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review 2018-06-25 10:32
3/5: "Release" by Patrick Ness
Release - Patrick Ness

Adam Thorn is having one of the worst days of his life. It’s also the day the queen and her faun rise from a lake and examine the life of the woman who died in her waters…

The queen and the faun is only a short story, entwined very loosely with Adam’s awful day. So why is it there? I saw some places where it mirrors Adam’s day: The desolate spaces that some people call “home”, filled only with anger and sadness. Dialogue that echoes between them.

But they are minor interactions, and really, the whole stream-of-consciousness tale could have been dropped with no loss whatsoever. The characters of the queen and the faun are also entirely two dimensional. The faun only exists to repeat “My queen” and to fix the damage she causes as she wanders the town where Adam lives.

So, the queen and the faun can be dismissed easily. What else is going on here?

In the course of his day, Adam finds his friendships changing, his brother dropping a bombshell, he’s fired, and he comes out of a relationship and into to a new one. There are fires lit on this day that won’t be extinguished for years to come.

As usual with Ness, his dialogue crackles with wit and humour. There’s a vibrancy and a life to his characters that’s a delight to read…apart from Adam that is, which we’ll get to in a minute.

Did I mention Adam was gay? Because to me, the least interesting thing anyone can tell me is their sexuality. I don’t give a hoot about where and what Adam snuggles against. Whatever helps get you through this tough old world.

Surprisingly, Ness doesn’t make much attempt to make Adam beyond a stereotype. He’d rather watch the Oscars over football. He’s dreamy rather than aggressive. Therefore, he must be gay. His boyfriend is a ballroom dancer – but at least that one is pointed out.

His parents are a stereotype as well: Angry and bigoted Christians who can’t move past man-woman sexuality, and a father who tries to pray the evil spirits out of him. There are glimpses of a real person under his puritanical preaching, but it’s not developed.

Ness doesn’t seem to be able to move past Adam’s sexuality either. I don’t mean in terms of homophobia, but in terms of character. Adam’s only characterisation is in reference to his sexuality. We only see him as he reacts to other people’s perceptions of it.

It’s like he runs down a checklist. I am with my (checks list) family; therefore I am (checks second list) angry. I am with my (Checks list) boyfriend; therefore I am (checks second list) horny.

In one scene, Adam and his old boyfriend park at a spot and look at a mountain. We’re never told if Adam finds the mountain beautiful or the view boring, whether he looks at it as something he wants to climb or with the eyes of a geologist. His only response is how he should react to the boy next to him.

Part of this is Adam’s insecurity, but the pattern repeats with everyone he meets. We never see Adam alone, to find out what’s going on internally. We see him drive places, but we don’t find out if he’s a careful driver; we don’t see what flavour pizza he likes. The small things that would have defined his internal world are missing.

There are a few exceptions to this, and they are heart breaking to read. Adam’s intense loneliness and fears for his future shine through in those few brief passages. The sex scenes, seen in silhouette as appropriate for a mature YA read, are sensual and passionate. There’s a wondrous sense of intimacy, of watching the simplest thing in the world: Two people falling in love and expressing it in the most fundamental way they can.

Overall, Ness is better than this, and this book should have been four or five stars. I needed to see Adam more as he really was, to feel the raw nerve endings that make him flinch. I needed to see more to truly care about this young man terrified of walking into the world alone.

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photo 2018-06-23 13:17
Source: bookloverbookreviews.com/2018/06/a-place-for-us-by-fatima-farheen-mirza-book-review.html
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review 2018-06-22 08:10
Blog Tour w/Review - Reckoning
 
We're celebrating the release of  RECKONING (Vincent & Eve #2) by Jessica Ruben! One-Click your copy and if you haven't purchased RISING, do it now while it's only $.99! 
 
 
Cover by: Okay Creations
NA, Contemporary Romance
 
Forgetting about Eve was the plan. Finding her at a party on my college campus was the last thing I expected.

But letting her go again isn’t an option—not this time. Juggling the life I want with the one I was born into may be near impossible, but for her, it's a risk I'm willing to take.

My world has turned into a house of cards, where one wrong move can send it all crashing down…and us with it.


Eve:
 
Finally at a prestigious university—and on the path to living my dreams—I’ve left the darkness of the Blue Houses behind. Still, a whole new host of problems await me.

Vincent is here.

He's king of the school, complete with a society princess by his side. I thought I wanted to know what he was hiding, but unlocking his biggest secret leads me into entirely new territory laced with danger
and lust...one I’m not sure I’ll survive.

*RISING must be read before reading RECKONING.


 
 
 
 
 
Reckoning (Vincent and Eve #2)Reckoning by Jessica Ruben
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eve was enjoying her time as a Freshman at Columbia University. She earned her scholarship here. The future as a lawyer is her dream, and she is almost there.

Vincent has no idea that Eve is going to turn up where he is finishing school. He is wrapped up in several things at the moment. All things he does not want to taint Eve with. How to have her and not mix those worlds?

Their love is very sexy and highly emotional. This story is high with the heat and very heartfelt. As the sparks fly in many directions, Vincent stresses out trying to keep his worlds apart so they do not collide. I am so excited for the conclusion and hope the author hurries!



***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.

View all my reviews
 
 
 

 

ON SALE FOR A LIMITED TIME!
 
 
 
 
 
On sale after June 15th in the US and these marketplaces.
 
 
About the Author:
 
Jessica Ruben lives and works in New York City, where she spends her days dominating in the court room as an attorney. Come nightfall, she writes romances centering on gorgeous alpha males and the intelligent women who love them.

Jessica is an insatiable reader, and will devour a few books a week without batting an eyelash. Books have always been her drug of choice, and she has no plans on detox anytime soon. She has three wildly delicious children and a husband who, for reasons unimaginable to her, loves her brand of crazy.

http://jessicarubenauthor.com
 
 
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review 2018-06-21 07:59
James Comey in his own words and my poor confused libtard brain
A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership - James Comey

I'm a lefty in the old-fashioned sense of the word. I was raised with the holy trinity of MLK Jr, JFK & black Jesus on our walls,  COINTELPRO stories were the first thing I learned about the FBI, and my Catholic grade school taught liberation theology and the preferential option for the poor before I went off to Baltimore City public schools and really got indoctrinated ;). Of course all of this was pre-FOX news and in an era when truth was a real thing. My older sister married a very "law and order" type and most of my family is conservative. Only my youngest sister and I remain the good liberals we were raised to be. At work we usually have CNN in the background, and I've been known to sneak into patient rooms to get a hit of Rachel Maddow. Given all of this, I had a complicated relationship with the idea of Comey before I started this book. It was finally available from the library this week. I'm pretty conscious of the way Democrats suddenly became lovers of the intelligence community when that became anti-Trump, and I try pretty hard not to fall into "I like x because you hate it" and vice versa. But damn it can be hard. 

 

I've completely stopped watching TV news except the Maddow hits and VICE when I remember I have access to it. I start the day with a non-US newspaper and keep online subs to WaPo & NYTimes that I access on a reasonable level (more than 10 times a month though.) So I have been thinking that I'm living in my normal east coast liberal bubble, but at least trying to stay "truth-based." Because of that, one of the first big realizations from this book is how the narrative/propaganda of the president and FOX news has infiltrated my brain despite the fact that I know better and thought it was constitutionally impossible. (I experienced a bit of this earlier this year when I finally could read "What Happened" by Hillary Clinton without dissolving into tears and found it - lacking, but I didn't see that as a case of right/left - more, "I can't listen to another email story" and the book needed a better editor.)

 

All that set-up is to say that I learned a lot about James Comey from this book, and I thought I knew everything necessary before I started it. I honestly thought "do I still need to know anything about Comey? Do I care?" To learn anything given the all-Comey all-day life I lived for that weird year or two before I gave up TV in favor of keeping a shred of sanity says something for the book. Someone had put an idea of Comey in my head - and only a little bit of it seems to be at all true.

 

This is Comey's book, and it's flattering to Comey, of course. One of the first things I learned was that he's human, and his life hasn't been a cakewalk. He was bullied a lot as a kid (and since then hates bullies - you see where this will end up.) Also he and his wife lost a child to a completely preventable disease (and went on to change medical testing policies in the US - letting many more infants live, while theirs did not.) So he's quite human and has a little bit of a sense of humor. I wouldn't call him a riot, but he's not overly religious or preachy. He does, however, have a few lessons he has learned that he's clearly taken to heart in a way that may be less flexible than he imagines. He also has a habit of psychoanalyzing presidents (all three that he worked with) and other leaders that comes off as overly simplistic even while it may be based in truth. It also is sort of jerk-ish.

 

Reading this I learned how Comey ended up being That Guy during 2016. His decisions all make sense even before he explains them because he tells us how he became the person he is. He's a man who seems to be always trying to improve himself - a trait I adore in people. The fly gets into the ointment when he over-learns a basically good lesson - let's just take one example:

 

Between government jobs, Comey worked in the private sector for a company that used "radical transparency." He learned that it's best to always be honest - even when you might prefer to be "nice." In fact, it's not always "nice" to avoid the harder things - reprimands or hard truths. I call this the "spinach in my teeth test." Meaning, if you really respect me, I expect you to tell me when I have spinach stuck in my teeth, not let me continue walking around that way. This basic test can do wonders for close working relationships as well as all the personal relationships we have. It doesn't always work in every situation though - it requires the ability to read people and situations. I'll go out on a limb and say that Trump is not a person who might thank you for pointing out he has spinach in his teeth. Anyone can see that. Anyone except James Comey. Or even if he could see it, he couldn't change his "radical transparency" policy to fit his new boss. He is clearly baffled by Trump from the start.

