Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi [review]

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If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi by Neel Patel
To be published by Flatiron Books on July 10th 2018
224 
pages.
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg: 
4.08 (as of 2018-06-27)
cw: homophobia; sex; infidelity; racism; drunk driving; sexual assault/csa
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own.

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

In eleven sharp, surprising stories, Neel Patel gives voice to our most deeply held stereotypes and then slowly undermines them. His characters, almost all of who are first-generation Indian Americans, subvert our expectations that they will sit quietly by. We meet two brothers caught in an elaborate web of envy and loathing; a young gay man who becomes involved with an older man whose secret he could never guess; three women who almost gleefully throw off the pleasant agreeability society asks of them; and, in the final pair of linked stories, a young couple struggling against the devastating force of community gossip. 

If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi examines the collisions of old world and new world, small town and big city, traditional beliefs (like arranged marriage) and modern rituals (like Facebook stalking). Ranging across the country, Patel’s stories — empathetic, provocative, twisting, and wryly funny — introduce a bold new literary voice, one that feels more timely than ever.

We lived through the lives of our future selves, passing our remaining days in a fugue.

My rating for each story:

god of destruction  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
hare rama, hare krishna ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
hey, loser ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
just a friend ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
if you see me, don’t say hi ⭐️⭐️⭐️
the taj mahal ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
the other language ⭐️⭐️⭐️
these things happen ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
an arrangement ⭐️⭐️⭐️
world famous ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
radha, krishna ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I should have felt guilty. I should have felt ashamed. I felt everything but.

My average rating was 3.86 stars, rounded up to 4. This was a beautiful collection of short stories. It only took me about two and a half hours to read through them all and I found myself thinking about them a lot in between sessions. In fact, several of the stories have stuck pretty hard with me since finishing the book.

There are a lot of characters with grey morality; you can understand their actions, but at the same time you know that they’re not necessarily doing the right thing. I found this to be really effective, as I was constantly torn with how I felt about them. There were only a couple characters who I outright disliked and even then, I still felt sympathetic towards them.

I definitely recommend getting your hands on a copy of this if you can.

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(Cover and blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Providence [review]

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Providence by Caroline Kepnes
To be published by Lenny on June 19, 2018 
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg:
3.54 (as of 2018-06-07)
cw: animal death, ableism, domestic abuse, cancer

Spoiler-free Review
An advanced copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

From the acclaimed author of YOU comes a novel that is part love story, part detective story, and part supernatural thriller.

Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other and their intense connection. But just when Jon is ready to confess the depth of his feelings, he’s kidnapped by his substitute teacher, a discredited scientist who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity.

After four years in captivity, Jon finally escapes, only to discover that he now has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He runs away to Providence to protect Chloe while he searches for answers. Across town from Jon, Detective Charles “Eggs” DeBenedictus is fascinated by a series of strange deaths–young, healthy people whose hearts just . . . stop. Convinced these deaths are a series of connected, vigilante killings, he jeopardizes his job and already strained marriage to uncover the truth. 

With heart, insight, and a keen eye on human frailty, Kepnes whisks us on a journey through New England and crashes these characters’ lives together in the most unexpected ways, exploring the complex relationship between the powerful and the powerless, love and identity, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two

 

I requested this title on Netgalley mainly because I saw that the main characters were from New Hampshire. I always want to read books that take place at least in part in places that I’ve lived. The plot also looked interesting, so I gave it a shot. I’m really glad I did because this ended up being a very good read.

People who live to know a sicko are very eager to tell you their story. There’s a pride, a sense of having survived something.

Caroline Kepnes is a great writer. This is the first work of hers that I’ve read, but immediately after finishing this, I added You to my TBR. She does a fantastic job of pulling the reader right into the story and creates interesting characters that you can really relate to. I really liked both Claire and Jon, as well as the relationship between them and how it changed over time. I also loved the Lovecraft references. I haven’t read much Lovecraft myself, but am really drawn to Lovecraftian stories.

When I die, if there is a place called hell, I will go there.

