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Bitsy's Books

Note: I'm uploading my books from Goodreads and since there are like 200+ it's going to take awhile. The uploading seems a bit wonky too, so hang with me as I fix things. Also there may be spoilers until I can make all the appropriate tags.


I'm an ex-English Major who, sick of reading classics after college, decided to read all the trashy books I didn't before because I was too snobby. Since graduating, I've entertained myself with comics, YA, and romance novels, finding out they can not only be decently written, but superbly written. I've since recovered from my classics aversion, but I'm now more open-minded reader willing to read from any genre. If a book has kick-ass heroines and/or witty banter and/or takes place in a different time or place (including fantasy settings), I will most likely fall in love with it. My favorite authors are Jane Austen, Shakespeare, E.M. Forster, Meljean Brook, Sarah Rees Brennan, Rachel Hartman, Catherynne M. Valente, and Aliette de Bodard.

Currently reading

The Blue Fairy Book
Andrew Lang
Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet
Jennifer Homans
Academy 7 - Anne Osterlund 3 out of 5 StarsAerin Renning is a fugitive. Hiding in the most elite academy in the universe, Academy 7, she becomes entangled with Dane, the son of the premier general of The Alliance. They clash at first, but when they are forced together, friendship blossoms…and a relationship that has far greater implications than the two will ever know.Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? However, the biggest failing of Academy 7 is that it doesn’t live up to many of the promises it makes. Interesting topics such as power, imperialism, politics, and slavery are brushed off, unresolved, or solved in very simplistic ways. This is one YA book that I wish would have been a trilogy or a quadrilogy.However, the strength of this story lies in the relationship between Aerin and Dane. While they are fascinating (if uneven) characters, the slow development from rivals to friends to romantic partners is wonderful to read, especially in a literary landscape that is overwhelmed by insta-love. Both, despite their wildly different backgrounds, are outsiders and each has suffered and endured pain in the past. If you want the angst of a love-each-other-so-passionately-but-they-can’t-be-together romance, this isn’t the book for you. If you like reading about the slow build of a relationship over time, you will enjoy this. Aerin is a strong and different character. She reminds me a bit of Katniss, in her no-nonsense, survivalist mindset. But whereas Katniss is broken over the course of The Hunger Games trilogy, Aerin is already broken. She’s a bit of an enigma throughout the book because her entire backstory isn’t revealed until near the end. This leads to some discrepancies in her characterization (at one point, she’s suffering PTSD from the sound of gun blasts, but later, when another student points a gun at her, she brushes the gun off). Her trauma was used more as a convenient plot device rather than a character experience/trait. But despite that, I enjoyed her character and she felt very real.I loved Dane. At first he appears cocky and arrogant – the stereotypical rebellious younger son, but reveals himself to be incredibly kind and patient with Aerin when he does get to know her and her past. His popularity and place within a prominent family actually alienates him from others. He’s been placed on a pedestal, making him untouchable, but also very lonely. Until he’s forced to spend time with Aerin, who doesn’t understand nor care about his status or family name, is he able to open up about the terrible things that have happened to him and realize he doesn’t have to live his life as a reaction against his father and brother.However, my biggest problems with this book were the simplistic world-building, the homogenous Western based nature of the universe (they still celebrate Christmas!), and my favorite Evil Blonde Cheerleader McSlutface trope. The world of Academy 7 is really big – the story occurs on multiple planets – but nothing is ever really dealt with in-depth. We know there is an alliance of planets called The Alliance and there are planets outside The Alliance’s jurisdiction. There is a Trade Federation that is challenging The Alliance as a power, but…that’s it. Most of the politics are brought up and dropped. The only planets outside the Alliance we get any semblance of an idea of are the planet Aerin was enslaved on and the planet Aerin’s father led a rebellion on. This leads to my main problem with this book – unconscious imperialism disguised as amity. Aerin’s father, a citizen of The Alliance, flew into a planet outside The Alliance’s jurisdiction to incite a rebellion. How is that his business? So an outsider from a richer, more prominent culture, comes in, incites the people to a rebellion, and then imposes his values on the new government? Aerin’s dad needs to read ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ STAT. However, his actions are portrayed as greatly heroic and Aerin is proud of him.There are only two characters of color in the book. A professor at Academy 7 has a Chinese last name, though it’s never outright stated he’s of Chinese-descent and/or multiracial. Of course, he’s a total ball-buster, while the other professors with European last names are portrayed as positive or well-rounded. The only other visible character of color is textbook Evil Blonde Cheerleader McSlutface. Yvonne has it in for Aerin since the beginning for no apparent reason other than she’s an evil bitch and Aerin is the put-upon protagonist. Yvonne throws herself at Dane the first time she meets him and continues to do so throughout the book. She has no other character traits other than evil bitch, and honestly, she serves no purpose in the story other than to drive the original wedge between Dane and Aerin (which Aerin knew she was trouble, so why did Aerin believe her?). It is even more disgusting when every time Yvonne appears, her ‘exotic’ dark skin is mentioned. The word ‘exotic’ is problematic