Faithful Place by Tana French

This is my fourth French novel, the third in the series but the fourth one I’ve read. And yup, it totally confirmed that I hate reading things out of order. Even in a series like this, where the books aren’t always directly connected, it can screw things up. Faithful Place can definitely be read as a stand alone, more than any of the other novels, but there were things in The Secret Place that relate back to this book. That means I kind of knew what I was looking for, just little things, but enough that it changed the way I read Faithful Place. I was looking for how certain characters were involved in the outcome, because I knew they would be. But don’t worry, knowing this information will not change the way you read The Secret Place. You can read this review and it won’t impact that book at all. Of course, if you read this review and you haven’t read Faithful Place yet, well, that’s your decision, not mine.

FP took me a long time to read, like weeks, maybe longer. It’s the shortest of French’s books, but took me several times longer to read than any of the others. It’s not because it’s a bad book. It’s not that at all. It’s a good read. I simply wasn’t in a reading mood for a while, and, like French’s other books, it’s not a fast read. It’s slowly paced and digs into human darkness. These are books that get to the heart of what make us who we are. And those moments usually aren’t big explosions. They are little moments that slowly influence everything we do. The phrase that comes to mind – wherever you go, there you are. If the person you’re trying to run from is you, you’ll never get away.

Faithful Place brings back Frank Mackey – who we met in The Likeness – and begins with him talking about defining moments in life. Being able to recognize them when they happen. For him, it was the disappearance of his teenage girlfriend. This is the exact opposite of what I just said, right? One defining moment instead of a lifetime of little ones? That’s what French wants us to begin with, but we spend the rest of the novel discovering that Mackey is way more than just that one moment. But that’s what he believes. It’s human nature. We desperately want to believe that we can look back and distinctly see what made us who we are – especially our insecurities and fears – but it’s all the tiny moments that combine to become the core of who we are. Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesdays – Blanket Reads

Summer has arrived! It’s been a million degrees here for the last week and I’m hot and less than happy. I also seem to have caught a flu that’s making every muscle in the body ache – like all the time. So that combined with the heat may be making me crankier than normal (this is why I’m slow on the reviews lately). Anyway, what I’m taking the long way to say is that I’m not a lover of heat. I prefer things a little overcast and rainy. I love snow. But, we only get like two months of really warm weather here (if that). And warm weather does mean the opportunity to take a book outside and read – and that I do like. I’m just probably not going to do it at a place filled with tiny grains that get everywhere. I’ll probably be stretched out on the grass with a blanket and an iced coffee and a hat and all the sunscreen. But, beachy or not, outdoor reads are a summer thing. Usually, these books are a little lighter than the books I gravitate towards in the other seasons. But this summer, my bleak and sad train just keeps chugging along. Why ruin a good thing, right?

So, here are the books I’m planning to lug around with me this summer.
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Meet You There – Jessica Wallace

Technically, this one isn’t released until the fall, but I have an advanced copy.

Robin Kent doesn’t understand how everyone around her, including her husband, is so certain of everything. The only explanation is that they’re all following the same Guidebook–a copy of which Robin has yet to receive. When a co-worker at her call centre reveals his secret, Robin is sure he’s offering more than just a way out of a depressing job, marking the beginning of a drift from one life to another.

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Wearable Wednesday – All Hail the Bell Sleeve

Okay, so last week I talked about the pink thing. The pinkification of iconography to make it accessible to girls. However, sometimes, pink is just the way it is. Pink doesn’t have to be terrible. As long as it embraces its power. Just shouts ‘I’m pink, damn it. So what?’ And pink comes into play a lot with Disney material. And yes, there are serious issues with the way Disney presents its female characters – especially in the way they are drawn. But, I’m a Disney girl. I don’t love everything Disney (I do not get the Frozen craze – there will be no Frozen dresses here), but I love a lot of it. So, I’ll keep watching stuff and knowing, as an adult, that there are flaws. And talking to the kids in my life about reality versus fiction.

My niece love, love, loves Disney. She’s realized that her name is the same as one of the princesses. Occasionally, she refers to herself by her princess name. We sometimes refer to her as Princess Pricklepants when she’s being particularly feisty. She is quick to correct you with her real princess name. So, sometimes, I’m going to make her Disney dresses. And when I find a fabric that includes my favourite Disney villain, I’m going to buy it and make sure that character is front and centre on a dress.

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Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff (@sbrezenoff )

It’s no secret that I tend to like my books on the bleaker side of things. I like when my characters have to suffer a bit. But sometimes, I come across a book that is so friggin delightful that I find myself smiling through the entire thing. That’s exactly what happened with Guy In Real Life (G.I.R.L). I picked this book up as part of the Forever YA book club. I have to admit that I was a little hesitant going in. A book about a metal guy and a D&D (Dungeons & Dragons for those not in the know) girl and their unexpected romance. Hmmm… not entirely my cup of tea. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up without the prompt from the club. I really didn’t know what to expect. I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Very pleasantly surprised

On its surface, this is a love story. Opposites attracting and such. After a drunken binge, Lesh has a literal run in with Svetlana – knocking her off her bike and destroying an entire summer’s worth of work. They should hate each other, and that is their first instinct. They do not like each other. But as they’re forced further from the initial incident, they realize there’s a real attraction between them. But that’s the super simplified version of what this novel is about. What it’s actually about is social and personal acceptance. Being different from your friends, or your family, or the person you always thought you were. Being true to yourself – even if that means allowing that self to adapt and change.

This book presents a microcosm of society. In a lot of young adult fiction, we get a direct comparison between popular and unpopular kids. These books work in their own ways and serve their own purposes but the comparison of those social groups is easy. They’re so different. They are against each other by nature. If popular and unpopular got along there would be no distinction. But in G.I.R.L we get the unpopular against the unpopular. The weird metal kids against the weird gamer kids. And then the breakdown within those worlds. Video gamers vs Tabletop gamers. Metal girls vs Gamer girls. Trolls vs elves. There’s this almost pathological need to categorize people, especially in high school, and how these labels fall out impacts every relationship. All you need to do is read the other reviews of this novel to see how deep the obsession with labelling runs. Insistence that Lesh isn’t a metal kid. He’s a goth. He’s too stereotypical. He’s not stereotypical enough. Metal kids can’t be gamers. Svetlana is a hippie. She’s not a hippie. Hippies can’t be gamers. On and on. There’s a hierarchy to how we see people, even within the groups in which they exist. I’d love to give teens hope and say that this goes away after graduation. It doesn’t. It’s still there, but eventually, it no longer matters. Continue reading

Wearable Wednesday – Dirty Schmirty

Remember a couple weeks ago when I was talking about my dislike for pinkifying superhero logos? Yeah, well, I may have bought a fabric that did exactly that. But it’s cute while still being rad. And some girls like pink. And there’s nothing wrong with that. And the background is blue with a black and white checked lightning bolt. It’s not so terrible.

This is another new pattern, and this one looks like it might fit a little small, but that could be because some of the other patterns are so insanely large that I don’t know what I’m looking at! This dress is a little different from the others I’ve posted because it has no home. It’s just a dress that’s starting my stockpile until I see if I want to sell these at local farmer’s markets. Or if anyone is even interested in buying them. If not, then I guess my niece is going to get an avalanche of dresses at some point. Continue reading