First Lines Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.

The two would-be jade thieves sweated in the kitchen of the Twice Lucky restaurant. The windows were open in the dining room, and the onset of evening brought a breeze off the waterfront to cool the diners, but in the kitchen, there were only the two ceiling fans that had been spinning all day to little effect. Summer had barely begun and already the city of Janloon was like a spent lover — sticky and fragrant.

Another week, another book. My choice is kind of unconventional for me. It sounded like something I’d like, but it’s not one that I’d have actively sought out or even heard of until I read a great review of it. It’s magic mixed with gansters mixed with fantasy. In other words, a pretty interesting mash-up.

It is….

Jade City by Fonda Lee

Jade City

I got this book rec thanks to Alienor’s review over on her blog. It’s a great review, so check it out here! It sounded right up my alley and like a book I’d like to give a try, so I got a hold on it through my library and now it’s in my hands. (Which aren’t tiny like Trump’s or Chantel’s, for the record.) I’m pretty excited to give it a go!

Once upon a time there was a pair of pants. They were an essential kind of pants — jeans, naturally, blue but not that stiff new blue you see so often on the first day of school. They were a soft, changeable blue with a little extra fading at the knees and the seat and white wavelets at the cuffs.

Again, another short entry but I don’t think anything more than this needs to be said about this book. 

This was a recent purchase of mine but it is certainly not a book that’s new to me. I bought it because it was cheap on Amazon but I was suddenly feeling nostalgic for the series and wondered if I would still enjoy it now despite years of distance. 

This week I’ve chosen: 

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Like I said before, this series is not new to me. I’ve read the first three books and by the time the fourth and fifth book came out, I was no longer interested in the series. I remember this series being great. The chapters of the book contain famous quotes and/or proverbs and I used to record them in a journal because I was that much of a dork.

Honestly, the first movie was very well done. Not so much the second, but whatever. I used to watch the movie long after I had stopped reading the books and it was one of my pick-me-up movies.

I also remember the series being very raw and realistic when it came to sex, divorced parents, illness and death, isolation, and feeling like you are stuck in one place. Those are just a few things I remember but I know there are a lot more. 

At some point, I’ll pick this book up again and if I enjoy it then I will continue on. 


The Stranger Thing Tag

The Book Prophet did this tag a very, very long time ago. However, we really liked it and decided that we ought to do it since we both love Stranger Things. It’s a show we watched together, although we haven’t written about it on the blog.

This tag was originally created by A Running Commentary, which I don’t have a link to, but you’ve been given credit. The graphics I’ll be using were designed and put together by Flavia @ Flavia the Bibliophile.
Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.

For me, it’s:

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)

I liked it and I was super intrigued, however, I was confused about why it wrapped up so easily and why there was a series.
I’m cheating on this one because I was left intrigued but not confused. I’m going with Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire because I loved the concept of the book and I wanted to inhale read everything I could about these characters and the world.

My choice is:

Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #1)

Nope nope nope nope.
I’m going to say the world from Proxy by Alex London because if you are poor you are punished for the crimes of the rich and I’m not about that life.
I’d be screwed.

I actually don’t own the book anymore, sadly. I finally decided to replace it a long time ago. But it was my well-loved, first edition American copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. That was my favorite HP book for a while, but it was so worn that the cover and first few pages of it fell off. I also still own my first edition copies of the first, second, sixth, and seventh books and they’re pretty loved on.
I try really hard not to damage my books anymore, but the first five Harry Potter paperbacks I have are in pretty rough shape. This was back when I didn’t care how ruined a book was.

Can I ignore the trilogy part? Because I honestly can’t think of a trilogy that I reread for comfort. Usually, it’s a stand-alone or a long, childhood series for me. I’ll list a few, that kind of fit this. Harry Potter and Lockwood and Co. are my pick-me-up books.
I’m going to say the first three Harry Potter books because those are the ones I’ve read most and they always remind me of how magical the series is.

But they’re so cute!!!!

Image result for demogorgon baby gif

I wouldn’t want to face Pennywise from IT. Or the guy from Needful Things. Do you see the Stephen King pattern there? He scary. And I wouldn’t want to mess with those things in his books.
Maybe if I read more books with terrifying beasts, this would be easier. I’m just going to go with Aragog, the giant fucking spider, from Harry Potter because nope.
Yeah no. No.

….my instinct says Dumbledore.
I’m a terrible person.
I don’t know why you didn’t just say Snape… I didn’t feel like attacking him since I’m going to spend a lot of time doing that in our joint reviews of Harry Potter. Fair enough.
I’m going to say, Thetis from The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. She is consistent in her dedication to keep Patroclus away from Achilles and by the end of the book, we understand why she did so.

Given that I didn’t like Nancy Wheeler, this is awkward. She was annoying and just got on my last nerves with how she acted. Especially season two. Ugh.

Image result for steve stranger things gif

Just sayin’

So I’m going to answer it as the asker said and a book I expected to love and didn’t. For the first, I didn’t expect to love Reign of the Fallen. I really enjoyed it in the end, despite the issues that I had with it. For the second, it’s Let’s Talk About Love. I thought that I’d absolutely adore it, but, alas.
Yeah, I didn’t like Nancy either. It’s funny how Steve became one of the more likable characters in season two. Steve is fantastic and is the mom of the group. He is their mother. Anyway, a book I didn’t expect to love as much as I did was The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I know I’ve talked about this book so much, but honestly, I didn’t expect it to be one of my favorite books of all time. I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype and I WAS WRONG.