 

Add to that bafflement and wildly different personal style the culture of DC - these men (and almost everyone is a man, though more on that in a second) who hold massive amounts of power (all the IC chiefs heads of various other government institutions, non-political government bigwigs all) don't seem to know what to do when things don't go exactly as planned. So they all just stay quiet and discuss things later or write memos and cover their arses instead of saying at meeting #1 (which we hear about in this book in detail.) It struck me that if a group of our nation's IC leaders couldn't tell the Trump team not to talk political strategy with them in the room -- all choosing to stay silent and do nothing while looking at their shoes -- then we have far larger problems than any of them are aware of. Or even the childish idea that it would be better for the other IC guys to just send Comey in alone to tell Trump about the "dossier." Why not have all four of them in there - disperse the vitriol everyone knew was coming.

 

Powerful men who can't say, "Hey - we're not political appointees. Let's stick to the topic," even to an incoming president, are already way off course. This happens again and again - silence and furtive gestures instead of awkward but at least instructive basic information: we aren't your political team. We can't hang out, Mr. President. If you won't try to deal with this situation, Mr Atty General, then to whom should I take this issue? It's not just Comey who doesn't speak up - it's every single person in every single room. And of course, it's all blown up or about to. Mr Trump may not want to hear about the spinach, he may choose to ignore the information, but at least give him the benefit of making that decision.

 

So Comey says he's transparent, but that's not the case when he's not the boss. He's still an awkward and fretful kid in those situations. Every country needs people willing to tell the emperor that he's not wearing clothes and he has spinach in his teeth. Radical Transparency goes out the window sometimes, then comes pouring back in when the coast is more clear. (To which I'd say, that's not really radical transparency at all)

 

I'm not being clear b/c it's late and this book has complicated situations, but there's lesson in here for everyone who has ever dealt with sticky interpersonal situations: don't put them off in hopes they will just go away. They usually don't. And don't jump on the high horse AFTER you stared at your shoes instead of speaking up.

 

Some of the good things Comey did while in government were: immediately upon taking over the FBI noticing that the agency was 83% white and immediately starting a big push to change that. So far it's been effective and it's still going on. He also recruited more women. He created a class taught at the academy about the way the FBI treated MLK as a lesson in not being a powermonger that continues to be one of the favorite classes of incoming recruits and does sound like an interesting class.

 

He seems to have liked and respected Obama, of course. But he also learned from him, specifically about language used in law enforcement and how some of these phrases are heard through ears that aren't white, cisgendered and male. 

 

He is willing to learn - to think about things as much as he can from other people's shoes. It was instructive to hear his thought processes about the rise in the murder rates in many (but not all) American cities following the Baltimore uprising (and similar events since Mike Brown's death.) Here he falls down language-wise. I got very upset at the way he relitigated Mike Brown's death - it was unnecessary and cruel, frankly. His editor did him a disservice in leaving that in the book - it is the only time he sounds ridiculously out of touch.

 

He doesn't have the language always for things like race relations in the US, but you can tell he really is thinking and working toward improvement. His speeches were imperfect and headlines only caught the bloopers, but his heart was in the right place, I believe, and even more - the problem still isn't solved and James Comey along with President Obama were the only two people in power who seemed to think about this rising number of dead black (mostly) men with any nuance. Hearing their frank discussion (albeit only from one side) made me hopeful.

 

He ends the book on hope too. Despite what he calls a "time of anxiety" he likens the current administration to a forest fire. Yes it's devastating and destructive, but it may be clearing  the way for new growth. (I'm pretty sure we'd all prefer a different way to grow, but OK.) All in all, while this wasn't the best book ever, it added a fuller picture and new shades to my knowledge of each situation already covered in the press and added a whole person to the idea of James Comey. What makes me most sad is that I considered not reading it because I thought "how much more do I really need to know?" That fatigue and malaise scares me. Maybe I don't need to know about Comey himself, but I need to keep thinking and protesting and writing letters and oh yeah - this week is early voting in Maryland. It reminded me that no matter how much I hear about anything, there's always more to learn, and I need to guard against propaganda more carefully than I've apparently been doing.

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review 2018-06-20 03:18
Fatima Farheen Mirza's A PLACE FOR US

The first title from Sarah Jessica Parker's imprint for Hogarth

 

I am normally wary of hyped debut novels, but with comparisons made to Anthony Marra’s outstanding A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, I was eager to read Fatima Farheen Mirza’s A Place for Us.

 

Unlike many reviewers, I was not immediately absorbed by Mirza’s family narrative.  The prose itself was strikingly assured for a debut novelist but I struggled to truly engage with the characters, my personal feelings about the entrenched cultural-religious gender bias impacting their lives getting in the way.

 

Many of the characters’ behaviours/actions are frustrating to an outside observer also. But to Mirza’s credit, her attention to detail and absence of sentimentality in the presentation of the different character viewpoints soon had me seeing past those differences. It is with the nuances of behaviour explored, the family dynamics, and the gravity and impact of what is often left unsaid that I engaged. Continue reading >>

Source: bookloverbookreviews.com/2018/06/a-place-for-us-by-fatima-farheen-mirza-book-review.html
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