Book Review: It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett


Genres/Descriptors:
YA; Fantasy

Why I read it: I won a copy in a goodreads giveaway.

Who I’d recommend it to: If you liked the movie Knights of Badassdom, or if you think you’d like reading about LARP-ing gone wrong, check this out.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (maybe 3.5 stars)

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Description (from goodreads):

When Allison’s best friend, TJ, convinces her to come along for an epic game of LARP (live-action role-playing), she reluctantly agrees despite her reservations about the geeky pastime. TJ’s weekends are filled with powerful wizardry, mystical creatures, and intense battles with his LARP group. Each adventure is full of surprises, but the goal is always the same: to defeat the monsters and find the treasure. 

Not long after their quest begins, the friends discover that something has gone wrong. The fantasy world they’ve built has transformed, and the battle they’re in the midst of is no longer make-believe. 
Now they must fight for survival against brigands, kobolds, and other deadly mythical creatures that come to life. Fortunately, the group’s once-fictional magical powers have also become real – including Allison’s newly acquired gifts as a healer. They’ll need everything in their arsenal if they hope to make it home alive.


Review:

I still remember when I came across the giveaway for this book on goodreads. I read the description and knew I wanted to read it, and since the Kindle edition is only $0.99, I figured even if I didn’t win a copy, I would still end up getting it.

The description reminded me a lot of Knights of Badassdom:

This movie was not amazing and awe inspiring or anything, and honestly, when I first came across it on Netflix, I was not impressed by the description. It sounded pretty stupid. And it was, in the best possible ways. Husband and I watched it together and it was a fun time. I recommend checking it out if it’s still on Netflix.

Back to the book, though…

The book didn’t blow me away, but, like Knights of Badassdom, it was a fun read. I was a little annoyed by the main (and only, I think) female character–Allison–being a newbie to all the LARPing stuff (and by the thing that finally persuaded her to go with TJ), because it felt so cliche, but honestly it could have been much worse. Allison, in the beginning, kind of served as a way for those of us who haven’t participated in stuff like this to get a quick breakdown of how it works and what the rules are, as things happened, without it being overwhelming or boring.

I appreciated that a lot because I haven’t LARP-ed before (is that even right? “LARP-ed?” sorry :/ ), but I do have a vague idea of how it works because of people I follow online. Dave Barrett didn’t really make Allison into the damsel in distress that she so easily could have been, or anything else like that, and I ended up really liking her character at times. She was pretty smart, caught on to things quickly, and the boys in her group didn’t treat her very different from each other just because she was a girl.

Things start off pretty normal and innocent, with the group assembling and getting acquainted, hearing their mission from the “king,” and setting off. At first things are just a pretty normal LARPing experience (as far as I can tell), but then all hell breaks loose. The shift from our world to the game world was not my favorite transition. It was so sudden and jarring that it broke my immersion in the story and it took a few pages for me to get back into it. Once I did, it was pretty much smooth sailing for the rest of the book. I ended up finishing this in a day during a read a thon because it’s short and fast paced.

I don’t want to talk much about what happens with the characters, and their LARP characters, because ~spoilers~ and all that, but I thought it was an interesting idea. I think we get pretty equal times getting to know most of the characters, and I liked them all well enough. I think my favorite was probably Chuck, though. I think he was the most interesting and I kind of wish this book had been longer, with more of his backstory.

What I did not know, going into this book, is that it was meant to be the first in a series. I have no idea if there ever will be a sequel or not (I hope so), but I haven’t been able to find any info about it if it’s in the works. Because it’s an opening novel, we don’t really get the whole story. There are a lot of unanswered questions at the end, including **potential spoiler alert** exactly how these kids ended up in this other world. 

This was a fun, quick, action-packed read. But, I never got very attached to any of the characters, and I think that lessened the impact of the potential danger. While I was flipping pages as quickly as I could to find out what happened next, I never felt too concerned with anyone’s fate like I did with, for example, Six of Crows.

I would definitely read the sequel, if it came out before I’d completely forgotten this first book, and I feel like this was a solid 3-4 star read (I’m giving it 3.5 and rounding up to 4). But I won’t cry if I never get to find out what happens next.

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Book Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Genres/Descriptors: YA; sci-fi

Why I read it: I read and loved Illuminae (it’s one of my all-time-favorite books), so of course I wanted more from the Illuminae Files.

Who I’d recommend it to: People who loved Illuminae.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)

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Description (from goodreads):

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.


Review:

This book. Took me. For-ev-er to get into. I ended up checking out the audio book and reading as I listened, which really helped. I think I’d read about 40 pages in 3 weeks on my own, but then finished 90% of the audio book (I listened at 2x speed, but that was still about 6 hours of listening) in one day. I’m not sure why it was so hard for me, because I absolutely loved Illuminae, but I feel like if I hadn’t gotten the audio book, I would have been trying to read this book all year.

First point, the freaking audio book. Oh my gosh, it is so good! So good! I struggle a lot with audio books, but because I was reading along, I guess that helped my issues (basically, when someone is talking to me, or I’m just listening to something, I “see” the words kinda floating around/scrolling/whatever which is super distracting and hard to follow, but I can usually kind of block it out during conversations if I focus hard enough). The cast is fantastic, and I wish my library had Obsidio so I could listen and read it, too. I was really nervous about listening to any of these books, because they’re so visual, but they made it work. I feel like I wouldn’t have lost out much by just listening, if that was my only option, but having the visual with the cast was freaking awesome and I highly recommend it.

I really, really ended up loving Hanna, Nik, and Ella. At first, I wasn’t sure about Hanna, but she grew on me pretty fast. She was awesome and so freaking strong. I thought Kady went through a lot in Illuminae, and of course she did, but Hanna’s experience was a whole new level of “WTF?!” I also really loved how she was a mix of “could totally kick your ass 100 different ways and you’d like it,” “daddy’s girl/rich girl/princess” and a a healthy dose of artsy. It was an interesting combination, and I don’t feel like I’ve read a thousand incarnations of female characters like her in the past, which was nice. (I also felt like Kady stood out, but I’m trying to limit my comparisons between the two because they’re different, from different books, and I love them both.)

Nik really cracked me up on and off throughout the book, and I liked him a lot. There were a few times I just wanted to hug him, though. I was cheering for him from the beginning because he struck me as the kind of guy who only kinda-sorta pretends to be a bad boy, but is mostly just a soft, caring guy.

His cousin, Ella, was also really fun, and I’m kinda sad there weren’t more parts with her. (Crossing my fingers for more in Obsidio.) She was smart, sneaky, and snarky. And a total badass, it turned out. I can see her and Kady either getting along great and being good friends, or hating each other. And I really want to know what happened to the fish.

I kinda saw the thing with Nik near the end coming earlier in the story, but I wasn’t sure if it would happen. By the time it finally did, I’d almost forgotten about my guess, so it was still almost a surprise, which was fun. Well, not exactly “fun” because the shit was hitting the fan, but it was entertaining, I guess. I also saw the thing with Jackson coming from a mile away, but I’m not going to talk about either of those things in any more depth because ~spoilers~ will definitely happen.

 Going in, I knew this was a companion kind of sequel, with a totally new cast, but it was really nice to get a little update on our friends from Illuminae. I am kind of afraid of how much I realized I’d missed AIDAN, though :/ (AI is honestly probably one of my biggest fears and I have no clue why, but AIDAN scared the crap out of me.) Its presence in this book was both frightening (not as much as in Illuminae, though) and entertaining. I think at one point I snorted chocolate almond milk because of something he said, but I can’t remember the exact line now.

I have to take a moment to completely agree with Ella: poor cow cows 😦 (I shall say no more, because ~spoilers.~)

The things…Whatchamacallits… The slimy space lizard-y, worm-y things that make the drug (“Dust”)… What the actual hell? I am very afraid of Amie & Jay’s brains right now, because those things were terrifying. Even the initial description of them freaked me out. It was interesting having such different enemies to face in this book, though. Humans and space creepy-crawlies. Fun combo, and I definitely read with the lights all on, and freaked the hell out when something slimy feeling slithered across my arm (it was my cat’s tail, most likely damp from dropping it in the water bowl like he does about 10 times a day) while reading one particularly tense scene -_-

And that ending, oh my gods. I cackled. (But honestly, that last line is probably the cheekiest one I’ve ever read, and I loved it.) 

