I’m Kind of Scared of Writing This Review

I’m Kind of Scared of Writing This Review

Before you read this post, make sure you have read my post I Can Do Better  to know how and where to donate, get informed, support, and follow the Black Lives Matter movement and people from the Black community. Si hablas español, y especialmente si vives en Colombia, lee mi publicación Puedo hacer algo mejor para enterarte cómo puedes apoyar a la Comunidad afrocolombiana. 

Hello and happy Wednesday. I absolutely despise disclaimers because I am a firm believer that we should be unapologetic about our opinions, especially if they’re related to something as unimportant as a book. Now, I say “unimportant” when compared to more controversial issues, considering that for me books are no more than a form of entertainment and that I am not really big on having passionate debates on a book. I’ll share my thoughts, for sure, but I don’t expect you to agree with me just like I don’t want you to expect me to agree with you. Basically, we’re all entitled to our opinion and I really don’t want my comments section to become a forum in which you try to convince me to like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli because it is just not going to happen.

I read this book between July 17th and July 19th, 2019 and gave it two stars. Now, in this post, I’ll discuss both the book and the movie because I watched the movie before reading the novel and I think it might have negatively influenced my thoughts. I don’t know whether I wrote a separate review of it in the past, but whatever. Watching the movie meant that I already knew the plot beforehand. I knew in general what the story was about, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing because by already having some information on the story and the characters, I read the book at a quicker pace, which is something I like, especially if I’m not liking what I’m reading. You already know that I didn’t like the book, but you should also know that the movie didn’t do it for me. I felt that, as time went by and I was able to process it and reflect upon it, I disliked it even more, and then of course after reading the book (how many times have I written the word ‘book’?) I felt that it missed the point on some key aspects.

I understand where the title change came from when the novel was adapted to a movie because the line “love, Simon” is present, but I think there was a bit of propaganda behind it as well. I mean, think about it, why would “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” be changed to a two-word title when we have “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and nobody said “let’s change it to “Harry and the Goblet”? Is it maybe the word ‘Homo’? (trust me, I know how ridiculous that sounds, but what do I know? I’m a liberal feminist who wants all babies to be aborted or adopted by the gays). It could’ve also been the word “agenda” because we all know how that’s used around. I’m sure there are many theories going around, and if you know about them, share them with me.

Another thing that bothered me was the token diverse love interest. I mean, yes, you have your gay character, and your black character and your Jewish character, and I think that representation was on point, but then you have the white gay guy’s love interest and he’s a black, half-Jewish gay guy? What? What that character did to me was pretty much forget about the seemingly authentic representation and diversity that I’d been given. And yes, I know there are black, half-Jewish gay teens out there, but seriously? Seriously?

I think that you’ve been able to appreciate the changes I’ve made in my reading. At least I’ve noticed that I am reading more intense contemporary YA fiction, even if there’s romance involved, and that my characters aren’t all white and straight. When reading about white and straight characters, I’m more critical about them than I was before because I understand that the world is a diverse one. This, however, has come with the knowledge that representation really occurs when I’m reading an own-voices novel. What I mean by this is that the author is actually part of an underrepresented group, like David Levithan or Nina LaCour, who write about gay and lesbian characters, respectively and Julie Murphy, who’s written novels featuring a fat main character. As cool as it is to see another book about a male gay teen, it wasn’t own-voices because Becky Albertalli is not a gay man. I just think that there are some really awesome authors who’ve come up with really awesome novels about male gay teens that we should give more recognition to, at least the same amount of hype as Simon got.

The story itself didn’t knock my socks off for many reasons. I didn’t think it was original at all. I think the coming-out plot is not for me because I want to see more queer characters who are out and about, you know? I want to see more of that person’s identity and story than their coming out. I’m not saying that’s not important or relevant or that these plots shouldn’t be written anymore, but that it’s not what I’m looking for and I’m grateful to have a wide selection of queer reads to choose from. The blackmailing thing and the online romance tropes have been done before, so I don’t feel like I was reading anything new.

I have so many more things to say, but I’m tired after a long day at work and I feel like I’ve ranted enough. Recommend me good queer reads please and thank you.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

 

Mediocre

Mediocre

Before you read this post, make sure you have read my post I Can Do Better to know how and where to donate, get informed, support, and follow the Black Lives Matter movement and people from the Black community. Si hablas español, y especialmente si vives en Colombia, lee mi publicación Puedo hacer algo mejor para enterarte cómo puedes apoyar a la Comunidad afrocolombiana. 

Hello and happy Wednesday. Yes, I’m super witty, so of course, I had to reference the title of the book I’m reviewing (and ranting about) today. Sadly, it didn’t live up to the expectation, and if I do say so myself, it wasn’t even close to what I was anticipating. I am talking about Great by Sara Benincasa.

I read this book between April 5th and April 7th, 2019 and gave it two stars. Like I said, my expectations before reading this novel were high because this is a retelling of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and I love retellings and really enjoyed the original novel, especially because it was super extravagant.

There is one redeeming quality to Great, and it’s the relationship the main character/narrator/ Nick Carraway has with her father. I don’t think we see enough good parent-children relationships in Young Adult, and it was interesting to read about a daughter who doesn’t hate or resent her father.

I think the author was trying way too hard, and she totally didn’t need to. For one, this story features an LGBTQ* romance, which clearly deviates from the original story. I am all for representation and diversity in fiction, but not when there is an obvious hidden intention. To me, making the main romance a lesbian one wasn’t anything more than an attempt of a rebellious gesture that didn’t really pull through. I mean, yes, two females become a couple, but they are both white, as well as all the other characters in the story, so it’s not even an accurate representation of diversity. Also, I could write an entire essay about how the fact that a homosexual relationship does not necessarily imply that the members of the couple are both homosexual, but I won’t because I really don’t want to make this too long.

So, yes, the story just felt forced because it was trying very hard to emulate The Great Gatsby. Now, before you roll your eyes at me and tell me that was the whole point of the novel, I think it is important to understand that a retelling is still an independent story. What I mean by this is that the author might take elements from the original novel and put them into their own, but they also need to add new elements because that is where the success of the retelling lies.

The author might have had a good idea, to begin with, but it was not well-executed. I felt like I was reading a young adult novel written by a much older person, who was still stuck in the ’70s or something. Actually, had this novel been set in the ’70s, it would have worked way better than it did. I just pictured the narrator as Vivian from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt reminiscing about her youth instead of a teenager talking about her summer.

Honestly, if you’re torn between reading this or The Great Gatsby, I’d go for the original novel. It was a way easier, faster, and more enjoyable read altogether; and if the LGBTQ* aspect of the story was what drew you to Great, I am sure you can find something better out there. This really isn’t worth your time.

Have you read any retellings that you really liked? Tell me about them in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

NetGalley Reads: My Ladybird Story

NetGalley Reads: My Ladybird Story

Before you read this post, make sure you have read my post I Can Do Better  to know how and where to donate, get informed, support, and follow the Black Lives Matter movement and people from the Black community. Si hablas español, y especialmente si vives en Colombia, lee mi publicación Puedo hacer algo mejor para enterarte cómo puedes apoyar a la Comunidad afrocolombiana. 

Hello and happy Friday. Today’s post is a review on My Ladybird Story by Magus Tor. This ARC was provided by NetGalley for reading and reviewing purposes, so I’d like to thank both NetGalley and the author. Let’s get started, shall we?

I read this book between April 1st and Aril 9th. It actually sort of ruined my average reading pace, as it took me so long to finish it. Let me just go ahead and say that I was super excited about this book, and I was hooked from the very first page. And then it all just fell apart, leading to the two-star rating I gave it.

My Ladybird Story starts with a guy in high school who is being bullied for being “weird,” which was a first for me. Something that really hooked me at first was that as the story progresses, we as readers are able to know how the main character feels, and we share those doubts with him. We doubt at first whether he might be gay, or what is “wrong” with him, as he puts it. Through these thinking processes, we come to realize that the main character might be trans. Again, that is a first for me, and I think there needs to be more representation in YA about trans youth.

