Size Doesn’t Matter (106): Throwing My Life Away; The Winter Long; The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (106): Throwing My Life Away; The Winter Long; The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited LoveThrowing My Life Away by Liz Czukas
Published by Author on December 20, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 204
Format: eARC
Source: Author

7 photographs, 2 weeks, an entire life to get back. No problem, right?

After her stepfather accidentally throws away her high school mementos, sentimental Mariska is pretty sure the world is over. That is, until she comes up with a plan. She's going to recreate her past, with a little help from her friends.

It's not easy to rally everyone into helping, especially Caine, who couldn't be less sentimental about anything if he were a park bench. But from a guerilla kite festival to convincing her ex-boyfriend to recreate her lost prom picture, Mariska is willing to do what it takes.

With a little nudging from Caine, Mariska starts to realize she can't actually get her past back. And maybe that's okay. Because while she's so focused on the past, she's missing out on the present, where her friends are busy having the summer of their lives. And where funny, quiet Caine might just be the future she never knew she wanted.

Given how much I loved Czukas’ debut novel Ask Again Later and really enjoyed the follow-up Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless, I was so excited to hear that she was writing another young adult book, after doing a couple new adult novels. Throwing My Life Away wasn’t quite the bantery delight of her first two YA novels, but it’s a good read about memory and what really matters.

My main difficulty here is that I just happened to read this book directly after Lauren Gibaldi’s sophomore novel, Autofocus, which has a coincidental number of similarities. Both center on heroines are aspiring photographers who are looking ahead to college and questioning who they are, in part due to a mystery about a bio parent they don’t know (the heroine in Autofocus was adopted and Throwing My Life Away‘s Mariska came about because of a hook-up while on shrooms at Burning Man). They also happen to have pretty similar voices and love interests. It’s not a point against either book in terms of quantity, but it was bad timing on my part.

Mariska’s fears about attending college at the end of the summer and leaving everything she knows behind are compounded when a box of meaningful memorabilia accidentally gets shredded instead of kept. With the support of her best friend Sun, she sets out to recreate the seven most important photos that she’s lost, learning a long the way that change can be a good thing and that memory is a tricksy beast.

My favorite part of Throwing My Life Away was definitely Mariska’s relationship with Caine. They’ve been sort of distantly friends, but he gets caught up in her quest and feelings start to happen. When she’s with Caine, Mariska turns into a bantery queen. I wish there’d been that much spice with her best friends too. I’d have loved it if this book had been a dual POV between Mariska and Sun, expanded to cover differing outlooks on college, change, and life.

Throwing My Life Away is very cute. I just would not recommend reading it too closely to Autofocus. It would be a toss up for me on which to recommend, because I like the overarching plot of Autofocus a bit better, but this one’s more romantic.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Size Doesn’t Matter (106): Throwing My Life Away; The Winter Long; The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited LoveThe Winter Long by Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #8
Published by DAW on September 2, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 358
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

For once, it seems like the Kingdom of the Mists has reached a point of, if not perfection, at least relative peace. Queen Arden Windermere is getting settled on her family's throne; no one's going to war with anyone else; it's almost like everything is going to be okay. Even October "Toby" Daye is starting to relax her constant vigilance, allowing herself to think about the future, and what it might entail.

And then Simon Torquill comes back, and everything begins to fall apart. In Faerie, nothing stays buried forever. No matter how much you might want it to.

Oddly enough, I struggled a bit with The Winter Long. The pacing was not quite as fast as it’s been since book two until I got a good deal into the book. However, once things ramped up, The Winter Long proved totally life-ruining in the good, classic Seanan McGuire way.

It makes sense, I think, that there’s a bit more slowness at the start, because The Winter Long was apparently the book McGuire wanted to write from the start, even though it’s book eight in the series. In some ways, this is a new beginning for Toby. She’s come so far but her true fight against the overarching plot of the series is only just starting up.

Seriously, it’s fucking amazing how these books just keep ramping up the tension and the danger. Not only does Toby face bigger and scarier challenges every time, but she grows emotionally and changes as the result of every adventure. View Spoiler »

In the first couple of books, there were a couple of characters that seemed like they were going to be her all-powerful friends and bail her out in every book when the going got too rough. Well, now, of those three, one of them is dead, one of them hates her, and the other one almost died. Toby gets the help of so many people, but there’s definitely no hero to bail her out every single time. Given how powerful everyone is, it’s amazing how McGuire keeps the plotting so tight. Even knowing there are more books ahead and Toby can’t die, I’m so tense for her in every book. That’s so impressive.

Despite a slow start, The Winter Long blew me away with the shocking revelation of October’s enemy. I’d figured out half of it, but hadn’t made the connection to the other half and just holy shit.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Size Doesn’t Matter (106): Throwing My Life Away; The Winter Long; The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited LoveThe Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash
Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR on June 14, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book Depository

Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. Archie and Veronica. Althena and Noth.…Graham and Roxy?

Graham met his best friend, Roxy, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since.

But now they’re sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever—moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books.

When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be…even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.

Male-narrated POVs are very hit or miss with me these days, and I don’t tend to be into them unless the dude is into other dudes. Sarvenaz Tash’s The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love is an exception, handling the dude in love with his best friend to the degree of making her seem like an MPDG trope really well.

First off, this book is so nerdy and adorable. I love Graham’s voice. He’s sweet and dorky and pop culture references abound. Though there’s not a huge family element, it’s cool that he has a loving family and that he’s happy his widowed father found someone new in his step-mother. There aren’t that many YA novels that feature good step-parents, so that was cool.

Graham realized three months before that he’s in love with his best friend and comic creating partner Roxy. He decides that he will confess his love to her in romantic comedy fashion in a grand gesture at Comic Con. Needless to say, everything goes totally wrong, especially when she meets a hot, nice British nerd called Devin on the first day.

View Spoiler »

For me, the show got stolen primarily by the cute background ship of Casey and Felicia. They’re super cute. I just wish any of the ships had sailed a wee bit more, but I appreciate the number of burgeoning interracial relationships on the table, which fyi is three. The boys are, I believe, all white, but Roxy’s persian, Felicia’s Japanese, and Amelia’s black. I do hope the fact that there’s no set resolution on any of the romances leaves the door open for another book about this crew.

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love is a total delight. I binged the whole book in one lazy Sunday morning. Very much a must for nerdy fandom folks.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

9 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (106): Throwing My Life Away; The Winter Long; The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love”

  1. Joanne Levy says:

    I loved Geek’s Guide. I think Sarv did a great job with it and I’m not just saying that because I know her. It was fun and just the kind of thing I love in my YAs.
    Something about nerds just…I don’t know.
    Somewhat related: I have no idea how I ever discovered it, but I think my first intro to the romance genre was Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Nerd series way back when. I have no idea if they hold up, but I’m thinking I need to revisit them. They were frothy fun with nerds who just happened to be ripped. 😉 Looks like all but the first book are Kindle exclusives, should you be interested.
    Joanne Levy recently posted…So this happened!My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Totally agree. I do wish there was MORE of Geek’s Guide, because there’s very little resolution. Not in a dropped threads way but in a “oh hey this could really use a sequel/companion” way. But still, I’m super grateful the ship went the way it did. Not enough books like that. And the nerdery is excellent.

      I put the first book on my to-read shelf. Not sure when I’ll get there, but thanks for the rec!

  2. Your Size Doesn’t Matter reviews have been most eye-opening. I used to do “Short and Sweet” reviews like, ages ago… and as I tried to become a “better” blogger my mindset evolved into thinking that reviews have to be crazy long in order for them to be taken seriously. So, I would like to thank you for the inspiration to dredge up those post types again. Because as you say… size really doesn’t matter. 🙂

    • Christina Franke says:

      Awwww, yay! They’ve been really freeing. I honestly don’t know how I used to spin out 600ish word reviews when sometimes I legit had like one sentence to say. I know most of these aren’t super mini but sometimes I have written a paragraph or less because just eh whatevs moving on.

      People may even prefer that because you get the opinion in like five seconds haha. I tend to be a bit wordy.

  3. They really are freeing. Because honestly, sometimes a gif and a snarky comment is sufficient. I don’t read nearly as much as you so it’s kind of problematic to compile what would have normally been three reviews into one post but eh, I’ll make it work.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday – Highly Anticipated 2017 DebutsMy Profile

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