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BOOK REVIEW – Pretty Face by Lucy Parker

BOOK REVIEW – Pretty Face by Lucy ParkerPretty Face (London Celebrities #2)
by Lucy Parker
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Highly acclaimed, award-winning author of Act Like It Lucy Parker returns readers to the London stage with laugh-out-loud wit and plenty of drama

The play's the fling

It's not actress Lily Lamprey's fault that she's all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that's not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance—if only Luc wasn't so dictatorial, so bad-tempered and so incredibly sexy.

Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He'd be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily's suddenly rising career, it's threatening Luc's professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they're not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers…

I had written a little bit of a warning at first, stating that I would probably come across as condescending in this review and reaffirming that my aim was not to shame readers for enjoying romance novels I personally want to burn (not Pretty Face!), but then my warning *did* come across as condescending so I guess I CANNOT WIN so let’s write this review okay don’t hate me.

I need to face facts : I’ve not been able to call myself a romance reader for a long time. Those days are long gone, crushed under the weight of eight packs, sexism, instalove, slut-shaming and *secret wounds* (that will only be revealed around 70% because WHERE’S THE FUN OTHERWISE HUH). Also, I’m kind of… cynical? Sometimes? (which is funny for someone born on February 14th, but moving on). If there was a period of my life when I couldn’t stop reading them (you don’t want to know), now… Not so much.

Actually, I haven’t read a contemporary romance since –

*scrolls through shelves*
*scrolls some more*

I got one! October 26th, and, oh, MY, I had forgotten this one!

(never underestimate the bliss of oblivion. Truly. It was a gift)

I’m not even sure it counts, given that I had to DNF it due to a)extreme stupidity, b)girl hate, c)this sentence : “He smiled and I smiled. It was sort of contagious.” Wow, what a dream. *shivers* How can we possibly recover from such nonsense?

I won’t lie, I stopped reading romance novels because I just couldn’t stand them anymore – and this is the moment someone usually walks in to tell me that we choose to be angry about offensive tropes, that we just fucking choose to disconnect from the story we’re reading, that we refuse to let it go and just enjoy it, that we –

I can’t get past slut-shaming in a book, let alone a romance novel. I can’t. Not only because
✔ it’s offensive,
✔ often includes sex-shaming,
✔ polices what women should/shouldn’t wear in public,
✔ contributes to rape culture,
but because it’s lazy storytelling at its best. Yes. It IS. No author who includes slut-shaming in his romance deserves my praise. Period.

Why am I saying it’s lazy? Because see, in Pretty Face (that does not contain slut-shaming in any way) : Lucy Parker‘s story could have derailed a million times.

① Margo, the love interest’s ex, could have so easily been a vapid and hateful woman because of *reasons*. She is not, which means that the author had to actually create a real personality for her, complex and real – the author who uses a stereotypical and damaging portrayal does not. And do not even tell me some women act that way, because that argument doesn’t hold one second : in 90% of romance novels, the exception becomes the norm. Pl-ease. It’s Lazy Writing 101.

② When the male lead expresses sexist bullshit towards the MC, it won’t disappear from my mind later because he’s in love and we must forget and forgive he even said that (because he’s hot, because he’s a man – stereotypes work both ways – because the author couldn’t be bothered to actually deal with this issue) Nope. In Pretty Face , Luc has to actually think about it and deconstruct his biased bullshit narrative. Not lazy, and how so much more interesting.

③ Think about this : a woman meets her new boss who is full of shit when it comes to double standards – and who’s been pretty vocal about how dumb he thinks she is because she’s hot and plays a man-eater in a stupid soap. 90% of the time, said-woman will exchange a few words with (his abs) him and literally decide that they should get married because hot damn she’s obsessed with that little ass and fall in instalove. As a result, we the readers will get no character growth, not an ounce of building up and barely any tension. What’s the point, then? Tension is everything in romance as far as I’m concerned. But fear no more – in Pretty Face , if Lily’s intrigued by Luc, there’s no such thing as instalust or instalove. The treatment of double-standards, sexist stereotypes and, hey, knowing each other will have to come before exchanging iloveyous. It changes everything.

So I’m sorry, but your romances full of girl hate and sexist jerks? It’s not that I choose to not like them.

