First Lines Fridays #4

First Lines Fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

 

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I am lying in bed next to my brother, Lupin.
He is six years old. He is asleep.
I am fourteen. I am not asleep. I am masturbating.
I look at my brother and think, nobly, “This is what he would want. He would want me to be happy.”
After all, he loves me. He wouldn’t want me to be stressed. And I love him—although I must stop thinking about him while I’m masturbating. It feels wrong. I am trying to get my freak on. I can’t have siblings wandering into my sexual hinterland. We may share a bed tonight—he left his bunk at midnight, crying, and got in next to me—but we cannot share a sexual hinterland. He needs to leave my consciousness.
“I have to do this on my own,” I say to him firmly in my head, placing a pillow between us for privacy. This is our little, friendly Berlin Wall. Sexually aware adolescents on one side (West Germany), six-year-old boys on the other (Communist Europe). The line must be held. It is only proper.

 

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– DRUMROLL –

It’s How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran!

How to Build a Girl

Synopsis:

The New York Times bestselling author hailed as “the UK’s answer to Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler, and Lena Dunham all rolled into one” (Marie Claire) makes her fiction debut with a hilarious yet deeply moving coming of age novel.

What do you do in your teenage years when you realize what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes—and build yourself.

It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, fourteen, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer—like Jo in Little Women, or the Bröntes—but without the dying young bit.

By sixteen, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realizes she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?

Imagine The Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease. How to Build a Girl is a funny, poignant, and heartbreakingly evocative story of self-discovery and invention, as only Caitlin Moran could tell it.

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I hope you enjoyed today’s FLF! Comment a link to your FLF post if you made one, so I can check it out. Follow DegenerateReads for more bookish content, social media links are below as always, and thanks for reading!


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3 Mini Reviews: YA Edition (Strange Grace, Sea Witch, Dead Girls Society)

Happy Thursday, everyone!

I have quite a large backlog of reviews to write from when my laptop broke in 2018, so I thought I’d start doing mini review groupings to catch up on them.

Today’s reviews are all YA books in the fantasy or thriller genres. All titles will take you to that books’ Goodreads page!


 

Strange Grace

Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton (Rating: ★★★★ 4.5)

“Except, she will never be truly alone, because her heart belongs to more than one.”

I loved this so much. The writing is atmospheric, the setting is whimsical (is dark whimsy a thing?), and the story is fun. This features Bisexual and Genderqueer representation, and a character who, I believe, is Gay with a Biromantic Asexual attraction to a woman—as well as a polyamorous relationship. You cannot understand how delighted I was to see that.

I loved the world, and the sacrificial holiday aspect. The fact that the magick representation in this was as accurate as it was surprised me as that doesn’t happen often. And I enjoyed seeing the “Devil” in this represented more as a God of the forest. Our main character, Mairwen, was so strange, and I loved that she was portrayed as being very wild, and almost feral. The only issue I had is that as much as I loved the characters, I did feel a bit disconnected from them.

 

 

Sea Witch (Sea Witch, #1)

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning (Rating: ★★★★)

This was a really fun origin story for the Sea Witch from the Little Mermaid fairytale. I was apprehensive that this would be inspired by the Disney movie rather than the original tale, but I am glad to say it was not.

This is historical fiction in addition to being fantasy, and I really loved the portrayal of Denmark during this time period, and the cultural bits we get about it. I enjoyed all the characters but didn’t connect very closely with any of them. That said, I was still very invested in how the story turned out for each one of them. However, with origin stories, particularly for characters who turn out to be “villains”, you know things don’t go well for them. So, I saw some kind of fuckery coming at the end, and although it practically ripped my heart out to not see everyone get their happy ending, I was still very pleased with how the ending was written.

 

Dead Girls Society

Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys (Rating: ★★★★)

I’m shocked at how fast I read this, but I had a hard time putting it down once I’d picked it up because it was just so good. After the first chapter, I felt like I knew the character, Hope, so well—and I was heavily invested in her life goals, and romantic pursuits. This is a thriller about a group of girls being blackmailed into completing dangerous dares by an unknown group. This features a character with a chronic illness (I believe it’s an Autoimmune Disease, but I may be wrong).

The characters in this were wonderful, and I loved all the girl love in this—both romantic and platonic. The only thing I was disappointed by was the reveal of who was behind the blackmail. I get that thrillers are more interesting if the “bad guy” is who you’d least expect, but it was so nice seeing this person in Hope’s life, and I honestly felt the betrayal like it had been committed against me personally.

 

 Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these books! Subscribe to DegenerateReads for more bookish content. As always, social media links are below, and thanks for reading!


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Top 5 Wednesday: Love Interests I Would Have Broken Up With

Top 5 Wednesday (T5W) is a weekly meme created by Lainey (gingerreadslainey) and hosted by Sam (ThoughtsOnTomes). Learn more by checking out the Goodreads group here.

 

 

Today’s topic is “Love Interests You’d Break Up With.” I had no problem deciding on my least favorite love interests (shocker, I know). So below I’ll be sharing them with you, and letting you all know why I think they’re so awful.

