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review 2015-12-09 00:00
It's Never Over
It's Never Over - Nealy Wagner

3.5 Stars - Play it again, Charlie...

The second book in the series and I can pretty much insert my review of the first story here.

Again, the blurb really drew me in. I'm a sucker for reunited lovers and the accompanying conflicts. Don't know why, but that trope gets to me every time. It was the same here. Axel and Caxton were caught making out in a religious summer camp six years ago, and never had any contact after that. Six years later Axel is looking for a fresh start, with a glimpse of his past giving him the nudge he needs to decide on his new job. So, after all this time, when the two men meet again, sparks fly. Accompanied by guilt, hurt and a lot of other feelings.

Like the first one, this book was solid. The writing was good, the characters likable, the plot not your everyday blah blah. I enjoyed it, and yet... It comes back to the potential again.

The ideas were good, the steam was great, but overall I found the story to be somewhat lacking. Deep conflicts - on the inside and outside - were simplified to a point where I was shaking my head instead of feeling for the MCs. Cax "transformation" came too fast for me. I would have liked to see a little more of his actual change instead of just the results. The bashing of Axel, the family and friends, the father, the coming out - it all had potential, but in the end, the execution left me with too many open questions, plot holes and loose ends. Also, some of the justifications and explanations of Cax actions over the years, and the "investigation" following the assault on Axel were too weak for me, and some even downright insane.

Overall, at the risk of repeating myself too much, all I can say is that I was hoping for a little more, and could not shake the tiny sense of vague disappointment after finishing the story. It was good, but I didn't fall for it like many other readers did.

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review 2015-12-08 00:00
In Front of God and Everyone
In Front of God and Everyone - Nealy Wagner

This book surprised me on many different levels, good and bad.

The premises drwe me in this time. Two boys, grown up in a cult in the bumfuck of nowhere, have to leave their home and survive in a world they know very little about. AND they have a crush on each other. What's not to like, right?

In theory, really not much. And there were quite some things I liked. The MCs were sweet, but not overly easy. Some of their struggles felt foreign, yet understandable. The writing was good, better than I feared, because yes, I am a little wary when it comes to debut books. I'll always give them the benefit of the doubt, but I also tend to go in a little sceptical. Can't help it. But there was no reason for concern here. Some ióf it might have been a tiny bit stilted, some dialogue might have seemed somewhat artififcal, but all in all I really couldn't complain.

What stuck with me most, though, is the massive potential of the story, all lying idle. Because there were so many moments that should have been more suspenseful, but were resolves too easily. The inner struggles and the fights with real life were there, but almost always had a superficial feeling to them. I was hoping for more every-day problems - like language, like issues of faith and guilt and self-discovery. It wasn't that it wasn't all there. But it wasn't enough, at least not for me. And it left me with a sense of dissapointment that I wasn't really able to shake. Even the conflict between the MCs wasn't what I was hoping for. The resolution, again, cam too easy, too fast, for me. And not all of my questions were answered.

All in all, I enjoyed this one, but I can't say that it blew me away. My issues might be my own, but because of them I can't give it more than 3.5 stars. I liked it, it was okay, but I was hoping for a lot more.

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