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review 2017-11-05 21:25
For lovers of clever and witty dialogue, geeks, sci-fi, popular culture and Oscar Wilde. A great YA story.
Not Now, Not Ever - Lily Anderson

I read and reviewed Lily Anderson’s first book The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You (you can check my review here) last year. I loved it and I mentioned that I would be watching out for more of the author’s books. When a publicist from St. Martin’s Press got in touch with me offering me to take part in the blog tour for the author’s next book, I had to check it out. When I read that this time the author’s inspiration was Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest I knew I’d fight tooth-and-nail to take part if necessary. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that, but it would have been worth it.

Elliot/Ever (if you know Wilde’s play, you’ll know that there are several people using false identities for a variety of reasons, mostly to live a different kind of life away from prying eyes) is a seventeen year old African-American girl, who lives in California, with a somewhat complicated family background (the Lawrence, on her mother’s side, have a long tradition of joining the Air Force, and her mother, in fact, teaches at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, while she lives with her father, a lawyer of French descent. Her step-Mom, Beth, is an estate agent, white, and an amateur actress, and she has a half-brother, Ethan). Her mother and all of her mother’s family expect her to join the Air Force, while her father wants her to do anything but that (mostly go to College somewhere nearby). And Elliot… Well, she wants to study Science-Fiction Literature. She is a geek. Her step-mother is about to play Gwendoline for the sixth time in an amateur production of The Importance of Being Earnest (that Elliot knows by heart from so many performances and rehearsals) and she decides to take control of her life and avoid another farcical summer. She lies to everybody around her, creates a fake identity (inspired by Wilde’s play), and after passing a genius exam to enter a summer programme (to win a fantastic scholarship to the college of her dreams, mostly because they have an amazing sci-fi collection in the library and they offer a degree in Science-Fiction Literature) she sets off to Oregon, determined to win no matter what.

Elliot/Ever soon discovers that you cannot outrun Wilde and that there’s nothing more farcical than a camp for geniuses. She has a few surprises (she’s not the only one to use a fake identity or lie), meets wonderful people (and some not quite so wonderful), finds love, and discovers what’s really important.

Like in Anderson’s previous novel, we have a first-person narration, this time by Elliot, who is a clever, witty, and determined girl. In this case she was not aware she was a genius (another member of the family was always considered the clever one), but the summer camp is not that dissimilar to the high school in the previous novel, although in this case everybody, apart from the college students who facilitate the camp, are new to the place, they don’t know each other and are thrown together in pretty stressful circumstances. We have, again, many pop culture and bigger Culture references (some, I must admit went over my head, but I didn’t mind that), a diverse group of students, but all clever, studious, dedicated, nerdy, and quirky. I loved Leigh, Elliot’s roommate, Brandon (a guy who carries a typewriter around. Come on, I’m a writer too. Who would not love him), and most of the characters. The dialogue sparkles and the quotes from Wilde’s play, that keep popping up into Elliot’s head, are sometimes humorous (I particularly like the ‘A tree!’ ‘A handbag!’ comparison) but sometimes the author chooses quotes that reflect the serious matters at hand. Although at first, it seems the furthest possible setting for such a play, the summer camp works well, as we have many restrictions, a lockdown, rules that can be broken and people hiding secrets, overhearing things they shouldn’t, and getting into all kinds of problems.

There is cheating, friendships, betrayals, bizarre but vividly portrayed contests (Star Wars based fights to the death, The Breakfast Club themed memory tests…) and young romance.

I don’t know if it was because of the build-up and the identity changes but it took me a bit longer to get into the story than it did the previous novel, but once at the camp and when I got used to Elliot/Ever’s voice and her accurate descriptions of people and things, I felt as if I was there and could not put the book down.

The ending… Well, you’ll have to read it. It’s probably not what you expect but it’s good.

Once again I’ve highlighted many bits. A few random ones:

And he was wearing loafers. I couldn’t get my swoon on for a guy who didn’t wear socks.

Two narrow pressboard wardrobes that were less Narnia, more IKEA.

She sounded as though she really meant it, but that could have been because everything she said sounded vaguely like it was licensed by Disney.

