Monday, March 16, 2020

Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Rating: ★★★ | 9 hours 58 min. | G.P. Putnam's Son | Adult Fiction  | Release Date: 12/31/19
2020 has been kind of a meh reading year for me so I decided to switch it up with some upmarket book club-y fiction.

This is one of those books where it’s better to go in with as little information as possible. Such a Fun Age starts with 25-year-old Emira, a Black girl living in Philadelphia, being racially profiled while babysitting a white child. The book then follows Emira as she tries to figure out how to become a “real adult” and her boss, Alix Chamberlain, who starts noticing Emira in a new way after the incident.

This book started off kind of slow but it steadily builds into this addictive, complicated narrative about privilege, race and class with a few plot twists and turns along the way. Reid’s writing is so carefully observed and veers into the humorous and even absurd.

I can see why Reese Witherspoon picked this for her book club because it is so discussion-worthy. I’ve found myself thinking about character motives and intentions long after I'd finished it. It has a satisfying ending but leaves you with some interesting questions.

I highly recommend this on audiobook. Narrator Nicole Lewis’ has this remarkable ability to code-switch between the Black and white characters. Literally, every voice she did sounded like a different character. This is her only audiobook and I have no idea how she's not doing all the books.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Protect The Prince by Jennifer Estep (Crown of Shards #2)

Rating: ★★.5 |  12 hrs. 40 min. | Adult Fantasy | Harper Voyage | Release Date: 07/2/2019

*Kill the Queen Spoilers*
Last year, I had some nitpicks with Kill The Queen but overall I enjoyed watching Princess Everleigh Blair's journey from a low ranking royal to a fierce gladiator. But I found this sequel completely lackluster and kind of dull. It didn’t work for me at all and I know this opinion makes me a total black sheep.

In Protect The Prince, Everleigh is now queen of Bellona. She travels to Andvari to work out a peace treaty as Mortans, the people behind her family’s assassination, keep popping out of the woodwork to kill her. That’s it. That’s the entire plot. People keep trying to kill her.

I was just bored with it. There was no tension or interesting stakes. The tension between the characters turns on Everleigh lying to her close friends and allies Because Of Reasons--which is my least favorite thing.

I’m also not feeling the relationship between Everleigh and Lucas Sullivan, a bastard prince of Andvari. This man does next to nothing most of the book except brood. Everleigh's emotional relationship with every other character except Sullivan is so specific and well done. The way Everleigh talks and thinks about Paloma, her gladiator rival turned captain of her guard, reads like a more authentic romance...I’m just sayin'.

The author  constantly describes rage as smelling like “hot jalapeno.” The phrase "hot jalapeno rage" is used multiple times, it took me out of the book and I just could not take it seriously.

While I would still rec the first book, I think I'm out on this series.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta

Rating: ★★★ | 9 hours 44 min. | Viking | YA Fantasy | Release Date: 10/30/18

In this Italian inspired fantasy, we travel to the mountains of Vinalia and meet Teodora “Teo” Di Sangro, the second daughter of a high ranking family. Teo has a secret. She's a strega who uses her magic to turn the men who have wronged her family into objects. You a straight-up serial killer.

Stregas are supposed to be things of the past but when tragedy strikes her family, Teo joins up with Cielo-- a mysterious orphaned strega who can change genders-- to teach her how to become a boy and take over as the Di Sangro family son.

Capetta is clearly doing some interesting work with Italian mythos and gender identity but overall I never connected with the stakes of the book. This story moves pretty fast and I wish we’d lingered a little bit to develop the relationships between the characters. There were so many people towards the end and I had no idea who most of them were or what their purpose was supposed to be.

The audiobook is narrated by Carlotta Brentan. She has a great voice for YA and her accent work was spot on. I demo-d a few other European inspired fantasy audiobooks and so many of the accents came off cartoonish. I was not all surprised to discover Brentan is from Italy Italian, it added a real authenticity to the narration. 


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