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A Review of Twisted (Pretty Little Liars #9) by Sara Shepard

Spoilers

 

I just want to get this series done.  The last book felt like a conclusion.  It should have ended there.  It wouldn’t have been a flawless ending, but everything was wrapped up nicely.  Why is there another book?  We’re already over halfway through the series, and none of the loose ends are being wrapped up.  Actually, every book just brings up more loose ends that probably won’t get wrapped up by the end of the series.  

One of my biggest complaints at this point is that there has been no character development.  None of them have learned from their mistakes, none of them have changed as people, none of them make better decisions.  They’re basically the exact same people they were at the beginning of the series, but now they’ve actually murdered someone (more on that later).  You’d think that the kinds of experiences they’re going through would be life changing.  You’d think that coming very, very close to dying repeatedly would make you think about your life in a way that you possibly didn’t before.  I doubt someone could go through all of this and still be the same person after it was over.  But these girls are exactly the same.  It doesn’t make sense!  Will they change at all over the course of the series, or will they be the same in book sixteen as they were in book one?  I know that some of the characters have anxiety and nightmares because of all that’s happened, but this kind of thing seems like the kind of thing to entirely change a person.  I’m not a psychologist, I don’t know how people deal with trauma, but I don’t know how someone could be so unaffected by the things these people have gone through.  

It seems like the reason that a lot of the bad things happen in this series is that none of the people talk to each other about any of the serious things that are happening.  If Hanna had just talked to her father about the pictures that were taken of her and how she was being blackmailed, it could have been dealt with.  She wouldn’t have had to steal ten thousand dollars from her father’s campaign to pay they guy to not release the pictures.  We all know that at some point stealing the money will come back to haunt her, but if she had talked to someone about it, it would no longer be an issue.  If Emily had told someone about what Chloe’s dad was doing there wouldn’t have been any misunderstandings between Emily and Chloe later in the book, and the problem would have been dealt with.  They would all have much easier lives if they just talked to people about what was going on.  Aria could have talked to Noel about her jealousy, they could all talk to the police about “A”, and Spencer could have not done whatever it is that the book is alluding to her doing to get into college.  

If someone was threatening to tell everyone something I was keeping a secret, I would probably tell everyone myself.  Because, either way, everyone is going to know, so it would be better to do it on my own terms.  I have no dark, life ruining secrets, so obviously I’m in a different position than they are, but my point still stands.  If I was in the same position that they were in, I would still reveal my own secrets.  It gives you the upper hand against whoever is stalking you, and it makes it so that you’re still in control of your life.  

The book starts by talking about something that happened while the girls were all in Jamaica.  It was nearly constantly mentioned, kind of like “The Jenna Thing” back in the first few books in the series.  I assumed that, like “The Jenna Thing”, what they did wouldn’t be completely revealed until several books later.  It would constantly be there, reminding you that something happened, but it would take a long time to actually tell you what it was.  Luckily, I was wrong.  But the thing they did in Jamaica ended up being much more serious than I thought it was going to be.  They literally murdered a girl.  I am not exaggerating.  Literal.  Murder.  Because she was acting strangely and they thought she might be Ali.  There’s more to it than just that, but I’m not going to summarize the whole thing for fear of messing up a detail, and because it would probably be boring for all of us.  The girl they thought was Ali (who was actually Tabitha) was being kind of weird, but it was more like she was trying to mess with them.  They were all over TV and in magazines, of course someone will try to mess with them.  The reasonable reaction to that is not to push them off the roof.  Again, like I said, there’s more to it than that, and there are little details thrown in through the entire book, so, unless I went back and took notes of each thing that happened, I would not be able to put all of it in here.  Also, since a lot went into it, it wouldn’t be a quick thing to summarize.  Anyway, now these girls have literally killed someone.  Someone who was innocent.  I don’t even know where the author can go from here.  

Also, I feel like there shouldn’t have been the thing with Jamaica AND the thing with Emily having a baby in the same book.  It’s just too much drama in three hundred and five pages.  I’m sure that all of these things will come up in the next book, and I’m sure that we’ll get more information about both of them in books to come, but I want all the backstory now.  

In earlier reviews, I mentioned the amount of product placement in this series, and I said that I would mention in later reviews if it continued.  It’s gotten worse.  The book has about the same number of mentions of fashion designers, but now there are more mentions of phone brands (because being obsessed with what brand of phone someone has isn’t shallow at all), and there are a lot of mentions of food brands.  I don’t know why any of this matters.  Is the author trying to tie it to our world because they eat the same corn chips that I do?  Because that isn’t world building.  It actually just feels like some kind of sponsored product placement.  

My last item to talk about is something that I’ve meant to mention for every review I’ve done so far, but every time I forget.  About half of the characters in this series are described as having “gravelly voices”.  So either half of these characters smoke a lot, have thyroid problems, have really bad allergies, or they are affecting a strange voice thing.  It seems weird.  There are other ways that voices can be described, and most voices are not gravelly.  Maybe they’re trying to be sexy?  I’m not sure how the above conditions are sexy, though.  That’s something to think about.  The internet tells me that a study was done showing that men are more attractive with husky voices and women with more breathy voices; however, both lower their voices when they are flirting.  So, are these girls always flirting with everyone?  

I honestly don’t know what to rate this.  I gave it two stars on goodreads, but I don’t know if that’s an accurate way to express my feelings towards it?  I’m going to finish the series, and I’m going to finish it fairly soon (I hope), but the books seem to be getting worse.  

