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review 2017-07-11 01:06
Maybe This Summer (Colorado Ice, #2.5) by Jennifer Snow
Maybe This Summer - Jennifer Snow

Maybe This Summer by Jennifer Snow is a heartfelt and wonderful read.  After a horrible assault, Paige Adams’ life changed.  She began a new life working for the Burn Treatment Center at the Colorado Hospital.  Colorado Avalanche's team mascot, Owen McConnell, is used to be ignored when he is with his NHL buddies.   However, after meeting Paige, he is determined to get her attention.  This contemporary romance is suitable for adult audiences.

 

Jennifer Snow does an admirable job with her character development.  Owen is a noble character.  He is a former NHL star.  Later, he was injured after serving his country in the Marines.  He is no longer able to work in either profession.  He is currently the PR manager and mascot for the Colorado Avalanche.  He is a good guy, with a big heart.  I like that he is persistent and hard working.   

 

Paige is an amazing character.  She was left scared both physically and mentally after a horrible attack.  She began a new life helping burn victims.  I know someone who had over 80% of his body burned at the Pentagon on 9-11, so this story captured my attention and felt relevant.  I love that Paige decided to help others that have suffered like her. 

 

I enjoyed the plot.  I appreciate that these two come into each other’s lives.  They are both strong and have a lot in common.  They both know what it is like to have your life altered after an injury.  MAYBE THIS SUMMER is genuine and sweet read.  The story is well-written and entertaining.  The characters face some interesting challenges that enable them to grow throughout the novel.  I like how the story ended.  It was a fun and well concluded. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

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review 2017-07-06 16:15
Santa Maybe (Savvy Stories) - Dan Alatorre

Santa Maybe by Dan Alatorre
Enjoyed this story as it follows the family as the child grows and he wants to impress her with meeting and talking to Santa at the store.
He was only there for canning jars and thought he'd just run in quick, get them, pay and be on his way home again to help with the holiday traditions.
Never heard of the dish and because the book also includes the recipe it may be one we try for ourselves.
Other works by the author are highlighted at the end.
Received this review copy from the author and this is my honest review.

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review 2017-07-05 23:04
Five for one
Las Armas Secretas - Julio Cortázar

I understand now why this one is classified as European lit all the time. I haven't researched it, but I'm pretty sure this one was written after Cortázar left Argentina, because the five stories in this volume are all set in Paris.

I was not that dazzled by this too much at first but then, my bar with Cortázar is "Bestiario", and that's a hard one to upstage in the wow (weird, awesome, uncomfortable, puzzling) factor.

Cartas de Mamá, leaving aside the historical parallelism that some scholar or other wants to saddle on it, was an excellent exercise on revealing the past through the present. Many authors could learn a thing or two about how to do back-story. Of course, back-story is the whole issue here: sins and regrets that turn into silences, and that end that is half fantasy, half delayed acknowledgement. And the great opening line:

 

"Muy bien hubiera podido llamarse libertad condicional."

 

Los Buenos Servicios was a very scathing look at how moneyed people use "the help", many times frivolously, and often callously, and how hollow the "throw money at it" approach is, which is more jarring  (and ridiculous) from the poised view of Francinet. She had more class than any of the cast.

Las Babas del Diablo is a POV nightmare. As it tends to happen when I read magical-realism, I enter a weird state where I'm paying close attention, but at the same time relax my mind and just go with it. Like suspension of disbelief, but I just suspend logic and sometimes even grammar. I find it pays off with many complex or weird plots, or speculative fiction too. Triggers galore in this one, and one VERY uncomfortable suspicion.

"El Perseguidor", now here is the jewel of the book, and the point where I started to love this collection. It was absolutely engrossing. I understand why it has been known to be edited as "El Perseguidor y otras historias". This one got to me, emotionally-wise, and I'm not even quite sure why. I guess it's that desperate search.

"Las Armas Secretas" you know how it's going to go almost from go. Or maybe it's that I've read enough Cortázar to understand the clues he leaves. Or, maybe more, this sense of having read one of his before, about a big house in San Isidro, that has similar elements, but I can't remember to which collection it belonged to contrast.

You know, the more I write, the higher I want to star this. I realize it made my brain jog, and my thoughts come back to it whenever I wasn't reading.

Not his best, but for "El Perseguidor" alone, so worth owning it. I predict re-reads.

 

And there it goes my 4th of July extra. I devoured it, lol

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review 2017-06-19 00:00
Maybe This Summer
Maybe This Summer - Jennifer Snow The most prolific of tales can sometimes be overlooked. I pray that doesn't happen to Maybe This Summer. Life is about the challenges we face and the people we become because of them. Ms. Snow seems to get that. It shines through with Owen's insecurities and Paige's closed off heart. Maybe This Summer makes it easy to root for the underdog. Paige and Owen prove outer beauty doesn't make a shining star. True beauty comes from within.
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review 2017-06-04 03:07
Visual novel review - Fault - Milestone One

 

Fault - Milestone One stars Selphine and Ritona. Selphine is the kind-natured Princess of Rughzenhaide, while Ritona is her bodyguard. Rughzenhaide is a country whose people use mana to do everything from learning languages to crafting weapons. Mana-powered telepathy is considered perfectly normal and helps with everything from communicating a restaurant’s entire menu to its customers to long-distance communication. In fact, communication via mana is an integral part of the country’s monarchy. Rughzenhaide’s monarchs can use something called the Path-down to directly transmit their memories and knowledge to their heirs.

