For What It's Worth

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Review: The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

It's not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn't look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.

There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there's something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined.

Red doesn't like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn't about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods....~

Source: e-arc provided in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley

Review: I was sure this was the book for me - a dark YA retelling of Little Red Riding Hood but the writing style was really frustrating for me.

The things I liked:

- It is dark! Henry pulls no punches about what it's like to survive post apocalypse. YA usually holds back a little or softens the edges (especially by adding a romantic interest) and The Girl In Red does not. Survival is probably 20% about the cure (or killing zombies or whatever) and 80% outwitting/avoiding your fellow survivors. Red has a family and she cares about them but it's not all sunshine and roses - they fight, they disagree, they make tough choices.

- Red watches lots of movies and knows all the common traps people fall into and she IS NOT going to be one of them. I think we all have watched enough post apocalypse movies and tv shows at this point that we yell at the TV for how stupid people act. Red vocalizes what we're all thinking. It's funny and it gives her a plausible reason for her survival skills.

- Red is an amputee with a prosthetic leg and I like how it was written as something that doesn't deter her in any way but isn't ignored either. I think a lot of survival stories tend to either completely ignore disabilities thinking (wrongly) the people wouldn't be able to survive or add some suped up ability - like a prosthetic leg or arm that can be turned into a weapon or something like that. I have limited knowledge in this area but it seemed well done.

The not so much:

- Red has a huge chip on her shoulder. HUGE. She thinks she knows everything about everything and isn't afraid to let you know that she thinks she's smarter than everyone. Red does not have to be nice, or even likable - the girl is trying survive - but she's put herself so far above everyone else that it's difficult to to make an emotional connection to her when she does show feelings of loss or grief. The impact just isn't as great.

- As I said Red knows everything! And this is more about the writing than Red as a character - but the author felt the need to explain, in great detail, how she knows these things:

Performs a defensive maneuver -  learned that during that one self defense class she took.

Discusses the rules of succession with a soldier (and is sure to school him) - because she took a social studies class once.

Doesn't want to eat candy - discussion ensues about the dangers of artificial sweeteners and chemicals and cancer and how the government once lied about arsenic in wallpaper.

Knowing the right antibiotics to choose at an abandoned store - she had read all the fact sheets that WHO posted on their website - long before the apocalypse.

Again. I'm not talking about Red being smart or wanting to learn things. that's awesome! I'm talking about how the author wrote it - making Red that smart - then needing to explain every bit of knowledge.

Like this for example:

“He looked, Red thought, like a refugee from The Outsiders (which was not a film she would normally watch but her eleventh-grade English teacher had done a Book vs. movie term and that was one of his selections).”

This really made the flow of the book slow waaaay down for me.

The premise is cool - I think the author was more than willing to take this to where it needed to go to show the terror, loneliness, hardships and confusion - with an interesting twist that I won't spoil.

There's no romance, there are severe consequences for dumb behavior and a heroine who is tough and smart. I loved that she was a loner - rather than the typical group dynamic in these kinds of books where there always has to be a group. But the writing just felt bogged down in facts and opinions (inner monologue) on everything from guns to artificial sweeteners. I think this could have all been incorporated more seamlessly to an otherwise cool story.

Even though it didn't really work for me, I would recommend this one to readers who like darker YA, no romance, tough heroines.

For another point of view – check out Lindsi from Do You Dog Ear’s review

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Whatever Wednesday

I’m trying to use Kindle Unlimited more since I bought a 2 year subscription during Prime days last year. TBH - I usually only use it for quick romances as a palette cleanser but while browsing I found a few popular YA titles that you might be interested and are *free* if you are a subscriber.

It's a great way to check out a series or find a new author.

*I added a few thoughts/link if I read or reviewed it.


The Fever King by Victoria Lee – This book isn’t without flaws – but it’s a pretty good alternative history/dytopian with LGBQT rep. You can read my review here.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon – I never read this series but it’s quite popular and reading the first book for free lets me try it without a commitment.

Air Awakens: The Complete Series by Elise Kova - I haven’t read this either but the covers are stunning and it's the complete series!!

“A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…”

“1700 pages of magic, romance, and epic fantasy.”

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake – fantasy series about three sisters who have to fight tot he death to become queen.

Deals if you don’t have KU:

Life1k3 by Jay Kristoff  $1.99 - his books haven't really worked for me but robot gladiators and android boys have me intrigued.

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang (not YA) $2.99 - This is supposed to be a very intense, dark fantasy so I'll have to be in the mood but it's highly rated.

The Fever King by Victoria Lee $1.99 - see above

Black Wings Beating by Alex London $2.99 - fantasy, falconry, brother & sister bond, LGBQT rep. I did not love the writing style but the premise is very cool.

Queens of Geeks by Jenn Wilde $2.99 - Geek culture, f/f romance, good anxiety rep. My review

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger $2.99 - the YA spin off to Carriger’s adult steampunk Parasol Protectorate series about girls at finishing school. Cute but a little slower paced.

And under The Things That Piss Me off file….lol

I was looking for a lighter read on my Libby library app and kept doing searches for these 3 new releases. Nada….So it’s been almost 2 weeks and STILL none of the books are on there. Weird – because they’re all pretty popular and should be available. So I was doing a general browse for new releases on their home page and voila! all of the books are there.

For some reason, they were filtering my search through YA – even though that was not my settings – so now I’m on super long wait lists for them all.

I love you Libby – but right now – I don’t like you lol

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday

Tell Me Something Tuesday is hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings and discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging.

Question: Do you think advanced reading copies are worth it?

This is such a great question! Because the answer is yes AND no. I think ARC’s are awesome but have led to the downfall of many a good blogger.

The pursuit of ARC’s can turn you into a raging green eyed monster, lead you into epic reading slumps because you accept books you don’t really want to read just so you can get the ones you do and just plain overrun you with too many books to read.

When I first started getting offers of ARC’s to review, I was so honored and excited. Not because they books were free – but because I love helping authors out and yes, I’ll admit, getting to read something early.

Pre- blogging, I always loved every single thing I read and could read 200 plus books per year. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t like a book or fall into a reading slump.

I realized after my first BEA that you can indeed have too many review books, get overwhelmed by timelines and obligations and have slowly cut back over the years.

Right now, they are not worth it. I would much rather choose the books I want to read whenever I want, review or not review or not read at all if I don’t feel like it.

I’m finishing up the last batch of book conference hauls – there are maybe 50-ish left and I get almost everything else from the library now and it’s glorious!

I do still accept a few requests and Netgalley widgets but they are so infrequent that I don’t feel pressured at all.

Personally, I think it’s about knowing yourself and your own reading habits. If you’re really great at picking only what you’ll like, keeping to schedules and don’t feel pressure from it – then arc’s are great!

If you hate 50% of the books you request, feel burdened and hate reading because of them or get so jealous of other who do have arc’s then maybe they aren’t worth it.