Wednesday, February 12, 2020

My Least Favorite Literary Villains




Dolores Umbridge

This pink loving, kid hating witch deserved every single bad thing that happened to her.  That time Grawp scared the shit out of her?  Deserved it.  That time the centaurs carried her off while she was screaming about how she hates kids?  They should have done even more to her.  Fred and George interrupting her OWL exams to light off fireworks? TOTALLY AWESOME and totally deserved.  Umbridge should have had so much more bad stuff happen to her.

Professor Snape

I know a lot of people LOVE Snape.  I, personally, don't get it. He's a child abuser and a (not at all reformed) death eater, and even though so many people swear he's reformed I don't buy that shit for one single second.  He is always prancing around with his nose in the air acting like he is so much better than everyone else, and sure some people are just going to be snobs. But the fact that he also treats the students of Hogwarts horribly - he makes fun of Harry on the first day of classes, and in front of other students. He refuses to let Hermione get her teeth fixed when that spell goes awry. He repeatedly watches Draco and friends bullying Harry and does nothing about it. He calls Hermione an insufferable know-it-all, and in front of other students at that.  There is so, so much more he's done. He deserves to be a worst literary villain. 


Voldemort

Y'all come on - if you don't agree with this one, I can't even talk to you anymore!  He killed James and Lily, he tried to kill Harry when Harry was just a baby, he turned himself into a cult leader and developed a legion of followers who were just as fanatical about killing and torturing people as he was. He recruited a teenager who was still a student at Hogwarts, then convinced said teen that HE HAD TO BE THE ONE TO KILL DUMBLEDORE! 


Cersei Lannister

Fucked her brother, had children with him, raised those children as though they belonged to her husband, raised her children with minimal discipline and acted like the sun shone out of their asses.  It's no wonder Joffrey grew up to be such an entitled ass. Also, like, she and her brother were entirely responsible for Bran's "accident." WHO DOES THAT TO A KID?!  She was manipulative to Sansa Stark, convincing Sansa to marry Joffrey and then showing Joffrey off to other women when she suddenly felt like Sansa wasn't good enough, and she wonders why people hated her. Actually she probably knew exactly why and just didn't care.

Joffrey Lannister....*cough* I mean Baratheon *cough*

Responsible for the beheading of Ned Stark, allowed his men to hit and thus physically abuse Sansa (because he was told he could never hit her because a king never hits his queen), called for the death of many people because someone threw cow poop at his face, and ordered the death of all his fathers' illegitmate children.  The list goes on, and on, and on.  Is it any wonder that Joffrey would be on a list of least favorite villains?  Not only is he one of my least favorite characters, he's one that I genuinely hate.  I mean loathe with every fiber of my being.  I can't think of a single character I hate as much as him (and that's pretty impressive, because I really hated Snape.)



President Snow

He happily continued the hunger games during his presidency and pitted 24 children against each other to commit murder.  He basically forced Peeta and Katniss into being a couple in catching fire, because dude's not as laid back and cool as one initially thinks he is.  He found subtle ways to torture Katniss after the Hunger games were over (the quarter quell, the rose in her house.....).  He showed no remorse about his part in the games.  One could argue that he was a product of his time and of a corrupt government. But there are many politicians and people who don't turn into what he did.  Sure, he grew up thinking that was acceptable.  But if he had been a morally strong person who actually cared, I would argue that he wouldn't have turned into such a fucking dictator.

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What are your thoughts reader friends?  How do you feel about these people?  Do you have other villains you dislike even more? Talk to me in the comments!  

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Of Curses and Kisses - Sandhya Menon


Title: Of Curses and Kisses
Author: Sandhya Menon
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4.5 Stars
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Will the princess save the beast?
For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending… Right?
His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life. Sparkling and elegant, Jaya’s unlike anyone Grey has ever met. Still, he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…


As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.
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Hi reader friends - you're in for a real treat today: A review by upcoming book Of Curses and Kisses, by one of my favorite YA authors - Sandhya Menon, as well as who I'd pick to play some of my favorite characters from the book!  

Let's start off with my review.  I loved this book so much.  It was, by far, my favorite beauty and the beast retelling I've read!  

The story follows Jaya Rao as she travels to St. Rosetta's for school, mostly with the intention of sort of exacting revenge against one Grey Emerson because of a family curse that dates back before they were born. 

