A World Without “Whom”: The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age by Emmy J. Favilla

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As language evolves faster than ever before, what is the future of “correct” writing? When Favilla was tasked with creating a style guide for BuzzFeed, she opted for spelling, grammar, and punctuation guidelines that would reflect not only the site’s lighthearted tone, but also how readers actually use language IRL.

With wry cleverness and an uncanny intuition for the possibilities of internet-age expression, Favilla makes a case for breaking the rules laid out by Strunk and White: A world without “whom,” she argues, is a world with more room for writing that’s clear, timely, pleasurable, and politically aware. Featuring priceless emoji strings, sidebars, quizzes, and style debates among the most lovable word nerds in the digital media world–of which Favilla is queen–A World Without “Whom” is essential for readers and writers of virtually everything: news articles, blog posts, tweets, texts, emails, and whatever comes next . . . so basically everyone. (take from Amazon)

This book is funny and smart. It’s also a bit snarky, which I loved. My husband gave this book to me for Christmas, knowing my penchant for good grammar, as opposed to “online gunk.” I’m beginning to realize that this “online gunk” also has its place.

For example, according to this book, I’m a perfectivist who wants to be a descriptivist. Basically, I write the way I speak. However, the way I speak is pretty antiquated. I loved the little asides on “OK/ok/okay” (for the record, I’ve always used “okay”), as well as the reasoning behind changes in the rules.

As someone who had to have the meaning of “rofl” explained, realizing that there’s more to writing than grammar rules and the oxford comma (gulp!) is both cringe-worthy and interesting. Being that I’m currently working toward eventually going into book editing, this book will be a valuable asset. I loved this book, and I know I’ll come back to it again and again.

I highly recommend this.

Strange Girls: Women in Horror Anthology by Azzurra Nox- ARC Review


You know them. Those girls that aren’t quite like everyone else. Those girls who stand out in the crowd. Those girls that dare to be different. Those girls are dangerous.

In Strange Girls, twenty-one authors dare to tackle what makes the girls in this collection different. Vampires, selkies, murderous mermaids, succubus, and possessed dolls take center stage in these short stories that are sure to invoke feelings of quiet terror and uneasiness in the reader. Following the successful debut of Women in Horror anthology with My American Nightmare, Strange Girls is the sophomore effort to showcase these talented women in a genre that is often dominated by the male gaze.

Dare to take a walk on the dark side. (taken from Amazon)

                                 Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available on February 18th.

There’s a reason I’m posting this review so far ahead of the book’s release date: it is really, really bad. I hate posting a negative review right before a release date, so I’m posting this earlier. My final feeling on this anthology is: YUCK.

I went into this book with excitement, looking forward to horror stories where women are the major focus. That’s a cool idea, and I stand by that. However, what was included in this book is not something I would ever knowingly choose to read.

One story had an incredibly nasty person who had a penchant for necrophilia. Another repeated the phrase “You didn’t say no” multiple times. What you infer from that is unfortunately correct. I don’t read these things in books. It bothers me enough that I mention it in my blog review policy. I will give a shout out to yet another story involving these problems: this one at least included a trigger warning at the beginning. I chose to skip that story.

Okay, you might be thinking, that’s just a few examples though, and you’re right. Other stories felt unfinished (and not in a good way). That doesn’t mean that these authors are bad: in fact, I’m sure some of them are very talented. It might have very well been a choice to leave these particular stories with an unfinished feeling, but it didn’t work for me.

I can’t choose a favorite story among the ones in this anthology because so many of them left a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and not the fun sense of eeriness that I was hoping for. My takeaway from this anthology was disappointment. Hopefully, the next book I read will be more enjoyable.

Welcome, 2020

So, here’s my New Year’s post. I bet you’re expecting a by-the-numbers post about how many books I read, and what genres I gravitated to in 2019. If that’s what you thought you were getting here- fooled you! I’m not huge on New Year’s resolutions, mainly because I know that my follow-through won’t magically get better if I start on a specific day, so instead I’m going to take some time to talk about all the awesome bookish things that happened in 2019. Still here? Yay!

I celebrated my one-year blogging anniversary this year. I’m incredibly excited to report that my husband’s suggestion that I start a bookblog was absolute genius. I love it! I’d forgotten how much I love to write. Plus, there’s the added bonus of getting to talk about books with other book lovers. I’ve made it a habit to write three posts a week, although sometimes I manage more. It’s a fun, calming activity for me. I’ve even enlisted my oldest son to be interviewed from time to time, since he’s a huge reader. It’s a lot of fun.

I’ve learned of so many wonderful books that I wouldn’t have known a thing about, if not for bookblogging. I’ve been extremely fortunate in that, for some reason, authors and publishers have allowed me to read and review ARCS. It’s not a privilege I take lightly. It means so much to have my opinions heard and valued. And let me tell you– there are some ridiculously talented writers that everyone and their brother needs to read.

Plus, there are the fantastic blogs that I follow, each with a unique style. I have so many books on my “to be read” list, and it grows daily. It’s a lovely, daunting feeling. These bookbloggers are amazing writers, and are essential in the reading world.

Speaking of bookbloggers, I can’t begin to express my love and gratitude for the bookblogging community. I have made some great friends (and yes, online friends are still friends, thank you very much). Beth at beforewegoblog has become a very close friend. You know it’s a good friendship when you can both buddy read and discuss toilet training tips (thanks, Beth!). The irresponsible reader not only has fantastic content, he took the time to let me know about a book blog tour that I wouldn’t have heard about otherwise. Offthetbr, thetattooedbookgeek, waytoofantasy and paulspicks have all taken the time to answer my questions, share my posts, and constantly encourage. I could go on, but I’ll probably end up tagging as many people as possible in a very mushy Twitter post.

So, what’s upcoming for me in 2020 (I’m sure you’re waiting with bated breath)? Well- more reading, of course. More book reviews, more book blog tours, and hopefully some more buddy reads. Also, I somehow finagled my way onto the judging panel for BBNYA (Book Bloggers Novel of the Year Awards). Stay tuned for details on that. It’s going to be epic.

So, THANK YOU to all of you amazing people who made my first year of book blogging so stinking wonderful. Happy New Year!

Best of the Best: My Favorite Books from 2019

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub


Wow, 2019 has been filled with amazing books! I had an incredible year: I traveled with an “I love Lucy”-obsessed alien, visited the Starless Sea, and solved a mystery on Coney Island. And that’s just some of the wonderful things I got to experience in literature this year. I loved so many of the books I read, but I’ve (painfully) narrowed down the plethora of amazing books to a short list of favorites. In no particular order, here they are:

             Master of Sorrows ( The Silent Gods #1) by Justin Travis Call

Master of Sorrows (The Silent Gods, #1)
This book is a masterpiece. I loved everything about it. You can find my review here. If you like a good fantasy, don’t let this one pass you by.

You have heard the story before – of a young boy, orphaned through tragic circumstances, raised by a wise old man, who…

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The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington


As destiny calls, a journey begins.

 
It has been twenty years since the godlike Augurs were overthrown and killed. Now, those who once served them — the Gifted — are spared only because they have accepted the rebellion’s Four Tenets, vastly limiting their powers.

As a Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war lost before he was even born. He and others like him are despised. But when Davian discovers he wields the forbidden power of the Augurs, he and his friends Wirr and Asha set into motion a chain of events that will change everything.

To the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian’s wakes up in the forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is…

And in the far north, an ancient enemy long thought defeated begins to stir. (taken from Amazon)

                     I could honestly boil my thoughts on this book down to one word: “amazing.” This book has everything I like in a fantasy (except for dragons). I immediately became engrossed in the story, enough so that I bought the sequel about halfway through reading this first installment.

The world is fully developed, and the history is fascinating. There used to be people known as augers, who wielded extreme magical abilities. They- and their allies, known as “gifted”- were defeated before the book opens. Throughout the book, the fallout from that defeat, as well as the changes in laws and how they affect the world, often comes into play.