I did think, however, that the characters could have been given a little more complexity. Jon and Claire are both overwhelmingly “good” people and don’t really have any flaws (at least, none that they can control). I also didn’t really enjoy the addition of Eggs into the story. I understood how he functioned as far as the plot went, but felt like he didn’t add much to the story as a character. Maybe it’s just because I didn’t like him. He was constantly lying to his wife and essentially pretended that his autistic son didn’t exist. By the end there is some redemption, but I still really don’t think he deserved to be treated so well.

I hit the road, New Hampshire bound, I’m a typical Rhodie in the sense that I think we’re the best. In Massachusetts, you have all these sweet-toothed Massholes stuffing their face with ice cream covered in jimmies, all puffed up with self-righteousness they get out of that little rock down in Plymouth. Never mind Maine; try being a woman in that state, let me know how it works out. Vermont has the worst Italian food I ever had in my life. And New Hampshire, all you gotta know is that they take pride in rocks, granite, tax-free shopping, and bottle rockets, their handles of grain alcohol so they can go home and light themselves on fire.

Otherwise, this was a fantastic read. I almost missed my train stop multiple times while reading and I kept getting so sucked in that I wasn’t sure how I could put the book down. I may end up grabbing a physical copy of this for myself, but at the very least I will certainly recommend this book to others. This will be good for fans of thrillers, contemporary sci-fi pieces, and/or the writings of Lovecraft.

I settle on a little pink dress but then I remember Carrig’s family, the wall of them, why are you so dressed up? That should be the state fucking slogan of New Hampshire.

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(Blurb and cover courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Summer Children [review]

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The Summer Children (The Collector #3) by Dot Hutchison
To be published by Thomas & Mercer on May 21, 2018
302 
pages.
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg:
4.25 (as of 2018-05-21)
cw: sexual assault, pedophilia, domestic abuse, drug use, pretty much everything related to that

Spoiler-free Review of an ARC Provided by the Publisher

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

When Agent Mercedes Ramirez finds an abused young boy on her porch, covered in blood and clutching a teddy bear, she has no idea that this is just the beginning. He tells her a chilling tale: an angel killed his parents and then brought him here so Mercedes could keep him safe.

His parents weren’t just murdered. It was a slaughter—a rage kill like no one on the Crimes Against Children team had seen before. But they’re going to see it again. An avenging angel is meting out savage justice, and she’s far from through.

One by one, more children arrive at Mercedes’s door with the same horror story. Each one a traumatized survivor of an abusive home. Each one chafing at Mercedes’s own scars from the past. And each one taking its toll on her life and career.

Now, as the investigation draws her deeper into the dark, Mercedes is beginning to fear that if this case doesn’t destroy her, her memories might.

 

(My review for The Roses of May (The Collector #2) can be found here.)

As with The Roses of May, I avoided reading any kind of plot summary beforehand, because I was positive I would like whatever Dot had in mind for the third installment of the series. I was so excited when I realized we finally get a book centering around the POV of Mercedes, who until now has been more of a side character. Mercedes is a queer latinx woman who, it is revealed, has dealt firsthand with abuse in her past.

If you were afraid of something in the light, wasn’t it just good sense to be more afraid of it in the dark?

Again, as with the last book, this could be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend reading the entire series in order to provide a better context for everything going on and so you won’t have to worry about spoiling the first two for yourself. A lot of the character interactions probably won’t make sense without the background.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was scared of angels.

Then she met one, and she wasn’t afraid anymore.

My only issue with this book is really the interpersonal relationships between the characters. I think a significant amount of people took issue with this in the last book and while it didn’t bother me at the time, it stuck out to me a lot more with this one. It got to the point where it kind of ruined my suspension of disbelief. Obviously I don’t know much about the inner workings of the FBI, and within the story the characters do emphasize that this isn’t necessarily normal, but the kinds of relationships you see here just seem kind of unprofessional and unrealistic.