This story has all the mystery and intrigue you'd expect from a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. From the first meeting between Jaya and Grey(when she didn't even know it was him until later) to the end, there are plenty of twists to keep you hooked throughout the story. 

The characters in this book were wonderful.  Even though Jaya started out as a character that some people could view as a bit frustrating, she had so much character development throughout the book, and I would say that she was my favorite character.  She really showed a lot of growth and willingness to change and become a better person throughout the book as well, and I loved that.  Her sister Isha would come in a close second. Isha was, from what I gathered, sort of an object of the presses fancy, and the press tried to paint a really terrible picture of her, even with the fun she has out and about.  But I enjoyed her and think she was misunderstood.

I enjoyed the romance, and the slow development of that romance, throughout this story. There was obvious chemistry between Jaya and Grey, but there was also the tension from Jaya wanting revenge for the curse, so the romance between them built up slowly throughout this story, and it worked so, so well. 

The development of the story worked very well - there was enough back story given that we know why Jaya was so upset with the Emerson family, but not so much delving into the past that we get bored.

When you finish this book, you can definitely tell it's the first in a series, and I am so excited to read future books as they come out.  If you like romance, a little revenge, and great relationship/friendships between the characters, this is a book you have to get your hands on.  If you've been a fan of Sandhya Menon's other books, you will love this one just as much. 

Now, the moment I know you'll love: My Character Movie Picks.  

If I were casting a movie of this book, this is who I would pick to play the following characters: 

Jaya - Digangana Suryavanshi


Emerson - Felix Mallard


Isha -  Jannat Zubair Rahmani  

Leo - Abraham Attah


Daphne - Veronika Bonell



Rahul - Aarav Kumar


Alaric - Emjay Anthony



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Author bio: Sandhya Menon is the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met RishiOf Curses and Kisses, and many other novels that also feature lots of kissing, girl power, and swoony boys. Her books have been included in several cool places, including the Today show, Teen VogueNPRBuzzFeed, and Seventeen. A full-time dog servant and part-time writer, she makes her home in the foggy mountains of Colorado. Visit her online at SandhyaMenon.com, on Twitter @smenonbooks or on Instagram @sandhyamenonbooks.

Buy links: Amazon | B&N | Indies  

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If you feel like following the blog tour for Of Curses and Kisses, here is a nice list of previous and upcoming posts for this book, created by Rube of Bookish Owl Reviews.

February 4th

BookishOwl Reviews – Q&A, Playlist, Favourite Quotes
trishajennreads – Review

February 5th

February 6th

Star is All Booked Up – Review, Mood Board
The Book Nerd – Review/Movie Casting

February 10th

February 11th

Emma Must Read Q&A, Playlist

February 12th

Subtlebookish – Q&A

February 13th

Books. Libraries. Also, cats. – Books to read if you liked OCAK

February 14th

Magical Reads – Playlist
Flipping Through the Pages – Review, Mood Board

February 15th

Naija Book Bae – Review, Excerpt

February 16th

New Chicks On The Block – Review, Excerpt
Open Pages – TBD

February 17th

My World of Books – Review
New Chicks On The Block – Review, Excerpt

February 18th

Scorpio Book Dreams  – Review
Novels and Nebulas – Review
New Chicks On The Block – Review, Excerpt

February 19th

New Chicks On The Block – Review, Excerpt

February 20th

New Chicks On The Block – Review, Excerpt
BookCrushin – Feature Post
The Baroness of Books – Mood Board
Open Pages – Playlist, Review

February 23rd

Velarisreads – Review

February 24th

Emma Must Read Q&A, Playlist

February 25th

Bookish Girl Magic – Review, Reaction
Deckled Edges – TBD

February 26th

Brunette Bibliophile – OCAK controls what I eat for 24 hours



Disclaimer: I read this book as an ARC.  All thoughts and opinions on this book are my own.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

My Favorite Literary Villains


Hey reader friends.  I thought it would be fun today to do a post about my favorite villains.  I won't even ramble: Let's just jump right in.


WICKED - The Maze Runner Series 

Okay, so the whole WICKED organization is pretty terrible, right?  They took a whole bunch of kids and locked them up in these mazes and left them there to fend for themselves and then set them loose in a desecrated burned out city to fight their way to a cure for whatever was plaguing their society.  BUT, there was also the side that showed they were at least trying to find a cure for what was going on in their world. 