Of course it’s predictable and somewhat unrealistic at times, but if Pretty Face made me realize something, it’s that I’m pretty lenient with clichés when they’re not offensive : indeed it contains all the scenes you could expect from a romance novel, yet it didn’t annoy me one second. Perhaps that’s because I rarely read them anymore. Or perhaps the writing and the characters were compelling (and funny!) enough for me to root for them and to enjoy these beloved scenes. Icing on the cake, you get a male lead who actually understand the concept of boundaries, who is not a player (that trope gets old) and a MC who isn’t the Ultimate Lamb Who Is Not Like Other Girls. Mind. Blown. Adds a storyline that was actually interesting (and this is coming from someone who don’t like reading about actors for some reason) and you’ll get a fun, feel-good novel that’ll put a smile on your face (and we sure need them). If I had a complaint to address, though, it would be that as far as I know, the whole cast really lacks diversity – all the characters are straight and white – for a story taking place in London, I found it unrealistic, and that’s a pity. And before people say it – it’s not that diversity is a trend, but that diversity should be a given : we’re (fortunately) not living in a full white, straight world, are we?

Little hearts provided by Vecteezy!

*arc provided by Carina Press through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

BOOK REVIEW – Homegoing by Ya Gyasi

BOOK REVIEW – Homegoing by Ya GyasiHomegoing Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

I can’t help writing about Homegoing for the simple reason that it is BRILLIANT. I don’t even know how many times I fell in love and got my heart broken but DAMN IT WAS WORTH IT.

The truth is though, many readers won’t read it, because of several excuses :

First off : Homegoing deals with slavery, through an incredible family saga. The truth is, I’ve always been wary of sentences like, we already know about this so let’s move on.

Haha.

We see how it goes when people *think* they know enough about History.

Proof #1 – French people rewriting history and stating things like, “we fought in 1940 so fuck off refugees!”

I’m sorry WHAAAAT? Nope most didn’t. Nope. Stop saying this. STOP. You’re merely showing how uneducated you are. Same with the ones who think that the EU was created solely for fighting the United States. Can you just stop? It’s starting to get embarrassing, Trump.

Proof #2 – Two days ago I’ve read a comment on Facebook stating that “Palestinians were just ARABS who should come back to their country of origin.”

Oh my God school is GREAT. TRY IT.

Proof # 3 – And then you have this :

(you can read her post here)

The disheartening and offensive papers this poor prof had to read show again that what we can be fairly uneducated on subjects we *think* we know, and in my opinion,
1) it’s never too early to start educating people about this and
2) we have to reevaluate what we know fairly often because our self-assessment scale is often broken.

About my first point : of course we’re not going to teach slavery in Kindergarten, BUT children of 8 to 10 can start dealing with these subjects. In my class, for example, I teach the broad lines of triangular trades, according to the National curriculum. Yes, we talk about how Bordeaux and Nantes’s merchants became rich because of it, and at this point, I don’t care if some pupils come from these families. They need to know it even more, because… you don’t get to be proud, guys. You don’t. I don’t care about fake patriotism. It’s unhealthy to create some phantasmagoric history of your country. It always is. I think that one of the worst misunderstandings these days is that bullshit that makes people say that you are being unpatriotic if you point your country’s flaws and horrors. It’s the opposite, guys. I am being patriotic when I talk about the French involvement in slavery. I am, because I am trying to make my country better in the future. By hiding behind fake news and rewritten history, you are not. You are missing the point entirely, because what you’re so proud of isn’t your country but merely a fake, dangerous and empty shell.

Then there comes the compelling excuse. “I’m not reading that serious book of yours, I’m here for the entertainment, ha!” You know what though? Homegoing is compelling and enthralling, I fell in love twenty times, my heart constantly breaking itself then healing then breaking then – the FEELS. .

So. Let’s sum it up.
1. You’re gonna fall in love and ship the fuck out of some of them and care and she manages to do that in 20 pages EVERY FUCKING TIME. Brilliant.
2. You’re gonna be captivated and forget everything that is not these characters.
3. The FEELS. Prepare your heart because WOW OKAY? I felt so offended and furious and despaired and FULL.
4. You’ll be a little further from an ignorant jerk. IN OUR WORLD THAT COUNTS.
5. It’s an ownvoice novel.
6. The writing is perfect did I say that????

Tell me now why you shouldn’t read this book.

Fucking tell me.

RELEASE DAY POST – Fearless Flying by Karen Gordon

 release-day
I am so happy to announce the release of Karen Gordon‘s new romance novel, Fearless Flying!
 
About the Book
Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00005]
An amazing job, check
An adorable apartment, check
A super supportive best friend, check
There’s only one thing missing from Vivienne Ramsey’s perfect life…
And after ten years of waiting the time is finally right for her to seduce her dream man. Tonight she’s going to wear Danny out in bed until he dies a happy man. But before she can begin her carefully crafted strategy of seduction he’s headed for the door. And for once in her over-organized life Vivienne doesn’t have a back-up plan.
If he had only read the memo about his part in her happily-ever-after.
 
