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Books Reviews

I Sincerely Hope the Second Book is Better: Review of Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone

e-ARC provided by publisher through NetGalley in exchange for review.

When I first saw the cover reveal for this book I was entranced and couldn’t wait to pick it up. It was giving me Gothic romance vibes and I wanted to see how this might be incorporated into a young adult novel. That being said, I think that this might have done better as an adult Gothic romance but as it was I was bored with this book and found it lacking.

Lakesedge (World at the Lake's Edge, #1)
Image: Cover of Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone

Synopsis

There are monsters in the world.

When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem.

There are monsters in the woods.

As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn…

There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name.

Now, to save Rowan—and herself—Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under.

Review

This review will contain spoilers.

Lakesedge followed Violeta (Leta) Graceling and her younger brother, Arien, after they’ve been taken back to an estate with Rowan who is a boy known simply as The Monster of Lakesedge. As the story progresses, she realizes how entwined this estate is with the evil god the Lord Under. It’s a story about magic and seems very connected to a larger metaphor for mental illness and I can only hope that the second book improves upon the events of the first.

I thought that Lakesedge started off interesting enough. I will include a more comprehensive list of content warnings at the end of this review but I do want to start off by saying that this starts off right away with scenes depicting emotional and physical abuse. I’ll admit, I found large portions of this book to be really triggering and I almost DNF’ed it but when I set it aside for a few weeks I was already 60% of the way through and decided to just see if it got any better. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

When the story first opened it raised so many questions. I was so confused by the world and spent the entire book waiting for questions to be answered but only ended up with more questions. The world itself felt underdeveloped as a whole and I hope that the second book gives more explanation but saying that ultimately doesn’t fix this book. The woman who raised Leta and Arien was very religious and this seems to be how people are in the world overall. They essentially worship a goddess of light which is why the dark magic that Arien possesses is seen as evil. Leta has spent her entire life protecting Arien with a zeal that I think many older sisters could relate to. The Lord Under is the evil god that they have in this religion and he gets the main focus in this story which left me, again, with more questions because he was so tangible and yet the goddess was often an afterthought.

Past these aspects I found myself understanding next to nothing about the religion and culture of the world that these characters resided in. YA fantasy often doesn’t have the in depth systems that adult fantasy has and I’ve always been grateful for that because they’re easier for me to consume. This is one story though where I definitely needed more to understand what was going on. There was magic, and alchemy involved with said magic, but nothing really came of this. The powers were just mentioned and there and the story would move on. I understood that at the heart of it, Lakesedge was a character driven story but with the plot as it was, I didn’t feel like I was able to connect with any of the characters.

Our main character is Violeta (Leta) Graceling and I’ll come back to her later because I have a lot of thoughts about who she was as a person but first, the other characters. We also had Arien, Leta’s younger brother, Rowan, the Monster of Lakesedge, as well as an alchemist, Clover, and a housekeeper, Florence. I found all of the characters to be flat and too often they seemed to be there for no real reason at all. I was especially confused by Florence because as the only true adult in this group she didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Maybe if there was more explanation into the dynamics between her and Rowan or the culture I would have understood why she just sat on the sidelines while she watched these kids destroy themselves both physically and mentally.

The central conflict to this book is a corruptive magic that has spread through Lakesedge following an incident in Rowan’s past. Rowan is supposed to be this evil monster and yet there was next to no evidence of this outside of the stories from his past. So when Leta constantly tried to remind herself that she couldn’t possibly have feelings for him because he’s a monster, I got really frustrated. Their romance almost felt like it was supposed to be a take on the “grumpy-sunshine” trope though I’ve also read in some other reviews that it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling of sorts. I could see where the author wanted it go but neither character ended up being strong enough characters to make this work. I genuinely thought that Leta had more chemistry with The Lord Under than she did with Rowan (whoops).

Now on to Leta.

I know that the author probably meant to give Leta pure intentions in her actions throughout the course of this novel but she made me so sad. Her self-sacrificial martyr complex was genuinely too much for me. I kept waiting for her to find a different solution, or for the group to come together and actually stop her from taking the steps that she did and yet that never occurred. The heavy depictions of trauma and mental illness throughout this book coupled with the fact that the corruptive magic required a physical sacrifice from Rowan that took the form of self harm through cutting ate away at me. I have no idea if this overall portrayal of mental illness is something that the author intended to have going in but I don’t think that it was done justice if it was. And if it was unintentional I have to say I’m really disappointed with how it all came together overall.

Leta was characterized in a way that she was unable to think past the actions she was currently taking. She had been through so many traumatic things in her life and it broke my heart to she how she treated her own life and future as something that could be thrown away so easily. With everything she did, she took care of everyone else before herself. It got to the point where it felt selfish instead of helpful, the pain that Leta was causing the other characters, especially her brother, was too much.

