September Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here

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This book can be summed up in one word for me: meh. It was very… average. Which is a terrible shame. Consider the premise: a world filled with Chosen Ones (aka indie kids), battling soul-eating ghosts, undead and vampires every few years – but the rest of us just live here; these are the normal people who are just trying to live their lives in this crazy world.

The idea behind it is fantastic; the execution is where it falls apart. It doesn’t deliver on the intriguing synopsis, and isn’t even a good slice of life novel. It’s essentially a typical teenage angst book written by an adult, with shallower characters than usual.

Note that I listened to the audio book; it doesn’t affect how I found the writing, but I would like to note that the audio book narrator just doesn’t know how to do voices for female characters. It’s like this weird, extra breathy, fluttery voice for all of them. I listen to a number of podcasts & have to say I haven’t seen this in any of the podcasts I follow, but have experienced in waaaay too many audio books. Why people?!

Back to the book itself. There were a few things I liked, so I’ll talk about them first, and then rip on the rest.

I liked the little bit of poking of fun at the Chosen One genre, like the comments about how the Indie kids don’t use the Internet, the drunken uncle policeman, the ironic love triangle. There were some jokes about falling in love with vampires, and some more pointed jokes about Fault in Our Stars (unnamed of course). I also liked the recurring joke of waiting until they’ve graduated for the high school to blow up, and the super obvious conclusion/ punch-line to said joke.

That said, aside from these little pokes every so often, it didn’t feel very much like the parody it was supposed to be. It could have been so awesome but just fell flat. Just… fizzled out. For the criticisms, I have a lot of similar points as Sugar & YellowBlueEye’s reviews.

The ‘normal’ main characters were extremely 2 dimensional & it felt like each of them was given an “issue” to make them more interesting. Like, Mikey has OCD/anxiety, Mel is a recovering anorexic, Henna is the only black girl in town, & Jared is gay. I don’t understand how Mikey can say “this story isn’t about our issues – that isn’t the story I’m trying to tell”, but it kind of totally is. I mean, what else is it about? They just drive around, hang out, and Mikey burns with weird jealous love for Henna. Sometimes there’s a thing that happens with the Indie kids. What are their hobbies, their interests? Aside from Jared being good at math, I don’t even know their college/ job aspirations. Do they like music, playing instruments, games, reading, movies? Who knows!

On top of that, they only really interact with each other. Other people at their school don’t exist unless brought in as a weak plot device (hi Tony). These 4 are the only ones who matter – they don’t talk to other kids or people (which is a greaaaat way to make it different from the Chosen One genre you’re supposed to be parodying *eye roll*).

Even after making the main characters have only their issues as personality traits, the ball is dropped even on these issues. Mikey is the only one whose issue is explored; the others only kind of exist as props who are able to say “everyone has something” truthfully (though their issues aren’t really shown to affect them).

Jared is gay in a small conservative town; how does that affect his life? Nobody knows! But he does get a boyfriend at the very end so huzzah. Jared is mentioned as being on the football team – he also doesn’t ever mention any of the other players, ever shown going to practices, working out, or even playing in any games. It’s just a cheap veneer with an illusion of depth.

Henna is quote unquote the only black person in town. Racism? Privilege? Exploring the lack of PoC in Chosen One books? Where’s the rest of her family? If they’re abroad, does she ever meet them, skype, penpal, phone calls? None of that – it’s enough to know she’s black, so the author can pat himself on the back for diversity.

Which brings me to another point – the so-called diversity in this book. Some of the other lukewarm reviews of this book I’ve seen have given it a few brownie points here, saying that it wasn’t good, but at least it had diversity.
I challenge that. It felt like the worst kind of excuse for diversity – 2D stickers placed on characters at random to tick off a box. It’s like those shows that are 99% white with 1 black side character.

Like, Tony is Korean. Super. He shows up twice, for like 3-4 sentences. Steve is part Honduran – nice that he mentions it exactly once (ignore that he’s dating Mel, who has a republican politician mother – there are no problems here). Sidenote: how the hell is he a full doctor at the age of 25?! Shouldn’t he be an intern or, at max, a resident?? What…
I digress; this pattern of supposed diversity repeats throughout, including with Jared and Henna as I’ve discussed.

A few last things to wrap up, otherwise I’d keep going on for a looooong time. The romance was terrible, which I kind of expected. Mikey spends the whole book jealously pining after Henna, who makes it clear she’s not interested (super strong ‘nice guy’ & ‘friendzone’ trope vibes); until the end when she *spoiler* sleeps with him, at which point Mikey goes on & on how amazing it was, and then says, “Oh yeah I realize now I don’t like you like that. Let’s just be friends after all”… literally 5 seconds after they finish having sex…

Is this supposed to be character development?? This is a so-called ‘coming-of-age’ story??

Also, there was a lot of forced teenage slang that felt sprinkled in at random points to make it hashtag relatable. So many “I know right?” and “Seriously”s just thrown around.

I found Jared’s character the most interesting, which isn’t saying much. It may have been marginally better from his PoV, but then again, maybe not. I mean, the author could have just tweaked the synopsis, and it would have been an amazing story about Jared. Like a Chosen Kid who is resisting being a main character; he’s like, “I just want to be normaaaal”, and trying his hardest to not get involved in anything.

To sum up, the original idea is great, the book is not. If you still want to read it, go in with extremely low expectations.

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here Review

*A heads up for spoilers here, I was unable to give my opinion fully without them.*

I have been waiting for an opportunity to read this book for a while, ever since I first saw it. I really liked the cover, and the story sounded amusing and interesting; a relevant idea to all the super heroes in the media. As it turns put, unfortunately, the cover might be the best part. It was relatively quick to read, which I am thankful for. It seems that I am the only one that didn’t go with an audiobook this time, and I wonder how that may have effected my feelings for the book; considering I did not have to hear a narrator awkwardly trying to voice a female character.

I expected romance; it’s a YA novel. But I also have standards, and if one of your main characters is going to be unpleasant in regards to this, please also include proper character Growth. Michael’s possessiveness and jealousy over Henna could have possibly be a little less annoying if he actually had the chance to develop at some point, as opposed to him technically getting a slap on the wrist but then rewarded. I know that the book is set over just 4 weeks or so, but that doesn’t mean Michael couldn’t have actually grown up a bit. Henna does give appear to give him a good knockdown when she says something like “you are way too possessive for someone who doesn’t even date me”; but then gives in?

Instead of getting the opportunity for character growth, Henna’s rejection of him seems superficial since they still have sex. She rejects him in terms of a romantic relationship but he still gets a reward. Considering that he seems to be completely accepting of this, was he only in lust with her? In itself, them hooking up without being in a relationship is not wrong; however in the context that Michael could have had the opportunity to start growing, it tastes sour.

I was originally impressed by the seemingly diverse cast, but as Sugar Cube pointed out to me, it could come dangerously close to a sort of forced diversity. There was also a lack of context for some of the character’s diverseness, which I address lower in this book review. Mental illness and addiction was also liberally used, but perhaps too liberally? I was thrown off by Michael saying he had anxiety, but the anxiety having the appearance of an obsessive disorder. Near the end of the book, it is actually named as an obsessive disorder, so why call it anxiety before?? Anxiety and obsessive disorders may come hand in hand, and one developing from the other, but there was no reason to avoid naming his disorder earlier. He used to struggle with it, and has started to now. It would have helped with the fleshing out of characters a little (Although saying that makes me think that characters should be more fleshed out then just having a mental illness for a personality).  I was also unclear about Michael’s father’s struggle with alcohol. Were we supposed to sympathize with him at all? I never found myself doing so. I have mixed feelings about Jared offering to heal Michael of his obsessive disorder. My only positive feeling is that it didn’t actually happen. Healing mental illness with magic is a trope, and certainly one to be avoided.

I thought it was an interesting style choice to have the titles long, and yet that’s where you found the indie kids. In this sense, it’s the normal kids who are at the forefront, and the special ones are at the edges. The indie kids mostly show up when they effect the lives of the normal ones, as read in the chapters, and the regular kids have mostly no idea what is going on. The reader does, as the context is all in the chapter titles. I thought it was a clever style choice, however the regular kids were not really strong enough, didn’t seem to have full characters or lives to really carry the story. The fact that he made normal people the center of the story is fine. But that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be strong characters. If all fantasy parts of the story were stripped away, the plot and characters would be pretty uninteresting. In fact it could be said that the diversity, and the mental illnesses were simply added to make the characters more interesting, as plot devices. This is unfortunate. You should be able to write interesting enough characters without having to use such things.

Although he focused on the normals, it felt as if the book was too focused on them, with a microscope so that you only saw their lives without any of the surrounding environments. Again, I understand that there is only 4 weeks left of school, but there was little mention of school at all really. No clubs, no classes, nothing that would have added a little more depth to the characters and the book. How large is their school? Were they part of any clubs? Was there a small number of Finnish kids for some reason, and what was that reason? I also didn’t really get a good sense of where they were living. How large is their town? Were there any more children of missionaries there? I know Jared was a football player, that’s about it. There seems to be a vacuum around the characters, when, as supposed normal people, there really shouldn’t be.

The writer may have been trying to be relevant to the young persons reading his book. I assumed at some point that the Indies were supposed to be hipsters, although his tone takes mostly the mocking view of them that much of the media uses. Calling them indie kids was perhaps a reference to hipsters liking indie music? It is not clear to me.

The idea was was certainly intriguing, but the execution sadly needs some work.

 

September Book Review

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I started a new job this week, finally a change after 8 months of stress and pain. I was excited to have this fresh beginning and I decided to take on this book by downloading it as an audiobook for when I traveled to and from work.

I can’t say I enjoyed it, at all. There were parts that were interesting but mostly it felt like a whiny angsty white kid that I was supposed to sympathize with because he is the main character of the book.

The narrator himself had this bad habit of making all the women in this book breathless and soft spoken, I guess to identify that they were women and not the guys. But it just ended up annoying when the guys had different “voices” but all the ladies didn’t, except maybe his younger sister because she was 8.

The writing was pretty basic, and I mean that in a bad way. Everything was “he says, she says, they says, he says, he says, she says”, I started to just get annoyed from hearing says-says-says over and over and over again, when it was followed in context to these types of conversations: “uhuh” he says, “what?” she says.

Like… diversify your writing my man, it won’t hurt you. And yes, I put “they says’ there on purpose, because not only is this guy basic but he can’t follow basic grammar either.

The actual story line was terrible, we follow four teens as they finish their last year of high school while living in a YA novel but not being the main characters. The premise sounds great, how many hijinks would ensue? I wondered. How would these kids interact with this world? What about the adults, would they all be over it?

It sounded great and exciting, what I got was boring and kind of… redundant? We follow Mickey who is head over heels in love with his good friend, who is a girl, Henna (sp?).

Ever since she broke up with her no-good bf, Mickey has realized he is in love but he can’t/won’t do anything about it.

EVERYONE knows he loves her though, LOL OBVIOUSLY. Even she does, but she makes no overtures or flirts with him, instead she’s into this guy named Nathan that Mickey is ugly jealous over and just hates his guts for no reason whatsoever.

But then it was redundant because they didn’t end up with each other at the end, when the whole plot of the story revolved around it.

Issue 1: The Romance

This love story, I need to cover first, because what a wet kleenex at the bottom of a trash can it is. The only reason him and Henna get together is because after a mysterious car accident, she decides to pursue him in the name of “exploration” though, right before said accident, she basically told him she wasn’t interested and he wasn’t in love with her either. Wow, what a story that would have been if we followed that plot line. HA, please let’s not get ahead of ourselves. They kiss and flirt, but she’s also flirting with Nathan (gj girl) and again Mickey is just this ugly jealous and possessive brat. Henna calls him out on this, but what does it matter when they still get back together? The writer I guess is trying to critique this kind of relationship, but Mickey doesn’t learn that being possessive is bad, he suffers no consequences so what was the point?

Anyway, to make this short – turns out Nathan is gay, and presumably that’s why she gives Mickey a chance because he’s the only guy in their group of friends and the rest of the school doesn’t exist (So original from the usual YA model right?). Mickey almost gets this guy killed for nothing, blames him for things other people took responsibility for – again the ugly jealous type, and then magically – THEY HAVE SEX. (They being Mickey and Henna, not Mickey and Nathan)

Oh he’s totally into it by the way, its magical and beautiful and everything he’s wanted, and he’s so happy, they fit together so perfectly. So you can imagine my surprise when: after this whole ode to her body/the sex they had, Henna decides to be just friends (cool girl, he’s a jerk) and he’s totally okay with it. No hissy fit, no rage, no demanding why, no I’m still in love with her but I respect her wishes. NOPE, he’s on board, “yeah we’re totally friends not lovers” like… did I just miss that last few couple of paragraphs where you basically turned her into a goddess in your mind?

She’s the best sex you’ve ever had kind of deal – oh he’s had sex before btw. He needs to tells us this repeatedly because…. yeah he’s a different YA main character. He’s had two other girlfriends before Henna, we even slightly meet the ex, but only for him to remind us he lost his virginity to her… great…thanks for letting us know that’s her only defining characteristic. (Reminder: he has no other female friends, can’t ask Henna out and acting as if she’s his first love…like…really? I’m supposed to believe this is the way a guy with past relationships behaves?)

