Review: Maybe in Another Life

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genres: Fiction, Chick Lit
Maturity Level: 4
Content Warning: Miscarriage
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.


Maybe in Another Life is entertaining enough, but compared to some of Reid’s more recent books was just kind of lackluster.

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Favorites February: The Hunger Games

Welcome to Favorites February 2021! This year I’m reading The Hunger Games trilogy, and had an absolute BLAST kicking it off with the one that started it all. I can’t believe it’s been a DECADE since I discovered this series. And I was already an adult… Geez Louise, I’m old aren’t I?

I’m assuming that everyone who is ever going to read The Hunger Games probably already has, so spoilers in the discussion. You’ve been warned.

Synopsis

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weight survival against humanity and life against love.

Why I Love This Book

  • Compulsively readable
  • Katniss is such an unusual protagonist: cold, calculating, and ruthless.
  • The complexity of the love story
  • Of all the dystopias I’ve ever read, this one is the most eerily plausible.
  • Rue! My broken heart will cry forever.
  • The elimination-style competition has turned into a kind of bad trope, but it is so compelling and convincing in this book.
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Classic Remarks: Classic Fanfics

This week Krysta and Briana at Pages Unbound are hosting the discussion: What is your opinion of prequels or sequels written for classic works that are out of copyright (i.e. not written by the original author)? Should authors be able to use other writers’ characters and plots for their “own” stories? Are there any classic prequels or sequels you recommend?

I am going to answer this question with a question. Why is it than when people do this with Sherlock it gets taken seriously, but when someone does it with Harry Potter it’s borderline plagiarism?

Because y’all, these books are really just fanfiction.

Now, it’s worth being said that there is a big difference in legal terms between Jane Austen fanfiction and Percy Jackson fanfiction. Because the classics are out of copyright and in the “public domain”, authors and publishers are free to publish any works written about those characters. Since Percy Jackson is still under copyright, to do so would require consent from Rick Riordan and probably include payment. So in that way, fanfiction is questionable in terms of legality. (We won’t go into fair use today, but let me tell you, I could and have written a whole essay about it!)

My beef with this subject is the scorn for which a lot of readers treat fanfiction, but then those same readers will gush about books like The Eyre Affair.

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Discussion: How Often Do You Re-Read Books?

I realize that for book bloggers this question comes with a little baggage. We love re-reading our favorite books, but we also feel a lot of pressure to keep up with new releases or read ARCs or finish our never-ending tbr. I know that a lot of us don’t prioritize re-reading. But I’m still curious.

My first year blogging I didn’t re-read a single book. My second year I started doing “Favorites February” and re-read the Percy Jackson series, but then didn’t re-read anything else for the entire year. By my third year blogging I knew that if I wanted to re-read books (which I did), I was going to have to be methodical. That was around the time I started doing my genre rotation, so I worked a re-read into that. These days I force myself to re-read something after I’ve read four new books. So about 20% of the books I’ll read this year will be re-reads. Maybe a little more, because of series. That being said, I abandoned by genre rotation last summer, so we’ll see if I can keep it up this year!

Do you re-read books? How often to you re–read? Let me know in the comments!

Middle Grade Review: The Wild Robot

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

Series: The Wild Robot
Genres: Middle Grade, Science Fiction
Maturity Level: 1
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is all alone on a remote, wild island. She has no idea how she got there or what her purpose is–but she knows she needs to survive. After battling a violent storm and escaping a vicious bear attack, she realizes that her only hope for survival is to adapt to her surroundings and learn from the island’s unwelcoming animal inhabitants.

As Roz slowly befriends the animals, the island starts to feel like home–until, one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her.


What a delightful book! Everything about it was just so CHARMING and NICE and SWEET. Literally, I am dying from the adorableness and the feels and the lovely illustrations.

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Review: The Guest List

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Genre: Thriller
Maturity Level: 5
Content Warnings: self-harm, suicide, abortion
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?


I guess it is just time for me to finally admit that I don’t like thrillers and just give up on the genre. If I didn’t like this one, I’m not going to like any of them.

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Favorites February 2021

Okay so, I realize it isn’t February today, but when I was planning my book list I genuinely thought that it would be February today, and I’ve already started my reading for this. So, here we are. WHATEVER! It’s February tomorrow!

Every year here on Never Not Reading I read a favorite series (or suuuuper long novel) in the month of February. As I am reading I write a series of posts in which I write about the books in detail and host a small discussion. In the past I’ve read Percy Jackson, Emma, and His Dark Materials.

In 2021 I am SO EXCITED to announce that I will be reading The Hunger Games trilogy!

I’m really looking forward to this re-read for a number of reasons. Perhaps the biggest of those is that with the release of A Ballad of Songbird and Snakes last year, The Hunger Games was everywhere and made me feel super nostalgic. I even considered tagging ABOS&S to the end of this re-read since I haven’t read it yet, but decided against it. After giving it months of thought (seriously, I’ve known this was going to be my Favorites Februrary since like, April) I decided that I don’t really care about the prequel.

The other reason I’m super excited about this re-read is that it’s been a hot minute since I read The Hunger Games. I can’t remember for sure when I last read it, but it’s been at least five years, probably more.

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Classic Remarks: Shakespeare’s Collaborators

This week Krysta and Briana at Pages Unbound are hosting the discussion: Why do you think people tend to ignore Shakespeare’s collaborators and speak as if Shakespeare always wrote alone?

I should start by saying that, once again, this is a topic that I know almost nothing about. But therein lies my hypothesis to this question. People don’t talk about Shakespeare’s collaborators because, like me, they don’t know enough about the topic.

Like most English speakers, I studied Shakespeare in school. Freshman year we studied Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, and the sonnets. Senior year we studied Macbeth and Hamlet. These literature studies came with some perfunctory background study on Shakespeare’s life and the time, but nothing more in-depth than learning the words “Stratford upon Avon” and “Globe Theater.” We talked very briefly about the notion that Shakespeare may not have written his works, but our teacher didn’t seem to know enough about it to help us draw any definitive conclusions. Shakespeare’s collaborators? I would only know about that from reading historical fiction!

And y’all, I went to a good school. I took advanced classes. If this was my educational experience, I have to assume that the average American didn’t fare much better. Maybe Brits get a more details learning experience about Shakespeare.

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How to Write YA Fantasy

Main Character

Your main character absolutely MUST be a teenage girl. Ideally she should have a traditionally masculine identity, such as a warrior or hunter, and she must be proficient with weapons. A bow would be best, but knifes are okay too. She should have a tragic backstory that probably includes the death of one or both of her parents.

World Building

If you can come up with a unique magic system that would be best, but the most important thing is that there is some impediment to magic use. Possibly magic users are persecuted, maybe magic is something only a very few understand, but more likely magic has mysteriously or sinisterly disappeared. This should be an especial problem for the main character and her family who have depended on magic in the past.

This should be high fantasy, but it should probably be based on a culture that isn’t white so that you don’t get compared to Sarah J. Maas or J.R.R. Tolkien. Urban fantasy isn’t particularly popular right now, probably because the market was so over-saturated with it in the early 2010s. So find a way to make high fantasy unique.

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Review: The Obelisk Gate

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

Series: The Broken Earth
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Maturity Level: 5
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

This is the way the world ends… for the last time.

The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy.

It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.

The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken.


This is a really hard review to write, because I can’t assume you’ve read The Fifth Season, but I really WANT you to, so I don’t want to give anything away. But this sequel is pretty impossible to talk about without giving anything away… I’ll summarize by saying OH MY GOD IT WAS SO GOOD.

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