enough, opening a whole other can of worms about ‘otherness’ and ‘fetishizing the other,’ but if also further cements the world of Academy 7 as predominately white. Yvonne is pointless, so why have a bitchy character at all? All the other female students at the academy are bitchy too, making Aerin into an Exceptional Girl and cutting her off from any positive female interactions. The only other positive female characters are Dane and Aerin’s (dead) mothers and the head of Academy 7 – all women over thirty and mostly dead. It’s a disturbing trend.The writing at times could tend toward clunky purple prose and imagery that didn’t really tell the reader anything. The point of imagery is to give readers a clearer idea of what is going on and what a character is seeing or feeling, not confuse us more.Academy 7 gives us a lot of promising threads, but never really follows up on them and is filled with naïve politics and problematic portrayals. The real strength of the book lies within the burgeoning relationship of Aerin and Dane. Both are fascinating individually and in the way the play off of each other. Sadly, however wonderful Aerin and Dane’s bond is, it can’t overcome the lack of depth of the world-building and in the story. I think if the book had focused on them and their life at school instead of diving into the wider world, it would have been more successful. As it is, Academy 7 is a great character and relationship study, but not a very successful sci-fi novel.
The Fierce Reads Anthology - Anna Banks,  Leigh Bardugo,  Jennifer Bosworth,  Emmy Laybourne,  Marissa Meyer Overall: 3 StarsI read this anthology because I was interested in Bardugo's and Meyer's novels...and this anthology pretty much cemented that they're the most interesting and well-written of the bunch. Still, I liked this offer from Tor - a quality product (the cover art for each individual story is AM-AH-ZING)and a chance for readers to sample authors for FREE!!! If you have an ereader, I highly recommend you check it out, especially for Bardugo's story. It's excellent. Oddly enough, the individual stories themselves aren't free. Oh and did I say it's FREE??????Favorite: The Witch of Duva by Leigh BardugoWorst: Prophet by Jennifer BosworthStandouts : Glitches by Marissa MeyerLegacy Lost by Anna Banks2.5 StarsA mermaid prince must wed a mermaid princess to ensure the survival of their race. One problem: Grom hates her. However, fate has other plans.If I was a bigger fan of mermaids, this story may have worked more for me. It was interesting, but not completely original. The world-building was clunkily inserted yet still left gaps in the readers' understanding. The prose vacilitated between needlessly wordy and beautiful imagery.The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo5 StarsIn a Russian-based fantasy world, young girls are going missing in the Nadya's village. She suspects the beautiful widow who is viying for her father.I really enjoy fairytale retellings, especially those that turn fairytales on their heads. I was held rapt while Nadya discovered the secret behind the disapearances and discovers her place in the world. I loved how Bardugo created a world and creatures different from traditional Russian folklore, yet one that fits right into the traditional mythology at the same time. I'm really excited to read her full-length novel set in this world, Shadow and Bone.Prophet by Jennifer Bosworth2 StarsA teenage son of a cult leader comes of age and accepts his destiny.This is a very short story (6-13 pages on my Nook) and has hardly any time to develop the characters or for the reader to develop any sort of bond or emotional response. It's a very traditional villain origin story, but doesn't add anything new or do anything interesting. It's competently written, but rushed. Considering I've read many similar stories with similar plot devices this fell flat.Dress Your Marines in White by Emmy Laybourne3 StarsA scientist relives an experiment that goes horribly wrong.While this story was gripping and interesting, the more I thought about it, the more problems I had. How could blood type possibly cause aggression or hallucinations - things that are caused by the nervous system rather than the circulatory system? There were also plot points that made no logical sense (especially in a high-security military research facility). I didn't understand or connect with the POV character or his eventual decision and the rest of the characters were flat and stereotypical. Despite my (many) misgivings, the story kept me glued to the page. The narrative jumped back and forth between the report, flashbacks, and the current setting. A lesser writer could have muddled that terribly, but Laybourne does have storytelling skills. It’s just too bad it’s wrapped up in bad pseudo-science and weak characters. Also, the adult male protagonist says "a-hole" instead of "asshole" 3 times, making him sound like a 10-year-old girl who is still uncomfortable with swearing. He’s an ADULT. Get over it. Teenagers will not die if they read the word "asshole."Glitches by Marissa Meyer4 StarsIn this sci-fi retelling of Cinderella, Cinder, a cyborg, is adopted into the family of a well-meaning if flighty inventor. Cinder tries to form relationships and find her place, while trying to adjust to life as a cyborg.I was drawn to this story because of the Asian-inspired sci-fi setting and the unique world-building. The small domestic glimpse of Cinder’s world is fascinating and makes me curious about the greater world of her story. Meyer has a very easy voice that draws you in. However, I had assumed Cinder was Asian, but it is revealed that she is European. I was a bit put off that the author didn’t have an Asian heroine. Cinder’s plight is heart-breaking and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of The Lunar Chronicles.
