That was a wonderful trio of novellas. So many feelings, so much processing...not much non-feelingsy plot, which works for me. I'm a little mystified...moreThat was a wonderful trio of novellas. So many feelings, so much processing...not much non-feelingsy plot, which works for me. I'm a little mystified by the mediocre reviews, honestly. Happy book sigh.(less)
Meh. I thought this was precious, cloying, and kind of manipulative. It didn't ring true to me really at all. Not for me.
ETA SPOILER (scroll down):
I...moreMeh. I thought this was precious, cloying, and kind of manipulative. It didn't ring true to me really at all. Not for me.
ETA SPOILER (scroll down):
I am still upset by the fact that Maya's mom's death is so glossed over, esp once the reasons are revealed. So we find out that Ismay bears, in fact, significant responsibility for the desperate situation in which the mom finds herself and makes it even more desperate than it might have been otherwise. And then her death gets glossed over by "well, AJ's life is much better than it would have been." What? How on earth can the hard work and bright shining future of that character be dismissed so glibly? The only reasonable explanation is that her life matters less than his. Maybe if the characters had been deeper, more complex, their characterization colored by the consequences of their actions -- real anguish, real forgiveness -- I would have been able to stomach this plot twist. But with the superficial, light "feel-good" nature of the book as a whole, it just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. (less)
Probably shouldn't have read this back-to-back with The Suffragette Scandal, which was constructed almost entirely out of my readerly catnip. Not the...moreProbably shouldn't have read this back-to-back with The Suffragette Scandal, which was constructed almost entirely out of my readerly catnip. Not the strongest in the series, but still a delightful novella. (less)
I saved this for when I really needed it, and I'm so glad I did -- I don't know that anything else could have gotten me through this...more*happy book sigh*
I saved this for when I really needed it, and I'm so glad I did -- I don't know that anything else could have gotten me through this last miserable week. Two queer couples, one a significant side plot and the other just hanging out! Witty banter! Smart ladies, and major plot development involving lady/sister friendships (I cried). Anguished beta hero pretending to be an alpha! Awesome characters! Everything I love. (less)
Gosh, this set off all my catnip alerts, but I'm afraid it just didn't have the solid writing/worldbuilding/emotional craft I needed to be able to ent...moreGosh, this set off all my catnip alerts, but I'm afraid it just didn't have the solid writing/worldbuilding/emotional craft I needed to be able to enter the story.
I just skimmed through some of the other reviews and found many of the same disappointed complaints I had about the worldbuilding and character development. I think it's interesting, though, how many are like, well, this isn't really SF, it's a romance, maybe that's the problem. But in a romance novel, I have even *higher* expectations for the crafting of the relationships, the tensions and resolutions, and intensive, interesting character development. Because good romance novels do that, even if the "plot" is virtually nonexistent. I would have been thrilled if Ascension had worked through actual family/romantic/etc relationships (not just Heather-has-two-mommies-style didacticism around poly life) and challenges.
I'm a children's librarian, so I see value in presenting issues of visibility in tidy terms when working with kids and families... developmentally, some didacticism is useful for my kids, especially in an educational setting. But this book is for grownups, ostensibly for ME, so I expect more sophistication, depth, realistic messiness. Who is this written for, those of us inside looking out or those outside looking in? I guess representation is less satisfying to me if it's primarily intended to make me palatable to others. /grouch(less)
There was a lot that I liked about this, a couple of things that didn't really hang together, and one thing (with two instances) that I really didn't...moreThere was a lot that I liked about this, a couple of things that didn't really hang together, and one thing (with two instances) that I really didn't like.
Very, very, very nicely done: -The family. -The way Acampora handled faith/Christianity in this particular family. -Dealing with the aftermath of cancer. -Friendship -Middle school romance -representation of different types of families -the character development, esp Lucy -not messing with indie booksellers
Eh / Huh: -the concept, and the way the kids executed it... it just didn't really make *sense*. Why not pretend to want to ban it? -complete unacknowledgment of Amazon/online retailing
Cringe: -Twice, the one African-American best friend made clear, legitimate statements about racism in classic books that they were reading: one, that Mark Twain made black people look like buffoons, and two, that To Kill a Mockingbird is “a little white tomboy who worships her father in a town filled with whacky racist Christians and lynch-mob farmers. It’s a comedy about old-timey southern people who treat each other badly.” Both were dismissed IMMEDIATELY without even any discussion by one of the other white characters and then none of the concerns were ever addressed or brought up again. (For the first one, one of the adult characters said something like, "Mark Twain made everybody look like buffoons - he was an equal opportunity buffoon-maker"; for the second one, Lucy just responded that it was a great book and the matter was dropped.)
At first when I read Michael's statement, I thought this was going to be a great chance to model a potentially difficult conversation about race and racism, both personal and systemic, in the same way that Acampora models some REALLY terrific conversations between kids and adults about faith, illness, and death. Those conversations matter to be gracefully demonstrated and explored without being didactic. But instead, boom, despite the perfect opening to talk about race, the one black main character is immediately shut down by the white characters around him and then the conversation is never reopened.
Very disappointing and discomfiting piece of an otherwise finely crafted little book. (less)
Sometimes all I want to write in a review is "squeee! I really liked it!!" This happens more with romance than other genres.
I'm a sucker for an angst...moreSometimes all I want to write in a review is "squeee! I really liked it!!" This happens more with romance than other genres.
I'm a sucker for an angsty, nice-guy hero. Also smart badass ladies, especially doing things like math and science.
This also offered an unexpected bonus: a heroine who loves sex and who's sort of pervy and with no slut shaming (!!!!). Nicely done, Ms. Grant!
Ok, so pervy = YAY. Mutual enjoyment of rough sex without any consent issues = YAY. Possible blaming of pervy proclivities on trauma slash unhealthy desire for self-punishment = YOU WERE DOING SO WELL, SIGH.
On the other hand, I might have been overly sensitive on that front... if that was in fact what was happening, it wasn't so overt as to be completely obvious. And it did not have the "but now we're having tender vanilla sex as a symbol of my healing and therefore our fulfilling relationship," which is the sex equivalent of the gagtastic weight-loss-as-symbol-of-personal-growth trope. I loved that the "we're finally connecting in our souls" sex involved her talking to break through her barriers around vulnerability rather than changing the kind of sex she actually enjoys.
Some other reviewers found the pacing to be slow and the math/gambling parts to be endless -- I actually found all of that pacing to be totally enjoyable and not at all boring.
As an audiobook read by Kristen Bell, this was like getting to watch a very long and pretty fun V Mars episode! Definitely wouldn't recommend it to no...moreAs an audiobook read by Kristen Bell, this was like getting to watch a very long and pretty fun V Mars episode! Definitely wouldn't recommend it to non-fans, but it was entertaining and a great audiobook choice. (less)
So wavering between three and four stars for this one! This is my first Beverly Jenkins and my first non-Regency historical romance (I'm a n00b) and I...moreSo wavering between three and four stars for this one! This is my first Beverly Jenkins and my first non-Regency historical romance (I'm a n00b) and I found parts of it completely awesome.
The awesome: - The setting/characters, especially the fantastic socioeconomic diversity represented in an entirely African-American and Latino cast. History times but with a completely different narrative than the mainstream -- black and Latina women as business owners, heads of households with servants, travelers, and teachers who know all about women of color throughout history. Wiyot girl who goes to college! Apparently Ms. Jenkins has a tendency to infodump with the historical stuff, which makes me want to read more... I loved this. I feel a little silly because I'm new to the genre, so this is *my* first experience with African-American historical romance and it consequently feels fresh and revelatory and squee-worthy, but of course it's not necessarily anything new except to me.
-Fierce ladies!! So many great ladies, and lady friendships. Such a fan of the way Logan's stepmother is not only loving and protective, but builds a relationship with Mariah based on mutual respect and enjoyment.
-I had a hard time with the writing style, which felt clunky and kind of old-skool cliched to me.
-It was just so SPEEDY! A single train ride to transform a lifetime of abuse and fear into powerful self-confidence, with no slips back into patterns of behavior? And then a single week to meet and fall in love with dude? Historically, yes, I know that's a speedy marriage wasn't necessarily unrealistic for the Western-bound ladies, but this is a romance novel! I wanted them to take their time -- at least a year -- and for Mariah to get to explore her "new" self more. Also that preacher seemed super nice and I feel like Mariah deserved some time with somebody a little less bossy and flashy than Logan. He wasn't a total jerk but he didn't prove himself to be that great.
I wish this had been an epic, taking all the time it needed to develop Mariah's relationship with her mother, the backstory, the potentially fascinating side characters, exploring the conflicts with Logan, letting her figure out who and how she is in the world and with other people... that's a book I'd be really excited to read.
Definitely going to keep reading in this genre though. I want more! (less)