Sadly, like I said, these internal debates that were so eye-catching for me at first get lost as the story progresses, and we read less and less of what the main character truly feels. The novel is divided into parts, so there is one for high school, one for college, and two for the life after college. For me, it was like each part was a separate book. I saw little connection between them, and for me, there wasn’t a cohesive flow.

There are several attempts of sexual assault, so if this is a topic you are sensitive about, do not read this book. Assault is handled in a very irresponsible way in this novel, with bits of victim-blaming and a recurring perpetrator who pretty much gets away with it. That’s not my kind of story.

I need to clarify that I know very little about transgender issues. I can only speak from my experience being a biological woman, and I think there might be differences between the way I think about womanhood and the way a transwoman does. I say this because as a feminist I do not agree with gender roles and stereotypical gendered behavior. In other words, to me, it’s not right to describe someone as acting feminine or masculine or to say that a specific attitude or behavior is manly or womanly.

Because My Ladybird Story is about a transwoman, the main character’s best friend gives her “lessons” on how to be a woman. These lessons consist of learning how to properly hold a beer bottle and to blot away tears when crying so that makeup doesn’t get smeared. Basically, the main character is being taught that being a woman means being weak and delicate, and I find that extremely messed up.

I think it’s key to have more works of literature that center around transgender people, but I would not recommend this book because I think it has structural flaws that send readers the wrong messages. If you know of books about this or any other LGBTQ* issue that needs more visibility, let me know about it in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

PS: Ann from Great New Reads sent me this tweet. If you’re interested, do participate.

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NetGalley Reads: The Anti-Virginity Pact

NetGalley Reads: The Anti-Virginity Pact

NetGalley

Hello and happy Friday. I promised you a rant, so here you have it. I don’t know if you know Katie Wismer, a BookTuber. Her channel is called KatesBookDate. I found out about her novel, The Anti-Virginity Pact, through her channel and I was obviously drawn to it. Sadly, yes, it was a huge disappointment and I’m here to tell you why. I requested this book via NetGalley and I thought I had no chance to get it, so I’m thankful to them, the publisher, and the author.

I read this book between May 21st and May 26th, 2020, and gave it one star. Before the actual novel starts, there is a page with content warnings, and I appreciated that. I hadn’t seen that in a book before. That being said, it’s pretty much the only thing I can say I liked about the book. If you’re curious, this is what the author listed as content warnings: bullying, religion, sexual assault, animal abuse, substance abuse, anxiety, and trauma. That’s the exact list, but there’s more I’ll discuss later. Personally, I don’t like reading about three of the items listed (I’ll let you guess which), so I knew the book and I weren’t off to a great start. That doesn’t mean I was predisposed, but the title does make you wonder, doesn’t it?

When I give a book one star it is because I have found something structurally wrong with it, and since this is the case, I won’t go super deep into minor details. I want to say, however, that the writing style was not for me. I hate sentence fragments and this had a lot of them, especially towards the beginning. I also didn’t like how everything had an explanation like the author was telling us that she hadn’t left any plotholes, that her story was developing exactly how she had planned and that everything made sense. That is not life, and I’m no writer, but I don’t think that’s what writing is about, either.

The whole book is dark, because, well, duh. I mean, judging solely by the title and the list of content warnings you’d assume that’s going to be the tone, but besides that, it was all pseudo-deep and I don’t like that. I like simple language and I think that it can have as much effect as big words and metaphors and hyperbole can. Also, the main character is supposed to be eighteen years old, but she sounds way older. I am twenty-six and I don’t even sound like that. At times, reading this felt like I was back at university in my American Literature of the 20’s class in which everyone would say the biggest words they knew to try and impress the teacher. Well, reading this I was not impressed, I was annoyed.