Vizzini - The Princess Bride 

Vizzini is like one of those villains who is so, so unintelligent that you have to wonder if he even knows enough to be a proper villain.  And that is why he is on my short list of favorite literary villains. He's just to easy to beat, and almost a bit like the jokers of times past.  

Draco Malfoy - The Harry Potter Series 

Draco was a smug, arrogant little shit throughout like most of the Harry Potter series. I think we can all agree on that.  But, the kid was so smart. Much smarter than his classmates and others gave him credit for.  Even though there were times when I really wanted to just punch him right in the face, in the end, I did grow to believe that he was just a scared kid who was a product of his environment. I mean, imagine growing up with Lucius Malfoy as your dad, and had a Black for a mother and an aunt.


Dumbledore - The Harry Potter Series 

You read that right friends - I said Dumbledore.  Let me explain, okay?  Yeah, sure Dumbledore had that whole wise old man, love of teaching thing, delivering Harry to his aunt and uncles house to keep him safe thing down.  But did he genuinely care about all his students?  Did he not spend how many years manipulating Harry so that he (Dumbledore) could work things out in his favor?  Did Dumbledore not spend time colluding with a known death eater, and putting said death eater in a position of power claiming it was to "keep an eye on him."  I mean, sure, that was probably part of the reason, but he also needed and used Snape to his own advantage over and over and over again throughout the series.  That being said, Dumbledore is my favorite sort of almost villain, and I do like him about 80 % of the time.  (I may change my mind again later, but for now, that's where I stand.)

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So, reader friends - what about you?  Do you have any villains that you just love to hate?  Let me know in the comments down below! 

Monday, January 27, 2020

What To Say Next - Julie Buxbaum

Title: What To Say Next
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Format: Harcover
Rating: 1 Star

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Two struggling teenagers find an unexpected connection just when they need it most.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?
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I went into this book with so much hope. So, so much now misguided hope.  I left this book more disappointed than I've been with a book in a long, long time.



I thought this book would have some good direction with the autism rep featured in the novel.  I was interested that the author also included a bi-racial Indian character and drew from her experience as the wife of an Indian man and mother to two bi-racial children. The author said, in fact, that part of the reason she created Kit as a bi-racial Indian kid is because she wanted her kids to see characters in books that look like them. That is fantastic. I mean truly wonderful.  Every kid should be able to consume media featuring people who look like them!  The only thing that left a niggling feeling in my brain was that the author talks about how Kit's dad's parents are "subtly racist towards white people...."  And, well, that's not a thing?

Now, I want to be clear: There were things I liked about this book.  There really were. I really liked the dialogue between Kit and David in this book.  They had really great banter and conversations with each other. I liked that David's parents just accepted and loved all of him for exactly who he was.  They didn't look at him like there was something wrong with him, because they knew there was nothing wrong with him.  He was autistic, but he was there kid and they loved him like any other person should.

But boy were there some issues with this book.  David's sister Miney (Lauren) was an issue. She was the one who was absolutely convinced that David needed a makeover. She was the one who made him change his clothes and hair. She was the one who had an issue with the way he dressed, even though the way he dressed was comfortable for him. I had a big issue with this because A: It says that there is something wrong with the way David looks, and there's nothing wrong with the way he looks, and B: It says he shouldn't be able to dress in a way that is comfortable for him.   It also shows that perhaps Miney is not as accepting of her brother as she should be. Sure, she does a great job helping him with his notebook so that he can have an easier time navigating high school. But trying to change the dress thing and his hair and all that speaks so much more about how she views him.

Also, the bullying in this book is just off the charts - AND NOTHING GETS DONE ABOUT IT. When David was in middle school a bunch of kids shoved is  head in a shit filled toilet (yes, you read that right) and they didn't get punished - at all.  No punishment.  Yet they go to a school that claims to have a zero tolerance policy for bullying.  Then, in current time where this book is placed, two boys steal David's notebook and scan it into a computer and post it online for all the school to read.  THEN THEY ALL SEND HIM DEATH THREATS.  Like, not just one threat, and not just from one person.  Multiple people send him various messages telling him he should die, and that he should just kill himself.  And then the principal, who should be standing up for all students and fighting against bullying, has the nerve to call David and his parents to the office to tell them that David should be the one to leave school. The principal tells them that this school just isn't a good fit for David.  SO, David gets bullied, and has kids tell him to kill himself, then defends himself against these threats, and he's the one who gets in trouble - because that totally makes sense.





