The Grace Year – ARC review

Author: Kim Liggett

Release Date: October 8, 2019

This just in: a good concept alone does not make a good book. Execution matters, and in this regard, The Grace Year fell flat.
 When I first heard about this book, pitched as Handmaid’s Tale meets Lord of the Flies, I was pretty damn excited. And when I got approved for it on NetGalley, I was absolutely thrilled. The start of the book had me enthralled. And then…it all fell apart. 

The premise of this book is pretty simple. In some messed-up society, the patriarchy is oppressive. Wives are chosen during a formal ceremony in which they have no say, all punishments are physical and public, and the body parts of dead girls are sold secretly for their alleged magical/medicinal properties. Women are told that they have dangerous magic that they develop in their teens, and that they need to get rid of that magic before they can marry their husbands. Thus, every year, after some of them are chosen by their future husbands, all the sixteen-year-old girls are taken to a remote island camp where they are left to their own devices for a full year, known as their Grace Year, allegedly to burn through all their “magic” so they can return “purified.” When Tierney leaves with her Grace Year’s cohort, she realizes what savagery the island brings out in the girls, and she begins to seriously question everything about her society’s priorities and beliefs.

At first glance, that’s such a good concept, right? The first quarter of this book fell right into that storyline, and it was stellar. There were deaths. There was blood and backstabbing. There were high stakes and divisions quickly drawn between cliques of girls. It was gritty and beautiful in its brutality. 

And at the start, I loved the protagonist. Tierney is a rebellious girl with exactly zero desire to get married. While other 30-ish girls in her year vie for the hands of just twelve eligible bachelors, she spends her time with her best friend Michael–who she knows will be engaged to the beautiful and popular Kiersten because of how powerful his family is–running about, climbing trees, and generally refusing to be a nice young lady. When she and the girls arrive on the island for their Grace Year, as the others devolve into chaos and drama, she throws her survival skills into action, building rain barrels and calculating ways to ration food. She reminded me a bit of Katniss from The Hunger Games, only instead of trying to feed her family, she is trying to maintain a sense of independence and self in a community that wants her to become a submissive nobody. She was the sort of kickass girl I wanted to root for, whip-smart and acting from logic, not emotions. A bit of an outsider, sometimes a loner, but not without her charm, and certainly full of kindness and sympathy when needed.

But, after a little time on the island, things change. Without spoiling too much, suffice to say a new character shows up, and with the arrival of this character, the plot swiftly falls apart. The ordinarily fierce Tierney suddenly ends up pulling a significant insta-love move on someone she thoroughly hated until that person’s motives proved kind. I can’t stand insta-love as it is, but it is a thousand times worse when it comes from a character who always seemed so strong and reasonable, and when that character has another, far more compatible love interest as well. And as a whole, the story becomes less about female empowerment and more about choosing your breed of domesticity, if that makes sense. It rubbed me the wrong way.

I will say, the book does a nice job of resolving the sort-of love triangle, without feeling too much like a cop-out. YA novels so frequently have unhealthy or disappointing depictions of love, but by the end, The Grace Year does manage to take a more nuanced feminist stance on all forms of love that is good for all parties involved.

One of my biggest annoyances was that,although the society depicted was fascinating, it didn’t feel fully realized. There was never really an explanation given for how things got to be the way they were. Because the town was very low-tech–no cars or TVs or even electricity that I can recall–it was hard to tell whether this was meant to be a dystopia, an isolated present-day village, something in the past, or something in a different world altogether. There is only one brief part that discusses the world beyond their society, and it is in minimal detail, so you can’t even tell what relationship they have with the outside world. Did they retreat from society? Do others respect them? Avoid them? Do the same thing as them? There was so much potential to build this world up, flesh it out, but instead the story let itself exist in a vacuum, which somewhat deadened the punch it could have packed.

A brief formatting note: for those of you who like your reading to be broken nicely into chapters, this one will be challenging. The book is divided into just five parts, each one shorter than the one before: one for each season of the Grace Year, and one for what happens when the girls return home at the year’s conclusion. While there are some spaces for whenever the story shifts in time or topic, there are not formal chapter designations beyond the aforementioned five. I guess it makes this a good binge read? But it also makes it hard to find a good stopping point when needed.