Cotillion - Georgette Heyer 2 out of 5 StarsKitty’s overbearing Uncle has made her an heiress – under the condition that she marries one of her cousins! When her favorite, Jack, doesn’t show up, Kitty enters into a fake engagement with her other cousin Freddy to make Jack jealous. As with any not-so-brilliant “brilliant” plan, fate has other ideas.I regard Heyer as the closest anyone has ever come to recreating Jane Austen’s voice and wit and Cotillion is one of her most beloved books by fans. Sadly, this one fell flat for me. While the characters were enjoyable and funny, I didn’t really like any of them. I thought everyone was a bit silly and stupid. Freddy was stuffy, patronizing, and judgmental. I also felt the romantic relationship just magically happened and I never got the sense that these characters ever actually fell in love with each other. The witty banter I’ve enjoyed in Heyer’s other books wasn’t as present in this one. Still, even a Heyer that didn’t work for me is still filled with wonderful historical details that transport you back to the world of Regency England.
Uncommon Criminals - Ally Carter 4 out of 5 StarsKat is back trying to right the wrongs of the Nazi Plunder by stealing back and returning the stolen objects to their rightful owners. However, her crusade backfires when a mysterious female uses Kat’s compassion to take the Cleopatra Emerald. Kat needs Gabrielle, Hale, Nick, and the gang to steal the infamous jewel back. Two problems: Hale isn’t talking to Kat and the emerald may be cursed…In my opinion, Uncommon Criminals is more successful than the first book, Heist Society. While the first book focused on Kat coming back to her thieving roots, in this book Kat question her abilities and who she is. I liked how Carter addressed how thieving is a very male-dominated world, adding a nice wrench into Kat’s development and how she relates to the (female) villain. Kat also learns some pretty surprising information about her family and the mysterious Uncle Eddie. The heist plot itself is more original and unique than Heist Society’s and didn’t feel as derivative. The gang shows up and it’s nice to see all the quirky characters again, especially Gabriella (though the Bagshaws are starting to grate). I like how Gabriella is as much an important part of Kat’s life as Hale, Kat’s potential love interest. So often YA ignores female friendships to focus on romance. However, I HATED Hale in this book. Gone was the funny supportive boy in the first, and instead I had moody patronizing Hale. Kat goes through some really low moments where she doubts herself and instead of encouraging and standing by her, he ignores or second-guesses her. I guess the author was going for the ‘sexy moody overprotective’ thing that everyone seems to love about Edward Cullen and Christian Grey, but it mostly fell flat (not to mention I HATE THOSE KINDS OF CHARACTERS). I missed awesome Hale. In fact, I really liked Nick, the-other-possible-love-interest-but-not-really, in this book because he encouraged Kat and believed in her.Though I did love how Carter subverted the potential love triangle on its head.Overall, I thought Uncommon Criminals was a worthy successor to Heist Society and in many ways surpasses the original. If you like awesome female characters and fun capers, the Heist Society series is a must read.
Generation Dead - Daniel Waters 3.5 out of 5 StarsAn interesting look at prejudice and bigotry using zombies and high school. This book felt more like a contemporary YA than a paranormal one, exploring the troubles of growing-up, friendship, first love, self-discovery, and death. However, the two main characters were a Mary Sue and Gary Stu, and it was troubling that in a book about diversity and bigotry, all six main characters were white, cisgender, and straight. The two highest functioning zombies, destined to become “leaders” were blonde and blue-eyed. The one African-American zombie was one of the slower zombies and made a headdesk comment about guns. It’s a very troubling oversight in a book about bigotry and diversity.I remember pointing out how I felt that the lessons in Team Human would have served a white-protagonist better. However, complete erasure of POC or LGBT (except for a few very minor side characters, most of whom are depicted as violent and angry) is much worse and makes the book seem like a ‘white people experience -isms’ book, rather than a study of discrimination and privilege. I hardly think this was the author’s intent, but it’s especially disappointing because Waters seems very sensitive to issues and people otherwise. This left a very negative view in what I think is a high quality book.
Simple Jess - Pamela Morsi 4 out of 5 StarsAlthea Winslow is a widow living in the Ozarcks around the turn of the 20th century. Her extended family doesn’t agree with her refusal to remarry. Althea decides to hire Jesse, the mentally retarded, yet sweet man to help her prepare for winter. While the various big families put their best young men forward to woe Althea (and her land), she begins to realize that she and everyone else has underestimated Jesse – and he may be the perfect man after all.I’ve always been looking out for the definitive historical romance that makes me fall in love with the genre, much like Jennifer Crusie’s Welcome to Temptation sold me on contemporaries and Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke on paranormals. Simple Jess now probably comes the closest to a historical I unabashedly love. However, there is a pretty big hiccup that ruined what could have been 5 star rating.Althea was a great heroine. Having spent most of her life being talked down to and controlled by the whims of her family and then her in-laws, with her husband’s death, Althea is granted the power and freedom to do as she wants. She stands up to the town trying to run her life and demanding she marry and even when trapped managed to make her own demands. She’s an intelligent and assertive woman, but can also be stubborn and headstrong. Jesse…sigh. I guess I love the sweet big lug with a heart of gold, eh? Jesse is mentally handicapped and most people treat him as a child and talk down to him, even though he’s a good farmhand and an excellent hunter. Jesse understands his limits and while others may use him or make fun of him, he isn’t ashamed of who he is. He’s refreshing compared to all the tortured uber alpha males that permeate romance. Their romance was slow, but