Wednesday, March 22, 2017

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Favorite Angsty Romances

Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group that posts a weekly "top 5" list for book reviewers to tackle! If you'd like to join in, the group is HERE.

This week's topic was favorite angsty romances!

This topic has been much requested! Talk about your favorite ships that have a healthy side of angst. (definition: adj.: describes a situation or literary piece which contains dark, depressing, angry, and/or brooding emotions from the participating characters.)

Ah, yes. We readers are masochists, apparently, because we always seem to be drawn to romances that CRUSH OUR SOULS. And I'm no exception! So, pull up a chair, play "Evermore" from Beauty and the Beast on repeat in the background, and grab some tissues to sob into, because these are my top 5 angsty romances!

5. Annie Kenyon and Liza Winthrop -- Annie on my Mind



I put this couple pretty low on my list because everything does turn out okay for Annie and Liza in the end. But holy shit, the things they go through to get there! This book is notable for having one of the first -- if not the first -- lesbian relationship to portrayed in a positive light in a Western novel. It's about the main character's struggle as she realizes she's gay and in love with another girl, and how they have to get past prejudices -- including some of their own -- in order to be in a relationship. While the book is more fluffy than angsty, especially in the first half, the moments of sadness and self-doubt hit hard... which makes it even better when Liza is finally able to allow herself to love Annie.

4. Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters -- The Fault in Our Stars


I'm pretty sure I'd be sued by the universe if I didn't mention this one. John Green's phenomenally popular love story between two cancer patients is one that's well-known by most people my age, and is notorious for being depressing as all hell. The film adaptation is equally tears-inducing, but I enjoyed the book a bit more. (And by "enjoyed," I mean "cried.") While the love story between Hazel and Gus is adorable, and gives them both some happiness in spite of all the drama going on in their lives, there's always a sense of melancholy to it, since neither of them really expect it to last. But does that stop the audience from getting attached? 

Hahahahaha no.

3. Erik and Christine Daaé -- The Phantom of the Opera



Let me make one thing clear: the relationship between Christine and the Phantom is. Not. Healthy. It's obsessive and toxic, and causes most of the problems that drive the plot.

But, that said, it is one of the most compelling relationships ever written, and it's probably the main reason Phantom's been adapted about a bazillion times despite the original novel being... not exactly mindblowing. Erik is a monster, yes, but a very tragic and sympathetic one, and his affections for Christine are part of what make him so easy to relate to, in spite of the awful things he does. And the ending, where he chooses to let Christine go so she can be happy, proves that there is still some humanity somewhere in there -- and that he does truly love Christine, in his own twisted and wildly unhealthy way. The various adaptations of this book have many, many different takes on this relationship, and there is a lot of crap, but the good ones manage to portray a deeply unhealthy, but still fascinating and heartbreaking relationship between our two leads.

2. Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana -- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe


This one is sort of similar to "Annie on my Mind." An LGBT romance that ends happily, but there are some struggles along the way. But Benjamin Alire Sáenz decide to pile on the angst in a way Nancy Garden never does. This novel has everything a good angsty romance needs: misunderstandings, tragic backstories, near-death experiences, and a whole lot of repressed emotions coming from our main characters. The build-up to their relationship is almost PAINFULLY slow, especially as the two are oblivious to the fact that they're falling in love, which just adds to the heartache for the readers. It's well worth the time it takes to get to the happy ending, but it is a not-always-fun ride.

1. Dylan Crosby and Amelia Baron -- Reconstructing Amelia


So, this book begins with one half of this relationship falling to her death from the school roof.

How fun!

Told partially in flashbacks, the relationship between Amelia and her first girlfriend Dylan is built up slowly, and as we learn more about the circumstances surrounding Amelia's the death, the more it hurts to see her so happy with Dylan when we know it won't last. It's made even worse when we see Dylan after Amelia dies. And with all the twists and turns in this book, one of the biggest curveballs of all is related to Dylan and Amelia's relationship. I won't spoil anything, but trust me -- it hits you, hard. 

