And She Persisted: A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

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Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.

After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky is torn. Just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

Source: GoodReads

This book takes place 107 years ago, but it is ridiculously timely to what’s going on right now.

Because it deals with women’s rights.

I think if anything can be learned from the past few years, is that while women have made it a long way since the time this book took place, we’re hardly in a place where we have equal rights and sexism very much exists.  We have to keep fighting for our rights every single day.

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Case in point, the whole thing that happened with Senator Warren this week.  In fact, Senator Warren has dealt with a lot of flak the gag order in the senate is only the latest one.  During many of these sham cabinet hearings (because the GOP decided to pretty much gut them to where no one could ask adequate amount of questions and then in turn gut the vote because they are smug little assholes) Warren was patronized multiple times and it was just disgusting.  Add the fact that Trump keeps referring to her derogatory as Pocahontas, mocking the fact that she comes from Native American heritage it just makes me angrier.

And I know I’m about to go on a political tirade, but it’s relevant to this review of the book because sexism does exist in this world and this book shows how we as a society have to fight it and combat it.  The reason I loved A Mad Wicked Folly so much is while it is a discussion of the suffragette movement and feminism, it is as much as a coming of age story.

Vicky really develops as a character and that’s refreshing.  The blurb made me think I’d be getting more or less a water downed version of Downton Abbey, but that’s hardly the case.  Sure, there are bits and pieces that I guess you could say were Downton Abbey-ish but I think this was more of a thought provoking book than fluff.  And it honestly, was sort of inspiring.

Honestly, the cover and blurb were sort of a disservice to this book.

I’ll admit, I’ve been a little depressed lately with current events, but this book sort of gave me hope that things could change.  Victoria had the deck stacked against her, but somehow she was able to make her end choices at the end of the book and get what she wants.  That was refreshing.

I also enjoyed reading more about the historical aspects of the period.  Briggs did a great job describing the time period and there were some things I learned about the suffragette movement that I did not know before.  It didn’t feel like she was spoon feeding it to me either, there was something ridiculously organic about the whole thing.

It was also how scary how some of the misogyny that existed in this period is very much prevalent in the present.    The same techniques and objections that were used to keep a woman from voting in the early 1900’s are still used today.  A woman is too emotional.  Her place is at there home or with the family.  That women with ambitions are evil and unnatural.

It’s just sickening.

And it really makes you want to say fuck the patriarchy and kick some ass.

As frustrating as this is though, it also left me feeling hopeful because progress has been made.  A lot of progress.  But we still have a long way to go, but this book gave me hope that anyone can make a difference.  So, that was a plus.

Overall, I highly recommend this read.  It’s thought provoking and relative.  This book exemplifies my reason for resisting.  I am going to fight for that progress that we’ve made in the past and further it again.  And damn right, I’m going to be persistent about it.

Oh, and yeah, fuck the patriarchy.

Overall Rating: An A.

 

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Should’ve Been Called Skeleton : Gilded by Lucinda Gray

After growing up on a farm in Virginia, Walthingham Hall in England seems like another world to sixteen-year-old Katherine Randolph. Her new life, filled with the splendor of upper-class England in the 1820s, is shattered when her brother mysteriously drowns. Katherine is expected to observe the mourning customs and get on with her life, but she can’t accept that her brother’s death was an accident.

A bitter poacher prowls the estate, and strange visitors threaten the occupants of the house. There’s a rumor, too, that a wild animal stalks the woods of Walthingham. Can Katherine retain her sanity long enough to find out the truth? Or will her brother’s killer claim her life, too?

Source: GoodReads

So….

You know I’ve been reading a lot of Historical Romances lately and thought hey a Historical Romance YA seems too good to be true, except….well, this one sucked.

The good news is that The Gilded Cage is a mercifully short book (under 250 pages) which means I finished it in under two hours.  The bad news is that I really didn’t give a flip what happened in this book, really didn’t care what happened to the character because they were flat as could be.

