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review 2018-05-24 03:31
Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2)
Leah on the Offbeat - Becky Albertalli

Wow, I don't even know where to start with how awful this book is.

 

Terrible bi rep? Check.

Terrible girl rep? Check

Terrible fat girl rep? Check.

 

I loved Simon Vs The Homo-Sapiens Agenda and fell in love with all the characters (well, not Martin) and I felt especially drawn to Leah. So when I found out there was going to be another book, centered on Leah, I got excited. Then the blurb mentioned that she's suddenly bisexual, and I got concerned because there was zero indication or hint of that in the first book. But it couldn't be that bad, right?

 

Other reviewers have said it better: this story felt like fanfic. And not even good fanfic. It felt like the really bad fanfic that you don't admit to reading. The AU kind where everyone's gay and acts so out of character as to be unrecognizable in order to force together the writer's OTP that makes zero sense in canon but dammit they're going to make it work no matter what. 

 

On top of that, there's no plot. It's just a string of scenes that are connected only be the fact they happen chronologically (aside from a couple of flashbacks). Leah exists just to be awful and condescending and rude to everyone, yet for some reason everyone still loves her.

 

There's also no heart. We never learn why Leah acts the way she does because there's zero reflection on her actions or feelings, and so she never learns or develops. She's the exact same awful person at the end of the book as she is at the start of it, and she's taken everyone else down with her. This is just Leah referring to herself as a bitch for 300 pages because isn't it hilarious when girls call themselves slur words? There's no reason to care about Leah, so there's no reason to care about anything that's going on around her.

 

There's a really awkward attempt at addressing racism that feels more like it was written as an overhanded after-school special message than an actual examination of racism and all of its nuances. It's there solely to give Leah one shining moment of being not completely sucky. 

 

In a word, this book is superficial.

 

The first half dragged because nothing happened aside from Leah being rude, not knowing how to express herself, and constantly having brain freeze, stopped heart and flipping stomach, because that's what hormones do to seventeen-year old girls. And apparently being bisexual means you develop crushes on everyone. I couldn't take the plodding pace of non-action, so I did skim most of the second half starting around 60%. Thankfully, not much happened in that section beyond prom, Leah and her girlfriend being selfish and awful to everyone at prom, and the writer leaving a bunch of dangling threads.

 

This was a huge disappointment and read like the Ms. Albertalli just phoned it in.

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review 2018-05-20 00:48
Man & Monster (The Savage Land #2)
Man & Monster (The Savage Land: Book 2) - Michael Jensen

It was great (I guess?) getting back to Hugh's Lick, which is still as much a stain on the frontier as it was in the first book. I hoped that we would get to see John, Palmer and Gwennie again, and we do. Even though they're not the MCs here, we still see plenty of them as they help Cold-Hearted Cole, new to the frontier and not having a good time of it. Wendigos trying to devour you can be such party-poopers, ya know. ;)

 

I really liked Pakim (I don't remember if he was in the first book or not) and the relationship that developed between him and Cole was often humorous and sweet, even while Cole was fighting his feelings. There was some good sexual tension there too, just don't expect any mind-blowing sex scenes.

 

I didn't feel as engaged in this book as I did with Man & Monster. Cole isn't as engaging a POV character as John was, for starters. Cole is purposely closed off for various reasons, and while we do get to see flashes of who he is underneath the cold-hearted persona, it's not quite enough for me to care about him as a character. Then there's the really bad horror movie aspect of the book that involves the monster/wendigo that's terrorizing Hugh's Lick. 1) The majority of these settlers deserve to be eaten, and 2) it was like reading the equivalent of "running up the stairs in the dark" for two hundred pages. The pacing felt off, if not downright slow, and the characters barely even paid any attention to the warnings or advice they got. I also figured out pretty quick who at least one of the wendigos was going to be. The editing also could've been better.

 

Thankfully, once the show - or the characters - finally get on the road and get to doing something not phenomenally stupid, the action was pretty well-written, if just as over the top as you'd get from any blockbuster movie. 

 

It was good, and fun, but I think going through and trimming out about twenty pages would've helped a lot.

 

I do think when authors take liberties with historical figures, they really should make an author's note on their research and what they decided to change about that person for the sake of their story. So there's that.

 

In closing:

 

"Oh, the Lord is good to me.
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need:
The sun and the rain and the apple seed;
The Lord is good to me."

 

Bet y'all haven't thought of that one in a hot minute.  I know I haven't. ;)

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review 2018-05-14 04:17
Agent Bayne (PsyCop #9) (Audiobook)
Agent Bayne (PsyCop Book 9) - Jordan Castillo Price,Gomez Pugh

Review of book here.

 

Still as enjoyable as the first time. Gomez Pugh once again performs brilliantly.

 

I'm eager to see where this series is going to go next after the reveals made here with Vic's past and the pre-runner to the FPMP.

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review 2018-05-11 02:36
Red Dirt Heart 2
Red Dirt Heart 2 (Red Dirt Heart Series) - N.R. Walker

This started off kind of rocky, to the point I even considered quitting at one point since the first book was only ok. I'm glad I stuck with it though since it ends much stronger than it started. All it took was Charlie to stop acting like a twelve-year old (jealousy and angry snits are really not appealing to me) and the guys to actually start talking to each other instead of just having sex as the basis of their relationship. Go figure. 

 

There's still too much of everyone thinking the gay couple is cute, and I wanted to (lightly) smack everyone who was smiling/laughing at Charlie's discomfort at various points throughout the book. Their reactions came from a place of love, but that still wasn't cool.

 

I felt that this ended with a stronger relationship between Charlie and Travis, which helped me to care about them as a couple and as individuals. Charlie's coming out process is maybe a bit too rushed considering his years of baggage, but it was too satisfying to bother me long. :)

 

I also got a (somewhat) better sense of some of the side characters. Greg is an even better friend to Charlie than originally thought.

 

Onto the next one.

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review 2018-05-08 02:08
The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo #2) (Audiobook) - DNF
The Trials of Apollo, Book Two: The Dark Prophecy - Rick Riordan,Robbie Daymond

I think I've reached my saturation point with this author. As much as I enjoyed the Percy Jackson series, it was something of a struggle to get through it by the end since there's not a lot variation in the themes. I knew I needed to take a break from Riordan's writing before considering another series. I thought this would be that series, and I really enjoyed the first one.

 

But man, Apollo is an annoying self-centered brat! :P If that character type appeals to you, you'll love this series, but I just couldn't take it anymore. I didn't like Apollo, I couldn't remember any of the other characters, themes and conflicts are again getting repetitive. I was struggling to pay attention or care about anything. I even went back to the point where my attention first started wandering and tried to listen again, but it just wasn't working for me.

 

This is no fault of the narrator - or maybe in an ironic way it is. He performed wonderfully and he really got the Apollo character down pat, in all his conceited glory. :D

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