Book review – I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

Caidyn's review (1)

I Was Born for This

4.5/5

CW: transphobia, accidental outing, panic disorder and panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation, alcohol abuse, parental abandonment, talk about death of a loved one, and physical assault


This is my third book by Oseman and, happily, I loved it just as much as Radio Silence! I was hopeful that I would enjoy it because one of the MCs is a transman (which my heart always needs because there’s just not enough transman rep for my liking).

The story is kind of random. It reminded me of Radio Silence in that there was no real plot to it, just a lot of meandering until the climax was there. I think that’s because I’m not used to reading lots of contemporary. Fantasy and sci-fi typically have a very overt goal that they’re going towards while contemporary doesn’t necessarily need that.

In this, there are quite a few characters. The main ones are Angel/Fereshteh Rahimi and Jimmy Kaga-Ricci. Angel, which is her online name because Fereshteh means angel, absolutely adores a band, The Ark. She’s 18, just finished school, and is Muslim. Also, like Melanie pointed out in her review, I got major ace vibes from Angel. Then, there’s Jimmy. Jimmy is a biracial transman who has depression and anxiety. That makes things interesting since he’s the frontman of The Ark.

Also included in this is Juliet, Angel’s best friend; Bliss, Rowan’s secret girlfriend and the catalyst for Angel and Jimmy meeting; Rowan, cello player in The Ark; and Lister, the drummer. All of these characters are incredibly diverse. As I said, Angel is Muslim. Jimmy is Indian and Italian, a transman, and possibly queer. Bliss is Chinese and white, and queer. Rowan is Nigerian. Lister is queer. (When I say queer, it’s established they’re LGBTQ+, but I don’t know their exact identity with sexuality.)

I love Oseman for having all of these incredibly diverse characters, along with having fantastic mental health rep. It was beautiful to read very accurate depictions of anxiety and depression. I know that if I worked with teens for social work, I’d have a good list of books for them to read for bibliotherapy. This would be on there. (And, yes, bibliotherapy is one therapy that I want to use in my practice because I know how much books have helped me.)

One thing that I didn’t love about this book, though, is that it felt almost like a repeat of Radio Silence. There were very similar themes in it. A girl who has an obsession with some fandom. Ends up meeting and befriending a creator of the fandom. The creator has extreme depression and/or anxiety. It felt like a real repeat, but it was a lot better than Solitaire.

Overall, a very good book. Enjoyable to read, although it dealt with hard topics.


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Have you read this?
What did you think?

Book review – One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway and its Aftermath by Åsne Seierstad

Caidyn's review (1)

One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway -- and Its Aftermath

5/5

CW: white supremacy, bullying, bombing, racism, Islamophobia, and VERY graphic scenes of violence/shooting of children and child death


This review needs to really start with a warning. While I will recommend this book as an amazing true crime novel for the rest of my life, this book is not for everyone. I have a very strong stomach (so to speak) around acts of violence. That’s because I love horror and true crime and I just don’t get bothered.

But this book bothered me.

Hell, I’m even familiar with the case. I listened to the episodes of My Favorite Murder and Casefile that it’s featured in. So, I knew the case. I was familiar with Anders Behring Breivik and the despicable person that he is. Yet nothing really prepared me for this case. Okay? And I’m going to be discussing the crime that he did, which was, largely, against children.

Anders was never a normal child. He had issues and constantly strove to fit in with people. In the end, he gravitated towards white supremacy and trying to cleanse Norway of the liberal party and, by extension, the Muslims who went to Norway seeking asylum from their war-torn countries.

The book that Seierstad put together was beautiful in a horrific way. My copy of the book is a little over 500 pages and it takes a little over 300 of them to get to the actual crime. The bulk of the book is showing you what Anders was like through the years and how he was radicalized, along with showing you the lives of immigrants who had their lives cut short by him. Amazing kids, too. Kids who would have changed the world if he hadn’t committed this crime.

As I said, I’m going to discuss the crime that he committed. I’m going to start that now, so turn away if that’s something you don’t want to read.

On July 22, 2011, Anders set up a bomb in front of the Prime Minister’s office. It exploded, as he had planned it to, and killed eight people. Everyone was rushing there because they weren’t sure if it was the first of many terror attacks or what was going on at all. While everyone was rushing there, Anders went to Utøya where a youth camp was for kids a part of the Labour Party (which was the governing party).

On Utøya, he was dressed as a policeman and he killed sixty-nine children. In two hours, he went around the island and shot children who were trying to get away from whatever was going on. As I said, a lot of them were immigrant children. At least, the ones featured in the book were immigrant children who wanted to make Norway more open for them, more multicultural.

Seierstad wrote an amazing book. The chapter that covers the actual crimes is, like, 70 pages long. I’m not joking. It was huge and I read it in one sitting, feeling the horrific nature of these crimes washing over me. The podcasts I listened to did not really do it justice, but Seierstad did. She allowed you to get to know the kids, then you watched them die. It was incredibly heavy. It physically pained me to read that chapter and the chapters after while you found out who lived or died.

What sticks with me is the impact of crime. Many true crime books I read focus on the actual act without letting you know much about the people affected by the crime, the victims’ friends and family. From Ander’s mother to the parents who had their children taken away from them, Seierstad showed what impact the crimes had.

I’m so glad that I read this book and, hands down, it’s the best true crime novel that I’ve ever read in my life.


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Have you read this? Is it going on your TBR?
What true crime novel do you love?

August’s YA Book of the Month!

It’s August, so you know what that means! I’m here to talk to you about Book of the Month YA, their new subscription box!

Look at how awesome they look! If any pique your interest, you can click that picture. It’s my affiliate link and will have you sign up! You can even get your first book for $9.99 (instead of $14.99) with the promo code FLEX. (Or, if you have a regular BotM account, you can add any of these on for $9.99.)

Here are some individual pictures of them:

But, as an affiliate, I get a book for my rep box! I picked:

View this post on Instagram

#partner I'm very happy to announce the book I chose for my affiliate box from @yasofthemonth! Hands down, this was one of my favorite books that I read in August. It's a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling, which blends in grief and loss of family members and an amazing mystery! 📚 For me, this was a cathartic read. When I started reading it, I wasn't sure whether now was the right time because of the content of sibling death and grief. But I am so glad I decided that I was ready because it was beautiful! 📚 Want this book? Go to my linktree and sign up for YA Book of the Month! I get a little bit from the purchase at no extra charge to you, and it helps me out financially! (Or, you can add it on your regular BotM account!) 📚 #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #bookblogger #booksubscriptionbox #haveread #favoritebook #amreading #reader #ilovebooks📚 #ilovereading #bibliophile 📚 [Image description: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig held up. Background blurred and no extra props.]

A post shared by Caidyn and Chantel (@bwreviewsblog) on

Y’all, House of Salt and Sorrows was amazing. It blew me away and hit all of my needs. So, of course I picked it for my box! I honestly cannot recommend it enough. And, you can get it from them by signing up today and gush about it with me!

Also, Book of the Month is now doing a lovely incentive program to get new affiliates! If you sign up through my link — which I’ll post in a second — we each get $10 for your first enrollment. Pretty good deal, right? Here’s the link if you’re interested! You get affiliate boxes and can earn a bit of cash from it.


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Which book would you choose from this list?

First Impressions Friday | The Monster of Florence

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Top Ten Tuesday

First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. It was created by J.W. Martin.

Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.


This is my first time doing this tag! I really like the idea of it and, today, I want to talk about The Monster of Florence.

The Monster of Florence

I mentioned in WWW Wednesday that when I hear about this book, I think of Hannibal. That’s because the series — books, movies, TV show (but the TV show is the best) — makes it out that Hannibal himself was actually the Monster but it could never be tied to him because he’s too damn smart. So, that’s basically all my exposure to the case.

