Book Review: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke

A powerful collection of short stories that gave me the creeps and Girl Power feels all at once.

4/5 stars

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synopsis for reviews 2

A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.

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my thoughts for reviews 1

This was my first time reading a short story collection, and Slasher Girls & Monster Boys made it a good experience. I read the stories across the month of January and the beginning of February, and every time I came back to the anthology, the haunting stories sucked me back in.

My favorite part of this anthology is the strong Girl Power themes throughout. The stories really do pit Slasher Girls against Monster Boys, and though the end results are creepy as hell, they were also strangely comforting and empowering. I also loved how each author interpreted that idea a different way, creating a complex collection of Monster Boys and Monster Girls’ revenges.

My only problem with this anthology was that it was not consistent in its horror aspects, sometimes confusing me. The first two stories were deeply, deeply creepy—so much so that I almost stopped reading. But the next few stories were lighter, scary in a different way. By the end of the anthology, I liked that authors had taken different approaches to writing horror, but in the beginning, I was disappointed by the constantly changing tones. I don’t read a lot of horror, but the stories I enjoyed the most were the darkest, and I felt let down by some of the stories that were not as horrifying.

The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma

4/5 stars

The first story launched me into the anthology really well. This story creeped me out with a combination of paranormal and real-world terrors. Though it was a little predictable, I loved the satisfying vengeance at the end.

In The Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan

4/5 stars

By far the most haunting story in the anthology. Even now, thinking about it makes the hair rise on my arms…but also makes me smirk. The story started with a good main character and a creative monster and grew to a genuinely horrifying reveal. I wanted a little more from the writing itself, but the story was ingenious.

Emmeline by Cat Winters

4/5 stars

This was one of my favorite stories. Set in a bombed-out house in France during WWI, the story was defined by its clear and emotional setting. The story was less aggressively terrifying than the previous two, creating a gently scary story that made me feel mournful more than anything else.

Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo

3/5 stars

One of the most vivid stories in the anthology. It had a clear voice and a strong premise, building an emotional, complex and gritty story. I liked the pop music angle; putting the horror in a fully contemporary setting worked really well for the writing style and the story itself. But while this story definitely gave me the creeps, I felt like the paranormal elements were underdeveloped, keeping me from having that “aha” moment that I expected.

Hide-and-Seek by Megan Shepherd

3/5 stars

This was both one of my favorite stories and least favorite stories. I loved the premise—playing hide-and-seek with death in order to escape dying yourself—but it did not feel like it fit in this story collection. “Hide-and-Seek” was a great story to read: fast-paced, surprising, and original, but it just wasn’t creepy like the rest of the anthology. Also, it lacked a Slasher Girl, removing the agency of revenge from the female protagonist.

The Dark, Scary Parts and All by Danielle Paige

DNF

Yeah, I hated everything about this story. The set-up was painfully cheesy and cliche, relying on the “smartest girl must be a loner” trope—my least favorite trope in the world. It’s “analysis” of Frankenstein was weak and obvious, starting the book on a bad note while trying to prove the main character’s social-life-killing brilliance. Add a cringey romance and vague dream sequences I didn’t stick around to see the horror part develop.

The Flicker, the Fingers, the Beat, the Sigh by April Genevieve Tucholke

4/5 stars

I loved this story. It was dark, heart-wrenching, stressful, and deeply distributing all at once, with vividly drawn characters and an emotional premise. I was impressed with its deft use of flashbacks and compelling characterization, as well as by the fact that it actually acknowledges that girls the get into Harvard have to work their asses off (if it hadn’t, I might have DNF-ed the story). Coming from the organizer of the collection, this story has one of the most interesting interpretations of the Slasher Girls and Monster Boys theme, making it a stand-out.

Fat Girl with a Knife by Jonathan Maberry

3.5/5 stars

The main character was the most fascinating part of this story. In the space of a short story, the author created a conflicted, complex protagonist that I was never completely sure would not turn out to be the monster herself. I loved the writing style, but the horror elements were really obvious, never giving me that reveal that I craved. Still, the ending was pleasantly surprising and uplifting.