I’m gonna say the setting of Mark Lawrence’s’ The Broken Empire series and The Red Queen’s War. It’s an odd world and is absolutely fascinating.
More Than This by Patrick Ness has a very unusual setting. I can’t say too much about it because I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s definitely bizarre.


We’re actually going to tag people. Like holy crap, right?

We tag:

If we didn’t tag you and you love this, feel free to tag yourself and say we tagged you.

dustin i love you

First Lines Friday

Hello everyone! I hope everyone’s week went well. I know I’m happy for it to be over, but let’s get on to the first lines!

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.

As soon as the stranger set the bundle on the floor, Hades could tell it was the body of a child. It was curled on its side and wrapped in a worn blue sheet secured with duct tape around the neck, waist and knees. One tiny pearl-colored foot poked out from the hem, limp on his sticky linoleum.

I’m doing this way early, actually. Since, at this point, I’ll be three days post-surgery, I highly doubt that I’m going to be spry and ready to do anything. Therefore, I’m making it early and doing this early.

In other words, I don’t have any quippy intro to this and I’ll just get on with this. Yeah? Sound good. Good. Thanks for the consensus.

My book is…

Hades by Candice Fox

Hades (Archer & Bennett, #1)

This is a reread for me, actually. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this when it was being published in America (this is Aussie based) and I loved it. Now that the third book is out and I wasn’t able to get it via ARC, I decided to check out all three books and just binge the series while I’m recovering. What I’m most excited for is to see how it measures up to a reread.

Shane is awake, wishing he wasn’t. The alarm clock makes a soft warning click before flooding the room with staticky Top 40. Too loud. Shane reaches an arm out from under the covers and hits snooze for the third time. It feels better in bed. Not good, but better. As long as his door is closed, no one wants anything from him. 

My choice is a book that actually came out this week and I received an ARC for. Unfortunately, I still haven’t posted a review for it. Oops, but it’s a book I want to give as much exposure as possible because I think it’s an important story to tell. 

Without further ado, I present…

Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones

fire song cover

This book is about a teenage boy who is coming to terms with his sexuality who happens to be an Indigenous person who lives on a reserve in Canada. To me, these are the stories I want to read. I want to read about a culture completely different than mine. A culture that might have a slightly different take on homosexuality and there is a bit of that in there. However, I think this book was well written with characters that were very flawed. The reason I haven’t written my review yet is that it’s difficult to sort out my feelings about the characters and the directions the book took. 

However, I highly recommend it and want to spread the word about it as much as possible, but before going into it there are content warnings for suicide and sexual assault. 

Black Mirror – Season Four (Part 2)


Black Mirror – Season One

Black Mirror – Season Two + The Christmas Special

Black Mirror – Season Three (Part 1)

Black Mirror – Season Three (Part 2)

Black Mirror – Season Four (Part 1)

Wow, it seems like we’ve been at this forever, hasn’t it? Just watching the show and reviewing it a few episodes at a time. But, we’re finally done! So, let’s hop into it.

Chantel will be in purple.

Caidyn will be in blue.

Hang the DJ

So, I’ve noticed that my favorite episodes (with one exception) are ones that have to do with two people who are in love/falling in love. This episode is one of my absolute favorites and if you don’t watch any other episode, I’d highly recommend this one…and “San Junipero”.

And “Be Right Back”, too. I’d add that one since those are the “fluffier” episodes.

At least, the ones that don’t have some insanely bad/creepy/gross twist at the end that makes you question life itself.

Yes, “Be Right Back”, “San Junipero”, and “Hang the DJ” are all “happy” episodes. About as happy as Black Mirror can be. So if you are a sucker for great love stories then you should check out those three. They are unconventional and different which is what I love so much about them.

However, we are talking about “Hang the DJ”. The premise of this episode is that you are set up with another person based on compatibility and then there is a time limit put on your relationship. Whether it’s 12 hours or 5 years, you know when your relationship with the person you are with will end.

And, you can’t leave the relationship. Once the length has been determined — which is done by the oh so practical idea of if you touch the device at the same time — you’re in it for the long haul. You can’t leave it early. You can’t insist on staying with it. Nope. You’re there for that period then you leave and you move on to the next person. Finally, you’re given a person, without knowing who they are, that is your one and only. And you have to take them, marry them, and move on. No matter what.

It basically goes from something kind of cute and sweet — like a step up from the dating apps available now — to something dystopian where you’re made to be in relationships with people you don’t like and marry a stranger.

There is definitely a point where the episode has a bit of a dark turn, but only in the sense of the world. They aren’t given a choice who they want to be with and as a result, one character gets stuck with someone who is awful, and the other character is constantly set up with person after person until she stops feeling. It’s not dating anymore, but more like a chore. Despite the somewhat dark implications of this system, the episode has a lot of comedy to it and I think I speak for both of us when I say that we adored the two main characters. If there’s one thing Black Mirror does right, it’s creating characters that are interesting and getting the audience invested in relationships when all we have is about an hour of time with them.

Frank and Amy. I mean, how cute are those names?? So cute. But, we typically judge an episode based on how much we chatter while watching it. With this one, we weren’t shutting up. I mean, imagine us in the same room trying to watch it. We wouldn’t have absorbed a damn thing.

What it comes down to is that this was a cute episode and it was done well. It didn’t feel like I was being beaten over the head by fluff because there was enough drama going on that drove the episode. It was just really sweet and I loved the ending. It was really brilliant what they did with a twist (not dark) that didn’t feel sprung on me and fit the episode well.

We would’ve had to watch it again because we would’ve missed everything if we had been watching it in person.

I do agree, this was so sweet and took some unexpected turns but as a whole, I think this was one of the best-written episodes of the series and that’s saying something.


So, I actually liked this episode too, but it’s very creepy and very horror movie like. It’s actually a very simple premise with minimal actors and minimal dialogue. What I liked about it was it didn’t give you any information about the world these characters lived in. It looked very post-apocalyptic with the population having dwindled significantly and then there is this robotic dog. You guys, this dog is fucking creepy. It moves very weirdly and very quickly and the main character is on the run from this robot dog who wants to kill her. It’s very unsettling.

For reference, this is the “dog”:

dog from metalhead.jpg

It is insane. And, it also felt like a classic horror movie. I’d compare it to Psycho. As Chantel said, there’s not a lot of context given, just that something’s wrong with the world and that there are these insane dogs.

I loved the classic feel to it. It was in black and white, then there was the lack of dialogue and very few characters. Add in great background music that filled the place of the dialogue — kind of like in “Fifteen Million Merits” — and you had something that put me on edge the whole time, all while I was expecting to be bored by it.

But, the ending. We didn’t talk much about the ending. I was on the fence about it. It felt like a gut punch but I would have liked more hints throughout.

I do think that this was a very interesting episode and yes, the music kept me thinking that someone was going to die. Also, I can’t tell you how many times we chastised the main character for making stupid ass decisions. I will say that while I was entertained by the episode and appreciated the lack of background information, there was something that didn’t quite click with me. Perhaps it was that I wasn’t rooting for the main character and didn’t have someone to get invested in, but I don’t know if that was me or just the episode itself.

Yeah, I agree that there was some slight disconnect for me. It was a very good episode, but, still, it lacked some great oomph. It’s not a bad episode at all and I was impressed by it, just that I think there could have been a little more.

Black Museum

Alright, this episode was fantastic. I loved it, not as much as “Hang the DJ”, but it had a lot going for it. For instance, it followed the same format of “White Christmas” in that it was one person talking about their career in technology and showing off different parts of technology. I think that format works really well when it comes to introducing us to different technologies and the episode started out almost funny (in a dark way), we soon find that things are a lot more sinister than we are led to believe.

It was funny because it was campy. I thought the acting in the flashbacks was hilarious. Like, I kept laughing, even though I got a campy horror movie vibe from it. And, when I say campy, I mean the B-rated horror movies. More in the vein of Dark Ride, which has the campy feel to it while also being pretty tense.

There’s not a lot I can say without feeling I’m going to get into spoiler territory for this. Just that I really enjoyed it and it almost overtook my love of “Hang the DJ”. It was a very close second and more like a tie in the end. But, this was a fun episode from start to finish.

I don’t know if I got the camp, necessarily, but that being said there were certain scenes that were absolutely ridiculous they were funny. And yet, like most Black Mirror episodes, there’s far more to it than meets the eye. Like “Hang the DJ”, it does things that are so unexpected and yet amazing. Again, I don’t want to get into spoilers either, but if I wasn’t such a sap this would’ve been my favorite episode out of the second part. It was definitely my second favorite out of this season, which unfortunately had a few duds. None of these episodes were duds for me.

Our rankings

Chantel’s rankings

  1. Hang the DJ
  2. Black Museum
  3. Metalhead

Mine are the same!

There is only one correct ranking. Though, I wouldn’t blame someone if they liked “Black Museum” more.

And I’m the cocky one. Neither would I, though. I think it’s because we’re suckers for romance at times.

The romantic episodes are my favorites.

I know. And I like the creepy ones usually.

The Liebster Award


Now, who do you think tagged us in this? We’ll give you three guesses. No, really, we’ll wait. Take your time.

Got them?

If you said Emma from Thoughts of a Brown Eyed Girl (the link will take you to her award), then you’d be right. Yet again, she thought of us with this award and decided to nominate us for it! However, are we really sweethearts? We fight all of the time. We bicker and argue and just make fun of each other.

But, I guess we’re sweethearts.

Here are the rules of this thing:

1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog and/or Liebster Award post.

2. List 11 questions of your choice for your nominees to answer (optional, I suppose).

3. Display the award logo on your blog and/or in your post.

4. Talk a little bit about your favorite blog(s) and explain why you like them, perhaps link to a favorite post or two.

5. Provide ten random facts about yourself.

6. Nominate 5-11 blogs that you feel deserve the award and who have less than 200 followers (and note that you may always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets readers know this information).

7. List these rules in your post (you can copy and paste from here if you want).

8. Be sure to inform your nominees that they have been nominated (you could do a pingback, like I do).

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.

1. Least favorite book from your favorite genre?

So, I love horror and mystery. The book for horror is The Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford. It was just so… BORING.

Image result for boring gif

Me the entire book.

Nothing happened. Like, at all. And it was painfully horrid. Then, for mystery, there was Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero. None of the reviews I read pointed it out, but it’s transphobic from the beginning.

Image result for offended gif

My least favorite book ever is Adam by Ariel Schrag and it’s a YA book which is also described as queer. It’s not queer. Don’t ever read it. 

Here we go again about this book…

Just wait until the movie comes out. She sent me a long rant about it already.

It’s the only book I despise and so it’s my one and only punching bag. Deal with it. 

2. Favorite book from your least favorite genre?

My least favorite genre has to be YA. Which means that Chantel and I are the exact opposite, but that’s okay. We find a way to get along. The YA book that I like the most, and haven’t reviewed on here is The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey. Technically, it’s YA. Technically. But it’s also a rather good horror/fantasy series that I actually own all of the books for.

I don’t think mystery is my least favorite genre, but it’s one I definitely don’t reach for often. However, I adore the Thomas Lynch series which starts with Idyll Threats. It’s a mystery series with a gay main character. Of course, I’m going to love it. 

Is he your gaybie?

One of many. 

3. Favorite TV show?


Image result for hannibal gif

Image result for hannibal gif

Thanks, Hanni. I miss you, too. Even though you’re talking about your murder husband here. BUT, I wrote a post about this TV show. Did you see it? If not, here it is.

Ugh, what a difficult question. The easy answer here is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s a show I continue to go back to time after time because of the strong female characters, and Willow, of course. 

Willow waving

4. Your greatest fear?

Open water and spiders. Fuck that shit. I’ve even had to confront them at the same time.

Spiders need to get the fuck away from me. That is all. 

Image result for same gif

At least with our fears. And many other things.

5. Quote something from the last book you finished.

Guys, I don’t pay attention to quotes when I read. I only do it when there’s one that stands out to me. The last book that had one stand out was Wonders Will Never Cease by Robert Irwin. And, here is the quote:

“History is nothing but the lies we tell about our ancestors.” 

Um, I don’t think I can pull a quote from the last book I read. Quotes just don’t stand out to me, and if they do I don’t record them. Sorry. 

Okay, I have another quote now:

“For us, the places we went were home. We didn’t care if they were good or evil or neutral or what. We cared about the fact that for the first time, we didn’t have to pretend to be something we weren’t. We just got to be. That made all the difference in the world.”

6. A book that deserves more hype?

Uhm, Wonders Will Never Cease by Robert Irwin. It was a super good book. Like, excellent. The writing was spot on, the characters were great, and the themes were fleshed out nicely.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. That book got A LOT of hype, yo. That’s why it was a joke…duh.

Okay, I kid, I kid. 

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake. This book was incredible and I would encourage anyone who wants to read a great book with queer ladies to read it. It’s really good guys. 

7. A fictional character that you relate to most?

Funny enough, Harry Potter. I’m not angsty. I’m not a teen. My parents are living. I have people who love me and have loved me always. But, I always connected with him. He’s sarcastic, I’m sarcastic. He went through tough times, I’ve been through tough times. I always just really connected with him.

Dobby the house elf. For the reasons why check out our Me in Book Characters post!

Nice promo. Like my Hannibal one. Totally subtle.

8. Favorite book cover?

I’ve said somewhere else on this blog that I don’t really pay attention to book covers. Like, great, they’re nice. But I care more about content than how they look.

I could make a whole post about gorgeous book covers. Seriously. However, I think I will go with one of my favorite book covers from last year which is the UK edition of Release by Patrick Ness. 

Release book cover

9. Sunsets or sunrises?



But they both pretty.

10. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Morning person. Even on the weekends, I’m up around 6:30 or 7.

I can’t stay up past 10 o’clock most days and yet I’m always up early. 

11. Last book that genuinely scared you?

No freaking clue. I don’t get scared that often by books.

I don’t read books that scare me. 

I get scared by how bad the plots and writing are.

So, facts about us. I guess I’ll go first?

  1. I have a BA in psychology.
  2. I minored in religious studies.
  3. I have four tattoos and will get a fifth soon.
  4. My favorite tattoo is the one I got of my dog’s pawprint after she passed away.
  5. I have a very macabre sense of humor.
  6. I love learning languages. Currently, I’m learning eight languages and I’m thinking about adding in a ninth.
  7. My oldest friend and I have known each other since we were five. (We’re almost 22 now.)
  8. I got a second-degree black belt in taekwondo.
  9. I hate Steven Moffat.
  10. I hate talking about myself.

Some facts, hm…

  1. I have a fat cat named Watson. 
  2. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 19. 
  3. I was on the varsity tennis team in high school despite never winning one match.
  4. I got my first tattoo on my 18th birthday. #noregrets
  5. I once walked through a blizzard thinking I would get McDonald’s. I was deceived. 
  6. I used to volunteer at a small little bookstore. 
  7. I really want a pug and I want to name it Frank.
  8. I look terrible in baseball hats. 
  9. I love cider. Especially when it has alcohol. 
  10. I got an infection after getting my wisdom teeth removed. It was gross.

  1. What do you refuse to read?
  2. What is your typical routine when you are sick?
  3. Cat or dog person?
  4. If you had the choice to visit any one place without worrying about money or time, where would it be?
  5. What word describes you the best?
  6. If you were the protagonist of a novel, what kind of novel would it be?
  7. What is the happiest moment of your life?
  8. Favorite dessert?
  9. If you could learn any subject for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
  10. Is there one thing that would automatically make you DNF a book?
  11. What kind of toppings do you like on your ice cream?

Now, we’re not going to nominate anyone. Everyone seems to have gotten this one. BUT, if you really love our questions, feel free to say we nominated you and no one will be the wiser. Unless they look at this post.

First Lines Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.

The girls were never present for the entrance interviews. Only their parents, their guardians, their confused siblings, who wanted so much to help them but didn’t know how. It would have been too hard on the prospective students to sit there and listen as the people they loved most in all the world — all this world, at least — dismissed their memories as delusions, their experiences as fantasy, their lives as some intractable illness.

This is a really popular YA series that everyone seems to have read. Even Chantel has read it. But not me. I tried picking it up a while ago, but, you know, it didn’t click at the second. This time, it really worked for me.

So, what is it?

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children, #1)

This week has been a really rough one for me and I needed the right mix of absurdity and seriousness to calm me down. It hit the spot. I’ve already picked out a quote to focus my review around and I’m excited. Unless it takes a turn I don’t like between reading this now and the time this posts.

My mother always started the story by saying, “Well, she was born in the backseat of a stranger’s car,” as though that explained why Wavy wasn’t normal. It seemed to me that could happen to anybody. Maybe on the way to the hospital, your parents’ respectable, middle-class car broke down. That’s not what happened to Wavy. She was born in the backseat of a stranger’s car, because Uncle Liam and Aunt Val were homeless, driving through Texas when their old beat-up van broke down. 

This week, I decided to choose a book that I really hope to read soon. Not, you know, one of the five books I’m reading right now. I will read this book within the next few months. I doubt I’ll get to it this month as I already have an idea of what I’m going to read if I can get through what I’m currently reading, but it’s a book I want to read really badly and have wanted to for a long time. I don’t think there are many hints I can give as I don’t know much about it so let’s go with the reveal.

I’ve chosen… 

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

All of the Ugly and Wonderful Things cover

I only know a bit about this novel. Actually, it’s one Caidyn recommended to me awhile back and I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet, but I own a physical copy and an e-book copy so there isn’t a good reason why I haven’t read it, other than I’m putting it off for books I want to read more urgently. However, it sounds like a book I’d like and I hope that’s true!

February Wrap-Up

February has come and gone without much of anything going on. Pretty impressive, right? This month, we read The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K Le Guin. March, we’re going to be reading Spook by Mary Roach. We’re also starting our Harry Potter Read. We hope that you all think about joining us since we’d love for it to not just be us!

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.

This month, I didn’t read as much. Which is all fine, really. I’m enjoying having more time to mull over books rather than reading like crazy and giving sub-par reviews for books that deserved something better.

5 stars

4 stars

2 stars

1 star

I love how when Caidyn says he didn’t read a lot in a month, he’s still read like 11 books. I, however, only read two books in February. Why? Because The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo put me in a slump. It was such an amazing book that I didn’t want to pick up any other book. I didn’t start reading again until the end of February. 

4.5 Stars

4 Stars

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K Le Guin

The Lathe of Heaven cover

Caidyn will be in blue. Rating: 4/5
Chantel will be in purple. Rating: 4.5/5

“Of course it happened. An effective dream is a reality, Dr. Haber.”

This book took awhile for me to get into. Le Guin was a fantastic writer, but her books take a little bit. It’s like any other older sci-fi or dystopian novel. It takes a couple of chapters to get there with the book. And since this book is only eleven chapters, you have to work fast. I thought the book was masterfully woven, taking place in a dystopian Portland with George Orr as the main character, in trouble for using drugs to suppress his dreams.

So, he’s assigned a psychiatrist, Dr. Haber, to get to the bottom of why he doesn’t want to dream and to force him to dream. It turns out, when he dreams intensely, he changes the world around him completely.

And from there the story goes into many directions. Musings on the reality of dreams, of corruption, and of humanity. I found it fascinating to read because, as I said, Le Guin is a fantastic writer. She is so odd and interesting with her works. I think my favorite thing she tried nailing down was about power and corruption, linked in with how a “utopian” world walks a fine line between that and a dystopia. Because, you might think you’re creating a perfect world through your power, but corruption occurs and creates a dystopia.

The one thing I didn’t like was the ending. It felt like it wrapped up too cleanly and didn’t give me a real, solid ending that I could hold onto.

The first book Caidyn and I read for our book club was The Left Hand of Darkness which we both loved. Le Guin’s writing is very slow paced and deliberate. It reads as if she picked out every word very carefully. I know that’s not for everyone, but I would recommend her writing because of how influential she was. I am constantly amazed that she wrote a book about a genderless/genderfluid society in 1969.

Three years later, she released The Lathe of Heaven which is completely different from The Left Hand of Darkness, but I found myself pleasantly surprised when Dr. Haber is said to have been with men and women. It was literally one sentence, but it hit me really hard. A bisexual male in a 70’s dystopian novel. We can’t even get bisexual males represented in 2018. In addition, there is a character who is explicitly mixed race and gets involved with a white man.

A huge topic of conversation in media revolves around representation. As someone who is queer and mixed race (among other things), I long to see myself represented in movies, tv, and books. It’s something I constantly sought out as a teenager. I just wanted to see a queer woman represented positively on the page and on the screen and I found a lot of representation that helped me but might be considered problematic. The representation in The Lathe of Heaven is not something I find problematic despite Le Guin not being a bisexual male nor was she mixed race. I do believe own voices representation is absolutely important, but sometimes all it takes is one sentence or a description of dark skin as opposed to light to make someone feel seen.

The book itself revolves around a dystopian version of Portland and a man named George Orr who can change reality with what the book calls an “effective dream”. He recounts to Dr. Haber that he dreamt of his aunt dying in a car crash and yet that became reality after he dreamed it. George remembers a reality where she did not die and instead came to visit and he remembers the new reality where she never came because she died in a car crash. Throughout the book, which is less than 200 pages, Dr. Haber hypnotizes George and tells him what to dream under the guise of curing him. As this continues happening session after session, the world keeps changing into what Dr. Haber thinks is a Utopian world. However, a world is never as perfect as it seems no matter the good intentions.

My only criticism of the book was the last two chapters. This book is really short and I think it definitely takes it’s time getting to a point where things need to be wrapped up and then I felt it was wrapped up too quickly. Not neatly, but very quickly. The rush to a resolution was off-putting after the overall pace being quite slow. I would’ve liked to see the resolution spread out to keep a consistent pace throughout the novel.

I completely agree with you on the last couple of chapters. They went too fast and summed it up neatly when I don’t think that a thing like this would have been summed up neatly. Perhaps it was an attempt to make it different. What did you think about Dr. Haber’s attempt to make a perfect world? I loved the way Le Guin showed that a utopia can easily turn into a dystopia.

Considering that the majority of the novel was the decline of a society based on one person’s version of a utopia, the fact that it was wrapped up neatly was disappointing. What I did like was that some things remained the same. The aliens still existed and now their intentions were known. So, it ended up not being a perfect world, but things were a little too neat for me.

I’ve read quite a few dystopian novels, I was actually obsessed with dystopias for awhile. What I thought was the most interesting about Dr. Haber’s utopian world was that he had good intentions for the world. For example, he tries to eliminate racism in the world but things like racism aren’t just going to disappear because someone wills it. It completely ignores the fact that there is a problem at all and instead of solving it, the problem is eliminated. We shouldn’t want to live in a world where we all look the same, as that would strip so many people of their identities.

I think I would have liked the ending better if it hadn’t summed up neatly, which is how reality is. Life isn’t neat or perfect. It doesn’t all just work out like we want it to. So, making it a little less perfect would have been nice. I also think that I would have liked it if the story moved at a quicker pace. It took me a bit to get into it. Even though I really liked it, it still took a bit. Also, the aliens were just… odd. It felt like an addition that didn’t really work and could have been weaved in better.

Most people who create modern dystopians (I’m thinking of Stalin or Hitler or someone) did it to create their own utopian society, yet they erase people’s identities in the process. I thought it was interesting how Le Guin handled it, to show that just because we want racism to go away, we don’t want to ignore cultural differences because that takes the life out of, well, life. It reminded me of that episode of The Fairly Odd Parents.

For a book that was very short, the pacing was a bit off. It started out really slow and then went far too quickly at the end. However, I didn’t mind it that much as I was pretty invested in the story throughout. I will agree that the aliens were a bit out of place, but again it didn’t bother me as much. They were described as giant turtles which I thought was unusual, but it almost reminded me a bit of Arrival. Just in that these alien beings are coming to Earth but aren’t malicious, and yet they are continually attacked by humans because they believe they are a threat.

Well, there is one particular scene that stood out to me actually which is when a man is arrested by another citizen for not reporting that he has cancer. As a result the man is euthanized in public at that moment. George brings Eugenics up to Dr. Haber, which is the idea of trying to purify the human race by sterilizing any quality that could “taint” the human population, such as low IQ, mental illness, or even race. Unfortunately, Dr. Haber doesn’t seem to care about this part of his world as he believes it’s what’s best for the world. Which is always a troubling thought as Hitler had the same views when it came to Jews.

To make a long story short so I don’t constantly rehash what you said: I agree. I have those critiques, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book. I liked it. The criticisms I have were just minor and they can easily be ignored and not take away from the story.

Yeah, that scene stood out to me, too. All he had was cancer, which, technically, isn’t that bad. Cancer can be highly genetic, but not necessarily. It was striking that he got taken away and we never found out what really happened to him. Eugenics is a topic that I’m familiar with because it’s a dark day in psychology since the psych tests used determined things. Such as, lower IQ meant you’d get sterilized. And what Hitler did was eugenics in practice.

However, Dr. Haber was also rather likable. At least, I liked him. Even when he was doing some of these things that make you frown, I still found him an interesting character. Maybe that’s because I like darker characters, though.

It’s definitely notable that Le Guin is criticising Eugenics in the novel, and I really appreciated it. I think most people would agree that Eugenics is an awful thing, maybe not so much in the past but now I think that’s definitely true. However, for me I found the elimination of race by a white male to be a big point in the book. One of the main characters Heather is described as black and when race is eliminated and everyone has uniformed grey skin, George notices that Heather’s race was a big part of her personality. I feel like that’s a subject of conversation now. By saying we live in a color-blind world, we are eliminating people’s identities by disregarding their race. It was something I found interesting which showed up in a novel written in the 70’s, once again like The Handmaid’s Tale, something that was written in the past can be just as topical now.

I actually really liked Dr. Haber, too. Even when he was playing God, he was doing what he believed was best for the world. He was wrong, and one person shouldn’t have the power he did, but he definitely let the power get to him. I started to worry if he could be stopped at one point.

Eugenics were the fashion of the time. They were fashionable and interesting. Also, many people supported Hitler until things started getting out about what he was really doing. So, there’s that. But I agree. With people on the very far left wanting to have a society that’s colorless, it does erase someone’s identity. I wouldn’t want to have someone feel like their race is ignored. It’s what makes society, society. I think that it works so well because of the difference is we’re going through a lot of the same issues we did in the 70s.

Dr. Haber was a character you could understand. You might not agree with him, but you understand why he wanted to do something. Because, at heart, we all want the world to be a better place. We just might think the world would be better in a different way. Yeah, I worried if he would stop and that he would stop using George as well.

Speaking of George, how did you feel about him? He was kind of meh for me. I definitely understood him and how he was, but I still didn’t find him all that compelling when it comes down to it. I pitied him and wanted him to see better days, but I didn’t love him.

It’s so easy to look back now and cringe at what people believed, especially what Hitler did, but at the time it was supported. I’m sure in the future we’ll look back on the present day and cringe about some of the things that were believed now. It is one thing to choose not to label yourself based on gender, sexuality, or race, but it’s not something you can take away from another person. Maybe instead of trying to eliminate the concept of race, we could learn to live together without inequalities. I mean, that would be nice.

If we had the opportunity to change the world for the better, wouldn’t you? However, what is better? Just because you have good intentions doesn’t mean the results are going to be good. The solution to overpopulation isn’t to get rid of a giant portion of the population through a plague, the solution to racism isn’t to get rid of race completely. These aren’t things that have easy answers and it likely won’t take just one solution. He was an interesting antagonist, but I wouldn’t even say he was an outright villain. Not only was he creating his own utopia, but he was creating a world where he was very powerful which ultimately was his downfall.

I really liked George. I mean, he’s constantly described as plain, milquetoast, even boring. I think he was a nice perspective to look at the world through because I felt it was easy to put myself in his shoes. He was a blank canvas almost, and didn’t have much of a personality. Out of all the characters, Dr. Haber was the most complex. George was meh, but I still liked him.

I’m completely sure that we will look back on today and realize how wrong we were about the world, but yes. It’s a fine line between a utopian society where all the races are honored and their cultures are important and a world where everyone’s the same.

Yes, I’d want the world better. It’s like the race thing. We want it to be better, but we don’t want to erase it. And, overpopulation is something that’s a whole mess, really. But, no, a plague to kill off most of the population isn’t really a good way to solve it. Dr. Haber, for all the bad he did, was someone you could understand since he touched on the hope that most of us have.

And, I think that George should have been a blank canvas because he constantly has people trying to create a world that he might not agree with. He’s creation at its finest, really. And to give him more of a personality would have meant creation already took place.

I think the main issue with George’s character was that he continued to let Dr. Haber control his dreams and as a result control the world. Yes, there were circumstances which made him feel like he had to continue therapy, but he rarely stood up to Dr. Haber and when he did things didn’t change. Too easily, he let Dr. Haber continue to take control of his dreams until he no longer had any use for George. I feel like that was frustrating for me.

And I agree. It was frustrating to read that over and over again when all George had to do was say no.

For as short as this book was, I think it packed quite a punch and for me this is the second book by Ursula K. Le Guin that I really enjoyed. There is no doubt she had a huge influence on the science-fiction genre.

First Lines Friday

Welcome one and all to March. This is crazy that we’re here already. Where did the first two months go??? Although, I think that we say that every time. Time passes so fast.

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.

Deep breath. Feel the air fill my lungs. This is the right thing to do. The country needs to see that our democracy still works, no matter how painful this is. Breathe out. Scream later.

Another short one from me. I think that it’s kind of obvious what this one is, though. Most people have read it already (I’m late to the game as usual) and the first sentences give it away.

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

What Happened

I’m not going to go too in depth with this. I’d like to save that for the review, after all. Get into what I thought once I read it. I’ve come to this book with opinions and while not all of them are being destroyed, some are. Either way, the writing is absolutely beautiful and I like the glimpse into what she felt, not her carefully constructed facade.

Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we? Get it over with and move on to more interesting things.

Mine is very short this week as well because I think this small paragraph says all there is to know about the world this book takes place in. It’s a world that ends over and over again and now it’s ending again. I think it’s a bit obvious what this book is, as it’s part of a trilogy I wanted to read as part of my 2018 Bookish Goals. So without further ado, I present…

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

TheFifthSeason cover

So, I’m not very far into this, but I’m expecting great things. Everyone who I have ever seen or heard talk about this book says it’s incredible. I’ve heard almost all of the characters are people of color, that there are queer characters, and that there is even a polyamorous relationship. If all of these things are true then I will definitely be into this book. Especially because the concept itself is very interesting. I’m glad I’m not putting it off any longer. 

The “Me in Book Characters Tag”

In December and January, everyone we follow was doing this tag. Everyone. I (Caidyn) swear, it was almost every email we got that people we follow was doing this. So, I decided that we were going to do it since it actually looks fun. Really!

The rules:

  1. Thank the creators of the tag – Ash & Lo @ Windowsill Books!
  2. Thank whoever tagged you.
  3. List 5 book characters who you relate to most and explain why.
  4. Tag some friends.

We didn’t get tagged. We decided to tag ourselves in this one. So, Chantel can thank me and I can thank Chantel. Good.

And onto our book characters!
Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.

1. Harry Potter from… well.

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Probably my favorite scene in the movies, even if this is my least favorite movie.

I’ve always really connected with Harry, tbh. People always say that main characters in books aren’t ones they can connect with because they’re too good or whatever. I understood him. I connected with him. His deep empathy despite everything connected with me. The struggles he went through connected with me. I mean, even his emotions connected with me.

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He was such a deep character that just got better as he grew up. Yet, I always loved — and, again, connected with how selfless he was. I try to be an extremely selfless person and he was always like me.

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This scene always makes me cry.

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Yes this can also be me. And Chantel is Hermione. Keeps me and my big head in check.


2. Basil Hallward from The Picture of Dorian Gray

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I think this is a harder one to explain, honestly. Basil Hallward is the man who painted the portrait that Dorian Gray sells his soul over. He’s the guy with the awesome bowtie in the picture. What I loved about him in the book was how odd he was and, also, how complex he was. He was so complex because of his infatuation with Dorian and the way he grows apart from him and his emotions about taking responsibility (opposite of Lord Wotton) for what happened.

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And, also, he’s a great example of Victorian homophobia with how editors made Wilde cut out Hallward’s admission at the end of the story that he loves Dorian. And is in love with him.

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Luckily, the movie backed us up with it.

3. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice

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Yes. Mr. Darcy. I know, I know. He’s a huge dick and doesn’t understand people and can come off as super aloof, but I really understood him since he likes people not knowing him. He’s extremely awkward in every way and, well, I can be that way in person. I might come off as very confident online, but, deep down, I’m awkward in person and can come off as a bit of a dick sometimes.

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Yet, like me, he also feels so damn deeply.

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4. Shadow from American Gods

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I’ve written a few times about American Gods, but it’s one of my favorite books and Shadow is one of my favorite characters. He’s so enigmatic that it’s hard to pin down why I like him — I mean, his personality is so non-existent for most of the book, up until the end and then it’s all explained so nicely. I love him for his loyalty. I’m a loyal person. I’m loyal and would do anything for the people I care for. Have a fight, give money, donate whatever body part I don’t need. And Shadow is extremely loyal and keeps his promises, no matter how ridiculous it might seem to everyone else.

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And also look at that face.

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He also looks almost constantly confused and that’s a big mood.


5. Ben Hanscomb from IT

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While, apparently, I’m an Aries like Eddie Kaspbrak, I always felt more attached to Ben. Maybe because, much like him, I’ve struggled with body image. While his was because of being overweight and that making him an easy target, for me it’s because I’m trans and it’s been an uphill battle getting used to my body. He also struggles with his courage and being accepted because he’s different, something I’ve also had to face myself.

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He’s also super awkward around people he finds cute.

1. Dobby from Harry Potter

Every Friday after I get off work, I’m usually texting Caidyn telling him how happy I am that it’s the end of the week and it goes something like this. 


It’s kind of become an inside joke between us. However, it’s recently occurred to me that I am indeed Dobby. 

Now, out of all the characters from Harry Potter, I would’ve loved to pick Hermione. Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut…

Hermione punches Draco

She is a goddess and I can’t even. 

I also considered Neville, buuuuuuuuut…



So, we circle back to Dobby whom I feel fits me better. For example, I’m short and have pointy ears (this will come up later). I would consider myself very loyal to my friends and I too long for freedom aka my weekends. 

And, I wear socks all the time. Seriously, except when I shower, I’m always wearing socks because my feet get cold. 

I am also fiercely protective of my friends and fight for them. Like this: 

And since Caidyn is Harry, I think this is fitting.

2. Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings

Is it a crime that I’ve never read the LOTR books? I really don’t care. I’ve seen the movies. Here’s the thing. Just like I see myself as a house elf, I also see myself as a Hobbit. I always have, always will. I’m short, have pointy ears, and love to eat. I may or may not have hairy feet. I want to move to New Zealand and live in Hobbiton in a hole the ground. That is #lyfegoals. So, why did I pick Samwise? Well…


Some gifs just sum me up perfectly. Like this one. 

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Now, that I think about it, I’m probably a combo of Sam and Pippin. 

3. Willow Rosenberg from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I know this tag specifies book characters, but here’s the thing. Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a comic series that continues on after the show ends, SO FIGHT ME. 

I watched Buffy when I was a teenager and I loved it. It’s one of my favorite shows of all time. I’m currently rewatching it and I’m loving every minute. Except for the spiders in the opening credits of seasons one and two. The fuck, man? 

ANYWAY, I always identified with Willow Rosenberg. Willow is Buffy’s best friend and an adorable, dorky, nerd who is loyal. I’m sensing a theme here. She’s also a badass witch, which I’m not but let’s throw that in there anyway. 

Here are three gifs which demonstrate how dorky and adorable Willow is. Alyson Hannigan is an American treasure. We don’t deserve her.

Willow being a dork

Willow waving

Willow no spanking

There are a few other reasons why I so closely identify with Willow Rosenberg. 

For one, she has an adorable kitten. 

willow catnip problem

Willow with miss kitty fantastico

I think this is too much cuteness for me to handle. 


willow kinda gay

Psh, “kinda gay” come on Willow, lesbi-honest. 

Okay, okay, before anyone jumps down my throat, I do not consider this a spoiler because sexuality isn’t a spoiler. I do not agree that revealing a character’s sexuality is a spoiler. Yes, Willow comes out as gay in the later seasons, HOWEVER, knowing there was an openly gay main character on this show is the reason I watched it in the first place. And guess what? Willow Rosenberg is far more than just her sexuality. She is a fiercely loyal, badass witch, and she also happens to come out as gay later in the series. 

She was the first openly gay character I can remember seeing on a network tv show, and I absolutely love her for it. 

So, if anyone had any technicalities with choosing Willow as a character. Well, let’s just say you won’t be happy with my last character. 

guilty willow

Sorry, not sorry.

4. Dustin from Stranger Things

Stranger Things is not a book and Dustin is not a book character, but I watch far more TV and movies than reading books. All those years when everyone was reading, I was watching TV. Hence why I have two TV characters on here. 

Yet again, we have another character who is loyal, nerdy, adorable, and maybe a bit awkward. 

Here, have some gifs. 

she's our friend and she's crazy

Fiercely loyal.

dustin yelling at the video game

Potty mouth.

dustin being adorable

Fucking adorable. 

we have her


And he also has great priorities. 

Not real nilla wafersdustin and the pudding

If there were ever a character that represented me, it’s a pre-teen boy. Goofy, dorky, adorable, and awkward. 

I hope you guys got a sense of who I am through these four characters. I think I kind of beat the message over the head, but you tell me.

dustin i love you

Who are you most like? Who do you think we are that we didn’t mention? Comment below!