Besides that, I did find the book highly enjoyable (although that’s a weird word for this kind of story) and a quick read. I haven’t looked at any reviews yet, so I’m not sure what criticisms are out there, but I’m sure some people will accuse this of being “torture porn” and I can’t really fault them for that, but it’s kind of the theme of these books. I’ll also add that while I originally rated the second book highly, I do think it would fall more flat for me on a second read. I think that this one comes far closer to the first book in terms of quality, although I still prefer the first.

If you enjoyed the first two books in this series, then I definitely recommend The Summer Children!

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(Blurb and cover courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Mini-Review Compilation #6

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Emergency Contact
cw: alcoholism, racism, sexual assault, parental neglect.

This was exactly the kind of fluffy contemporary romance I’ve been needing in my life. Watching Penny and Sam’s romance blossom via text was heartwarming and anxiety-inducing and so, so relatable. I loved both of the MCs so much and literally could not put this book down. Unfortunately, I tore through it so fast that I didn’t really take enough notes for a proper review and all I can do is gush about how cute and wonderful it was. The writing was excellent and I enjoyed the plot. There were serious topics, which were all good to see and which were handed well, in my opinion. I loved loved loved this book and cannot recommend it enough if you’re looking for a cute NA contemporary.

Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Quiet Rumours: An Anarcha-Feminist Reader

I’m pretty new to anarchism and political theory in general, so this was my first foray into a book dedicated to the subject. I found it really informative and a good jumping-off point, it helped me to compile a list of further reading materials. It was sort of loosely put together and probably could have used a little more context for each of the essays/pamphlets and seemed a bit outdated, so that’s why I knocked off one star. I definitely plan to check out some more AK Press releases, though!

Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Gone Girl
cw sexual assault, domestic abuse, many many many things

I almost DNFed this, but everyone told me to hang in there. I hated both of the MCs, but things really picked up after a plot twist about halfway through. It was worth reading, but I still didn’t end up loving it. [SPOILERS] I can appreciate unlikable characters, but I can’t get behind anything that reinforces the stereotype that women lie about being raped and/or abused just to punish or get back at men. A small thing, but Amy also states as fact that she doesn’t get catcalled at all after the gains weight and there’s no way that would be true and is really telling of what the author thinks of fat women. [/SPOILERS] Yeah, anyway I didn’t really find this very special and thought it was fine.

Rating:⭐⭐⭐

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(All covers courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Mini-Review Compilation #5

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Would You Rather?

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me an eARC in exchange for my honest review.

Would You Rather? is a lovely memoir about a woman who grew up in a sheltered, moderately conservative area coming to terms with her sexuality. The reason this is so revolutionary is because, as Katie herself says, there are so few widespread stories about adults realizing they’re gay. So many people say that they always knew, it leaves little room in the narrative for people like Katie, who didn’t always know. Overall, it was an enjoyable read that I’m glad I picked up! My only complaint was that it does meander at times and that the end kind of trails off for me instead of ending strongly.

Rating:⭐⭐⭐.5

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The Body Is Not an Apology

Systems [of oppression] do not maintain themselves; even our lack of intervention is an act of maintenance.

This was a nice read that focused on what Sonya has dubbed “radical self-love.” The messages embedded in it are deeply important and focus on breaking down “the belief that there is a hierarchy of bodies.” It was quite inspiring to read and made me want to work harder on changing the belief systems cemented within our culture. At times, the book felt a little too structured and, well, self-help-y, but it wasn’t really much of an issue. It’s also an extremely fast read. All-in-all, I’d definitely recommend this book as a jumping off point for leaning more into body positivity.

Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Children of Blood and Bone

This pretty much lived up to the hype for me and I’m really glad I picked it up! I don’t remember the last time I lost myself in a book like this, I ended up reading for 3 hours straight to finish it and I literally couldn’t put it down. The half star loss was because it took me a bit to get invested in the characters. But once I did, ooooh boy, I was INVESTED. Highly recommend.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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(All covers courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

All Out [review]

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All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchell
Published by Harlequin Teen on February 27, 2018
368 
pages.
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
Goodreads avg: 
4.12 (as of 2018-04-13)

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

Take a journey through time and genres and discover a past where queer figures live, love and shape the world around them. Seventeen of the best young adult authors across the queer spectrum have come together to create a collection of beautifully written diverse historical fiction for teens. 

