November 18, 2017

All I Want for Christmas 2017 Is... (1)

I can't believe it's already time again for this holiday feature! For any new followers to my blog, this is when I share the books that have made it onto my Christmas wishlist.  I'll probably share one or two a week until Christmas. Feel free to link up your own book picks in the comments!

Illusion by Paula Volsky


I'm kicking it off this year with an obscure, out-of-print pick (which I'm kind of doubting I'll get, but here's hoping!). I'm pretty sure it was Angieville's Retro Friday review that first put it on my TBR. Apparently it's reminiscent of the French Revolution era, but as it's a fantasy, magic mingles with the class warfare. I'm always a sucker for a story about revolution and class conflicts, but add magic, and I'm doubly interested. The only problem is how to get my hands on this book!

What books are on your Christmas wishlist? Are you hoping for any older/out-of-print books? Share in the comments!

November 15, 2017

Short & Sweet: The Hating Game (Adult)

31395274The Hating Game by Sally Thorne 

Utterly captivating and addictive, with a wonderful blend of humour, warmth, and unresolved sexual tension. I basically couldn't put it down. Really enjoyed the main character and her quirky, rather neurotic take on life. My one reservation is that sometimes the love interest gets overly jealous/possessive/moody and raised a couple red flags for me.

Would recommend this for fans of Meg Cabot's and Sophie Kinsella's chick-lit books, and I'll definitely be on the look-out for what Sally Thorne comes up with next.


October 17, 2017

Everything I Never Told You: A Rambling Review (Adult)

18693763Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng 

I found this to be a really fascinating look at a family that slowly disintegrates into strangers. From a psychological perspective, watching these interpersonal relationships fall apart was compelling, but from a story standpoint it was also depressing (I mean, you know right from the start that one of the daughters has died, it's literally the first sentence). You just watch as things get worse and worse and the characters all make such poor choices and you want them to do better. And communicate – they all needed to learn how to communicate with each other! Nevertheless, their faults felt very human. The theme of parents trying to live vicariously through their children and pinning all their past hopes and dreams on them was so true to life.

The writing was simple – no overwritten, purple prose here — but powerful. The choice to jump back and forth between past and present, while occasionally confusing, was a smart one; the jumping around between characters' heads in 3rd-person worked to let the reader in on what each character's mindset was (although I will confess I sometimes briefly got confused about which person's head I was in now).

My biggest quibble was with a scene towards the end (I guess, kind of the climactic scene?) in which a character behaved in a way that didn't seem all that realistic. Spoiler, highlight to read: Lydia jumping into the water and thinking she could "save" herself. I mean, I get that she was thinking symbolically, and that it was tied to this memory, but still. She knew she couldn't swim. Surely she'd have a better sense of self-preservation than that? Especially given that she'd made up her mind to stop letting her mom decide what she was going to do in life, and figure it out for herself.

I also found that the beginning was pretty slow-moving, and I was itching for things to happen in the present-day storyline, instead of flashing back to the past. But soon enough I became used to the format and all the drama started happening (past and present!) which kept me engaged.

Overall, a realistic look at the perils of keeping feelings boxed inside — just be prepared for everything to keep getting worse for the family before it gets better.

4 shooting stars.  


September 27, 2017

Text, Don't Call: A Rambling Review

Text, Don't Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life by

33154874I don't typically review non-fiction books, so this is a bit of a change for me! However, I am unapologetically an introvert, so when I was offered the chance to review this book by the publisher, of course I said yes.

The online personality of INFJoe and his cartoons were totally new to me. I think the artwork itself is simple but gets the point across very effectively -- a minimalist sort of approach to cartooning. The humour isn't laugh-out-loud funny, but it's often enjoyable in an "oh man, I can sure relate to that" kind of way. There were a couple aspects of the cartoons that I found questionable, though. One is that the introverts are always portrayed wearing glasses; I realize that this is so it is always clear which individual is intended to be the introvert, but it does perpetuate a bit of a stereotype about introverts being bookish, nerdy people. (Sure, plenty of introverts are, but I'm sure it's a generalization!). The other element was a metaphor of introverts being like computers/appliances -- needing to "recharge," or be "dimmed," which I feel paints a picture of introverts as emotionless robots. I know it's a metaphor that's intended to communicate an aspect of an introverted personality, but I feel like it plays on stereotypes that already exist about introverts rather than representing them in a more accurate way.

The cartoons in this book are really the star of the show; the text that accompanies them provides basic information about handling being introverted in an extrovert-appreciative world, but it wasn't anything I hadn't read before. Other books about introversion, such as Quiet, go into far more detail. That said, I thought the cartoons did a good job at capturing moments of introverted life — particularly snippets of internal monologue — that felt familiar to me (and likely to many introverts). It was nice to feel like someone else "got" it.

3 shooting stars.

Disclaimer: I received this book for review from the publisher.

September 10, 2017

The Book Lode (26)

Yep, it's time for another book haul! This one is a mix of a few books for review, a Book Outlet order, and the results of a surprisingly fruitful perusal of the Chapters clearance section.

Books for review:

I'm Just No Good at Rhyming by Chris Harris

The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso (my review here)

Shoebox Funeral: Stories from Wolf Creek by Elisabeth Voltz

Text, Don't Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life by INFJoe

You're Weird by Kate Peterson

Surprise Yourself by Lisa Currie

Thanks to Hachette Book Group, Penguin Random House, and Orange PRM (PR for Elisabeth Voltz) for the review copies!

Books bought: 

Wrong About the Guy by Claire LaZebnik

And Again by Jessica Chiarella

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees

Stray by Elissa Sussman

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson

Her by Harriet Lane

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones

A Beauty by Connie Gault

Oblivion by Kelly Creagh

Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl

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