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review 2015-04-12 03:24
Split the Crow by Sarah Sousa
Split the Crow - Sarah Sousa

I thoroughly enjoyed this book of poetry, didn't think I would but Ms. Sarah Sousa proved me wrong.  One page of poetry carried a lot of  weight, a whole story poured out of it.  I am talking about one in particular, "Molly became Cherokee."  Geez, I saw so much in such a short time and that's good poetry.  Awesome!!!!  I had won this book on BookLikes book giveaway.  Thank you, Darlene

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text 2014-06-04 00:41
I won another BookLikes giveaway!
The Dry - Rebecca Nolen

I actually won this a couple days ago, but forgot to post about it. It's in my queue, although I probably won't get to it until after Christopher Hinz's Paratwa books. It's a MOBI file and will therefore have to be tablet read.


I love the cover. Freaky and gorgeous at the same time.

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review 2014-05-18 03:36
Clytie's Caller by Sharon E. Cathcart
Clytie's Caller - Sharon E. Cathcart

I won this in a BookLikes giveaway held by the author.

This short story takes place in England in 1816. Clytemnestra, nicknamed Clytie, used to enjoy going out and meeting people. Then something happened, and she became fearful and nervous around others and often resisted leaving her room. Her behavior threatened to have an effect on her family's standing and her brother's relationship with his fiancee, Isabel. Only Samuel, a doctor and a cousin of Isabel's, seemed to know what to do. He promised that he could help Clytie become more like her old self. What he didn't count on was that his feelings of sympathy and compassion might blossom into love.

I had seen Clytie's Caller in the Smashwords store but ultimately decided against buying it. The heroine's name didn't appeal to me, and I was doubtful that 6,270 words would be enough for a believable romance. When the story popped up as a giveaway, I decided it was at least worth trying for free.

Unfortunately, my concerns about the short length turned out to be justified. Twenty-two pages (on my Nook) were not enough to believably pair up two people who did not previously know each other, one of whom had PTSD. And by “pair up” I mean there is an actual marriage proposal by the end of the story.

All in all, I felt this was a very bland story. The source of Clytie's “battle fatigue” wasn't hard to guess at, and I didn't find either Samuel or Clytie to be very interesting. While I understood that some artistic license was necessary in order to bring Clytie and Samuel together, Samuel's quick understanding of Clytie's condition and the techniques required to help her strained my suspension of disbelief. He was practically psychic about it – all it took was one look, and he instantly knew that she was going through the same thing he'd seen before in soldiers he'd treated.

Some readers may like that Clytie isn't magically cured by the end of the story and even experiences some backsliding. While I applaud this, I didn't think it worked well at all in such a short romantic story.

Additional Comments:

I counted five typos and might have overlooked more. It was little stuff – a name that wasn't capitalized, a misspelling that should have been caught by spellcheck, a missing closing quotation mark, and a couple punctuation mistakes. Still, more than I expected to see in a work this short.


(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2014-05-11 08:29
Medusa by Tony Talbot
Medusa - Tony Talbot

I won this in a BookLikes giveaway held by the author. Tony Talbot is one of the reviewers BookLikes automatically assigned to me to follow when I first joined the site. His reviews were interesting, so I continued to follow him. I didn't know much about Medusa other than that its description made it sound like it might be a good fit for me, but I knew that Talbot wasn't shy about giving books lower star ratings, and I respected that.

I had some serious mental readjusting to do at the beginning of this book. I hadn't bothered to reread the description before starting and assumed it was science fiction with spaceships in space. As pretty as the cover is, I think it contributed to my confusion. Medusa is actually science fiction with a boat in the ocean. Lissa, the book's 16-year-old main character, has spent her whole life on the ocean, to the point that she can't remember which plants are “trees” and which are “grass.” I was reminded a bit of Waterworld (but, slight spoiler, that's not what's going on here).

Lissa Two's family used to be safe and comfortable, until her father died. Then they had to move to a poorer level in their sea-stead. Lissa's mother turned to prostitution to pay the bills, but even that didn't bring enough money in, so Lissa became a thief. After Lissa's mother died of water-plague, Lissa was saddled with her debts and Lissa Three, her mentally ill younger sister. It was lucky for Lissa that Connie found her.

Connie is an AI-run ship with amazing capabilities. She can use stealth mode to turn invisible (although she still leaves a wake), and she can create things like food and clothing seemingly out of nothing. She can also create a thing called The Suit that protects its wearer, can give them night vision and super-strength, and allows Connie to overlay directions on their field of vision. Connie is pretty awesome. Her primary limitation is that she is solar-powered and only has limited functionality after dark.