From a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in war-torn 1870s Mexico featuring a transgender soldier, to two girls falling in love while mourning the death of Kurt Cobain, forbidden love in a sixteenth-century Spanish convent or an asexual girl discovering her identity amid the 1970s roller-disco scene, All Out tells a diverse range of stories across cultures, time periods and identities, shedding light on an area of history often ignored or forgotten.

This was one of my most-anticipated books of 2018 and while it was great, it did fall a little shy of expectations. There were all kinds of queer characters (including ace rep!) and I loved reading about them all. It was great how the stories spanned so many different time periods. Even if you’re not big on historical fiction (like myself), you’ll still find things to enjoy in this collection.

Sometimes sight is a more powerful way of hearing than sound.

My rating for each story:

Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Sweet Trade
 by Natalie C. Parker ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
And They Don’t Kiss at the End
 by Nilah Magruder ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Burnt Umber
 by Mackenzi Lee ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Dresser & the Chambermaid
 by Robin Talley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
New Year
 by Malinda Lo ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (cw racism)
Molly’s Lips
 by Dahlia Adler ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (cw off-page suicide)
The Coven 
by Kate Scelsa ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Every Shade of Red
 by Elliot Wake ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (cw deadnaming)
Willows
 by Scott Tracey ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Girl with the Blue Lantern
 by Tess Sharpe ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy 
by Alex Sanchez ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Walking After Midnight 
by Kody Keplinger ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The End of the World As We Know It by Sara Farizan ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Three Witches by Tessa Gratton ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Inferno & the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

That is the secret to survival. Teach fear to those who taught you to be afraid.

My average rating was 3.58 stars, rounded down to 3.5. My biggest problem with the lower-rated stories were mostly that they felt too rushed to me. There were several where I didn’t feel like enough time had been spent developing characters and their relationships and things felt rushed to me. There were also some stories where either the fantastical elements or the lack of directness by the authors caused me some confusion about what was actually happening. It was for these reasons that I marked some things down.

Regardless, this was a really nice read and I think anyone interested should pick it up.

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(Cover and blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Radical Element [review]

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The Radical Element edited by Jessica Spotswood
Published by Candlewick Press on March 13, 2018
320 
pages.
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg: 
3.81 (as of 2018-03-28)
cw: racism, ableism, domestic abuse, eugenics

Spoiler-free Review of an eARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

In an anthology of revolution and resistance, a sisterhood of YA writers shines a light on a century and a half of heroines on the margins and in the intersections.

To respect yourself, to love yourself—should not have to be a radical decision. And yet it remains as challenging for an American girl to make today as it was in 1927 on the steps of the Supreme Court. It’s a decision that must be faced whether you’re balancing on the tightrope of neurodivergence, finding your way as a second-generation immigrant, or facing down American racism even while loving America. And it’s the only decision when you’ve weighed society’s expectations and found them wanting. In The Radical Element, twelve of the most talented writers working in young adult literature today tell the stories of the girls of all colors and creeds standing up for themselves and their beliefs—whether that means secretly learning Hebrew in early Savannah, using the family magic to pass as white in 1920s Hollywood, or singing in a feminist punk band in 1980s Boston. And they’re asking you to join them.

These are such lovely stories! They’re all about complex, interesting women in history and there’s so much representation. There are trans characters and disabled characters and women of color and much more. When most of these stories came to an end, I was left wanting more. I was surprised to find them over. They’re not really tied up in neat little bows, they mostly end with you feeling like you’re at the precipice of a greater story. Any one of these feel like they could be effectively made into a full-fledged novel, and it was hard for me to forget that they were short stories.

The beds of civilization shifted in favor of men.

