Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

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It took me a long time to finish this book.

Not because it was bad, but because it was heavy. Very, very heavy. Hell, the whole thing was an avalanche of emotions, especially for someone who struggles with many of the things described in it.

I loved how real the characters were. No one was perfect and no one was evil. Everyone was human. Little things like wet socks and smelly armpits made it so genuine.

I loved the short chapter layout. It reminded me of Go Ask Alice, my first brush with the self-destructive teenager diary genre. I liked the writing, too, though sometimes the dialogue felt a little too mature for the maturity level of Charlie, the main character and narrator. Plenty of beautiful metaphors and rolling sentences, things that one might imagine but not say, and for how little she said a lot of it didn’t feel right.

As for the story itself, I enjoyed it a lot, but unlike most other books it didn’t have a typical plot. Usually, in a book like this, we’d get an overview of what we are to achieve by the end of the book, aka the big reveal. This book was a story of Charlie’s life post- suicide attempt and it was interesting, and heart-breaking, and intense, but I had no idea where it was leading aside from everything crashing back down at some random point. It made for an unpredictable, though at times random, read. And without spoilers, I have to say – the ending was the best part.

I think that many audiences would enjoy this book, from teens to adults, because the characters were a variety of ages too. If you’re looking for a book about dealing with feelings of self-harm, this is a great read. But be warned: there are all kinds of triggers aside from cutting, from suicide, to abuse, to addiction. This is a book that doesn’t shy away from tough subjects, which makes it one of its greatest strengths.

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

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You guys…I think I’m getting older.

Even a few years ago I wouldn’t have picked up an adult family drama to save my life.

And yet, seeing this on my NetGalley email, something told me I should.

And oh my God was it good.

I devoured this book. When I was doing other things, like working or cleaning or cooking dinner, I was thinking about the next time I can pick it up so I can see what happens. It’s that good.

Now, after finishing it, I’m still digesting all the wonderful and emotional feelings that it brought. The distinctly British-style writing, the twists and turns, the coincidences of a well-thought-out plot. I think I smiled through half of it just imagining all the big reveals, and the satisfaction they brought was perfect.

So what does this mean?

I think it means it’s time for me to expand my horizons. I’ve been missing out. And if you don’t read this book, you’d be missing out too.

 

A huge thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this ARC!

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

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I’m not going to lie, the main reason I got this book is because I saw a bunch of people say it had great f/f bi representation. I’m more into traditional fantasy versus modern, but I still put it on my list, and finally got the chance to read it.

And it was…good. At least that’s how I would describe my feelings after finishing it. I’ll go into more depth here.

First off, it had an amazing diverse cast. Alex’s family reminded me a lot of The Raven Boys’ Blue’s family (which was my favorite thing about that series) but they weren’t your typical white witches. The entire book seeped that Latin American vibe and I LOVED it. I felt like I was immersed in that world, and not once did I see the characters as default-white.

Speaking of the world, oh my Dios, Los Lagos was incredible. It’s no surprise this was picked up for a movie. People compare it to Alice in Wonderland but I disagree. To me it’s more like OZ. There are witches and fairies and everything is alive and filled with magic but not insane or silly magic – real and dangerous and sorrowful. They aren’t mad, they’re surviving.

So then, what, might you ask, is the problem?

There is no problem. It was written well, the bi-love-triangle-that-wasn’t-really-a-love-triangle was fairly well done, and it paced itself perfectly well and wrapped up perfectly well. I liked the characters, there were some twists I didn’t see coming, and overall I enjoyed it.

So, once again, why did it take me a month longer that it should have to finish? I kept putting it down to do other things. At first I couldn’t figure out why. And then I did.

It was that the whole thing felt like a Pixar movie. Somehow, the way it was written, with its little sweet interactions and Alex’s innocence and the darkness and evil and death being so surreal that I saw it in my head like a beautiful animated film. Is this a bad thing? Not at all. I love Pixar movies. They have that darkness while still giving us hope and love and a happy ending. This book was about family and self acceptance, and that’s wonderful, but Alex could have been 13 and it would have still been completely appropriate. Actually, I think it would have been better. Made her a stronger character.

A lot of reviewers are saying they thought it wasn’t intense enough so they didn’t feel scared for the characters, but I think it’s actually that it was too intense. Every corner was life or death, every vision a mirage, every escape deemed impossible. The explanation of ‘magic’ just wasn’t enough to make up for the sheer amount of running and fighting and bleeding and still being able to give more. It was, as I said earlier, surreal, thus taking it into a whole new territory. Still, it’s not a -bad- thing. It’s how this book was laid out and it was great. I just think many of us readers couldn’t relate to the darkness because it’s too cartoony in a way.

All in all, a great story that would make a great Pixar animated film, but I think the target audience is middle grade/teen, not young adult+.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (book and show)

 

I wasn’t going to write a review until the Hulu series was over, but since they’ve been renewed for season 2 in 2018, I’ve decided not to wait.

Like many others, I was intrigued by the Superbowl ad for The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu and decided to read the book before the show aired. Not my usual genre, but hey, why not. I’m not going to do a ‘review’ as this book is a classic, but I want to talk about it, and the show.

First of all, I was shocked by how accurately Atwood portrayed the pre-Gilean society. This book was written in 1986, before I was born, and yet it felt like today. From banks freezing all credit cards to martial law due to terrorist attacks, these predictions are the fears we all have – today. The TV show took it one step further and showed us the technology too, but what’s crazy is it didn’t feel like it strayed from the book. It felt right. And terrifying.

Of course, today this gender-apocalypse wouldn’t be a possibility in the US. Not in the same way. Why, you ask? We are already on the same path! I’ll tell you why. Because America is a nation of guns. And when shit hits the fan, and some militia comes in and shoots at protesters, we can shoot back. We will shoot back. If the government, or a government, says we need to give up our guns, there would be no one to enforce it because those who can, also own guns. I think, in a lot of movies and books, we forget that every thug and soldier is a human being. They have mothers, lovers, daughters. And guns. Our God-given right to protect ourselves from this very thing. No religious rhetoric would work on this belief. It simply would not fly.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book, and I’m currently enjoying the show. Some of the scenes are downright haunting, like the one where Moira asked if they would be having actual intercourse with the men. Her face was just…it hit me hard. There’s rape in the book, but it’s so much worse in the show because you see it happening over and over again, and no one cares, and you just want to scream THIS IS RAPE YOU ARE RAPING HER RAPE RAPE RAPE but it won’t matter. It’s nauseating.

To be honest, I didn’t really like the show at first. I thought the narration was forced, jarring even, like reading random lines from the book. But I got used to it. I love the memory sequences the most, learning about their lives before the regime. I do hope we get more than the book, since the ending was so abrupt. I hope we get to see the regime fall and June reunited with her daughter.

One can only hope.

Yellow Brick War (Dorothy Must Die #3) by Danielle Paige

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Why did I think this was the last book?

I think the better question is, why wasn’t this the last book?

As much as I love how short and sweet the books in this series are, I think this one was even more filler than the last one. We spend half the book in Kansas, looking for a magical pair of shoes, and then half the book in OZ, not killing Dorothy (again). Oh and there’s a new villain or something who pops up here and there. This could have easily been part 2 of book 2, and then we would have had a much more rounded story to lead us into the last part (which is on my to-read after A Court of Wings and Ruin).

Not that I didn’t enjoy reading it. Paige’s writing just sucks me in so bad. I love the ever-changing dynamic of the characters and their relationships. I love being on the inside of Amy’s mind while at the same time feeling like I’m also on the inside of everyone else’s mind too. It’s fantastic. I’m excited to see how this series ends, I’m just glad I didn’t start it when book 1 came out and had to wait for each book because I would have been quite disappointed in the lack of progression.

Overall, a good continuation of the story that leaves you yearning for more.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

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Since arranged-marriage-turned-love scenarios are my guilty pleasure books, I figured I’d give this a try. It’s kind of a modern fairy tale, and I’ve been eyeing these covers for a while.

I almost read the whole thing in one sitting. Because who needs sleep?

Just like watching TLC or any of those Bachelor TV shows, this book was the chocolate bar hidden in the underwear drawer. It was the perfect compilation of teenage romance and class dystopia, with royalty, and a love triangle, and that special girl who could have been anyone – even you.

And I loved it.

A part of me feels like a cheat reviewer giving this book 5 stars when the top voted Goodreads reviews are mostly 1 star because it’s unoriginal or the names are ridiculous or a myriad of reasons, but I don’t care. I enjoyed it. Yes, it was no literary masterpiece but reading it made me happy and isn’t that what life is all about?

However, I will say that I will not be picking up the next one. I was on the fence because I didn’t like how the competition didn’t end with book 1, so I was curious, but apparently in book 2 the love triangle continues on in a way that’s just not my style. No thanks. So I’ll sit the rest of this series out and keep the shiny memories of this 5 star in my head.

Overall, a very enjoyable guilty pleasure read. Don’t expect anything but that and you’ll be satisfied.

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

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One thing I can get behind is trying to get behind a label. When people see you as a geek/queer/jock/whatever, they see what those labels define, not the actual person beneath them. Once you fall into one, it’s branded on you until you do something drastic to change it.

How many of us wished we could just start over? Leave our old lives behind and be someone new? That’s what this book is about.

It’s also about the fact that you can’t. Making new friends doesn’t change who you are. Trying new activities doesn’t make you stop liking your old ones. You can always better yourself, but if you’re lying and repressing your true feelings then it’s not worth it.

Openly Straight was the kind of book that comes with a message, and it’s not afraid to show it. Not a ‘gay is ok’ message, but a ‘the only person who cares about your image is you’ message. How you see yourself is half of how others see you.

I have to say, I really enjoyed this book, the story is interesting and engaging and fun to read, but for some reason I couldn’t quite connect with the characters, aside from Ben. They all felt so judgmental. It didn’t matter which label they were on, they all judged others based on theirs. Even at the end, Rafe (the MC) has his revelations and still (subconsciously?) criticizes his ex-friends for being who they are. It was a bit off-putting. Still, Rafe did accept responsibility for his actions, and that’s what matters.

Overall, it’s a great book for teens, and I would recommend it to anyone struggling with self-identity, queer or not.