Book Review: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Book: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Published January 2018 by Swoon Reads|304 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: NA Contemporary

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

I really liked this one!  I didn’t love, and I was expecting a different story than the one described, but I still really liked it.

I was interested in this one because it features an asexual main character.  It’s rare to see that in a book, and I thought Kann did a great job at describing what it was like for Alice as she had to navigate relationships.  It rang true, and it didn’t define Alice, but it was still a big part of who she was.  It wasn’t something other people understood, particularly the people she dated, and it made me sad that it was something people didn’t understand.  I wasn’t surprised, but it still made me sad that her girlfriend thought Alice didn’t care about her because she didn’t want to have sex her.

I didn’t care for her friend Feenie, and it seemed like Alice was definitely the third wheel.  I don’t know that she necessarily intentionally left Alice out, but she didn’t seem to like that Alice had other people in her life.  And yet, there were a few times were Feenie and Ryan wanted to have a “family” night and then they ended up leaving her to do their own thing.  Feenie seemed all over the place, and it was hard to like her.  The one thing I did like, though, was that Feenie wanting to be a housewife and stay-at-home mom wasn’t seen as a bad thing, and it was the right choice for her.

I did like her friend Ryan and I liked Takumi as well.  Ryan was an awesome friend, and he was there when Feenie wasn’t.  I liked Takumi as well, though he wasn’t one of my favorites.

As for Alice, I loved her interest in interior design and pop culture.  I wasn’t expecting her to want to be an interior designer, but I hope it works out for her.  To be honest, I expected her potential career path be in the library or something with pop culture.  She definitely struggled with what her parents wanted her to do, and I liked seeing her struggle with how to pay for everything once they told her they would stop paying for college because she didn’t want to go to law school.  It felt very real, and it’s something I think a lot of people could relate to.

Characters aside, I had a hard time with Cutie Code.  It comes up a lot, especially at the beginning of the book, and then it sort of fizzles out.  It was odd to me, especially because the scale and what each color means was never clearly defined.  I was expecting a graphic or something, explaining it in more detail, and that never happened.  I would have be fine had it not been in there.

I think I was expecting a different story, and I’m not sure why.  I mean, the blurb isn’t wrong, but I was also bored, and it felt like the book was missing something.  What that is, I honestly have no idea.

That being said, this book seemed more like New Adult than YA to me.  And it was nice reading about a college-aged character that wasn’t completely focused on sex and romance.  There was romance, but there was a nice balance between dating and navigating life on your own.  It’s what I want from NA, and I feel like a book like this is pretty rare.   Or at least uncommon.

4 stars.  I didn’t love this book, obviously, but there were a lot of things I really liked.  It’s definitely worth checking out.

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Book Review: Daughter Of The Burning City by Amanda Foody

Book: Daughter Of The Burning City by Amanda Foody

Published July 2017 by Harlequin Teen|384 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

This is a book I’ve had for ages, but it was something I hadn’t read…until it was selected for the #MGYABC.  I really wish I liked it more, because the cover is really pretty (and that shade of purple is amazing), and it’s a cool idea.

I don’t know that a stand-alone was the best fit for this world.  I thought the world-building was really confusing, and most of the time, I wasn’t sure if Gomorrah was a festival or a city or both.  Maybe I missed that part, and maybe it’s both, but I thought it wasn’t clear what Gomorrah actually was.  Also, we barely see the festival itself, other than Sorina’s illusions, and I honestly thought that we’d see more of the festival.

Honestly, this book was more murder mystery than fantasy, and I felt like it could have happened anywhere.  Other than the illusions, there really weren’t a lot of fantasy elements, and I was disappointed by that because for whatever reason, I thought it would be more of a fantasy.  I thought that the person behind the murders was pretty obvious, and I figured it out pretty early on, so that’s something to keep in mind.

I also felt like a lot of names were thrown at me.  I mean, Sorina has a lot of illusions, and I sort of liked that they were her family,  but it was hard to keep up with who was who.  What was interesting and cool and really different was that we get drawings and a description of each one throughout the book.  It didn’t really help me keep track of everyone, but it was an interesting way to go about it.

I did think it was a little sad that she’d rather be around her illusions than real people.  They get better treatment than a lot of the actual people in the book, now that I think about it.  I’m not sure what to make of it, but people clearly don’t think much of the people of Gomorrah.  There also seems to be a distinction between those who live Up Mountain and Downghill.

I had such a hard time picturing everything.  I had no idea where things were, especially in relation to each other, and I felt like we were at place after place, but for me, there wasn’t enough to distinguish each place from each other.  There were parts where I was skimming because the book was either painfully slow or painfully boring, so that’s something I could have missed as well.

And then there’s the festival itself.  Okay, Sodom and Gomorrah is one of two things I thought of when I saw Gomorrah (Gamora being the other, though that’s probably because I saw Infinity War while I was reading this book).  And that definitely brings a certain image to mind, but I didn’t expect to see much of the biblical Gomorrah, since this is YA.  But while there are mentions of sins and a woman-turned-pillar-of-salt and the history of Gomorrah, it’s not really explored in-depth, and I wish we got more of the Festival.  I was picturing something like the Night Circus or Caraval, but like I said, this book was more murder mystery with some magic than a festival in a fantasy setting.

I don’t think being a stand-alone worked in it’s favor.  I felt like it was too short page-wise to fully get immersed in this world, and I feel like this book being a stand-alone hurt it because we weren’t able to get more of the world Sorina lives in.

1 star.  I thought the world was really confusing and not explained very well.  The concept is cool, but I don’t think it was well-done.