Oookaaay, I need to wrap this up because it could just go on and on as I babble.

Basically, this was almost a 5 star book for me, but because it took me so long to get into it, and so long to become invested in the welfare of the characters, I knocked off a star :/ I’d still call it 4-4.5 stars, though, and I’m super excited about starting Obsidio (which I will have already started, hopefully, by the time this review goes up).

Book Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo


Genres/Descriptors:
contemporary; YA; poetry (a novel in verse)

Why I read it:  A novel about poetry/a poet, written in verse? How could I not pick it up?

Who I’d recommend it to: If you’re into poetry at all or have enjoyed verse novels in the past, and/or if you enjoy YA contemporary stories, I highly recommend this one. Even if you’re not sure if a novel in verse is for you, I’d still recommend checking it out.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

 

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What it’s about (from Goodreads):

A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.


Review:

Are you screeching in excitement yet? Folks, I don’t know how this evaded me for so long (ok, I do know, it’s because I intentionally pulled back from the bookish world because I knew I couldn’t buy books for a long time, and I didn’t want to be sad). I didn’t hear anything about this until….well, actually until I happened across it on Over Drive and looked it up on Good Reads. Seriously, did I just miss all the buzz because I was getting my hermit on, or was there just basically none?

First up, let’s talk about that cover. So pretty, right?! That caught my eye first, followed quickly by the word “poet” in the title. The artist was Gabriel Moreno and I’m kind of obsessed. It’s just so gorgeous and perfect and I feel like it really goes with the book. Check out more of Gabriel’s art here, if you’re interested (I was, and I’m really loving it).

Ok, onward to the book itself!

As most novels in verse are, this was a pretty quick read. It’s a little over 350 pages, but I could have easily read it in one afternoon if I’d been able to sit long enough. (Don’t  you hate it when you’re really loving a book but things like laundry keep interrupting?) I tore through this book and I’m really thinking about buying a copy. I feel like I could re-read this one a few times.

Xiomara…oh gods, where do I start? This girl is a fighter, in more ways than one, and I feel like this book is very timely. I think teenagers today need more books like this in their lives, and I wish I’d had this book when I was 10-12 years younger, because it would have hit me even harder and inspired me even more. I can honestly see this making it onto reading lists at some point (I’m really not sure how that works, but I know it’s going to be on my kid’s reading list in a few years).

The home life Xiomara had really hit close to home for me in some ways. She grew up with a Catholic family, while I grew up in a Protestant home, but her relationship with her mother reminded me of my life a bit. I didn’t actually expect to relate a lot to anyone in this book, because their life experiences are very different than mine in pretty much every way, but it happened anyway and broke my heart. But Xiomara, wow. She handled things so well (I can’t think of a better way she could have handled anything, really), definitely better than I would have, and I felt so proud of her. There was this one scene with her mother that made me go cold all over because it brought back memories, and my heart ached for her. I had to take a break for a while after reading that bit.

 

I had so many feelings while reading this. I seriously laughed and cried, I cringed a little, I whispered “oh no,” I cheered internally (and might have had a little fist pumping at some point). So many feelings. It was a journey, and it was wonderful and so real. I felt inspired by Xiomara, and I feel like this book would have been amazing for teenage me. (It was amazing for adult me, but it would have been more amazing for teenage me.)

I enjoy more flowery writing with novels in verse sometimes (or poetry, or novels, in general, honestly), but the contemporary and sometimes very blunt writing in this novel, mixed with metaphors and imagery was refreshing and very well done. Which I guess shouldn’t be surprising considering Elizabeth Aceveda is an award-winning slam poet herself. This book was kind of a diary, and I feel like it read like that, if that makes sense. Like, this could have been a real diary, just written in verse. It felt very personal and raw a lot of the time, and it definitely (as I’ve said) gave me feelings

This book was just so good and I think I’ll be recommending it a lot.

