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The Housing Crisis

Coming in under the wire, I’m later than late, but it’s up today! This was one of a handful of book’s I’ve bought from Book Bub. It’s a pretty cool site that sends you e-book deals each day based on what genre’s you tell it you’re into. This is The Housing Crisis. Enjoy!

The Housing Crisis cover

Alyssa’s roommate ditched on her with no warning, leaving her desperate for a replacement before rent comes due. It has to be another girl, or her super Catholic mom would flip. Hannah just caught her girlfriend cheating on her, so that living arrangement doesn’t work anymore. Good thing a former co-worker told her about the roommate she just ditched on. New roommate is super cute. But Alyssa is straight, totally, maybe, and Hannah doesn’t want to go there again. Will they wind up together anyway or will both wind up looking for someone new?

The Housing Crisis by Kate McLay is very much a book that I wish was longer. The story is super cute. The characters are enjoyable. It makes me want more.

Which is actually a really good place to start. One of my only issues with the book is a side effect of it being as short as it is. The relationship is really sweet, but I would have loved to see it developed more. We’re more told that Hannah and Alyssa are increasingly attracted to each other, than allowed to see it develop. As always, I want the build, I want to see the relationship grow from friends to girlfriends. In the same vein, I would like to have seen more of Alyssa realizing that she’s totally into her roommate and not as straight as she thought. More of them dealing with Alyssa playing it straight in public and how that affects Hannah. More of Hannah wanting to fall for Alyssa but being held back by last time. I want to see the character struggles that lead to the triumphant ending.

This is my single big complaint about the book, it’s so short that the ideas behind the story don’t get expanded much if at all. We go from Alyssa being so straight arrows are jealous to being told that she’s been struggling with dealing with her attraction to Hannah for weeks and, never mind struggling, going for it. It goes similarly for Hannah, we’re told that she doesn’t want to fall for another straight girl because the last one broke her heart, but we don’t see her worrying much about it past them hooking up. We see a fair amount of Alyssa’s boss, Martha, but I feel like there should have been more with her. Like she could have been much more developed and contributed a lot more to the story.

So that’s my issue with the book. What else was there to it that I wanted it more developed because of? Friends, this book was adorable and sweet and just a bite of cuteness. I have been trained by pop culture and other novels not to accept when a book aimed at adults is being sweet and fluffy and this was a really nice break from that. I didn’t find a character in the book proper that I disliked. The few scenes that were uncomfortable were meant to be. Most of the bits that we iffy were things that expanding on character and situations could have handled easily.

It was a book that just made me happy, which isn’t a thing I’ve had a lot of lately. It was fun for the sake of itself, a happy little romance story that chooses to be positive. For all that I spent two paragraphs talking about it needing to be expanded on, I keep bringing this up because I want more stories like this. I want more of this story, like a follow up of Alyssa and Hannah and what happens after the end of this one.

So, yeah, this gets a five out of five. I would read Kate McLay again and very much hope that she has a successful career writing.

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I messed up pretty badly. The graphic novel I was going to review for yesterday doesn’t come out until next week. So I’m moving that review to then. But that left me with nothing for this week so I wound up missing yesterday. It’s going to be late, but I’m going to have a review posted today.  It was something I was planning on doing a little later, but I think you all will enjoy it. Best!

House Keeping 10/17/2017

I don’t have a ton of words for this week’s house keeping. So, let’s just jump on into it.

The books I’m reviewing for Halloween are on their way. Last year was nostalgia, so this year I’m going with something that’s both a little out-dated and a little more related to my current interests. I’m excited to see how it turns out.

I’ve got another comic book review for you all coming up tomorrow. It’s a bit different from the one last week, this one’s based on a novel and a bit longer, so there’s more for me to unpack about it. Novels should return next week. I’m juggling a bit, trying to get that ever planned never managed wiggle room going. Always fun that.

Part of me wants to mess around a bit and try doing a few videos, sort of expand on things I mention in reviews but didn’t have a good non-spoiler way to talk about them. I haven’t really decided. Either way, it’s a down the road thing I think. Next year at the earliest.

I never did get the button up, but I do have a Ko-fi account. So, if you like what I’m doing here and want to buy me a coffee, the link is here. Hopefully I’ll manage to get the button posted this week.

That’s it for now.

So, I’m late again. We didn’t have water for most of the day today, old pipes and all, so most of the day was spend out and about to avoid dealing with that. That aside, I’ve got a review for you all. It’s a fun little comic courtesy of First Second, here’s the first volume of Cucumber Quest. Enjoy!

Cucumber Quest The Doughnut Kingdom

The peaceful Doughnut Kingdom has been conquered by the wicked Queen Cordelia and her minions as part of her plot to resurrect the Nightmare Knight. If she succeeds then the world will be helpless before her. The world needs a hero, a legendary hero at that. Luckily(?) nerdy wizard in training Cucumber’s weird pushy dad has decided that his son will be just the legendary hero that the world needs. So, teamed up with his much more heroic younger sister, Cucumber’s stuck on an epic quest to stop a tyrant and save the day.

Gigi D.C.’s Cucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom, is an utterly cute comic that gets very tongue in cheek about standard fantasy conventions. Cucumber is told repeatedly that he has to be the legendary hero instead of his sister, because younger sisters are never the hero. The Oracle protector of Dreamside had to look through the window while Cucumber read a letter from his dad to know that he was the right guy. What I’m saying is that it’s great fun to read.

Cucumber Quest reminds me of Saturday morning cartoons in a lot of ways, not a specific one mind but that nostalgic concept. The art is, as previously mentioned, cute as well as being very emotive. Color gets used a lot for impact. I feel like that might be overdone in some places, but it’s also something that didn’t really bother me until I’d already read the comic several times, so there’s that.

The villains manage to walk the line between feeling like an actual threat with Queen Cordelia and being bumbling morons with the BLT Trio. That matches our reluctant hero and the Saturday morning cartoon feel. As does the younger sister character, Almond, the knight in training. She who totally wants to do this adventure thing and fight the villain and be the hero. Part of me wants to compare her to Scrappy Doo, dragging Cucumber along on his adventure because she wants to be there. But she’s more than that. While she does do some bone headed stuff, Almond is basically the driving force of the story because Cucumber wouldn’t do the quest if he was left to his own devices.

Really all I’m left with now is scoring it. Cucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom gets a five. It’s a quick read and a fun one and I very much look forward to volume two when it comes out.

House Keeping 10/10/17

So, I’ve sort of disappeared the last couple weeks. Really sorry about that. I can’t say it won’t happen again but I am, as ever, working towards avoiding it in the future.

Right now, I’m working on getting things lined up to do the bargain bin comics posts that I’ve mentioned in the past. I have the first comic for that and just need to get it read and reviewed. Past that, I also have a number of comic reviews coming up courtesy of First Second and I’m super excited for the Ghostbusters: Answer the Call comic that’s coming out in a couple of weeks. That’s definitely going to show up here.

I’m still catching up on my previous book list, but I’m also slowly adding some newer stuff in again. So, that’s happening. There will be a review tomorrow, I’m not skipping three weeks in a row.

So, last thing for the week. I’ve been kicking around adding a tip jar or something to the blog. I know I don’t really have the reach or content to justify something like a Patreon, but something. So I’ve set up a Ko-fi for the blog. The link is here and I’ll have the button up later tonight or sometime tomorrow. I figure that it’s similar to a tip jar app it seems to be solidly run.

That’s it for this week. Review is tomorrow. Most Ghostbusters in two weeks. Halloween as we get closer to it.

Hey all. Sorry for the radio silence, I’ll go into that more in the housekeeping post when it goes up on Friday. I’m running late on a lot of things, so stuff is being shifted over temporarily. For now though, I’ve got an excerpt from Julie E. Czerneda’s To Guard Against the Dark for you all. Enjoy!

To Guard Against the Dark cover

Chapter 1

STARS.

Fingers interlaced, her hair stroking his cheek, they’d walked the nights of ninety-nine worlds. Floated in space to watch planets spin. Lain naked on mossy ground, lost in one another, under so many stars—

Those had been real. These couldn’t be. The ceiling lay be­neath a covering of formed concrete, plas, and a significant amount of natural stone, a roof he’d built to keep out more than the night sky. Could be a dune curling overtop as well, it being sandstorm season.

Yet, still, stars twinkled overhead, wheeling in formation as if he watched them through time.

A dream. That was it. He shut his eyes, fingers straying to the cool metal band around his wrist. Touch seemed odd, for a dream.

