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review 2018-01-25 05:25
Autoboyography (Audiobook)
Autoboyography - Christina Lauren,Kyle Mason,Richard Deacon

I was raised in the Mormon church, in what we referred to as the Samoan ward since many of the members were of that nationality. I never had a very good relationship with the church. Unlike Sebastian and the folks in Provo, UT, the seaside town in SoCal that I grew up in was not overrun with Mormons and they remain in the minority of worshippers even today. It's also very diverse, so you run across a lot of different nationalities and beliefs on any given day. So I didn't have Mormon friends at school, and my brother and I pretty much rebelled (as much as we were allowed to) against not spending time outside the house on Sunday (other than church of course) and having to participate in Monday home evening. Youth group activities on Wednesday nights were at least fun, and we didn't have to do too many weekend or service activities. We did summer camp a few times, and Scouts, but it was camping and selling cookies - it's hard to make that suck. And while I wouldn't call myself a feminist, per se, I never liked the assumption that I would grow up to have babies and bake cookies for Relief Society and I hated wearing dresses with a passion - though I didn't envy my brother his button-down shirts and slacks either.

 

Basically, I liked the people and was comfortable around them - and still am - in a way I'm not comfortable with most people. Even though it's been years since I've attended services regularly or cracked open a Book of Mormon and I'm against the things the church promotes in regards to gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights, I still identify as Mormon. It's a complicated relationship I have with my church (can I even still call it "mine"?) and there were no easy answers for me, a girl with no interest in marriage or kids, other than to leave the church.

 

And yet, I miss it. I miss the comfort it used to bring me and the peace I used to feel inside those doors. I miss the innocent trust I used to place on the church's teachings of "families are forever" and "love thy neighbor" and "do good works" because in the years since I left the church I've learned many things that I disagree with them about, and even if they believe in the depths of their hearts that they're doing God's works, that's no God I want any part of when He excludes people simply for loving the "wrong" person.

 

Like Tanner and Sebastian, I too keep hoping for the day when the prophet has a revelation and declares being LGBTQ+ to be a-okay and right with God, and you know what? Women are allowed to hold the gospel too. Until then, I stay away and a part of me will never be whole again.

 

What I loved about this book though is that it doesn't demonize Mormons or Sebastian or his family. Not all Mormons are anti-gay or turn their family away for being gay. The authors definitely did their research and got the input of people who know the church, and it shows, and it all speaks very true to what I saw and experienced growing up. But they don't beat the reader over the head with religion. As Tanner learns, the reader learns.

 

Tanner wasn't raised with religion, though his mom is ex-Mormon and his dad is a non-practicing Jew. He grew up in San Francisco, where being bisexual was no big deal, and he had the support and love of his parents from day one. It takes him a long time to open his eyes and realize that not all parents are like his parents, but that doesn't mean they love their kids any less. As he gets to know Sebastian and understand more about what makes up his psyche and why, he's able to see a larger picture and world than he was raised in, and it's not always pretty.

 

There is a hint of insta-love between Tanner and Sebastian, but given they're young men, and Tanner is quite impulsive, it rang true to me that things would move as fast as they do, even with Sebastian's reservations and need to keep things secret. They face plenty of challenges, enough to test their feelings for each other and make me believe those feelings were real and true. 

 

I have two very minor nitpicks and I'm not sure how much they'll even bother me if/when I reread this. The first is the narrator. Don't get me wrong, he did a fantastic job with the story and the characters. But he's not eighteen. Honestly though, that bothered me less and less as I listened and got into the story. Some of the female characters were a little strained in the higher octaves though.

 

The other thing was the sudden switch in the last fifth of the book. I didn't realize that everything I'd listened to up to that point was the actual book that Tanner wrote for his seminar class, so it went from first-person POV to third-person POV for both Sebastian and Tanner after the "book" ended and we caught up with the narrative. It was jarring, tonally, but again that could just be because I wasn't expecting it and it's possible that it'll flow better on reread.

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text 2018-01-15 19:15
Reading progress update: I've read 100 out of 336 pages.
My Best Friend's Exorcism - Grady Hendrix

I thought this got off to a bit of a slow start, but now around 100 pages in or so, it's shaping up nicely.

 

The only other thing I've read by this author was PAPERBACKS FROM HELL, which was one of my favorite books of 2017. There was a lot of humor in that, but it wasn't exactly a narrative-more like the recounting and relating of a time period in our history. 