Not to mention the other love story in this book, about Mel and Steve, is between a 19 year old and a 25 (?) year old (I know they have 7 years age difference). Oh but that’s okay, as she reminds us in the book, because she’s “legal”. I thought I would puke, god what bullshit is this book? A jealous, possessive jerk and basically a sexual predator but that’s okay since at the end, he takes the girl dumping him with no aggression and Mel instigated the relationship so……. I can’t even.

Oh and the third one, between his friend Jared and Nathan, is about this open gay guy in love with a guy in the closet who presumably needs to get drunk each time when he’s around him….I can’t….. what is this trash?

Not to mention apparently Mickey and Jared fooled around a bit sometime in the past, he’s not gay though (no homo man!) because he’s a guy and guys would bang a tree if they could (legit what was said). This also makes him super possessive over Jared and it’s just terrible how Mickey defends this as – he’ll “protect them ferociously” if anything happens to them-. Like, take my abuse because I’ll save you?

No thanks man.

Issue 2: The Adults

As per usual YA novel fashion, all adults are useless. How…original. But what I hated most about the adults was not their attitude but how Mickey spoke about them.

Just…. his mom, his wonderful, hard working mom who kept his own father out of jail after he stole from her family. Oh Mickey doesn’t see that as saving his ass, no he sees it as her trying to save face for her campaign. Because she’s a politician, and any time she’s nice, its because it’s for the campaign.

She basically kept his own father out of jail and presumably pays most of the bills, yet he craps on her at any moment he can get. She gets home and is annoyed the teenagers are putting their shoes on her coffee table – the DICTATOR! She is in the car, asking how he’s dealing with his OCD, OH SHE WANTS TO MANAGE HIM FOR HER CAMPAIGN. Like…why don’t you direct half that anger to your lazy ass father, who’s an alcoholic and barely manages? No way man, you have to feel SAD when you see him, what a load of crap.

Not to mention when his father does decide to go to rehab, and says he’ll go after the campaign is done, Mickey immediately jumps to the conclusion his mom has decided that when, his father tells him, she didn’t. She’s wanted him in rehab the whole time…god Mickey pisses me off.

Let’s also talk about Mel, since shes 19 and legal apparently. Might as well make her an adult right? AHA. Man I hate damsel in distress tropes, and Mel fits into that perfectly. She has an eating disorder her younger brother needs to save her from, there’s an explosion and shes too busy asking “what was that?” to get the hell out of there. Girl, it was an explosion….get out – ask questions later. She’s super insecure making insufferable demands out of her ‘friends’, and of course Mickey understands it’s not because she’s selfish/spoiled but from this insecurity.

Yeah…uh…I don’t know how she functions.

Issue 3: The YA bit

Which in this case, are the long winded chapter titles explaining what is happening in the YA novel that this book is taking place in.

At first, I didn’t see the point of it, it just seemed to be used to make fun of the characters living this story. Oh haaha, her name is Satchel. She’s an “indie” (sp?) kid. I didn’t understand at the beginning what an indie kid was, and why they were calling them that. There was no explanation as to why, but it was told to us that the “chosen ones” were a part of that titled group.

Then something happened that pissed me off royally. After the chapter that Mickey recounts his sexual prowess, we get the long winded chapter title going on about how Satchel meets the prince and they kiss. But the prince won’t go any further out of respect for Satchel. And it all seemed…like an insult. Like the author is insulting what these women are writing in terms of relationships. As in – he should have torn off her clothes and banged her right there on the floor, isn’t he a man?

It disgusted me, especially after his main character going on about banging two girls. There is no nuance to his writing a relationship, there’s none of that: oh we held hands! I was nervous to put my arm around her. We sat in bed and I could feel my heart pumping. Because that’s too…. I don’t even know honestly. Like everything is about sex, and the way he wrote the sex scene, it is.

All the emotional connections you make with a person, that just comes from sex. Too bad asexuals, you’ll never have a deep meaningful relationship.

And that’s my last issue with this book. His “diversity”. I’m guessing he meant to do this for relevance and nothing else.

Jared the gay guy, Henna the half black-half Finnish girl, and then the two white kids with  mental disabilities. What a great quartet, except they have no other friends, and everyone else is white. Jared has no other gay friends, no connection to an LGBTQ community, why would he? It’s a small community right?

No it’s just lazy writing.

