Books, YA (Young Adult)

Wilder Girls by Rory Power Review

Mark it on Goodreads!

Title: Wilder Girls
Author: Rory Power
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Page #: 353
Genre: Young Adult, Apocalyptic, Survival, LGBTQIA+
Age Recommendation: 13+

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

This book, hands down, has one of the best covers out there.  I think this book will wind up in a lot of  hands simply for its visual presence.

Unfortunately for this book I think it’s sale figures are  going to be out of whack as I got a copy for Barnes and Noble before the release date.  I later found out that it will be released officially on July 9th 2019.  I wouldn’t have grabbed it early as I want the publisher to get accurate data regarding the success of this book  and also so that the hype around the book is properly placed.  I waited to review it until close to it’s release date so as not to put this out into the world before it has a fair shake.

I wanted desperately to love this. I heard it pitched as an all girls version of Lord of the Flies and  while I can see that comparison I don’t think that is quite accurate.  The themes of the two books are in no way comparable.  The best I can say is that they both follow a group of children on islands.  Wilder Girls is focused much more on the characters relationships, it didn’t really dive very deep in a philosophical sense, whereas Lord of the Flies was a criticism of modern society, specifically questioning if manners are inherently human or if we are all just animals somewhere deep down.  I see the comparison, I just don’t totally agree with it.

I ended up rating this three stars out of five.  It was an okay book.  I wanted it to be a fabulous book, but it was okay.  This was the sort of book where the entire time I was reading it, I picked up on bits and pieces of stuff that I loved, but it didn’t feel right.  There were aspects of it that felt rushed and therefore unsatisfying and that kept pulling me out of the story.  I am definitely going to read anything that Rory Power puts out in the future as there was enough in here that I liked and I think the more she writes the better she will become.

This book shines most in its action and its mood.  It has such a lovely sense of dread and anxiety about it.  You feel like you are  with the kids and are fighting for survival while their own bodies betray them.  In scenes where the characters are forced to fight I felt like I couldn’t put the book down.  Power’s descriptions of The Tox and what it did to the physicality of the girls and the island at large was delightfully grotesque, yet beautiful at the same time.

Unfortunately, it seemed like the character relationships were a bit … rushed or underdeveloped.  Which is unfortunate when it comes  to a book that focuses so much on the dynamics between characters.  I enjoyed the banter between the girls but I also felt like I didn’t get to know any of them very much.  Hetty is obsessed with Byatt … Byatt is a bad girl who likes to push her boundaries … and Reese is an orphan?  They don’t seem to have much more than those traits and when they do or say things to suggest interest or even import in other things it felt disingenuous rather than opening up the characters.

Another strong aspect of this book was the girl on girl romance.  Nothing risque, honestly the treatment of the LGBTQIA+ aspects of this book was tasteful and normalizing.  It allowed for confusion and interest and there was no stigma presented on page AT ALL, which honestly was the best part.  It is one thing to put a queer romance to the page, it is another to make it seem just  as mundane and cute as any other … almost as if … it is just romance!

I think this would be a good read for the younger folks who read YA, although I will throw out the caveat that it does have a fair bit of violence in it so make sure your kid is okay with that. The reason I am saying that it would benefit younger readers more than older is that The Tox is a thinly veiled metaphor for puberty.  It would be a great way to engage with a younger reader who feels like … wait for it … their body is not their own (i.e. your arms are too long and your hips are too wide and you feel a bit weird and off sometimes).  It is a great way to open up discussion, especially with a fantastic and extreme counter point (at least you don’t have a second spine growing out of your back!)

This isn’t going to be a book for every kid.  I think that it could be great for some, but overall it is just okay.

Would I tell you not to buy it?  Of course not.  I am going to keep it as there will be times when it would be the right book to recommend to someone, I am just unsure that it will be a go to book to hand out at every chance I get.  I’m also not positive it will hold the test of time and remain a staple both in the cannon and  in young adult literature at large.

I did read this book with my book club and we will be posting a podcast episode with a full discussion.  If you don’t mind some plot spoilers and zany antics, then look for the episode on Bibliomancy for Beginners.