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A Review of Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Spoilers, because I’m irritated

 

Remember back in the mid two thousands when every young girl devoured Shannon Hale’s princess books?  I particularly liked Book of a Thousand Days, but I read a fair number of her books and loved them all.  I haven’t picked up one of her books in years, but I bought this when it came out because I had only good memories of her writing, and this was sci-fi so it couldn’t not be good.  

Not so fast.  

I don’t even know where to start.  There’s so much wrong with this book that I can’t even.  

Let’s start with Maisie.  There are several reasons why I don’t like her.  First, the way the author portrays her homeschooling.  I know a lot of homeschooled people, and they’re nothing like Maisie.  The author makes it so that Maisie is awkward and socially inept just because she’s homeschooled.  She had never heard swear words and didn’t know what they meant, so all the swear words in the book were replaced with “bleep”.  Or “bleepity”.  If you’re going to bowdlerize a book, at least make it obvious what word you’re altering.  There are times when editing out swearing makes sense, but swearing can be important.  It shows emphasis.  Also, if it’s someone who doesn’t frequently swear, it shows just how serious that particular situation is.  I would rather express myself in ways other than swearing, so I normally only swear when I’m covering a song with swearing in it, or in some of the songs I’ve written when I’m trying to put emphasis on something.  Despite this fact, I kind of want to swear in this review just to make a point.  I’m probably not going to do that because both of my parents and some of their friends read this blog and I would feel awkward if they saw that, but just know that the thought is there.  

I hate bowdlerization.  Anyway, back to Maisie.  

She makes several comments about how she wishes she could understand how to interact with other teenagers, and she just generally acts like a stereotype of a homeschooled person.  Like I said, I know a lot of people who are homeschooled, and none of them are like this.  I’ve met far more people who went to public school who are socially awkward than I’ve met socially awkward homeschoolers.  And then, at the end of the book, Maisie goes to public school and is very happy.  She’s even reunited with the boy she fell in love with.  Are you kidding me?  Just the fact that they happened to go to school together and happened to have the same first class together is already so unbelievable, but I’ll get to the ridiculous suspension of disbelief later in my review.  Just the fact that Maisie is excited about school and happy about school is just insane.  Has this author ever actually spoken to a teenager?  Ever?  I’m sure there are some teenagers who love school, but I’ve literally never met one.  Also, after Maisie goes to public school, she seems way less socially awkward.  Which seems to be implying that if she had gone to public school from the beginning, she never would have been socially awkward.  This is just another stereotype, and shows that the author didn’t talk to any homeschooled teenagers before writing this book.  Of course, you are going to find some socially awkward homeschoolers.  But social issues are not a product of schooling choice alone, or there wouldn’t be any socially awkward public school kids, and, trust me, there are.  

My next complaint about Maisie is that she constantly talks about how she’s not a “stupid girl”, she’s unique.  Not like other girls.  “Stupid girls” are the girls who fall in love, and who aren’t into science.  As a girl who is a hopeless romantic and a musician, I’m irritated.  I fall in love and don’t like science, and that’s fine.  A sci-fi novel was the last place I thought I’d see the “not like other girls” trope, and yet here it is.  There are so many books with this trope, but it was especially judgmental in this one.  She implied that if you’re not into science and you want to date, you’re vapid and shallow.  

According to the book, Maisie is fifteen or sixteen.  She doesn’t act that way.  If you told me that she was twelve I would have believed that.  She acted more like the protagonists that I’ve seen in middle grade novels.  She overreacts to everything, she is very controlled by her emotions, and a lot of her decisions seem to be very immature and kind of self centered.  Really, with a couple edits and a younger set of characters, this could be a decent middle grade novel.  I think the characters would be more relatable for a younger age group.  Just take out the romance and you’re good.  You could also cut out anything about the swearing, including the “bleeps”.  You’d have to cut out the bit with Wilder and Maisie almost sleeping together, but that was awkward and forced anyway and never should have been there.  But then, maybe her immaturity is just another side effect of homeschooling, which I think we’ve covered.  No.  Go talk to a homeschooler.  

Allow me to go off on a tangent for a minute.  In the book, Wilder says that he “hooked up” with several girls at astronaut camp.  I hate the term “hook up”.  If someone says that they hooked up with someone, so many things could have happened.  Like, was it one kiss or is one of you possibly pregnant?  It could mean too many things.  Did Wilder kiss a few girls at astronaut camp, or did he sleep with several girls at astronaut camp?  Because one isn’t a huge deal, but the other is a lot more serious.  I’m not someone who would shame people for how many people they sleep with, but if you’re fifteen or sixteen and at an astronaut boot camp, you really should not be sleeping around.  

After reading this, I see why I tend to avoid young adult sci-fi.  So many authors these days jump between genres and don’t take the time that the old sci-fi authors took to really develop their skills in the sci-fi genre.  Not that there’s anything wrong with writing in different genres, it’s just that it can’t be easy to go from princesses to alien nanites and super powers.  

I think that the entire sci-fi element of this book was executed poorly.  Just using analogies that involve stuff about cells won’t make it a sci-fi book.  It’s not sci-fi just because you made a joke about mitochondria.  Having the kids attend astronaut camp does not alone make a book sci-fi.  Also, even though it had cell analogies and alien technology, it didn’t have nearly enough actual science.  I’m not someone who reads sci-fi for just the science, but the science is obviously a very, very important part of sci-fi.  It’s science-fiction.  Without science, what is is?  