So… Want my early thoughts? The truth is, I started it yesterday and I wish I could read ALL DAY but life’s a bitch and I have to, you know, work. ANYWAY, look out for my review next week because if you’ve followed my romance experiment, you know that it gave me more fails than wins… (yes, that’s an understatement!) One might say that I’m hard to please in romance … The thing is, I CANNOT love a novel oozing slut-shaming and sexism through every page, and unfortunately most of them are FULL of this kind of infuriating (and damaging) stereotypes… Good news though, from what I read of Fearless Flying so far, I’m pleasantly surprised 🙂 CAN I HAVE A FUCK YEAH?!
 

Author Bio

karen-gordonKaren Gordon is an indie author who loves supporting strong and sexy women in fiction and in real life.

Born and raised in St. Charles, Missouri, she found her love of extraordinary stories about ordinary
places by finding excitement in mundane suburbia. Although she currently writes romance and chick lit, you never know what she might do next. (You’ll never find a woman-hating, bad-boy hero though.)

She currently lives with the loves of her life, three very cool geeky men and one perfect puppy, just outside of Memphis, TN.

 
Participating Blogs
fearless
 
 
Links

BOOK REVIEW – Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick

BOOK REVIEW – Saint Death by Marcus SedgwickSaint Death by Marcus Sedgwick
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

A potent, powerful and timely thriller about migrants, drug lords and gang warfare set on the US/Mexican border by PRINTZ MEDAL winning and CARNEGIE MEDAL, COSTA BOOK AWARD and GUARDIAN CHILDREN'S FICTION PRIZE shortlisted novelist, Marcus Sedgwick.

Anapra is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Mexican city of Juarez - twenty metres outside town lies a fence, and beyond it, America - the dangerous goal of many a migrant. Faustino is one such trying to escape from the gang he's been working for. He's dipped into a pile of dollars he was supposed to be hiding and now he's on the run. He and his friend, Arturo, have only 36 hours to replace the missing money, or they're as good as dead.

Watching over them is Saint Death. Saint Death (or Santissima Muerte) - she of pure bone and charcoal-black eye, she of absolute loyalty and neutral morality, holy patron to rich and poor, to prostitute and narco-lord, criminal and police-chief. A folk saint, a rebel angel, a sinister guardian.

I can’t escape it. I woke up this morning and it was the first thing in my mind. I do realize that I’m probably going to bore/offend/annoy some of you, but as much as I’m sorry about that, I can’t stay silent.

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At first, I found that I didn’t have much to say. Or perhaps I had so much to say and so little looking appropriate for this review at first glance – but maybe this is the mark of great books. Maybe there’s something magical about a book that makes your thoughts whirl endlessly. With Saint Death, Marcus Sedgwick manages to immerse the reader into the harsh life of Arturo, a young Mexican living near the border of the United States, between narco gangs and maquiladoras. We meet him just before the reappearance of Faustino, his best friend, is about to change his life.

saintdeath2
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And I hear you – I hear you telling me that this is not a subject you want to deal with in your books. That you get enough of that in the news, thank you very much. However, as much as I get it, I genuinely think that we can’t afford to be blind anymore. We can’t. Not when so many people die every day to sustain our way of life. Not when we’re surrounded by biased reports and white privileges – call it as you want : western privileges, if you prefer, I don’t care, it’s living and brewing even when we don’t want to see it.

And I’m going to add something about France, again, and I’m sorry if you think that it’s not the point but I’m not really sorry because it shows, yes, it shows how fucking blind we became. Lately there are so many complains about the way foreigners and refugees are treated, as if they were stealing the bread out of Real French mouths’ and I want to vomit. We’re talking about a country where nobody knows how much a cancer treatment costs because it is free. We’re talking about a country where school is free from 3 to 16, where free medical care is offered to any unemployed person.

Let this sink in.

We’re talking about a country whose whole system is built upon solidarity – 9% of my salary pays for retirement pensions. Not for mine, but for the current retired people who paid for their fathers and grandmothers before me. For this system to work we need to trust others to do the same for us when time comes. I love this system. I don’t want to change it. I don’t want to pay for my pension and see less lucky people, who don’t have a stable job, slowly crumble when 65 comes. But one thing is sure : we won’t be able to sustain it if we’re too busy fighting over our little euros. If we’re too busy losing ourselves, our identity, over some selfish way of thinking. Because meanwhile, people are dying every day of awful living conditions, of poverty and of war and we let them and for what? FOR WHAT? Because it’s easier to stay blind and believe simplistic speeches than stop for one second and ask ourselves how can we look in the mirror every day and let people die? Because we don’t want to hear about it and start wondering what is so fucking special about us apart from our birth place?

