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review 2019-02-24 23:46
Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid
Neanderthal Seeks Human - Penny Reid

Janie's life isn't quite what she'd hoped it would be. She'd like to be an architect, but instead she's an accountant at an architectural firm. Her boyfriend Jon is...okay. Perfectly nice and very well off, but otherwise just okay. But Janie knows she's no prize herself (even though her friends repeatedly tell her otherwise) - she's too tall, her head is too big, and she has a tendency to go on and on about topics that no one thinks are important or fascinating but her.

Unfortunately, Janie has just learned that Jon cheated on her. She has also just been fired. Since she refuses to stay in the apartment she and Jon were sharing, her best friend Elizabeth's offer to let her stay at her place is the only thing keeping her from being homeless. The one bright spot in her terrible day is Sir Handsome McHotpants, the sexy security guard who escorted her out when she was fired.

A later encounter with McHotpants, whose real name is Quinn, results in an offer that could turn her whole life around. But is this really a solution to her problems, or just a different kind of trouble?

According to my records, I downloaded this for free three years ago. The cover looked relatively cute, but the subtitle, "a smart romance," gave me knee-jerk annoyance - I disliked the implication that romances aren't generally "smart." So it sat in my e-TBR until I learned that the author will be attending a conference that my mom and I are going to in a few months.

I had a little trouble getting into this book. I get that Janie was supposed to be awkward, but the way Reid wrote her was a bit much. Her habit of blurting out unnecessary facts wasn't just present in her dialogue, but also in her narration, and there were times I ended up doing more skimming than reading. There were also some really painful secondhand embarrassment moments - most of Janie's early on-page encounters with Quinn made me cringe.

I enjoyed myself more after the job offer happened, although other things started bugging me. As good as Janie was with numbers and random facts, she didn't seem to care in the slightest about the things going on around her that could have a direct effect on her life. Like, say, Quinn's true identity. It was pretty clear there was more to him than he was saying, and his reaction to a few of Janie's statements should have made her wildly curious, even if only from a "I like this guy and want to know more about him" standpoint. But it didn't, and so she basically had to find it out by accident.

Then there was Quinn himself. I liked that he listened to Janie and noticed the sorts of things she was interested in. I'm a sucker for romance heroes who unexpectedly find themselves falling in love and don't know what to do when they're smacked in the face with their feelings. I loved Quinn's dawning horror as he realized how Janie would likely react to learning his true identity. But ugh, I hated the meal scenes.

In one, Janie and Quinn were alone in a room with a buffet-style meal with hot dogs, burgers, potato chips, and fruit. When Janie started to fix herself a plate, she was interrupted by Quinn, who'd already fixed one for her, right down to picking the condiments for her hot dogs. Janie's only comment was that the hot dogs were just the way she liked them. In another scene, Janie and Quinn were at a fancy restaurant. Janie was about to order when Quinn swooped in and ordered for the both of them without checking with her first. This time around, Janie noted in the narrative that this sort of thing would normally annoy but didn't in this instance. I ground my teeth in frustration.

The bulk of the book was first person, from Janie's POV. In the epilogue, it suddenly switched to first person from Quinn's POV. While I enjoyed the conversation between Quinn and Elizabeth, Quinn's "voice" struck me as oddly bland, not at all what I would have expected. Also, the POV switch didn't do anything beyond give Elizabeth and Quinn a chance to talk out of Janie's earshot - there was no real insight into Quinn's thoughts or life beyond the stuff readers already knew from Janie's POV.

This was certainly a quick read, but not as good as I'd hoped it would be. It looks like the other books in the series are each focused on different members of Janie's knitting group. I'm not sure whether I'll ever give any of them a go. While I liked how supportive the knitting group was as a whole, most of the individual members didn't make much of an impression on me.

 

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

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review 2018-07-01 01:12
A Rational Arrangement by L. Rowyn
A Rational Arrangement - L. Rowyn

Nikola Striker, the Lord of Fireholt, is being pressured by his parents to marry. They have settled on Wisteria Vasilver for him. The match would probably save his family from financial ruin, but Nik really doesn't want to marry, and Wisteria's looks aren't to his taste in any case. Her personality, though... After Wisteria inadvertently offends his parents, Nik finds himself thinking about her more than he expected. Her tone and facial expression are impossible to read, but her words are refreshingly direct and honest. Shockingly so, sometimes. Nik can't stop thinking about her scandalous marriage contract, which not only covers how many "marital encounters" she expects them to have, but also, intriguingly, indicates that she'd be fine with infidelity as long as all parties are kept informed and behave discreetly.