 

Book Review: Buzz by Hallie Lieberman

I’m going to preface this review with a disclaimer: This book is about sex toys, so if that’s something you’re not ok with reading about, you should skip this post.



Genres:
non-fiction; (micro) history; feminism

Why I read it: I mean, it’s a book about the history of sex toys, written by the first person to get a Ph.D in this history of sex toys. I saw it on Net Galley and knew I had to read it.

Who I’d recommend it to: I’ve already recommended it to my mom, honestly. This is one that I would recommend a lot, but only to people I knew would be interested in it. This book covers a lot, from pretty ancient history to the AIDS epidemic to obscenity laws still on the books in the 21st century, so I’d recommend it to a lot of people.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (maybe 4.5)

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Description from goodreads:

Once only whispered about in clandestine corners, vibrators have become just another accessory for the suburban soccer mom, showing up in all manner of pop culture, from sitcoms to talk shows to the pages of glossy women’s magazines. But how did these once-taboo toys become so socially acceptable? The journey of the devices to the cultural mainstream is a surprisingly stimulating one.

In Buzz, Hallie Lieberman—who holds the world’s first PhD in the history of sex toys—starts at the beginning, tracing the tale from lubricant in Ancient Greece to the very first condom in 1560 to advertisements touting devices as medical equipment in 19th-century magazines. She looks in particular from the period of major change from the 1950s through the present, when sex toys evolved from symbols of female emancipation to tools in the fight against HIV/AIDS to consumerist marital aids to today’s mainstays of pop culture. The story is populated with a cast of vivid and fascinating characters including Dell Williams, founder of the first feminist sex toy store, Eve’s Garden; Betty Dodson, who pioneered “Bodysex” workshops in the 1960s to help women discover vibrators and ran Good Vibrations, a sex toy store and vibrator museum; and Gosnell Duncan, a paraplegic engineer who invented the silicone dildo and lobbied Dodson and Williams to sell them in their stores. And these personal dramas are all set against a backdrop of changing American attitudes toward sexuality, feminism, LGBTQ issues, and more.

Both educational and titillating, Buzz will make readers think quite differently about those secret items hiding in bedside drawers across the nation.


Review:

This book took me for-ev-er to read, thanks to Hidden Figures kinda putting me in a reading slump (it wasn’t a bad book, but it turned me off non-fic for a while because it was kinda dry, which is sad because it was an important story that needed to be told :/ ). I started reading Buzz, but put it on hold for Hidden Figures so it ended up taking me like 3 months to read. *sigh* Anyway…

Holy wow did this book cover a lot of material in so few pages! It’s a little under 300 pages, and a hefty chunk of that (I think something like 50-80, but I had to guess because I had an e-ARC) is notes at the end. Hallie Lieberman definitely knows her stuff about sex toys, which isn’t surprising considering she’s got a freaking Ph.D on the subject.

She talks about the obscenity laws that have made the selling of sex toys illegal, or at the very least quite difficult (I think there are some places in the US where it’s still illegal). That part was fascinating, but not really surprising. I mean, just think about all the personal things that have been illegal in this country (and elsewhere), from marriages to sexual positions, the government hasn’t been shy about getting between people and what they want to do in private. I think I actually remember when the selling of sex toys was still illegal in my state, because it really wasn’t that long ago (maybe within the last 10 years it’s been legalized…but I think there’s still a ban on the sale of “obscene materials” or something like that, so *shrugs*).

There’s so much in here about the feminist movement, too, especially with sapphic women. The big argument about sex toys being a break from and a middle-finger shown to the patriarchy, or being one more way women were tied down to phalluses, was mentioned a lot, and I honestly didn’t realize it went back as far as it did. I still see/hear arguments about that, or see lesbians writing online about feeling confused about using dildos and such because they don’t have sex with men, and have no desire to have sex with men.

I always wondered how we ended up with materials that are body safe, because I knew it hadn’t been around forever, and I knew there were artifacts that have been found and presumed to be rudimentary dildos. I assumed it was an accident, which it kind of was, but the actual story is way more interesting. (I’m not relating it here, because I couldn’t do it justice by summing it up.) This is where sex toys, the feminist movement, and the disabled movement intersect, thanks to Gosnell Duncan.

