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review 2017-04-08 03:07
The Giver - Lois Lowry,Ron Rifkin

I’ve read this book several times, but each time it still hooks me in. I love that it explores the concept of a society so different than ours. Everything in the community changes when Jonas becomes the receiver of memories; he has the ability to feel, see, and know things that no one else knows about. In order to help the community, Jonas plans to escape so that the truth will be revealed to everyone. His bravery and selflessness is admirable throughout the book.

 

 

In the classroom, this book is perfect for discussing themes and having older students compose opinion pieces.

 

 

  • Lexile Measure: 760L
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review 2017-04-08 01:19
Cabinets full of curiosities always seem to come with a blood sacrifice
The Unfinished World: And Other Stories - Amber Sparks

About a year ago, I stumbled into a cute little bookstore which specialized in mystery, sci-fi, and fantasy of both the new and used variety. I felt it was my solemn duty to have a close look and about an hour later I left with a few (or three) choice items. One of these I already reviewed and today's was actually a signed copy titled The Unfinished World: And Other Stories by Amber Sparks. As the title suggests, this is a collection of short stories that have an eerie, fantastical vibe to them. Some of them are downright disturbing (the taxidermy one in particular stands out) while others are merely just off the beaten path into strangeness. If you like dark, eerie fiction that crosses into the borders of the unknown then this book would be right up your street. If you're looking to delve into short story collections but you're not sure where to start this also might be a good fit for you. As for me, I enjoyed a few of them but overall this wasn't my favorite of the short story collections I've read. (That honor either goes to Through the Woods or The Opposite of Loneliness.) 5/10

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-02-16 16:34
Book review – Sight Unseen, by Susan Mac Nicol
Sight Unseen - Susan Mac Nicol

Loved, just loved this.

Loved the language, loved the story, and loved the way life goes on, only differently.

 

So happy to see that there were no quick fixes, and no miraculous come backs, only a hard-earned struggle to make life work again.

 

Kudos, author, you did a great job.

We need more books like this one.

Simply loved it.

 

*** Bought this book with my own monies ***

Source: annalund2011.booklikes.com/post/1530752/book-review-sight-unseen-by-susan-mac-nicol
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review 2017-01-21 00:31
ARC Review: Flag On The Play by Sherrie Henry
Flag on the Play - Sherrie Henry
While the author accurately captured the voices of the teenagers in this book, with their struggles and figuring out who they are, I thought that the amount of issues piled within were a bit much.

Liam, our protagonist, is a junior in a small town high school, the punter on the school's football team, and gay. He knows he's gay, and he's okay with that, but there's no way he can let on about that, because his parents drag him to church on Sundays, and all he's ever heard from the pulpit of the local Baptist church is that homosexuality is sin.

I felt sorry for him after just a few pages, empathizing with him about the impossibly situation he's in.

Enter Cody, new student, in town temporarily due to his father's job, who becomes the new star player on the football team. Also, he's gay too.

I liked the story well so far, and looked forward to how Liam and Cody would navigate the rough waters ahead.

I thought that the depiction of the relationship, first love, the inability to keep their hands off each other even in risky places, the jealousy Liam feels at Cody's pretend-GF (who doesn't know she's a beard) were all well done, but I didn't think that the self-harm issue was handled with sufficient depth.

While Liam's parents, especially his mother, were supportive at the eventual reveal that their son is gay, I also felt that the climax and subsequent ending weren't handled with enough depth either. I would have liked to see some closure to what happened, and I would have liked to see an epilogue of sorts that showed how Liam and Cody fare after the main part of the story ended.

I did like the inclusion of the Wiccan beliefs and how it was juxtaposed to the Christian conservative beliefs to which Liam's parents subscribed. The jarring differences between Cody's parents and Liam's parents were also well done, if somewhat one-dimensional.

I would recommend that this book carry trigger warnings, especially since it's geared toward young adults, considering the self-harm issue it discusses within. Yes, the cutting is mentioned in the blurb, but I felt that the dangers of cutting were not sufficiently explained, nor did I believe that Liam, once repeatedly flooded with those endorphins, would so easily be able to stop cutting.

