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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-28 05:37
Running the Tides
Running the Tides - Amanda Kayhart

This started out so promising and then it just meandered around until I lost all interest and skimmed the last quarter just to get through it and see just how the inevitable Big Misunderstanding would shake out. On the good side, the Big Misunderstanding wasn't the one I was expecting it to be. On the bad side, the Big Misunderstanding was completely contrived and out of left field and was even more unnecessary than Big Misunderstandings tend to be.

 

I liked Avery and Olivia and they were pretty cute while they were crushing on each other. There's a nice slow burn to their relationship too, so they didn't just fall into lust and actually spent time with each other and got to know each other. The whole thing with Avery's grandmother was pretty predictable, but it didn't quite play out the way I expected (see above re: Big Misunderstanding). 

 

But...

 

The writing was wordy, and there were many incorrect word usages throughout. Most of them I was able to figure out, but I'm still trying to figure out what "edit my jeans" is supposed to mean. 

 

Avery drives from upstate New York to North Carolina without apparently taking a break, and she somehow manages to get to NC in time for Val to tell her that the owner will be back "in the afternoon". ... It's at least a twelve hour drive. Avery left after breakfast, and she's driving a pickup truck not a black '67 Chevy Impala, so I know her truck doesn't have wormhole technology. ;) There's no way she got there before nighttime.

 

Olivia asks Avery to stay on an extra month to fix the roof at the B&B. Permits and rental equipment are mentioned, but nothing at all is said about Avery not having a contractor's license in NC. Pretty sure a NY state contractor license isn't going to cut it in NC. Hell, you can't even cut hair in another state without a proper license.

 

Avery's about to fess up at one point about her grandma, but it starts raining so she's interrupted. (Timely interruptions happen a lot in this book.) Once inside, Olivia goes about getting them dried and settled and tells Avery she can continue with her confession. Then the chapter ends and the next chapter starts up three weeks later and we don't find out for another 150-something pages if she told Olivia anything or not, and if not, what she did tell Olivia instead. 

 

And there's more, but that's the point where my interest started to wane and by about 65% I just really couldn't take it anymore. By 75% I was skimming and looking for relevant parts. The Big Misunderstanding was shortly after that and so completely stupid that it was hardly worth the time it took to skim it.

 

*sigh* I want to find good F/F books to read but everyone I pick up is either just okay or less than stellar. Why is it so hard?

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review 2018-03-26 10:07
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark

Miss Brodie is beloved by her pupils, decried by her colleagues. Her unconventional teaching methods and unusually close relationships with her pupils worry some. As for the chosen few, the Brodie set, they at first revel in their distinction. But they soon learn their loyalty may be misguided.

 

This is a short novel, easily read in a day, but it’s length doesn’t make it any the less absorbing or impacting.

 

Miss Brodie is narcissistic, kind, selfish, considerate, moody and happy all at the same time. The line quoted at the beginning of the synopsis says it all. She wants these girls to adore her, to be malleable, to bend to her will. She needs them as an extension of herself, and to live out missed dreams of her own.

 

The reader is allowed access to the elusive and exclusive Brodie set, those girls chosen by Miss Brodie to be nurtured and educated the Brodie way. She is deliberately careless with their education, openly going against convention. In her chosen few it is as if she is trying to manipulate them to her will, to adore her during her prime, to reinforce her ideals about herself and to justify her actions. She is open in her affair, a rebound to a lost love. The ramifications of this affect not just her and her lover but the girls in different ways.

 

The girls themselves are a wonderful mixture of characters. Muriel Spark shows them as both adolescents and as adults. The fact that Miss Brodie has access to them at a time when they are most impressionable is perhaps the greatest danger, and this is shown in the story. The effects of being part of the Brodie set  are seen in the future, though surprisingly with some positive results.

 

There is some intrigue throughout the story as it becomes apparent that one of the set betrays Miss Brodie to her employer, who is keen to see the rebellious teacher ousted.

