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Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman Audiobook {3.5 Stars}

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman Audiobook {3.5 Stars}

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Narrated by Lenny Henry
(American Gods #2)
Published by HarperCollins on Sept. 20th, 2005
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Fantasy
Page Length: 336 pages
Audio Length: 10 hrs and 8 mins
How I got my copy: Purchased
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

One of fiction's most audaciously original talents, Neil Gaiman now gives us a mythology for a modern age -- complete with dark prophecy, family dysfunction, mystical deceptions, and killer birds. Not to mention a lime.

Anansi Boys
God is dead. Meet the kids.


When Fat Charlie's dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie "Fat Charlie." Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can't shake that name, one of the many embarrassing "gifts" his father bestowed -- before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie's life.

Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie's doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew. A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who's going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun ... just like Dear Old Dad. And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.

Because, you see, Charlie's dad wasn't just any dad. He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil. Some said he could cheat even Death himself.

Returning to the territory he so brilliantly explored in his masterful New York Times bestseller, American Gods, the incomparable Neil Gaiman offers up a work of dazzling ingenuity, a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth that is at once startling, terrifying, exhilarating, and fiercely funny -- a true wonder of a novel that confirms Stephen King's glowing assessment of the author as "a treasure-house of story, and we are lucky to have him."

3.5 Stars

Thoughts:
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Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand eARC {5 Stars}

Things You Should Know About Some Kind of Happiness:

  • It is not a fantasy story.
  • The protagonist is a very realistically written young girl dealing with many issues in her life.
  • There are many secrets hidden in and around Hart House.
  • Not all of these secrets are nice.
  • The tale starts off slowly but will soon have readers flipping through pages, to discover if they have deduced some of the secrets … and afraid that they will be right.

Note: I received an advanced copy of SOME KIND OF HAPPINESS from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand eARC {5 Stars}

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand
Published by Simon & Schuster on May 17, 2016
Genres: Genre-bender, Literary, MG, Mystery
Page Length: 374 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

THINGS FINLEY HART DOESN’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT

• Her parents, who are having problems. (But they pretend like they’re not.)
• Being sent to her grandparents’ house for the summer.
• Never having met said grandparents.
• Her blue days—when life feels overwhelming, and it’s hard to keep her head up. (This happens a lot.)

Finley’s only retreat is the Everwood, a forest kingdom that exists in the pages of her notebook. Until she discovers the endless woods behind her grandparents’ house and realizes the Everwood is real--and holds more mysteries than she'd ever imagined, including a family of pirates that she isn’t allowed to talk to, trees covered in ash, and a strange old wizard living in a house made of bones.

With the help of her cousins, Finley sets out on a mission to save the dying Everwood and uncover its secrets. But as the mysteries pile up and the frightening sadness inside her grows, Finley realizes that if she wants to save the Everwood, she’ll first have to save herself.

Reality and fantasy collide in this powerful, heartfelt novel about family, depression, and the power of imagination.

5 Stars

Strengths:
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4 Stars: Playing Tyler by T. L. Costa ARC

Playing Tyler by T. L. Costa was not exactly what I expected, but it still turned out to be an enthralling read! For some reason I had gotten it into my head that this one would fit in the sci-fi category, which is definitely doesn’t (in case anyone else had gotten that impression, haha). It fits well into the contemporary/thriller genres which I normally don’t consider “my thing” at all. However, there is a solid gamer culture element that pulled me in at the beginning, and from there the excitement and mystery took firm hold. As a recovering gamer myself, I think some of my gamer readers might enjoy that part ;-).

Note: I received Playing Tyler through Netgalley for an honest review. I read an ARC and so some things might change in the final version.

4 Stars: Playing Tyler by T. L. Costa ARC

Playing Tyler by T. L. Costa
Published by Strange Chemistry on July 2nd, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller, YA
Page Length: 304 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
Amazon - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

When is a game not a game?

Tyler MacCandless can’t focus, even when he takes his medication. He can’t focus on school, on his future, on a book, on much of anything other than taking care of his older brother, Brandon, who’s in rehab for heroin abuse… again.

Tyler’s dad is dead and his mom has mentally checked out. The only person he can really count on is his Civilian Air Patrol Mentor, Rick. The one thing in life it seems he doesn’t suck at is playing video games and, well, thats probably not going to get him into college.

Just when it seems like his future is on a collision course with a life sentence at McDonald’s, Rick asks him to test a video game. If his score’s high enough, it could earn him a place in flight school and win him the future he was certain that he could never have. And when he falls in love with the game’s designer, the legendary gamer Ani, Tyler thinks his life might finally be turning around.