Right now, I’m a few chapters into it. It’s definitely not bad, but I’m not sure if I’ll like it. It jumps around a lot in time. One chapter is about the case. Another is about some random bit of Florentine history. Another chapter is about a random person. That makes it hard for me to figure out the timeline, people, and what’s going on in general. It doesn’t help that I’m not super familiar with the case.

Right now, I can see this going a few different ways. Either I’ll read Wikipedia to catch myself up on the case and reference it throughout or I’ll give up on the book. I don’t know if I’ll rate this one very highly, even though it’s, by this point, a true crime classic. It’s compared to The Devil in the White City, which I didn’t like (my review), and I can really see why it’s compared to that. And not in a good way for me.


Talk to me!
Where are my fellow true crime addicts? What did y’all think of this one?
What book(s) have you just started?

I Should Have Read That Book Tag

Not too long ago (for once!) I was tagged by Hamad @ The Book Prescription to do this tag! If you’re not following this blog, you really ought to!

But, there are many books that I should have read. Many of them I haven’t read, but let’s see what books come up with these questions.

Rules:

  • Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post
  • Link to the creator’s blog (booksnest.co.uk) in your post
  • Answer the questions below
  • Tag 10 others to take part
  • ENJOY THE TAG!

A book that a certain friend is always telling you to read

How to Make a Wish

I don’t know how long Chantel’s been yelling at me to read this. But, what I know is that she really loved it and here I am going to check it out.

A book that’s been on your tbr forever and yet you still haven’t picked up

Twelve Angry Men

Right now, this is the oldest book I have on my Goodreads TBR! I don’t know why I haven’t picked it up because I know it’s a play so I can read it in a day.

A book in a series you’ve started but haven’t got around to finishing

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #1)

I read the first book in April but, alas, it didn’t stick. I swear I’ll read it later this year. Maybe November.

A classic you’ve always liked the sound of but never actually read

Tess of the D'Urbervilles

I don’t know why, but I’ve always found this classic super interesting. Yet I’ve never read it. I don’t know why, but wow I feel like this tag is calling me out on my shit.

A popular book it seems everyone but you has read

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

And I want to say this with absolute certainty: I will never read this. Period.

A book that inspired a TV /film adaptation but you haven’t read yet

The Body

I’ve watched the movie, but never read the story! One day, I will. I think it might be required King reading.

A book you see all over instagram/twitter but haven’t picked up yet

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

I keep seeing this one all over social media and I really, really want to read it. I already have a hold on it at the library.


I tag:

Sam | Virginia | Ally | anyone else who likes this tag!

Talk to me!
What’s a hyped book you want to pick up soon?
Which book has been longest on your TBR?

 

ARC/DNF review – Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff

Caidyn's review (1)

Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle, #3)

I received this from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!

DNF at 64% – 1/5

CW: graphic violence, graphic sex scenes, sexual banter, and groping

  1. Nevernight – 3.5/5
  2. Godsgrave – 4/5

Okay, all. Here it goes. I requested this book because I was honestly excited about it after finishing up Godsgrave. That one was a solid revenge story — better than Nevernight was hands down — and I was excited for the trajectory that Darkdawn would have. I was very pumped and even took a shot in the dark with requesting it from Edelweiss. For once, they approved me!

And then I went to pick it up. Months have passed since I finished the second book. It had started to slightly sour in my mind. I realized just how little I remembered of that book. I will be honest. I was actually nearly done with it when my sister passed, so, well, I didn’t entirely absorb the ending of it or a lot of what I read when she was sick.

However, thanks to this book, I firmly believe that Jay Kristoff is a one-trick pony. I am pretty sure that I’ll never pick up another of his books. I started to believe this after reading his Illuminae series, which I probably will go and rerate to two stars each. They all followed the same plot pattern. Have some banter, some action, lots of boring stuff, and then repeat. And, not only that but the characters were all carbon copies of each other and I couldn’t tell them apart.