...I just noticed 3 out of these 5 couples are same-gender relationships.

Gee. Wonder why.

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Thank you so much for reading! What are YOUR favorite couples that make you cry into your pillow? Tell me all about them below -- I'm always looking for new ways to ruin my life.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Books That Betrayed Me

Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group that posts a weekly "top 5" list for book reviewers to tackle! If you'd like to join in, the group is HERE.

This week's topic was books you felt betrayed by!

Beware the Ides of March! What books (or characters) did you feel betrayed by, for whatever reason... big or small.

As someone who gets... very emotionally invested in books, this one was pretty much tailor-made for me. I'll try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but, here's my take on it: if the book came out more than five years ago, it's fair game. Consider yourself warned.

5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling -- Peter Pettigrew


I feel like the utter rage and horror felt by the reader when its discovered that James and Lily Potter were betrayed by one of their best friends, who then proceeded to frame someone else and kill multiple people as he went into hiding, is sort of a universal Potterhead experience. I ranked Peter pretty low on the list because I've had about a decade to process this and get over it (and also he's dead now so that helps), but I will NEVER forget the shock and fury felt by little Susie when she first read the big reveal of what Wormtail did.

Never forgive. Never forget.

4. The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd -- Entire book.


Sort of a meta-type of betrayal here! I picked up this book because of the back cover synopsis, which described our main character, the daughter of a disgraced mad scientist, and her quest to find him after his reputation ruins her life. I've always loved stories with complex familial relationships, and I especially was drawn to the Victorian, dark setting. So, I bought the book and began reading, prepared for an adventure that dealt with the conflict between this girl and her morally ambiguous, possibly insane father.

What I got was...

...a love triangle. A boring, poorly-written love triangle.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH.

3. The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson -- Entire book (kind of) and SPOILER CHARACTER(S)


This is a murder thriller with multiple narrators, nearly all of whom have something to hide, so of course a couple characters turned out to be less than trustworthy. But this book doesn't stop with just one curveball -- it hits you with one nearly every chapter. Right when you think you have things figured out, it turns out that someone was lying to you (and everyone else) the whole time.

As for the "entire book" part, I want to clear up that I actually liked this book a lot -- but the ending pissed me off. As in, what happened on the very last page. Read it and you'll see what I mean.

2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn -- SPOILER CHARACTER


I won't elaborate too much on this one, because if you're at ALL familiar with the plot twist of this novel, then you KNOW who I'm talking about.

You know.

This one shocked me so much when I read the book for the first time that I actually physically threw my book across the room. I also consider this one to be a prime example of how a betrayal can be a good thing. As shocked and horrified as I was, it definitely made the character in question one of my favorite fictional characters of all time.

1. Reconstructing Amelia by Kimblery McCreight -- SPOILER CHARACTER(S)


Honestly, as much as I love this book, I think it may be the reason I don't trust any fictional character anymore. Since it's a murder mystery, I expected a few characters I trusted to not be so trustworthy, but it wasn't just one -- it was several. And they betrayed me in ways I never saw coming. Of course, that's what makes it so effective as a mystery, but it didn't lessen the PAIN THEY PUT ME THROUGH.

Seriously, I highly recommend the book, but keep your guard up. I'm still in recovery.

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Thank you so much for reading! Are you a weirdo like me who takes book betrayals personally? If so, tell me about it in the comments!

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams

TITLE: Ruthless

AUTHOR: Carolyn Lee Adams

GENRE: thriller, survival horror

PLOT SUMMARY: Ruth Carver is competitive, aggressive, and sometimes downright mean. But now, these qualities are all she has to rely on in order to survive. Kidnapped and held hostage in the middle of the woods by a serial killer, Ruth knows that if she fails to keep her wits about her and escape, she'll be the seventh of the Wolfman's victims. She manages to escape his cabin and into the woods, but that's when the real fight for survival begins. The Wolfman has a gun, a vast knowledge of the woods, and a desire to see Ruth dead. All Ruth has is her determination to survive. But maybe that's enough -- if there's one thing the Wolfman should know about Ruth, it's that she refuses to lose.

FIRST THOUGHTS: I devoured this book. Almost literally -- I read most of it in one sitting at work, and then read the last thirty pages or so when I got home. While this book isn't perfect (more on that below), this is a book that feels like it was tailor-made for me. I love a good survival story, and well-written thrillers are hard to find, especially in the YA sect. This novel has some blood-pumping action, as well as a very tense, very uneasy atmosphere as Ruth tries to find her way out of the woods before the Wolfman can catch up to her. From the very first chapter, I was totally hooked. The entire story is like a car crash -- it's unpleasant and ugly, but you can't look away. And with a writer this good, you don't want to.

THOUGHTS ON PLOT: So if you know me personally, you know that I LOVE thrillers and survival stories, and I especially love plots that pit a relatively ordinary person against an extremely dangerous killer. Naturally, when I saw this book at the bookstore, I just had to have it. The story starts by dropping us right at the start of Ruth's nightmare, which I liked -- the exposition came gradually, instead of all at once, and it didn't waste any time getting to the bit that made me buy the book. The plot is fast-paced and intense, and keeps the reader guessing and genuinely worried about our main character as she spends longer and longer out in the woods. The only reason that I didn't give the plot a perfect ten is because it falls into the common trap of adding an unneeded romantic subplot. And, unlike other books I've read where that's happened, the subplot didn't really add anything to the story, and it felt incredibly forced. Like, the idea of Ruth realizing she didn't treat her friend Caleb very well and using her need to make it up to him as a motivator? Great. Awesome! Good character development! But why couldn't they have just been friends? Like I said, the romance between them felt very, very forced; in fact, I kind of suspect it was added in at the last minute during editing rather than being present at the start. It wasn't nearly bad enough for me to stop reading, obviously, but it did get aggravating.

8 / 10

THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: OK, I love Ruth. I feel like a lot of writers feel like in order for a female character to be a badass, she has to be an emotionless, stoic robot who broods in between killing things. But Ruth isn't like that. It is so refreshing to have a YA protagonist that has an edge to her while still being emotional, likable, and very human. She's also not all sweetness and light; sometimes, she can be a downright bitch. But it never goes too far; she's mean in the way that a lot of real teenage girls are. She's not intentionally malicious, she just doesn't always think to spare someone's feelings. I'm of two minds about the book's antagonist, the Wolfman. On the one hand, he is a genuine threat, and he feels like a very realistic bad guy, one that could actually exist in this world. On the other hand, he's not very interesting. We find out his backstory and even get his insight on some things, but he doesn't have very much character depth beyond being an obstacle for Ruth. There are some side characters that are also pretty one-note, but it's not as bad in their case, since they don't effectively share the spotlight with our protagonist. For the most part, this book is all Ruth vs. Wolfman, and while Ruth is more than enough to carry the story, I would've liked to see a bit of depth as far as the Wolfman is concerned.

8 / 10

THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: I think Carolyn Lee Adams is a very talented author, and it shows in this novel's prose. It never goes too overboard with its descriptions, but still provides a very clear picture of what's happening, and it's all believable as what's going on in Ruth's head as she tries to survive. My only real complaint about the novel's writing is the flashbacks that are intercut in between chapters. Don't get me wrong; I love flashbacks, especially when they provide backstory, which these did. But for some reason, the flashback portions of the book just dragged for me. The ones focusing on the Wolfman usually held my attention, but the ones focusing on Ruth, I tended to skim over so I could get back to the main plot. (Odd, considering how much better developed Ruth was as a character overall.) While they did serve as a nice breather from all the action going on in the main story, sometimes they felt more like a distraction.

7 / 10

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: I have mixed feelings towards this story's politics. In fact, it's one of the main reasons it took me longer than usual to write this review -- I have trouble articulating how I feel about it. While Ruth is undoubtedly a strong female lead (and not in that "emotionless killing machine = strong" way that a lot of writers seem to subscribe to), the book does fall short in other political respects. It has no apparent LGBT or POC characters, save for one Native American woman who appears in the backstory. (On the one hand, she exists largely to further the villain's backstory. On the other, she doesn't die or get brutalized, so that's a win.) There's also an uncomfortable moment towards the beginning where Ruth claims she has nothing against "sluts" ... yet she uses the word "slut" in the first place and talks about one girl's sexual exploits in a... not exactly derogatory, but still not-nice way. Of course, this is pretty realistic for the setting and characters, Ruth being a teenage girl out in the boondocks, so I don't really hold it against the author; it's just something to think about. There's also a lot of misogyny coming from the character of the Wolfman, though given what sort of person he is, that's to be expected. Ruth and the reader both know he's full of shit, and Ruth tells him so, which is immensely satisfying to read. There are also mentions of sexual assault and abuse. It's not particularity graphic, but it's definitely there, so proceed with caution.

5 / 10

FINAL THOUGHTS: Overall, while I'm disappointed in the way this book handled certain things, I really enjoyed it. I wish there were more YA books like this out there, but the fact that there aren't makes it all the better when I find them. I'd suggest it to anyone who's a fan of survival horror, particularly stories with a feminist bent. I'm curious to see if the author's written anything else, and if she has, I'll definitely be giving it a look.

FINAL GRADE: 7 / 10

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Thanks for taking the time to read this book review! If you read the book, too, let me know your thoughts below!

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels


Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group that posts a weekly "top 5" list for book reviewers to tackle! If you'd like to join in, the group is HERE.

This week's topic was favorite science fiction and fantasy books!

In collaboration with the BooktubeSFF Awards, talk about your favorite science fiction and fantasy books of all time! 

I'll admit, I'm generally more fantasy-oriented than sci-fi, and when I do consume science fiction, it's usually TV or movies. So, don't expect to see any hard sci-fi here. Do expect, however, to see some good books.

5. The Little Prince -- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Although this is a children's book, I think anyone of any age could get something out of it. The story follows a pilot who crash-lands in the Sahara desert, where he meets a mysterious little boy who refuses to answer questions. The narrator dubs him, the Little Prince. While the pilot works on repairing his plane, the Little Prince tells his incredible life story, beginning on a tiny asteroid, where he lived alone with his plants, including a particularly temperamental rose. What follows is an odd, melancholy story as the Prince recounts all the people he's met on all the planets he's visited.

The book is, at its core, more about growing up and the struggles of the adult world than it is about the Prince's space travels, but I think that the space travels combined with the talking animals and the Prince's mysterious, otherworldly nature more than qualifies it to be in the sci-fi/fantasy bracket. Although it's a sad story in many ways, it's never overly-so; the story never feels like it's being all doom-and-gloom for the sake of it. It's simply a very, very honest look at the adult world, and how it all feels to a child -- and how it feels to have to leave childhood behind, for better or for worse. The more fantastical elements make it easier for a younger reader to grasp, but adults can still easily appreciate it.

4. Fahrenheit 451 -- Ray Bradbury


Often considered to be one of the great classics of science fiction, Fahrenheit 451 is set in a world where reading books has been outlawed, and a fireman's job is to burn any books that are found in people's houses. Our protagonist, Guy Montag, is a fireman, and he's never really questioned his role in society. That is, until he meets Clarisse, a friendly, talkative teenager who's considered to be "crazy" by this society, because she can think for herself. Her innocent question of whether or not he's happy forces Guy to realize that, no, he isn't. This starts him on a journey as he begins to question for the first time, why were books banned in the first place? 

This book is beautifully written, and Captain Beatty is easily one of my all-time favorite literary antagonists. The presence of technology like the Mechanical Hound and Montag's wife's interactive TV screens place this in the realm of science fiction, but an uncomfortably plausible one. Of course, there's a big debate among readers as to what, exactly, this book is denouncing -- new technology, censorship, police control, something else entirely? Well, everyone has an opinion -- read the book and form one of your own.

3. Extraordinary* -- Adam Selzer


I've made my love of the YA author Adam Selzer known on this blog before, but this stands out to me as his strongest work. The story is narrated by Jen, who's sort of famous because a book based on her life was published, and became a huge hit. The book details how Jen became a princess with the help of her fairy godmother, and won the heart of the vampire prince, Fred. The only problem? The book is totally inaccurate. Jen's no princess, her boyfriend isn't a vampire, much less a prince, and the fairy godmother in question was a rude, foul-mouthed creep with a slightly homicidal streak. And also, a guy. So, Jen's taken it upon herself to set the record straight.

This book is absolutely hilarious, and is just as much a parody of the fantasy genre as it is an example of it. It's set in a world where vampires, zombies and the like have all recently "come out of the coffin" ... but it's been, like, six years, so everyone's pretty much over it. It satirizes both the paranormal, and how people perceive it, especially in regard to fictional paranormal creatures. And, on top of the humor, it has a great story with likable characters. What's not to enjoy?

2. Harry Potter -- J.K. Rowling


Yeah, yeah, I'm predictable. But I stand by my choice. It's an incredible series that's impacted the lives of so many people, including me. If I left it off of the countdown, I'd probably get my Potterhead card revoked. I'd tell you all to go read it, but chances are, you already have. 

Next?


1. Good Omens -- Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett


Good Omens is my favorite book of all time, and if you haven't read it, stop what you're doing, go read it (or listen to the audiobook, it's just as good), and then come back.

I'll wait.

...Okay, now that you've read this novel about a fast-living demon and a neurotic angel who team up to stop the Apocalypse from happening, we can discuss. By far the best part of this book is its sense of humor. It mocks the hell out of everything, from the Bible to Queen to motorcycle gangs -- if it exists, this book makes fun of it. It has an odd, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy-esque feel, but it's very much its own animal. And it's not all snarky comments and pop culture references; the ensemble cast is incredible, and their many storylines intertwine and collide in unexpected and hilarious ways. The "stop Armageddon" plot may begin with the angel and demon, but it quickly grows into something much bigger -- just like Armageddon is something much bigger than any of our characters have ever had to cope with before. It takes one of the most terrifying scenarios possible -- the end of the world -- and makes it not only funny, but poignant and touching, and it has its cast of characters to thank. I've read this book literally dozens of times, and will continue to do so as I wait for the miniseries to come out next year.

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Thank you so much for reading this countdown! If you have any fantasy or sci-fi favorites I didn't mention, tell me about them in the comments below! I'm always looking for book recs!

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Friday, March 3, 2017

The Portal Book Tag!

I chose to become a book blogger as opposed to a book vlogger because I am cripplingly awkward on camera, but one thing I envy about the booktube community is the fact that they get to do book tags. But then, I stumbled across this book tag, based on one of the greatest video games of all time, Portal!

This tag was created by biblionyan, and the original post is HERE. If you do the tag, make sure to link to their post!

TAGGED BY: Nobody.
TAGGING: Everyone that wants to do it! (Just say that I tagged you and leave a link to your post in the comments below,)

SPOILERS BELOW!

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Momentum Jump: What book series gets more and more enthralling with each installment?



For this, I'll have to go with the Amelia Rules! series. (Yes, it's a series of graphic novels. It counts!) All of them are great, but as the series goes on, the characters and stories grow more mature and complex, and thus more universal and emotional, while never losing its sense of humor.

Portal Gun: What book, or book series, has the best use of imaginative gadgets and gizmos?



I'll go with the Please Don't Tell my Parents I'm a Supervillain series for this one. Told from the perspective of the daughter of superheroes who stumbles into supervillainy by accident, there's no shortage of scientific superdevices being used, on both sides. And, more often than not, they cause trouble.

Aperture Science: What book, or book series, has the best examination of sentient artificial intelligence?



I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison. Definitely not bedtime reading, but a great story, with one terrifying villain in the form of AM.

Black Mesa: What book, or book series, has scientifically created critters that go badly?