That is, until Brandon goes MIA from rehab and Tyler and Ani discover that the game is more than it seems. Now Tyler will have to figure out what’s really going on in time to save his brother… and prevent his own future from going down in flames.

4 Stars

Strengths:

  • I don’t have ADHD and haven’t run this by anyone I know who does, but the stream of consciousness of the main character, Tyler, seemed to be a good representation of a character with ADHD. Tyler also blames his racing thoughts on his unmedicated ADHD, so it was obvious that was the conclusion I was supposed to draw. I’m interested in others thoughts on this!
  • The gamer culture was accurate and fun to read about. I had to resist pulling out my old game of choice when reading Playing Tyler. I especially liked that the social element of gaming was shown, with Tyler talking to his gaming buddies while he is playing.
  • There are a couple of hard issues in Playing Tyler, including drug addiction and war. I thought that they were handled well, in that I could connect to those issues and understand how difficult they are for everyone involved, but it wasn’t too painful to read.
  • After the 50% mark was definitely where Playing Tyler picked up and became much more thriller. I was so excited to see what happened and so moved by the choices made. Stick with it!

Weaknesses:

  •  Tyler makes some stalker decisions when he becomes interested in a girl. Emailing a girl multiple times a day when she has expressed zero interest in you is not okay at all. Attending school events because you think she will be there after said email barrage is also not okay. I would have liked Tyler a lot more in the beginning if I wasn’t so horrified by this.
  • The stream of consciousness style of first person narration was a little annoying at first. Tyler’s thoughts are pretty darn scattered. However, I did get used to it!
  • With hard issues comes trigger warnings. The very real problems and pain that come from a family member with drug addiction are described. In addition there are several people discussed that have problems of their own such as PTSD.
  • Ani is the romantic interest and while she narrates some of the chapters, I ended the book feeling like I didn’t know her at all. Looking back I realized she was just a mirror for Tyler, which was disappointing.

Summary:

If a book about gamers, the military, tough issues, and secrets sounds intriguing to you, I recommend you pick up Playing Tyler. While I started reading the book with a mistaken impression, I was quickly drawn in to Tyler’s world and made to appreciate my very boring childhood by comparison. I’m very thrilled to say this is the first Strange Chemistry book I’ve read where the plot made sense to me :D.

4 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings – Anya

 

 Playing Tyler by T. L. Costa

4 Stars: The Elephant of Surprise by Brent Hartinger

The Elephant of Surprise by Brent Hartinger is the fourth book in the Russel Middlebrook series, but don’t worry, it’s a stand alone! I’ve only read the first book, Geography Club, so this was partially a test of how it read as a stand alone ;-). While the first book of this series focuses on the hardships of gay teens in an unwelcoming high school, The Elephant of Surprise tackles a completely separate idea. This book focuses on the “freeganism” movement and the characters’ sexuality takes much more of a back seat. Yes, there is some relationship drama involving girls dating girls and boys liking boys, but not nearly as much as Geography Club. If you like light, contemporary reads with more diverse characters than normal, definitely check out The Elephant of Surprise.

I received The Elephant of Surprise through Netgalley and Brent Hartinger in exchange for an honest review.
The Elephant of Surprise Goodreads Amazon
Title: The Elephant of Surprise
Author: Brent Hartinger
Length: 239 pages
Genre-ish: YA LGBT contemporary
Rating★★★– light and fun, a little repetitive

People aren’t always what they seem to be. Sometimes we even surprise ourselves.

In this latest book, Russel and his friends Min and Gunnar are laughing about something they call the Elephant of Surprise — the tendency for life to never turn out as expected. Sure enough, Russel soon happens upon a hot but mysterious homeless activist named Wade, even as he’s drawn back to an old flame named Kevin. Meanwhile, Min is learning surprising things about her girlfriend Leah, and Gunnar just wants to be left alone to pursue his latest technology obsession.

But the elephant is definitely on the move in all three of their lives. Just who is Wade and what are he and his friends planning? What is Leah hiding? And why is Gunnar taking naked pictures of Kevin in the shower? — Goodreads

Strengths:

  •  As someone who has never learned much about freeganism before, The Elephant of Surprise was a surprisingly nice intro to a real life movement.
  • Something a lot of series novels run into is a repetitive plot arc, however The Elephant of Surprise took a completely different direction than I expected. It was nice that the focus wasn’t just on getting Russel a boyfriend ;-).
  • I’m always happy to see healthy relationships, and there is a great example of a healthy way to break up in this one!
  • As always, the writing of The Elephant of Surprise was light and fun. It was very easy to read just one more page while riding in the car or waiting for food at a restaurant, haha.
  • I got caught up on the characters’ lives quickly, no need to have read the previous books. It’s so nice when a stand alone is actually a stand alone, though I think you’ll connect deeper with everyone if you do read the earlier books.
The Elephant of Surprise by Brent Hartinger

Me when Russel started committing crimes….

