Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Captive Prince Volume #1 by C.S. Pacat

Captive Prince: Volume One (Captive Prince, #1)Captive Prince: Volume One by C.S. Pacat
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It ends spectacularly despite that slow, slow start. I'd never have picked this to read had it not been for Wendy F's response to VOLUME TWO.

The strength in this is how its every aspect is steeped in intrigue- from how Damen has come to be where he is to why it is they chose so and so as partners.

Intrigue aside, Pacat does not shy away from the graphic; it shocks as intended but the work up to whatever is laid bare had me hoping things wouldn't be going where I thought/expected/feared they were. Things did go there. Repeatedly. Consequently, I found Captive Prince relentless in pulling me in like it or not and different.


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Monday, April 27, 2015

Attraction and Heat (Elements of Chemistry#1&2) by Penny Reid

Attraction (Elements of Chemistry, #1)Attraction by Penny Reid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Bunsen Burner Bingo! Thank Mike, the second book comes out this month's end.


Heat (Elements of Chemistry, #2)Heat by Penny Reid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"I am glad that you think all of those things, and I believe you. But I am not going to magically think that I am beautiful or perfect or talented just because you do. I have to get there myself. I have to believe those things for myself-- not because I have a boyfriend... If I base my self-worth on someone's opinion or view of me  then I will also base my lack of self-worth on that person's opinion as well. And that has the potential of tearing me to pieces."

This is NA right? Because there were surprising moments of eloquence here that are chock full of WIN/fist-sky feels (see above.) Yet it is the very same profound statements that had me stepping back and reassessing what it was that I enjoyed out of this.

In her Knitting series, Penny Reid's socially inept but otherwise brilliant protagonists won me over. Simply, Reid writes awkward well; she also writes sexy well... balancing the two here this time around is where things get iffy. I much more believed the interplay between her brilliant but flawed leads in the Neanderthal books though than  I did in this one, for neither Parker nor Sandeke sounded their age. Certainly, much explanation is given as to why that is the case but... I still couldn't wrap my head around them as individuals and more so them as a couple. The words coming out of their mouths should have rang right but felt more like teacheable/ing moments that eventually felt contrived.

A sense not aided by his or her references to doing the right thing or the strong thing or even choosing so and so over what-not. Basically, the funny yet profound that I enjoyed in her previous books, while still present here, were not as evident.

There's a hell whole lot of sexy and then a load of wise... but the two aspects didn't always end up going in sync. Was it that they're both a little bit too young to be so profound/ jaded/wise/ extreme? That would be stupidly simplistic  of me to say. But,  OK, let me be simplistic for now because just didn't buy it (completely.)

Or  perhaps it is that the two here are both extremes of some sort...Him, a billionaire in the making, scheming, arrogant, etcetera.  Her,  likewise brilliant and beautiful YET unaware of those same things? Him, so very, very bad. Her, so very, very good?

Despite my reassessing and nitpicking, I still liked this... mostly, because they are awkward, because they are brilliant, because things got sexy. Basically, all my complaints I had just previously ran through are the very things that have me wanting to go over this.

For an NA, (and a novella-length NA part of a serial at) this sure has me conflicted!


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Sunday, April 26, 2015

When It Rains (When It Rains #1) by Lisa DeJong

When It Rains (Rains, #1)When It Rains by Lisa De Jong
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Just tapping on that 2 star feels wrong, considering the subjectS this book tackles. (Yes, plural.) I began this thinking it would be a different kind of NA in the same vein as Sea of Tranquility or Storyteller. And while this touches on similar topics, I didn't buy the emotion behind it. Simply because I'd read some others that have handled the same with a bit more depth. So, no it wasn't even the triangle this time around that I had issue with (that aspect was actually the least objectionable bit,) rather it's everything else... The loss of self, worth, and direction... all happen, but all are a little too easily addressed well, not easily, but quickly?) As in, these things happened, so this is me. 'Twas a bit simplistic at times is all.


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Saturday, April 25, 2015

All For You (Paris Hearts#1) by Laura Florand

All for You (Paris Hearts, #1)All for You by Laura Florand
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

All For You has everything that's sweet and nice with what's  a touch sad --- a combination that's become  quintessentially Florand to me. Well, all that plus chocolate. And France.

There's a complimentary nature to how they come together. It's not a completing as they're both introduced as the outcomes of their respective labor. But why that is is what touches on some of the sad-bitter but more on the real and later, triumphant. It's that last  that has the two coming together complete and aware of who they were before and are now, plus all that has (and hasn't) gone into the making of that second.

But it is that they remain (flawed) despite all that that leaves them both possible to me. That she is colorful and emotional and heart on sleeve or that he does all those things for her, because of her... without telling her!  Neither their flaws are not remedied by the other, but there's a work toward better for each other.

MOSTLY it's their strength I have come to recognize to be a hallmark of Florand's heroines; strength unrecognized but real all the same. In fact, the same can be said for their male counterparts... how good they all are but how blinded they are from that fact.


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Friday, April 24, 2015

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


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~credits to fireofmyloins for images because seriously, that handle alone embodies a good deal of my response to this book.

(To reiterate: Aaaaggghhh. Wait, Aaaagh!)

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Fall with Me (Wait For You#4) by J. Lynn

Fall with Me (Wait for You, #4)Fall with Me by J. Lynn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had a fuzzy recollection of one of the characters in this having a kid early on. Then I thought was that a Webber book or one by Glines. Frankly, these are all starting blend together in my memory. not much stands out in this one... lots of things are glossed over and if like me you recall not much from previous installments, well... confusion shall welcome you as it did me. I want to say I wish I had re-read the earlier books in this series, except... really, why bother? Most of these have begun to feel like if you've read one, you've read them all.