Henna has no cousins or family coming to visit her. The half-Finnish part is also kind of stupid when her father is apparently some sort of…what are they called? Missionary! They’re going to central Africa too! Didn’t you know? Look how diverse this book is, it even knows a country on the continent of Africa! And then Romania also! Because they’re orthodox and… need converting to…Christianity? WTF?! Why would a Catholic need converting to Christianity??

(Also why is her Finnish father the missionary? Isn’t Finland mostly atheist? What…)

Ok, but they’re not the only minorities, Call Me Steve (I hate that goddamn nickname so much, I hate Mickey even more for this) is also half Honduran but HAHA he’s never been! I can’t….. what diversity is this? Also Steve is the magical doctor at the age of 25, he’s so magic he doesn’t mind hanging out with a bunch of teenagers.

Like why even bother with this placeholders to say your diverse when you don’t create a world where this people would exist? How is it Steve is the only half-Honduran in that area? Where are the other latin american kids? Or the community? How is there only one black person in this town, when she’s half? Did her mom just pop into existence? Where is their family?

And how is it that Jared thinks he’d be an “indie” kid, aka a main character/hero in a YA novel, when this author – trying to poke holes at the tropes of YA novels, can’t bother to make his own character fully bisexual? How realistic of a statement is that? Where does this author live honestly? (Note: I know where he lives its on Wikipedia but apparently he lives in a hole)

TLDR

In the end, I disliked Mickey a lot. I hated his personality, how he somehow had anxiety throughout the whole book but then that finally was addressed as OCD, which it had been the entire time. How dangerously possessive he was to everyone but no one addresses it. How he’s somehow hero-ing around, saving his sisters from an explosion at a concert, the other from an eating disorder and trying to charge ahead and find out what the indie kids are up to, even though the premise of the book is that they’re just trying to live here. So why would he even want to get involved?

I disliked the guy’s writing even more, how he put in a concert explosion after what happened with Ariana Grande. It felt like he saw this terrible event as a means to show off his character in his book. (Edit: Was told this book was published before this so my bad)

How he kept using “I know right?”, in arbitrary areas to make us relate to the character when I didn’t know what to “right” about. Like, oh yeah “forever young” is the title of their prom, I know right?? Okay…you didn’t plan the stupid thing can you stop judging every single thing you put your face in front of.

There are so many things I could rage about, but I will end this here.

I don’t recommend, I’m glad I didn’t buy it, and I wont be reading anything more from this guy. I know I’m not the best in terms of spelling and grammar, but I don’t have a team of editors.

This was lazy, insulting and, overall, a waste of time. Go back to the bottom of the trash where you belong.

-Sugar Out

 

 

 

 

 

July Book Review: Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls

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This review took me a while to put up, as what started as a short review turned into a long personal essay. So, be forewarned 😛

This book was a very interesting read for me. I knew prior to reading it that it was about body positivity, but I was still surprised by some of the content. The various guest essays from other diverse perspectives were amazing; especially the androgynous essay, and the cis-male essay. Additionally, although I roughly knew the basics about body positivity, it’s a difficult thing to incorporate into daily life, at least for me, and reading about it was an amazing reaffirment.

The blog style of writing was a bit strange at first – it was like reading printed out blog posts more than anything. Since the author runs a major blog, this makes sense, and you get used to it after a few chapters. The ‘homework’ pieces weren’t really personally useful, as none of those things were activities that I refrain from doing. They were eye-opening to me however, in showing how restricted truly over-weight people feel. The most useful personal lessons included the bad mental health day, re-training your brain & neuroplasticity, and approach to exercise & healthy foods, which were all excellent, and super valuable. The resource list of blogs, books and other websites was also fantastic, and which I will definitely be checking out.

From a personal perspective, I’m not exactly ‘fat-fat’, but I’m not skinny either. Despite being a relatively constant weight most of my young adult life, I’ve only really stopped thinking about weight loss & being more comfortable in my skin during the last 4 years. Low self body image still sneaks up on me every once in a while, and it doesn’t help that my mother tells me relatively often that I should lose weight, or tells me not to eat that cookie/chocolate, or that I’m not going to be able to fit in my pants soon, etc.

Something that especially resonated with me was the idealization of the hourglass shape. Although I do have a bit of an hourglass shape, I also have a belly pooch, and any weight I gain goes straight to the belly. Into the butt, boobs or thighs for that idealized hour-glass look? Nope, doesn’t go there for me, just an expanding beer belly.

