review · three stars

Review: Notes from My Captivity by Kathy Parks

Title: Notes from My Captivity
Author: Kathy Parks
Rating: ★★★
Summary: Adrienne cares about three things: getting into a great college, becoming a revered journalist, and making her late father proud. So when she’s offered the chance to write an article that will get her into her dream school and debunk her stepfather’s belief in a legendary family of hermits, there’s no question that she’s going to fly across the world to investigate. But the Russian terrain is unforgiving and, when disaster strikes, none of the extensive preparations seem to matter. Now Adrienne’s being held captive by the family she was convinced didn’t exist, and her best hope for escape is to act like she cares about them, even if it means wooing the youngest son.


Notes from My Captivity is a strange novel, and flew way, way under the radar when it was published this past summer. (TBH, the only reason I read it was because a patron donated her ARC and I was like why not.) Kathy Parks divides her book into three-ish parts, but each one kind of blends together that the story moves forward before you stop to question whether any of it even makes sense. There’s a river-rafting adventure, then some conspiracy-theory fueled mystery, and then straight-up magical realism. (I mean, Parks includes these so-subtle-you-miss-them hints that not everything is as it seems, but they’re basically no less magical than a teenager stranded in Siberia so, you know, whatever.)

I didn’t not like the book, but rather felt like the supernatural elements weren’t introduced in such a way to satisfyingly get me to the ending that Parks wrote. (Like, does she classify this book as magical realism or just simply magical or as an allegory for faith?) I liked the mystery aspects (and their debunking) way more than the literal trek it took to get to that point in the story, and a part of me wishes Park could have written a little less literal action to more quickly focus on the emotional action.

With that said, however, Adrienne felt like an authentic teen completely thrown out of her element, written with pathos and an emotional arc that I could follow and root for. Her motivations were clear, her behavior genuine, and her grief palpable. And the book itself is filled with such great sarcasm and a swoon-worthy first-love that the good parts successfully tuck the bad ones out of sight.

top ten tuesday

Top Ten: Bookish Items I Want

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme was bookish items I want to own. I’ve actually done similar posts already, so be sure to check out my favorite book art, book home accessories, and book jewelry!

 

banned books pin // Hamlet t-shirt // Harry Potter cross stitch // Harry Potter sheets // Harry Potter tote bag

Hogwarts map // LiliLite // notebook paper earrings // supershelf // Sylvia Plath embroidery

month in review · video

Months in Review: September/October 2018

Did’ya know that I post videos on YouTube?? If not, check out my latest video below! The books discussed are:

What did you read??

four stars · review

Review: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Title: The Proposal
Author: Jasmine Guillory
Rating: ★★★★½
Summary: When freelance writer Nikole goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t the hard part, though – it’s having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans. When Carlos comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew, they form an easy camaraderie. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she’s okay embarking on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes.


Note: an eARC of this title was acquired via NetGalley.

Y’ALL.

Let me just preface this by saying that I absolutely adored The Proposal. Jasmine Guillory is a fantastic writer, full-stop, and her sophomore novel was a fun contemporary romance that treated its characters (and readers) like competent adults. There was dramatic tension, but it didn’t feel like the characters made stupid, dumb choices JUST to move the plot forward. They communicated with one another the way people do in real life and disagreements happened because of what each character SAID to one another, not because they didn’t talk to begin with. (Such gasp. Much shock. So horror.)

Both the two leads and everyone else were diverse in some way, but no one’s backstory or motivations felt contrived or there to only serve a narrative purpose. Like, this novel was just so refreshing and makes you question the romance genre as a whole. Why can’t other novels have functioning adults as their protagonists? Why can’t there be more than just straight white people falling in love?? Why can’t more intersectional stories cross over into the mainstream???