BTW: Book title links take you to the review for that book, if one is available.


 

 

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

#1. Four from Divergent by Veronica Roth

I know a lot of people love Tris and Four together, but I think that mostly has to do with Four being played by Theo James in the film adaptations. I always thought Four was bland, and I never liked how randomly hostile he was towards Tris in the beginning of the series. I understand his feelings towards her change, but it seemed like such an abrupt change and I don’t think he transitioned from hostile to caring very well. TL;DR – I think he’s boring and also kind of dick.

Image result for sassy shrug gif

 

The Taming of the Shrew

#2. Petruchio from Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Petruchio gets off on disrespecting Katherine and forcing her into submission. He literally makes no sense throughout the entire play, and I honestly just hate him. Still not sure why Katherine would marry him, but I definitely wouldn’t.

 

A Very Large Expanse of Sea

#3. Ocean from A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Pretty much the only thing I disliked about this book was the love interest, Ocean. I thought he was sooo boring—like a wet mop of a person—and I didn’t understand how Shirin could be interested in him.

 

Women

#4. Lydia from Women by Charles Bukowski

To be clear, I would break up with most of the women Henry dates in this book. But, Lydia especially. She’s irrational, jealous, physically violent, and routinely verbally abuses Henry and others. Hot mess.

 

Always Never Yours

#5. Tyler from Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

He isn’t the main character’s love interest, but he is the main character’s friend’s love interest. I honestly couldn’t stand him, even in the beginning of the book before anything was ~revealed~, and he always seemed like such an icky person.

 

If you did a T5W post, be sure to link it below so I can check it out! Subscribe to DegenerateReads for more bookish content. As always, social media links are below, and thanks for reading!


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The Book Addiction Tag!

I saw Destiny @ Howling Libraries do this, and thought it looked like fun.

 

Questions

1) What is the longest amount of time you can comfortably go without picking up a book? – Definitely no longer than a day, but typically I’m reading at least every 12 hours. 

2) How many books do you carry on your person (or kindle) at any one time? – I don’t often read outside of my home, and if I do, I don’t take physical books because I’m always worried something would happen to them. If I take my kindle, that has about 70 ebooks on it.

3) Do you keep every book you buy/receive or are you happy to pass them on to make room for more? – I’m not someone who has to love every book I read in order to keep them, so I keep the majority of the books I buy. That said, every so often I go through my collection and unhaul books—usually in larger numbers. 

4) How long would you spend in a bookshop on a standard visit? – Maybe an hour? I don’t go to book stores often as I primarily shop online. And when I do go to book stores, I know exactly what I’m there for, so it doesn’t take me long. 

5) How much time per day do you actually spend reading? – Anywhere from 20 minutes to 5-6 hours. It really depends on the day and how much sleep I’m willing to give up. Every once in a while though, I come across a book I can’t put down, and I’ve spent as much as 12 hours straight reading. 

6) Where does the task ‘picking up a book’ appear on your daily to-do list? – It’s one of the first things I do every day, and usually one of the last as well. 

7) How many books do you reckon you own in total (including e-books)? – Probably 300-350.

8) Approximately how often do you bring up books in conversation? – Rarely. I don’t know many people who read, so I don’t usually have the opportunity to bring books up.

9) What is the biggest book (page count) you have finished reading? – It by Stephen King. My edition sits at 1,166 pages. 

10) Is there a book you had to get your hands on against all odds (i.e searching bookshops, online digging, etc) – I don’t think so? I’ve never had a hard time finding an edition or book I wanted. 

11) A book you struggled to finish but refused to DNF? – Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. (Review Here

12) What are 3 of your main book goals for 2019?

Review more books
Get back into classics 
♥ Utilize my social media platforms 

13) Have you ever had the privilege of converting someone into a reader (maybe via inspiration or incessant nagging)? – No, but believe me I have tried.

14) Describe what books mean to you in five words. – Oh, the places you’ll go.

 

Tagging

Kira | Sam | Jade | And literally anyone else who wants to do this!

 


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Woman Writer Spotlight: Kate Chopin

This series is mainly inspired by two things—one being Ally Writes Things’ Woman of the Month series (which you should definitely check out), and the other being the 100 Women Writers list I’ve been steadily working my way through the last year or so.

I’ve been wanting for a while to do some kind of series with the women writers I’ve been reading, but I wasn’t sure exactly what that series would look like. That is, until I was inspired by Ally’s series.

Every month I will make a post talking about a Woman Writer I’ve read and loved, and will offer some info about their life, and give recommendations. These won’t necessarily be women writers from the 100 Women Writers list—they’re just women writers I don’t think are talked about enough, and would like to shine a spotlight on.

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Kate Chopin

 

Image result for kate chopin

Born in 1850 in St. Louis, Missouri, Kate Chopin is often regarded as an early feminist American writer—and for good reason. Though she never outright claimed the title of “feminist”, she made it clear through her writing that she recognized women as being stronger and more capable than they were typically portrayed as, and used that writing to change her readers’ perception of married women and mothers in that time period.

