Saturday, November 19, 2016


For a while now, I've been double blogging here and at Goodreads.  I've decided to just move on over there.  If you want to, you can find me by searching for Nicholina on  Thanks to anyone who has been reading here. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

I'd read George not too long ago and had heard that Gracefully Grayson was basically the same book.  I only thought George was okay, so I put off reading Gracefully Grayson.  It recently came to my attention again and I decided I'd go ahead and give it a go.  It's a short read, so I started it last night and finished it this morning.

There are a lot of similarities between George and Gracefully Grayson.  In both books, we have a transgender girl.  That is, a kid who was born with a male body but is actually a girl inside.  In both cases, the kids audition for a girl part in a school play.  Also, in both, they're hiding who they really are at the beginning and are making strong starts toward being true to themselves by the end. 

However, the feel of Gracefully Grayson was different for me.  It's for a slightly older audience and Grayson felt more like a real kid to me.  I felt a lot for Grayson and cried a bit in parts.  I simply felt more connected to Grayson and the story.

Alex and Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn

So, in keeping with expanding my reading interests, I actually read two graphic novels yesterday.  The second was Alex and Ada.  I really liked it. 

Alex and Ada is a scifi story in which Alex is gifted a robot that he doesn't want but then can't get himself to return once she's there.  He names her Ada.  I'll leave it at that.

I like scifi generally and the story, well, really, the beginning of the story was pretty decent.  Also, I found the graphics really appealing.

I'll definitely get the next volume.

Lumberjanes Friendship to the Max

Friendship to the Max is the second volume of Lumberjanes.  I still feel a little ambivalent about Lumberjanes and I think maybe this will be my last one.  I don't particularly care about the plot line (which was practically nonexistent in the first one, but more developed in this one), but was liking the character development in the first one.  I just didn't really feel like that went anyplace this time.  I see why people (girls in particular) would be drawn to Lumberjanes, but it just isn't really working for me.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Moonshifted by Cassie Alexander

I seem to be on a supernatural kick at the moment, no?  I finished listening to Moonshifted yesterday.  It's the second in the Edie Spence series.  Obviously, I liked the first one enough to continue with the series.  I didn't like the second one as much.  There were a few continuity issues between the first and second book in my opinion.  I also got a little annoyed that Edie didn't figure out what was up with the supplement her brother (of whom she's previously washed her hands in book 1) was selling.  The sex scenes came a bit out of the blue, but I guess that's just who Edie is and I don't really begrudge her sexual choices, but they also didn't make me like the book any better.  I did finish it, so it was okay, but I think I'm done here.

Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop

Vision in Silver is the third Novel of the Others by Anne Bishop.  Seeing as how it's the third, I won't go into plot at all.  I will say, though, that I'm still enjoying this series.  It has the same overall problems for me that the first two did:  too much of the stereotypical women stuff (don't ask if it's a women's time of the month, going shopping with women is scary, ect.), a little bit of wrapping things in unnecessary mystery that then isn't much of a reveal.  But, as it's the third in the series and I'm still reading, I obviously enjoy the series.  I find the interplay between the humans and the Others interesting.  I appreciate the ruthlessness of the Others.  I do like these books more than not and have enjoyed the read on all three thus far.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Far From Home by Lorelie Brown

Far From Home is a romance between Rachel, recovering anorexic, deeply in debt and ostensibly straight, and Pari who is in need of a green card.  Rachel, from whose point of view the story is told, blurts out "I would marry you," at a party.  Pari, who is comfortable financially, thinks this is an idea to explore.  Faster than I would have thought such a decision should be made, they hatch a plan and move in together.  This plan gives Rachel some financial relief and Pari a marriage leading to citizenship.  However, as they do, things get more complicated.  In addition to the romance and impending marriage, there is the underlying issue of Rachel's struggle with anorexia.

I found Far From Home a fairly enjoyable, quick read.  It progresses much like you might think and I found it very readable.  For me, the sex talk was a little more raw than is my cup of tea, but I'm pretty vanilla, so take that with a grain of salt.  What I didn't love was that everything happened so quickly.  It was pretty close to instalove in my opinion.  Yes, these two were living together, but they also spent a lot of time avoiding each other, not building a relationship, even though Rachel is very quickly, it seems, in love.  It seemed more like infatuation, which, to be fair, they both sort of acknowledge, but then I didn't really see how it could have moved past that given the interactions we saw.  In general, it was the shortness of this book that I felt lead to the things I didn't care for:  not quite enough relationship development, not enough character development of secondary characters, not quite enough of Rachel's work situation.

So, as is often the case with books and me, I liked it but didn't love it.  If you're working your way through the lesbian romance genre, I wouldn't skip this one.  If not, I don't know that this would be one I'd have you seek out.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec

I heard about Dear Data on the Note to Self podcast.  I was intrigued.  The premise is that Giorgia and Stefanie send each other one self created post card a week.  Each week they decide on some item of data to track. How many times they looked at their phones.  Physical contact. Complaints.  Each woman created her own system for displaying the data.  What emerges are weekly pieces of art with meaning.  On one side of the postcard, there is the picture.  On the other, a legend telling what the picture means.

I was super excited to sit down with Dear Data and check it out.  What I ended up discovering, though, is that this would make an excellent coffee table book.  I can totally see picking it up with a spare moment, flipping through and checking out a week.  I think I'd enjoy it as that.  As a book from the library to read and return?  Not so much.  There is just too much to each week.  I could really only process a few weeks at a time.  I spent some time flipping through Dear Data in a couple of sessions.  It's great.  But, it's not engaging in a sit down and read it cover to cover way.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Lumberjanes Volume 1

Of the three reviews I've posted today, Lumberjanes is the only one I actually finished today.  The other two I finished yesterday, but didn't have time to post.  Today, though, is a lazy, rainy Saturday here in Portland, so I've got time to catch up (in addition to watching Big Bang Theory because Anthony and I just realized there are actually two seasons out on DVD we haven't seen - score!).  Lumberjanes is a graphic novel I'd heard good things about, so decided to give it a go.  As I mentioned when I read Saga, I'm not a big graphic novel reader.  But, Saga went well, so why not try another?

Lumberjanes is the story of 5 girls who are at Lumberjane camp (Friendship to the Max!) for the summer.  They have adventures in friendship and of a supernatural sort.  That pretty much sums it up.

I had a little bit of a hard time getting into Lumberjanes.  It was a mix of it being a graphic novel, which is a bit of a challenging form for me, and the seemingly out of the blue nature of the supernatural stuff.  In spite of that, I figured I'd keep reading, as it's pretty short.  I was rewarded for that by getting to know these characters a little and seeing their relationships develop.  I came to like these girls and was glad I'd stuck with it.  I'm think I may even move on with the series.  However, I have to be honest and say that's partially because they're such quick reads, so I can follow the characters without too much time investment.  Plus, I feel like it's good for me to expand my horizons.

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

For the first 3rd of The Diabolic, I thought I'd found one of my new favorite books.  I stayed up a bit late reading and was loving it.  I didn't feel like it totally lived up to its promise, though, and, thus, it's not a new favorite, but I did still really enjoy it.

The Diabolic is the story of Nemesis who was created to love and absolutely protect one person.  In her case, that person is Sidonia, the daughter and heir to a member of the galactic Senate.  The empire, though, is at a tipping point and Sidonia is called to the Imperial Court as a hostage for good behavior from her father, who is a political enemy of the Emperor.  Nemesis can not go as Sidonia's diabolic, as all diabolics were supposed to be destroyed when they acted more radically than expected in defense of their protectees.  So, the plan is hatched for Nemesis to pose as Sidonia at court.  Things, as they do, go from there.

I liked The Diabolic.  I really, really liked Nemesis and her journey.  She was totally kick ass and, it seemed to me, pretty much always acted in accordance with who she is and what her background was.  I liked the story line overall.  I even liked the romance, which didn't seem too instalove to me.  I had no problem with the violence, which seemed on point for this society.

What I had trouble with, though, was that it just lost some of its zing as it went on.  It seemed fairly predictable.  None of the surprises took me by surprise.

So, because of that, it's not a favorite.  I still really liked it, though.  And Nemesis is awesome.

Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander

My library has a new thing where you can click on "something new" and it makes suggestions, but different suggestions than the ones I usually see.  When I did that a few days ago, it suggested a book called Moonshifted.  Now, Moonshifted is the second in a series, so clearly there are some flaws with the "something new" system, but I've been known to like paranormal.  I don't have a particular allegiance to any one genre, I'm more about story telling and characters.  So, I found the first book and opted to give it a try.  The first one is Nightshifted.  I listened to it in audiobook form, as that was what I was looking for at the time.  I've got way too many books in my too be read pile to be looking for a book-book right now.  And yet, I continue to put books on hold.  It's a problem.  Anyway.  Nightshifted.

Nightshifted is the story of Eddie Spence who works for the county hospital on their paranormal floor.  Being just a regular human girl, this is an odd turn of events, but when she was offered the position in exchange for her junky brother (who kept overdosing) clean, she couldn't turn it down.  When she winds up saving a girl (or, perhaps, something more dangerous) from some vampires, killing one in the process, she's scheduled for trial. A trial that is most likely a farce and, if convicted, will mean death. She is a strong minded, take care of yourself sort of woman, but she managed to collect assorted help along the way.

I really liked Nightshifted.  I was, frankly, surprised by how much I liked it, as it seems really under the radar.  I usually liked Eddie, but occasionally found her to be a bit annoying.  The story moved right along.  The writing was engaging.  The look at nursing seemed...well, medically probable, at least if you were doing medical procedures on the paranormal.  I thought the secondary characters had a range of being fleshed out that made sense in the context of the story. 

One things that annoyed me was the fact that Eddie's brother called her "Sissy."  Shudder.  Also, I had a little bit of a hard time with the zombie romance on principle, but, the way this zombie was presented (no rotting) helped me get over that.  Also, I'm much more of a tough love person than Eddie is, as shown by her relationship with her brother.  That was one of the things that annoyed me about her, but not everyone has to be me, so I didn't fixate on that too much.  While I liked the medical theme throughout the books, there was a lot of stereotyping of nurses in a ways that are definitely not 100%.

So, while Nightshifted wasn't my favorite ever read, it was quite good and enjoyable for me.  I'm already listening to Moonshifted.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Stands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

Strands of Bronze and Gold is a retelling of Bluebeard set in the antebellum south.  Sophia Petheram has grown up in Boston surrounded by the love of her siblings and father, but monetarily poor.  When she's 17, her father dies and Sophia's godfather sends for Sophia to come live with him in Mississippi.  At first, Sophia is charmed by both Monsieur Bernard de Cressac and his home, Wyndriven Abbey, which he had brought over from England stone by stone and rebuild in Mississippi.  It's not long before Sophia begins to have concerns about her situation and de Cressac, but she also feels trapped and that feeling only grows.

I liked this book.  I liked Sophia most of the time, at least.  There was some mystery to figure out (although, not too much if you're familiar with Bluebeard, but still).  I liked the pacing and the writing style was up my alley.

I did feel a little like sometimes Sophia could have made better decisions, but I do know that people don't always make the best decisions.  She wouldn't really have been human otherwise, I suppose.  I also felt like she should have cottoned on a little earlier to what a bad situation she was in and to what had happened with Bernard in the past.  Additionally, I did think the romantic situation was sort of...hasty.  There wasn't really much to build falling in love on.

Overall, though, I thought Strands of Bronze and Gold was a good read.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue (DNF)

I picked up The Wonder because I'd read Room and was seriously drawn in by it.  However, I'm finding I don't want to read The Wonder.  I really, really dislike Lib, the narrator, and can't face a whole book where I have to be in her condescending, judgemental head.  I sort of suspect she might get better as the book progresses, but I don't want to push through to find out.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

Murder of Crows is a sequel to Written in Red, which I reviewed here.  I won't go into the plot, as it's a sequel and, if you want to read the first one, you might find some spoilers here.

I liked Murder of Crows even more than Written in Red, which I enjoyed.  I think, in large part, that was because the world building that I found a little painful in Written in Red was already done. We did get more here, but I felt like I already had my feet under me with Murder of Crows.

In both books, I found Anne Bishop's writing style just a little bit odd, which meant that I had to kind of get over the style at first before I was immersed in the book, but it didn't take too long.  The other minor-ish complaint that I have is with things being classified as "woman" things.  There is just so much of it.

However, I was fairly hooked on the story and enjoyed the read.  I think the Others are very interesting and I appreciate their take on the situation, even if I don't think I'd want to live in this world.  A little too much (one's life) depends on the actions other humans around there.

So, short story, I like this series and will be continuing.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

I started Every Heart a Doorway in Kindle form, again, while on the Massachusetts trip.  When I got back, I was really wanted a real book, so I picked something else up.  Yesterday, though, when browsing my self for the next book to read, I realized I had Every Heart a Doorway in physical book form, too.  So, I decided to finish it up.  It's a very slim novel, so I finished it off yesterday evening.

Every Heart a Doorway is about a group home/boarding school for kids whose parents think they're having trouble recovering from having been kidnapped or run away.  The school, though, and the kids know differently.  Each of them has returned from a different magical world.  Some opened trunks to find staircases.  Others found tiny doors they opened and were sucked through.  It's different for each, as is the exact nature of the world they find themselves in.  All of these kids have found themselves back in this world.  In this school, it's all kids who want to go back to their magical worlds.  The first half or so of the book is following new comer Nancy as she finds her way at the school.  Then, there is a murder.  The second half of the book is about solving the mystery of who done it and, you know, avoiding being murdered, as well.

I have some mixed feelings about this book.  I liked the idea.  I didn't so much like the feel of the first part of the book.  I found it a little frustrating to get glimpses into the worlds without enough information to understand them.  I suppose that's what was supposed to be happening, as it was what Nancy was going through.  But, we also only get these tiny incomplete glimpses into the world she'd gone to and she would know that world very well.  I also didn't feel drawn to any of the described worlds, so I wasn't hooked in that way.

Once the first murder happened, I felt like things firmed up.  Now as we got glimpses into the world, they were anchored by the plot.  They came up as they applied to what was happening and I liked discovering the worlds much better that way.  I wish we'd gotten to that part sooner, but, on the flip side, we also heard about the dark worlds more, which gave it a horror feel.  I'm not always a big horror fan. 

I also felt like the worlds and characters weren't fully developed, which is why we only got those glimpses.  I felt a bit like that was why we only got the glimpses.  And one particular thing bothered me.  Jack says at one point that she'd once pulled out a man's lungs while he was still alive and trying to talk, but then later says that she never killed live people.  That was an indication of the sort of thing that I didn't so much like about this book.

I did find it kind of interesting, though.  I would like to see a book something like this that was a little more logic oriented, to use terminology from the book.  If it were longer so the main characters and their worlds were more fleshed out and with a feel that was less floating through barely ever getting an understanding of anything, I'd totally read that book.

Oh - I almost forgot to mention one of the things I did like a lot about this book.  I liked the range of gender identity/sexual preferences presented and the way that was handled.

So, in sum, it was okay. Things I liked, things I didn't.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Legend by Marie Lu

I started listening to Legend on my way home from my hospital support trip to Massachusetts.  I got most of the way through it between my two flights, but I didn't get around to finishing it until today.  Why?  Well, although I liked it, I wasn't just dying to finish it and I was dying to catch up on my podcasts.  I didn't do any podcasts on my trip, so I had a back log to deal with.  I finally got caught up today and, also today, got back to and finished Legend.  I had a fair amount of listening time today thanks to a run, housework and a good amount of time spent in the kitchen.  So, anyway, back to the story.

Legend is a dystopian set in future LA.  We follow Day and June.  Day is the republic's most wanted criminal.  June is its most promising young recruit/student (kind of the same in this world).  Their paths, of course, cross.  June's older brother and only living relative is killed ostensibly by Day.  June is given the task of tracking down her brother's killer.

So, there are some flaws in this book.  I wasn't really feeling it on the romance, at least as strong as it was by the end.  I did understand the beginnings of romance, but not the devotion indicated.  It's odd to me that Day has both incredible dexterity and a limp.  I might have missed something because I did drift off to sleep a couple of times for about ten minutes each time while listening on the plane (I was so very tired - I usually don't sleep on planes at all), but I wondered where Tess got her amazing medical skills.  I didn't always get the Republic's motivation for doing some of the things they did.  I felt that wasn't super well explained.

All that said, I liked it more than not.  I love kick-ass females and June definitely fit that role.  Day's devotion to his family and his "adoption" of Tess endeared me to him.  I am a fan of the dystopian and people rising up to take down the corrupt system.  The narration was clear and well paced.

This was a fun and enjoyable read (listen) and I'll be picking up the next in the series.

Travels with Casey by Benoit Denizet-Lewis (DNF)

Travels with Casey has been sitting on my to be read pile for months now, which is particularly embarrassing as it's a library book, as the vast majority of books I read are.  It just kept renewing and I just kept finding other books to pick up.  I got it originally because I like a good dog tail, but it just wasn't calling to me.  Last night I decided I'd better get to work on it and get it back to the library.  I didn't get far before sleep last night, but I have spent a good amount of time on it today in between going for a run, spending some quality time in the kitchen preparing food and a little general housework.  I made it about half way through.

Travels with Casey is a non-fiction account of his and his human's journey around the US in an RV.  The subtitle is "My Journey Through Our Dog-Crazy Country."  Benoit and Casey visit many dog owners and other folks and places who are dog related (the oldest dog park in Manhattan, PETA). 

Ultimately, this book just didn't click for me.  It wasn't bad per say, but I didn't get a strong feel for Casey and I felt like the narrative flow didn't so much flow as jump from thing to thing.  Out of nowhere, seemingly, we were getting tweets from a dog related twitter account.  There was an attempt at transitioning, but it, like many other times, felt a little forced to me.  It seemed to me that Benoit just tried to take on too much with this book:  his physical journey, his emotional journey, various sometimes very loosely related dog anecdotes.  It just ended up feeling kind of cluttered.

I wouldn't discourage you from reading Travels with Casey.  It is probably a good fit for some and I certainly didn't hate it, I just am not into enough to keep going when there are other books calling for my attention.

Armada by Ernest Cline

I loved Ready Player One, so I was keen to read Armada.  Unfortunately, I only thought it was okay. 

Armada is unrelated to Ready Player One.  Well, there are similarities:  gamers and 80's pop culture are prevalent in both.  However, in Armada, we start in the now whereas Ready Player One is in the future.  Zack, our main character, is 18 and a big gamer.  Other than that, he's not sure what he wants out of life.  One day, he sees a ship from his favorite game, Armada, in which he's ranked number 6 world-wide, in the sky in real life.  At first, he thinks maybe he's going crazy.  After all, he's found some evidence that his deceased father was kind of crazy.  Maybe it's genetic.  But, then, the next day, he's picked up by a friendly ship and taken off to battle for the future of the earth. 

I more or less liked Armada, but I found more faults with it.  Many of the possible plot holes are pointed out and addressed in the book, but the basic premise of a vast conspiracy in which we, earthlings, are united against a common enemy, have been for decades and are technologically much more advanced than we seem to be was an issue for me.  It's simply unbelievable.  I was more or less willing to set that aside for the story, but it niggled at me.

I also got very frustrated with Zack who has an anger issue and made some really stupid choices when he let his temper get away from him.  Of course, having faults makes characters more real, but it didn't endear me to Zack or the story.

I found my attention wandering more while reading Armada than while reading Ready Player One.  I'm not totally sure why that was except I think maybe there was more information dumping about things I didn't really care about.  Whatever it was, I often found myself reading something without being quite sure how we got there and having to go back and re-read the last page.  To have that happen as many times as it did with Armada is unusual for me. 

It seems likely, given the ending, that there will be a sequel.  I am willing to give that a shot.  I think that we've got the universe built now and can move on and I'm willing to gamble that I'll enjoy that.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (DNF)

I wanted to like Nevernight.  I'd heard lots of good things.  Assassin school.  Black shadow cat.  Some book tubers I follow were saying it was a new favorite book.  But, alas, it was not for me.  I get really bothered by overly lyrical styles of writing.  Give me straight forward prose any day.  Nevernight is very lyrical.  If that's your thing, along with being a fan of fantasy, this is probably the book for you.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

When I was in high school, in chemistry, no less, I sat at a desk in the back corner of the room abutting a chalkboard.  One day, bored, I wrote "Hi!" on the chalkboard.  The next day, there was a return greeting.  My mystery chalkboard pal and I advanced to some other greetings.  After just a week or so, though, I discovered that I was communicating with my best friend who sat in the same seat in her chemistry class during a different period.  She was a little bummed because she thought she'd been making a new friend, but I was sort of delighted.  We progressed to leaving notes for each other in the chalk bin.  Once I thoughtlessly wrote the name of her crush on our note.  The next day, the note was there with a strongly worded admonishment to "Never use names here!  Anyone could read this!"  We kept it up all year.  Anyway, with this sort of backstory (not to mention some Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda love), I was fairly excited to pick up P.S. I Like You.

This book is about Lily who, in chemistry, writes part of the lyrics of her favorite song on her desk.  When she goes back to class, more lyrics have been filled in.  Thus starts an in-depth pen pal-ship where romantic feelings also grow.  Lily also juggles her large, boisterous family, a best friend, an ambition to become a song writer and a mortal enemy who is a fellow student.

My high expectations were not met by P.S. I Like You.  Though it was fun in parts, for example, I did enjoy Lily's sense of humor, I found it to be really predictable and formulaic which was bothersome.  I absolutely knew who the pen pal was going to turn out to be and was extremely annoyed at the way it was set up at the beginning.  While, as I say, I did mostly enjoy Lily's sense of humor, she also sort of bugged me.  I thought she made some odd choices at times.  And, even though she calls herself weird constantly, I didn't think she was that weird.

All-in-all, while P.S. I Like You was mildly amusing, I wouldn't really recommend it.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Dark Horses by Cecily von Ziegesar

Dark Horses is the story of Red, a horse, and Merritt, a teenage girl.  Both are in the midst of big issues.  Red messes up his first ever race, causing the death of another horse and injury to himself.  Merritt has been sinking progressively lower since the death of her beloved grandmother and her horse which culminates with walking out of the SAT and going on a drug and alcohol bender that lands her in Good Fences, an equestrian based recovery program where Red has also found himself.  The two bond and end up competing together.  It's not all smooth sailing from there, though.

I started off liking Dark Horses quite a bit.  I like von Ziegesar's writing style.  I'm a fan of straightforward narration rather than the overly lyrical, which I was mostly what happened.  (Red's narration had a bit of the lyrical to it at times.)  I felt engaged and was looking forward to Merritt and Red finding each other.  I kind of liked hearing from both Merritt and Red.

However...I ended up not caring that much for Dark Horses in the end.  It would be spoilery to say exactly why, but I will say that I felt there was too much tragedy for one book.  I just stopped caring.  I also didn't like the development of the romantic relationship.  It didn't make sense to me and just tossed aside what seemed to be an interesting issue.  I also can't go into details about that without spoilers.  Additionally, I thought Merritt and Carvin (a fellow rider) were idiots for not seeing what was coming at the end.  Also, I liked Red's perspective less and less because it seemed increasingly not horsey which culminated, for me, in Red thinking something about texting.  I mean, really?

So...promising start that didn't pan out for me.  I wouldn't give up on von Ziegesar (I might try one of her other books, not having read Gossip Girl), but I just didn't like the whole package very much.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

I found Everything I Never Told You depressing.  That said, I did read the whole thing, so I guess I also found it somewhat compelling.  I'm not very shy about leaving books unread.

The story starts with the death of Lydia.  Lydia is the favorite of three children of James, a second generation Japanese American, and Marilyn, who had a thwarted dream of being a doctor.  Lydia is the middle child and a teen at the time of her death in the 1970s.  From there, we journey both in the past and the present as we find out what brought this family to this point and what happens from there.

There were things I found somewhat moving about this book.  The experiences of the parents and children as being part of this mixed family in a time when that was not common.  The mother's struggle with being a woman in the 1950s who wants a serious career in science but is sidetracked by motherhood.  The way Lydia and her brother band together.

Mostly, though, I was annoyed by these people.  I found them all to be whiny and, seemingly, accepting of being miserable.  Hannah, the youngest child, is a little different.  She's oddly resigned to her lot in life as the ignored youngest child, but doesn't seem to be all that whiny about it.

There is supposed to be some mystery about what happened the night Lydia died, but it seems pretty straight forward to me from early on.  We do build to a reveal of sorts and I didn't have the exact specifics of the reveal figured out, but I definitely had the idea of the thing.

I do realize the book is called Everything I Never Told You, so the fact that no one talks to anyone shouldn't come as a surprise.  But I was so annoyed by how much went wrong because of this that I was just frustrated.  The mother makes a choice that boggled my mind.  It could have been so different if she'd just talked about what she wanted to do.  And then how the father reacts to that choice...and on and on.  It just all left me shaking my head.

I didn't like Everything I Never Told You, but I did finish it.  So, there's that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

I listened to A Study in Charlotte mostly while driving around western Massachusetts while supporting Davan in the hospital last week, at least on the parts of the driving where I didn't have passengers while shuttling them back and forth to visit her.  I liked it pretty well.

A Study in Charlotte is a twist on Sherlock Holmes.  Charlotte is a Holmes, a descendant of Sherlock.  We, however, see the story through the eyes of Watson, a descendant of, you guessed it, Watson.  Both are teens at boarding school in the US but haven't actually met prior to Watson receiving an unwanted rugby scholarship to said school, although they are very aware of each other.  Watson has romanticized Charlotte his whole life, envisioning the two of them solving mysteries in the style of their ancestors.  So, meeting her is the one plus to his otherwise unpleasant, to say the least, new situation.  Charlotte is, at first, not so excited about getting to know Watson.  Charlotte is, in fact, like a traditional Holmes in the sense that she is brilliant, tortured, self centered and, additionally, has a drug problem.  When a student they both have reason to hate is murdered, off they go.

I liked our James Watson.  I found Charlotte to be intriguing.  I was rather bothered by the whole drug use thing.  She has gotten help for it before, but it continues to be a problem that isn't dealt with very well.  I mean, these two are just teens and there isn't really anyone to step in and really help Charlotte, so it's probably kind of realistic in that sense.  The plot line was okay.  The mystery was interesting enough for me.  There were times that I was annoyed with Watson, where something he was torturing himself over seemed to go on too long, but mostly I was with him in his narration.

I did like the book.  It's not a favorite, but it was a pretty decent read and mostly kept my attention even while I had lots and lots of other stuff going clamoring for attention in my brain.

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard (DNF but you might want to read it anyway)

Perhaps part of the reason I didn't finish this book is because I was reading during a challenging week for me.  I was in Massachusetts to support Davan while she was undergoing a five day videoed EEG.  The mere words do not describe the unpleasantness of this event.  Davan had to stay on or immediately next to her hospital bed for 5 days at all times unless she was in the bathroom and even that had to be done under supervision because she was a "falling risk" due to the fact that when she has the events that precipitated the EEG, she will often fall down if she tries to walk.  Additionally, she had leads glued to her head and connected to her torso.  Because she didn't have an event, they decided to sleep deprive her to try to stress her into one.  One night, then, she wasn't allowed to sleep all night.  She hated the hospital food (which was not well planned for a vegan and were child oriented due to being in the children's ward, but I thought some of it was okay).  I spent the 5 days driving back and forth between her campus where I was bunking with her roommate (also her good friend and a guest of ours this summer, so she was okay with this) and driving friends that don't drive back and forth to visit as well as finding food she wanted to eat.  I stayed up with her most of her sleep deprivation night and was only able to nap for about an hour the next day.  When I wasn't doing all the driving back and forth, I was playing games, watching Call the Midwife or going for a stroll to stretch my legs to relieve the stiffness of so many hours sitting in one small room.  Now, none of this is anything on what poor Davan was enduring, but it was my week.  A week during which I was rarely able to settle down to read even when I did have the time.  If I'd had a book I was really involved in, I might have been able to, but I wasn't able to get into anything I felt ambivalent about.  I spent my spare time, such as it was, checking out Instagram, watching videos on You Tube or, maybe, sometimes, reading a bit. 

Thus, I was maybe not in the best space for reading Girl Mans Up.  However, it's also true that I just didn't love it.  I read about half of the book, which I had on my Kindle app, before the loan was up and I lost it.  I don't think I'll get it again.

