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Search tags: coming-of-age
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review 2017-02-13 19:11
Of Foster Homes and Flies by Chad Lutzke
Of Foster Homes and Flies - Chad Lutzke

Of Foster Homes and Flies has been on my reading docket for over 6 months now. I wish I hadn't waited so long. This is a heartbreaking tale about young Denny and the loss of his parents. But it's about so much more than that, really.

 

When a 12 year old boy has lost his father, and then loses his mother shortly thereafter, (to a constant state of drunkenness), there isn't much to look forward to in his young life. His family is poor, he hasn't even ridden in a car in years, (never mind his family owning one), and Ingrid, the family dog, has been exposed to so much cigarette smoke she's no longer white.

 

Over the past year, Denny has been regretting having not entered his school's spelling bee last year. This time around, Denny is going to enter that spelling bee-and come hell or high water, he's going to win it. Will he really win? You'll have to read this novella to find out!

 

I'm not sure why I identified so much with this kid, but I did. Everything about him and his poor family rang true to me. I loved the depictions of his few friends and neighbors-which only goes to show you that in the end, in spite of being surrounded by people, you can still be alone. I just wanted to reach out and hug Denny. I wish he were right now so I could.

 

I've read one of Chad Lutzke's stories before in the anthology "Bumps in the Road", which he edited. I loved that story too, but not quite as much as this one. Highly recommended for fans of coming-of-age tales like Robert McCammon's Boy's Life, James Newman's Midnight Rain, or John Boden's Jedi Summer: with The Magnetic Kid.

 

You should grab a copy and you can right here. Of Foster Homes and Flies

 

If you do, give Denny a hug from me. 

 

*I received a complimentary copy of this novella in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2017-02-12 19:25
Review: "Overlooked" (Gives Light, #6) by Rose Christo
Overlooked - Rose Christo

"Sky took my hand, opening my mind. I saw what he saw through small brown fox eyes. I saw that every single person had at least one good quality, and you could love that good one or hate the bad ones instead, but the choice was yours."

 

I'm afraid that this was the weakest book in the series for me. While I am still torn about the sudden paranormal shift which has been introduced out of the blue in the previous book, Rafael's psychic abilities approached absurd territory here and became more than a little ridiculous. I mean, am I really supposed to believe that he and his sister Mary can agree to meet up in their dreams where they can have full-on conversations?

 

 

What was even weirder was Mary's sudden urge to take out a blood law on Skylar's father (no spoiler, it's in the blurb). Where was that storyline in Looks Over? What makes this so bizarre was that Skylar wasn't kept in the dark about Mary's plans, but he fully knew about them. And yet this has never been mentioned in the second book WHEN WE WERE IN HIS HEAD.

 

 

All in all, I still liked the writing and the characters well enough to give this book 4 stars. Because I still love Rafael and Skylar and all of their family and friends. But the story hasn't really worked for me in the last two books. I'm worried about where this series is going, and I'm wondering if it's really for the best to retell the whole series through Rafael's POV when it changes the initial tone of the first books that much.

 

 
Oh, and BTW this made me LOL:

"I was seventeen years old.  I thought about sex every five seconds."

~ Rafael, mentioning sex for the very first time EVER in 6 books. And also for the last time. ~

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review 2017-02-11 19:54
Review: "Lending Light" (Gives Light, #5) by Rose Christo
Lending Light - Rose Christo

"I'd lived my whole life in the dark until I met the boy who blanketed the earth in his name."

 

This is the fifth book in the Gives Light series and a re-telling of the first one, only this time from Rafael's POV.

 

Now if you've been following my reviews, you already know that I've been DYING to read Rafael's story and to finally see Skylar through his eyes. And I wasn't disappointed. (Ok, maybe a little bit, but more about that later.)

 

It was so wonderful to see how Rafael's self-loathing at the beginning changed at the very moment that Skylar stepped into his life. How Rafael's view of the world, a world that for him only consisted of darkness, gloom and misery, turned bright and colorful, step by step, thanks to Skylar and his "light". Rafael's journey of self-acceptance, and his will to become a better person because he desperately wanted to be a better person, a person who's worth of Skylar's friendship and love, was just as wonderful as I hoped it would be and more.

 

 

And while this book covers the same storyline as the first one in the series, there are more than enough differences to keep this from just being a re-narration. Nothing here felt repetitive or redundant; it was a whole new story with a completely different feel to it.

 

HOWEVER (I always seem to have an "however" issue with this series), even after I finished the book, I'm still conflicted on how to feel about the inclusion of the paranormal element that was introduced here all of a sudden and out of the blue.

 

 

While I was reading the first 4 books, I just LOVED the idea that Rafael was able to understand and communicate with Skylar only by paying attention to his body language and his facial expressions. But now in this 5th book, the story unexpectedly shifts to supernatural territory. It turns out that Rafael actually CAN see people’s auras and literally feel their feelings just by touching them. He hears Skylar's thoughts clearly in his mind and the two of them actually have these full-on conversations, even without looking at each other. It was like Rafael suddenly became some sort of mind reader or something.