Davian finds out he has the (now forbidden) powers of an auger. He is given a talisman, and told to follow it to learn how to use those abilities. His best friend, Wirr, goes with him. They learn that Devaed, an ancient enemy, has been marshaling his armies, and is prepared to bring war and destruction down upon everyone.

From there, things become complicated. Stakes are raised, new friends, (as well as new enemies) are introduced. Sometimes the enemies are confused with friends. Not everyone is who they say they are, and several characters have hidden agendas. I loved every moment of intrigue, every revelation, and every sword thrust. It was epic.

All of the characters were fantastic, but two really stood out to me. I loved Wirr. He was complicated and smart, and he thought ahead. He was an intriguing character because of his ability to look at the bigger picture. I also loved Caedan. He’s the very definition of a conflicted character. He has no memories, and has been accused of a horrific crime. He can’t say with certainty that he is innocent, and I adored that about him. I am a huge fan of complicated characters, and his storyline was excellent.

Another great thing about this book is that not everything was wrapped into a neat little package by the end of the book. I’m desperate to dive into the sequel and see what happens next. There are so many things that were only hinted at, and I’m curious to see how they play out. I have theories, but I could be dead wrong. I was completely off about one of the characters in this book, which was excellent. Usually I can see things coming a mile away, but this caught me off guard.

Basically, this book is incredible. If you like fantasy at all, read this book as soon as humanly possible.

Have you read this? What did you think?

The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James- ARC Review

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For more than two centuries, Winterbourne Hall has stood atop a bluff overseeing the English countryside of Cornwall and the sea beyond.

In 1947, Londoner Alice Miller accepts a post as governess at Winterbourne, looking after Captain Jonathan de Grey’s twin children. Falling under the de Greys’ spell, Alice believes the family will heal her own past sorrows. But then the twins’ adoration becomes deceitful and taunting. Their father, ever distant, turns spiteful and cruel. The manor itself seems to lash out. Alice finds her surroundings subtly altered, her air slightly chilled. Something malicious resents her presence, something clouding her senses and threatening her very sanity.

In present day New York, art gallery curator Rachel Wright has learned she is a descendant of the de Greys and heir to Winterbourne. Adopted as an infant, she never knew her birth parents or her lineage. At long last, Rachel will find answers to questions about her identity that have haunted her entire life. But what she finds in Cornwall is a devastating tragic legacy that has afflicted generations of de Greys. A legacy borne from greed and deceit, twisted by madness, and suffused with unrequited love and unequivocal rage. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available on March 17th, 2020.

Eerie and compelling, this is a perfect rainy day read. I had a hard time putting this book down; I was so completely immersed in the odd, spooky story of the Winterbourne women.

This book took place in two separate times, with the narrative switching easily back and forth. Alice went to the Winterbourne estate in 1947 to become a governess (why is it always a governess in spooky stories?), the previous governess having vacated the position abruptly. Alice immediately falls in love with everything about Winterbourne, from the two children she nannies to the widower who also lives there. However, all is not idyllic. Something is off, and things start to spiral out of control.

In many ways, this made me think of The Turn of the Screw. At times, I wasn’t sure whether Alice was the most trustworthy of narrators. As she descended into madness (or did she?), it became more and more difficult to discern what was really happening. The changeable nature of both the book and Alice were fascinating.

The other part of the narrative took place in present day and followed a woman named Rachel. She learns that she’s inherited Winterbourne, as well as a host of unanswered questions about who her relatives were. I didn’t connect with her character at all; in fact, she really annoyed me for a good chunk of time. I didn’t like that she was so wishy-washy. The parts with her in it were less interesting to me than the parts about Alice.

The atmosphere of the book was excellent. There was something about the way it was written that conveyed tension and a sense of wrongness, without ever overdoing it. Each word was placed with care and used to great effect.

My big quibble with the book is that the female characters had terrible taste in guys, every last one of them. I really couldn’t understand what the draw was to the widower, in particular. He was a world-class jerk. However, the rest of the book was excellent.