Pen is a baby butch in a traditional Portuguese family who really wants her to do traditionally female things.  She has two friends, both guys, one of whom, Colby, is the leader in their little trio and is, also, a dick who requires Pen to be his wing man in order to get girls to go off with him.  There is a fourth new comer to their group who constantly makes unsavory comments about Pen.  Pen, in the part I read, seems to be fine with being a girl, but she also wants to be someone's boyfriend.  The book is about her finding her way in her family, with her friends, and with a romantic interest.

I loved the concept of this book, which is why I picked it up.  I, though, didn't like most of the people in the book.  Pen was okay.  I loathed Colby.  The only one I sort of liked was Pen's love interest and we didn't see much of her in the half of the book I read.  I suspect I'd have liked the second half of the book better, as Pen is starting to come into her own, but I'm not into it enough to go through the motions of getting the book again and trying.

Another thing I didn't like was that many of the conversations seemed to be contrived just so the issue discussed would be in the book and not for purposes of plot or character development.  I was annoyed that those conversations were in there.  If it doesn't serve a purpose, let it go.  If not, the book is a vehicle for a message, which I dislike, and not about the story and the characters.  That said, there are books I love that probably do that and I forgive them.  This one just didn't do it for me.

So, I am not a big fan of Girl Mans Up.  I do, though, think that the character and story are great ideas.  I love that it's was done.

P.S. - Davan didn't have an event while in the hospital, which is a big bummer.  She had one the Thursday before the Monday through Friday test and another the Sunday after.  Bad timing.  In good news, it also means that her events are becoming much less frequent even under stress.  From around November through April, she was having on average one a day or even more in February/March/April.  At this point, we're just hoping they continue to space out or go away all together and we don't have to worry about the what or whys.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

I'm home from my back east travels and will be getting back into the swing of things with reading and reviewing, I'm sure.  While there, I didn't do much reading or listening, but I did do some.  I had a DNF, which I'll talk about in another post, I finished listening to two books (one of which I've already reviewed and the other which I will review soon) and I started a hugely long book that I think I probably will finish but am not feeling the pull to read right now.  I don't always get a lot of reading in on planes because I have a tendency to get motion sick on plains.  My flights today, though, were pretty smooth and I was able to finish Spontaneous.

Spontaneous is the story of a class of high school seniors who start spontaneously combusting.  We get the story from Mara's point of view.  Mara is clever, sarcastic, has a dark sense of humor and is a little bit of a dabbler in the arts of partying.  When people start exploding, theories abound, a romance blossoms and the students each cope in their own ways.

I didn't like Mara as much as I wanted to.  I didn't find her laugh out loud funny, but I did find her entertaining.  I'd been told this book was extremely hilarious but I didn't find that it was for me.  I thought the idea was interesting, but I sort of thought that Aaron tried to cover too much in one short book with things ranging from conspiracy theories to science to friendship to love and lust.  I think it would have been improved with a little pruning and more focus on fewer ideas.

I did find Spontaneous to be pretty readable and I mostly enjoyed it, but I didn't think it was great.  Also, I thought it was an enjoyable romp for being about people exploding, but not really funny per say.  So, take from that what you will.

I'm off to tutor math on four hours of sleep after a week and a half of already accruing a substantial sleep deficit.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Girl in 6E by Alessandra Torre

I heard about The Girl in 6E on Padfoot and Prongs07's book blog and opted to give it a try.  I thought it was a good read (or listen, as I did do the audio book version) if also rather shocking, but it's definitely not for everyone.  Read on for why.

The reader finds out early in the book that Deanna is a recluse, that it's by choice because she has impulses to kill and that she makes her living by doing on line video sex chats.  Because of these aspects of Deanna, there is some graphic description of violent murder and lots of sexual description.  Deanna has crafted her life to keep people safe from her.  How she does all this is part of the story and I'll let you discover it as you read, if you do.  She becomes aware that there is a little girl who could be in danger.  The story is Deanna's, but how it intersects with this little girls is a large part of this story.

I found this to be a very compelling read.  It helped me get through a rough second flight on the way to visit Davan.  I just sat, trying not to feel nauseated, with my eyes closed and listened. 

This is quite likely my only review this week.  I came to be with Davan while she is undergoing a 5 day hospital stay for testing (while there is obviously a reason for the testing, she's more or less okay).  I thought I'd have a lot of reading time, but it's turned out to be the case that I haven't.  My days are filled with running out for desired food, driving friends back and forth from campus, games, Netflix and the like.  Today is a little quieter with Davan working on homework, so I'm catching up on emails, blogging and then will get in a bit of reading.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Falconer by Elizabeth May (DNF)

This book is fine.  It just also didn't speak to me, so I gave it up after the first 80 pages.

You by Caroline Kepnes (DNF)

I'd picked this book up because a lot of people seemed to find it intriguing.  I've seen many a booktuber say that they liked Joe at the beginning and were kind of rooting for him, but then he turned really dark.  I didn't like Joe.  He seemed like a creepy stalker from the start.  I also didn't much care for the bit of Beck I saw before I gave it up. 

For those who don't know, this is a stalker novel about Joe stalking Beck, a woman who walks into the bookstore where he works one day.  I don't know much more than that because I stopped so shortly into the book.  It was just too much creep for me. 

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

I came across this book in the Lucky Day section of my library last week and picked it up because I recognized Felicia Day from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.  That puts me a little in the nerd category, but only a tiny bit, really, as Felicia (known to some as "queen of the geeks") has a lot more going on that I was only vaguely aware of.  Even with my small bit of name/face recognition, though, I really, really liked her book.  I started it prior to finishing Vampire Academy because I felt a bit embarrassed about reading Vampire Academy in front of high schoolers.  You see, I tutor math at my local high school on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.  I always take a book because sometimes I'm busy the whole time I'm there, sometimes no one comes to me for help and most of the time it's somewhere in between.  I read in my off times.  On Tuesday, I had no one for the entire two hours, so I got a fair way through You're Never Weird on the Internet, which is a fairly slim novel.

This is Felicia's memoir.  She was a homeschooled kid, went to college as a 16 year old, majoring in both math and violin and, upon graduating, went to Hollywood to try to make it as an actor.  Along the way, she was a gamer (very early adopter), found social connections online, made her own web show and became, as I mentioned above, "queen of the geeks."

I hadn't known that Felicia was homeschooled (for hippy reasons, not religious reasons), but that was another draw for me, as Davan was also homeschooled (for hippy reasons, not religious reasons).  What I loved about the book, though, was the sense of humor and quirkiness that came across throughout the book, even when it was seriously dark humor.  Felicia was honest and fun, even when times were the worst for her. 

I'm not a super user of the internet, so, at first, some of the picture memes didn't really speak to me and I thought they'd be a distraction, but I ended up even loving them.  It's a little disturbing to admit, but the one of her dog asking not to be murdered has been making me chuckle ever sense I got to it yesterday evening.  It just goes to show that Felicia can make anything funny.  (Spoiler:  The dog is fine.)

I really enjoyed You're Never Weird on the Internet.  It had me laughing out loud multiple times.  And this all with only a vague knowledge of who she was when I went into it.  So, yeah, check it out.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

I got Finding Audrey after seeing it on a book vloggers top ten funny books list.  I was needing an audio book and so got it in that format.  While I'm not sure I'd put it on my top ten funny books list, I'm really glad I did pick it up because it was quite good.

Our point of view is Audrey's.  Something happened to her at school.  Prior to the something, she was already kind of shy and anxious.  After the something, she has a breakdown and is a couple of months into her recovery period at the time of our story.  Because her life mostly revolves around her family and her therapist, so does our book.  While Audrey is having a very difficult time of it and her family dynamic has changed in part due to that, it seems from the start, that the bigger issue is her brother, Frank.  Their mother becomes convinced that Frank is addicted to video games and a huge bru-ha-ha ensues.  Meanwhile, Frank's friend, Linus, who comes over to play video games with Frank, develops an interest in Audrey which is reciprocated.

I really liked this book.  I thought Sophie Kinsella did a good job of showing a confluence of events (time, therapy, meds, developing of an interest in someone outside the home, a supportive (if sort of crazy) family) all contributed to Audrey's not straight forward recovery.  There was a lot of humor.  And I saw a little of myself in their mother.  I hope, though, that I'm not as crazy as she is.  But, I do tend to go on these, "We are all addicted to screens," or "What are we eating?!?!" bents.  The mom (and, okay, me, too) clearly has anxiety issues, as well.  That doesn't mean I liked her character best.  If anything, she made me a little uneasy, but I did relate.

I've seen some criticisms that center around this not being a realistic portrayal of social anxiety, but that being an issue that we deal with here in my house, I thought it was pretty okay.  I do know that these sorts of books don't hit everyone the same way and I respect that.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  The other critic was the instalove between Audrey and Linus.  I can see that and did feel it was a little bit of an issue myself, but I also think it's not all that uncommon for the age.  Crushes hit quick.  Sometimes they develop into something more and sometimes not.

I really liked Finding Audrey and I will be checking out more of Sophie Kinsella's books.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

I missed Vampire Academy when it first came out in 2009.  While I had read Twilight, I generally decided to take a pass on the whole vampire thing.  (Oh!  Major exception - Fledgling by Octavia Butter.  So good.)  Recently, though, I've seen a couple different book vloggers comment favorably on Vampire Academy.  So, I decided to give it a go.  After I'd gotten the book and before I'd gotten around to reading it, I came across Vampire Academy the movie at the library.  I'd not noticed the movie when it came out, either.  Without knowing anything else about it, I picked it up and Anthony, Franziska and I watched it Friday evening.