In high school, I remember a friend telling me about a summer camp she had gone to. It was full of physical activity, but it wasn’t a fat camp or anything like that. Despite this, the counselors made all the teenage girls grab their stomach fat, disassociate from it by giving it a separate name, and then all of the physical activity was heavily focused at eliminating it. The worst part, as she told me this story, was that I thought, “What a good idea”, and promptly called my own stomach fat ‘evil John’. I spent much of my high school and cegep years trying to be rid of evil John. Calorie counting & restriction? Yessir. Multiple exercise tapes, classes, machines; not with the aim of getting stronger in mind, but with the single aim of getting rid of evil John. I printed out pictures of fit women as goals, and kept clothes much too small around as motivation for ‘when I lose weight’. I never straight up dieted though, and so didn’t feel I was nearly as obsessed as other girls my age. How sad is that?

Even now, going through my closet & finding an old article of clothing that doesn’t fit, it’s hard for me to get rid of it. My first thought will be, “this is so pretty, I’ll keep it until I lose enough weight to wear it again.” And in my closet it will sit, and I’ll put off buying new clothes that actually fit me, looking longingly instead at my overstuffed closet.

Into university, my mindset changed slightly, but not really. I simply replaced ‘skinny’ in my mind with ‘fit’, and as the book points out, they’re basically the same thing, just evolved to seem better for you. It’s one thing training to BE fit & another training to LOOK fit. You can train a shit ton, still be fat, but also BE fit as hell. For most people, that’s not enough; it’s not actually about being healthy, it’s about the way you look. This is something I have to actively keep in mind and reaffirm when I workout nowadays – I am working out to BE stronger, BE healthier, get endorphins going, & sweat out my stress; NOT to lose weight. If I lose weight, fine – if I don’t, that’s fine too. This principle also applies to food & eating.

Which leads me to one of the themes in the books; Fat as a factual adjective, not an insult. This is incredibly important to acknowledge and think about. I have a fat little belly pooch – and that’s ok. It’s not demeaning myself, it’s not a bad thing, it’s just a fact. And it’s incredibly backwards if I point it out, or say I’ve gained weight, and people respond, “No! You’re not fat, you look great.” It does a disservice by equating fat = looking bad. And going further, the book points out how ‘looking good’ shouldn’t be the focus of the body positive movement either.

All of this to say, many of the chapters struck a major chord. Just look at some of the chapter titles:
“Start now, goddamnit: waiting doesn’t work”
“Fat and health: rethink that shit”
“Change your Tumblr, change your life: diversify your media feed”
“100% of humans have brains: mental health support is for everyone”
“Watch your language: words matter”
“Fatshion” is a form of political resistance: wear what scares you”
Etc.

I feel like anyone who has felt an issue with their size should read this book – however, it’s not for everyone. Some people have no issues with their body image, and to you, I bow down in reverence and jealousy. On the other side of the spectrum, I think that people who are severely deep down the rabbit hole of fat hate will completely miss the point, and spout some BS how “this book is advocating obesity weh”.

To conclude, the concept of evil John is no more, and hasn’t been for a few years. I’ve been building a tentative peace with my body, but there are always setbacks and bad days. For these, I have a new resource list, media feed, and books to read, thanks to this amazing little book.

Review: Dorothy Must Die

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Vacation time means I get to catch up on reading. Dorothy was a new purchase and for whatever reason I wanted to give it a shot.

Everyone knows of the wizard of Oz and I had the pleasure of seeing the stage performance in the last month or so. This helped refresh some of the finer plot points I hadn’t noticed as a child, like the tin man literally chopping himself to bits.

I was mostly entertained by Amy, she was an angry teenager that had a lot on her plate without her having stepped foot in Oz. Her being the chosen one to kill Dorothy seemed a bit of a stretch but who am I to argue against the plot? As usual there was that jump in belief as Amy trained to become a witch and an assassin that comes with any fighting type YA novel. Her strength comes from her anger, not surprising, as it follows along the lines of Katniss and whats-her-face from Divergent. That she suddenly has magical powers was acceptable in terms of the plot and overall I was entertained by it.

The darkness of this OZ was interesting and it was really well constructed and thought out. It wasn’t just dead plants but melting munchkins, eyeless maids and half metal girls. There was a sense of reach to Dorothy’s tyranny that’s usually not there. Not in the sense of how everyone is affected in different ways, usually everyone is being terrorized in the same way. But with Dorothy Must Die, it feels terrifying.

Her descriptions are superb, man the Scarecrow with the moving triangle and button eyes – total nightmare material. The Tinman also and the Lion? She really knew how to adjust them subtly to the grotesque.

I do have criticisms for this book though; though any YA is not perfect and there are many tropes and plot devices they copy off of each other. I was hoping that though Danielle followed the tropes and devices she would adjust them to suit the story.