My rating for each story:

Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler ⭐️⭐️⭐️
You’re a Stranger Here
 by Mackenzi Lee ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Magician
 by Erin Bowman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Lady Firebrand
 by Megan Shepherd ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Step Right Up
 by Jessica Spotswood ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Glamour
 by Anna-Marie McLemore ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Better For All the World
 by Marieke Nijkamp ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
When the Moonlight Isn’t Enough
by Dhonielle Clayton ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Belle of the Ball
 by Sarvenaz Tash ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave
 by Stacey Lee ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Birth of Susi Go-Go
 by Meg Medina ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Take Me With U 
by Sara Farizan ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My average rating was 4.16 stars, rounded down to 4. I’m thinking I’ll have to go back and read Jessica Spotswood’s first edited collection of short stories, which I hadn’t gotten around to yet. I’d definitely recommend this to historical fiction readers, lovers of YA, and anyone excited to see diverse women in fiction.

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(Cover and blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Authority [review]

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Authority by Jeff VanderMeer (Southern Reach Trilogy #2)
Published by FSG Originals on May 6, 2014
341 
pages.
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg:
3.53 (as of 2018/03/19)

Spoiler-free Review 

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

 

After thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X–a seemingly malevolent landscape surrounded by an invisible border and mysteriously wiped clean of all signs of civilization–has been a series of expeditions overseen by a government agency so secret it has almost been forgotten: the Southern Reach. Following the tumultuous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the agency is in complete disarray.

John Rodríguez (aka “Control”) is the Southern Reach’s newly appointed head. Working with a distrustful but desperate team, a series of frustrating interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, Control begins to penetrate the secrets of Area X. But with each discovery he must confront disturbing truths about himself and the agency he’s pledged to serve.

In Authority, the second volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, Area X’s most disturbing questions are answered . . . but the answers are far from reassuring.

As some of you may remember, Annihilation clawed its way onto my all-time favorites list when I read it back in January. I finally picked up a copy of Authority recently and made my way back into the world of the Southern Reach. A friend of mine had warned me that the sequel was entirely different, and she was right. Authority is more of a behind-the-scenes look at the goings on of the mysterious government agency in charge of the expeditions. While some questions are answered, far more are dredged up.

He had not expected any of it to be beautiful, but it was beautiful.

Jeff VanderMeer blew me away with his writing once again. From the narrative voice to the characters, I found myself drawn into the story and into Control’s mind. I was as desperate to untangle the secrets as he was. While the middle lagged a bit as far as interest goes, the end of the book pulls the reader down under a wave of action and tension. After turning the last page, I found myself shaken and thirsting for the next book.

You’re a replica, but you’re your own person.

Authority is a fantastic sequel, although it doesn’t hold up to Annihilation in my book, mainly due to the lulls that made it hard to push through the middle. VanderMeer continues the captivating and enigmatic story of Area X and the Southern Reach and leaves you wanting more. I can only hope that Acceptance leaves me with a satisfying ending.

 

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(Blurb and cover courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Merry Spinster [review]

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The Merry Spinster by Daniel Mallory Ortberg
To be published by Holt McDougal on March 13, 2018
240 
pages.
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
Goodreads avg: 
3.75
cw: domestic abuse,

Spoiler-free Review of an eARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Goodreads | IndieBound 

From [Daniel] Mallory Ortberg comes a collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales. Adapted from [his] beloved “Children’s Stories Made Horrific” series, “The Merry Spinster” takes up the trademark wit that endeared Ortberg to readers of both The Toast and [his] best-selling debut Texts From Jane Eyre. The feature become among the most popular on the site, with each entry bringing in tens of thousands of views, as the stories proved a perfect vehicle for Ortberg’s eye for deconstruction and destabilization. Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, The Merry Spinster updates traditional children’s stories and fairy tales with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief.

Readers of The Toast will instantly recognize Ortberg’s boisterous good humor and uber-nerd swagger: those new to Ortberg’s oeuvre will delight in [his] unique spin on fiction, where something a bit mischievous and unsettling is always at work just beneath the surface.

Unfalteringly faithful to its beloved source material, The Merry Spinster also illuminates the unsuspected, and frequently, alarming emotional complexities at play in the stories we tell ourselves, and each other, as we tuck ourselves in for the night.