Plus, I kept really wondering with all the other books I read in the period if Katherine would really be able to inherit.  I don’t think she could inherit the tile and all that came with it even if she was the only heir.  God knows, there have been plenty of HR books that deal with the issue of having no male heir.  And it wasn’t until very, very, recently that the British monarchy changed a rule allowing for a first born female heir to inherit the title.  So, I had some doubt whether or not Katherine could’ve inherited faux Downton Abbey.

But hey…what do I know.  Maybe there could’ve been a way for Lady Mary to inherit the Abby after all without having to marry Matthew Crawley.

Anyway, that possibly big error aside I could never really get into this book.  The characters are really sparsely drawn out.  It appears at the beginning that the MC is pining after some guy named Conner or at least whining about him, but then it quickly shifts to her being introduced to British society then a half ass murder mystery of her brother whose death was so quick and swift after his introduction that I really couldn’t care much that the character died.

And then it was like the MC was having some sort of pining for her family solicitor and there’s some creepy relative whose into her and then there’s an insane asylum and some other shit.

Like I said, I read it really quick but the story just doesn’t work for me because it’s so quick and plot point after plot point that I can’t really couldn’t keep track enough to know where this one was going.  There’s an inheritance, we really don’t get told how big or great the inheritance is and there’s someone who wants to steal it.  The MC’s brother paints, this also has to deal with the mystery of his death.  And somehow the MC gets thrown into an asylum…

Yeah…it’s about confusing as that paragraph sounds.  On the bright side, I guess I can’t hate any of the characters since they were all sort of boring.  So, plus there?

I think one of the reasons this book lacked anything was that it was packaged.  To be blunt, I sort of snub my nose at packaged books because it really does annoy me the whole concept of them.  It’s true that some of them are better (and more ethical) than others.  While I know nothing about the packaging company that produced Gray’s book, I do know that this book felt very phoned in.  There was nothing that invoked passion concerning the book or it’s subject matter to me.  While the plot could’ve been interesting it was dull.

Which is a shame because Gothic novels, when done right can be pretty awesome.   This one though seemed a little bit more than a skeleton outline than anything else.  Usually, I complain about books in YA being too long, but this is one case where I think a hundred or so pages could’ve done the book good.

Overall Rating: A D.  I finished it, which is something and there were some aspects and bits interesting. It was just more or less a skeleton of what could’e been a very good book but wasn’t.

Da Vinci Code With Bonus John Milton: Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman

Six years have passed since England’s King Charles II returned from exile to reclaim the throne, ushering in a new era of stability for his subjects.

Except for Elizabeth Milton. The daughter of notorious poet John Milton, Elizabeth has never known her place in this shifting world—except by her father’s side. By day she helps transcribe his latest masterpiece, the epic poem Paradise Lost, and by night she learns languages and sword fighting. Although she does not dare object, she suspects that he’s training her for a mission whose purpose she cannot fathom.

Until one night the reason becomes clear: the king’s men arrive at her family’s country home to arrest her father. Determined to save him, Elizabeth follows his one cryptic clue and journeys to Oxford, accompanied by her father’s mysterious young houseguest, Antonio Vivani, a darkly handsome Italian scientist who surprises her at every turn. Funny, brilliant, and passionate, Antonio seems just as determined to protect her father as she is—but can she trust him with her heart?

When the two discover that Milton has planted an explosive secret in the half-finished Paradise Lost—a secret the king and his aristocratic supporters are desperate to conceal—Elizabeth is faced with a devastating choice: cling to the shelter of her old life or risk cracking the code, unleashing a secret that could save her father…and tear apart the very fabric of society. 

Source: GoodReads

Anne Blankman’s debut (Prisoner of Night and Fog) was one of my favorite books in 2014.  I was a little weary about this books sequel though, I mean it was not really needed but was excited to read that she had a new book, Traitor Angels coming out.   A book that would be focusing on English history—particularly John Milton and that stupid poem that I was forced to read twice, once in AP English and later in my British Literature Post Shakespeare class in college.

As you can probably tell, I don’t like John Milton.

Because that poem was so long…and so religious and ugh.  And I had to spend a fourth of the  semester listening to how Satan could be viewed as the hero in said epic poem and I was like can’t I do something more useful with my time like catching up Grey’s Anatomy—which was actually decent then because McDreamy and McSteamy were still alive and kicking.

