Book review – Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Caidyn's review (1)

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)

4/5

CW: death of loved ones, mass killings, and grief


I’ve finally jumped on the bandwagon for this book after waiting many years to start reading it. That’s mainly because I wanted the whole series out, but also because I’m really good at procrastinating at popular books.

As I said, I really enjoyed it. I loved the world that it was about. Some futuristic world where all diseases have been cured and you can reset your clock so you’re younger when you hit a certain point. So, basically, you don’t have to die. Everyone can live forever. And that’s where the scythes come in. They kill people — or glean the population — to make sure that the world doesn’t become overpopulated. If your family member is killed, you’re granted immunity from gleaning for a year.

The story follows Citra and Rowan. Both are teenagers who, in their own way, become scythes in training. Neither of them exactly want to be scythes, but they’re taken on as apprentices to the same person. Until something happens and they’re taken in by two very, very different people.

Now, I enjoyed the characters. They were so interesting and I loved watching their development over the course of the book. Both went on such different paths and developed so differently. I also appreciated that there was no romance in this! Or, not really any romance. That was so refreshing because I would have died if there was romance in this damn thing.

That being said, I had some issues. I did space out while reading a bit because it slowed down so much. Spaced out to the point that I missed a major plot point that changed the trajectory of the whole book. I went with the change and filled in the blanks as I went. It wasn’t detrimental to my reading experience that I missed it, but still kinda annoying that something important was hidden in the drudge.

I also never got super attached to the characters. I liked them, but I wasn’t going to die if anything horrible happened to them. I can’t wait until the next book to see what happens/how I’ll get attached.

Lastly, the ending. I enjoyed it and I like the intrigue that the book brought up — what is the Thunderhead? what will happen with the scythes and the changes that are going on there? — but, honestly, this could have been a stand-alone book. It was a very good book and I wasn’t annoyed by it being a series like with Spin the Dawn, but I’m not sure if it needed a three book series.

Still, we’ll see what I think of the sequel soon enough!


Talk to me!
Have you read this? What did you think?
Did you think this needs to be a series?

Book review – Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser

Caidyn's review (1)

Mary Queen of Scots

4/5


I did a buddy read with the ever lovely Jaynie, who I read Elizabeth I with earlier this year!

And, this was really good. At times, it was pretty dull because it felt bogged down by details I didn’t need to know — names, family history, etc. — but most of the time it was interesting. I think it picked up speed after her second marriage to Darnley because that was when everything kind of went downhill for her.

One thing that came up when Jaynie and I discussed the book was Mary’s childhood and how, in a way, it was a disadvantage to her. She had a relatively stable childhood in France, removed from the people she would eventually govern. Scheming wasn’t her forte, although she did it throughout her life. She led with her heart and was an action person rather than hanging back to see how things played out. She didn’t exactly keep herself out of plotting or find a way to be able to deny it.

Very different than Elizabeth, her rival. Elizabeth had a very unstable childhood. She knew the players at the court in and out. She always found a way to keep her hands off of scheming so she didn’t get in trouble for it. And when she did get caught, she was able to get out of it eventually.

It’s hard not to compare the two women. Queens around the same time, same dynasty and family ties, both very ambitious. Yet, they were very different people and Mary’s upbringing was a deficit to her. She was a foreign queen in the end. Very different than the people she was meant to govern. She was basically French and she had a different religion than most of the people and she seemed to think more of her own passions than of what something would do to the people.

Their lasting image is also very different. Elizabeth is seen as very apt and smart while, in most of what I’ve read, Mary comes off looking like an idiot. I’ve read a fiction book about her and she really was an idiot. Yet, the movie that came out last year, which has the same name as this book (different source material, though — they used John Guy’s book, which I also plan on reading) made her look like a genius.

Fraser definitely came down in the middle of both those extremes. I loved how balanced the biography was. She showed Mary’s flaws and strengths, most of which go hand in hand. Fraser definitely knew her stuff about Mary. She cared about her subject but was as unbiased as she could be on the topic. In short, I really enjoyed this biography. It was good and an enjoyable read.


Talk to me!
Have you read this? What did you think?
What makes a biography balanced for you?

Down the TBR Hole

Down the TBR Hole

Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

IT WORKS LIKE THIS:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

A Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford, #1)

I think this was back when I thought Charles Todd was a good author. Now? Nah.

Verdict: GO!


Carved in Bone (Body Farm, #1)

I’d rather read about actual body farms and the things they’re finding.

Verdict: GO!


The Magician

Doesn’t sound that interesting tbh.

Verdict: GO!


Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery

I love Eric Ives. He did an amazing biography of Anne Boleyn so I know that I’ll be checking this book out at some point.

Verdict: Keep


The Children Act

This sounds like McEwan before he got really weird with his last couple of books.

Verdict: Keep


A Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud & Sabina Spielrein

I’ve tried to read this multiple times and I just don’t think that it’s going to happen.

Verdict: GO!


What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles, #1)

This still sounds absolutely amazing tbh.

Verdict: Keep


A Burnable Book (John Gower, #1)

Historical fiction written by a historian???? Sign me tf up.

Verdict: Keep


Consumption

I don’t know? It doesn’t look like I can get it anywhere but I’m still mildly interested in it.

Verdict: GO! (to my maybe shelf)


Fateful

Okay so some kind of paranormal romance set on the Titanic? Nah, man.

Verdict: GO!


Last TBR: 1580

Books kept: 4

Books removed: 6

Current TBR: 1560

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Let’s just keep it going down!


Talk to me!
Have you read any of these?
Should I have kept any I removed or vice versa?

30 Days of Pride – Day 13

We are nearly halfway through Pride month and it is going by too fast for my liking! Once again, I’m recommending a great YA book that I absolutely loved. In fact, it’s a crime I haven’t read any more books by Ashley Herring Blake. I will go punish myself accordingly.

how to make a wish cover

My Review!

I fucking loved this book. It’s one of those books that took me far too long to read but once I did, I loved it. I bought it because I loved it so much. The story of Grace and Eva is so beautiful and I absolutely loved reading them fall for each other. Grace’s relationship with her mom was difficult to read but still sticks with me to this day.

If you haven’t read this book, please do. It’s worth your time.

I’m going out of town!

Image result for wave gif
This is an accurate depiction of my awkwardness.

As you can tell from the title, I’m going out of town this month. (Which I, for one, am super excited about because I desperately need a little bit of a break from life!)

But, even more exciting, is my destination.

I’ve been sitting on this for a long time. It’s a wonder I was able to not tell people where I’m going tbh since I can be bad at keeping secrets that aren’t life/death or anything else.

I’m going to… PORTLAND!!!!!

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Probably Chantel and I at some point.

Yes! I’ve had this trip scheduled since October. Chantel’s birthday was two days ago and I’m, basically, her present. Not like that.

When this posts, I’ll be in the midst of traveling up there! I’ll check in here a few times a day, but I’ll be offline for the most part until the 18th.

Want to see what we’re getting up to? You should go check out our Instagram! I’m planning on posting on our story since this weekend is Pride and my first time in Portland.

 

30 Days of Pride – Day 12

Okay, it’s a crime that I haven’t talked about this already. However, nobody will be shocked that I’m talking about it since I haven’t shut up about it since I read it. I’m talking about the epic love story that put me in a year-long slump.


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

My review!

This book had a huge impact on me. I hesitate to say it changed my life, but I’m a fan of hyperbole so fuck it! It changed my life. I absolutely love this book and it continued to surprise me. From the hetero-baiting title to the love story between two women over decades, add in a Hollywood setting and an aging star telling the truth of her life and you have a goddamn masterpiece. Why hasn’t anyone brought this book to the screen yet?!

I guarantee if the love that was put into this book was put into a mini-series, then I would be the happiest person in the world. This book is absolutely perfect and I’m terrified to read it again because I don’t want to be let down and because the pain was so strong. It hurt more than any other book I’ve read before. Not only did I cry but I felt the anger and pain.

I honestly don’t know if a book will ever come close to how I felt about Evelyn Hugo and I’m okay with that. I think I’m a better person for having read this book.

Have I oversold it?

Maybe.

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Book review – The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Caidyn's review (1)

The Escape Room

Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

4/5

CW: sexual assault, toxic work environments, and corporate greed


This book was crazy! I mean, I was on the edge of my seat trying to find out what happened right away, then it kept developing.

Vincent, Sam, Jules, and Sylvie got an email from HR about a dumb teambuilding exercise that they had to do. Escape from a locked elevator and that’s it. They think that even if they fail, they’ll get let out in an hour and that’ll be that. Except that the clues to let them out are oddly specific. And about Sara Hall, a dead girl.

Sara Hall studied business and thought she would be set for life. Her father is ill all the time and her mother struggles with bills. Sara figured that she would get a business job and, well, help them out. Along with get herself out of debt and pay off her student loans.

Yet, she’s not getting hired. And the longer she goes without being hired, the less marketable she’ll be and the less likely she’ll actually get hired. After a failed interview, she meets a man in an elevator who says he’ll get her a job. And he does. Then things go wrong.

What stands out most about this book is the combination of a toxic work environment and corporate greed. It was so painful to read it. It killed me reading it because it’s totally not what I want in a job, even if I would make hella money. Drugs, makeup, injections, sex, exercise. It’s insanity and anyone who goes into it is someone I’d like to steer clear of. It deludes people with privilege.

The book was very twisty and I didn’t see things coming, although it became more apparent as the time went on. And when it came to the final bit, I knew what to expect and it was just… chilling. All of it was so coldblooded. I loved the journey to get to the actual reveals and the real story. Everything else was just setting the stage, even though I was constantly interested by the chapters switching from Sara’s perspective in the past to the people in the elevator.

Definitely a thriller author that I’ll come back to again!


Talk to me!
Have you read this?
What did you think?

30 Days of Pride – Day 11

Today is a very special day. It’s the day after the season finale of Gentleman Jack aired on HBO and now I will attempt to talk about how much I love this show. It may or may not be coherent.


When I first heard about Gentleman Jack on Twitter, HBO had my subscription. Even though the last season of Game of Thrones was going on, THIS was why I subscribed to HBO again. I find it hard to think of any shows that revolve around an openly queer character taking place in the 1800s. I’m not talking about queer side characters, but a main character who is queer.

Gentleman Jack is about Anne Lister who was a real person and the events of the show are pulled straight from her diaries. She wrote it in code and it was deciphered and revealed her attraction to the same sex. I’m positive there were queer women in history, but it is very rare that they themselves wrote about it. The fact that this show is about real people and two women, Anne Lister and Ann Walker, who did indeed get married means a lot to me.

I could talk about other shows featuring queer women and f/f relationships, but they were just laying the foundation so that this show could work. I’m in love with this show. There is so much fucking love put into it. I’ve seen the first three episodes about 3 times each and I fully plan to rewatch the season when I can. I don’t think there’s going to be a time when I’m tired of this show. My hope for the future is that this show lays the foundation for more stories like this.

Gentleman-Jack-HBO-miniseries.jpg
Look at these angels.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, representation means everything. I can’t wait to see more episodes of Gentleman Jack, but in the meantime, I will be watching the episodes I do have again and again.

 

Top Ten Tuesday – Unpopular Bookish Opinions

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

Oh my. Do I have many? Yes. Hold on because I’ll probably upset you with at least one of them.


  • Schwab is a pretty sub-par author.

First unpopular opinion and I’m playing with the big boys now.

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If you don’t get this gif, we can’t be friends.

But, seriously. When I look back on when Chantel and I read A Darker Shade of Magic (our joint review is here), I rated it higher than I should have. It was fine, but it wasn’t that great. Then, I finished that series and hated it. I’ve also read City of Ghosts and, well, hated it.

The thing is, she had great ideas, but I hate how she carries them out.

  • JKR is a horrible person.

I’ve majorly had to separate myself from her as a person and an author. I will not read anything new she comes out with. Those Harry Potter “textbooks” she’s doing? Not buying them. I won’t read another Cormoran Strike novel. I won’t go see her damned pointless movies, Broadway show, or anything else.

I think she’s a horrible person, one I can’t endorse. She’s not a human rights advocate when she blocks and lets her rabid fans attack people from cultures outside her own for not representing them correctly. Not to mention queerbaiting and transphobia.

