Dear Evan Hansen DNF Review

dear evan hansen

Number of pages: 368

Rating (out of five stars): 0 (technically 1 star on Goodreads)

I love the musical Dear Evan Hansen, so it made sense that I would read the novelization. Waving through a Window is a song I feel in my soul. So, that it is my first DNF in years comes has a huge surprise. That I’m also reviewing a book I stopped reading at 114 pages should pretty much tell all you need to know, but let’s get into this.

One of the main reasons I DNFed this was how gross reading it made me feel. There were multiple jokes made about Connor potentially being a school shooter and how much of a freak he was. Like most of the jokes are made by a guy Evan calls a dick, but Evan isn’t much better. Evan makes a similar comment about Connor being the person most likely to be a school shooter later on. It was so gross, especially considering Evan went on an out of place rant about school shootings before we even met Connor.

Evan also is about a step away from stalking Zoe. I got the impression from the songs that he just sort of noticed her and had a crush on her, but the way it’s presented in the book was disturbing and uncomfortable to read about.

There were other gross jokes made, but I think that mostly comes down to the fact that this is clearly written by an adult who has no idea how teenagers talk. I have a teenage brother who makes jokes he shouldn’t all the time, but it’s just to get a rise out of me. It isn’t presented as him actually trying to be funny, and he wouldn’t say 90% of what these characters say even to make me upset.

There was a girl at my high school who died when I was in grade 9 (I didn’t know her), so I know how people react when someone they go to school with passes away, and it certainly isn’t how it’s presented in the book. There is a valid argument to be made about social media here, but it doesn’t accomplish it even as well as the musical does (based on the songs included in the soundtrack). People wore plaid in her memory the next day at school, and there were condolences directed to the family and friends, but no one posted about her like the kids in this book post about Connor. No one who didn’t know her posted about how much they would miss her. People were respectful.

Evan is also just his anxiety. He doesn’t have hobbies or interest; all he has are anxiety spirals. Like people with social anxiety just have trouble interreacting with people. It doesn’t mean we’re devoid of personality and goals. There were parts of Evan’s anxiety I related to, but at the point I stopped reading, relating to those things just made me feel gross about myself because of how gross of a character Evan was. And it was normal anxiety stuff I was relating to like having anxiety spirals and having trouble eating in the cafeteria.

The addition of Connors POV was weird. It made Evan (our supposed hero who rights his wrongs in the end) look even worse, it didn’t do a great job on representing his mental health struggles, and it felt out of place. I know Connor’s ghost (or rather Evan’s imaginary Connor) is a part of the musical, but this wasn’t the way to do it.

I only got to the part where For Forever is referenced, but the inclusion of the lyrics was not well done. It felt like the book wanted to just stick the song lyrics on a page in the middle of the book but couldn’t, so it did… that? (That being awkwardly shoving exact lyrics into internal monologue and conversation). It didn’t work, and it wasn’t necessary.

Overall, I still like some of the songs from the musical, but oh boy can I not support this, earning Dear Evan Hansen a DNF.

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Slayer ARC Review

Slayer.jpg

Number of pages:  404

Rating (out of five stars): 4.75

Release Date: January 8th, 2019

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.

Kiersten White is one of my favourite authors, so you can imagine how ecstatic I was to get approved for an ARC of one of her books on Netgalley. You can also imagine how much shame I feel for taking so long to review it.

I’ve only watched 4 ½ episodes of Buffy, so I didn’t have this big attachment to the show going in. I’ve seen fans of the show go either way on this one, so if you’re a major fan I highly recommend reading some reviews from reviewers you trust who are also fans of the show.

Because I had no previous attachment to the show, it took me until 18% of the way through to really get invested in the story. There were a lot of “I should recognize this name but don’t” moments, but it didn’t end up mattering that much once the story got going because I was hooked after that. You don’t actually need to have seen any episodes of Buffy to read Slayer.

The characters were all really complex. I know this because I spent half the book wanting to stab them, and half the book sympathizing with them (not all at the same time of course). In particular, I both hated and loved Artemis depending on what was happening.

I did really love Nina, though. She made some… interesting choices, sure, but based on my Goodreads updates I just wanted to protect her and give her a hug.

I remember the action scenes being great. And by I remember, I mean I have a note from right after I finished Slayer (in January) that says exactly that and nothing else. I can remember what happened in them, but I can’t for the life of me remember what made them so great. I guess you’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out.

The same goes for my last point, which just says “Oh my god that ending”. Apparently the ending was really something because not only does my Goodreads review read “Holy !!!!” (at least before I post this one there), but I also have a couple updates for the end of the book that show how blown away I was. Let this be a lesson to you to not wait too long to write your reviews.

Overall, I really loved Slayer, earning it 4.75 stars out of 5.