He was cute and presumably very smart and, unlike so many other white dudes, he’d never told me how much hip-hop meant to him like my melanin made me a rap ambassador.

Another great YA novel that I’d recommend to people who enjoy sci-fi and pop culture references, people who love books and libraries, and who appreciate young female characters that have interests beyond school balls and boyfriends. And of course, if you love witty dialogue, farcical plots, and are a fan of Oscar Wilde, you are in for a treat. I’ll for sure be waiting for Anderson’s next novel.

Thanks to Wednesday Books (St. Martin’s Press) and to NetGalley for providing me an ARC copy of the novel that I freely chose to review.

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review 2017-10-20 14:47
good book and characters
A Perfect Gentleman: A Novel - Candace Camp

Graeme woke up to his cousin’s dog as well as his cousin James. Then James said there was some juicy gossip to be told his mother had even got up early to come to Graeme’s. Graeme had married Abigail to save his family estate, pay off his fathers debts. Graeme had been willing to do his duty by his family even giving up Laura who was the woman he already loved. But Thursten Price- Abigail's father hadn’t left anything to chance and used blackmail to make sure Abigaila and  Graeme married and Abigail knew nothing about it. Thursten had poorly treated Abigail most her life.  Abigail thought she had married a kind thoughtful gentleman but on the wedding night he made it clear he would only be Abigail's husband in name only that she had brought herself a title and husband in name only and walked away from her. The next morning Graeme had regretted how he had treated Abigail when he went to her hotel he found out she had checked out that morning to return to N Y. Then James told Graeme that Abigail was now back in London. Resentment and anger long buried stirred in Graeme. No one seemed to know why Abigail had returned. She had been quite successful in society in N Y. Abigail is now twenty eight - it had been ten years since she left to return to the states- and wants to have a child. If Graeme doesn’t want to father said baby she wants a divorce and she will marry someone else who is willing to make her a mother. Graeme’s grandmother wants him to come to London and deal with his wife, take her to his home. Graeme and James leave to return to London together . Graeme finds out on his return to London  he finds out his wife Abigail- who has grown into a beautiful woman- is sought after by many men. Then Graeme and ABigail see each other at a ball later they meet and Abigail tells Graeme why she returned. It had been a slight scandal when Abigail had left for the states the day after she was married and Graeme didn't want any more scandal of a divorce  he was the Earl now. Graeme agreed to live with Abigail as husband and wife l until she got pregnant and she had agreed to raise the child in England. Abigail had begun to get secret letters that have clues to Graeme’s father and his debt. As time goes on Abigail and Graeme and really get to know each other.  

I enjoyed this book , I liked the pace of this. As well as the plot. I loved how Abigail had the strength to face Graeme and let him know her hearts desire. I liked there was some mystery in this story. At first I didn’t like Graeme at all he never gave Abigail a chance  to tell her side of marrying Graeme .Instead he just believed she was as bad as her father. But he did grow on me after Abigail had returned to London. I love how it took time for Graeme and Abigail to grow feelings for each other. I loved the characters and the ins and outs of this book and I recommend.

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review 2017-08-25 03:00
A chuckle-inducing and magickal fantasy
Camp Arcanum - Josef Matulich

So, Marc, MIchael and Eleazar come to the small, university town of Arcanum, OH to set up grounds for a new Renaissance Faire on behalf of their employer. They can tell straight-off, that this isn't your typical university town, but it takes awhile for them to understand why. Pretty much everyone in town practices magick in one form or another -- and those who don't seem pretty aware of it. This awareness seems to end around the city limits, however.

 

Early on, Brenwyn -- the head of the local coven -- stops by to ask if they can still use some of the grounds for a ritual. Seeing a way to accommodate the locals and maybe dress up the grounds, they agree. Sparks and pheromones fly between Marc and Brenwyen -- Marc's inherently leery of romantic entanglements, but his resistance starts faltering immediately and I can't imagine any reader being stunned when he abandons it entirely.