The suspension of disbelief was just too much.  I was fine with the alien nanites, I was fine with the superpowers, but it’s all downhill from there.  Do you honestly expect me to believe that our planet is being invaded by pink, ghost-like aliens who possess humans to enjoy the food?  And Maisie surviving her fall?  She fell from the edge of our atmosphere without burning up, freezing, or running out of air.  Remember, this is after she lost the alien nanites that gave her super powers and armor.  She’s completely human.  I don’t care that she got a parachute at the end, (that bit was impossible too) this entire scenario was completely unbelievable.  This is where the science should have come in.  But no.  You could say that on the bright side I didn’t see any of the plot twists coming, but that was because everything was so ridiculous and arbitrary.  

Part of what makes old sci-fi so good is that it’s all so possible.  The stories feel so real and so perfect for the time we’re in, even though a lot of good sci-fi was written decades ago.  This book does not feel real.  This book doesn’t feel like it could happen.  You want good sci-fi that’s still relevant today?  Read literally anything by Bradbury about space, Vonnegut (try Galapagos), or Clarke (I suggest Childhood’s End).

I think that the book would have been better (and I use that lightly) if the story was told in two or three books.  The way it was written, it was so fast paced that there was no time for world building or character building.  There was no time for the characters to build real relationships.  When Wilder was introduced, I didn’t like him.  He seemed to get better, but he was only better for maybe a hundred pages before he started being horrible again.  There wasn’t enough of the book with him being a good person for me to change my mind about him.  When he turned against the other characters, at least in my mind, they should have seen it coming, and so I didn’t really feel bad for them.  If there had been several books, there could have been more scenes with him being better, and I might have started to feel differently about him.  However, the way it was done, the parts where he was a good person weren’t long enough to change my mind about him.  

Also, if the book had been longer, there could have been more world building and character development.  There could have been actual science.  There could have been relationships between characters.  If there had been character development, maybe I would have actually felt bad when they died.  

There’s one line that really stood out to me, and I can’t decide if I love or hate it.  “He was quoting Macbeth again.  He’d forgotten the Beatles but not Macbeth.”  I feel like, in the right context, that line could have been startling and sad.  I think the line was probably meant to be sad, and to express how he lost so much because of the alien nanites, but Maisie is so dramatic for the rest of the book that the line just kind of blended in with the others.  When done correctly, lines that can be heartbreaking and beautiful.  In the short story “Love Will Tear Us Apart” in the anthology Zombies VS. Unicorns, it’s done beautifully.  In the first paragraph, the narrator references the Arctic Monkeys, and then casually compares cannibalism to eating the best mac and cheese you’ve ever tasted.  That pretty much sets the mood for most of the story.  The best part is that the narrator is so matter of fact and relaxed that it doesn’t feel weird.  But then there are some lines that are so sad and so sudden, and so unlike the rest of the story, that you can’t help but pay extra attention to them.  They mean as much as they do because they’re so different from the rest of the story.  The way that this story is written, one slightly more dramatic line doesn’t stand out.  All the meaning behind that line is lost because it’s nothing new.  I love beautiful, heartbreaking lines in books, and this book had the potential to have that, but it didn’t because they couldn’t stand out from the static of drama in the rest of the book.  

Maybe this book would be more appealing to someone who was into superheros?  It has superhero-ish themes, so maybe if that was something you liked you’d be willing to look past its flaws?  I’m not really into superheros, and I’m definitely not into poorly written books, so it wasn’t for me.  

Two out of five stars.  

OMG That Song Book Tag

I found this tag on booklovingblog.com.  

I wasn’t tagged by anyone, I just wanted to do it.  I also won’t be tagging anyone at the end because I don’t know any other book bloggers.  If you see this and want to do it, consider yourself tagged, and, if you want, leave a comment with the link to your post, and I’ll check it out.  

For each question in this tag, I will name a book and a song.  They don’t have to go together in any way, but they can if you want them to.  (None of mine go together at all.)  

 

My Jam: A song you have to listen to no matter how many times you’ve heard it and a book that you’ll never get sick of:  

“Porch” by Pearl Jam.  I always liked this song, but I only really became obsessed with it after I saw a live unplugged version on youtube.  I would do nearly anything to be able to travel back in time and see that concert in person.  

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson.  I’ve read it several times, and I relate to it more every time I read it.  I’m sure that I’ll reread it many times in the future, and I can’t imagine ever getting sick of it.  

 

Throwback: a song that reminds you of the cringiest time in your life and a book you read that you wouldn’t like if you read it now:

“Sk8er Boi” by Avril Lavigne.  When I was thirteen, I was just waiting for my skater boy to come and fall in love with me.  And then it never happened.  

The Curse Workers series by Holly Black.  I do plan to reread these at some point, but I’m hesitant to because I’m an entirely different person than I was when I read these the first time.  I fear that they’ll be like The Poison Eaters, and I’ll just come away from them feeling sad.  

 

Replay: A recent song that you have on repeat and a recent favorite book:  

“I Only Lie When I Love You” by Royal Blood.  

Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor.  

 

Gets me: a song that is literally me and a book that is me in book form:  

I’ve managed to narrow it down to three songs.  “You’re So Great” by Blur, “Only Happy When It Rains” by Garbage, and “Coffee and TV” by Blur.  These are in order from most sad to least sad.  

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff.  It’s about a sad bassist who likes Pearl Jam, and I am a sad bassist who likes Pearl Jam.  

 

WUT: A weird song that you liked anyways and a unique book that stuck out to you for some reason:  

“Fitter Happier” by Radiohead.  It’s not really even a song, it’s just words spoken by a robotic voice.  Honestly, it’s kind of creepy, but some part of me connects to it and relates to it.  

