Stranger Than Fanfiction by Chris Colfer

31694016Stranger Than Fanfiction is a book for which the synopsis really doesn’t do the story much justice. True, the book is about teen celebrity and four graduating high school friends going on a road trip. We find out almost immediately that 3 out of the 4 friends have huge secrets. One is gay and going to an extremely conservative college. One is trans and can’t admit it to his family or friends or the guy who she(he) knows has a crush on her(him). And the third wants to attend a different college than her father is making her go to. This is all so that she can pursue what he views as a “good” career when what she really wants to do is become a writer.

I very much liked the idea of the road trip theme, as well as a celebrity peer randomly joining a group of his fans who were best friends all for the fun. Sounds like a good book, right? Well, turns out the celebrity has his own secret, is rather an asshole, and the friends are all pretty flat characters and nothing exciting happens. EVER. Until the very, very end.

Honestly, the final 40 pages all of a sudden are the only redeemable part of the book. My ears perked up, and I even shed a couple of tears! After considering not finishing the book a couple of times along the way, I finally found a reason to finish the book, however unreasonable the out-of-nowhere ending seemed!! I liked the twist and it finally brought the entire book together in a way I thought it needed.

So overall, yes, this book has characters who are LGTBQA+, but does it really discuss these issues in ways that are really important or shed light on the topic in interesting ways? Unfortunately not. I didn’t feel that I really connected with the characters at all, and I hated that I never felt that I had any idea what the show that the characters were always talking about being fans of, Whiz Kids, was about. It ended up just being an annoying, constant reference. Sorry Chris Colfer, this book wasn’t for me.

4919495Side note: speaking of Chris Colfer…just FYI, yes, Chris Colfer the author is the same as Chris Colfer the Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actor best-known for his portrayal of Kurt Hummel on the FOX television series “Glee”!! I absolutely did not realize that until after I read the book and was writing my review! It, unfortunately, doesn’t change my opinion, but I do find it fascinating and now I have to connect the “Glee” soundtrack to this book!

Book Soundtrack: “Seasons of Love” by Glee Cast

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Review + Happy Book Birthday: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young!

Sky in the Deep has been so highly anticipated for months upon months. I remember first hearing about it back in oh, December maybe? Someone said Norse or Vikings and I was ALL. OVER. IT!!! I requested it from NetGalley and I was SO excited that they granted me a copy!!! I finished it a couple weeks ago and I’ve been holding back the review from my blog so that I could drop it here on this very special release day. Congrats, Adrienne! I wish you all the best!! Now on to the review….

36597702I very much enjoyed this book for many reasons. First of all, its action-packed. If you are squeamish, be warned. There is blood and gut-spilling and wound infection treatment and burns and…yeah, this book has it all. Its not horror-movie gory or anything, but there is plenty of mention so just a heads up. But back to the action, this book has it. Eelyn (what a pretty name!) is a warrior. Its how she was raised; its in her soul.

So this leads into my second point: Sky in the Deep is a love story. Love for family, clansmen, and soulmates. When I read all the talk of family in the synopsis, I was a little concerned that this was going to be a mushy family saga. I am so glad I was proved wrong! The familial relationships were so realistic. There is love, yes, but there is also betrayal, hope, hatred, and kinship. As for the love interest, I don’t think I’ve ever read one so refreshing. I expected a major hate-to-love trope story. While in general that’s what this is, again, the story is so solid. Its not mushy, gushing, and crushing; it wasn’t insta-love. In fact, we hardly hear any talk about Fiske being handsome or sweet…its all there in his actions and just such an organic way. Once love is declared and things heat up, the two are just so sweet and perfect and their shared moments are so beautiful and genuine. Fabulously handled.

And my third point: You can’t talk or think about this book without mentioning the world-building. Perfect. I could play out every single moment of this Viking-esque world in my mind: what each of the villages looked like, their different settings, their armor, their leaders,everything. Another thing I was nervous about was hearing long descriptions of weapons because it just seems that most books that have extensive weaponry tend to go on about how special this sword is, or how this axe was someone’s fathers, etc. Nope, not here. The author has excellent on what is important (not ornate weaponry).

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Last but certainly not least, the characters are truly what makes this book excellent. Every single character is well-played and unique, contributing their own piece to Eelyn’s heart. From Eelyn’s father (who is a fierce man, but who is the perfect mix of gentle yet strong for his daughter) to the Tala (the ‘enemy’ clan’s spiritual leader), the characters are colored the story so vibrantly. Havard was, by far, my favorite. Aren’t we all suckers for cute, curious little kiddo’s?

I could probably sit here and continue to think up wonderful things about this book, but this review has gone on long enough. Do you see, now, why I waited until the book was actually released to publish this review? You wouldn’t be able to go to the bookstore and pick the book off the shelf and dive right in. So without further ado, just go read this. You’re welcome.

Book soundtrack: Sky in the Deep Playlist (Spotify)

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A List of Cages by Robin Roe

Hi friends! Hope you all had a good weekend full of many pages of reading! Throughout this week I finished reading the graphic novel of A Wrinkle in Time, made progress on Siege and Storm, as well as finished A List of Cages in its entirety. There have been several bookish chats going on, as well as readathons and I hope some of you have been able to get out there and take part.

ALOCSo here is something I have learned about myself within the past couple weeks: stay away from reviews and past biases when going into a new book. These things  may have hurt my opinion on both of my last two reads. For example, in A List of Cages, I read on review where a blogger said it was the kind of book that stays with you and I just love books like that. It had a higher rating than another book that I was considering reading. So for those reasons, I chose this book over the other one. Based on the synopses, I wasn’t necessarily more interested in this book than the other, but like I said, a “book that stays with you”? SOLD!! Now I read it, it was good but I don’t think that I was fully swept away or anything.

It is pretty much A List of Cage‘s one year anniversary, I just noticed! It was released last January. The book is written in alternating POV’s between Adam, a popular senior with ADHD, and Julian, a quiet, insecure orphaned freshman. When Adam is assigned to escort Julian to the school psychologist, the two guys are reunited as former foster brothers. Of course, the two growing closer together means learning secrets about one another, and Julian has plenty of those. He just needs a friend with the courage to give him the help he needs to get through it.

simson-petrol-110900I did enjoy this book. There were a few moments where I literally said “AWW!” out loud and my heart melted a bit. There were a few moments where my heart hurt and I felt overwhelmed for the characters. Really, though, it was the characters that made this book. I’m just going to stick to the main characters, but know that the secondary characters are even extremely supportive of Julian and have growth throughout the book. Julian is a character who is a bit immature in how he acts–i.e. what he reads, how he writes, how he reads, etc. but is this because of trauma and his living situation? This is discussed a bit in the book and its a hard topic. Overall, he says genuine things to people around him without even realizing it and it really reaches them. Then there is Adam. Adam is described as “untouchable.” If something sad were to happen, his friends think he would still be happy. Adam is an absolute sweetheart and he is very loyal to his friends and to his own mom as well.

Overall, I felt that this was a really good YA contemporary involving mental health issues, close friends, family, and courage. And on that note, I need to leave you with this quote from the book:

“Hate ricochets, but kindness does too.” – Robin Roe

Book soundtrack: “Be My Escape” by Relient K

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