Weaknesses:

  • There were some phrases that got quite repetitive, including The Elephant of Surprise. I prefer subtler uses of titles personally.
  • While there were some good relationship decisions, there were also some very bad ones that included all sorts of illegal activity. Russel, there is a difference between helping your friends like a good person and committing crimes for your friends!
  • Russel get a bit overdramatic in The Elephant of Surprise. Yes, some dramatic things happen, but he also has some pretty dramatic inner dialogue that we are privy to.

Summary:

The Elephant of Surprise is light, fun, and just a wee bit silly. On top of that, however, I learned new things, crazy huh? Whether you’ve read the previous books or not, if you like high school adventures, you will likely enjoy The Elephant of Surprise. It actually made me want to go back and read the two I skipped to find out more about the summer camp adventures I’ve been hearing so much about, haha!

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Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings – A

 

 The Elephant of Surprise by Brent Hartinger

4 Stars: Geography Club by Brent Hartinger + Movie Pictures

One of my goals for this year was to branch out into more contemporary fiction a bit. Geography Club by Brent Hartinger is an LGBT young adult book that seemed just perfect for my foray into realistic fiction :D. There is also a movie coming out sometime this year, and Brent Hartinger was awesome to give me a couple of snapshots of him with some cast members! If you are looking for some fun, quick, but meaningful reading, make sure to check out Geography Club in time for the movie release! Thank you to Brent Hartinger for a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Geography Club Goodreads Amazon
Title:
Geography Club
Author: Brent Hartinger
Length: 240 pages
Genre-ish: LGBT contemporary YA
Rating★★★– sweet and realistic portrayal of being a gay teen

Russel Middlebrook is convinced he’s the only gay kid at Goodkind High School.

Then his online gay chat buddy turns out to be none other than Kevin, the popular but closeted star of the school’s baseball team. Soon Russel meets other gay students, too. There’s his best friend Min, who reveals that she is bisexual, and her soccer-playing girlfriend Terese. Then there’s Terese’s politically active friend, Ike.

But how can kids this diverse get together without drawing attention to themselves?

“We just choose a club that’s so boring, nobody in their right mind would ever in a million years join it. We could call it Geography Club!” — Goodreads

Strengths:

  •  Geography Club has a wide variety of characters with different sexual orientations (including bi-sexual, finally) and at different stages of coming out. This also includes straight teens who have a range of reactions to finding out their friends aren’t straight. Geography Club also brings all these characters together in a believable way ;-).
  • There is a very sweet portrayal of developing love between two young men, along with all the problems that high school relationships often run into.
  • Geography Club tackles the outsider dilemma pretty well and recognizes that there isn’t an easy fix to the cliques in a real high school.
  • The writing in Geography Club is fast and light, while still showing the struggles and pain of closeted teens.

Weaknesses:

  • I really wanted Russel (MC) to grow a backbone when dealing with various social situations. I realize that high school is tough and you want to avoid conflict when you can, but the way he dealt with some of his “friends” actions made me a bit sad.
  • There are literally no parents at all in Geography Club. There is some reference to Russel’s parents not being a big part of his life, but it was still a little weird…. Dealing with parents and coming out to parents is also a difficult process for a lot of teens, so it would have been nice to see a portrayal of that.

Summary:

Geography Club manages to be light and fun, while also portraying the isolation and fear that goes along with being a gay teen in an unwelcoming high school. Russel finds that he is not nearly as alone as he thought, both because there are other gay teens at his school and because there are straight teens who care about him, not his sexual orientation. Anyone who is interested in a fast and compelling read about these situations should definitely check out Geography Club before the movie comes out!

Speaking of movie, here are a couple of pictures of Brent Hartinger with some of the cast of the upcoming Geography Club movie :D

Brent Hartinger and Cameron Deane Stewart

Hartinger with Cameron Deane Stewart (plays Russel)

Brent Hartinger and Nikki Blonsky

Hartinger with Nikki Blonsky (plays Terese)

Remember to subscribe for weekly reviews of awesome books!

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings – A

 

 Geography Club by Brent Hartinger