satisfying, especially as Althea begins to realize that Jesse is more than just a simple child, but a man in his own right. Jesse finds his way into Althea’s heart by not demanding anything from her. While the rest of the town demands she live by their rules and judgement, Jesse silently stands by her, giving her courage and support. He loves her kid and is very pleasant with him. However, I did feel to prove Jesse’s competence, Althea’s was compromised.Baby Paisley, Althea’s young son, is probably one of the best written children in romance I’ve ever read. Usually kids in romance are either a) perfect little angels of perfection b) “cutely” mischeivious. Both are annoying as all get out. Baby Paisley reads like an actual child. He makes mistakes and does bad things (that aren’t romanticized with ‘Isn’t that cute?’). I usually hate children in romance novels, but Paisley was an actual character, not a caricature.The characters and their actions seemed to be how people of that time period would act. The book was filled with fascinating details of daily life in the Ozarcks. Even minor townsfolk were well-drawn characters with their own personalities and faults. However, a bit too much time, especially in the later half of the novel, is spent on subplots surrounding Althea’s two main suitors, Oather and Eben, interfering and taking away from Jesse and Althea’s story (in fact the last few pages of the novel aren’t even about them). Oather, the closeted homosexual son of the general store owner, is well-written sympathetic character. He’s always been considered a little different and nobody in the small town, especially his over-bearing father, understands him. His journey to accepting himself and finding his own way has you rooting for him, especially because at one point, homosexual = evil villain in romance. However, Eben and Mavis’s (Oather’s sister) subplot represented everything I hate about Old Skool romance novels – the arrogant asshole hero, the passive doormat heroine, and the martyr plot. Eben constantly belittles and humiliates Mavis and her feminine goodness wouldn’t let her slap him and put him in his place. His treatment of Mavis exascerbates to the point that Mavis will let him use her if he’ll let Oather marry Althea. Eben violently uses and rapes her, only to melt into a puddle of tears over hurting her. Mavis, all feminine goodness and perfection, pats him on the head and forgives him because he has man-hurt. What the ever loving fuck? I might not have minded their subplot so much if Mavis had grown a backbone and told Eben to fuck-off , but the rape was a huge deal breaker for me. Compared to Althea and Jesse’s sweet love story, the tone of this subplot was completely jarring.I really really loved Jesse and Althea’s story, but too much time spent on other characters and a rapey subplot brought down what was an excellent read. I highly recommend, but just know what you’re getting with the subplot. Simple Jesse is different than any other historical romance, sadly it has its downfalls too.The formatting on the ebook is absolutely atrocious. Only the fact was that this was such a good story made me buy this. If formatting is a big issue, you’ve been warned.
Dangerous Voices - Rae Carson 4 out of 5 StarsA young music mage has been imprisoned in the same cell for many years; however, his world changes when another young music mage is imprisoned next to him.The storyline doens't feel like anything fresh and new (in fact, I feel like I've read similar concepts before), but Carson brings emotional realism and suspense to the well worn plot. Errik's life is so heartbreaking. Carson has such a beautiful and lyrical quality to her writing and her voice just draws the reader in, making up for the unoriginality of the plot.
A Mere Formality - Ilona Andrews 4 out of 5 StarsTo make up for the death of his father during a political banquet, gruff warrior Lord Nagrad demands marriage to quiet unassuming researcher, Deidre. But Deidre isn't so naive and passive as she appears...For a short novella, A Mere Formality packs in well fleshed-out world-building, three-dementional characters, and a cute believable romance. Andrews knows how to write gruff sexy alpha heroes who aren't cavemen and don't compromise the heroine's agency. I love how Deidre is a strong heroine without breaking out of her scholarly personality.
Holiday Sparks - Shannon Stacey 3.5 out of 5 StarsChloe Burke has returned to the small town where she grew up for Christmas to house-sit for her parents. When she accedently blows a fuse, the hot electrician she calls, Scott Quinn, was a nerdy kid from high school. Unable to hide their attraction to each other, they decide to have a fling over the holidays, but we all know how that will work out.Holiday Sparks is a fun novella with likable characters and a cute set-up. Stacey's voice feels young and modern, befitting her characters' ages. While not overly memorable (though Scott is one tall drink of water), Holiday Sparks is a cozy enjoyable read.
The Summer Before I Met You (The Lynburn Legacy, #0.5) - Sarah Rees Brennan 4 out of 5 StarsA short cute prelude before Unspoken. Since Unspoken is told mostly from Kami's POV, it's interesting seeing Kami from an outsider's perspective. It was nice seeing more of Kami's relationships with Angela and Rusty. And more Rusty is always a good thing.Definitely don't recommend reading before Unspoken, because many (non-plot-related) events referenced in Unspoken are played out in this story. Half the fun in Unspoken is imagining what had happened. This is more of a fan filler, and Brennan doesn't disappoint.
The Spring Before I Met You (The Lynburn Legacy, #0.25) - Sarah Rees Brennan 4 out of 5 StarsA short prelude before Unspoken. While there is no new information about the characters or story, it does give a little insight into Jared's life before moving to Sorry-in-the-Vale and meeting Kami. Brennan still manages pack a heart-wrenching punch in a 14 page story (and the synopsis of "The Fall of the House of Usher" is brilliant).Not sure if I would recommend reading this before Unspoken. Gives away a bit of the mystery of Jared's character.

