(Audio)Book Review: The Last Romeo [2018]

The Last Romeo by Justin Myers, narrated by Joe Jameson [lgbt+, contemporary, comedy]

‘If only men knew how charming, how attractive it is to admit fault. To say they fudged it, to confess they don’t know something, to be willing to learn. It’s hot. Refreshing. […] It is all powerful. But men must come to this conclusion themselves. They can’t be told. They don’t like to be told.’

The Last Romeo is an utterly charming novel! It follows James on his quest to find love and the problems that come from being too open on the internet. After his breakup with his long term beau Adam, he begins documenting his attempts at navigating the dating world on a blog, vaguely keeping things anonymous but not quite as anonymous as he probably should have been. Along the way, he meets numerous kinds of men. The dates range from the utterly awkward, to the gross and uncomfortable (the description of one man’s bathroom will stay with me for ETERNITY), to the heart-fluttery and love-struck.

James, or ‘Jim’, makes a lot of mistakes in his quest for the perfect man. He gets bitter, even mean in his blog posts, but the other characters are quick to point out his bitchy moments and don’t shy away from telling him when he’s in the wrong. I quite liked the background characters as well, which is hugely important for a story. His friends Bella, Richie and Nicole, and little Hayden are all awesome; Nate, the (closeted) sports star, was adorable and totally stole my heart; then there’s Finn, the writer, and Luca, the blog fan who James gets to know over months of posts. They’re all very well rounded. You get more characters on the dates, but those really stick out in my mind. There’s also James’ rival at work and his dealings with his boss, both of which come up quite often throughout the novel.

I adored Nate especially. PROTECT NATE AT ALL COSTS. But James does spend a good bit of time thinking about his actions and reflecting; he admits his faults and tries to change. There’s good character growth. He acknowledges enjoying the fame his blog eventually brings him and how it negatively impacted his own view of things. He also gets some very sage advice: ‘If you don’t give your critics any meat, they can’t tear it from your bones.

My prediction of the ending changed a few times and I kept wanting him to end up with different characters at different points. Ultimately, I quite liked the ending! If you’re looking for a fun rom-com novel, I totally recommend this one. And I’m definitely adding the author’s new novel The Magnificent Sons to my list.

Audiobook Review: Everything You Love Will Burn [2018]

Everything You Love Will Burn, written and narrated by Vegas Tenold

Whew. Glad to be done with this one. It’s a book about the rise of white nationalism and I’m honestly impressed by Vegas Tenold’s ability to endure listening to this racism and sexism in person without losing his temper. I would have lost my mind. This is a really, really hard one to get through. It’s very important to know about the rise of white nationalism, but listening to this book left me wanting to smash my head into the wall.

Me, throughout this entire book:

Mini Reviews & Reading Roundup [23/05]

Today I finally finished Gold Rush Manliness. It was really good, I just kept getting sidetracked. It was a great examination of how race and gender impacted the gold rushes in California and British Columbia. This line really stuck with me: In short, the notions of white manhood established in the nineteenth century persist today, and their legacies can be seen everywhere, from the least-threatening practical joking to the most menacing expressions of white male superiority. There were loads of things in this examination that really wow’d me. Definitely recommend!

I also read Warm Up, which is a prequel story to V. E. Schwab’s Villains and Vengeful. I really liked it! If you’re curious, the book is available on Tor, here. It was dark and eerie and very well done. I loved this quote: It didn’t catch fire. Nothing ever actually caught fire. No, it all simply burned.

Beyond the Dragon’s Gate by Yoon Ha Lee is a new Tor original. Read it online, here. I quite liked it! The new issue of Uncanny Magazine is also out and I’ve started with poetry this time!

Girl, you best stop setting yourself on fire,
you may be the phoenix,
but these bones aren’t kindling
to keep others warm—

Ali Trotta, ‘Athena Holds Up a Mirror to Strength’, here.

Currently reading;

Still working through Everything You Love Will Burn, Agnes Grey and A Small Revolution in Germany, all of which I’m liking, although Everything You Love Will Burn is something I have to listen to in small doses. I also started Cage of Souls. It’s my first Adrian Tchaikovsky. He’s such a big name in the science fiction genre, so I’m glad to have finally picked up one of his. I’m also about halfway through Louise O’Neill’s Almost Love. The prose is really good and the storyline sucks you in, but I’m having trouble liking the main character.

What’s everyone else reading? Have you read any of the above? What’d you think?

Show Review: Zoo (2015)

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WELL JUST TAKE MY HEART AND GALLOP AWAY WITH IT, WHY DON’T YOU?

Guys. Guys. There are those shows that you start out loving cos the plot’s insane, and then they just go and throw in the most amazing characters and give you a couple that’s just going to tear your heart apart – and that’s this one. This is only a review of season one, am on season two, there are three total. 🙂

So Zoo beings with zoologist Jackson Oz (played by James Wolk) and his best friend Abraham Kenyatta (played by Nonso Anozie) wondering what is happening to the lions in Kenya. They normally protect the animals from poachers (and there’s a hilarious scene where Jackson saves a rhino with a boombox) but all of a sudden, the lions start to act abnormally. They meet Chloe Tousignant (played by Nora Arnezeder), the only survivor of a lion attack on a village. Chloe, a French intelligence agent, is in Kenya on what would have been her honeymoon, only she found out her fiancé was cheating on her, so she cancelled her wedding and came alone.

In the US, Jamie Campbell (played by Kristen Connolly), a journalist, is investigating a corporation, Reiden Global, that is responsible for poisoning her home town and has left dirty footprints all over the world. She’s convinced they’ve been behind aberrant animal behaviour and wants to nail them for it. She gets fired because the corporation has ties to her newspaper. Jamie tracks down Mitch Morgan (played by Billy Burke), a veterinary pathologist. The pair begin investigating Reiden Global and learn more about connections between the products Reiden Global makes and the increasingly violent attacks happening in the animal kingdom: dogs turning against people, bears breaking into houses, bats swarming a solar panel so scientists freeze. It gets really gruesome.

Jamie and Mitch’s search leads them to Jackson, Abraham and Chloe, and the five of them are recruited to investigate the animal attacks. But, of course, nothing is as it seems and the truth about what’s happening to the animals is more complicated than any of them could have imagined.

Jackson’s father, we slowly learn, had predicated what was going to happen to the animals before he died. The group unravel the mystery together, while fighting back against members of Reiden Global who want to silence them for good.

I find everything about this series interesting, especially the idea of animals evolving to outsmart people. It’s not quite Planet of the Apes, level. The animals aren’t talking. But they’re evolving, and the explanations are interesting, although I’m not sure how much is hard science and how much is just an interesting idea. Eh, I don’t care. I loved Jurassic Park 😉

The central cast are wonderful together, although I’m guaranteed to enjoy pretty much anything with Billy Burke. Like Timothy Olyphant, I just adore him as an actor and give anything he’s in a chance. Nonso Anozie is also brilliant.

I love the characters of Mitch and Jamie probably the most, but Abe, Jackson and Chloe aren’t far behind. Mitch/Jamie have such amazing chemistry and one of my favourite scenes happens at the start of season two. MY HEART. THEY ARE SO PERFECT. He’s a grumpy veterinarian who makes it clear that he chose the job because he doesn’t like people, while Jamie is outgoing and vivacious and determined. They’re total opposites and work so well together and I just hope they end up together! MY OTP! (/◕ヮ◕)/

I totally recommend this show and I can’t wait to see how it ends!

Mitch, everyone:

 

 

**gifs found online, and here and here, not mine

Øyevitne (2014)

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The series follows Philip and Henning, a young couple in a small Norwegian town, after they go out dirt biking one night and witness a murder. They manage to hide until the killer stumbles upon them and tries to attack Philip. Henning saves him and they flee, getting rid of the murderer’s weapon on the way. They vow never to speak of it again as Henning isn’t out yet and is terrified that his father will find out the truth about him and Philip.

The vow is quickly put to the test when Philip sees the murderer on a train and fears he’s been recognised. Elsewhere, a young girl named Zana is running from someone, although it’s unclear who. All the while the police, lead by Philip’s foster mother, the local sheriff, try to unravel the mystery of the killings, which has frustratingly few leads. As it turns out, one of the dead was an undercover informant in a biker gang and there’s a great deal of fallout from that once it’s discovered that he was snitching to his sister-in-law, a cop. All of the characters have something to hide, all are interconnected.