I highly recommend this one.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas: Adult Fiction Edition

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

I’m back with my final post of books that would make great gifts. I’ve already written posts suggesting gifts for picture book readers, middle-grade, YA, and adult nonfiction. If you’re interested in reading those posts, I’ll put the links at the bottom. Here are five suggestions for adult readers:
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

This prose in this book is gorgeous. I’d recommend this to anyone who appreciates good writing with a sense of wonder liberally thrown in. It’s easily one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time.

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

Holy guacamole, this book is fantastic! There’s heart (and gore, of course). It’s fun and engrossing. Any fantasy reader will love this book.

Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire by G.M Nair

Image result for duckett and dyer dicks for hire This book is flat-out hilarious. I buddy read this one with Beth at beforewego…

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The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

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Set in turn of the century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician’s assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling too much attention to themselves.

Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures. (taken from Amazon)

                               A friend of mine loaned this book to me, and I’m so glad she did. Entertaining, a bit silly, and full of things that explode, this book is a ton of fun.

What first interested me in this book was the steampunk aesthetic although, after reading it, I’d call it steampunk light (that’s a term, right? Well, it is now). The Friday Society follows three incorrigible ladies as they attempt to solve a murder.

The plot was the weakest point in the book. That’s not to say it wasn’t there, just that the twists weren’t all that twisty, and the perpetrator was easy to call. That being said, it didn’t dim my enjoyment in the slightest. In fact, it allowed the characters to shine through.

And what characters! Some of the situations these girls got into were hilarious. It did get a bit over the top from time to time, but it never went into full-blown ridiculous mode. Nellie was the most charming of the bunch, and also a magician’s assistant. Michiko was training to be a samurai (probably the hardest part of the book for me to believe), while Cora was the lab assistant for a scientist. She was my favorite. She was snarky and sarcastic, but also competent and confident in her abilities. It was a good mix.

Another thing that I appreciated about the book was the lack of over-the-top, saccharine romance. There were ye random love interests, but they kind of hovered in the background, instead of taking the focus away from the main characters. I’m glad it didn’t descend into mooning over potential boyfriends, since I truly hate that sort of thing.

Be aware that this is one of those books with a vaguely Victorian English flair that’s layered under decidedly modern vernacular. It was a bit jarring at first, but once I stopped thinking of this book as attempting to be a period piece (it’s not), the juxtaposition worked well.

Altogether, this was a fun romp of a book. If you’re looking for a fun, fast read, this book is for you.

Have you read it? What did you think?

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas- YA Edition

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

I’ve now done lists of books that I think would make great gifts for both children and middle-grade (click on the colored words to read those posts). Now I’m moving on to YA. I didn’t read a ton of YA this year, but I did come across some gems that would make excellent gifts. Without further ado, here are some of my suggestions:

Three Dark Crowns series by Kendare Blake

Image result for three dark crowns series box setImage result for five dark fates

This series started with a roar and ended with a bang. It’s everything a darker fantasy should be. These will make a great gift for anyone who likes their fantasy to have a darker edge. I rave about it at length here.

Two Like Me and You by Chad Alan Gibbs

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This book was absolutely charming. It’s about two teens and the elderly man they help ‘escape’ from a retirement home. They get into some hilarious hijinks, but the…

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas 2019- Middle-Grade Books

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub


The other day I listed some picture books that would make fantastic gifts (you can find that post here.) In this post, I’m moving on to upper elementary and middle-grade books. After all, it’s good to continue to cultivate a love of reading.

The Origami Yoda Files by Tom Angleberger

My oldest has read this series multiple times. He loves these books! They’re fun stories, and have directions to make cute and simple origami Star Wars characters.
Cool side note: my son has written two fan letters to Tom Angleberger- and received two handwritten notes back! I’m more than happy to support authors who not only write quality books, but take the time to answer their fan mail. My oldest was over the moon.

Image result for origami yoda seriesNot so long ago, in a middle school not so far away, a sixth grader named Dwight folded an origami finger puppet of Yoda. For…

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