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review 2017-06-20 00:18
Save Me a Seat
Save Me a Seat - Gita Varadarajan,Sarah Weeks

Save Me a Seat is a recent middle grade book co-authored by veteran Sarah Weeks and newcomer Gita Varadarajan.  While not explicitly discussed in the interviews, I believe the two authors met at a Teachers College Writing Workshop directed by Lucy Calkins and that the collaborative project may have been born during the workshop. 

 

The book features alternating chapters of the first week of 5th grade from two viewpoints, Joe (written by Ms. Weeks) and Ravi (written by Ms. Varadarajan).  Joe has lived in the same small town in central NJ all his life.  Ravi has just moved to the US from India.  Taking place over the course of a single week, the boys find common cause and the seed of a friendship as they are both targets of their class bully, an Indian-American kid named Dillon Samreen.

 

There were many moments of humor and realistic tween emotions throughout Save Me a Seat. I also liked the clever way the book used food as a framing.  However, I didn’t fall in love with the story or the characters. While seeing yourself represented in books is important, I thought it was just too convenient that Joe’s defining characteristic is a learning disability.  And there were times that the moral lessons of looking beyond the surface to find potential friends were just a bit too blatant for my adult eyes.  As I read, I kept wondering if this is a book kids would really be attracted to on their own or if it was written to be a parable and the basis of lesson plans and won’t find many readers outside that context.

 

Read for Tomorrowland 34 in Booklikes-opoly

 

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text 2017-06-18 17:30
Reading progress update: I've read 61%.
A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin

 

Well, it doesn't involve cute little innocent kittens licking themselves and being adorable, let me tell you!

 

I HAVE SEEN THINGS THAT CANNOT BE UNSEEN!

 

 

AKLKSDFJALDSFHDSALFHDASKLJKAJF

 

And I even had this whole

Bolton/Frey alliance figured out (though not for the entirely right reasons) way back in Book 2. I knew something like this was coming.

(spoiler show)

 

Still not prepared.

 

CATELYN TOO? WHYYYYY?

(spoiler show)

 

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review 2017-04-15 04:49
Connection Error (#gaymers #3)
Connection Error - Annabeth Albert,Sean Crisden

As with the previous two books in this series, traveling and getting to know each other while trapped together in a confined space plays an important part in the MCs' relationship. Unlike the previous two books, they weren't frenemies beforehand, and the traveling didn't force them to come to terms with their differences and learn to appreciate each other, with that appreciation quickly turning to love. 

 

I said in my review for the second book - Status Update? Or was it Beta Test? I don't really remember which one came first or second. - that they were too similar to each other and I probably would've done better to wait to listen to the second book so I could better appreciate it on its own merits. And that's why I waited so long to finally get around to this one. Well, that's one reason. The other would be Sean Crisden, who is at best a meh narrator for me, so he doesn't exactly inspire me to rush out and get his books. Yet somehow, despite his meh-ness, I still really enjoyed this book. 

 

I was really pleased to see that this book deviated a bit from the previous two. Ryan doesn't work for the video game developer that Josiah works for, so the first time they meet is on their flight, which they're both taking for different reasons. So there's none of that boring frenemy nonsense to bog through. They hit it off immediately and forge a really strong friendship while geeking out over the video game expansion packet Josiah is developing. 

 

And then they land - and Josiah realizes for the first time that Ryan, the super hunky Navy SEAL he's been sitting next to this whole time, is a double amputee, missing both his legs - and in true Josiah fashion he blurts out the most horrible insensitive thing you can say to an amputee. It doesn't matter that he doesn't mean it in a cruel way, that he's just stating the obvious in his shock. It's a bad thing and he knows it and immediately tries to apologize. Thankfully, Ryan's able to forgive him and their friendship continues.

 

A lot of this is told through their various texts and emails as they have a friends with benefits relationship long-distance while Ryan does his rehab in Texas Josiah works on his video expansion pack in Germany and California. We get to see them actually be friends and come to care for and like each other in that capacity. Yes, Ryan knows very early on that he wants more than just friendship, but there's no instalove here. I loved pretty much everything about their relationship and how it developed. Ryan takes longer to get to where Josiah is, but he's actually there a lot sooner than he realizes or admits. 

 

While I did like seeing them chit chat back and forth, these parts did kind of drag a wee bit. I'd have skimmed/skipped right over all those To:s and From:s and Subject:s if I were reading this myself so I could get to the actual messages faster. Crisden naturally had to read all those headers out in full. Also, Crisden does this weird thing with his voice when he's reading their texts and emails, like he's almost trying to make them sound a little robotic or automated. Or maybe he's just being typical Crisden. Hard to tell.

 

All the rehab stuff with Ryan and his goals and ambitions were very well done. I can tell the author did her research, and while I can't validate any of this as authentic, it did seem to be stuff that a double amputee would be reasonably expected to tackle during his recovery.

 

Josiah's issues at work though - I feel like Josiah got shortchanged in his own book. We get to meet Ryan's rehab team and see him doing his rehab and having his setbacks and successes and frustrations. Josiah's issues at work, leading a team for the first time and dealing with his ADHD and how that makes people undermine him, is mostly given lip service. We're told about it, but we don't actually see it. There's only one scene in the entire book at his job. One! Everything else we hear about secondhand, and not even from Josiah some of those times. And for all that we're told his ADHD can make reading social cues difficult, other than that first snafu on the airplane, we're also not really shown that either. There's so much focus on Ryan, that Josiah just got shifted to the side.

 

If there had been a better balance of scenes, I'd have given this four stars easily, but as it is, 3.5 is the best I can do.

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review 2017-04-02 19:27
Life Is Awesome (Mnevermind #3)
Life is Awesome - Jordan Castillo Price

This book made me so angry! I wanted to punch a certain someone in the face and now I want - no - NEED - a Mnevermind/Leverage crossover to make things right. 

 

Let's go steal us a mnem!

 

 

Okay, now that I got that off my chest, I loved this! It's not quite as good as Forget Me Not, but what can really compare to Elijah's POV? I liked the way the story progressed here. Some things were left (understandably) unresolved, because not everything in life does get resolved. I was bummed though that

Daniel never told Elijah "I love you". He kept thinking it while they were in mnem. He should've said it! The ending would've been the perfect time to say it. 

I was also waiting for Daniel to take Larry's comment about mneming at home to come up with a mobile mneming business, but that never came up again either.

(spoiler show)

If this means there's a potential for a fourth book somewhere down the line though, I'd be down with that. :D *hint*hint*nudge*nudge*

 

It was so gutting to see Daniel go from disillusioned to hopeful, to see Elijah and Big Dan come up with ways to take some of the pressure off Daniel for his dad's persistent mnem, and to see Larry again who is always a hoot and a half, and to see Daniel actually be able to relax for once - only to see it all blow up 

because of Delmonico's backhanded tactics to steal Life Is Awesome and drive Daniel out of business. And Chuck has the nerve to ask Daniel for a job reference! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Hadouken to your faces!

(spoiler show)

Once again, if something appears too good to be true, it probably is.

 

But Daniel takes his lumps and keeps on trucking. He may be more pessimistic than his father, but he got his resilience from his dad, and Elijah's teaching him how to hope again. He has to go through the worst to see what's best. Or as a hobbit near and dear to my heart once realized, "the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach." [Excerpt from Return of the King, by J.R.R Tolkien, "The Land of Shadow"] And a life well-lived is the best revenge, and all that.

 

Though I personally think revenge, in this case, is a dish best served cold. Eliot? What do you think?

 

 

Now THAT would be awesome. ;)

 

My only wish is for more Daniel/Elijah relationship development. There is some, and what we get is great, but it felt shunted to the side what with everything else going on. This could've been a little longer to give us more cuddle time with these two, and then this would've been perfect.

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review 2017-04-01 00:27
Forget Me Not (Mnevermind #2)
Forget Me Not - Jordan Castillo Price

OMG THIS BOOK IS AMAZING AND I LOVE EVERYTHING IT CHOOSES TO BE!

 

I loved so much that we got a book from Elijah's POV. Now, I'll say upfront I'm not autistic, so I can't say if this is an accurate portrayal of what it's like to be autistic. JCP says in the afterword that she did contact people who have autism and did her research before writing this, and from everything else I've read by her, she takes her craft seriously. So I trust her to make this as close to possible as an accurate portrayal as she can get - bearing in mind that autism is different for everyone who has it. But I'll leave it up to readers who are autistic to make that determination.

 

What I did appreciate about this was that it gave Elijah a voice. It let us into his thought processes and his emotional processes, both of which were often hard to discern in the first book through Daniel's POV. We see how he processes information and how he filters everything that comes his way throughout the day. We also get to learn more about his background and his problems at work. He's a fully developed character, not a list of behavioral traits.

 

It was also fascinating to watch him and Daniel figure out how to communicate with each other, and to see Elijah so excited to figure out he's gay and not being worried or afraid to pursue that part of himself. Not that it's all easy. He does have challenges from outside to deal with, and those parts were rather tense reading about.

 

This book was a treat and I'm already plowing through the last book in the trilogy. 

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