It has been a hot minute since I have posted on here.  This is partially because I have been struggling in my real world life.  I miss talking about books with you all and I hope to jump back on the band wagon.  My goal is to post once a week. I don’t know yet if I want to set a specific day, but once a week is going to be the goal.

Talk to you again soon!

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Adult, Books, Musings

Try a Chapter Tag

I don’t know if this tag has made its way to the blogging community (probably because I am super late to be posting this here … HA!) but the premise is simple.  Pick some books from your shelves that have been sitting unread and read the first chapter.

This is a great tag for people in reading slumps or who are so excited about too many books and need to pick one… as long as you pick one and don’t keep cycling books chapter by chapter.

 

I tried to step my editing game up a bit with this one.  I have been trying to push myself not only here but in all aspects of my life.  I am tired of being sad and mopey, it is time to stand tall and be proud of the things that I do.

Adult, Books, Comics, Musings, YA (Young Adult)

Summer Reading Wrap Up

So it has been a while since I have wrapped up the books I have read.  Not only has it been difficult for Gretchen and I to get together all summer for various reasons (time conflicts, mental health, internet being actual butts) so you weren’t getting weekly wrap ups in any way but I have been completely nonexistent on the blog.  Which we all know I am attempting to change here and now… hopefully forever, but no promises.

In any case I am going to try and talk a bit about all of the books I have read in June, July, and August.

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This was the first book for book club this season so there is a full discussion on it here!  I loved this.  I still feel that way.  It did seem to check all of the boxes of things that Michaela would like though.  So if you feel very strongly that we are akin then definitely check this out.

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This was an ARC review I did back in June.  It wasn’t my favorite book I’ve read this year but I definitely did enjoy it.  I had heard of Lisa Jewell as an author and this was my first of hers.  I think that I will look into some of her other work.  She is a bit more commercial than I usually go for but not bad by any means.

The second book club book was Gretchen’s pick and I was super not a fan.  That could have been due to the fact that I was super ill at the time of reading it but I kind of hated it.

Next we kicked off the second season of Nostalgia Junkie.  Unfortunately the unanimous decision on this was that we weren’t super huge fans.  It may be that we just aren’t the target audience but we all had issues with it.

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Taylor’s pick for the first round of book club was a debut and we all really liked it.  It was surprising because it takes a really good book to win all three of us over.  This one did it so you should definitely check that out!

Gretchen and I read Nimona together and we did a video review of it for you guys.  It was super cute and sweet and we completely understood why so many people loved it.  I have followed Noelle Stevenson for a while and new she is a cookie to pay attention to in comics.  Watch her.  She will do great things.


I started the second round of summer book club picks with Middlesex.  Taylor was the one who liked this book the most, Gretchen and I had a bit of an issue with the way it was laid out. You should watch the whole discussion to find out more.

I have to say that I do so love Patton Oswalt.  I haven’t spoken about this anywhere else.  It was a pick for my pop sugar challenge and I listened to it on audio, read by the man himself.  It is always great to listen to autobiographical works when written by the author and especially so when he is as awkward and nerdy as you.

Now we find ourselves in the books I read for booktubeathon.  This was my pick for the book I would only read at night.  I both read the physical edition and listened to parts on audio.  I actually wound up enjoying it more than I thought I would.  It also fulfilled the requirement of a book that is more than 100 years older than me for the Pop Sugar challenge.

This was listened to entirely on audio.  I was conflicted with this.  I was expecting a bit of a funnier story from Steve Martin.  That isn’t to say I wasn’t a fan of his writing style, it just caught me off guard.  It was about a community that I haven’t spent much time learning about so I did enjoy that aspect of it.

This one will be featured in an upcoming post so look out for that.  It was a book with yellow on the cover and a book I learned about from booktube.  I ended up really enjoying this one though it took me a while to decide that.  It was definitely one the the end justified the rest of the book for me.  I like what it was saying politically.

