Review: Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman

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Published: 2 May 2017

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Category: Contemporary/Young Adult/Romance

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves?

Rating: 5 Stars

I was sad for Anise because her whole summer was planned out. She was a good student, ready to enjoy her vacation before a jam-packed senior year and before her recently graduated friends leave for college. When an accident puts her aunt on the sidelines and unable to care for her three children for weeks at a time, Anise and her father fly to Nebraska, leaving behind any plans Anise had, including her end-of-the-summer surfing bash.

Her aunt is the closest family member Anise has besides her father, considering her mother abandons her family for months or years at a time. Even though this is her mother’s sister, Anise is loyal to her aunt and helps out, watching her cousins as best she can while dealing with her own hard feelings about missing her friends and with the fact that she’s as far from home as she’s ever been. Nebraska is vastly different from Santa Cruz, California. A landlocked state full of hills and farmland, there’s no ocean in sight, but there is skateboarding…and  Lincoln, the boy who could make things better.

I loved reading this book, aside from the initial sadness of Anise being taken away from her planned summer and her home due to her aunt’s injury. While we don’t get to spend as much time with surfing as Anise would like, you could feel her love for it in the brief glimpses we got and once skateboarding was introduced. I’ve never done either sport, but I’ve watched them and they’re beautiful, in a way. There’s a danger element (drowning/breaking bones on cement), of course, but the adrenaline, the speed, the lines as the sportsperson flies along the water or ground, there’s magic in that.

It wasn’t just the main characters Anise and Lincoln that made this book fun, though. While like the surfing we don’t get to see or hear as much of her as I’d like, Anise’s friend Tess was a joy for the brief time I knew her on the page. She was evidently someone that loved Anise and was crushed that she wouldn’t be around to share things with over a crucial summer.

Laura Silverman’s debut novel gives me a good feeling that her future work will be just as good. Her writing style in this contemporary novel was suitable to the genre and was really easy to sink into and read almost straight through. Sometimes a contemporary novel can be difficult because real life is not always something I want to read about; usually I read to get away from that kind of thing. Whether her next book is a contemporary, fantasy, non-fiction, or otherwise, I’m sure I’ll be picking up the next Silverman work, no question.

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Mexico: Stories by Josh Barkan

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Published: 24 January 2017

Publisher: Hogarth

Category: Short Stories/Fiction/Mystery

The unforgettable characters in Josh Barkan’s astonishing and beautiful story collection—chef, architect, nurse, high school teacher, painter, beauty queen, classical bass player, plastic surgeon, businessman, mime—are simply trying to lead their lives and steer clear of violence. Yet, inevitably, crime has a way of intruding on their lives all the same. A surgeon finds himself forced into performing a risky procedure on a narco killer. A teacher struggles to protect lovestruck students whose forbidden romance has put them in mortal peril. A painter’s freewheeling ways land him in the back of a kidnapper’s car. Again and again, the walls between “ordinary life” and cartel violence are shown to be paper thin, and when they collapse the consequences are life-changing.

These are stories about transformation and danger, passion and heartbreak, terror and triumph. They are funny, deeply moving, and stunningly well-crafted, and they tap into the most universal and enduring human experiences: love even in the face of danger and loss, the struggle to grow and keep faith amid hardship and conflict, and the pursuit of authenticity and courage over apathy and oppression. With unflinching honesty and exquisite tenderness, Josh Barkan masterfully introduces us to characters that are full of life, marking the arrival of a new and essential voice in American fiction.

Rating: 2.27 Stars

The Chef and El Chapo: (3 Stars) while I’m not sure I understood the point of the story, it was well written and full of emotion: passion for cooking, terror when El Chapo takes over the restaurant, and fear/regret once the chef has completed the task set before him. The ending felt a twee bit hollow, but I hope the chef was able to find comfort in his decision.

The God of Common Names: (3 Stars) this is the story of a teacher and the Romeo & Juliet situation he finds between two of his students. While that seemed like it might play a large part in the story, in the end it didn’t really. The story of Sandra and Jose was more of a catalyst for the resolution of the teacher’s own familial difficulties. I was more interested in the pain and hardship he and his wife and father-in-law were experiencing, due to the teacher being an atheist Jew and the father-in-law an Orthodox Jew. The length of the tale was adequate, though I’m not sure that the ending was quite as tied up as the author would like us to believe. It felt temporary, like there will be more trouble ahead for this teacher and his family, but that is a story we will never get to see.

I liked the thought behind the title, though: how, even though we give different names to the same thing (in this case, the teacher’s idea of a greater power and his father-in-law’s God), it is should be alright because we should know they’re the same thing, just by a different name.

I Want to Live: (2.5 Stars) The summary of this collection insinuates that the primary characters’ stories run up against cartel violence, but I would argue that this is an instance in which that was not true. We are introduced to a former nurse from the U.S. who has relocated to Mexico City. Five years later she is in a hospital waiting room, trying to decide is she should have a preventative mastectomy, when she meets Esmeralda, an orphan who grew up and met a rising star of the cartel world.

It is Esmeralda’s story that is told through the bulk of I Want to Live and it was her’s that was most interesting. The few interjections that the former nurse made made her sound like a selfish character, something that Esmeralda observes more than once herself. She got Esmeralda to tell her her story because she made uninformed observations about Esmeralda’s physical characters and, when confronted by evidence to the contrary, she badgers her into explaining how these marks occurred.

This made the nurse an unlikable character to me and I did not care one whit about her decision in the end because it didn’t matter. Esmeralda was the person that I was more interested in hearing about, though I am curious as to what she was doing in the same hospital waiting room as our American nurse. There was never anyone in to see her, to take her away to an appointment. It felt like a very contrived meeting arranged just for the nurse’s “benefit” in the story. In the end, despite what the nurse decided and her rudeness toward Esmeralda (both in asking about her story and her assumption that Esmeralda wanted to tell the story to her despite no evidence of such), I found Esmeralda’s strength profound.

Acapulco: (1 Star) The first couple of paragraphs had me disliking the narrator. In a book of stories that take place in Mexico, this person started off disparaging the country straight away, saying that police reports cannot be taken seriously, older Mexican men are all unfaithful and have lovers on the side of their marriages, but he (the narrator) is better than that because he left that all behind when his parents sent him to study in Harvard. He goes on to try to make it sound like saying this is all okay because he considers himself to be from Mexico because he was raised there, his family is from there, but he is a citizen of the world. That sounds like he is either a) distancing himself from his Mexican culture/heritage or b) someone who was born abroad, raised in Mexico City, but thinks himself better than natives. His arrogance was appalling and had me viewing him with a side eyed expression.

He continued to talk down about the people he came in contact with, especially his client who wore a gold Rolex, which apparently in his mind was bad because it reeked of new money whereas his (the narrator’s) money was old (as though that meant something in the grand scheme of things).

This was my second least favorite story because this man, this architect, was an arrogant person that, after encountering a near death experience, seems to have learned something, but that revelation feels false in light of the arrogance he demonstrated in the beginning.

The Kidnapping: (1 Star) This one started doff with a bad taste in my mouth when the author used a derogatory word beginning with a T to describe sex workers in the character’s neighborhood. There was no reason for it, no learning from it, just…ick. 😠 The character using this word, the painter who is a kidnapping victim, uses the term again in a reminiscence and once more at the end of the story and it still sucks.

Aside from the offensive language used more than once, there was a distinct lack of characterization that made the story suffer. I didn’t know enough about this painter to care when he was kidnapped or when the kidnappers tortured him. All I had to go on was his disrespect for transgender people and that made me dislike him.

The Plastic Surgeon: (2 Stars) The problem I had with this story was that it had the storyline meant for an faster paced piece and the writing did not live up to it. The telling became almost philosophical and that didn’t mesh well with story of the plastic surgeon who is forced to makeover a narco boss. With a conclusion that was anything but conclusive, I found that I was bored by The Plastic Surgeon and couldn’t really find a facet of it that would save it in my esteem.

The Sharpshooter: (No rating) This story wasn’t bad, exactly, it was simply of a type that wasn’t for me, thus I found it painfully boring. The story of a young soldier full of ideals, dealing with a friend and fellow soldier who betrays him and their company, didn’t interest me; most Army stories don’t. If this were a book on its own, I wouldn’t give it a rating because this is a case of a story that I can tell is simply not my thing, but there are people that might appreciate it, perhaps people that enjoy reading about soldiers and their personal conflicts.