I don’t know exactly how to answer this one.  What constitutes a unique book?  I think we’ve gotten to a point where people have done enough things that it’s hard to find something that’s truly unique.  (I sound so cynical.  Wow.)  I think I’m going to go with Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh.  It’s kind of weird, and I think it could be considered unique.  

 

Let’s Go: Pick your best pump-up song and a book that inspires you:  

“The National Anthem” by Radiohead.  I don’t really have a pump up song, but this song has been my alarm in the morning for a very long time and it always manages to get me out of bed.  

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  I don’t know if I can say that this inspired me, but it did change my way of looking at the world and looking at how I live my life.  

 

Chill: Your best chill or relaxing song and a book you’d curl up with on a rainy day:  

“Fake Plastic Trees” by Radiohead.  

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.  

 

Addicting: A guilty pleasure song and a light, trashy read you can’t help but love:  

Anything by Pulp.  Specifically “Disco 2000”.  

I don’t know if I read anything that I would consider trashy.  I guess the Mara Dyer series could fit?  It’s significantly more focused on the romance than anything else I read, and I went into it not expecting to like it because of this, but I loved it.  

 

Nostalgia: A throwback song you look back on fondly and a book you read and loved when you were young:  

“Fences” by Paramore.  The bass line in the beginning is what made me want to get a bass.  I didn’t end up getting my bass until several years later, and I never learned how to play that song, but it’s the thought that counts.  

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle.  

A Review of Wanted (Pretty Little Liars #8) by Sara Shepard

Spoilers

 

I really want to have a good reason for posting another Pretty Little Liars review.  It’s only been a week since I reviewed the last book in this series.  I want to be able to say something about how I read the rest of this series over my Thanksgiving break, so I have to post another of these reviews now, but I’ll space out the rest in a way that’s reasonable.  I would like to have any good excuse for posting this, but I don’t.  

I thought that since I was going to have an entire week to get my next review ready, I could read a longer book that I haven’t had time to read before.  I could read the next Mara Dyer book.  I could reread The 5th Wave.  I could read several shorter books so I could get ahead on my reviewing.  The possibilities were endless!  And then on Wednesday evening I burst into tears because my anxiety was so bad that I ended up doing nothing productive until Friday night when I read eighty pages of a book I don’t plan to review.  The one series I know I can always go to for something I can read, and review quickly, is Pretty Little Liars, so here we are again, a week after my last review for this series.  

I really am sorry if you don’t like the reviews for this series, and, even if you do, you deserve more interesting, varied content.  However, I was really a mess last week and am still kind of a mess now, so this is the only content I can be sure I can create in the time that I have.  

Out of all of the books in this series, this one was probably the creepiest.  I went into this series hoping for something at least a little bit creepy-it is a murder mystery, after all-but it kept falling flat.  There was more focus on what brand of shoes everyone was wearing than there was on the fact that there was a murderer stalking these girls.  With all the relationship drama happening, it was easy to forget that just a couple of books ago they had found a body in the woods.  Even though this book had plenty of relationship drama, and far too many mentions of what brands people were wearing, it had a lot more corpses, which really added to the creepiness.  (I had a skeletons in the closet joke, but I think it may be too dark, and kind of forced.)  

The description of Ian’s body was definitely not the most disturbing description of a body that I’ve ever read, but it was very surprising, and I really did not see it coming, so the shock added a lot to the creepiness.  A lot of things in mystery thrillers that I’ve seen are unexpected because they’re so unrealistic, but this worked with everything that had already happened and I really didn’t see it coming.  

I said in some of my earlier reviews of this series that I wondered if there would be less mentions of brand names as the series went on.  The characters obviously have bigger, more important, literally life-threatening things to think about, so I would assume that they would stop obsessing over fashion quite as much.  Maybe fashion is what they go to for comfort in their times of stress?  Maybe it takes their minds off of what’s going on?  But it seems so superficial to me.  To be fair, my style could be described as “I found the following pieces of clothing on my couch/floor, I will now wear them”, so obviously I’m not too into fashion, but I know people who are more into fashion and who don’t live in flannels and denim, but they aren’t this pretentious and obsessive about name brands.  

I was thinking about why I am so irritated with Ali, and I realized that I knew someone who was a lot like her.  This girl was supposed to be friends with my little sister, but whenever we saw her she would try to force her company on me because I was an older teenager, and, therefore, so much cooler to her.  In these books, no one seems to think it is at all weird that Ali tried to force older teenagers to hang out with her, and the older teenagers actually liked her and voluntarily hung out with her.  I can say from personal experience that having a shallow twelve year old try to become your best friend is one of the most unpleasant experiences you can have.  So much mental growth happens during the teenage years, so it’s hard for people with several years of age difference to get along as really close friends.  Also, twelve year olds are not subtle or polite about trying to get your attention and befriend you, they’re persistent and abrasive, and, by the end of your encounter with one of them, you’re left wanting to rip out your hair.  Honestly, this was covered on the PBS show Arthur once.  Muffy started hanging out with older girls and they let her but they were laughing at her and she was just an amusement not a real friend.  If Arthur can cover this with better understanding of the situation than a teen novel, there is a problem.  

Another thing that bothers me about Ali is that the author described her voice as “husky and seductive”.  She was thirteen.  THIRTEEN.  There is no acceptable time to describe a thirteen year old’s voice as husky OR seductive.  SHE WAS THIRTEEN.  This is written by an adult, and this adult is describing a thirteen year old’s voice as “husky and seductive”.  That’s so wrong.  I know that the things expressed in books do not necessarily reflect the opinions held by the author, but what kind of person even thinks of describing a thirteen year old that way?  

I feel like this book could almost be a satisfactory end to the series.  They out who the real “A” was, and now she’s dead, (At least, you think she is.  There’s more than enough foreshadowing for you to know that she isn’t.), they seem to be getting along with their families better, and it just seems like if the book hadn’t had so much foreshadowing that everything was going to go horribly wrong again, the series would have come to a satisfying close.  What are they going to do now?  Where are they going to get drama?  Obviously “A” isn’t really dead, but this could have been a good ending before the series got to seventeen books.  

My one positive comment for this book is that the letter from “A” giving her reasoning behind all of the horrible things that she did was great backstory.  I want to know every bit of every villain’s motivation, and this gave me what I was looking for.  

Two stars.  Because it had low points but backstory.  

A Review of Heartless (Pretty Little Liars #7) by Sara Shepard

Administrative bit:  I won’t be posting anything on Thursday because I’m American, and I’ll be too busy eating pie.  

 

Spoilers

 

A while ago I heard someone talking about how he really doesn’t get why people read books they know they won’t like.  He couldn’t imagine any reason why someone would hate-read a book when there are so many other books, and they have to like some of them.  He even said that he wonders if people secretly like the things they’re hate-reading.  

I don’t think that I’m really hate-reading this series, but if you came to that conclusion, that wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable.  I’m seven books into a seventeen book series that I don’t like, and yet I’m still reading them.  Why would I choose to suffer like this if I wasn’t hate-reading them?  There are several reasons for this.  

The first is possibly the most shallow, and it’s that I can read these books really quickly so the number of books in my goodreads 2017 reading challenge will be higher without that much effort on my part.  You could argue that I could just read manga, and that I would actually enjoy that, AND it would probably take less time to read than this, and you would be completely right.  

The second reason is that I need to know how it ends.  I’ve started it, and now there’s no going back.  I need closure.  I could just watch the TV series, but I know that there are differences between the books and TV, so I want to read the books, and watching a TV series doesn’t help my reading challenge or give me anything to write a blog post about.  

The third reason is that I feel like I’ve committed to reading this entire series, so now I can’t not read it.  Despite the fact that I can’t commit to a hairstyle for more than a few months, I can commit to reading a seventeen book series without a second thought.  I’m not worried that I would disappoint people reading my blog if I stopped reading the series, but I know I would kind of disappoint myself, so I want to finish it.  

The timeline in this series is really weird.  Like, I think everything works out, and I don’t think that there are errors with the timeline, it’s just that so much happens in such a short amount of time that it feels like more time has passed than the book indicates.  So many things are happening to these four girls simultaneously that it almost seems like more time has to pass for all of this to happen.  I don’t know if this is a complaint or not.  It may just be a comment?  I don’t know.  Maybe including dates at the beginning of every chapter would help?  There were either dates or numbered days at the beginning of Made For You, and I think that worked well.  (Also, each chapter in The Night Circus starts with a date.  There’s a book worth reading.  Possibly three or four times.)  Maybe the author could call the day they first met Ali day one, and then just keep going from there?  Or maybe the day Ali died was day one, and every flashback from before that could just be called “Before” or something.  I’m not really picky about this, so nearly anything to indicate the passage of time would make me happy.  

I was irritated by the cup-size shaming in this book.  The girls in this book put a lot of effort into looking attractive and to having the perfect body, so they seem like the kind of girls who would be very jealous of, and horrible to, girls who happened to have a cup-size bigger than theirs, so, even though it’s not surprising or unexpected, it’s irritating.  I’ve heard nasty comments about my cup-size from people I considered friends and from relatives since I was twelve.  Yes, that’s right.  Relatives.  It’s ridiculous because people will shame girls both for having a bigger cup-size and then shame other girls for having a smaller cup-size.  There’s no winning.  The only reason that girls shame girls with bigger cup-sizes is because of jealousy, and it’s horrible.  Even though I expected nothing better from these characters, and even though this is incredibly realistic, it’s not necessary.  It just perpetuates hatred between women.  It’s not okay.  

Right now, it’s really upsetting me.  Women are finally being heard about sexual harassment.  Society is finally realizing that the rape culture is a real thing, and they’re ready to change or at least acknowledge it.  Yet, female writers still write characters that shame each other for having different types of bodies.  When a woman is shamed for having large breasts (“You know how those large breasted women are, it’s not surprising when they turn up pregnant”, as my relative told me.) you remove them from the larger conversation about women’s bodies and personal space.  Like the simple fact of biology that determined breast sizes also dictates that women with those breasts are the playthings of men and the scorn of other woman.  It’s gross and unacceptable.  It’s true to life, but it needs to stop in books and the real world.  

Stepping off the soap box now.   

There’s still a lot of exposition, but not for the things that I think matter.  There’s plenty of stuff about how Aria found her dad cheating on her mother and how Ali knew this secret, but there wasn’t that much information about the events that happened in the last book.  I remember that Aria’s dad cheated on her mom, but I don’t remember all of the details from the last six books.  These books are pretty easily forgettable, and we’ve gotten to the point where exposition is going to be important, but the author just keeps bringing up the same things again and again.  Is it to represent that these secrets are things that these girls frequently think about?  Because that would make sense.  In the book, “A” is always threatening to reveal their secrets, so the girls having these secrets on their mind constantly makes sense, but without any exposition about the other details from the other books, it becomes confusing.  