A battle with mental illness often feels impossible. From my own experiences I can say that with every step forward I take it feels like I take ten steps backward. Reading this book I saw a lot of my own mental illness in the story and that worried me a bit. There have only brief periods of time where I have had a healthy journey with mental health and I have put in a lot of work to try and deconstruct from the beliefs that I held and still hold. Reading Lakesedge I thought my younger self would have loved the book but I also have to note that my younger self would also seek out books that perpetuated the bad beliefs because I didn’t want to get better. I didn’t think that any aspect of my life would ever get better. I kept waiting for Leta to realize that she was hurting others and when she didn’t I just felt numb.

Arien knew what he was getting into and I was frustrated that Leta did whatever she could to either sabotage his efforts or pull all the burden onto herself. This is an incredibly unhealthy mindset and I can only hope that something changes in the second book and things get better but I’m worried. I don’t want people to step away from this book and think that they have to suffer along or think that they have to sacrifice themselves for the good of others.

Lakesedge began dark and it was intriguing. I was looking forward to an angsty romance with a grand Gothic setting. There was angst galore but instead of something captivating and unique I found the plot to be depressing and repetitive and the characters to be two-dimensional. Everything about this book felt underdeveloped from the setting and characters to the plot and fantasy elements. I was disappointed by this and ended up rating it two stars.

If you want to check out the book on Goodreads, you can find it here.

Content warnings: Death of a parent, death of a sibling (neither on page, but mentioned), self harm in the form of cutting (for the purpose of sacrifice), vomiting, drowning, emotional and physical abuse, depictions of trauma and depression

If you’ve picked up Lakesedge, what did you think of it? Am I wrong for reading into the plot so much? I just know how I was as a teen and don’t want someone like me to pick this up and find it influential in a negative manner.

If you want to connect with me elsewhere:

You can follow my reviews or add me as a friend on Goodreads, profile linked here.

Readerly: sideofadventure

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For review requests, etc: adventuresandespresso@gmail.com

And if you’d like to support the blog financially, my Ko-fi is linked here.

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Books Reviews

A Powerful YA Sci-Fi Novel: Review of Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

This post contains affiliate links, if you make a purchase through them I will receive a small commission with no extra charge to you.

Iron Widow (Iron Widow, #1)
Image: Cover of Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

e-ARC provided by publisher through NetGalley in exchange for review

Synopsis

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Review

Content warnings will be included at the end of my review.

This book was amazing. A futuristic sci-fi retelling of the only female emperor of China, Iron Widow took an already fascinating story and elevated it even further. Before I get into my review, I want to point you towards the author’s YouTube channel, linked here. Not only are the videos well researched, they’re all wonderfully scripted and I’m in awe of Zhao’s ability to weave in sponsorships from other companies as well as hype for this book.

So, as mentioned before, Iron Widow is a futuristic sci-fi retelling. Though a number of liberties were taken with the story I loved seeing how Zhao laced historical tidbits into the larger futuristic setting. There were Chrysalises, giant robots that are powered through a psychic link, that are used to fight off mecha aliens. But on the flip side, there is a stinging commentary on the harm of a patriarchal society. The story touches on things like the practice of foot binding and the dangers that young women face in terms of purity. It was scathing and heartbreaking at the same time.

Zhao wove together a fantastic narrative that balanced all of the complex elements perfectly. Looking back, I can see how hints about the finale were sprinkled in though in the moment I was so absorbed in finding out what happened next that I was shocked I hadn’t seen it coming. Without potentially giving anything away, I will just say that I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on the second book.

Now a huge portion of why I loved this book was the characters. They were spectacular. Morally grey and scheming I think that if I ever started writing fanfiction it would be for this book. Wu Zetian is our narrator and at times she seemed to run solely on spiteful fumes but in the grand scheme of it all I was amazed at what she was capable of. Bitter and intent on avenging the death of her older sister, Zetian volunteers to be a concubine to a pilot of one of the Chrysalises. By surviving killing the man who murdered her sister, she ends up being paired with Li Shimin, a pilot known as the Iron Demon, as both punishment and test.

By surviving her link with Shimin, Zetian becomes something more powerful than the pilot system has seen before. This pair spent so much time dancing around each other that I really appreciated the addition of Gao Yizhi, a boy that befriended Zetian in secret when she lived in her family’s home. I think that the three of them ended up working together in such an unexpected manner I was surprised by how their personalities ended up differing from what I imagined them to be.

I have a lot of respect for how Zhao crafted these characters. Each one struggled with trauma in their own way and it was well shown that they have a lot to learn about not only themselves but each other and the greater world. And yet even with all of that, I adored watching the three of them come together. Zhao has marketed this as a book that steps away from the standard love triangle and instead ushers in a polyamorous relationship and I have to say, I think that this should be the new standard. No hurt feelings over sides being picked and I think that the representation of a relationship like this, especially in YA, is something that adds new depth to the genre.

Iron Widow was a dark and gripping narrative that kept me on the edge of my seat. It was unique and powerful and a spectacular book overall. I rated it 5 stars and I highly recommend this.

Content Warnings: murder, death, torture, violence, thoughts of suicide, a lot of abuse (including domestic abuse and parental abuse), talk of sexual assault, alcoholism, depictions of trauma, anxiety, depression, mentions of needles, forced body modifications including footbinding and stolen organs, misogyny and sexism

You can add Iron Widow on Goodreads.

Or if you’re interested in picking up a copy of your own:

Barnes & Noble // Bookshop // Book Depository // Amazon // Libro.fm // Indiebound (to find a local store to shop through)

If you’d like to connect with me elsewhere:

I’m on Twitter: nihilisticactus

You can add me on Goodreads or follow my reviews here.

I’m on Readerly: sideofadventure

For review requests, etc.: adventuresandespresso@gmail.com

And if you’d like to support the blog financially, my Ko-fi is linked here.

Categories
Books Reviews

Book Review: We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding

*** ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for honest review ***

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the years it’s that relationships end. Romances, friendships, even acquaintances will fizzle, fade, or sometimes unluckily go out with an explosion.

Click the cover to head to the Goodreads page!

I’m not great with relationships of any kind and when I first read the synopsis for We Used to be Friends by Amy Spalding my heart hurt. It follows James and Kat, a best friend duo that met in kindergarten, as their friendship changes (and fizzles) over the course of their senior year of high school.

The pair are personality opposites but they’ve made it work. They’ve navigated life changes and growing up together and it seems like nothing could have broken them apart. The book opens with a chapter from James as she leaves for college and then the story unfolds in alternating chapters and storylines. James narrates her senior year from end to beginning and Kat from beginning to end. If you’ve ever seen the movie or musical The Last Five Years this book has the same sort of format!!

This was an easy five stars for me and I genuinely wish I had this story back in high school. It was extremely cathartic and had me reflecting quite a bit about a friendship that I had back in high school that reminded me a bit of Kat and James. I felt broken at times while reading this but I honestly appreciated being able to read a story from two perspectives because it reminded me that no friendship is one-sided and an ending friendship doesn’t necessarily stem from solely the faults of one person.

As a high schooler, especially a senior, you can feel on top of the world. Your future is bright and everything seems possible. Being a teenager is one of the easiest and hardest things to be because you can have your whole life laid out ahead of you and be none the wiser to all the changes that are going to occur. Growing up is intense and navigating the transition between high school and college can throw many obstacles in one’s path. James is a planner and thought nothing would change her 15 year plan and unexpected events in her family end up throwing her into a new mindset that she’s never had to deal with before. As her life falls apart she turns inward and begins to catastrophize the choices that she’s made and wants to make. In contrast, Kat is a bit of an eternal optimist, especially in regards to the people in her own life. She’s hesitant and anxious when it comes to changes but in the end all she wants is the best for anyone.

Despite being inexplicably linked, Kat and James were quite unique. Their approaches to navigating obstacles and changes were not only realistic but helped to illustrate how easy it is to allow differences to get in the way of friendships. Over the course of the book, Kat sees things falling together while James sees things in her life falling apart. The choices and events occurring in each of their lives caused a schism and the pair grew apart as neither girl truly acknowledged that they were both changing. Growing up is different for everyone and without realizing it, you can find yourself growing quickly apart from those “best friends for life”.

Kat and James are a bit of personality opposites, similar enough to make it work but when outside circumstances begin to come in between them it begins to cause a schism that ultimately changes their relationship entirely. Kat is a bit of an eternal optimist, using this to compete with anxiety about changes she experiences. James, on the other hand, experiences unexpected changes and ends up catastrophizing the events which leads to even more unexpected changes. As a teenager it’s easy to wish the best for life and to think that you have everything figured out. Being a senior can give you that invincible high on life feeling and having to accept the open endedness of the future is a struggle. It doesn’t help that high schoolers are immature, even those seniors that think they have it all figured out! When you begin to get caught up in your own issues, you can lose sight of what’s going on around you, often to the point of neglecting things you shouldn’t. I could see how people might look at Kat and James and see two immature girls and a very mismatched pair but friendship when you’re young is as easy as spending all your time together. It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of effort if you’re lucky enough to go to the same school or live nearby. But being mismatched is what ended up leading to issues and that’s something that happens in many high school friendships.

Having a friendship end at any age is hard but when you’re in high school when things change with a “best friend for life” it can be absolutely heartbreaking. One of my favorite things about We Used to Be Friends was how open ended so many aspects of it were. Reminiscent of life itself it drove home for me the fact that there are no guarantees and there is always a chance for things to change. We want happy endings, we want things to turn out perfect, we want all of our plans to work out but that’s not something that we’re promised. This was a touching and realistic novel about growing up. It navigates those relationship changes and allows the reader to reflect on the choices that each character made. Friendships are a two way street and when you accumulate so many years with someone it’s easy to assume that nothing will ever get in the way of many more years. We might not all get the chance to reconcile or have the ability to make different choices. To put it frankly, losing friends SUCKS and this book illustrated an almost grieving process between a best friend duo. This is one of my new favorites and an easy five star rating at that. A highly cathartic read for anyone who has found themselves in a changing friendship I couldn’t recommend this more!