Speaking of those seasons, I have to say, the pacing in the book was weird. There were parts that felt way too long (including a lot with that aforementioned character who derails the plot), and there were others that I desperately wanted to see more of (like the politics of the girls in the camp, especially near the end of the year). Sometimes it felt very character-driven, and I loved the dynamics between all the girls, especially the clashes between Tierney and Kiersten, and the female friendships with side characters like Gertie. Others, it felt like the author realized the story wasn’t going anywhere, so she suddenly threw in a bunch of twists and betrayals and complications. Both pieces were good on their own, but they didn’t integrate very well with each other.

Finally, again not wanting to give much away: the ending felt too easy. Suddenly, you get to the last section and everything ties up with a neat little bow. All the mysteries are solved. People start to do some specific good things that you’ve spent the whole book waiting for them to do. It isn’t a happily-ever-after, but after the brutality of the early chapters, the end is a little too simple and a little too…smooth. It wasn’t bad. It was just weird.

Final random notes: 
– There was a hint of casual LGBTQ+ rep from a side character, which made me happy and definitely helped the book feel a bit more realistic.
– I got a bit annoyed…at times…just how frequently Tierney’s thoughts…had ellipses. Sometimes…I…understood why it was done stylistically…but others…it was not as good. And then the rambling would be interspersed with pity, profound statements that I’m sure will be all over every review of this book. Some were pretty good, like this one:
“That’s the problem with letting the light in–after it’s been taken away from you, it feels even darker than it was before.”

Others, like this, just made me wince:
“They can call it magic. I can call it madness. But one thing is certain. There is no grace here.”

Basically, this whole novel is the literary equivalent of someone taking a great cake recipe, then throwing in a bunch of other ingredients, swapping almond flour for the real stuff, throwing raisins in where they don’t belong, and not mixing it evenly. I try it because it sounds good, but it isn’t as good as I had hoped, and I leave with a bad taste in my mouth. I have no idea where that metaphor came from, but it feels right.

Thank you to St. Martin’s for providing me with an eARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Anything But Books tag

Oh boy, this is my first time actually being tagged in a book tag! I was tagged by tiffshea at Reading to Escape (thank you!!) to complete this series of questions on “anything but books,” so you can get a snapshot of what I do when my nose isn’t stuck between pages. Apologies in advance for my indecision on so many of these.

Name a cartoon character than you love.
Um…can I pick two? I love Squidward, from Spongebob, and Princess Carolyn, from BoJack Horseman. Both are highly relatable (unfortunately).

What is your favorite song right now?
“Sisyphus” by Andrew Bird or “Bulletproof Baby” by The Struts. These are liable to change at any moment.

What could you do for hours (that isn’t reading)?
I feel like “writing” is a cop-out, but seriously, especially when working on a technically tricky type of poetry, I get in my zone and lose track of time altogether. If I’m not allowed to say that, then I’ll go with “folding origami while listening to music/podcasts.” Or napping.

What is something you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?
I perform spoken word poetry, which I love. But more interestingly, I can rap. Like, pretty damn well. I have quite a few poetry videos, and I can probably dig up an old rap one somewhere…let me know in the comments if you would like to see some of those in a future post!

What is your favorite unnecessarily specific thing to learn about?
I have so many! Mental health conditions (common and rare alike), anything that has to do with interesting data manipulation or innovative data visualizations, sociopaths, ethics of AI…I’m all over the place.

What is something unusual you know how to do?
As I said before, I can write and perform raps, which is not super common (especially for a white girl). And, while not necessarily something I KNOW how to do, I have perfect pitch, so I can identify any note just by hearing it, or sing a specified pitch on command without a reference note.

Name something you’ve made in the last year (and show us, if you can).
This origami rhino with a little haiku on why it’s important to help them! I made it for GISH, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt, which I do every summer 😊

What is your most recent personal project?
This blog. Trying to get it going, post more regularly, get some more followers, etc. Well, that and preparing for the LSAT, but that’s a very loose interpretation of “personal project.”

Tell us something you think about often (possibly while staring out of windows).
How frequently humans squander potential because of indecision (myself included), the unstoppability of time, and how much exclusionists and asexual erasure annoy me.

Give us something that’s your favorite, but make it oddly specific.
Favorite Green Day album: American Idiot, obviously (closely followed by Revolution Radio and Dookie, with an honorable mention to Warning)

Say the first thing that pops into your head:
These boots were made for walking. (I just saw my cowboy boots on the floor, if you’re wondering what prompted that.)