Her works are primarily set in Louisiana and frequently include intelligent women who are married and mothers. Chopin herself was married at twenty, and had a total of six children in the nine years following.

Though her novels were not much success during her lifetime, her short stories were relatively well-known and reviewed positively. Her second novel, The Awakening, was largely criticized—and because of the negative attention, many of her works were forgotten after her death in 1904. However, in the 1970’s The Awakening began gaining attention, and subsequently her other works as well.

 

Notable Works:
At Fault (1890) – A novel practically ignored at the time of publication
Bayou Folk (1894) – Short story collection, reviewed well at time of publication
A Night in Arcadie (1897) – Short story collection, reviewed well at time of publication
The Awakening (1899) – A novel condemned for it’s disagreeable protagonist
*She also published a number of children’s stories.*

 

My Recommendation:
The only thing from Chopin I have read is The Awakening, which I highly recommend. This follows a youngish mother who, after meeting a man she would go on to have an affair with, realizes she is not content with her simple life as a wife and mother. I love that this novel challenges the type of behavior desired in women in the 19th century by giving them interests outside marriage/motherhood, and female sexuality—and I think it was well ahead of it’s time.

 

Resources:
katechopin.org | American Lit-Kate Chopin | Wikipedia page

 

I hope you enjoyed the first Woman Writer Spotlight! Let me know in the comments what you think of this series. Subscribe to DegenerateReads for more bookish content. As always, social media links are below, and thanks for reading!


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Mini Review: Hocus Pocus & the All-New Sequel by A.W Jantha

Hocus Pocus & The All New Sequel

Title: Hocus Pocus & the All New Sequel
Author: A.W Jantha
Publication Year: 2018
Format: Ebook – 528 pages
Rating: ★★★

Goodreads Page

Synopsis:

Hocus Pocus is beloved by Halloween enthusiasts all over the world. Diving once more into the world of witches, this electrifying two-part young adult novel, released on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1993 film, marks a new era of Hocus Pocus. Fans will be spellbound by a fresh retelling of the original film, followed by the all-new sequel that continues the story with the next generation of Salem teens.

Shortly after moving from California to Salem, Max Dennison finds himself in hot water when he accidentally releases a coven of witches from the afterlife. Max, his sister, and his new friends (human and otherwise) must find a way to stop the witches from carrying out their evil plan and remaining on Earth to torment Salem for all eternity.

Twenty-five years later, Max and Allison’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Poppy, finds herself face-to-face with the Sanderson sisters in all their sinister glory. When Halloween celebrations don’t quite go as planned, it’s a race against time as Poppy and her friends fight to save her family and all of Salem from the witches’ latest death-defying scheme.

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Like most of the general population, I fucking love Hocus Pocus. So if, like me, you saw this continuation and thought the world was finally giving you what you never knew you needed, you probably understand my utter disappointment upon finishing this book.

Part one is essentially just a novelization of the 1993 cult classic, which if you know every second of the film, like I do, then you won’t need to read it unless you really want to. I found this part of the book to be worlds better than the “sequel” part, and thought it very much fit the vibe of the movie.

Unfortunately, this was the best part of the entire book. Part Two, the “sequel”, follows Max and Allison’s teen child after she accidentally releases the Sanderson sisters from their little slice of Hell. Although this part had elements I enjoy reading—racial diversity, queer representation, magic, etc—I can absolutely see why people were saying this read like fanfiction.

It was so cheesy and ridiculous that I honestly would have DNF’d it if it weren’t such a quick read, which is perhaps part two’s best quality. This was so much more than simply taking creative liberties with the original storyline. The author introduces an entire family and set of friends for the Sanderson sisters and uses them as ill-placed plot twists.

If you’re a fan of Hocus Pocus, I would recommend skipping this as it may wreck your enjoyment of the film—I know I won’t be able to keep myself from thinking of this every time I see it.

I hope you enjoyed this review! Comment if you’ve read Hocus Pocus & the All New Sequel and what your thoughts on it were. Follow DegenerateReads for more bookish content, social media links are below as always, and thanks for reading!


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First Lines Fridays #3

First Lines Fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

 

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She came along the alley and up the back steps just like she always used to. Doc hadn’t seen her for over a year. Nobody had. Back then it was always sandals, bottom half of a flower print bikini, faded Country Joe & the Fish T-shirt. Tonight she was all in flatland gear, hair a lot shorter than he remembered, looking just like she swore she’d never look.

 

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– DRUMROLL –

It’s Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon!

Inherent Vice

Synopsis:

Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon- private eye Doc Sportello comes, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era as free love slips away and paranoia creeps in with the L.A. fog

It’s been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend, Shasta Fay. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It’s the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that “love” is another of those words going around at the moment, like “trip” or “groovy,” except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite which he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dodgy dentists.

In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the sixties, you weren’t there . . . or . . . if you were there, then you . . . or, wait, is it . . .hang on. . .

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I hope you enjoyed today’s FLF! Comment a link to your FLF post if you made one, so I can check it out. Follow DegenerateReads for more bookish content, social media links are below as always, and thanks for reading!


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