Cut to me reading (or DNFing) Lifel1k3. Same kind of thing. Banter, action, nothing really going on.

And then I went for this series.

While I was reading this, I couldn’t help but notice how the book felt like the last two books. There was bantering, graphic fight scenes with lots of blood and murder, then there were graphic sex scenes (more on that later), and, finally, dull shit to move the plot along. Then another burst of action!

It was fun for the first couple of books, but now I’m tired of it. I want something new. I don’t want to reread the first two books in this “new” book. And this book dragged so much. I could literally predict the way the story was going to go, as I said in a status update on Goodreads. There was fighting/action, some kind of sex scene, and dull stuff. Rinse and repeat.

It doesn’t help that in the middle of that pattern the plot disappeared. I literally got to 50%, paused, and realized that I had no fucking clue what was going on and why they were doing any of this. I got so bored and the book meandered around so much that I entirely lost what was going on. And I was so bored that I didn’t even care that I wasn’t going to find out if my theory was correct about how Mia would die.

That’s not good.

Now, I’m jumping back to the sex scenes. I expressed my discomfort with them in my review of Godsgrave. I just find it incredibly uncomfortable that a 40+ man is writing voyeuristic F/F sex scenes. I already talked about that and it didn’t change from book two to book three.

The sex scenes also are just… there. They don’t contribute to the story. They don’t enhance the relationship the characters have with each other. They’re just there. They were entirely pointless and just took up space where, you know, the plot could have happened. I have no problem with sex scenes, but God I cringed every time I realized they were going to happen because I was so done with reading Ash and Mia getting it on.

In short, I do not recommend this series. I cannot recommend anything by Kristoff. He’s not my author and he’s joining my list of authors I probably won’t read ever again just because I know I’ll be disappointed.


Talk to me!
What’s a series that disappointed you?
Are there authors you won’t reach for?

WWW Wednesday | 8/7

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Top Ten Tuesday

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by A Daily Rhythm and revived by Taking on a World of Words.

All you have to do is answer the following questions.

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you finish recently reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading

As per usual, I’m reading a few books at once! Very much on brand for me, as y’all should know by now. Some I’m expecting to finish soon and others I’ve just started. (And the ones that I’m finishing soon might be finished by the time this posts since I schedule everything!)

Sea Witch Rising (Sea Witch #2)

This just came out yesterday! And, me being me, I started it. First, because I desperately wanted to. Second, because I went out last night to be a part of the book birthday celebrations at Lawrence Public Library and wanted to have read some!

American Psycho

I haven’t read this book in years. It’s the one book that disgusts me so much that I can’t even describe it. But, I’m doing a buddy read with someone on Instagram! I figured it was time to revisit this one.

Jade War (The Green Bone Saga, #2)

I don’t know why this has taken me so long to read! I have a little over 150 pages left in this but it’s taken me forever to read. Anyways, it’s great! I love the expansion of the world and I have no clue how it’s going to end.

The Monster of Florence

Whenever I think of the Monster of Florence, I think of Hannibal. But, this book has been on my TBR forever. I’m not joking when I say that. I’m in a big true crime mood, so I decided to pick it up and see how it goes!

Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1)

This is soooo good and I’m getting close to being finished with it. I have about 30% left, so I could finish it in a few days if I really push myself. But this book has literally all of my favorite tropes and just ugh. It’s amazing.

Just finished

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

  • HP series

Okay, so this is going to take some explaining. I wanted to read the illustrated copies but they’re only out so far to Prisoner of Azkaban. Then Chantel and I decided to see if I could read all of them over the weekend. And I did it. So I read seven books in three days and I get a Funko pop for it.

Shadows of Self (Mistborn, #5)

So, I finished this one Monday night. And I wish I could say that I loved it. It’s just… not as good? I want a definite, overarching plot but there is none. I want to be attached to the characters but I’m not. It just isn’t as good. My review is only on Goodreads, but I’ll link it here.

Next up

Alrighty, now some books that I’m considering to read next depending on my mood and whatever it is I finish!

Funny enough, I’m not reading any YA contemporary right now, but this is one of the books that I really want to pick up next. It’s been on my TBR for a while and now I own it, so it’s time that I go for it.

The Golden Hour

I think that I’m finally ready to read this one! It’s historical fiction that involves the Royal family. Totally my thing. And I’m interested to see if I’ll love it or hate it.

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century

As I said, I’m in a true crime mood. I’m just wanting to read and watch all the true crime in the world. And this one has caught my eye. So, it’s going to be one that I have to read this month!

Kingdom of Souls

As soon as I finish Serpent & Dove, I’ll move onto this one as my next ARC! It looks so good and I really can’t wait to read it.


Talk to me!
What are you currently reading?
What are you looking forward to picking up next?

Top Ten Tuesday – Cover Redesigns I Loved or Hated

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!

Admittedly, I don’t pay too much attention to cover changes and I don’t let them get to me. However, there are some that I noticed. A couple for the better, but mostly for the best.


First up, the ones that I hated.

Seafire (Seafire, #1)Seafire (Seafire, #1)

hate this cover redesign deep in my bones. The first is the original hardcover (for the US) and the second is the paperback. And, guess what? The rest of the series is going to have people in it. Ugh. I do not like it. The first cover was better.

The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1)The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1)

I don’t know why, but I’m not a fan of the new coloring. Meh. I like the white background more than the orange one. Plus poppies, to me, are red. Not orange.


Now, the changes that I loved!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, # 1)Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

love the new American covers. They look so good! They’re so modern and lovely and ugh. I seriously adore them.

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief

Yep, the one that has Liesel dancing with Death is way better. I’ve said it. I think it just looks so much better and is an apt cover for the story.

The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)

I like this one more because I think it’s more representative of Vin’s character. And, it’s not as busy/confusing. It looks more professional. I really do like it more. This redesign is a win from me.

ItIt

Much Ado About Nothing (The Pelican Shakespeare)Richard III (The Pelican Shakespeare)

  • All of the Pelican Shakespeare copies

I have no idea what the original Shakespeare copies look like, but omg do I love the Pelican copies!! Right now, I’m trying to just get my favorites, but I’d love to have a whole collection of them because they’re just so. damn. pretty.


But, that’s it! That’s my list. I love more book covers than hate them.

Talk to me!
Which covers do you love? Which do you hate?

ARC review – The Reckless Oath We Made by Bryn Greenwood

Caidyn's review (1)

The Reckless Oath We Made

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

4/5

CW: drug use, drug dealing, car accident, kidnapping, mental illness, hoarding, and death


I’m a big fan of Bryn Greenwood. Her first book, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, blew me away. It was a fantastic book and I’ve been waiting not-so-patiently for her next book. When I saw it on Netgalley, I clicked that button so fast. And now I’ve read it!

As usual, Greenwood looks at the uglier side of Kansas. Drugs, hoarding, white supremacy, jail. She takes characters who maybe aren’t ones you would root for, but you find yourself drawn into their stories in a way that you can’t deny is compelling. She’s really just fantastic and I cannot emphasize enough how quickly you should pick her up. If you were turned off by the idea of her first novel, this one is far less polarizing.

The story follows Zhorza, or Zee, after another bad thing has happened in her life. Her father was in jail growing up, her mother’s a hoarder, her relationship with her sister is iffy, she has been hit by a car, and she deals drugs on the side to make ends meet. Her sister, LaReigne, has been kidnapped after convicts escape from the jail she volunteers at. This leaves her young son, Marcus, in Zee’s hands while they wait to find out what’s going on.