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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Chasing MermaidsThe Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids has left me more than impressed. Ockler has written loss and the dealing with in a manner that's true. Elyse in the aftermath of everything having changed alongside are her moments with people, a family really, of her choosing.

In all these interactions is a sense of holding back, a feeling that all is not clear... to others, yes... but to Elyse as well. Some contrast is made between those relationships being built for us with each page versus her memories of what she'd known. Everything is different... but the question of 'why' is made less important in the face of her 'what now.'

And in that now is all emotion--- directed at whom and why, we slowly piece together but in the meantime, there are people and friends, none of them too perfect or imperfect. It's these secondary cast who add a little bit more (emotion and authenticity), with one's sweet yet true romance just beginning, and then with another's confident, loud, and knowing presence. The newness of these connections felt true. Especially, how not all encounters were happy ones; instead things ran the gamut of tentative, begrudged, frustrated, and even jealous. These three and their new friendship, or the making of one felt real. There too was the novelty of who Sebastian was, and how his choice spurred on her actions that allowed for even sweeter moments.

All that sweetness underscores that there's a lot of sad here for her and her personal changes; and the rest of them, and the changes they're faced (threatened?) with. Indeed that it isn't just about her that makes this book work. Christian and Noah and their fathers, Lemon and mentions of her roots, Vanessa and her confidence amd how that last mirrors memories of who Elyse was... all these threads woven together create a heart felt experience, for this was that --- and a quietly emotional one at that.


Thank you. BT!


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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Saint AnythingSaint Anything by Sarah Dessen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Him, at first: There's no shame in trying to make stuff work... It's better than just accepting the broken.

...

And her, much later: You never knew what lay ahead; the future was the one thing that could never be broken, because it had not yet had the chance to be anything.

Tropes aren't necessarily bad (or good). While they can be overused, if anything, they're effectively neutral in conveying that certain things, situations simply are. That said, in Saint Anything, we once again encounter The Boy who is Good, as well as The Girl who is Sad in families that stand out in their Difference. All these are elements that Dessen has used- and as is proven here (again,) ones that she (re)introduces well.

Do I say that I am tired of this? Honestly? Perhaps that it's to be released so long after her last novel, that coming back to this set up has tugged at the sentimental part of me, the side that yields to what's comfortable and familiar in the hope  knowledge(expectation)  that the sad will eventually turn around. Frankly, there's really not much negative to be said with regard to something that feels so emotionally plausible; there's a lot of I get it's elicited from me by the protagonist's heartache. Dessen has tapped into that empathetic part of me;  that has felt some part, some degree of whatever emotion is put forth--- Guilt, anger, isolation all rang true from her to me.

And yet, the biggest bonus here for me is how much 'less' the role the boy's actually is--- something even the female lead acknowledges (to a degree.)  As it is she that acts, she who decides whilst becoming more secure in doing both in part because of Mac but largely because of where she finds herself and how so many other people she permits to enter her life. To that end, have I mentioned how authentic the feels could get, even the ugly ones? There are several moments in SA that touched on growing and apart as well as changes and the not-knowing and re-forming of sibling roles that just felt true here. All that's made more with feeling unseen but wanting something different.

Lots of feels in this one- true despite having come back to the sad girl/good boy pairing.

THANK YOU, BT!!!



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Monday, April 20, 2015

Demons at Deadnight (Divinicus Nex Chronicles, #1) by A&E Kirk

Demons at Deadnight (Divinicus Nex Chronicles, #1)Demons at Deadnight by A&E Kirk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I wasn't expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. A couple of years back when I was all about YA paranormal, recommendations for none-angsty ones were often one of two: either the Paranormalcy or Hex Hall titles. Not having read one of these in a long time, I'm glad to see that what had me latching on to the style to begin with is still present, and even improved!

Now, I want to make a whole reads-like thing here. The fact that this takes the supernatural with the awkward funny girl, plus more than one hot guy type, as well as a healthy dose of the funny had me thinking of Brennan's Unspoken series meeting Kremerrer's Elemental series. Like the first, there's genuine connections here, at least of the familial variety AND because of the same, hilarity ensued. Like the second, there's an interesting mix of mysterious and curious as well as the unintended moments of hilarious stemming from said awkward girl lead and her multiple encounters with yes, I have said this already, more than one hot guy type.

What worked for me in this has to do more with how individual each of them were. They are each a Personality (notice the capitalization there.) Quirky? Yes, but more importantly, they're clearly different from each other, contributing something to the story. We have the bad boy, at times played against the loud obnoxious self-described Casanova. Then there's the smart boy who's also hopelessly socially inept, then the sensitive one, and even the Abrasive one (likewise, capitalized.)

What's better is they're each not just that. Yes, I realize I've just finished labeling each  according their most obvious aspects, but there's more too, made evident as we witness them interact and intentionally or not reveal each their secrets. But it's that they're funny overall is what I enjoyed. They read real--- talking/shouting over the other, aware of each other's baggage, competitive but present, different but together.

All those Supernatural comparisons? Merited. The hype, around the time the book came out? Likewise.

Good stuff, this one.



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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Black Iris by Leah Raeder

Black IrisBlack Iris by Leah Raeder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Words. So many, many beautiful words...