Sleepless by Jay Kristoff

3/5 stars

Another story I am extremely conflicted about. The good: this was by far the most surprising and horrifying story in the collection. It kept growing and twisting, shocking me over and over again. The bad: it was incredibly problematic, using the “I’m not like other girls” trope, the phrase “kiddyqueer” (like…what???), and kind of male slut-shaming. Also, while I did read this anthology to get scared, I don’t feel like I signed up for the terrifying date-rape vibes of this story. If you want to be scared by a really effective piece of horror, this story does that, but it is so dark that I don’t know if I would actually recommend reading it.

M by Stefan Bachmann

2.5/5 stars

This story could have been powerful, but it felt like the author never pushed themselves. Everything ended up being predictable or obvious, which in a story that centers around a murder mystery is the exact opposite of what I wanted. It had a good setting and was a nice mystery, but a lot of the story felt like Plot™, rather than an actually captivating story. Additionally, the main character was blind, but the author’s approach to her character made it clear he had chosen that disability purely for the horror effects without really considering the larger implications for her character.

The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu

3.5/5 stars

This story transformed as I read, starting with sympathy and ending with pure hatred for the main character. It was not creepy so much as darkly satisfying. Honestly the most terrifying part was how deeply I hated the main character by the end, how effectively the author got me to root for his downfall.

A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow by McCormick Templeman

3/5 stars

This was one of the less effective stories for me, mainly because it lacked that hard core Girl Power feeling I had come to expect. I enjoyed the pacing of the story, but the constantly changing POV was a lot to handle in such a short story. Overall, it was more bittersweet than creepy.

Stitches by A. G. Howard

4/5 stars

This story was a perfect penultimate tale for this anthology. The writing was gorgeous, with a powerful use of imagery to create a creepy (yet readable) story. The reveal was surprising, and the ending was strangely healing—not just for that story, but for the anthology as a whole. I loved the new angle on Girl Power and the successful re-imagination of Frankenstein.

On the I-5 by Kendare Blake

4.5/5 stars

This story killed it. The writing drew me immediately and unfolded well, with no jarring exposition at all. It had a gorgeous take on Girl Power, focusing on solidarity between victims and (of course) revenge. Creepy, but not too dark, the story was the perfect ending for this anthology. It spoke up for all of the girls that didn’t beat their Monster Boys the first time around, helping me heal from the emotional roller-coaster that was this anthology.


Problematic Moments and Trigger Warnings: (A new section where I call out books for problematic moments and alert readers to possible triggers. Please note I am by no means an expert on either, but I will do my best to research the books I review as I write this section. I added this to help readers, but I cannot promise it will be perfect. I am still learning, and any critiques you have will be greatly appreciated. If I missed something in either category, tell me and I’ll edit the review to include it.)

Problematic Moments: While this collection is not overwhelmingly problematic, it definitely is not perfect. Some stories use mental illnesses and disabilities as a plot devices. As discussed above, “Sleepless” by Jay Kristoff was incredibly problematic for me.

Trigger warnings: Nearly everything. Strong TW for sexual violence/assault, physical violence, and abuse. If you’re curious about a specific trigger, comment or email me and I can confirm/deny it.

Book Review: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

A gorgeous story of magical realism in modern-day Nigeria that captivated me.

3.5/5 stars

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synopsis for reviews 2

What Sunny Saw in the Flames transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

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my thoughts for reviews 1

I picked up this book wanting something different, wanting to break out of the bubble of what I usually read. Akata Witch was exactly what I needed.