I was slightly disappointed when she didn’t.

To start, the love interest – oh Nox, you’re so two dimensional and a bit of a blockhead and yet Amy just falls for you. Oh she knows the witches are manipulating them to fall for each other and grow an attachment, yet she falls into their scheming easily. I would like to believe it was a spell the witches conducted to keep Amy loyal, and it would be awesome to see that be true in the next book, but for now she seems pretty dead set on him. Which was boring.

At first I thought there was going to be a threeway with Pete, but Pete ended up being someone else, so thank god that didn’t happen. Unless that someone else becomes the other corner of this triangle and that would shake things up a bit for sure. Again why hope though?

Second – Don’t trust anyone, don’t trust me thing. God could everyone shut up already? Don’t trust me but trust me with this advice I’m telling you?!? Like do you hear yourselves? And everyone was saying it. I hate when a part of the plot is to withhold useless information from the main character for no apparent reason. Everything she finds out at the end of the novel, which everyone kept secret from her, wasn’t actually important. Astrid is her handler! Too bad you didn’t know from the beginning when that would have been actually super useful for you?? Like??? Who would do that? That doesn’t make any sense!? Doesn’t matter though cuz she’s dead so….. cool story bro?

And then this:

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See how it says “Your mission”? Yeah, she only finds out about this at the end of the novel. And this is a key piece of information.

She can’t kill Dorothy without completing these steps yet NO ONE TELLS HER. She’s basically trying to kill Dorothy the whole novel TO NO AVAIL.

I was waiting the whole novel to find out why this was at the back as it didn’t seem pertinent at all, only to find out it was stupid important at the end. What a stupid thing to do. Not to mention completely unnecessary in terms of the plot.

She could still have a second novel, no one is thinking she would be able to do all 4 things in one book. But apparently its going to be 1 and then 3, surprise she kills one of them just at the end when she finds out this important tidbit.

Though why didn’t kill the others to begin with seems a bit…noobish. Like why wouldn’t you take out her three biggest supporters and obvious guardians? Who are literal monsters and should, for the good of OZ, be eliminated?

And you know, I could totally get over her being trained and become so adept so easily, I could get over the love interest, and this terrible plot reveal. But what really ticked me off was Gert and the other witches.

This witch is literally stronger than anyone else, she took on the lion and almost killed him and she *dies* in the process for no discernible reason. He doesn’t hit her, doesn’t tear her into two, she just drains him and that drains her?!?

WHY ARE ALL THE ADULTS INCOMPETENT!?!  SO FRUSTRATING!

No it has to be this one girl who has to do everything, and yeah parallels to Dorothy are soo cool.

But last time I checked, Dorothy didn’t have to kill the Wicked Witches three super tough mini bosses?

I’d just like a YA novel where the girl doesn’t fall for the first boy she claps eyes on, is actually supported by other older characters who are useful in getting shit done, and has some actual either self-defense background or some sport background to explain her ability to be trained so efficiently.

Otherwise, cool story, looking forward to reading the second one….

Did I sound too negative? I feel like I ranted a lot, when I enjoyed the book overall. I should have read it in French to get some practice in.

H’ohwell.

Suhgar OUT

 

 

 

August Book Review

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And we’re back on schedule ladies!

I have read Georgette Heyer before and honestly I put this in the list as I have wanted to get around to reading it. I’ve had the book on my shelf and it’s been staring at me pretty accusingly until I put it up for August.

Overall, I love me some regency books. I found Frederica witty and fun. Poor Charis was a grade A dunce and pained me physically when her and Harry went behind Frederica’s back. There’s a lot to say of a woman’s power on her own life and Frederica showed how women were so dependent on men during this time period.

Though Charis was a stupid girl most of the time, there were parts of when Frederica and the Marquis were talking about her that made it seem like she wasn’t as stupid as she behaved. How she fell in love so easily and couldn’t turn any man down, it seemed almost like a satire on Jane from Pride and Prejudice. Ah but that could be just me reading into things.

I did like the Marquis and Frederica together, true the engagement was rushed, but their banter and how they relied on each other was super sweet. I like how Georgette didn’t write love as this whole all or nothing feeling, how Frederica fell in love but it wasn’t all thunderstorms and grand romantic gestures. It felt more realistic and an almost adult kind of love.

As for the boys, I loved me some Felix and Jessamy. They were adorable, though rambling boys, that made me think of what my nephew could be. I couldn’t always read through everything they were rambling so I felt a lot like the Marquis sometimes, just tuning out.

Harry was another thing, and I half despised him by the end. He was the worst kind of guy I could think of, selfish and out to please himself. Inconveniencing Frederica at the worst of times because she wasn’t stroking his ego. Man if I could, I would have punched him in the throat.

What a spoiled brat.

Anyway, loved the novel and definitely recommend it.

Sugar Out!

 

LateLateLate Reviews for May to August really (or Summer 2017 Reviews)

Oops? Summer is about to leave, I changed job locations, and apparently am behind in my reviews, having bits and pieces of my thoughts written and noted down everywhere but on this blog of course. I did finish August’s choice, Frederica, on time, but am still only half way through Hild. So:

Frederica:

After realizing my library didn’t have a paper copy, but an audio book copy of Frederica, I decided to take the challenge; I have not listened to an audio book in many years. Listening to an audio book is somewhat different, I found. First I struggled with the narrator’s voice, which while pleasant in general and fit with the main character Alverstoke, but made me cringe whenever he read women’s dialogue. Besides that, when I don’t have something to occupy my eyes, my mind tends to wander at some point. I found myself listening while doing the dishes or when i was setting up my desktop at work. I will have to get a written copy of the book to reread it, to pick up some details I missed.

I enjoyed Frederica; the story was relatively simple and the plot felt formulaic. This is not a complaint since formulaic plots don’t usually bother me; they feel relaxing and pleasing when everything turns out more or less as you did expect. The characters were fun, and for the most part lighthearted. I felt generally sorry for Charis, especially when I remembered she would have been 16-17, considering a majority of the characters, including her sister, call her things like a “beautiful ninny-pole”. Jeez sis. I also couldn’t help but wonder how Charis might fare today, as just another regular teenager.

The main pairing, well, I couldn’t quite see it. There didn’t seem to be much real passion, and his feelings of love felt sudden and without grounds. I was unconvinced. Perhaps I haven’t read much regency romance, or just Georgette Heyer, but I found some of the declarations of love over the top and silly.

Things No One will tell Fat Girls:

Well. In a way, I don’t relate very strongly to this book. I’m not a fat girl. And I never really thought of myself as such. When I was a bit younger, I was self conscious about my stomach or my legs to a degree, but I’ve mostly overcome that, long before reading this book. I certainly have not, and do not, always like my body, but really I’m pretty okay with it. When it comes down to it, I struggle with self consciousness, shame, etc but it usually does not relate to my physical self. I hope that my tone does not come off as bragging or righteous or something, just that this book is a book that is addressed to the reader. I am the reader, but I think I am not the intended audience, I do not particularly need the message in this book. That’s it. I would point out that reading a book that you can not relate to can be good, can widen your view of the world, that’s true. Reading a book about a girl, say, that grew up in China or Brazil is not something I can relate to, but can still enjoy. But a book like that would not generally be addressed to me, the reader. Still, I liked this book, it did make me consider that I should follow more body positive social media, and consider my own thoughts. I was impressed by her using guest essays to fill the holes that she could not, addressing gender and race.

As an personal amusing aside, I suppose, part of me reacted a little when I saw the author write “many scholars”, as that sort of phrase would always end up circled in red pen with the words “WHICH SCHOLARS?” scribbled next to it on my university papers. On the other hand, the author did have a nice little reference section at the back of the book.

The Improbability of Love:

I am generally speaking not a fan of a lot of description, although there are always exceptions. This book was not an exception, I’m afraid.

I’m not sure where to start. Some of the the description I didn’t mind, even enjoyed. Annie matching food and art was interesting to me, the small snippets of dining and food history were probably my favourite parts. They were fun little insights on how and what people ate, and the idea of having themed dinner parties seems very entertaining to me. There was some character description as well. Or, I should rephrase, there was way too much character description. I do not always recall the full looks of a character, but I can tell you exactly how many freckles Annie had on her face.

My other major complaint, and  both frustrated and amazed me that the author got away with such a thing,  was the use of perspectives in this book. Writing perspectives can be tough, when you juggle several characters whose stories need to be told; and I remember clearly fantasy authors such as G. R. R. Martin and Brian Jacques managed it well. They only switched every chapter however. In this book, the perspectives switch from character to character within chapters, and even occasionally within paragraphs. This can create a sort of mental whiplash feeling as you suddenly realize the character point of view you are reading is different from the last sentence you just read.

Well that’s it for now. Hopefully I will get through Hild and post my review then. Other then that, I am currently planning which books to make our September choices…