This was both Taylor and my own book to movie adaptation and we both came out of it feeling like … welp that was a mess.  I think it was meant to be a mess.  It was really entertaining but all over the place.  We both enjoyed it but were mildly disoriented by the experience.  Which I think is apt.


I reviewed this one on the blog yesterday actually!  So here we have an interesting new comic coming from Image.  We all know how much I love Image.  If you like robots and stories that ask what it means to be human then definitely give this one a go.

Gretchen and I did a discussion of this one but the audio ended up being a bit borked.  Over all I enjoyed the experience.  It read a bit like fanfiction but it was nice to dip back into a world that I loved as a child.  I am curious to see if watching it as a play would be better than reading it if I ever get a chance to do so.

David Wong is a comic god.  Well, he is.  This one isn’t my favorite of his works but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good book and he isn’t a good writer.  I loved hearing from a female protagonist it did change the way the story progressed for me.  If you like science fiction and laughing, give this one a go.

There will be a future review of this one on the blog as well.  Gretchen and I have already filmed it, it just needs to make its way out into the world.  We enjoyed listening to the audio book but we didn’t feel like it ended up doing for us what it was trying to. It was a delight to listen to though so there is that.

This book is most likely going to be in my top 10 books of the year.  It honestly blew me away.  It will also be featured in an upcoming review.  I went into this book skeptical and came out just amazed.  She was able to do so much and so well.  I loved it.  A must read in my opinion.

This was a comic that I picked up based on Taylor’s recommendation.  He had really enjoyed it or had heard good things about it, I am not certain which at this point but I picked it up.  It wasn’t my favorite comic but it did go somewhere entirely unexpected and I give it props for that.

And now we reach the last book I read in August which happens to be Gretchen’s pick for the second round of book club.  This showed up on the blog earlier this week so you can find our discussion of it there.  I enjoyed it, even if much of that video is us picking apart the book.  Sometimes you just have to say, it was a fun experience.

Apparently I have read 19 books in the last three months… which honestly amazes me since I have been struggling to read.  A lot of them were audio books and a good chunk were thanks to the booktubeathon but hey they were things that I read.  I have been reading more in the last couple weeks so the hope is that I am feeling safer in myself again and will be able to read a whole bunch more and talk about it with you guys.  That is the hope anyway.

As far as my reading challenges go:

Goodreads: 66/50 surpassed!
Pop Sugar: 27/40 (13 left I think I can do it!)

How are you guys doing after the summer?  Are you excited for fall.  It is my favorite season and I am in the mood for all of the Horror books!  I need a bunch of cider and pumpkin bread and some crisp fall air and I will be a happy girl.

Talk to you guys tomorrow!

Adult, Books

The Circle by Dave Eggers Review

Pop Sugar Challenge Update: 9/40
A Book From the Library

I was going to write out this review as a normal blog post and then realized how silly it would be.  Honestly I probably should have live streamed this review if I was trying to accurately follow the themes of the book but a video will have to suffice for now.

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Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
Publisher: Knopf
Page #: 508
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia/Utopia

Tomorrow I will have a review of a young adult novel so if you are a YA fan do look out for that.  I know I don’t read it as much any more, mostly I only read it when Gretchen tells me to but I do still occasionally dip into it on my own.

 

Adult, Books

新年快乐! The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu Review

Happy Lunar New Year guys!  I hope you are wearing red and eating lots of dumplings tonight!  Its time for the year of the monkey and in honor of the new year starting I thought I would review a book translated from Chinese!  I hope you enjoy and don’t mind me butchering the Chinese language, I’m still learning.  Plus, I’m a little bit rusty.

Pop Sugar Reading Challenge Update: 8/40
A Science-Fiction Novel!

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Title: The Three-Body Problem
Author: Cixin Liu
Translator: Ken Liu
Publisher: Tor Books
Page #: 400
Genre: Science Fiction

I always worry that I don’t get my point across in video reviews but I need to keep doing them in order to get better!  Gretchen and I will be back tomorrow with our #readyourowndamnbooks TBR/Haul so do look out for that!