Bed time will never be the same.

I know that retellings are getting old for some people, but Daniel really does a magnificent job with this collection. As with any short story compilation, some fell a little short for me, but overall I was highly impressed with what he had done. All of the stories here are inspired by “fairytales” of some kind, but they aren’t necessarily what you’ll be expecting. They’re the perfect blend of creepy and thoughtful.

“Someday, I think,” she said, her voice muffled under the tub, “I would like to meet someone I have not caused any pain.”

My rating for each story:

The Daughter Cells ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Thankless Child ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Fear Not: An Incident Log ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Six Boy-Coffins ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Rabbit ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Merry Spinster ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Wedding Party ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Some of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Mr. Toad ⭐️⭐️
Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Frog’s Princess ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

She was beginning to learn the danger of silence, and that someone who wishes to hear a yes will not go out of his way to listen for a no.

In total, these scores averaged out to 3.36, which I’ve rounded up to a 3.5. I thought they were very well-written, and was particularly excited to see a lot of gender non-conformity in the stories. Gendered pronouns and titles were essentially meaningless in some of the stories, which was an interesting and much appreciated route to take. I’d definitely recommend this collection to anyone interested.

She was reluctant to offer any of her children, even Beauty, to something so monstrous and polite but she was even more reluctant to be shot, and mothers have given their children to monsters before.

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(Cover and blurb [pronouns edited by me] courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

This Love Story Will Self-Destruct [review]

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This Love Story Will Self-Destruct by Leslie Cohen
Published by Gallery Books on January 23, 2018
336 
pages.
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg:
3.67

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

This is the classic tale of boy meets girl: Girl…goes home with someone else.

Meet Eve. She’s a dreamer, a feeler, a careening well of sensitivities who can’t quite keep her feet on the ground, or steer clear of trouble. She’s a laugher, a crier, a quirky and quick-witted bleeding-heart-worrier.

Meet Ben. He’s an engineer, an expert at leveling floors who likes order, structure, and straight lines. He doesn’t opine, he doesn’t ruminate, he doesn’t simmer until he boils over.

So naturally, when the two first cross paths, sparks don’t exactly fly. But then they meet again. And again. And then, finally, they find themselves with a deep yet fragile connection that will change the course of their relationship—possibly forever.

Follow Eve and Ben as they navigate their twenties on a winding journey through first jobs, first dates, and first breakups; through first reunions, first betrayals and, maybe, first love. This is When Harry Met Sally reimagined; a charming tale told from two unapologetically original points of view. With an acerbic edge and heartwarming humor, debut novelist Leslie Cohen takes us on a tour of what life looks like when it doesn’t go according to plan, and explores the complexity, chaos, and comedy in finding a relationship built to last.

I’m really glad I ended up picking this up. It was a nice, mostly light-hearted read that offset the thriller I had also been working my way through. From the moment I began, I just loved the voice that Leslie Cohen uses in her writing. I genuinely had trouble believing that this was a debut  novel, as her talent makes you believe you’re reading the work of an established and highly-lauded author.

Does an apartment still exist once you no longer live there?

I loved Ben and Eve both, and found them relatable in their own ways. I can understand Eve’s compulsion to destroy something before it can destroy itself, and I found Ben’s firmly-rooted logic to be soothing. They both felt like such real people. I also loved the way that Leslie wrote New York City, even though I’m pretty unfamiliar with it myself.

I was in that state of intoxication where you become very direct, very to the point. You tell people how you feel. You grab things that you want.

The story itself was great, and anyone who hates instalove will probably enjoy this book. Ben and Eve meet again, and again, and again over the years, before their relationship finally develops into something more. To me, this is a more realistic kind of love. Sometimes the people you love just drop out of the sky, but more often than not, I think they sneak their way in.

[…] we were in that weird in-between period when you’ve hooked up once or twice but you don’t want to hold hands or even make bodily contact in real life because everything is very unclear.

Overall, this was a lovely book and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Leslie’s future work.

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(Blurb and cover courtesy of Goodreads.)