Linda78

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban - Malala Yousafzai

I knew very little about Pakistan outside of news clips before reading this book, and I knew even less about Malala. She's a passionate young woman who loves her family, her country and Islam, and she's dedicated her life to seeing that every child receives an education. Coming from a country where over five million children never receive an education and where girls are encouraged to leave their educations unfinished, and where the Taliban target schools for bombings and shootings, she came to appreciate the importance of education early in her life. She was able to go to the school her father ran, but even that was not always easy after the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, but she didn't back down and neither did her father. 

 

The writing flows here, whether she's talking about her classmates, her life at home, Pushtan customs or about growing up in the Swat Valley. Her detailing of the various events in Pakistan history, from its founding after being broken off from India to its current state of affairs, is concise and enlightening without getting bogged down. It's clear that her early years of writing and orating has made her confident in speaking her mind and she chronicles the events of her life openly and frankly. 

 

Most of the book takes place before the shooting that changed her life, with the last third or so talking about the shooting and the events afterward, including how it came about that she was removed from Pakistan and her recovery to date. She is an incredibly lucky young woman to have survived, and many people were responsible for that, and she continues to campaign for education for all children. 

 

She truly is an inspiration. 

Halloween Is Murder

Halloween is Murder - Josh Lanyon

Another half-baked short story by JL. Sometimes her short stories are really beautiful, spectacular displays of prose. But most of the time they're this: not fully-formed, more of an outline than a story, with characters you barely have time to get to know before the story is over. Add on the paranormal elements of actual real vampires and vampire hunters  and this just becomes a head-scratcher. There is also zero romance here. A hint of a love story, but that's it. The action is non-existent too, despite this being about vampires and vampire hunters. And there's a really big issue left unresolved at the end too.

Barry seriously didn't think it necessary to tell his client that her brother is out for her fortune? Um...he'll probably try to kill her next. Geez.

(show spoiler)

 

I was also really thrown by the fact this takes place in the world of Adrien English (and therefore Holmes & Moriarity, All's Fair, Art of Murder and just about every other series she's done her little crossover/tie-ins with). Um...what? That makes no sense. And just makes The Hell You Say look like a missed opportunity. Not the best tie-in she's come up with, in my opinion.

 

Still, it's JL, so the writing is still good and has a mild, throwback sort of humor (this is based in the 50s/60s) one expects from a Lanyon story. Just wish it had been longer, like the world and characters really deserved. 

A Kiss for Midwinter (The Brothers Sinister #1.5)

A Kiss For Midwinter - Courtney Milan

This is the first dud in this series for me. It just never really seemed to gel with me and I even contemplated not finishing it but it was short enough that I powered through. The ending is a bit better than the beginning, which was very repetitive. A good ten pages could have been shaved off this without missing anything - or better yet, those pages could have been used to better development this relationship.

 

Jonas is a nice enough bloke, in his blunt, socially-inept way. But he's still following around a woman with no interest in him, who he falls for in literally a second. And she hates him, but of course that's only because of how he makes her feel and blah blah blah. I just didn't feel the chemistry, and the relationship development felt by-the-numbers. I guess expecting Ms. Milan to write an historical Christmas novella while also avoiding trope pitfalls was asking too much. 

 

I did like Lydia's father, and felt for Jonas's situation with his father. I would have liked to see more of them.

Beowulf (Audiobook)

Beowulf - R.K. Gordon, Unknown, Robertson Dean

The only thing I knew about Beowulf was the three-episode arc on Xena that dealt with the legend in their own special Xena way. Then there was that weird episode of Star Trek: Voyager, which pretty describes every episode of that show, but it's the one where the doctor is Beowulf. So I've been meaning to read the original - or as close to the original as we can get - for years now.

 

The prose is lush and descriptive with a minimal use of words, and Robertson Dean did a great job performing the piece. It was bit hard to follow though at times, since there a lot of unfamiliar names and many of the words don't mean the same thing they mean nowadays, if we use them at all. I'm definitely going to have to read this with my own eyeballs one day. I'm sure I'll get more out of it when I do.

Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera #1) (Audiobook)

Furies of Calderon - Jim Butcher

DNF @ 20%

 

Bored now.

 

This reads more like Brandon Sanderson and Michael Sullivan teamed up to write the most basic, convoluted "epic" fantasy of all time rather - and failing - than anything Jim Butcher would write. I love the Dresden Files, but this was boring. The characters are boring - they're either super good or super evil. The twists are boring - a big one is revealed in the third chapter, only a couple of scenes after so-and-so was killed. We jump around from one POV character to another, get to see a scene they're in and move on to another. Nothing's really explained, especially all this fury nonsense (aka Pokemon) which is the crux of the magical whatits in this world. There's no reason to care about these characters or what is happening to them or what's going on in this world.

 

Kate Reading is a decent narrator but she reads slow. Speeding this up to 1.20x helped, but not enough to make up for the lack of world-building and character development.

Acts of Faith (Cost of Repairs #4)

Acts of Faith - A.M. Arthur

 

When the seven-year old is the most mature person in the room, you've got problems.

 

Massive problems.

 

Mostly irrational, overprotective, miscommunication-because-your-head's-stuck-up-your-butt drama llama problems. 

 

My GOD! I wanted to smack Rey so many times. Sam isn't spared either. He gets some stern finger-wagging. 

 

And how do you not look in the car!

(show spoiler)

 

Add in the hilariously distracting typos (talk drink of water, mandolins in kitchen cupboards) and the Reign/Sam and Samuel/Rey naming device on the POV switches, and this was one annoying read.

 

I don't care enough about David to read his story, and I'm not feeling compelled to go back and read #3 with Gavin and whats-his-name, because if the grown men can't even act their age I have no hopes the teen boys will be any better. So this is it for me and this series. And probably this author.

 

3 stars because Faith was adorable.

Restless Spirits (Spirits #1) (Audiobook)

Restless Spirits - Jordan L. Hawk, Greg Tremblay

My review of the book is here and not much has changed. I did like the relationship development between Henry and Vincent better this time around. Not sure why, but it did. I still can't believe how idiotic and naive Henry was at times, and the fact he and Vincent never figured out the real-life human threat until the end - geez, it was so obvious! And I'm not just saying that because I read it before; I'd actually completely forgotten this part of the plot. So please, guys, don't quit your day job and become detectives. You would suck at it.

 

I decided to reread this since I barely remembered much about it and I'm planning to read the other two in the series soonish. Since this was just released on audio, I figured now was the time for a reread. This is also the first audiobook by Greg Tremblay I listened to. He did a decent job. I wasn't blown away by his narration, but I wasn't annoyed either. His range for voices seems limited, but I was mostly able to keep track of who was speaking when. He was easy to listen to and spoke at a speed that didn't require me to speed up the playback very much.

The Governess Affair (The Brothers Sinister #0.5)

The Governess Affair - Courtney Milan

Oh, what fun!

 

It was a joy to see how Hugh and Serena first met and fell in love. Knowing already from The Duchess War that they'd end up HEA did help me when reading some of the things Hugh did to try to thwart Serena's attempts to disgrace Duke Clermont. If I had read this first, I might not have been so quickly forgiving. But then Hugh's such a giant goober and a softie that I might have forgiven him just as quickly anyway, lol.

 

Their interactions had a very Beatrice/Benedict vibe to them, and for once I didn't mind the insta-love at all. They were both evenly matched (well, Hugh might have been a little outmatched) and they both needed something from the other that they didn't even know they needed. 

 

There's also a short little scene of Robert and Marshall meeting at Eton at the very end. It doesn't really add anything that we don't already know, but it was nice to see "live" as it were.

Brothers of the Wild North Sea (Audiobook)

Brothers of the Wild North Sea - Harper Fox, Hamish Long

I first read this in February 2014, and I've been meaning to reread it ever since. Thankfully, I never did or I might not have been tempted to get this on audiobook when it was released. And that would've been a shame since that would've meant missing out on Hamish Long's brilliant narration. He has a storybook quality to his voice, a Neil Gaiman-esque style of reading, that really fits perfectly with this story. I can't imagine anyone else doing this narration, and I really hope he gets tons more work because he deserves it. 

 

(He does make one teeny, tiny error though. He pronounces Samhain "sam-hane" instead of "sow-in" with "sow" sounding like "cow", which would be the correct pronunciation.)

 

I loved this book the first time I read it, and I was happy to see it held up over time. Brother Caius and viking Fenrir are such an unlikely duo, but they work here. The story is woven into a rich tapestry of historical detail, fantasy elements, religious dogma versus spiritual knowledge, and includes a cast of characters who are fully realized and each get their own little arcs. This takes place during a time in the Christian church when the church started pulling away from science in favor of zeal, and it's on the cusp of this change that Caius and Fenrir meet and form an unlikely bond.

 

Cai is angry about the death of his lover, and Fen slowly realizes that he's been abandoned by his people. Cai has every reason to hate Fen, and Fen was raised to be prejudiced against Christians. Cai is struggling to be a good monk and a good man, despite often feeling like he's neither. He just wants to live in peace, but life is determined not to give it to him. 

 

Seeing these two men slowly learn to trust each other, and watching Fen ingrate himself into monastery life was a treat to savor all over again. I'd forgotten a lot about the story over the years, but as I listened, things would come back and become familiar again. I completely forgot about the ending, and got to experience that as if for the first time. :D

 

This is just one of those stories that hits all the right spots and doesn't waver in the telling. 

Mark of Cain

Mark of Cain - Kate Sherwood

It was just bad luck that I ended up reading this at the same time I was listening to Brothers of the Wild North Sea. The two books, despite being different genres and different time periods, deal with the same themes: enemies to lovers, a man of the cloth struggling with his faith and church, a wild man learning a new way to live his life. One of these books is successful at exploring these complex themes, the other...not so much. 

 

Brothers of the Wild North Sea is like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Mark of Cain is like a finger painting by a three-year old. Brothers of the Wild North Sea is like eating freshly ripe strawberries dipped in cream on a breezy, mild summer day. Mark of Cain is like an ice cream sandwich that's been out of the freezer too long. You know it'll still taste the same, but the texture's all wrong and the sandwich part sticks to your fingers and it's just not as satisfying as it could've been.

 

But anyway, enough with the unfair comparisons! Let's talk about the Mark of Cain!

 

 

A man struggling with his faith and church - There were good bones here. I did find most of Mark's storyline here to be superficial at best, but I did like how it highlighted the struggle that many fundamental churches have when trying to move forward with the times. They can talk the talk, but they trip and stumble when they try to walk the walk. Unfortunately, much of the meat of this was pushed to the back burner because of the Twu Wuv taking center stage halfway through. *sigh*

 

I mostly liked Mark. Except when he was being an ass. He loves his church but slowly comes to realize how much of himself he's given up for it and that it doesn't love him back. This could have been really intense, but in the end there wasn't all that much depth to these sections and they're breezed over for the Tru Wuv.

 

 

An excon trying to make amends and be better - I really liked Lucas. His story here is sad. Yes, he killed a guy, but he spent his stint in prison doing what he could to become a better person, one who doesn't drink too much and doesn't get into pointless bar fights because he's bored with his life. He was only 19 when this stupid thing happened, and it'll haunt him the rest of his life. When he's released, he tries to hold onto what the therapist taught him, but his friends are determined to pull him back into his old ways. And his friends are, for the most part, caricatures with no real nuance of their own, the exception of Sean.

 

Between Mark and Lucas, his actions made the most sense throughout the book and I was most interested to see where his story would go. 

 

So what happens when these two "enemies" get together?

 

 

Well...not much. First, Lucas is placed in the half-way house that Mark supervises because his parole officer is terrible at his job - and despite Lucas's case being very high profile, to the point that random strangers know who Lucas is and what he did, none of the other ex-cons in this place have any clue about the connection between Mark and Lucas. Or maybe they do, but we just don't get to see it because we never actually meet any of the other guys in the house except when they're needed to play bit parts. But since even Lucas is unaware of this connection, I can only assume the other guys in the house don't know either. Yeah. Suuuure they don't.

 

Anyway, that ridiculous coinkydink aside, Mark's a jerk to Lucas, and he's completely unprofessional with his job. Like, on so many levels. And Lucas just takes everything that's thrown at him - from Mark and every other random person - because he knows he deserves it.

 

And then this thing happens with Alex, a teen boy that Mark is counseling at the church. Alex starts off as a character in his own right, and he's a mirror to Mark. Mark is constrained, careful. Alex is bold and upfront. And of course he's got the big crush on Lucas. But turns out his character is mostly just a bridge to Mark and Lucas burying the hatchet and forming a friendship of sorts, because Alex needed help and they're both willing to help him. Which is all great! I was ready to see where this went!

 

But then it kind of fizzles out. Alex fades into the background for awhile and Mark pretty much ignores him because of Tru Wuv. *sigh*

 

 

In the end, I needed a lot more time spent with these two as hesitant acquaintances/quasi-friends before they jumped into bed together. Years worth. Not just months, which are really more like a couple of weeks once they really start spending time together. The moment they started lusting is the moment this book became just another M/M Romance (™) and stopped being anything interesting. I just couldn't buy it. I was pretty much yelling (in my head) at Mark "Dude, he killed your brother, what are you doing?!" every other page. And I like Lucas! But seriously. He killed your brother. WHAT ARE YOU DOING!

 

Random stuff:

 

We meet Will in chapter two when he takes Mark to a bar to unwind after the news that Lucas got released on early parole. Will and Mark seem like good friends, so he should have shown up again at any point in this story to help out Mark or be a sounding board for him when his life was falling apart, but it's like Sherwood forgot this character even existed.

 

I thought we'd see a lot more of Mark's parents, since such a big deal was made over how upset they were about Lucas's release, but they're barely mentioned at all in the first half of the book, and we never even actually meet his dad. And his mom...okay, I'm going to keep this rant super short, but I really resent that Mark's mom was made to look like a villain at the end. This poor woman has lost everything, and to try to make her the mustache-twirling bad guy just felt disingenuous. Was that there to allow the reader to feel better about Mark being with Lucas? If so, that is beyond the pale. She has every right to be upset and want nothing to do with Lucas, and I frankly have to agree with her that Mark wasn't making wise decisions at this point.

 

There's also this weird subplot with Lucas's friend Sean towards the end that doesn't really go anywhere. Was this supposed to be a series at one point and she changed her mind? That's the only reason it makes sense to include all this stuff that really just takes time away from other things that should be getting more focus.

 

Anyway, there's good stuff here, good bones, but a lot of it felt haphazard and didn't go as in depth with the material as I wanted it to. This could have been glorious

 

 

but ended up just being kind of frumpy.

 

 

(Sorry, Chuck.) :D

A Death at the Dionysus Club (Lynes & Mathey #2)

A Death at the Dionysus Club - Amy Griswold, Melissa Scott

This is a solid sequel to Death by Silver. There is still no steam here, and while there is some focus on Julian and Ned's relationship, this is first and foremost a mystery. Anyone looking for romance and smex will need to either look elsewhere or adequately adjust their expectations before diving into this. 

 

The mystery here had several layers to it and took awhile to untangle them all. The suspects were many, and the motivations just as numerous. It was fun following along as Ned and Julian tried to figure out what was going on, and learning more about how the magic in this world works. There's old magic, or non-conforming, now considered uncouth. And there's the new magic, or conforming magic, that's been designed to be more humane (no need for animal parts or blood, for instance). Of course, the two systems don't clash well at all, and when a particularly nasty bit of non-conforming magic starts to kill off men, it leaves Ned, Julian and Hatton in a bind on how to handle it, much less even figure out how it works and who is working it.

 

Complicating matters further, it seems that the culprit is part of the Dionysus Club, and Julian and Ned have every bit as much of an interest in keeping connections to the club and its membership away from the police investigation. They could face jail time or hanging themselves in their private inclinations become publicly known. This is not a world progressively-minded people or "as long as you're happy" platitudes, and these men have to be very careful who they trust with the truth, and even those who might know and support them - or at least be willing to turn a blind eye - aren't reckless enough to come out and say it.

 

We get to meet one of Miss Frost's friends, and more of Julian's crowd from his wilder days. Miss Barton is a hoot, and Julian didn't exactly have the best taste in men in his youth to say the least, lol. And then there's Challice, who I couldn't help feeling sorry for. 

 

This is a tightly-written book, with smart characters who are actually good at their jobs (so many books that claim their characters are the best in their fields are actually filled with rampaging idiots) and who know how to communicate with each other when they discover things the other needs to know. Fancy that! They're not as good as communicating when it comes to their relationship, but Ned and Julian find ways to do that as well, no matter how uncomfortable it might make them. 

 

This could have used another pass through by an editor, since there was some unnecessary repetition and a lot of missing words. A less misleading title wouldn't have gone amiss either.

There never is a death actually at the Dionysus Club, but I guess "Deaths of Dionysus Club Members" doesn't have the same ring to it.

(show spoiler)

But those are my only quibbles.

Tinsel Fish (Tyack & Frayne #2) (Audiobook)

Tinsel Fish - Harper Fox

I seem to be having trouble connecting with this series, and I honestly don't know if it's the length of the stories or if it's the narrator. 

 

This is really too short to go in-depth with the material or the characters, and things and other characters keep getting introduced, on top of the mystery of sorts that Lee and Gideon are working on. I did love Gideon's mom, and it was nice to see Gideon going out on a limb relationship-wise, planning time off from his job when he knows that Lee will be home from his own job. 

 

I didn't understand why Lee, a psychic, didn't believe in spirits off the bat. His job is going out, documenting monsters and such, and reading energies and people's minds and other random mojo to find things and people. But spirits? That's crazy talk! Atheism in paranormal settings just doesn't make a lot of sense to me. He doesn't have to be religious or anything, but he does have use basic common sense. It reminded me of those idiots in that godawful The Boys on the Mountain, going out to investigate a haunted house but none of them believe in ghosts. *headdesk* Thankfully, Lee does prove to be smarter than that lot. Not that that would've been a hard thing to do.

 

Tim Gilbert is a great narrator, and he's easy to follow, but he's got this gravelly, gruff voice that just doesn't really seem to fit. Well, that's not quite right. It fits Gideon perfectly, but everything else? Not so much. He is able to clear his voice up for Lee, but the variation in his voices for the various characters shows a limited range. And I still feel like he should be reading something much more serious, like one of those classic Russian authors with names I can't pronounce. :D

 

There is promise here, and I've loved nearly everything else I've read by Ms. Fox, so I'm going to try the next one eventually, but I I'll be reading it. This'll be it for me with the audiobooks. 

Color of Grace (Cost of Repairs #2)

Color of Grace  - A.M. Arthur

Warning: Grumpy review ahead.

 

Don't let my rating or review sway you from reading the book. Most of the issues I had with it are of the personal taste variety. And one thing at the very end that ticked me off. ... Two things. ... Maybe three things, lol.

 

The writing is strong, and Barrett and Schuyler (pronounced Skylar) are interesting characters who despite their various flaws and hangups might just be perfect for each other. I didn't completely feel the love connection between them, since half of their "relationship development" that took place seemed to happen in the bedroom. But when we did get actual relationship development, it was pretty well done.

