My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth (ARC Review)

Cover image of the book My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth, showing a girl with long dark hair in jeans and a light T-shirt holding a console looking at a slightly taller guy with light brown skin in brown pants, a white t-shirt and a blue sports jacket also holding a console. It also has the summary of the plot: Nerds are so hot. Especially battle robot building nerds.  Bel would rather die than think about the future. College apps? You’re funny. Extracurriculars? Not a chance. But when she accidentally reveals a talent for engineering at school, she’s basically forced into joining the robotics club. Even worse? All the boys ignore Bel—and Neelam, the only other girl on the team, doesn't seem to like her either.  Enter Mateo Luna, captain of the club, who recognizes Bel as a potential asset—until they start butting heads. Bel doesn’t care about Nationals, while Teo cares too much. But as the nights of after-school work grow longer and longer, Bel and Teo realize they've built more than just a combat-ready robot for the championship: they’ve made space for each other and themselves.  This sharply funny, academic rivals to lovers romance explores both the challenges girls of color face in STEM and the vulnerability of first love with unfailing wit and honesty.

PublisherA button to add a book to the platform "The Storygraph"A button that says "Add book to Goodreads": Holiday House
Page Count
: 273
Release Date: May 31, 2022

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

Earlier this year, I thought that I was slowly moving away from enjoying YA books, but My Mechanical Romance has enchanted me and brought be back into the fold! It was such a lovely, fast-paced and delightful read, I basically had to hold myself back from reading it through the night (and if I hadn’t had some other responsibilities the next day, I probably really just would have torn through it in one sitting).

While there’s always something great to say about a well executed teen romance, which this definitely is, I loved that it wasn’t the entire focus of the book. Yes, we had a bit of a rival phase that slowly (almost agonizingly) developed into something genuine and sweet, but we also had so much more.
Alexene Farol Follmuth managed to capture the intricacies of a teen at the brink of finishing school. There’s so many expectations from family, friends and teachers to know exactly what you’re going to do with your life. And in all honesty, some kids do know what they want, but it’s also okay to need time to figure it out. Life is long and full of surprises and sometimes it puts you on unexpected paths. But there’s not just pressure to get into the right school or to keep grades up, but there can be so many more contributing factors to make that time extra stressful. Sometimes it’s a crumbling family life, other times it’s the world being misogynistic or racist – paired with a blossoming first love, it’s bound to cause emotional chaos! I think the balance was handled so well in this book.

THE CHARACTERS 

There’s a very clear focus on Bel and Teo, who each have POV chapters of their own. They couldn’t be more different at first glance, but sort of complete each other in the cutest way. Seeing their relationship spark and grow was such a joy.
Sometimes I did wish we had learned some more about certain side characters (like Neelam for example, who was portrayed as unnecessarily harsh), but I understood people’s motivations overall and felt like they were all three dimensional characters. I can say that, because Dash is literally my favorite supportive foodie chaos character in the whole entire story. I also really liked that the parents were included in the story and even if they weren’t always 100% present, there was a reason for that too.

THE WRITING 

I really have to give Alexene Farol Follmuth credit for writing such authentic, quirky and fun dialogue. It’s what propels this story forward and keeps you invested and engaged throughout. If you like dialogue and inner monologues more than lengthy descriptions of surroundings and looks, this really is the book for you.

In addition to that, there was also a lot of use of text messages, which I think fits the vibe but also the age group really well. Let’s face it, I mostly communicate through text with people and I’m not even a teen anymore. I can’t really picture anyone calling anyone else all the time anymore …

VERDICT

I was one of the only girls in my mathletics team and I still remember clearly how surprised some people were that I was good at math, physics and chemistry. I was also really decent, although not patient enough, in shop class, having inherited some skills from my mom (who is the handy one when it comes to my parents). My school did not have a robotics team, but it’s definitely something I could have seen myself doing. I wasn’t really the type to participate in a lot of clubs and yet, Bel’s experience spoke to me. As I said earlier, My Mechanical Romance wasn’t just a fun and quirky romance, it was also heavily focused on girls in STEM and finding something you’re passionate about despite all the pressure and discouraging voices. I really hope this brings people joy and the knowledge that they can try anything they want, no matter what other’s say, and be successful, if they put in the work.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Such a lovely book!


Fun fact: Alexene Farol Follmuth is also the author behind the pen name Olivie Blake and therefore one of my favorite book series. Read my other posts here:


What do you think about My Mechanical Romance? Can you see yourself checking it out? Let’s talk!

Kat’s Weekly TV & Movie Recap #19

I will be honest with you, I’ve spent a lot of time on YouTube, but not so much watching actual shows and movies, so the post will be fairly short this week. Enjoy!

FINISHED TV SHOWS/SEASONS

Halo (Season 1)

Not going to lie, this show was SUCH a surprise to me! I guess I was craving more sci-fi content, but the game “Halo”, which this show is partly based on (which in turn was based on books, from what I’ve learned), has exactly zero appeal to me, so I’m not entirely clear on why I finally watched it. Maybe the fact that Pablo Schreiber has a lead role? He’s a big draw for me ever since he played Mad Sweeney.

Anyway, I’m so glad I knew absolutely nothing going in! Legit the best decision ever, because I had so much fun, while most gaming fans hated it or at least were deeply unhappy with certain elements that I ultimately had zero problem with. I definitely think it could have expanded on the world- and relationship-building some more. It’s fairly slow-told, so there was room for more depth, but I’m happy with this first season.

WEEKLY TV SHOWS

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Season 1)

The fact that there’s only 10 episode in the first season feels like some sort of crime. I mean … it just keeps getting better as we get to know these characters on a deeper level. You can’t put all of that in one season and then make me wait forever, it at least needs double.

I’m still obsessed, as you can see!

My crew!

MOVIES

As always, don’t forget to add me on Letterboxd if you want to be up to date on all my movie experiences! 

Star Trek (2009)

This was a rewatch, I think that should be pointed out first. In fact, I’ve seen this movie so many times, I lost count a while ago. Star Trek (2009) was my proper introduction to the Star Trek universe and part of why I never was interested in any of the prior material. I just wanted *those* actors and no one else. Now my stance has visibly changed and I’m not as attached to them as I was, although I still see Chris Pine as my personal James T. Kirk favorite. Either way, I’m looking forward to them finally doing another movie. Maybe I’ll rewatch the others as well …


Did you watch any of the things I mentioned or do you plan to? I’ve now decided to continue watching Star Trek: Discovery, just because the weekly wait for Strange New Worlds is the worst. Let’s talk about that!

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston (ARC Review)

The cover image of the book "The Dead Romantics" by Ashley Poston, showing two figures lying horizontally on the letters of the title, both reading a book. Also, the description for the book: A disillusioned millennial ghostwriter who, quite literally, has some ghosts of her own, has to find her way back home in this sparkling adult debut from national bestselling author Ashley Poston.  Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem—after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.   When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won't give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.   For ten years, she's run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.   Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is.   Romance is most certainly dead . . . but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.

PublisherA button to add a book to the platform "The Storygraph"A button that says "Add book to Goodreads": Berkley Publishing Group
Page Count
: 368
Release Date: June 28, 2022

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: loss of a loved one

The Dead Romantics has been on my radar, and frankly on my “most anticipated releases of 2022”-list, for the longest time now – so, when I was presented with the opportunity to read an advanced copy, I jumped at the chance! The official release is still a month away, but I just couldn’t stop myself from reading it and now you will all have to contend with me screaming about my love for it for eternity.

Sometimes, books just find you at the exact right moment in your life and I would say that The Dead Romantics is a prime example of exactly that happening. I’ve had the most fun with a romance in a while, but at the same time, there were instances where I just bawled my eyes out. This isn’t simply a story about love, but also grief and family and we all know I’m drawn to grief-books like moths to light. But at the same time, nothing about this book left me sad. I’d even go so far as to argue and say that it brought me hope, all the warm feelings inside and a whimsical smile on my face once I turned the last page.

THE CHARACTERS 

Florence Day – our narrator throughout the story – is the typical small bean but mighty and messy tornado of a person that I think many of us can relate to. She’s into fan fiction, buying books despite having a massive TBR already and she loves a good love story. In fact, she used to believe in the big love, in finding that one person who might be the exception to the rule, until she got disappointed in the worst ways. And you just understand her reluctance, her despair, and then life just knocks her down some more.
Enter – Benji Andor! He’s meticulous and tall as a tree (one would like to climb) and seemingly stoic, while actually being very kind and considerate once you get to know him a little bit and he definitely wants a happy ending for Florence. I loved him as a counterpart for Florence, although I would have loved it even more if we had gotten to spend some more time with him. I feel like, we, the readers, didn’t get to know him that much, but even Florence acknowledges that several times throughout the story. Their connection is based more on vibes and actions rather than exchanging hobbies and favorite songs, which is fine, but I just enjoyed his character and would have loved to learn even more about him. It really seemed like he had quite the story of his own.