Now let’s talk about the structural issues that I found. The title is pretty self-explanatory, right? The main character writes and signs this pact with her best friend that by the end of their senior year they’ll lose their virginity (not to one another, although that would’ve made the book way more interesting) and obviously everything goes to shit. There is no way to read this book without thinking about one’s own views, experiences, and lack thereof, is it? From a somewhat young age, I stopped considering having sex for the first time as “losing my virginity.” I rarely talk about the concept of virginity. To me, having sex was something that would happen if/when I was ready and with a person I trusted. Again, these are my views and this is my experience, but I think that for someone young, who has questions, who doesn’t have a clear idea, a book like this might be misleading.

I did not go to school in the United States. I went to a Catholic school for women in Colombia. Did this shape my whole view of sex? Probably. I never felt pressured to have sex because it was part of the things I was supposed to do in high school. I did talk about it with my friends, but in general, not about when we would each have sex for the first time. I know there’s a pressure and I know that there are cultural differences, but those might have prevented me from clicking more with the story.

Like I mentioned, the plot of the book is, this girl signs a pact that states she and her best friend will lose their virginity before graduating high school and everything that can go wrong goes wrong. My question reading this book was, what was the purpose? What did the author want to accomplish by writing this? It wasn’t really helpful for young readers that might struggle with the pressure others put on their sex lives or the choices they want to make. It wasn’t really sex-positive. I think it was more of a cautionary tale against having sex while you’re a teenager…which, seriously? Don’t have sex because you’ll get pregnant and die? I mean, I guess that is a valid purpose, but had I known it was, I wouldn’t have requested this book.

I had serious issues with Meredith, the main character. I know that I’ve said the story was not relatable to me, but Meredith read exactly like people I know and don’t like. She was the kind of person who would look down on everyone and think she was better than them whole simultaneously being jealous of them and wanting to be like them. I’m not saying the other people at school weren’t shitty as well, but that didn’t excuse her attitude.

Meredith has anxiety and she takes medication for it. This is how her character was portrayed and I’m going to tread carefully because I don’t want to say something that invalidates anyone’s struggles or experiences. As a person who has been diagnosed with anxiety and as a person who has read and felt represented in other books, I don’t think that anxiety was being portrayed accurately. I say this, and again, I am talking from my experience, because the main character describes her anxiety as something that comes and goes. I think she confuses being anxious with having anxiety, which I guess is a mistake people who don’t have anxiety can make. I’m not assuming that the author does not have anxiety, but I think she did not portray it accurately.

Let me elaborate more on the inaccurate portrayal of anxiety. Meredith starts seeing this guy, Sam, and when she’s with him it’s like she’s cured or something. She even says things like “I should feel this way, but because he’s here I don’t.” Honey, that’s not how anxiety works. Yes, the person you’re into makes you feel nice and cute, but the thoughts that anxiety provokes are always there. Anxiety is a constant. Yes, there are triggers and yes, there are flares, and also, yes, there are ways to soothe it, but it does not come and go that way, at least not for me. The idea that a romantic interest can make anxiety go away or whatever is not new and even authors like Sophie Kinsella in Finding Audrey (which I adore) explore it in a very interesting way.

Another problem I had was the use of ableist language, with words like “crippling” or “you’d have to be blind not to see this.” This book will be published in 2020. The author can do so much better. I mean, those comments did nothing at all for the plot, so it could have been fine without them.

Meredith is a white, straight, able-bodied, cisgender woman. She belongs to a Christian middle-class family. She has been diagnosed with anxiety, but other than that and being an atheist in a family of believers, she really doesn’t have any problems, or does she? She mentions that she feels forced by her family to participate and believe and whatever. I am not a Christian or a Catholic. I do not practice any religion, but I think it is valid that some people feel restricted by their families because of their faith, especially since Meredith’s dad is a pastor. What I didn’t get is the fact that she was never vocal about this up until she was confronted by her parents about something else.

Remember when I said that Meredith and her best friend signed the pact? Well, the best friend, Harper, decides that she will have sex for the first time with…her teacher. No. I’m going to talk from the perspective of a person who had crushes on teachers at school and a teacher, okay? Look, it’s no secret that teenagers are hormonal and yes, developing a crush on a teacher is not uncommon or unheard of. What was honestly cringe-worthy was the way in which the whole “relationship” was portrayed. I’m using quotation marks because, and hear me out here, people have crushes on their teachers all the time, but most times they amount to nothing because they are pathetic and illegal.