 

Since it's been so long since I read the first book in this series - and the primary thing I remember about it was that ridiculous drama-ridden fourth act - I didn't recall if I had issues with Schuyler or not. I know there was a reason I initially decided to skip this one, but lord help me if I can remember it now, lol.

 

I should have listened to my former self.

 

For the most part, I really liked Barrett and Schuyler, and there was certainly enough there in their backgrounds that could have made a truly compelling story, but most of what we get is a watered down contemporary romance that doesn't distinguish itself from the mainstream m/m genre. Barrett had the most interesting background, so of course we only get snatches of it. Schuyler's backstory is... well...

 

Ok, so Schuyler's cousin, Matty, drowned in the lake when they were teens. Schuyler was there when it happened. He drinks himself into oblivion every year on the anniversary, blaming himself for what happened. For 85% of the book, that's all we know about it. Then we find out a couple of Matty's friends were also there. And then it just gets stupid because

despite every indication that Danny is seriously unstable, Schuyler decides to just drive down to the lake when Danny leaves a note on his car requesting a meeting with him there. Without telling anyone where he's going. Or who he's going to meet.

 

So he drives down there like a buffoon and confronts Danny, who is upset that Schuyler still exists. And then we find out what really happened that fateful night: Danny started bullying Schuyler for being gay, taunting him to kiss Danny's girlfriend - why the girlfriend was all for this idea, who knows; she's incidental to the story and never appears on page except as a blurry fuzzy afterthought on this backstory - all because ... wait for it ... Danny's also gay, but in the closet and hates himself for it. So of course he HAS to bully Schuyler for also being gay. And of COURSE his teen self has to attack teen Schuyler for being around and TEMPTING him and making him feel his horrible gay feelings. And of COURSE Matty ends up in the lake during this fight and no one notices until it's too late and Matty was too drunk to get himself out of the lake on his own.

 

And that's how Matty died. And that's why Schuyler blames himself. Because showing up when Matty asked him to come and having Danny bully him clearly makes it his fault. (Guilt isn't logical, I know that, but still. Put the blame where it belongs.)

 

But that's not all! Danny isn't torn up about accidentally knocking his friend into the lake and killing him. NO! He's been tormented all these years by his gay feelings. That's what keeps him up at night. That's why he's so maladjusted. That's why he's a walking blowhole.

 

So naturally, since he's got this horrible crush on Schuyler he's got to call present-day Schuyler down to the lake, then ask him why he was always around back them - um, because Matty was his cousin????? - and attacks him again!

 

And then - AND THEN - after all this goes down and Schuyler's released from the hospital and Danny's locked up, Schuyler finally sits down to tell his aunt Dixie, Matt's mom, what actually happened that night 15 years ago. AND WE DON'T GET DIXIE'S REACTION! We just go from him saying "There's something I need to tell you" to jumping six weeks ahead to the epilogue so Schuyler can get a fracking tattoo to memorialize Matty. You know, that's sweet and all, though why he'd want angel wings made out of water to remember how his cousin died is beyond me. You know what I wanted to know though: What did Dixie say or do when she found out? It's only her son that she lost, right? Her one and only child. So who cares what she thinks about all this. (We also don't get Barrett's reaction but his really doesn't matter here.)

 

AND THEN Schuyler doesn't even press charges. And neither does Dixie apparently, so the only thing that happens to Danny is he has to go to therapy for a few months and do some community service. Oh, and he's getting a divorce. Oh, and Danny's therapist thinks it would be a really good idea for Schuyler to go and see Danny again so Danny can get closure. ... HE NEARLY BEAT A MAN TO DEATH BUT HE DESERVES CLOSURE.

 

 

And of COURSE Schuyler is an absolute saint about all of this. Why should he be angry about nearly dying? Or all those years he was bullied as a teen? And all those years he was scared into silence about that night Matty drowned because Danny threatened him?

