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. 

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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.)

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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.

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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
Publication date: September 3, 2019
Genre: literary fiction, contemporary fiction
My rating: 4/5 stars

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.

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