So, that’s me beyond the pages of books! Hopefully you all learned something or were at least mildly entertained. I tag TBR And Beyond, Paperbacks and Planners, Life With All the Books, Wayfaring Bibliomaniac, and Dusk Angel Reads, as well as anyone else reading this who hasn’t been tagged yet but feels inclined to participate.

Top Ten Tuesday 8/27 – Books I’ve Read That I Want in My Personal Library

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic, as you probably gleaned from the post title, is books I’ve read that I want in my personal library. Because these aren’t necessarily just favorites (though some of them are), I have a little explanation for each one as well! Enjoy! (Note: these are in no particular order, so don’t take it as an indicator of priority.)

1. Spin the Dawn

Yes, it’s an awesome story–one of my favorites this year–but also, just look at that cover!!

2. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

I actually already own at least three different editions of this book, but I will always take more. It’s been an all-time favorite since the first time I read it in high school.

3. On a Sunbeam

I tried this graphic novel on a whim and totally fell in love with it. I want that lovely artwork and those adorable romances near me at all times.

4. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

This is the first book I’ve read with a canonically asexual main character who wasn’t heartless or anything, and in fact was highly relatable. As an ace person, it was possibly the first time I’ve actually understood what it means to feel “seen” by a book character, and it really drove home for me why representation matters. It holds a special place for me as a result.

5. The Raven Cycle (whole series)

This is another case of “amazing stories but also wow pretty book covers.” Plus, I saw Maggie Stiefvater speak at a literary event a few years ago, and basically she is super cool and can take all my money.

6. Nevernight/Godsgrave

I have Darkdawn preordered already, but it would be nice to have the full series on my shelf. Plus, they’re among my favorite books I’ve read recently, and the covers are so freaking cool. I would be even happier if I could get the UK covers, because the art on them is really nice–the silhouette of Mr. Kindly on the Darkdawn cover is especially awesome.

7. A People’s History of Heaven

Kind of cheating since I do have an ARC of this one, but it has a few typos/errors because, you know, uncorrected proof. I loved the book and would love to have a final edition of it.

8. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories

I had a copy of this book. Loaned it to a friend. Never got it back, but every time I see him, he mentions how he needs to get it back to me. At this point I just kind of want to replace it and be done with it. Because it’s all short stories, it is an easy book to just leaf through, reading random bits and pieces, so I like having it around.

9. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

For some reason, this is the only Harry Potter title I don’t actually own. My personal collection feels incomplete without it.

10. Mistborn (the whole trilogy…or all the books from Eras 1 and 2, including Mistborn: Secret History, if that’s fair game)

I have become a huge Brandon Sanderson fan over the past year, and this series is the one that started it all. I want the books on my shelf to reflect what I love to read, so I probably should get my hands on these ASAP. Plus, I need to reread the series, knowing now what I do about where the twists will come and what’s going on behind the scenes (dammit Kelsier…), so I can fully appreciate all the foreshadowing and brilliant setup.

So that’s my list for the week! What do you all think? Do you own any of these beauties? Any of them on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!

Mini book haul! (Thanks, Epic Reads!)

Back in June, Epic Reads (HarperTeen) hosted a Pride meetup in Chicago. I shared the event, promoted it to a few people, and ended up going to it with a good friend of mine. Now, a solid 2-3 months later, I just got a package of some bookish swag in the mail as a thank-you! I’m so incredibly grateful to the wonderful folks at HarperCollins, both for the gift and for putting on what was truly an awesome event.

Here’s a quick (somewhat poorly lit) picture of the goodies:

The pack included:

  • 3 ARCs (A Dress for the Wicked, Serpent & Dove, and Crier’s War)
  • A nice little pin banner that says EPIC READS in block letters
  • An enamel pin that looks like an open book, with a teal banner underneath that says “YA all day”

I am so incredibly excited about all of these! I’m especially looking forward to that ARC of Serpent & Dove–it is one of my most anticipated releases for this fall. What do you guys think? Read any of these yet?

One more huge thank you to HarperTeen for this! It made my day!

Warbreaker – review

Well, well, well, Brando Sando’s done it again. Brimming with life, color, politics, magic, and twists, Warbreaker is yet another testament to Sanderson’s mastery of the fantasy genre. I was hooked from the first line, and though it took a minute for the plot to really take off, once it did, the flight was epic.

So, let’s start with characters, because I don’t want to spoil too much:

We have Vivenna, the eldest daughter of the King of Idris. Proper, composed, and restrained, she has grown up knowing she would one day marry the God King of Hallandren, as a peace offering to keep their two countries from going to war.

Then there’s Siri, the youngest of the King of Idris’s four children. She had always flown under the radar, knowing she isn’t considered as politically significant as her siblings, and she is very much a free spirit who just wants to do her own thing.

Meanwhile, in Hallandren, we have Lightsong, a Returned–that is, a man who came back from death and is now considered a god. Though he is the god of bravery, Lightsong outwardly tries to be as lazy as possible and internally grapples with self-doubt and a lack of faith in his own divinity.

Finally, there is Susebron, the God King himself. I won’t say too much about him, because his development is complex and fascinating and full of a couple twists that shouldn’t be spoiled.

Lurking in the background is Vasher, a mysterious fellow who is rough around the edges but a highly skilled Awakener, travelling with his hilarious (and horrifying) talking sword, Nightblood.

And along with some mercenaries (Denth, Tonk Fah, Jewels), some manipulative gods (Blushweaver), an assortment of priests (Treledees, Llarimar), a scribe (Bluefingers), and a motley assortment of others, Sanderson’s tale unfolds.

Our story begins when the King of Idris decides that he can’t stand to lose Vivenna to the God King, who he believes to be a monster. Instead, he sends Siri to wed the man that all of Idris considers an abomination. Overcome by worry about her sister, Vivenna decides to break the rules for the first time in her life, and sneaks off to Hallandren to rescue Siri from Susebron. But as Siri begins to navigate the treacherous waters of palace life, she finds that not all gods are evil, not all priests are innocent, and there is far more at stake than she ever realized.

Meanwhile, Lightsong the Bold lives in the Pantheon of Hallandren, regarded as a god for reasons beyond his control. Much as he doubts his own divinity, though, he still tries to be a good man, and when the goddess Blushweaver gets him to realize that Hallandren and Idris are racing head-on toward war, he finally finds something resembling a purpose. After all, what are gods good for, if not to help their people?

There is so much more to the plot than this, but I can’t get into it without spoiling things. Honestly, the blurb on the book jacket spoiled a few small things for me, which I was upset about, so I’m trying my hardest to not do that for you!

The entire world of this novel is delightful.While many novels take place in European-inspired cities, Warbreaker is set in an exotic, tropical world full of bright color, vibrant clothing, and spicy food. Though there is an undercurrent of religious fanaticism in some areas, as a whole it feels a tad more modern in its social conventions and city structures. Heck, there are even restaurants! There are several major religions at play, sharing some major tenets and disagreeing on others, and the whole land has an elaborately fleshed-out history full of its own mythology. (As a bonus, for Cosmere fans, much of that history is told in a stellar cameo by our favorite world-hopper, Hoid! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry; it’s more of an Easter egg than anything and won’t impact your enjoyment whatsoever.)

The fact that the world is so colorful is quite fitting, given that its magic system of BioChromatic Breath relies on color for fuel. As in his other Cosmere books, Sanderson has created a type of magic not quite like anything I’ve read before. While the rules are complex, the gist is that every person is born with one Breath. At any time, via simple command, you can give all of your Breath to another person. If you have enough Breaths, you gain certain abilities–perfect pitch, for example–and can potentially learn to Awaken inanimate objects, bestowing an iten with some of your Breath so that it can act of its own accord. It is a system that allows all individuals to have a stake in the “game” of magic, yet also creates its own social hierarchy when people sacrifice their Breaths to gods or pass Breaths down throughout generations of a family. And given that Awakening is rooted in concentration and connection, there is a spiritual and personal element to it as well. In other words, it does all the things a magic system should do, and Sanderson fleshes out all of its nuances. Even the details he doesn’t get a chance to cover in the text are elaborated on in the annotations, which I highly recommend reading once you’re done with the book if you want a bit more on this world and Sanderson’s writing process!