The Path-down must not be interrupted. When the palace is invaded and most of its inhabitants are killed, Ritona uses a special teleportation technique she’s spent years developing and escapes with Selphine at her side. Unfortunately, they end up someplace completely different from where Ritona planned: the Outer-Pole. The Outer-Pole is best known for its lack of mana. People from the Outer-Pole can’t travel to mana-rich areas without developing mana-sickness and dying, while people from mana-rich areas only have three to five days in the Outer-Pole before mana-sickness either robs them of their ability to use mana or kills them.

Selphine and Ritona have to get away from the Outer-Pole and back to Rughzenhaide. Before they leave, however, they want to help Rune, the first friend they made after arriving at the Outer-Pole. Although everyone keeps insisting that slavery has long since been abolished and that Rune is definitely not a slave, that’s certainly what she seems to be. In an effort to free and protect her, Selphine and Ritona learn more about life in the Outer-Pole, Rune, and the terrible history of the Zhevitz family.

First, a few things. Although I’ll be referring to this as a game, it’s really not - it’s kind of like a book with visuals and music, that comes in software form. All the other visual novels I’ve reviewed allowed you to make choices at various points in the narrative. Fault - Milestone One asks you to make a choice once during the entire thing, and the only difference your decision makes is a few lines of text right after the choice. I had the whole game play on Auto Skip just to make sure the other choice didn’t change the ending slightly or something. Two, this thing ends on a cliffhanger. I didn’t know that going in. I expected another hour or two of story and got “hey, this character’s personality has suddenly drastically changed, The End!” I finished the whole thing in maybe four and a half hours.

If this had been an actual novel, I couldn’t recommend it. The writing was terrible. The main reason it usually didn’t bug me was because I was zipping through it pretty quickly (my preferred method: keyboard on my lap and hand constantly on the Enter key). I did take the time to jot down some of the more painful sentences, though. For example:

“Concerned for Rune, our mother forced her frail, weak body as she tried to bring Rune to a hospital on the outskirts of town.”

Also:

“However, luckily, due to her weak body, her body had rejected the mana before her body had taken a lethal amount.”

I understood the text, but it definitely needed better editing. It bugged me that the author (or translator) couldn’t seem to keep their verb tenses straight. I also didn’t like the way the POV kept changing - usually first-person from Ritona’s POV, except when it was necessary to show scenes Ritona couldn’t be part of, at which time there either was no clear POV (just dialogue) or the story changed to first-person POV from another character’s perspective. Since the story was mostly dialogue, I honestly didn’t think that first-person POV contributed anything. Third-person POV throughout would have made things less confusing.

Gameplay-wise, I’m not sure why players (readers?) were asked to make only one choice throughout the entire game. Either there should have been more choices, or none. Also, the controls weren’t entirely intuitive. I had to google how to use the regular save spots - the only obvious options were Autosave and Quicksave. A note for other confused players: right-click on the screen while you’re reading and you’ll get an extra menu option, regular saves.

I haven’t said anything good about Fault - Milestone One yet, and you might have gotten the impression that I disliked it. You’d be wrong. It took me until Chapter 3 (maybe an hour and a half?) to really get sucked in, but from that point on I was hooked. I will say, however, that I’m glad I got it while Steam had it on sale for 66% off. The full price would have been a bit high considering how quickly I finished it. (FYI - the sale has two more days to go.)

The things that kept me reading until the story finally grabbed me were the artwork and the music. The game’s visuals were lovely, and I liked the way the camera occasionally zoomed in or out, adding movement. I loved almost all of the character sprites, and they all had a great range of emotions. The music was wonderful and usually helped enhance the mood of settings and scenes. I can only recall one scene where the music seemed very inappropriate, a character’s bouncy theme song that continued playing as that character met another character who was clearly near death.

The story was slow to get going and prone to massive infodumps (be prepared for occasional walls of text), but once I reached some of the bigger revelations I couldn’t stop reading. The world-building had some issues, but I enjoyed reading about the way the people at the Outer-Pole had adjusted to their mana limitations. While the mana-rich areas had access to something that was basically magic, the Outer-Pole had to rely on science. I was surprised when the story went from something I expected would be 100% fantasy to something with a little alternate history sci-fi (sort of) mixed in.

Rune’s story brought me to tears. I was glad that Selphine and Ritona were there to speak up for her, and I was glad that everything worked out in the end, but… I don’t know. This was one of those stories that would be a prime candidate for fix fic. Everything was resolved too easily for my tastes, especially considering how badly many of these characters had hurt each other, and how many years they’d been doing it. It should have taken more than a few words, some tears, and a hug to fix everything. And I kept thinking about that boy who got stabbed in the eye, and who had to continue living in the town and make nice with the family of the person who did it. I also had questions about whether Past Rune and Present Rune could still be considered to be the same person.

Although I had issues with the story, I enjoyed it overall (except for that cliffhanger, darn it). Also, like I said, the music and visuals were wonderful. I definitely plan on reading the next installment, Fault - Milestone Two Side: Above.

Extras:

There’s a gallery that allows you to access all of the game’s movie clips and event CGs once you’ve finished. There’s also an audio gallery where you can listen to the game’s music. While you’re reading the story, you have access to an encyclopedia explaining in-world terminology and concepts.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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