Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Review: 10 Things I Can See from Here

Title 10 Things I Can See from Here
Author Carrie Mac
Release Date February 28, 2017

Think positive.
Don’t worry; be happy.
Keep calm and carry on.

Maeve has heard it all before. She’s been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time, and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it’s not. She constantly imagines the worst, composes obituaries in her head, and is always ready for things to fall apart. To add to her troubles, her mom—the only one who really gets what Maeve goes through—is leaving for six months, so Maeve will be sent to live with her dad in Vancouver.

Vancouver brings a slew of new worries, but Maeve finds brief moments of calm (as well as even more worries) with Salix, a local girl who doesn’t seem to worry about anything. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her very pregnant stepmom insisting on a home birth, and her bumbling courtship with Salix, this summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could have foreseen. Will she be able to navigate through all the chaos to be there for the people she loves?

This is a tough one for me to review/rate. Let me break it down a little.

Maeve has severe anxiety. The way her anxiety was portrayed was crazy accurate. This was both a positive and a negative. On one hand, seeing anxiety that realistic was astounding. I was seriously impressed. On the other hand, that kind of realism can be difficult to read. This is coming with someone that understands what it's like to have anxiety. It's exhausting. Reading about it, page after page after page, with that kind of intensity is almost too rough to get through.

Moving on to Maeve's parents... Good lord, these are some incredibly selfish people. It's so obvious that Maeve is struggling more than the average person. Her parents seem to be well informed, but medication? Nah. Let's let her struggle and be miserable. They've got other things to worry about. So frustrating. Luckily, though, we do see a relationship with a parental figure that's pretty healthy with Maeve's stepmother, Claire. I did enjoy that.

As far as the love interest goes, eh. There was too much insta-love going on for my tastes. Not to mention, Salix seemed like a very one dimensional character. Their relationship sort of fell flat for me. While their relationship didn't cure Maeve's anxiety, it did seem to lessen in a way that I've found predictable in books. Relationships aren't a cure for anxiety and this was disappointing.

Overall, I felt like 10 Things I Can See from Here was just too busy. There's a lot going on for Maeve and it felt rather messy. There's her anxiety, her selfish parents, her relationship with a new girl, her failing friendship with her best friend. Yeah, life is messy like this sometimes, but it didn't work as a book for me.


2 out of 5 stars

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Review: The Otto Digmore Difference

Title The Otto Digmore Difference
Author Brent Hartinger
Release Date February 21, 2017

“Road trip!”

Otto Digmore is a 26-year-old gay guy with dreams of being a successful actor, and he’s finally getting some attention as a result of his supporting role on a struggling sitcom. But he’s also a burn survivor with scars on half his face, and all indications are that he’s just too different to ever find real Hollywood success.

Now he’s up for an amazing new role that could change everything. Problem is, he and his best friend Russel Middlebrook have to drive all the way across the country in order to get to the audition on time.

It’s hard to say which is worse: the fact that so many things go wrong, or that Russel, an aspiring screenwriter, keeps comparing their experiences to some kind of road trip movie.

There’s also the fact that Otto and Russel were once boyfriends, and Otto is starting to realize that he still might have romantic feelings for his best friend.

Just how far will Otto go to get the role, and maybe the guy, of his dreams?

Author Brent Hartinger first introduced the character of Otto Digmore in 2005, in his Lambda Award-winning books about Russel Middlebrook. Back then, Otto was something pretty unusual for YA literature: a disabled gay character.

Now, more than a decade later, Otto is grown up and finally stepping into the spotlight on his own. The Otto Digmore Difference, the first book in a new stand-alone series featuring Otto, is about much more than the challenges of being “different.” It’s also about the unexpected nature of all of life’s journeys, and the heavy price that must be paid for Hollywood fame.

But more than anything, it’s a different kind of love story, about the frustrating and fantastic power of the love between two friends.

This is my first book by Brent Hartinger, so it's also my first book with Otto. I am definitely interested in reading more of Otto's series, though.

The Otto Digmore Difference really kept my attention throughout the entire book. While it's a shorter book than what I normally read, it didn't feel that way. Not to say that it felt overly long, because it didn't, but it was really perfect. It kept my attention, it was interesting, and a fully fleshed out story.

The only thing that felt a bit off (for lack of a better word) was the characters felt a bit younger than their age. I'm not sure if this is carried over from the Russel Middlebrook series as I haven't read it. Either way, though, it's not enough to ruin my enjoyment of the book.

I'm so glad that I was contacted to read this book because it's not necessarily something that I would pick up on my own (which is a shame because I would be really missing out).


4 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. *

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Book Review: Ultimatum

Title Ultimatum
Author K. M. Walton
Release Date March 7, 2017

From the author of Cracked and Empty comes a gripping, emotional story of two brothers who must make the ultimate decision about what’s more important: family or their differences.

It’s not Oscar’s fault he’s misunderstood. Ever since his mother died, he’s been disrespected by his father and bullied by his self-absorbed older brother, so he withdraws from his fractured family, seeking refuge in his art.

Vance wishes his younger brother would just loosen up and be cool. It was hard enough to deal with their mother’s death without Oscar getting all emotional. At least when Vance pushes himself in lacrosse and parties, he feels alive.

But when their father’s alcoholism sends him into liver failure, the two brothers must come face-to-face with their demons--and each other--if they are going to survive a very uncertain future.

I think the way the story was told was brilliant. You've got two different points of views telling two different parts of the story. Oscar leads us through present day events and Vance taking us from the past to the present. They work in perfect harmony, painting a full picture of what's happening to the brothers and how they got there.

Ultimatum tugs at your heartstrings throughout the entire book. Oscar and Vance are going through an incredibly difficult time, but the author doesn't sugarcoat it. The emotion feels real and believable.

Ultimatum is a heartbreaking story about grief and finding hope where you least expect it.


5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *