September 27, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Wine All You Want! Not-So-Perfect Book Tag!

Here’s the thing. And I’ve said it before, and I know I’ll say it again. There isn’t a better blog in the world, for the best tags in the world than Sara at Bibliophagist Reviews. She has an amazing blog all around and has been following me for as long as I can remember. She is also super amazing and supportive. I’ve linked her post from yesterday above. So PLEASE, PLEASE, go check out her post, peruse her blog and follow it. You won’t regret it.
Sara literally just did this tag yesterday, which is a spin on the perfect book tag and not only is the tag hysterical, but her answers made me cackle. So, I’m stealing it. I’ve linked her post from yesterday above. So PLEASE, PLEASE, go check out her post, peruse her blog and follow it. You won’t regret it.
I thought it would be hysterical to do because I don’t write up books I DNF, although I can get snarky with books that aren’t necessarily my brand of tea, I have only really put up one rant post (The Grim Reaper Wants His Rep Back). Although, now that I’m done and rereading, I realized that this isn’t all ranting. Some of what I used, I really liked! 
I had actually thought about creating an Emmy’s book tag today but I’m salty about Game of Thrones and don’t know if I have it in me.
The originator of this text is Alex who used the perfect book tag as an inspiration to create this tag! The rules are below.


  1. If possible, try to not mention the same book twice, it’s more fun that way
  2. It’s a funny tag where you can rant about terrible (or just meh) books so have FUN!
  3. Just do whatever you want ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  4. Tag me if you decide to do it, I would love to see your answers (that is the link to Alex’s tag) But I’d love to see your answers, as well. Please tag me, as well. I would love to see your answers!

One note before I get started- Some of these become real rants (whoops) but I would say that if, at some point, this gets way too long for you – skip down to the last one- it is the most important, to me, anyway.


Pick a book that undermines the genre as a whole (And I picked Sci-Fi)

Truth be told, I was going to pick fantasy. Because City of Bones or whatever that Cassandra Clare series is called (did I even get her name right- Mortal something or another)- in which I got 100 pages in threw the book on the floor and googled JK Rowling sues <insert name> and was gob smacked when nothing came up.
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But then I changed my mind. Because Sci-Fi has an overall bigger issue.



Wash. Rinse. Repeat. I watch/read/breath dystopia, apocalypse etc… so much that I’m just waiting for zombies or the avengers to show up on my doorstep. I can suspend disbelief with the best of them. Umbrella Academy, anyone? Game of Thrones? Walking Dead? 10 FUCKING years of MARVEL. Batman the detective vigilante? I mean the list just goes on and on…
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Let me bring this plane in for a landing. If you can’t get me to suspend disbelief and buy into a plot, then you haven’t done your plot has holes big enough to drive a Zamboni through it. I’m not trying to be mean, here. It is just truth. And that’s where:
Book bloggers
…comes in. Let me tell you the ways my eyes rolled out of my head and out the door:

  1. After SIX MONTHS of wandering around, Clover happens to accidentally find a radio signal when her car radio accidentally comes on just when a message happens to broadcast from the remaining survivors telling others where to come for safety.
  2. No one. Not ONE DAMN person ever even attempted to push back on the invading aliens. Child? Nope. Adult? Nope. Government? Just vanished, apparently. No explanation. Nothing. Bueller? Gone. Bruce Willis? Disappeared. NO ONE.
    • But there are 8 kids hiding in a bunker somewhere.
  3. At the beginning of the book Clover is training to become a pilot. Her idiot family even makes a joke that she can’t get to mars and isn’t even accepted into MIT. What we basically have here is a learner’s permit at best. Like when your mom takes you to the empty mall parking lot the very first time you are behind the wheel.
    • THEN SUDDENLY BING BANG POP and she’s nailing stunts like she’s Hans Fucking Solo… like she’s on the Queen fucking Jet. OH, COME ON MAN!

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At least John Oliver won all the things last night…


Pick a book with dialogue written so poorly that it made you cringe

Ok. So lucky for you this will be quick and painless because it isn’t an overall huge issue. But it is an issue with this book. Quick context. Obviously, I read more YA than Adult (although from now till February I’d say there is a balance that will be struck, and it remains to be seen if that will work out or not).
ANYWHO… Being I read a lot of YA I get the whole they are teenagers/young adults and therefore they should, act, think etc.…as such. So, when a YA book has kids acting, thinking and talking like, well, not just adults but like adults with a doctorate? Yeah. No.
I mean as it is there ten syllable polysyllabic words in these books that I have to look up and I have two MA degrees. But those are not within the dialogue. So ok, cool. I’m all for expanding vocabulary. But when it starts showing up in the dialogue? Uh. No. Well maybe if it is built into the character’s story arch- like, say:
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But otherwise. It is a hard pass. And so that brings me to:
It isn’t even just the vocabulary between Mallory and Spencer. It is the tone, structure and intelligentsia of their dialogue. It sounded not only adult, but genius adult. And it was so distracting that it took it actually took me out of the story.


Pick a book that takes place in a location that you wish hadn’t been picked

Ok. I’m ready for it. Because I know where this one is going. So, I’m just going to say it right now. Ready?
Dorothy Who are you To Judge Me


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Actually, now that I think about it, I haven’t picked a book I DNFd, yet. Huh. Anyhow…

I didn’t like it. And I will die on that hill. I probably will die on that hill if you all have your way. And that’s just fine. I have no problem being the one musketeer.
Now. As for the setting. Good Lord. Another author that might as well have been sued. Stranger Things? Anyone? That’s it. I’m done with that mess.
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Pick the most annoying main character

  1. I apologize for what I’m about to do. But if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this right.
  2. What I’m about to do, has absolutely nothing to do with the author. I said it when I read Wicked Saints and I’m gonna say it again.

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However, for the sake of ALL our sanity- I’m pretty much going to cut and paste this from the review I have since pulled off of my site and that IS because of said author.

And truthfully- what I said in my review, and I’m literally going to cut and paste it- is an actual compliment to Duncan, it is also a spoiler to the end of Wicked Saints so skip it if you don’t want to read it. 
I am also going to expand on it a bit after I quote my review. Because there is more to why she is the most annoying as fuck character- double down on that because she is a female character in a YA book that I may ever have had the displeasure of reading.
Spoiler Alert

So, about this relationship <ETA: Malachiez (sp?) and Nadya>. A frenemy arc has a very specific trajectory. And while this relationship starts off on that trajectory Duncan then banks a hard right and drops it to shatter without the fairy tale ending (well not in book one), no neat bow-tie or happily ever ending. And for me? That’s a compliment to the author because guess what everyone? That’s real life. You are ready to throw away your whole belief system because a boy throws you a puppy dog look when he’s shown you time after time he will lie and lie? Well that’s on you. So, I for one cheered how this one ended in book 1 and if she continues to be idiotic in her misguided feelings for said boy? She should get burned. End. Of. Story. That is my opinion. Take it for what it is worth.

Adding on: That girl had no ability in that whole entire book to hold on to her whole belief system. Not only did she do the above, but she was willing to throw her own Gods out the window the minute she met him despite him lying again and again and again. She is a weak-kneed, ninny. And look, I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve got the scars. Romance isn’t a trigger for me because I’m happily married with 2.5 kids and a white picket fence at 42 years old.
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And yeah. You can look at this in one of two ways- I said one of them in the review. Real life. You keep acting like that and you are gonna get burned. But does she get burned? I don’t know and I’m not going to find out because I’m not reading the rest of the series. But I hope she really does because at the very least, then Nadya, as a character teaches girls/women/people a very important and hard lesson.
If not? Then she is one fucked-up version of a girl and that is one fucked up abusive relationship being portrayed as some form of love because it isn’t. It’s fucked up, is what it is. It is abusive, co-dependent, toxic… pick a damn term. But it isn’t ok. It isn’t responsible Yes. It is fiction. Yeah. I get it. I know. I’m not saying ban the book or any of that nonsense. I don’t believe in that or agree with it. I’m just making a point on why I think the girl shouldn’t be celebrated as this heroic female main character I keep hearing people say she is. If my daughter or a student came to me and said she was, I would have a long talk with them as to why.
Let me tell you when I went to visit my mom last year, when I was on hiatus from blog because she was sick, and Six of Crows happened to be on in the car, and of course, the scene where Kaz rips Umen’s (spelling?) eye out was on? Mom looked at me and said, “Susan, um, can we talk about this?” I’m 42 years old and you know what? I don’t blame her for asking. And we talked about it. And at the end of the conversation? She got it. She understood. And maybe if I talked it out with someone, I’d understand. But from where I’m standing right now- I don’t get it and she burns my blood. Before the whole thing with Duncan and now.


A Blurb that was so far from the truth that it made you do a double-take and check you had read the right book

The thing about this one is

  1. Yeah you! It is quick!
  2. Even though the blurb didn’t match the book at all? I still LOVED the book. And yes, I know a lot of people were disappointed. BUT apparently there is another book that a lot of people were reminded of that I have never read, too. So, there’s that.

Image result for nocturna cover
So, the blurb for Nocturna (I’m just speaking of the plot) basically boils down to betrayal, a heist, minimal mention of magic and royalty.
What did you get? You got the blurb, sure. But you also got, a good bit of horror, gore, evil doings, a whole crap load of magic- some of it very dark/black magic, and if I remember correctly, it even had bits and pieces that reminded me of the Coven season of American Horror Story- and you all know how I feel about Coven (minus the voodoo- there wasn’t any voodoo in Nocturna). And once I realized where Nocturna was going? I WAS ALL IN.


From whiny attention-seeker to full-on traitor, pick a character that you think is the worst friend ever

This one is a snap.

And you think you couldn’t trust any of your friends in high school? HA! Child’s play. Poor Marcus who attends ALL OF THEM at Kings Dominion School for the Deadly Arts, they all suck.


Pick a character you think would be an awful romantic partner

See both characters that are dealt with under most annoying main character. Repetitive or not, I’m sticking by it.


Pick a character that you thought would have amazing evil plans but fell short and disappointed you

Damn, Sam. This is like ripping a band-aid off a wound. I liked this book A LOT. Except the ending. Because. Well the ending was predictable as hell and the villain(s) were just. Ugh. I’m hoping the movie will do it better. Because the book? OMG THE BOOK IS PHENOMENAL. I won’t spoil it anymore than what I said. But here’s the book…


Pick a horrible bookish family


What a hot mess this family is, eh? Cheating father that puts his three daughters up for adoptions and then one falls for their stepmother. And ok, they aren’t related by blood but, the least the stepmother could do is like, I don’t know, rebuff the advances, right? BUT DOES SHE? NO! She goes with it. Or at least in Rule she did. I don’t know about the next book. I didn’t continue with this mess.
About those sisters. So they all have to come back home to fight for the crown after having been sent away (if I remember correctly and I hated the book so much I can’t be bothered to go back and double check) and then called back because daddy is dying.
There is Akeylah, whose adopted father is an abusive alcoholic (and I know all about those…). Then there is Ren who knows her way around a palace, which I’m sure would make her dad so proud… except, well she’s a maid. Then there is Zofi who is in a respected tribe (as far as tribes can be respected when tribes are treated as lower peons, basically) and knows that if she takes the crown, she ends the oppression of her people.
So yeah, then the sisters start blackmailing each other over secrets and well you see how this one is going and basically Rule is like:

If I remember correctly, yes I did use that meme in the review I wrote way back when.


pick a book with the worst plot twist

The thing is I don’t know if it is that the plot twist was bad or that there just wasn’t one and there should’ve been but either way there was a problem. And that wasn’t the only problem. So, yeah. Easy.


pick a book that was so hyped that it disappointed you, and you can’t understand why everyone loves it so much

Devouring Grey, Wicked Saints or you can stick We Hunt the Flame in here- take your pick and call it a day.


Pick a trope you wish would be avoided in all future publications

Welp. At least the last few were short, eh? Ok. Look skip this one if you want. Most of you know by now that for me romance is a trigger. I know. I’m dying on that hill, too. Whatever. But even if I separate myself from that lens. Can I just point out a few issues I have with some form of romance being in like EVERY SINGLE YA Book? Although kudos to In the Hall with the Knife for having a completely platonic friendship power couple.

  1. How realistic are these tropes? Any of them? Friends to lovers. Definitely the enemies to lovers? How often does this mess happen in real life. OK AGAIN YES DON’T SCREAM AT ME. It is fiction. I know. And that would be fine if it WASN’T IN EVERY SINGLE FUCKING BOOK. OK. IN LIKE 90% OF EVERY FUCKING SINGLE BOOK.
    • But it is in a ton of the books and that is a problem because there isn’t any other view given. And if there isn’t another view given, then that is a distortion of reality. AND TO THAT POINT…
  2. More generally speaking: Having SOME form of romantic relationships in a         majority of books.

It is no different than the modeling industry, acting industry etc.… having only stick thin/young models. Should stick thin models be shamed for being stick thin? No.

But should that be the only kind of model celebrated for their body? NO. Why?  We all know why. We all know the effect it has on girls and women. And societal norms.

So why would we think this is any different? When every book has someone pining over a crush they want or a crush they lost or a relationship that defines them… it is going to have an effect on people and societal norms and what validates you as a person. It just will.

Again. I know it is fiction. And that would be fine, IF IT WAS BALANCED- or at least, I don’t know 70/30, 60/40à give me something, here.  I mean romance has its own separate genre for cripes sake. Does it have to dominate sci-fi/fantasy/dystopia etc.… too?

Can we not celebrate friendships, people who just stand on their own two feet? People who date (healthily) as they get to know what they want for themselves, from life? Just so that the societal norm isn’t formed around – if I don’t have a romantic relationship, a drama involving another person in my life, then my life is missing something? Because right now? That is the message the publishing industry is sending.

And it often gets downright ridiculous. There are plenty of times when the relationships are so often OBVIOUSLY forced. I don’t know who is forcing them and whether it is proven to sell better. But maybe, just maybe, if we gave it time (because change, often takes time) and showed that good stories don’t have to always involve a romantic relationship, then that sales dynamic will balance out?

Again, I’m not saying to go to the opposite extreme. That isn’t healthy either. I don’t think my trigger is healthy and I think the world needs a lot more love in it, especially now. But, all types of lifestyles and lifestyle choices need to be represented. Right now? That isn’t being done and that is a disservice.

There is one about picking your favorite cover– I’m not a cover person so I didn’t do it… but if you want to do this tag (and lord knows if you look at Sarah’s, it was like a couple hundred words compared to my couple thousand lol), obviously add it in!

I’m tagging: 
Leelynn @ Sometime Leelynn Reads
Stephen @ Stephen Writes
Jules @ One More Word
Becky @ Crooks Books
Kristi @ Confessions of a YA Reader– HAPPY BIRTHDAY (9/23- GO WISH HER A HAPPY BIRTHDAY)!
Sammie @ The Writerly Way

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