He opened his eyes. Looked up. Surely only in a dream could a segment of that starry scape flex . . .

Bend . . .

Lean down, closer and closer, those stars about to crush him—

/need/~location?~/urgency/

For the— “No more!” he shouted, furious. “Get out of here!”

A heavy arm—something arm-ish— lopped across his chest and slid away. Jason Morgan squirmed in the opposite direction. “On! On full!”

The portlights obeyed, blazing into every corner of the room.

He was alone.

***

“I heard you the first time.” Huido Maarmatoo’kk emphasized the “first.” “A Rugheran was on your ceiling. The starry kind, like the ones you saw on Cersi, not the dark greasy kind here. Your shout woke me from a most pleasant dream, you know.” A sigh like rain on plas.

His hands wanted to tremble. Morgan wrapped them around his warm cup, guiding it to his lips with care. The kitchen felt strange. Too bright. He hadn’t, he thought abruptly, sat at this table for— e hadn’t, since, that was it. Hadn’t left his quarters.

Hadn’t bothered to move, in case it hurt. Fine plan, that was. All of him hurt.

Most of him stank.

Not that it mattered.

“Yesterday, you saw a Rugheran in the accommodation. You shouted then, too. And threw a jar of something at it, making a mess, at which point it disappeared. Can’t say I blame it.”

Morgan glowered through the steam at his companion. Gleam­ing black eyeballs, each on their stalk, lined the opening between the gently pulsing disks that served as a head. Unblinking eye­balls. He should know better by now than try to stare down a Carasian. “It’s not my imagination. They travel through—” the M’hir, he almost said, and flinched. “They don’t use doors. You know that. They’re here and they’re real.”

Unlike what else he saw when alone: the curve of a smile, the luxurious flood of red-gold hair, somber gray eyes flashing with sudden heat—

Sira.

Always, always, no matter how he tried to stop there, stay, the ending followed. The furious boil of waves on an unreal beach—

Her fingers, letting go—

That hollow, inside, where she’d been.

He’d curl into a ball and shiver until he fell asleep or passed out, always cold. So very cold—

A soft chink as clawtips met under his nose. Morgan refocused. “What?” He tried not to snap, wearily grateful Huido bore with his tempers and accepted his silence. He wasn’t ready to talk.

They hadn’t spoken in what might be days, come to think of it.

Something was different. He blinked. His friend’s massive car­apace was peppered with gleaming metal fragments, between the usual hooks for weaponry, the fragments from a groundcar that had exploded too close. Huido’d removed the largest to keep as souvenirs—but that wasn’t it.

The black shell was a maze of fresh scrapes and gouges, some deep. “What happened to—” Morgan’s voice broke. Gods. “What did I do?” a whisper.

“You weren’t yourself,” Huido informed him. The big alien eased back, wiggling the glistening pink stub of what had been his largest claw. “Nor am I. After molt, I will be magnificent once again! We need more beer.” In a confiding tone, “Beer speeds things up.”

He’d hit bottom, that’s when they’d last spoken. When he’d— Morgan’s face went stark with grief. “I cursed you. Ordered you to leave.”

“Bah. Why would I listen? Your grist wasn’t right.” The intact claw, capable of severing his torso in half, tugged gently at his hair. “Better. Still stinks.”

“I attacked you.” Morgan remembered it all now, too well. He’d been wild, raving. Huido had squeezed himself into the door opening to seal him in his quarters. Morgan had struck out with whatever was in the room—until he’d collapsed, sobbing, at Huido’s feet.

Eyestalks bent to survey the marks. “You tried,” the Carasian corrected smugly, then chuckled. “I’m glad you didn’t hurt your­self.”

Morgan reached up. After a second, the centermost cluster of eyes parted, and deadly needlelike jaws protruded, tips closing on his hand with tender precision. “Huido—”

The jaws retracted and Morgan found himself reflected in a dozen shiny black eyes. “The past.” The lower claw snapped. “The present! Why are the Rugherans here?”

The Human dropped his gaze, staring into the sombay. “They’re looking for—” His sigh rippled the liquid. “For her.”

“To the Eleventh Sandy Armpit of Urga Large with them!” Huido roared, shaking dishware and hurting Morgan’s head. “Tell them I said so!” After a short pause, he went on in his nor­mal voice. “You can talk to them, can’t you?”

