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review 2019-02-22 21:38
Review: "Shades" by Jaime Reese
Shades - Jaime Reese

It took me FOREVER to finish this book. With 344 pages, it was at least 150 pages too long. It was a struggle to finish.


The story was 30% plot and 70% internal monologues (pining ones in the first, schmaltzy love declarations ones in the second half).



This book also had some of the most far-fetched and ridiculous plot twists that I’ve read in a long time.


For example, that island? The hell? Am I supposed to take this seriously?



This was my first book by this author and even though I’m not totally put off by her storytelling, I probably won’t read another book from her in the foreseeable future.


I’m giving this book a really weak 3 stars-rating, because even though I wasn’t really enjoying it, the writing wasn’t that awful or offensive to justify a lower rating. But this author is in serious need to improve her storytelling.




~ 3 stars ~


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review 2019-02-22 03:06
Another Country (Audiobook)
Another Country (MP3 Book) - Dion Graham,James Baldwin

Once again, I find myself not really sure what to think of a book. It was undoubtedly well-written and an interesting examination of liberalism in the 1950s, the struggles between the races and how the anger and confusion and incomprehension of everyone's varying struggles and outlooks can make a group of friends - if you can even really call them that - do pretty horrible things to each other. 


I can't really say I liked any of the characters. They were all self-involved assholes who could only see their own pain, but then, that was also the point of the story, so I guess it was successful, lol. But people who cheat because they can't figure out what they want -and everyone here cheats at one point or another - are just not very good people. They're dishonest and unfaithful, to themselves as much as their partners and families. I could sympathize with some of them, especially Ida. The constant misogyny made me uncomfortable, even more so than the brutal examination of racism and internal homophobia.


The interpersonal relationships of the various characters were used to examine the larger world these characters lived in, to really look at what it meant to be alive in this time and place. What did it mean to be white? To be black? To be male or female? To be queer? And how was this group of people going to meet these challenges, how would they struggle with the old ways while trying to create new ones, if that was even possible?


It's an uncomfortable read, and it's meant to be, but not being able to really connect with the characters prevented me from really getting into the story.


The narrator, Dion Graham, was very listenable and did a good job with all the voices, male and female. I listened at 1.20 times and it was perhaps still just a tad too slow.

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review 2019-02-21 05:45
Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin by Nicole Hardy
Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin: A Memoir - Nicole Hardy

This is a decent book if you enjoy memoirs of basically privileged people finding themselves. But it seems a little padded with material that isn’t quite on point for its stated subject matter, while keeping rather quiet about some of the material that is.

Nicole Hardy was raised Mormon, and overall was happy with the ordered life the church prescribed, but the older she got, the more a problem presented itself. The Mormon church is very opposed to sex before marriage, while simultaneously holding a very traditional view of gender roles, in which a woman’s highest spiritual purpose is to marry and have children. People marry young, and women are expected to subordinate their lives and careers to those of their husbands. But Hardy found herself graduating BYU without a husband lined up, and eventually realized that despite the church’s insistence, motherhood didn’t appeal to her.

This lack of orthodoxy and her independent lifestyle made Hardy a mismatch with Mormon men, while her continued belief in celibacy until marriage put a damper on relationships with others. The book follows her journey of self-discovery from insular beginnings (though she grew up in Seattle, she didn’t realize people could choose not to have children), through leaving her teaching career to pursue writing, through various relationships and international travels, until she finally breaks with the church and has sex at the age of 36.

I’d previously read about the Mormon marriage crisis, in a fascinating article that explores demographic shifts that make it harder for many American women to find a husband (in mainstream society, it’s that more women than men are earning college degrees; for Mormons, it’s that more men than women leave the church). Oddly, though, Hardy doesn’t address this bigger picture at all, nor does she seem to believe that there are more Mormon women than men; instead, she feels alone in her singlehood.

Oddly too, for someone whose life was directed by religion, she doesn’t actually talk much about Mormonism. I was a little surprised by how absent religion is from her portrayal of her inner life during her time in the church: she doesn’t talk about things like praying over big decisions, or about any hole left in her life when she leaves, a decision that has no clear build-up. And there’s very little here about Mormon beliefs or practices. She’s defensive about the use of terms like “magic underwear,” leading me to believe she’s being careful not to dish on her family’s religion. But a little more information might have been warranted: when she compares church services in her singles congregation to speed dating, for instance, I was confused, wondering how the one could resemble the other. Finally, she doesn’t discuss any sexual hang-ups or difficulties, apparently experiencing no barriers other than religious dictates to a fun and busy sex life.

Meanwhile, the book is padded out with other aspects of the author’s life: her writing program, travels, scuba diving, etc. Overall, despite the fact that Hardy clearly found her situation painful and confusing for much of her 20s and 30s, her memoir is pretty lightweight. She’s a good writer and it was a quick read, but it isn’t one I’d suggest you go out of your way for unless you personally relate. It did help me make a little more sense of life decisions I’ve seen from Mormons and ex-Mormons, though.

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review 2019-02-19 14:35
Dancing Men (Hunt&Cam4Ever #3)
Dancing Men - Adira August

Hunter decided heaven was being eternally in the moment of waking naturally next to someone you wanted to see when you opened your eyes.




Love it when the relationship and the mystery are done in a way they work together. Nothing drives me more crazy than a mystery that almost acts as a page filler. I find myself either bored with the mystery or bored with the couple. Here they worked unbelievably well as a cohesive story. Absolutely loving the development of these characters and how different they are from every other couple I have ever read about.

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review 2019-02-18 20:38
Sea Of Stars
Sea of Stars (The Kricket Series Book 2) - Amy A. Bartol

It's been a while since I read the first book in the series, so some of the details were a bit blurry when I started Sea of Stars. Kricket, the main character with the most *uhm* special name and also her very special character of course, has found her way up in the stars between two (or possibly more) warring alien species/gangs. (I say alien because that is what they say in the book, and they make tiny, stupid human jokes. However, the physical appearance of said aliens is like humans, but ultimately better, obviously).

Where in the first book I was mainly annoyed by A) annoying Kricket and B) the human-like, human-feeling aliens, this time around there was little time for any of that as the story is immediately in full swing. Jumping around from one fight to the next while all that she wants to do is bunk down with her (new?) (insta?) love interest (I seriously can't remember him from the first book, if he was in there). Near the end, the typical end of the second book in a series great revelation is revealed, which will carry the story to the concluding book, which I will probably read sometime soon.

Now, this was actually kind of a nice read, all things considered. It was an easy read, and the things that bothered my in the first book, didn't bother me so much any more. While I had the feeling not a lot happened in the book, it was exciting enough for me to keep reading. It was an easy and quick read and sometimes these are just what you need.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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