Then, there’s Gentry. Gentry is schizophrenic and autistic. He believes he’s a knight s and has multiple voices that talk to him, including a witch and a black (i.e. evil/bad) knight. Two years ago, he met Zee when she was on her way to physical therapy after her car accident. And, he was told that he’s to be her knight and champion for the rest of his days. All very chivalric (and I loved the research that Greenwood put into that to make it believable) and great.

I loved how this book shows mental illness — especially schizophrenia since people with it are so often characterized as a danger to themselves and others — and how it can be managed without medication. Those medications, whether they’re typical or atypical antipsychotics, have a lot of harsh side effects. Yes, some people need them. But that shouldn’t be the first option unless the person is in a full-blown psychotic episode and needs to be brought back to figure out how to manage it best. And I just loved how Gentry was Gentry and, really, everyone learned to accept him for who he was despite his oddities.

I do wish that the story had a more specific plot. The story finally made sense at the end, especially when I reflected on the title. But, other than that, it felt more meandering. It was a lot like Greenwood’s first novel. There’s no huge plot — and I think I’m used to distinctive plots because of reading lots of fantasy; those usually have a definite goal — and it’s told through multiple perspectives. Zee, Gentry, Marcus, some detectives, some people they meet along the way of the story.

But boy was it beautiful. It was just a great read and I could sink into it. The characters were as fantastic as I expected and Greenwood’s writing was just as amazing. I’m pretty sure that this book is going to be liked and I can’t wait to put it in a spot on my shelves!


Talk to me!
Have you read anything by Greenwood yet?
Is this one on your TBR?

Book review – With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Caidyn's review (1)

With the Fire on High

4/5

CW: teen pregnancy, death of a mother, father abandonment, and girl-on-girl hate


First thing I want to say is that this isn’t my culture and I’m not an ownvoices reviewer. I will not be able to pick up on the nuances of culture, although I really appreciated and loved reading the Afro-Latinx culture and how rich it is.

Emoni is a teen mother to a three-year-old, Emma/Babygirl, juggling school, work, and her love of cooking. Her mother died and her father went back to Puerto Rico, so she was raised by her grandmother, ‘Buela. Ever since Emoni was a child, she loved cooking and she works magic with it. She has a tense relationship with Tyrone, Babygirl’s father, but manages it. Her best friend, Angelica, has recently come out as gay and is living her best life with her girlfriend, Lauren.

I really, really enjoyed this book. I loved the themes of cooking and following your dreams and balancing responsibilities. And, for Emoni, she’s just seventeen. She’s a baby herself by my standards. And, damn, she does a great job. I loved reading about the generational support, something that I don’t always have in my family. I’m vaguely close with all my grandparents and I hate asking them for anything since that’s just not what our family does.

The story also isn’t a romance. Or, it has a side plot of a romance, but it’s more about the importance of family. I really loved that. It made it easier for me to read the more “romantic” parts. Plus, Emoni puts her daughter and her needs first. That’s something I loved. It was just about family and a young woman leaning on her family to get through these hard times.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the girl-on-girl hate, though. Along with the whole “pretty girls are mean” trope. There’s a character called Pretty Leslie and I was tired of how she was mean and her one identifier was that she was pretty. Honestly, it was annoying. I did enjoy how things ended up between them, but I just wasn’t a fan. I understood it. I was in high school, after all. I know how you hate attractive and popular people. But it got tiring as the book went on.

One thing I really connected with was Emoni’s love of cooking. I don’t talk about it a lot, but each Saturday for almost a decade now have cooked together. My mom’s not a cook and doesn’t like it, but my dad loves cooking. He passed that on to me because I love cooking too. Each Saturday, we come up with some big meal so when my mom gets home from work we sit down and eat. It’s really nice. I love cooking. While I don’t have the intuition like Emoni does, cooking is still a huge passion for me.

The long and short of this review is that I really enjoyed it. There were aspects that I didn’t like, but I loved the theme of family and that it was very light on the romance. I’d definitely revisit this book and read another Acevedo book.


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Have you read this?
What did you think?