Friday, June 9, 2017

Book Review: The Love Interest

“I don't exist to teach her a lesson, and it irks me that she thinks labelling me is okay now. Like, by liking guys, I automatically take on that role in her life. That I'm suddenly a supporting character in her story rather than the hero of my own.” 
― Cale Dietrich, The Love Interest

Book Title: The Love Interest
Author: Cale Dietrich
Publication Date: 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, LGBTQ+
Goodreads Rating: 3.22 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: the boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: the brooding, dark-souled guy who is dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose the Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be—whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both. 

1. Ok well. Let's address the elephant in the room. That cover... is awful. If I were looking in a bookstore, there is no way in hell I'd pick up this book. Lucky for me, this was one of my Book of the Month choices, and I read the synopsis before I really looked at the cover.

2. Sci-Fi? Fantasy? Nope. It's YA, and it took me a minute to figure out if it was a Sci-Fi/Fantasy type book, but nope. Just secret corporations doing super shady shit, which, hello, welcome to 2017. The fact that everything was SO PLAUSIBLE while also being so terrifying really drew me in from the first chapter. I really actually liked the main character (which is good, since it's first person point of view), and I wanted to know more about this life he was living.

3. Diversity! I don't generally read LGBTQ+ books. Not because I avoid them, but because they are not really prevalent in my circle of reading friends. However, in the interests of reading more diversely, I'm glad I took a chance on this book. I don't feel like I'm spoiling much by telling you it's LGBTQ+. It's pretty obvious from, like, the second chapter and there are quite a few twists in this book that really took me for a spin later on in the novel.

4. Is this the best book ever? No. It's super cheesy sometimes, super obvious sometimes, and I rolled my eyes on more than one occasion. But I'm trying to overcome some book snobbery here and remind myself that not all reading has to be literary masterpieces, and apparently, this book was just what I needed to pull myself out of the book-blahness that I was experiencing. It was so nice to be swept up immediately in the story, and I'm so glad I gave this book a chance.

This novel swept me up from page one, and, while it sometimes crossed into cheesy-YA, it was a quick read that kept me guessing the whole time.

“His use of the word 'she' makes me flinch. He said it so confidently, like I would only ever want to kiss girls. I know that's not the case, and that wanting to kiss another boy is perfectly normal, but he doesn't seem to know that. What am I supposed to do, contradict him and make this a big thing? I could never do that because I'm a Love Interest, but the fact that he didn't even give me the option to be gay makes me want to throw something at him.” 

"These books helped me get through some pretty terrible stuff, and it's only now that I'm out that I've realized how attached to them I am. They're all a part of me."

“I guess I thought I was straight just because everyone treated me like I was, and no one ever gave me a chance to think otherwise.”

"'People don't have to save the world to be good,' says Trevor. 'John Green gets that, and I do too. All you have to be is honest and kind, and then you're good.'"

"The boy looking back at me isn't me. He's an idealized version of myself, what I wished for whenever I felt ugly or unlovable. It's myself through the lens of someone who loves me."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I Joined a Club

For my birthday, my mom wanted to get me a new purse. Don't get me wrong; I like purses. I'm just not big on spending a ton of money on a really nice purse that I will get tired of in a month and/or will end up ripping to shreds because I don't treat it like the hundreds-dollar purse it is.

Nice sentiment, mom, but if you're going to spend some money on me, I'd rather it in book form.

So I did some research, and I ran across the Book of the Month Club! It's a subscription service that delivers a book to your door every month. That's it. No fuss, no gimmicks, no spending $50 a month to get a billion bookmarks and merchandise I'll throw away anyway.

I've fallen into an awful reading slump the last couple of months... I blame that mostly on Jeromy being done with tax season, the sun being up until 8:30, and a what-feels-never-ending list of house improvements for us to work on before the summer gets too hot. So, although my first book came in April, I'm just getting around to opening the box and digging in to my first book choice!