***

'Falling for someone is like pulling a loose thread. It happens stitch by stitch. You feel whole most of the time even while the seams pop, the knots loosen, everything that holds you together coming undone. It feels incredible, this opening of yourself to the world. Not like the unraveling it is. Only afterward do you glance down at the tangle of string around your feet that used to be a persob who was whole and self-contained and realize that love is not a thing that we create. It's an undoing.'

***

'If I was gay... I wouldn't need an  asterisk beside my name... I wouldn't have to explain that I fall in love with minds, not genders or body parts. People wouldn't say I'm 'just a slut' or 'faking it' or 'undecided' or 'confused.' I'm not confused. I don't categorize people by who I'm allowed to like and who I'm allowed to love. Love doesn't fit into boxes like that. It's blurry, slippery, quantum. It's only limited by our perceptions and before we slap a label on it and cram it into some category, everything is possible. That's me. I'm not gay, not bi. I'm something quantum. I can't define it.'

'You're just human.'




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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Chase Me (Broke and Beautiful, #1) by Tessa Bailey

Chase Me (Broke and Beautiful, #1)Chase Me by Tessa Bailey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Well now.... Just color me impressed. Despite my failing to update my reading progress,  going through this actually went lightning quick. I love how Bailey went from awkward to funny,  cute, sexy, then to scorching in Chase Me. Also? Must have the books on their respective BFF'S please... preferably Abby's and then Ben's, though either would suffice.



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Friday, April 17, 2015

The Hooker and the Hermit by L.H. Cosway

The Hooker and the HermitThe Hooker and the Hermit by L.H. Cosway

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I wish...

... that there was more of the funny that had me loving Penny Reid's Neanderthal series. (Not that there's anything wrong with Painted Faces or Still Life With Strings.) It's just that this felt muddled. I was looking for the hilariously cute, but was met by a mixed bag of funny, odd, sad, then wait.. was that a hint of BDSM? OH, not quite. Just almost.

... So I'm split. I was loving a good deal of this at first. of how she was her odd self; and how he was his cocky self. I was even into the idea of one not knowing everything. But the slow uncovering of why she was the way she was, and what else made him 'different.' Well, truth told, that same loving feeling on my part only became apparent with the oddness of Annie on the page; otherwise 'twas me, mildly confused by how everything seemed to have been thrown in for them to contend with.

I loved the funny awkward moments care of Annie and at times Annie with Ronan, was tickled pink by the cuteness of them especially because of a reluctant her. But, I seriously could have done without a lot of the overwrought what-have-I-done's.


Mostly, cute... and yet, I still have all these 'I wishes' after.



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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1) by Ilona Andrews

Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1)Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


when one makes reference to 'an officer and a gentleman' you can bet your ass i'm adding a star (or two)  to my rating. but it is glad i am in reporting that there's more to burn for me than me flashing back to a young richard gere.  because this book. this book. THIS. is what's revived my desire to put down more than a couple of lazy fleeting lines of hmming or awwing of over this character or what that character said. 

this book has me thinking of kate and curran all over again. everything i loved about them, i found in this. not to say burn for me is a rehash of their tale. elements of independt female lead and scary-sexy male one are accounted for. but the magic and the world in this one is different.  housed and hierarchy, politics and kissing ass... then the more occassional kicking of the same. in the words of one character here,  'i liked.'  i liked very much indeed.



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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

(Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

(Don't You) Forget About Me(Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Despite almost the chapters titled as they were, the upbeat vibe its 8O’s soundtrack could have allowed is not what one gets from Kate Karyus Quinn in this one. As her first book has established, she writes the different with such skill.

So pop vibe? Not even. (Don’t You) Forget About Me initially had me thinking of Suicide Club as well as any other Japanese horror movie from whichever years between the late 90’s early 2000’s with slow, cool, quiet then eventually horrific images of teens and train tracks and their meeting. Cross those same things with what made both Fight Club and Beautiful Mind stand out. (At one point, I was all Why, Tyler Durden, is that you? So confident in the fact that I’d figured things out not three chapters in. In some ways I was not completely off base; only really, boy, was I wrong! Much to my delight. Contrary person? Yes, that I am.) Now, add that whole terror unmentioned but taken as fact feel that comes straight out of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery.  as well as bits of the Dark Side and snippets from The Village of the Damned, with particular attention to those towheaded terrors. Got all that?

There’s a general feeling of the familiar, yet Kate Karyus Quinn puts her own stamp on horror with her approach. Yes, the familiar is present and the same tug at you, but it’s that same feeling of familiarity that pushes one forward only to have one discover exactly what makes this story different. Perhaps in the combination of all those things, but really, there’s a whole lot more to it than that:

the atmospheric and the moody, the unclear and then unreliable; where the fantastical is fact, and the odd does not stand out
... but just is. 

THANK YOU, Edelweis!!




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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1) by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Thoughts before reading: What a fabulous cover!
Thoughts upon close: Just how many boys are in love with this girl?

RED QUEEN could have been so much more. And for a few moments in it, it actually was that; yet sadly, for the most part, this went predictably… predictable, much like Ewing’s Jewel proved to be. We begin with a girl with a massive chip of her shoulders. Her world is split between Silvers and Reds, with the former beings so much more than the latter as they possess traits and powers that differentiate them. It’s upon this difference that a hierarchy is built with the lead in question falling right smack bottom side. A series of events have her rising in position, and in this happening, connections are made and (multiple) romances, kindled. (And yes, there are plural developments in that aspect.)

Yet, predictability is the least of this book’s concern because there’s also the matter of it lacking focus: a society divided with one side rebelling and the other hell-bent on quelling the same; a girl who finds herself in the middle of the two, completely unsure about what her next step is; multiple love interests who muddle things further because there’s a prince and another prince and the guy from back home; then the rebellion itself that makes itself apparent sporadically; plus a host of other would be friends and obvious enemies… none of which were completely fleshed out. What is clear is that the lead does not want to be where she is and is merely stumbling about as things progressed.