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Books Wrap Ups

September 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

As much as I’m super excited that it’s October now, I’m also really sad that it’s already October. This past month was really stressful and yet incredibly successful in terms of reading. I’m hoping I can keep this momentum going in October as well because the reading has been helping me a lot with my stress. I managed to read 20 books this month so bear with me as this post is going to be quite long! I’ll try to keep my reviews short and sweet!

Books marked with ** were ARCs that I received through NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.

All Amazon links are affiliate links unless otherwise stated 🙂

Filter This by Sophie White**

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3/5 stars.

You can read my review here.

Amazon // Book Depository

Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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5/5 stars

My favorite middle grade book! I made a post about it here.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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5/5 stars

My new favorite book of all time. You can read my overly emotional review here. I read this twice already and am probably going to reread it because I need a pick me up after the week I had last week.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Though I didn’t read them in this exact order (there were books in between) I’ll group them together for the sake of this post. I read Jenn Bennett’s books:

Alex Approximately, Starry Eyes, and Serious Moonlight

 

 

I rated them 4/5, 2/5, and 3/5 stars respectively. You can read my review post about them here.

AA: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Starry Eyes: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Serious Moonlight: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Resurrection Girls by Ava Morgyn**

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I rated this 4/5 stars. You can read my review here.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Next I read two graphic novels:
Sheets by Brenna Thummler and Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

 

 

I rated them both 5/5 stars and you can read my reviews of them in this post.

Sheets: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Ghosts: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

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1/5 stars

I genuinely didn’t have the energy to write a full review of this after reading. It was boring, nonsensical, and incredibly insensitive. I would highly recommend reading some of the reviews on Goodreads from people who actually have schizophrenia or actually just most of the 1 or 2 star reviews are really thorough in all things wrong about this book. Ugh just writing this makes me frustrated all over again. I am genuinely glad I read Eliza and Her Monsters before I read this or I never would have picked it up. This book was atrocious.

Meet Cute by A Variety of Authors because it’s a short story anthology.

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3/5 stars

Oomph by Emery Lord was my favorite story of all of them and honestly, the rest were pretty forgettable. None of them fit that meet cute vibe to me. Except for Oomph that is. If you want my full list of individual ratings, you can see them on my Goodreads review, linked here.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Redwood and Ponytail by K.A. Holt**

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4/5 stars

My post where I talk more in depth about this book can be found here.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

A Fire Sparkling by Julianne MacLean**

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3/5 stars

My review can be found here.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Mother Knows Best by Kira Peikoff**

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2/5 stars

This book was quite a disappointment in the end. As are my thoughts with Made You Up, I just really wish authors would stop using mental illness in their books without properly knowing how to write it and handle it. This book had the potential to be really good but it ended up being not great. You can read my review here.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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3/5 stars

I swear, everyone and their mother loves this book so I genuinely thought that I was going to love it too. So imagine my surprise when I’m reading and it just stays at the same level of interesting the whole time. Don’t get me wrong, I was very far from hating this book but it also didn’t wow me like it seems to wow so many other people. It was good, which is why I rated it 3 stars, but I won’t be shouting my love for this book from the rooftops anytime soon.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills**

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3/5 stars

This was a really beautiful story about grief and ghosts and I am looking forward to going more into my thoughts on this book in a post later on this month. If you’d like to read more of my thoughts now, you can check out my review on Goodreads.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

The Grave Digger by Rebecca Bischoff**

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1/5 stars

Oh boy… This was really not good? Like the convoluted plot and overuse of 1800’s “slang” could have been easily overlooked had this book been not downright racist. It’s one thing to use the term colored (which the author explains her choice for doing so in an author’s note, which I respect seeing as this is a middle grade book and it’s important to talk about stuff like that) and make off-hand comments about how one of the characters couldn’t get into medical school because “you-know” (also due in part to her being a woman, so I’ll let it slide) but literally all of the victims of the grave robbing were black? And the housekeeper was straight up out there racist and the author thought that was okay to include in a middle grade book? I get that this book takes place in the 1800’s but I felt like it was really insensitively written. Like incredibly insensitively written.

SPOILER: Literally at one point the black woman who is pregnant throughout the story delivers too early and they steal the body of the stillborn baby… THIS IS A MIDDLE GRADE BOOK WTF.

Okay… I’ll get off my soapbox now.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

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5/5 stars

WTF THIS WAS SO GOOD. I am so pumped to read the next book, I already bought it and am going to pick it up this week. Robots and “what does it really mean to be human” and so much sarcasm and corporations and holy shit YES YES YES. This is probably going to be one of my favorite series of all time. Also this is super short so if you’re at all interested I 100% recommend picking it up because you can read it so quick!

