Ravenfall: ARC Review

Have you been on the hunt for a new middle-grade series featuring supernatural elements, the inception of life-long friendship, and wholesome family values? Kalyn Josephson’s Ravenfall may be the book for you! Released in early September, and presumably intended for the Halloween crowd, spookiness is not relegated to the early autumn months, so why limit yourself?

Ravenfall has a fairly authentic (i.e.: somewhat annoying*) female protagonist, and a less authentic (i.e.: less annoying*) male protagonist. These kids have seen some shit – to be more specific, they’ve given Haley Joel Osment a run for his money. HJO may have gotten the opportunity to act opposite the hunky Bruce Willis, but these kids get to live in a knock-off Encanto house and flaunt their supernatural abilities in life-threatening ways that will make anyone who is a parent reading this novel shudder.]

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

At the end of the day, of course… this is a middle grade series, with the expectation for some form of continuation. But the annoying and the less annoying characters become friends, engage in dangerous shenanigans that endanger their lives, and these high stakes are resolved in some form. There’s also a helpmate that looks like a cat, creepy psychic twin sisters, warm cider, and a showdown at a raging Halloween party.

It was not the best thing I’ve ever read, but it was pretty good. Recommend!

*Don’t pretend middle school aged children don’t annoy the shit out of you. I see you, and more important, Santa Claus sees you. & you can bet your ass he lets the Elf off the Shelf to take a shit in your stocking when you lie, because you’ll assume it’s coal and what the fuck are you going to do with coal other than throw it in the trash or light it on fire anyway? So unless you want elf shit all over your footwear, you should be real with me. Also, this metaphor got super weird, and a little out of hand…

Creative Ways to be #1

For some people, being #1 is all that matters. I don’t think I’m one of those people, but I will say I get a small thrill of dopamine when I manage to achieve supreme status – even for things that don’t matter (which, come to think of it, is most things that I have gotten first place in #thingsthatdontmatter).

Like recently, I have been publishing the first story in my Love is Hell re-write on Wattpad, which has gotten negligible views and no votes (how unexpected that no one wants to rant-rewrite an anthology that’s like 15 years old with me, right? #notbeingesoteric). Yet, through the power of creative hashtags (which I mostly make because I think they’re funny and part of me secretly hopes someone else will notice them and agree, or better yet, search for the darn thing because they have created a story with the same hashtag and a small part of them desperately wants to find someone with the same ridiculous sense of humor), I am in fact the #1 (and only) story in the following categories:

#disappointmentthynameisme

#loveishellrewrite

#ya-ish

This is my peacock moment. Revel in my ridiculousness with me, and please, share your unique hashtag of creative way of being #1 in the comments below.

If You Want Something Done Right…

Ok, I’m just going to be a bitch for a minute – I recently read the YA short story collection Love is Hell, which managed to fall short of my expectations in pretty much every way possible with the exception of Justine Larbelestier’s tale “Thinner than Water.” The rest of the collection was comprised of work that felt unfinished, unpolished, and at times, just downright poorly written. I have to assume this collection was a cash grab, that the editor, if there was one, fell asleep when he was supposed to be working and didn’t actually do his job. What should have been a collection of smart short stories featuring supernatural YA romantic horror are instead a sloppy mish mash of stories, sometimes supernaturally related (one of them is just sci-fi).

I am a bit angry, to be honest – the authors who theoretically wrote (I’m not going to rule out that there could be ghostwriting) the stories in this collection have careers and make a living by writing when something this mediocre is associated with their name is… baffling.

So my response?

I want a decent collection of YA romantic horror short stories, so for all of the stories in this collection that I don’t like, I’m going to re-write them.

… care to join me? Use the tag #loveishellrewrite if you also want to re-write at least one of the atrocious stories in this disappointing anthology, or leave a comment below if you have similarly done a re-write of something that had a promising premise that was, unfortunately, not fulfilled, so I can check out your rage re-write.

Okay, Corn Fairy

One of the plethora of clickbait business e-mail newsletters that I receive is Korn Ferry, a global organizational consulting firm that sometimes has good articles… and sometimes does not. “5 People to Meet When You’re Back in the Office” is one of the latter.

This article is fucking hilarious. Supposedly intended to be a helpful guide as we return to the office post-COVID, it actually just congregates all of the people you work with into groups so that, if you take this article literally, you are just re-connecting everyone in the office. Not the worst approach, but also not the targeted help that the title pretends is being offered.

Who, specifically, does Korn Ferry say you should meet?

