Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

32051572Dividing Eden
Joelle Charbonneau
Goodreads

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

Review:

Codependent relationship between twins disintegrates into fratricide in a matter of three fucking days when they are subjected to a series of trials for the throne. The boy twin, Andreus, has a panic disorder. Which is to say he has one proper panic attack which results in him blacking out and another that’s like, just genuine panic. The girl twin, Carys, has a opioid addiction.

Things that bothered me:

  • THREE FUCKING DAYS
  • Can’t tell all these Elder council members apart. They all look vaguely like Lord Frey in my head.
  • Supposedly these trials are supposed to be based upon the Seven Virtues that guide the kingdom, but these virtues are apparently: Archery, Hitting Each Other With Sticks, Steeple Chase, Socializing, Not Seeing Through an Obvious Setup, and Horse Racing
  • Constantly had to remind my brain to rhyme Andreus with Carys, because they’re twins and they should, right???
  • Nothing really good or interesting happens until the end. And then the book ends.

Things that I enjoyed:

  • Girl’s romance was minimal/lowkey on her side
  • Nothing really good or interesting happens until the end. And then the book ends.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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Scythe
Neal Shusterman
Goodreads

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Review:

No one in the whole world can die, except when they’re gleaned by a scythe. The human race has reached this kind of stagnate perfection, brought about by the cloud, the Internet evolving into an all-knowing, all-seeing force that controls the world to make it function perfectly.

(Honestly, this is greatly interesting to me, but only the surface gets scratched in the novel. I’m hoping for more when the next two come out.)

Citra and Rowan are thrust into an increasingly corrupt system of Scythedom, designed, in theory, to keep the human population in check. They are above the law and untouchable and therefore, of course, have plenty of evils lurking around in the shadows. The romance between the two is a bit pasteded on yay, but because of that it’s hugely background, which I liked. This is a great world-building story and definitely something that’ll interest me into the next two books.

Coffee Boy by Austin Chant

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Coffee Boy
Austin Chant
Goodreads

After graduation, Kieran expected to go straight into a career of flipping burgers—only to be offered the internship of his dreams at a political campaign. But the pressure of being an out trans man in the workplace quickly sucks the joy out of things, as does Seth, the humorless campaign strategist who watches his every move.

Soon, the only upside to the job is that Seth has a painful crush on their painfully straight boss, and Kieran has a front row seat to the drama. But when Seth proves to be as respectful and supportive as he is prickly, Kieran develops an awkward crush of his own—one which Seth is far too prim and proper to ever reciprocate. 

Review:

What a cute, fun, quick read.  It didn’t take me long to start rooting for Kieran and Seth to get together and be the adorable ‘opposites attract’ couple they were meant to be.  I liked that this story made a point to focus on the issues Kieran faced in a workplace environment but didn’t make it the story’s sole narrative.  The issues were handled sensitively and openly.  The book showcased the struggles that transgender people unfortunately go through in their day to day lives in the span of just over sixty pages.

But, it’s also a fun book.  Kieran’s witty and brash, lonely and yearning, while Seth is hostile and angry, sad and secretive.  I wanted them to get together but I’ve been hurt before by couples I loved so I was waiting for the bus to hit me when they eventually went their separate ways.  Thankfully, that didn’t happen.  I would have loved to read more on these two but I’m also happy with this uplifting, quirky, cute read.

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

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Hex
Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Goodreads

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves.

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a 17th century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters your homes at will. She stands next to your bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened.

The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting, but in so doing send the town spiraling into the dark, medieval practices of the past.

Review:

I really enjoy books that make the setting an additional character. Black Spring the place was just as freaky as the Black Rock Witch. That ratcheted the tension up even higher, making certain parts of the book suffocating and overwhelming in intensity.

There were some slower parts of the book, parts that could have been cut out to make the book a bit shorter and tighter but they were few and far between. The characters, while not very memorable, played their parts well but they were really the backdrop for the town and the witch herself.

The only other quibble was that the author had quite the obsession with mentioning nipples, both men and women. I don’t know why or what’s behind it but dude really likes to describe nipples.

Blind Item by Kevin Dickson & Jack Ketsoyan

IMG_6143Blind Item
Kevin Dickson & Jack Ketsoyan
Goodreads

No one knows her name, but now everyone wants to.

