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review 2018-06-14 23:25
SCARDOWN by ELIZABETH BEAR
Scardown - Elizabeth Bear

I'll start with complaints. 
1. If your book is written in English, if you use another language in same book make sure you have the English translation. I've seen this done before in many book I've read. It's irritating if you don't have access to the internet to translate sometimes whole paragraphs of dialogue.
2. When the POV changes, maybe list in the paragraph title whose POV it is or maybe "Casey thought. . ." so we have an idea who is talking. One chapter took me over 1-1/2 pages to figure out whose POV it was.

I loved the ending. The one man, two women (not lesbian) thing - I just couldn't imagine it working so smoothly. Overall, a good book/series.

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review 2018-06-14 07:58
The Inflatable Woman (Graphic Novel) by Rachael Ball
The Inflatable Woman - Rachael Ball

Iris (or balletgirl_42 as she's known on the Internet dating circuit) is a zookeeper looking for love when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. Overnight, her life becomes populated by a carnival of daunting hospital characters. Despite the attempts of her friends--Maud, Grandma Suggs, Larry the Monkey, and a group of singing penguins--to comfort her, her fears begin to encircle her, and she clings to the attention of a lighthouse keeper called sailor_buoy_39. The Inflatable Woman combines magical realism with the grit of everyday life to create a poignant and surreal journey inside the human psyche.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

Zookeeper Iris is an active member on a number of online dating sites. While on the hunt for Mr. Right, she is sidelined with a breast cancer diagnosis. Though she is surrounded by support from friends and family, Iris becomes consumed with fear and anxiety when she ponders her mortality. Under the online handle balletgirl_42, Iris meets a lighthouse keeper who goes by the handle sailorbuoy_39.

 

The two quickly develop a bond via email conversations, but Iris fears losing her lighthouse keeper should he learn the truth about her. Though she poses as a prima ballerina, in reality Iris is a heavyset woman. Would her sailor accept her as is if she comes clean?

 

So yes, it's a story that somewhat touches upon the topic of online catfishing, but there's actually so much more here. Inspired by her own cancer story, author / illustrator Rachael Ball crafts a tale that touches upon all the tough emotions women are tempted to swallow down and not face. Fear of acceptance, fear of mortality, anger at your body turning against you, struggles with self-esteem within a female body, the most basic need for being accepted as we are.. yes, these are universal themes regardless of gender, but this story addresses them directly from the POV of being a woman. Powerful symbolism is incorporated, such as illustration of train = giving up while emergency stop pull = will to live.

 

 

The artwork is done almost entirely in black and white except for a few pages where bits of reddish pink are intentionally & impactfully added in. Note: because struggles with depression play a part in Iris' story, there are some pages that feature somewhat dark, disturbing artwork depicting the fight within her mind. But there are also moments of levity to lighten the heavy, such as penguins dressed as nuns! (It'll make sense when you read the book yourself... maybe...).

 

 

If you've been curious to get into the graphic novel genre but don't think anime or superhero arc stories are your thing, let me recommend this one. Though the overall themes are geared towards women, there are plenty of universal feelings within Iris' story that virtually anyone can appreciate. 

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review 2018-06-11 15:49
All The Lonely People by Jess Riley
All the Lonely People - Jess Riley

WANTED: a whole new family to share holidays with. Please have a good heart and be a thoughtful, polite person. No sociopaths, no pedophiles, no fans of the Kardashians. We're not weirdos, I promise. I love old Steve Martin movies, new Steve Martin banjo tunes, Indian food, and reruns of Bob Ross painting happy little trees. So if you're looking for something other than the typical family dysfunction this Christmas, drop us a line.

After losing her beloved mother to cancer, 37-year-old Jaime Collins must confront the ugly fact that she and her siblings don't actually like one another. At all. Fueled by grief and an epic argument at Thanksgiving dinner, Jaime decides to divorce her siblings and posts an ad on Craigslist for a new family with whom to share Christmas dinner.

What happens next is a heartwarming, funny, and surprising journey to forgiveness and healing. Is blood really thicker than water? What makes a family? And how far do we have to go to find our way back home again?

Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING: This novel touches upon the topics of cutting, depression, abusive relationships and attempted suicide.

 

Thirty-seven year old Jaime Collins recently lost her mom to cancer. Now the holiday season is just around the corner and Jaime could not be less enthused. She has no interest in holiday shopping or putting on smiles around her insensitive brother and meddlesome sister-in-law. Things come to a head when she ends up having a blow-out fight with her siblings over Thanksgiving dinner. Riding the high emotions of that night, Jaime goes home and decides to place a Craigslist ad for a new family for Christmas. She requests responses from anyone else feeling alone or fed up with their own family situation. She crafts the ad while intoxicated, posts, and within 12 hours has 26 responses to sift through. The winners for her Christmas party include transgender Chris, daschund-loving Paul, welding artist Evelyn (who also happens to have a dander allergy) and Alyssa, a science major struggling through her own grieving process after recently losing her boyfriend in a car wreck.

