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review 2017-07-20 17:41
I didn't know I cared this much about Sideswipe
Optimus Prime #9 - John Barber,Kei Zama

But it turns out I do.   This was a bittersweet look at Sideswipe, his relationship with Sunstreaker, and his relationship with Arcee.   (I also didn't realized I shipped them until now, and I do, really hard.)

 

It didn't end where I thought I would, and yet it's the most perfect ending to Sideswipe's storyline here.   More touching and thoughtful than this series has been in my opinion, and this kind of issue is why I never discount Barber, even though a rough patch with this series. 

 

I'm finding myself interested more in Sideswipe, Jazz, and Thundercracker than in the title character.  I wish this wasn't so focused on Optimus, to be honest, as I usually am neutral about him, but dislike him given what he's done in this continuity.   

 

But, yes, I will most definitely be picking up number ten!

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review 2017-07-20 15:38
One of my favorite tropes is included
Blood of Tyrants - Naomi Novik

And man, I just loved this novel.  I know that this isn't for everyone - amnesia trope, by the way - but I've loved it since I fell in love with the X-Men, and Wolverine in particular.  I also love how well Novik does hurt/comfort, two tropes that are well used in fanfiction.   It should be noted that Novik is very open about starting out writing fanfiction, realizing she didn't like those confines, and never wanting to write fanfiction, filing off that serial number, and replacing names before publishing.  Oh, no, she uses fanfiction to get somewhere original, to eventually create a wholly original world. 

 

But I'm not surprised to see so many tropes that I enjoy and are used in fanfic so often in her writing either. 

 

Laurence, shipwrecked in China, has to find his way back to Temeraire, without use of his memory.   Meanwhile, everyone around Temeraire is convinced that Laurence is drowned, and tries to let him get on with it - mostly by allowing him to believe that Laurence is alive and to keep looking for him until he wears himself out with that searching.   

 

I find it very telling when they're apart and what they're willing to do for each other: it's touching, and I couldn't help but hurt for Temeraire every time someone tried to tell him Laurence was dead. 

 

Love, love, love.   This one moved really quickly for me, and I tended to resent having to put it down.  Looking forward to the last novel.

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review 2017-07-17 18:35
Reservation Blues, by Sherman Alexie
Reservation Blues - Sherman Alexie

This is my first Alexie and not my last. I'm struggling with what to say about it and how because somehow this not-huge novel feels like it's packed in everything about Indian (as they refer to themselves) culture with its focus on a particular reservation and a rock band's steep rise and fall. It does so with deadpan humor and a mix of the fantastic and real that calls to mind magical realism but is distinctive. It's necessarily sad yet not depressing--there's the humor, and there's wonder and hope. There's not an insignificant or uncharismatic character in the book. I feel like I've taken a long, strange trip with them and wish them well.

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review 2017-07-14 17:01
Review Request: All The Way To Shore by CJane Elliott
All the Way to Shore - C. Jane Elliott

When the author approached me with a request to read and review this book, I took a look at the blurb and happily agreed.

This book has all the elements I look for in a romance novel - well-fleshed out, complex main characters with imperfections, a believable romantic relationship, a realistic stumbling block derailing the romance for a little while, and a wonderful supporting cast. Add to that the underlying theme of figuring out who you really are, and what you really want out of life, and I was hooked.

Jonathan's love is classical music and his piano, and he wanted to attend college pursuing his passion, but was roped into a business job by his domineering and rather cold father to come work for the family business, Vallen Industries. Jonathan loathes the job, but doesn't feel that he has a choice - his older brother James who was supposed to follow in their father's footsteps passed away in a tragic accident, and Jonathan feels he owes it to his father to take James' spot. 

But he hates it, and it shows. He's not business material, and while he's good with numbers and charts, he feels stifled. From the start, I felt that Jonathan was depressed and unhappy, especially in light of having to hide his sexuality from his disapproving father, and having thus no personal life to speak of.

Since the business isn't doing so well, the older Vallen hires a new temporary CEO, a young hot-shot of Italian heritage, studly and smart and ambitious Marco Pellegrini. Marco sees pretty quickly that the younger Vallen has no sense for or interest in the business, but tries to train the younger man anyway, all while planning to increase business profits by at least the margin for which he was hired.

All Jonathan sees is that he'll never compare and uses this opportunity to escape. His late mother left him a cottage on Cape Cod, and Jonathan quits the company and runs, hoping to find himself and his music again.

A year later, after having got a dog and losing quite a few pounds, after trading his glasses for contacts and his old sweats for more fashionable clothing, Jonathan is convinced by his cousin Anthony to go on an LGBT cruise in the Caribbean. 

Marco Pellegrini is also on the same cruise with his younger sister Sophia, taking his first vacation in a year, but doesn't recognize Jonathan due to his rather different appearance. 

And Jonathan, with help from Anthony, pretends his name is Jonah Rutledge, secretly happy that Marco doesn't recognize him. 

I loved both Jonathan and Marco. They were very different in many ways, but also alike in others. Jonathan felt unlovable, and didn't think he deserved someone like Marco, where Marco was rather driven, having worked his way up from poverty to being a sought-after CEO, while not making time to find someone with whom to share his life. Both are very lonely deep down.

The romance begins on the cruise ship, with lots of UST, trips to shore and having fun in the sun, but it's clear that both Jonathan and Marco long for more than just a quick roll in the hay. They have a connection, they have similar interests and likes, and they get along fabulously. All the while, Jonathan knows he has to come clean about the lie, even if the only lie was his name and all the other things he's told Marco are true.

Even though the bulk of the book is told from Jonathan's POV, the author utilizes an interesting method to give also insights into Marco's mind by giving us diary entries. I especially liked that Marco included a section of gratitude in each entry - just things he was thankful for - and how those changed over time. 

As you can glean from the blurb, things don't go smoothly all the way, and Jonathan's lie is abruptly exposed when his overbearing father shows up at the last stop of the cruise to bring Marco back to work, sees his wayward son with his CEO, and nearly ruins everything Jonathan and Marco hoped to build.

Marco initially cannot forgive Jonathan for pretending to be someone else, but as they both return to their respective homes, they both realize that if you really want something, you have to fight for it. And Marco understands Jonathan well enough by then to also realize that he has to wait for the other man to come to him, even if he's normally a go-getter and not very patient at all.

The way they work things out to get back together was ever so romantic and sweet, and it was very clear that they did want to be together. Jonathan especially had to find his backbone to go after what he really wants, and boy, does he ever. 

The climactic high-point of this book takes place in a boardroom, and it was a joy to behold how Jonathan stands up for himself and for Marco, and thus finds himself to be the person he was meant to be, and the person I knew had been simmering underneath the surface all along. Fabulous! 

With a satisfying HEA ending, this book is truly a grand romance, and I would definitely recommend you give it a try. I enjoyed this author's writing style, I loved the characters, including the supporting cast in Anthony/Andrew and Sophia, I would have loved to clock the older Vallen a few times, and I had a fantastic time reading this book. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-07-13 01:48
Love it!
Crucible of Gold (Temeraire) - Naomi Novik,Naomi Novik

There's so much going on here, and I kinda love Iskierka, and Granby's standing up to her finally!

 

The Inca, the ways the balance of power shift, and the way Novik balances action, characters, and humor is pretty amazing.   

 

Love, love, love.   I don't really want to write a long review so I can finish up my mini review flood now that my computer is up and running again - as in I can recharge it again - so I can finish Blood of Tyrants, which is one of my favorite books in the series.

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