My mind is still kind of blown by how many different topics were covered in learning about sex toys. From the AIDS epidemic of the ’80s to the feminist movement to accessibility to the distribution of affordable birth control in other countries the porn industry. Ok, that last one I kinda expected to come up at some point. But the rest of it? Wow. And that’s just a few things Hallie Lieberman talks about in relation to sex toys throughout Buzz.

This was honestly one of the most engaging, thought provoking, entertaining, and informational books I’ve read in a long time. I came out of reading this feeling like I’d learned a lot about a lot of people, movements, and products. Some of it, I already knew (like how body massagers that were sold in department stores and graced so many homes, were actually being used as vibrators), but most of it, I didn’t. What really interested me, beyond learning about the actual sex toys and their evolutions, was the way they factored in to things like the feminist movement. I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but I can not think of the word (phrase?) I need to encompass things like feminism, LGBTQ+ lives and rights, accessibility for the disabled, etc. -_- (If you know the word/phrase, please comment. I’m just hoping it’ll come to me before I post this, but I’m doubting it will at this point, ugh.)

So, do I recommend it? Oh yeah, I definitely recommend it. But obviously not to anyone who doesn’t want to read about sex toys. I’ve already recommended this to at least three people, and I doubt they’ll be the last people I recommend it to.

This could have easily turned into a boring read, despite the subject matter, but Hallie Lieberman did a great job with keeping things interesting and moving along at a reasonable pace. I think if you like books like Mary Roach’s, or the Freakonomics kinds of non-fiction, you’ll like this if the topic sounds like something you’d be into.

I don’t want to buy every book I get an ARC of, but this is one I’m strongly considering buying. I’ll probably wait until it’s in paperback, just because most of my non-fiction is paperback, but who knows? (And I’ll honestly probably grab a copy for my mom, too.)

 

I received an eARC for review, thanks to the publisher and Net Galley.

DROPKICKromance– Book Review


Genres:
poetry

Why I read it: I’ve followed the author on social media for a long time, and added this to my TBR the second it was announced. Then I found it on Net Galley and whatddya know, my finger slipped and I clicked to get an ARC 😛

Who I’d recommend it to: Poetry lovers, poetry newbies, the broken-hearted and people looking for hope…actually I think I’ll be recommending this to just about everyone for a while.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

 

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What it’s about (from Goodreads):

A collection of autobiographical poetry about healing and learning to love again from professional-wrestler-turned-poet, Cyrus Parker.

The first half of DROPKICKromance focuses on a toxic, long-distance relationship the author was involved in for several years, while the second half focuses on his current relationship with poet Amanda Lovelace. Ultimately, the collection tells about a profound journey of healing.


Review:

Let me just start this off with this super accurate representation of me while I was reading this book

 (I totally tweeted this first but whatever.)

What you need before you start reading (aka: what I should have armed myself with before I read it):

  • tissues
  • ice cream, chocolate, or some other comfort-food-thing
  • tissues
  • bourbon (or your alcohol of choice…if you drink, that is…if not, grab some cocoa or soothing tea, or a great cup of coffee)
  • did I mention tissues yet?
  • a pen and paper to catch the inspiration to write you’ll be feeling thanks to this book
  • a backup box of tissues

Seriously folks, this book hit me hard in the feels, and it kept hitting me at unexpected times throughout the entire thing. I would think I was past the things that were going to strike a chord, and then another one would come along. While I’ve followed Cyrus Parker on social media for at least a couple of years, and have seen some of his poetry in that time, I was not at all prepared for this book or for how much I would relate to some of the poems. My tablet died halfway through reading this, and I was happy about it because it forced me to take a break and pull myself together before diving back in. (Side note: What the heck is up with the technical difficulties I’ve been having with Net Galley books lately?! Ugh.)

you’ve sacrificed
so many pieces
of me,
it’s only fair
that you sacrifice
something
for me.

— i’m not asking for much.

I went through a lot of emotions while reading this, and it wasn’t a bad thing. It was kind of cathartic, actually. I felt some anger, sympathy, empathy, hope, happiness, nostalgia, and sadness, and honestly sometimes I think I felt all of those at once. Weirdly, I only got teary-eyed during the first half of the book, but during the second half I was ugly crying all over my tablet. I think those were mostly happy-tears, though. 

knowing that you’re
willing to share
the rest of your life
with me

is knowing that
there must be
some good
inside of me.

— somewhere.

This collection is so brutally honest and heartbreaking (at least in the beginning), but beautifully written, and I can’t remember the last time I went through a poetry book so quickly. (I usually end up reading one over the course of 2-5 days in small chunks.) If my tablet hadn’t died when it did, I would have read this in one sitting for sure.

I’ve been anxiously waiting for this book for about a year, and it was so worth the wait. (I could have read it sooner if my reading devices had cooperate *glares at them*) I was looking forward to it, but also nervous and worried I wouldn’t like it, or wouldn’t love it. Those fears turned out to be completely unfounded, because I. Freaking. LOVED this book. It’s definitely made my list of all-time-favorite poetry collections (and probably books, in general), and I’m dying to get a physical copy. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that might happen this weekend, but I’m not sure it’s in stock at the nearest bookstores yet 😥 If not, I might have to break down and just order it because I need it on my shelf yesterday.

Do I recommend it? Hell yes I do! Cyrus Parker is a talented poet and I’m looking forward to reading more from him in the future.

The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One– Book Review


Genres: poetry; feminism

Why I read it: I snagged the e-ARC from Net Galley because I couldn’t wait until release day ❤

Who I’d recommend it to: Probably first to fans of The Princess Saves Herself In This One, fans of poetry, feminists, witchy women, and anyone who wants to burn down the patriarchy.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)

 

Goodreads | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Amazon


What it’s about (from goodreads):

2016 Goodreads Choice Award-winning poet Amanda Lovelace returns in the witch doesn’t burn in this one — the bold second book in her “women are some kind of magic” series.

The witch: supernaturally powerful, inscrutably independent, and now—indestructible. These moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one.


Review:

I feel like I waited years for this book, and that feeling wasn’t helped by my technical difficulties while trying to read it >_< Long story short: this eARC from Net Galley is one of those that can’t be read on a Kindle, my iPad freaked out and I had to restore it, and the app I used to read the book was a pain in the butt to get downloaded and to then get the books on (partially because, for some reason, I couldn’t even get the Net Galley site to open for-freaking-ever, ugh). And I also think I might be missing a few pages in my copy for some reason, because I’ve seen other people quote things that I don’t remember reading, and they were things I definitely would have remembered :/

Anyway… Back to the book itself, and what I thought of it.

First up: It’s release day!! The wait is truly over, and if broom-travel were possible, my witchy butt would be flying to the nearest Target that has this in stock because I was too broke to pre-order it 😦

If Amanda’s first poetry collection (The Princess Saves Herself In This One) was a book of facing and slaying your own demons, this second collection is a call to arms for other women, and a warning to lurking monsters that we (women) have had enough and are fighting back. I think I made it to “-she.”–which is quoted below–before I started having to bite my tongue to keep from actually screaming/cheering out loud while reading this one.

i don’t need you
to write my story.

i write it
e v e r y  d a y

& you couldn’t
even translate

the fucking
punctuation.

she.

Like in Princess, a lot of sensitive topics are touched on in this collection, and there’s a trigger warning list at the beginning of the book. This collection is angry, raw, and no sugar has been added to sweeten the ugly truths addressed. Also like when I read Princess, I felt a lot of things while reading this. Unlike Princess, I didn’t feel punches to the gut when I read things that hit close to home. Instead, I felt pissed off and ready to link hands with other women and crush the patriarchy under my stompy, pointy, witchy boots.

“bitch,” he spits

“witch,” he sneers.

& i say
“actually, i’m both.”

– reclaim everything.

