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review 2017-05-25 03:29
Review: Burned (Burned #1) by Ellen Hopkins
Burned - Ellen Hopkins

Quick review for a quick read that I picked up from my library's audio collection. Powerful and really wonderful character exploration, which is typical of Ellen Hopkins's books. Pattyn is a young woman living in a tightly knit religious community and abusive household. She strongly laments her inability to grow as a young woman - in relationships, in asserting herself among other things - as well as watching her mother being subjected to her father's fists. After a series of incidents in which she acts out, she's sent to live with her aunt and begins to know what it means to have a better life for herself, including being valued in a romantic relationship with her S.O. (Ethan). In the end, she's not prepared to return to the household that cast her out, yet she never really wanted to leave completely behind, and things only turn for the worst after that point. I'll admit it hit me like a punch to a gut and I couldn't shake the emotional upheaval it left within me long after turning the final page.

"Burned", like the other books of Hopkins I've read, went down so smoothly and quick for the overarching read - I really enjoyed the audio narration of the novel as well as the poetic form she uses to tell Pattyn's story. She captures Pattyn's thoughts, questions, fears, uncertainty, and emotion to the teeth, and I liked being able to follow her throughout. I thought her fears and concerns were front and center, making me feel her struggle, but I think there were opportunities of depth and debate (particularly around the religious community concerns, since Pattyn lives in a Mormon household) that were missed. I definitely look forward to reading the next novel in this series, though the cliffhanger ending makes me all the more anxious to get to it as soon as possible.

Overall score: 4/5 stars.

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review 2017-05-23 20:46
The Better Story
Life of Pi - Yann Martel

Defiantly funny in the face of total devastation, but more than that, ever hopeful. I guess that last is the best part of strong faith. The important part. Inner piece and enduring hope.

 

Here's the deal: I'm an agnostic. We get roasted inside *grin*. I could go a long while about the difference between religion and spirituality, between faith in god and the faith in the future that makes you stubbornly plod forward. I wont. My mom says "there are no atheist in the trenches". I have no idea what an ordeal like this would do to me.

 

But here is the other side, the thing about being an agnostic: I can accept both stories. I can love and believe in the tiger, and I can forgive the killer boy. The tiger is the better story, but to me, disregarding the second feels like hiding from a horrible truth too hard to accept. Just as disregarding the tiger feels like the cruelty of denying absolution, or the company of hope.

 

Good book. The movie did it amazing justice, tight and beautiful and with lovely, memorable music, so I highly recommend it.

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review 2017-05-23 02:02
Review: Come Home by Lisa Scottoline
Come Home - Lisa Scottoline

Quick review for a somewhat lengthy read. I'm actually asking myself in the hours after finishing the book: What on Earth did I just read?

I haven't read many of Lisa Scottoline's books, but admittedly it's been a while and this is the most recent example I can go on. It's...definitely not the first book I would recommend anyone read from this author. I feel like it was an entertaining read but also a complete waste of time. (That sounds like a contradiction in itself, but I'll explain shortly.) So much of this book annoyed me to heck and back - mostly for how over the top and non-cohesive it was. The dialogue in some stretches is completely unrealistic and cringe-worthy. I guess the entertaining aspect of it lies in that it plays out like a soap opera - with the main character running to and fro searching for answers that absolutely no one asked, and one calamity building upon another to ramp up the action and conflict to march forcefully through its conclusion. There are times when I like this kind of story if it can poke fun at itself or just proves entertaining to watch with the characters who make the story more than the bones it stands upon. But "Come Home" was the true definition of a false advertisement of a book if I ever started one.

The story centers around Jill, a pediatrician who's adjusting to life with a new fiance and her daughter. Yet, Abby, Jill's estranged ex-stepdaughter comes bounding to her doorstep one rainy night to proclaim that her father's dead and that someone killed him. This sets off a chain of events that lead to Abby's disappearance, and Jill's desperate search to find her. Only...the search for Abby takes up a good portion of this story, but it's just one thread among several microconflicts that don't really reach satisfying conclusions. "Come Home" dangles false carrots of conflict in front of you, leading you in one direction, but just when you reach a climatic point that promises some answers, the answers lead in another direction that doesn't really have much to do with the original thread of conflict and seems to get weaker and less intriguing as it goes on. I felt like part of it was Jill's utter recklessness and stupidity in approaching every mystery around her, and what she finds just happens to hit the mark in some way without really having any kind of payoff.

In retrospect, I really didn't like most of the characters in this novel, including Jill. I did like Sam and Jill's friend (mostly because they were the ones who had the most sense), but everyone else was annoying as heck in speaking voice as well as contributing to the microconflicts and unreliable narrators here. I wish I could've believed in them or had a good laugh at them, but in the end, the dramatics were lain on far too thick - and the characters far too grating - for me to enjoy this more. I will say it kept me reading and wanting to see what would happen, but I took far too much time on the audiobook and overarching story than the story paid off in the experience. I probably wouldn't pick up this book again, once was enough.

Overall score: 1.5/5 stars.

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review 2017-05-23 01:58
Book Review: Lace by K.C. Wells
Lace - K.C. Wells,Meredith Russell

I'm of two minds about this book.