 

Adult, Books

Alternate by Ernie Luis ARC Review

I requested and received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review!

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Title: Alternate: The Complete Omnibus Edition
Author: Ernie Luis
Publisher: Self Published
Page #: 206
Genre: Science Fiction

I have three words for you. Time travelling assassins. If that doesn’t make you want to read this book I don’t know what will.

Alternate is a novel in four parts. The first of which was very obviously a short story on its own. It contains a complete arc and ends in such a way that a short story would, complete, final. The next three sections just continue that story line. We open with Grey ruminating on the loss of his daughter while drinking. As the story unfolds we get to see where that loss leads him.

I have to say that I really liked this story. It was fast paced and interesting. I enjoyed the concept. I think it did a wonderful job exploring the themes of loss when combined with time travel. Time travel stories so often are tied with loss. What is the most common thing someone would do if given the opportunity? Save a loved one.

While I enjoyed some of these characters story lines. I did feel like it became a bit repetitive at times. I understand why that repetition exists, its how these characters were brought together, but there are only so many losses that would bring people to do this kind of work, to be this desperate in their lives.

I think my favorite part of this was the fact that for a portion of the book toward the end, you aren’t really sure who the good guys are. You know who the ultimate bad guy is, but there are two factions of good guys who are fighting each other while both fighting the big bad. It was definitely an interesting take.

It brings up the question of whether or not time travel is worth it in the end which is something you will have to find out by reading the book for yourself.

I hope you guys enjoyed this review.  I will be back tomorrow with a special new feature!  Get excited.  I’m hyped.

 

Adult, Books

Uncommon Bodies Anthology ARC Review

I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review!

This book is already published if you want to read it by all means pick up a copy!

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Title: Uncommon Bodies
Author: Anthology (full list of authors on Goodreads)
Publisher: Fighting Monkey Press
Page #: 300
Genre: Short Story Collection

I spent a long time trying to figure out how I would review this collection. It is difficult enough to review a collection of short stories written by one author, but when there are so many people writing so many pieces the challenge becomes ever greater. I feel as if that is the beauty of this anthology though. There are so many different stories in it. Some of them I was confused by, others I was awed. Some terrified me and others had me sighing at the adorable protagonist and their love interest. All of these things are held in one book and I was dumbfounded as to how I could sum it all up, and perhaps I can’t.

I’m not going to go through all 20 stories, it would take me forever and I doubt anyone would want to read that so I will do my best to discuss what I think was done really well here, and what I think could have been improved upon.

As far as the collection as a whole goes, I definitely think that it had a great breadth of pieces. I also appreciated how many of the pieces were incredibly inclusive not only because of its seamless discussion of common ailment, disfigurements, and disabilities along side mythical or magical creatures, but its inclusion of different sexualities. I actually thought the relation of physical “deformity” with non-hetero-normative sexuality identification incredibly interesting and if I could go into more detail without spoiling you I would. It is perhaps something I will write a paper on at some point in my life.

I am not sure, however, whether or not I liked the order in which these stories were curated. The breadth of the tones and genres in here is astounding for sure but it was a little difficult for me to go from a romantic story to a horror story to a poem to something else entirely. While I feel like it does allow the book to keep the stories separate from each other it is also a little jarring.

If you want to know some of my favorite stories in the bunch then I would say that the opening and closing stories, We is We by Michael Harris Cohen and Scars: First Session by Jordanne Fuller were incredibly poignant. I think they book end this collection incredibly well. The first was moving in its portrayal of the duality of opinions in conjoined twins. Whether or not it is better to be a spectacle behind the glass or experience the real world. The latter was an incredible story about over coming years of mental and physical abuse. I also want to shout out Undead Cyborg Girl by Kim Wells for its ability to make me laugh and awe on cue.

Stories that I found uncomfortable were mainly only uncomfortable because they were not my preferred style of story. All The Devils by Keira Michelle Telford read a bit like Jack the Ripper fanfiction to me, not only because of its erotic overtones, but because the writing wasn’t pushed as far as I thought some of the other stories were, and Reserved by SM Johnson was equally uncomfortable but only because of the over-sexualization to the point of fetishization of disability. Now I don’t have a disability and I cannot say whether these stories accurately or inaccurately portray such fetishization because of this, but it made me uncomfortable and I would put that forward as my only grievance.

