This is What I’m Reading – Unhappenings by Edward Aubry

UnHappenings

Blurb:

When Nigel Walden is fourteen, the UNHAPPENINGS begin. His first girlfriend disappears the day after their first kiss with no indication she ever existed. This retroactive change is the first of many only he seems to notice.

Several years later, when Nigel is visited by two people from his future, he hopes they can explain why the past keeps rewriting itself around him. But the enigmatic young guide shares very little, and the haggard, incoherent, elderly version of himself is even less reliable. His search for answers takes him fifty-two years forward in time, where he finds himself stranded and alone.

And then he meets Helen.

Brilliant, hilarious and beautiful, she captivates him. But Nigel’s relationships always unhappen, and if they get close it could be fatal for her. Worse, according to the young guide, just by entering Helen’s life, Nigel has already set into motion events that will have catastrophic consequences. In his efforts to reverse this, and to find a way to remain with Helen, he discovers the disturbing truth about the unhappenings, and the role he and his future self have played all along.

Equal parts time-travel adventure and tragic love story, Unhappenings is a tale of gravely bad choices, and Nigel’s struggle not to become what he sees in the preview of his worst self.

 

Okay, yes. I bought this one because of the cover. And because it was free. Two qualities I look for in a book-mate.

So… I liked this one.

A lot.

I didn’t think I would as it deals with time travel—something which generally goes over my head, so the fact that I was (mostly) able to keep up with what was happening while NOT being able to put down the book says good things for this story.

Meet Nigel. Poor, uber-depressed Nigel who keeps having all his good things undone. First loves, award-winning physics papers, MIT acceptance letters—all taken away as if they’d never happened. Over and over and over again. Life for Nigel, as we know it, sucks. So when he’s offered the chance to jump into the future, our main boy takes it. Hopefully stuff will be different there. Hopefully he won’t have to keep losing the things (and people) he loves. And there he meets Helen. Sweet, wonderful, one-of-a-kind Helen. A Helen fifty years his junior.

*the emotions*

In this future—his future—we find out why things have been going so horribly wrong for Nigel. We see a lot of what could-have-beens, what could-still-happens and all the scary in between. We meet a villain, a friend, and a cast of supporting characters you hope you don’t get too invested in because they might go poof! any day.

Like I said, time travel confuses me. I can sort of follow along, but our boy did a lot of jumping. There was this present and then this new one and then this other new one and it took a lot to keep up. I don’t read many (or any) time travel books, but as far as this one goes, I think it was done pretty well. I didn’t spend pages reading the scientific explanation of how this works or what made that possible. There was a little, sure, but not an overabundance of jargon that had me snoozing. (Sometimes I did skip ahead because, hey, let’s get to the good parts, right?)

Helen.

Falling in love with someone fifty years into your future has its own issues. Throw in that villain I mentioned earlier and shit is about to get real. I think Helen is the one thing that kept Nigel (and me) sane from all the craziness that ensues. She’s a great character, loves our boy, and is strong enough to fight through the trials that lie ahead. From a romantic perspective, the author nailed it. I rooted for the couple, cheered when things went right and balled when they didn’t. Which means I was invested. And as a reader, that’s what you want to be.

I’m surprised I liked Unhappenings. It gets a little heavy in parts and I kind of wanted to flick Nigel in the face a few times, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a book with a lot of action, urgency and second, third, and fourth chances. Not into time travel? Skim those parts. They’re just a backdrop to an epic love story.

This is What I’m Reading – The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

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Blurb:

Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?

Meh.

I was slightly disappointed with TASOAH, probably because I spent ten dollars on it and I almost never spend ten dollars on books especially when a thing like bookbub exists. But I liked the premise and it had pretty good reviews, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

Meh.

I almost didn’t post this because it’s not something you simply *have* to read and it’s not so terrible that it’s worth talking about. It’s… an okay story. The insta-love kind of killed it for me because the one thing I love about romances is the build-up. I like the actual falling in love part and when two characters “just feel it” with a stare across bus seats, I’m already doubting the authenticity of everything in the following pages.

Eleanor & Park is my compare-to book because it takes the protagonists nearly a month of sitting next to each other to actually talk. In fact, they communicate non-verbally until speaking becomes necessary, and even after, they don’t start the actual romance until sometime later. But I love Rainbow Rowell and the amazing honesty in how she writes realistic fiction. Everything’s not written through rose-colored glasses and that is so refreshing.

TASOAH wasn’t bad; it was just a bit predictable. The ‘bad boy’ is only bad because he’s doing something good for someone else while inwardly suffering. I mean, come on, isn’t that what all literary YA ‘bad boys’ are? Misunderstood good guys in hot costumes? And our girl is quirky (she draws cadavers and has a Morticia Adams thing going on) but is unusual to everyone other than our leading man who, as I’ve already stated, has a bad case of insta-love.

