Friday, 27 October 2017

F*ck Love by Tarryn Fisher

F*ck Love
by Tarryn Fisher
Summary: Helena Conway has fallen in love.

Unwillingly. Unwittingly.

But not unprovoked.

Kit Isley is everything she’s not—unstructured, untethered, and not even a little bit careful.

It could all be so beautiful…if he wasn’t dating her best friend.

Helena must defy her heart, do the right thing, and think of others. Until she doesn’t.
In case it wasn't obvious by now, I have a soft spot for angsty romances. Even if the characters frustrate me, even if their choices are too stupid to justify, even if a teeny tiny part of me is rooting for the couple to get the hell over each other and move onto something healthier than their obsession with each other...I still love angsty romances.

They're addictive, and when they're done right, they hit me right in the feels and I can't help but go on an emotional roller coaster right along with the characters. Character is happy? My face'll hurt from smiling. Character is angry? I'll want to throw the book in solidarity. Character is hurting? My heart will be aching right along with them.

And this delivered all of that. It's not the most amazing book I've read, but I really enjoyed it.

It was surprisingly funny and it was one of those rare romances that doesn't use sex as a crutch or a substitute for really developing the relationship between characters.

And the characters? I really liked them. I loved Helena and Kit, and I really liked the side characters.

Did the book have its issues? Sure. But it never bored me -- I picked it up and didn't stop reading until I was done and I'd devoted a few hours of time to read it cover to cover. It had some girl hate in the form of a toxic friendship, but it made up for it with other positive female friendships and I liked that.

Genuinely the only part of the book I'd say I really didn't like at all was this section with a character named Muslim, which just seemed sloppy and felt thoroughly out of place in the story (I don't know if it was a cameo of a character from another of the authors books?).

But yeah, other than that, I really enjoyed this one. I'd rate it 4 out of 5 stars for not only being the first book in weeks I've managed to finish but for holding my interest enough that I read it in one sitting. I'm definitely going to be checking out some of the authors other books when I need to claw my way out of a reading slump.


Thursday, 26 October 2017

Roomhate by Penelope Ward

by Penelope Ward

Summary: Sharing a summer house with a hot-as-hell roommate should be a dream come true, right?

Not when it’s Justin…the only person I’d ever loved…who now hates me.

When my grandmother died and left me half of the house on Aquidneck Island, there was a catch: the other half would go to the boy she helped raise. The same boy who turned into the teenager whose heart I broke years ago. The same teenager who’s now a man with a hard body and a hardass personality to match.

I hadn’t seen him in years, and now we’re living together because neither one of us is willing to give up the house. The worst part? He didn’t come alone.

I’d soon realize there’s a thin line between love and hate. I could see through that smug smile. Beneath it all…the boy is still there. So is our connection. The problem is…now that I can’t have Justin, I’ve never wanted him more.
This book has been in my Kindle TBR for ages, it sounded fun and I went into it just wanting to be hooked by a classic hate-to-love trope-y romance.

And this book did deliver what I wanted. Sort of. It did have me hooked and I did really like it. And the hate-to-love trope? It was there, though not the best I've read. But it just lacked a certain spark -- it didn't give me that ache in my chest that I get when I'm reading a book I'm so thoroughly emotionally invested in that I'm feeling so much empathy towards the characters. This was just dull echoes of emotion I was getting, when I wanted to feel all of the things, if that makes sense?

The plot took me by surprise. It really wasn't what I was expecting. I actually ended up really loving those unexpected plot elements, even though they're things that might've put me off reading the book had I known about them beforehand. The things I thought I wouldn't have wanted in the story ended up being some of the things I loved most.

I think another issue I had was that 99% of their issues could be solved if they just used their words. Which, granted, is often the case in romance books. Miscommunication is one of the most utilized plot devices and it doesn't always bug me, but in this one it did because their justifications for not communicating better were pretty weak.

And on the topic of weakness, the main character was pretty weak too. Not in terms of strength, but her character. She had no real personality. Or at least that's how it felt when reading. It was almost like she didn't exist in the years when she wasn't with him, the only bits of her life without him were thrown in their for convenience rather than to make her a more fleshed out and believable character.

We find out about one friend and an ex boyfriend. But nothing really beyond them. I can't even really think of anything about her as a character, a like or a dislike or something but all I've got is that she likes seafood.

Also, the sex scenes in this made me cringe a bit. I think there was only one scene like that that didn't make me cringe. It wasn't that they were necessarily badly written exactly, I just didn't like them.

...I don't know why, whenever I'm reviewing a book like this, my review ends up way more negative than my rating. Because I did actually like this one. I had some issues with it, but I sped through it quickly and there were parts of it I genuinely loved (and I really liked that it didn't play the catty girl hate card), it just wasn't a favourite. I'd rate it 3 stars out of 5.


Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Rival by Penelope Douglas

by Penelope Douglas

Summary: Madoc and Fallon. Two estranged teenagers playing games that push the boundaries between love and war…

She’s back.