Jean Brodie talks through the majority of the book of this time at school being her prime, and that the girls are lucky and honoured to be able to share her prime with her. Viewing her actions there are a range of emotions elicited. Annoyance that she manipulates the set to her own advantage, to make herself feel better, to justify her prime. There’s also sadness that she shows, sometimes all too clearly, that she is desperate to hold on to her youth, to her vitality and to the position which defines her. She is at heart a lonely woman, unable to express it in way that is not without narcissism.

 

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a novel that is read quickly but which stays with the reader for much longer. More emerges from it as time goes by since reading. This was my first Muriel Spark novel, it won’t be my last.

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review 2018-03-22 00:58
The Pirate's Booty (The Plundered Chronicles #1) - DNF @ 19%.
The Pirate's Booty (The Plundered Chronicles Book 1) - Alex Westmore, Designed by Rock Mallory,Rachel Stanfield-Porter

I was promised swashbuckling and crossdressing shenanigans, and there certainly was that. Like, a lot. Almost nonstop really. As soon as any hint of a plot started to take shape, more swashbuckling came along to nip it in the bud. Quinn was fun, even if I couldn't figure out how she could possibly keep her true identity a secret whilst on a pirate ship. Even if you assume pirates don't bathe that often, at some point, someone's got to notice something, right?

 

If all you're looking for is swashbuckling and shenanigans, this is the book for you. I just needed something more.

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review 2018-03-18 19:23
Stories Beneath Our Skin
Stories Beneath Our Skin - Veronica Sloane

This is a simple story with some great characters, and the various relationships are generally well done. I did feel like the some of the side stories, in particular the one of Joy and Cole, were lost in the shuffle, which is strange since it's needing to help take care of Cole while Joy's in rehab that acts as the catalyst for Liam and Ace to take the next step. I really liked the friendship between Liam and Ace, though I didn't really feel the romantic relationship between them. Thankfully, there was enough else going on that it didn't bother me. (Frankie and Goose had more chemistry going on, and they were just the subplot.)

 

I know this is a reissue and this was previously released by a publisher that I'm not familiar with. I'm going to assume that the various technical issues are due to the reissue. There were missing paragraph breaks, especially when dialogue was involved, and it made it difficult at times to figure out who was speaking when. However, there were various grammar issues too: words split in the middle, incorrect punctuation (again, usually around dialogue), missing words and even incorrect words (then instead of than, duel instead of dual, etc) and just weird word choices that I couldn't tell if the author was just trying to reinvent the wheel or really didn't know how those words were supposed to be used.

 

I was also expecting more detail on the tattooing, since that was a big part of the plot, but that left a lot to be desired. Oh, and how did no one correct poor Cole when he thought Mars was closer to the sun than Earth? Sure, he's four, but that's no reason not to correct him. Bad parenting, guys. Bad!

 

So 3 stars overall for the story, but half a star off for bad editing/formatting.

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review 2018-03-17 02:59
Who We Are
Who We Are - Nicola Haken,Jay Aheer,E Adams

This was such a great read! I wished it were longer - but kind of not, because my eyeballs couldn't have withstood leaking any more than they already were, but since some things were more summarized nearing the end, I didn't feel quite completely satisfied with some aspects of the story. Thankfully, those were minor aspects involving minor characters, so it wasn't too big of a deal.

 

Anyway, I loved Ollie and Sebastian. This is one of the few instances I found the insta believable, because it wasn't insta-lust but insta-like and we've all been through that, whether romantic or platonic. They actually go on dates, and get to know each other, and the relationship is built up believably enough that when things take a sudden turn for the worse, I actually found the emotions and struggles to be realistic. I also liked Ollie's brother Tyler, even though he constantly abused "init" and acted like a typical moody teen at times, but he really showed how much he cared for and adored his unorthodox big bro.

 

Plus, Sebastian is bisexual. He said it. He explains the internal biphobia, the problems he faces when datings straight women or gay men. I am so, so glad that more authors are embracing bisexual characters in their books and getting away from the GFY trope.

 

I do wish we'd gotten to see more of Sebastian's family - even his uncle cuz I want to take that moment at the dining table and frame it on my wall - you'll know that moment if you read the book. And there was this other thing between the besties that happens at the end too, that I'm not sure why it was included at all unless perhaps Ms. Haken is thinking of a potential sequel, which I would definitely read if so.

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