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Search tags: grade-school
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review 2018-04-30 04:47
The Youth & Young Loves of Oliver Wade
The Youth & Young Loves of Oliver Wade: Stories - Ben Monopoli

"This was the tragedy of growing up a closeted gay boy: you've had no practice when it matters."

 

We meet Ollie near the end of Paintings of Porcupine City, so we don't really get to know him that well when he and Fletcher hook up. These books have always been more gay lit than M/M, so I was only disappointed that we didn't get to know Ollie better. This collection of short stories fixes that. It chronicles Ollie's life from his first school dance to his meeting and first date with Fletcher.

 

The stories are often insightful, and the ones focusing of his teen years are especially angsty. One of the college years stories includes dub-con, so be aware of that. What is fascinating in all the stories is how Ollie learns to be honest with himself and others, how he figures out what being gay means, and how he fumbles as he tries time and again to find true love - until that true love finds him.

 

I still don't know what to make of Paint Day. It's a weird fantastical element in books otherwise firmly rooted in reality, but a bit of mystical reality never hurt anyone I suppose. :D

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review 2018-03-03 21:32
A Wrinkle in Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet #1)
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

This is very Young Wizards-lite. It's a fun story and certainly very imaginative, but I couldn't help but wonder how much more awesome it'd be in the hands of Diane Duane. It's not very fair of me, I know. These books are aimed at grade schoolers, while Young Wizards books are young adult and delve deeper into their themes. A Wrinkle in Time is a very quick read, jumping from action to action with very little explanation of how or why anything works the way it does. The plot is very straightforward and other than first few chapters that set up the characters and the world, there's very little deviation from the plot once the kids are whisked away on their adventure. At one point, I started to wonder if this was going to end up being a cliffhanger, though that didn't feel right. It might have been 30 years since I read this in grade school, but I think I would have remembered feeling cheated it this didn't have a proper ending. Unfortunately, that means the resolution is extremely quick and rather simplified.

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review 2018-01-08 06:26
The Path to Dawn (Opal Charm #1) - DNF @ 4%
The Path to Dawn (Opal Charm, #1) - Miri Castor

The writing is choppy and amateurish, and the MC thinks everyone is stupid. Character is definitely way too young for me to relate to. 

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review 2016-05-29 21:19
Deep Wizardry (Young Wizards #2)
Deep Wizardry - Diane Duane

Duane did it again. This was amazing. It didn't have quite the emotional impact as the first one, but even still I was constantly on the edge of my seat, metaphorically speaking. I couldn't figure out how she was going to pull this off, how this wasn't going to all end in disaster for our heroes because Duane set up this impossible premise and committed to it. 

Nita and Kit may just be kids (12 and 11 in the NME, 14 and 13 in the older editions) but they prove again to be capable of understanding complex issues and committing themselves to helping solve them. Here, their actions from the first book end up having some unexpected consequences for the Sea and the life that lives in it. The Lone Power has been changed, but its life isn't linear. It exists in all times, at all points, and it is currently bound under the sea below the surface of the earth, trying to escape. The lives of thousands of sea creatures are at risk, and when Nita and Kit agree to help, they end up in a situation beyond what they expected to deal with. The tension is palpable and keeps ramping up the closer they get enacting the Song that will bind the Lone Power again - if they can all play their parts.

On top of that, Nita has family issues at home as her secret identity as a wizard is threatened to be exposed. I love Nita's family. Dairine is the annoying little sister, and her parents don't understand what's going on with their eldest daughter, but they're willing to trust her. This is a family that loves and respects each other, and it shows in the way they interact with each other. Some of the changes with the NME timeline don't quite work with the original text (Nita's mom being worried that Nita and Kit are having sex, for instance). Nita's also still getting used to having a friend, and even though she and Kit trust each other and are close, she doesn't always know how to handle him.

The writing and world-building continue to shine in this series. Duane weaves a mythology for sea life and wizardry that's built upon actual marine biology and physiology, and she brings that world to life for the reader with stunningly written passages and breathtaking action. I look forward to the next adventure.

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review 2016-05-15 19:04
So You Want to Stomp on My Feels (Young Wizards #1)
So You Want to Be a Wizard - Diane Duane
GODDAMMIT DIANE DUANE STOP PUNCHING ME IN THE HEART!

It's a children's book, they said. 
It's like Harry Potter but in America, they said.
You'll have a good time, they said.

THEY ALL LIED! I'M NOT CRYING YOU'RE CRYING!

There was a time when this book was about a girl, Nita, getting bullied at school and having her pen stolen - and this was the happy fun times. This book becomes so much more when she hides in a library and finds a book about wizardry. A book that materialized there just for her to discover. She soon finds another young wizard, Kit, who is also being bullied because of his accent and his brown skin. They befriend each other and start learning magic together, and then horrible and wonderful things start to happen.

First, this is NOT Harry Potter. I don't know if JK Rowlings read this series before writing her own, but there are some elements that are similar in both. Aside from the obvious (magic) there is a one-who-must-not-be-named, dragons, time travel, and two protagonists who just don't fit in and they're in school together. But that's where the similarities end. The magic here is rooted in the principles of science, the wizards are charged with slowing the destruction of the universe (all of them), and Nita and Kit have to deal with all this while going to school, dealing with bullies and hiding this from their families. Oh, and there's a white hole named Fred, and that's the least absurd thing that happens in this book. There are Advisories, older wizards who are past their "freelancing" years and now advise younger wizards while going about ordinary lives. Potential wizards can choose for themselves if they want to take on the mantle of wizard - and they can put it aside again if they no longer feel up to the task.

Duane borrows from fantasy, horror, science fiction and mythology to create her world. There are a couple of hiccups along the way, but for the most part the world-building is amazing here, and the prose is breathtaking. Nita and Kit (and Fred) are fully developed characters and get to go on their own personal journeys. They're friends and equals, despite being a year apart (Nita's older), different genders and different races. None of that stuff matters to them. What matters is that they have each other's backs, they encourage each other, and they both have strengths they can utilize as they fight the Destroyer - who eats stars out of spite. I was fully immersed as the action started to pick up, and then I didn't want to put it down, even when Duane punched a whole in my chest, tore out my heart and proceeded to squeeze it before my eyes.

This is such a cool and amazing world Duane has created here in just one book. I don't know how I missed this series growing up, but I'm glad I'm reading it now. There is a lot of nuance here I'm sure I would've missed as a kid, and it would be hard to fully appreciate this world without picking up on that stuff. Also, the nightmare fuel. So much nightmare fuel. God, what are the other nine going to bring? I am not ready.
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