Imagine Us Happy ARC Review

imagine us happy

Number of pages:  384

Rating (out of five stars): 4

Release Date: October 23rd, 2018

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.

I would like to apologize to Harlequin Teen for taking so long to read this, because yikes am I ever late to reviewing this. I’m still catching up on stuff from August 2018 on my blog. I’m sorry for being a disaster.

Sometimes I forget why I love reading books with mental health rep and then I read them and remember exactly why I love them. They always feel like home. I get to see myself in a book and it feels amazing (#representationmatters). Imagine Us Happy was no exception.

The book follows Stella (who has depression and is taking medication and seeing a therapist for it) and Kevin (who also has depression and is seeing a therapist, but I forget if he’s on medication) and their relationship. It’s told from Stella’s point of view, but we still get to see both of their struggles with the illness that also controls my life. I loved getting see how depression affects them both similarly and differently. Normally with mental health YA you only get one mentally ill character and a neurotypical love interest, so it was really nice to get to see how depression affects two different people. Content warning for self-harm (discussion of scars, relapse)

There were also so many thing Stella does that I do. Struggling to get out of bed in the morning until the last second, getting angry as defense mechanism, and other things I’m blanking on. Not all of those necessarily have to do with depression. It was just nice to be able to see myself in these characters.

Going off that, the characters were well done. They all felt really complex and human, which is always nice to see. Kevin and Stella weren’t just their depression. They had interest, passions, goals. A lot of the side characters were also similarly complex.

Imagine Us Happy is told in non-chronological order and it really works for the story. There are no surprises. The reader knows Stella and Kevin aren’t together by the end at the beginning of the story, so it’s all about discovering how they got there. There are friendship breakups, neglectful parents, parent marriages dissolving, and even an acknowledgement that they probably shouldn’t try a relationship before they even start anything. You get to see how that all contributed to the ending, and it’s fascinating to watch.

Speaking of fascinating to watch, I was hooked for the majority of the book. I needed to know how this all went down. There were some spots where my enjoyment faltered, but for the most part I didn’t want to stop reading.

This book also made me beg Twitter for an explanation of the American school system, so it was also a learning experience. Our schools are very different (at least where I’m from), so thank you to the many kind people who explained things to me.

The one slight complaint I have is that I felt a sort of disconnect from the story. I have a similar complaint for a lot of the books I’ve read recently, so it could very well be my depression’s fault. It’s not that I wasn’t interested. It’s more that I never really latched on to anything in the story. Like I would recognize something I do in the characters, but I never had a moment of “Oh my god this is so me”. I hope that makes sense.

Overall, Imagine Us Happy is definitely worth the read if you’re looking for a book with depression rep, earning it 4 stars out of 5.

#FLBMythicMay : What Happened, What I Read, and What I Learned

Hello. If you weren’t aware, I decided to run a readathon and Instagram challenge for the month of May called Mythical May. The reason you might not know about this is because I’ve barely been around. So here’s an explanation, what I managed to read,  and anything else I can think of.

So when I came up with the idea of hosting a readathon in March I was coming off a big bout of depression that lasted from November-March. We’re talking suicidal ideation, skipping class because I couldn’t get out of bed, and various other fun symptoms. I had been half alive for months and I was finally feeling better, which meant the creative juices were finally flowing again and I wanted to do ALL THE THINGS. I wanted to learn to draw, I wanted to write again, I missed this blog even more, I wanted to do more cross stitch, I wanted to paint things (book edges, more flowerpots), I wanted to finish physically reading a book for the first time since October, I wanted to redesign my blog. In short, I wanted to do everything (including maybe pass my classes).

That’s where the idea of hosting a readathon came from. I would host it in my first month of summer vacation and finally catch up on all the books I had been wanting to read that were sitting unread and dusty in a box. I would also create an Instagram challenge to stretch my creative muscles and get myself to post more there. There would be weekly update posts here along with the reviews and tags I was going to catch up on and reading sprints on Twitter.

So what happened?

  1. I forgot that the month of May is the only trigger for my depression that I know is a trigger for my depression. This has to do with stuff surrounding my birthday that I won’t get into here. This meant I was going to try to read like 20 books while depressed, which is not easy.
  2. We got a puppy who needs constant attention, and because I’m the only one in my family not in school or working full time that meant the puppy was my job. All my free time where I was going to be reading and writing and doing things that help me cope with my depression was now dedicated to getting my skin ripped open by puppy teeth. Not only was I miserable, but I was more depressed than I normally would have been and I had to hide it because I was suddenly a primary caregiver to something I didn’t know how to take care of. I am definitely a cat person.
  3. I was working. My work (at my university’s bookstore) is about 45 minutes away, which often meant I wasn’t home all day and then had to care for a dog. I also had to look for a job with more hours because no one is helping me pay for university, housing, food, etc.. I’m now technically working 3 jobs. (insert upside down smiley face emoji here)

And this isn’t meant to be me complaining. I love working at the bookstore, I’m trying really hard to love the dog, and I’m still a high functioning mentally ill person. But these things made it kind of hard to run a readathon, and if you follow me on Instagram you might have seen that I had a complete mental breakdown at the end of the month and fled social media, and I’ve been slowly making my way back.

