Again, but Better by Christine Riccio (Book Review)

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count
: 373

Again, but Better is a book with very mixed reviews, yet I felt absolutely compelled to pick it up for myself, because Christine Riccio was one of a handful of booktubers who inspired me to get into (book) blogging. (I even thought about doing the whole video set up, but then just was so disappointed with the light in my room, my lack of equipment, etc., I switched to plain writing my thoughts out on the blog) When it was announced that she was going to release her first book, I was all in! That book could have probably been a horror mystery thriller (a mix of all the things I do not like) and I still would have read it … maybe.

So, it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise to anyone that I did not read the blurb properly …

I just want to start out by saying that I thought and was pretty sure that this book was a contemporary YA … but it’s not? I would class this more in the NA age group, because the main character is definitely in her twenties, although it still has great coming-of-age characteristics that many of us YA readers like. But, that’s not the big shocker, I just really wasn’t prepared for there being any sort of magical element (despite it literally saying so in the blurb). It’s still very much contemporary, but it has a magically twisty component. With my expectations being so totally off for this book, I think I was just sort of thrown for a loop there. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just felt … off?

I debated for a long time how I could possibly review this book, but I think I just have to resort to the good old “things I liked/disliked”-list situation, because I really feel a lot of different things.

WHAT I LIKED

  • Shane is a lot like Christine and that’s a lovely thing! When you see Christine on the screen, it’s sometimes hard to believe that she is an introvert who struggled to talk to people at college or who didn’t date a lot. But … that’s also how I think some people see/saw me? I am pretty good at some social events and like to be upbeat and friendly with everyone, but it’s hard and took a lot of time to develop to the point where I become more confident. A big change has happened for me when I was on my semester abroad and so it makes a lot of sense to me that she would put herself in the shoes of her main character and live through her that way.

“It’s weird how we have to get a little older to realize that people are just people. It should be obvious, but it’s not.”

  • The Shane and Pilot banter was spot on from the first time they met to the very last page! In general, Christine’s writing is just a lot of fun to read. It flows super easily and had me laughing out loud several times.

“Shane. Interesting name for a girl,” he teases. I narrow my eyes. “Pilot. Interesting name for a human.”

  • I really, really liked that Shane hadn’t done it all at twenty. There are so many people who do not enter into romantic relationships at high school and it’s not even that they wouldn’t want to, it just doesn’t happen. It’s not that weird and I need everyone to know that, because it makes you feel like in this quote:

“The young women in all the YA books I loved were high-school age. By eighteen, the majority of them had saved the world, not to mention: kissed people, traveled, been in a relationship, had sex. At twenty I felt like a pathetic, unaccomplished, uncultured, virgin grandma. It sounds like a joke now, but at the time, around all these people my age casually discussing all of the above, I felt so small.”

  • The end of the book reminded me of my own book ending (Break Up Buddy, the only story I ever finished) and I thought that was hilarious.

WHAT I DISLIKED

  • A huge reason I was excited for this book was that I have done a semester abroad myself (as mentioned above). In fact, I have spent a notable time in other countries when I was 15 (the US), 16/17 (France), 18/19 (US again) and 23/24 (Canada) and like to think I know what I am talking about when it comes to those experiences. Of course, everyone is different, but some stuff just nagged me, e.g. when Shane and the others went to Italy on their first weekend in London. That’s just not realistic? No one I know would spend their first weekend in a new city NOT in the city …
    Other than that, I suppose I know a lot of people who really went someplace new every weekend. Especially in the EU, travel is easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s super cheap. For college students who were all living off of internships, I was floored by what they could all afford to do.

“I suck in a deep breath as I plop one foot over the line and then exhale, knowing I’m standing on both sides of the world at once.”

  • The relationship that Shane had with her parents felt very … wrong? I’d like to say borderline abusive. I am not here to excuse any of their behaviour, BUT I’d also like to point out why I was not siding with Shane in certain instances. Her parents have paid thousands of dollars for an education she does not intend to use, she also cons them into financing her semester abroad by telling them it is useful to her premed major in NY. I just can’t.
    Their relationship was very complicated and Shane obviously wasn’t in a place where she could tell her parents how she really felt, but that kind of money is no joke? IF she had financed the trip herself somehow, I wouldn’t have minded at all, but that wasn’t the case and therefore just really not cool. Having never spoken to her parents about her concern before, I understand that it resulted in disappointment.

“I’ve been trying to make you happy for six years now, hoping somehow that would make me happy too, but I don’t think it’s working. You’re not really happy with me because I’m not happy with you because I’m not happy with me.”

  • While it was a fast and easy read, something about the pacing didn’t feel natural sometimes. It was difficult to gauge how much time had really passed and sometimes it was just hours and then suddenly weeks.
  • WHY could this girl not get up from a chair, without it crashing loudly to the floor and her flailing about??? Or, you know, put down a glass?