On one hand, this was perfect, kinky erotica, and I love how much emotion this author always puts into the sexy times. Also, manties. Yum!!

On the other hand, Dave is a jerk for outing Shawn's personal kink to someone else, and both of them suffer from "can't-talk-about-shit-itis". So frustrating.

Why four stars, then, you ask? Because it's K.C. Wells and I just adore her particular brand of magic. There's definitely a connection between the two men - best mates for ages - that turns to more when one of them finds out the other is not so straight after all, and the other finds some lacy knickers in a dresser drawer that prompts a WTF and a BJ.

Except, they just. Can't. Seem. To. TALK to each other. One makes a bloody stupid assumption, and the other makes a bloody stupid assumption, and they get all tangled into knots about each other and what the other might be feeling.

Jeez, guys, communicate, eh? It's not that difficult, right? OMG, they frustrated me to no end. I'm sure the author intended that, so - success!!

I liked both of them, except for that shit Dave pulls when he tells another guy about Shawn's proclivity for silky/lacy drawers, which is so uncool. Super uncool. I'm shocked that Shawn didn't seem to care all that much about Dave outing his little secret, especially considering that Shawn goes to the same gym, and seriously? *snarls*

But, my God, when they burn up the sheets, and then when they finally get it together? Yeah - that's where this book shines, and I was feeling all happy and gooey inside after the ending.

So, I'm of two minds, but the enjoyment side won out. It's a quick read, though I wouldn't recommend reading it during lunch time unless you work from home, and in that case, what are you waiting for? Read it!!



** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost Promotions. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-05-22 01:37
ARC Review: Michael, Reinvented by Diana Copland
Michael, Reinvented (Delta Restorations Book 2) - Diana Copland

4.5 stars for this 2nd installment in the Delta Restorations series!

 

First off, this shouldn't be read as a standalone. That's not to say that you couldn't - you just shouldn't. I think that to understand the progression of Michael and Gil's relationship, you should have read "David, Renewed", because the underlying UST between the two men develops in book 1, and is carried to its explosive conclusion in this book.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Michael is still David's assistant, and since David is still happily in love with Jackson (now living in the same house), and since Jackson and his band of merry men have formed a renovation company, with David slated as the interior designer, Michael still sees Gil on a fairly regular basis. Their relationship consists of a lot of teasing (on Gil's side) and a lot of "the lady doth protest too much" on Michael's side.

See, Michael is scared to admit to himself and anyone else that he's attracted to Gil, and that Gil possibly has the power to get past the brick walls Michael has erected around his heart due to past hurt. Therefore, Michael thinks that as long as he keeps Gil at bay and does not allow the man close, he'll be safe. So he snarks a lot. A lot. A whole lot. I giggled quite a bit at Michael's prickly responses to Gil's pursuit, knowing that it was inevitable, and just sat back to enjoy the ride to bliss.

Except the unknown entity from the first book who seems to be hellbent on hurting Michael's friends and business partners is still lurking in the bushes, and there's still the threat of David's abusive ex coming back to wreak more havoc, and when Michael is house-sitting for David and Jackson and finds a vandal outside of the house, his first call is not to the police but Gil.

Wonder why.

There's a lot more to Gil than Michael realized, and slowly but surely, as Michael discovers more about who Gil really is, his opinion of the man is changing, and Michael sees that maybe, just maybe, it's safe to be honest with himself and acknowledge with his head that what his heart has known for a while.

And just when Michael seems ready to take that step, tragedy strikes.

Nothing like a wake-up call to get your act together, is there?

I adored Gil - he was such a good, kind, and super patient guy, someone with a somewhat gruff exterior but a heart of gold. And Michael, prickly, hurt, and scared Michael, just grows on you - I realized in the first book that he must have had some real heartache in his life to become so standoffish and hide himself from what is definitely a good thing.

I can't say enough good things about the writing - super smooth and engaging, without any lulls or abrupt time jumps, with excellent pacing. While the book is told entirely from Michael's POV, and while Michael is a bit of an unreliable narrator, we get plenty of between the lines information about Gil. Michael may not always understand what makes Gil tick, but it's always very clear what Gil's priorities are, and how much he loves Michael, even if Michael refuses to see it.

Obviously, the men from Delta Restorations all make multiple appearances here, so we get to revisit with Vern, an older man with a rough exterior, (pretend-)grouchy most of the time, and Manny, who comes a bit more out of his shell in this book, but who still carries the scars from a previous relationship inside and out. I do hope that Manny's book will be next, because he sure as hell deserves someone who loves him fully and completely. Hopefully, that person will be Vern. I loved the easy banter between the group of men, and it was clear that they all respect each other and have formed a strong, supportive friendship.

This was a wonderful continuation of this series, and I can hardly wait to read the next book. Extra kudos for including the Velveteen Rabbit in this story - brilliant idea and execution, and thanks so much for making me cry.

One niggle - a neurologist isn't the same as a neurosurgeon, and these terms cannot be used interchangeably. I'm not sure if this was a research fail or an editing fail, but hopefully this was fixed in the final version.

Highly recommended that you pick up this book and its predecessor.


** I received a free advanced copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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