Goodreads Crossover Mini-Reviews!

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I’ve been having a hell of a month. I’ll tell you about it later, but for now, please enjoy these not-quite-up-to-my-usual-level mini-reviews of what I’ve been reading lately!

Love,

GeGi.

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, so I really really liked this book. I love Felicia Day anyway, so I was pretty excited to read this. And I was not disappointed…

Basically on every page, I was coming across things that made me go, “omg I relate to this so hard!!!!” in my head. Starting with the style of homeschooling, continuing with the finding your people on the internet, going on strong with the social anxiety and self doubt, and finishing dramatically with the wicked sense of humor and embracing of the weirdness.

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Written in Red (The Others, #1)Written in Red by Anne Bishop
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, this isn’t going to be a proper review, because I’ve been too stressed and busy to take the time to do it right away. But I needed to at least say a little bit, because this book and the ones that followed were AMAZING, and I’m now a huge fan. The world-building blew me away with how well thought-out everything was, creating a sense of history and place and people and politics on every level, in a consistent and expanding way as the series went on. The races and interactions were all very fleshed out and believable. There’s SO MUCH in these books, and none of it drags or makes me feel like I just want to gloss over it to get back to the action/interactions. It’s all woven together so the info-dumps come with actual things to care about, building a character or the politics or the history, or usual all three at once. I could read it quickly and easily, and actually had a very hard time stopping, and it had me on the edge of my seat pretty much the whole time because it balanced out the world-building with the character interactions with the action events so well the entire time. I would definitely recommend this series, especially for fans of urban fantasy who want a great story with amazing world-building.

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The Royal WeThe Royal We by Heather Cocks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is how to do a modern fairytale love story and make it real…

I picked this to read because I wanted something lighter, semi-fluff, while I was stressed out. I sort of got what I wanted, I guess…??? But actually, this was even better. It’s real and heartfelt and sometimes raw, and it’s funny and outrageous and sweet. I’m not even sure how to describe it. Just read it yourself. It’s worth it.

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The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was on the fence a little when I started this, and for a while into it. But I persisted, and it paid off with a really enjoyable story. Certain twists I predicted very early and easily, though, and that always counts against a book in my world. In this case, it wasn’t enough that I didn’t still like the book, and I may even read it again at some point because the world-building concept this series is based on was kind of fun and interesting (and I won’t say more because potential spoilers).

The Jack The Ripper aspect was really interesting, and I think exploring that event in history with this new setting was the biggest thing that kept me hooked. Sorry, Rory: I liked you okay, but you just weren’t enough to carry this on your own for me. The narrative, combined with the predicable plot twists, would have made this entire thing feel a little too “young” to really hold me, otherwise. I’ll be reading the next book, and we’ll see how I like where that one goes…

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Goodreads Review: Struck By Lightning.

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips JournalStruck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal by Chris Colfer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

First off, let me explain the rating. It’s not that this a terrible book. It’s not a great book either, but it’ll probably really click with some people. I watched the movie two years ago (review on my blog here) and it worked for me. I got it. I liked it. I talked about it.

When I came across the book, I figured since I liked the movie, it seemed likely that I’d like the book. For me, personally, this book is just “okay”. I’m not going to read it again, I’m not even going to keep my copy. I did finish it, and I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really feel like I even got enough out of it to like it, hence the two-star rating. It’s probably because everything I would have gotten out of it, I’d already gotten from the movie. I didn’t feel like the book added anything to what I’d already seen.
Basically, if you love this book and have never seen the movie, then yay, there’s a great adaptation out there! But if you’ve seen the movie, this is one of those rare cases where you might not actually need to the read the book.

I typically don’t recap plots in my reviews just because I figure those are easy to find elsewhere. I am, however, going to expand a little on a couple of my status updates with this book, because they pretty much cover the other biggest issues I had reading this.