I don’t understand why all the characters in this book will have serious discussions in public, within earshot of other people.  I’ve had plenty of somewhat serious conversations while sitting in a car in a parking lot, but I’ll have all the windows up, and no one in that car will be talking in a voice loud enough for anyone outside to hear.  These girls will be talking about serious family things, and about things they seem to want to keep secret, but they do this in places where literally anyone could hear them, and then they wonder how “A” knows about their lives.  There’s something kind of exhibitionistic about this.  It’s almost like they want everyone to know just how dramatic and horrible their lives are.  

I really don’t know how to go about rating this book.  I didn’t like it, but I’m reading the entire series, so a one star rating almost seems unfair.  On goodreads, I gave it one star, so I guess I’ll go with that.  

A Playlist for The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

I haven’t done a playlist in so long, but this book had so much about music, so I can’t not make one.  

I’m not going into too much detail about why I’ve picked some of the songs because I don’t want to have spoilers, but I do have a non-spoilery quote from the book in it, so, depending what you consider spoilers, you may not want to read this.  

 

“Hurt” – Nine Inch Nails

The book mentions Nine Inch Nails several times, and I think that this song would work with the feel and aesthetic of the book.  I think it probably fits more with the second half of the middle of the book than anything else, but it’s still a good song to start this playlist off with.  

 

“Yellow Ledbetter” – Pearl Jam

“We played in tandem, working off each other, until he switched into an old Pearl Jam song.  It was “Yellow Ledbetter.

The bass line was low and inevitable.  I hit the first note and the whole building seemed to creak and shudder.”

After reading these two paragraphs, I had “Yellow Ledbetter” stuck in head for several days.  It was awesome.  

 

“Common People” – Pulp

This is another song that the faerie band covered.  Also, this is a britpop song with synthesizers, so I would love to hear a punk faerie band cover.  

 

“Hallelujah” – K.D. Lang

Yet another cover by the faerie band, but I didn’t want to put the original in this playlist because that seems too predictable.  This is probably my favorite cover of this song.  

 

“Stars” – Hum

I have no explanation for why I think this goes with the book, but I do.  Just go with it.  

 

“In The Meantime” – Spacehog

I picked this one entirely because of the bass line.  Lyrically, it doesn’t go with the book, but the bass line. . .

 

“Don’t Save Us From The Flames” – M83

If this book became a movie, I would want this song to be in it somewhere.  

 

“Lift” – Radiohead

Is it really one of my playlists if I don’t put a Radiohead song in it?  Also, I think that the lyrics work well with the book.  

 

“Climbing Up the Walls” – Radiohead

I think this is an appropriately creepy song for this book.  

A Review of The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

If you’re really sensitive about spoilers, you shouldn’t read this review.  I talk a bit about one specific part, and, even though it’s not really spoiling anything, I know people who think even this much information is too much, so read with caution.  

 

It’s no shock to anyone that I fell in love with yet another Brenna Yovanoff novel.  Other than being a sad bassist, falling in love with these books is my thing.  And it just so happens that this book is about a sad bassist, so obviously I’m going to love it.  

In the past, I haven’t really related to the characters from Brenna Yovanoff’s novels.  I loved them, I empathized with them, they felt like friends, but I didn’t relate.  Up until reading this book I kind of thought of her books the same way I think of Arctic Monkeys songs.  They’re beautiful, I love them, they’re written in a way that I can empathize with, but they’re not about things I really relate to.  Most Arctic Monkeys songs are about falling in love, and I can relate to some of them because I’ve had crushes; however, I’ve never actually been in a relationship, so it’s not always relatable to me.  Brenna Yovanoff’s characters are beautifully written, and I feel like I know them, but I don’t exactly relate to most of them.  In this book, I related to almost every character at some point.  I probably related most to Mackie, but I also related a lot to Emma and to Tate.  Out of all of the books that I’ve read by this author, I think that this one has the characters that I connected to the most.  

I really like that in this book there’s just as much, if not more, focus on the platonic love between Mackie and Emma as there is on the romantic love story.  So frequently young adult authors completely ignore relationships between siblings, and, instead, they focus on the romantic relationships.  Sure, romantic relationships are important, but so are platonic ones, and the ones between siblings are so important!  

I mentioned in my last review of a Brenna Yovanoff book that, in the two of her books that I’ve read, the love interests seem somewhat similar.  The characters are weird, other people probably don’t really like them, and they may get into fights, but they’re actually very nice and probably just kind of sad.  Tate fits that description pretty well.  She wasn’t as similar as Finny and Marshall are, but she was close enough that it was noticeable.  This isn’t a huge complaint, and honestly, all the love interests could be exactly the same, and I would still talk about how much I loved the books because the rest of the story is just so good.  It just seems to be a reoccurring theme to this author’s books.  

I really loved the bits with the faeries playing music.  I thought it was interesting how they played music for attention (for applause, maybe), and how it kind of tied into Peter Pan and how you have to clap to show your belief in faeries.  I also liked how Carlina said that playing music was just what they did, and then later one of the faeries underground said that stealing and murdering children was just what they did.  It was worded in exactly the same way and it was interesting.  Disturbing, but interesting.  I wonder if this is a comment on people getting stuck in ruts, it’s just what we do.  

I love that there are specific songs and bands mentioned, especially because I know and love a lot of them.  The faerie band covered the Pixies and Pulp and Pearl Jam.  Because of this book, I had “Yellow Ledbetter” stuck in my head for twenty three hours (and counting), and it was amazing.  I’ve said it before, but I’m saying it again, you can learn so much about someone from the kind of music they listen to.  In my opinion, it’s some of the best character development you can do.  People talk about how it’s cool when books mention specific real places that the characters go to, and that’s cool, but have you ever read books where the author mentions specific bands and songs that the characters like?  Because that’s seriously the best.  And not only did they talk about which songs they played, they also talked about how the original singer of the song had a voice that sounded like (whatever) but the girl covering the song sounded (whatever).  The only thing better than mentioning specific songs or bands is talking about those songs or bands.  

