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review 2018-04-21 02:34
Invisible City
Invisible City - Julia Dahl

First in a series is tough. Making the jump from journalist to novelist is tricky. 

 

Invisible City is a solidly plotted murder mystery that reads more like a police procedural than a cozy (though our main girl is a journalist not an officer of the peace).   While better than many first novels, there's plenty of room for growth.  In particular, I felt like the book was a hodge-podge of thinly veiled elements from a number of recent sensational news stories rather than being fully original. 

 

Like the main character, author Julia Dahl has a Jewish mother and a Christian father.  While it's always difficult to write about insular communities without a true in, I felt like a lot of Ms. Dahl's personification of the Ultra-Orthodox characters was built on stereotypes.

 

I'm counting this as an IRL bookclub read because Julia Dahl will be speaking in my community about book #3 in the series (released about a year ago) on Sunday.  I read Invisible City because Conviction was checked out of the Library and I wanted to have read something by the author before I went to brunch.

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review 2018-04-20 16:09
Wild in Love (The Maverick Billionaires, #5) by Bella Andre and Jennifer Skully
Wild in Love - Jennifer Skully,Bella Andre

 

The beauty of The Maverick Billionaires series is that it not only entertains, but it inspires. The collaboration of Andre and Skully packs powerful messages of love and courage in tempting stories of alpha males and determined females. Wild in Love is Daniel's chance at a happy ending. Daniel is looking for the perfect girl. What he finds is a wounded soul that speaks to his heart, but is determined to keep her's closed off. Tasha had the perfect life, only to find it wasn't as perfect as she believed. Now a loner with a crack in her heart and the weight of the world on her shoulders, she sets about atoning for the sins of others, as she creates a new life for herself. Will the man who dreams of perfection, find his dream girl in the woman that's forgotten how to dream? In life there is no perfection. Happiness lies in being true to yourself. Powerful tale of redemption and second chances.

 

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review 2018-04-19 18:11
I Am Here! (manga, vol. 2) by Ema Toyama, translated by Joshua Weeks
I Am Here! Omnibus Vol. 02 - 遠山 えま,Ema Tōyama

The first omnibus volume introduced Hikage, Hinata, and Teru. Hikage starts off practically invisible to everyone around her except Hinata and Teru. In the first volume, we learned that Hinata has a crush on Hikage. Hinata's jealous fans - one girl in particular - start bullying Hikage for spending too much time with him. In the end she's able to stand up to them.

Whereas the first omnibus volume was focused more on Hikage and her efforts to make friends, this omnibus volume was focused more on Hinata and Teru and the mystery of Black Rabbit's identity. Hikage is convinced that Hinata is Black Rabbit, a possibility that's initially appealing but then fills her with horror and embarrassment. Black Rabbit is her kindest and most supportive online friend. If Hinata is Black Rabbit, that could mean that her "friend" was really laughing about her behind her back as he was encouraging her to talk to him more. Hinata keeps denying that he's Black Rabbit, but he's clearly hiding something.

Things become even more difficult for Hikage when Teru realizes that he has a crush on Hikage too and the two best friends, Hinata and Teru, ask her to choose between them. While Hikage tries to figure out what to do, the wedge between Hinata and Teru starts to tear their entire class in two.

I felt so-so about the first omnibus volume, but since this series is so short I felt like I should finish it anyway. This final omnibus had some parts I liked and some I loathed.

I liked the closer look at Hinata and Teru's friendship. Now that I know Black Rabbit's secret (which I didn't clue into while reading the first volume but figured out a few pages into this one), I have a different perspective on what was going on between Hinata and Teru in the first half of the series. The first half of this volume, when Hinata and Teru were still actively trying to make sure that whatever each of them might be feeling for Hikage didn't hurt their friendship, was fine. Unfortunately, it fell apart when the love triangle reared its ugly head.

I hated the love triangle. Once Teru realized that he was in love with Hikage, his and Hinata's relationship devolved into a competition over Hikage. Teru was a liar, too - he'd say that he didn't want to make things difficult for Hikage, but then he'd explicitly ask her to choose between him and Hinata. Since Hinata and Teru's friendship turned out to be the glue that held the entire class together, asking Hinata to choose meant she'd also be responsible for the class group breaking in half, a fact that her fellow classmates picked up on right away (and almost piled on her for). Hikage found herself at risk of not only losing her budding romantic relationship and all her friendships and budding friendships, all because of this stupid love triangle.

The love triangle resolved itself less painfully for the characters than I expected, but that was mostly because Toyama allowed the tension between Hinata and Teru to just sort of magically evaporate. Some aspects of the love triangle never quite went away, despite Hikage making her choice, which left me wondering whether the issue had really been resolved. I suppose it could morph into an inside joke shared by all three of the characters...

In addition to the love triangle, I also hated that the bullying storyline came back, with the exact same bully. Even though her previous plans resulted in her own public humiliation, Aya decided to jump back into the fray with new plans...that could easily be traced back to her and used to humiliate her a second time. Because this is supposed to be fluffy shojo starring a super-sweet heroine, instead of humiliation Aya got an apology, a smile, and an encouraging speech.

Meanwhile, I'm the horrible person who thinks that there was nothing for Hikage to apologize for. Aya was in the wrong for thinking that Hinata was supposed to be some kind of untouchable idol and trying to keep others away from him. She was also in the wrong for bullying Hikage for getting close to him. She made it worse by impersonating several people in the love triangle to further screw up everyone's relationships, all so she could win over a guy who'd already made it clear he wasn't interested in her.

On the plus side, I was glad that Hikage's online relationships didn't quite work out the way I originally thought they were going to. It wasn't as neat and tidy as "Black Rabbit is this person from Hikage's offline life and Mega Pig is that person," and I liked the recognition that the way people interact with others online might not always match how they interact with them in person. So there's that. (And yes, characters could use their flip phones to post comments on Hikage's blog. They do it on-page in this volume, answering the question I had back while I was reading the first volume.)

I didn't hate this series, but this half of it was definitely weaker than the first half, and the first half was mediocre. Parts of the series were stronger than I expected, but the bullying storyline and the love triangle were both annoying. If ever there was a series that I wish had completely ditched its romance aspect and just focused on friendship, it's this one. I was more than a bit horrified when Hikage examined her feelings for Hinata and Teru and began to lean towards the "romantic relationships are more important than friendships" answer. The series didn't quite work out that way, but I still wasn't a fan of how Toyama handled things.

Extras:

The volume includes several author sidebars featuring a not-particularly-interesting comic series starring Mega Pig (the actual cartoon animal) and Mahi (the sunflower character), character profiles for Hikage, Hinata, and Teru, a short comic starring fourth-grade Hinata and Teru, a few pages of humorous short comics, and a few pages of translator's notes. There's also a bonus comic starring Mega Pig (his offline self), which was kind of cute and tied up a few loose ends from the main series.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2018-04-19 07:10
Blog Tour - My Unexpected Love
 
 
Title: My Unexpected Love
Series: The Beaumont Series: Next Generation #2
Author: Heidi McLaughlin
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 12, 2018 Cover Design: Sarah Hansen @ Okay Creations
 
 
 
Ben Miller met the love of his life the day he crossed paths with Elle James in their high school cafeteria. New to Beaumont, he took a chance when he approached her. Their first encounter was everything his mother ever read to him about fairy tales. He saw the girl who would be his forever.
 
From the moment Elle James met Ben Miller they’ve been best friends. Everything they did, they did it together, from late night study sessions, family vacations, throwing bottles off the water tower, going to prom and finally moving to California for college.
 
However, after the almost tragic accident where she nearly lost her twin sister, Elle’s life hasn’t been the same, and neither has her relationship with Ben.
 
One fateful decision changes the scope of Ben and Elle’s relationship. For one, it means a new beginning. For the other, it means change.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Heidi is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author.
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband and two daughters. Also renting space in their home is an over-hyper Beagle/Jack Russell, Buttercup and a Highland West/Mini Schnauzer, JiLL and her brother, Racicot.
 
When she's isn't writing one of the many stories planned for release, you'll find her sitting court-side during either daughter's basketball games.
 
Heidi's first novel, Forever My Girl, will be in theaters on October 27, 2017, starring Alex Roe and Jessica Rothe.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
HOSTED BY:
 
 
 
 
 
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review 2018-04-19 05:23
New beginnings
Four Ways to Forgiveness - Ursula K. Le Guin

These are four loosely connected but independent short stories set at the start of Yeowe's independence from Werel, after 30 years of revolutionary war. They are the stories of people as different as they can possibly come, coming to terms. With loss, with cultural differences, with a place in society, with the past. They are all also big on starting anew. And, of course, feminism. The right to freedom, to a voice, to vote, to an education, to not be raped. These are all discussed and are an important part of the book, given the planet's recent upheaval and it's heavy history of slavery and male-dominated environment.

 

I found it bittersweet and lovely, and ended up with a huge bunch of quotes saved and a lump in my throat that I know not what to do with. There is so much wrong with this planet, so much hurt, and yet... it is so hopeful. I guess forgiveness is a kind of hope. Another chance. Much like love; another thing that permeates the book and is ever-present in every story.

 

I have closed it, as so many stories close, with a joining of two people. What is one man’s and one woman’s love and desire, against the history of two worlds, the great revolutions of our lifetimes, the hope, the unending cruelty of our species? A little thing. But a key is a little thing, next to the door it opens. If you lose the key, the door may never be unlocked. It is in our bodies that we lose or begin our freedom, in our bodies that we accept or end our slavery. So I wrote this book for my friend, with whom I have lived and will die free.

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