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review 2017-08-03 15:54
A Total Disaster.
Vivian's List - Haleigh Lovell

The characters in this book were not likable. I couldn't stand Vivian. For the first couple of pages in the book, I thought it was telling from the point of view of a sixteen-year old because of the way she talked and her actions. But later on, I found out that she was twenty-two years old and couldn't help but roll my eyes. Her personality made it seem like she was a teenager, and I couldn't believe the fact that a twenty-two year old would say:

"I mean, there was penetration, but not with his, you know..."
Then her friend says, "Not with his noodle,"
— What are we? Twelve? It was a major disappointment and it made me hate it. Another example is when Vivian stated:
"Can't handle what you're telling me. Now I just want to go home and wash my brain out with soap."

I could just envision Vivian being like sixteen and saying this to her best friend, but NOT a twenty-two year old. But enough about her, the intimate scenes were cute. The plot however, was not interesting. How Brody was treating Vivian, a twenty-two year old, was nerve-racking and I couldn't wrap my head around why she constantly defended him like an idiot. Somehow Brody miraculously moved on and never showed his face again, even though he was the controlling type and didn't want her to leave him. I would've expected more from his character, to be more persistent in getting her back, but oh well.
I just couldn't enjoy the plot, when there were so many things wrong with it. I just can't.

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review 2017-07-27 23:09
Fearless
Fearless: a Sports Romance - Amarie Avant

Title:  Fearless

Author:  Amarie Avant

Publisher:  Jessica Watkins Presents

Reviewed By:  Arlena Dean

Rating:  Five

Review:

 

"Fearless" by Amarie Avant

 

My Thoughts.....

 

This author has done it again and that is giving the readers another good read.  This story was of Zariah [educated, strong & intelligent] and Vassili [Russian MMA fighter, Alpha] that was off the chain being a well written story that will keep ones attention to see what was going on next between these two. How will these two survive from this instant attraction be able to fit into each others lifestyle? These two characters will keep you on a emotional ride due to the fact that both of these two were so very 'strong will and determined' and let's not leave out the hot chemistry that flowed heavily between them.  I will say at times I did question Zariah's reactions toward her father in regard to what all had happened to her mother and brother.  Be ready for lots of drama, humor,  mystery and oh my that romance!  Will Zariah and Vassili be able to whether the storms that seems to always be around them with some deep family issues along with some their racial backgrounds?  I was so happy to see this story ended with a HEAFN leaving the reader to know there will be 'more curveballs to come' along with some unanswered questions to be answered.  Thank you to the author for another good read!

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review 2017-07-25 17:30
Hag-Seed
Hag-Seed - Margaret Atwood

Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold

 

Margaret Atwood, 2016

 

Felix, the eccentric Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Festival, is getting ready to present his interpretation of Shakespeare's The Tempest, but is removed from his position thanks to the underhanded methods of his assistant, Tony. After going off the grid for a while, Felix takes a job teaching a course at Fletcher County Correctional Institute, where he teachers Shakespeare to a small group of inmates. After a few years, an opportunity presents itself for Felix to get revenge on Tony and the others who did him wrong.

 

This is the first of the Hogarth Shakespeare retellings that I've read so far. I decided to re-read The Tempest before starting this book, and I'm glad I did - it had been a while since I had read it, and I had forgotten a lot of the story. I don't think that it's necessary to read The Tempest before reading Hag-Seed, but it does help. [For anyone not able to read the play first, there is a summary of The Tempest at the end of the book, so I would actually recommend skipping ahead to that before starting the novel.] 

 

I wasn't sure at first how I was going to like this book - I thought it an odd choice having the actual play The Tempest as part of the plot in a book that's supposed to be based on the play (a little too obvious), but it really worked well. Sort of like how Hamlet uses a play within a play to act out scenes that are happening in the "real world" of the story. It also helped that Felix was more or less aware that his current situation resembled the play - if he had been oblivious to that fact, it would have just been weird. Sure there were parts that played out a little too theatrically - his revenge was way too neat and tidy - and if this had been anything other than a retelling it would have bothered me. But Shakespeare's plays had the same neat and tidy endings, so it worked.

 

The biggest thing that surprised me was how Atwood was able to take a play made up with mostly unlikable characters and make a compelling story out of it. The only characters I liked at all were the prisoners. The antagonists - Tony and the others - were supposed to be unlikable, but Felix wasn't really very easy to like. His delusion about Miranda made him hard to identify with, and his quest for revenge made him - at least to me - pretty unlikable. However, I think that this was sort of the point. I think that Atwood went into this book knowing that the prisoners would be the most likable and relatable characters, and this is why the book is called "Hag-Seed", as a direct reference to Caliban. I think it was an interesting choice on her part, and it was probably the best way to pull it off.

 

You definitely need to be able to read books centered around unlikable characters in order to enjoy this one, but otherwise I think it's a pretty interesting book and an enjoyable read, even if you're not familiar with the play.

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review 2017-07-25 04:12
Pieces of Happiness
Pieces of Happiness - Anne Ostby

Title: Pieces of Happiness
Author: Anne Ostby
Publisher: Doubleday
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Five
Review:

"Pieces of Happiness" by Anne Ostby

My Thoughts ...

