Four bite-sized Reviews: Chef’s Kiss, Live, Local & Dead, Every Variable of Us, and Real Easy (again!)

Hello! These are coming out really fast because I have to write reviews for class (as a writing exercise) and I keep writing another review and then being like “I can’t possibly show this to my professor, this is the worst thing I’ve ever written”. I might write a couple more today, depending on how I’m feeling. Stay tuned! Also I’m trying to rebrand my mini-reviews as bite-sized. I’ll keep you posted on that front. I received all of these books at no cost to me through NetGalley.

Live, Local, and Dead (Vermont Radio Mystery #1), audiobook

This is a cozy mystery book that takes place around a radio station. It avoids the standard cozy mystery trope of not having any animal companions for the main character, unless you count the snowman that hides a dead body at the requisite murder of the novel. No? Well, I thought I’d give that a try. It stars a Jewish (by conversion) radio jockey, an ex-husband who had cancer (big overarching trauma), and a hot new guy who I think is a guest radio host. There’s a lot of narration in this book that bogs down the plot, including just some random harassment by a frat boy republican, and that’s all well and good in a print novel, but in an audiobook cozy mystery where I hate the narrator? It’s not happening. Look, this is how it shook out: I absolutely could not finish this book because listening to this narrator is like listening to your least favorite aunt speak. Is it just me? Maybe! Maybe you have a better relationship with your aunts than I do! But I am not on good terms with either of mine. This audiobook receives one star for narrator, three stars for being a book. No comment on any copaganda because I only got to chapter seven before I gave up. Releases February 15th, 2022. Bookshop link here.

Chef’s Kiss (graphic novel)

Chef’s Kiss is a little graphic novel about roommates in a very classic comic book style. There are speech bubbles and clean lines throughout the book. Now, I don’t know much about comic books, but this looks like a superhero book from my dad’s collection. It’s not a style for me! It’s also very old-style comic book in the fact that it censors all swears? And this book is meant to be adult or at least new adult, so it doesn’t make sense why swears would be censored. The main character also only reads books that are available in the public domain, or so old that they aren’t copyrightable, which sure is weird! (His favorite books are 1984, Brave New World, and another that I forget. Come on, dude! Haven’t you heard of the Hunger Games? There are people using laptops and tablets in this book so I know it’s not set in the 90s!) Despite this, there is a vibrant cast of characters and the portrayal of working in a kitchen is both incredibly idealized and exactly right. Honestly? This is like a comic-book adaption of a gay romance light novel, and it’s kind of exactly right. Five stars. You didn’t see that one coming, did you? Neither did I. Publishes March 1st, 2022. Bookshop link here.

Every Variable of Us

This is a voice-driven YA novel with intense characters and really self-aware writing: “And can I just point some messed up shit out? Two high school girls stealing a frozen pizza and hair extensions, and this guy feels it’s necessary to draw his weapon. And they wonder why there’s a new hashtag against the police every week.” (Copaganda rating? Zero. Excellent job.) One of the things I hate most about YA novels is their frequent refusal to name specifics or make pop culture references, and this book absolutely does not have that problem. However — and I realize this book was probably drafted before 2020 — there are a lot of Harry Potter references and it is now generally considered bad form to include Harry Potter references in queer novels, so I do wish that that had been edited before this book hit ARC metaphorical shelves. Love the casual queers-in-STEM rep. Four stars. Publishes on March 1st, 2022. Bookshop link here.

Real Easy (ebook review)

I got approved for this ebook unexpectedly after reviewing the audiobook back in January! My main problem with the audiobook was that all the characters are voiced by the same (excellent!) narrator and there are many many different perspectives. I… unfortunately had the same problem with the ebook. Also I found myself uninterested in some characters’ perspectives and started skipping their chapters. It reminded me of reading My Sister’s Keeper as a Youth and I always skipped the dad’s chapters because I thought he was annoying. (And I was right!) Unfortunately, this brought down the review to three stars. But also an intersex perspective! I just think there should have been more intersex perspective and less everything else. I’m not biased at all. Published on January 18th, 2022. Bookshop link here.

One thought on “Four bite-sized Reviews: Chef’s Kiss, Live, Local & Dead, Every Variable of Us, and Real Easy (again!)

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