  1. your manager,
  2. your direct reports,
  3. colleagues and peers,
  4. key stakeholders and internal partners, and
  5. new staff members

So… like I said, pretty much everyone.

Definitely more than 5 people, unless you are creating a start-up with four of your friends and y’all are literally the only ones who currently work for the company.

… I should probably unsubscribe.

Want advice on how to behave in the office? Don’t go to the corn fairy – this bitch ain’t helpful…

Book Review: Lost Coast Literary

Today, I will be reviewing Ellie Alexander’s Lost Coast Literary, a book that I received an e-galley for from Netgalley. I thought this book was a cozy mystery with a fantasy twist, featuring a literary-loving protagonist named Emily. In actuality, it’s a beach read that’s full of family melodrama. Reading the book synopsis again, this actuality is not even surprising — this is what I get for skimming descriptions:

Book editor Emily Bryant finds herself unexpectedly in the charming town of Cascata on California’s Lost Coast, holding the keys to her grandmother’s rambling Victorian mansion. While sorting through her grandmother’s things, Emily learns that she must edit old manuscripts to inherit the estate. It’s a strange request from a family member who was basically a stranger.

Emily quickly realizes that there’s something different about these manuscripts. Any changes she makes come true. At first, she embraces the gift. She has a chance to help characters find true love or chart a new course for their future. But then things go terribly wrong. Her edits have the opposite effect. The sweet and funky seaside community of Cascata is reeling from the chaos Emily has created. Everything she thought she believed about her family and her past is in jeopardy, and no amount of editing can fix the damage she’s done.

Then she finds one last manuscript. If Emily can get this edit right, maybe she’ll have a chance to create a new narrative for herself and everyone around her.

Suffice to say, I wasn’t a huge fan.

I mean, the writing was… fine. The plot was kind of fun and… fine.

The characters were annoying, not least of all Emily herself.

I should have known this wasn’t my book from the opening scene, in which Emily tries to figure out which phone case she wants to put on her cell – Emma or Jane Eyre. What kind of literary aficionado prefers Bronte to Austen? I mean… seriously, would you rather spend time with someone fun and witty and engaging, or someone who acts like a moody teenager as an adult that wants to be screwed by the inspiration for one of the first written vampire stories?

… Michael Thomas Ford gets it.

Emily is insufferable. For example [disclaimer: quoting from an ARC, with chance that final printing could be updated/different], here, where she’s talking about her aunt, an amazing jazz singer:

I appreciated that she wasn’t jaded or trying to pose as something other than her artistic self.

Emily Bryant, annoying protagonist

This is because her aunt admits she gets butterflies in her stomach before she goes onstage. But… like, it’s a problem if your aunt is awesome and totally owns it? She has to be humble and feel slightly sick to her stomach, or she’s not being honest? Like, it’s okay to not be a nervous mess and to be okay with being awesome. Get over yourself, Emily.

Or let’s talk about the crux of this novel, which is that Emily has no memory of the family she hasn’t seen who live in Cascata, even though she lived with them for at least 8 years. This amount of time is supported by her absolute surprise to find “a recipe for red velvet cake where Gertrude [her grandmother – don’t call her by her freakin’ name, show some damn respect Emily!] had noted: ‘Emily’s 8th birthday. A birthday in red for our little red.'” THEN, only after she has read the notes left by her grandmother, does she remember a birthday party where she’s dressed like Little Red Riding Hood. Like – you were eight, not two. I find it very odd that she has no memory of these people until she reads a note in a cookbook. Also, can we even assume that she’s a reliable narrator? If I thrust a book from the 17th century where I wrote in it that Emily Bryant likes to suck cock, is she suddenly going to remember that she had a past life or is a time traveler who had to whore herself out to make a living in the 1600s? Like, did she even have this birthday party? Maybe her grandma was just hella smart, and left weird gaslighting notes all over her cookbooks to make it seem not-weird that she left this girl who can’t even remember her an entire house instead of the relatives she saw pretty much daily.

… because some granddaughters (*cough cough* Emily *cough cough cough*) deserve it

Another problem with Emily is she only seems to assume people can be “connected” if they both like books. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big reader. But I’m okay with the fact that not everyone reads as much as me. And I don’t think your romantic and personal relationships should be solely based on people who exclusively do the same hobbies that you do. How are you going to grow as a person if you only do the same things? But here is a literal passage from this book:

‘I don’t know.’ I thought back to his first interaction with Sienna. They had much more in common, namely a deep love and appreciation for literature. Did he and Martine share the same passions? ‘They seemed so different. So mismatched,’ I said to Shay. ‘Apparently he wants to write children’s books, and she hasn’t read a book in five years. Can you even imagine?

