A very simple story about a young girl dealing with the revelation that she is gay, at least when it comes to a particular girl she meets one summer.
I say simple because the story follows the exact path you suspect it will. There are no surprises, you'll know how it ends from page one and yet it fails to build the tension or even dread a 'tragic' (no spoilers - I use the term loosely) story usually would.
Unfortunately, it also never really tackles the big issues of teenage homosexuality or coming out.
That can be a good thing - a straight up gay romance not mired in self-doubt or loathing is a great thing for a young GLBT teen to be able to read but Empress is ABOUT the big issues, the doubt and confusion the revelation causes so it's light approach made it feel lacking in reality and depth.
All I can say, writing this review a year after reading it is...average.
It’s not bad (which is sadly a pretty high compliment in todays YA landscape) but it also left very little impression.
(As an aside, the focus on the character “Battle Davis” – not the protagonist but clearly the one the author cared the most about makes the story very uneven. The fact the second in the now ‘Battle Hall Series’ focuses entirely on her, in an unrelated setting and situation just makes the choice weirder!)
I honestly don’t know why I persisted with this series.
After a great debut, the second entry in the trilogy was lacklustre but I’m nothing if not loyal to a series that I start.
Unfortunately my devotion wasn’t rewarded with a stellar wrap up to the trilogy.
Don’t Let Go continued with a ho-hum fugitive tale that had the characters constantly moving but the plot left standing still. This entry managed to be even less dynamic though, because the POV characters were together for most of the story this time.
Most disappointing is the utterly anti-climactic ending. The villains, new and old, ultimately present no real challenge for the protagonists. Honestly, the story could have been resolved in a similar fashion back in book one, so fruitless were the efforts of ‘heroes’ in books two and three.
This review feels very harsh but as I’ve paid for and sat through three books in nearly as many years, I think my scorn is justified.
I don’t recommend Don’t Let Go, nor the Don’t Turn Around series to anyone.
Tom Leveen doesn't shy away from serious and modern teen issues in his books which is one of the reasons I both enjoy and respect his work.
Random pulled out the big guns - online bullying and teenage suicide - and as always, Leevan took a unique and thoughtful approach the serious material.
I recommend his work to anyone wanting to look at great modern teen literature grounded in the real world.
Unfortunately, though, Random wasn't a particularly great read on its own merits. Don't get me wrong, it's better than 90% of the post-apocalyptic- vampire-love-triangle stories currently packing out the YA genre but felt incomplete.
I have to mark Random down more for what wasn't on the page than what was. Frankly, I wish it could have been longer, fuller, more detailed and with more resolution.
No, there would have been no easy answers but I think the poignancy was undercut by having to keep the main character on a narrow arc and having the climax hinge on a punchy ‘twist’.
Anyone wanting a YA read on real-world social issues should definitely check out Random but this isn’t a life changing read (and keep an eye on Tom Leveen because his breakout novel has to be just around the corner!)
One Man Guy is an incredibly sweet and touching coming-of-age and coming-out story.
It was beautifully written and well-crafted but the absolute highlight was exploration of the Armenian-American culture clash Alek constantly struggles with.
The lush descriptions of the favoured Eastern European delicacies had me drooling and the prose had an incredible sense of place be it suburban New Jersey, eclectic downtown Manhattan or the seeming infinite journey between the two.
Alek coming to terms with his coming out was honest and heartfelt so I think it will appeal to anyone without a particular interest in LGBT literature.
I highly recommended for all readers! I just wish it was longer!
I’m really sorry if you’re reading this hoping for some insight because I am at an utter loss about how to review Almost Tall.
I just have no idea what the heck I am supposed to take away from this exceedingly brief, albeit well written prose.
Yes, I hesitate to even call Almost Tall a ‘story’. Nothing really seems to happen but I’m certain the author is trying make some kind of point that is just lost.
There is some truly great character set up – I want to give absolute credit to the author for that. In fact, the great character seems tragically wasted.
Finally, I have to address the homosexual content. I cannot be sure, since the authors’ intentions are so muddled on every level, but homosexuality and homosexual relationships seem to be a target for criticism, cynicism and even revulsion in Almost Tall.
The idea that the author would take this view point is utterly offensive.
But did he? Or did he mean to?
Who can tell!?
All I know is that I was left feeling vaguely offended and uncomfortable making Almost Tall an unenjoyable read that I do not recommend.
While I ended up kind of appreciating what Ghost Time tried to do, I really cannot recommend it to anyone.
Ghost Time commits the cardinal sin of YA literature - it spends its entire (and frankly excessive) length setting up a series rather than focusing on being a compelling, worthwhile read within itself.
Several mysteries are established and many, many characters are introduced only for the book to end on a cliff-hanger….and the second in the series isn’t due for publication until TWO YEARS after the first!
This indulgent and self-important attitude towards reader experience seemed to permeate the novel with its meandering pace and disengaged tone.