For this, I'm going to go with the classic example -- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Though to be fair, I think the lesson of that book isn't so much "don't play God" as it is "don't abandon your ugly ten-foot-tall child in the woods after making him super-strong and intelligent."

Companion Cube: Name a character that you didn’t realize you were attached to until it was too late.



Dobby. I admit I wasn't a huge fan of him at first, but I BAWLED when he died.

GLaDOS: Name a villain that you tried to hate, yet you couldn’t help but love them.



Definitely Amy Dunne from Gone Girl. She's a horrific, manipulative, evil human being and I respect that so much.

Still Alive: Name a character that went through one terrible and traumatic experience after another, yet still survived until the end.



Harry Potter himself! Seriously, his life SUCKED. I didn't even mind how overly-sappy the epilogue was, because at least Harry could FINALLY BE HAPPY.

The Cake is a Lie: What is your all-time favorite flavor of cake?



Chocolate! Yeah, yeah, I'm boring.

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Thanks so much for reading! If you want to do this book tag, be sure to link me to it below!

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: The Romantics by Leah Konen



TITLE: The Romantics

AUTHOR: Leah Konen

GENRE: romantic comedy

PLOT SUMMARY: Love, contrary to popular belief, cannot force you to do anything. It can give you a nudge here and there, but the big stuff is all on you. This is sometimes frustrating for Love, as humans have a way of going for the wrong person in the name of... them. In this novel, Love tells us a story about their influence in the life of one Gael Brennan, who, on top of his parents divorcing, is now dealing with the fact that his girlfriend just cheated on him with his best friend. Love is finally ready to help pull Gael out of his funk and push him towards the real love of his life... when Love's plan is thrown into whack by their worst enemy: the Rebound.

FIRST THOUGHTS: I'm not usually into YA romance. I'll often read books that have romance as a subplot, but reading a straight romance is rare for me. But the concept of a love story narrated by Love itself was too cute for me to pass-up. And, in a word, that's how I'd describe this book: cute. That's not an insult -- it's a fun, lighthearted love story, with an interesting twist to pull the reader in. I admit that sometimes Love being the narrator comes off as a bit of a gimmick, but for the most part, it's handled well enough that it doesn't subtract from the storytelling. It doesn't hurt that Love is easily the best part of the whole book. And, yeah, the lowercase-l love is pretty nice, too.

THOUGHTS ON PLOT: This is, in most ways, a very formulaic romantic comedy. An unlucky-in-love hero throws himself into a new relationship, only to realize he was chasing the wrong girl the whole time. Big romantic gesture, all is resolved, everyone ends the story happy. It reminded me a lot of all those Meg Ryan romantic comedies from the 90s and early 2000s, in that respect. You start the story and pretty much immediately know how it's gonna end. But the really innovative thing about it was that, thanks to Love being the narrator, the story doesn't try to hide it the way so many bad rom-coms do. Love tells us straight-up that Gael's rebound girl is just that -- and joins us in screaming in frustration when Gael fails to realize it for 80% of the book. Love assures us that they have a plan, we just have to stick with them and watch while it folds out. Another point in the book's favor is how it doesn't focus solely on romantic love, though that does take up the bulk of the plot. There's an entire subplot about the platonic love between Gael and his (ex) best friend Mason, and Love emphasizes that this is just as important as Gael finding romantic love. Overall, I liked the way the story was told, and I enjoyed the meta-commentary on rom-coms and all they entail, but I wish a few more curveballs had been thrown in for good measure.

6 / 10

THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: As I mentioned above, Love is the best thing about this book. They're enthusiastic about their job (if you can call it that), and sincerely wants the absolute best for all the humans they try to help. They screw up sometimes (they're Love, not an all-knowing god, after all), but they always try their best to fix things. They also have a great sense of humor, as well as a tad of exasperation as they watch humans ignore their advice. One of the best aspects of their character is the sense of "These people... these people..." that they give off at times. I have very mixed feelings about our protagonist, Gael, however. While he is, generally, a good guy, and he does have good reasons for wallowing a bit, there are times when he acts like a whiny dickhead, and you kind of want to slap him. I got the sense that that was the intended reaction, but it does get tiresome. I did enjoy how well-developed Gael's family dynamic is, and how his parents have a role in the story beyond being his parents. I also liked that there's no real villain in this story (though I'm sure Love would argue that the Rebound qualifies). Everyone screws up, and everyone has to deal with the consequences, but it's never out of malice -- which, in real relationships, is often how it goes.

