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review 2018-07-25 03:04
The Ruin of a Rake (The Turner Series #3)
The Ruin of a Rake - Cat Sebastian

This one started off kind of slow and I wasn't sure I would be able to like Julien or Courtenay much. Their brief appearances in The Lawrence Browne Affair were too small to really get a fix on Julien, and Courtenay came off a little slimy. 

 

He starts this book in not much of a better light. His reputation has been tarnished, much by his own means, and he's finding himself a social leper after a salacious book written by an unknown author comes out with him cast as the main villain. Courtenay does everything he can to live down to everyone's bad opinions of him. Julien, on the other hand, designs his outward person to ingratiate himself into high society, despite being the son of a merchant and being "cursed" with having to earn a living. He's so preoccupied with appearing proper and perfect at all times that doing anything even remotely scandalous is unthinkable. So what happens when these two buffoons get together?

 

At first, a lot of frustration. Julien's wrangled into helping Courtenay repair his reputation and Courtenay does not cooperate. Of course, they're both secretly lusting for each other and so of course have to act like they hate each other. The hijinks they get into early on just had be eye rolling because I don't consider that kind of behavior remotely appealing or sexy. I really was worried I wouldn't like this one.

 

And then the characters got over themselves and started opening up, and secrets started being revealed that explained their motivations, and the story and relationship got a lot better. There's even an interesting subplot involving Julien's sister and her estranged husband that was very well done and didn't feel shoe-horned in. The second half really helped pull the rating back up. I also really appreciated that this ended with Julien and Courtenay in a much more realistic point of their relationship giving the times and their social standings.

 

Once again, Gary Furlong does a fantastic job narrating. If it wasn't for him, I'm not sure I would've finished this. He's become a favorite over the course of this series.

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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 2018-03-17 02:59
Who We Are
Who We Are - Nicola Haken

This was such a great read! I wished it were longer - but kind of not, because my eyeballs couldn't have withstood leaking any more than they already were, but since some things were more summarized nearing the end, I didn't feel quite completely satisfied with some aspects of the story. Thankfully, those were minor aspects involving minor characters, so it wasn't too big of a deal.

 

Anyway, I loved Ollie and Sebastian. This is one of the few instances I found the insta believable, because it wasn't insta-lust but insta-like and we've all been through that, whether romantic or platonic. They actually go on dates, and get to know each other, and the relationship is built up believably enough that when things take a sudden turn for the worse, I actually found the emotions and struggles to be realistic. I also liked Ollie's brother Tyler, even though he constantly abused "init" and acted like a typical moody teen at times, but he really showed how much he cared for and adored his unorthodox big bro.

 

Plus, Sebastian is bisexual. He said it. He explains the internal biphobia, the problems he faces when datings straight women or gay men. I am so, so glad that more authors are embracing bisexual characters in their books and getting away from the GFY trope.

 

I do wish we'd gotten to see more of Sebastian's family - even his uncle cuz I want to take that moment at the dining table and frame it on my wall - you'll know that moment if you read the book. And there was this other thing between the besties that happens at the end too, that I'm not sure why it was included at all unless perhaps Ms. Haken is thinking of a potential sequel, which I would definitely read if so.

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review 2018-03-08 03:54
Boy Meets Boy (Audiobook)
Boy Meets Boy - David Levithan

Why would anyone eat a lentil burger? What is wrong with you people? That is taking vegetarianism way too far!

 

 

But that disturbing moment aside, this was a fun listen. I liked the full cast production, they went into audio play territory, with sound effects, songs and all that jazz. The cast was great, though I was confused at times when Noah or Paul were talking. Not sure why they'd pick two guys who sound so much alike for those roles.

 

This was pretty much Teen Melodrama and Teen Angst, but peppered with enough humor to make the melodrama and angst more palatable (unlike lentils). I have a feeling that if I'd read this instead of listened to it, though, I wouldn't have liked it near as much.

 

It was a little too much "ultra liberal paradise" to be believable but I just started thinking of it as a fantasy/AU after awhile. (Cheerleading squad that rides choppers? Who's paying for that?) I also wanted to smack Paul on several occasions, especially when he's complaining about having no one to talk about his problems. I mean, I know he's a teen but dude, your parents??? That's kind of what they're there for.

 

I liked Noah and Paul and Tony and even Kevin after awhile. I wanted to like Joanie more but her character does this thing and since the story just sort of ends without resolving said things, I'm kind of left waffling on her. Infinite Darlene was a hoot, a real scene stealer.

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review 2018-02-19 03:39
Jack of Thorns (Inheritance #1)
Jack of Thorns (Inheritance Book 1) - Amelia Faulkner

A story set in San Diego written by someone who actually knows San Diego.

 

 

I was fully prepared to have to relive some really bad geography, ala Everything Changes  by Melanie Hansen, but by the time chapter five or so rolled around, I knew I was in good hands. I even learned something about that ginormous tree in the middle of Balboa Park (because she's right; locals totally don't read those tourist signs, lol). Woot!

 

Now onto stuff other readers will actually care about. :D The world-building in this book is fantastic and I'm eager to see how she develops this world going forward. This is the way I like my world-building - just enough information that I'm not lost but not so much information that the mystery is ruined. There is no info-dumping here, but we still get a complex world with hints of more lairs hidden beneath. Faulkner borrows from Celtic myths, psychic tropes and even throws in a little bit of mystery, while also balancing themes of classism, abuse and addiction. Warnings re: the addiction storyline:

Laurence drives while high on marijuana several times, which is dangerous but wasn't actually illegal until this year (2018). He also craves heroin several times. Quentin has alcoholic tendencies but those aren't focused on quite as much, though he does get smashed a couple of times.

(spoiler show)

This is a really slow burn. If you're looking for smexy or smut, look elsewhere. The MCs only kiss - twice - and one of those times was not with romantic intentions. Quentin has a lot of hangups with sex, though those reasons are only guessed at here, so this is something that appears will be explored in later books. I love that Laurence never pressures him. He doesn't ignore the issues but doesn't push more than Quentin is comfortable with.

 

We get both Laurence and Quentin's POVs, and the author actually gives them their own unique voices in their POVs. This is sadly rare in M/M, where all MCs have the same voices, so it deserves recognition when an author is able to do this. Quentin does have this habit of referring to himself as "one" throughout the first half of the book, but this seemed tied up with his many issues.

 

There were a couple of minor continuity issues and very few typos. I also felt that Laurence's bisexuality was more lip service than anything else. 

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