Thank God we didn't get a scene of him actually going to see Danny again, so there's that.

(show spoiler)

 

So anyway, all that aside this was a decent read. Except that 20% in the middle of the book that had practically three or four sex scenes in a row. I ended up skipping most of that. I did like the one toward the end though, before all the stupid happened.

 

I might be rating this too highly, lol. But I didn't hate all of it, and most of it was decent, and some of it was even nice and sweet. So 2.5 stars it is.

 

P.S. You can't open both eyes wide when one of them is swollen shut.

Reading progress update: I've read 49%.

A Dance with Dragons - George R.R. Martin

My "Ramsay Bolton needs to die in a fire" checklist:

 

1) Cut out your tongue, grind it up and eat it, so you are literally swallowing your own tongue.

2) Roll around in some acid. Go on. It'll be fun!

3) And then impale yourself on a spike through your nads and let them fall off from festering puss.

4) Then skin your ding-a-ling and watch it shrivel.

5) Then, and only then, die in a fire. Preferably of the wildfire variety.

5a) Take dear old daddy with you.

 

In happier but no less disturbing news: Lord Manderly + pies = OTP. I see what you did there, you diabolical, culinary genius. ;)

 

David Copperfield (Audiobook) (DNF @ 48)

David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

Whelp, that's 0-2 for me and Charles Dickens. I was going to try to power through this - I had 8 more days on the audiobook loan from my library - but every time I thought about listening to this for another 8 days, it was like those dolly zoom shots. I just can't. This is so boring! The first quarter or so was decent, and I thought it was going to go somewhere, like maybe Davie wasn't all that he seemed or something. And I thought for sure something was up with Steerforth, but nope! Davie finds refuge with his aunt and the story grinds to a halt and never recovers. It's just chapter after chapter after chapter of Davie meeting a friend and talking to them, Davie meeting another friend and talking to them, Davie corresponding with friends and then meeting them again and talking to them. Talk, talk, talk, blah, blah, blah. So, I'm done y'all. I'm going to spend the next 8 days doing something that's actually interesting. Like watching paint dry. Or watching grass grow. Or listening to Ben Stein read the dictionary.

 

2 stars because the writing here was a vast improvement over the self-indulgent A Tale of Two Cities. But this turned out to be a different kind of self-indulgence, just dressed up in pretty prose. Simon Vance does a great job with the narration, but even he can't make these characters interesting.

Dared and Confused

Dared and Confused - Adara O’Hare

This was sometimes weird, mostly sweet friends-to-lovers short story.

 

The sweet: Jackson has never been attracted to or interested in anyone, male or female, until his best friend Chet kisses him on a dare during a truth and dare game. And suddenly it's fireworks and Jackson realizes there are things about himself he didn't know that he didn't know. Watching him trying to sort out his confusion and figuring out he's gray-ace was a treat.

 

Chet was super patient and supportive, and he's clearly been in love with Jackson for years but never said anything so as not to pressure him. There was lots of good tension leading up to the sex scene, which thankfully wasn't too long. Still, I was starting to lose interest by the time it finished.

 

Jackson's mom was a pure delight, y'all. She was like Christmas in July. :D

 

The weird: Why would Jackson's dad be so opposed to him wanting to be a veterinarian? You need those on ranches. Just find someone else to run the ranch, geez.

 

I also didn't care much for the hyper-sexualized truth and dare game at the beginning. There is such a thing as being *too* close to your friends, lol. I did like how it was used later though; it was a nice little callback.

 

Oh, then there's the Texas-speak that's all over this book like burrs in a billy goat's hide. Darn tootin! :P You can either read it or it'll drive you up the wall, lol.

Currently reading

What Angels Fear
C.S. Harris
Dark Economy
M.J. Keedwell
A Dance with Dragons
George R.R. Martin
Progress: 49 %