The show is super intense. My heart broke for Philip at every turn. Bless his heart, he tries so hard and gets so much hatred and frustration from those around him. Definitely my favourite of the characters, though I really adored the foster dad. He really tried to be Philip’s dad and I loved him.

The show is short, only six episodes, so it’s a quick one to marathon. Definitely recommended for fans of crime dramas!

 

**gifs found online, not mine

Mini Review Roundup [30/04]

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Show Rec: Because This Is My First Life:  I totally recommend this! The main guy’s such an interesting character and the main lady is so wonderful. Let me just say, the otps otp hard. I was a very happy fangirl by the end, haha. And all three couples are just the CUTEST. Without question, the romance in this one is top notch. GO WATCH.

Audiobook Rec: The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl: Okay, this is super cute and I love Kate Winslet’s voice, so I definitely recommend the audiobook version of this. It’s super short, under half an hour, and totally worth it. A must read for kids, definitely, and for burgeoning vegetarians and those who hate hunting. Go Dahl!

Book Rec: Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah:  This was a truly strange, deeply melancholy novella. It’s very stream of consciousness style and the main character drifts from day to day, experiencing grim events at every turn. The writing was very good, though.

Book Rec: The Gown of Harmonies by Francesca Forrest: This was such a cool idea! A gown that makes music. LOVE IT.

Currently Reading

Currently Watching

 

What’s everyone else watching/reading in lockdown? Hope you’re all well! (✿◠‿◠)

Book Review: Unfollow (2019)

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Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to Hope by Megan Phelps-Roper

… that open discourse and dialectic is the most effective enabler of the evolution of individuals and societies. That the answer to bad ideas is to publicly reason against them. To advocate for and propagate better ones. And that it is dangerous to vest any central authority with broad powers to limit the bounds of acceptable discussion. Because these powers lend themselves to authoritarian abuse, the creation of echo chambers, and the marginalisation of ideas that are true but unpopular. In short, the principles underlying the freedom of speech recognise that all of us are susceptible to cognitive deficiencies and groupthink.

I first heard about the Westboro Baptist Church when the documentary by Louis Theroux first aired: BBC’s The Most Hated Family in America. The group is probably most famous for picketing funerals of soldiers and their homophobic signs. Megan’s story follows her mounting disillusionment with the group, questions she had as a child that went unanswered, and her growing role in the church even as she wondered about the rights and wrongs of it all. Eventually she becomes the most well-known spokesperson for the group and runs the online social media platforms. It’s there that she starts to engage with others’ perspectives and eventually changes her own. She starts to see the damage hatred and unkindness can do.

It is disconcerting – shamefully, unimaginably so – to look back and accept that my fellow church members and I were collectively engaging in the most egregious display of logical blindness that I have ever witnessed.

I have great sympathy for those born into cults. It’s utterly heartbreaking. Her memories about the abuse she and her siblings suffered is gut-wrenching. More than once I cried listening to her story. Little moments really stand out: she admits that she didn’t know what her signs meant when she first held them; the letter she signed and sent to a newspaper as a child was actually written by her aunt.

That she broke free at all is commendable, but to see how far she’s come is just brilliant. Also, her Twitter pic now reads GOD LOVES GAYS. What a wonderful, wonderful turn around. :’)

Book Review: The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me (1985)

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The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl

This is one Roald Dahl book I’d actually never heard of! I’m surprised, because it was written in 1985, but somehow it slipped past me until today. I didn’t love it as much as MatildaThe Witches and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but it’s very cute in its own right! The audio book is narrated by Hugh Laurie, which I thoroughly recommend. He sings!

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Also, the list of sweets at the end is an absolute delight! You can tell Dahl loves sweets, haha. Apparently he published a cookbook as well? What rock have I been living under? I really want to try some of his recipes now. I mean, the man who gave us The Chocolate Factory can only create epic dessert, surely? 😀

Anyways, super cute book, definitely recommend.

Book Review: Matilda (1988)

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Matilda by Roald Dahl

The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.

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This is one of my forever-favs. This book gave me so much joy as a child and it still holds a special place in my heart. Little Matilda Wormwood with her wretched family, her wretched headmistresses, and so much cunning in her mind that she devises a way to help herself, her classmates and the wonderful Miss Honey.

Four for you, Matilda.

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