Mini-Review: Fante Bukowski by Noah Van Sciver

Fante Bukowski by Noah Van Sciver
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: July 22, 2015
Source: Borrowed

Noah Van Sciver’s latest graphic novella drops in on the life of the self-styled, aspiring young writer, Fante Bukowski, as he delusively makes his way to literary fame and fortune, one drink at a time. Living in a cheap hotel, consorting with the debased and downtrodden, searching for that golden idea that will rocket him to the success he yearns for as the great American novelist, and to get respect from his father once and for all. But, there’s just one problem: Fante Bukowski has no talent for writing.

If I had to describe the plot of this book in one sentence, it would be “an entitled man thinks the world should fawn over his terrible writing.” This is going to be a pretty short review because this is a pretty short book and I don’t have a ton of feelings about it. I think it’s one of those things you’re either going to like or you’re not.

I enjoyed this one at the beginning when it was really satirizing its subject matter, but as the book went on, I was just annoyed. I was annoyed by Fante’s attitude and his entitlement and all of the cliches.

At least I laughed exactly three times while I was reading it.


Have you read Fante Bukowski? Have you read any very strange books recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I feel differently about now that time has passed

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is a total freebie, so I scrolled back through the depths of the TTT archives to find a topic that sounded fun that I hadn’t done yet. I decided to go with books I feel differently about now that time has passed.


Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

original (2012) rating: ★★★★☆

I very vividly remember reading this book during my last shift of my last college job. I was completely engrossed. I had to know what happened next. Looking back, there are a lot of problems with this book. The whole attitude toward suicide in this book is problematic at best, and Hannah blaming her suicide on several classmates and forcing them to not only listen to her tapes but also pass them along so everyone else can find out their “crimes” is just… not great. I couldn’t even make it halfway through the first season of the show.


Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer

original (2006) rating: ★★★★★

I didn’t have a Goodreads account when I first read Twilight, but please believe me when I say that I was obsessed. I thought that this book was the greatest thing. Edward and Bella were meant to be. I don’t think that this book is the worst thing ever written, but I can definitely recognize the problems it has now that I’m older.


The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

original (2006-ish) rating: ★★★☆☆

I was about sixteen years old the first time that I read The Catcher in the Rye, and while I didn’t hate it, I also didn’t really appreciate it. I thought Holden was a bit annoying. I didn’t really like the writing style. I just didn’t click with it. I re-read it last year and absolutely adored it.


Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

original (2017) rating: ★★★★☆

This was the first collection of Instagram-type poetry that I ever read, and I more or less enjoyed it, so I gave it four stars. As time has gone on, I’ve learned that basically all of these collections are the same, and about half of the poems in each collection are just sentences with line breaks.

(anybody can write
sentences with line breaks
that doesn’t make it
poetry)


The Naughty Corner by Jasmine Haynes

original (2014) rating: ★★★★☆

The Naughty Corner was one of the first erotic novels I ever read, and because of that, I think I liked it a lot more then than I would now. Looking back, there isn’t anything particularly exciting about this book. It’s kind of a gross concept, to be honest, and I feel like it would probably get one star if I read it today.


The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

original (2013) rating: ★★★★☆

When I first read the first three books of the Mortal Instruments series back in 2013, I was swept away by the world of the Shadowhunters. As I continued on with the series, I was really disappointed by the lack of plot and character development. Looking back, this series is basically just a bunch of popular books thrown together with some fake incest added in for good measure. Add to that all of the Cassandra Clare drama I’ve learned about, and I’ll just stay away from this series (and her others).


Under My Skin by Shawntelle Madison

original (2014) rating: ★★★★☆

Having re-read my review for this book, here’s what I can tell you I liked about this book at the time: the intriguing plot and the well-developed characters. Thinking back, all I can remember is being really confused about what was happening and wondering when I was going to get any resolution at all. Apparently it all came together in the end, but I think this would probably get two stars if I read it today.


Off the Record by K.A. Linde

original (2014) rating: ★★★☆☆

To be honest, I’m not sure quite why I gave this book three stars when I originally read it since I actually hated it. I hated the characters, I hated the relationship, I hated everyone’s attitude, and I didn’t even think the writing was very good.


The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

original (2016) rating: ★★★☆☆

Sometime between 2016 and now, I’ve become much harsher in my ratings. I didn’t really enjoy this book very much and thought it didn’t really live up to the hype, and yet I still gave it three stars for some reason. I don’t think it’s terrible or anything, but I did think that the ending was completely over-the-top and far too many convenient things happened for the book to seem even remotely realistic.


Permanent Record by Leslie Stella

original (2013) rating: ★★★☆☆

This is another book that I didn’t actually like that I mysteriously gave three stars. It’s been years since I read this, but I remember feeling so relieved once I finished, and getting rid of this in one of my unhauls was probably one of the easiest decisions I’ve made.


Did you do your own Top Ten Tuesday post today? Feel free to leave your link in the comments and I’ll check it out! What are some books you’ve changed your mind about? Let’s talk in the comments!

Book Review: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend.

Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. But Laura Dean keeps coming back, and as their relationship spirals further out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it’s really Laura Dean that’s the problem. Maybe it’s Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including Doodle, who needs her now more than ever. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnists like Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love.

Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell bring to life a sweet and spirited tale of young love that asks us to consider what happens when we ditch the toxic relationships we crave to embrace the healthy ones we need.
 

I’m not sure what it was that drew me to Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me. It might have been the cover. It might have been the catchy title. It might have been the references to a toxic relationship and strong friendship from the synopsis. Whatever it was, this book ended up being one of my most anticipated of 2019.

I’m usually a little bit scared to read my most anticipated books, but I got an email from my library that this was due back in three days, and when I went to renew it, I saw that there were already four more holds on it. I ended up reading it all in one sitting and loving it so, so, so much. I’m not sure that there was anything about this graphic novel that I did not love.

Let’s start with the characters.

Freddy could be any teenage girl. She’s in a relationship with a really popular, really cool girl. She can’t believe that she’s captured Laura Dean’s attention, so she just kind of goes along with the poor treatment she receives in the relationship. Regardless of what else is going on in her life, she’s expected to be there when Laura Dean wants her, but she’s also expected to be okay with it when Laura Dean decides, yet again, that the relationship isn’t quite doing it for her and she wants to break up. Freddy doesn’t necessarily like it that Laura Dean treats her like this, but she also isn’t necessarily looking for more from life.

Laura Dean is, as you might think, kind of self-centered and seemingly oblivious to the fact that she’s treating Freddy really unfairly. She’s very popular with a lot of friends, yet she’ll call Freddy in a panic asking her to come over because she’s found herself alone for ten minutes. I almost felt bad for her at some points in the book, but then I remembered that I’ve been the Freddy in that situation and lost all sympathy for her.

There are some great side characters as well, particularly Freddy’s best friend, Doodle. Doodle and Freddy struggle a bit with their friendship throughout the course of the book as Freddy abandons Doodle over and over again so that she can spend more time with Laura Dean. Their friendship, though, was one of my favorite things about this book. I loved how it showed that despite arguments and people behaving badly and whatever other drama is going on in their life, your true friends will be there for you when you need them.

On to the actual story.

The truth is, there isn’t a ton of plot in this graphic novel. It’s mostly about Freddy’s relationships, both with Laura Dean and with Doodle. Freddy is addressing an advice columnist for a lot of the book, which I thought was a really fun and interesting way to frame the story. I often find myself bored when I read a character-driven story like this, but in this case, it really worked.

The last thing to mention, since this is a graphic novel, is the art.

I loved the art. I think I need to find everything Rosemary Valero-O’Connell has ever illustrated and read it because everything, from the art style to the way the panels were framed to the color palette, was amazing. This was probably one of the best-illustrated graphic novels I’ve ever read, and I just want to read more books like this.

In the end, would I recommend this? 100% yes.


Have you read Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me? What’s the last book that lived up to your (high) expectations? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: The Secret Language of Cats by Susanne Schotz

The Secret Language of Cats by Susanne Schotz
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Have you ever wondered what your cat is saying?

Cats do not meow randomly, nor do they growl or hiss because they have nothing better to do. Cat sounds have a purpose, and they can carry important messages, whether for us or other cats.

Susanne Schotz is hard at work on breaking the cat code. She is a professor at Lund University in Sweden, where a long-standing research program is proving that cats do actually use vocal communication–with each other and with their human caretakers. Understanding the vocal strategies used in human-cat communication will have profound implications for how we communicate with our pets, and has the potential to improve the relationship between animals and humans within several fields, including animal therapy, veterinary medicine and animal sheltering.

In The Secret Language of Cats, Schotz offers a crash course in the phonetic study of cat sounds. She introduces us to the full range of feline vocalizations and explains what they can mean in different situations, and she gives practical tips to help us understand our cats better.
 

I’ll be honest here and say that the only reason I checked this out from the library was that cute kitten on the cover. I mean, I do have an interest in linguistics (I did major in it in college, after all) and I do love cats, but nonfiction about felines isn’t really my thing. Quite honestly, after I picked this up and remarked on the cuteness of the cover, I should have just put it back down, because this book was some nonsense.

The thing is, if you’ve owned cats for any portion of your life, or been close with anyone who has owned cats, or even just spent like two minutes with a cat one time, nothing in this book will come as a surprise to you. I mean, was it fun to see the various noises a cat can make transcribed using IPA? Sure, I guess. Was I happy that cats weren’t hooked up to any crazy machinery to make this book happen? Yes. But was there a point to this book? Not really.

Because aside from the transcription of cat noises into IPA, the majority of this book is just the author saying, “My cat makes this noise in this context and if you want to go to my blog, you can listen to a recording.” The book is also incredibly repetitive, stating over and over and over and over that cats make hissing and growling noises when they’re mad and chirps and purrs when they’re happy.

Overall, the book feels more like observances that will be common sense to any cat owner mixed with a lot of phonetic observations. I’d hardly call any of this a revelation, and I’d hardly call anything that the author discusses in this book a “language” since it has no known rules. For a nonfiction book, this was at least a rather quick read, but more than anything else, I’m just disappointed.

#ps19: a book by an author whose first and last names start with the same letter


Have you read The Secret Language of Cats? What’s the last book that seriously disappointed you? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Weekly Update

In case you missed it, here are this week’s blog posts:

  • Review: We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar
  • Review: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu
  • Top Ten Tuesday: Settings I’d like to see more of (or at all)
  • Review: Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall
  • Tag: Sunshine Blogger Award (Take 12)
  • Review: The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

I’ve been reading:

Recently acquired:

  • Nothing this week!

1 thing this week:

  • I’m really excited to be part of The Babysitters Coven blog tour in September! I’ve been looking forward to this book for a really long time.

Blog hopping:

Song of the week:

I’m still trying to decide how I feel about this song, but I’ve sure heard it a lot this week.


How was your week? What’s the best thing you read or listened to? Anything interesting happening in your life? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
Series: Early Earth
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: December 20, 2016
Source: Purchased

In the tradition of The Arabian Nights, a beautifully illustrated tapestry of folk tales and myths about the secret legacy of female storytellers in an imagined medieval world.

In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle–and Cherry.

But what Jerome doesn’t know is that Cherry is in love with her maid Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love and betrayal and loyalty and madness.

As intricate and richly imagined as the works of Chris Ware, and leavened with a dry wit that rivals Kate Beaton’s in Hark! A Vagrant, Isabel Greenberg’s One Hundred Nights of Hero will capture readers’ hearts and minds, taking them through a magical medieval world. 

You might remember me reviewing The Encyclopedia of Early Earth not too long ago. I ended up buying The One Hundred Nights of Hero since I enjoyed both the art style and the subtle humor in The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, and I was not disappointed.