Amazon // Barnes & Noble

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

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4/5 stars

I loved this book and emotionally, I would have rated it 5/5 stars but the more that I thought about it, there were definitely aspects of it that I wasn’t a huge fan of (mainly Astrid’s and Dee’s relationship) so that’s why I decided to go with 4 stars instead. Also I went to my library over the weekend and picked up three more A.S. King books and I’m really looking forward to reading them!

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

The Missing Season by Gillian French

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2/5 stars

I will not lie to you when I say that this was really well written, because it was genuinely really well written. I was just not a huge fan of it overall and I got really bored. The action and solution literally took up less than 20 pages and by that point I had skimmed most of the book.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

I know I mentioned my Goodreads throughout this post a few times, so if you’re interested in adding me as a friend on there, or following my reviews, you can find me at this link.

What did you read in September? Any fun reading plans of October? I might be trying my hand at the Spookathon (and I might try vlogging it too) but I have no idea yet, I’m not that great with readathons!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Books Reviews

Review: 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons

100days

I’m going to start off by saying that I am sad. Sad because of how good this book could have been… And I feel like that is just the entire theme of my reading this year. I swear I say this for at least one book every month: IT HAD THE POTENTIAL AND THEY SHOULD HAVE WORKED IT OUT A LOT LONGER BEFORE PUBLISHING IT.

So I got an ARC of this book from NetGalley and was super excited to read it. I mean look at that cover, one of the prettiest covers I’ve seen in a while. It started off really good but in the end I had to rate it 2/5 stars.

This book is about a girl named Tessa who got into a car accident with her grandma which resulted in her being temporarily blind for can you guess? 100 days.

Tessa is a poetry blogger and so in an attempt to help her feel a little bit more normal again, her grandparents try to run an ad in the newspaper to find someone who can help her type the poems and publish them onto her blog.

In comes Weston, an amputee. He’s decided that this is the perfect opportunity to be treated like a completely normal person for the first time since he lost his legs. He asks Tessa’s grandparents to not tell her what has happened to him and together they work together as Tessa slowly recovers from the accident.

I’ll start off with the things that I did enjoy about the book:

The story was very sweet at times. I appreciated how close Tessa was with her grandparents and that she had a close group of internet friends that she found through her blogging. I also really liked Weston’s family aspect and how close he was to his brothers.

The writing was really pleasant to read and it was so easy to read that I flew through multiple chapters at a time when I actually had a chance to sit down and read this. I also liked that it was a pretty straightforward story with really no dilly dallying around the plot. It was short and got right through it all.

Also these are very small issues but if you’re looking for a book about blogging, this isn’t it. They basically talk about Tessa’s blog a total of three times. And it’s an extreme case of insta love.

And now… We get to the really big issues I had.

Both Tessa and Weston had extremely traumatic things happen to them. Tessa was in an accident that caused her to lose her vision and Weston had to have both of his legs amputated after getting an infection. And they were both left to just deal with the aftermath of that by themselves… I mean yes, they had their families but they never went to therapy, they never talked about therapy, it just didn’t happen.

When something traumatic happens your entire brain chemistry can change. The mental consequences of events like these are horrifying and I’m absolutely appalled that you could clearly see that both of these characters were suffering with PTSD like symptoms and yet were not ever treated like it was something that should be taken care of or evaluated. I mean Tessa had the chance of never being able to see again and they just decided “okay she can just learn how to deal with that if she doesn’t get her vision back”.

I mean, what would have happened if she didn’t get her vision back (which also I found that her getting her vision back immediately on Day 100 was so trite and predictable, really didn’t like that). If she had been permanently blinded she would have lost all hope that she had at her chance of recovery. That would have been devastated and her already fragile mental health would have been destroyed. I just think that the entire aspect of mental health was poorly written in order to have this incredibly preachy underlying message about how we all need to suck it up and get over our issues.

Here’s more on that, first with a quote:

“Everyone’s always treating me like I need help- and, sometimes, it’s hard to resist giving in. It’s hard to resist accepting what the world says about you… That you’ve got a disadvantage, a flaw, a problem. Because these days we’re told that it’s okay to let our problems control us. It’s okay to be the victim. It’s okay… because you have every right to be miserable.” I shook my head slowly, sweeping the room with my gaze.

“But I want to tell you that it’s not okay. It’s not okay to let your problem stop you from doing anything you want to do. It’s not okay to be your problem… because you’re a person”

I mean like the line on the cover says… “When life knocks you down… Get up” it just breaks me knowing how many people out there want you to feel like you are not allowed to feel the way that you feel. No, you can’t live every single day of your life miserable but you can’t go around acting like everything is peachy keen, sometimes you are the victim. Sometimes you are completely broken down. Sometimes you feel like giving up. And you know what? I’m here telling you that that is okay. We can’t possibly have everything together all the time.