So, first, about the movie.  I later saw that it had horrible reviews with a Rotten Tomato rating of 13%.  Now, I'm usually quite picky about movies, so you'd think I'd have hated it.  But, I didn't.  I mean, it wasn't awesome or anything, but it was entertaining and humorous.  Anthony and Franziska thought the same.  So...why all the hate?  It wasn't that bad.  Anyway.

The next day I watched a video from a book blogger that mentioned that the movie had been a flop, but people should still read the books because they were good.  Funny.  For a book I hadn't even really known existed, suddenly I was seeing it everywhere.  Anyway, I decided to read it next.

The story.  Well, as I'm the last to this party, it seems, probably most people already know.  A brief summary of the world, though:  We enter the world through the first person narrative of Rose who is a Dhampir.  Dhampirs are hybrid human/Morois.  Morois are, indeed, vampires, but not bad ones.  There are bad ones, the Strigoi who are Morois who've killed a person by drinking them to death.  They are evil and the stereotypical vampire.  Dhampirs aren't vampires at all, but are stronger than humans and act as protectors to the Moroi.  Strigoi particularly like to prey on Moroi.  Dhampirs and Moroi attend school together.  The Vampire Academy.  Rose is not officially a guardian yet, but her best friend is Lissa, a Morois.  They have a bond and Rose is all about protecting Lissa to the extent that when the Academy itself becomes a threat to Lissa, Rose and Lissa run away and manage to stay away for a couple of years.  We join the story just as they're brought back to the Academy.

I found it to be a decent read.  I wouldn't necessarily tell anyone, "You have to read this book!" However, I did like it well enough.  I'm not on pins and needles wanting to read the next one, but I probably will eventually.  The book grew on me the more I read it, so I'm more inclined toward reading the sequel than I was about half way through.  So, not exactly a ringing endorsement, but this is a fine book. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

I think I must have known this book was a romance when I first put a hold on it, but when I actually downloaded it and started listening, I was fairly convinced it was a thriller.  It didn't take me long to realize that it is, indeed, a romance, as that was blatantly obvious from the first page.  I have mixed feelings about romances in general.  If they're good, I can get pretty into them.  I think many are not, though.  And On Dublin Street...well, if you don't like romances, don't read it.  This isn't the one to win you over.  It seems to be very popular with romance readers in general.  I...well, I finished it, which is as good as I can say, I think.

On Dublin Street is Joss and Braden's story, told in first person from Joss's point of view.  Joss has been living in Scotland since fleeing the US after high school, desperate to get away from memories of her family who died when she was 14 and from her choices after their deaths.  She has just finished college studies and, because of that, her college roommate who has moved to London for a job.  So, she sets out to find herself a new roommate and new flat to live in.  In the process, she meets new people who start challenging her choice to remain emotionally disconnected.

At first, I kind of liked Joss.  Later, I thought she was making stupid choices for reasons I didn't really understand.  That is the Joss that has mostly stuck with me.  And is, I think, a general problem with romance as a genre:  the stupid choice method of moving the plot along.  Braden is overbearing and absolutely ignores boundaries.  I think that's a dangerous type to put forward as a romantic lead.  Come on, ladies, assholes aren't hot.  It's not that he doesn't have any redeeming qualities, but this aspect of him bugged the hell out of me.

I don't really recommend On Dublin Street, but I did finish it, so it wasn't unbearable.  That's about as good as I can say.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds is a dystopian novel where an illness strikes kids as they are entering puberty.  Either the kids die or they survive, but with abilities.  The abilities range from relatively benign (knowing what is on a card facing away) to dangerous (mind control and fire starting, for example).  The disease strikes mostly in the US with some more isolated outbreaks elsewhere.  The US government, scared by the powers, intern the survivors in what they call rehabilitation camps, but which are really more like concentration camps where, eventually, the more dangerous kids are taken away never to be seen again.

Ruby was 10 when she got sick and accidentally erased herself from her parents' memories, resulting in internment.  She convinces the doctor doing her intake that she is a relatively safe green and spends the next 6 years at camp hiding the fact that she's really a mind reader/controller (orange).  She's broken out of her camp by the Children's League, a group that is working against the government ostensibly in favor of the children.  However, she doesn't trust them and escapes from them in the company of three escapees from another camp.

I was very intrigued at the beginning of The Darkest Minds.  The story, the situations, Ruby, the other kids - I found them all intriguing.  By the end, I wasn't as enraptured.  Eventually, I felt the story line just didn't move in that interesting a direction. There was a whole section toward the end that just felt bogged down and then I wasn't happy with the ending, where some new things were introduced just to be addressed in a future book.  There were other elements that will naturally lead to other books, so a couple of the new things bothered me.  It felt a little forced overall in the last quarter or so of the book. I really liked it up until there, though.

I'm sure there will be a sequel.  I'm not sure if I'll read it.  All-in-all, I'm left feeling a little ambivalent about The Darkest Minds.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Beyond the Red by Ava Jae

I have a lot of thoughts about this book.  Some of those thoughts are slightly spoiler-y, but it's very mild and general.  Still, if it matters to you, you've been warned.

Beyond the Red is a YA SciFi told from two points of view.  One is Eros who is a half blood human/Sehparon.  Eros has been raised by an adoptive human family in a desert tribe that barely tolerates him.  For reasons of purity, half bloods usually killed at birth.  We find out, though, that Sepharon men can control if they impregnate the woman they have sex with, so why there would be any half bloods is a bit of a mystery.  Humans are a reviled species by the Sepharons and the Sepharons are bigger and stronger.  Thus, it makes sense that mostly if there were any relations they'd be of the male Sepharon and female human variety not the other way around.  Anyway.  Eros' tribe is attacked and many die but some escape and some are taken prisoner to serve as slaves in the nearby Sepharon city which is ruled by Kora.  Kora is our other point of view character.  She's the ruler in Elja by dint of being born before her twin brother (which, by the way, if Sepharon males choose about impregnation, she shouldn't have been conceived in the first place because her dad wanted a male heir).  Kora's brother wants her throne, as, seemingly, do the people.  She ordered the attack on the humans because they attacked her first.  Or did they?  Eros becomes her personal body guard.  And things develop.

Okay, so I read the whole book, which means it wasn't horrible.  However, I saw a lot of plot holes.  I also stumbled on some of the language adaptations.  I get the whole idea of language evolving - "sort of" becoming "sortuv" is used here - but I felt like they few adaptations were...a bit silly.  It seems to me that either more would have changed or it should just be English with the understanding that English would have possibly evolved, but this is the language we'd be reading the book in, if that makes sense.  There are some losses of life, I won't go into specifics, and I know we were supposed to feel sad, but I never felt like we knew the ones who were lost enough to be sad.  Which brings me to characterization in general.

I liked Eros okay.  He seemed to accept his lot almost too easily, but I appreciated his resilience.  I felt more mixed about Kora.  She was sometimes okay, but she made a bad ruler.  On the first afternoon Eros is in her service, she spends the whole afternoon reading after a morning workout.  Her territory is in trouble, but she doesn't have anything to do?  She doesn't see the threats even when it seemed sort of obvious.  She trusts Eros amazingly quickly and also accedes to his demands in trade for him swearing himself to her but her reasons for doing so aren't super strong if she actually trusts her brother, which she seems to because she doesn't see any threats. 

Overall, what I liked was Eros, the world (but I'd have liked to see world building done a bit better), the writing style (the first chapter had me hooked) and the general idea of the plot.

By the end, I was loosing interest, but I did finish it out.  I don't know for sure if I'll read the next one.  What I feel like is that Ava Jae has a lot of potential as a writer (as did Beyond the Red as a book in the beginning) and I'm interested in seeing what she does down the line, but I might wait for a little sophistication as a writer to build.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Even though Lola and the Boy Next Door is the second book in Stephanie Perkins' trilogy, I read it third.  It doesn't really matter as each book rather stands alone, but the characters we've met before do show up in subsequent books.  And, I think it's wise to have read Anna and the French Kiss prior to Lola and the Boy Next Door because Anna and St. Clair do have rolls here, but they are all so minor in Isla and the Happily Ever After that it doesn't really mess anything up to have read that one out of order.  And, in fact, it was reading Isla and the Happily Ever After that made me hesitant to pick up Lola and the Boy Next Door.  Lola and Cricket make a brief appearance in Isla's book and I didn't like them.  So, I wasn't sure I wanted to read their story.  But, I finally overcame my reluctance and read it.  Or, rather, listened to the audio book.

Lola is 17, is dating a 22 year old member of a rock band, is being raised by two dads in San Francisco and has a highly unique fashion style.  Enter Cricket, the boy next door who moved away, but is now back.  They have history.  I think it's not a spoiler to say that this is their story.  Sure, Max is in the picture to start, but let's be serious.  This is a romance and it's fairly clear that Max isn't Lola's soul mate from the start.

I have a bit of mixed feelings about this book.  I think Stephanie Perkins is a good author.  I love her writing style.  Because of that, this book flowed just fine for me and I did want to listen.  However, I still didn't so much like Lola.  I liked her better in her own book than in the glimpse of her we say in Isla's book, but not as much as I've liked Stephanie's other protagonists.  I found her to be really juvenile in a way the others weren't.  I never fully understood Cricket's sister, Calliope, and didn't get the sort of push pull Lola has toward friendship or not with her.  Also, I kept expecting to learn that Cricket was a nickname for something else, but that never did happen.  The fact that Cricket was this guy's name was a bit of a strange thing.  Lola lies to her boyfriend as well as to her parents, which I didn't like.  I felt like Lola was overly dramatic about several things ranging from her reaction to the neighbors moving back to her birth mom. On occasion, I thought Lola took her unique fashion sense a little too far, but mostly I ended up thinking it was an interesting aspect of her personality.