Lee Pace entering the room with one hand on the door frame looking tall and sexy while doing absolutely nothing.
This is Benji Andor for me and I have a feeling Ashley Poston would be okay with that.

Aside from our two leads, there was an array of formidable side characters, many of which were also part of the LGBT+ community. We had supportive best friends, authentic sibling relationships and the despicable ex. A stand-out for me was Florence’s dad though, because his presence could be felt on nearly every page and that stuck with me. It very much reminded me of someone I lost and how sometimes a whole town can show up for that person and their family, when things get tough.

THE SETTING

First things first, I loved the supernatural twist to it all. It never felt forced or out of place, but just like something that naturally fit the story.

But the settings in general were so special and intriguing. On the one hand, you have the funeral home and something that usually holds a lot of sadness for people filled with so much life. A thing of beauty really! And then there’s just something so fun about reading a book that takes place within the publishing industry. I don’t know how accurate it is, but it felt like an inside look and gave way to a lot of references to real life publications, which I loved.
Parts of it are in the big city, parts of it are in a small town and it all just made sense?

VERDICT

I don’t know why writing reviews for books I absolutely adore is the hardest thing ever. It might be, because I just want to do a key smash and thrust the book into people’s hands for them to read it, but that wouldn’t be very informative now, would it? I hope this gave you a bit of a clearer idea of just how charming yet quirky I found The Dead Romantics! I genuinely hope that many people will pick it up, because it filled my heart to the brink and I would without a doubt just read sequels where they help different ghosts together. I’m greedy and just want more, please!

Fazit: 5/5 stars! There’s something so incredibly satisfying when an anticipated read turns out as amazing as you had hoped.


My other reviews of Ashley Poston’s work:


Do you plan on reading The Dead Romantics? Let’s talk about that!

Kat’s Weekly TV & Movie Recap #18

You won’t believe it, but I’ve watched stuff again! I know, big shocker! Well, before I draw this out any longer, let’s get started.

FINISHED TV SHOWS/SEASONS

Conversations with Friends (limited series)

I’ve been feverishly waiting for this show to release. After the massive success of Normal People and the complicated feelings I have towards it, I knew that this was going to be either hit or miss with me. While I think the show has some serious pacing issues, it managed to capture the Sally Rooney vibes perfectly again. Check out my full thoughts on the book and the show here.

Star Trek: Discovery (Season 1-2)

I fell into a bit of a Star Trek hole after checking out Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and not getting some of the backstory, so I just binged two seasons of Discovery. Honestly, I really liked it. I understand the people who would have preferred a more episodic approach instead of these complicated seasonal arcs, but I still loved the characters. Sure, Michael basically being the chose one got a tinsy bit repetitive after a while, but she is a beautiful and complex character and I understand and support the focus being on her. Meanwhile, I don’t understand the criticism of this “not being Star Trek”, because if I got the chance to adapt something anew, I’d also like to put my own spin on things. I don’t feel like it betrayed anything crucial, although I’ve never been a serious Trekkie.

I can’t say that I will continue with the remaining seasons, at least not for now. I think I’d prefer to stick to the crew of the Enterprise for the time being.

WEEKLY TV SHOWS

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Season 1)

This show is my everything right now. Seriously the highlight of my week, I just love having my Captain Pike around. (And the rest of the crew as well .. obviously.)

Captain Christopher Pike of the USS Enterprise smirking into the camera and saying "Hit it" before the starship jumps into warp.

9-1-1: Lone Star (Season 3)

The season finale was really solid, although I thought that the season as a whole focused a bit too much on Owen as a character. I just don’t think he’s actually that interesting, even though the incident from his childhood was masterfully done. Really got me emotional.

9-1-1 (Season 5)

I don’t really know what Lucy added as a character other than to have Buck’s character development be ruined a little bit? This season had some ups and downs, but I still love it and am looking forward to more.

MOVIES

As always, don’t forget to add me on Letterboxd if you want to be up to date on all my movie experiences! 

Senior Year

I know that Rebel Wilson’s humor isn’t for everyone, but I enjoyed the movie. I get the common comparison to Never Been Kissed, although the creepy element is taken out in that everyone is very much aware that she is an adult woman and not a teenager. Generally, I wouldn’t say that there is too big of a focus on romance though. It was actually just cute and wholesome for the most part, despite some cringey jokes.


Did you watch any of the things I mentioned or do you plan to? Let’s talk about that!

Conversations with Friends: Book vs. TV Show

I love doing post where I compare books and their adaptations, so welcome Conversations with Friends into the fold. This is the second time I’m doing this for a Sally Rooney story, so I might have a lot of … thoughts.

General Plot

College students and former lovers Frances and Bobbi get swept up in the (romantic) life of married couple Nick and Melissa. Can they find themselves and the relationships they seek or will it all end in sorrow?

CW: adultery, self-harm, depression, blood, endometriosis, mention of miscarriage, alcoholism (+for the show especially: graphic nude scenes)

Book

I have an odd relationship with Sally Rooney‘s books. I love their impact on me, but I don’t always enjoy the content. This time, knowing at least a little bit of what I would be getting into with her style of writing, I felt more prepared to face it all. Reading it was still emotionally taxing and I don’t think that this is a story that’s necessarily for everyone.

Generally, an entire book about adultery with somewhat unlikable characters isn’t exactly a tale with universal appeal. That fact alone has put some people off reading it and I can’t blame them. However, as I mentioned, I felt much more ready when I started Conversations with Friends and found it flowing easier than Normal People. It could potentially be connected to the fact that this was one continuous story from one sole POV, that of Frances, instead of something that spanned ages with multiple time jumps.

Even if one can overlook the theme of “adultery” though, which is fairly easy if you approach this as an exploration of what “commitment” can mean to any one person and whether open relationships might even be for the better at times, there’s still the issue of it being incredibly hard to root for the characters. We are “trapped” in Frances’ head and while I could see some relatable traits in her, she is extremely self-absorbed and doesn’t always cast the people in her life in the best light – despite idolizing quite a few of them. She completely misjudged the way she feels inside and how different the things that she conveys to the outside world are. I still don’t know what it is she really wants, because sometimes I doubt that she truly understands that her actions have an impact/consequenes.
A lot of what drove me, as a reader, nuts was the simple fact that every single person in this novel was terrible at communication. If they had just openly shared their emotions and concerns, a lot of trouble could have been prevented, but in the end, you can barely blame them? They feel human, real and authentic. There’s things I don’t want to talk about or where I feel like I don’t want to burden someone else with what I’m going through, there could be so many reasons.

Ultimately I know that reading a Sally Rooney book will always leave me with nervous tension and a tightness in my chest. It seems so simple, but there is so much complexity hidden in seemingly plain sentences. The emotions of everyone go so deep and are so layered, but like many people in real life, they struggle to express themselves correctly. Adding to that the fact that a Rooney book always has an open end, ready to be interpreted in a million different ways by each reader, you can’t help but have the story be a lingering companion long after the last page has been turned.

Rating: 4/5 stars! I cannot explain why I gave it such a high ranking, it’s mostly just the amount of inner turmoil Rooney causes in me.

Page count: 323
Publisher: Faber & Faber

*For more information on the book, head over to Goodreads or Storygraph!*

TV Show

Normal People was one of the most accurate adaptations I had ever experienced – be it in terms of story, dialogue or just sheer vibes – and Conversations with Friends is definitely up there in terms of faithfulness to the source material as well. Seen as the shows were helmed by a close to identical creative team, I know that expectations were really high, but also suspect that people were bound to be let down because of them.

I understand that people wanted it to be more Irish, but I thought that the different accents made sense in the context of the TV show. I personally was really happy with all the cast choices. Everyone looked the part, fit the age group and helped in creating the awkward tension that is so key to the production. (Also, Joe Alwyn’s voice is just divine. I could listen to him talk all day long.) These shows live off of vibes and I thought they were captured perfectly again, giving each interaction meaning and weight, even if it doesn’t go smoothly or the way you want it to at all.

Something I have to criticize though and that felt a bit hindering for my enjoyment was the pacing. While it has the same number of episodes as Normal People (12 in total) and only a run time of 30 minutes each, it felt incredibly slow. I ascribe that to the numerous exposition and silent, lingering shots on Frances. Yes, she is our main character and I could fill the silences with the inner monologue I remembered from the book almost word by word, but I only just read the book. Had it been longer, had I forgotten more of the details, these scenes would have often felt pointless.

In general, I noticed that I often filled in the meaning of certain interactions by remembering what Frances’ thoughts were in that moment in the book. While I think that a lot of scenes were softened and maybe even lightened a little bit because of that, I couldn’t help but wonder what my experience as a non-reader would have looked like. I feel like some of the vast complexity might have gone out the window and not translated to just the visuals.

They also completely missed the opportunity to have a cameo of Normal People‘s Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne on the show. In the book, there’s a friend of Frances and Bobbi called Marianne, who they meet up with to chat about her trip to Brooklyn. I just *know* in my heart that a lot of Normal People fans would have appreciated that nod to the previous show, even if it’s not confirmed that the books are connected.

Lastly, I feel like I should praise the music coordinator again. Some excellent choices once more and I’m not just saying that because they got Phoebe Bridgers to do a song (and she feels connected to the Rooney universe by dating Paul Mescal).

Conclusion

While Conversations with Friends didn’t stack up to the phenomenon that was the Normal People adaptation, I still don’t think there is a clear winner or loser. The two go hand in hand and each medium enriches the other.


Previous book to adaptation comparisons:


Have your read or watched Conversations with Friends yet? Let’s talk about that!

Kat’s Weekly TV & Movie Recap #17

I didn’t forget about the post again! I was just really busy, so it took me a while to get the recap done, but here we are. Let’s dive right in.

FINISHED TV SHOWS/SEASONS

Outer Range (Season 1)

This was one of the strangest shows I have watched in quite some time. It’s almost like Dark meets Yellowstone, because time-travelling cowboys is truly what I would describe this as! For the most part, I found myself very confused with what was going on, because I struggle to see the big picture, but I did guess some developments and twists throughout the show, so there’s that.

The storytelling is quite slow and sometimes I found myself getting a bit bored, unfortunately. I’m not sure it’s a must-see, but it has an excellent cast with amazing performances considering the strange material. I think I’m curious enough to tune in for another season, but wouldn’t be super miffed if it didn’t get more episodes.

The Wilds (Season 2)

I’ve waited so long for this new season and it was a bit of a case of “the wait between seasons made me loose a little bit of interest”, but by the time the final episode rolled around, I was fully invested again!

The thing is, we had the girls and they were amazing and intriguing and now they had to split the time with the boys, who were more or less their counterparts in many ways, and do the whole getting to know spiel again. I ended up totally loving most of the boys, even some of the douchier guys, but the show always ends when it gets most interesting. I NEED another season. Desperately.

As a side note, I love how Charles Alexander weaves into most interviews that Alex Fitzalan is his best friend. It makes me so soft for them.

WEEKLY TV SHOWS

9-1-1: Lone Star (Season 3)

Didn’t I just say that Nancy and Matteo would be cool? I totally did. But Judd in danger again is not what I like to see.

9-1-1 (Season 5)

Well … is Taylor breaking her promise worse than Buck cheating on her? That’s what we have to deal with next week.

Legacies (Season 4)

How can you call a super powerful god … Ken?

MOVIES

As always, don’t forget to add me on Letterboxd if you want to be up to date on all my movie experiences! 

Along for the Ride

I’m going to keep this short, because it was a really lovely movie. I had a great time watching it, although I don’t think it’s something that will stick with you for the longest time. If you want to hear my full thoughts, you should check out my book to movie comparison here.

The Lost City

I’m so glad I finally got to watch this movie!!! Interviews with Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum have been absolutely hilarious and I’ve been craving the cinematic return of romcoms and The Lost City fully delivered. The comedic timing was excellent and I actually felt the chemistry nicely. Why can’t we have more movies like this? I genuinely want to know, because they are fun and a crowd-pleaser. We do need the good stuff too and not just Hallmark-esque films.


Did you watch any of the things I mentioned or do you plan to? Let’s talk about that!

Are Harry Styles and I compatible (readers)?

Disclaimer: I do NOT know Harry Styles. All the information is taken from various social media posts, articles and interviews and could potentially be outdated.

A black and white picture of artist Harry Styles and the blogger Kat Impossible with the headline "Are Harry Styles and I compatible readers?"

The most popular feature on this blog is back with yet another installment of the reader compatibility series or celeb book club, as I like to call it! In case you missed the previous ones, which there are quite a few of by now, don’t hesitate to check out the following posts:
Are Tom Hiddleston and I compatible (readers)?
Are Chris Evans and I compatible (readers)?
Are Sebastian Stan and I compatible (readers)?
Are Pedro Pascal and I compatible (readers)?
Are Lupita Nyong’o and I compatible (readers)?

And here comes the obligatory reminder that this is done with the sole intention of it being fun and not taken too seriously. I’m comparing my taste in books with that of actors and artists to see if we would be “compatible” on the basis of those reading tastes alone. There’s really no world in which my pseudo analysis holds any scientific value.


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