, her Wednesday Lunch Plans, who is the only non-virgin she sleeps with.

As she continues to push past her originally set limit, Mercy spins out of control, unable to figure out who to turn to. When a new girl, Faye, comes into town, the reader can’t quite figure out if there is going to be a sex off or bitch off, or if Mercy is going to figure out if she is actually bisexual. Matters get even worse when her best friend’s boyfriend starts to pay her too much attention.

Thoughts:

I’ve rapped my nails on the keyboard for a few minutes, and have decided that I’m not going to use this book review to discuss my thoughts on teenagers and sex. I don’t have kids and I’m no longer a teenager, so realistically, is it my place?

I liked Mercy in the beginning. Okay, well, I liked Mercedes, until it became clear that she was having sex do to the following:
-Daddy Issues
-Wanting attention from her mother
-She had sex too young and it was the wrong guy

I don’t know; I wanted a protagonist who was doing her thing because it was no big deal to her, not because she’s literally a product of her surroundings. I mean, I get it. A YA book that’s pro-sex would be a terrible thing for society. But aren’t we all a little tired of the negative stigma around sex?

This book was a super easy read. I read it from roughly Virginia to New Jersey (so….6 hours?) I didn’t expect to get anything out of it really, but even then I was disappointed.

The character I did love was Faye, up until the end. I’ve only known one Faye in my life, and I had a really hard time not picturing her whenever I read her name. Faye (in the book) was much more what I was expecting — a very nonchalant attitude towards sex. Does she like Zach? Does she like Mercy? Is she just Jack Harkness in female form?

Conclusion:

This book frustrated me. I don’t regret reading it (I would have probably picked it up eventually at a bookstore), and I applaud Flynn for taking a risk with the book. I just wish the risk had gone a little bit further. Instead, this book fell flat and predictable. If you are looking for a quick YA read, go right ahead. I suspect this book will end up on a banned book list at some point. All that said, the book is actually pretty well written and the characters are relatable. I would definitely pick up another book Flynn writes, as long as it’s another standalone book.

Book Review: Chained

With my journey to New York City mostly complete, I had plenty of time to read books while I was on my way up. The first day was a wonderful (ha!) 12 hours drive, and the second day consisted of a much shorter 3 hours drive. I was able to catch up on most of my ARC books that I’ve had lying around, so expect a few updates this week.

The last one I finished is the first one I’m reviewing. It is called Chained, the first book of the Cage of Lies series by Susanne Valenti. I am not 100% sure how I first started following Susanne, but I have been for awhile. She’s a pretty amazing author, and you should definitely go purchase her first two books: Chained and Linked. Links are for the Kindle additions, which will cost you $6 total. Susanne posted about advanced copies of her books, and I was one of the lucky ones to take her up on it! I just bought her second book on Amazon (TOTALLY didn’t know it was out, and now I’ve started another book. Alas!)

I started Chained the second morning of our drive. It was a refreshing change over the other two books I read in the car, both of which I found weird. I was expecting my whole ARC experience to be weird and didn’t have my hopes set too high on this book. I was pleasantly surprised.

I feel that I should state upfront that this book is a YA Dystopian book, and if you aren’t a fan of that genre, this isn’t going to be a book for you. There are some minor spoilers below, but nothing too major. So without further ado….

Chained by Susanne Valenti
Published October 2015
Part of the Cage of Lies series

moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 3.5/5 Moose

Overview:

Maya, an intelligent teenage orphan trying to find her place in the new world population behind The Wall. After overpopulation and humans abusing the Earth, they accidentally created something that allowed the Earth to fight back. Fearing extinction, they hid in cities behind walls and burrowing into the ground. Hundreds of years later, the population is just beginning to be able to explore the wasteland around their cities to see if there is a possibility of expanding.

Maya has always held a fascination in the Old Ways. Cars, green trees and water have a strange hold on her, while the constant grayness and surveillance of Harbour City drive her nuts. When her only friend Taylor suggests that she join the group going to explore the outside to see if it is contaminated, she immediately jumps at the opportunity.

Unfortunately, this opportunity leads to accidental contamination, causing Maya and Taylor to be punished and sent to SubWars as messengers for 3 months. Maya’s life is never the same after that.

Things I Liked:

Susanne, you’ve got a way with descriptions. I could feel the forest around me, especially in juxtaposition to the city and the potential “contamination” site. I love the slight guilt feeling I got about the huge house that only fit 4 people (as I move into my tiny NY apartment!)

I actually like Maya for the most part, though she seems too stubborn at times and needs to be saved too often. I had to remind myself occasionally that she had lived in the City, not learning how to fight. My favorite characters are definitely Alicia, Kaloo and Laurie— I love badass girls that don’t need a boy to save them I guess. Coal and Taylor were fine — I really don’t care for Taylor yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing how he grows.

The thing with convincing dystopians lies in how civilization fell. It’s got to be convincing — you’ve got to make me feel like this could start happening at any moment. Chained successfully gives a terrifying possibility. M. Night Shyamalan should have used this for his really terrible movie The Happening. I can imagine that Earth will fight back against us one day, especially if we accidentally give them the tools to do so.

Things I Didn’t Like:

There are parts of the book that had me confused from the beginning. Did Maya witness her parents’ death? Why was she near the labs then? Taylor and Laurie seem pretty open to leaving the city too — I’ve never read a book where everyone in a breakout of some sort seems okay. I’m also weary of the potential love triangle that’s been set up by the book — I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this will resolve quickly. (Seriously — my main love for the Divergent series is that there wasn’t a love triangle).

Everyone seems a bit even keel most of the time. No one really fights, no one stops to ask why they’re so willing to help out these strangers. And I wish there were more backstories to the characters. Maybe not backstory — maybe depth is the word I’m looking for?

And while I really liked the idea of SubWars, I clearly didn’t understand what they were at first. So when Maya, Evan and Taylor end up in the SubWars fighting for their lives, I seriously got confused. I think I just need a visual map of the SubWars’ layout to help me?

Conclusion:

If you like Dystopians, give this one a go. It’s a quick read and a decent one at that. I definitely would have loved it more if it had been longer with certain aspects more detailed ( i.e. life in the city, the different class systems, the suffocating life, why everyone shuns Maya). I’ll let you know if I’m still enjoying it after I finish the second book!