The first thing that drew me into this book was Sunny, our protagonist. She had a clear voice that made me connect with her from page one. Sunny, an albino who lived in New York until she was nine and then moved back to Nigeria, is a constant outsider. She struggled to know how she fit into her new country, Nigerian ethnically but raised as an American. Her confusion and frustration was only amplified when she gets dragged into the magical world of Leopard People, where she continues to be an outsider and an anomaly. Though I have no personal connection to her struggles, her character was written in such an honest and open way that I felt deeply empathetic to her pain.

It is worth noting that “akata” is a nasty slur for African Americans in Nigeria. Using it in the title was a bold choice by the author, but one that captures the outsider nature of the main character perfectly.

Through Sunny’s character and the story as a whole, Akata Witch gives a vivid window into the complexities of Nigeria’s cultures. Now, I’m about as white as possible, so I came into this novel with my only real knowledge about Nigeria’s cultures coming from my art history class’s African art unit. Still, this book helped me understand more than just the broad strokes of life in Nigeria, discussing the nuances of the region, like the way different ethnic groups interact. Akata Witch immersed me in Sunny’s culture, making it accessible and familiar.

Though it is written for a middle grade audience, it does not shy away from discussing the complexities of Sunny’s life, including the sexism and prejudice she faces as an American albino girl in Nigeria. With other African American characters, the story even touches on issues of racism in America.

But Akata Witch’s setting goes beyond than modern day Nigeria with the story’s magical realism elements. I’ve seen a lot of reviewers saying that this book’s fantasy world building is nothing more than Harry Potter set in Nigeria, but I think that criticism is superficial and unfair.

Yes, Sunny is an outsider Chosen One suddenly drawn into a complex magical world, but the world that she becomes a part of is drastically different from HP. To refuse to see the complexities of the author’s world-building, combining multiple Nigerian ethnic beliefs with her own twists, to paint it as simply HP all over is naive and frankly disheartening.

I loved the magical elements of this book. They were quirky and compelling, combining Nigerian cultural traditions with a playful magic system that stretched across the globe. I loved that the author chose to have the magical system based entirely around the acquisition of knowledge. Some of the world building felt almost like a video game (in a good way), and I would say it is more fair to compare this book’s world to Ready Player One than HP (but that might just be me).

I also loved the positivity of the magical system, which is rooted in the idea that flaws in the “real” world are the roots of one’s power in the Leopard world. Sunny’s albinism, which people sneer at for making her a “ghost,” allows her to turn invisible, and her friend’s dyslexia allows him to reverse the effects of magic. I felt like this was a nice twist to work into a middle grade book, although to older readers it may feel somewhat obvious.

The side characters were really successful for me. I loved the group that Sunny befriends, because they were not perfect for each other. They bugged each other and pushed each other, adding a realistic dynamic to the story that would have been lacking if they had gotten along immediately. Each character, even the more minor ones, had a clear personality and presence.

I found the author’s writing style to be welcoming and smooth. Her imagery and characterization were impressive, bringing the story to life. Still, I had trouble with the pacing of this novel, which stems mostly from the fact that this book is middle grade.

I don’t read a lot of middle grade. I did not realize that this book was MG until I had started it, and while I still loved the story, I think I would have liked it more if I were not so committed to the YA genre’s style.

The exposition of this book was careful and thorough, taking up most of the first half. I loved that I got a clear understanding of the world and its magic, but after a while, the constant exposition started to hinder the pacing of the story for me. The story structure just felt like it was written for a younger audience, sacrificing swift pacing to make everything abundantly understandable.

This is nothing against the author or the story. Once I realized that it was a MG story and adjusted my expectations, I had fun with all of the world-building that dominated the story.

Would I have enjoyed the story more if it was faster, grittier, and darker? Maybe, but probably not. It would have been more like what I usually read, but it would have lost the playful charm that made me love this book in the first place.

The ending of this book saved it for me. The pacing sped up and the story started to tug at my heart-strings. The main subplot, which had felt underdeveloped throughout, came to the forefront and gave the book the drama it needed for a powerful ending.