Sometimes, our handicaps, our hurts, our abuses… Sometimes they win. And no those problems are not who we are but they are a part of us and we can’t ignore them in order to make everyone else around us think better of us. Sometimes we get knocked down and we can’t get back up again for a while. And I really, really don’t appreciate how this book preaches to the fact that we shouldn’t feel bad for what is wrong with us. I’m sorry but I will never be fully strong. I will never fully win. And I am incredibly angry that this book is trying to tell me that I am pathetic, yes it makes me feel pathetic, for feeling the way that I do.

There’s another line very early on in the book that says something along the lines of “no one ever sees the light by being told that someone else is dealing with something darker” and THAT is what I wanted to see more of. I have been told time and time again in my life that there are people out there that have it worse than me and that I’m not allowed to feel the way that I do because of that. I don’t know if I’m just being overly sensitive but it really hurt me to have Weston talk the way that he did despite never doing anything for himself to get help about his mental health other than deciding that he needed to essentially “man up” and just do whatever he wanted no matter what anyone else thought.

I just don’t understand how this author can go from writing a beautiful line like that to preaching that we aren’t allowed to be miserable about what is wrong with us. Especially because right after that quote Weston basically plays the victim saying that he can’t possibly be with Tessa because he’s an amputee. It just made no sense to me. I mean if Weston doesn’t want people to treat him like his handicap then he can’t act like that when that finally comes up.

I just think the story overall was so immature and absolutely poorly told in both cases of disability. I really wish that I hadn’t read this book because I know I’m going to get angry every single time I think about it.

I think that this book puts out a really entitled message and I’m really disappointed. This is not a book that I would recommend. I really wish that this book had been different.

I also wanted to share a link to another review that touched on some things that I didn’t talk about here. You can find that here.

If you are interested in reading it yourself, you can pick up a copy at this affiliate link

Categories
Books

Review: Radio Silence

So I read Radio Silence by Alice Oseman and IT RIPPED ME TO SHREDS.

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Like honestly from about the halfway point to the end of the book I cried for the majority of my time reading. The story was just incredibly cathartic for me and I wish so much that I could have read this back in high school but I’m glad that it made it’s way to me now.

For those of you who have not heard of Radio Silence here’s a short little summary:

Frances spends most of her time studying and working towards her goal of university. That’s been her self proclaimed path since she was young. Then she gets presented the opportunity to create artwork for her favorite podcast and everything begins to change.

She meets a new friend and can finally begin to act like herself. And then the trust that had built up between them is shattered and Frances has to work to find a way to fix what has been broken and find out what path she really needs to take with her life.

I’m really bad at summaries, so here’s the link to the Goodreads page for the book.

I rated Radio Silence 5/5 stars, however, when I started this book I was unimpressed which I was kind of shocked about (but obviously in the end my entire opinion changed). I’d heard this book hyped up for months (mainly from Kat from the youtube channel paperbackdreams) and I was so excited to pick it up that I ended up reading almost all of it in a day. Like I was reading it the entire time that I was at work. I found the writing style incredibly unlikeable and I’m not sure if it just happened to change the further into the book I got or if I just got used to it but after about the first 100 pages I was paying any attention to the writing style anymore. I will say though that I feel like most of this book was written by “telling” and not “showing” and I think that’s my main gripe with the writing.

The deeper into the story I got, the more I found myself relating to Frances and the more it broke my heart. There were so many times where I almost had to set the book aside because it just brought back so many painful memories for me from my childhood up until now. I think that for anyone who has ever felt like they just don’t quite fit in would relate to Frances. And anyone who has ever gone through something that has left them questioning their entire future would enjoy this as well.

I would have loved to read more about the podcast, it seemed very Welcome to Nightvale to me! I also would have appreciated for the ending to have been stretched a bit more, I felt like there could have been points in the middle that would easily have been taken out in order to accommodate for more closure at the end. I just wish I could have seen a bit more happiness come out of an otherwise incredibly emotional book. Again, though, I think it was only this emotional because I felt like I could have been living a mixture of Frances and Aled’s lives. I related so much to this story that I feel like I don’t know how to talk about it without starting to cry about my own life experiences.

Anyways, there’s a decent amount of representation (bi, asexuality, one of the podcast characters is agender, the main character is mixed race) in this book but I feel like most of it is essentially mentioned in a sentence or two and then we just move past it. Like I was super excited for asexuality rep and then there was one paragraph about it at the very end and that was it. Although if I force myself to think about it, these kids are 17-18 years old and honestly who isn’t still figuring stuff out at that point? So I kind of get there being so many brief instances of explanation because I know at that age I sure as hell wouldn’t be talking about being asexual to anyone.

Again, I would highly recommend this book to anyone: teens, young adults, and even adults. I definitely though urge teens and young adults to pick up this book. Especially if you have ever experienced the push to try and take a path that you have questioned. Especially if you feel like you have ever been the odd one out. And especially if you have ever had the experience of meeting someone who you can be truly you around and then losing them because that story line is the one that killed me the most.