I'll save my thoughts on it for a review later, but I was so excited to open this package and see a mini-coloring book, a few color pencils, and a note from the BOTM judge who chose this book for April. It was a small treat to get in a $10 package! I'm looking forward to my year of Book of the Month, and I hope I'm filling my shelves with some must-reads!

The link to the Book of the Month website is a referral link, meaning I get a small credit on my account for anyone who subscribes using that link!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

My Favorite Goodreads Hack!

First off: Are you on Goodreads?! It is one of my favorite social media platforms, because, of course, it centers around books. I love peaking at what my friends are reading and finding book recommendations based on what I've already read. Plus, they have a yearly challenge that is my favorite challenge to meet every year.

So if you aren't on it yet, go ahead and join. I'll wait right here.

I've had two problems with Goodreads since I started. The first problem was that I couldn't mark rereads on the website. If I read the book multiple times (which I love to do), I couldn't accurately show how often I've read the book. In February, Goodreads fixed this problem!

Now, I'm going to tell you how to solve the second problem I have. It is not difficult to fix, and I'm probably not the first person to realize how this works, but I only discovered it a few days ago and it's too good not to share.

So my other biggest problem is that once I moved a book to Read, I couldn't take it off my list completely. I wanted to keep track of books that I've started but didn't finish, and the only way to do that was keep them in Read and put them in a separate list labelled did-not-finish.

But, because I am the most OCD, it bugged me that my Read list wasn't accurate, and worse, that I was getting book recommendations based on these books I didn't like enough to finish.


There's a nifty tool that Goodreads has built in to their bookshelf feature that will allow you to remove books from your Read list completely to mark as Didn't Finish.

First, go to Goodreads and click My Books at the top.

Once you get there, look on the sidebar where you see all of your bookshelves. Click on Edit.

That will bring you to a list of all of your bookshelves. If you don't already have a list titled "Attempted to Read" or "Didn't Finish" or "HATEHATEHATE", make one now!

Then click on the box labelled Exclusive next to that bookshelf.

By clicking this button, you are lumping this Attempted to Read bookshelf with the Read, Currently Reading, and To Read bookshelves. This exclusive button means that a book can only be in one of these categories.

Thus, when you add a book to Attempted to Read, it takes it out of Read! PROBLEMS SOLVED.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Book Review: The Sun is Also a Star

“Maybe part of falling in love with someone else is also falling in love with yourself.” 
― Nicola Yoon, The Sun Is Also a Star

Book Title: The Sun is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publication Date: 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction
Goodreads Rating: 4.19 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

1. Diversity! The part that stuck with me the most how diverse these characters were. I don't often read works from POC authors (although it was one of my goals to incorporate more diversity into my reading choices this year), and when I do, I find the plot often feels forced, or the book focuses on historical events. Yes, absolutely, we need to go back and inform people about the POC accomplishments in history, but that shouldn't be the only story written.

2. A love story. This was, in fact, a millennial love story. Girl who is on the brink of being deported spends the day trying to avoid leaving the country (and her life) behind. Boy who is pressured by his parents to be a good student has to come to terms that he may not want to live up to his parent's expectations. They meet and have this quirky relationship in the course of a day.

3. So cheesy, and a bit stereotypical. There were points in the book that felt forced... the author occasionally fell into tropes rather than creating real, well-rounded characters. It was a bit expected and sometimes completely obvious. But... I didn't mind it so much. I saw the purpose and I was able to look past some of the cliches.

4. Sidenote. Hands-down, the best parts of the book were the sidenotes. Every couple of chapters, the author would give us some historical facts on a random plant or animal that the characters were talking about. Or she would expand on a random character that the main characters met in passing. Or she would expand on the idea of love or music. And these were the best parts! It was a pleasant surprise to get a bit of side story in the midst of this crazy plot.

It was a fun read, especially if you're looking for a light-hearted, modern-day romance, and it allows for diversity to be incorporated in a very real, honest way.

“There’s a Japanese phrase that I like: koi no yokan. It doesn’t mean love at first sight. It’s closer to love at second sight. It’s the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them. Maybe you don’t love them right away, but it’s inevitable that you will.” 