And of course, you know me: I love characters.I especially love when those characters grow and change and respond realistically to their world, and man, that is such a huge part of this book. In his annotations, Sanderson mentions several times that one of his major goals in writing this book was the theme of reversals and inversions, and the writing makes it abundantly clear that he succeeds. Characters pull complete 180s, discovering strengths that seem antithetical to their personalities, outgrowing prejudices, finding new things to believe in, and learning that their old opinions may not have been quite right. The floor gets pulled out from under you at least three times (if not more) when you realize a character is not at all who you thought they were, yet every twist makes so much sense in retrospect that you question how you could have missed it. I live for the twists of character, especially since they feed into the plot twists and frantic action that Brandon Sanderson is known for–including the so-called “Brandon Avalanche,” the final one-third of basically any of his books where suddenly all the plotlines intersect, the shit hits the fan, and everything is glorious chaos that you can’t put down.

Some people will say the start of this book is a little slow. They are not wrong. But that slow start lays necessary groundwork that propels the rest of the story forward so that the ending can hit you with as much force as possible. If you struggle with the beginning, try to stick it out. Things will drastically change, and the payoff is worth your initial investment.

All things considered, I probably could have told you this was a five-star read by the time I was a little past halfway through, because I love everything Brandon does, but I can safely say that, after closing the last page, it earned all of those stars.Perhaps he is an Awakener himself–he certainly managed to make these pages come alive.

Top Ten Tuesday 8/20 – Favorite Tropes

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed post hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, and I’ve seen several others doing it, so I figured I would take a stab at it as well! This week’s prompt is “Top 10 Favorite Tropes.” I have a lot of favorites, and yet I still had a hard time coming up with this list, so hopefully y’all like it. Without further ado…here we go!

1. Kickass female protagonist
Who doesn’t love a little girl power? Mia Corvere, Inej Ghafa and Nina Zenik, Sancia Grado, Vin and Sarene and Siri and Vivenna, Katniss Everdeen…these are the girls I want to be like and love to read about. Girls who kick ass and take names, who stand up and don’t run away when the going gets tough.

2. The angsty one who loves the happy one
This may sound weirdly specific, but you know the type. Sullen, angry Ronan Lynch who loves the innocent sweetheart Adam Parrish. Crowley, a demon, who loves the angel Aziraphale. Baz, the Draco Malfoy-vampire-type character who loves Simon Snow, the hapless Chosen One. I just think it’s so sweet to see icy exteriors that defrost for one specific person.

3. The morally ambiguous hero
Much as I love a hero who really has pure motives, I’m more intrigued by the heroes with dubious codes of honor. An obvious example is Kaz Brekker, from the Six of Crows duology, who doesn’t really care who gets hurt as long as he gets his payment. Another obvious one is Kelsier, from the Mistborn trilogy, who has good motivation for his revolution, but who sometimes lets his hatred of the upper class overpower his sense of decency. People aren’t simply black or white, good or evil, and a complex hero is more interesting (and believable) to read about.

4. The morally ambiguous villain
Yep, that’s right. I like moral ambiguity in all its forms. When a book reveals that the so-called villain is actually doing what they do for really good reasons–or reasons that started out good, anyway–their villainhood becomes more complex, and their relationship with the protagonist grows as well.

5. Surprise! They’re gay!
Not sure if this is accepted as a legitimate trope, but I find it very cool when a character who isn’t obviously queer-coded ends up being gay. Not that there is anything wrong with out-and-proud, obviously gay characters, but when it happens subtly, believably, a character who grapples with an unexpected realization about their sexuality is great, especially when it leads to greater development for them. Plus, you know, I’m a huge fan of representation for minority groups in general, especially the LGBTQ+ community. Bonus points for oft-neglected genders/sexualities, like trans/nonbinary characters, bisexuality, and asexuality. (Note: this does not include retconned diversity, a la “Dumbledore is gay,” nor does it include characters whose sexuality is briefly mentioned once but then never plays into their character again.)

6. Reluctant allies
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and all that jazz. Or, “we both need the same thing, so let’s join forces.” I’m listening to the audiobook of Shadow of the Fox right now, and Yumeko and Tatsumi are in this exact situation. It also makes for a great setup for an enemies-to-lovers romance…at least when done correctly.

7. The sarcastic narrator
Don’t you love it when the person telling the tale makes it humorous and enjoyable for you as a reader, even if the story itself isn’t particularly funny? Lemony Snicket in A Series of Unfortunate Events is a perfect example. Another one is the narrator from the Nevernight books, whose snark never fails to brighten even the goriest of scenes.

8. Tragic backstory/tortured soul
So I like characters that are basically emotionally devoid as a result of past trauma, or ones who somehow managed to stay positive despite their lives being absolutely awful. I promise I’m not a terrible person–they’re just so interesting! Their growth almost inevitably ends up profound and fascinating. This applies across all genres, from fantasy to contemporary to historical to nonfiction.

9. Breaking the fourth wall
This isn’t one I come across super often, but a great trope, especially in satire, is when the characters say something to obliquely acknowledge that they’re in a book. You see this crop up in Quichotte by Salman Rushdie, for example. Or, an example from television is the song “Who’s the New Guy?” in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

10. The funny sidekick
Comic relief is generally appreciated. In real life, most friend groups have that one person who’s “the funny friend,” and in books, it’s nice to have a character who is constantly making wisecracks, or whose subplot is way lighter than the main one. From the Fool characters in Shakespeare to the antics of Karou in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, humorous side characters have existed across centuries and across genres.

So…that’s my list for today! What do you guys think? Any of these that you also love (or ones that you hate)? Which tropes do you love that I didn’t include? Let me know in the comments!

The Grammarians – ARC review

Author: Cathleen Schine

Release date: September 3, 2019

The Grammarians is a tale of sisterhood and a love letter to the English language. Cute, quirky, and highly readable, this book was a good deal of fun, especially for someone as word-obsessed as I am.

The blurb on this book is rather misleading, so I’m providing my own here. As children, Daphne and Laurel—red-haired identical twins—speak to each other in a pidgin language of their own creation, much to the bafflement of those around them. Their greatest delight comes from poring over an old dictionary their father brought home, hunting for interesting words and carrying them over into everyday life, while engaging in all sorts of shenanigans and thriving on the excitement of daily life. The Grammarians chronicles the lives of these two girls as they grow into adulthood, start careers, get married, and raise families, drifting further apart with time, but never losing their love for all things linguistic…or their innate connection with each other.

As one might expect, where the book really excels is its use of language. There is a lot of wry humor, which is quite fitting for a tale of two sisters who thrive on words and wordplay. In a nod to the girls’ obsession with odd words and the contents of their old dictionary, each chapter heading is—what else?—a dictionary entry for a word that relates to the chapter. Often, the words are highly obscure, archaic, or printed alongside a less-common definition for them. Always, they are fascinating, and my personal vocabulary has definitely grown by at least a few words.

The Grammarians also succeeds wildly in its portrayal of the complexities of sisterhood, individuality, and feminism.Daphne and Laurel frequently butt heads over the importance of career, the importance of family, the importance of where you live and what you do and who you do it with. When one is dissatisfied with her appearance, the other takes offense, knowing that she looks exactly the same, and therefore she, too, is “ugly” to her sister. The two clash over issues of what you “should” do versus what you want to do, differences that ultimately escalate into shaping the girls’ opinions of language as a whole—one becomes a prescriptivist; the other, a descriptivist. Although they love each other fiercely, they are often at odds with one another, sometimes to such an extreme that their friends and family fear they will never reunite—and both girls’ thoughts and opinions on these fronts are exquisitely rendered, an all-too-real depiction of siblings trying to define themselves apart from each other.

There are a few quibbles I have, of course. For one, there are the frequent shifts in narration throughout the book—always in third person, but sometimes filtered through the mind of either Laurel or Daphne, sometimes through one of their husbands, sometimes through their cousin Brian, and sometimes through their mother. Getting this broader view of the sisters’ lives is nice, especially seeing it through the eyes of the men they marry, but sometimes it comes across as odd; Brian, in particular, is a great character, but his role in the twins’ lives is minimal, and usually he just gets a quick observation of them here or there. I was also disappointed at a fairly large moment that ended up being told from their mother’s perspective, which irked me, because the story isn’t really about her. There are also shifts in tense, from past to present to future and back again. Though a bit jarring, most of these make sense; my only complaint is that the end of the book takes place as one long prediction, written in future tense. I won’t say what that prediction includes, but it is fairly long and detailed, and it wasn’t as satisfying as I would have liked.

As a whole, this is a quick, fun read for the logophile in your life. Despite its occasional flaws in pacing and narrative choices, it paints a vivid portrait of two memorable women. It will make you laugh, and it will make you feel smarter (or perhaps dumber, when they start casually tossing out complaints about very specific grammatical issues that you don’t really think about, but now will never forget…). 

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an eARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.