Things I Can’t Forget (Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally
Published March 1st 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Auction
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt – with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…

I’ve read Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker, and Racing Savannah, albeit a little out of series-order and a while ago, but I remember really enjoying the series for it’s fluffy yet realistic romance and sports elements. Things I Can’t Forget is my first peek back into the series after a good few years, and it’s definitely missing some of those elements I remember.

First up, a disclaimer: I’m not too good with religious books, and books that deal with heavily religious themes. Things I Can’t Forget lays it on thick, with the constant “will Brother John approve of this?” “am I living a good Christian life?” and, the golden “I hate it when Christians don’t act Christian-like” every paragraph or so. It made the first half a bit of a struggle to wade through, but I can appreciate how the author chooses to develop a character like that, and goes all out in doing so, instead of shying around Kate’s struggles, or ending it with a quick, fantastical, 180 position-reversal.

Kate’s relationships, both with Emily and Parker, were aspects I really, really loved, and the way the author took her time to explore all the ups, downs, and bends in both relationships made it feel all the more real and meaningful. (Also, Parker and Will were really fucking cute.) (Also, Jordan cameo!!!)

“King Crab Kate” and “Miniature Poodle Matt” is a cute exchange; “King Crab Kate” and “Miniature Poodle Matt” are really, really cute.

Also, back in high school, I worked at a local summer camp over my summer breaks, and covered both Chemistry (pet bottle rockets!!) and Art Director (clay chia pets and cork-board-pom-pom coasters!!!), and it was really fun to see bits and pieces of my experiences reflected here as well. Especially Brad’s thing about “I prefer working with the younger kids. Puberty scares me” and “I’d much rather deal with snakes and bears than kids going through puberty. Seems easier” – hard same. Middle and upper elementary kids are a terrifying, terrifying lot.

The ending, though, felt rushed and abrupt – all these dangling plot threads are tied up in just a small handful of pages, and it feels oddly hollow and lacking, like you had this huge cast of characters, each starkly different and unique from the other, and then at the end they were just kinda smushed together and patted on the head and then! It’s over!!

So all in all, Things I Can’t Forget was hardly set up to be a story I’d enjoy, but it’s a Miranda Kenneally book, and though it wasn’t my favorite Hundred Oaks book by any means, the supporting characters and the characters’ relationships managed to make up quite a bit.

It’s been roughly two months since my last translation but I’m back with another! You can probably start to get a sense of my basic-ass taste in music^^;;; あいみょん has such a lovely voice – I might put up a couple more of her songs’ translations sometime in the near future, so watch this space! As always, I’m sorry about my awful grammar, and please do feel free to let me know if you spot any errors! It’d be much appreciated, actually. Enjoy!

the wind is a little strong
and is unsettling my heart
the you that gazed so seriously
you’re my dearest

the days that somersault into one another
acting so pitiable
they seemed so lazy but
the ray of hope was

always shining right in front of me
it was happiness

the you wearing a straw hat
reminded me of swaying marigolds
that was when the sky was still summer-blue
the nostalgia made me smile, of our romance that day

“don’t leave me anymore”
the you who looked at me as if you were about to cry
with that soft-kindness like a cloud, tightly,
抱きしめて 抱きしめて 離さない
I’ll hold you, hold you, never let you go

all of my feelings
I’m not strong enough to reveal them
but, it’s strange –
I don’t feel hopeless

the silhouette burned into the back of my eyelids
I cherish it, you

your soft skin brushes mine
as we walk, just the two of us, in the slightly chilly air
as we enjoy this day called “today”
and talk about things like what to name it

ああ アイラブユーの言葉じゃ
Ah, the words “I love you”
aren’t enough, so I kissed you
our shadows still linger in the clouds
いつまでも いつまでも このまま
forever, forever, let’s stay just like this

even if we’re somewhere far away
I hope we can be connected
I hope that our feelings
will be the same

the you wearing a straw hat
reminded me of swaying marigolds
that was when the sky was still summer-blue
the nostalgia made me smile, of our romance that day

“don’t leave me anymore”
the you who looked at me as if you were about to cry
with that soft-kindness like a cloud, tightly,
抱きしめて 離さない
I’ll hold you, never let you go

ああ アイラブユーの言葉じゃ
Ah, the words “I love you”
aren’t enough, so I kissed you
our shadows still linger in the clouds
いつまでも いつまでも このまま
forever, forever, let’s stay just like this

never let you go
いつまでも いつまでも 離さない
forever, forever, never let you go

Archangel’s Prophecy (Guild Hunter #11) by Nalini Singh
Published October 30th 2018 by Berkley
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Midnight and dawn, Elena’s wings are unique among angelkind…and now they’re failing. The first mortal to be turned into an immortal in angelic memory, she’s regressing. Becoming more and more human. Easier to hurt. Easier to kill.

Elena and Raphael must unearth the reason for the regression before it’s too late and Elena falls out of the sky. Yet even as they fight a furious battle for Elena’s very survival, violent forces are gathering in New York and across the world.

In China, the Archangel Favashi is showing the first signs of madness. In New York, a mysterious sinkhole filled with lava swallows a man whole. In Africa, torrential monsoon rains flood rolling deserts. And in Elena’s mind whispers a haunting voice that isn’t her own.

This time, survival may not be possible…not even for the consort of an archangel.

I heard this ended on a cliffhanger so I thought I’d wait until Archangel’s War came out and I’m sO CLOSE BUT I CAVEEEEED.

> The back-and-forth, the ease and openness to communication, and the stability and depth of Elena and Raphael’s relationship will forever be my favorite thing about this series.
> The Legion has a bigger presence in this story!! That was cool.
> This was… really slow? Which, on one hand, makes sense, because it’s the book leading up to the Big Angel War (I’m assuming, because, Archangel’s War). But on the other hand, this was the eleventh of eleven books leading up to the Big Angel War, and all the previous books had no trouble with this, so I really think it’s just a This Book problem and not a problem of its placement in the overarching story.
> There was also a ton of recaps. A TON. Something like the previous ten books distilled to a couple of paragraphs and them crammed into every feasible place you could find. Which, overall, made Archangel’s Prophecy read as more filler-y than anything else.
> I ended up skimming through a fair chunk of this. I love Nalini Singh and I’ll still read anything she puts out, but this was the most filler-y, draggy, and disappointing book in the series by a long shot, and I’m pretty sad about that.
> Most everything ends on an ambiguous note, and I felt like this book was just going around and around in circles without ever really getting to the point 🙁 Like this was what the entire book was supposed to be aBOUT but then it ended juust before the Big Happening? Even all the other stuff – the family stuff (I’ve got my eyes on you, Jefferey – you better shape up, yeah?), the angelic/vampiric mystery stuff was just… glossed over… they took up a lot of physical pages but didn’t seem to take as high of an importance as Elena’s immortality business, and yet.

(But, am I still going to read Archangel’s War? HELL YEAH. One more month to goooo)

I love Yamamori Mika’s characters.

ひるなかの流星, and Suzume, particularly, is absolutely nothing like me and she’s just really pretty cool? I like the way she charges through life, boldly and just. Herself. As cheesy as it sounds, that itself is equally admirable. I remember this one scene in particular where she ties up her hare for an image change, smacks her cheeks once, and then picks herself up after falling into a bad spot – figuratively. Mamura is super cute, too. He’s awkward and bumbling and sometimes overthinks his way into embarrassing situations, but his straight-forward attempts and makes him feel genuine and endearing (and me sound like a grandmother. Look at these soft children trying to live their best lives!!). His family dynamics are wholesome and fluffy as well, and just what the story needs. Yuyuka, from love-rival to best friend, is a grounding force amidst the fluffy, bumbling main characters. Shishio, with his hipster-y off-day look and boisterous facade, is interesting and a needed addition, variety and color to ひるなかの流星’s cast of characters. Just purely based off of character line-up, and ひるなかの流星 is fluffy-cute and promising.

It is fluffy-cute! The character dynamics are just as bumbling, sweet, and endearing as you’d expect, and that, coupled with adorable artwork? It’d be stranger if it didn’t work out.

Buuuut, my only qualm? I wish the student/teacher trope would die out already. Shishio works just as well (maybe even better, honestly, especially in some of his scenes with Mamura) as a fellow student, and his dynamics with Suzume’s father can be kept if he was a slightly older student.

But, she ends up with Mamura. The people around her raise similar questions about the nature of her and Shishio’s relationship. It’s painted as a first love vs. lasting love, someone whose back you admire vs. someone who’s there to walk every step with you, and that in itself is a pretty nice sentiment.

Enter, 椿町ロンリープラネット.

First off, I’m an Aesthetic Bitch™ so of course I’m in love with the title.

You thought ひるなかの流星 was the end of it, bUT. The age gap here too bothers me A Lot (twenty-eight and sixteen?), and the constant reminders that Fumi is responsible and capable and wise beyond her years does absolutely zip zero zilch to assuage those rumors.

So, 椿町ロンリープラネット follows ひるなかの流星. I see way too much of myself in Fumi and Akatsuki, so their little monologues and baby steps to individual self-improvement are actually really nice to read, motivating, in a way, and heartwarming in another, and the reason I’ve stuck it out with the story so far? Well, that and the adorable artwork. Of course.

BUT, and yes, there’s another Big But: I don’t like how Akatsuki uses Fumi as his emotional crutch. Call me an idealist, but I like to think that any kind of genuine, happy, healthy relationship should be a two-way street. Here, Fumi is the only one providing emotional output (for the lack of better words; re-reading this, and wOW can y’all guess what kind of field I’m in). Genuine, happy, healthy relationship? Noooot quite. She ends up occupying this odd multi-status as Akatsuki’s Mom, Caretaker, Girlfriend, Charge, Housekeeper, aND Therapist and that’s far too much for anyone, let alone high-schooler, a sixteen-year-old.

So, as 椿町ロンリープラネット winds down, I can’t help but think of how much it follows ひるなかの流星. Not in the story, per say, and not exactly by means of the characters, either, though both casts do share the quality of being colorful and endearing – but in the way the casts seem to always be fluffy-cute, down-to-earth, and full of potential, yet the main characters’ romantic plots are always written into less-than-idea scenarios that, had they been written/drawn by anyone else, I probably wouldn’t have picked up.

I wrote out this long thing, practically a monster-sized musing to myself at this point, but TL;DR? I really liked ひるなかの流星, and I liked 椿町ロンリープラネット, but I feel like that was 100% because of the characters, and if the main romantic relationships hadn’t been so blatantly imbalanced, I think I would’ve enjoyed them a lot better? Yes.

Aerou turns two/five today!

The road’s been filled with hiatuses and gaps here and there, but we’ve safely arrived at Aerou’s big second anniversary!

I am almost certifiably awful at these types of celebratory post, AND somehow I managed to completely miss Aerou’s previous birthday? So I decided to venture out and see what others have done for their anniversaries! And, facts. Facts seem safe. Here are some facts to commemorate Aerou’s birthday (with previous-year’s facts mixed in as well, because I sTILL CAN’T BELIEVE I FORGOT?)

  • I’ve been blogging for roughly a decade, and Aerou is my fifth blog! I moved around a lot between wordpress, self-hosted wordpress, and blogger, and I was also a co-blogger for a stretch of time, but I think I’ve found a good home for my tiny, ramble-y corner.
  • The highest-rated book review of the past blogging year award goes to The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand!
  • The lowest-rated book review of the past blogging year award goes to Night Broken by Patricia Briggs
  • The 3-star and 4-star rating tags are tied for most-used ratings of the past year
  • I’ve finally put that Translations tag to good use: translations of recent songs I’ve been enjoying have also recently joined my blogging queue!
  • I’ve never gone under three words for aaany of my post titles, and even if you completely disregard all the really long bite-sized titles, most of my post titles are mile-long fragments like My Reading Habits Can Be Aptly Labeled “All Or Nothing”: the Urban Fantasy Edition, Commitment Issues (or: a Tiny Section of a Long List of Series I’ve Started and Never Finished), and the upcoming Yamamori Mika and the Case of the Awesome Characters in Not-So-Awesome Situations. (THEY’RE SO LONG THEY EVEN GET THEIR OWN LINES I CAN’T BELIEVE) I have a problem.
  • (/whispers/ this is actually Aerou’s quasi-second anniversary? As in: Aerou’s been around since at least 2016, and roughly summer of 2015, I’d say? Or maybe even 2014, but I honestly don’t quite remember – the server I was hosted on abruptly shut down, and I was a dumbass who forgot to back up her stuff properly, so if you click way back now, my earliest post shows up as my review of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone – the earliest post I could retrieve, posted on August 16th, 2017, and thus Aerou’s new quasi-birthday. So technically, Aerou’s fifth anniversary is sometime this year, but Aerou-since-switching-servers, and Saved-Data-Aerou’s only two years old. Semantics?)

In the coming years, too, I hope I can continue with Aerou and hopefully, year by year, this list of facts/superlatives can grow and grow!

One little step at a time 🙂

别那么骄傲 by 随侯珠
Published September 2015 by 花山文艺出版社
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★☆

Chatting in the dormitory at night, roommates wonder how much pain Aunt Flow brings. Mr. Perfect He Zhi Zhou has never bothered joining in on these petty talks for amusement. That is, until he became a woman and laid in bed with a white-cast complexion……

Chatting in the female dormitory at night, roommates sighed over the current pairings in the school of engineering, Shen Xi was a little curious that the problem with these topics is that there was no way to test them. Until she became an engineering male and a bar of soap dropped in front of her……

Introduction in one sentence: About how a top-scoring perfect male with no desire in the opposite gender and an amusing female lead were set up like lightning setting the ground on fire spreading out of control—leading to a sweet and rippling life……

Life is so long, don’t be so arrogant. Some things are bound to deviate.

The first half was fluffy and silly and fun. HZZ really did end up drawing the short end of the stick in all this chaos, both his and SY’s reactions to everything were hilarious, and the way the author just… shamelessly and boldly charged headfirst into everything that differed between the male and female experience… I’m screaming. I did feel a lot of sympathy for LYT, but, maybe in part because we’re seeing this through SY’s eyes, I do feel like he had it coming, and that SY deserved a lot better than him. It did really feel like he only started trying to put in the effort once HZZ came into the picture, and once he realized that SY had other options, ones arguably better than him – only when he felt threatened. And while the latter half of the book took on a slightly repetitive pattern, and with a few questionable elements, it made for a nice, lighthearted read, and I really appreciated how steadfast the main couple was, even through their small squabbles and silliness. TL;DR I’m weak for fluffy, happy, silly stories and 别那么骄傲 was just that.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Published November 4th 2014 by Createspace
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

I liked some of the poems, others felt rather incomplete – it was a pretty underwhelming read, despite the emotion and conviction behind every single word being pretty darn powerful. I don’t know how to feeeeeel.

Spider’s Revenge
(Elemental Assassin #5) by Jennifer Estep
Published September 27th 2011 by Pocket Books
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Old habits die hard. And I plan on mur­der­ing some­one before the night is through.

Killing used to be my reg­u­lar gig, after all. Gin Blanco, aka the Spi­der, assassin-for-hire. And I was very good at it. Now, I’m ready to make the one hit that truly mat­ters: Mab Mon­roe, the dan­ger­ous Fire ele­men­tal who mur­dered my fam­ily when I was thir­teen.

Oh, I don’t think the mis­sion will be easy, but turns out it’s a bit more prob­lem­atic than expected. The bitch knows I’m com­ing for her. So now I’m up against the army of lethal bounty hunters she hired to track me down. She also put a price on my baby sister’s head. Keep­ing Bria safe is my first pri­or­ity. Tak­ing Mab out is a close sec­ond.

Good thing I’ve got my pow­er­ful Stone and Ice magic — and my irre­sistible lover Owen Grayson — to watch my back. This bat­tle has been years in the mak­ing, and there’s a chance I won’t sur­vive. But if I’m going down, then Mab’s com­ing with me…no mat­ter what I have to do to make that happen.

There’s a plot there, somewhere, under all that repetition. In hindsight, the “army of lethal bounty hunters” feels way over-exaggerated, as does Gin’s skills – she keeps messing up perfectly good shots! I know she beats herself up for it and knew she screwed up, but it ends up feeling like cheap twists to stretch this one hit into a full-length book, and it doesn’t quite work for me. The fight sequences are still cool, though, and the last quarter or so of the book really picked up the slack.

十二点的辛德瑞拉 by 板栗子
Published 2017 by jjwxc
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★½☆☆

Newly crowned Film Emperor Feng Jing; good looks, good stature, good acting, good character. Except he has one unshakeable rule—any night show he stars in cannot go past 12 o’clock. The media, with ulterior motives, chases after this little crazy secret of his. Yet remaining unconcerned about how the outside world falls into turbulent times, Film Emperor Feng still stands tall and unmoved.

Jiang Ran recently felt that her dog has become somewhat strange. Ordinarily when she kisses, hugs, and raises her dog up high, her dog would always be especially happy and lovable. Now whenever she kisses, hugs, and raises her dog up high, however, her dog was horny…

Reading Guide:

Every midnight, the male lead’s soul switches with that of the female lead’s dog, switching back at six o’clock in the morning.

Self-healing little sweet novel! Sweetness is the only goal!

The female lead is intelligent, beautiful, tender, generous, hardworking, and brave (according to the male lead) Male lead is a loyal dog, loyal dog, loyal dog, loyal dog, loyal dog, loyal dog (according to the author)

板栗子 is one of my favorite authors for fluffy, lighthearted romcom-style chinese reads (with the added bonus of hilarious online forum/chat mediums incorporated into them as well) – I really enjoyed 只怪当初瞎了眼, 结婚协奏曲, and 我的世界坠入爱河. 糖心蜜意, though sliiiightly missing something that the other three had, in terms of cuteness and fluff and immersive enjoyability, was another all-around great read! But 早安,幽灵小姐 was. Weird? For the most part, I didn’t like MZ – that was my biggest qualm. He came off as imperious at times, creepy at worst, and though he did have some moments, 早安,幽灵小姐 was the first 板栗子 book that left me feeling disappointed. Enter, 十二点的辛德瑞拉.

To be fair, the biggest point has more to do with my personal tastes than anything else. The way FJ’s body-swap was portrayed… weirded me out? for the lack of a better term, and that definitely colored my opinion, especially of the beginning 1/3. I also think a lot of it has to do with the fact that, up until now, the 板栗子 novels I’ve enjoyed were all from the female perspective. I really enjoyed reading about these girls pursuing their careers, doing their best and chasing success (DM with singing, TZ with fashion and manhua, PY with acting, and TM with sweets). Along the way, they encounter romance, but it’s more a? a happening that’s encountered on their respective career paths? Yes, cute and fluffy romance has always been the centerpiece of 板栗子 novels, but usually, it’s colored by daily life and career notes. Here, there’s very little color, and that, coupled with FJ’s not-awful, but also cardboard-dry character, and there’s very little that can prop it up to the same fun and immersive standards that 板栗子’s other novels had set. The first half is one large, slightly manipulative and arguably creepy and stalkerish pursuit of a girl, all pretenses abandoned.

The second half, despite all this, does get a lot better! JR, as well as the appearance of YY, as well as poor MXE, does wonders for the dryness of the story. And, FJ’s family? Amazing. His sister deserves the biiiiigest hug; I love their close-knit dynamics. FJ and JR’s cute, flirty dynamics are everything you’d want and expect from 板栗子. The chaos of the media, the melon-eater comments, the zero-fucks attitude FJ has toward these happenings… The second half returns to 板栗子’s usual fluffy, cute, slightly outrageous and over-the-top style. But.

1). Their relationship happened super, super fast? Call me old-fashioned, but I feel like, especially after his sister’s ordeal, floating marriage 4-5 months after your very first meeting is pretty rash? 2). The second half was wild – in a good way – but the first half, with all it’s aforementioned weirdness and creepiness, is a pretty high hurdle to have to clear to get to all the fluffy cute chaos later on and, frankly, if I wasn’t a huge fan of 板栗子’s other works, I definitely would’ve tapped out within the first twenty chapters.

So, 2.5 stars, all for the second-ish half. Three on Goodreads, because they don’t allow half-stars, and I definitely liked 十二点的辛德瑞拉 more than 早安,幽灵小姐, and even though I didn’t quite like it as much as 糖心蜜意. Fingers crossed for the next!

Poison Study (Poison Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder
Published March 1st 2007 by Mira
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

Poison Study has been on my wishlist for so, so long, and so many recommended lists have had at least one book by Maria V. Snyder on it, so really, what took me this long (at least seven years!!)?

In hindsight, part of my reaction might be on me. I’m not a avid a fan of romance as I used to be, and I’ve definitely become a lot pickier. But Poison Study was supposed to be a lot of different and interesting things – primarily, a poison tester! court intrigue! – and, while the resulting book wasn’t bad – I enjoyed it, and the characters were definitely the highlight – I think I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more a few years ago.

The transitions felt a little weird. It’s not that they were nonexistent, but they were set up in ways that disrupted the flow of the preceding and succeeding story. The breaks between scenes and switches between trains of thought felt jumpy at times, and all too brief at others. It makes chunks of the writing feel – what’s the word? something like fleeting? but with bad connotations? – and takes away a lot of the building tension and emotion, too, and overall just detracts from the story. In the same vein, the foreshadowing. It… wasn’t great? I won’t say what happened, but we aren’t fed breadcrumbs so much as we’re fed entire loaves.

And, okay, confession time: I don’t like Valek. I thought he was okay at the beginning, but as the story progressed, he just got more standoffish and demanding. He’s very obviously set up across from Yelena as the love interest, but most scenes with him just make me wish he was anything but. He irrationally gives her the cold shoulder out of the blue – nothing happens! he just gives her the cold shoulder! – and then a couple pages he just. Returns to normal? And nothing more is said on the topic? Like, okay. Most everyone else treats her awfully, particularly at the beginning, and I get it! It would be weird and unrealistic if they didn’t, seeing as she is a criminal and a murderer. And, Maren’s cold to her throughout, but I found myself really liking Maren, because to Yelena, she’s a trainer. And she’s cold but not an asshole, you feel? But Valek runs hot and cold, nice and asshole-y, on a hair-trigger, and he’s clearly set up to be her love interest, so here we have some problems. His holier-than-thou attitude air, especially in that one scene in which Yelena asks what she’s learned from him, and he replies with his attention – his attention?? after eeeeverything she’s accomplished at that point in the story???? – rubbed me the wrong way, to say the least. He does have his brief oh-no-he-s-cute moments – what can I say, I’m weak for the dark and brooding ML trope – but, for the vast majority of the time? Eeeeeh. I also really didn’t see how their relationship developed? One minute they seemed like employer and employee and then the next she and Rand are yelling and she realizes her ~feelings~. Gradual development, there is not.

I really liked Ari and Janco! And, as aforementioned, Maren! I liked the dynamic the author had set up, both between the two as well as between them and the rest of the characters. I love the little tight-knit family they developed between themselves. Their training sessions were one of the highlights of Poison Study for me, and I really wished we could’ve seen more of them!

OH. The one thing I was super on-the-edge about? The Commander. No spoilers, so I’m not going to dive deep into it, but. I have. Many thoughts.

The rest of the story’s pretty standard magical YA fantasy, in my opinion. The cast of supporting characters prop it all up, and the poison-eater element gives it a spark. It’s cool to see how everything slots together; I can really appreciate how the author managed to combine so many elements – spies, acrobatics, magic, political intrigue, food, psychological demons, and more – into one cohesive novel. It keeps you reading, despite the cons. I definitely appreciate how solid and thought-out a lot of Yelena’s turning-point choices felt, as if they were truly given their proper weight, as well as the non-cliffhanger-y, hopeful ending. As for the way it all developed, on paper, overall, from the set up to the conflict to the resolution, it’s very on par with most YA fantasy.

And while Poison Study isn’t groundbreaking by any stretch, it’s a pretty solid read, especially for fans of the genre.

(Me @ 恋人失格boy: she did cry!! She cried a ton!!!) Sorry for the delay! Here’s the original song that prompted 恋人失格. As per usual, my grammar? Awful. I took soooome artistic liberties with the dialogue-y bit in the chorus because the direct translation sounded really clunky and dry? In any case, please feel free to comment below with any questions, comments, or errors that you might’ve noticed (it is I, hammering this out between tasks at work, so there’s probably most likely definitely going to be some)! Enjoy 🙂

you’ve been gone since last night – it’s been 24 hours
I still haven’t taken a step outside

I think about the you who goes at his own pace and often oversleeps
the house clock, five minutes two fast
seems to have lost its meaning

aware that I didn’t like cigarettes
you smoked on the balcony
the curtains fluttered, my eyes grew warm
you’re not there anymore

「もっとちゃんと僕をみててよ もっとちゃんと」って
“Look at me more, look at me properly”
was that too heavy for you?
「もっとちゃんと僕をみててよ もっとちゃんと」って
“Look at me more, look at me properly”
言わなければ 君はここにいたかな
if I hadn’t said that, would you still be here?

you probably know me very well
when I’m tired, my body temperature rises
also, that I like my kisses short

そのとき想った 僕は君のこと
that’s when I realized, about you –
how much do I know?
the first thing that came to mind
was the name of your favorite cigarette brand