 

MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM is showing some of that humor which I appreciate, just not as much of it as I would like. I am enjoying the nostalgic feel of it, and in my ENHANCED copy there are cool extras...like flies crawling across the cover and things like that. 

 

Onward I go...

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review 2017-12-02 22:52
If only the story could have lived up to that beautiful cover.
The Sandcastle Empire - Kayla Olson

 

Book Title:  The Sandcastle Empire

Author:  Kayla Olson

Narration:  Andi Arndt

Genre:  Dystopian | YA

Setting:  A Mysterious Island

Source:  Audiobook (Library)

 

 

Add to Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plot:  3.5/5

Main Characters:  3.7/5

Secondary Characters:  3.2/5

The Feels:  3/5

Pacing:  3/5

Addictiveness:  4/5

Theme or Tone:  4/5

Flow (Writing Style):  3.5/5

Backdrop (World Building):  4/5

Originality:  4/5

Book Cover:  5+/5

Narration:  5/5

Ending:  3.8/5  Cliffhanger:  Nope.

Steam Factor 0-5:  1

Total:  3.5/5 STARS - GRADE=B-

 

 

 

The Sandcastle Empire was both languid and quick moving.  Sort of like everything is draped in a heavy fog.  The writing and Andi Arndt's narration gave most of the book this warm, fluid, and free-flowing feel.  Until an action scene and then I found it difficult to keep up and comprehend the quickness of them.  The dystopian world that this depicts has the potential to be so complex but isn't really fleshed out enough and neither were the characters, unfortunately.  Mostly, it just left me feeling like I wanted more than what I got.

 

I've read that this is being made into a movie…it's possible, with the LOST-like island and its many pitfalls, that it might do well on the screen.

 

Will I read more from this Author This is her debut, I believe, so I might.  Especially, if they have such breathtaking covers…they pull me in every time.

 

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review 2017-11-29 20:13
Smoke Through the Pines (Night Fires in the Distance, #1.5)
Smoke Through The Pines (Night Fires in the Distance Book 2) - Ruben Moule,Sarah Goodwin,Alan Moore

This novella is set between the first and second books in this series and starts up right where the first book, Night Fires in the Distance, ends. Laura and Cecelia are heading north after the disaster that laid waste to the prairies, hoping to start over. They have no plans, just a grim determination to get away from their former life and the sorrows they left behind there. They eventually decide to try their luck in Minnesota, where the loggers are destroying nature for profit. Where's Treebeard when you need him? *clears throat* Anyway, things don't go as planned and they have yet more troubles to face as winter comes on. And Laura and Cecilia finally get to have some sexy times. <3

This still needs an editor, but other than that, I really enjoyed this. I did see in reviews for the second book, One Nation Afire, that it ends in a cliffie and focuses more on Laura's daughter Rachel, so I'll hold off reading that one until book 3 is out.

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review 2017-11-25 00:58
The Music of the Spheres
The Music of the Spheres - Chase Potter

3.75 stars, rounded up

 

CW: 

Death, depression, cancer (side character)

(spoiler show)

 

I wouldn't classify this as a romance, though there is a love story. It's more about two boys becoming friends and helping each other through some tough times. Well, it's more Adam helping Ryan through some tough times, but they both fulfill something that's missing in the other's life, as Ryan provides Adam with a surrogate family. Their friendship is wonderful and often put a big grin on my face. 

 

It's first-person POV and present tense, which I know some readers may have issues with. I'm not one who cares about that normally, and while it mostly doesn't bother me here, I did find myself often wanting to see Adam's side of things. This was especially the case in the one brief scene we have with Adam's foster father.

The fact that Adam was in one foster home for three years should tell him that his foster parents are dedicated to him, because that's not very common. And his foster father seemed almost desperate to get to know one of Adam's friends and find out more about him. So why exactly was Adam keeping his foster parents at such a distance when he so readily accepted Ryan's family? And also, why did he so quickly go from "I don't like being touched" to initiating hugs with Ryan?

(spoiler show)

It almost felt like there was something else going on there than the brief explanation that we got, so the choice to do this in first-person does limit how much we get to know about Adam. I also wanted Ryan to figure out his feelings for Adam a lot sooner than he did.

 

I was not prepared for the turn this story made at about the halfway mark. It was very emotional and while I hated what happened, it was beautifully written. The writing throughout the story flowed nicely and I liked seeing how these characters cared about each other and how they "adopted" Adam to their family and helped each other when things got rough.

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