For the two years she’s been away at boarding school, there was no word from her. Back when we lived in the same house, she used to cut me down during the day and then leave her door open for me at night.

I was stupid then, but now I’m ready to beat her at her own game…

I’m back.

Two years and I can tell he still wants me, even if he acts like he’s better than me.

But I won’t be scared away. Or pushed down. I’ll call his bluff and fight back. That’s what he wants, right? As long as I keep my guard up, he’ll never know how much he affects me….
So I've been reading quite a few books like this recently. I have such a love/hate relationship with them. When I'm in a reading slump, only certain books can pull me of it (usually romance books of some sort because they're fun, they're addictive and they're more often than not quite predictable but in a good way).

Books like this are on the list of good reading slump books for me. And the love/hate thing? This one was no exception. The problem is, there's usually a downside to these books (maybe I'm just finding the wrong ones?) and that downside tends to come in the form of girl hate, awful girl stereotypes, borderline problematic love interests and occasionally toxic relationships that you probably shouldn't root for but can't quite help it.

This one featured one of my favourite romance tropes: the hate-turns-to-love thing, with lots of snark and arguing and chemistry. And it also featured a lot of those down sides I mentioned, though not quite as extreme as some I've read.

My biggest issue was that this was one of those cases where it seemed like it was aiming for the kind of bad boy player trope, but sometimes it strays into just actual bad guy territory with his toxic arrogance (for example, there's a scene where the love interest, in his POV, makes an internal comment about when he will start having kids and basically says that the mother of those kids will agree to it because no one says no to him...which is just - no).

My review of this book has kind of turned more into a general rant/discussion of a pattern I keep seeing in books from this genre (again, I'm probably just reading the wrong ones, maybe there's some fantastic ones out there that don't do these things)... But that's because I don't really have all that much to say about this specific book.

I'm in a reading slump, but I managed to read this in one sitting. It hooked me, it's fast paced and it kept me entertained. I really enjoyed the friendships and the characters. It was pretty much what I expected it to be (and it actually touched on a subject I wasn't expecting it to, but in a good way because it should be represented more).

Basically, I did actually really enjoy this book. I think I've read two? maybe three? of the authors books now and I can genuinely say I'm a fan. But I know a lot of people who would be so angry reading a book like this, so I'd only recommend it if you can tolerate the issues I mentioned in this review (if books like Beautiful Disaster are your kind of thing, this one and the first book--a companion to this--will probably be right up your street).

I'd rate this one 3.5 stars out of 5.


Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Top Ten Unique Book Titles

The topic of this weeks Top Ten Tuesday is pretty self-explanatory really, so let's just jump right in.

I love book titles. I have been swayed into buying a book or even put off buying a book, purely based on the title before. I write too, so I know how difficult it can be to find something that is unique and something that fits the story, and how good it feels when you come up with the one that is just right.

I'm not sure if all of these are necessarily unique book titles, but they do stand out to me as distinctive and memorable. I've noticed (many people have probably noticed really) the book title trend in YA over the past few years...they all tend to follow the same kind of pattern, and it's made titles that used to seem unique and beautiful all kind of blend together and become easy to mix up.

But these ones, I think, are still holding their own (though not all YA and not all recent). In no particular order:

1. Like Water for Chocolate - I'm pretty sure this is an expression that makes more sense untranslated (or at least when you understand the origin of it), but I still love it as a title even if I don't really fully understand it. 

2. The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night - This one is just so satisfying to say, almost tongue twister-y and poetic. It's like two unrelated sentences have been smooshed together and it leaves me wanted to pick up the book to find out why, why that title, what's the context. And even if it turned out to be just a pretty, quirky title, with little or no relevance to the book I'd like it still...for being a pretty, quirky title.

3. Exit, Pursued by a Bear - This one is perfect. It puts a more sinister twist on the famous Shakespeare stage direction, when you have the context of the story. 

4. Strange the Dreamer - Strange the title. I don't know why I love this one, but I really love it. It stuck in my head like a catchy song I can't stop singing. Laini's titles are awesome in general, Daughter of Smoke and Bone would've made the list but that kind of title is trendy now.

5. Eyes Like Stars/Perchance to Dream/So Silver Bright - I love the titles in this series. I love titles that are taken from quotes and these ones are catchy, memorable, and fitting with the story.

6. Turtles All the Way Down - John Green's titles in general are all pretty worthy of being on the list. They're all pretty memorable and distinctive and the titles usually tie in really well with the content of the book (although in this case, probably not literally). I've never heard a title like this one, it's odd and kind of beautiful in it's oddness. 

7. They Both Die at the End - I haven't read the book yet, so I don't know if it follows through on delivering the spoiler promised in the title, but it's a damn good title. Spoiling the end in the title? I love it. Especially given the context (how hurtful the Bury Your Gays Trope is), I don't know if Adam was deliberately confronting that trope with the title, but even if he wasn't, it still does it wonderfully.

8. There's Someone Inside Your House - This one. I don't like it as a title really, but I also kind of love it? It's odd. I think I love it because it reminds me of a scene from one of the only horrors to genuinely freak me out (if you're curious: When a Stranger Calls). It's wonderfully creepy and not the usual title style of horror novels.

9. Moxie and Illuminae - I'm lumping these two in together, because my reasoning for both is the same. In case it wasn't obvious from my list so far, one word titles aren't my thing. I like long titles. But these two, they've used words that fit their books, that are distinctive and not commonly used, and they're also ones that just...satisfying to say? 

10. You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson - This is the lone memoir on my list, but it's definitely one of my favourite memoir titles ever. I love that even if someone doesn't choose to read her book, she still manages to confront an aspect of racial ignorance with the title alone. 

Do you prefer long titles or short?


Monday, 23 October 2017

The Princess Bride: Book vs. Movie

I don't remember when I first saw The Princess Bride movie, but I remember loving it and it feels like I've loved it forever. I actually didn't realise it was a book until years after I'd first seen it, and it's one of those ones I've been meaning to read for such a long time but I kept putting it off because I was afraid it would be a disappointment in comparison to the movie.

When I was contact about doing a post for the 30th anniversary of the movie, I figured now was the time to finally read it and stop putting it off.

If you don't know what The Princess is about, here's a  summary:
What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be...well...a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad's recitation, and only the "good parts" reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He's reconstructed the "Good Parts Version" to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What's it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it's about everything.

Or, you could just watch the trailer:

So... Let's start with the easy part, shall we? The movie:

I don't have adequate words to fully describe my love for this movie. It's one of those movies that just makes me smile so much. The cast is fantastic, and it manages to simultaneously mock and celebrate fairytale tropes, getting the balance of each just right.

It's funny, it's fun, it's sweet. It's a love story, a fairytale, an adventure story, a pirate story, a revenge story -- basically, it's ALL OF THE THINGS. And it works as each thing individually but also as a perfect combination of all of them.

And the side characters? I adore the side characters so much. Few side characters win me over quite so thoroughly as Inigo and Fezzik did.

I think what I like most is that it doesn't take itself too seriously, and I loved that. You can accuse it of being ridiculous or cheesy or unrealistic, but it's supposed to be, it is all of those things and it's knowingly so. For some reason that makes it easy to not only forgive, but enjoy, things that would annoy me in other movies.

And it's timeless. Even the technical side of it...the special effects are comically dated now, but that actually really works in the movies favour rather than against it (see: the trailer for R.O.U.S's scene). And I think that's enough gushing specifically about the movie now.

The 30th anniversary edition DVD? It includes a bunch of extras that I really enjoyed. I particularly loved the behind the scenes documentary that went over their casting decisions and things (all of the Andre stuff made my heart hurt).

Now... The book:

(Answer: Yes. Yes it is. But that's not all it is.)

My thoughts on the book are a little bit more complex than my adoration of the movie. I will start off by saying this though: I did love it.

What I didn't like, at times, was the narration. 

Basically, in the book, the author has written a fictionalised version of himself into the story...and The Princess Bride is supposed to be a book by S. Morgenstern that he loved as a child and wrote an abridgement of. Of course, in reality, S. Morgenstern doesn't exist and Goldman is the author of the entire thing, and the version of himself in the book isn't the real version.

It's an interesting narrative style for sure, but where it went wrong for me was that Fictional-Goldman was really, really hard to like. 

The Fictional-Goldman is cynical and bitter. He would frequently body shame fat people (including his fictional son -- although in reality, he has daughters) and there's a couple of racist remarks, homophobia and a load of misogyny on his part. Fictional-Goldman seemed like a crappy human, is what I'm getting at (I'm sure Real-Goldman is a lovely dude though, because it seemed like he was deliberately writing his fictional self as unlikeable).

So. Having to read through his perspective and having him chime in on the story from time to time irritated me (his mid-story commentary wasn't all bad though, I'll admit, but some of it wasn't necessary).

But the actual Princess Bride bit? I still loved that part. Really, really loved that. And I went into it not expecting to gain much more from the book than I got from the movie, but I was proven wrong. 

We get more backstory on how Buttercup ended up engaged to Prince Humperdink, more info on Humperdink himself and the country. And we get more of Inigo and Fezzik too, more backstory, more scenes and I loved all of that.

So. Book vs. Movie: which is better?


I genuinely loved both. I think the execution of the narrative style worked better in the movie than the book, but the book also added a bit more depth to the story and characters that the movie couldn't manage to do given time and budget constraints.

I think that the movie is still my favourite, if for no other reason than I loved it first and it was so perfectly cast.

Also, as a side note on the book: personally, I adore the cover of this edition, but if you're going to buy a copy I'd recommend getting this one instead because it includes about 80 pages of extra content (sort of an epilogue/snippets of a would-be sequel called Buttercup's Baby).

Movie: 5/5 stars
Book: 4/5 stars (it really did just lose points due to my intense dislike of the narrator in the beginning of the story)



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