Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Reasons Why You Should Read A Tyranny of Petticoats

a-tyranny-of-petticoats

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is to talk about something we love. So I thought I’d use the opportunity to do a condensed review of A Tyranny of Petticoats, which I finished a couple of days ago.

A Tyranny of Petticoats is a young adult anthology of short stories, edited by Jessica Spotswood. And here are some reasons why you should pick it up!

1. Historical fiction

This anthology is made up of 15 short stories that are all historical and set in the United States. If you love historical fiction, I can guarantee that you will love A Tyranny of Petticoats. As someone who doesn’t know much about US history, I learnt a lot of about it as I was reading the short stories. I also really loved that the stories were in chronological order and featured lots of different time periods.

2. Badass ladies

Every single short story is about a female protagonist. I loved how strong, fierce and badass they all were and how they took their own destinies into their own hands. We read about pirates, thieves, teachers and just normal girls who refuse to submit to their ‘superiors’ who try to bully them.

3. Diversity

I loved the diversity in this book. There is diversity in sexual orientation, as well as diversity in colour. I really enjoyed how these aspects were explored in all of the stories.

4. Social issues

This point ties into the first point I made. I highly enjoyed how the social issues of each time period were given a lot of focus. I feel like I learnt a lot and I loved how these issues were explored in the stories.

5. Author notes

Each short story was followed by an author note, detailing the inspiration behind the story. In a lot of cases, the stories were based on a true event or real people in history, and I liked that we were given some information about these in the author notes.

6. New to me/you authors

I hadn’t heard of some of the authors who contributed stories to the anthology and I enjoyed being able to get a little sample of their writing. I ended up looking up some of these authors’ other works and I’ll be checking them out soon.

7. Short stories

All of the short stories in this anthology are about 20-25 pages long, which I really, really liked. I don’t really like it when short stories are 50+ pages because that’s not ‘short’. These are a really great length in my opinion and it was easy to read a couple of stories in a sitting.

8. Romance and no romance

What I enjoyed about this anthology was that there was a good mixture of stories with and without romance. In fact, I think there were more stories that didn’t have a romance element and I loved that.

9. Mix of genres

There was also a really good mix of genres. They were all historical stories but there were some with fantasy elements and some with mythological aspects and I liked how different each of the stories were.

10. Beautiful hardcover

I have the hardcover version of the book and I think it’s a super high quality book. It’s got a beautiful jacket and the naked hardcover is also really lovely. The pages in the book are also thick and great quality.

Goodreads || Book Depository

Review: The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

the-outliers

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Release date: May 1, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages; 468
Goodreads || Book Depository

Imagine if you could see inside the minds of everyone around you – your best friend, your boyfriend, your enemies…?
Imagine how valuable you’d be…
Imagine how much danger you’d be in…
Imagine being an Outlier.

Wylie hasn’t heard from her best friend, Cassie, since their fight. That doesn’t matter when she gets a text from her, asking for help. But as Cassie’s messages become increasingly strange, Wylie has a growing sense that something is REALLY wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling her? And could finding her be just the beginning?

MY THOUGHTS

3 stars

Thank you to HarperCollins Australia for sending me a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Outliers is a new mystery/thriller series by Kimberly McCreight. In this first book, we follow Wylie, who receives some strange text messages from her missing friend, Cassie, asking for help. For the majority of the book, we follow Wylie and Cassie’s boyfriend, Jasper, as they go on a crazy and thrilling road trip in the middle of the night, in search for Cassie.

I don’t usually read thrillers but I decided to give this one a go because I read a sampler and was really interested in Wylie’s character and her anxiety problems in the aftermath of her mother’s car accident. Agoraphobia is something that I’m super interested in and I wanted to see how it was handled in this kind of a book. Sadly, the agoraphobia lasted for about 3 chapters before Wylie magically decided to leave the house and suddenly everything was okay again. I was pretty disappointed with how it was handled and how it was thrown to the side in favour of moving the plot forward. This is something that I see way too often in YA and I’m often left wondering why it’s even necessary for authors to incorporate mental illness into their books if it’s not going to be explored.