Nik has been in a secret relationship with Lord Justin Comfrey for years. He cherishes their time together, a welcome break from his duties as one of the Blessed, those who are able to use the Savior's power to help others. Even so, he and Justin don't always have a good handle on each other. Although Nik still doesn't want to marry Wisteria, he finds himself talking with her more and more freely, and wishing he could tell her his biggest secrets.

Wow, writing my own summary for this book was...not easy. Since it may not be that clear in either my summary or the author's, this is a poly romance. The story takes ages to get to that point - for a while it looks like a complicated love triangle involving Wisteria and Nik, Nik and Justin, and eventually Wisteria and Justin.

I bought this because it sounded like it would focus on character relationships rather than on how often and in how many ways the characters could have sex. When I first started reading it, I thought it was delightful. Wisteria and Nik's conversations were fun, and Wisteria's marriage contract sketched out a way for the romance to happen without anyone having to cheat on anyone else, or so I thought.

Unfortunately, this still managed to have cheating in it. Wisteria married one of the men and found out about their relationship not because her husband told her, but because she found them about to have sex (or actually in the process of having sex? I can't remember and don't care to hunt the scene down). Luckily for them, she'd been having fantasies about them having sex together and thought this discovery was hot. I guess the marriage contract didn't matter that much. They soon invited her to have a threesome with them, she was delighted to accept, and the book wrapped up in a way that left everyone happy.

On the whole, the romance in this just didn't work for me. I'd have been on board with Wisteria and Nik, or even Wisteria and Justin, although Justin didn't seem like the marrying type. Nik and Justin were, however, an absolutely awful couple. Justin frequently inadvertently hurt Nik and Nik didn't seem to be comfortable with talking to him about it. Whenever he did try to talk about it, Justin didn't understand. Justin also lost a lot of points with me after his horrible behavior towards one of the riding cats (large, talking, intelligent cats that the humans in this world hire for riding and other purposes, since there don't seem to be any horses). And his behavior right after

Nik tried to break things off with him

(spoiler show)

was an insult to both Nik and Wisteria, even though he didn't take things as far as he could have.

In the end, despite what the author clearly wanted readers to think, Justin came off looking like the guy Wisteria and Nik wanted to have around for sex. His relationship with Wisteria was a little better than his relationship with Nik, but by the time I got to the book's "happy" ending I just wanted him out of their lives, for all their sakes.

In general, A Rational Arrangement was a lot longer than it needed to be. I feel like this would have been a much better and more focused work (and maybe more obviously a poly romance, rather than a love triangle) if the author had cut out maybe 200 pages. As it was, it took ages for Wisteria and Justin to meet, and the storyline involving the little girl, Sharone, went on for so long that it started to feel like pointless filler.

I was also very unhappy with the way the book's tone drastically shifted a little over halfway through. The bulk of the book was regency-ish dances, parties, and conversations (and an occasional explicit sex scene involving Nik and Justin). Then, suddenly, there was a very graphically violent scene in which one of the three main characters was tortured - which, by the way, happened at about the same time that the other two characters went off to make out and strip each other naked. The way the aftermath was handled bugged me as well. It felt like the character's PTSD was just a plot device designed to move things forward in the proper way. Once it had accomplished what it was supposed to, it was magically done away with (literal magical healing) and never really brought up again.

Unfortunately, this wasn't nearly as good as I'd hoped it would be. If I continue on with this series, it'll be because I bought the sequel when it first came out. In my defense, it was on sale and I really did think I was going to love these characters and this world. At least the next work in the series is a collection of novellas rather than yet another badly bloated novel.

 

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

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photo 2016-09-26 19:27
The Eagle Tree - Ned Hayes
 
By Keri Anne Griffithon September 25, 2016
 
As an autistic mother to an autistic child, a poet, and an environmental advocate, this book will be important to me for a long time. It moved me to tears. I laughed. And I was ravenously hooked in after a few chapters while whole-heartedly rooting for March and his family.

March is such a strong, determined, passionate young man. I really appreciated reading a story about an autistic protagonist who has depth, nuance, insight, intelligence, and dynamism. He was not dehumanized or belittled. I sensed authentic compassion between the lines of this book that never struck me as misplaced pity and instead struck me more as an attempt at genuine acceptance. The significant characters wanted to see March be his truest self while balancing the need to navigate with March the sometimes harsh realities of the neurotypical world to help March in achieving his own goals.

March and his family were easy to love and also imperfect people who had their own growing yet to do. I enjoyed learning more about the Pacific Northwest and our ecosystem, especially with March as my teacher and guide. I am grateful to have connected to an autistic protagonist whose impairments were significant, whose gifts were hard for him to share, and whose flapping and stimming were an ever present part of how he moved in time and space. Too many people do not yet know how very much autistic people have to offer the world. How excellent if this book chips away at that unfortunate ignorance. Diversity is key with forests and with human kind.