 

 

All the Lonely People

re-release cover for this book

 

 

While this story certainly has its laughs, it may not be for the more sensitive readers out there because plenty of hard-hitting topics are addressed over the course of Jaime's story. There's also a fair bit of crude language and dark / off-color / risque humor (ie. jokes about strap-ons) implemented in the process. In addition to witnessing our main character work through the grieving process over the death of her mother, we (the readers) are also informed of Jaime's father-in-law battling Alzheimer's, Jaime herself struggling with fertility issues (her journey through IVF treatments), as well as the plot also bringing up the topics of cutting, depression, attempted suicide, abusive relationships and struggles with gender identity.

 

That night, I sleep on the couch for the first time in years... Erik finds me downstairs in the morning, a hurt look on his face. "We never sleep apart," he says, like a wounded little boy. I tell him he was snoring, that I couldn't sleep, that I didn't want to wake him with my tossing and turning. The real reason is this: I'd simply wanted to be alone with my sadness, giving it space to spread out, because there wasn't enough room for all three of us in the queen-sized bed...Part of it was that I felt like a broken shard from a smashed vase, and I only wanted to spend time with the other broken pieces because maybe we could glue ourselves together and hold water again. Erik wasn't a broken shard. He was a whole vase, forged from some space-age unbreakable polymer. He bounced when he fell. I shattered into sharp little pieces waiting to slice into the next person unfortunate enough to walk into the room barefoot. Or as Frankie would say, I'd cut a bitch. And then feel really bad about it.

 

Even though I can appreciate that important topics were brought to light in the unfolding of this story, and the story itself is solidly entertaining, it did go on a little long for me. By Chapter 17 I was feeling like the story could've been sufficiently wrapped up, all questions answered... a feeling that continued on right through Chapter 26... and even after that you get three more chapters! I also didn't always love Jaime. In fact, she struck me as a being a little petty with her dad near the end of the book.

 

In the acknowledgements, Jess Riley gives a shout-out to author friend Jen Lancaster.

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review 2018-06-11 01:15
Book Review: Secret Seth by Ki Brightly
Secret Seth - Ki Brightly

This was a sweet, unassuming, and rather quiet romance novel. 

We are first introduced to Seth from the title at a family gathering. He is the son of a construction business owner and a partner in the business, leading a construction crew. He comes across as someone reliable, steadfast, and very calm. He's also the only single and childless one in his family, which mean he's the one who's able to travel. The jobs he lands take him out of town more often than not, and while he's not too fond of the nomadic life, he enjoys the fruits of his labor, even if he's dealing with some high-maintenance clients - they sure pay well for his services. There are hints that Seth has never shown much interest in having a love life. 

Tyler, a Hollywood set designer, who after clashing with the producer over a specific set design finds himself in need of a new job. Somewhat flamboyant, Tyler makes zero excuses for wearing make-up and dressing colorfully, and whoever doesn't like it can bite him. He expects perfection of himself and those he works with, and he's not afraid to speak his mind, which sometimes gets him in trouble. 

Seth needs a new designer, and Tyler needs a new design job - obviously, that's how they meet.

Without giving away the plot, let me say that this book takes slow burn to a new level. I got the feeling that Seth is demi - he needed to form an emotional connection to Tyler before being able and willing to take things further. Tyler on the other hand is immediately intrigued by Seth and feels a strong attraction, but as his boss, Seth is obviously off-limits.

While this is on the surface an opposites-attract kind of theme, there's a whole lot more to it. Tyler yearns for a place to belong, for someone who'll take him as he is, someone who'll love him just the way he is. And Seth, having never really felt any kind of sexual attraction, is adorably confused when he starts reacting to Tyler, once he gets to know the other man. 

What really struck me while reading this book is how real the characters felt, not only the MCs, but the supporting cast as well. Seth's family are a loud and somewhat overbearing bunch, but they were all kind and supportive. The construction crew was diverse but worked well together also. The friendly banter between Tyler and Seth was fun, and I could clearly see them both falling in love with each other. 

This is a slow burn romance, so don't expect any hot smexy times right away. There's plenty of UST though, and plenty of longing and yearning, which I definitely enjoyed. The book is told from the 1st person POV, switching between Tyler and Seth. Since their voices were distinct, I had no trouble discerning who was talking at any given time.

Well-written dialogue in an engaging story - I enjoyed reading this very much, and I think you will too. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-06-06 23:38
THE PILOT'S WIFE by ANITA SHREVE
The Pilot's Wife - Anita Shreve

Audiobook

I wish Melanie Griffith would have narrated other books because she does a fantastic job. Her voice is a little gritty and is just wonderful to listen to.

The story itself I really enjoyed but mentions of the SPOILER!! IRA - Irish Republican Army  really date it. I was thinking, oh year, I remember there were problems with them in the 1990s. I just enjoyed the whole book front to back. 5 stars.

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