Unspoken (Lynburn Legacy Series #1)

Unspoken - Sarah Rees Brennan

4.5 out of 5 Stars


I declare 2012 the year I discovered Sarah Rees Brennan and her awesomeness. Unspoken is unlike any other PNR YA I’ve read (but I can’t tell you the secret because that ruins the mystery). Kami (a quarter Asian heroine this time, SRB is pretty awesome in regards to diversity), the heroine, is self-possessed, strong, and independent like nobody ever was at that age (but hey, that’s part of the charm of YA). Jared is that type of rough-around-the-edges, but incredibly vulnerable hero I eat up with a spoon. Kami’s relationship with him was heartbreaking. Brennan somehow manages to blend laugh-out-loud humor with the beautiful and haunting English town Kami and the gang live in. The secondary characters are wonderful and memorable, each deeper than they appear on the outset (I love Angela and her naps – I can relate). The only problem was this book ended and I have to wait until June for the release of Untold. DAMN YOU YA AND YOUR LOVE OF TRILOGIES/SERIES! Unspoken is a beautiful novel that is both funny and heartbreaking at the same time.


Reflected in You (Crossfire Trilogy Series #2)

Reflected in You - Sylvia Day

2.5 out of 5 Stars


Leaving off where Bared to You left off, billionaire Gideon Cross and Eva Trammel try to work through their pasts as child sexual abuse survivors and their destructive tendencies, while becoming further and further obsessed with each other.


There are some things I really like about this novel (and series) and some things I absolutely want to burn to ashes. Sadly, this book seemed to focus more on the burning ashes than the things I enjoyed in the first book.


I read Bared to You because it was reviewed as a better written version of 50 Shades. I knew it had probably the biggest trope I hate in romance novels – the controlling alpha-male asshole. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t like Gideon very much, but Bared to You had me rooting for him and Eva. I loved Eva’s voice and her self-awareness. I loved the secondary characters, especially Cary, Eva’s messed-up best friend. I was riveted by two very damaged people and how they fought to be together. I liked how the book didn’t disguise the unhealthy parts of their relationship and their problems were being worked through realistically, with therapy instead of the ‘healing power of lurve.’ Overall, my takeaway was positive. While I still didn’t drink the caveman kool aid, I felt Gideon was right for Eva and wanted them to be together.