“We have big, beautiful brains. We invent things that fly. Fly. We write poetry. You probably hate poetry, but it’s hard to argue with ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate’ in terms of sheer beauty. We are capable of big lives. A big history. Why settle? Why choose the practical thing, the mundane thing? We are born to dream and make the things we dream about.” 

“Growing up and seeing your parents' flaws is like losing your religion. I don't believe in God anymore. I don't believe in my father either.”

“People just want to believe. Otherwise they would have to admit that life is just a random series of good and bad things that happen until one day you die.” 

“I think all the good parts of us are connected on some level. The part that shares the last double chocolate chip cookie or donates to charity or gives a dollar to a street musician or becomes a candy striper or cries at Apple commercials or says I love you or I forgive you. I think that's God. God is the connection of the very best parts of us.” 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book Review: Eligible

“There’s a belief that to take care of someone else, or to let someone else take care of you—that both are inherently unfeminist. I don’t agree. There’s no shame in devoting yourself to another person, as long as he devotes himself to you in return.” 
― Curtis Sittenfeld, Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

Book Title: Eligible
Author: Curtis Sittenfeld
Publication Date: 2013
Genres: Adult Fiction, Retellings, Chick Lit
Goodreads Rating: 3.64 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . 

And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

1. I regret not picking this up sooner. Two of my friends (on two separate occasions) recommended this book to me. Both of these friends LOVE Pride and Prejudice. And I just... don't. Not to say that I didn't enjoy the book or the story, but I'm not a huge Austen fan (bring on the rotten tomatoes, I deserve them). So when my two friends recommended this book to me, I figured it was more a sentiment of them loving P&P and less because the book was good. So I let it sit on my bookshelf for weeks (months? oops, sorry Steph) and put it off. However, after a heavy binging of our most recent book club book, and all of our furniture being moved out of our house for floor work, I was stuck with no books except this one, so I finally picked it up. And it took me completely by surprise.

2. Amp up the modern. This book was adorable, and hilarious, and a completely modern take on P&P. While P&P is characteristic of it's time, Eligible took the story line and put it in a modern setting, with a bit of casual sex, some IVF, feminist icons, and a bit of transgender and multicultural characters (all of which Mrs. Bennet is frantically opposed to, of course). The characters stay true to P&P while taking on the characteristics of people living in this century.

3. Don't read the bad reviews. It is important to note that these are modern day characters. They sleep around a bit. They go on reality shows. They Google-stalk their love interests. So many of the bad reviews on Goodreads come from people who are just APPALLED by the bad behavior displayed by Austen's characters. Um... these girls are in their late-30s and they live in 2013. I'm ok with a bit of bad behavior because they are grown-ass women who aren't afraid to admit their mistakes.

4. But seriously, this was such a fun book. The writing was hilarious. The author did such a good job of keeping every word relevant and putting the characters in situations that brought out the best of their character. I fell in love with Darcy just a bit more in this book than I ever did in P&P, and Liz Bennet is now on my list of favorite literary women. I was laughing at loud at some points, which doesn't happen often. I wanted to keep picking up this book, and it kept me up way past my bedtime last night.

If you are looking for an entertaining light read (and don't mind a bit of sacrilege when it comes to Pride and Prejudice), this is the book for you!

“Time seemed, as it always does in adulthood after a particular stretch has concluded, no matter how ponderous or unpleasant the stretch was to endure, to have passed quickly indeed.” 

“Such compliments--they were thrilling but almost impossible to absorb in this quantity, at this pace. It was like she was being pelted with magnificent hail, and she wished she could save the individual stones to examine later, but they'd exist with such potency only now, in this moment.” 

“Sometimes it amazes me how much these defining parts of our lives hinge on chance.” 

“He seemed simultaneously like a stranger and someone she knew extremely well; there was either an enormous amount to say or nothing at all.” 

“'There's no better investment than your cleavage.' Charlotte smirked. 'I believe they teach that in business school.'”