If you’re interested in picking this up I’ve added some links to places that you can purchase the book here:

Amazon (this is an affiliate link!)

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

And if any of you have read this book, what did you think of it? I’d love to chat with you about it!

Categories
About Me Books

Books That Shaped Me: Part 2

This is a continuation of my list of books that shaped me that I started in this post. These books in this post though are going to be ones that I read a little later in my reading “career”. Basically that means that these are the books that I was completely obsessed with while I was in middle school.

Books by Jodi Picoult

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I think the first book I ever read by her was The Pact and the Between the Lines books she wrote with her daughter are still some of my favorites!

Books by Maureen Johnson

I need to get her Truly Devious series still!! She is an auto-buy author of mine and also one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter.

The House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast

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One of the girls who was in my middle school friend group recommended these to me and we both obsessed over them for most of eighth grade. Like we were reaaaally obsessed.

Twilight

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Except I had the lovely movie cover mass market paperback edition from my grandma lol. And to this day I only like the first two books!!

Graceling

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My grandma bought me this book and Twilight for Christmas when I was in seventh grade. I think I read both of them before I even left my grandma’s house that winter break. Though I’m not a huge fan of the two other books in this series Graceling is still up there as a favorite.

The Gallagher Girl series by Ally Carter

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I got the third book in this series without realizing that it was the third one (I feel like this happened to me a lot with series when I was a kid… But a lot of books I read were okay to be read out of order so I guess I never really thought about it a lot.) and then had to go back and get the other ones. I really want to reread this to see how it stands up today!! I know my library has all the books so maybe I’ll work through those this summer.

The Mother-Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Frederick

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You guys!! I didn’t realize that there was a seventh book!! I need to get this now to complete my collection! I really want to reread this series this summer too. I love these books!

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

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Books by Ellen Hopkins

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I don’t really read her books anymore, they just make me sad. But I loved how they were written in verse because it made them so quick to read. I do want to reread some of them though. Especially the Crank books because those were the first ones of hers that I read and I’m not sure if I’ve reread them at all since the first time.

I think through middle school and into high school I started to read a lot of “darker” books. Like Ellen Hopkins and I mean even Jodi Picoult has very heavy themes in her books. There are a number of books that I really liked to read that I will not be sharing because I just feel like they’re unsuitable to share. I’ve moved past that stage and that’s all I’m going to say.

So I think that’s a pretty comprehensive list of books that I read in my middle school years! And I figured I’d share this video with you guys from the YouTuber BooksAndLala because she’s started to do a series where she’s reading specific books that she loved during certain years when she was a kid!

I’m going to try and make a third and final post in this series with books that I read in high school. A lot of stuff I read in high school was more rereading stuff I’d already read and lots of reading slumps from having to read so much for school already. Hopefully I can throw together at least a few more books to share though! Also I have to ask, who else had a Twilight phase? Still can’t believe how much I loved that book! Now I just love to laugh at it. Anyways, enough from me, have nice day everyone!

 

Categories
Books In Medias Res

A Trope That Never Bothered Me Before

So I finally sat down to read Save the Date by Morgan Matson. I’m going to preface this post by saying that Morgan Matson is one of my all time favorite authors and I will read absolutely anything that she comes out with. I also used to be quite obsessed with her Top 8 series the she wrote under the alias Katie Finn.

Warning you now that this post will contain minor spoilers for Morgan Matson’s books.

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I got this picture off of Morgan Matson’s website in case any of you were wondering 🙂

I’ve read every single one of her books multiple times (except Second Chance Summer, because 1. It makes me sob and 2. I don’t have a physical copy of it) and until reading Save the Date I never realized that there was a common theme in her books that now really bugs me.

In almost every single one of these books, the main character is a high school student (I think every single one is said to be 17) and the love interest is in college. As I was reading STD (yes, I am going to refer to it as that for the rest of this post, sorry!!) I kind of figured that Jesse was going to be a scumbag, it just made sense that Charlie had to have her little crush shattered by the person she thought was her “dream guy”. It made me so uncomfortable that Jesse is a sophomore in college and he’s trying to have a casual hook-up relationship not only with his best friend’s sister but also a high schooler.

Matson’s main characters are all romanced and a few are even implied to have lost their virginities to these college boys. To me this just screams inappropriate. I get that a lot of these are very innocent, I mean apart from scumbag Jesse, the farthest Charlie goes with a guy is a kiss on the cheek from Bill at the end of STD. There’s also a whole lot of underage drinking and other shenanigans… Like in The Unexpected Everything Andie was almost caught drinking at the age of 14, yep FOURTEEN! And okay, maybe I did spend my entire high school career reading books and staying up too late scrolling through Tumblr and taking too many AP classes but I still feel like 14 is really young to be out partying.