As an assistant publicist in Hollywood, Nicola spends her days (and nights) sweeping up the scandals of singers, movie stars, and TV actors. Fresh from Ohio, she’s rapidly discovering the real Hollywood is rotten under its glittering skin. Everyone is a hustler with a hard bottom line and a soap opera sob story.

When she breaks her own rules and starts dating a movie star, the Los Angeles scene starts to spill into her own life. As the paparazzi begin the hunt for sexy star Seamus O’Riordan’s new mystery girl, Nicola’s best friend Billy has her back while he prowls parties for the latest scoop to sell to the tabloids. Her roommate Kara keeps tabs on things too—in between befriending a former child star and transforming herself from stylist to reality TV sensation.

As the scandals pile up behind them, their pasts will be exposed… And every secret can be sold.

Written by two Hollywood insiders, the jaw-dropping scandals are real, but the names are not. And they’ll never tell.

Having a pull quote from Kristin Cavallari on the cover pretty accurately sums up the target demographic of this novel.

It’s not a bad book by any means. It’s just a very specific type of book for a specific mood. The authors do their best Jackie Collins impression and it mostly works out. Most of the characters lean a bit more towards being tropes than realism would call for, but that’s par for the celebrity gossip course. Which this is. Celebrity gossip. It’s the literary equivalent of gorging on rosé and popcorn. There’s no real nutritional value, but you have fun and won’t really regret it.

It was a great frothy beach read that I didn’t actually read on a beach.

Butter: A Rich History by Elaine Khosrova

IMG_6090 Butter: A Rich History
Elaine Khosrova
Goodreads

It’s a culinary catalyst, an agent of change, a gastronomic rock star. Ubiquitous in the world’s most fabulous cuisines, butter is boss. Here, it finally gets its due.

After traveling across three continents to stalk the modern story of butter, award-winning food writer and former pastry chef Elaine Khosrova serves up a story as rich, textured, and culturally relevant as butter itself.

From its humble agrarian origins to its present-day artisanal glory, butter has a fascinating story to tell, and Khosrova is the perfect person to tell it. With tales about the ancient butter bogs of Ireland, the pleasure dairies of France, and the sacred butter sculptures of Tibet, Khosrova details butter’s role in history, politics, economics, nutrition, and even spirituality and art. Readers will also find the essential collection of core butter recipes, including beurre manié, croissants, pâte brisée, and the only buttercream frosting anyone will ever need, as well as practical how-tos for making various types of butter at home–or shopping for the best.

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Pretty certain that the simple act of reading this book, let alone enjoying it as much as I did next levels my nerd game. The historian/anthropologist in me got to come out and play, roll around a bit in this, and then carry on. I have a soft spot for domestic history, especially well written ones as it is such a deceptively simple part of our lives that we take it for granted.

Sometimes histories aimed at the general public suffer from being incredibly dully, overly repetitive, or just kind of smarmy. This was none of those things! You can tell that Khosrova is passionate about her subject. This book practically oozes enthusiasm (like melted butter).

It isn’t for everyone. You probably have to be into nonfiction and food histories to start with, but I liked it. Now I’m going to bore my friends and family with butter facts until the end of time. Whee!

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

IMG_6089In a Dark, Dark Wood
Ruth Ware
Goodreads

In a dark, dark wood

Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room….

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

Well then.

Admittedly this is not a book that I would’ve picked up if I hadn’t been outvoted by my book club. However, I read Gone Girl and I loved how awful everyone was. This book is covered in pull quotes about how it’s the next Gone Girl! Those pull quotes are garbage!

Like setting aside the trying too hard writing style, the POV protagonist is so grating, the mystery is obvious, and it is about twice the length it needs to be.

A good rule of thumb is if someone you’ve never spoken to invites you to a bachelorette party/hen night that is also a weekend away for someone you haven’t spoken to in 10 years then don’t fucking go. Just don’t. Own the fact that you are not 16 anymore and just not go. Especially when you had no idea that they’re getting married because a basic internet search is beyond you.

Most of us do not regress to our teen selves when confronted with people from our pasts. Then again, most of us actually grow up.