It could have been so much more… because and it was getting there, if we go by its end. Because I believe it is RED QUEEN’S end where its story’s strength lay with its awesome mix of the quick, the bloody, and the surprising.

Thank you, E!
(2.5-3/5)




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Monday, April 13, 2015

Talon (Talon, #1) by Julie Kagawa

Talon (Talon, #1)Talon by Julie Kagawa

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Oi. Thank God that's over. I was bored and am still bored thinking about what there is to say about this new book by Julie Kagawa. Long have I been a fan of her novels, Puck and Ash hold a special place in my heart because... well, Puck and Ash, you know?  Her other series with the kick ass vampire girl and her even more kick ass mentor were.... kick ass, you know? (at least they were eventually when they weren't complaining and angsting over having to kill to live... and all that.) In essence, I found her Iron Fey (and no, I do not count the spin off) and Blood of Eden books to be an engaging mix something old (whether they be fey or vampires) with the something different of believable characters and rapid-quick back and forth between the characters who form some sort of unexpected bond that had me cheering for one or two or all of them.

Sadly, all these positives cannot be said for TALON. And yes, this is despite the key role DRAGONS play in it. How can anyone make DRAGONS boring? And I was BORED, I tell you mostly from waiting for something different to come into play. Because DRAGONS hiding in plain sight aside, we have not one BUT TWO bad boys, and consequently the makings of love triangle -something I try not to find issue particularly if the same pushes the story forward, but that's not the case here.

But wait, the lead girl here had little to offer in terms of interesting. In her we have girl who's found new found freedom doing the expected. In fact, it's that last thing I disliked the most: THERE IS NOTHING UNEXPECTED in any of the goings on in this even though it could have. Super spy covert people? Present. Dragons in hiding? Present. Rogue agents on the lam for unknown reasons? Present, too. And yet I found myself inexplicably bored by the lack of anything interesting going on.

Thank you, NG.




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Sunday, April 12, 2015

In Deep by Terra Elan McVoy

In DeepIn Deep by Terra Elan McVoy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


In Deep. The lead makes it quite difficult to sympathize with her. The decisions she makes as well as the actions she undertakes all make it plain just how lacking in perspective she was. In fact that's the common thread here- how they all are dead on focused on the drama of their own lives. They each give themselves top billing and fail to consider the unfolding of others' stories.

Her father's absence becomes something to prop up who they become.  Mother becomes widower only to remake herself into someone else; daughter is decided in becoming anything but her mother. All the while, her bestfriend, her boyfriend, her coach are seeing sides she reserves for each of them separately. But there's a limited honest manner here- she knows who she is to each of them and knows who they are for her. So that once someone new comes in, jealousies flare up and disappointments become common. All the while there's this 'me me me' rythm that she's marching to, bringing her farther and farther away from what's likeable and what's OK.

But it's not her alone. The single minded way of hers was present in all others. She is her father's daughter; but the lack of perspective applies to her friend, as well since, bent on being the better in the pairing. So to with her mother, bent on things being 'OK' even things are so far from that.

This was interesting.




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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling into PlaceFalling into Place by Amy Zhang

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


In Falling we have multiple narrators take on who Liz was for them. Her bestfriends, the guy who's into her, her family, those bullied by her... are each as troubled as the lead in question, yet it's who they were for each other and not just who they were as perceived by others that's noted.

There's a lot of what-if's and could-have-been's mused. As in what if her mother weren't so preoccupied? What if her father had lived? What if Liz had gone on being not-so-sought-after? To her friends and not friends, what if they were never friends at all? What if certain connection/actions/choices were never made? What if one or two or all or somebody had just said 'No.'

Yet beyond the what -if's I feel like the message is skewed; too much importance is placed on the role she seemingly (or actually) had in all their lives and they in hers. Yet, choices in the end are individual ones, do matters in this become simply Liz causing an outcome? Would it be a fairer assessment to say she like the rest of them made choices, were active in the choosing. This is not me minimizing anything; rather, it's me pointing out that painting Liz as the be all, end all to all their predicaments (particularly Julia and Ren(?)) feels simplistic. Tracing the root cause to her, as Liz and those around her were doing, places to much importance on one thing/person- Liz, when realistically shouldn't things like theirs should be taken in confluence with other factors that had gone unmentioned here.

But it is her story, and she did/does play a factor in whatever it was the rest went through; I simply don't think it's all in her... as her choice indicates. Now her guilt and her actions- those were her choices. It's the multiple other narratives (Liz included) that pinpoint her the sole cause that I had a problem with. Because instead  of a lead who's passive, she's become much too present, too active a cause in all the rest of their woes.

It was interesting...

Thank you, Edelweiss.



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Friday, April 10, 2015

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Open Road SummerOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Open Road Summer surprises a body given the possibility of all those involved, this despite the almost too-Hollywood start. The female protag is one of two- she's not so sweet, not so nice, and is only more real when she shows moments to that effect. Her best friend feels like a Taylor Swift- famous, talented, sweet and wholesome... but proves to be more as well. and it's in that last that she became complete. To be frank, it's go the best friend is and what she does that has me loving this book. Youth does not preclude her from knowing her own mind; success does not exempt her from ordinary moments of pressure, emotion, and want. Likewise, the love interest is more than the popular rock star we are first introduced to. And that's it, isn't it? That the three here are each more than first thought; this book, as a result, is more than what I'd initially pegged it as- road trip, music and friendship are all present, but frankly, the first is a minor matter- their physical movement from points A to B to C really held less weight than the more personal one they'd all embarked on.