When I first read Matson’s books I was in high school and I never thought anything of an age difference or even a lifestyle difference but now that I’m older and have gone off to college and just been in the “real world” for a while I can’t even begin to imagine wanting to date a high schooler. Now I do think it’s different when someone continues to date a younger boyfriend/girlfriend when they leave for college but I also don’t feel comfortable with people who do things like date a freshman when they’re a senior. And yes, most of the characters are just finishing up their first years of school (or in Clark’s case, not in school at all) but that’s a whole year of being an adult and they’re deciding to be with high schoolers.

And you know what, maybe I’m crazy in developing this dislike for the pairings that are developed in these books but I just feel like no one who has moved past high school should be dating someone who is still 17. I’m in no way condemning Matson’s books, but I also don’t want impressionable young girls to read these books and fall for the Jesse’s because it’s “cool” or “exciting” to be in love with a college guy. Trust me, young girls reading this, college guys aren’t that great… Honestly, most guys aren’t that great. Read your books and wait to find someone who actually cares about you!

On a similar note, I also have never found myself interested in books where college students fall for their professors. I just think it’s a storyline that doesn’t make sense. There’s a power difference there that makes me uncomfortable and I don’t really think that there needs to be as many stories involving this storyline as there are.

As I’m working through Morgan Matson’s books again this spring, as I tend to do, I have to wonder how many other odd tropes I’ve just looked over in books before. Like I mentioned in my Rereading Old Favorites post I have to take a step back from a good chunk of my old favorites just because there are so many issues in them now that I completely brushed over in the past.

I really do like Matson’s books but I do hope that girls don’t romanticize dating an older boy because of the couples that she creates. When I was first reading her books it never occurred to me that this could even be an issue, I didn’t know any older boys and honestly I know that not a single one would’ve looked my way anyways. But I know that there are other girls out there that would and still will catch the attention of older men and I genuinely worry. I know that high school relationships can be awkward but that doesn’t mean that we have to glorify dating older people because they’re “mature” and “experienced”.

All in all, I don’t want to just brush this off but at the same time I have to wonder just how influential these relationships might be… I mean, maybe I’m reading too much into things and it means nothing. But I just got that nagging thought after reading STD and had to sit down to write about it.

Do any of you have thoughts on this? Or know of other YA books that have this trope? I couldn’t think of any off the top of my head but I’m sure there are others out there.

 

Categories
Books In Medias Res

Toxic Relationships in YA

This topic goes deeper than the idea that a guy can fix all of a girl’s problems (although this is a topic that I could chat about on a different day). It is about the fact that there are multiple books out there that now illustrate controlling, toxic relationships as healthy and good.

When I was younger, I would idolize these types of relationships. I thought they were what everyone should want. But then I grew up and I learned about abuse and feminism and how what I idolized was destroying people on a daily basis.

Here’s a really poignant video from Whitney (aka whittynovels) about the topic. I highly recommend that you watch it before continuing on reading my post.

I’m not going to go in depth with what I think about the examples that she discussed because I really hope that you all watched the video because I feel like she did a really good job at expressing this topic.
I know someone who was in a severely toxic relationship and they didn’t even know that they were in a relationship that was abusive because it reflected so many other relationships they had seen and read about. It is not okay or romantic to be abused. Angst is not romance. Threats of nonconsensual behavior is not okay. The creepy sleep watching scene from Twilight? You guessed it: NOT OKAY.
The media normalizes what we see. It desensitizes us from violence and misbehavior because of how much we see certain things. We are sold problematic media until we think that this is normal.
Instead, we need to normalize healthy relationships and independence. We need to protect young men and women and illustrate behavior that is not controlling, not abusive. We need to discuss problems in these “romantic” books and support authors that write stories that are healthy. We need to stand up for feminist works and highlight healthy behaviors or highlight negative behaviors in a negative way. We need to stop highlighting negative behaviors as positive.
I am done idealizing relationships that are unhealthy. I want to idealize equality in relationships and I hope that y’all are with me. Have a great weekend everyone.
Categories
Books

Currently Reading

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour Cover

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson is one of my favorite summer reads. Since buying it I’ve read it at least once a year.

Basically, the concept behind the book is that Amy needs to move her mom’s car across the country but Amy is scared to drive. So Amy’s mom gets her friends son, Roger, to help with the driving. Once they begin their journey they decide that they want to take a detour, following their own route instead of taking the planned out route Amy’s mother gave them. There’s a lot of personal growth and it’s overall just a light book that I could read and reread all the time without getting sick of it.
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour Inside

One of the coolest parts of this book is that it takes on a scrapbooky feel. It includes pictures, and playlists, and other mementos from the road trip.

I’ve rated it five out of five stars for it’s unique design, engaging story, and the fun I felt while reading it.

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Morgan Matson is one of my favorite authors and I highly recommend picking up this book if you want to try out her books.

What is one of your favorite books to read during the summer?

I’ll see you all on Thursday with my next post.