I hate that nowadays, people who show basic human decency are called dumb, brainwashed liberals. Showing some kind of basic EMPATHY shouldn’t be political.

I hate that nowadays, you can’t express your fury and despair about the way the refugee crisis is handled without getting the sadly famous answer, “you can take them to your home if you’re so sad”.

THIS IS HARDLY THE POINT. I’m merely asking for my government to use the taxes I pay wisely, and by wisely I mean : yes, taking care of the refugees is an emergency.

I hate that people are feeling more offended over the 25€ per day that taking care of one refugee in an official center (in France) costs than the billions our politicians make every day while spreading cynical and hateful speeches.

I hate that I don’t recognize myself in my country anymore.

I hate that papers have to actually WRITE an article to remind people that no, it’s not okay to let insufferable comments under their news posts on Facebook.

I hate that so, so much.

I hate that we’re so fucking blind and selfish that thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean sea do not even create an electroshock effect on the European inhabitants.

I hate, hate, hate to read stupid comments comparing nowadays refugees to French people in 1940 and stating that “we stayed to fight”.

People. Please. It’s common knowledge that most French either collaborated or LET IT HAPPEN. The resistance fighters were amazing and deserve our recognition, but they weren’t that many before 1944/45.

I hate the ignorance that makes people say, “they’re not even from Syria! They’re from Soudan and Eritrea!” as if they were making some kind of point. HAVE YOU LOOKED AT WHAT IT MEANS TO LIVE IN ERITREA AND SOUDAN TODAY? HAVE YOU?

I hate that 4,500 refugees out of a population of 65,000,000 is called an invasion.

I hate that reading Saint Death made me think, oh my god, there too, oh my god.

Yes, I’ve been drawing similarities from the first page of Saint Death. Admittedly, I know nothing of the way the general market works in America, but let me infer from what I read and notice how similar our situations are. Whether in the US or in Europe, we let big societies tell us that it’s okay to exploit people if it’s for our own benefice, that it’s okay if they earn billions because really, they must have deserved it, right? They took their fate into their hands, right? Who cares if their rules are so unfair it makes me want to throw up, right? I mean, poor people wouldn’t have any job without these big societies, right?

Right.

Well, I guess that the difference between France and the US is the general distrust we feel for big societies in general – but it changes nothing in the end.

We’re still letting people die at our doors and we’re washing our hands on it. More than the sole story of Arturo, as captivating and moving this story is, this is what Saint Death is about. This is also a really well-written and well-researched novel that draws you in and never lets you go. Please read it.

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BOOK REVIEW – One Day Soon (One Day Soon #1) by A. Meredith Walters

BOOK REVIEW – One Day Soon (One Day Soon #1) by A. Meredith WaltersOne Day Soon (One Day Soon #1)
by A. Meredith Walters
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

He found me in blood and tears.
I stayed with him through darkness and fire.

We loved each other in the moment between innocence and bitter truth.
We were the kids easily ignored, who grew into adults we hardly knew.

We weren’t meant to last forever. And we didn’t.

He ran away.
I tried to move on.

Yet I never stopped thinking about the boy who had fought to keep me alive in a world that would have swallowed me whole. He was the past that I buried, but never forgot.

Until the day I found him again, years after believing I had lost him forever.

And in cold, resentful eyes, I saw the heart of the man who had been everything when I had nothing at all. So I vowed to hold onto the second chance that was stolen from the children we had been.

Sometimes fate is ugly. Life can be twisted.
And who we are can be ruined by who we once were.

For two people who had survived so much, we would have to learn how to hold on before we were forced to let go.

► DNF. Because. This. Gives. Me. An. Headache.

THIS :

“He smiled and I smiled. It was sort of contagious.”

That… is what contagious means.

“He laughed and it was real and true and I felt it absolutely everywhere.”

NO SHIT. Please give specifics.

“He had been my moon. My stars. My everything when I had nothing at all.”

*snorts* *feels like a cold-hearted bitch* *snorts again*

I’m sorry, but this is horribly written – it’s formulaic, cheesy, eye-roll-worthy material.

“Karla was giving me the ubiquitous once over I was used to from other females. (…) [She] gave me a nasty look, which I returned blankly.”

Oh, isn’t that nice? A little girl hate action utterly uncalled for! (Also WTF at females really???!)

Also, THIS :

“What had I ever done to him to deserve this kind of reception? When had his love transformed into this?”

OMG! I know this one!! This, my girl, is what we call The Big Misunderstanding. Don’t worry, you’ll get over it, but you’ll have to annoy the fuck out of me for 200 pages before you reach your Happily Ever After.

► Oh, fuck this. I can’t do it. Please, do me a favor and remind me to stop trying this author, because she’s definitely not for me.

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