ORS offers something different in the friendship present- the unlikely mismatch the two are becomed less the novelty, less unlikely with each moment with them- despite the contrasts in who they are, they do make sense together because/despite being so different. Plus it's when things don't go smoothly that they show oter facets to them as individuals then as a pair.

The romance is likewise remarkable. It could have become something common- rock star plus hidden pain meets girl with her own issues. Not much to the pair was as angsty as that. He knows who he is, has a charming personality but isn't limited to his moments of suave and hot. His two facets that she alludes to- the ordinary funny guy versus the guy who has the words and puts them to song are both here; the same way she's the snarky realist who's also loyal and protective and bent on doing better. In fact I take all other reasons for loving this book back--- because it's in her deciding to do better that proves her character is no no blank canvas- there's a backstory here- and not a happy one, and it's in this chapter that we see her choosing to become someone else, someone more.



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Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

The Last Time We Say GoodbyeThe Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Last Time We Said Goodbye is beautifully told story that combines the effects of 13 Reasons and If I Stay. It's a girl and all her what if's; a young woman, insistent on being OK and wanting things to be better but unsure about how to get there. Because while she'd rather not have things unravel, unravel they do- father, mother, friends, and self. Bit by bit the distance between them widens... all the while they're still grappling with what to do to make things right- some more obvious, where the protagonist insistent on being anything but.

At the same time, she's seeing things as they are and calling them out as such, yet it's sad, too... because her truth is colored by her emotion; the impact of what's happened is felt and she's not up to dealing as yet. Sadder still- witnessing her see others deal as they do--- because they aren't.

Best yet is the sensitivity in how Hand deals with the subject- not once mawkish nor excessive as it isn't just about her brother's done and his why; but also about the ripples the first has. Then while those ripples are felt, time progresses, choices are made. So the cracks first barely noted, become bigger and more evident fractures- as when the child starts the mothering,  the romances that begin unravelling, and frendships that are reconsidered. And in all that, there are glimpses of humor and moments intelligence, truth as the lead sifts through the goings- on. Yes, loss is felt, pain is allowed... except not just because of what one assumes.

Thank you, Edelweiss!



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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Roman Holiday: The Complete Adventure (Roman Holiday, #1-10) by Ruthie Knox

Roman Holiday: The Complete Adventure (Roman Holiday, #1-10)Roman Holiday: The Complete Adventure by Ruthie Knox

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


There’s a codger, a tramp, and a tycoon- despite that, Roman Holiday is more than the makings of the joke those three hint at. The story pushed forward despite how odd, mismatched all parties were; their back stories were more than a point of contrast to who they were becoming. This was nuanced and possessed an unexpected depth.

She sees herself as no account, small time person in the face of him- larger than life, cool and smooth; so does he. He sees himself as someone with something to prove, possibly soulless, definitely heartless; so does she. But things change and there’s a peeling back of layers, each seeing something the other (and all others) fails to appreciate.

Mostly, I loved the funny- almost too funny- way things start; but also enjoyed the slow change from that to something serious. Because really, it’s them discovering what they could do and what they wanted while weighing those two against who they were and what they’d done.  It’s them seeing all else- people around them, circumstance, history, in a different light. Also, hello sexy! This was fun, and smart and unexpected depth with regard to who he was and who she chose to be.




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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Truly (New York, #1) by Ruthie Knox

Truly (New York, #1)Truly by Ruthie Knox

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



 
I have a suspicion that I’m in the middle of one of those really important life lessons… I’m not just sure what the lesson is yet. It’s not a lot of fun but it’s liberating too.

Because you’re not who you used to be, but you’re not who you’re going to be yet, either.


Ruthie Knox has a knack for mixing both the truthful and the sexy. I enjoyed TRULY. One, for its characters (flaws and all,) as well as the changes that take place brought on account of their choices; and two, for the story which becomes so much bigger than the two people and all the sexy times. What we have is their growth and their choosing; what he have is her recognition of reality then fantasy then possibility. But mostly it’s how there’s INconvenient as well as the UNexpected as things progressed.

Truly isn’t brave just for the sexy, but for the change that they allow to happen and the recognition both make:


 
There was no black line drawn through her life, no way of making herself into a new person at a moment’s notice. There were only the choices she made, each of them separate and individual… How she felt bout it mattered far less than being honest with herself about what she wanted and what she was willing to do to get it.

--

It was easy to love your idea of someone – to fall hard for their very best self. The question was whether, once you had to spend some time living with their worst self, you could bear to be with them anymore.


Thank you, NG!


---
Man, I am loving Ruthie Knox right now.




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Monday, April 6, 2015

Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

Anatomy of a MisfitAnatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


The Anatomy of a Misfit- there were parts of this I enjoyed – the smart moments and the snarky as well; but there were other bits I did not quite buy.

So, Anika is third best by her own estimation (her name alone had me thinking something from Vampire Academy- as it had her.)  She’s undecided, unsorted on who she wants to be and who she’s seen as. The half of her that’s “in” is almost too typical that she felt unoriginal; the other half, slightly more interesting- especially with the snark. Her assessment of herself is not as scathing as her assessment of others could be, so when someone started popping at random moments, things got interesting. Yet it’s the things the two become which was equal parts sad then exciting- both because of the secrecy that’s created by how the interaction unfold.