While we’re on the topic of music, the book says that Mackie pulled the frets off of his bass.  I don’t know how easy it would be to actually pull the frets off of a bass, and I’m definitely not going to try on mine, but I doubt it would be easy.  There are fretless basses, so that could have been something he could have played?  I know nothing about fretless basses since the one I play is a normal fretted bass, but I think it would be easier to have a fretless bass than to rip the frets off of one.  

I just did some googling to check out what fretless basses I could find, and now I want an almost four thousand dollar, six string, fretless bass from the nineties.  It’s time to get off used guitar websites.  

There wasn’t a huge amount of backstory in this, but it somehow worked perfectly.  Mostly, the backstory involved repeatedly going back to when Mackie was switched with the child and Emma found him.  It makes sense with the rest of the story to keep going back to this, and it gives just the right amount of information so that you know the characters.  

The one almost complaint that I have is that everything I’ve seen online says that this is a horror novel, but it doesn’t really feel like horror.  The book has dead girls, but not dead girls in a horror way.  It’s dead girls in a faerie way, if that makes sense (I’m trying to not spoil anything), and it’s not very scary.  Maybe it’s just that I don’t find it scary because what I find scary isn’t stereotypical horror?  I don’t know.  But it seemed more like urban fantasy than horror.  

Five stars really isn’t enough for this, but whatever.  Five stars.  

A Review of Night of Cake & Puppets (Daughter Of Smoke and Bone #2.5) by Laini Taylor

Before today, I had only cried once because something was beautiful.  I’m a very emotional person, so I’ve cried because of sad things, happy things (but that’s rare), frustrating things, one weird romcom about a dentist (I’d rather never speak of this again), and any other emotion you can think of, but, for whatever reason, I tend not to cry because things are beautiful.  Crying at beauty just isn’t really something I do.  Before today, the only time I had cried at something because of its beauty was the first time I listened to the Radiohead song “Daydreaming”.  (I also almost cried at “I Promise” but it wasn’t just because of the beauty of it, although it is a beautiful song.  It was mainly because the lyrics and the music video just made me feel so much.)  Anyway, if you told me back when I first listened to “Daydreaming”, and then promptly burst into tears, that I would never cry at the beauty of something again, I would probably have believed you.  Like I said-it’s just not something that I do.  And then I read this.  I didn’t cry a lot over this, but I cried a little because the ending was just so perfect and so beautiful, and I couldn’t even.  

If you’ve followed me for any significant amount of time, you know of my obsession with backstory.  I want every detail about everything.  I basically want each character to fill out one of those questionnaires you see band members filling out in music magazines.  I don’t care if it’s relevant to the plot, I want to know their likes, dislikes, favorite bands, favorite books, literally everything.  It’s pretty rare that I’m entirely happy with the amount of backstory in a book.  I loved the way backstory was done in the first book in this series Daughter of Smoke & Bone, I didn’t think it could get better, but it has.  

I didn’t even know I needed this until I had it.  For some reason I was so distracted by what had happened in the rest of the first book that I never wondered how Zuzana’s date with Mik went.  I was too concerned about the angel and the demon falling in love (and it not ending well) that I didn’t think of Zuzana at all.  

I ordered the rest of the series a few days ago.  I did plan to read them all soon, but I planned to finish some other books first.  Since this book is book 2.5, according to goodreads, I wasn’t planning to read it until I finished book two (which I haven’t even started yet), because I didn’t want spoilers.  

And then it got here.  And it was beautiful.  The illustrations on the dust jacket, the illustrations under the dust jacket, the aesthetic of the bright blue and pink together.  The illustrations on the end pages.  It is full of beautiful illustrations.  I’ve heard several people say that other novellas they purchased that were supposed to be beautifully illustrated ended up only having a couple of illustrations, despite the advertising that seemingly promised otherwise.  This book has so many beautiful illustrations that it’s much more than I had ever hoped for.  I think people underestimate the value of good illustrations outside of the realm of children’s books.  All books with illustrations should have works that make you stop to really look at them and appreciate them for their own beauty.  

I tried to reason with myself that I shouldn’t start reading this literally less than five minutes after I got it into my house.  I tried to think of the several books that I had started reading that were in the backpack I was still wearing (because opening my package of new books was more important than taking off shoes and bags), but everything about it was so perfect.  The first chapter is called “The Puppet that Bites”, you can’t expect me to not pick it up five minutes after I get it.  

You get to know so much more about Zuzana and Mik in this book.  Even though I loved them before reading this, I love them even more now.  

I can’t talk that much about the book without spoiling things, and, since this is such a short book, spoiling even a small thing would spoil a significant portion of the book.  What I can say is that it was beautiful, it has one of the cutest romances I’ve read in my life, and you need to read it.  

I forgot to mention in my review of Daughter of Smoke & Bone that I really like that Zuzana isn’t the stereotypical short girl.  She’s under five feet tall, but she wears platform boots and is described as a “rabid fairy”.  Her shortness isn’t there to make her cute or innocent, it’s just part of who she is.  

I would give this book all of the stars, but goodreads will only let me give it up to five, so I guess I’ll have to settle for that.  

