review-five

See Tom sing! Short-notice ‘London Road’ watch party

London Road is a very unusual musical, which got rave reviews on the London stage and when it was released as a film last year.

It documents the reactions of the neighbours of a serial killer in a small English town who killed five prostitutes in a very short stretch of time.

And it is told through their own words – set to music.

Here’s a taste from The Guardian’s five-star review:  

“ Rufus Norris’s film is an utterly gripping, macabre but finally very moving cine-opera in a reportage verbatim style, dealing with the 2006 Ipswich serial murdersand their complex psychological effect on the inhabitants of London Road. This is the residential street that had become the city’s red-light district, where the killer lived and where one of his victims was found. The film begins like a downbeat drama, with plenty of grimly daylit front-room interiors with depressing sofas reflected in dull, switched-off TVs. But when the newsreaders start to sing, something queasily dreamlike happens. It is an addictive forensic thriller set to music …”

The cast includes the AMAZING Olivia Colman, and … Tom Hardy!

@chasingriversong and I felt like watching it, so we’re doing that on Wednesday, February 10, 2016 – TODAY!

Where: the usual @inceptiversarysocial chatroom, send me, @kate2kat,  or @chasingriversong a message or an ask for the password if you’ve never been before.

Time: 12.30pm PST, 3.30pm EST, 8.30pm GMT/UTC, 10.30pm SAST

(not that convenient for the U.S., but it was when we had time, sorry. But good for EU viewers)

Download a copy here

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Where I got it: http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Cute-Fox-Ring-stretch-adjustable-unique-gifts-Color-Silver-Gold-Rose-Gold-Fox-rings/1922687976.html

I think is is still available to be bought.

They are very cute and I am happy with what I got, I got just what I expected. The seller shipped as quick as they could manage and were nice enough to include a small ring for me. It took about 13 to 14 days to arrive.

Over all it is a definite 5/5 and I would happily order from this seller again.

All We Can Eat

Chef Toews’ “hippy gourmet” style of cooking is a little weird and a lot out-of-place in a city like Chicago, where people are looking for bold flavors and creative spins on old favorites, not escargot ice cream and edible flowers carved out of dragon fruit. I’m sure he means well, but Toews would be better served to work on his menu than his artistic abilities.

Patrick Kane is a popular Chicago food critic. Jonathan Toews has just opened a new restaurant, and he wants his five-star review.

It won’t come easy.

by: amandaj, toewses

wordcount: 12576

rating: M

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Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

*SCREAMS REALLY LOUDLY* 

I finished Dangerous Girls a week ago. A week. Seven Days. I cannot stop thinking about it. It’s like the Plague! 

Dangerous Girls is, as I have affectionately said, like a really intense episode of Law and Order. Which, for me, is great. Because I will sit on the couch and watch Law and Order for hours on end. 

The book follows the pre-murder+murder+pre-trial+trial of Anna’s best friend Elise–where Anna is the number one suspect (you guys don’t want to know how long I spent trying to think of the word Suspect). And of course, Anna is pleading “Not Guilty”, because who kills their best friend and tries to get away with it? 

I’ll admit, the sequence is a bit wonky, but I swear it makes the book all that more intense. Switching gears as fast as Abigail Haas does makes it impossible for the reader to guess what happened. 

And I finally understand why this book was on all the #MorallyComplicatedYA lists all back in December (admittedly when I actually bought the book). Dangerous Girls makes you question everything because, I think, almost everybody becomes a suspect in your head. From Anna to her boyfriend, to the mess of friends that were Spring Breaking it up wit them it Aruba. 

Dangerous Girls will make you question everything and get pissed off at the legal system that they’re indicting Anna in. And if you’re as in love with thriller dramas as I am getting into–You’ll love it. And hate it. 

Just please read this. 

Five out of Five Stars because I am simply incapable of stopping thinking of this book. I don’t want to, either. 

avajae.blogspot.com
Writability: Book Review: CAM GIRL by Elliot Finley Wake (w/a Leah Reader)

So while anything Elliot Wake (Raeder) writes is pretty much on my insta-buy list (and has been since both Unteachable and Black Iris blew me away), when I heard Cam Girl features a nonbinary major character, needless to say I knew I had to buy it ASAP.

So I did. And I’m so glad I did because this book felt really important to me.

Before I go on, here’s the Goodreads summary, as per usual:

“Vada Bergen is broke, the black sheep of her family, and moving a thousand miles away from home for grad school, but she’s got the two things she loves most: her art and her best friend—and sometimes more—Ellis Carraway. Ellis and Vada have a friendship so consuming it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins. It’s intense. It’s a little codependent. And nothing can tear them apart.

Until an accident on an icy winter road changes everything.

Vada is left deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. Her once-promising art career is cut short. And Ellis pulls away, unwilling to talk about that night. Everything Vada loved is gone.

She’s got nothing left to lose.

So when she meets some smooth-talking entrepreneurs who offer to set her up as a cam girl, she can’t say no. All Vada has to do is spend a couple hours each night stripping on webcam, and the “tips” come pouring in.

It’s just a kinky escape from reality until a client gets serious. “Blue” is mysterious, alluring, and more interested in Vada’s life than her body. Online, they chat intimately. Blue helps her heal. And he pays well, but he wants her all to himself. No more cam shows. It’s an easy decision: she’s starting to fall for him. But the steamier it gets, the more she craves the real man behind the keyboard. So Vada pops the question:

Can we meet IRL?

Blue agrees, on one condition. A condition that brings back a ghost from her past. Now Vada must confront the devastating secrets she’s been running from—those of others, and those she’s been keeping from herself…”

There are three things you can pretty much expect whenever you pick up one of Raeder’s books:

  1. Incredibly gorgeous writing.
  2. Very sexy scenes throughout.
  3. TWISTS LIKE WHOA.

Cam Girl indisputably delivered on all three points. 

While I found some of the pre-Blue cam girling stuff a bit much for me at the beginning (not a flaw of the book, just a personal taste thing), I’m so glad I kept reading because the story and characters more than made up for it.

Vada, an artist, deals with chronic pain specifically in her hand and arm from the accident at the beginning of the book. I’ve read a few books now with characters who struggle with chronic pain, but this depiction resonated the most with me—and the further connection of not being able to do art because of the pain, something I deal with IRL, is something that echoed unexpectedly deeply with me.

Then there’s Vada’s relationship with her best friend, Ellis, which I absolutely loved reading. Vada and Ellis have a blurry best friends/more than best friends relationship, but though Vada has accepted that she’s bisexual, the thought of having a serious long-term relationship with a girl freaks her out, which is an experience with bisexuality that I haven’t seen deeply explored in a book before. It worked really well here in terms of tension and adding a complicated dynamic to Vada and Ellis’s relationship, and it felt like a real experience that was important to tackle.

All of these character elements and more weave incredibly well into the plot, which is messy and complicated and finished off with an ending I totally didn’t see coming. I loved the frank discussions about gender and sexuality, and seeing a major nonbinary character figure themselves out and explore their identity is something I really appreciated.

I loved reading this, will probably re-read in the future, and now I’m even more excited for Raeder’s next book, Bad Boy, which features a trans guy major character. If you haven’t picked up Raeder’s books before and you like (very) steamy, complicated, and dark New Adult books, I honestly can’t recommend his writing more.

Diversity note: Vada, the protagonist, is Latina, bisexual, and deals with chronic pain, and another major character is nonbinary (genderfluid). The author is openly bisexual and nonbinary, so it’s #ownvoices, too

Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy 

Synopsis:
Picking up right after Dream Thieves, in this installment of The Raven Cycle things escalate pretty quickly. There’s basically nothing I can say here that isn’t a massive spoiler for one of the books in The Raven Cycle. 


Verdict:
★★★★★

Warning: Massive adoration of Ronan Lynch saturates this entire review. 

Spoiler Free Mini-Review:
 Raven Boys was good. Dream Thieves was better. Blue Lily, Lily Blue has been the best so far. I’m now about to hyperventilate waiting for The Raven King. 
One of the most impressive things about this series is that it doesn’t allow anything, or anyone, to be simple. I love the moral quagmire that it offers, as well as the mystery and adventure. 
Ronan Lynch continues to be my favorite character, but only marginally. Which is another favorite thing about the series. Good luck picking only one character to relate to and love. They’re all complex, and becoming more complex as each choice they make on the road to Glendower changes them. 

Spoiler-riffic More Detailed Review Beneath the Cut!

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Flaming Moe Novelty Energy Drink - Five Below

“Call Mr. Plow, that’s my name, that name again is Mr. Plow!” Wrong episode, I know, but with all the snow we’ve been getting that little jingle has been stuck in my head all week! What better time to get that reference out of my head than when I’m reviewing a Simpsons-themed novelty drink?

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avajae.blogspot.com
Writability: Book Review: THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig
5/5 stars to THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig

(Photo credit: Goodreads)


So when I initially first heard about The Girl from Everywhere back last year, I was insta-sold at “time-traveling pirates.” Combine this with the beautiful cover and the fact that Heidi Heilig is a ridiculously wonderful person, and I knew I needed to read it ASAP.

Lucky for me, I temporarily got my hands on an ARC. And it was everything I’d hoped for and more.

Before I go on, here's the Goodreads summary:

It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for very much longer.

Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times - although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in question…

Nix has grown used to her father’s obsession, but only because she’s convinced it can’t work. But then a map falls into her father’s lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it’s that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.”

So 2016 seems to be a relatively big year for pirates in YA, which is lucky for us all because pirates are awesome, but this is the first time I’ve seen a story about pirates who travel through time and I loved it.

Nix is Hapa (like the author) which was really cool to see, and she was also a really fun, spunky, and still sensitive protagonist. I connected with her quickly and really empathized with the way she tried to handle her complicated, messy situation. The dynamic she had with her dad, a drug addict obsessed with a single mission that could lead to Nix’s not existing anymore, was real, raw and layered.

Add Kash to the mix—the Persian, thief love interest—who very quickly jumped onto my favorite book boyfriends list, and an adorable dragon named Swag along with other quirky and memorable characters, and the cast alone made The Girl from Everywhere incredibly enjoyable.

Then we get to the plot. While the timeline was a bit confusing at times (this is the kind of book, I suspect, you’ll want to read more than once), the complicated magic and lush world building made it all worth it. I really enjoyed how the crew’s travels wasn’t limited to to just real places—they’re able to travel to made up worlds as long as they have a map—and yet the rules to the magic system involved really made the whole system feel authentic and unique. As a bonus, the ARC I read had soooo many spots for maps to come—half of my excitement for the hard copy alone is just to see the gorgeous maps in all their splendor.

All in all, The Girl from Everywhere hit it out of the park. If time travel stories and pirates are your thing, I really couldn’t recommend this one enough. And even better—you won’t have to wait very long because it releases February 16th.

Diversity note: The protagonist, Nix, is Hapa, one of the love interests, Kash, is Persian, one of the crew members is lesbian, another crew member is Chinese, and another is Sudanese. 

Editor Update: Hillary Leftwich explores her writing journey for "Words in Place"

Editor Update: Hillary Leftwich writes about her writing journey for “Words in Place”

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Hillary Leftwich talks about her writing journey over at Gay Degani’s Words in Place blog. In her post, she discusses the impact of early books on her childhood; she talks about motherhood, school, and the joy of her first publication in NANO Fiction; she talks about new goals and uncertainties as an MFA student at Regis University. Explore the entire narrative here! And be sure to follow Hillary…

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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thought that this book was wonderful, through and through. I read the first chapter with a healthy degree of skepticism (the way I feel when being introduced to anyone new – book or human), and by the end of it, I felt the power of intrigue. Who is this person? Why is she behaving in this way? I need to know! I loved the stylistic choices that Fowler made about how to tell the story of one’s life. Isn’t that so often how living is? The story starts in the middle. The rest of the details are mysteries to be discovered as we get to know each other.

I loved getting to know the different characters in this book, and I felt a deep connection with the narrator/protagonist. I feel like if that initial connection isn’t there, this would be a terrible book to read, because her voice throughout is consistent – a literary feat in itself. I loved the way the book weaved in and between time, yet felt constantly consistent.

Ultimately, this is a beautiful story about self-reflection, identity, familial dysfunction, love, and remembering. I loved it.

View all my reviews

I received an DRC (eARC?) of this book through the publisher for free on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Let me get this straight: 

I have never cried so hard reading a book. 

That said, it’s not a book for everybody. Just looking at the Goodreads ratings, it’s hovering just below a 4 star rating and stocked high with reviews talking about “that’s not how high school works” along with quite a few “it’s too black and white” and I mean, sure. But there’s also a reminder that these one star reviews are peppers with unfair slander and the most cursing I’ve seen from individuals since I graduated high school last year. *stares pointedly at my old theatre department* 

Let’s get into this. 

The first…13% of this book (I think), was a bit slow. I opened the book on my commute home, honestly forgetting why I requested it because for the love of Gad, I also couldn’t remember what the book was supposed to be about in the first place. 

So I put the book aside in favor of studying (I mean, like, Finals are a thing apparently and NaNoWriMo wiped me out). Then I started seeing some of the bloggers I follow sing their praises about this book. I picked it up again just shy of a week before school starting up.

And then…

God. 

I hit 15%. It was…just after 1 AM. And we get to the whole actual plot of the book: 

The shooting. 

My body was so tense and my heart was racing so fast, instead of doing the sensible thing and saving the book for the morning–I plowed straight through. Because I wanted to know what happened. I wanted to know what the author was going to do next to rip my heart to shreds because, I mean…I wanted a feel good book hours before but the wee hours of the morning is the perfect time to scare the crap out of yourself. 

Not only does the book have racial diversity, it also has LGBT representation because lesbians. It has nothing to do with *why* the book is good. But it certainly makes enjoying the book that much better. 

I we want to get into it–I could offer my two-cents about the shooter and his so called “bland motives” as I’ve seen in other reviews. But I don’t honestly feel like getting into that hell. 

Let’s just be honest about how I felt about this book:

Straight up ugly sobbing for the last 20% of the book. My feelings were numb for the duration of the day. My toes were numb. I couldn’t feel my face. I shivered beneath two blankets. The whole nine yards. 

I’m giving this book a 4/5 because of the incredibly slow beginning (I mean, sure it’s like a slow day at school but eh). But this book is really good. Not read 500 times good. It’s just good in the sense that you read it once and then want to hide it in a place it can’t hurt you anymore kind of book.

I love it. 

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I had the opportunity to draw an issue for Spread, an ongoing apocalypse/horror book out from Image. It’s issue 12 and it should be still in shops, or on ComiXology.

Here are some interviews and reviews, mainly here for future-Jen to find them.

t.co
Injustice - Year Five: The Intro (Issues #1 - #6) - The Black Geeks
WARNING -*This article contains some lite spoilers.* Every year DC Comics’ Injustice comic book series has gotten better and better. Each edition crafting

To all my comic book fans, I’ve posted a “spoiler lite” review of the first six issues of Injustice - Year Five. I have been riveted to this series since Year One, Issue One. Year five has started off great. I’m seriously looking forward to Issue 7 on Tuesday because things could get really real. 

I received an ARC of this book through the publisher (Disney-Hyperion) at SDCC 2015. I can’t thank them enough for their generosity. 

Starflight, Starflight. 

Where do I begin? 

From the first page, I was honestly hooked. 

Solara is a character that I loved quite a bit just from opening the book. She’s rough. Cute (maybe not conventionally, as described, but I picture cute). Not to mention Doran. 

Literally. As soon as he was introduced I was like: DAMN. Love interest right there. I mean. It’s obvious in the way it’s set up (at least to me)–but Doran came in all asshole like and I was right there with him.  

Honestly I was really worried how it would all play out, the plot described on the back of my ARC. There was so much room for cliche and so much room for mistakes. And I’ve seen it done before with Sci-Fi books (hence my hesitation to actually read them often). But Melissa Landers handled the whole sense of being runaways and wanted (technical) criminals very well. 

Surely there are some plot points that irked me. For instance, not knowing how Solara got her felon tattoos until late in the book. It almost got to the point that I either forgot they existed as well as didn’t really care about them. Alongside goes with Doran’s obvious hatred of the said tattoos. For him–it was pretty much brushed under the rug until it was absolutely necessary to bring up said hatred. 

But other than that–I really enjoyed this book! The Banshee crew and the shenanigans they manage to get themselves into is honestly my favorite part of the book. How Solara and Doran ended up falling into a family with them made me really happy. 

There’s a plot twist. If you’re more clever than me (or less blockheaded, I suppose)–you’ll probably get it long before I did. I figured it out only about ¾ through the book. But in hindsight, i should have been clued in sooner.

Whoops. ^_^; 

I’m gonna give it a four out of five because I spy a sequel in the making. But I honestly would have been more satisfied if there were a few more expanded and this was left as a standalone. 

Perhaps that’s just me, though.