The Setting: this “small town” of over 9.5 thousand is actually MUCH bigger than the small town I grew up in, which was under 2.5k. So when the narrator goes off on tangents about how small and pitiful and dead-end his town is, I’m like, nope! I mean, the town has a freaking COMMUNITY COLLEGE. I’m pretty sure the closest community college to me was about a two hour drive, three towns over. But then he’s trying to say that getting a movie theater is a huge shinny new deal, whereas my tiny town had a movie theater that was converted from an actual stage theater and so old it was in a historic building. I know each town is going to be different and that comparative population size on average means his was technically a small town, too, but those kinds of things really stick out to me (obviously).

The Snark: Normally, I’m a huge fan of snark. My favorite website ever is called Snark Squad. My own family frequently can’t tell if I’m being sarcastic or sincere unless I drop some obvious hints. But the snark in this book often ended up coming across as overbearing or just plain nasty. And granted, the narrator is a teenager, and therefore might not be the most self-aware creature in the world, but on paper felt like a little much, and sometimes even made me uncomfortable because of just how unrelentingly mean it was. Oddly, there were a lot of line I remembered from the movie in here, but somehow in dialogue it just seemed to work better. Maybe it’s just that spoken words don’t linger like they do in print, or maybe I’ve just changed more than I thought in the last two years since I watched the movie and gotten more sensitive to what people say about each other. Maybe both. Either way, I think the moment I appreciated the most was when Carson started wondering if he was actually the villain in this story. I was a little disappointed that this sudden introspection didn’t actually seem to stick around or lead to any new growth, however.

All in all, I’d say if you haven’t watched the movie, by all means, read this and then watch the movie so you can tell me how it comes across in that order. I’d be very curious to know. And if you’ve already watched it, but are still curious about the book, don’t let my options stop you. Read it, and then let me know if you agree with me or if I’m being too harsh on it, or if I didn’t take it to task enough! Everyone’s take on media is going to be different, and that’s what makes discussions of it interesting.

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Goodreads Review: Carry On.

Carry OnCarry On by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I read Fangirl, one of the things I really connected to in that book was the fanfiction aspect (since I read AT LEAST as much fanfic as I do published fic). I really liked the made-up-yet-Harry-Potter-like “Original Fic” that Cath was writing fic for, because it got to play with all the familiar things I love about HP fanfic while not getting bogged down by actual HP canon. So when I found out that Carry On was actually a thing out there that I could read, I was obviously pretty excited. I was also pretty curious, because I wasn’t sure exactly how a Simon Snow novel would play out independently.

Like the author says, though, this isn’t the canon Snow of Fangirl, or Cath’s fanfic Snow. This is Rainbow Rowell’s Snow. And it’s pretty fantastic. First off, as noted multiple times in my status updates, I really loved the magical system in this book. It’s consistent and logical, brilliant and fresh, and utterly ridiculous and fun. It certainly makes the battles entertaining as hell to read. I didn’t mention in my updates, but I equally loved the replacement swears and exclamations that were mixed in with the more recognizable and everyday types. I definitely have a thing for that in media, because it makes language more believable to have swearing and slang (especially when it’s teenagers/adults), and it makes it more unique and world-building to have at least some of it be original. Or maybe my Buffy influence is showing a little there…

Either way, I think when it’s done well it adds to the dialogue and makes a more natural flow to conversation. And here it really felt like it worked; I could hear the characters’ voices in my head when I was reading, because their words and thoughts felt like real speech and real people. That doesn’t always happen — in fact it doesn’t happen for me very often at all — so it made it extra special for me.

Speaking of the characters, there are quite a few amazingly awesome characters in this book. Baz is sassy and snarky as hell, and I utterly love him to bits and want more. Penelope kicks ass, obviously, and I even really liked Agatha after a while. Simon was not actually as annoying as I thought he’d be, given that Harry Potter tends to drive me up the wall. Even a lot of the adults were pretty cool and interesting. I really appreciated all the diversity, of course, but I can’t help but be a little annoyed at the UTTER LACK of, at any point in Simon wondering if he’s gay now, that there was ZERO mention of the word “bisexual” in his or anyone else’s mind. In fact, I’m pretty sure that for all the times gay and queer get talked about (not just for Simon, and not just him and Baz, either), bisexual NEVER gets mentioned once, for any of them. Which is a real shame, because otherwise I have no complaints or criticisms.

As a side note, the final confrontation between Simon and the Humdrum actually played out thematically a lot like the climax of a novella I wrote as a teen. I should go look at it again, brush up the writing a little, etc. It’s a good theme for a final showdown, and it’s nice to see it get used. But first, I need to go read Fangirl again…and then maybe Carry On again…which might make me need to read Fangirl again…

If you don’t hear from me again, I’m stuck in an endless reread loop. Send help. (Or chocolate and scones and tea.) (Either way is good.)

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Goodreads Review: Stay Awhile.

Stay Awhile: Wilfair Book 3Stay Awhile: Wilfair Book 3 by Alysia Gray Painter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m waffling about my rating a little bit, so for now let’s split the difference and call it 4.5 stars. If I reread it and donut space it out into little bite-sized bits over nearly an entire month, I might have a clearer idea about what to rate it.

So. This book. This series. I love how, when I read a Wilfair book, I start typing kind of like how Fair narrates. Anyway. It’s charming, and she’s delightful, and in the third book she really starts to evolve and grow, too, taking more risks and chances and control. It’s great to see, and I really cheered her on a lot. Also, this book is when the slow-burn-is-it-or-isn’t-it-a-ship really just took off into OMG THE SHIP IS SAILING AND I’M SO ON BOARD THE SLOW BURN IS FIGURATIVELY KILLING ME AND I LOVE EVERY BIT OF IT. At least for me. It’s super cute, and totally awkward and hot, and basically the very best kind of slow burn super shippy-ship.

And as a bonus, this book FINALLY starts answering some of the questions. Like, way more questions also happen as a result, and some of them get answered too, and everything gets SUPER surreal for a while (even by Wilfair standards), but then it all kind of settles back into place and becomes the new normal. These books are amazing as guides of how to just kinda go with things as they happen, no matter how strange or improbable. They’re pretty great like that.

The TL;DR version is that the third book is even more whimsical and strange and wonderful than the first one, and I enjoyed it even more than the second one (which basically just felt like a road trip for the entire book). Now on to the fourth book!

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Goodreads Review: Winter.

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)Winter by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I reviewed the Lunar Chronicles on my blog back while waiting for Fairest to be released. Now that I’ve read Winter and the series is complete, I’d just like to officially place all of them on my personal THIS SERIES/BOOK IS TOTAL PERFECTION MY FAVORITE FOREVER list. That’s a little hyperbolic, but you get the idea.

I stand by my gushing in the old post, and especially by my saying this series just gets better with each book. Winter had me on the edge of my seat for, well, a lot of the book judging by my progress updates. I still adore my precious OTPs (all of them. I ship them all so hard), and the writing is so accessible and easy and fun, and the characters and dialogue and relationships (friendships included because they are just as precious and perfect and shippable) all sparkle off the page, and the act is tense and nerve-wracking and…

Ahem, anyway. Again, all that comes across very strongly in my progress updates. Along with a lot of shouty-typing. I love this book, I love this series, and I never want to say good-bye to this world. I’m not sure I can coherently say much more than that about it. But that’s what happens when I love something this much: too many feels = diminishing eloquence. Everything becomes gushing and flailing and shouting and hyperbole. So let my shortened review of this final installment of the Lunar Chronicles stand as testimony of just how incredible it is, and how much I think everyone should read all the books in the series.

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Goodreads Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After.

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I overly relate to Isla’s self-estimate issues like whoa.

I really like that this book broke the love triangle mold of the other two. It’s nice not dealing with that every time, especially when we all know how it’s going to turn out in the end. It’s also good to explore the “after” part once in a while — after you fall in love and finally get together with your crush, what happens next? Of course, that inevitably meant I then spent the next half the book constantly flinching in anticipation of what exactly was going to go horribly wrong to blow up the happy couple. I admit I didn’t quite expect it to happen the way it did, and I was further blindsided by the clear spelling out of exactly was Isla’s insecurities were and how they made her act and why. Which, as I mentioned, was basically like looking in a mirror. So I might be a little bias about how fiercely I now feel about Isla. Just a little.

It was cool returning to Paris and the school, seeing it through someone else’s eyes. As I mentioned in my review of Lola, these books are heavily bias in their descriptions by their very nature; everything on the pages is through the lens of the storyteller’s mind. Getting to know Josh through Isla instead of Anna paints a very different picture of his character, and her familiarity and comfort with Paris, the school, and her classmates creates a very different atmosphere than we get with Anna being the New Girl. It really helps separate each girl as her own person, with her own personality, tastes, friends, and styles. They all have very unique voices, while still being easily accessible (at least to me). One thing I thought was especially cool was the way Josh’s art was used in the narrative to break out of having only Isla’s perspective on events, particularly at the end.

I also liked that Isla gave us a good look at the friendships and family relationships around her, too. That’s true to various extents in the other books as well, of course. I just automatically have strong feels about sisters because I have more of a relationship with my own sister than with my brother — no one’s fault, but he’s almost a decade older than me, so he’s just never been around as much in my life. My sister and I fought like mad and resented each other and played together and shared secrets, and then we each grew up and got even closer. So when I read fictional sisters doing that, it totally give me all the feels. Plus, I could relate a bit to Isla’s friendship with Kurt, since so many of my friends are also on that spectrum. Basically, I guess I’m just saying if I were any of the three main girls, I’d probably end up being Isla by default, even if I’d rather have more of Lola’s fashion tastes.

But back to the actual book! I really enjoyed this one. I’ve enjoyed all of them, of course, but obviously I ended up projecting myself all over Isla, so it gets bumped up a little for that.

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Goodreads Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door.

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was, for me, probably about a 3-3.5 star book. However, it gets bumped up to four stars on the merits of Lola/fashion, which was my personal OTP.

The love triangle felt like a gender-swapped version of Anna and the French Kiss, which was amusing but make it extra predictable. Lola was basically the definition of a hot mess throughout most of the book (albeit with good reason some of the time). The narrative failed to make Max at all believable as a serious love interest, mostly only showing him in moments of jealously or anger despite how many times Lola says to the reader that she thinks he’s the one. I didn’t fall in love with the setting the same way I did with Paris.

Plus, I started keeping count on my progress updates of all the times the writing felt like it was making an unintentional pop culture reference. Seriously, Max drives a Chevy Impala from the 60’s (Hello there, Dean from Supernatural), Lola has similar ideas about fashion expression as Weetize Bat from Francesca Lia Block’s dream-like lyrical novels of L.A. fairy-tales, Lola talking about being empty vs full for being in a relationship reminded me of a lesser version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer saying she’s still cookie dough and not ready to be with someone until she’s warm gooey cookies… [EDIT: oh, I forgot one! The more over-protective of her gay dads was named Nathan, and I just kept picturing him as Nathan Fillion playing Richard Castle. Admittedly, that wasn’t so much the text as just how my brain works, but still! It totally fits.]

But despite all this little flaws and pet-peeves and moments of distracting reference, despite taking quite a while to warm up to Cricket (largely due to having imagined something much worse than was actually the case about what happened in the past), it was still a fun and enjoyable book, and I still ended up reading it in basically one day(ish). It was also pretty cool getting to see Anna and St Clair from the outside. All three books in this series are told first person, from the POV of a teenage girl falling in love, so the Unreliable Narrator trope is pretty much a given. It makes it extra interesting to see the same characters again in the other books, because it’s a perspective we’ll never get from another book.

But Lola and fashion! Half the reason I love the Weetzie Bat books so much is the whimsical creative daring fashion choices so lovingly described throughout, and here Lola doesn’t disappoint in doing the same. It makes me long to get a sewing machine and a workspace and wigs and go to thrift shops and start CREATING. I adore the way Lola commits to expressing herself through amazing bold fashion statements, and dream about the day I can do the same. It seriously makes up for not being another love letter to Paris (sorry Paris).

Anyway, it was an enjoyable book, and I’ll be rereading it once in a while, right along with the other two. But as Roux said in the movie version of Chocolat, “It’s good…but it’s not my favorite”.

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