Now, let me talk as a teacher. Teachers are used to being misrepresented, misunderstood, and all the “miss” anything you want, both in real life and in fiction. It makes sense in books in a way because many authors do not have the experience of teaching students within the age range of their characters, and so they rely on what they think or what they remember from their own high school experience. The teacher Harper wanted to sleep with? He was a guy in his mid-twenties, minding his own business, who probably was kind of attractive and tried his best not to gag every time a sixteen-year-old would try and “flirt” with him. He did not engage in whatever Harper thought she was doing, and yet the way Meredith depicted him was like this pathetic loser who rejected her best friend.  They even say something along the lines of “he earns a crappy salary.” Yes, we do. That is a fact. He’s not a teenager who broke up with you via text message; he is an adult who doesn’t even consider being in a relationship with you because, among many other important reasons, he likes his job and wants to keep it.

Oh yes, the trigger warnings that were not listed. There are a few homophobic comments and a subplot regarding homophobia. Additionally, judging by the way the characters act when it comes to food, I could sense disordered eating. There is no specific mention of an eating disorder, but I noticed that the main character rarely ate, and when she did it was too little. There were also many mentions of her not being able to eat or leaving her food untouched.

That’s it for today’s rant. I am finishing this post as I listen to my boss giving us instructions for the end of the year and I can’t wait to hang up and play Sims. Do you have any book recommendations that accurately portray the topics I found problematic in this novel? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

 

I Don’t Know What to Think

I Don’t Know What to Think

Hello and happy Wednesday. I hate the idea that some books are meant to be read by some people because what it implies is that they are not meant to be read by some others, you know? I feel like books are there, they must be available and accessible, and as consumers we are the ones to decide the types of books that we want in our lives. Now, I’m saying this because I recently read In Darkness by Nick Lake and my one persisting thought was “I wish I knew more about Haiti.”
I kept thinking that this book would’ve impacted me a whole lot more had I known more about the context and the history of where and when it was taking place. But I also thought that no, that’s not the idea of a book, is it? I mean, it’s great that I asked myself questions, but nobody should read a book feeling that they missed out on something because they needed to know more about a topic. Or at least I don’t think anybody should. 

I read this book between May 12th and May 18th, 2020 and gave it three stars. Now, before I continue this review, I want to share another reason why I don’t know what to think about this book, and it is the fact that the author is white. This book is set in Haiti and follows not one but two main characters, both of whom are black since most people in Haiti are black, and this white dude writes an entire novel, half of which is narrated in the first person? And he isn’t even Haitian! He’s British. Talk about neocolonialism.

No but really, am I saying that a white British guy shouldn’t be writing a book about black Haitians? I’m not going to answer that, but I know for a fact that there are many own-voices novels about Haiti that don’t have the recognition that they should because people are reading In Darkness instead of their story. Proof of that is the fact that I’m reviewing Nick Lake’s book in this blog. I keep saying that I will be more mindful about the authors I read and the fact is that I’m not doing a great job at that, so I’m sorry and please hold me accountable. 

The story itself was hard to get into. I felt like I didn’t make any progress on the first three days and that I had to force myself to keep reading. Then the reading experience got better for me, although clearly this is neither an entertaining nor an enjoyable book. I anticipated it to be more hard-hitting, and objectively, it was; it just didn’t reach me and my feelings the way I thought it would. 

We get two perspectives and two timelines: now, told in first person by a fifteen-year-old gangster, and then, a third-person narration about Toussaint L’Ouverture, a black enslaved man who led Haiti to its revolution and freedom from the French. These two characters, as we find out throughout the story, somehow share a soul because they both had twin sisters who died, so their souls are thought to be incomplete. I think this would be a required reading at school if the English and the history teachers decided to have a project about Haiti. No, that’s not a compliment. 

Do you have any recommendations of books written by people from historically oppressed countries or ethnicities? Let me know in the comments. 

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila 

 

It Was Neither Thrilling Nor Mysterious

It Was Neither Thrilling Nor Mysterious

Hello and happy Wednesday. Some of you might wonder why I keep reading mystery/thriller novels when most haven’t gotten more than three stars and the reason is, I really want to find what I like within that genre. Judging by today’s title, we know that All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda wasn’t it.

I read this book between April 7th and April 10th, 2020 and gave it two stars. I knew I was going to give it a bad rating since the very first page because it was consistently bad. The first problem I had was that it started in the middle of a scene, which I know is common for mystery/thrillers but in this case, we get stuff explained almost as an afterthought, or at least that’s how I felt. 

Nicolette, the main character, gets a call from her brother and because of it decides to go to her hometown. Now, the reason we are told that she’s going is to have her dad sign some papers to be able to sell the house where they all used to live. Oh, and by the way, the dad apparently has dementia. I did not like the fact that dementia was used as a plot device, and I knew the moment I read about it that it was going to be used as such because it makes the character unreliable, right? That was lazy, in my opinion. 

So we said that Nic goes back to her hometown, and she keeps saying she’ll stay only for a few days, but she literally packed the contents of her entire apartment in her car before leaving. I overpack whenever I go on a trip, but I’m not going to pack my nightstand if I’m planning to stay only for a few days somewhere. That was one of the several plotholes I found in this story, which generally shouldn’t occur but even less if you’re reading to find out how a mystery happened, or who did it, or how it was solved. 

I don’t like “easy” mysteries. I don’t like when the main character finds out key information within the first minutes of talking to someone, and that happened in this book. The secret item she needed in order to advance with her “investigation” was found by chance in a drawer…on her first try. Okay. Oh, I haven’t told you what the mystery is about, right? So, Nicolette’s best friend had disappeared ten years earlier, which is why she decided to leave her town, and now that she’s back, another girl has disappeared. See, I told you it was lazy. 

Do you have any recommendations for mysteries that are actually mysterious? Let me know in the comments below. 

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila 

NetGalley Reads: Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me

NetGalley Reads: Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me

NETFLIX TALK_.png

Hello and happy Monday. Trust me, I am as surprised as you about the date of this post, but I guess we’ll have the past me to blame. I don’t know what has happened lately with the books I’ve been sent so that I read and review them as part of blog tours, but I’ve either been indifferent, not liked them, or DNF’ed them. I know that sucks, but I am always transparent with my feelings and I’m not going to lie to you in a review so that the publishers continue sending me stuff. The last book I read as part of a blog tour (thank you to NetGalley, Macmillan and the author)  was Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me by Gae Polisner, and I didn’t like it one bit, so here’s my rant.

I read this book between April 2nd and April 4th, 2020 and gave it two stars. I think the very first chapters were misleading, and that infuriated me. The book opens with a letter the main character is writing to Aubrey, who we find out is her estranged best friend. I say misleading because the tone of that opening is so dramatic that you’d think Aubrey died or that something really bad happened between her and the main character.

Jean-Louise, JL, is almost sixteen years old, and that age just didn’t sit well with me. We get flashbacks to when JL and Aubrey were younger and there’s this one line that says something like “we were more than in love” which made me think this was a queer romance. We were going to see how Aubrey and JL grow together to realize they love each other as something other than friends, but that’s not what happens because it was just a dumb line.

If you’re thinking “oh, okay, this is a story about friends who have drifted apart,” think again, because that’s simply one of the many plotlines in this novel. Let me tell you: it was all over the place. You get JL, who’s no longer really friends with Aubrey but that’s kind of her fault because she’s dating this 19-year-old guy and spending all the time with him. We have the boyfriend who is openly pushing her to have sex with him or at least engage in sexual acts that don’t involve penetration. We have JL’s mom who suffers from depression and has dissociative episodes because her dad has been in California for months and doesn’t seem to come back. And finally, we have the butterflies that JL has raised.

