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review 2019-09-28 22:31
Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky
Imaginary Friend - Stephen Chbosky

This is the long-awaited second novel from the author of 'Perks of Being a Wallflower'. This is a completely different beast, however, so enough about that.

 

Christopher is seven and this is not the first time that his mother Kate has made them pack up what they can of their lives and escape in the middle of the night from a dangerous boyfriend. They end up in a remote town in Pennsylvania and hope for the best. Christopher then goes missing and is not seen for six days. When he comes back, things are different: he suddenly overcomes his dyslexia, Kate wins the lottery and buys a dream house, and Christopher continues to talk to the "Nice Man" that helped him out of the woods. The Nice Man has a warning for him, however, bad things won't be staying in the woods anymore, for Christopher to stop bad things from happening he has to build a treehouse before Christmas....

 

I feel like this might be a case of an author working too long on a manuscript. There was some great initial character development and I love the plot, but at over 700 pages the book is overlong and poorly paced. The treehouse was finished within a few hundred pages. 400 pages of impending apocalypse wears down the suspense. Character development and, frankly, many of the character's actions become redundant as the book goes on. Later additions to the 'Hellraiser' films come to mind. A story can sustain mounting, disgusting horror only for so long before I begin to glaze over. Speaking of that, I hate to make the unfavorable Stephen King comparisons, buuuut…this book needed an aggressive editor.

 

I was very disappointed. Don't believe the hype. I don't like writing poor reviews, but Chbosky is a writer that can do better.

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text 2019-06-04 03:44
BEA 2019, Pt 3- The Loot

Got some good stuff at this year's BEA.  My summer is fully booked. 

 

A Heart so Fierce & Broken 
 
Africaville 
 
American Dirt
 
 
Bluff
 
 
Cursed
 
 
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine...
 
 
How to be an AntiRacist
 
 
Imaginary Friend
 
 
Information Wars
 
 
Lalani of the Distant Sea
 
 
Little Weirds
 
 
Me & White Supremacy
 
 
Motherhood so White
 
 
Moving Forward
 
 
Oblivion or Glory
 
 
Princess of the Hither Isles
 
 
Secret Service
 
 
Serpent & Dove
 
 
Sophia, Princess among Beasts
 
 
The Dreaming Tree
 
 
The Flight Girls
 
 
The Nanny
 
 
The Passengers
 
 
The Science of Game of Thrones
 
 
The Storm Crow
 
 
The Water Dancer
 
 
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
 
 
A ASWanderers
 
 
Witcraft
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text 2019-05-30 18:13
Reading progress update: I've read 580 out of 720 pages.
Imaginary Friend - Stephen Chbosky

I know a lot of people will be curious about this one, but I'm going to be honest - unless there's a last act miracle this book has some real issues.

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review 2019-03-07 06:25
Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase
Suddenly Royal - Nichole Chase

Samantha Rousseau barely even notices the royals visiting her college campus. She's a wildlife biology grad student specializing in raptors. Between taking care of injured raptors, teaching classes, convincing her truck to keep working, and dealing with her stepfather's medical bills, there isn't much time in her life for anything else. Then she gets invited to what she thinks is dinner with a potential donor, only to be told that she's one of Lilaria's lost royals. The queen wants to reinstate her title and lands, which would mean leaving her studies and life in Minnesota behind. On the plus side, Lilaria is supposed to have an excellent healthcare system - they might have more effective treatments for her stepfather's prostate cancer, and it would certainly be better for her finances.

It's a lot for Samantha to think about, and unfortunately there isn't much quiet time for thinking. Reporters immediately start swarming, and her classes are suddenly filled with people who definitely aren't interested in birds. Then there's the gorgeous and enticing Prince Alex. Is he really as interested in her as he seems, or is he just trying to convince her to go to Lilaria and accept her title? And even if he is interested in her, what sort of relationship could she, an American who knows nothing about royal life and can't speak a word of Lilarian, hope to have with a prince?

If you've read and enjoyed other "ordinary person discovers they're a royal" stories, there's really nothing new here. This wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't great either, and in some ways it suffered from me having read (and enjoyed) Alyssa Cole's A Princess in Theory a year ago.

Samantha was an okay heroine, but a little too prone to jealousy for my tastes. The romance's timeline didn't help - during Samantha and Alex's first kiss (right in front of the mouse that Samantha had just sliced up for the injured raptors), I found myself doing the math, and I'm pretty sure they'd known each other for less than 24 hours. No matter how well they connected, both of them should have had reasons to want to take it slow. Samantha was dealing with the revelations about her family and trying to make a life-changing decision. Alex had a relatively recent relationship scandal - he knew full well what the paparazzi could do if they caught a whiff of anything between him and Samantha. Also, they'd literally just met.

The story was surprisingly low conflict. Every time I thought Chase had introduced a character or detail that was going to become a drama time bomb, nothing came of it. The zookeeper who seemed overly interested in Samantha? Mentioned once or twice later on and then never again. Alex's most recent ex? Zero on-page appearances. Prince Alex's sister's romantic life didn't turn into an enormous scandal, none of Alex's other exes were horrible to Samantha, and no one had problems with Samantha becoming a Lilarian duchess. Even Chadwick's relationship problems were resolved without any drama (and while it's great that the book includes a gay couple, you can bet I noticed and raised an eyebrow at their complete lack of on-page appearances together - not even an on-page phone conversation). Most of the book was devoted to Samantha deciding to go to Lilaria, getting used to her new life, fretting about her growing feelings for Alex, and worrying about her stepfather.

Speaking of Samantha's stepfather, I wasn't wild about how the medical stuff was handled. Each chapter started with a news headline, and Chapter 9's was "Lilarian Health Care Makes Headway with Homeopathic Medicines." I spent the rest of the book wondering whether Chase was going to make homeopathy the miracle cure for Samantha's stepfather's cancer (FYI, "homeopathic medicine" is garbage and I consider the word "homeopathic" on product packaging to be an immediate red flag). Now that I've finished the book, I think what Chase was using things like "homeopathic medicine" (87), "holistic and natural methods" (93), and "herbal supplements" (93) as shorthand for "Lilarian doctors are more flexible." Considering that it ultimately made no difference in Samantha's stepfather's medical treatment (chemo), I wish Chase had written about the Lilarian specialist differently.

All in all, this was an okay but fairly forgettable book. It's unfortunate that it's first-person POV - I didn't hate that aspect, but there's an excerpt from the second book, which is also first-person POV but from the perspective of Prince Alex's sister, and Samantha and Cathy's "voices" aren't distinct enough for my tastes. I don't intend to read the next book in the series.

 

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

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review 2019-01-23 11:42
Cute Children's Book
Imaginary Fred - Eoin Colfer,Oliver Jeffers

Sam was lonely and longed for a friend. Only under the perfect circumstances does an imaginary come along, and when it does, it is special indeed, and that was imaginary Fred. Fred had had real friends before, but only until they had found another real friend, then Fred would fade and wait for another. Sam and Fred did everything together-- they were inseparable, until one day, Sam met Sammi and Fred was sure he would start to fade again. Fred was so sad; he had never had such a good real friend as Sam, but he knew this is how things went. Then he discovered Sammi also had an imaginary friend named Frieda and they (all 4 of them) did everything together. The story has a unique and happy ending.
This was my granddaughter's favorite book last year, and we reread it many times. We like the way it looks, the illustrations, as well as the story. Very cute.

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