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review 2017-09-19 03:51
Infected: Lesser Evils (Infected #6)
Infected: Lesser Evils - Andrea Speed

I just can't seem to stay in love with this series, but I am at least saying in like with it. Once again, there are lots of things I really like here, mostly with the characterizations and the relationship building. Holden and Scott were especially a nice surprise. But, and this is a big but, Ms. Speed just can't seem to decide where to take this story. The overall arc is well done - Roan's continued evolution/downslide as a virus child and how the virus is changing/being changed by him and vice versa. Other than that though, there are a lot of things that are introduced and then just sort of get shoved aside, forgotten or rushed at the end so at least something's kind of resolved. 

 

Still, I'm glad I'm reading these after they've all been released, because that cliffhanger is just cruel. CRUEL I SAY! 

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review 2017-08-26 18:48
Accepting the Fall
Accepting the Fall - Meg Harding

This is my first book by this author and it's a good one. It's a nice slow burn as Cole and Zander reunite and get to know each other again after their disastrous first attempt at love as teens. Cole's now a teacher and Zander's a firefighter with a daughter in Cole's class. While there's plenty of focus on their past and current relationship, this doesn't ignore the rest of their lives and I liked having that balance here. I might have found it a little hard to believe they'd still be hung up on each other after 17 years apart, but there was enough time given to them getting reacquainted that it didn't bother me too much.

 

I loved Savannah, and Cole's plethora of pets. Savannah was a realistic five-year old - not sweetly perfect but not out of control disruptive either. She had a lot of issues and I like they were taken seriously, and I really liked seeing Zander overcome his own issues to help  her deal with hers.

 

Aside from the inability to capitalize "Marines" ever, and one very wrong wording choice, there weren't too many editing issues, better than most stories out there today. 

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review 2017-03-11 03:09
Just Juliet
Just Juliet - Charlotte Reagan

This was just okay. It was all very...nice. And simple. And low angst. All problems were safely in the past. All new problems were easily surmounted and quickly put behind them.

 

The first third was promising. Lena finds out she's attracted to a girl, doesn't freak out, does some googling and instead of going GFY figures out she's bisexual. So that was good. The James's are a great, fun, close-knit family. Lena and Juliet's first date was pretty rad and adorable.

 

And then it just sort of meanders and keeps going way past the point it should have ended because there really wasn't much of a plot. It goes through all the tradition coming out tropes - telling the bestie, telling the family, telling the world - but there's no real emotion to anything. We're told what Lena's feeling, but I never felt it myself. Scott and Lakyn were...confusing. Scott is a well-rounded character and very mature and provides Lena with some good advice. Lakyn, who has been through some terrible times, is shy and a jerk and whenever he speaks, I kept seeing him as twelve instead of seventeen. But as a couple, other than being the cute gay couple, they didn't really add anything to the story.

 

The writing is technically pretty good, though dry, just a few stray typos and just one or two questionable word choices. There's a lot of telling in the later part of the book, versus showing. The characters are pretty one-note, and the way Lacey, the "token black kid," is introduced doesn't get improved upon as the story progresses. I know all these kids are, well, kids, but even my friends weren't throwing around this many sexist slurs when we were that age. Every single time any girl (usually Lacey) did anything questionable or assertive or not-nice, she's described as bitchy. Really? I don't know if the author is aware of the "black girls are more promiscuous" stereotype, but Lacey unfortunately inhabits that too. And the gay "jokes" were pretty terrible and also usually spoken by Lacey. Lacey just gets terrible treatment through most of the book. For a "gay friendly" book, there is a lot of low-key homophobia. 

 

This started promising but just became meh by the end and I had to force myself to finish.

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review 2017-01-29 04:12
The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1)
The Hidden Oracle - Rick Riordan

I was ready to give this three stars, but the climax saved it from being just okay. Riordan does know how to write action and introduce a well-earned plot twist, so I bumped this up to four stars. It also helped that Apollo stopped patting himself on the back just for existing, because the dude was annoying me in the first half. It's good he's going to get actual character development and not just be a one-note arrogant tool.

 

I've only read the Percy Jackson series before this, and while I enjoyed those books, I ended them figuring I wouldn't read anything else as they started getting samey. And much of this book is also samey, but eventually the characters, especially Meg, won me over. I wasn't lost at all while reading it, since Riordan gives sufficient background into the events from previous books. It was good to see Percy, Nico, Rachel and Chiron again, and I'm interested to see how things develop between Apollo and Meg, and how or if Apollo is able to redeem himself and how certain oaths he makes are going to shake out.

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review 2016-12-13 06:15
We Are the Ants
We Are the Ants - Shaun David Hutchinson

Trigger Warnings: discussion of suicide, suicide ideation, bullying

(including physical and attempted sexual assault),

(spoiler show)

depression,

miscarriage

(spoiler show)

; to a lesser degree, alcoholism, drug use. Also abduction and non-consenual medical procedures/experiments (because aliens). I would really strongly urge anyone thinking of reading this to make sure you're in a good head space, even if these aren't particular triggers for you .This is a pretty grim book most of the time, though it does lighten up somewhat in the second half.

 

So after thinking about this all weekend, I'm going to have to separate out my thoughts on this one. Since I read it for a YA group, that did shift how I read it and what I was looking at while reading. I think as a YA book, it really depends on the kid, and probably not suitable for kids younger than 15 or 16 (depending of course on the maturity of the individual child). It would be one I'd want to discuss with any kid who is reading it because of it's very heavy subject matter, and because it's written so evocatively that it really pulls you into the MC's head space, which is rather dark and dreary for a good portion of the book. I was also thinking that this isn't a book that would've appealed to me as a teen because this is the last thing I'd want to read while also surviving high school. Just, no thank you. I'm also baffled why sex in YA is such a no-no, but

sexual assault

(spoiler show)

gets a pass, along with underage drinking and illegal drug use, both of which are done with parental approval. I can't even say it was under parental supervision, because, well... I don't think it counts as supervision when the parent is smoking with the kid. So as a book aimed at YA age groups, it's not very YA-friendly. Parental advisory, and all that, I guess.

 

All that being said, if I'd been reading this on my own without taking all that other stuff into consideration, it's easily 4.5 stars. This is pretty much everything I look for in a book. I could sink my teeth into it, there was plenty to make me think, and it did a bang-up job of getting me into the MC's mental state, which is not always easy to do with stories centered around depression. Not all depressions are the same, not everyone experiences it the same way, but I grew up with a mother who was suffering from depression and I've had my bouts with it myself. There's a fine line between getting the essence of depression across to the reader and making it feel authentic to the character's experiences and thoughts versus "I just read the DSM description and browsed through WebMD, and this is what depression is!" type of portrayals of mental illness. It's kind of the same difference when watching a movie and seeing the character vs seeing the actor playing the character. I can't speak for anyone else and would never presume to, but in my experiences, this book gets depression right.

 

As for the aliens...

whether they ever existed at all or where just hallucinations that Henry conjured to give himself something else to focus his pain, anger and confusion on, that's left open-ended. If they're real, then it's highly likely the world is going to end. If they're not real, then their absence at the end signals a new beginning for Henry. Things in Henry's life are still far from perfect, but they are starting to look up. We're not told, and it's up to the reader to decide. At least I know which ending I would pick.

(spoiler show)

 

I really liked Diego and Audrey, who were great friends for Henry, and I even came to like his family - kind of. :P Ms. Faraci was great. While I hated Marcus and the other bullies, I did appreciate that Marcus was given depth without turning this into yet another bully apologist bullcrap plot line like the last two books I read that centered on bullying.

(Though I'm not a fan of the "MC is secretly sleeping with his in-the-closet bully" trope. This is the third YA m/m book I've read this year with this trope, and it in fact reminded me so much of [book:Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me|25823439] - which I did not like - that I was constantly comparing them while I read because they hit all of the same plot points and at pretty much the same pace and for the same reasons. Aliens aside, of course.)

(spoiler show)
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