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review 2017-10-03 12:31
A Red Herring Without Mustard ★★★★☆
A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel - Alan Bradley

Another solid story in this YA mystery series. The adorably psychopathic little chemist is again at the center of a series of attacks and deaths, riding all over the countryside on her anthropomorphized bicycle Gladyce, and driving the local law enforcement to distraction with her meddling and exasperatingly smug genius.

 

Audiobook, purchased via Audible. Jayne Entwistle again brings Flavia’s outsized personality to life.

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review 2017-07-07 03:05
Good Kings Bad Kings ★★★☆☆
Good Kings Bad Kings - Susan Nussbaum

Proponents of privatizing public services argue that, by managing operations like a private business, these services can be provided much more efficiently. So what is the natural outcome when residential/custodial care is outsourced to a corporation whose board demands a healthy profit, and profits are driven by keeping as many beds filled for as little cost as possible? The goal is certainly not to try to support families with disabled children, to keep them at home instead of in residential care. It’s not to prepare those children for living as independently as possible when they reach adulthood, becoming contributing members of society. Oh, and if that same company holds government contracts for residential psychiatric care? Perhaps there’s a profit motive for assigning psychiatric diagnoses to children with behavioral problems?

 

This was an interesting book with some interesting things to say. But it is grim reading, and I was outraged at the way the author chose to end it. I don’t expect or even want happy endings, especially in a book so determined to strive for realism. But there is no sense of resolution, no looking forward, no… anything. It just stops, like the author got tired of writing or the publisher refused to print more than 465 pages.  

 

Audiobook, purchased via Audible. The performances by a cast of readers were the best part of this book. They breathed life into the characters as each told his or her own story. This is one good exception to my dislike for first person present tense. The writing style, in this case, fit the story being told perfectly.

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text 2017-06-30 20:19
Good Kings Bad Kings: 23%
Good Kings Bad Kings - Susan Nussbaum

This is more than a little heartbreaking, and I'm only 23% of the way in.

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review 2017-06-09 14:15
The Hate U Give ★★★★☆
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

I really wish I could be consistent about writing down even a rough draft of a review as soon as I finish a book, because it starts fading for me as the days pass and my brain fills with other books that I’m reading. Because this book deserved much better than I can give it now. I finished it 3 weeks ago, and all I have left is vague impressions. I urge you to read Obsidian Blue’s excellent review, which introduced me to the book.

 

I will say that I connected more strongly with it than I expected, as I am generally not a fan of YA and have a pronounced aversion to the first-person-present-tense writing style so prevalent in the genre. The subject matter, being so far outside of my own personal experience, felt real and present to me, as did the thoughts and emotions of Starr and those close to her. The writing is compelling, and the plot kept me absolutely engaged. I appreciated the very realistic outcome of

Starr’s testimony

(spoiler show)

, and her emotional struggle to get there.

 

Sadly, I fail both the green bean casserole and the mac-n-cheese tests.

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library. Bahni Turpin’s reading is so fantastic that I didn’t even notice the FPPT style for long chunks of story.  

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review 2017-03-04 12:41
Before I Fall ★★★★☆
Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver,Sarah Drew

I should have really disliked this book, because (1) it’s YA, which usually wallows in feelings I left behind decades ago, and (2) it’s mostly written in first-person-present-tense, which I usually hate with the heat of a thousand fiery suns. I was convinced to give it a try by two excellent reviews from people I trust, and I decided to go with audio as the FPPT style is usually less obnoxious when read aloud.

 

And… I truly enjoyed it. It’s well-written, and the FPPT style actually fits with the story, and I could get over the adolescent drama, because getting over it is really what this book is about. I won’t go into plot details, because that’s been done elsewhere by more skilled reviewers, but I will mention the few flaws that made this a 4 star read for me. The mawkish romance toward the end felt like an obligatory addition to the plot, because apparently, all YA must include a love story and a teen girl’s life is incomplete without it. And the love interest was a male version of the manic pixie dream girl, and the only truly unrealistic character in the book.

 

A word of caution: As the book starts out, the main character is a truly unpleasant person, and I felt crazy impatient with her and her friends. I might have DNF’d if I hadn’t known that this was the point of the story. I’m glad I stuck with it.

 

Audiobook, via Audible. Sarah Drew provides an excellent performance.

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