Book Review: Autoboyography

by Christina Lauren
YA LGBT Romance
416 pages
Published 2017

This book was EXCELLENT. I read this last minute, because the author tweeted that it was free to read on an online platform through the end of the month. It is absolutely adorable.

Autoboyography is the the story of Sebastian and Tanner falling in love, told mostly from Tanner’s point of view. He meets Sebastian in a class at school about writing a book, and the book we’re reading is supposedly the result. Tanner is a half-Jewish, bisexual kid moved from California to Utah, because his mother got a job offer she couldn’t refuse. He is surrounded by Mormons, whose religion doesn’t allow homosexuality. And Sebastian is Mormon.

The book unpacks so much, from stereotypes of bisexuality (and I LOVED the recognition that there are bisexuals who won’t be satisfied with one gender, and bisexuals who will, it’s an individual thing just like sexuality) to religious upbringing and the constraints that brings when someone is different, to unrequited love from a best friend, to how you can inadvertently let your other relationships suffer when falling in love.

The adorably sweet romance was a wonderful escape from current events, even with the hostility aimed at LGBT people by some of the characters. It was wonderfully done; enough to affect the characters and the plot, but not enough to spoil the uplifting, otherwise sweet nature of the novel.

I was slightly disturbed by an incident between Tanner and his best friend, Autumn. While they both seemed to take it in stride and move past it, it was a pretty shitty move on Autumn’s part, and could easily have gone very, VERY badly.

I really, really loved this book, and it’s going on my Favorites of 2018 list. I might need to buy my own copy. This is my last post for Pride Month, though definitely not my last book featuring LGBT characters! You can find all my Pride Month reads here.

From the cover of Autoboyography:

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

Friday 56 – Smoke Eaters

smoke eatersThe Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The rules are simple – turn to page 56 in your current read (or 56% in your e-reader) and post a few non-spoilery sentences.

It’s almost July, so I’m reading a book about hot things! In this case, dragons and fire fighters! Smoke Eaters came out in March, and I’ve been on the lookout for it since. I spotted it at my library and snapped it up, and so far, it’s great!

DeShawn followed me outside where a big, black fire apparatus waited. It looked almost like an aerial ladder truck, but instead of a ladder, a huge laser cannon sat on top. The black paint glistened in the sun, and instead of the standard red and white lights, the truck had been outfitted with green and purple strobes and beacons. On the side of the truck, the words “Sink or Swim” had been painted in green.

The lady smoke eater from the day before hopped out of the captain’s seat while the black man with red eyes circled from the driver’s side. They’d substituted their power suits and helmets for the green smoke eater dress shirt and navy blue duty pants.

Review will be up as soon as I finish it!

Book Review: Traitor to the Throne

traitor to the throneTraitor to the Throne
by Alwyn Hamilton
513 pages
Published March 2017

This is the sequel to Rebel of the Sands, which I read several weeks ago. The conclusion to the trilogy, Hero at the Fall, came out in March, and I’m waiting patiently for a copy from the library. (Okay, so maybe it’s impatiently, but I’m waiting!)

I love so much about this book. I always love non-western style fantasy, and this one is definitely middle-east inspired, with its djinni and deserts and fancy khalats. (A khalat is a loose, long-sleeved silk or cotton robe worn over the rest of your clothing.) The Demdji – the children of djinni and humans – are all fascinating, with interesting powers. And fantasy politics, at the highest of possible levels!

Amani is a fascinating main character, with her control over sand, her personal ethics, and her personal conflicts. She’s the daughter of a djinni, and we actually meet djinni for the first time in this book! I liked her love story better in Rebel of the Sands – it seemed very muted in this book, but they did spend most of the book apart. I am eager to see where that part of the plot goes in HatF.

There were a couple of twists that surprised me – who the titular traitor was, for one. The book was full of traitors of one kind or another. I also really liked seeing palace and harem life; the first book focused on desert backwaters and outlaws, so this was quite a change, and I liked it. I’m still half in love with Prince Ahmed, though we meet his half-brother Rahim in the palace, and he’s growing on me. The Sultan himself also surprised me; I expected a villainous, power-mad ruler, and he is not that. He seemed to surprise Amani, too.

I was excited to see the djinni actually make an appearance; I’d expected them to stay an abstract idea for the entire trilogy! They certainly never showed up in the first book. I mean, it was obvious they still came to humans, or Demdji couldn’t exist, but no one, even the mothers, ever spoke about seeing or interacting with them. Even to their half-djinni children. I’m hoping this means they’ll play a bigger role in the third book, because after the small glimpse we get here, I really want to know more about them!

Like most of the other reviews I’ve read, I agree that this wasn’t as strong as the first one, but middle books in trilogies rarely are. It is a solid volume, though, with lots of plot advancement and world-building and politicking. Can’t wait to get the concluding book!

From the cover of Traitor to the Throne:

Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne. 

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.

Library Loot!

sky in the deepI only picked up one book this week, but it’s one people have been talking about a lot recently! I’ve had a hold on it for quite some time, so I was happy to see Sky In The Deep, Adrienne Young’s novel about a Viking woman, FINALLY come in! This cover is GORGEOUS.