Whatever though, I was still interested.  The blurb made it seem like there would be a The Da Vinci Code vibe to it—take that Dan Brown, Anne Blankman has already YA’d your ludicrous conspiracy theory book—and it did and ended up jumping the shark in glorious Dan Brown fashion.

If you’re remotely religious or get pissed whenever religion is twisted and contorted to something it’s not and then exploited by the History Channel, you might want to skip this one.  The revelation will make a lot of people upset, the revelation didn’t bother me though (at least not for those reasons).

What bothered me was that even though it had jumped over the shark and then some, the twist was so expected.  It was just like Blankman was like how can I top The Da Vinci Code.   And the result was just sort of stupid and really nonsensical, since there was never a bloody explanation to how they came to these erroneous and very stupid conclusions.

I could even get over the big plot hole if there was some decent character development.  Elizabeth was interesting enough, I guess, before her quest.  I was starting to get a good idea of her, but her  nighttime swordswoman skills were laughable at best.  Especially considering she was a repressed puritan.  And considering she grew up as a puritan she really didn’t act one, since she was more than willing to gallivant with a man without a chaperone in 17th century England.

Oh, fail book.  Fail.  Fail.  Fail.

The romance was just dull as starring at wallpaper.  Antonio was just boring.  I felt like the Robert character was more developed and based on what happened in the book that ship would’ve been a definite no go too.

The quest itself, despite its ludicrous conclusion ,seemed entirely too easy.  Even Dan Brown has his Indiana Jones wannabe character struggling a bit.  It seems like Elizabeth was just able to piece together the puzzles and clues like that.  I mean, I’ve played Nancy Drew games that were harder.

Was it the worst thing ever?

No.

Just a bit of a disappointment.  On a positive note, I finished it which is saying something because I’ve had a slew of DNF’s lately.

Overall Rating: A D.  If you like ludicrous conspiracy theories, just for the theories read this one.  If you’re highly sensitive about religion, like character development and good romance don’t bother.  I honestly expected more from Blankman.

Time For Something Different: The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller

Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls barely know their father, a plant hunter usually off adventuring through China. Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan reneges on his contract to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid. He will be thrown into debtors’ prison while his daughters are sent to the orphanage and the workhouse.

Elodie can’t stand by and see her family destroyed, so she persuades her father to return to China once more to try to hunt down the flower—only this time, despite everything she knows about her place in society, Elodie goes with him. She has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China. But now, even if she can find the orchid, how can she ever go back to being the staid, responsible Elodie that everybody needs?

Source: GoodReads

Sigh.

This book was so close to being a perfect read, save for some pacing issues.

It explores a portion of history that I’m not that  familiar with.  Oh, I am aware enough of Victorian Britain, but I haven’t read that much about exploration in this era.  Especially in China.

Or for that matter I haven’t really read anything about horticulture.

That in it’s own made the read interesting enough.  But it really wasn’t the plot that kept me engaged.  Rather, it was the fact that this book had a lot of feminist undertones which had me squealing,

Yes, I said feminism.

There there are sadly no suffragettes and bra burning in this story, there are some under and overtones of feminism on a micro level.

Which is why I love this book so much, because it focused on how an individual is limited by her time period in her decisions.

Waller really does a great job with Elodie. The character is complex and realistic.  In fact, the characterization of the main character is probably one of my favorite parts of this book.   Elodie faces many challenges that any woman during this period would face.   However, she faces them in a way that is not overt or heavy handed.   While there is  a romance in this book, it is not the primary focus of the novel.  But I did ship the ship, even though it played a minor side role to the overall plot.

And maybe that’s why I liked The Forbidden Orchid as much as I did.  While I am a fan of romance, sometimes I feel like it overwhelms a story.  Here, it didn’t.  It was just enough romance to have you ship the ship but not overwhelm the character or the plot.

As far as plots go, this book doesn’t really have the most exciting or nail biting plot.  It really is a character study.  And that is totally okay.  There is just enough hints of adventure where it isn’t boring or anything.  The thing is, I can see how the lack of a plot WOULD bother someone else.