While Lissa is out looking for things to steal and sell one day, she comes across a huge sea-stead where everyone appears to have vanished or been killed. When she goes after a helicopter containing the possible culprits, they toss a person into the ocean to try to distract her and lose her. That person turns out to be Hattan, a mysterious young man who knows both more and less than he should.

The science fiction elements are where this book shines. I liked The Suit, and the mystery surrounding Connie interested me. There were also occasional cultural details that fascinated me, such as the way the creepy monks on Kobold Four eked out an existence and the way the poor tried to make a living on Delfino. I was a little confused about the naming system (if Lissa Two ever has a kid, will she become Lissa One so her kid can be Lissa Two?), but, for the most part, I enjoyed the details about how the world worked and would have liked to learn more.

Unfortunately, where this book fell flat for me was in an area I really care about: the characters and their relationships.

Lissa didn't strike me as being very bright – I figured out that all those piles of ash used to be people well before she did. Her explanations for why she didn't use Connie's abilities to generate money out of thin air didn't work for me (stealing is apparently just fine, but using Connie to generate money is “taking advantage”). What really got me, though, was her reaction to Hattan.

She had just rescued him from the ocean. He was unconscious and had several broken bones and a concussion. And so her fingers lingered on the silky texture of his hair, and she was so overwhelmed by a need to know the color of his eyes that she peeled back his lids so she could look. Then, when she was checking his arm for an Ident tattoo, there was this, inspired by the feeling of “hidden strength” in his biceps:

“Pleasant warmth ran through her, and for no reason she could think of, she imagined her lips on that skin, tasting the smoothness.” (30)

By the way, he's still injured and unconscious. I was absolutely repulsed by this line and hoped that, the next time Lissa lusted over him, he'd at least be conscious.

I figured that all this was leading up to future romance between Lissa and Hattan, because it's practically a rule that all YA novels starring girls must have romance. Imagine my surprise when Lissa made it home to Delfino and it was revealed that

she's in a relationship with Drex Two, the son of the man who basically enslaved her by holding her mother's debts over her head. At first, I assumed she was dating Drex Two in the hope of one day using him to free herself of debt and give her sister a better life, but I later decided she actually did like him. I don't think Lissa lusted after Hattan or noticed his hotness even once after Drex Two entered the picture, which makes those early moments even odder. Why have Lissa do something as gross as lust over an unconscious guy with multiple broken bones if there was no ultimate point to any of it?

Lissa's relationship with Drex Two was fairly low key, because they had to make sure his father didn't find out. Drex Two didn't seem like much of a winner, since his constant refrain seemed to be “I'm sorry I can't help you more, I'm under my dad's thumb,” but I could have lived with him if it hadn't been for the giant discordant note that was Hattan and Lissa's initial attraction to him. You'd think Drex Two would have crossed her mind at least once while she was considering kissing unconscious Hattan.

(spoiler show)

That leaves Lissa Three. To be honest, Lissa Two and Lissa Three's relationship kind of disturbed me, once I learned the full truth about the two of them and why Three was the way she was. Two loved her, because she was family, but, to me, she seemed like an anchor around Two's neck. Because of Three's fear of going outside, Two couldn't pack up and live permanently on Connie. In addition to the crushing debt she owed Drex One, Lissa Two also had to worry that Drex One would find Three and hold her hostage so that she'd give Connie up to him (and why, then,

trust a complete stranger like Hattan, who'd already showed signs of untrustworthiness, with information about Three's whereabouts?

(spoiler show)

). Since I didn't care for Three the way Two did, Three's existence was primarily frustrating to me.

I still have some unanswered questions about certain aspects of the book. Considering who Hattan turned out to be, why drop him, injured, unconscious, and unable to swim, into the ocean? After the way things turned out at the end, how was Lissa Two planning on surviving and continuing to take care of her sister?

I really wanted to like this one more than I did. It's sad, because some aspects worked really well for me, but the aspects I didn't like overwhelmed those.

Additional Comments:

There were typos (missing commas or words), but they were fairly infrequent. There were also occasional word choices and phrasings that seemed odd to me but weren't always necessarily wrong. For example:

"The first bite was exquisite, sending juices flowing down her throat, her digestion filling her mouth with saliva." (35) - The "digestion" bit seemed odd to me. Not incorrect, just weird.

"'Lissa Two, my name is Lissa Two. You fell out of a...a helicopter and I saved you, do you remember, you broke your arm and a few ribs but, uh...' She stopped when she realised she was blubbering." (37-38) - I'm fairly certain the correct word here is "babbling," not "blubbering," since she wasn't crying.


(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2014-04-30 17:37
Won another giveaway!
Clytie's Caller - Sharon E. Cathcart

I'm maybe 30 pages away from finishing Medusa, and then this one is next.

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