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review 2017-09-06 00:59
Good Read!
Lazer Focused: A Jet City Billionaire Ro... Lazer Focused: A Jet City Billionaire Romance (The Billionaire Matchmaker Series Book 1) - Gina Robinson

Lazer Focused by Gina Robinson is a fun read.  This is a fairly short read, perfect for those with limited time for reading.  This is a well-written book.  Lazer and Ashley's story is full of great characters, drama, humor and sexy bits.  I enjoyed reading Lazer Focused and look forward to reading more from Gina Robinson in the future.  Lazer Focused is book 1 of the Billionaire Matchmaker Series but it can be read as a standalone.  This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger.

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review 2017-08-29 21:06
Review: Mothers and Other Strangers
Mothers and Other Strangers - Gina Sorell

In writing programs and publications, everyone talks about first lines. They're important. Attract the reader with a stellar first sentence. Give them a solid few pages and you've got them hooked. Gina Sorell and her publisher clearly know about first lines. Not only does Mothers and Other Strangers begin with a wonderful and interesting first sentence, it's even an integral part of the book blurb: My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man's child, she accepted. I decided to repeat it and write it in bold to give the author one final promotion before I tear this book apart.

I liked the line. It showed intelligence and it piqued my interest. The paragraphs that followed in the prologue were good, too. Five pages of great writing. And then, chapter one.

With chapter one, and every page that followed, the story lost credibility. The characters and their interactions were not believable. There's the sexy ex-husband stuck in a dead-end marriage. The apartment's concierge who's always friendly, full of advice, and apparently never leaves his post. The cat who chases away burglars and eats pea soup. The owner of the vegan cafe who happens to keep non-vegan options readily available in the event a sane person with taste wanders into his restaurant. You may believe these wooden characters and you're entitled to, but I didn't. Every setting, every character, and every action was an obvious ploy to advance the plot. But the plot itself becomes a mess. While you'd expect Elsie to unravel the big secrets promised in the opener, she spends more time talking about the existence of big secrets than making efforts to solve them. 

Then there are the things that really piss me off, like the disturbing sexuality of the novel. It's one thing if you're writing a psychological piece about a girl with a hyperactive and confused sex life; it's another to just throw it in haphazardly. Elsie is a messed-up girl, undoubtedly, but her actions are not explained, nor are they conducive to the plot—they were added for the sake of tension. Is it okay to include a character who believes that she asked to be raped and should remain silent out of embarrassment? Yes. Absolutely. Let's not shy away from the way some people truly think. But should we perpetuate those myths without further exploration or without the least bit of retrospection? Should we normalize such behaviors? Ugggh. Last book I read that I disliked this much was Fates and Furies, but everyone loved that one and I was clearly wrong about my disdain for that story, so I must be wrong about this well-liked story as well.

Honestly, there are some good ideas in this novel and those are probably what kept me going. Unfortunately, the implementation felt completely wrong to me. What Mothers and Other Strangers reminded me of was a screenplay for a Lifetime movie. I've enjoyed a few Lifetime movies in my years, but I recognize the overacting, the convenient story line, and the sprinkling of big issues for what it is. Mothers and Other Strangers would make a decent made-for-tv movie where such devices are expected. But if I'm to believe the recommendations on the cover of the novel, Sorell's debut fails as an “absorbing,” “stunning [2x],” “delightful,” “brilliant,” and “sensitive (???)” novel.

Oh, by the way, that first sentence is totally misleading... 

Not really her father. Also not at gunpoint, at least not the way that's implied. The author is pulling a fast one over on the readers, so I'm calling it out. But at least I have the decency to put it between spoiler tags

(spoiler show)

You're welcome.

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review 2017-07-06 16:35
Review: Waste of Space
Waste of Space - Gina Damico Waste of Space - Gina Damico

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This is the second book I’ve read recently with a satirical tone which seems to be poking fun at the absurdity of “reality” TV.  In this reader’s opinion, this is the better book. It’s funnier, and there are an abundance of characters who needed to be punched on lots of different occasions, but it is utterly gripping.