In addition to the lack of a plot, the pacing in this book is a bit messed up.  There was waaay too much time spent in England at the beginning of the novel, and the middle part on the ship and the part in China felt a little short changed which is a shame because those were the better parts of this book.

Would I recommend this book: absolutely.  But it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.  If you like historical fiction that focuses on aspects in the period that are often ignored I recommend this one.  However, it doesn’t have much in terms of a plot, but the characterization and the history it covers makes up for it.

Overall Rating: An A-.

 

Lindsay Lohan Meets Affluenza Meets the Cold War: The Notorious Pagan Jones by Nina Berry

Pagan Jones went from America’s sweetheart to fallen angel in one fateful night in 1960: the night a car accident killed her whole family. Pagan was behind the wheel and driving drunk. Nine months later, she’s stuck in the Lighthouse Reformatory for Wayward Girls and tortured by her guilt—not to mention the sadistic Miss Edwards, who takes special delight in humiliating the once-great Pagan Jones.

But all of that is about to change. Pagan’s old agent shows up with a mysterious studio executive, Devin Black, and an offer. Pagan will be released from juvenile detention if she accepts a juicy role in a comedy directed by award-winning director Bennie Wexler. The shoot starts in West Berlin in just three days. If Pagan’s going to do it, she has to decide fast—and she has to agree to a court-appointed “guardian,” the handsome yet infuriating Devin, who’s too young, too smooth, too sophisticated to be some studio flack.

The offer’s too good to be true, Berlin’s in turmoil and Devin Black knows way too much about her—there’s definitely something fishy going on. But if anyone can take on a divided city, a scheming guardian and the criticism of a world that once adored her, it’s the notorious Pagan Jones. What could go wrong?

Source: GoodReads

It’s been a DNF week.  I do not lie about that.  The one good thing about DNF’ing things left and right is that I am sort of catching up on my GoodReads reading challenge.  Though some people might find that a bit of a cheat, but I don’t.  And that’s all that matters.

With Downton Abbey ending I have been craving period pieces.  I’ve had The Notorious Pagan Jones in my TBR pile for what seems forever.  The premises intrigued me enough, but with the bar and everything else I just sort of forgot about it.

The Notorious Pagan Jones takes place in the 1960’s at the height of the Cold War.   Pagan is a fallen film star, think Lohan but with manslaughter added to her record.

Honestly, I didn’t like Pagan.

I like imperfect heroines, but I like them to own their fuckups.  Pagan really doesn’t seem to think she deserves to be in jail, she tried to escape, despite killing her entire family.

To be fair though, if this was 2016 she’d probably have a pretty good defense using the affluenza card.  Though in 1960, being a poor little rich girl couldn’t get you off on manslaughter.  It could though get you out of jail for free if you had the right connections and you were THE only actress who could play some minor film role.

To be honest, I think the book planned on expanding this point further, but as previous mentioned I DNF’d the book because 200 pages in, I still couldn’t see where they were going with this.

Pagan, obviously, wasn’t a very sympathetic character and other than her the only character were given any sort of details of was her guardian/love interest, Devin Black, and I didn’t care for him too much either.  The fact that he’s her nineteen-year-old guardian-who has no blood relation to Pagan (tell me exactly how that happens-current hypothesis is he’s a vampire or something that’s really a lot older than nineteen much like Edward Cullen) and sort of has a thing for her has me dumbfounded.  Much like the fact that a judge would allow a convicted felon to go to a foreign country to shoot a movie.

I did like that Berry was going to explore this era in history, but honestly with what I saw I lost interest.  Having a Ethan Couch/Lindsay Lohan hybrid who just mopes and complains about her circumstances is just really not that endearing to me.  All I wanted to do was shake her and tell her than she killed two people and that she is a horrible person because she doesn’t realize the severity of her circumstances or at least attempts to repent.

Overall Rating: DNF.  Construction wise, I think it fails becuase the characters are just flat beyond belief and the pacing is horrid.

That Kilt Looks Itchy: When a Scott Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare

On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.

A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.

Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.

Source: GoodReads

If this book would’ve been written twenty or so years ago, I would’ve hated it.  That being said, I’m okay with it, but I didn’t love it like several people did on GoodReads.

