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review 2017-02-18 08:14
Review: Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta
Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil - Melina Marchetta

Quick review for a progressive read. It's hard to describe my reactions to this novel, because, on one hand, this is quite apt to Melina Marchetta's style of writing - strong characterizations, compelling family-centered stories, and emotional revelations on the topics she touches upon (particularly with respect to race, violence, prejudice, etc.) I enjoyed the journey this novel took me on for the most part, even as it handed down its revelations progressively rather than in one felt swoop like the magnitude of the crime(s) this book centers upon.

It took me quite a while to get into this novel, and there's a large cast of characters within this narrative to keep track of. Hence why the pacing feels like it crawls in sections of the novel, but on the whole of things, this is a powerful novel with more of a focus on the people who are caught within these tragedies/mysteries.

Bish is a suspended inspector whose daughter is among the victims of a bus bombing. Although his daughter isn't hurt, Bish learns that a young woman whom he'd encountered many years before is at the center of suspects surrounding the bus bombing: Violette LeBrac. His journey to not only find Violette but determine who was behind the bombing takes him to many places and uncovers many difficult situations in Bish's own past. Other major characters include Bee, Bish's daughter, Violette, who struggles to maintain her own innocence despite the fact her mother and other members of her family were charged in a bombing that took several lives years before; Noor LeBrac, Violette's mother and a complex character in her own right - reluctant to help Bish, but it's clear she cares for her daughter and family greatly.

I wish the presentation of the novel had been more smooth for transition and consistency in narrative voices. The stories in this novel were powerful and impactful, ones that definitely stood out to me long after I finished the novel, but there were times when the narrative threw me out for the sheer length of time and amount of stories packed into the narrative itself.

Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.

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review 2017-02-10 16:30
Closet Case - K.M. Neuhold
´*•.¸(*•.¸♥¸.•*´)¸.•*´New Release´*•.¸(*•.¸♥¸.•*´)¸.•*´
Closet Case by K.M.Neuhold
Closets are for shoes, not people
Don’t miss this sweet, sexy, hilarious M/M romance
Universal buy link: http://mybook.to/ClosetCase
That awkward moment when you accidentally fool around with a closet case. I have a strict
policy against dating closeted guys. Confused straight guys? Absolutely. Guys who don’t mind
being out and proud? Duh. But closet cases are a hard pass. Been there, done that, have the t-
shirt with a giant picture of a broken heart on it. It would be a lot easier to stick to my dating rule
if Matthew Hart could be slightly less irresistible.
Being a closeted gay college football player is not all it’s cracked up to be. After I broke my high
school boyfriend’s heart by refusing to come out of the closet, I swore off serious dating. I don’t
want to hurt anyone like that again, and I’ll admit I’m protecting my own heart in the process,
too. It was a lot easier to stick to my no dating rule before I laid eyes on Jax Greene. He’s
exactly my type in every possible way. If there’s even the slightest chance that history won’t
repeat itself, I want to see where things might lead. Convincing Jax to give me a chance though
might be the toughest play I’ve ever made.
**This book is the first M/M installment of the Sexy Nerd Boys series, but can be read as a
stand-alone. Recommended for 18+ due to language and all kinds of hot sex
Stalk the author:
Twitter: @KMNeuhold
IG: @KMNeuhold
Win an e-book copy of Closet Case!
Leave a Post saying “happy release day”
Comment below when done
Winner will be randomly chosen
** My Review **
I’m pretty sure Sexy Nerd Boys is my guilty pleasure. I swear I gleefully fly through each one of these books in a day. Once I start I don’t stop until I am finished. Closet Case was no exception.
Matthew and Jax were so freaking cute and I really liked them together. I really loved Jax’s upbeat attitude and sense of humor, and I especially loved just how comfortable Jax was in his own skin. On the flip side of that, I appreciated seeing Matthew’s journey too. I couldn’t imagine the pressures and worries one might have in coming out. But I do think stories like this one that openly explores issues like this help us all get a better idea, which is a wonderful thing.
We also got to see little bits with the others couples we’ve come to love from past books, which is always cool…and that Epilogue…AMAZING!! I look forward to seeing what comes next!
I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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review 2017-01-25 04:28
Review: So Tough to Tame (Jackson #3) by Victoria Dahl
So Tough to Tame - Victoria Dahl

Quick review for a quick read. I read this in a matter of hours, but all I really got out of this story was a "meh" read, unfortunately. Walker and Charlie definitely had chemistry and some fun flirtations in the mix (though there were some sensual scenes that made me cringe because they were awkward), but on the whole, I wasn't really taken into this story very much even with the quirky personalities and side-characters this narrative had to offer. Walker and Charlie respectively come from really difficult places, disgraced and fired from their jobs for former relationships that involved cheating with married spouses and nursing assumptions against their reputations. They were once childhood friends but grew apart and eventually reconciling as they work at the same ski resort in Jackson Hole. I could believe in Walker's insecurities about his educational background/learning disability and his complicated relationship with his father and brother. I found it harder to believe Charlie's particular conflict in the narrative, because it seemed to be one set of conspiracies/betrayals after another in a deliberate unfolding. Add to that a bit of a rushed ending for resolution to the conflicts, and you get me scratching my head wondering where both the time and the story went. At least it was a very fast read, but it's not a story that would stick with me for much longer than the moment. "Too Hot To Handle" I thought was a much better offering in the Jackson series than this.

Overall score: 2/5 stars.

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.

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review 2017-01-24 04:41
Review: How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler
How I Lost You - Janet Gurtler

Quick review for a quick read. In all honesty, I get the value of Janet Gurtler's "How I Lost You" and I'm not going to say that it isn't a notable book, because I don't doubt some will like it for not only the way the narrative flows but also the ultimate takeaway points and experiences it expounds upon. However, it's a narrative I honestly wouldn't read again and I had a hard time connecting to the story for reasons I'm going to discuss shortly.

"How I Lost You" is a narrative that shows the progressive falling out of two friends: Grace and Kya. Grace is the perspective we follow throughout the novel and the novel starts off showing their relationship very well. The two seem inseparable with playing in paintball matches, asserting their girl power and the strength of their friendship (Buds Before Studs - BBS). But as the narrative moves onward, you quickly realize that this friendship is not as strong in its foundation as you would think. Kya is a very flawed young woman who has suffered greatly in her past.




She was raped, and I guessed this pretty much from the second chapter. I'm not exactly sure why this took so many chapters to reveal, since it was implied.

(spoiler show)



Grace feels a protective responsibility towards Kya and when Kya goes from one problematic relationship to the next and ends up in a number of drunken stupors, Grace is there to help Kya through the guilt and regret she feels in the aftermath. But Grace also notices that Kya seems to be distancing herself from their mutual friend James and she's not sure why.

Things change when Grace begins a relationship with Levi. It's beginning a relationship with him that Grace realizes she's doesn't really focus as much on herself as she does her relationship with Kya. And it's in starting to take a more careful eye to the way that Kya changes that Grace realizes that her friend isn't someone she knows as well as she thinks she does and despite her attempts to hold on, they're pulling apart.

I think a few of my biggest problems with this narrative were that I didn't feel as invested in the characters as much as I was hoping for. I know they're teenagers, aspiring to go to college, but there's a mismatch with the maturity and their respective voices that makes it hard for me to align with the narrative despite how serious and mature the subject matters are presented here. The dialogue at times felt too forced and judgmentally handed down to orient to the change in the relationship between Grace and Kya.

And as goodness awful as Kya was to Grace in many points in this narrative (I ended up hating her for the things she did by the end of the story, and I didn't blame Grace for eventually making the choice to walk away), I honestly felt like Grace's reactions, instead of just focusing on the things that Kya did that were horrible, were counterintiutive by low-key sexually shaming Kya and handing down some sexual innuendo/humor that made me uncomfortable as I was reading this. I felt like the execution of these issues could've been so much better for depth and sensitivity of portrayal than what it came across. After a time, it felt like the drama between the characters came across in a way that, while I believe it could certainly happen in real life, it didn't connect with me. I think another reason why it didn't work with me is because despite the fact that this narrative sports a girl-girl positive relationship - it really isn't at all, because the girls can be horrible in thoughts and actions to each other, sometimes in seemingly unforgivable ways. I raged when Kya basically dismissed a sexual assault attempt on Grace and told her that she wished Grace had a similar experience to understand the pain that she was going through. That was inexcusable and I had a hard time believing that Grace wouldn't have had a stronger reaction to that.

To give another narrative that I think handled the character emotions and respective issues similar to the flaws that Kya has in this narrative, but in a more mature sense: Amber Smith's "The Way I Used to Be." Granted it tells the story of a very flawed young woman who goes through a similar experience to Kya in this tale, and shows her progressive falling in and out of relationships with a more visceral and serious feel than I was able to get out of this narrative.

Overall, I did at least appreciate the intention the narrative was going for, but I couldn't get behind it and it's my least liked narrative from Gurtler thus far.

Overall score: 2/5 stars.

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.

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review 2017-01-19 02:18
Review: Arilla Sun Down by Virginia Hamilton
Arilla Sun Down - Virginia Hamilton

Quick review for a somewhat quick read. I first started reading Virginia Hamilton's books over 20 years ago, and if the author were still living today, I'd send her my gratitude on being a gateway for my love of reading (and I appreciated the brief bio and photo montage provided at the end of this book). My childhood library had several of her books, notably with the covers that were designed in the 70s and 80s (maybe a few that were a part of the 90s reissues). My first book from her was "The House of Dies Drear" and then I binge read the Justice and her Brothers series, among several of her works. So when I heard that Open Road Media had several of her books reissued, I jumped at the chance to peruse them. "Arilla Sun Down" was one of the books of Hamilton's that I didn't read when I was younger, so this experience was completely new to me. The book was based on Hamilton noting her own family's multiracial background and using it as inspiration to write Arilla's story.

Arilla is a biracial girl (African American and Native) who struggles with her identity, with reconciling her past from the present, from finding a place to fit in among her family that seems to have its external divisions as well as internal. I identified with Arilla, because she seems to be the odd girl out in a family of distinct identities and talents, while she struggles to find her own way. It's an apt coming of age story that has Arilla not just looking at the way things have changed from her pursuits and life as a child, but struggling to fit in against the shadow of her older brother Sun Run and his firm assertion of his identity - so much that she seems almost lost in its shadow and the shadow it casts around her family. Sun Run also appears to struggle with the way people perceive him because of his assertion of identity - in which (at first) he seems to shun one part of it and accept the other to the point of complete immersion (his Native lineage). The narrative paints a nice portrait of Arilla and Sun Run's relationship, sometimes with love and others with unspoken tensions. I was particularly struck by how well this book called out several racial stereotypes and the struggle between internal and external perceptions of identity.

"Arilla Sun Down" isn't a perfect narrative (for the record, there were times the narrative lost me with the jumping timeline, and the narrative presentation is at times jagged and abrupt when it comes to transitions in the narrative). However, I found the voices of the characters were distinct and realistic for how the narrative portrayed them. Arilla can be rebellious and struggle to assert herself but at the same time she's loyal and when the moment counts most, she's willing to help those she loves.

Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.

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