Still, I wanted more from the ending. I felt like Sunny never really transformed or mastered being a Leopard Person. While that worked well with her outsider status and her constant self-doubt, it held the story back from having that cathartic, triumphant ending that I felt Sunny deserved.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone that is looking to broaden their reading horizons this year. Keep in mind that this is a middle grade book and appreciate it for its creativity and playfulness—and for its deft handling of sensitive cultural and societal conflicts—and you will love this story.

As I cannot possibly do this book justice, here is a review written by a Nigerian reviewer that comments thoroughly on the African cultural influences in this book. (Warning: it has minor spoilers) Also, here is a review written by an Ibgo (Sunny’s ethnicity) blogger.


Have you read this book? What did you think? Do you think you will read this book in the future?


Problematic Moments and Trigger Warnings: (A new section where I call out books for problematic moments and alert readers to possible triggers. Please note I am by no means an expert on either, but I will do my best to research the books I review as I write this section. I added this to help readers, but I cannot promise it will be perfect. I am still learning, and any critiques you have will be greatly appreciated. If I missed something in either category, tell me and I’ll edit the review to include it.)

Problematic Moments: Honestly, this book does not have anything blatantly problematic. There is a strong theme of physical punishment throughout that made me really uncomfortable, but I know that different cultures have different attitudes toward it, so this is more of a heads-up than a criticism.

Edit: Also, the handling of disabilities in this book is ableist. I am able-bodied, but reading posts by disabled bloggers discussing magic’s relationship with disabilities made me realize that the connection between disabilities and magical powers in this book is somewhat ableist. Also, Sunny’s disability goes away halfway through the story, which is definitely ableist in the sense of a “magical cure.”

Trigger warnings: This book is pretty tame, but TWs for physical punishment, (a little bit of) mental health stigma, and sexism (though most of the sexism is called out on page).

January Wrap-Up 2017

In My Life

This month was hard. It started out great, with a trip with my grandparents and spending lots of time with my friends, but then school started. This semester is going fairly well, but it is still extremely stressful and tiring, and I still have college applications looming over me, even though I’ve turned them all in.

Trump’s inauguration made everything worse. I honestly have trouble believing what our country has come to in so short a span of time. I’m angry and terrified, and honestly, feeling hopeless. The stress of school, which I’ve barely learned how to manage, is now matched with the stress of wondering what horrific thing Trump will do next. Seeing the world come together at protests is incredible, but it’s not enough to snap me out of the constant funk of despair. Additionally, the violence that we’ve seen across the world has broken my heart.

But this month was not all bad. Here are some good things:

  1. My journalism class published another issue, and it looks incredible.
  2. I made a jar in ceramics with a lid that fits.
  3. I started a (low key) bullet journal for 2017.

On This Blog

I had nine posts this month. Not as many as I’d like (I’ve already broken my three posts per week goal…wow), but more than there could have been. I’m happy with the content I put out, so that’s what really matters.

Top Ten Tuesdays

Discussion Posts

In Reading and Reviewing

I read three books this month, and started four others. I know. It’s pretty bad. I am in the middle of two books for school—Twelfth Night and Dante’s Inferno—and I am enjoying both. I started two others, The Ghost Bride (which I might DNF because I have been reading it for a month) and Slasher Girls and Monster Boys (which I will finish, but it is a short story anthology and I am taking it slow).

Here are the books I actually read:

  • Black Powder War (Temeraire #3) by Naomi Novik — 3.5/5 stars (probably won’t be reviewed)
  • My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows — 5/5 stars (review)
  • Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn — 3.5/5 stars (review)

Long story short, there will be lots of reviews to come, as soon as I finish reading the ones I am in the middle of.

In Writing

This month was AWFUL for writing. I finished my WIP right at the end of 2016, and although I have lots of research, editing, and character development work I want to do…I just didn’t do it. I didn’t even really work on scholarships (although I did submit a few applications). I have big plans for productivity in February.


How was your January? Did you read any great books? What books do you plan to read February?