The Painting Professor: (1 Star) Like the last story The Sharpshooter this one was also ridiculously boring, but unlike the previous story this one wasn’t written well, even from an objective point of view. It didn’t seem to have a point and what thread of coherence it had got lots in the rambling writing.

The American Journalist: (2 Stars) There wasn’t much development in this story, either from a character perspective or otherwise. By this point it seemed all of the short stories in the collection took place in the same area or nearly so, so the setting wasn’t as big of a let down, but I didn’t care much about the journalist or his friend that was shot.

The most interesting thing about this to was from the beginning, when the journalist talked about how his paper, the Houston Chronicle, and other papers like it, only cared about running stories that fit into a certain narrative. For example, one about bombings in other countries that then make the American people feel safe because they don’t live there. It can be incredibly difficult to get a story through mainstream media because of such “comfort” and his pointing that out from a journalistic standpoint was interesting.

Everything Else Is Going to Be Fine: (1.5 Stars) If ever there was a disjointed story in Mexico, it is this one. The character “told” the reader his story and that felt off. The pieces of story we did get might have worked in a better narrative, but combined as they were felt like pages had been ripped out of a book and sewn back together badly. Whats-more, I felt badly that he had been molested and raped as a child, but I felt like the author was using that part of the character’s past to explain his possible asexuality. That confused me and made me uncomfortable, upset, and not at all pleased with the story.

The Prison Breakout: (4 Stars) I favored this story for the feeling of non-fiction it gave me. The main character, a man that helps find the history of men on death row in order to explain why they may have committed their crime, starts out the story talking about growing up, seeing crimes happening on a global scale, and knowing they were wrong, voicing his displeasure with them, but ultimately not doing anything about it. That’s something that should resonate with a lot of people today, with the atrocities we see being committed against people because of their gender/race/sexuality/etc. For all the talk, what do we really do?

The Escape From Mexico: (4 Stars) When I got to this story, I was feeling rather disheartened by the collection overall. The first few stories had been alright, but then I was hit by a bunch that were, in my opinion, just bad. I felt suckered in and upset about that. This story, while it doesn’t save the collection, made me feel at least a little better that I stuck it out to the end.

This is the story about Gordi, a young boy who runs up against another young man, one who is in charge of a gang at the age of fourteen and has marked Gordi for punishment: either death or gang recruitment, for a crime Gordi did not commit, but that this person holds him responsible for. The terror of the weeks where Gordi is searching for the watch, then trying to avoid the gangster, trying to find a way out of this, was palpable. His mother comes into the story too, a true testament to a mother’s love and willingness to do anything to save her son.

What I did not like about the story was that, midway through, there was a brief change in perspective, from Gordi to his mother, but it remained in first person and there didn’t feel like enough of a difference in the voice of each perspective. If it were not for pronouns or the mother out and out saying that she was Gordi’s mother, I would not have realized what happened.

Summary: First of all, this book was mostly a letdown. It felt like it told only about the bad things in Mexico without any of the good, playing upon the stereotypes that Americans have of the country. I’m not saying that these things don’t happen, but if all we see in literature about Mexico is the type of content in this book, what sort of view will the readers form?

Second, one of the oddest things about this collection was that the title, Mexico, gave me cause to think that it would be about the people. While it was, in a way, the main characters for the majority of the stories were American. What characters were Mexican were often involved in the drug word, portrayed as some other kind of criminal, or spoken of in slurs by the narrating voice. I expected there to be some violence, as the summary spoke of the narrowing of the divide between the cartel world and the “real” world, but this played too heavily to that theme.

I was disappointed in the overall quality of the stories because it seems like the author really could have written something fantastic.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

BookNerd Addict Blog Tour – The Color Project by Sierra Abrams Tour: Review!

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The Color Project by Sierra Abrams

Release Date: July 18 2017

Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

Amazon  –  Author’s Website  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Book Depository  –  Goodreads

Bernice Aurora Wescott has one thing she doesn’t want anyone to know: her name. That is, until Bee meets Levi, the local golden boy who runs a charity organization called The Color Project.