I guess you could say I learned to not host a readathon in a month where I’m consistently depressed.

Anyway, so now that that’s out of the way, how did I do in my own readathon? Well, I read 11 books, most of them being eARCs and audiobooks (which was not really the point of the whole thing, but I did what I could and that’s all I could ask of myself). I’m not going to put all of the covers here because I’ve carved out a very small amount of time where I can write blog posts, but I am going to give the titles, format, and rating in the order I read them.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (audiobook re-read, rating increased from 3 to 4 stars)

King of Fools by Amanda Foody (eARC, 4.5 stars)

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman (audiobook, 4 stars)

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon (eARC, 4.5 stars)

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan (audiobook, 3.5 stars (I think? I can’t make sense of my Goodreads review)

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody (audiobook reread, rating stays at 3 stars)

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan (audiobooks, 3 stars)

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly (audiobook, 1 star)

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal (hardcover, 4 stars)

Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno (audiobook, 5 stars)

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (physical copy, 4 stars)

That means with the bonus books from the challenges that I read 28 books for Mythical May, so I made my goal of Ruler of the Gods even if I didn’t read the books I planned on reading. I also finished all the audiobooks on my TBR, and the only eARC from my TBR I didn’t manage to finish in May I finished June 1st. I’m pretty happy with that.

Huge thank you to everyone who participated in Mythical May weather you participated in the readthon or just the photo challenge. It meant the world to me to see all your posts. I should be here more often if I can figure out my life, but I feel like I say that at the end of every post now. I’m also going to slowly catch up on my WordPress, so apologies to the people I’m about to spam.

King of Fools ARC Review

King of Fools.jpg

Number of pages: 602

Rating (out of five stars): 4.5

Release Date: April 30th, 2019

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.

Well now I’m heartbroken, which means this was an improvement on Ace of Shades. How dare King of Fools do that!

Let’s start with the characters. I loved seeing Enne’s growth in King of Fools. She isn’t just a finishing school lady anymore, she’s a lady criminal who knows how to survive in the City of Sin. She’s still the same Enne to some extent, but she’s made of stronger stuff and isn’t afraid to show her worth. I loved her even more here.

Jac my sweet boy got to be a main character. He got to matter as a player in the game like he desperately wanted to. His chapters broke my heart and made me smile. You got to see him struggle with his past addiction and see his strength that doesn’t have to do with his talent. His relationship with Sophia (one of my new favourite characters) was also the sweetest, That’s where I’m going to leave that because spoiler free review *grumbles*, but if you have read King of Fools feel free to dm me online so we can scream together.

I didn’t really care for Levi in this one, but maybe that was because he was making all the wrong choices all of the time. He was definitely my least favourite of the POV characters. I just don’t think his plotline was that interesting. It was cool to see the Irons thriving *is possibly biased as I was on the Irons on the street team*, but I think Enne and Jac were definitely the characters to follow in this one.

I wish we got more of the Spirits. Like there are 5 named members (unless we’re also counting Roy), plus a ton of cats, and we only really get to know one new character. Like I loved Grace, Lola, and Enne, but how many girls are even in the Spirits. Is it more than 12? Is it less than that? We know they’re the smallest gang, but what does that even mean? I get that we don’t know everyone in the Scarhands, Irons, Doves, or Orphan Guild, but a major part of Enne’s plotline was building this girl gang, and we went from a source of income idea and 3 members to an undetermined amount of people and them thriving. I feel like we’ll get to see more of them in book 3, but we should have seen more of them in this book.

Another issue I had with King of Fools was that while I appreciated the attempt to recap the first book, it really wasn’t successful. The first two chapters were very “info-dumpy” because of it in my opinion. Afterwards I was hooked right away, but I had so much trouble with those first few chapters. This is a personal issue (and a reason why I was dumb to not reread Ace of Shades before I read this one), but I also felt the recap reminded us of the really big and memorable parts of Ace, but didn’t do a great job mentioning the stuff that was less memorable that was actually referenced throughout King of Fools.

Still, King of Fools was a wild ride. I was completely engrossed by the story. Oh my did this 600 page beast ever fly by (when I got a chance to read it). It also had me screaming at it, and debating whether or not I dared stop reading in order to scream about it on Goodreads. Continuing reading won out for the most part. Like I never make notes on the kindle app, but I did with King of Fools because I needed to express my feeling on what was going on, but I didn’t want to stop reading.