I was definitely aware of Guillory’s debut, The Wedding Date, earlier this year (an #OwnVoices contemporary romance raved by Roxane Gay!), so I really wanted to read The Proposal as soon as it was published. (Because duh that cover and that summary.) AND LET ME TELL YOU. It delivered. The Proposal could have been any other romance, but because Guillory is so precise in her characterizations, it made sense that THESE characters in THIS setting had THESE things happen to them. The sex scenes weren’t gratuitous but they didn’t feel safe for work, either. And I know the timeline in which her protagonists fall in love is, in theory, very short, but it’s also like why is this taking so long?? 👏HUR👏RY👏UP👏

Honestly, the only thing that I disliked was that the damn book ended. I could see that the pages left were getting smaller and smaller, but I was also like no??? maybe don’t?? And then when Nik and Carlos FINALLY get their Happily Ever After, I turned the page and there was a biography of Guillory instead of more story. (How dare she.)

I know that both The Wedding Date and next summer’s The Wedding Party take place in the same universe, but that’s kind of not the same thing and I am very, very sad I can no longer read this book for the first time.

top ten tuesday

Top Ten: 2017 Backlist Books I Want to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme was backlist books I want to read. Because I have so many books on my TBR (seriously SO MANY), I decided to showcase 2017 titles that I actually put on my list pre-publication… and yet I still haven’t read them.🤦‍♀️

Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin // A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes // Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia // The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas // How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft by Edward Jay Epstein

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay // Nasty Women by 404 Ink // The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder // The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente // You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages by Carina Chocano

month in review

Month in Review: October 2018

Favorite Media

I knew The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory was going to be a fun, contemporary romance but boy did I NOT expect Guillory’s ability to write. Her characters are fully-fleshed, the plot flies, and everyone just happens to be non-white and non-hetero. (Woot.) Here’s to hoping I love The Wedding Date just as much!

Y’ALL. I binged the first two seasons of The Good Place in four days then sat on my couch and plaintively asked, “What do I do now?” out loud once I’d finished. The third season feels ~different somehow, but I can’t figure out if it’s because the crew is SPOILER[on earth] or because I’m not watching six episodes in a row on my iPad under a blanket. I have thought many times about rewatching the first two seasons because I loved them so much.

Stuff I Added to My Queue

Honestly, I have no idea where I first encountered Can You Tolerate This? by Ashleigh Young (maybe on Lit Hub?), but I absolutely love the cover and the summary kind of hits all my buttons, too.

A fellow librarian purchased Adib Khorram’s Darius the Great Is Not Okay for the young adult collection, and the cover intrigued me so much that I felt compelled to read the summary… and that sounded so interesting that I added it to my TBR. #whoops

I will pretty much look into anything that mentions time travel, but not all time travel books are the same. Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen has so many different parts to it that I can’t wait to figure out how they all fit. PLUS it’s set in the ’90s. AND I love that cover.

A NEW ALL SOULS BOOK aka Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera seems to be inspiring both great and terrible reviews, but I adored Love, Simon and have They Both Die at the End on my TBR, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a teenage romcom featuring two guys. (AND THAT COVER.)

On My Radar

  • I made myself a blog calendar via Google Sheets to better organize the content I want to include on thewasofshall – very heavily influenced by Shealea over at That Bookshelf Bitch btw – and it’s either going to make me extra a+ organized or super overwhelmed.
  • I got so many books this month that I have enough for another book haul video!
  • I’ve been trying to be more active in seeking out ARCs, and I was recently approved for three great-sounding ones: Here and Now and Then (01/29/19), My Favorite Half-Night Stand (12/04/18), and You Know You Want This: ‘Cat Person’ and Other Stories (01/15/19). It means I have to figure out when to read them but then again I also get to read them.

What were YOU up to in October? Let me know!

top ten tuesday

Top Ten: Horror Novels on My TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme was a Halloween-themed freebie, so I decided to round up horror novels on my TBR. Because I apparently have more than ten (who knew?!), here are fifteen of the most ghoulish, creepy novels I have yet to read. 👻🎃

Damned by Chuck Palahniuk // Frankenstein by Mary Shelley // The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas // Horns by Joe Hill // The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist // The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg // My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris // Night Film by Marisha Pessl // The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson // Universal Harvester by John Darnielle // We Eat Our Own by Kea Wilson // World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks // Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates