Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin’s A Really Awesome Mess is a he-said, she-said story about finding your way through pain, anger, loneliness and grief...through love, forgiveness and friendship. And just in case it’s starting to sound a bit too mushy for your tastes, keep in mind that there are also plenty of hijinks, including lots of illegally obtained porn and a purloined piglet.
...I wrote about Coert Voorhees' upcoming In Too Deep, which—considering the premise, which involves a girl scuba diver finding LURRRRVE and LONG-LOST TREASURE—was sadly bland and forgettable:
In Too Deep ticks all of the boxes of your run-of-the-mill romantic adventure—there is danger, there are laughs, there are smoochies—but none of those factors ever fully integrate into a cohesive whole and, even separately, those aspects never venture outside of the purely generic. The characters end the book as exactly the same people they are on the first page, so there is little-to-no character development; the villains are purely, boringly, one-dimensionally villainous; and neither the romance nor the danger is all that thrilling, since, despite Annie’s constant stream of genuinely funny lines, there’s just not really all that much to care about.
Zenn Scarlett has a great sense of place, both physical and political; wonderfully described alien species that aren’t at all anthropomorphized; a likable heroine, tight pacing with lots of chapters ending on exciting old-timey serial cliffhangers, and a good amount of humor. I enjoyed it hugely...with a few minor caveats. (You totally knew that was coming, didn’t you?)
Capital-b Belief is something that I have immense respect for, but I’ve never felt like I’ve succeeded in completely wrapping my mind around it. Maybe it’s one of those You Know It If You Feel It things? But this book, despite the vastly different life experience that it depicts—...when I say we believe that Jesus is coming back, I don’t mean metaphorically, like someday in the distant future when the lion lies down with the lamb and there is peace on earth. I mean literally, like glance out the car window and, “Oh, hey, there’s Jesus in the sky.” There will be a trumpet blast, an archangel will shout, and Jesus Christ will appear in the clouds.— has come the closest to helping me understand something that I’ve spent years trying to grasp.
While it'll totally go over well with fans of the first one, I had mixed feelings:
Unlike Bella Swan, who is immediately really, really good at being a vampire, Allie is extremely conflicted about what she is and has to struggle with her bloodlust all the time. Also, while many YA paranormals feature human protagonists (usually female) who get involved with supernatural love interests (usually male), this series reverses both of those elements. Really, how many other vampire heroines are there? Heroines, mind you, not just major players—in other words, in The Hunger, Catherine Deneuve doesn’t count, and Susan Sarandon would be a stretch—so the only two I can think of are Selene from the Underworld movies, and Mina Murray in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics....Let me know if you think of others.
Sidenote: Am I the only one who keeps referring to this book as The Eternity Code? Because I've had to edit it over to 'Cure' EVERY SINGLE TIME I've typed the title.
Martha Wells’ Emilie and the Hollow World is so entertaining, so compelling, SO MUCH FUN that it made me do something that I haven’t done since the fourth grade: When my lunch break was over, I just kept on reading by super-stealthily hiding my book under the desk. Which would have been less obvious if I’d been sitting in my office rather than the library’s circulation desk. Happily, judging by all of the smirks I caught, my patrons apparently approve of the appearance of my (usually Inner) Bad Librarian.
As in Gone, the characters have to decide who will lead and who will follow, to work towards an understanding of what caused their predicament while also finding a safe haven and, above all, to survive their environment and each other. Like Gone, the premise will require some suspension of disbelief, and both books are far more plot-driven than character-driven, though the multinational cast of Strangelets makes for a broader variety of perspectives, belief systems and outlooks.
Which I liked a WHOLE LOT more than the cover led me to believe I would:
Ariane’s narration is funny and thoughtful, and her paladin tendencies make her immediately likable. In order to disappear into the background, she observes human behavior (and high school culture) very closely, and her habit of constantly second-guessing each action with an “Okay, what would a regular human do?” keeps her perspective fresh while also evoking all of Dexter Morgan's most entertaining moments.
Historical fiction fans are likely to be bothered that Sophia’s language
and diction—as well as the rest of the dialogue spoken by the white
characters—is anachronistic, in that it sounds more 2013 than 1855: I smashed a mosquito against my neck and my own blood spurted out. Because of that modern feel, the dialect spoken by the black characters—He been beat before. He tougher’n he looks.—is
somewhat jarring. Sophia also has a tendency to tell us how she feels,
rather than letting us feel it through her...which is what ultimately
leads me to what this book is missing.
I never daydreamed about running off to join the circus. I’d like to say it was because I was too practical and even-keeled, but truth be told, it’s because I was too lazy. (Still am.) Even daydreaming about doing anything that could be termed “exercise”—the trapeze, the tightrope, shoveling elephant manure—was (is still) wholly unattractive to me. Reading about someone else doing it, though, is more than completely fine, so reading J. J. Howard’s debut That Time I Joined the Circus was an entirely enjoyable experience.