Overall, King of Fools was a fantastic sequel, earning it 4.5 stars out of 5.


As a sort of sidenote, I’ve been super passively online lately, so please bear with me. I am super late with a bunch of reviews, I have tags to catch up on from last summer, and I have an overflow of physical books threatening to drown me. This month is also consistently not good for me because of depression triggers and all that fun stuff. I’m so sorry. I’m trying really hard to get my life together. Hopefully I’ll be back more regularly soon. I miss this blog so much.

There’s Something About Sweetie ARC Review

There’s Something About Sweetie.jpg

Number of pages: 384

Rating (out of five stars): 4.5

Release Date: May 14, 2019

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.

I love Sandhya Menon’s books. I say this all the time (which probably means it’s not as true as I think it is anymore), but I’m not a huge contemporary fan and her books always make me happy.

I feel like this book was exactly what I needed. There were so many times where I found I myself with a huge smile on my face while reading. Like I’d just have a giant grin on my face while reading on the bus. This book is adorable, Ashish and Sweetie are adorable together, the Patels and their date planning is adorable. There are of course some less fun moments, because what’s life without those, but these jocks have stolen my heart.

Of course Ashish, Sweetie, and their friends and family all feel like well-rounded, human characters. They all have distinct personalities (and we’re dealing with 2 families and 2 friend groups here), and the teens feel like teens. Sweetie in particular has my whole heart. She is so unbelievably kind and so happy with the way she is to a level I aspire to.

Speaking of that, because I had to yell at my family about this, people can be fat and perfectly healthy. People can be fat and athletes. There is a certain body type where you will never be skinny no matter how much you exercise. Just because a person is skinny doesn’t mean they’re healthy, and just because a person is fat doesn’t mean they’re unhealthy. I hate this argument that fat people are all unhealthy and unhappy. I hate it so much. It’s probably why I was so frustrated with Sweetie’s mom and her mom’s friend. If you don’t have the kind of confidence in yourself that Sweetie has, the constant comments about your weight mess you up for life (and even if you’re happy with yourself they’re still incredibly damaging).

I loved the dates they went on. They weren’t your typical dates, but they were definitely cool to read about. Ashish and Sweetie were just so sweet with each other, and they learned so much from the other.

Overall, There’s Something About Sweetie is the adorable romance you need in your life, earning it 4.5 stars out of 5.

Mythical May TBR

It’s May 1st, which means I am late to posting my TBR for my own readathon. Oh well, I’m late to doing a bunch of things. So without further ado, here is my TBR for the month of May.

Physical Books

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I got my copy when I went to South Africa a few years ago and I would love to get to it. I also normally randomize my TBR, and this has supposed to be my next read for months.

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

This is another top of the TBR because of a randomizer book. I’ve also heard amazing things about this one and there’s mental health rep.

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

I’ve been hearing amazing things about this one and I’m a little salty I got denied on Netgalley.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

I have my copy of King of Scars waiting for me to read, so this is my next step on my journey through The Grisha Trilogy.

What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

I’ve heard this has really good eating disorder rep from some ownvoices reviewers, so I’m excited to get to this one.

Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

This is one of the books I’ve had the longest and I need to get through some of the short story collections I have.

The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Geekerella was adorable, so I’m excited to get to this one. One of the prompts I came up with was also to read a retelling and this one fits.

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul

I love the musical, but I know the plot isn’t the best and I haven’t heard great things about the book. I’m really interested to see what I think of it.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

I’ve heard nothing but good things about this one and I’m excited to get to it.

Audiobooks

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

This is a reread for me, but the hold I placed in October at my library finally came in. I’m actually halfway through it already. (It’s 11pm on May 1st at this point)

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

I’ve sort of barely started this one, but I have to return it this month which means it has to get done during the readathon.

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

This one doesn’t quite make sense considering I’m in the middle of King of Fools, but I’ve found I don’t really remember what happened in Ace of Shades. I also had to use up my Hoopla credits for April.

eARCs

King of Fools by Amanda Foody

I wanted to have a review for it up on time so badly, but life got in the way. I should have it done by tomorrow.

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

This comes out on May 14th so I’m trying to finish it before then. I’m insanely excited for it because it features a fat athlete and Sandhya Menon’s books are always fun to read.

Imagine Us Happy by Jennifer Yu

I got accepted for the ARC right before this came out in the middle of essay season. I feel insanely guilty for taking so long to get to it so I’m hoping I can finish and review it this month.

All that means with the “bonus books” from the challenges that if I read everything here I will have a total of 28 books. I guess this means I’m shooting for Ruler of the Gods. Wish me luck because this TBR is ambitious.