My Plain Jane

I really really really wanted to like this one. I LOVED My Lady Jane. I remember spending a sick day last winter cackling on my couch reading My Lady Jane while my pup snuggled up with me. While My Plain Jane wasn’t bad, it did not have the same effect. It might help that I was only vaguely familiar with the story of Jane Grey, so didn’t care about any character or plot changes, whereas with My Plain Jane I remembered enough about Jane Eyre for the story to bug me. I kept Googling characters or events in the book to see if it was in the original. Even though I KNOW the whole point is that the authors are turning Jane Eyre on its head.

Okay, onto the summary. Jane is a plain, penniless student at Lowood school where she meets fellow student Charotte Bronte. When Ghost Catchers come to the nearby town, Charlotte is fascinated, while Jane is disgusted. Yes, Jane can see dead people. And, she likes it. Soon, Alexander Blackwood, the Ghost Catcher is trying to persuade Jane to join his league, but Jane refuses and becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall. Sure she can convince Jane to accept the position, Charlotte tags along on the quest to hire Jane Eyre. Many of the standard antics occur, but with a supernatural twist.

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

You guys! This was so good! Grab your popcorn and your wine and maybe some chocolate, and have yourself a relaxing movie night this weekend. I really hope they continue and make the second and third books into movies too. While I really enjoyed the movie, and am so happy Netflix is bringing Rom-Coms back, I had a few quibbles.

In the book, you see more of Lara Jean, the baker/introvert. Reading and listening to the books always made me hungry, and inspired me to bake chocolate chip cookies. I didn’t get that vibe from the movie, which I think is a little unfortunate. You also don’t get the same wholesome, sisterly feel. In the books, Peter is super sweet to Kitty, which is sort of shown, but not as much as I was hoping for. Admittedly, I was also cross stitching while watching so I might have missed things.

Lastly, the actors who play Josh and Peter look way too much alike, which was confusing for me in the beginning.

Otherwise, the movie was excellent and I think everyone should watch it while they can. But first, read the books, because they are excellent.

Daughter of the Pirate King and Siren Queen

I’d been meaning to read Daughter of the Pirate King for a while now. I believe I even entered a giveaway for the book in Goodreads when it was first coming out. Obviously, I didn’t read it then. But… it seemed like the perfect fit for one of my reading challenge prompts this year: A book set at sea. Especially since I have no interest in reading one of those Master and Commander books that were so popular a while back.

While I can’t say Daughter of the Pirate King is fantastically written, it certainly sucked me in! I love how different Alosa is from other heroines. She takes no crap, and has no qualms about killing, yet she’s someone you root for, and her loyalty to her crew shines through. I’m not sure I’d like to be her friend, but I can appreciate reading about her! The romance between her and Riden is also pretty electric. Their scenes are riddled with sexual tension. Which I love.

As soon as I finished Daughter of the Pirate King I went searching for the newly published sequel: Daughter of the Siren Queen. Luckily I was able to nab a copy the next day. While I tore through Daughter of the Siren Queen in a day, there was something missing and I can’t quite decide what that something is. Alosa’s badass character was not quite herself and the sexual tension between Also and Riden wasn’t quite there this time around. I can’t point to particular passages, but it didn’t have the same grab for me.

With that said, I’m really hoping there is as third (and final) installment, so we can get Alosa and Riden’s, and the rest of the Ava-Lee’s, story wrapped up. I want to know what they are off to do next! And what crazy creatures they might run into this time.

Graphics

Graphic novels are not my forte. However, I read a few this fall, including Wonder Woman, which I already blogged about.

In addition to Wonder Woman I read the first Amulet book, The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi in September. When I worked at the school library in Louisiana back in 2011 and 2012, all the kids read Amulet. I could not keep those in stock or in good condition. However, I personally never had an interest in reading the series.

I have to say, I still don’t really have an interest, but it was a slow evening in September and a kid returned a copy, so I decided I should finally give it a go. The artwork is lovely, but for me, the story is too weird. The world they are in is full of talking robot things and moving houses and eerie landscapes. I guess I see the kid appeal, but it’s not for me.

Last week I read Spinning by Tillie Walden as my book about sports for Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. Spinning got a lot of buzz, and I have no interest in reading about football or baseball, so it seemed like the perfect solution. Spinning is ostensibly about Walden’s figure skating youth with practices before and after school, but it’s also about depression, sexuality, and being a high schooler. I found the subject interesting, but there were so many random asides and spreads it was hard for me to keep track of the plot. Mostly, I impressed that Walden wrote this at such a young age!

 

Airplane Reads

My husband and I flew out east for a wedding/leaf peeping trip (what a weird phrase, by the way) last weekend and I devoured two different YA books. YA books are the best for flying, I’ve found. At least the fluffy ones.

On the plane ride out I read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. A year or so ago I read This is What Happy Looks Like so I knew what I was getting into with Love at First Sight. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is the story of Hadley and Oliver, who meet by chance (Hadley missed her flight and was put on Oliver’s) at an airport and find themselves sitting next to each other on the trip from New York to London. As the title suggests, they fall in love. It’s a very sweet story, and exactly what I was looking for, so I forgave the too-quickly-wrapped-up-ending. The sweet love story and the angsty family drama play off each other nicely and I imagine would have been very appealing to teen me (it certainly appealed to adult me, so I have to assume).