I know that you’re probably wondering where the title of the book comes from. Naturally, the depressed dissociative mom writes love letters to Jack Kerouac. Everything makes sense now, right? Seriously, I don’t know what the point of this book was. I thought that if it had followed the friendship plotline I could’ve given it a solid three stars, but no. This is the kind of story that has so many subplots that in the end nothing gets resolved and I just don’t like that.

JL and her boyfriend Max made a horrible couple, but I will be talking more about their relationship in a NOTP’s post. I’m only going to touch on two points about it here. On one hand, I thought that making him nineteen years old was done only to make something in the plot make sense. I’m not telling you what because it would be a spoiler, but it was gross to read about him with this fifteen-year-old. The other thing that bothered me and that would make me not recommend this book to anyone was the fact that he was always pushing JL to have sex with him, or to touch him. He suggested touching her as well and looking at her naked and there was no conversation about consent. Again, that is gross, and that should not be portrayed in books that are being released in 2020 and that are intended for young readers.

Don’t read this book. It is totally not worth it. But also, recommend me something that features a wholesome friendship.

Happy reading!
Love, Miss Camila

NetGalley Reads: Clara Humble: Quiz Whiz

NetGalley Reads: Clara Humble: Quiz Whiz

NETFLIX TALK_.pngHello and happy Friday. It is no secret that I’ve been trying to consciously read more middle-grade books and I usually enjoy them quite a lot. What I’ve come to realize is that making the voice of a kid believable is not that easy, and that can either make or break a book. Today I’ll be reviewing Clara Humble: Quiz Whiz by Anna Humphrey, which I got via NetGalley, so I would like to thank them, the author and the publisher.

I read this book between March 9th and March 14th, 2020 and gave it two stars. Sadly, it didn’t do it for me. I had high hopes for it since it features a female main character who writes her own comic book, so I thought it would be empowering, challenging the so-called gender roles. Besides that, Clara is going to compete in a game show, and though I don’t read a lot about games or competitions in books, that can certainly make a plot exciting. It had all the elements to make it a solid read for me, but it didn’t deliver.

One of the first signs to me that probably I wasn’t going to enjoy this book was the fact that the main character, who is also the narrator, uses words that are “too big” for a kid. She uses words and phrases her ideas in ways that an adult could, and that’s a pet peeve of mine: when you can tell that the author is an older person trying to sound younger.

The other big issue I had was related to Clara’s character, again, especially when we consider that this book will be mainly read by children. She came across as petty to me, and I didn’t find her likable or appealing for young readers. Clara criticizes everybody who surrounds her or she thinks mean things about them, even her friends. For example, she compares one of her friends to a mouse because she’s small and quiet. That didn’t sit well with me, especially since Clara thinks that she’s perfect and she doesn’t grow as a character or realize that the way she thinks is wrong.

Clara has a best friend called Bradley and she constantly says that he’s quiet and shy. The first time this was said and the first time the gameshow was mentioned, I thought we would have them both fight because they were both competing. It went sort of like that since at first Bradley’s mom’s boyfriend is the person who makes him compete, but then once they’re both in the gameshow, the contestants (Clara included) start pulling pranks on each other and basically cheating to make the other one lose. This, again, is never addressed and there are no repercussions against anyone.

Do you know of any middle-grade novels that feature a female main character and/or a gameshow or contest of any sort? Let me know in the comments.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

 

 

NetGalley Reads: Radical Self-Love

NetGalley Reads: Radical Self-Love

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Hello and happy Friday. I’m not one for reading a lot of nonfiction but I have been acquiring some books and the time has come for me to read them. Because I’m not an avid nonfiction reader, I don’t really have a stance on those books. I’ve read a couple memoirs I’ve loved, but I also want to read more self-improvement books and see if, you know, I can improve. This is why I recently read Radical Self-Love by Gala Darling, and trust me when I say I was super excited to get to it because the title sounded just like the thing I needed. I got this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, so I’d like to thank them, the author and the publisher.

I read this book between February 10th and February 16th, 2020 and gave it two stars. I was very excited at first because I felt like it would be a treat to myself, learning how to love myself and all that. I thought it would live up to its title, but it was more superficial than anything else. There was nothing truly radical about the advice given.

Within the self-improvement books, this would be the kind in which the author addresses the reader, so it’s like having a conversation with a friend. This book has illustrations, so I thought that would make it a quick read. It wasn’t really, but considering the fact that I only read it after work, it didn’t take me that long to finish either. Although it doesn’t explicitly say that this book is targeted for women only, it is, and I found that unnecessary. This could have been easily a book for everyone, had the author actually succeeded at making it gender-neutral, but more on that later.

At first, I think I was being way too nice because I wrote that although it was full of clichés and commonplaces, it was a well-intended and light read. Now as I have time to digest this book I keep feeling that I was lied to; I was promised a book about RADICAL self-love, and I got a list of fashion advice. There is also conversation about eating disorders and how to “get rid” of them, which I found problematic. I understand that the author was talking about her own experience and how she dealt with her eating disorders, but this is not a memoir, it is an advice book. There wasn’t a real talk about mental health or going to therapy, which I think would be crucial if as a reader you are at a point in which you’re seeking advice from a book titled Radical Self-Love.

The author has a blog and she constantly includes plugs for readers to visit and download resources, which I thought made the book even less serious. Like I said, the advice provided was very superficial and not a lot of research (besides quotes from other self-improvement books) seems to have been made. Another issue that bothered me was the fact that the author tried to be inclusive in her language when she discussed relationships, but she failed to do so and let her heteronormativity show. It would have been much better had she stuck to gender-neutral language.

Have you read a self-improvement book that changed your life? I’m still in search of mine, so do leave me your recommendations in the comments.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

May 2019 Glam Bag Plus

May 2019 Glam Bag Plus

Hello and happy Sunday. Just last week I was telling you about my subscription with Ipsy ending and the reasons why I’m not resubscribing. Yes, the Glam Bag Plus I was anticipating so much arrived over a month after the end of my subscription. I get that I’m going to have to wait more time to get my stuff since it arrives at a P.O Box in the States and then is sent to Colombia, but this box was actually sent to me after May was over, which means it wasn’t a mailing problem but an Ipsy problem. I don’t know, it felt like when someone says they want to give you a present and then they’re so shitty about it that you’d rather not get it, only this wasn’t a present but a subscription service paid with my money.

Because I’m being more conscientious about what I buy, I did my research and found out that only Il Makiage, which is the mascara brand, is male-owned. I think 4-1 is a nice ratio and an empowering example for Ipsy subscribers, considering that Ipsy itself is female-owned. Now,  that’s just about the only positive aspect of my experience with the Glam Bag Plus. The box itself was a pain to open and it was all tattered and smushed. My first thought when I saw it was “things in the glam bag are more protected than this.” I don’t know, it might sound silly and like I’m being extremely nitpicky here but if I’m paying $15 extra for this service, the quality of the packaging should improve, no? Additionally, I thought that on the first month of one’s subscription you got a makeup bag, which I didn’t, and I didn’t even get one of those booklets that come with the products.

As you will going to see just about now, the products didn’t make up for the crappy experience. In my opinion, they were unnecessarily overpriced and I wouldn’t even consider buying them myself. I’d rather spend those $25 on Colour Pop makeup.

GlamGlow Bubblesheet

Ipsy price: $7.65

Real price: $9

Nudestix

Ipsy price: $30

Real price: $30

YENSA Tone Up Primer

Ipsy price: $28

Real price: $35

Wanderess Palette

Ipsy price: N/A

Real price: $25

Il Makiage Mascara 

Ipsy price: $25

Real price: $25

If anything, my price research concluded that Ipsy’s prices are actually lower than the real ones, which is awesome since I always think the estimated prices of items in subscription boxes get inflated. I’m pretty sure we have another month of the Ipsy Glam Bag Plus and then we’ll be done with this subscription service. What did you think of it? Do you like it when services have “upgrades” like this one? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Sunday!

Love, Miss Camila