I also had a problem with the whole concept of the Outliers in this novel. They’re supposed to be a group of people who have heightened sensitivity to other people’s emotions – so much so that they’re able to read others’ emotions with blindfolds and headphones on. Despite the whole book centreing on this idea, it was hardly explained at all. I didn’t get the sense that the author had done a lot of research on the topic and it just didn’t seem like she had a good idea of where she wanted to go with this. Being that psychological research is my full-time job, I had lots of issues with the research that was mentioned in the book. There were lots and lots of holes and I couldn’t help but critique every aspect of the research design and cringe at how invalid some of it was. There were terms that have a very specific meaning in psychology that were misused and I had to try to ignore the whole concept of the Outliers to even enjoy the book.

As for the plot, I did find it to be exciting and thrilling but there were things that happened that were a little bit predictable. The blurb on the back of the book gives some things away and it’s definitely better to go into it not knowing anything at all. I also thought that there were some things that were kind of unrealistic and I kept finding myself being jerked out of the book because it was so hard to believe that these things were happening. Overall, even though the plot was exciting and kept me reading (in fact, I read this in two sittings), I didn’t think that it was the most amazing and exciting plot. It was honestly a little sub par. There isn’t a lot that actually happens, and a huge chunk of the book is just about Wylie and Jasper driving on the highway.

There isn’t a lot that I have to say about the characters. I disliked almost every single one of them because I didn’t know if I could trust them. I didn’t feel a connection to any of them because as soon as I felt like I knew them, there would be some sort of twist or change in attitude that would make me feel as though I never knew them in the first place. I did think Wylie was a good protagonist that I could get behind as the series progresses but I’m not sure that I’ll be continuing on with the series after this. I have no idea where the sequel is going to go but I think this book could have easily been a standalone novel if it had been better conceptualised and developed.

Wrap Up: May 2016

May16wrapup

Can you believe another month has passed? I can’t believe it’s June already and that the year is almost half over. It feels like February was just yesterday! This month was really eventful for me and flew by in a flash. I went to Florida for a week to present at a vision sciences conference, which was a really great experience, and I got to meet my Happy Indulgence co-blogger Aila @ One Way or an Author. Just two days after coming back from my Florida trip, I went to the Sydney Writer’s Festival where I got to meet my other co-blogger, Jeann @ Happy Indulgence (and reunite with Aentee @ Read at Midnight), as well as other bloggers too.

But because my month was so busy, I didn’t read for a whole 10 days in the middle of the month. I did still manage to read 13 books though and most of them were 4 stars or better! I’m also currently 35 books ahead on my Goodreads challenge, which makes me exceedingly happy. Let’s get into my reading summary!

May16

Reading summary header

1. I’ll Meet You There – Heather Demetrios  5 stars

This was probably my favourite book of the month. It was such an incredibly well-written story about a small town girl who just wants to get out but life keeps throwing her curveballs. The novel also explores PTSD and it was done so fantastically. It has the sweetest and most realistic romance and I’m so in love with the characters and their stories. LOVE LOVE LOVE!

2. The Unexpected Everything – Morgan Matson  5 stars

Morgan Matson’s newest release definitely doesn’t disappoint. I’ve read every single one of her books and I haven’t rated any of them less than 4.5 stars. The Unexpected Everything isn’t my favourite of her books (Second Chance Summer takes the crown) but it had the same great balance of romance, family, friendship and coming-of-age elements that all of her books have. This one is especially cute because there are lots of adorable dogs in it.

3. The Raven King – Maggie Stiefvater  5 stars

The Raven King is the fourth and final book of The Raven Cycle. I absolutely love this series and The Raven King was also amazing. I wouldn’t say that it was everything that I’d wanted because there were so many unexpected things that happened, but ultimately I’m very satisfied with how it all ended.