Lastly, I want to add that there is a significant cheating plotline. I didn’t feel any certain way about it, other than obviously not being for it, but it also didn’t ruin the book for me. I just thought I’d mention it.

So, I liked the book, but didn’t love it. I found Christine’s writing style had a great flow and made it easy to breeze through the pages, but maybe I will enjoy her next attempt more.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Solid debut book by a great booktuber!

Have you read Again, but Better? Was it on your radar? Let’s chat!

Chicago Med Series Premiere

Everyone who knows me just a little, knows how obsessed I am with the Chicago shows. Well, last night was the Premiere of the third installment in the franchise, Chicago Med. I’ve been excited for this for what seem like forever and as expected, it did not disappoint! SPOILERS ahead!

First, I want to say that I’ve been tired of medical dramas as well. There are so many out there and it was getting boring, but Dick Wolf, creator of most Chicago shows as well as the Law & Order universe, is simply a genius. Instead of doing a spin-off, he slowly spins the show into the already existing universe. The actors switch between sets almost seamlessly and you just get the impression that it’s all one and the same thing anyway. Which is great! There are characters related to each other and even some crossover-romances, which makes the actual crossover episodes even more fun.

I don’t think it would make much sense to go into the details of the different cases of the first episode. They were chosen wisely and we got to know all our doctors and nurses a lot better. So, lets break it down:

  • Dr. Will Halstead, brother of Detective Jay Halstead, has been on Fire and PD several times by now. We got to know him a little beforehand and I am really looking forward to finding out more about him. He’s really good at his job, but the thing is, he knows it too. He can be a bit brash sometimes, but I like that about him. I find his relationship with Dr. Natalie Manning really interesting, but for now, I hope that it will stay purely platonic. A thing that was definitely fun to see, was Will butting heads with Dr. Connor Rhodes. They are way more similar than they’d like to admit, but it’ll probably take some time until they become friends.
  • Speaking of Natalie Manning. I thought that Natalie was married, because I remembered reading that somewhere, but then April mentioned that Nat wouldn’t have to do the single-mom-thing on her own. I was really sad when I found out that her military husband had died. I’m glad that info didn’t leak to me beforehand.
  • Dr. Connor Rhodes has most of the ladies swooning and the guys annoyed to no end. He is so cool! I totally get it! He stitched his own wound and has some mean tattoos as well. I wonder where he was and what brought him back to Chicago. He definitely has me intrigued already and I see a ton of broken hearts along the way.
  • Dr. Daniel Charles has also been appearing regularly on Fire and PD already. He’s a good psychiatrist, who knows exactly what people need and when they need it. I gather he bends the rule in favour of his patients sometimes, but I don’t think that’s a bad quality. I liked seeing him care for Jamie as much as he did. He grows on me more with each episode!
  • April Sexton – there’s really not that much new to tell. She was really badass before and she will continue to kick ass in Chicago Med.
  • Dr. Ethan Choi – It’s a little early to tell, but I think I like him. He’s a no-nonsense kind of guy, but very capable.
  • Dr. Sarah Reese – She sort of surprised me. I knew that she had some troubles with the job, sometimes simply because she didn’t want to hurt anyone, but I didn’t expect her not to want to be at the ER at all. She thinks she’s a lab person, but I bet that the continuous exposure to patients will change her mind soon enough.
  • Maggie – she’s the kind of person who knows about everything that’s going on in the ER. Very cool!

I bet I forgot someone, but I really just wanted to say that I enjoyed the first episode of the show and that I can’t wait to watch the rest of it. There are several crossovers planned, especially around February I think. What did you think of the show?

iZombie Season 2 Premiere

I never thought that I’d b into a zombie story as much as I am into iZombie. They ended with quite a bang last season and now Liv has to deal with the aftermath. Spoilers for the Season 2 Premiere ahead!

As a little reminder, here is what happened last time we saw iZombie: Liv used up the entire cure Ravi found on Blaine and Major. Since she therefore is still a zombie, she couldn’t donate blood for her injured brother – her family didn’t take that well. Also, Peyton left (Ravi broken hearted).

Now that we continue with Season 2, I’ll break it down into all the characters as always:

  • Liv’s brother really didn’t take it well that she didn’t help him. Her mother neither, but the thing is, why couldn’t she just lie to them? Tell them she had some sort of blood disease? No one said she had to go with the zombie-thing. Either way, I get why they are pissed at her and she’ll need to do a lot of fixing on that front.
  • They are not the only ones who are not talking to her though – Major is avoiding her as well. Clive thinks he has something to do with what happened at the meat shop, which he obviously did, but Liv is protecting him.
  • Blaine is far from having gone legit after being turned human, but at least he is now providing brains from already dead people for his zombie clients. I will never forgive him for what he did to Lowell, but I do like him as a character so very much. I think it’s going to be fun to see him being human again and kind of having to team up with Liv. They just really remind me of Buffy and Spike sometimes – anyone else get that vibe?
  • Ravi is a little frustrated with Liv, because he can’t replicate the cure again. They don’t know how long it will last and if it is a permanent cure at all. However, apparently the ex-zombies can now feel other zombies when they are around – they have an actual physical response to their presence.
  • The villain of the season is someone we actually know: the people at Max Rager, who were responsible for the zombie outbreak in the first place. They are truly evil – they forced Major to become a zombie killer. Yeah, I know that he actually wanted to do that last season, but he had reasons to dislike those particular zombies. I feel so sorry for him, especially because they want him to kill Liv. I wonder how long he can put it off.
    And then the shocker that they’ve already infiltrated Liv’s life in form of her new roommate is so creepy! They must have bugged the entire place and her phone and who knows what else …

Now, I hope Peyton comes back soon and I hope she’s on team zombie/Liv! Also, I wouldn’t mind if it were somehow possible that Lowell came back, but I guess there are some things even a zombie can’t recover from … What were your thoughts on the iZombie Season 2 Premiere?

Fall Review: Code Black

Once again I am coming to you with a Fall Premiere of a show. This time it is from CBS and called Code Black!

CastMelanie Chandra, Benjamin Hollingsworth, Marcia Gay Harden, Harry Ford, Raza Jaffrey, Luis Guzmán, Bonnie Somerville, …

A Code Black is when there are more patients needing help than a hospital can provide due to lack of resources. A normal hospital has this happening about 5 times a year, the Angel’s Memorial an average of 300 times. The show follows the doctors and nurses who have to deal with the craziness.

I thought I was done with medical dramas, but it turns out I am just tired of Grey’s Anatomy. All the others are still fine! Code Black is based off the documentary of the same title by Ryan McGarry. They really tried to push the show with the casting of Marcia Gay Harden as one of the leading tough surgeons, but I recognised some of the other faces too. The characters are fine so far, but not all of them are likable from the beginning. They tried to give each resident their own problems, but what show doesn’t have that?

That’s a bit the problem with Code Black. It focuses on a very unique situation in hospitals, but whereas that should create tension and drama, it still has difficulties distinguishing itself from all the other med dramas out there. Sure, if you like that sort of thing, it’s an entertaining show with lots of blood spilt and suctioned up, but it’s not unique. It is possible that it will develop over time. My Wednesday nights are already pretty full with Chicago PD, Empire, Nashville and some other comedies. Still, I’ll give Code Black a chance, but only for a couple more episodes.

What do you think? Should the producers have taken a look at the market and never even developed the show? Or are you embracing another medical drama?

Fall Review: Quantico and Blood & Oil

Today’s shows are both from ABC. While they do have to work on their CGI, they definitely know all about drama. Here’s what I’ve got for you!

Quantico

CastPriyanka Chopra, Aunjanue Ellis, Josh Hopkins, Jake McLaughlin, Yasmine Al Massri, Johanna Braddy, Tate Ellington, Graham Rogers, Anabelle Acosta, Mark Pellegrino, Brian J. Smith, …

An explosion in the middle of New York, the city is in chaos. Amidst it is young FBI agent Alex Parrish and it seems like she is going to get framed for the whole incident. Now she has to go back to her training at Quantico to find out who of the other cadets or staff could have done this.

The first episode definitely starts with a bang – both literally and figuratively. I can’t believe how many known faces are in this show, I was just like “Oh, I know you from somewhere and you and you …”. At first I thought that the constant switch between present day and the start of the academy was a bit too fast and random, but it worked better as the episode progressed. I like a lot of the characters with my current favourites being Simon, Nimah, Shelby and Ryan, but it’s a ton of information at once. Especially considering how many lies and secrets are uncovered in those first 45 minutes.

I was personally more invested in what’s going on at the Academy, because we still need to get to know everyone and can’t really judge who’s framing Alex from the get go. The whole explosion is just too far in the future and too many pieces are missing inbetween. However, the show knows how to deal with drama and is surprisingly funny at times. I definitely want to continue watching, even though I am still sad that Brian J. Smith‘s character was such a bust.

Blood & Oil

Cast: Chace Crawford, Don Johnson, Scott Michael Foster, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Amber Valletta, India de Beaufort, Adan Canto, Miranda Rae Mayo, Delroy Lindo, …

Billy and Cody gave up everything to make a better life for themselves during the modern-day oil boom in North Dakota. While they are resourceful and hard-working they have no idea what they are getting into, playing with high stakes and rich devils.

This is not my typical TV show. It’s very Dallas-y, which you could probably already guess, and while I appreciate some good soap drama, there is just not much mystery to it. First off, Blood & Oil does not seem realistic at all to me. There are already so many twists and turns, money owed and deeds to pay, they could have easily put those in 3-4 epsiodes. I cannot imagine how they’ll keep up with the pace.

I started watching the show because of the cast, really being excited to see Chace Crawford on TV again. Also, Scott Michael Foster is one of my favourites and he is reprising the role of a rich bad boy. Unfortunately, I think I have to be disappointed and he won’t have a golden heart deep down though. But I am not sure that will be enough to keep me as their viewer. While I do understand the motives of everyone, I don’t really feel sympathetic with a lot of the characters – it’s all happening too fast.

I’m going to stick around for a couple more episodes, hoping for a little slower pace and for the characters actually having to work for what’s coming to them.

So, what do you say? Are you in for the drama?

Fall Review: Blindspot & Minority Report

It’s that time of the year again – a ton of shows are starting and my TV schedule will be close to bursting. As per usual I am trying to review as many shows as possible. But because of the sheer quantity of shows, I’ll keep the reviews rather short. You’ll get the gist of it!

Blindspot

Network: NBC
Cast: Jaimie Alexander, Sullivan Stapleton, Audrey Esparza, Rob Brown, Kelly Aaron, Caliph Jones, Michael Gaston, CJ Parson, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Ukweli Roach, …

As the trailer above shows quite well, Blindspot is about a woman with tons of tattoos but no memory. My first impression was that it looks really good, but in the end the pilot didn’t blow me away. Jaimie Alexander definitely has it down to look really scared and confused while being fierce to no end. However, the situation is just not that believable. I just can’t get it into my head that a federal agency would let a civilian with amnesia tag along and their lack of control over said person is frightening. I mean they just let her wander around and get into all sorts of trouble.

Also, I am afraid the show will have a sort of villain-of-the-week-theme and that can get boring easily. Nonetheless, the concept is still interesting and I’ll definitely continue to check it out for a couple of more episodes. After all, I do want to know what’s up with those mysterious tattoos.

Minority Report

Network: FOX
Cast: Stark Sands, Meagan Good, Nick Zano, Wilmer Valderrama, Laura Regan, …

So, obviously this show is connected to the movie of the same title. It takes place 10 years after the end of Precrime and focuses on one of the PreCogs who has difficulties adjusting to “normal” life.

I have watched the movie, but it’s been a while. Still, I think it was a mistake to set the show after Precrime has already been abolished. There is none of the moral dilemma as to whether it makes sense to arrest someone before they’ve actually committed a crime, because this time around it is all about catching the bad guys on time. Now it is just yet another cop show and the acting wasn’t really that breathtaking either.

Aside from FOX having a track record of cancelling sci-fi shows pretty fast, I have decided for myself that I won’t continue with that show, because it just didn’t really hit home with me.

What are your thoughts? Are you going to watch Blindspot or Minority Report?

Chicago Med Season 1 First Look

ChicagoMed_16x9_KA 2_NewLogo.jpg

Okay, so I did it for the new Seasons of Chicago Fire and Chicago PD, now I feel like I am obliged to do it for Chicago Med as well even though this is a little pointless. The promo basically just showed a lot of scenes from the backdoor pilot on Chicago Fire, but at least the date is set for November 17 this year! YAY!

There aren’t that many Spoilers and infos floating around, but I’ll try my best! The order for the first season consists of 13 episodes. I know that several crossovers with the other Chicago shows, as well as with Law & Order: SVU are planned for early 2016. Laurie Holden, who played Dr. Hanna Tramblen (and can still be seen on the right of the picture above) had to leave the show due to family reasons. I guess there won’t be any romancing with Will Halstead then, which means he needs a new love interest and it better be someone cool!

A couple of people have been added to the cast since the backdoor pilot:

  • Brian Tee has joined the cast and will play a resident who went into medicine after several tours of duty as an Army medic.
  • Colin Morgan (who we should all know as Tommy from Arrow) has also been added as series regular, but there is not much known about his role. He is possibly expected to be a pediatric doctor, but it hasn’t been confirmed.
  • Torrey DeVitto (from TVD and PLL) will portray a pregnant emergency room doctor named Dr. Lilly Manning.
  • (this one I found out thanks to Cristina @MyTinyObsessions who helped me out in the comments) Rachel DiPillo (Jane the Virgin) will be interning as Dr. Sarah Reese at the ER and is fresh out of med school.

I am super excited about the show, but it’s still too early to know what all will actually happen. I already know that I’ll be very invested in what Dr. Halstead is doing, simply because he’s Jay’s brother. Other than that I’ll be happy to let myself be surprised. Are you excited too?