So, some of this was funny;, a lot of this was sad, yet  the ending was a disappointment. Much like its female lead, undetermined, uncertain on what it wants to be, the same can be said for the worry as a whole. The funny side was clearly funny; it’s the sad part where my issues cropped up. It felt almost too quick in execution, as a result its gravity was lost.

Thank you, Edelweiss!




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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Boomerang and Rebound (Boomerang, #2) by Noelle August;

Boomerang (Boomerang, #1)Boomerang by Noelle August

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


boomerang is youthful fun sexy times. also, funny; then add there being a little more depth to both leads, more than first thought with her, in seeing what she can do; him, realizing what it is he wants.

i enjoyed the just out of the box feel that things start out on. and it isn't just because the making of the two is new; nope; it's them sort of ticking off items on this unmentioned premade list on what to do and what to expect when beginning your life life- get a jump on a career (working on it,) get a handle on your finances (working on it,) figure out your place or at least start figuring it (oh.... hmmm.) They're but babies at it! And I just loved that. Then add te complication of them seeing things going a certain way, only not it's thinga not quiiittte getting there.

So there are all those life life worries... and then there's them! The way things start and progress on that end had (has) me grinning. Mainly because there were all these asides on cliches they were living; but it was both, musing on the typical playout of things between them that puts them a step above other NA's. Best yet is that there's chemistry and not just them winding up together because of circumstance... OK, that too... but there's really more to their development- and it was fun and cute and sizzling (even if at times straining the possibilities of what's likely.)

Overall, youthful. Fun. Sexy times.








Rebound (Boomerang, #2)Rebound by Noelle August

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


He lists the Belgariad series among his favorites.
How can I not love him?

Also, this sequel is FULL of swoon.





Saturday, April 4, 2015

In Your Dreams (Blue Heron #4) by Kristan Higgins

In Your Dreams (Blue Heron #4)In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


It is impossible to stay pissed when reading a book by Kristan Higgins. I was leg-stomping, thigh-slapping with how funny moments in this were. Better yet, the humor was on equal footing with all other emotions explored. So, yes, one can not not end up happy-content or in less a pisser of a mood after this.

As previous books in this series have prepared us- Jack indeed is a prince of a lead. Mostly. Because what we have is a guy who likes to do the right thing all the time, even when he's not up to it. I enjoyed seeing that there's more depth to him though. That while he could be (and was) teasing, affectionate brother-son-uncle-neighbor, there was more to him still. The predicament is of him facing up to not being 'up to' dealing with... well, everything really. The same has made for a more honest, possible picture of the guy. Add to that, how he really was nice! Well, mostly nice anyway. As past events have the guy skirting an edge of what's emotionally ok and not. Complicated stuff but less so once Em was in the picture.

And Em? Knee jerk assessment had me thinking she was yet another messy complicated ball of insecurity- She was then wasn't; however, it's her figuring things out was equal parts painful funny and just plain painful (it was more of the first really.) On dealing with aweful exes- Ah, the things women do! On dealing with family and expectations and place therein- Oh! the things children put themselves through! On new men and new relationships- am I back to exclaiming on the things women put themselves through? Needless to say: she was funny but more than that, she was real.

Thank you, NG!

(And please, Book Gods,  I hope this is not the end of this series!)



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Friday, April 3, 2015

Waiting On You (Blue Heron #3) by Kristan Higgins

Waiting On You (Blue Heron #3)Waiting On You by Kristan Higgins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I enjoyed this. Mainly because it has all the laughs I've come to expect from a Higgins contemporary romance. If Faith and Levi and then Hope and Tom were funny, Colleen... well, she's hilarious, both when she means to be as well as when she doesn't. Except laughs aside, there's the whole small town, close family vibe that it still has going for it. It’s one of my favorite things about this- family and town... and how they all live in each others' pockets (or something to that effect:)

On  her and her family: the whole how they know everything about her allowing for some pretty great moments: as with the older mother plus hot flashes with all those instances of TMI equals the too-funny Hail Mary's; as with twin brother and the mystery of who he was with, but more with the closeness and the familiarity they show. As to the rest of the town, it’s a place where she‘s found her niche. Time and again this same thing becomes a thing because while she knows her place, he doesn't. And this he- her Spaniard, I loved him too, but mostly I loved him with her. Well, mostly at least.

They have history so that Waiting on You is a mix of them as they are now, them as they were before, and a little bit of the moments in between. There’s a lot of growing up made on both their parts, but there’s a lot of yearning done, too. And hello, but do you hear that thump? That’s me falling for some swoon-moments between them. Anyway… that shared past allows for some knowledge for one on how the other operates; and the thing is they don’t ‘operate,’ they just were... So that this? It’s the two of them finding each other in the position the other is, open but tentative about what they could become as they consider what’d been done as well as what the other could do.


3.5/5



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Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

The Queen of Bright and Shiny ThingsThe Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


3.5/5

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things is almost too perfect because she's almost too perfect. I suppose that's the point- that appearance can be deceiving; that she-he-they aren't just what they present themselves as.

Because there's a layer of dark here, yet it's one that's not rendered overwrought. Here, both protagonists operate in  a  frame of reference that's colored by experience; and while it's the dark that's most apparent, its their response that that establishes how the  two are simultaneously different and the same.

The parallels in their experience allow a measure of understanding that grows into something more. It's that growth that adds the sweet. But it's not their sweet nor her perfect, that's remarkable, rather it's how she struggles to be what she thinks others want even as she alludes to this shadow version of herself.  It's also how she's so perfect simply because it's the same that's unbelievable and what merits her a closer inspection.

And what is seen? Something unexpected. Someone better than perfect. Is she a Pollyana? Almost,  but not really, for despite her optimism, her enthusiam, and selective positivity (that's  at times too much,) there's authenticity in her desire to make things better simply because she has known different. There's a context their realitoes are framed in- Sage in her past and Shane, his present. That neither becomes mired in but moves from... and if things progress to fast, if things are too sweet, if she appears too perfect; well, none of those are quite right. And that's fine as well.

thank you, NG!



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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the AshesAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Underwhelmed. Its blurb reeled me in, only for the actual thing to become a little too familiar, a litte too long in one respect, too short in others, and a little too something. In essence I was dealt with the very same issue I faced when reading Red Queen. That is I had read a variation of both before:

First the sister, then the brother who are each other's only family left. Enter the tragic dark hero type reluctant to become who he is meant to be. Then throw in a rebel, too. Also, lots of Proper Nouns in classifying something as some sort of special thing, or placing a player in some distinct Class within some rigidly defined hierarchical society with a mythology that layers on a past that obviously matters but is left murky... for the sake of what?

All that is not to say that Ember wasn't interesting. It WAS as I kept coming back to it days after. The most interesting and different thing here's the push-pull between the two characters other than the predictable rich boy-slave girl tandem that was obviously in the works. WHY? The latter was... again, predictable, while the former was anything but. Helene to Elias is forbidden fruit, but why exactly? Predictability should have stemmed from their pairing and yet, not. There was something about their sameness that repelled him even as that sameness had him drawing closer to her. Basically THEY made sense together... Except....

Perhaps me rooting for this pair was me being purposefully anti-obvious... because really need the love sparks come from being star crossed? As in need we root for the obvious pairing of rich boy/poor girl?! Because really why? There's no basis for a them, save 'THE look' they shared upon first meeting. OK... I ought to concede that not much of this is.really about romance... but what else is the take away when each of their interactions culminate with one or both of them thinking back to the other as dreamy or (insert any other positive descriptive), yes?

Add that the female protagonist in this, Laia, felt a little too easy a lead to follow. There's an obviousness to the things that happened, often TO her rather than BECAUSE or BY her. She is the victim of so many things, played by someone then positioned by some other's doing. It was only in the very last two or so chapters that things shifted... a shift that almost came too late as Pity for her became too rooted in me so that seeing her as someone MORE was fast becoming impossible. She wasn't much of a heroine, something not of her doing EXCEPT therein stems my issue with this 'heroine' nothing is her doing; most everything is done TO her. Otherwise, it's her musing over her attraction to two very different characters. Hmmm...

Fortunately, by telling Elias' then Laia's stories separately, we see exactly how very different their two worlds are and more interesting, how the two navigate those realities. But then by punctuating those separate tales by having the two collide, the difference is almost made clearer.... ALMOST because to me both stories felt incomplete. I would gladly have dealt with a longer book, were it more on Laia's interaction with the rebellion or were things a little bit more on the background of Elias and his Helene and the rest of the Masks actually. BUT really, I'd have loved this more were the dark magical part tackled more. Because really? That's all we get, a half-told story on the big bad scary Nightbringer? In the same way details on the Augurs as well as that Scholar-Mask past could have been more generously shared.

So this is me being contrary--- the book was slow and sometimes over long in dealing with someone perhaps maybe liking someone else who perhaps hopefully reciprocates (maybe not?) BUT the details of myth and context I would have happily dealt with. In that aspect there could have been more making this longer. I just wanted more of the second and less of the first.


Thank you, BT for this arc!








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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2) by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2)The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Woah. WOAH. And what?! Because the ending. the ending. the ending! and then all those missed opportunities as well! plus all those things left unsaid all because she thought-he thought-she said-he said but really because she wouldn't say and he kept on thinking...things.

Complaints for the first hold true for this a lot of the intrigue is rooted on what they become for each other, yet unlike Curse, Crime is less finding love; here's there's tension itself  in  should have's and could have's that brought on frustration, confusion, dislike, then a need in me.

That last mentioned need is one centered on the question of what's next as well as why were any of them doing what they were! And yet  it's for being a little like the first that's elevated this sequel. It still centers a little bit onthe romance at first, specifically as to who they were/ were becoming/ could have become.  Yet here it's that same thing which furthers a lot of the political and scheming and plotting and fouling up someone or other's or their plans. and i enjoyed all that... at least when it didn't frustrate me so.

primarily because the emperor is bad ass in the most authentic villainy sense that kestrel's previously much tauted military prowess remained absent;  what we have instead is a heroine certain of what she'd jumped into and totally aware of the costs but also alone in that awareness. it's said isolation that made things.... more in every respect.

Good. No, impressive follow up.
thank you, ng!



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Monday, March 30, 2015

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

MagoniaMagonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


We've all seen those deep, deep profound quotes people have posted, yet it's this line "You've never seen surprise until you've looked into the eyes of an ascending bovine." upon which I could declare Magonia all kinds of wonderful.

Bits of this had me thinking Going Bovine, then Ava Lavender, and then a little bit of Stardust (perhaps on account of that blurb, but not really) But really it's everything in this that has me... happy. First there's the random quirk present because of two leads who are not quite the usual. Two, for what's heartfelt between her and him, her and them, and then her and the rest. Then... then those biting, honest moments of Aza as to how she viewed her goings-on. (It's this last that's reframed my perception of Little Women' Beth, my grade four fancies to that end have been shot down.)

Though this is not perfect --Jason reads too dork-perfect to be true -- most everything else felt right.

Thank you, Edelweiss!



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Sunday, March 29, 2015

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright PlacesAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Reminiscent of Thirteen Reasons Why and Spectacular Now, All the Bright Places' Theodore Finch has won my heart then broken it, while Violet Markey has reminded me that some things can be lovely and then not.

Their story begins with both lost then shifts to them navigating their less than perfect realities, as they work through what is acceptable and not in definitions of who they are/were/could be from his  Freak to her Survivor, his Son to her Sister, then stranger, friend, and finally more...

Every aspect of this resonates. For him, it's his undefined nature, his need to be felt,  and his want to matter--- all the while speaking truth that's not once rendered unlikely with the too-profound.  And while that last is likewise present, its still his TRUTH I take with me, for there's possibility in his manner and honesty  in his everything else.

Then for her, it's the notion of not- knowing who she is, where she's headed, as well as what really counts. 

So that it's his presence that seems to change things for her (and her in his as well,) but such is an oversimplification as nothing really changes until they do and in this case those push, no shove us toward an end that... that breaks your heart for one of them but leaves you hopeful for the other.

This is at all once thoughtful, truthful, heart breaking.



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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3) by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Isla and her HEA is not about the where but about the who. It's Isla then it's Josh and then it's Isla AND Josh.

Isla is undefined but ready to be. In her we have somebody living an almost insulated life with her as yet determined goal. Contrast her to Josh who is clear on where he's going; thus, simply biding his time till he could get started, then in other instances, merely going through the motions of what's expected without thought, effort, or consideration. In them is a pair of people about to embark on beginnings of adulthood where emotions (theirs and mine) ran the gamut of messy and complicated then sweet and pitch-perfect romancewise.  And it was lovely in doing so.

For Josh is a far from the ideal, as he holds himself apart from what the rest are up to; whereas Isla is wholly in the process of moving through young adulthood. It's them finding each other when they do that sets them and their story apart because this is not just a pair and a meet cute pulled suddenly progressing into a 'them' then apart by  some situation/issue/drama and then pulled together again.

No, for their making is a slow one, a sweet one, but mostly, a plausible one. The last is particularly true as both learn to navigate through the other's past, as both come into this as more than the individuals they are; the relationships they are/were in, their (non) goals, the experiences they carry define a part of them; it's the recognition this last is allowed that mark things true because they aren't each others only's but could be.

More than them, this is Isla figuring out what it means to be her, opening herself to choosing a something not because it's what's expected or is what's done, but simply because she could. And this is also Josh, and seeing matters not defined by the way things were or the way things no longer are,  instead seeing things as they could become. All these shifts and realizations, then choices and decisions make for a messy, sometimes hard yet definitely real and heart felt experience.

I LOVED this.

LOVED.




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Never Never (Never Never, #1) by Colleen Hoover, Tarryn Fisher

Never Never (Never Never, #1)Never Never by Colleen Hoover

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


This feels like I have just finished a needlessly long introduction. Worse yet, when things stared picking up, we're dealt with another tepid non-ending. This had me thinking of 50 First Dates, minus the cute of Barrymore, but plus ten of the confounding.

Nothing is explained and we're only left with questions. WHILE I could say the leads are so imperfect they read plausible, honestly, each discovery about the other then their respective selves had me asking how there was a past them to begin with.

Will I be reading the next one? MAYBE. And that's what I take from this... it's chock full maybe and perhaps. Perhaps, there's more to Charlie; perhaps, Silas is not quite the douche he's coming across as. And perhaps, I'm still going to read the next. Who knows? 



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Sunday, February 1, 2015

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

I Was HereI Was Here by Gayle Forman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I Was Here

In all of Forman's books, we witness characters on some emotional path navigating the same sometimes clumsily, but always with others and because of others. In this it's Cody because of Meg and with Ben and all others left reeling by the second's choice. Yet it's Meg who felt most plausible. Never mind all the additional threads of who Tricia was or wasn't for Cody, or who Ben was or wasn't, for that matter. For me, it's Meg and her choice and all that's subsequent to that which tugged at me first.

Meg read plausible, no, real to me... because as both Richard in the book, and Forman later on holds, we've all been there. And that's what made this more, in how one moment translated into another -- urge to feeling to consideration to exploration to an action, or actions in Meg's case. It was all scarily accurate. An accuracy that had me wondering at its purpose. Was there too morbid a depiction here? Not exactly. If anything, Forman's specificity renders the whole thing less unclear, making things and their consequence more urgent. While more or less sensitively handled, I Was Here focuses on the fact that shit like this happens and not that it's OK.

To which I turn to Cody. The consequences for her are as expected- grief, anger... and a slew of actions with no real purpose, prompted by both emotions. Yet it's in those moments, that things happen, when she makes things happen to see things through. Because, otherwise, her story without Meg in the picture, simply devolves into "Is this my life?!" musings. I was never was quite sold on her as the lead. Too many things going on with her; too many things not dealt with that it took loss for things to finally progress. Perhaps, that's the point? Things, people move. Act... eventually.

Then Ben and who he was and what they would become. Was it necessary, this sudden love? Debatable... is each event in this separate or are they interconnected? Did Ben knowing Meg, and then Ben knowing Cody impact on anything anything here? Anyone could see where the story was going once the guitar playing bad boy type was introduced... but frankly, was it needed? Yet without him in the story I am almost certain I WAS HERE would have been too much the "sunless planet" Cody made reference to. Too dark, too sad, too real. Perhaps, a little Hollywood-happy is a positive, even if their Hollywood-happy was "fucked up and complicated."

Thank you, PBT.


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