The One Hundred Nights of Hero is the story of a young woman, Cherry, who is married to an evil man, Jerome, who bets a friend that he can’t seduce Cherry while Jerome is away. If his friend, Manfred, succeeds in seducing Cherry, Jerome is willing to give him both his castle and his wife. When Cherry finds out about the wager, she knows that Manfred will do everything in his power to sleep with her, including by force if necessary. Luckily, her maid, friend, and lover Hero is a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers and weaves stories, night after night, to keep Manfred distracted from the seduction.

I loved the larger story here, including the positive portrayal of a f/f relationship in a time when that was not accepted, but what I really adored were Hero’s stories. The stories were empowering, fantastical, and whimsical. The stories could be a bit quirky and a bit sassy at times, but everything balanced so well that I don’t really have any complaints.

I had initially thought I’d rate this four stars, but looking back… there’s nothing I didn’t like, so it turns out it’s a five.

#mm19: through the years


Have you read The One Hundred Nights of Hero? What about The Encyclopedia of Early Earth? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Tag: Sunshine Blogger Award (Take 12)

I was nominated by Roo, Eline, Rachael, and Rae for the Sunshine Blogger Award! Thank you all so much! ❤

If you’re interested, you can see the previous takes of this award here:
1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 91011


Rules of the award:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate (at least) 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

11 questions from Roo:

What is your favourite book of the year so far?

This is the hardest question, but I think I have to go with Bloom!

What is your most anticipated book of this year?

Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff!!!! I cannot wait!!!!

Have you found a TV/movie adaption of a book you have really enjoyed? If not, are there any you are looking forward to?

I really enjoyed the adaptation of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. I also really liked Love, Simon!

Where is your favourite bookshop? And what is it called?

I recently went to A Room of One’s Own in Madison, WI and really liked it. I hadn’t been there since college since now I live in New Jersey, but it was 10,000 times better than I remembered.

Would any of the characters in the book you are currently reading win The Hunger Games?

I just finished Through the Woods by Emily Carroll and I think that yes, many of the characters could win.

Do you have multiple copies of a book? If not, are there any editions you currently have your eye on?

I don’t think that there are any books I have multiple copies of. I’m trying to be pretty good about either donating or selling any books that I don’t need to keep.

What is your favourite season?

I love spring!

What is one of your dream vacation spots?

I’d love to go to Spain or Portugal! I majored in Spanish in college and took a semester of intensive Portuguese for fun.

Describe your perfect Sunday

I love my Sundays recently! I stay home and do laundry while my boyfriend goes out and does the grocery shopping. After he gets back, we go out for lunch and hang out downtown for a bit and then go to the library. It’s such a fun and relaxing way to spend a day. 🙂

Are you an aspiring writer? Have you currently got a WIP? Or any ideas for one?

I am not! I’m happy reading stories and not creating them. 🙂

What it your most treasured possession?

Excluding my cat (who isn’t really a possession), probably a necklace my boyfriend gave me for my birthday. ❤


11 questions from Eline:

A place you would want to travel to next

I think the next place I’m going is Hershey, Pennsylvania!

Which authors are on your auto-buy list?

  • Becky Albertalli
  • Jenn Bennett
  • V.E. Schwab
  • probably others that I can’t think of right now!

What could a synopsis include that would immediately make you want to read a book?

FRIENDS-TO-LOVERS!

A stunning book cover

I love Emma Mills’ book covers! I haven’t read this one yet. 🙂

At what point do you DNF books? Is it a certain percentage through it?

Well, first of all, I rarely DNF anything. But if I do, I try to get up to page 100 before giving up. That doesn’t always happen though, because sometimes I just can’t handle the book.

Would you prefer to live in a big or small city?

Definitely a big city. I would love to move to NYC!

Favourite mythological creature?

🦄

One of your goals for 2019

Survive my job…

How many languages do you know and what would you like to learn next?

Other than English, I can understand most written and spoken Spanish (I’m not as great at speaking it myself) and I could probably get by with Portuguese. I’m not really sure which language I’d like to learn next. I always thought that Icelandic would be fun, but it’s not a language that I’d use on a daily basis.

