BOOK REVIEW: Siri, Who Am I?, by Sam Tschida

BOOK REVIEW: Siri, Who Am I?, by Sam TschidaTitle: Siri, Who Am I? by Sam Tschida
Published by Quirk Books
Published: January 12th 2021
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 343
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Goodreads

Mia might look like a Millennial but she was born yesterday. Emerging from a coma with short-term amnesia after an accident, Mia can't remember her own name until the Siri assistant on her iPhone provides it. Based on her cool hairstyle (undercut with glamorous waves), dress (Prada), and signature lipstick (Chanel), she senses she's wealthy, but the only way to know for sure is to retrace her steps once she leaves the hospital. Using Instagram and Uber, she arrives at the pink duplex she calls home in posts but finds Max, a cute, off-duty postdoc supplementing his income with a house-sitting gig. He tells her the house belongs to JP, a billionaire with a chocolate empire. A few texts later, JP confirms her wildest dreams: they're in love, Mia is living the good life, and he'll be back that weekend.

But as Mia and Max work backward through her Instagram and across Los Angeles to learn more about her, they discover a surprising truth behind her perfect Instagram feed, and evidence that her head wound was no accident. Who was Mia before she woke up in that hospital? And is it too late for her to rewrite her story?

The description of this book sounded really interesting to me, so I requested it and got approved for it via Netgalley, and then it took forever for me to start reading and continue reading. It wasn’t what I expected it to be. The writing is bright and quippy, and I’ll be interested to see what Tschida does next, but the execution of the concept seemed to fall apart in the second half of the book because the concept is #ambitious to say the least.

What I liked most about it is that it is a commentary and satire of modern millennial culture and the social media use within famous/rich circles. It pokes fun at food bloggers, influencers, and high society in Los Angeles, and that glimpse into the glossy pages of a gossip magazine is what kept me reading through til the end. However, the characterizations started off strong but by the middle of the book seemed too contrived and so much felt contrived and convoluted to fill the space created by the concept. Ultimately though, I think this story would work better in a visual medium and would make a super cute movie! I just don’t think it worked for me in written form because it took almost a month for me to finish this, mostly because I was dragging my feet every time I thought about reading it. The best part about it for me was Mia’s self-discovery once she figured out that her behavior before the accident was nothing like she was once she woke back up and the reconciliations she had to do with herself and the people around her once she decided to take her life in a different direction.

This might be for you if you really enjoy Instagram culture and celebrity gossip magazines! Thank you to Quirk Books for a review copy! All opinions are my own.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books on my Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly discussion hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (and formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), and last week’s topic (that I’m doing this week instead) is “Books on my Spring TBR” and some of these have been on some form of a TBR at some point or another, and I’m going to read them by the time the spring season is over!! I read seven of the ten I chose for winter, and I’m currently in the middle of the eighth! The other two will be read eventually, but I am going to pursue this list as it’s something new and exciting!

  • Walk the Wild With Me by Rachel Atwood – This is a revisit to the mythology of Robin Hood, and I’ve been in the mood for these kinds of retellings, so when I saw this out on the shelves at my store, I immediately grabbed it and have kept my eye on it since. It feels like a spring read to me, so this is the perfect time to read it.
  • Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven – I want to read more fantasy and romance, especially after catching up completely on the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, and this feels right along the lines of what I’m wanting to read.
  • Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling – I loved her debut novel The Luminous Dead and this looks and feels very gothic fantasy.
  • Cherry by Nico Walker – This has been on my radar since its release, mostly because that cover is compelling, but now that it’s a movie with Tom Holland, it’s moved up my TBR a little bit.
  • The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso – The Chronicles of the Bitch Queen trilogy is complete this year, and now I can finally start it! I’ve heard so many good things about this book and its sequel, and for some series, I’m very weird and only like to read them if I can get my hands on the entire series…
  • The Princess Will Save You by Sarah Henning – This is a feminist retelling of The Princess Bride, and the second part of the duology releases this year, and I’m a super in the mood for fantasy everything.
  • Star Wars The High Republic: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule – So many new Star Wars books have come out in the last year and I’ve bought so many of them, and I’ve been really excited for this next chapter in the Star Wars saga!
  • A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – This trilogy is complete now, and the hardcovers all look beautiful, and again, I am in the mood for fantasy trilogies.
  • Persephone Station by Stina Leicht – I bought this on release day in January, and this is the only title I’m carrying over officially from the Winter TBR!
  • Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas – I don’t know why I’ve been putting off reading this, but after finishing A Court of Silver Flames I want to get caught up on everything she’s released so far because I’ve also not read the last three books in the Throne of Glass series!

What’s on your spring TBR?

BOOK REVIEW: The Princess and the Rogue, by Kate Bateman

BOOK REVIEW: The Princess and the Rogue, by Kate BatemanTitle: The Princess and the Rogue (Bow Street Bachelors, #3) by Kate Bateman
Series: Bow Street Bachelors #3
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Published: December 29th 2020
Genres: Romance
Pages: 328
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy: Bookshop(afflilate link)
Goodreads

A princess in disguise is forced to live with a rogue in order to protect her from danger in this fun, sexy regency romance.
Bow Street agent Sebastien Wolff, Earl of Mowbray, doesn't believe in love―until a passionate kiss with a beautiful stranger in a brothel forces him to reconsider. When the mysterious woman is linked to an intrigue involving a missing Russian princess, however, Seb realizes her air of innocence was too good to be true.
Princess Anastasia Denisova has been hiding in London as plain 'Anna Brown'. With a dangerous traitor hot on her trail, her best option is to accept Wolff's offer of protection―and accommodation―at his gambling hell. But living in such close quarters, and aiding Wolff in his Bow Street cases, fans the flames of their mutual attraction. If Anya's true identity is revealed, does their romance stand a chance? Could a princess ever marry a rogue?

Any book having to do with princesses is likely to be one I’ll enjoy reading a lot, and this one was no exception. In The Princess and the Rogue, Anastasia Denisova is a Russian princess on the run from a man who thinks she has information on him being a traitor, so she settles in as a paid lady’s companionship role in London after running from this man and selling off nearly all of her prized possessions. It is through being this lady’s companion that she meets Sebastian, with whom there’s an immediate connection. In her disguise as “Anna Brown,” she’s able to maneuver through society as a lady’s companion, but the traitor is still hot on her feet, so Sebastian offers her protection. Through all of this and through shared close quarters during her protection, they end up falling for each other.

This is the third and probably final in the Bow Street Bachelors series, and it’s my second favorite! I loved the portrayal of a princess on the run who has to adjust to a different kind of life, and I loved that Anya chose to do it with as much hope and acceptance as possible. I also loved that she had friends who worked in a brothel, and that the inclusion and exploration of these women weren’t demonized or belittled. Anya knew just as well as the women working in the brothel that sometimes life didn’t turn out the way one expects it to turn out.

Overall, this is a fun and fresh historical romance series, and I am very excited to read more of Bateman’s upcoming work! Many thanks to St. Martin’s for a complimentary review copy! All opinions are my own.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books On My TBR Published Before I Was Born

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly discussion hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (and formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), and this week’s topic is “books on my TBR published before I was born.” These are all books I own, so I just looked at my nightstand and TBR cart for inspiration! Some of these were part of my challenge last year that I never completed, but that’s okay! I’m already a little more organized this year than I was last year.

  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – I am that English major who has never read any Woolf…
  • The Shining by Stephen King – The only King I’ve ever read is On Writing, and I’m definitely changing that this year.
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie – I want to read more of her mysteries, and I found a little mass market at the thrift store the other day!
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell – I feel like one should read both 1984 and this, so I want to get to this one this year.
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – I’m trying to read the rest of Jane Austen, but I definitely wasn’t feeling the last one I tried to read.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas – I read the abridged version of this, and the movie that came out a while ago is one of my favorites, so I should definitely read the unabridged version!
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – This is another one where I loved the mini series but have never read the book!
  • The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin – Le Guin is one of my favorite writers, and I’m working on reading all of her work.
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck – Another one where I feel like a bad English major, but I just read Of Mice and Men a couple years ago, and now it’s time to read this.
  • If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin – The two other books of his I’ve read have been amazing, so I want to read this one before I watch the movie.

What is your favorite book published before you were born?

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V.E. Schwab

BOOK REVIEW: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V.E. SchwabTitle: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
Published by Tor Books
Published: October 6th 2020
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 442
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buy: Bookshop(afflilate link)
Goodreads

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Schwab is one of my favorite writers. I love the way she uses language to create worlds, and I love the connections between characters she develops. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is one of my favorite reads of 2020, and even though it’s been a few weeks since I’ve finished reading it, I can’t stop thinking about it in both good and not so good ways. I understand some of Schwab’s reasoning about choosing not to include very overt and specific historical things due to a fear of not writing it correctly, but they were still choices. I’ll try not to spoil it too much, but be forewarned that there might be spoilers below!

Addie LaRue made a deal with the devil to escape a life she doesn’t want, and an aftereffect of the deal is that no one remembers her. Throughout her life, throughout hundreds of years, she travels the world but the parts Schwab wrote about are so obviously eurocentric and white. There is no mention of the slave trade, not even in passing, and no mention of the civil rights movements occurring throughout the last hundred and fifty years. Is it because Schwab didn’t find it comfortable to write about or include, or is Addie so self-centered that she is only concerned about her day-to-day life and influencing artists rather than seeing what she could do, however small and incremental (as she does with the artists’ lives with whom she engages), to the grander scope of society? I feel like it’s a little of both, and I just wish there was something. Addie can’t be photographed, make any kind of physical written mark or brush stroke, but she can influence people in their art?? This is the main frustration I had with the book because it paints such a soft, sanitary version of the world. I know that’s not the point of the book, but I do wish history in its terrible reality had been included more.

But to me, Addie’s plight, her desire to be herself and live as she wished resonates a lot with me on so many levels. I often feel invisible, wanting to be recognized but finding myself stopped short by some invisible force.

“I do not want to belong to someone else,” she says with sudden vehemence. The words are a door flung wide, and now the rest pour out of her. “I do not want to belong to anyone but myself. I want to be free. Free to live, and to find my own way, to love, or to be alone, but at least it is my choice, and I am so tired of not having choices, so scared of the years rushing past beneath my feet. I do not want to die as I’ve lived, which is no life at all.”

Addie lives each day being forgotten by other people until Henry, the boy from the bookshop, remembers her. Everything she has known up until that point is thrown into a topsyturvy mess, and she spends a lot of time figuring out what that means while also falling in love with Henry. Knowing Schwab’s style from books in the past, I had an inkling about where the story would go, and it lived up to all of my expectations. I loved the ending because it felt like the right choice for her. All she wanted was to be known for who she is, not for who she could be; and for Henry, there were a lot of could bes involved.

Even with my frustrations about the history included in this book, I still enjoyed it a lot. Schwab’s style has grown and evolved since I first started reading her work, and I’m looking forward to what comes next. This is a novel that is best read without knowing too much about it (and I know I probably spoiled it a lot in this review), but the day-to-day explorations and trials Addie faces as someone who can’t be remembered resonated with me a lot, and a reread of this book is likely in my near future.