While the issues raised within were realistic, they weren't fully resolved to my satisfaction. YMMV. Overall, a good effort. This was my first book by this author.

 
 I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. 

 

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review 2016-11-02 13:04
ARC Review: Walking By Faith by A.M. Leibowitz
Walking By Faith - A. M. Leibowitz

This is a difficult book to read, and even more difficult to review. It's not a romance, but a prequel to Passing On Faith, that explains Cat's backstory. It can be read as a standalone, as I haven't read Passing On Faith.

With great spiritual depth, A.M. Leibowitz tells the story of a young, happy, carefree Cat, whose exuberant self withers and dies after a horrific homophobic attack that sends him to the hospital, with injuries made worse by his medical condition. It tells us of friends who leave after Cat's spirit plummets and he takes vows of not speaking, of no sex, and no more colorful, trendy clothing. Simplicity, chastity, and silence are his life now, and he memorizes parts of the Bible which are the only words he will speak. It tells us of supportive parents, who don't know how to deal with their "new" son, but who are steadfast in giving him the space and time he needs.

Ms. Leibowitz's books are generally not firmly planted in the M/M Romance genre, which is something I fully appreciate. Their characters tend to span the spectrum of LGBTQUIA, and their books aren't usually traditional romances, and therefore not tropey. This book here is no different. While Cat at the beginning of the book has a boyfriend (in secret, bc the BF isn't out), he spends most of the book trying to find himself again after the attack. His spirit is so broken that he believes he brought the almost rape on himself, and therefore needs to change everything that makes him Cat, so it can never happen again. He doesn't realize that he's not to blame for someone wanting to take what's not theirs to take, and that rape isn't about sex, but power.

There were times when I wanted to hug him fiercely, and there were times when I wanted to slap the stupid right out of him. I formed an emotional connection to the character, and wanted him to get the help he needed.

The author explores the family dynamics very well too - Cat's illness (hemophilia) is used as somewhat of an excuse by his parents to limit him as an adult making his own choices, and while they are supportive of his id as gender-queer, they do not want him to be sexually active, because of the issues sex can cause, due to the hemophilia.

After the trauma, Cat experiences many facets of being a victim - self-blame, anger, fear, guilt, and shame - which all confirm for him that his vows are the right way to move forward. The author also explores the conflict between Christianity and being LGBTQUIA, a theme that is likely familiar to most people on this spectrum. How many times have we been told that God hates us, because we're queer? How often do we see on the news that Christians deny us the right to even exist? How long did it take us to have the right to marry, in a country where Church and State are supposed to be separate entities, and freedom of religion doesn't give one the freedom to impose their particular brand of religion on someone else? Here, Cat's beliefs serve as a coping mechanism that at once helps and hinders him, a theme which progresses through the book, until Cat no longer needs it to cope.

In this case, the vows that Cat takes allow him to reclaim the part of himself that he lost during the attack - his autonomy to make decisions for himself - and they actually help him on his road to recovery. He has internalized some of the hate brought down on him but works through it. At the end of the book, which ends on a hopeful note, and seems to lead into Passing On Faith, Cat has, for the most part, recovered what he lost that night, and he's well on his way to forging his own path.

He has help, of course, primarily in the form of David, a nurse at the hospital. David's approach to Cat's silence, by not pushing him like the rest of the people in his life, by not forsaking him like his friends, goes a long way in building trust between the two, and eventually falling in love. Their romance is, while sweet and happy, still somewhat secondary to the rest of their relationship, but it allows Cat to safely explore his sexuality again, and he comes to rely on David heavily.

David promises Cat to never leave him, but cannot keep that promise due to circumstances beyond his control. However, his faithfulness up to that point has given Cat the strength to cope and keep moving forward without him.

The book isn't unicorns and flowers and glitter, but it's a book worth reading, showing a young man's road to recovery after a hateful attack that leaves him reeling and coping as best as he can. I cried a lot. I used a lot of tissues to dry my tears. You probably will too. Still, this book is definitely worth your time.


** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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