  • Authors can ship whatever the hell they want to.

For a while, Chantel (who does our Twitter) was lurking and reading the threads that popped up about authors and slamming them for shipping incest in books or TV shows. I’m pretty sure this was more around Game of Thrones (which is 100000% incest last I checked).

But, I don’t give a shit what authors ship. Whatever they want to ship is fine. Shipping doesn’t denote what they really believe about the issues at hand. I’m chill with incest ships, but that doesn’t mean I advocate for people to have incestuous relationships.

  • I don’t like Six of Crows.

I just can’t with it. I think it’s the YA aspect of it because I love adult books that have heists and a gang of unlikely people teaming up. But, it just was so boring and I couldn’t bring myself to finish it.

  • The Illuminae Files series is pretty meh.

I swear I’m going to go back one day and re-rate this series on Goodreads. I gave all of the books four stars but, when I think back at them, I’m like “they were just okay, not really good”. The plots are basically the same in all the books. The characters are all the same. I honestly don’t remember much of them and I have no plans to read them again or read anything else those two authors colab on.

  • Lila Bard is insufferable.

Yeah, I hate her. I think she’s just dumb. I know I’ve seen arguments about if male characters did what she did we wouldn’t feel that way about them. But, no. Stupid is stupid.

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I don’t care if the person is man, woman, or another identity. If they’re doing stupid, impulsive things I’m going to think they’re dumb.

  • Same with Sirius Black.

I hate Sirius. Well, I don’t know if I’d go that far. I just don’t like him. When he died in the books, I never felt sorry for him. I felt for Harry. But Sirius was a shitty person. I know it’s because he was emotionally stunted at the age of 20ish from spending years in jail. He never had a chance to mature. But, I still don’t like him. He’s as bad as Snape.

  • I have major side-eye for people who think Snape is a redeemable character.

I just don’t get it??? He bullied children. He physically harmed them. He tried to kill people. He was a Death Eater.

But, suddenly, when he’s ~~in looooveee~~ with Harry’s mom and was a double agent the whole time, that’s forgiven???? Sorry, but no. I think Snape is a shitty person. And his love? Jesus Christ that’s not love. Imagine you have a friend who was best friends with someone else. This person hangs out with the wrong crowd, insults them, and bullies people. Would you tell your friend to get with them and that they’re just some misunderstood creature? I sure as hell wouldn’t. I’d be telling my friend to watch their back.

  • I’m tired of forced romances (i.e. The Gilded Wolves, Spin the Dawn, Six of Crows, etc.) rather than keep characters friends.

Ugh. Romance is so overrated. It gets in the way of epic fantasies/heists/gang of people. I love books like IT where romance is kinda there but it’s literally not that important. All of those books I listed had forced romances and they just made no sense to me.

  • Overall, I wish there was less romance in YA period.

I know that relationships and fitting in is a huge part of the teen years. I know Erikson’s theory about identity v. role confusion. And, for a lot of people, testing identity goes hand in hand with relationships. However, I think most romance is pointless in YA. I’m fine with it when it’s done well, but most of the time it destroys the plot and then there’s love triangles (when I’ve never seen one IRL). Also, I start skimming and miss things in the book because I don’t want romance.


Talk to me!
What are your unpopular opinions??
Do we share any?

30 Days of Pride – Day 10

Once again, I’m going to tip my hat off to Youtube. Considering the rate of demonetization of queer creators, I want to promote them as much as possible. These are also people I watch on a daily basis. These creators are people I watch when I’m feeling down. I can turn to queer creators when I’m feeling alone. These are just two of my favorites.


Rose & Rosie Channel

Rose & Rosie

These two are a British married couple and are #couplegoals. Their videos are hilarious and most of the time it’s just the two of them bullshitting on a sofa together. In fact, that’s pretty much all they do and I love it.

They are two of the funniest Youtubers I’ve watched and their videos don’t need a lot other than the two of them to be funny. If you aren’t careful you’ll get sucked down the rabbit hole of videos.

They also have a book coming out later this month called Overshare. I haven’t read it yet, but I will definitely be checking it out!