I sort of blame the tropes that were used more than the writing and characters themselves.

I mean, come on it’s the blackmail trope.  You’re going to sort of get a dick hero with this trope-I mean, dude (albeit hot dude in kilt) blackmails mousy rich English lady with property into marrying him.

I sort of wanted to castrate Logan at that part, but the more I read the book, I found I couldn’t hate Logan.  If this would’ve been a late 80’s Catherine Coulter book, I’m sure I would’ve found plenty of reasons to hate him-Coulter’s blackmail trope usually consists of multiple abuse and rape scenes-but Logan really wasn’t that abusive and actually had some charm about him despite the rather sketchy move.

And I could sort of (if I squint) get his motivations for blackmailing Maddie.

Though, even though he had good natured intentions it was still a dick move.

I really did like Maddie though.  I thought she was a well formed MC with some quirks.  I could so identify with her anxiety, I hate attending social gatherings myself and am a major introvert at that.  I liked that despite not liking parties and dancing, she’s not an outright hermit and has interests of her own.

The supporting cast could’ve used some fleshing out, but  for the most part they were enjoyable enough (I guess).  I really liked Maddie’s aunt, and from what I saw of Logan’s men they were interesting enough.

Overall this was quick romp that was fun to read.   While I originally wasn’t a huge fan of this couple, I warmed up to them.

Overall Rating: A B.

TSTL But Hey It Makes for a Sequel : Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman

The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.

But then, Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside-down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped-and return to her homeland.

Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture and recognition, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time-or will Hitler discover them first?

Source: GoodReads

I was really excited for this sequel,but when I started reading it I was like…

There’s no reason why a sequel was needed.

Seriously, everything was wrapped up nice enough, and when the catalyst was moved forward for this book I was just kind of like you stupid people.

It reminded me a lot of the whole Natalie and Aaron situation on The Winds of War, which if you haven’t seen it is this eighteen or so hour miniseries that takes place prior to World War II.  Just like this book.  And just like this book there are character that could’ve gotten out of danger  but they still our dumb enough put themselves in danger time after time again until they almost get killed.

To be fair, I should’ve known as much when I opened the book.  But I was really hoping that Blankman would’ve had a better explanation for these characters heading back to Hitler’s viper nest than they did. Prisoner of Night and Fog was really my favorite dark horse read of 2014.  This not so much.

It doesn’t mean that the writing suffered.  It was quite good.  The book was also well researched and I did feel like I learned a lot from it. The thing is, it wasn’t necessary.

Plus, I just grew tired of the relationship.

I’ve honestly never shipped these two together.

But the romance was tolerable in the first one.  Here it might be a little too on the innocent side.  I get that people weren’t as open with PDA and that there would less likely be anything beyond (if they even got there) second base with these two before marriage, but I didn’t even feel like these too emotionally were connected.

Or for that matter felt really any chemistry.  Their relationship, if anything was a plot point.  Which is a shame because I wanted to love this ship.

I just didn’t though.

I think in the end Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke isn’t a bad book, but it just didn’t do it for me. I blame it partially on how much it’s predecessor wowed me.  It’s not a book, the core elements are there, but it was just sort of a meh.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

I Didn’t Know You Could Die on the Oregon Trail Via Book: Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

 

A powerful story of friendship and sacrifice, for fans of Code Name Verity

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship. 

Source: GoodReads

If you haven’t ever played Oregon Trail this review probably isn’t going to resonate as much as if you had.  I’ll be referencing several things that happened in the game-such as catching dysentery, over hunting, and my favorite themed parties (oh yeah, you could either use the programmed in names like Charity, Obadiah, and Francis or come up with your own party-I was partial to using  boy bands).

For this book our party leader is Samantha, better known as Sammy.  Not Sam.  Sammy much like the beloved Days of Our Life character.  Save for the fact that this Sammy is extremely boring despite killing her attempted rapist in the first chapter (that is the best and only some what bad ass moment in this book).    Because I am the reader of this book, I am keeping a log.  Much how your computer would make a log for you when you played Oregon Trail.

Really, if you weren’t an 80/90s baby and missed out on this game, I feel for you.  You should totally play it. 