4. Yellow – Megan Jacobson  4 stars

I wasn’t actually intending to read this book because the synopsis didn’t have me convinced that I’d enjoy it. However, Megan Jacobson was the guest for May’s YABookmeet, which is hosted by Dymocks Sydney, so I felt like I had to read the book before I went. It ended up surprising me with how enjoyable I thought it was. Yellow is about Kirra, a girl who’s being bullied by her friends at school and whose family is very dysfunctional. One day, she gets a call from a ghost from a telephone box, who ends up giving her a lot of life advice.  In exchange, Kirra has to bring his murderer to justice. ..

5. The Honest Truth – Dan Gemeinhart  45 stars

This is a middle-grade story about a boy who has been battling cancer his whole life. The story begins when he gets fed up with being the sick kid and runs away from home to take a journey up Mount Rainier. He has nothing but a little bit of money, the clothes on his back, and his dog for company. It’s a sad book with a lot of honest truths and I absolutely loved it and ugly cried for ages.

6. A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Maas  3 stars

ACOMAF was a really highly anticipated release for me but I had a lot of issues with it. I hated the way that Sarah J. Maas turned her characters into people who were unrecognisable from the ones we met in A Court of Thorns and Roses. I also had some problems with Feyre and how her character became even more of a special snowflake than she was in the first book. And I was definitely disappointed with the plot and how absolutely nothing of substance happened.

7. Kindred Spirits – Rainbow Rowell  4 stars

Aila @ One Way of an Author was amazing and managed to get hold of a copy of Kindred Spirits for me (which she gave to me IN PERSON when we met in Florida). Kindred Spirits is a short story about a girl who is obsessed with Star Wars and what happens when she decides to wait in line for a week outside the cinema for the newest movie to be released. It was cute and funny and a great story if you’re after something short that you can finish in a short sitting.

8. The Star-Touched Queen – Roshani Chokshi  4 stars

Another book that I received from Aila, The Star-Touched Queen is a beautiful book inside and out. The writing is rich and descriptive and the world was incredibly magical. The book follows Maya, a princess who’s just one of many women living in the palace. She longs to be seen and make a difference to the world, so when she’s given the chance to rule side by side with Amar, the ruler of a kingdom she’s never heard of before, she jumps at the opportunity. But Amar is hiding some secrets… I enjoyed this book a lot but there wasn’t a lot that actually happened plot-wise. I’m looking forward to what the sequel brings and hopefully it’ll be even more exciting than this first book.

9. Nimona – Noelle Stevenson  45 stars

I very rarely read graphic novels but I picked up Nimona during a comic book/graphic novel sale at my bookstore. It’s a very action-packed and unique story about a supervillain and his sidekick who are trying to save the world from the “good guys”. Confusing, I know. This graphic novel was super fun and fast to read. I loved the characters and thought they were really funny and full of heart. Noelle Stevenson’s art style is also amazing!

10. The Crown – Kiera Cass  2 stars

The Crown is the final book (hopefully) in The Selection series. This is a series that I read for the laughs. I really did not like the first three books but the characters and the drama of the books is so strangely addictive that I’ve been continuing the series. I didn’t mind The Heir and thought it was actually the best of all of the books… but this final book was just a huge disappointment. It lacked the drama of the previous books and just fell super flat. The romance, I saw coming from a mile away and I honestly wasn’t a fan of it. Of any of it.

11. Summer Skin – Kirsty Eagar  4 stars

I read this book because Jeann will be talking about it on radio on Sunday night. I’d heard nothing but good things about it from around the Aussie blogging community and I thought I’d give it a try. It was a really fun and feminist new adult novel that has a little it of a Romeo and Juliet, forbidden love feel to it. It was a really quick read and I enjoyed the characters and their relationship a lot.

12. The Start of Me and You – Emery Lord  4 stars

I read When We Collided by Emery Lord a few months ago and really enjoyed the writing style and story. I decided to give this one a go when I saw it in a Barnes and Noble when I was in Florida. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I did When We Collided but I still thought that it was a cute, contemporary read and featured a romance that I could root for. My problem was that I couldn’t really connect with the main character, which made me feel a bit disconnected from her story.