Book Review: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

An adorably fluffy romance that got me in the holiday spirit (in the middle of January) while making me laugh out loud.

3.5/5 stars

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synopsis for reviews 2

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

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my thoughts for reviews 1

This is one of those books that I have been meaning to read forever, so when I got it for my birthday, I didn’t let it sit on my TBR shelf. I expected it to be a cute, ridiculous love story, and it was.

I loved the premise of this book. Two teenagers united by a book of dares and a favorite bookstore? I’m in. And while the story takes place during Christmastime and is full of holiday cheer, I did not have any problem reading it in January.

Dash was by far my favorite character. He’s an honest-to-God introvert, something that I don’t see a lot of in YA. And while he hated the idea of going to Macy’s two days before Christmas and genuinely loved being alone, he wasn’t cringey or awkward the way most introvert characters are. He’s wordy (which might come off to some readers as pretentious), but I loved it. Add in a whole lot of sass and there was no way I wouldn’t fall in love with Dash.

I did not connect as directly to Lily, but I did enjoy her character. She was optimistic and energetic in an endearing way, but she also had her fair share of insecurities and frustrations. She wanted to be daring and ridiculous, but she also struggled to form friendships or break out of her comfort zone. I liked this take on extroversion—another character type that I haven’t read often.

Parents played an interesting role in both characters’ stories. Neither set of parents is in town, or paying much attention to their children. The specifics of how each teenager accomplished this was a little ridiculous, but I rolled with it. Still, the parents affected Dash and Lily from afar, adding subplots and forcing their characters to develop, which I appreciated.

Of course, the maybe-romance between Dash and Lily was the central focus of the book. The two of them bounce off each other for most of the book, interacting through the notebook while living their own lives separately. I enjoyed the way that the romance was handled in this book. Romance didn’t overpower the story, and it definitely wasn’t instalove, but it was there.

Let’s be honest, if I left a notebook full of dares in a bookstore and a guy decided to take me up on it, I would spend a lot of time trying to figure out if he was someone I could date. And if I picked up said notebook, I would do the same. But while both Dash and Lily think about the possibility of their relationship, neither falls head-over-heels for the other, and both remain skeptical about the chances of a random passerby being The One.

I loved the constant uncertainty of the romance. For most of the book, even couldn’t decide if I thought they were meant for each other or if they should go their separate ways. This kept me reading more than instalove ever would have, and was another part of this book that I appreciated for breaking the contemporary romance mold.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares was paced really well. There were enough subplots that I was always worried about what would happen next, but also enough lighthearted moments that I got the fluffy feels I wanted. The plot was not long or overly complex, but it was not so simple that I got bored. The story was filled with humor (some, but thankfully not all, cringe humor), literally making me laugh out loud—which I never do.

Side characters make this book. None of them played major roles in the story, but all of them collectively made the book what it was. I loved the contrast between Lily’s massive family and Dash’s more reserved group of friends, as well as how both of those groups worked to bring the two of them together.

On a side note, I loved this book for all of the LGBT+ side characters. While this book is definitely not Diverse™, it destroys the idea that a straight contemporary romance needs to exist in an entirely straight universe. It’s a small step in the right direction that made reading this fluffy book infinitely more enjoyable.

I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a fluffy story that will make them smile. It is not a heart-wrenching romance, nor it is even a transformative book about self-discovery. It is simply a sweet book that has romance, self-discovery, and lots of allusions to authors and poets. I will definitely read Dash and Lily’s Twelve Days of Christmas, but I might wait for the 2017 holiday season.

Have you read it? What did you think?


Problematic Moments and Trigger Warnings: (A new section where I call out books for problematic moments and alert readers to possible triggers. Please note I am by no means an expert on either, but I will do my best to research the books I review as I write this section. I added this to help readers, but I cannot promise it will be perfect. I am still learning, and any critiques you have will be greatly appreciated. If I missed something in either category, tell me and I’ll edit the review to include it.)

Problematic Moments: While DALBOD didn’t strike me as very problematic, is is not perfect. In one scene, Dash is really flippant about Hanukkah. Comment if you want more specifics.

Trigger warnings: parent with alcoholism, drinking, semi-blackouts

Book Review: My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows

A hilarious alternate historical fiction novel that was just so much fun.

5/5 stars

cover my lady jane

synopsis for reviews 2

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England

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my thoughts for reviews 1

From page one, this book was hilarious. I have rarely read a book that reveled so completely in being ridiculous. There are references to Shakespeare, The Princess Bride, and the Monty Pythons. (Full disclosure: if you don’t know the source material, this book will be way less funny.) The narrators talk directly to you and sometimes even point out plot holes. I laughed out loud throughout the book.

I loved the alternate historical premise of this book. The authors re-framed the Catholic-Protestant divide under Henry VIII as a conflict between humans that turn into animals (Edians) and those that hate Edians (Verities). From there, they took further liberties with the chronology of history, which the narrators call them out on in a hilarious fashion. Overall, the way that the authors twisted history created a perfect backdrop for the rest of the absurd story. (If you love this time period and will be pained by historical inaccuracies, I don’t blame you, but probably don’t read this one.)

My Lady Jane is told from three perspectives: Lady Jane, the future queen; Edward, Jane’s childhood friend and the dying king she will replace; and G, the cursed aristocrat that will marry Jane as a part of his father’s power grab. I loved that all three perspectives had clear voices and personalities, and that they were all equally important to the story. Also, the switch from perspective to perspective felt natural and never broke up the flow of the story.

I’ll start with Jane. She was bookish and introverted, and she had always known that she would not be important to court life (she was wrong). She got thrust into an arranged marriage, then into a position of power, but all she really wanted was to read. (Relatable.) I loved her optimism and her stubbornness, even if they were frustratingly naive occasionally.

Edward was equal parts infuriating and endearing. Infuriating because he’s a spoiled, sexist prick. Endearing because once the plot knocks him off his feet, he starts to realize just how spoiled and sexist he was, and he grows. He never wanted to be king, and he was surrounded by people that let him have the power without actually doing anything. He hid from responsibility, and in the face of his own mortality, he had to grow up a lot. So while I hated parts of his character, I loved watching him grow into a character that I didn’t hate.

If you’re worried about the sexism, I’ll say two things: 1) the narrators call him out on his sexism, and 2) his voice is not focused on being sexist, so you won’t have it shoved in your face constantly while reading. (If that’s not good enough for you, I don’t blame you.)

G was possibly my favorite character (maybe tied with Jane—I’m indecisive). Cursed to turn into a horse whenever the sun is up, G’s entire life is pretty ridiculous. Still, I loved his a clear, emotional voice. I was able to connect with his character’s frustrations and longings. He was surprisingly down-to-earth and honest, and I loved how those character traits juxtaposed with his horse curse’s humor.

The plot of My Lade Jane was equal parts court intrigue, romance, and rebellion (all of it humorous, of course). Most of the plot consisted of Jane, Edward, and G unwittingly getting caught in a web of power plays and faction rivalries and then trying to survive the mess. The pacing of the plot was just fast enough to keep me reading and to prevent the nearly 500 page book from feeling long, but not so fast that I felt dragged along.

The romance was a large part of the book, but it did not overshadow the political side. Watching Jane and G fall in love was adorable, but it was not the only thing forcing both characters to develop. I appreciated that romance was often used to support and comfort characters, rather than to tear them down. Additionally, Edward’s less-than-perfect love life helped to keep the book from feeling like a rom com.

Still, it would be a lie to say My Lady Jane is not heavily oriented about romance, or to say that the romance never gets cheesy. I let myself get carried away by the story and chose to enjoy the more middle-grade romantic arc, and I had a blast.

I would recommend My Lade Jane to anyone that needs a break from the stress of reality. You have to be able to suspend disbelief and enjoy the ridiculousness of the story. This book gets 5/5 stars for being unabashedly hilarious, not for any deep themes or gorgeous writing. My Lady Jane does not take itself seriously—at all—and if that sounds like fun, then you should definitely pick it up.


Problematic Moments and Trigger Warnings: (A new section where I call out books for problematic moments and alert readers to possible triggers. Please note I am by no means an expert on either, but I will do my best to research the books I review as I write this section. I added this to help readers, but I cannot promise it will be perfect. I am still learning, and any critiques you have will be greatly appreciated. If I missed something in either category, tell me and I’ll edit the review to include it.)

Problematic things: It’s straight and white. There’s no sugar coating it: this is not a diverse story. It’s just not.

Trigger warnings: sexism, violence against people/animals, terminal illness, (recreational) drinking

2017 Resolutions

IT’S 2017! LET’S DO THIS.

2016 was rough, but I managed to accomplish 6/10 of my blogging resolutions. This year, I’m widening my resolutions to include blogging, reading, and writing. We’ll see if I can accomplish them.

blogging

1. Post three times a week. This is a constant goal of mine that I struggled with in 2016, but that I want to bring back for 2017.

2. Write more discussion posts that I’m proud of. I accomplished this in 2016, but I want to push myself even further.

3. Be more consistent with Top Ten Tuesday posts. This fell apart at the end of 2016, but they are honestly so much fun to read and write.

4. Stay up on my reviews, and make sure I actually have fun while writing them.

5. Make my reviews more thorough, including calling out problematic things I notice and including trigger warnings.

5. Keep making 52 Letters my own, especially with adding some more personal posts and working on my graphics.

reading

1. Read 60 books. Last year I read about 55, the year before, about 70, so 60 seems like a good goal. I want to push myself without stressing myself.

2. Read more diverse books, especially ones by marginalized authors and #ownvoices books. Hopefully at least one a month

3. Never take longer than 2 weeks to read a book. After that, the book is kind of dead to me, and I just need to move on.

writing

1. Edit my WIP and get it to a place where other people can actually read it.

2. Bring back Hell and Styx, my short story series. I’ll need something to write while editing my novel.

3. Work on my short stories and poetry. One of my main regrets is that I did not do this in 2016.

4. Just keep writing.


What are your goals for 2017? Are there any I should add to my list?

2016 Reading Wrap-Up

With 2016 (finally) coming to an end, I wanted to look back at some of my favorite books of the year. I chose the categories randomly so that I could feature some of my favorite books. There is no distinction between books released in 2016 or from before. Reviews are linked to in the ratings.

Favorite Fantasy

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

cover elantris

5/5 stars

Favorite Historical Fiction

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

cover out of darkness

4.5/5 stars

Honorable Mentions: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin, Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Favorite Contemporary

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

cover the unexpected everything

5/5 stars

Favorite Book From A Genre I Don’t Usually Read

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

cover ready player one

4/5 stars

Favorite Reread

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

cover uprooted

5/5 stars

Honorable Mention: The Wrath and the Dawn by Rene Ahdieh, The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle #3) by Libba Bray

Favorite Standalone

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

cover the walled city

4.5/5 stars

Favorite Series

The Starbound Trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

cover these broken stars

4/5 stars

Book I Can’t Believe I Didn’t Read Sooner

His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire #1) by Naomi Novik

cover his majestys dragon

4.5/5 stars

 Favorite Book That Opened My Eyes

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

cover symptoms of being human

3/5 stars

Favorite Book That Made Me Cry

The Raven King (TRC #4) by Maggie Stiefvater

cover the raven king

5/5 stars

Honorable Mention: Empire of Storms (TOG #5) by Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Mist and Fury (ACO #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Favorite Book That Surprised Me

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

cover the darkest part of the forest

5/5 stars


What were your favorite books in 2016? Do we share any favorites? Do you have any recommendations for 2017?