The Pisces, from my Summer To-Read List, has been waiting to be picked up since yesterday, but I won’t be making it back to the library until probably Saturday. So it might be joined by a few more books, and I’ll talk about those next week!

TTT – Series I’ve Given Up On Ever Finishing

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl – you find a list of all the blogs participating on her page!

serpentineThis week’s topic is series you’ve given up on ever finishing.

The first series I’ve given up on is Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. Book #26 comes out this August – TWENTY-SIX. I’ve read eighteen. Even though they seem to be bending back towards what they were like in the beginning – mystery crime novels with supernaturals – I’m just done. The middle of the series was solidly werewolf and vampire porn, which I’m not exactly mad about, but it wasn’t what I expected from the series, so it felt like a bit of a bait-and-switch.

shiver of lightSimilarly, I’ve also given up on Laurell K. Hamilton’s other series, the Meredith Gentry series. There’s only nine books in that series, and it appears that I’ve read the first eight, so perhaps I should revisit that just to finish the last book. It was published in 2014, so maybe that’s the end of the series? I don’t know.

brief cases dresdenThis one’s hard for me to admit, but I think I’m giving up on The Dresden Files. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great series and I really love Jim Butcher’s writing. But to start that series again I’d need to re-read all of it, because everything that happens feeds into the rest of the story. I enjoy plotlines like that, but I’ve forgotten so many details that I can’t just pick up where I left off with that series, I wouldn’t understand what was going on. I’ve read the first – six or seven, I think. He’s up to fifteen now. I have too much other stuff to read.

dark legacyI’ve stopped reading most of Christine Feehan’s series – I’d still like to keep up on the Leopards series, as that was always my favorite. But the Carpathians and the Ghostwalkers and Sea Haven – I just don’t have time.

Similarly, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters series. I don’t even know how many books it’s up to now – I own a bunch. (I own a lot of Feehan, too.) But it’s time to move on from that world.

Jaqueline Carey’s Kushiel series. I adored the first trilogy, but couldn’t get past the first book of the second trilogy.

Barb and J.C. Hendee’s Noble Dead saga intrigued me at first – I own the first 4 or 5 – but they just got boring. And they’re up to I don’t know how many now, but they’re divided by phases, and I saw “Series 3 Book 2” and I’m just done.

For a throwback, I’m gonna toss in The Black Stallion series. A lot of people never realized this was a series, but it was. The Island Stallion and The Black Stallion And Flame were two of my favorites, but there was also The Black Stallion’s Blood Bay Colt and The Black Stallion And The Girl and so many others. There are at least twenty Black Stallion books written by Walter Farley between 1941 and 1983, and more written by his son after Walter died. I grew up on these books.

throne of jadeNaomi Novik’s Temeraire series was great to start, but, like so many of these ultra long series, just started to bore me eventually. I still like Novik – Uprooted was AMAZING and I’m really looking forward to Spinning Silver.

Another series I’ve given up on is the Buffy comic series. I’ve seen all the TV shows, and I own the first season or two of comic books, but I stopped subscribing at one point and never kept up with them after that.

Honorable Mentions – These are two that I’ve given up hope on, not out of not wanting to finish them, but we’ve been waiting on the next book on each of them FOR YEEEEAAARRS and I’m starting to doubt we’ll ever GET a next book.  George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, and Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles.

Book Review: Bizarre Romance

bizarre romanceBizarre Romance
by Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell
Surreal short stories/comics
155 pages
Published March 2018

This was a wonderfully surreal collection of short stories and comics in various styles. All of the stories revolve around relationships, though not all are of the romantic kind. Audrey Niffenegger is the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, which I read several years ago and really enjoyed. After reading the descriptions of her other books, and how much I enjoyed this one, I need to read those, too!

Bizarre Romance is hard to review partly because it is so weird. There are thirteen stories here – 7 comics and 6 short prose stories. Even the prose stories have illustrations scattered throughout them, mostly in slightly sketch-like style which lends itself well to the surreal nature of the subjects. I think my favorite is the guy who makes his fiance agree to leave him in the house alone, every Thursday night from 6pm to 8pm, before he’ll marry her. She’s okay with this at first, but eventually hires private investigators to find out what he’s doing on Thursday nights because she can’t stand not knowing. I won’t spoil the surprise, but I loved it. I also enjoyed “The Composite Boyfriend” which is written about a woman’s exes as if they were all the same person.

“I met him at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, where he worked as a guard. I met him in a class I was taking. I met him at a school where we both taught. I met him at a party; we smiled at each other across a crowded room. We were introduced to each other by our mutual friend Paula, an Austrian immigrant who had escaped from the Nazis as a young girl.”

This is a really neat, beautiful little collection that explores different relationships, from father-daughter, to spouses, to exes, to female friendships. It’s a quick read, and I really enjoyed it.

From the cover of Bizarre Romance:

Once upon a time, a writer and an artist got married. “Let’s collaborate,” said the writer. “Ugh, no thanks, darling,” said the artist. But lo and behold, they collaborated and here is the result: thirteen stories about oddballs in love, infestations of angels, nefarious fairies, cats, spies, monsters, more cats, bibliophiles who just want a little extra reading time, magic mirrors, artists’ models who nap on the job, imperfect boyfriends, and daughters who are perhaps a little too dutiful.