The stories were interesting enough to keep me engaged. I was able to read two or three a day and finish it within a week. If you have an interest in magical realism there is plenty of that in here for you, if you have an interest in connections between perceived deformity and assumed deformity I think this also has some interesting comments.

Overall I really enjoyed the collection and would recommend it to you all if you haven’t already to look into it!

Books, Musings

Happy New Year! 2015 Wrap Up and Top 5 Books!

Hey Guys, I have a two week streak of having posts for you.  Three times a week at least, no less.  I’m going to try and keep this up.  I’m working really hard.  Speaking of working hard, I edited three videos this week all pertaining to the year as a whole.

You will find two of those videos below but the last can only be found over on Gretchen’s Blog so please go check it out!

In this first video I talk all about the year as it pertains to you guys here on my blog as well as tell you my Top 5 Books for the year:

On top of that, Gretchen and I got together to talk about all of the things we have done together this year including: our book club videos and everything to do with Betwixt the Books.

How was your year?

What were your favorite books this year?

I hope you guys are looking forward to the new year and I hope its a good one for you!

Happy New Year!

Adult, Books

This Book is Full of Spiders by David Wong Book Review

You remember when I wrote book reviews, me too.  Let’s do that again.

Title: This Book is Full of Spiders
Author: David Wong (pseudonym of Jason Pargin)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Page #: 406
Genre: Horror, Humor, Science Fiction

This is the Sequel to John Dies at the End.  Actually, the last legit review that I posted was Taylor’s take on the first book in this series or if you want my opinion from earlier this year you can read that as well.

As far as sequels go I think that this definitely keeps the tone of the first book, it is equally terrifying and hysterical.  However as far as structure goes this book is completely different.  Where as the first book was more or less chronological you knew that the story was progressing linearly even if it was more like two lines that you jump back and forth between you had no idea what was going to happen plot wise.  Events were happening left and right that kept you feeling completely overwhelmed much like the characters were.  In this novel the events are very straight forward and make sense but the timeline of the novel is all kinds of messed up.

You jump forward and back in time to meet with different characters as they travel which I think is how you are able to get a handle on what is going to happen next in the story.  There is a very clear trajectory here you just might not read it in order per say.  That isn’t to say that you read something that happens days earlier, its more a few hours but still enough to give you a handle on what is going to happen while keeping you slightly off balance.

I think that part of the charm of these books are the characters.  They are so delightfully flawed.  These are not heroes, they aren’t really antiheroes, they are just normal guys who have been given some sort of higher purpose and they muck up so much that you kind of watch all of these events occurring with a sense of dread settling into your stomach the entire time.  They swear and fail and freak out in all the right ways.

It somehow manages to feel completely plausible while being completely outrageous and I sort of love it.

Plot wise you wouldn’t necessarily have to have read the first in the series because it isn’t so much a continuation of a line of events as another snap shot in David and John’s lives.  However I think that both are outstanding books and should be given a chance.  If you think the structure of this book is more to your liking then by all means read it first.

There will apparently be another installment in this series next year some time and I honestly can’t wait.  While these books will never make it into the literary cannon of classics I think that they have a firm place among the cult classics.  One of the best contemporary series I have read.  Go pick up these books if you haven’t already.  Seriously!  Go do it!

 

Adult, Bibliomancy For Beginners, Books

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury Book Review (Bibliomancy for Beginners)

Classic science fiction corner with the Bibliomancers:

Title: The Martian Chonicles
Author: Ray Bradbury
Publisher: Bantam/Spectra
Page #: 182
Genre: Science Fiction

 

 

Next week we will be discussing John Dies at the End by David Wong.  You should read it and meet us next Tuesday at 8:30 to discuss it!

Friday I am going to post a review for Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store so look forward to much gushing!