 

 

I have to be honest, Rafael's sudden psychic ability threw me off. And as strange as it sounds, but the inclusion of "magic" actually made the romance anticlimactically less magical for me. I still don't know if this series benefited from this paranormal component or not; but as for myself, I would have preferred to keep this universe realistic, without any paranormal or mystical component to it. I never really got over that shift during the course of the whole book.

 

 

But Rose Christo's prose was just as beautiful as always, and even though I always seem to find fault with every book in this series that prevents me from giving them a full 5 star-rating, I think a constant 4.5 star-rating is nothing to sneeze at.

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review 2017-02-06 17:49
The Primrose Way by Jackie French Koller

In The Primrose Way by Jackie French Koller we find a detailed account of the first years of settlement in the Boston colony and its environs. Beginning in 1633, we find Rebekah onboard a ship from England just as they sight the land surrounding Massachusetts Bay. Rebekah is coming to join her father, an elder in the church. She is excited to reach the colony yet after leaving the comfort of a cozy home with servants she is somewhat taken aback at the conditions she finds in Boston. Things go downhill once more when she leaves the relatively civilized Boston for the new settlement of Agawam at the edge of the wilderness. Throughout the story Rebekah will deal with betrayal, loss, and love. But will she opt to return to England and the chance to be a bride or choose to remain in the colony and seek her true love?

 

The Primrose Way is a clever tapestry of fact and fiction that is skillfully woven by the author. Great detail into the everyday existence of both white settlers and Native Americans gives the reader a true picture of what life was like in the early 17th century. Easy reading that will move you through the story at a rapid pace but you'll want to slow down and savor each finely drawn scene. Don't gloss over the details - they add so much to the story. And while the story is placed in early America the characters deal with problems that are relevant today.

 

This book includes a glossary of Native American terms as well as a detailed bibliography for further reading. Teachers and students alike will enjoy The Primrose Way not only for its story but for the lessons it teaches. Highly recommended.

 

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review 2017-02-04 19:33
Review: "St. Clair" (Gives Light, #3) by Rose Christo
St. Clair - Rose Christo

"I don't know that I can describe just how much I loved Rafael. More than anything. More than air. You don't sit around thinking about how much you love air. You just breathe. That's exactly how I loved Rafael. It was involuntary. I couldn't shut it off any more than a man can hold his breath without suffocating."

 

I've read some reviews of this book, and a lot of people were disappointed. The consent being that it was a letdown compared to the first two installments of the series. I honestly couldn't disagree more. I loved this book even more than the first two and so far it's my favorite of the series. I think it was the perfect mixture of Skylar's own personal dramas (yes, plural. Could you PLEASE give that poor boy a break, Ms. Christo?) and some very important lessons on the outrageous treatment of the Native Americans from the US government.

 

 

Some readers said that there was an overkill of the description of the Native American culture with all its legends and tales this time. Now I've read all 3 books back to back and I couldn't spot a difference or any deviation in the story-telling at all; the amount of Native American tales wasn't any higher than usual. I should probably mention though that I enjoyed the heck out these tales, they kept being entertaining, interesting and eye-opening.

 

There was also the complaint that the "voice of the author" took over the "voice of Skylar" as the narrator. Now I don't even know what that's supposed to mean. Maybe that the descriptions of the way the Native Americans are so very unfairly and outrageously treated by the government overtook Skylar's own personal story at some point? If so, I didn't notice anything like that at all. Skylar was still the sweet boy with a big heart of gold that I (and Rafael) fell in love with at first sight. I still loved being in his head. I still loved him.

 

 

Admittedly, there WERE some flaws in the story for me though. First, as I mentioned in my updates, there was this complete lack of acknowledgement of the sexual side of Skylar and Rafael's relationship. Yeah, I know this is YA and I know that minors don't need to read explicit sex scenes in their books. But it's also so very frustrating to see the main characters talking about and doing research on sex, and even describe how they go and buy condoms and lube, only to just fade to black when it comes to the climax. With no comments or afterthoughts at all. Dear YA authors, please just drop the issue of sex completely or follow through with it to the end. But don't build up the anticipation only to leave me high and dry when things start to get interesting. Oh, and also Ms. Christo, it's totally A-OK to say the words "condoms" and "lube", even in a YA novel. Probably especially in a YA novel. You don't have to refer to them as "stuff".

 

 

I also didn't really appreciate how the author just kept abandoning certain story lines completely and didn't bring them back for a satisfying conclusion.

 

 

  • What's with that part where Skylar admitted to Rafael that he was being sexually molested as a child? What was the point of that? It was addressed briefly, then completely dropped and never mentioned again. It added nothing to the story at all, and the way to drop a huge bomb like this to the reader without ever getting back to it just feels strange.
  • How did Zeke react to his abusing father coming back to the reservation? Is he living with him again?
  • How did all the people in the reservation react to the arrest and conviction of Skylar's dad? What was Racine's (his father's girlfriend's) reaction?

 

(spoiler show)

 

 

Thankfully, since I've grown to love all of the characters, these complaints couldn't lessen my enjoyment of the story.

 

 

So here I am, still loving this series. I love the characters (main and secondary), I love the description of the Native American culture and its strong sense of community and I still love the writing.

 

 

On to the next one.

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