Even with all those complaints, I actually liked the book okay.  I attribute it to Stephanie's writing style, which goes a long way with me.  At the same time, Lola and the Boy Next Door is my least favorite of Stephanie's books thus far.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson (DNF)

The Heart of Betrayal is a sequel to The Kiss of Deception, which I liked fine.  Or, at least, I liked most of the book.  Setting and tone changed toward the end and I liked it less well.  Still, I'd liked the first enough to give the second one a go, I thought.  But, right away from the beginning of this second book, I couldn't get into it.  Considering it picked up right where the second left off and I didn't like the last of the first, that sort of makes sense.  I could maybe push through, but there are a lot of books on my self and I don't want to.  So, I'm moving on.

Dramarama by E. Lockhart

I was not totally sure if I'd like Dramarama.  I've liked a lot of E. Lockhart's books, but I also ended feeling like the Ruby books got to be a little too much for me and gave up midway through the third one.  So, it was with a mix of expectations that I picked up Dramarama.

Sadye (previously known as Sarah, but that is just too plain for musical theater) is heading off to drama camp for the summer prior to senior year with her best (and only) friend, Demi, a fabulous black boy who keeps all that hidden at school, but not with Sadye.  It's a summer of friendship, roommates, auditions (flubbed and not), singing, acting, dancing, snark and romance (at least for some). 

I liked it a lot.  I felt for Sadye and identified with her need to question everything.  I had flashbacks to Davan's audition and theater days (in a different way - dance and aerial theater for her).  I occasionally chuckled out loud.

Dramarama is a thin little novel, making for a quick and easy read.  It's also fun while sometimes making you wince.  You go with your fabulous selves, drama kids.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier

I picked up Dreamer's Pool after having seen it referred to by a book vlogger.  I no longer remember which one, unfortunately, as this is one of the books that's been sitting on my self for months.  I wish I remembered which book vlogger it was because I'd like to see if that vlogger and I have other books we like in common.

Dreamer's Pool is a fantasy novel told from three points of view.  The first is Blackthorn, whose been in a horrible jail for a year and, on the eve of her hearing first has her life threatened and then is offered a deal by one of the fey.  He'll see to her release if she'll agree to travel to a new kingdom and stay for 7 years, abandoning her hopes for vengeance.  She'll also have to help anyone who asks and use her powers for good.  Grim, a fellow prisoner, escapes and follows her, becoming the first to ask for help, although he doesn't realize it himself.  They travel together to Dalriada where the crown prince, Oran (our third point of viewer), is about to meet his fiance with whom he has been writing letters and falling in love in spite of it being a politically advantageous marriage.  When Oran's fiance arrives, there seems to be something very wrong and no one believes Oran.  Meanwhile, Blackthorn and Grim have been settling into local life and Blackthorn has been giving good advice. 

Although sometimes the plot devices seemed maybe a wee bit thin, I liked this book.  While Oran is besotted, romance isn't the key thing moving the book along.  Blackthorn is as prickly as her name and yet I liked her.  The friendship between her and Grim is sweet to see.  I did want to keep reading to see what would happen next.  I got rather ticked at how Blackthorn reacts to something toward the end that I won't say so as not to spoil things, but I can also see how she'd have reacted the way she did.

Overall, Dreamer's Pool was an enjoyable read and I've already put a hold on the next in the Blackthorn and Grim series.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (DNF)

After reading This Savage Song, I'd pretty much decided not to read more V.E. Schwab.  However, I still had A Darker Shade of Magic sitting on my self and I see so much Schwab in the book world, so I picked it up.  I made it through 85 pages before opting to set it aside.  I just found it boring.  There wasn't anything really wrong, I guess, but Schwab's writing just doesn't draw me in.  When I find myself reluctant to pick up a book and read, I know it's time to move on. With A Darker Shade of Magic, I pushed through a few attempts to sit down and read before deciding I was done.  No more Schwab for me.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

Having tried Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley and not finishing it, I'd also sent Highly Illogical Behavior back to the library.  Recently, though, I'd seen a review of it and forgetting all about it having been written by the same author as Where Things Come Back, I got it from the library again.  I'm glad I did.  It was a good read.

Solomon Reed has been a shut in for three years following a breakdown in middle school.  He's currently 16, has great parents as well as a great grandmother, does school on line, reads a lot, watches a lot of movies and is generally fine.  He just doesn't ever leave the house.  Lisa Praytor is 17 and a highly ambitious high school junior.  She knows what she wants and it is to get into and earn a highly coveted scholarship to the second best psychology program in the U.S.  For this essay, she has to write about a personal experience with mental illness.  She decides to fix Solomon.  Along the way, her boyfriend, Clark becomes involved.

I really liked Solomon and his parents.  I really liked Clark.  I didn't so much like Lisa, but she did make the plot go.  The dialog was fun with plenty of witty banter that was to my liking.  The story line was somewhat predictable, but the specifics weren't so much. 

Solomon was such a likable character that one of my reactions to this book was to think, "Hmm, this whole staying home all the time thing could be okay," which I don't think is how I was supposed to react and, quite likely, says quite a bit about my own mental health.  I do think I'd eventually have cabin fever and maybe even want to see someone outside my own family...probably.

At any rate, I liked Highly Illogical Behavior.  It was a fast, enjoyable read while also not really making light of dealing with severe anxiety.

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

I was listening to the audio book version of The Beginning of Everything at the same time I was reading Pink and, I have to say, that I'd sometimes get them a little mixed up.  I think, at heart, they are trying to be the same book.  Find your place and be true to yourself.  I didn't absolutely love The Beginning of Everything, but I enjoyed it a lot more than Pink.

Ezra is a senior in high school and his life was changed when he was the victim in a hit and run car accident.  Prior to that, he'd been the golden boy.  He was talented at tennis, had the looks, had the girlfriend and was popular.  After, thanks to a shattered knee, he would never play sports in any serious way again.  While his friends didn't cut him out, they also didn't go out of their way to be supportive, making him feel adrift on the first day of senior year.  He's rescued by the best friend he left behind in middle school.  He ends up on the debate team where he is able to show his nerdy side and not be embarrassed by those AP classes.  He also meets new to the school Cassidy, with whom he is quickly infatuated.  Things go from there.

Overall, I enjoyed The Beginning of Everything.  I liked the writing style and looked forward to listening to it.  The messages were there without me feeling like I was being hit over the head with them.  I liked the wit of the new friends.  I even liked Ezra, which is sometimes not the case with straight boy leads, even though he was clearly boy.  I was glad he found his footing, so to speak.  I liked that there weren't series of misunderstandings festering.  There were some, but an acceptable amount to make the plot happen.  Usually, though, people just cleared things up as they came up like normal people.

There were things I didn't like, though.  I thought Cassidy's secret was quite transparent and it didn't make sense to me that Ezra didn't figure out what it was.  I thought a lot of the supporting characters were not very substantial.  I found the coyote thing kind of ridiculous.  People are not, generally, in danger from coyotes.  I'd also like it if YA authors would move away from having their characters fill out paper applications for college.  That's just not how it's done these days, people.  I understand doing it that way for those moments where other characters can see what's happening, but it's so not how it's done that it makes me roll my eyes.

Still, I liked The Beginning of Everything overall and thought it was an enjoyable read.  I'd say if finding yourself YA is your thing, it's a good one.  Of course, other people would say that about Pink, so...

Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann

After reviewing Been Here All Along and looking into the whole Swoon Reads thing, I decided to read a book off of the Swoon Reads site.  After looking around a bit, I settled on Let's Talk About Love.  It turns out that it's already been chosen to be published, but is available on the website a bit longer.  It's undergoing editing and will be published soon.  (Not sure when soon means, exactly)  It'll only be available on the Swoon Reads site for a little while longer.

Overall, I liked Let's Talk About Love.  It's the story of asexual but romantic Alice.  Alice is 19 and juggles full time work, full time school and great roommates who are really her chosen family.  She's had bad experiences with coming clean about being asexual, though, before and has pretty much given up on finding love when she meets Takumi. 

What I didn't like:  Alice has a cutie scale that  was pushed so hard that it annoyed me at first.  I found it endearing by the end, but could have used a little more easing into it at the beginning.  Alice is super into pop culture. That's probably a great thing for some, but, as I'm not, many references went way over my head which lessened my enjoyment some.

What I did like:  I mostly liked Alice.  I mostly liked her friends.  I mostly liked Takumi.  By the end, I was definitely rooting for Alice and Takumi.  (Minor spoiler here, skip to the next paragraph if you don't want to be spoiled.)  I worried at first that this was going to be an asexual turned sexual by the right person.  That happens for demisexuals, but I think isn't necessarily a great lesson to have in a book.  That the right person can change an asexual like there is something wrong with being asexual, so I was glad that didn't happen.

I liked this book overall and I'm a fan of the Swoon Reads concept where people can get good books published through finding an appreciative audience.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

I could not get more than 20 pages into The Queen of the Night.  It's written in a style I'd call very literary.  That means (to me) that it's trying too hard to sound sophisticated and, in the process, bores me to tears.  I found the writing to be really disjointed and overly flowery.  I can't stand the fact that Chee doesn't use quotations.  Of course, all opinions are my own and you, perhaps, have a more sophisticated pallet.  In which case, I say go for it.  If you're the sort who loves it when the writing is described as "gorgeous" or "lyrical" then you may well like it.  As for me, I should know to stay far away when I see that.

Pink by Lili Wilkinson

I really wanted to like Pink.  It's, in many ways, right up my alley.  But, alas, I did not. 

Pink is the story of Ava.  Ava is a lesbian (she thinks) with an avant garde girlfriend, was raised by radical parents who convinced her that pink was bad, an idea to which she eventually adopted, at least outwardly.  However, she's decided that is maybe not who she is.  She wants to wear pink.  She wants (maybe?) to have a boyfriend.  She wants to go to a school where it's okay to be smart.  She gets herself into a private school, convinces her parents to let her go, implies to her girlfriend that it was her parents' idea and goes off to school, dressed in pink, to start a voyage of self discovery involving popular kids and outcasts.

I really disliked Ava.  She was an idiot for someone who was supposed to be smart.  She kept making stupid mistakes.  At one point, when one of her new outcast associates is telling her that pink didn't always used to signify girl, she argues and the thought in her head is, "I'm not that stupid."  Well, sorry, honey, but you are.  I found it really unbelievable that her university teaching radical parents who pushed her to wear black over pink wouldn't have brought this point up at some juncture.  This sort of thing is repeated frequently in the book.  She keeps choosing the mean kids in spite of repeated behavior showing her she shouldn't.  And then, in the end?  (Okay, spoiler here, a bit, but not in specifics - skip to the next paragraph if you don't want to be spoiled.)  It turns out she was pretty much right to choose the mean kids (and, okay, the other kids, too).  It was just too neatly cleaned up too fast considering what led up to the end.

As for the story was very lesson heavy.  I don't necessarily dislike books with lessons to teach about things like being true to yourself or finding your place.  I just didn't think Pink did a great job of that.  I felt like I was constantly being hit over the head by these lessons instead of them being an organic part of the story.

I got past the half way mark hoping for some redemption, but it didn't really get better for me.  I did finish it.  It was a fast read and there were some redeeming qualities.  I do like the overall theme.  I just didn't care for the implementation in Pink.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Written in Red by Anne Bishop

I no longer remember how this book came to my attention.  It's been sitting on my shelf for far too long, to be honest.  I've renewed it from the library several times.  I finally picked it up a couple of days ago and I'm so glad I didn't just send it back to the library, as I sometimes do with books that have gotten a little stale sitting on my self.  It was an enjoyable reading experience.

Meg Corbyn, a cassandra sangue (sees visions when her skin is cut), escapes from imprisonment by her Controller and finds sanctuary with the Others where human law does not apply.  Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter, is the leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, the center for the Others in the town of Lakeside.  To get much more into the plot would give away the world building that unfolds.  Although, that may not be all that bad because how the world building was handled was probably my one gripe with the book.  So, I'll start by talking about that.

I found the world building to be slow and agonizing.  I don't really mind when things unfold as necessary over having an information dump, but I felt a bit like there was the worst of both worlds in how the world building was handled.  The book starts with A Brief History of the World, which is short and somewhat informative but also sort of purposefully mysterious.  And then the rest of the world building happens in bits and pieces, but I felt at times that we didn't get things at logical times or as much as we should.  That said, I was able to relax into it after a bit and it was fine.

That may make it sound like I didn't like the book.  Not true.  I really enjoyed reading Written in Red.  I was intrigued and found myself staying up late to read a bit more, which is just the sort of reading experience I like.  We heard from several points of view and I appreciated most of them.  There were a few short insights into characters that I thought just broke up the flow, but mostly, I was glad to hear from who we heard from.  I liked or was at least curious about the point of view of most of them. 

One more point of contention:  I felt like it was unlikely that humans and the Others would really have gotten this far into association without some of them having developed some sort of friendship.  I did get that the groups are just so different and that the Others do see humans as meat that provide just enough interesting products to not hunt all the time, but still.  This was a long, long peripheral association without someone breaking the ice like Meg does. 

So, while not a perfect book, Written in Red was a good read and, in fact, I've got my library's web site open in another tab right now to put a hold on the second book, Murder of Crows.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

I picked up this psychological thriller in spite of many people saying that it is, essentially, a Room ripoff.  I'd also heard it was a compelling read.  Both, sort of, were true.

Baby Doll is the story of what happens to Lilly starting with her escape from 8 years of captivity locked in a basement and sexually used.  She also has a 6 year old daughter, Sky.  We hear from Lilly, Rick (her captor), Abby (her twin sister) and Eve (her mother).  In addition to the recovery story, we learn what happened to Lilly and her family during captivity.  From Rick we mostly hear his twisted logic and plans.

I thought Baby Doll was a very compelling read.  I wanted to set aside other activities and finish it off.  I can often get sidetracked with Instagram, but during reading Baby Doll, that happened only rarely.  The only things that kept me from finishing sooner were having two teens for a few days and, well, Once Upon a Time (Anthony and I are working on season 5).  Lilly was super strong.  Sky was interesting. Abby was broken...I had a hard time with Abby's point of view as she was so self sabotaging.  But, at the same time, her point of view was an important part of the story.

Occasionally something about the narration turned me off.  There were some trains of thought that I thought were a little awkwardly expressed, but it was fairly minor.

I did also think that there were lots of similarities to Room.  However, to say that was an issue is kind of silly.  There are lots of books about, say, kids going to boarding school, and, yet, we still read them.  Or, I guess I should say I do.  Also, Room was set in a bit of a different time frame in that it started with imprisonment, moved on to escape and only spent a bit of time on recovery.

Baby Doll isn't an easy light hearted read, but it was a good read that kept me turning the pages.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

I've come quite late to The Demon King party, but I'm glad I did finally get here.  I enjoyed it.

The Demon King is the story of Han Alister, newly 16, reformed leader of a street gang and sometimes foster son on a clan as well as of Raisa ana'Marianna, about to be 16 (of age) when she'll be officially named as heir to the throne.  Raisa has also spent time with the clans, who feature prominently in the story.  Han is struggling to support his mom and sister and has few prospects, having given up on being in a gang to keep his sister away from the life.  When he and his clan friend encounter a wizard teen in clan territory, taking from him a wizard amulet, a chain of events start during which he'll meet Raisa (although he doesn't know it) and learn more about who he is.  (Which, by the way, I was asking myself all along, which I suppose we were supposed to, but I wondered why he'd never asked himself before why he was fostered with the clan.  It's not like everyone is.)  Meanwhile, Raisa is chafing under the increasingly strange dictates of her mother and court life after her relative freedom with the clan. 

I liked the story and found The Demon King very readable.  I did have some issues.  I thought Raisa was surprisingly naive for having spent time with the clan where she wasn't so protected.  I think Cinda was trying to make her seem her age and, perhaps that is the thought process of a 15/16 year old girl, but her lack of ability to figure out some of the things happening around her was a little frustrating to me.  Also, it felt at times that the plot was a little slow.  And there was the whole how could Han not think there was something special about him what with these silver cuffs that won't come off that he's had sense he was a baby and the whole clan fostering thing?  Those things kept me from ranking this higher than I might have given how readable this book was for me.  While I'm not feeling strongly compelled to start the next book, I'm interested enough that I will get it and give it a go.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan (DNF)

I only read about 70 pages of Julia Vanishes.  While there wasn't anything really wrong with it that I can put my finger on, I just wasn't getting into it and decided not to finish. 

Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall

I actually started this book before I left for Colorado but didn't take it with me because I did an entirely electronic reading list for the trip.  So, I came back, finished what I'd started on the trip, then got back to it.  It suffered a little from the week long pause of reading midway through, but I still enjoyed it enough to finish.

Been Here All Along is the story of neighbors Gideon and Kyle.  They've been life long friends.  Kyle is bi and has a girlfriend, Ruby.  Gideon has not wanted to mess with dating in high school.  His focus is on college.  However, he realizes in the beginning of this book that he is, in fact, interested in someone.  We hear from several points of view in this book:  Gideon, Kyle, Ruby and Gideon's older brother, Ezra.

I, as is fairly common for me, felt mixed about this book.  I generally liked the story and generally liked most of the characters.  I felt a little like Ezra's story didn't so much fit in with the rest of the story and was sort of filler.  I kept hoping that one thing I expected to happen was going to defy my expectations and just not going to, but it did.  That disappointed me some.  I don't want to say what that was, as it would be a spoiler.  Overall, Been Here All Along was a fun enough read.

Been Here All Along is a Swoon Reads book.  I hadn't come across one before, to the best of my knowledge.  The concept is that authors upload original YA novels.  Readers read and discuss what they like.  If a book is read and enjoyed enough, it gets published.  It's seems like an interesting path to being published, but also sort of explains how Been Here All Along read to me a bit like really good fanfic.  At any rate, it seems worth checking out.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Secret Language of Sisters by Luanne Rice

So, having finished Rebel last night, I had to start a new book for the plane flight this morning, of course.  And then, being rather wiped out, I've not felt up for much more than reading today.  Thus, I just finished The Secret Language of Sisters.

This book is about two sisters.  One of them crashes while driving and ends up in what appears to be a coma.  The other was the one relentlessly texting her.  Of course, both lives change and the girls, their mom and their friends all have to deal with that. 

I had some really mixed feeling about this book.  I felt truly compelled to read it and find out what was going to happen, particularly at first.  That changed a bit for me toward the middle when it felt like the story went from some talk about whose fault it was to that being the focus of the story, almost more than the sister relationship or the attempts at rebuilding lives.  Also, I only sort of liked Tilly, the sister who wasn't in the accident.  I felt like how long it would take for Roo to express herself with the letter board was seriously glossed over.  And, lastly on the complaints, I felt like all the echos of sisters was a little contrived.  However, I also, as I mention, really wanted to read it.  And I wanted things to work out for people, at least a much as possible given the situation, showing I was invested.

So, take all that as you will.  I think I'll stick with mixed.

Rebel by Amy Tintera

I ended up having a lot of reading time yesterday by not joining in on the scenic drive.  So, I knocked out Rebel.

Rebel is the sequel to Reboot.  Wren and Callum have found the community of reboots, but, of course, it's not paradise.  They have a leader who is...perhaps a little off the rails.  He's been building an army and plans to take out all the humans because, after all, the humans would kill the reboots first if they had a chance, no?  Wren has to decide where her moral compass points and, when she decides, will it be the same as Callum's?  We hear from both Callum and Wren in this book.  And they do have stuff to work out personally in addition to figuring out their places in the whole human/reboot world.

I enjoyed Rebel and found it fairly gripping, particularly at the end.  In fact, I had to get up at 3:45am this morning for my flight home from Colorado and yet I didn't turn the light out until 10:20 last night because I wanted to finish Rebel.  I generally find Amy Tintera to write solid enjoyable books.  I'll read what she's writes, but, at the same time, I don't think any of these books will ever join my favorite book list.  However, solid and enjoyable is nothing to sneeze about and I'd say check out her stuff!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Winning by Lara Deloza

I did also manage to finish one whole book this week.  I picked up Winning because I tend to be a little competitive so I thought I'd give it a go.

Winning takes place in a high school where Alexandra reigns supreme.  She is conniving and unabashed in her using of other people to get her where she wants to go.  The cast of characters include her lesbian best friend whose job it is to keep Alexandra's hands clean, a girl whom she destroyed socially sophomore year, and a girl who had a very public breakdown in the middle of biology freshman year.  We get the story from each of these girls' point of view.  While there are other players, the one other person who I'd say is a main character is transfer student Erin.  We don't really know what Erin's deal is.  She seems nice and likable, but at times, also like she's playing the game.  When Erin shows up, Alexandra decides she needs a plan to insure she'll become homecoming queen.

I think this book had great potential.  I liked the intrigue and how we're kept guessing a bit about who wants what exactly.  However, I also thought there was great potential for cleverness and wit that was largely squandered.  Thus I ended up feeling kind of meh about the book.  It was good enough to finish but not much more.  The ending was left with room for a sequel that I'm not sure I'll pick up.

Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud

I've fallen down on the reading and blogging in the last few weeks.  I've actually started and not finished about 4 books.  In my usual fashion, I've picked up books that are due in days intending to finish them, but I've had almost no reading time.  I've had a house full of teens, which has been a blast, and we did some fun stuff.  Then, this week, when things should have gotten more or less back to normal with Davan and Sue off to school on Sunday and Daniel off to Colorado to visit my parents this week, I up and came to Colorado with Daniel.  I only really thought about coming on Sunday.  I booked my ticket Sunday evening and Daniel and I flew out early Monday.  Now, usually, Colorado means a lot of reading time for me.  Not this trip.  We've been doing the tourist thing all week, which has been fun, too, but, again, not a lot of reading time.

During this time, though, I've actually managed to finish two books.  And today, I've got time to write about them, as my parents took Daniel on a scenic drive in the mountains.  Long drives are really not my thing, so I stayed home and am spending the day mostly chillin.

Earlier this week, I finished Pretending to be Erica.  Violet has been raised with the sole purpose of impersonating, when the time is right, Erica.  Erica was the kidnapped and never recovered daughter of a wealthy family.  Violet's "father" is a con man who once shared a jail cell with the man who killed Erica.  With the inside knowledge learned from this man, he shapes Violet to be Erica.  The mission is to steal a painting worth $20 million.  We join the story when Violet is just starting high school as Erica after having been "returned" a month before.

I thought this book was okay.  I liked the premise a lot, but didn't like the implementation of the premise as much.  I had a hard time really getting into Erica/Violet in part because she was so split herself and neither of the two selves were super appealing to me, even though I think I might have liked the in between.  I did like the ending, which I felt was somewhat realistic.  So, all-in-all, okay is the word for Pretending to be Erica.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown

Good and Cheap is a recipe book.  That may seem like an odd book to review, but I actually read it.  Granted, I skimmed many of the recipes, but I liked the whole concept and wanted to share.  Also, it's a little odd that I liked this cookbook so much because it's not vegan.  However, it's very light on meat and many of the recipes are vegan or easily made so.

The underlying message of Good and Cheap is "how to eat well on $4/day."  I have managed our food budget on less than that in the past, but have lately let our food budget expand quite a lot.  This book was a great reminder of things I can do to keep costs down without sacrificing taste or even convenience.  Also, it gave me some general ideas for keeping costs down while feeding a family of 6 big eaters for a while.

So, I do suggest giving this book a look.  I got it from the library, but it's worth pointing out that for every copy of Good and Cheap purchased, a free copy is given to a family in need.

The Queen's Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler

I mostly read The Queen's Poisoner on Friday when we had a sort of down day.  Daniel, our previous exchange student, didn't come until Friday night.  We ended up with time for people to take care of business needs (emails, school related stuff, picking up an item or two for back to school and the like).  Other than playing a lot of games with differing groups of people, I had a fair amount of reading time.  I got mostly done and then it took until late last night to actually finish.

I liked The Queen's Poisoner.  Owen is an 8 year old boy who is sent to the court of the king as a hostage for his parent's good behavior.  They are suspected of treason.  The whole story is from Owen's point of view.  He has a rough road to navigate.  He finds allies, makes mistakes and keeps on surviving.

I felt that some of the background was unnecessarily complicated, but I kind of let that wash over me.  I thought the writing was compelling.  I liked Owen and the girl who becomes his companion, Elysabeth Victoria Mortimer.  I enjoyed the intrigue.  I did recognize some flaws aside from the overly complicated background, such as the two eight years olds not understanding things I thought they probably would, but I liked it overall and was willing to overlook some of these little issues. 

Tell Me Three Things by by Julie Buxbaum

It's been busy, busy around my small place.  When I say small, I mean less than 700 square feet.  When I say busy, I mean 4 teens and 2 parents.  We've got Davan, and exchange student, a previous exchange student and Davan's college roommate all here for a week and a half.  So...yeah.  Anyway, between various adventures, games and lots of eating, I have managed to finish a couple of books, but not find time on the computer to write about them.  I'm squeezing in a few minutes while pancakes are cooking. So, this will be short.

I liked Tell Me Three Things.  I liked the writing.  I liked Jessie most of the time.  Jessie is a high school junior who's world has changed.  Her mom died a year and a half before, her dad sort of checked out in his own grief and then found someone new, moving them across the country to live with her and her teenage son.  Jessie has some issues and things to work out, but I appreciated the journey.

All that said, I handed it off to Davan next.  She didn't like it.  She said Jessie was too much of a teenager for her.  Which is funny because that is often a problem I have, but didn't with this one.

So, I thought it was pretty good.  Davan not so much.  Take from that what you will.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood

I picked up Six Impossible Things by chance at the library.  It was one of their Lucky Day books (meaning a book with high demand, but they keep a few copies aside for drop-ins).  It looked like the sort of book I like, so I gave it a go.  Because it was a Lucky Day, I can't renew it, so it jumped to the top of my reading list.  Even with that, I kept putting it aside for this book or that that was due sooner or the like.  So, I kind of read it in bits and pieces.  Perhaps that is part of why I thought it was only okay.

Dan Cereill is going through a difficult time in life.  His dad has come out as gay and left their family just as his business ventures took a dive.  Dan goes from an expensive private school to a public school.  He wants to remake himself and not be a nerd, but that's a failed venture.  He's smart and ends up not hiding it well.  He has a crush on the girl next door.  Next door to the new place, that is, which was left to his mom by a relative who didn't actually leave them any money.  So, there is a roof over their heads, but no money for basics like food and heat.  He and his mom work on adapting. 

As I said, I thought Six Impossible Things was okay.  I didn't fall in love with it or any particular character, but I did decide I wanted to finish, which, if you read here at all, you know that means it didn't suck.  I don't finish bad books.  I also often don't finish only okay books.  So, the fact that I finished this one says maybe it's a bit above okay.  Also, when I actually focused my attention on it and finished the second half over a couple of days, it did flow better for me.  That said, though, I'm not in a rush to go out and get more Fiona Woods books.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Here's to Us by Elin Hilderbrand

I can no longer remember who recommended Here's to Us to me.  It wasn't a personal recommendation, it was maybe a Booktuber.  At any rate, I think I should have paid more attention to the blurb on the back of the book that says, "Hilderbrand is the queen of summer...Rich people behaving badly."  I'm not a fan of rich people behaving badly.  And, thus, I was not a fan of Here's to Us.

Here's to Us is the story of celebrity chef Deacon Thorpe's family.  Prior to his death, he was married three times, having a child with each wife.  After his death, they all gather at their Nantucket summer cottage to say goodbye and deal with the fact that he died not only broke, but under.  Each wife and each child has their own story (although we only hear a bit tangentially about the youngest who is only 9 where the other two are adults). 

I did read the whole book.  I kind of wish I hadn't bothered.  It was okay, but it didn't ever develop into something I was interested in reading, which I held out some hope it would at the beginning.  By the time I was over half through, I felt invested and opted to finish in spite of being underwhelmed.  The writing was okay, but not so much my preferred style. 

All-in-all, this is, clearly, a popular writer and many people love her books, but they aren't for me.