 

On a side note, even though I don’t really do playlists for books anymore, if you were going to listen to music while reading this I would suggest Turn On The Bright Lights by Interpol.  Specifically, I would suggest listening to “Stella was a diver and she was always down” on repeat because that’s what I did.  

A Review of Wake by Amanda Hocking

Spoilers

 

I tried to read this several times when I was around fourteen, but I never got more than a hundred pages in.  You’d think that would be a red flag to me now, since most of what I read at that age was bad YA paranormal, and this book was fairly bad even to fourteen year old me and her low, low standards, BUT NO.  I really need to stop reading bad books just because I own them.  

The only thing I really remembered from attempting to read it when I was younger was that there were these weird creatures that were possibly vampire-mermaids.  Now that sounded ridiculous, because there’s no way they could be anything like that, so I tried again.  

On the bright side, they weren’t vampire-mermaids.  But they were cannibalistic sirens, so I don’t think that’s better.  

I may have mentioned in some other review that I was a huge mythology nerd as a child, which is why I tend to avoid books about mythology now.  I’m so pretentious about getting the mythology exactly right that if it’s even a little bit off, I won’t be able to read the book.  The mythology in this book is not accurate.  

The sirens say that they were handmaidens of Persephone, but they were swimming and trying to catch the eye of Poseidon, so that’s why they let Persephone be kidnapped by Hades.  After that, Demeter cursed them to be sirens (and birds.  Kind of.) forever.  According to the siren wikipedia page, Demeter did curse them, but there was nothing about Poseidon.  There are so many retellings of myths (both ancient and modern, Greek and Roman), so there’s every possibility that the author has read things I haven’t read, especially since I haven’t really studied mythology since my early teens; however, this is the first that I’ve heard of any of this, and there seem to be some inconsistency with the mythology of sirens, so why not use other mythology?  Why not make it that several of Artemis’s hunters tried to make Poseidon fall in love with them so they were cursed?  I feel like it’s hard to use main, or even some side, characters in mythology because it’s so easy to get their story wrong.  This is especially so if it’s a character who is different in every retelling.  If you find a character that’s mentioned once and then dropped, and you just fill in their backstory, I feel like a retelling would be more successful from a mythological standpoint.  

Also, I’ve never seen anything in mythology about sirens being able to turn into emu-like birds.  Or that they have to eat people to survive.  But you can bet the sirens in this book do both of those things.  But, of course, since it’s important to still objectify the emu sirens, the shape-shifting siren’s transformation only involves her limbs elongating (and her legs turning into emu legs), wings coming out of her back, and her face turning into a bird face.  Her breasts are still there and still entirely human.  The author even says that, because of her body changing, her bikini top is struggling to stay on.  Literally who cares what her bikini top is doing?  She’s half emu.  There are so many bigger, more important things than what her bikini top is doing.  

I should have known from the prologue that I wouldn’t like the book, and, if not from that, I should have known from the first line of the first chapter – “The engine made a bizarre chugging sound, like a dying robot llama, followed by an ominous click-click.”  I actually laughed at that.  Not just a slightly forceful nose exhale, but an actual, audible laugh.  What does a dying robot llama sound like?  Are these common somewhere?  What purpose so robot llamas serve that standard flesh and blood llamas are not serving?  Also, why wasn’t I a robot llama for Halloween?  

The voice of one of the sirens was described as “sexy baby talk”, “sultry baby talk”, and “silky baby talk”.  This isn’t her doing some weird voice, this is her casual speaking voice.  I haven’t met anyone who casually talks in a way that could be described as baby talk who doesn’t spend all of their time talking to actual babies.  If I did have the misfortune of meeting someone who talked like that, I would probably do everything in my power to not talk to them.  Also, if this is her casual speaking voice, she talked about the fact that they have to eat people and a lot about death while talking this way.  I can’t even begin to imagine what that would sound like.  I spent about fifteen minutes trying to figure out what it would sound like, but I can’t.  

Even though this book has pretty much no backstory, it’s so bad that I’m not left wanting more, because if it did have more I would have had to read more of this mess.  And the author would undoubtedly get the mythology wrong.

There also wasn’t any character development.  All you know about Gemma is that she’s pretty, strong, and likes to swim.  Her mother was in a car accident and now has an unhealthy obsession with Justin Bieber (Quite possibly the worst head trauma ever).  Literally every other character is a cliche.  Alex is the nerdy friend who went through a growth spurt and oh look, now he’s cute.  Daniel is the edgy guy who turns out to have a heart of gold (I don’t know if I’ve seen this cliche outside of horror and thrillers until now, so way to go).  Harper is the overly-protective older sibling.  I almost feel like I can’t entirely fault the overly-protective older sibling cliche, because if I ended up in a young adult book I would totally be that cliche, but overly-protective older sibling doesn’t show someone’s entire personality, so I’m still going to criticize.  

The romance between Alex and Gemma seemed a little awkward, and it kind of felt like instalove.  They realize they may have feelings for each other and then BAM they’re dating.  It can be fun to read about people falling in love (like in The Raven Cycle.  The two kisses that really mattered didn’t happen until the last half of the last book, but it was fun to read about the people falling in love), but in this book you don’t get that.  You get it a bit with Harper and Daniel, but it was obvious from their first interaction that there was going to be something between them.  

The pacing in this book is weird.  More happened in the last fifty pages than in the first ninety.  It’s so inconsistent, either nothing is happening or everything is happening.  I don’t particularly care about the date Alex takes Gemma on, but it would have been nice to get a bit more detail at the end.  

In conclusion, I’d rather read about literal vampire mermaids.  One star.  

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