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review 2017-09-03 21:00
A Wizard of Mars (Young Wizards #9)
A Wizard of Mars - Diane Duane

It was never going to be easy to follow up Wizards at War, so I can cut Duane some slack for the unevenness of this book. It takes a long time for the central conflict to show up, and then the climax is a bit rushed. The expanding role of Carmela into this world felt forced and she nearly veers into Mary Sue territory. The whole thing with Nita and Kit maybe starting to have feelings for each other didn't exactly come out of nowhere but since they've been kept apart for most of the previous few books, it felt unearned. There was a great deal of telling versus showing when it comes to their friendship. Plus the fact of them not talking and comparing notes as a way to get all this stuff to happen on Mars in the first place just didn't feel authentic if they're supposed to be such tight friends. 

 

Still, even if this wasn't up to her usual standards, it still has all the things that have made Duane's other books in this series such good reads: imaginative settings, lush descriptions, personal conflict and stakes, and more background into a newly discovered alien race packed into a couple of hundred pages than most tv shows can manage over their entire runtimes. She makes the Shamask-Eilit real, and the use of the LP here is certainly unlike any we've seen in the previous books too, which is something I've been asking for for awhile.

 

This is far from my favorite, but once things started picking up, it made up for the somewhat slow and uneven beginning. 

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review 2017-08-29 03:30
Openly Straight (Openly Straight #1) (Audiobook)
Openly Straight - Bill Konigsberg

Rafe is openly gay, has supportive parents (a little too supportive), a fairly inclusive community (a little too inclusive) and a great life. So what does he do when he realizes that his entire life has become about him being gay and nothing else? He goes to boarding school clear across the country and drops all labels that define him. 

 

This was a fun book, and often funny. The supporting cast were great, especially Alfie and Toby. It was interesting to see Rafe navigate his way through his no-labels experiment and realize that whether you use them or not, they still define you and to deny them is to deny yourself. He makes a lot of mistakes, including some big ones with his bromance bestie Ben, but he learns a lot about himself and life along the way. 

 

The narrator did a decent job. He got Rafe down perfectly and did a good job with the main supporting cast. There could've been more variation in the voices he used for the other characters, especially the girls. But he knew when to keep it light and when to get more introspective without getting schmaltzy. 

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review 2017-07-10 06:10
Connected
Tied Up In You - Erin Fletcher

This is book #2, in the All Laced Up series.  This book can be read as a standalone novel.  For reader understanding, and to avoid spoilers, I recommend reading this great series in order.

 

Malina and Luke AKA Jackson, have been best friends a long time.  They used to do everything together.  Lately, school and other commitments have kept them further apart.  So when they do spend time together, they seem to fight a lot.

 

Jackson knows he should not be feeling attracted and hot over his best friend, but he cannot seem to put aside his feelings.  When they go on a double date, jealousy gets the better of him and he almost self destructs!

 

There was so much to love about this story, where do I start?  The characters were amazing.  They were real, flawed, and felt all the feels.  The banter was so much fun.  I laughed out loud, I cried, I just basically enjoyed this novel right to the very last page!  I give this book a 5/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This ARC copy was given by Netgalley and its publishers, in exchange for an honest review only.

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review 2017-07-10 06:05
Burned
Artificial Sweethearts (North Pole, Minnesota) - Julie Hammerle

Tinka & Sam are neighbors with a common cause.  They are sick of others trying to set them up with people completely unfit for them.  They mean well, but really, who can choose but you for a significant other?

 

Sam is interested right away.  Only he has virtually no experience with which to entice Tinka to be his.  So he goes along with the scheme he unwittingly started out of desperation.  Along the way, they start to feel more real.  If only they could both be on the same page.....

 

This book was seriously what we call a slow burn.  I was really turned off by how shallow and petty most of the characters were.  I was about to put the book down - when, would you believe, it started back the other way.  I felt every feel with this story and at the end was never so happy to get my HEA.  At least I think I got one.  Anyway, I give this book a 3/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review by Netgalley and its publishers.

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review 2017-07-03 05:42
Raven Black
Raven Black - Ann Cleeves

A young girl is found dead in a field and the police begin questioning everyone in an effort to find out who did it and why.  The community was sure it was an old man who lived alone and was a bit "daft".  He was questioned after another girl went missing 8 years earlier but that girl's body was never found.  This time Detective Jimmy Perez wants to make sure the right person is caught and not rush to judgment to get a fast resolution.  

 

I had never heard of this author until I won a book giveaway for the 7th book in this series. I wanted to start at the beginning and I was very intrigued by the different setting. I learned some things about Shetland as I read to help me visualize the setting and have a better understanding of the people, language, and culture. I located it in an atlas and looked up several terms that I was unfamiliar with too, like dram and churlish. I really enjoyed the book and the writing. I never was sure who murdered the girls and was surprised by the ending.

 

Shetland sounds like a cold place with a lot of wind and few trees. I live in Alaska so I know about cold but we don't get much wind here.  Wind changes everything.  I think living near the water with all the wind would be torture for me.  I'm in pain today since it is raining and I'm sure in Shetland I would feel like that every day.  

 

I will definitely be reading the rest of the series and would recommend it to anyone who has the patience to get used to the different lingo (unless you are from there).  I love learning about different places so this was right up my alley.  I think Ann Cleeves is one of the best writers I've ever read.  The writing was so crafted and nothing was predictable.  

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