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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This Is Chick Lit

This Is Chick Lit

Hello and happy Wednesday. December 2019 was an odd reading month for me because I read a whole lot but around Christmas, I got really close to having a reading slump. Like I said, I was reading one, sometimes even two books a day and then the time came for me to read two big books and the motivation I’d had just drained. One of those books was The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes, but I’m glad I managed to finish it.

I read this book between December 21st, 2019 and January 12th, 2020 and gave it three stars. With this book, I took several pauses, so it isn’t really that it was hard to read or anything, I was simply interrupting my reading to tackle something else that maybe was shorter or a quicker read for me. Now that I can reflect upon my impressions, I can say that I overanalyzed the story a bit much as I read it and it ultimately wasn’t that deep.

We get a prologue, which is set in the 1960s, so I was convinced that I would be reading a historical romance and I wasn’t thrilled about that. The prologue takes place in France, where a young horseman is going to attempt a complicated trick for a show he’s putting on, and a young Englishwoman who’d previously come to see the show and had fallen in love with the man. I know some of you probably think that would be a super cute story, but I didn’t want to read about that and thankfully I didn’t since the main characters of the story weren’t the lovebirds but their granddaughter and this lawyer who comes into her life by chance.

By the title, it’s obvious that this story is about horses, so I knew that I was going to get into something I wouldn’t fully understand. If you like horses and you know the names of the tricks and all of that, then maybe this is the book for you. Like I said, though, there are two main characters, a teenage girl and a lawyer, and at first, we read about them separately until their paths cross. Natasha, the lawyer, knows nothing about horses, and we actually read about her professional and romantic life. Sarah, the girl who is the horseman’s granddaughter, is the one fascinated with horses.

The storyline is honestly way simpler than what I’d originally thought, and the link between the two main characters is more straightforward than I’d predicted it to be. That being said, a lot of this story is exposition and another big chunk is simply fluff. This book is over 400 pages long, and it would’ve done perfectly without 150 pages. There are two scenes that depict attempted sexual assault, so trigger warning for that.

At the end of the day, though, this was really the story of a woman who reconnects with her ex-husband and finds her happily ever after. I cried towards the end, so that should tell you something (although to be fair I do cry a lot). This is clearly women’s fiction and I’m sure many readers will find it worthy of a five-star rating.

Do you like books with animals? I’m always worried that they might get hurt, so I don’t think I do. Share your answers with me in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

 

NetGalley Reads: The French Impressionist

NetGalley Reads: The French Impressionist

NETFLIX TALK_.pngHello and happy Friday. I’m super distracted this morning, but that needs to change right now because today I bring you a NetGalley rant. NetGalley in a way is like online dating. There are these books that you wouldn’t be too impressed about based on the cover and description, but then you read and you’re absolutely amazed. And there are this shiny pretty covers that are super promising but that don’t amount to anything. That being said, I’m always happy to have access to free books and to be able to share my thoughts on them with you.

I read The French Impressionist by Rebecca Bischoff between October 14th and October 19th, 2019 and gave it one star. The basic premise of this book, and what we find out on the very first page is that the main character has lied so that she could travel to France during the summer. She’s staying with this family she refers to as “her new family” and as the first chapters progress we are told that she is actually running away from her home in the States and that, although she has somehow tricked a bunch of people to believe she’s only going to spend the summer abroad, her plan is to stay in France forever.

At first, I thought we would have some sort of magic realism thrown into the plot because the main character, whose name is Rosemary, is staying with a family of artists and in her room, there’s this mural that sometimes lights up. It’s not magical realism, but more of the beginnings of a mystery plot that sadly isn’t well developed. I think this is one of those stories that had a lot of potential but the author just made all the wrong choices.

We find out that Rosemary has set up this whole plan to escape her house because her mother is extremely controlling, to the point where, at the age of fifteen, Rosemary has never been around guys her age. Although I liked that plotline and the whole idea of her plan to be free, it was hard to believe that we were dealing with a fifteen-year-old. I think she could’ve been eighteen and the story would’ve worked much better.

I’m inclined to believe this is a debut novel considering some mistakes the author made. For example, we were told what the main character was going through, but it wasn’t like we were experiencing it with her. The main character has some sort of speech pathology, and her diagnosis isn’t even specified until much later in the book, which was odd, but also could have been that the author added this fact to make the story interesting and mentioned a speech pathology after a quick Wikipedia search. Besides that, given her condition, Rosemary cannot pronounce her name properly. We are told this, but we are never told how she pronounces her name or why is her pronunciation incorrect. By the way the whole “communication disorder” was handled, I don’t think this novel is own voices, so I cannot speak about the representation in this aspect.

I thought this book was plain bad and I was going to give it two stars, but then the main character decides she will lie about her mom’s boyfriend abusing her so that she can stay in France forever, and we all know that’s the kind of thing I can’t accept. I don’t even understand how a platform like NetGalley would promote a book with this kind of plot. It is plain wrong and it sends a horrible message to all readers, especially those within the young adult age range. Additionally, the main character’s best friend has cerebral palsy and the way Rosemary talks about her is just disgusting, making fun of her friend’s disabilities. Seriously NetGalley, you can do better.

Do you have any recommendations for stories based on big shady schemes? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila