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review 2018-02-24 22:56
Forbidden Song (Hearts of Metal Book 5) by Brooklyn Ann
Forbidden Song (Hearts of Metal Book 5) - Brooklyn Museum

This is the fifth book in the Hearts of Metal series but I promise it can definitely be read as a standalone. I know this because I’ve only read the previous book yet I never felt lost. 
I love how the author was able to weave so many characters into one book without making it feel convoluted. All of them felt true to their nature, including “slutty” Cliff, who can still be a jerk at times but now that we start seeing things from his POV it’s impossible not to have feelings for the guy. Christine’s independent spirit causes more trouble than not but even so she was a lovable character because it was not mischief what drove her but an honest will to live her own life. 

I felt this book centered more around the dynamics of the band’s members and their personal struggles, but even so it did not lack in the romance department. Christine and Cliff’s relationship may take a backseat at times but it’s always present throughout the book. Their emotions are all palpable and when they were together it was all but fire on the pages! The mix of drama and funny, laugh-out-loud moments made this book pretty enjoyable. And the fact that we get to visit with all of the other bands, including Rage of Angels (from the Bride of Prophecies series) makes it a memorable one as well. In short, I think this story is the perfect tease because if anyone picks this one up before the previous books in the series will want to get them all and start reading them asap. 

***I received this book at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.***

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review 2018-02-24 22:52
No Earls Allowed (The Survivors #2) by Shana Galen~ 4 of 5 stars
No Earls Allowed (The Survivors) - Shana Galen

Neil is sent on a new mission: bring Lady Juliana back home after she’s spent months away taking care of orphan children. What was supposed to be an in-and-out kind of mission turned out to be the life changing event that neither Neil nor Lady Juliana had planned on. 

The story was a riot and a half. Neil is the kind of man that may seem reserved but in reality is pretty laid-back. I liked that he knew what to do, when to do it, and best way to go about facing a new challenge. Even though Juliana was pretty inexperienced in everything she set her mind to, she was no simpleton and faced everything with as much mettle as she could muster.

The plot itself was unpredictable and unique. I mean, I don't think I've read about ladies accepting rats for pets of their children (ee-ew, eewww, EEEWWWW!). The children were sweet and good-natured, even those that rebelled and may had caused some trouble because of their circumstances showed great character. I for one don't like reading much about children but when they are written with as much heart and wit then I will take them any time! Juliana and Neil simmered in passion for each other but didn't take their relationship to the next level until they knew for sure that's what they both wanted. And when it happened it was sublime, real, and oh, so sweet. I always complain about authors creating this far-fetched, earth-shattering event when the couple makes love for the first time because although nice to read, is it really like that in real life? I thought the author did a great job here giving me a more realistic, couple-in-love moment. 
I also loved that all the survivors made an appearance. We dug farther into the lives of some of them and we get to see more of Ewan, my boyfriend from the first book-- I mean the hero from the first book in the series. The story had a villain that didn't get to play much of a villain however his presence gave the survivors plenty to do and caused Juliana lots of headaches and heartaches. If anything I would have liked Juliana's growth to be more palpable but it was more on paper than in her character. All in all it was a great read that left me wanting more. 

** I was gifted a copy of this book and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher. **

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review 2018-02-24 18:35
Crick Crack, Monkey by Merle Hodge
Crick Crack, Monkey (Caribbean Writers Series) - Merle Hodge

Published in 1970, this novella from Trinidad is classic postcolonial writing, but also the enjoyable story of the life of a young girl. Cynthia, called Cyntie or Tee, and her younger brother are raised by extended family after their mother dies and their father goes abroad. She has childhood escapades and attends a couple of different schools and it’s all vividly portrayed. But she also has a well-off aunt who prizes whiteness in all its forms – physical and cultural – and who makes Tee her project. And so it turns into a story about what in book-critic speech might be called the colonization of a person’s mind: how Tee turns against her upbringing and the people who really love her, but without gaining anything of value to take their place.

 

There’s a lot of postcolonial literature out there that follows children as they leave behind their traditional upbringings to attend school and encounter the white world – The Dark Child, Nervous Conditions and Mema all come to mind – but this one stands out for its exploration of how internalized racism works. It’s also different for being set in Trinidad, where there isn’t quite the “traditional” lifestyle that exists in Africa; the population is mostly descended from African slaves and South Asian indentured servants, a cultural mix that’s clearly present in the book and gives it a unique color.