A book quote you like

“You can be with the same person for a long time and have it be fine and meet someone else who instantly makes you see that it’s broken,” she said.

EMERGENCY CONTACT BY MARY H.K. CHOI

Recommend me some book blogs you follow!


11 questions from Rachael:

What’s your favorite lesser known book or series and why?

I hardly ever see people talking about Starry Eyes, even though it’s one of my favorite books that I’ve ever read!

Describe the best food you’ve ever read about in a book.

I don’t tend to really remember the food I read about, but I do remember the Korean-Brazilian fusion food truck from The Way You Make Me Feel! I would love to eat some of that.

Would you rather be a character in a whimsical magical tale or an epic space opera?

I’d take whimsy and magic over battles any day.

If you could change something about your favorite book, what would you change?

I pretty much have undying love for Starry Eyes, but I suppose I could get rid of the miscommunication in it? That’s one of my biggest pet peeves. It didn’t bother me too much in that book, though, since it seemed really natural.

Why did you start blogging?

Because I moved to New Jersey and didn’t know anybody here! I needed someone to talk to about books!

What is your most controversial bookish opinion?

I did a Top Ten Tuesday post about this not too long ago, but my most controversial opinion is probably that I can’t support Cassandra Clare.

Personal library or public library?

Both! I own a ton of books, but I also make weekly trips to my public library.

What is your favorite thing about yourself?

Probably the fact that I’m very calm in a crisis and can pretty much get anything done that needs to be done.

What book character would you name a pet after? (and what kind of animal is the pet?)

Honestly, I don’t think that I would name a pet after any characters! I’ll save the literary names for my future children. 🙂

Where would you go if you could go anywhere within driving distance (like 5 hours max) right now?

Right now, I’m very tired and don’t really want to go anywhere… but in general? Probably New York City. I could really go for some ice cream at Ample Hills.

Who is your book boyfriend (or girlfriend)?

Joshua Templeman from The Hating Game, I guess. I already have the perfect boyfriend. Fictional characters can’t even compare.


11 questions from Rae:

What’s your favorite genre?

Right now I’m very much into graphic novels. They don’t take a ton of brainpower or effort to read and that’s perfect after a long, stressful day.

Where do you like to read?

Mostly I read on my couch or on my bed.

What do you do when you’re not reading?

I like to spend time with my boyfriend, go to New York, cook and bake, and obsessively plan out every detail of my life.

Who is your favorite author?

Jenn Bennett!

When is your favorite time to read?

Right before bed. It’s a really easy way for me to calm down and get relaxed enough to sleep.

How do you choose what books to read next?

I try to read ARCs first, but after that, it’s really whatever I feel like. Sometimes I’ll choose a book based on a reading challenge prompt, but I’m finding that I read more when I don’t set a strict plan for myself.

What do you look for in a book?

I don’t think that I really ask for a lot in books. I want it to be well-written with believable characters who do things that make sense for the situation. I always love a good friends-to-lovers storyline and I’m a sucker for anything with a lot of pining, but I don’t think I’m really that picky.

How do you feel about book to movie adaptations?

I don’t usually watch them, but that’s mostly because I don’t usually watch most things. I have so much time to read because I don’t really watch TV or go to many movies.

Do you prefer a stand-alone or a series?

I really prefer standalones. I have no opposition to series, really, but I don’t always have the time or energy to dedicate to reading a really long series.

Have you ever joined a book club?

I have not!

What are your tips to other bloggers?

My biggest tip is to make sure you’re posting the kind of content that makes you happy! Don’t force yourself to write a ton of reviews if you don’t want to and don’t feel obligated to come up with discussion topic after discussion topic if that’s not something you’re comfortable with. Your blog is yours and it’s there to make you happy. If it’s stressing you out, then something has to change. ❤


If you want to answer these questions, please feel free! I’d love to see your responses. ❤ What’s your dream vacation spot? Do you prefer to buy or borrow books? Let’s talk in the comments!

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