The one thing I vacillated between loving  and not loving (I didn’t hate it, though) was the repetitiveness. Sometimes, I really enjoyed it because either I liked the imagery or it helped tie the whole collection together, and sometimes it felt like I’d read a certain word or phrase one too many times. Don’t get me wrong: it isn’t every poem or anything like that. It just happened enough for me to notice.

Basically, I adored this book and I can not wait to get my hands on a physical copy. Speaking of, have you guys seen the Target exclusive?! It’s red! *cue heart eyes* 

Did I love it as much as her first collection? Maybe not, but it’s pretty close, and still probably making my list of favorite poetry books. Do I recommend it? Yessss! But obviously not if you hated Princess, or hate this style of poetry.

Book Review: 27 Hours by Tristina Wright

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Genres: YA; sci-fi; dystopian; LGBTQ+

Why I read it: It exploded on social media and after I heard the description, I had to read it. I got lucky and scored an e-ARC from Net Galley!

Who I’d recommend it to: YA sci-fi fans, especially if you’re looking for diverse reads. Must love puns.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5 stars…maybe?)

Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Amazon


What it’s about:

Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.


Review:

I want to start by saying that I really liked this book. It was one of my most anticipated 2017 releases, and I literally screamed and danced around when I was approved for an ARC.

 

At the end of the review, I’ve included some links to other blogs, including one from Tristina.

 

The good…

Wright’s writing is fantastic. With every scene, every character, every place, I felt like I was there and could see and hear it all. The descriptions were great. Every character really stood out, too. I never had the issue of confusing two of them, like I’ve experienced with some other books with such a huge cast. I’m really hoping that in the next book we’ll have more time with more chimeras, because I’m so freaking interested! I want to know everything about them and the different kinds. A couple were explained in 27 Hours, but there’s so much more to learn about them, and the moon. Oh. My. Gods. The moon, you guys! I don’t want to say much so I don’t spoil something, but holy crap it’s awesome and I want to know more! There are other things I really want to know more about that involve at least two of the characters and the moon and the chimeras, but I don’t want to talk about that because ~spoilers.~ But I’m really hoping it’s addressed more in the next book, because I need answers! (It’s not really a plot-hole kind of lack-of-answers, it’s just a really good thing to not fully explain in book one so it can be explored more later in the series.)

The diversity in this book is the best I’ve ever encountered, and I want a thousand more books with rep like this or better. We have multiple main POC characters, a bisexual deaf character, a couple of gay characters (if I remember right), a pansexual trans character, an asexual character, a lesbian couple and a gender neutral (I think, so please correct me if I’m wrong) character. There were probably more, but I stupidly didn’t take many notes about anything because I read this in like a day and didn’t think about it. So, A+ for diversity, I think. (But definitely check out other reviews from people whose voices count more than mine for things like the POC, deafness, ace, trans, and gender-neutral reps, because I really can’t make any comments or judgments about those. I’ve been seeing some not so positive comments about some of these reps since I read the book.) I can’t speak for most of the rep, but omg the pansexual character. My ❤ I had to take short breaks a couple of times because I related so much to what she was going through. What she experienced captured so well how I felt for a while in high school and shortly after, and it felt so good to finally see some pan rep in a book. I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for this, and I wish this book had existed when I was in high school.

The romances were so. freaking. cute. I’m usually thinking something like, “Ok, ok, I get it, they like each other, blah blah blah, can we get back to the story, now?” when I read a book with a romance sub-plot. Not so with 27 Hours. Honestly, I loved the romances. The puns from one character almost killed me, though. (I related to that, too.) From the very beginning, I was rooting for the couples as well as the individual characters. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted book characters to get together and be happy as much as I did while reading this book.

This book is action packed. Like, from the first couple of pages, it barely lets up until the very end. This is about a 400 page book and I almost read it in one sitting. (I read it during a read-a-thon, but that’s still not normal for me.) There are constant threats of danger, fight scenes, escape scenes, just…so much action. I was literally on the edge of my seat for a while, my eyes flying over the words as fast as they could to find out if everyone made it out of whatever situation they were in. It was intense, but awesome.

And the not so good…

All that said, I have been sitting, thinking about this book and how to review it for a couple of weeks because I had mixed feelings.