Emily Bryant, annoying protagonist

So, basically, if someone reads, you approve of them and they deserve love and all good things. But if someone doesn’t read, or doesn’t read enough, they should just feck off and go to the Bay Area? Let’s not forget, these ridiculous opinions are coming from someone who has no memories of the first 8 years of her life and whose literary interpretations fail to appropriately elevate Jane Austen’s work above that of Currer Bell. I’m sorry, Emily, but no dice. Actually, I’m not sorry. Stop being ridiculous. It is appropriate to have friends, lovers, etc., with a variety of interests and backgrounds.

#stophobbyshaming

Keeping in mind that I am a character-reader, and I severely disliked our protagonist, this book was… fine. The cover is cute. The plotline is kind of interesting, although it features a heroine you are definitely supposed to be rooting for who I definitely was not rooting for. The California setting seemed accurate. It has some of that small-town and everyone in it likes books except for Martine because there needs to be some reason her husband is not into a woman who’s fierce and smart and beautiful and well-dressed and driven, which is, apparently, that she finds it difficult to read while she’s out there living her life, vibe.

Overall, I do not recommend. But if you are not a character reader and/or like to read books that are “fine,” then this one may be worth checking out.

Ann Arbor Rant: Let’s Talk About Math

I’m not sure who decided that Ann Arbor Public elementary schools should teach children Everyday Math, but I hate it.

Recently, I discovered the frozen-over hell that is partial sums. For those who didn’t learn math this way, partial sums ultimately boils down to performing single digit addition from left to right. Which means anytime a number not in the highest number value place exceeds 10, things have to be corrected. For example, if you take the problem 549 + 327, under partial math, your thinking strategy works something like this:

In other words, partial sums boils down to performing the problem backwards, since at the end of the day, you’re doing addition at the single digit level, which also means you have to continually correct your math if you run into a “carry-the-one” situation. It gives the child more opportunities to mess up, since they have to keep going back and correcting the numbers they had already calculated, which were calculated correctly, but actually need to be increased because of high numbers in lesser place values. How is this easier/better than the traditional carry-the-one method?

(… it’s not)

My understanding is that this practice is intended to teach children place values. But that seems like place value could easily be taught via expanded notation, while still solving from right to left so you don’t have to repeatedly “correct” your math:

… see why I hate this shit?

This baby gets it.

The Cat Piss Diet

So… my husband is doing the keto diet. I am so proud of him for working to get healthy. Yet it seems that keto is designed not just to lose weight, which is my husband’s primary goal with this diet, but also for a more active lifestyle.

… Can I do neither? #stayinbed

He began talking yesterday about smelling like ammonia. I didn’t smell anything, to be honest, because I have a terrible sense of smell, but like a good wife, I lurked over his shoulder while he Google’d it. Apparently, some people have trouble digesting the extra protein that occurs from switching to a keto diet. So for someone who is in finals week like my husband, who is pretty much glued to his desk, the protein may build up in the body and excrete from the skin. An ammonia smell is often an indicator that too much protein is being ingested, which can have nasty side effects, like kidney stones, liver damage, and bone damage.

In other words, be wary of the keto diet, because it could, like, kill some of your internal organs and make you smell like piss and no one will want to give you a hug. And if you’re going to do keto, make sure you’re exercising.

Sorry, Y’All

I usually try to post at least once per week, but am currently working through some life changes, and so have been a bit MIA/remiss. I shall strive to do my best to behave again – if you don’t see a post from me next Tuesday, you have my permission to shake your head at me in gentle admonition, and perhaps be slightly cross or reproving.

In other news, I decided to create a Twitter, primarily to amuse myself because other people are fucking great at using their 140 or less characters to make me laugh. But I legit squealed a bit in delight when Mona Awad (yes, that Mona Awad, writing goddess, and if you haven’t read Bunny yet, you need to, like, why are you even reading this – go to the bookstore now) responded to one of my tweets:

Had to share – I look up to this woman so much (and recently got the opportunity to read an ARC of her upcoming release All’s Well, which I will be posting about soon (spoiler alert: also amazing)). Unfortunately, the rest of this week has not been going so well. BUT tomorrow’s Friday, so this week is almost over. & next week is bound to be better.

How are y’all doing? Please share in the comments below! I would love to hear about your highs/lows and in-betweens (or feel free to leave your Twitter handle, so I can laugh at your funny 140 character or less postings).