On the plane ride back, I read Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson and even downloaded the sequel, Rebel Magisters on overdrive during our layover. Rebel Mechanics introduces us to an alternate universe. What if the British ruling class were magic, and that’s why they controlled the colonies? If that happened the American Revolution would not have turned out the way we know it today. What if, the Industrial Revolution occurred because the non-magical people were finding ways to build machinery that would give them the same sort of power as the Magisters (the magical people)?

I don’t think I’ve ever officially read a Steampunk novel before and I loved the concept! The writing and the characters certainly left something to be desired. Which is unfortunate. Rebel Mechanics is a very clean and chaste YA novel. Not that all romances need bosom heaving, but this one seemed particularly full of romantic tension and I kept waiting for characters to make moves, and it was very frustrating. Kiss! Declare your feelings! At least hug. It doesn’t help that the characters themselves reminded me a lot of those found in The Pink Carnation series, which is for adults and therefore the romance has more adult content. So with that comparison in mind, I kept waiting for things to happen (that never did).

My guess is that Rebel Mechanics did not perform well sales wise, as according to Goodreads, the sequel was self-published. And you can tell. Although that didn’t stop me from reading the two books in two days.

I originally checked out The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and Rebel Mechanics for the “book with a red spine” category on the PopSugar Reading Challenge. In the end, I used The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight for the “book involving travel” category, Rebel Mechanics for the “book with a red spine category” and Rebel Magisters for “a steampunk novel.”  

I believe I originally had Rich People Problems as my “book involving travel,” but The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight seemed more fitting. I like to play around with the categories as I read and fill in the slots. So many can fit for so many different categories!

I Hate Everyone But You

I have many thoughts on I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin, so let’s see if I can make sense of them.

Told in a series of texts and emails it was hard to distinguish characters at first. Once I got over that I got sucked in to the story. On the one hand, nobody is a particularly likable person and the love interests are pretty terrible. However, at 18 you aren’t always a very nice person and we all make questionable romantic choices at first. Both Gen and Ava are relatable in their own way (one has anxiety and some other mental health concerns, while the other is discovering her sexuality and the queer community) and the novel addresses issues that many teens are facing/will face as they mature in a way I don’t think many other novels address.

The only downside (or I suppose you could say it’s a positive) is that without chapters there’s no good stopping point. Because of this I ended reading the whole thing in one day.

Gaby and Allison also have a pretty popular YouTube channel, which I tried watching after reading, and I have to say, I like the book a lot more.

PopSugar 2017 Roundup

For reference, here’s the Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

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I loved this book. It took me a moment to get into the swing of the story, what with slightly fantastical elements, but once I got there I was hooked! I’m being lazy and don’t want to write a summary of the plot, so I’m going to copy and paste the Goodreads plot summary:

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.   

If I were a better writer, this is what I’d want my book to look like. I am an admitted over user of parenthesis and I love all the snarky asides. I can’t wait until the other Lady Janie books come out! What will these crazy ladies come up with for Jane Eyre and Calamity Jane. My only complaint: I wish there was a little bit more romance between Jane and G.

I haven’t decided if this book will fit in book written by multiple authors, book about a mythical creature, or book with a character’s name in the title. I currently have it in character’s name, but it can fit so many slots, I’ll decide at the end of the year where it’s needed most.

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Lauren Willig and Beatriz Williams

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I downloaded this book the same time I downloaded Maybe in Another Life but I could not get into it! I read the first page a dozen times over the course of two weeks. It wasn’t until I checked out the large print version at work one day that I made any progress. However, once I made progress I was hooked.

New York Times bestselling authors Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig present a masterful collaboration—a rich, multigenerational novel of love and loss that spans half a century….1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.

Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel’s portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate?  And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother?  In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known.  But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room?

The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers.

This book requires its readers to suspend their disbelief, because the plot really is outlandish. But, that’s okay. It was just the right amount of romance and history and drama for me. Many Goodreads reviewers say they got confused about characters and who belonged to who. Maybe I read more multi generational or multi perspective stories than the average person, but I found keeping track of the plot and characters simple, once I got into the story.

Again, this book can fit multiple Popsugar categories: Written by more than one author, takes place during war time, and a book set in two different time periods. Again, I have multiple titles for many of these categories so I’m going to wait and see.

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann

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I’ve read many young adult novels in verse and many children’s poetry collections, but never (at least to my recollection) a young adult collection of poetry. For a book review article I wrote for April, which happens to be National Poetry Month, I read Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann. Each poem is based on a fairy tale and retold from the perspective of a teenager (usually teenage girl). Many of the poems focus on body image and weight and the ridiculous headlines found in teen (and women’s) magazines. One of my favorites is

Sleeping Beauty’s Wedding Day

After the kiss and the trip to the castle comes the

showering, shaving, shampooing, conditioning, detangling, trimming,

moussing, blow-drying, brushing, curling, de-frizzing, extending, texturizing,

waxing, exfoliating, moisturizing, tanning, medicating, plucking, concealing, smoothing,

bronzing, lash lengthening, plumping, polishing, glossing, deodorizing, perfuming,

reducing, cinching, controlling, padding, accessorizing, visualizing, meditating,

powdering, primping, luminizing, correcting, re-curling, re-glossing, and spraying.

No wonder that hundred-year nap

just doesn’t seem long enough.

I have to admit, I didn’t love all the poems and many were a little too angsty for my preference, but it was definitely interesting! Also, I love fairy tales.

I’m putting this collection in a Bestseller from a genre you don’t normally read. I’m not positive it was a bestseller, but it was included as a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Poetry in 2014, which implies it was as popular/bestselling book of poetry.