 

The premise of this one is pretty straight forward as explained in the synopsis. Ten random kids thrown together on what they think is a spaceship, and sent into space. Which is really a big ass soundstage in the Californian desert somewhere with a host of spectacular special effects, built by a team of scientists. Lead by an executive producer who’s a gigantic moron but clearly thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread.  

 

The casting is the worst type of stereotyping, and personalities will almost clearly clash, with maybe two or three characters who were actually likeable. It’s impossible to recap much without being spoilery.

 

Of course with this sort of premise, it’s not long before things go hideously wrong. There is a slightly snarky tone to most of it, it’s told in a series of reports and interviews and such of what happened after it all went down. Nothing is as it seems, behind the scenes things unravel fantastically, and the viewing public are utterly fascinated. It’s the type of terrible TV show that you find yourself unable to stop watching no matter how obviously fake it is and how obviously bad it is.

 

I did find some of the characters to be really surprising, showing a really surprising side to themselves. There were a fair number of them who were idiots. There was also some great twists to the plot as well.  Nothing too deep. It was quite silly in parts, and quite funny. Very entertaining.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2017-06-25 16:57
Erstwhile 3
Erstwhile #3 - Gina Biggs,Louisa Roy,Elle Skinner

Disclaimer: I backed this project on Kickstarter.  My name is listed on the thank you page.

 

                My mother asked me while I needed comic book version of the Grimm tales.  While, I suppose, I don’t really, but I am glad I have this.

 

                Gina Biggs, Louisa Roy, and Elle Skinner take lesser known Grimm tales and adapted them.  In many cases, the main characters are depicted as minorities, and there are interracial relationships.  The stories themselves are set in a wide variety of places.  Many of the tales have a woman or a girl as the main character.  There is also a drawing on other media.  For instance, Mother Holle would be at home in a Miyazaki movie.

 

                It is to the volume and Elle Skinner’s credit, that the volume starts strong with a version of “Beauty and the Beast” – “The Singing Springing Lark”.  Unlike many variants, though the trend is changing, Skinner makes the family more supportive of the Belle character. 

 

                The one that I was surprised to see was “King Thrushbeard”.  I worked on annotating “King Thrushbeard” for Surlalune.  The tale is a patient Griselda type, where a proud princess is taught humility by, basically, being abused by her father and husband.  I have to give Louisa Roy credit for she does an excellent job with this story and sticks to the general plot while giving it a modern test.  It has a very good ending.

 

                My favorite story is “The Twelve Huntsmen” done by Elle Skinner.  In part, this is because I have always loved the story, but here I am so happy to see a princess who is beautiful but who is not skinny and who has freckles.

 

                Gina Biggs’ version of “Sweetheart Roland” is well done too, keeping the darkly romantic feel of the story.

 

                Highly recommended.

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review 2017-06-24 14:50
Home School and First Aid
Acep First Aid Manual - Gina M. Piazza,American College of Emergency Physicians

At the beginning of this month, we were staying in Virginia in a hotel (we were visiting family) and on the last morning of our stay, the fire alarm went off and taught us that our Fire Plan was good for the house, but not for a 6 story hotel with fire alarms blaring at an ungodly hour ("I only recognize on 5 o'clock a day" Hawkeye from M*A*S*H) and the kids were just unable to function...they went on remote to the elevators with us yelling at them (to be heard over alarms) to come to the stairs and then to the nearest exit (they were headed for the main exit). We made a plan for traveling and have followed it since. 

 

So when I was at the library checking out books for my summer of books (I start planning school for next year over the summer) and I found this book. I remember that every time I go to get my certification from the Red Cross, there have been changes. Most things stay the same, but there are many things that are changed, so I think this book is going to be part of our school this year. 

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