Okay, now to the actual review (log):

Hour One of Reading:

This is actually a fairly decent opener.  The character was pretty bad ass if defending herself.  And she’s a non-WASP.  It’s actually interesting reading about a person of Chinese decent in the 19th century.  And I see potential with the secondary protagonist (Andy) as well.

Fifteen Minutes Later:

Character development is sorely lacking.  I have real issues with how Andy would so willingly help Sammy.  They barely know each other.  And I hate the use of dialect.  I get that Lee is trying to show the character, but it seems so stereotypical and gives me that nasty feeling.

And when are they going to go on the trail?  Don’t they need to buy supplies, oxen, those sort of things.  I get they’re on the run.  But shouldn’t they prepare more.  That one time I forgot to buy food on the Oregon trail my whole party ended up dying before we reached the Kansas River.

 

Thirty Minutes Later:

I am tired of knowing everyone’s Chinese zodiac sign and what it means.  If I wanted to know that I’d look at my Chinese Astrology book.  Pss, and stop acting like rabbits are all promiscuous.  And I really hate that this is how the character is shown as being diverse.  All my friends who come from a Chinese background do not talk about being born in the year of the snake.  For instead, one of my friends just talks about  their obsession with Eddie Redmayne.  I don’t think Eddie Redmayne has anything to with the Chinese zodiac.  And besides, fi I was Sammy I’d be much more concerned with how they’re going to get across that river.  They better not have the oxen ford the river.  You always die when you do that in the game.

Ten Minutes Later: 

These cowboys are not hot.  And they’re bland.  Also, someone spent a little bit too much time on translator.com and has given us a play by play on what basic Spanish means.  Will someone just get dysentery already?

Five Minutes Later:

Seems like Andy is a bit of a Bible thumper.  Dear lord…please for the love of God do not let there be slut slamming.  Measles?  Cholera?  Bandits?  Or can someone just go over kill with the buffalo shooting already?

Ten Minutes Later:

You know what, I’m going to rest for the night.  It seems to cure cholera on the trail, so maybe it will cure reading boredom.

Day Two:

I am sad to say that I died during Sammy and Andy’s Oregon Trail experience.  They made me DNF them because they were so boring, were stereotypes, and those cowboys of there’s were just plain stupid.  I am going to play Oregon trail now and input their names in there and purposely kill them off much like I used to to the cast of Step by Step and Full House*. 

Overall Rating: DNF and there’s nothing remotely redeemable here to give it an extra star.  If my postage situation here wasn’t so awful, I’d be returning it.

*Note, if you play a game of Oregon Trail on my Gateway 2000, you’ll find Michelle Tanner’s grave next to Patrick Duffy’s character on Step by Step.  Both of them got it around Fort Laramie.  Or maybe the Snake River, I forget.

If You Get Your History From TV: Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little

 

In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.

Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together. 

Source: GoodReads

Disclaimer: The above blogger watches and laughs at a lot of fringe history shows on H2 and related networks. Even though most of the things that come out of these hosts’ mouth is poppycock, the stuff they base their crazy theories on is fascinating.  And because she likes the concept of them and is reviewing a horrible (oops, spoilers) historical, well, she just had to get her inner Scott Wolter/Georgio Tsoukalos on.  Obviously, she does not have her own show on H2 or any other network that likes to air these sorts of shows.  Also, she received a free copy of this book from Book Chic.  It did not change her opinion of the book.  Though, she is glad she had the opportunity to read it. 

Welcome, to Real or Fiction.  Where I your host, the so called female Indiana Jones of bookology….dishonorary Dr. MJ will look at books and history.

Did you know everything that you read is true?

Don’t believe me?  Well, lots of people believe in giants even though there’s no hardcore evidence because they were mentioned in the Bible.  Same goes with aliens….though I don’t think there were any books about calling ET home.  That’s not the point.  My show is to find the truth behind fiction. That some things are, well, stranger than fiction…..

This is the part if I had any sort  of a budget for this blog you’d be getting flashy graphics with me reading and pointing out the “truth”.  Followed by a shot of the good old USA because these sort of shows love ‘merica fisting.

