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review 2018-11-05 02:31
Slow plot, good character development, but disappointing
Radical - E.M. Kokie

This one was off to a slow start, and it was pretty much slow throughout. What compelled me to finish this book to the end was wondering whether this Clearview group was legit or if there was something more to them.


You also follow through Bex and her life at home, which doesn’t seem very pleasant to start with. Her mom tries to change her despite her orientation, there’s financial issues at the home, and her brother is, quite frankly, an ahole. You quickly figure out Bex is into guns, and survival training. There’s extensive description on how she takes care of the guns, how she loads them, fires them, and we can go on. It gets tedious and lets the plot slow to a crawl. If you want intrigue and surprises, this isn’t going to happen until much later. Much much later.


There’s also focus on Bex and Lucy. They both seem to compliment each other and there is slight chemistry between the two of them but it’s not a romantic type of love story that you get if that’s what you’re looking for. They’re polar opposites and compliment one another but you also get that feeling it’s nice while it lasts.


There isn’t much to the plot until the last third of the novel, which is disappointing. However it’s jarring to see how much of the concept of survivalism is drilled into Bex and pushes her to the edge to the point of becoming paranoid over every minute detail. It’s sad to see what her parents attempt to make her do, when it comes to the subject of her brother. It’s also disappointing to see hardly any mention of Clearview except for smidgens here and there and although it plays a part in the plot, it’s not what you think and you wish there was more to it. It would have made the book much more interesting.


It wasn’t the best, but not the worst either. I’d suggest to take this out from the library instead of a purchase.

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review 2016-09-08 02:15
Radical - E.M. Kokie

This was a striking novel, less for the plot than for the author's ability to convey a point of view so entirely opposite to my own and make me empathize. I've read enough history to know that the folks colloquially known as "Preppers" are not necessarily crazy, but I am staunchly on the side of gun control. Kudos to the author for making me really understand and feel the fears of a main character who does believe that the American government wants to take away all guns. I am stunned and impressed with how very much I could identify with Bex, who is almost completely my opposite.

The story was compelling and the decisions Bex has to make are heart-wrenching but the whole novel is utterly believable. Bex and the people around her all exist somewhere in the here-and-now. An eye-opening and amazing novel.

A copy of this book was sent to me for an unbiased review.

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review 2015-10-12 07:04
Things I Can Say About "Things I'll Never Say"
Things I'll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves - erica l. kaufman,E.M. Kokie,Kekla Magoon,Zoë Marriott,Varian Johnson,J.L. Powers,Mary Ann Rodman,Katy Moran,Cynthia Leitich Smith,Kerry Cohen,Ellen Wittlinger,Chris Lynch,Ron Koertge,Ann Angel,Louise Hawes

Ann Angel has assembled a collection of short stories about "secret selves" from a variety of YA authors, from established ones like Chris Lynch and Ellen Witlinger, to debut authors. Some of the secrets are obvious ones teens would face, like their sexual activities or their outsider quirks. A few of the stories have secrets that manifest in extraordinary ways, from guardian angels to secret spies.


Weakest: "We Were Together" deals with secrets and consequences in a truncated way that's pretty unsatisfying, like it was the start of a longer story that got cut short because of the length requirements. "The We-Are-Like-Everyone-Else Game" deals with toxic friendships and family secrets but the two don't coalesce as well (and maybe it's because I read a vignette about a family that deals with hoarding right before this and it pulled it off better).


Interesting: "Partial Reinforcement" and "When We Were Wild" convey the complicated nature of their main characters, and the conflicting interests of their story kind of transferred to my reading for it, but in the best ways.


Best ones: "A Thousand Words," "A Moment, Underground" and "Quick Change," I don't want to spoil anything about them, so I'll say "Quick Change" is the story I wanted more of the most. "A Moment, Underground" perfectly captured the moment of burying or keeping a secrets. And "A Thousand Words" was an amazingly constructed story of how secrets can be different things to different people.


Slightly off-tangent but worth reading: "Storm Clouds Fleeing From the Wind" is a gorgeous fairy tale set in a fantasy Japan. "Cupid's Beaux" is entertaining, but obviously scraped from the author's other series and clunky to read on its own merits because so much time is spent dumping worldbuilding exposition in it, but it's still intriguing for those who want to read more. "Little Wolf and the Iron Pin" is another fairy tale with some Bluebeard overtones, short and to the point so to speak.

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review 2013-07-05 00:00
Personal Effects
Personal Effects - E.M. Kokie One of those books that grabs your attention from the beginning! Lots of twists and always has you thinking. A rough and gritty novel about a teenage boy who has lost his brother, but exactly how well did he know his brother (perhaps not as well as you might think.) A book I would highly recommend. Unfortunately it's not going to be in our JR/SR High School because of the harsh language. Which is the only controversial thing about it, but for the most part, I thought the curse words were a necessity to get the correct view of the character. Go read!!
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review 2013-05-02 00:00
Personal Effects
Personal Effects - E.M. Kokie A really hard, powerful book about love, loss, and family. Matt is a very angry teenage boy, but considering his father and the home he lives in, and losing his brother his rage is understandable. His father is not a nice person, and his inability, and unwillingness to cope with the loss of son, and his verbal and physical abuse help to make Matt the mess he is. His reaction to his brother's secret isn't positive, and it isn't necessarily fair, but considering where he comes from, and what he has been brought up thinking it is in no way out of left field. I think it made him feel less connected to his brother, and considering how much he admired and looked up to his brother knowing that his brother kept such a big part of his life secret from him hurt. To Matt it was like his brother was equating him with their father, and considering how little respect they had for their father it made Matt question how much his brother truly loved and trusted him. I really liked Matt's crush on Shauna. It was a nice change of pace to read a book about a teenage boy with such a sweet crush on a girl instead of the other way around. I really liked Shauna, and how much she cared for, and supported Matt. She was a smart, capable girl, and even when she was angry, and hurt she didn't keep Matt from doing what he needed to do. The ending was well done. It felt like Matt had undergone real change in the way he viewed himself, and those around him. I liked that while it felt hopefully that it wasn't a fairy tale ending, and even though things show signs of improving it was nothing that isn't going to take work, patience, and understanding on everyone's part to sustain, and grow. A really well told story that was hard to put down.
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