The story itself was sweet, fast paced and enjoyable for a bridge book. Was I in love with it? Absolutely not. Did I enjoy it? Sure. But would I recommend it to a friend? Depends if he or she is looking for a light read before finding their next favorite thing.

This is What I’m Reading – Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

First of all, if you don’t know who Jenny Lawson is, 😦

Not that I’m disappointed in you. I’m not. I discovered her through a friend who suggested her debut novel, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, and that was a good few years after her pretty popular blog, thebloggess has been online. So I’m behind the times too, just like everything else in life.

I might’ve mentioned her, her book or her blog to a few of you. And I did that because I care. Because there’s (not to get too corny) something magical about reading Jenny Lawson, something that makes you admit to the awkward truths in life and laugh along with them because hey, it’s life, right? Shit’s going to happen. But I’m not going to advertise for her first book here (even though I sort of already did, and you should read it. It’s flipping amazing) or her blog which she maintains on a regular basis—way more than I do mine—but her latest book, Furiously Happy.

FH Cover

I’m blessed enough to say that I don’t suffer from depression. Not to the degree that it affects my day to day life. I do get depressed (like most human beings) and okay, sometimes those bad thoughts creep in that suggest physical pain is better than whatever is going on in my head. But I tell them to shush and I look at my wrist, a personal reminder that whatever is bothering me is not the end of things:

Tat

Yes, I like John Lennon. Yes, I like the Beatles. But the three words suggest more than singing along to the popular song of the most popular band of all time. It suggests a belief that God will take care of everything I can’t. And that helps when my wrist looks like a really good way out, or at least, a way to handle what I don’t think I can.

But this blog isn’t about me; it’s about Jenny Lawson’s second book, Furiously Happy, which talks (in a most clever and humorous way) about dealing with mental illnesses like depression and social anxiety. While LPTNH is a funny memoir about funny things that have happened to her, FH dives deeper into the struggles that come with living with crippling mental disorders. I’ve talked about my fear of getting lost in the world and so Batman usually accompanies me (like on trips to NY for the Writer’s Digest Conference last year—woohoo!) but this is an actual phobia for Jenny Lawson, who, while air-traveling, isn’t afraid of the plane crashing or malfunctioning, but of getting to the airport, around the airport, or taking a taxi to the hotel. Most peoples’ non-worries terrify her and end up taking a physically exhausting toll. In a way, she fears the outside world and interacting with it, which is something we have to do, like all the time. I can’t remember the names for her disorders (I could go back and check the book—it’s all in there) but she also suffers from body image issues, self-harm and severe anxiety and paranoia.

But SHE. IS. HILLARIOUS.

I don’t think I’ve read anything so comically honest about such a dark topic while feeling cheered up about myself and the specks of familiarity I’ve seen in my own life (we artists are a crazy bunch). Not only has Jenny Lawson been blatantly truthful about her personal struggles, but she offers the one thing we need to remember when we feel at our lowest: we are not alone. Through her blog (and books) Jenny Lawson reminds folks suffering from the same mental illnesses that they are not alone in their plight. There is a tribe of us (some more affected than others) who see the dark as much, if not more, than the light. BUT IT’S OKAY. We have the option—the choice—to be furiously happy.

There are *so* many good parts in this book but one worth sharing:

FH lines1

…and because of the dark, she found the light…

I could go on and on about her, her books and her blog but I think you’ll get a better idea if you simply check them out. They may be for you. They may not be. But if you know someone suffering from depression, social anxiety, self-image, self-harm or paranoia, I *highly* suggest you pass along her name. Could be the best thing you do this year.

FH info 1

Well, Goodreads, that’s one book read in 2016 (I’m going to meet this yearly reading challenge, you bastard). I have a few ideas of what to pick up next but I’m always open to suggestions.

Anyone have any?

This is What I’m Reading – Chicagoland Vampires

Vampires again.

I know.

I know.

Believe me, it was not my first choice. After reading Joleene Naylor’s fabulous seven-book (still unfinished) series, I wanted a nice long break from the fanged and want-to-be-fangers. And here I am, book three of a series I’m kind of seriously hooked on (thanks Jamie).

Damn.

I really wanted to read a stand-alone. Something short, quick. Hell, I’d even take a bridge book just to freshen things up a bit. But a certain someone (*cough* Jamie *cough*) offered up a favorite series she thought I might like. Not one to turn down a word of mouth suggestion—also it’d be super awkward if I’d declined as we sit across from each other—I figured sure, why not? A new series by an author I hadn’t heard of? Score. Someone to discuss them with when I’m done? Double score. And the best part–the books are free AND paperback. Hell to the motherfucking yeah. Two things I enjoy most about books other than rad writing and killer stories. Obviously.

Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires, #1)

Anyway, Chicgoland Vampires. I like.

I like a lot.

A. Merit, our MC, is actually pretty funny. And smart. And stubborn. Yes, most MCs usually claim to have these traits but so few really impress. I’ve read *tons* of heroines who’re whiny and stupid and I kind of don’t care what happens to them. But I like Merit. I feel I can get behind her, support her. And I feel for her during her main struggle of being turned into a vampire against her will (she does get turned to save her life. There’s an attack and it was either become a vampire or die). She can get super-stubborny at times (and maybe that does it for you—I don’t know) but it got on my nerves a bit. Other than that, she’s smart and a fighter and can hold her own in a rough and rowdy group of guys. I like that.

B. The writing is awesome. I’m surprised I’ve never heard of Chloe Neill before because she’s a surprisingly gifted storyteller. Everything is smooth but quick-paced and without going on for ten pages (as some of our more poetic authors do) she keeps her descriptions concise but visual. I knew what everyone was wearing, what everything looked like and how everything went down, clear as a movie. She’s also got a wicked vocabulary and I found myself rereading sentences because I liked how pretty they sounded. That, to me, is how you write a book. And me, as a reader, is how I like to read a book.

C. The story is pretty unique. Yes, I’ve read Twilight. I haven’t read any Ann Rice or Charlaine Harris, but I’ve read a few other vampire books. And I feel they pitch a lot of the same ideas: dark and deadly and mysterious, but sexy. Vulnerable. Victimized. There’s a bit of that too, but overall, I found it refreshing since Merit, who was turned against her will, is forced to drop her prized dissertation and join one of the three established vampire Houses of Chicago, standing in as Sentinel. Of course there’s a bit of heat between her and Ethan (the Master vampire and the one who changed her) so for all you looking for something spicy, there it is. The story is old customs and traditions meets frat-house living in modern times. Oh, and there’re shapeshifters. And water nymphs. And sorcerers and sorceresses. And plenty of good-looking guys with snarky, sarcastic comments. So, if you’re into any of this, you’ll probably dig the series.

Recap:

Awesome MC, great writing, fun story. I like those ingredients. I also like them when they’re sprinkled with hot guys, so, super-win on that account. I’ll be starting the fourth tomorrow (I believe there are twelve books total) which means I have a lot of reading in front of me.

It also means I might actually reach my goal now.

So you can suck it, Goodreads. Go book-shame someone else.

This is What I’m Reading

I’ve decided to try something.

It’s called: This is What I’m Reading.

Any guesses to what it might be about?

So… I’ve wanted to do reviews for a while and… just… never got around to it. But I think about writing them. I think about going home, sitting down and typing them out. Never happens. So. What I think I’m going to do instead is have a weekly (biweekly?) post called This is What I’m Reading. It’ll give you a heads up for some new titles out there and you can hear my honest opionion and judge accordingly to see if this is something you might like for yourself. It’s sort of an ongoing answer to the question my dad always asked before Harry Potter hit the scenes in the 90’s (and maybe even after): What are you reading?

This week and last week and I think the last three months, I have been gorging myself on Joleene Naylor’s Amaranthine series. You’ve probably seen me mention it here a few times. If you haven’t, you’re most likely new to my blog. Hello. And welcome. 🙂 I’m up to book 7, Clash of Legends—the last one in the series SO FAR and I’ve got to admit they’re a bit addicting. So if you’ve got something more time-consuming like children or heroin, go, do that. But if you don’t (or you’re looking to skip out on the children and heroin) I would suggest giving these books a try. It’s one adventure after another with sexy vampires and not so sexy vampires and wars and betrayals and histories and executions and oh man. NO ONE sparkles, but there is some sexiness. A lot of sexiness, actually, which I don’t mind 😉 Characters are great. Story is great. I’d recommend it for anyone who:

  1. Enjoys Vampires (of the non-sparkly nature).
  2. Thrives on sarcasm and smartass comments.
  3. Doesn’t mind cursing, violence or sex.
  4. Doesn’t want to fall asleep.

So there you go. That’s what I’m reading. I’m at the tail end of numero 7 which means I’ll have one more to add to my completed books of 2015 even though Goodreads will still bookshame me for not finishing my goal of 30. *sigh*

**I may write reviews for these. Probably not (please refer to first paragraph) but I’d still like to throw out a few of the awesome and not so awesome books I’ve sort of read recently:

Go. Read now:

Evanescent by Gabriella Lepore

Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Eleanor and Park & Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

 

Dude, you have children. And Heroin.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Freefall by Tess Oliver

P.S. I thought about titling this blog “Children and Heroin” but thought people might be disappointed at how little children and heroin are actually mentioned. And I’m honest like that. You’re welcome.