Posted in book tags/memes

T5W: Love Interests I Would Have Dumped

T5W is a weekly meme created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, now hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. You can check out the goodreads group to learn more.


February 20th: Love Interests You Would Have Broken Up With


I hate couple topics because I have such a hard time remembering them a lot of the time, unless I really liked them.

I think it would have been easier for me to think of main characters I would have broken up with, because I think their love interest deserved better :/

In no particular order, as usual…


Bill Compton from The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris (and also True Blood)– I was never a fan of Sookie and Bill. Something about Bill creeped me out from the beginning, and I’ve wondered often if Edward Cullen was heavily inspired by Bill.

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1)
true blood spoilers GIF
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

Victor Frankenstein from The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White– I just reviewed this one, and yikes. I mean, even if I’d only read Frankenstein, I would still probably break up with him because he was terrible.

Derek Shepherd from Grey’s Anatomy– Did I ship MerDer? Yep. Would I want anything to do with McDreamy? Nope. I’ve got a list of reasons.

happy patrick dempsey GIF by Sky
Wuthering Heights

Catherine AND Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë– I hated this book, and (I think…it’s been a few years) everyone in it. I don’t understand the popularity, and I definitely would have ditched either of these characters.

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)

Christian Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James– Okay, this asshole gets the number one spot. I only read this so when I talked about the horrible portrayal of BDSM, the abusiveness and controlling nature of Grey, etc., people wouldn’t be able to say I only felt that way because I hadn’t read the book (which was something I encountered before I read it). I almost went with Twilight, but then, unfortunately, I remembered that I’d read this one.


Who are some fictional love interest you would have broken up with?

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Posted in book tags/memes

Top 10 Tuesday: Underrated Books I Loved

This is a weekly meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Every week, there’s a theme and you choose ten books that fit it. Check out upcoming topics here.


This week, the prompt is for books we loved with fewer than 2k ratings on Goodreads. I had to stretch the definition of “love” just a little, and instead went more with books I very much enjoyed, that I think deserve more love. (These were all 4-5 stars for me, though.)

In no particular order, as usual…


Mad Woman

Mad Woman by Kat Savage– I love Kat Savage’s poetry, so far, and I really think her work deserves more attention. Mad Woman (reviewed here) was the first of her books I read, and I’ve since then read a couple more, and I highly recommend her books.

Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy

Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy by Hallie Lieberman– I reviewed this one last year, and I really enjoyed it. It covers such a broad range of topics, and was a truly fascinating read if you’re looking for something feminist (I think this one is also intersectional) and/or a micro-history, that reads very easily.

Tell Me Where It Hurts

Tell Me Where it Hurts by J.R. Rogue-– Another poetry recommendation. All I remember for sure about this one is feeling like my heart had been ripped out. It was raw and painful, and probably not one I’ll revisit, but I loved it.

The Rose Master (The Rose Master, #1)

The Rose Master by Valentina Cano– This wasn’t a 5 star for me (reviewed here), but I really enjoyed it when I read it a few years ago, and I think Cano has real talent for gothic fiction. This was like a Beauty and the Beast/Jane Eyre retelling, and I can’t wait to read more of her stuff.

Everything Must Go

Everything Must Go by Jenny Fran Davis– This book is so, so underrated! I really loved this one, and I highly recommend it. (Also, for anyone doing a reading challenge that has the task to read an epistolary, this one counts for that!) I also reviewed it, if you want to see more of my thoughts.

Modern Tarot: Connecting with Your Higher Self through the Wisdom of the Cards

Modern Tarot: Connecting With Your Higher Self Through the Wisdom of the Cards by Michelle Tea– Okay, despite the kind of new-agey, hokey title, I freaking loved this book. It has been the absolute best thing I’ve ever found for helping me with reading tarot more intuitively, and I highly recommend it if you’re sick of the hetero-normative and gender binary things in most tarot sources, because that’s not really a thing in this book.

The Witching Pen (The Witching Pen series, #1)

The Witching Pen novellas by Dianna Hardy– This is very much an adult series (sexual content, and maybe violence? It’s been a while…), and maaaybe I wouldn’t love it as much now, I don’t know. But I think Dianna Hardy is a great writer, and I’ve loved everything of hers I’ve read.

