Books & Reviews 📚

Books #148 – #151: predictable cheesy YAs and spies

I found this post while sorting through drafts! Apparently, I had written it a few months ago and forgot all about it! I’m just thankful I have something to post today! 🙂

Book #148: You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

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This book won the Schneider Award for teens and I want to know how and why. This book was nowhere near excellent or mind-blowing. What drew me to this book was the Deaf Culture aspect. I’ve been working on a story in which the male protagonist is deaf – I may have mentioned this already – and I wanted to read similar stories along the line like it, but this book was so terrible, I did not get very far.

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Kinda how I feel about this book although I haven’t picked up ASL in a while!

Julie is Indian American and a graffiti artist who attends the Kingston School for the Deaf. Someone writes a slur about her best friend and she covers it up with a graffiti mural. This is illegal. And what do you know? The so-call best friend snitches and Julie is expelled. I DNF’ed this book before the halfway point, so I can’t really say much about the story, but the writing style was a turn-off and the art accompanying the story was pretty boring!

This story is recommended for 12 years old and up. I wouldn’t even recommend this to anyone and the usage of foul language was a dead turn off. No, universe, you’re not welcome. 

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Book #149: Love, Life and the List by Kasie West

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Let’s get right into it. Things that bothered/annoyed me:

^ This sentence: He was the best friend in the world. (Page 3)

^ The texting: Most teenagers (and most adults for that matter) do not text in full sentences completed with full stops!!

^ When the story is written in the first person, the protagonist tends to overshare and in doing so, they become little narcissists. Hence why the author ends up overwriting most of the time.

^ Pages 85-86: Why is this girl on the phone… IN THE LIBRARY?! This irks me. And on top of it, she was talking rather loud.

^ Page 90: Throwing books? You don’t throw library property at each other! What hooligans! I’m sure the author wouldn’t want me to throw THIS book at someone!

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We have Abby. She’s an artist and is in love with her best friend Cooper who doesn’t “like her like her” that way. However, there’s a nice boy named Elliot who does and he is also into art. He sculpts. 

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I thought this book was going to be about Abby getting over unrequited love and falling for someone else who was not Cooper who took her for granted and even missed her big art show! Some best friend. Cooper and Abby as endgame were forced. I came away from this story not caring for Abby as she was irritating and I didn’t care for Cooper either. I mean, was I supposed to swoon over him? There was no chemistry between them at all. What in the world was West thinking?

Abby’s grandfather Dave and Elliot were the most exciting thing about this book. Like, where can I read their stories? love coffee

Book #150: The Gordian Knot by Bernhard Schlink

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The Gordian Knot is a term used to describe a complex (sometimes unsolvable) problem and is often associated with Alexander the Great.

What we have here is a strange spy novel which starts in the dashing French countryside, but ends up in New York. The writing was terrible, the plot weak, the characters pathetic and nothing really made sense. It was supposed to have been a Cold War spy thriller, but I ended up with a story that was not memorable. love coffee

Book #151: Femme Fatale: Love, Lies, and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari by Pat Shipman

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Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod better known by her fascinating stage name Mata Hari hailed from the Netherlands and was an exotic dancer and courtesan. She was convicted of being a spy for Germany during World War 1 by the French and was executed by a French firing squad in 1917.

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Ever since I came across Mata Hari’s story in the newspaper when I was really young, I’ve been intrigued by her background. Reading her story many years later, I’ve come to understand the dancing spy’s persona better. She was intelligent and an excellent linguist. A spotlight seeker who drew the admiration of many men wherever in the world she went.

She loved turning heads.

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The author did a good job in explaining Mata Hari’s story from her early life to exotic dancer and mistress, as an alleged spy for France to her death. A lot of research went into this book, but pages devoted to what life was in the Dutch East Indies and the Dutch presence in Indonesia was extraneous. Mata came across as a spoiled egotistical opportunistic sugar baby to military men. 

In short, it was a well-written story, but I was left wanting to shake some sense into her for being so dumb and trusting all for the sake of wanting to live as a material girl. The author was very sympathetic towards Mata, but I was not. Her life and death were controversial, yes, but she was naive to a fault.

Fun Fact: In Indonesian, matahari means “sun” or “eye of the day”. love coffeelove coffeelove coffee

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#amwriting ✍, Ray & Marcus da Díxon 💙

CRFT snippet #3: Money don’t matter tonight

The following is unedited and all grammatical errors are mine:

Rue St. Honoré. A street lined with opulent fashion boutiques that one may be forgiven if they thought they were at a fashion show. People who couldn’t afford to purchase ridiculously overpriced brands such as Hermès, Dior, Gucci, or Chloé, still stopped and stared in awe at the untouchable items showcased behind glinting glasses. Some were trying to get a glance at the da Díxon twins; they previously ducked into one of the stores and the public was trying to figure out which one. Ever since the twins were featured on the cover of Vogue Paris the French couldn’t get enough. 

“This… is very expensive,” Benny Lafayette was afraid to venture further into the store. He was overwhelmed by the pristine clothes, shiny shoes, and flashy accessories. “Why couldn’t we go somewhere else… less expensive?”

Marcus rolls his eyes. “This is my favorite store!” He was clutching a thick book on snakes in his right hand as he circled a few mannequins sporting leather clothing, impressed. “And I want you to enjoy it with me. I haven’t forgotten that I have money. Ne pars pas les mains vides.” 

“We could’ve gone to Bottega Veneta,” Ray said behind him. 

“As if I’ll ever wear something that isn’t French! It’s the reason why I chose not to walk the Paco Rabanne show with you this weekend.” 

“You’re ridiculous!”

“You’re not patriotic enough!”

Benny sighs. “Remind me again, which one of you is older?”

“Remind me, again, why you’re not shopping?” Marcus retorts at his best friend. He gained the attention of two salesmen and starts pointing. “I want every leather jacket on these mannequins, those folded shirts, these coats here, clear everything on this aisle, the jacket with the tribal embroidery, these polo shirts except the striped ones for they belong in a bonfire, all of those black jeans and the pair of black boots in the glass display.” 

Benny’s mouth would’ve hit the floor if Ray didn’t nudge him in the side with an elbow. “Relax, he goes shopping once a year and he tends to buy everything.”

“Easy for you to say, Ray. Why aren’t you buying anything?”

Grand-père made me come with Marc although I don’t need anything.” He tilts his head discreetly at a dinner jacket he saw Benny eyeing earlier, as Marcus allowed something else to sway his attention. “You, on the other hand, should get something otherwise Marc would be insulted.”

French terms used:

*Ne pars pas les mains vides – don’t go empty-handed

* grand-père – grandfather 

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In my feelings

Different… styles?

Despite looking the same and dressing alike sometimes, some identical twins do have particular styles when it comes to fashion sense. Ray’s style is more sophisticated while his brother is a sucker for leather and black when he’s not in the school’s uniform. I would’ve liked to post the entire chapter, but then it wouldn’t be a snippet. I wanted to do something different with this shopping chapter hence the overboard shopping. 😁

On another note, NaNo would be over in 4 days and this is probably the last snippet I’ll be sharing… for now. At the beginning of the month, I discussed why I won’t be participating in NaNo, but I had an idea of what I wanted to write (CRFT) and I promised to share a few raw unedited snippets. This was completed. However, I do plan to share more snippets (I promised to share a snippet and my thoughts on ESP for a reader so there’s that), just not now. I’ve put this under the YA genre rather than Contemporary. I’m also extremely happy that people enjoyed reading about rich twins that have morals. 

Thank you for reading, leaving your comments, and even suggestions for the story. I appreciate it a lot… so do the twins. 😉

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#amwriting ✍, Ray & Marcus da Díxon 💙

CRFT snippet #2: Sonnets

Thanks to Kage of RLyis for this lovely cover

The following is unedited and all grammatical errors are mine:

Ray needed to be in two places at the same time: his swim meet and Romance Lit Club. It was his first swim meet so he chose to go there asking his twin to stand in for him at RLC. Although Marcus knew what he was in for, he obliged for he couldn’t say no to his twin, plus, there was bribery cake in it. 

The club had a total of thirty members and they met in the music room on Wednesday evenings. Today, twenty-three showed up to read their favorite sonnet. Marcus was aghast. There was no way he was going to pull this off now. He hated sonnets! 

A tall lanky guy stands and addresses Marcus, “Ray, if you don’t mind…”

Where Ray was charming, Marcus was the total opposite, but he forced a smile – when all he wanted to do was coldly glare – and said, “By all means, be my guest, Papin.” He listened half-heartedly as Papin gushed over a sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and tuned him out as he gazed out the window thinking about the batch of cupcakes Ray was going to especially bake just for him. 

“I shall but love thee better after death.”

“Ugh!” Marcus moaned in despair when some of the girls clap wildly. “Please, stop the train I want to get off.” By the time the fourth reader dramatically read her sonnet, Marcus wanted to hurt something. “I rather watch water boil!” he let out a breath and chanted internally, Think about the cupcakes. Oui, the cupcakes!

They were black coffee vanilla cupcakes that left a somewhat bittersweet coffee aftertaste in the mouth. Ray was skilled at creating bizarre foods that ended up being masterpieces. 

The cupcakes.

And they were all his after sitting in on this stupid romance club for one hour and a half. The cupcake dream soon disappear when Jarvis Facinelli said, “This sonnet is perhaps the most popular to date! It’s Sonnet 18 by Shakespeare who I consider the greatest romance writer of all time.”

Trying hard not to laugh, Marcus bit the inside of his left cheek and insolently rolls his eyes, “Right, and Shah Rukh is the best actor in the world.” 

Jarvis frowns. “Ray, I know you have your opinions…”

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” Marcus cuts off the escalating rant. “Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” He mocks. “As if he was comparing his love to the weather! It’s emotionless and dispassionate and it’s like talking to a dead fish.”

“Oh, yeah,” Jarvis challengingly folds his arms. “then what’s your killer passionate opening? Something from a dead French fanatic, perhaps?” he sneers.

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine,” Marcus smirks as the class was thrown into an uproar. A few of the girls sigh dreamily. Papin was frantically trying to rack his mind for the sonnet number and Jarvis was still staring at him with contempt. 

“Who wrote that sonnet?” Papin finally asked. 

“Ever heard of the Holy Bible?” Marcus looks on as everyone nods. “Good. That’s Song of Solomon. Read chapter one for the next class and we’ll discuss the greatest piece of romance ever told. As for me,” he picks up his backpack. “I’ll be devouring some of the finest cupcakes soon. Au revoir!”

Muffin, Fruit, Berries, The Sweetness, The Cake

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Have you ever seen the devil face to face?

The Old Switcheroo!

Well, I know that you’re familiar with this one! 😄You might have also seen movies with twins switching lives or a class for a day or maybe even two. Some results were hilarious, or successful, while some were plain disastrous; but twins enjoy sharing the pranks they’ve pulled on their classmates, friends, and even relatives. One of my favorite accounts involved identical twin teachers pulling off the big switcheroo, but some students noted the difference in handwriting and the class went nuts. Luckily, the teacher was just standing in for his identical twin for one day… or was he?

However, it is also important to note that although identical in appearance, twins do have different personalities and habits. They might look the same, but they are not always the same except in a few rare cases.  

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#amwriting ✍, Coffee Tuesday! ☕, Ray & Marcus da Díxon 💙

Crazy Rich French Twins: an introduction

From today, twins are going to reign for the month of November! 😉

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#TwinsGalore 

At the beginning of the month, I said that I wouldn’t be participating in NaNoWriMo because I don’t have the energy to do so this time around. I also shared the title of the serial I would’ve liked to work on: Crazy Rich French Twins. I’m yet to start working on it, but I’ve jotted down some ideas which I’ll most likely share during the month of November.

THE INCEPTION

Thanks to Kage of RLyis for this lovely banner

It happened one evening. While scouring Amazon for titles to add to my TBR (sometime earlier this year), an idea took shape: take the first four titles of books I come across and write my own short story based off it. I used to do this with song and movie titles. I came across a book titled ‘Crazy Rich Asians’. I’ve never heard about the book before, although it came out in 2014, but I liked the sound of it and wrote this title down. I was going to write a short story for my own crazy rich French twins and voila! A parody was born.

I’ll admit though, that I have no interest in reading ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ at this point.

THE TWINS

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I have mentioned them several times over the past few years in short stories during various stages of their lives, featured an episode of CRFT for Short Story Sunday and did a writing tag for the story. I’ve had them around ever since I started writing. 

Featured| Ray et Marcus da Dixon

This story centers around the twins’ lycée years. They look something like this…

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Beautiful art via Prince Canary. They’re top class! I wish to have my characters drawn like this someday.

…but with wavy auburn hair and standing at 5’11”. Ray and Marcus are mirror identical twins, geniuses, and super wealthy, but they sure don’t act like it. 😉I’ll admit, though, I’m not too sure of the direction I’m going with this so it’ll be cool to experiment.

THE LOCATION

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Based on the title, you weren’t expecting Russia, China or even Trinidad, right? To be fair, I may use various locations as I continue to write the serial, but for now, I want to focus on France. It’ll also give me a chance to brush up on my French. I’ll also be sharing some snippets here and there from the serial and debunking twin myths along the way. 

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