As I said, I didn’t mind Ghost Time in the end but it was a hard fought battle to get there and I doubt I’ll have the patience to sit through the next book if/when it ever arrives.
Finally, I strongly recommend checking out an audio sample or maybe picking this up in paperback if you do want to check it out.
The language is intolerable, especially at the beginning.
So I’m like, OMG, right? “OMG,” I said, “Right?”
And he was like, right, you know? “Right,” he said.
Seriously, OMG, right?
Yes, that is literally how it reads – every sentence punctuated with rights, txtspeak, you knows and other verbal ticks. And for some reason the author has all the characters ‘think’ what they’re going to say and then still put it in as dialogue immediately after!
So I’m going to tell you I don’t recommend this book, “I don’t recommend Ghost Time,” I say.
Fat Boy was an uncomfortably accurate look at what it’s really like to be an overweight teenager.
This element hit me in particularly hard but the author pulled no punches when it came to the pain of isolation, inequality, bullying, broken families and dissolving friendships in high school either.
Credit to Herbach for having the guts to be so confronting but it didn’t exactly make for a pleasant read.
I would have like the plot to be a little stronger, a little more inspiring, a little more mythic.
Basically, I wish Fat Boy had been a little more fiction and a little less reality.
It was definitely well written and impactful – both great things and rare quantities in YA lit.
But I struggled with to get through the challenging subject matter and I’m struggling to recommend something I personally enjoyed so little.
I could tell from the blurb I would either love or hate Ruby Rose – there could be no inbetween with a so completely over-the-top premise.
And Ruby Rose was everything I should have hated – mopey, shoe-obsessed and far too willing to plunge headlong into danger under the guise of being tough, gutsy and independent...only to need to be recused from herself.
But somehow…I came to, if not really like her, at least not be annoyed to tears by her. And frankly, I consider that a quite a victory – Humphries shot sky-high with this one and the fact she didn’t fail horrifically is kind of amazing.
Okay, I’m not really selling this am I?
Bottom line: I know what I hate and I didn’t hate Killing Ruby Rose.
Yes, the plot jumps the tracks completely by the third act but I’ll be happy to continue with the series.
This is high praise from me, so I think most YA readers should be able to find something to enjoy here.
Sadly, I have to say the Book: The Sequel just doesn’t work in an audiobook format.
The “faux-pening” lines come so fast there is just no time to digest or enjoy them. And if you need time to think about any of the more obscure references – you just won’t be able to.
Worst of all, the two of the three clearly amateur narrators are simply atrocious. One has a speech impediment and the woman uses random and unbearable accents that undercut the wit.
Now, some of the crowd-sourced humour definitely misses the mark but there is some great satire and laughs to be had so my complaints are not with the content.
I’ll definitely pick up Book: The Sequel as a hardcopy so it can be appreciated as a coffee table book for casual perusal or a dinner-party conversation starter where I think it can really shine.
I love books. In fact, I love books so much that I picked up Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore purely because I liked the idea of an actual 24-hour book store so much!
And boy am I glad I did.
Mr Penumbra’s is a love letter to all bibliophiles. It’s for anyone who ever dreamed of finding a real-life mystery in the pages of a book or wished they could go gather a party of their equally geeky friends and embark on an epic quest.
But for all its fantasy origins, Mr Penumbra’s is grounded in modern day San Francisco on the forefront of the digital age. Technology and leather-bound tomes intersect for a fascinating look at the modern mythology of Google.
Audiobooks are often treated as the ugly step-child of literary world so I think fellow audible.com users will especially appreciate the musings about the future of the written world in an increasingly virtual world.
Mr Penumbra’s has transcended genre-preferences amongst my circle of friends so I highly recommend it to readers everywhere!
The only reason I didn’t return Sweet Reckoning was so I could at least have the satisfaction of giving it a one-star review.
After supporting the trilogy from the beginning I am so utterly appalled by this anti-climactic final instalment I urge everyone to not waste their time or money.
Turns out ridding the world of demons is so simple that Anna didn’t even break a sweat!
I estimate the yawn-worthy climax took only 40min of the 10hr+ run time
So what’s Sweet Reckoning actually about?
The author is clearly a Stephanie Meyer type – so religiously repressed about sex she had to write three books establishing her protagonists’ undying love and even marry her off just so she could write sex scenes without feeling guilty.
Higgins actually has an angel come down for a post-coital high-five to make it clear this union was totally cool with god.
Yes, the main action of Sweet Reckoning is, literally, Anna finally getting some action.
How many times?
How many ways?
How many places?
Don’t worry - you’ll get all the details you can stomach!
Sure Anna is supposed to be ridding the world of pure demons but there’s sex to be had so she skims the bible on the way to the final show-down and hopes for the best!
There is no planning, plotting or preparation.
No training, scheming or strategizing.
We’ve spent three books leading up to a complete and total non-event!!
Anyone who has read the first two entries would be better off reading some free fanfiction then paying for this mess.
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