Tag «parody»

Fresh Fridays: My Contrary Mary (Mary #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

Fresh Fridays: My Contrary Mary (Mary #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Mary Series

Other books planned to be in the series:


Synopsis for My Contrary Mary (from Goodreads):

Welcome to Renaissance France, a place of poison and plots, of beauties and beasts, of mice and . . . queens?⠀

Mary is the queen of Scotland and the jewel of the French court. Except when she’s a mouse. Yes, reader, Mary is an Eðian (shapeshifter) in a kingdom where Verities rule. It’s a secret that could cost her a head – or a tail.⠀

Luckily, Mary has a confidant in her betrothed, Francis. But after the king meets a suspicious end, things at the gilded court take a treacherous turn. Thrust onto the throne, Mary and Francis are forced to navigate a viper’s nest of conspiracies, traps, and treason. And if Mary’s secret is revealed, heads are bound to roll.⠀


Series: Mary

This is a spinoff of the My Lady Janies Series.

Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Standalone Retellings
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Humour, Parody, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I have a bit of a so-so relationship with the My Lady Janies Series. I didn’t *love* it but I enjoyed the idea of spinning well known history and there were some moments of brilliance interspersed with moments of silliness. I wasn’t sure if I was going to pick up this series but when I read that the first book was about Mary Queen of Scots–a historical figure I knew a decent amount about–I was willing to give them a shot.

What I Liked:

–I Was Familiar with the History–

Part of my struggle with the Jane Series was that I wasn’t overly familiar with all the history of our lead characters. So certain scenes and how they unfold were a little lost on me. I couldn’t see the intelligent spin the authors put on the historical moments.

But I do know the history of Mary Queen of Scots because I researched her story after I started watchin the TV Series Reign. As I often do with series that are based on history, I read the history and learn what history says happened, not the creative license TV shows or movies sometimes take.

So I think I got a little more out of this story because I could see how the Eðian (shapeshifting) aspects puts a spin on notable history events.


I laughed a lot thanks to the audiobook. I learned with the Jane Series that the audiobooks were the way to go for me to get the most out of the humour. But there is a lot of play on words and other aspects that made me appreciate the efforts the authors put into weaving this tale.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Sometimes It Gets Silly–

I have a bit of a love-hate thing with the Eðian aspect. It’s a fun idea and helps explain some of the prejudices of the time. But sometimes, I think it gets a little silly and distracts from the realism of these historical events. Having read the Jane series, I knew what to expect when it comes to these twists but I’m still torn on how much I actually like them in the books.

My Audiobook Experience:

I learned my lesson with the last series that the humour and dry wit comes across better when I listen to these books as audiobooks so that’s what I did for this series. I definitely enjoyed the audiobook production and I do think it contributes positively to my reading experience.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m a little undecided about continuing on with this series. I’m not a huge Mary Shelley fan and the synopsis for the second book doesn’t overly excite me. I like Fae stories though….we will see. Right now I’ve marked it as a pass on Goodreads.

My Rating: 3/5

My Contrary Mary 3/5 | My Imaginary Mary TBP | Book 3 TBP


Fans of the original Jane series will be excited for another round of historical hijinks! And new fans will appreciate the clever weaving of fantasy and history — so long as you know what you are getting into before you pick it up.

Read if You Like: historical retellings with fantasy spins, parodies
Avoid if You: dislike satires/parodies


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DNF Standalone Review: Kens by Raziel Reid

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Kens (from Goodreads):

Heterosexuality is so last season: Kens is the gay Heathers meets Mean Girls, a shocking parody for a whole new generation.

Every high school has the archetypical Queen B and her minions. In Kens, the high school hierarchy has been reimagined. Willows High is led by Ken Hilton, and he makes Regina George from Mean Girls look like a saint. Ken Hilton rules Willows High with his carbon-copies, Ken Roberts and Ken Carson, standing next to his throne. It can be hard to tell the Kens apart. There are minor differences in each edition, but all Kens are created from the same mold, straight out of Satan’s doll factory. Soul sold separately.

Tommy Rawlins can’t help but compare himself to these shimmering images of perfection that glide through the halls. He’s desperate to fit in, but in a school where the Kens are queens who are treated like Queens, Tommy is the uncool gay kid. A once-in-a-lifetime chance at becoming a Ken changes everything for Tommy, just as his eye is caught by the tall, dark, handsome new boy, Blaine. Has Blaine arrived in time to save him from the Kens? Tommy has high hopes for their future together, but when their shared desire to overthrow Ken Hilton takes a shocking turn, Tommy must decide how willing he is to reinvent himself — inside and out. Is this new version of Tommy everything he’s always wanted to be, or has he become an unknowing and submissive puppet in a sadistic plan?


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Worst Read 2018
Author: Raziel Reid
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Parody, Humour, LGBTQ
Heat Rating: unsure
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Source & Format: Early Reviewers–Hardcover | Thank you Penguin Teen!


Disclaimer: I stopped reading Kens at 13% (Page 35 of 272). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When you pitch a book as the “Mean Girls” for a whole other generation you set up some very high expectations. I was really excited to read this book for that reason and because of the gender swap aspect. It was a very intriguing concept.

Image result for october 3 mean girls pink
Fun Fact: I wrote this review on October 3rd!

What I Liked:

Not much. I guess you can say that I liked the idea of what this novel could be than anything it actually was. I only got two chapters in before I realized this was not going to be the book I wanted it to be.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Setting–

Ok, this takes place in Wisconsin. I don’t know much about Wisconsin (other than the fact that it’s close to Canada) but it wouldn’t be where I would set this novel. Perhaps that is the point or the parody? These characters are so very stereotypical Hollywood that it just made this whole thing seem outrageous…and not in the smart parody way.

–Goes for Shocking, Not Witty–

After reading this book, I’ve discovered book parodies just don’t work for me. I think this is the third one I’ve attempted and things are just lost on me. What is is about parodies that make them come across as so far-fetched and just plain not funny?

Definition of parody 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule

–wrote a hilarious parody of a popular song

2a feeble or ridiculous imitation

–a cheesy parody of a classic western


Yes, I get that parodies are supposed to be ridiculous–you are making fun of something–but this one just takes it to a whole other level that comes across as dim-witted and sometimes just plain rude. I like to think I’m an intelligent person and can see the bigger picture, but this (bigger picture) was just lost on me here.

I got the sense that this book was written with the intent of pure shock-factor for the readers. To be so out-there that it gets people talking about its wacky cast. However, everything is taken to an extreme that sucks out the realm of probability.

But the problem is when you bill something to be like Mean Girls–which I hold in very high esteem in terms of writing, humour and message–you have to deliver. There is a reason why people still talk about that movie years later and they’ve made a Broadway show about it!

Sure, Regina George is an extreme character. She is literally the mix of every mean girl you will ever encounter in your life in one person but that’s the point. But you can still appreciate what she is as a character at the end of the day and what she does for the story, even if you don’t like her as a person.

Here, in Kens, not so much. There’s nothing redeemable about these characters at all and the hero you are supposed to root for is so “blah” you understand why he has never resurfaced onto Ken Hilton’s radar.

Will I Finish It?

Not a chance.

My Rating: DNF


Others who have read the novel have critiqued it for how it represents LGBTQ characters but I didn’t get far enough to get a firm grasp on that aspect. So I encourage you to read other reviews if that is something you look for in a novel. Otherwise, if you enjoy reading hot messes or need a guilty pleasure read, this might be for you. But if you are looking for the next Mean Girls, this is far from it.

Read if You Like: parodies, melodramatics
Avoid if You: want a smartly written parody


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Series Review: The Lady Janies by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

Series Review: The Ladies Janies by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:


Synopsis for My Lady Jane (from Goodreads):
The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.


Series: My Lady Jane

There is a spinoff: Mary Series.

Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 3 (Series Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Standalone Retellings
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Humour, Parody, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 7, 2016 – June 2, 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; Audiobook (Books #2, #3)


**This post was originally published as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This novel was everywhere in 2016! And I’ll admit, I didn’t know much else about it other than it was a retelling of Lady Jane Grey who was somehow connected to the British throne and it was supposed to be funny. I’ve also read series by all three of these authors in the past and enjoyed them. Sounded like a winning combination to me!

So I went in without reading any other reviews in order to not raise my expectations too high. I was hoping for a fun and entertaining read–and if I learned something about the British Monarchy, bonus!

The Concept / The World:

Years ago, I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and really enjoyed it. So I am completely open to magic/supernatural changes to a classic story or history. But I really wasn’t expecting the animal shifter storyline we got here. It took me a long to time get comfortable with it.

I also think part of the problem was that I’m not entirely familiar with English History. It was a similar problem to when I picked up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer–I don’t know American history and so I couldn’t make the little connections between the parody and actual history and that diminished my reading experience.

I really didn’t know who Jane Grey was before I picked this up.  So I read Wikipedia a lot to find out who all the players were and what actually happened in history just so I knew what the authors were trying to do.

Once I made the connections between history and this fictitious story, I started to appreciate it a lot more. The writing here is smart. The conflict between shifters and nonshifters here and its parallel to the religious conflicts of Jane Grey’s time (for example) is fantastic. It’s those little things that make this story interesting to read overall.

The Plot:

I really found the first half of this book to be slow–so slow that I almost contemplated DNFing. Yes, I did love the humour but the animal shifting really threw me off and I wasn’t sure if I liked how the story was progressing. But once I got familiar with the history and got comfortable with the world, I started to enjoy it a lot more.

Plus, I really wanted to know how it was going to end!

And I have to say, that once I got to the halfway point, it really started to pick up. It got a hell of a lot more exciting and I started to get won over by the characters and the plot.

The Characters:

What I liked about this story was that it was told from Edward, Jane and Gifford’s POVs. Not only do you get to learn more about these characters through their POVs, but I find multiple POVs help keep the story moving even when it doesn’t feel like it is.

All of these characters have their little quirks which makes the narration a lot of fun to read. So even when the plot was slow to get somewhere, the characters kept me entertained.

The Romance:

It isn’t a huge part of the story but it is pretty cute. The romantic in me was happy with the little spurts we got throughout the novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m curious to see what will happen next and what these ladies have in store.


–January 4, 2019– Book #2: My Plain Jane

So I can say with absolute certainty that this second novel was much, much better than the first–for me at least. I really enjoyed the plot and approach this story had. It was a fun satire of sorts on the classic gothic novel and the literature lover in me really enjoyed that. While I’ve never read Jane Eyre (shame on me I know), I know enough of the story to truly appreciate the parallels the authors have created here. I also think listening to this as an audiobook vastly improved my overall experience because the humour and sarcasm were much more apparent.

–July 4, 2020– Book #3: My Plain Jane

Out of all the Jane stories, I think this one was the best, or at the very least, the one I enjoyed the most. I thought the wild west setting was fun and the idea of werewolves here for the satire wasn’t a huge stretch. I think it also helped that we didn’t just follow Jane but had Annie and Frank to balance out her morose personality. But I also thought this book was about 10 chapters too long and my interest started to wane.

The audiobook–again–was a great choice!


My Rating: 4/5

My Lady Jane 3.5/5  |  My Plain Jane 4/5  |  My Calamity Jane 3.5/5


I’m in the minority with this series I think because I know a lot of people who LOVE this novel. If you go into it knowing that it doesn’t take itself seriously and has magical elements to it, you’ll enjoy this a lot more. I also highly recommend the audiobooks if you are someone who struggles with humour in novels.

Read if You Like: humour, historical novels, retellings
Avoid if You: dislike parodies, want a serious retelling


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DNF Review: Fifty Shames of Earl Grey by Fanny Merkin

 Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):Young, arrogant, tycoon Earl Grey seduces the naïve coed Anna Steal with his overpowering good looks and staggering amounts of money, but will she be able to get past his fifty shames, including shopping at Walmart on Saturdays, bondage with handcuffs, and his love of BDSM (Bards, Dragons, Sorcery, and Magick)? Or will his dark secrets and constant smirking drive her over the edge?


NOTE: I never finished this book. I got to Chapter 3 before I gave up. Find out why below:

I didn’t go into this book with high expectations, but I was looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it past the 3rd chapter.

In my mind, it isn’t hard to write a parody about Fifty Shades of Grey. If anything, it is too easy. I mean look at how many celebrities have videos on YouTube of them reading the novel out-loud which results in millions of people laughing. But this book just fails.

I think it tries too hard to be “out-there”. The story is just plain odd and weird, not funny. Some lines (maybe about 3 sentences of the 15 pages I managed to read) were actually witty and encouraged me to keep reading. They were what I was expecting the book to be like and not random calls from Beyoncé or a 40 year old roommate bits we get. The wit was just too few and far between so I had to put this book down.

There isn’t much more to say other than that this was a disappointment, like Nightlight, the Twilight parody was. If it took more of a satire approach than a parody, it would have been more successful. I find it hard to believe that there is plans for a sequel because I can’t see how people finished the this one.


Avoid at all costs if you like your sanity. It wasn’t funny–it was like watching a bad parody film only I couldn’t turn it off (well, it was an eBook so I guess I could have ;))

Rating: 1/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Parody, Adult, Comedy
Recommended for: no one, but those who enjoy “out-there” parodies
Similar Reads: Nightlight by Harvard Lampoon

Single Sundays: Nightlight: A Parody by the Harvard Lampoon

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
About three things I was absolutely certain.
First, Edwart was most likely my soul mate, maybe.
Second, there was a vampire part of him–which I assumed was wildly out of his control–that wanted me dead.
And third, I unconditionally, irrevocably, impenetrably, heterogeneously, gynecologically, and disreputably wished he had kissed me.

And thus Belle Goose falls in love with the mysterious and sparkly Edwart Mullen in the Harvard Lampoon’s hilarious send-up of Twilight.

Pale and klutzy, Belle arrives in Switchblade, Oregon looking for adventure, or at least an undead classmate. She soon discovers Edwart, a super-hot computer nerd with zero interest in girls. After witnessing a number of strange events–Edwart leaves his tater tots untouched at lunch! Edwart saves her from a flying snowball!–Belle has a dramatic revelation: Edwart is a vampire. But how can she convince Edwart to bite her and transform her into his eternal bride, especially when he seems to find girls so repulsive?


This is one of those books that sounds good in theory, but when it comes to execution it fails to deliver.

I mean, it shouldn’t be hard to write a parody about Twilight–you don’t even have to think longer than a few seconds to remember a joke you have made at the expense of the Twilight Saga and its movies. So, I was extremely excited to read this parody and laugh hysterically at jokes that we all saw coming and could agree upon.

Unfortunately, that isn’t how it played out.

A friend of mine–who shares the same book interests as myself–recommended I read this book because it was hilarious so I was more than willing to give it a try. And at first, I liked the book. It played off the original story very well and I laughed out loud at the jokes. But then it just got weird and awkward and I stopped enjoying it. I almost stopped reading it but because it is such a short book, I just trucked through it.

Simply put, the book becomes absurd and just bizarre. If the author was trying to inadvertently send the message that the original Twilight was just as absurd then I think they accomplish that but not in a witty way that would gain my respect or admiration or even a 3 star review. There were so many other ways that the story could have gone or played upon and it just fails to do so.


Very disappointing and not as funny as one would hope. I only really laughed for the first 30 or so pages–and I seriously laugh at everything so me not laughing for the rest should be a sign. Avoid if you can–even if you hated Twilight, because you will finish the book and hate Twilight even more because the whole Twilight phenomenon is the only reason why this book was created in the first place.

Rating: 1.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Parody, Satire, Comedy
Recommended for: no one (but it is suitable content for those ages 15+)
Similar Reads: Fifty Shames of Earl Grey by Fanny Merkin

Movie Mondays: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith | Movie: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

Which did I read/see first? The Book

Book Cover                                       Movie Poster

The Book:

Series: No, it is a stand-alone novel
Genre: Historical, Parody, Action, Vampires


This book had been on my to-read list ever since I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (I’m going to refer to it as PPZ hence forth). I absolutely adored that book! It was so well done and I loved how he weaved in Zombies as the cause of the events that transpired in the original book. Needless to say, I was excited to see how he would make an American President a vampire hunter.

Now, I think it is important to state that I am Canadian. I have very little knowledge of past American Presidents or American History. I know the gist of everything but I don’t know all the details–especially with respect to the Civil War and I think that served to my disadvantage with this book.

When I read PPZ, I had just finished the Jane Austen novel so the events of the book were pretty fresh in my mind. I could see why things were happening as they were. However, with ALVH I had difficulty seeing the connections. This book was a lot more focused on the history and Abe’s thought process than the vampire hunting. I was expecting more action and I didn’t get that so I was a little disappointed. I think I skimmed the last few chapters just to finish it.


Readers should be prepared to read how vampires effected the American Civil War instead of reading an action packed Blade-esque vampire hunter story.

Rating: 2.5/5
Similar Reads: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

The Movie:

I had read the book last summer in anticipation of the movie so I think the movie trailers had distorted my expectations of the novel. Unfortunately, it’s been about a year since I read the novel and I have just finished watching the movie this past weekend so I can’t remember how accurate it is to the novel (sorry!).

The movie was everything I thought it would be: an over-the-top production of Abe Lincoln as a vampire hunter (why would I expect anything else in all honesty?). Because of this, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. There is a lot of slow motion action scenes, lots of blood and some bad-ass axe skills. It’s not like a Blade movie by any means, but it had a lot more action than the novel.

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is the movie. It lived up to my expectations–which weren’t that high mind you, but it was what I thought it was going to be.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (from Goodreads):
Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother’s bedside. She’s been stricken with something the old-timers call “Milk Sickness.”

“My baby boy…” she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother’s fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, “henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose…” Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.