「もっとちゃんと君をみてれば もっとちゃんと」って
if I looked at you more, if I looked at you properly
even if I realized it now, it’s far too late
「もっとちゃんと君をみてれば もっとちゃんと」って
If I looked at you more, if I looked at you properly
there’s no meaning to realizing this now

the cigarettes you left
I hate them, but – why did I end up lighting one

君の匂いがしたのさ 君の匂い
it smelled like you – your smell
I took a puff
でも やっぱりむせた
but, as I thought, I choked

「もっとちゃんと僕をみててよ もっとちゃんと」って
“Look at me more, look at me properly”
言わなければ 君はまだここにいたかな
if I hadn’t said that, would you still be here?
「もっとちゃんと君をみてれば もっとちゃんと」って
“Look at me more, look at me properly”
I cried into the slightly bitter smell of you

Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1) by Aimee Carter
Published November 26th 2013 by Harlequin Teen
Source: received from publisher
Rating: ★★☆☆☆


For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked – surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed, and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand.

Pawn had me going “????????” from the opening pages.

So Kitty fails an aptitude test right before the book starts, and ends up with a III tattooed on the back of her neck. Her boyfriend Benjy tells her he doesn’t care and that he’s willing to run away with her! But somehow she’s convinced that it’ll ruin his test results and she’s not willing to be his downfall which. If it’s an aptitude test I’m struggling to see exactly how her score and her marrying him will affect his personal aptitude? And halfway through, we were kiiind of floated this idea that maybe the aptitude test isn’t all it seems and that it doesn’t really test your aptitude, which 1) has the potential to be a really good critique of the current standardize testing system (SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, etc etc etc) in the US and 2) can start to potentially make an argument for why certain choices, like marrying a III, might ruin your chances of becoming a VI. BUT then immediately after we’re treated with a slew of tidbits here and there about how bright and wonderful and talented and smart Kitty is, and how there’s proof in how she managed to pull a III on the test although she had to leave a huge chunk of it blank, and then it all swirled away.

Benjy? I liked his steadfast resolution to stand beside Kitty. I wasn’t really sure about much else, though. Pawn was really good at putting everything into really neat little boxes, and Benjy? He sat in a nice little cardboard box labeled “KITTY’S MOTIVATION” and set a toe past those boundaries.

So Kitty goes to a club instead of becoming a sewage worker, and from there everything really starts to unravel, because instead of actually selling her virginity to the highest bidder, the highest bidder actually just wants Kitty for her. blue. eyes. And for that reason alone, he’s set to make her into a VII and his niece’s doppelganger? They can lengthen legs in this futuristic world. They can change entire body shapes and sIZES in this world. But they can’t change someone’s eye color to blue? ??? ????? There are processes now, in 2019, that can do that for a person. Hell, there are less-invasive colored contacts that can give you any eye color you want. But this is their one hang-up in this dystopian world?

But, okay. Kitty becomes Lila, agrees without thinking there might be some sort of catch, or maybe fifty (who will track you down, shoot down club members and intimidate your family members to get to you, only to hand you a golden ticket with no strings??).

And from there? I’m. Not quite sure? I read Aimee Carter’s The Goddess Test and Goddess Interrupted when they came out, and honestly, Pawn kind of gives off the same vibes I remember (albeit from. seven years. ago). It floats here and there, dabbles in a lot of things that could be potentially interesting, but never delves into them, and then sprinkles that atop some romance and calls it a day. There’s something about a rebellion, though we don’t actually ever get to see it. There’s set up for political intrigue, but, as Kitty – and every other character she interacts with – hammers home for us every other page or so, Kitty’s motivation is BENJY, so we’re treated to a lot of fretting and worrying and doing-things-at-other-people-s-command-so-benjy-will-live-to-see-another-day but no actual self autonomy, and so much of the intrigue-discovering happens once Kitty’s become a victim, or an unhappy bystander caught in the crossfire. There’s romance, but Benjy’s never really treated to any character development, and feels like nothing more than the possibly proverbial carrot to Kitty’s every move, so the romance comes off as dry and maybe even posturing instead.

Aside from all this, the world building is also confusing, not to mention pretty unbelievable – unrest settled by the reorganization of all the resources to the elite few? It’s simplistic and glossed-over, fluffed up with a few comments here and there about how unjust the system is. And the characters? They have just enough presence to fulfill their roles in the story, but are hardly memorable, and after a while, start blending together.

Pawn wasn’t an awful read, but it was shaky and lackluster. You might be able to chalk up chalk up some of it to Pawn being the first in a trilogy, but even then, I don’t feel any motivation to continue.