13. The Square Root of Summer – Harriet Reuter Hapgood  3 stars

This book was simultaneously amazing and confusing at the same time. I don’t think I can fully explain what this book was about (but I do have a full review linked where I attempted to do so). The novel features a lot of theoretical physics that I could follow as I read the book, but I found that I couldn’t put all of the theories and ideas together at the end of the book. I was left a little bit confused about the ending what the whole story meant. Having said that, this book has a lot of unique elements and I absolutely loved the reading experience.

T10T

I only did two Top Ten Tuesday posts this month because I’ve realised that I’m terrible at replying to comments on them and the more TTTs I do, the more behind I become on replying and commenting back.

Photo 22-05-2016, 12 57 53 PM

Aentee @ Read at Midnight, me, Jeann @ Happy Indulgence, and Emily @ Loony Literate at TeenCon

Aentee & me

Aentee @ Read at Midnight and me at TeenCon

Aila & me

Aila @ One Way or an Author and me at The Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida

Review: Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

highly-illogical-behavior

Publisher: Dial Books
Release date: May 10, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 256
Goodreads || Book Depository

Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?

Enter Solomon.

Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

I knew after reading 15 pages that this book was going to be a 5-star read. John Corey Whaley really knows how to write in a way that connects with readers. He’s definitely a master at moving people with his words.

Written in alternating chapters of Solomon and Lisa, Highly Illogical Behavior explores the friendship that blossoms between them and what a little bit of kindness, companionship and love can do for people. Solomon suffers from agoraphobia, which is the fear of open and public places that are deemed to be dangerous because it may be difficult to escape when a panic attack occurs. After an especially embarrassing panic attack when he was 13, Solomon has stayed inside his house for 3 years, not even stepping outside into his backyard. But Lisa thinks she can fix him. She desperately wants to become a psychologist and in order to get into the second-best psychology program in the United States on a full scholarship, she needs to write an essay on her personal experiences with mental illness. Curing Solomon of his agoraphobia will give her the best chance to win the scholarship with her essay. And she’ll stop at nothing to get what she wants.

What initially drew me to the story was the beautiful writing. There’s just something about third person omniscient that gets me every time. The writing was so full of heart and emotion and it was really impossible for me not to feel touched and love the story. But it was the characters and their interactions that kept me reading and invested in the story. Solomon was a fantastic character and I loved the way that he was portrayed in the novel. He was just a normal kid and wasn’t portrayed as disabled or abnormal in any way. He’s just a kid who has anxiety. We’re all scared of things and his fear just happens to be public spaces. I also loved his family and how supportive they were of him and his condition. They acknowledge that the situation is tough but they don’t force him to change when he’s not ready and they’re there for him when he needs help and support. Their acceptance of who he is was really moving.

He felt it. It was small and it was complicated, but he felt it all the same. He wanted to follow them. He wanted to walk outside and follow them into the world.

I also really, really liked Clark. He was a great best friend to Solomon and I wasn’t expecting him to be as great a friend as he was. But I fell so quickly in love with him and he was such a nice and genuine guy who knows right from wrong. I think his presence really made the book. There were so many hilarious interactions between him and Solomon and it was just so beautiful to see the friendship come to life. Now, Lisa on the other hand, I really did not like at all. She was very pushy and manipulative and I couldn’t really stand how self-centred and egotistic she was. She’s a very confident young woman who believes that there’s nothing she cannot do, even if it means using other people to get what she wants. Her character definitely developed throughout the book and I eventually did start to like her, but for most of the novel, I couldn’t really stand her. But what I thought was really great was the fact that the friendships in this book helped not only Solomon, but also Lisa to become a better person who treats those around her with more care and love.

There’s really not much more that I can say besides “read this book”. It’s a short book that is really quick to read and you’ll definitely laugh and cry with the characters.