DROPKICKromance

DROPKICKromance by Cyrus Parker– That’s right, a third poetry book. I love poetry, and this debut was fantastic (reviewed here). If you like modern poetry like Amanda Lovelace, Michael Faudet, Lang Leav, Rupi Kaur, etc., check out Cyrus Parker.

27 Hours (The Nightside Saga, #1)

27 Hours by Tristina Wright– This series has been cancelled, and I have a lot of feelings about that, but…because I obviously can’t know the full story, I’m not getting into it. I’ll just say that I’m sad, because I was anxiously awaiting the sequel to this book, which I really enjoyed. (Reviewed here)

The Suffering (The Girl from the Well, #2)

The Suffering by Rin Chupeco– This is the sequel to The Girl From the Well, and I can’t believe it has less than 2k reviews. The first book was a 4-4.5 star read for me, but this one… ❤ It was so freaking good, and if you enjoyed the first book, but never read this one, I highly recommend it.


What are some of your favorite underrated books?

Posted in book review

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein: Reviewed

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Genres/Descriptors: YA; retellings; historical fiction; horror; gothic; sci-fi (less so than the original, I think)

Pages: 304

Check it out on Goodreads


What’s it about?

Okay, I couldn’t do this justice, so here’s the description from Goodreads…

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.


Review:

I didn’t love Frankenstein, but I did enjoy it a lot. I picked this up on a whim, after finding the audiobook on OverDrive, and I could barely stop listening to it to go to bed. I still finished it within a 24-hour period, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

First of all, the narrator (Katharine McEwan) was great. I can be a little picky about narrators, but I thought she was a nice choice for this one. Her voice was just perfect, I feel, for the atmosphere.

I think you could read this without having read Frankenstein, but it will probably be a better experience if you have. *Also, this one needs some trigger warnings, so skip to the next paragraph if you think TWs are spoilers.* TW for: child abuse, animal cruelty, emotional and physical abuse, mutilation, murder.

I hate Victor Frankenstein. I’ve always hated him, and thought he was the true monster, no matter how brilliant his mind might have been. That’s one thing I think Penny Dreadful did really well, but he still ended up kind of redeemed by the end. I don’t want redemption for Victor Frankenstein, I want his monstrous inclinations exposed, without justification or letting him play at being a victim. This book delivered, by giving us the story from Elizabeth’s perspective.

Elizabeth has a home and relative safety in the Frankenstein household, but that stability depends on Victor and his desire to keep her around. She’s spent her life shaping herself into what Victor wants and needs, making herself indispensable to him, so she’s no longer quite certain how much of her is really her and how much is what she’s forced herself to be for him.

When she stops hearing from Victor, after he’s away at school, she gets worried and hatches a plan to track him down and bring him home. Along the way, she gets glimpses into what he’s been up to, and that really started to fill in some gaps and flesh out some bits from the original story. It was interesting, and deeply disturbing, following Elizabeth around as she begins to piece things together.

The first half or so of this one is a bit slow, but not boring. Getting to know Elizabeth, and how her mind worked, was slow in a good way, at least for me. She was a strong young woman, and a fantastic, sympathetic, morally grey character, capable of much more than her sweetly angelic visage might lead people to believe. Behind the curls and charming smiles was a sharp mind and a fierce determination to survive.

Her relationship with Victor was so… I can’t think of a word that works. It was disturbing and kind of terrifying. He was possessive and cruel, but had also convinced himself that he was acting out of something that at least resembled love in his twisted mind. It was realistic, and that was one of the scariest things about this story.

I loved the atmosphere of this book, and the writing. The entire thing had an unsettling vibe, the sense of danger just around the corner and fresh horrors to discover. (A+ for keeping the gothic vibe intact, and staying true enough to the original story, while still creating something new.) Even though this is a retelling, and I’ve read the source material, I honestly had no clue how this was going to wrap up. There was a constant sense of dread as I neared the end, fearing for Elizabeth, and anyone else unfortunate enough to cross Victor’s path.

I hope this doesn’t get spoilery, but I have to also take a moment to discuss the Creature. My heart has always hurt for him, and I think that’s why I loved him in Penny Dreadful. He was capable of such terrible things, but at his core, he was gentle and sweet. His character in this story almost made me tear up once or twice, for reasons I won’t go into because that would definitely have spoilers. Let me just say that I am so pleased with the way Kiersten White portrayed him.

This book is so hard to talk about without spoilers, because all I want to do is gush about the things I loved. I’m almost tempted to write a second post with spoilers, but I might be too lazy for that 😛

If you can handle this type of story, I highly recommend it. I’m strongly considering buying a copy, because this feels like a book I might re-read. This one is definitely going on my favorites shelf on goodreads.

I was torn between 4.5 and 5 stars, so I’m settling on 4.75 and rounding up to 5 stars.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Posted in book review

Glass Sword: Reviewed

Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2)

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (book two in the Red Queen quartet)

Genres/Descriptors: YA; fantasy; SFF>dystopian

Pages: 444

Check it out on Goodreads


What’s it about?

Since this is the second in a series, I won’t spend much time on the descriptive bits.

This one picks up right where Red Queen ended, with Mare and Cal having just narrowly escaped Maven and the other Silvers (thanks to the intervention of the Scarlet Guard).

Mare is on a mission, out to find other sympathizers (Reds and Silvers), as well as other Reds with abilities (New Bloods), like herself. It’s not going to be easy, especially with Maven hunting them and continuing to spread the lies about them.


Review:

This book was so polarizing, from what I remember (and what I’ve seen from friend’s reviews). People were either really into it, or seriously let down by it. I fell more into the former camp, thankfully. Something about this series just works for me, I guess. (Maybe it’s because I haven’t read as many of the books this series is compared to as other people.) This might get slightly spoilery, but I’m trying to keep them out.

Mare was kind of a mess in this book, and I liked that. She was under so much pressure, shouldering as much responsibility as she possibly could (especially for tracking down and saving other New Bloods), and I found it believable. She had gone through some shit, and she was not the young Red girl she had been at the beginning of Red Queen. There was a darkness in her, and a fierce determination that might have clouded her judgment at times. I enjoyed that her choices weren’t really clearly right/wrong, and there were consequences. She also might have finally started to understand that maybe she shouldn’t trust so easily.

I can’t seem to articulate some of the things I want to say about her, her actions, and how she was viewed by others. There was that whole martyr thing (which seems to be A Thing with YA dystopian heroines), which was annoying at times, but I also didn’t think she was a monster. I can’t remember for sure now if other characters compared her to a monster, of if she saw herself that way, or what. She knew that the path she was on was not going to be easy, blood would certainly be spilled on both sides, and horrible decisions and sacrifices would have to be made. But she tried, damn it. She tried to save who she could (Reds and Silvers), and she wasn’t as unbothered by the deaths as some of the other characters seemed to think she was.

Cal…Oh man, poor Cal. I just want to hug him. He was betrayed by his brother, forced to kill his father by his stepmother, sentenced to die for that, and then he was basically kidnapped by the Scarlet Guard to be used in whatever way they could find to use him. He could have destroyed them, when they were on the train, but he didn’t. Hell, he even ends up helping them as much as he can. Cal is just not bloodthirsty, and he wants to find a way to resolve everything without death (especially Silver deaths, but he wasn’t exactly thrilled about Reds dying, either). It’s admirable, but honestly kind of unrealistic. Cal: Looks like he could kill you, but is actually a cinnamon roll. (Okay, not exactly, because he is lethal. But he doesn’t want it to come to that, poor dude.)

Maven is vile, and there is no death horrible enough for him. Some of the things he does in this book shocked even me, and I’m not easily shocked. There is nothing redeeming about him, and I want him to suffer every moment of a long, imprisoned life. Then there’s Elara. It’s hard to know how much of what Maven is doing is actually his doing, or something his mother came up with. That doesn’t exactly work in Maven’s favor, because (even if everything is her idea) he still allows it to happen. He’s also super freaking creepy, but I won’t go into that because spoilers, I think.

Romance was not much of a thing in this one, and I appreciated that. While I actually did like the love triangle (square?) in the first book, I was glad to see that romance wasn’t so important in the second book that it overshadowed the seriousness of everything else that was going on. The world was falling apart, they were in the middle of a rebellion, and brooding about their love life was not exactly at the forefront of Mare’s and Cal’s minds. Feelings were not entirely ignored, but not a ton of time was spent brooding.

We got to see a lot more of the world in this one, as well as finding out more about the Scarlet Guard, and I loved that. This one was also action-packed, and the pace was never very slow. There was always something to worry about, and I think I actually held my breath a few times while reading particularly intense scenes.