 

Marc is the super-responsible crew leader, a workaholic with issues. Michael is the artistic one, ready enough to do the brawny work required on the site, but who cares more about the design. Eleazar is their loyal friend and juggler -- who spends almost as much time with the prep work as he does ogling and fantasizing about the local co-eds and/or harassing Michael and Marc about their love lives/lack thereof/anything else he can think of. He's a lot of fun, really. Michael was fine, but I could've used some more time with him to really get a handle on his character. Marc is the readers point-of-entry into this world, it's his eyes that we see the world through.

 

Brenwyn is sassy, saucy and an outrageous flirt. The members of her coven are loyal, and just about as sassy as their Head. There's a warlock running around who is some sort of ex- to her, and that's the nicest thing that could be said about him, so we'll stop there. The thing is that in this world, magick exists, it's real, and many people live with knowing that (more without knowing that).

 

While work progresses on the Faire-grounds, a rivalry of sorts gets underway -- with Brenwyn, Marc and the others on one side, and Drenmwyn's ex- and his acolytes on the other. And it all seems to be focused on Marc, which he can't seem to figure out. Oh, and there are demons, and other assorted supernatural beings flitting around. Our working men, and the coven leader, have to unite to try to stop the ex- (as well as other nefarious beings in the area).

 

Early on, I felt like Matulich was trying just a little too hard with the quasi-sibling rivalry between Michael and Eleazar, and even with the flirtation between Marc and -- well, everyone. It was like he was insecure about things and was trying to make sure his readers understood things were amusing, rather than trusting his writing. If he'd dialed back about 10-20% early on, it would've helped me appreciate things. I either acclimated to his writing style, or he dialed back, I'm not sure which -- not sure it matters. It didn't take too long to settle in to Matulich's style and start chuckling at his characters and writing.

 

This was a fun read -- off-beat, humorous, with some characters you want to spend time with, with an interesting magic -- sorry, magick -- system. There's a sequel to out there, and after reading this, you'll probably be hoping that there's more in progress, too. A thoroughly enjoyable, light read, with just a hint of darkness.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/08/24/camp-arcanum-by-josef-matulich
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review 2017-08-10 02:08
A WINTER SCANDAL by Candace Camp
A Winter Scandal - Candace Camp

A baby is found in the manger in the church where Thea's brother is vicar. She goes after the man she thinks is the baby's father who turns out is not but she's involved in the mystery of who left the baby and why. As she gets to know Lord Morecombe she throws conventions to the wind as does he. They may both think they are focused on the baby but, as anyone with a pair of eyes sees, they are more interested in each other. The baby brings out sides to them that they would never have discovered by following convention.

I liked this story. I liked Thea and Gabriel. They make a good couple. She does not let him mow her over and he discovers there is more to a woman than companionship in bed. The mystery is good as Gabriel must unravel the past and realize his mistakes. I plan on reading the rest of the series.

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review 2017-07-25 03:58
Through Her Eyes
Through Her Eyes (Mind's Eye Book 4) - Deborah Camp

Title:  Through Her Eyes

Author:   Deborah Camp

Publisher:  D. C.

Series:  Mind's Eye Book 4

Reviewed By:  Arlena Dean

Rating: 5

Review:

 

"Through Her Eyes" by Deborah Camp

 

My Thoughts......

 

As always this author brings it all up front and center for the readers..."Through Her Eyes" featuring Levi Wolfe and Trudy Tucker.  Hold on because there will be much going on in this romance and mystery read that will definitely keep your attention. I liked the story that surrounded both of the characters in that they both had some personal demons that they were battling through.  How will they make it though all of it and now looking for a serial killer?  Well,  this is where I say you will have to pick up  this good read to see how these two will catch this serial killer who seem to have 'been murdering for more than a decade' on the streets of New Orleans and now it looks like there maybe someone else who is also involved.  

 

Be ready for a read that will have you holding your breath as you are reading through some horrible details as this author gives to the reader in this well written story.  In the end will  these two find the HEA medium? Will their personal problems be worked out? Will Levi ever pop the question to Trudy that she longs to hear?   Well, again you will have to pick up 'Through Her Eyes' to see how this story comes out in the end that will definitely leave you wanting more from these two psychics.

 

Thank you to the author for the early read of "Through Her Eyes" where I gave my honest opinion of the read.

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