So, overall, this was THE WORST BOOK I've read this year so far.  It's only January, so things may change, but this book was not worth it.  Poor character development, a horrible story line, and a poorly executed story made this not even worth the paper it was printed on.

Save your time and read something else that has more positive rep in it, and actually handle bullying situations better.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Dating Profile Friday - Dolores Umbridge


Name: Dolores Umbridge
Occupation: Senior Undersecretary for the Ministry of Magic; Former Defense Against The Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry

Hobbies: Collecting plates with kittens on them, torturing students, drinking tea.

About Me: I have worked for the Ministry of Magic for many years.  I was, during a particularly dark time at Hogwarts, also the Defense against the Dark Arts Professor.  I enjoy herbal tea, collectible plates, and good conversation.  I don't like or want children, I despise forests, and I don't like singing.  I do enjoy being in charge, and would take any chance I can to get on top and be in charge. 

You can usually find me at work. If you send an owl, and I don't respond within a week - move on.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Baba Yaga - Jane Yolen


Title: Finding Baba Yaga 
Author: Jane Yolen
Format: Paperback 
Rating: 4 Stars 

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A young woman discovers the power to speak up and take control of her fate—a theme that has never been more timely than it is now…

You think you know this story.
You do not.

A harsh, controlling father. A quiescent mother. A house that feels like anything but a home. Natasha gathers the strength to leave, and comes upon a little house in the wood: A house that walks about on chicken feet and is inhabited by a fairy tale witch. In finding Baba Yaga, Natasha finds her voice, her power, herself...
 
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Finding Baba Yaga was intriguing to say the least.  While I wouldn't say this is a book that I would read again, I did enjoy the story. 

I feel like this was a good retelling of the Baba Yaga myth.  The way the author works in Natasha's life and desire to flee that life into the Baba Yaga story is wonderful.  I like the fantasy mixed in with the reality of what can sometimes be a harsh life.

This was a very short novella (just over 100 pages), but even in the short span, the author develops the characters well, and for me the story was enough that I had to finish reading because I had to find out what happened. 

The story has enough intrigue and tension between Natasha and the other girl who lives with Baba, as well as between baba and these girls.  There is anger, forgiveness, and I would say even love between these characters.

Overall, like I mentioned, I enjoyed the book a lot. It is a YA book, but I think it's a book even adults will enjoy. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Poisoned Apples - Christina Heppermann

Title: Poisoned Apples
Author: Christina Heppermann
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5 Stars

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Once upon a time...
you were a princess,
or an orphan.
A wicked witch,
fairy godmother,
prom queen,
valedictorian,
team captain,
Big Bad Wolf,
Little Bo Peep.
But you are more than just a hero or
a villain, cursed or charmed. You are
everything in between.
You are everything.

In fifty poems Christine Heppermann places fairy tales side by side with the modern teenage girl. Powerful and provocative, deadly funny and deadly serious, this collection is one to read, to share, to treasure, and to come back to again and again.
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This is going to be, possibly, my shortest review to date. It's tougher to review poetry, but here goes. 

This collection of poetry was, hands down, one of the best poetry books I've read to date.  I read a decent amount of poetry in college, and this book easily ranks as one of my favorite poetry collections now! 

The poems in this book are dark. They are a bit twisted.  They cover topics like bullying, eating disorders, and so much more. They do it in a way that is unique and that *I've* never seen before.  Heppermann writes these poems in a way that draws the reader in and makes them want to compulsively read this book, and reach out and give all the struggling teens a big hug.

Christine Heppermann manages to take fairy tales and blend them together with major issues into what is a truly fantastic collection of poems.  You wouldn't think that blending fairy tales in to the harsh reality of actual life would work, but Heppermann has found a way to do it in this book - and does it ever work!

The photographs throughout this book fit so well with the theme and with the poems.  They are stunning and work so well.

If you can handle dark, if you can handle a bit twisted, this is a poetry collection I would absolutely recommend reading.

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If you've already read this book, let me know what you think down in the comments!