The New Bloods are awesome. We meet several in this book, and I loved the abilities we learned about. I feel like Victoria Aveyward had to be influenced by X-Men (I made that comparison in my review of Red Queen, and I’m not the only one), and I’m not complaining about it. While the abilities of the Silvers are seriously cool, I’m way more excited by the New Bloods, I think.

The last few chapters of this one…ouch. Things happened, some of it good overall, but it was not painless.


I ended up rating this one the same as Red Queen, with 4 out of 5 stars.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Posted in book tags/memes

Fairy Tales Fridays 16

Fairy Tale of the Week:

“The Six Swans” by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm


Ooh yay! This isn’t an all-time favorite of mine, but I do like this story.

The story begins with a king, hunting in a vast forest. He eventually loses the rest of his party and can’t find his way out of the forest. Salvation appears in the form of an old woman (spoiler alert: she’s a witch). The old woman agrees to lead the king from the forest on the condition that he marry her beautiful daughter. The king agrees, and she keeps her word. The king marries the witch’s daughter.

He already had seven children from his first wife (six boys, one girl), and he loved them more than anything in the world. Fearing how his new wife might treat them, he took them away to a castle deep in a forest, which could only be located by using an enchanted ball of yarn. After settling his children there, in safety, the king continued to visit frequently.

Eventually, his new wife’s curiosity about where her husband was venturing to got the best of her and she bribed the servants into telling her everything. The new queen had learned magic from her mother, and she made shirts from white silk with a charm sewn into them, then waited for the king to ride away to hunt. She took the shirts and the ball of magical yarn, and eventually found her way to the castle where the children were hidden. Seeing someone approaching, the boys all ran out, expecting their father. Their stepmother threw the shirts over them, and they were changed into swans and flew away.

The queen was quite pleased with herself for getting rid of her stepchildren, but she didn’t know about the girl. The king visited the next day, and the girl told him what had happened. He was devastated, but didn’t think his wife had anything to do with it.

The girl waited until night, and ran away, intending to find her brothers. In the forest, after walking all night and day, she found a hut in the forest with six beds. She hid under one, and eventually six swans flew in, blew off their feathers, and were revealed to be her brothers. They could shed their swan form for a mere fifteen minutes each day.

Their sister wanted to help, but they told her the only way to break the enchantment was for her to sew shirts of starwort, and for no sound (no laughter or speech) to leave her lips for six years. Any sound uttered would undo all the work, and she would be right back at square one. (They couldn’t have pointed her in the direction of a town or something, so she could at least get out of the forest?)

She was determined, though, and set to work immediately. Later, a group of the local king’s huntsmen found her in a tree. She would not speak, and eventually some climbed up and took her with them to the king. The king was quite taken with the speechless maiden, and decided to make her his wife. His stepmother (why is it always stepmothers?) was not pleased with the match, and spoke ill of the girl. The king wouldn’t listen, though, and eventually they had a child.

The king’s stepmother stole away the child, smeared the girl’s mouth with blood as she slept, and accused her of cannibalism (unless I read that wrong…fun times). The girl refused to speak about her innocence and the deception of the king’s stepmother. (I have to wonder if she could have written something. Maybe she couldn’t write, though.) Still, the king wouldn’t listen. Two more children were eventually born, and the wicked stepmother repeated her attempts at defaming the silent queen. By the third time, the king had to act, and his wife was sentenced to die by fire.

But, this is a fairy tale, so of course, the day she was set to be executed was also the last day of her silence. All the shirts of starwort were finished, save one sleeve on one shirt. The fire was being lit when the swans descended, and she threw the shirts on them and their swan skins fell away, revealing her brothers, restored. (Except for one of them, who was missing an arm and instead had a swan wing…awkward.)

After that, she was able to speak to the king and declare her innocence, and inform him of how his stepmother had stolen away their children. The children were returned, and the stepmother burned at the stake for what she’d done. Then, the king and queen, and the six brothers, lived happily ever after.


I like this story so much, and I’m not even sure why exactly. This is just one of those fairy tales that really feels like a fairy tale, you know? It’s long enough for things to happen, and doesn’t just feel like a short little morality tale.

I’m sure I’ve encountered some adaptation or retelling of this one, but I’m drawing a blank right now. Let me know if you’ve read or seen one! (I think there’s a YA book, maybe, on my TBR that’s a retelling of this, but I’m feeling too lazy to look it up.)

I’m giving it 5 out of 5 stars.