 

But this isn’t only a political book, and I was a little surprised by how well the characters came to life, after seeing them discussed mostly for their ideological roles. Tee’s Auntie Beatrice, for instance, the symbol of colonial thought, turned out to be a surprisingly vulnerable and complex character. She lacks power at home, where her daughters flout her authority and her husband refuses to engage with the family, and in trying to change Tee she seems largely motivated by a desire for the ideal family she’s never had. Other characters likewise feel real and nuanced despite the brevity of the story.

 

Overall, this book was a pleasant surprise and one I would recommend; social justice oriented readers will particularly appreciate it, but in the complex characters, the vivid descriptions of Tee’s childhood, the rhythms of local speech and the colors of island life, it is also simply a good book.

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review 2018-02-24 03:09
Twice Shy (Shelter #3)
Twice Shy: Book Three in the Shelter Series - Kate Sherwood

Since Micah has spent most of the previous two books in a constant drug haze, it was nice to get to know him once he's free of the drugs. He's smart and philosophical, and he's realistic about his situation and the people he hurt with his drug habit. He knows he's got to keep working the program, even the parts that seem silly to him, and he doesn't get defensive when he's called out for veering off the rules. He knows he's got a lot of bridges to rebuild and relationships to mention, especially with his found family who he betrayed in the previous book. So getting know the real him was great.

 

I also liked that he was just miraculously clean after a stint in rehab. He's still tempted, and he's aware of his triggers and his pitfalls. Being idle is bad for him, so when his fellow rehab friend Austin gets his brother to offer Micah a job, he jumps at it.

 

Jake, Austin's brother, is a down-to-earth guy trying to grow his landscaping business, but he also has to take care of his younger brother, whose recovery is not going as well as Micah's. And with all his issues with Austin, I really couldn't buy it that he'd jump so quickly into a relationship with Micah. Yes, he questions the wisdom of it several times, and this is one of the few times the mid-book breakup actually makes sense. And even though this relationship develops over a few weeks, as opposed to the first two books which were both over a handful of days, this felt more rushed somehow. Maybe because I didn't really feel the connection, because I kept wondering why Jake, or even Micah, would risk a relationship at this point in their lives, and Austin's just another complication.

Really, this is a massive spoiler. You've been warned.

(spoiler show)

And I kind of felt that killing Austin off was just a little too "easy" for getting rid of that complication. Obviously, not easy emotionally for the characters, but easy narratively for the author.

(spoiler show)

 

I'm not sure what to make of the gentrification plot that's introduced here and which will be resolved somehow in the next book, which makes this kind of a cliffhanger. I guess I'll wait and see that resolution before deciding on it - though reading the blurb for the next book, I can already guess where that's going to go.

 

The three little snippets or interludes at the end were more like teasers for the next book than anything else, fun to read but not necessary.

 

Oh, and no way is that African violet surviving. They're way too picky and finicky to grow under the best of circumstances.

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review 2018-02-24 03:04
Out of the Pocket (Audiobook)
Out of the Pocket - Bill Konigsberg

I can see why this is compared a lot to Openly Straight, but the differences were enough that it didn't feel like I was listening to the same story all over again.

 

Bobby's a high school senior and starting QB of the football team when he's outed. He's also got issues at home unrelated to this that he has to deal with at the same time. There was surprisingly little drama. Though Bobby has to overcome some prejudices and deal with some homophobes, he's also got a lot of support.

 

One thing to note: this is NOT a romance in any way shape or form, so don't expect that if you're going to read or listen to this. Bobby does eventually get a boyfriend, but it's a very small part of the story and not a "forever" boyfriend.

 

The humor worked for me here more than anything else, and the narrator did a good job for the most part. I have to question some of his voice choices, but that's a personal detail that might not bother others. Also, if you're only listening to the audiobook, the ebook has a bonus chapter of Bobby looking for colleges to play football for that can be considered an epilogue, and a brief "interview" with Bobby's friend Carrie that's short and sweet but doesn't really add much to the story.

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