However, Reflected in You lost much of what I loved about Bared. In fact, by the end, I felt Eva would be better off without Gideon and if she does stick with him, it will only lead to tragedy. The fight, passion, and self-awareness I saw in Eva in the first book were gone and replaced by a wimpy doormat. Gideon’s possessiveness ratchets up to 11, putting him into crazy possessive stalker territory. Instead of focusing on the very real emotional obstacles in their relationship, the book uses outside forces such as exes to create petty drama between the two.


The first part is filled with petty fights and 7th grade emotional outbursts. Gideon and Eva constantly use sex to solve the problems in their relationship, even when their therapist (who they go to for fun I guess, because they don’t listen to a word he says) points it out. Eva lets Gideon string her along while he doesn't tell her anything about himself and Eva pouts, fights, and then gives into him because he’s just sooooooooooooo hot. Gideon has Eva tailed by security (who intercede when she harmlessly flirts with other men), his chauffeur follow her, wishes to have her followed to the bathroom that is 20-feet away, demands she have him drive her to work and eat at her desk (without explanation), watches her from security banks, and manipulates elevators in his own buildings to talk to her. He doesn’t respect Eva’s space or trust her to make any decisions on her own. He constantly says things like “You're not going to get a hundred percent equality in this relationship.” Like WTF? (And Gideon, you can’t have 50% equality. Equality doesn’t work like that. YOU’RE AN IDIOT).


Also, the sex scenes? RIDICULOUS. It started to be like one every 5 pages and I was getting sick of the sex because it didn’t do anything to further the plot and just kept enforcing destructive behavior. I love me some good sex scenes, but there are only so many ‘hard long cocks’ and ‘shattering orgasms’ before it gets repetitive. The sex isn’t all that groundbreaking. They basically just fuck multiple times in the three main positions (which granted is a step up from the erotic missionary sex of the first book).


The second part was better because Gideon basically drops Eva like a sack of oats (for reasons he doesn’t tell her because adult conversations and talking things through don’t lead to pointless irritating drama) and the focus is more on Eva and secondary characters. Cary was as awesome as ever. Despite his flaws, I find him completely lovable (though I do hate how Eva and the text insinuate the women he sleeps with are sluts). He’s a ray of sunshine amidst Eva and Gideon’s constant ‘wah wah fuckfuckfuck.’ I loved how Eva’s Mom and Dad wanted to eat each other up, but were totally wrong for each other (though Eva talking about her ‘smoking hot dad’ was really really weird).


Eva finally does start to stick up for herself at the end and takes a proactive position. Eva puts her foot down, forcing Gideon to *finally* tells her his past. Still, after chewing Gideon out, she always puts herself down, undoing all the ‘YEAH GURRRRRRRRRRRL!’ that came before. Gideon finally fesses up at the very end, so I do wonder if the first half was just filler to unnecessarily drag out the story.


The ending completely shocked me. In some ways, it shows how perfect Gideon and Eva are for each other, but at the same time, Eva now ‘owes’ Gideon.




Eva is dark enough and violent enough to want someone dead, but I don’t know if that’s a healthiest part to bring out of her. I mean, whatever POS rapist Nathan was, was killing him the answer? Does Gideon have the right to pass judgment like that? I mean HE KILLED SOMEONE. But the narrative implies that this is a good thing, a noble thing, not only through Eva’s somewhat flawed (but clearly not flawed enough) perspective, but the FREAKING HOMICIDE DETECTIVE INVESTIGATING THE MURDER as well. I hated how the detective was basically like ‘Yeah, he killed a dude. Isn’t he the most awesome bestest boyfriend EVA?




This only reaffirms Gideon’s godlike status (not to mention he can use his incredible wealth and influence to cover up) and that his crazy stalker ‘I rule the world’ tendencies are in the RIGHT. And I don’t agree with that. AT ALL.

I think I could enjoy these books more if they weren’t romance, but a story between two people who become unhealthily obsessed with each other (like Wuthering Heights –another not-romance). I enjoy the author’s voice, I love many of the secondary characters, and I like Eva and am rooting for her. Sadly, Reflected in You changed my mind and made me believe Gideon was not the way for Eva to find happiness. Great sex only goes so far. I can’t imagine either of these two with a happy ending. Gideon brings out the worst in Eva and I wish there was someone better for her than Gideon. Losing herself in a man when she’s finally accepting herself for the first time after having lost so much of herself seems tragic, not romantic.

Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan

Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan - Robin Maxwell

2 out of 5 Stars

WARNING: TV Tropes links ahead! You've been warned.


Jane travels with her Darwinist father to Africa in search of fossils to prove humanity’s evolution from apes. When betrayed by their guide, Jane is saved by a handsome jungle man, Tarzan. While her remarkable rescuer teaches Jane how to survive in the jungle, Jane realizes Tarzan himself may hold the key to the missing evolutionary link...


Jane is a reimagining of the Tarzan stories through Jane’s perspective. I was never a huge fan of Tarzan (not even the Disney movie that everyone loved), but I love classic retellings. Sadly, Jane did not convince me to love Tarzan.


My biggest problem was that this book felt too preachy. Jane felt more like a soapbox for the author than her own character. I hate it when books are holier-than-thou, even when extolling my own beliefs. Usually, in these types of books, the characters are very shallow and either good or evil – there is no grey. “Good” characters posses all the “good” traits and “bad” characters posses all the “bad” traits. And while this may work for some epic fantasy and simple stories like fairy tales, legends, etc., it doesn’t work in a book trying to be passed off as somewhat realistic and “literary” fiction.


Part of the problems stem from the problems inherent within the original Tarzan story. I haven’t read the original books, but from what I gather they are very much a product of their times. African characters are “savages” and “cannibals” and Tarzan constantly plays the role of conqueror. While maybe not blatantly racist, Jane hits other problematic stereotypes such as “Noble Savage,” “Going Native,” “Magical Negro,” and “Mighty Whitey.” I had hoped a retelling could maybe subvert these tropes and give a more modern politically correct take, but alas it was not to be.


The main problem is the character of Jane herself. She reads like a modern 21st century woman – feminist, atheist, and pro-science – with no trappings of the Victorian upbringing she would have had. I’m all for characters who buck tradition, but Jane reads more like an anachronism than a nonconformist. It doesn’t help that every other white female character (minus a Hooker with a Heart of Gold) is written as old-fashioned, frivolous, irrational, and not-as-awesome-and-amazing-as-Jane. The other girls attending university with Jane, girls who would be considered very progressive and improper in 1905, aren’t as “enlightened” and “admirable” as the anachronistic Jane. Jane is even dismissive of her own mother. Her mother is written as a buffoon, when she is a woman of her time. Any worthwhile mother-daughter conflict is ruined by the cartoonish nature of her characterization. It’s even more disturbing when, more often than not, male characters prefer Jane for her radicalism. Jane is more attractive and awesome to men than “those silly feminine girls.” The judges of female worthiness are men and, in the end, it’s all about male attention and male acceptance. Not very feminist, eh?


The one other positive white female character is a textbook “Hooker with a Heart of Gold” who awkwardly gives Jane all the sex knowledge she needs to fuck like a porn star. However, Jane still looks down upon her, stating *she* would never deign to sell her body to a man. Well, that’s great. It’s really nice being a member of the gentry, where you don’t have to worry about money and surviving on your own and have the money, time, and resources to skip around dissecting corpses and digging up fossils. Check your privilege and shut the fuck up Jane.


In fact, the politics in this whole book read as very elementary white, upper-middle class, Second Wave feminism. Before feminism realized there were other voices and problems not being addressed. White guilt shows up too because ALL the African characters are noble and accommodating and perfect, yet utterly helpless without Tarzan and Jane to save the day (well, mostly Tarzan. For all her I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR!, Jane is incredibly useless in any climatic scene). None of the African characters are fleshed out beyond their inherent nobility to welcome and serve white people. Jane muses they probably have their own gender issues, but they get a pass unlike the Victorians because everything in Africa is SO AMAZING AND WONDERFUL AND SIMPLE as opposed to corrupt Western society. Not problematic at all.


The plot itself is a bit disjointed (but then again most adventure stories are). In the frame story, Jane relates her story to Edgar Rice Burrows, the author of the original Tarzan novels (of course, he is infatuated with Jane and scoffs at his own wife to prove Jane is the most special of all women). Jane, a Victorian lady, is really going to tell all the sexy bits to a male stranger she just met? From there the plot jumps back and forth between when Jane first meets Tarzan and the events leading up to the Porter expedition. At least a third of the story is spent before Jane even gets to Africa. The jungle parts of the story are full of episodic adventures that for the most part, do lead to one whole story. However, the main story is abruptly cut off on a cliff-hanger, and then related through the frame story in an extremely rushed second hand account. I had whiplash.