Okay, did you like the credits.  They’re probably the most interesting part of the show.  But keep on watching (errr…reading I forgot that this is a blog not a vlog, since I haven’t had near enough coffee to make me peppy enough to be a book-tuber).  Today we’re going to be discussing Forbidden which has a lot of belly dancing, slut slamming, and good old Mesopotamia in it.

Yes, we have history: slut slamming.

Oh, yeah, Ancient Mesopotamia is our history.

Let’s get boring here.  Because despite the network’s demand that I make this 99.9% bull shit, I can’t talk a lot of it but I’ll give you the particulars: cradle of civilization, the first form of writing, the first epic poem.  Lots of culture there.  Lots to talk about.

But rather than exploring this rich culture in book world we’re here to talk about love.  And that’s of course where things get interesting.

Yeah, I know this doesn’t involve the templars, aliens, the Holy Grail, or anything remotely interesting…but I’ll get to the juicy part at the end of the review.

I have to you know for ratings (err…views…I keep forgetting that this is a blog).

Ah, romance.  Now that according to all our shows is the real power in the world.  The power of love.  Now, while many have speculate that the power of love has no true monetary value, on this show we’ve got to thinking it has to be something.

What does it transcend to in Forbidden…a sequel.

Yep.

That’s right, a sequel.  To be fair, I was only able to translate about half of this one but then stopped…err… someone on the show made cookies and I thought it was better to analyze them (one word: tasty).

Though in the half of the book I read, I think having a sequel about a mopey heroine in the desert with a very obvious choice to make isn’t that fun to read about.

Who knows though maybe the Templars or some aliens get involved in the second half and make it worthy to discuss.

That being said, the first half of the book is very bare bones when it comes to plot.  All we have is dancing, lots and lots of dancing, to the point where it’s almost a fetish.   There are reviews that discuss the dancing fetish more in depth.  Though for those of you who want to here this show’s POV on it.  I’ll just leave you with this one little quote.

“Form a circle around around Rebekah,” Nalla said.  “We’re going to do the birthing dance to help her breathe through teh pains and to help the baby move more easily.”  (46)

According to most people with a brain,doing the cha cha isn’t going to make much of a difference for someone having labor.  Maybe they’ll throw their ice chips at you, but that’s about it.

But of course, if anything books have taught us….that we’re wrong.

And on this show I’m here to explore the truth.  That’s why I fictionally went the maternity wing and did the tango, the cha cha, the waltz, and a very bad version of the macarena while some random stranger’s were in labor.

Um, the results.

Security kicked me out.  But hey, the video went fictionally viral and that’s all that matters right?

So, thanks book.

See, that fictional advice paid off.

So, the dancing did help.

I’m sure that some pregnant lady is watching my Youtube video while trying to deliver her child and it’s helping with her labor.

Or maybe this happened instead.

Though the ice chips and drugs probably help a lot more.

Okay, so we can put a big fat check mark that dancing in front of a woman giving birth is so going to help her.

Dancing seems to be the answer to everyone’s problem in this book.  They do it all the time.  When they’re engaged, when they are slut slamming someone, when they bury their dead.

Who knew I needed to do the hokey pokey all the time?

Besides the dancing, the book seemed to focus a lot of time on the purity myth.  If this wasn’t a script for a fictional TV show the host right now would be a bitching about how that theme drove me to DNF-ing the book.  But since my fictional network forces me to have a smile on my face and give every point of view a fair chance even if it is archaic and offensive, I have to try to rationalize it.

Excuse me, for a  minute.

If you’re just wondering I lost my lunch.

Okay, so  how to frame slut slamming where it’s not offensive….

Um…

Um…

Aliens.

That’s it.

See, dancing in skimpy outfits and living a good life  means that the aliens aren’t going to like you when they come back.  Remember in Independence Day when Vivica Fox and her friend.  They were earning money for taking off their clothes and dancing and look what happened….the aliens destroyed their club and poor Vivica Fox barely survived with that dog of hers.

Man, I was glad that that dog lived.  That slow mo scene really freaked me out for a minute.

So, moral of the story is this book is trying to teach us that if you dress in skimpy clothes and like to dance for money the aliens are going to get mad.