When I first started this book, I liked it. Very soon, I loved it. But, the whole time I was reading it, I kept thinking something was a little “off,” or at least something made me feel a little weird. The idea was a confused, insubstantial thing in the back of my mind until I came across a couple of reviews that put it into words far more eloquently, I’m sure, than I can. This is a story of, essentially, human settlers vs the native beings (called “chimeras,” or, the derogatory term “gargoyles”) of a moon far, far from Earth, and the war they’ve been fighting for a few decades. I remember thinking it reminded me of something, while I was reading, but I read it so fast I didn’t really process it until later. It reminds me of European “settlers” fighting with and stealing land from indigenous people all over the place here on Earth.

Looking back, it kind of bothers me that all the perspectives in the book are human characters, and there are no chapters from the chimeras’s POV. That might not be the case with the next books, I don’t know. I just wish there’d been at least a few chapters from a chimera’s, or multiple chimeras’s, POV. At no point, that I remember, does it come across that the actions of humans against chimeras are justified or anything like that, though. The issues of the colonization are addressed in the book, pretty directly, I think. It might not be perfect, but it’s not brushed aside or ignored.

Another thing that just confused me was how all the people seem to have gone from varied cultures from all over Earth to being very Westernized and speaking one language (“the human language”), as far as I remember. This is set in the future, but I don’t remember there being any indication of how far in the future it’s set. There are mentions of where people’s families came from on Earth, and what things are left that their ancestors brought with them, and I just think it’s a little weird that they would have all adopted one language and forgotten their old ones and their customs and traditions and stuff. (There were a couple of words that weren’t in English, like one character referring to her “abuela,” so some things from Earth and the other languages still exist, apparently, but not everything.)

I also don’t remember race (with humans) really being addressed much, other than indicating POC  or white characters. So…is racism and all the other nasty prejudices on Earth right now, no longer part of this universe? Because of the human-chimera relations, prejudices obviously still exist. But there’s never any mention of racism, homophobia, etc. with humans. Did we actually manage to eventually, in however many years in the future this is set, get past it? Is it just that way with the settlers on that moon? Maybe I’m over-thinking all of this, idk, but I have questions. (It’s also possible that I missed some explanations in my binge read.)

Lastly, while I thought the world-building was very good, there were times when I was really confused for a while. I think I eventually caught up because things were explained later, but the characters are, in my opinion, more developed and stronger than the world-building. That didn’t bother me too much because I usually prefer character driven stories, and I struggle with extensive world-building sometimes (I can’t keep track of everything, etc.), and I didn’t feel the world was under developed by the end. It’s just been left open enough for going deeper in subsequent books.

 

So…

I really, really liked this book, and I’ve been talking about it a lot. Is it perfect? No, but what book is? I think Tristina Wright did the best possible job she could, and it’s pretty clear that she put in the work for the reps in this book. You can’t please everyone or capture everyone’s identity in one book, because everyone’s experience is very different. I personally felt a connection to a couple of characters in this book at various points, but that doesn’t mean everyone will have the same experience.

I’m torn between 3 & 4 stars, but I’m leaving it at 4 for now, I think. Maybe I’ll say 3.5 stars.

I will most likely read the next book, and probably count down days to release day after we get an official date. (It’s going to be a while, I’m sure, since this one just came out on the 3rd.)

This was probably the hardest review I’ve ever written, and I’m still not sure I managed to say what I mean. I tried, and all I can do now is direct you to other posts from people who can talk about the things I can’t.


Additional reading:

Aimal’s review (colonialism, racial rep, etc. is discussed at length; great review, give it a read)
Laura’s review (has links and stuff to things people had issues with)
Tristina Wright’s statement/apology issued about race and queer IDs
Ann Elise’s review (ace/aro rep discussion)
Avery’s review (ace rep, gender rep)

There are probably many more blog posts out there that talk about these important subjects, from people more qualified than I am, but these were the ones I found shortly after reading the book, while trying to figure out how to put into words what I thought of everything.


Have you read it yet?

Let me know what you thought of it, or if you’re planning to read it 🙂