Levi is not at all shy about attempting to guess Bee’s real name; his persistence is one of the many reasons why Bee falls for him. But while Levi is everything she never knew she needed, giving up her name would feel like a stamp on forever. And that terrifies her.

When unexpected news of an illness in the family drains Bee’s summer of everything bright, she is pushed to the breaking point. Losing herself in The Color Project—a world of weddings, funerals, cancer patients, and hopeful families that the charity funds—is no longer enough. Bee must hold up the weight of her family, but to do that, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely or lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

For fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson, THE COLOR PROJECT is a story about the three great loves of life—family, friendship, and romance—and the bonds that withstand tragedy.

Rating: 3.75 Stars

Within a few chapters I was convinced that Sierra Abrams’s The Color Project was a contemporary that could convince me to try more of them. I do read a fair amount, but contemporary is not normally my go-to genre. There were, however, a lot of facets in this book that had me enjoying this book a lot.

The family and friends dynamic felt really authentic, especially with the siblings Bee, Astrid, Millie, and Tom. These sisters and brother, while they had moments of bickering and rough edges, displayed love for each other that felt real. Then there were the boys at Mike’s car shop. Mike and the rest are friends of Bee’s older brother, Tom, and they could easily ignore her as an “annoying younger sister” character, but even with the teasing it’s like she’s a part of their family.

Bee’s attraction and falling in love with Levi also felt good. It didn’t feel rushed, which I tend to shy away from. Her stumblings, her blushing, it was cute and added to the sweet feeling of the book.

Levi was a character that I wish I knew in real life. He was a very industrious young man who knew that he wanted to help people of all kinds and, even though he could’ve asked his father for anything when he left Levi’s mother, he asked for control of a charity in order to do some good. That’s huge! I don’t think I’ve seen that kind of character in real life often, which is a shame.

There were little details in the book that I liked as well. Within each chapter, for example, separating certain scenes were little flowers with a leaf off each side. Even in black and white it was a lovely illustration that reminds the reader of Bee’s job as and passion for being a florist. There were also books mentioned constantly, which really speaks to the author’s nature as a bookworm, and of course there were specific authors mentions (Green, Stiefvater, Rowling) which made Bee more familiar, sharing similar tastes in books (though I wouldn’t say quite such a hard no to Harlequin like her). 😉

I did have a couple of issues, which you might have guessed from this being a 4 star book rather than a 5 star. There were some consistency issues, which I’m hoping will be cleared up before the final book is released (a sweater changing color in the same scene with no explanation, lighting at 8 p.m. in the summer, time zones being wrong, attention called to an amount of wording that gets the amount wrong). There was one character that, aside from the pretentious father of the love interest, annoyed me.

Albert was a volunteer at The Color Project and we don’t get to know much about him except that one of his habits is that, when people are rude to him, he throws glitter at them or blows it in their face. Not only is that dangerous, especially if they’re working at a charity with some clients being people with medical issues, but it’s rude in and of itself. Albert also doesn’t seem to have a scope for rudeness, such as well he blows glitter in Millie’s face when she asks his name. There’s no context for the action and while the others at The Color Project will say he’s annoying for doing it, no one ever does anything about stopping it.

The pacing also got snagged about halfway through. Around the halfway mark, things felt like they were beginning to drag. I still wanted to keep going, so it wasn’t to a standstill, but I definitely felt like there was maybe a bit too much time being spent on in-between times rather than main-action scenes.

Something that confused me was the fact that the summary made the secrecy of Bee’s name sound like a dire secret she had to keep or something bad would happen. I kind of kept expecting something to crop up that would explain why it was promoted so much, but it felt like in the beginning it wasn’t much more than she was embarrassed by it, though I believe that as the book starting to move into the finals acts that it became something of a defense mechanism; Levi even makes a comment to that effect at one point.

The secondary part of the summary, the news of an illness (an understatement), did not get discussed really until the midway point of the novel, around the same time that the pacing lagged. There were hints, but with so much book left afterwards it made the revelations feel unbalanced. Once it was, however, the way the family handled it felt truly heartfelt and heartbreaking, so while the story got sad, it improved in a way.

There were a few stumbles along the way in The Color Project, though I think that Sierra did recover on most of them. I still think the book felt a bit longer than it needed to be, especially for a contemporary, but it was overall a pretty good read, especially with the musical chapter headings giving it that extra oomph of atmosphere.

Special Feature – A Playlist!

What I loved most about this book, that extra oomph I just mentioned, is that those chapter/song titles were so easy to find and add on a Spotify playlist and listen to the song as I was reading the relevant chapter. Doing that made the experience more special because each song was more or less the length of time it took me to read the chapter, with a few exceptions, so I really got the sense of why Sierra chose those songs to represent her words.

If you’d like to listen to The Color Project Playlist I created, click on the bold playlist title there and it should take you right to the playlist. If you’ve got an arc and have the chance to listen ahead of the release date for the book, great. If not, between not and July 18th would be a great time to listen to the variety of musicians on this list. I had not heard of a lot of them prior to reading The Color Project and was really pleased to be exposed to new music.

About the Author

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At 7 years old, Sierra Abrams decided that one day she would publish a book. For over a decade, in between exploring other career options, she kept coming back to that very first dream. Now her life consists of writing books of all kinds…Kissing books, angsty books, killing books, whimsical books, and sometimes books that are all of the above. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, traveling, consuming sushi, or daydreaming about Henry Cavill.Website  –  Twitter  –  Instagram  –  Goodreads

 

 

Rafflecopter Giveaway

To celebrate the blog tour for The Color Project, you can enter a Rafflecopter giveaway to win the tote bag pictured below! Just click on the link below the photo and you’ll be take to the appropriate page.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour:

  There are a TON of other stops on this tour and all kinds of posts to check out from interviews to more reviews, excerpts to guest posts, and creative posts as well! Be sure to check them all out at the links below. 🙂

Monday June 19
In The Morning at 8:00 AM EST – Interview – Brittany´sBookRambles

In The Afternoon at 1:00 PM EST – Review – ReadsandThoughts

 
Tuesday, June 20
In The Morning at 8:00 AM EST – Excerpt of The Color Project – TheYABookTraveler

In The Afternoon at 1:00 PM EST – Review – TheHermitLibrarian

Wednesday, June 21
In The Morning at 8:00 AM EST – Review – YAandWine

In The Afternoon at 1:00 PM EST -Guest Post – LimeLightLiterature

Thursday, June 22
In The Morning at 8:00 AM EST – Review – AvdReader

In The Afternoon at 1:00 PM EST – DIY: The Color Project Bookmarks – LoisReadsBooks

Friday, June 23
In The Morning at 8:00 AM EST – Excerpt of The Color Project – TheReader&The Chef

In The Afternoon at 1:00 PM EST – Mini Review & Favorite Quotes – TheLifeOfABookNerdAddict

Saturday, June 24
In The Morning at 8:00 AM EST – Interview – CurlyHairBibliophile

In The Afternoon at 1:00 PM EST – Mood Board – WonderfullyBookish

Sunday, June 25
In The Morning at 8:00 AM EST – Review – MorrissaReads

In The Afternoon at 1:00 PM EST – Guest Post – AThousandWordsAMillionBooks

Monday, June 26

In The Morning at 8:00 AM EST – Ways To Support Your Favorite Causes – TalesOfTheRavenousReader

In The Afternoon at 1:00 PM EST – Review – InkDin

Tuesday, June 27

In The Morning at 8:00 AM EST – Review – ILoveBooksGirl

In The Afternoon at 1:00 PM EST –  Interview – Brooke-Reports

Wednesday, June 28

In The Morning at 8:00 AM EST – Book Hangover  – FablesandFae

In The Afternoon at 1:00 PM EST –  Guest Post – Tiffthebooknerd

Thursday, June 29

In The Morning at 8:00 AM EST – Review – BookWyrmingThoughts

In The Afternoon at 1:00 PM EST – Excerpt – SimplyNicollette

Friday, June 30

In The Morning at 8:00 AM EST – Review – LittleRedsReviews

In The Afternoon at 1:00 PM EST –  Creative Post – LostInEverAfter


Saturday, July 1st

In The Morning at 8:00 AM ESTReview – Biscottosbooks

In The Afternoon at 1:00 PM EST –  Interview – ANewLookOnBooks

 
 

I received a free copy of this book as part of a book tour in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Other Breakable Things by Kelley York and Rowan Altwood

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Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

Kelley York Website

Published: 4 April 2017

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Category: Young Adult/Contemporary/Romance

According to Japanese legend, folding a thousand paper cranes will grant you healing.

Evelyn Abel will fold two thousand if it will bring Luc back to her.

Luc Argent has always been intimately acquainted with death. After a car crash got him a second chance at life—via someone else’s transplanted heart—he tried to embrace it. He truly did. But he always knew death could be right around the corner again.

And now it is.

Sick of hospitals and tired of transplants, Luc is ready to let his failing heart give out, ready to give up. A road trip to Oregon—where death with dignity is legal—is his answer. But along for the ride is his best friend, Evelyn.

And she’s not giving up so easily.

A thousand miles, a handful of roadside attractions, and one life-altering kiss later, Evelyn’s fallen, and Luc’s heart is full. But is it enough to save him? Evelyn’s betting her heart, her life, that it can be.

Right down to the thousandth paper crane.

Rating: 1 Star

Why did I pick up this book?

I saw this book’s cover and was intrigued. My husband is very into origami and is constantly making origami cranes; he has probably made at least a thousand by now. Reading the description made it sound like maybe Evelyn would share some of this interest as well, plus the road trip held some interest. The Death With Dignity Act is something I believe in and as Luc was intending to go to Oregon with this in mind, I thought it would be a unique book to read.

My review

I wanted to like this book so much, but oh. my. god. was it slow and painfully dull. I was sorely disappointed and found myself considering DNFing it at 25%, but ended up skimming it as best I could.

I never felt any real connection between Evelyn and Luc. Their relationship felt flimsy at best before they met up again after not having seen each other for three years and the relationship that panned out over the story felt really fake, especially the ending. As of writing this review, it occurs to me that they remembered “being close” before Evelyn moved away prior to this reunion, but how did she never realize he was sick? His heart would have been an issue long before that and as far as I can remember, this never came up in even the lightest of manners.

The origami cover and Evelyn’s tendency to fold didn’t really make that much of an impact on the story. The summary made it sound like she would sincerely be trying to fold at least one thousand, perhaps two thousand, in order to get the wish that one is granted if the feat is accomplished. By the end of the novel, I think she’d only managed one hundred. It felt like a letdown because it was built up visually and summarily.

There were also some events of the novel that felt kind of skeevy, particularly Luc marrying Evelyn so that she will be taken care of by his insurance policy. That was awkward enough, though I suppose I can understand why his parents would’ve taken the policy out, but when he mentioned knowing the suicide clause, that was creepy. However, that became a moot point when he died via car crash, a horrific call back to how he go his heart in the first place. That whole situation felt weird and I hated that they got married because as much as he professed to love her and want to protect her, leaving her a widow seems like a good option? The money seemed more important; taking emotion out of it I get it, but reading it, I felt like my skin was crawling.

Would I buy this book?

Very much no. My problems with the story aside, the writing was terribly slow and uninteresting.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Raising Royalty by Carolyn Harris

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Amazon  –  Author’s Website  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

Published: 8 April 2017

Publisher: Dundurn

Category: History/Nonfiction/Biography

How royal parents raised their children over the past thousand years, from keeping the Vikings at bay to fending off paparazzi.

William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are setting trends for millions of parents around the world. The upbringing of their two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, is the focus of intense popular scrutiny. Royalty have always raised their children in the public eye and attracted praise or criticism according to parenting standards of their day.

Royal parents have always faced unique privileges and challenges. In medieval times, raising an heir often meant raising a rival, and monarchs sometimes faced their grown children on the battlefield. Kings and queens who lost their thrones through wars or popular revolutions found solace in time spent with their children. In modern times, royal duties and overseas tours have often separated young princes and princesses from their parents, a circumstance that is slowly changing with the current generation of British royalty.

Rating: 4 Stars

Raising Royalty offers a fascinating look into the parenting methods in an accessible way to those of us that will, in all likelihood, never have to experience the same events as the subjects of this work.

I picked up this work primarily because I was interested in reading about William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, because their parenting methods have been the source of much media speculation ever since the two of them got together. With such contrasting backgrounds, it was no wonder that there was speculation as to how they would merge their upbringings into one unit for their children, currently Prince George and Princess Charlotte. This book goes even further back and examines not only William and Catherine, as well as William’s parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana, but centuries of royal couples whose various methods were the results, not of class, but of cultures clashing.

The first story, that of Edgar the Peaceable and Elfrida of Northampton, was the one that intrigued me the most. It was a bit confusing at first, my not being a practiced historian giving me a bit of trouble keeping track of several names that sounded similar and corresponding dates, but overall gave insight into the contributions these two rulers made that still affect the royal class today. They introduced a distinct and public royal family, rather than the somewhat hidden ones of the past, and established the expectation of royal mothers doing all that was necessary for their children, which in Elfrida’s case was potentially a bit sinister and gave her the mantle of wicked stepmother.

Once I began to take in more than the first story, things got a little confusing because there were some generations skipped (i.e. we went from grandfather to grandson or grandnephew, etc.). Something that might have been helpful would have been a miniature family tree at the beginning of each chapter, linking the current personages back to their royal parents and their siblings, as those were often mentioned, particularly in the early formation of the royalty when siblings fought each other and their fathers for the right to rule.

Carolyn Harris certainly put a lot of effort into this book. You could feel the amount of passion she had for the subject through all of the research she did, the sheer amount of reading and organizing she must have done to bring this work together. While I feel that there might have been some extraneous information concerning military battles, overall the inner working of how the families worked, from the marriages to the raising of the product of those marriages, was a fascinating look at what was expected of these parents and their children. Not only was it vastly different from what was expected of a commoner, but it also differed quite a bit from what’s expected of the current royal family as they progress in the modern world.

If you’ve ever wondered what kind of expectations the royal family has, from their earliest days to the current day, I’d encourage you to take a look at this book. It has a wealth of information that will be, I believe, invaluable as a historical text.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

The Fantastic Flying Book Club Tour Review: Post-High School Reality Quest by Meg Eden, w/ Bonus Favorite Quotes!

Post-High School Reality Quest

byMeg Eden
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Genre: Young Adult

 

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Synopsis:
Buffy is playing a game. However, the game is her life, and there are no instructions or cheat codes on how to win.

After graduating high school, a voice called “ the text parser” emerges in Buffy’s head, narrating her life as a classic text adventure game. Buffy figures this is just a manifestation of her shy, awkward, nerdy nature—until the voice doesn’t go away, and instead begins to dominate her thoughts, telling her how to life her life. Though Buffy tries to beat the game, crash it, and even restart it, it becomes clear that this game is not something she can simply “ shut off” or beat without the text parser’s help.

While the text parser tries to give Buffy advice on how “ to win the game,” Buffy decides to pursue her own game-plan: start over, make new friends, and win her long-time crush Tristan’s heart. But even when Buffy gets the guy of her dreams, the game doesn’t stop. In fact, it gets worse than she could’ve ever imagined: her crumbling group of friends fall apart, her roommate turns against her, and Buffy finds herself trying to survive in a game built off her greatest nightmares.


One of the best things I’ve discovered on Twitter this year is Meg Eden (@ConfusedNarwhal) and her book Post-High School Reality Quest. Being a big fan of video games, I was intrigued when I saw the premise of this book: At her high school graduation, Buffy finds that her life has started being narrated/controlled by a text parser in the style of an old school text based video game. This leads to some weird experiences. She dies, comes back to life, makes extreme choices, and more over and over again while trying to figure out not only what this voice in her head is, but what is life now that she’s supposed to be growing up and going to college?

Meg Eden has a way with dark humor and that certainly shows throughout the book. Buffy is having a hard time of it because not only does she have all these experiences going on, she’s got the text parser bringing her back to life after major episodes, which sounds traumatic. While reading it’s such an adventure, trying to tell what’s real and what might not be real.

Mixed in with the days that are dated for us as being in Buffy’s college semester are episodes from the future in which she’s in a doctor’s office (her words, because the text parser says psychiatrist, which she thinks is judgmental). This method of storytelling, going back and forth, was a little confusing at first, but after a couple of chapters I got into it and was really just trying to figure the characters out. What did they mean to Buffy, were they part of this “text game”, just what was going on? Real life, it seemed, was intangible at times and at others all too real. That feeling made the reading so strange and so tragic at the same time with certain passages and, particularly, when trying to decide how I felt about the ending.

The formatting of the book was pretty cool too, as it wasn’t set up like a normal book with the words of the text parser relegated to italics or something. I haven’t played a text game or RPG in awhile, but this book brought back the feeling of one and that made me quite happy. It’s an intriguing setup and definitely an effective one in relaying Buffy’s story to the reader.

Favorite Quotes

One of the best things about this book, other than the neat format, is the fact that the author managed to write so many lines that I wanted to quote back to someone as I was reading. I even got out some sticky note tabs so that I could share my favorites in my review, so see below for which lines made my list.

I’m sorry. I don’t understand “I don’t like this story.” You think we get to choose our stories?

 

  1. In middle school, you nicknamed your backpack “inventory”. You thought it sounded clever.

 

You are now dead. Thank you for playing POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST! Would you like to load a saved game?

 

I will win something, eventually.

 

I’m sorry, I don’t understand “restart game.” You think it’s that easy, to get a fresh start?

 

“They’re not something you grow out of,” you say. “You think people grow out of books.”

 

“If it’s not about ‘undoing’ or ‘redoing’, then what’s the point of save slots? What was the point of any of this?

“…they give this false hope that you can go back and retry something. And sometimes, I did get to retry stuff..

…In the end, it’s just like normal life, that I can’t control anything.”

Meg Eden’s work has been published in various magazines, including Rattle, Drunken Boat, Poet Lore, and Gargoyle. She teaches at the University of Maryland. She has four poetry chap-books, and her novel “Post-High School Reality Quest” is forthcoming from California Cold-blood, an imprint of Rare Bird Lit. Check out her work at: www.megedenbooks.com.
  • 1 copy of POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST by Meg Eden
  • Book Swag (see picture)
  • U.S. Only
  • Ends June 20th
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

follow-the-tour-phs

Fantastic Flying Book Club Tour Page

June 13

June 14

June 15

Deal Sharing Aunt– Q&A
The Hermit Librarian– Review & Favorite Quotes

June 16

A Lovelorn Virgo– Review

June 17

YA and Wine– Review
Ink of Blood– Review

 

 

 

I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Why I Loathe Sterling Lane by Ingrid Paulson Blog Tour

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Last week I was able to bring you the Release Day Blitz post for Ingrid Paulson’s new book, Why I Loath Sterling Lane. This week marks the launch of the official blog tour and I’m happy to share with you the links to all the good things that go along with that. There are ordering links, a giveaway, and the links to reviews and other stops on the blog tour! Be sure to check them out and pick up a copy of this title yourself.

Tour Date

 June 12-30, 2017

Tour Schedule

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Goodreads

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

Publication Date: June 6, 2017

Publisher: Entangled Teen 

Per her 537 rules, Harper Campbell keeps her life tidy—academically and socially. But the moment Sterling Lane transfers into her tiny boarding school, her twin brother gets swept up in Sterling’s pranks and schemes and nearly gets expelled. Harper knows it’s Sterling’s fault, and to protect her brother, she vows to take him down. As she exposes his endless school violations, he keeps striking back, framing her for his own infractions. Worst of all, he’s charmed the administration into thinking he’s harmless, and only Harper sees him for the troublemaker he absolutely is.

As she breaks rule after precious rule in her battle of wits against Sterling and tension between them hits a boiling point, she’s horrified to discover that perhaps the two of them aren’t so different. And maybe she doesn’t entirely hate him after all. Teaming up with Sterling to save her brother might be the only way to keep from breaking the most important rule—protecting Cole.

Giveaway Details:

Why I Loathe Sterling Lane Prize Pack, including:

A tote bag

A mug

Some stickers

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

Ingrid Paulson does not, in fact, loathe anyone. Although the snarky sense of humor and verbal barbs in Why I Loathe Sterling Lane might suggest otherwise (and shock those who think they know her best).

Ingrid lives in San Francisco with her husband and children and enjoys long-distance running, eavesdropping, and watching science documentaries. She has always loved books and writing short stories, but was surprised one day to discover the story she was working on wasn’t so short any more. Valkyrie Rising, a paranormal girl power story was Ingrid’s first novel. Expect another humorous contemporary romance to join the list soon.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

 

 

 

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.