I’m surprised that the alien apocalypse didn’t occur when the Ana Nicole Smith story got turned into  a Lifetime movie.  Or anytime the Kardashians are on TV.

I’m not going to dive into that much further because shows like this can’t dive into such complicated questions….

But the slut slamming, totally used to prevent alien invasions.  And the dancing really does help child birth.

Any other discoveries from this book….oh,yeah….love triangles.  Power of love.  Another clue to find the greatest treasure of all.

I know, we had to put a treasure part in here.

This is our on going hunt-obviously, you have to have one of these things to keep viewers interested-so let’s see what we discovered about the power of love in this book:

1) It happens instantaneously.

2) There doesn’t need to be an actual conversation.  Dancing is enough or blinking is enough to equal chemistry.

3) It makes people do crazy shit.

So, what does this tell me about the power of love it must be something technologically advance and extremely expensive.

What could it be: alien technology, Templar treasure, Barney the dinosaur, or something so awesome that the network can’t tell you to the next show.

Overall Thoughts: DNF.  While there were some intriguing things about Forbidden, I hate to say for this book fringe reality show it just didn’t have enough oomph to it to make me want to finish it.

 

 

Over Hyped But Still Enjoyable: Lives We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

Source: GoodReads

I liked Lies We Tell Ourselves, but it just didn’t quite live up to the hype I had for it.

Then again, it had a lot of hype going for it.  So, I guess it was bound to be sort of a disappointment.

Let’s talk about the good first, because there’s a lot of good with this book.

I loved how Talley structured the novel.  The shifts in point of views throughout the story, really added extra dimension to the story.  If the novel would’ve been written in first person from either perspective, I think it would’ve lost some of its oompth.  I even like how the epilogue was written from a minor character’s perspective which was something I initially didn’t think I’d like.

I also like that this book is a historical.  Historicals are one genre I wish would grow more in the market.  Lies We Tell Ourselves take place during the Civil Rights era.  That era is one of the most important in American History.  With recent events, I even think reading a book about that time period is even more relevant in today’s society. Add a subplot that deals with LBGT issues and this book really is one hot topic printed in a book.

For the most part, I thought Talley handled the period with grace.  The book is hard to read in part because it uses such coarse language, but that language is needed to really get the feel for the period.  Additionally, the feelings towards LBGTs fitted the time period as well.  I felt like while these issues took place in 1959, they were still relevant to today and I could see a lot of teens experiencing the same feelings that Sarah and Linda felt.

That aside, I did have issues with Sarah and Linda as a couple.

I think it might’ve been because I really did not care for Linda for about ninety percent of the story.  I get that she changes but man…yeah, not that impressed with her.  And I really didn’t feel her attraction to Sarah or vice versa, because she was such a horrible person and talked about Sarah with such vulgarity for about ninety percent of her story.  I think the best way to describe her is that she’s the asshole out of the two.

I think you see it pretty much in every YA relationship that one person in said relationship has to be the asshole and Linda is this book’s resident asshole.  There’s a lot of stuff that she does that I can’t give her a pass on.  I don’t care how much she’s repented-actions speak louder than words, girl- and I don’t buy her I’m an abused sob story. Plus, the fact that she cheats on her sort of fiancé makes the whole thing even worse.

And I wanted to shake Sarah for liking her.  Really, the only thing she likes about Linda is that she’s pretty and they get all hot and bothered when they debated.  It’s sort of annoying to be honest.  I liked the fact that Talley made Sarah question her sexuality.  I think that whole plot/character development is one that a lot of LBGT teens will be able to relate to.  I just didn’t like the fact out of all the girls in the novel it had to be Linda.

I think in the end I liked this one, not because of the romance but because of the subject matter it was discussing.  I really could see this novel as something being read in an English class.  I think it should be read.  It’s a meaty discussion filled book.  But the romance plot, really didn’t work for me.  While I liked the discussions about LGBTs especially in the South in the 1950’s, insta love and assholes ruined the actual relationship for me.

Still, an overall yay though.  Sensitive issues, historicals, and diversity, are three things that need to be in YA more.

Overall Rating: A solid B borderline B+.