7 / 10

THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: Leah Konen is a vastly talented author. I cannot emphasize that enough. I've never read any of her books before, but after this, I'll definitely be picking some up. Her unique sense of humor and little asides to the audience are what make the book work, and the way the narrative is structured also adds to the fun. In between normal narration, Love also grants us a look into the minds, Google search histories, Netflix queues, and text messages of various characters, emphasizing how everyone in this story is connected, in one way or another. (Whether they'd like to be or not.)

10 / 10

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: While I wouldn't call this book problematic, per se, it did fail to deliver in the diversity department. There are no POC or LGBT characters that we know of, and while homosexuality is discussed by other characters, and not in a negative way, it does feel a bit disappointing that none of the characters seem to be anything but straight. (There's also one cringeworthy line that equates asexuality with an inability to get laid, but honestly, that's not too surprising, given how most of society treats it.) However, it does talk gender politics a few times, and none of the female characters come off as misogynist archetypes, so that's a plus. Overall, while there was nothing actively offensive in this book, it wasn't really progressive, either.

7 / 10

FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a fun read. I'm not sure if I'll be picking it up again any time soon since, like I said, it is a pretty formulaic romantic comedy, and I'm worried that the novelty of the setup may wear off with future reads. Still, it was a fun ride, and I'd recommend giving it a read if you're looking for a lighthearted rom-com with a twist. And I can't knock the gimmick; it did get me to buy the book, after all.

FINAL GRADE: 7.5 / 10

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Thanks for reading this book review! If you've read this book, share your thoughts below!

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Fictional Jobs I'd Want to Have

Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group that posts a weekly "top 5" list for book reviewers to tackle! If you'd like to join in, the group is HERE.

This week's topic was fictional jobs you'd want to have!

Any fictional career you'd want to have? Remember, T5W is always open to movies, TV, and video games as well.

I tried to limit this to books, but I quickly realized I needed to spill over into other mediums if I didn't want just one franchise to dominate this entire list. Yay, diversity! So, enough talk -- let's get to the countdown!

5. VFD Agent -- A Series of Unfortunate Events
This job is probably way "cooler" than other jobs that made the list, but I'm ranking it pretty low simply because, if I were in VFD, I would die immediately. As both the 13-book series and its Netflix adaptation show us, even the most badass and competent VFD agents have a way of biting the dust; I'm pretty sure Count Olaf and his theater troupe would have no difficulty taking me out. But, honestly, with a job that cool, who cares? You get to send people secret messages, and spy on bad guys, and try to help out our heroes from the background. No one knows what VFD is, exactly, or even what it does, but they do know that it's a force to be reckoned with, and that its agents are some of the most dangerous people around. It's everything that every kid imagines spies are like. Who doesn't want to be a part of that? 

(Granted, we don't know what the pay is, or what retirement options are.) 

(Going off the series, though, you probably won't live long enough for that to be a problem.)

4. Problem-solving talent fairy -- Disney Fairies


Anyone else remember the Disney fairies series? No, not the CGI films -- the original children's chapter books with illustrations like the ones above. If your childhood was like mine, then you probably spent a lot of time in the local library curled up with the latest release of this series -- there were twenty-six books total, and I loved each and every one of them. Set in Pixie Hollow, every fairy in this series has a talent; a calling that they were born to perform. Maybe it's not a career, per se, but every fairy seemed to have a job that lined up with their talent, so close enough. There are gardening fairies, painting fairies, pixie dust making fairies, and everything in between. One talent that we heard about was the problem solving talent, though we never actually met a fairy who had it. Still, the more I think about it, the more I think that that'd be the most useful talent to have. It may not be as flashy as fast flying or rainbow making, but imagine being born with the innate ability to put together solutions for problems faster than anyone else -- imagine how much easier life would be. Not just for you, but for everyone else! You could help your friends and family out with issues that have everyone else stumped! 

I wonder what sort of careers these fairies would have in Pixie Hollow. Maybe they were advisers to Queen Clarion or something. You do wonder why none of them ever showed up to help out Tink and her friends when they were in a bind, though.

...Or maybe I'm just overthinking it.


3. Worker at MTT Resort -- Undertale




In the ridiculously popular video game Undertale, the MTT Resort is located in Hotland, and it seems to be where everyone in the Underground goes when they need a place to crash for the night -- the place is always packed. It's owned and run by Mettaton, an entertainment/human-killing robot who's currently in the business of killing the player character and ripping out their SOUL. What a great vacation spot!

...No, really, it actually seems like a great vacation spot. Not only is the Resort located near the Underground's capital, but it's run by the Underground's biggest (only) media mogul and entertainer. If you're not the person Mettaton's trying to kill, it seems like a great place to hang around. You get to meet all sorts of people (well, monsters), and you don't even have to fight them! True, another character who works there describes the MTT Resort as "a labyrinth of bad choices," but it seems like a small price to pay to brush elbows with the Underground's star, and meet all the quirky, lovable characters the game has to offer. And, hey, maybe you get a discount to some of their five-star suites!

Now, in all likelihood... would I wind up wanting to kill Mettaton if he was my boss?

Yes. Definitely. Absolutely. Mettaton may be my favorite character, but he's also egotistical, a glory hound, and an overall sarcastic, obnoxious douche. If I had to work for him, I would probably end up deprogramming him myself.

But, that's why this is fiction and not reality.

2. Worker at the Mystery Shack -- Gravity Falls


The appeal of the Mystery Shack is actually very similar to that of the MTT Resort, but I ranked it higher on the list based mainly on the fact that I'd be slightly less likely to kill Stan Pines than Mettaton. The Mystery Shack is a tourist trap to the nth degree -- fake monsters, phony magical artifacts, and every money-spending-time-waster imaginable... dropped right in the middle of a town in the Pacific Northwest that's crawling with real supernatural creatures and real magic.

Gravity Falls is one of those fictional towns that I'd love to visit, even though almost everything there would be trying to kill me. From an army of gnomes to a conniving, manipulative shapeshifter, Gravity Falls is crawling with danger. But I think that if I worked at the Mystery Shack, and was thus able to depend on the likes of Dipper and Mabel to help me out, I could handle it. (Occasional threats of demon-caused Weirdmageddon aside.)

1. Daily Prophet columnist -- Harry Potter
 

Yes, I chose a writing-based job in the Harry Potter universe for the #1 spot. Cue the gasps of surprise from absolutely nobody.

Look, as cool as the Aurors are, and as much as I respect their work, I could never be one. Attacking people, magically or not, just isn't my style. I don't have the patience required to be a Hogwarts professor. (Put me in the same room as the likes of Severus Snape, Gilderoy Lockhart, Argus Filch, and Dolores Umbridge, and I guarantee, not everyone will be coming out of that room alive.) And as for Quidditch, well... I don't like sports even when you don't throw heights into the mix. Now you want to put me on a flying broom and have me try and concentrate when I'm several meters off the ground with no protective equipment, and have two balls that are essentially glorified cannonballs trying to knock me off my broom? No, thank you!

However, I wouldn't be averse to watching Quidditch and writing up a column on it. Or, say, interviewing the latest Hogwarts professors. Or maybe even writing an article about the Aurors' latest arrest. I wouldn't object to writing a column once or twice a week, sending into work via owl, and then going across the street for some Butterbeer, because in this scenario I live in Hogsmeade. 

In fact, that sounds pretty much perfect.

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Thank you so much for reading this countdown! Are there any amazing fictional jobs I forgot to mention? Talk about them in the comments below!

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