This author really give the readers quite one interesting read..."Piece of Happiness." I thought is was really one good read having these six people, five that had been friends since high school in Norway come visit and then live together [after the death of her Niklas, her husband] on a cocoa plantation in Fiji in the South Pacific with each one having there own story that was really intriguing to say the least. Oh, the sixth woman was Kat's housekeeper...Ateca who was so very understanding of each of these ladies. I loved her prayers for God to watch over everyone as the prayers seemed to 'mark the change in the chapters and even the narration from each of the women.'

I loved the invitation that was sent to each one of these ladies who were know in their sixties....

 

“I’ve planted my feet on Fijian earth and I intend to stay here until the last sunset. Why don’t you join me? Leave behind everything that didn’t work out!”

 

Will they be able to 'leave their worries, mistakes and problems back in Norway?' No, they hadn't stayed in touch but know would they be willing to start all over and 'come up with plans of a new future in this beautiful cocoa plantation?' How different this would be for these ladies who had difficulties of their own to come to this beautiful place that had much to offer with many highs and well as lows but in the end the readers will give one good story that will give one reason to ponder long after the read. I loved the characters...Kat, Ingrid, Maya, Sina and Lysbeth who all had 'secrets and hopes that had been keep hidden' so will they be able to stop and redefine just what they wanted in their life now? Will they be willing to rediscover their past friendships and even themselves?
All while I was reading this novel I keep thinking what would it be like to have friends like these!

This was definitely a wonderful and enjoyable read about a enduring 'friendship and second chances just to be happy' that I would definitely recommend. In the end all that is left to say is that hopefully we can all have this in our lives. This story was very well done by this author.

 

Thanks to NetGalley for a pre-publication copy to review.

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review 2017-07-06 12:55
The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie
The Edge of the Abyss - Emily Skrutskie

This review will include spoilers for the first book. You’ve been warned.

At the end of The Abyss Surrounds Us, Cas decided to stay with the Minnow and her crew. I wish I had written down her reason for doing so, since one of my problems with The Edge of the Abyss was that I couldn’t remember why she’d have wanted to stay when staying seemed to cause her nothing but grief.

At any rate, she stayed - I think because she wanted to get more evidence on the guy who was trading Reckoner pups to the pirates, and because she loved Swift so much? Except the latter reason turned out to be less than wonderful, because right after deciding to stay with the Minnow, Cas learned that Swift had personally been responsible for Durga’s death.

So that’s Cas’s emotional state for much of The Edge of the Abyss: upset at Swift for what she did, upset at herself for essentially turning traitor and staying with pirates, and perversely drawn to Santa Elena and whatever scraps of praise she was willing to give out. Bao is somewhere out in the ocean, and Cas mistakenly thinks he’s the only free Reckoner. He very much is not - the crew of the Minnow discover others, which they nickname Hellbeasts. Every last one of them was a Reckoner pup illegally obtained and improperly raised by pirates, and they’re complete destroying the ocean ecosystem. If life in the ocean is to be saved, the pirates, all of them, will somehow have to band together, admit their mistakes, and defeat the Hellbeasts.

Considering that I disliked the first book, I should not have continued on with the series. However, I did, because I wanted to find out what happened to Bao. He was literally the only character I cared about - all the humans could have gotten eaten, for all I cared.

Unfortunately, it took half the book for Bao to show up. Until that point, I had to deal with Cas and Swift’s relationship angst. First Cas would be angry at Swift for being directly responsible for Durga’s death. Then Swift would be upset with Cas for effortlessly becoming Santa Elena’s favorite. Occasionally things would be okay between them for a short while, but it was never long before everything got fouled up again. All it took was one wrong look, or someone waking up on the wrong side of the bed, or Santa Elena smiling at the wrong trainee. I think Cas and Swift only had maybe 10 pages total in this whole book where they weren’t hurting each other in some way.

That’s really not what I want from a romance, and it didn’t help that Cas’s situation seemed more and more like Stockholm syndrome to me. Santa Elena had been manipulating Cas’s emotions from day one, and I hadn’t forgotten that Cas and Swift’s relationship had gone from dislike and wisps of something nicer to full-blown “I’m throwing away my entire former life for you” in the space of a day. I spent so much of this book wishing that Cas and Swift would just break up already. Cas had enough on her plate just trying to figure out what to do about the Hellbeasts and processing her dawning realization that she’d made a terrible mistake by staying on the Minnow.

Even though this book had more Reckoners and Reckoner battles, it was somehow more boring that the first one. I missed Bao, and Skrutskie’s decision to write this series in first person present tense sucked the life out scenes that should have been exciting or painfully intense. Unfortunately, things didn’t improve much once Bao was finally found again - watching Cas remind him of his training wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as watching her train him in the first place. Also, one revelation about him really bugged me. If there was anyone I’d have liked to be exempt from this book’s great gobs of relationship awfulness, it was Bao. At least Cas treated him better in this book than she did in the first one.

I wish I had liked Skrutskie’s writing more, and I wish I had been more invested in Cas and Swift’s relationship. Since I didn’t and I wasn’t, The Edge of the Abyss was a drag to get through and an absolute relief to finally finish. However, I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the first book and wanted Cas and Swift to work out as a couple. Cas and Swift had some really good scenes near the end, ones where they actually worked together. For me, it was too little, too late. I did at least appreciate that none of the characters I kind of liked died.

 

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

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