I hope one day to give this book to my son so that it might encourage him to follow his passions brazenly and so that it might serve as an emblem that growth is a constant and life is full of cycles.
Source: www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3H9LW5UFM07IX/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B01BVD40HS
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photo 2016-09-08 10:39
cannon beach book company

Books on the Beach! Thanks to the Cannon Beach Book Company for stocking and hand-selling The Eagle Tree. #Eagletree #books@cannonbeachlife

Source: theeagletree.com
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text 2016-08-19 03:06
Book Review: The Eagle Tree
(Thanks to luvtoread for the thoughtful review)

 

Book Review: The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes

 

TheEagleTreeCoverSynopsis: Set in Olympia, Washington, Peter “March” Wong is a fourteen-year-old autistic boy who lives with his mother. He loves trees and loves to climb them. He sees a giant Ponderosa Pine called The Eagle Tree and dreams of climbing it.

 

Review: This was an illuminating, but slow, read. I almost set it aside, but pushed through and I’m very glad that I read it, as I feel this is a book I will continue to think about.

 

The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes is a very sweet book that I discovered by surfing Amazon one evening. I was drawn to the cover and the interesting sounding synopsis, and it was a very unique read.

 

Told entirely from the point of view of Peter “March” Wong, March is an autistic boy who loves to climb trees and learn about them. March is single-minded about the trees, and it was interesting to get inside his head and hear his perspective about other people and why he reacts in certain ways, and why he loves trees and climbing them.

 


“The Eagle Tree was like a lighthouse to me, a beacon of hope, a sign of great life that towers over everything. It drew me in, saying, Climb me, climb me. Trees like this keep me oriented in a storm of things I do not understand.”


 

Once I got over my panic at the thought of a fourteen-year-old boy climbing trees (and big trees!) constantly, most of the time without supervision, I was able to settle into the story.

Set in Olympia, Washington, the trees are all around, and are characters in their own way. Each tree is different, with different features, and March explains them all, which can be very dry at times. So dry, that I almost had to set the book aside. But I continued on because I wanted to know if March would ever climb his beloved Eagle Tree.

 

Once March spies the Eagle Tree, he fixates on being able to climb it, and must overcome obstacles to get close to his tree. Obstacles include his mother, his uncle, the fact that the tree is now on private property and is slated to be bulldozed for a new development, and the state potentially taking March away from his mother.

 

There is a lot of tree science in the book, and there is also a lot of talk about climate change (seriously – if you know someone who doesn’t believe global warming is real, this book might change their mind). Sometimes all of this science stuff just made my eyes glaze over, but other times it was fascinating, especially when it talked of various reasons the beetle populations are so large now and how that impacts trees, and also humans. It’s actually quite scary.

 


“What action can you take to influence the world? What can you do that doesn’t hurt you or the people around you? What can you do that takes all that powerful energy you have and does good in the world?”


 

There are several interesting characters in The Eagle Tree, from March’s hardworking and patient mother, Janet Wong, to March’s kind and understanding uncle, Mike Washington. There are also great characters I wanted to know more about: Maria Elliot, a Nisqually lady who works for the Environmental Defense Council in Olympia, and March’s classmates, Stig, and Sarah.

 

Since March is autistic, it was absolutely fascinating and illuminating to me to be able to see what goes through his mind. Reading how sounds and lights impact March and why he interacts with people the way he does was very insightful. The author, Ned Hayes, has worked with children on the autistic spectrum, and this shows in the writing. I thought this aspect of the book was very well done.

 

There was a part at the end of the book that I got very emotional over, because this book called to mind my great-grandfather, who was a logger and high climber in the PNW. Having just lost my grandfather, his son, this June, I really felt this book in a different way most readers would, as I’ve recently gone through a bunch of the old logging photos and I can understand the allure of climbing trees and how brave someone is who climbs them.

 


“Nature is God’s vast palette, and through it I believe that we can see fingerprints of grace everywhere we look.”


 

So because of my personal attachment to parts of the plot, and due to the fascinating insight into someone with autism, this is a book that will stay with me for a while, and will be one I continue to think about. This would be a good discussion book, but some may have a hard time getting through the drier sections.

 

Bottom Line: Wonderful insight into autism. Very dry in parts, but it has a lot of heart and spotlights timely issues.

 

Links to The Eagle Tree on   Amazon  and   Goodreads

 

Have you read The Eagle Tree? What are your thoughts? Do you know of any other books with autistic characters? Any other books that tackle global warming?

Source: luvtoread.com/2016/08/15/book-review-the-eagle-tree-by-ned-hayes
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