Tarzan himself was a very loveable character and I liked his interactions with Jane away from any sort of civilization. I thought it was clever how Maxwell tied the apes and Tarzan to the burgeoning evolutionary science that Jane and her father studied.


The Tarzan stories are fraught with problems many Victorian novels fall into – gender issues, racial issues, etc. I had hoped this book would try to tell a more modern tale, avoiding those pratfalls. Instead, it zoomed to the other side, getting a soapbox anachronistic heroine and perfect noble yet characterless African characters there to serve the white characters. Jane is an alright story, but too preachy to be enjoyable. I’ll stick to George of the Jungle reruns.

Season for Surrender - Theresa Romain 3.5 out of 5 StarsAccepting a bet from his cousin, Alexander Edgware, Lord Xavier invites shy proper bluestocking, Louisa Oliver, to his annual scandalous two week Christmas house party. To win the bet, Louisa must stay the full two weeks and not run off horrified. However, Louisa may not be as shy as she appears. In fact, Alex may be the one surprised by his own guest.This was a very cute sweet story with two likeable leads, interesting secondary characters, and witty dialogue. I loved the theme of people being not what they seem. Masks and personas can be suffocating and trap an individual into behavioral patterns, but it’s Alex’s and Louisa’s personas that bring these two outwardly different people together. Alex isn’t the notorious rake everyone thinks he is and Louisa is hardly a wilting flower. In fact, Louisa is the one who initiates seduction and leads their “encounters” and Alex is the one left reeling. However, I never really bought Louisa as shy. She is a bit Mary Sue-ish in that she had no real faults. This is the second book in a series and the protagonists appear in the first book in the series. While it’s not necessary to read the first book, I did feel as if, having not read the first, I might have missed some character development. The plot of this book and the set up from the last book are a bit at odds and the resolution of a problem from the previous book was resolved too quickly. Also, the villain became more and more mustache-twirly and silly as the book progressed, but that’s more of a genre problem. I felt the villain had depth and could have been interesting, so I was disappointed the author went the ‘silly over-the-top’ route.The house party was full of colorful characters and historical details about how Christmas was celebrated in Regency England. While the Christmas party was the backdrop, there was nothing overtly religious or sentimental about the book. Christmas is more of the setting, not the theme of the book.Even though characters were a bit uneven, the real strength of the book lay in the emotional journey and developing relationship of the protagonists. Their relationship is witty, sweet, and poignant. Season for Surrender is a very enjoyable novel and I’ll be looking out for more by this author.
Morning Glories, Vol. 1: For a Better Future - Joe Eisma, Nick Spencer, Rodin Esquejo 2.5 out of 5 StarsSix teenagers are the newest recruits to the prestigious Morning Glory Academy, but as soon as they arrive, strange things begin to happen. None of their parents remember who they are. All of them share the same birthday. Slowly they realize that they are prisoners at the school and being used for some unknown purpose. While the kids try to survive the tests put before them, they unknowingly play into the faculty’s plans.This review is probably not the best because this book wasn’t exactly what I had expected. I thought this was more of a psychological thriller, but what I got was something much…weirder. The psychological stuff is there, but the mysterious happenings are much more in your face and everything is very over-the-top. I expected things to be subtler. In the first issue, the kids already know something strange is going on. By the second issue, they already know that they are prisoners and that their lives are in danger. I had hoped for a slower, more suspenseful build-up. Nothing seems to fit together coherently, but just seems to be weird for the sake of being weird. It’s too much and too over-the-top for me.This doesn’t mean the story is bad by any means. There are some clever moments. The characters are interesting enough (although each seem to fall into types – The Perfect Girl, The Nerdy Boy (who’s more of an author/(assumed male) reader surrogate – his nerdiness stems more from the 80’s, not the 10’s and is therefore unlike any modern teenage nerd), The ‘Slutty’ Girl, The Rich Boy, The Basketcase, The Strong/Silent Type. None of them are easily relatable, but you do root for them. Only time will tell if any of these characters grow to be more than their stereotype.Eisma’s art is alright. Things can seem goofy and disproportionate at times, but it fits with the slight horror vibe of the comic. It’s disappointing in comparison to Esquejo’s beautiful cover work.The story is interesting and I’ll read the second volume, but I found myself disappointed. It’s hard to tell if it’s from incorrect expectations or something inadequate within the narrative itself. Morning Glories is definitely a strange book and lacks no points for creativity. However, there may be too much creativity to the detriment of the story.