“I don’t want to.” It sounded sullen even to him, but Morgan couldn’t help that, any more than he couldn’t help but hear the Rugherans: their matrix-like speech, emotion blended with sin­gle words or the simplest of phrases, flooded his mind despite his tightest shields. Cruel, to come to him here—

—where he came for peace.

It hadn’t always been so. The first time Morgan set foot on Ettler’s Planet, he’d been dumped there. His own fault, having yet to gain the most rudimentary knowledge of what offended non-humans. The Trants could have removed his limbs for suggesting—well, being dumped had been the best option, suffice it to say, and one reason he’d gone on to learn everything he could about the manners of others.

That sorry day, he’d prided himself on a close escape. Instead, he’d been left in the worst place for a telepath, even one of his latent ability, for this world’s Human population contained more than its share of the minimally Talented: those whose thoughts leaked constantly, without self-awareness or restraint. Morgan’s natural shields protected his mind from others.

He didn’t know how to keep their minds out of his.

Half-maddened by the bedlam, somehow Morgan had taken an aircar and flown out into the desert, unable to stop until he reached quiet.

There—here—he’d stayed to recover. Only Huido had been welcome, the painful maelstrom of Carasian thought patterns at a level easy to avoid.

Later, healed, and having traded with Omacrons, non-human telepaths, for their mind-shielding technique, Morgan was able to protect himself. In space, in the Fox, he hadn’t needed shields at all.

With Sira, he’d wanted none. Her thoughts had been his—her mindvoice the last he’d heard. The last he ever wanted to hear. He’d never open his mind to another’s again.

Till the Rugherans, who had no right—

The Human set down his cup. It tipped, spilling dark liquid. Unfair. Huido kept the kitchen spotless. “I’ll get that.” He rose and was forced to grip the table to steady himself. It took longer than he remembered, walking to the counter, and he had to con­centrate: pick up the wipe, return, clean the mess.

Eyestalks twisted, following his slow progress. “You need a molt, too.”

“Wish I could.” Something about molting— “Order as much beer as you want.”

A chuckle. “Fear not, my brother, I’ve taken care of it—and a case of Brillian brandy, for variety.” A less happy, “If not the storms.” The Carasian loathed sand, claiming grains worked into the seams of his shell. He cheered. “While we wait, I could take care of your unwanted visitors.” With a disturbingly coy tilt of his carapace, Huido indicated the weapons, most illegal even here in the Fringe, housed on the pot rack.

Morgan shook his head. “Let them poke around till they’re satisfied.” No need to point out the unlikelihood of any weapon affecting beings of the M’hir.

As for the Rugherans’ reaction . . . should more than a jar be tossed at them?

He’d prefer not to—

The kitchen tilted. The Human lurched into his chair, sending the rest of his sombay, and cup, to the floor. He cursed under his breath. A newly hatched Skenkran was stronger. “What’s wrong with me?” under his breath.

Shiny black eyes converged on him, then aimed idly—and simultaneously—anywhere else: the weapon-containing pot rack, the ceiling, the floor, the walls.

Done it to himself, that meant.

Morgan let out a slow breath, tasting the stink on it, the truth.

He’d ignored his body’s needs. Refused food. Drank himself to sleep. Refused to move. He’d a vague memory of feeling the pinch of shots. Stims, likely.

For how long?

Judging by the tremor in his hands, it could have been weeks.

Neglect? Cowardice. He winced. Hadn’t he told Sira: Let go and live?

Hadn’t she asked the same promise of him?

Shouldn’t have taught her to be a trader, he told himself, meaning not a word.

Morgan summoned his remaining strength and stood. “To­morrow,” he announced.

One eyestalk swiveled back to him.

“Tonight, then.” Three more joined the first. Doubt, that was. “Some supper—just not—make anything,” he capitulated. “I’ll eat it.” No guarantees it would stay down.

The full force of the Carasian’s gaze returned. “At the table?”

“Don’t rush me.” The Human pretended to squint at the lights. “Too bright. And the Rugheran ruined my sleep.”

But his lips cracked, stretched by the ghost of a smile. The first—since.

To Guard Against the Dark cover

Today, I have information about the giveaway for Julie E. Czerneda’s new book  To Guard Against the Dark currently running through the link, and also a giveaway here as listed below. Enjoy!

#againstthedark Giveaway Details (US and Canada)

Enter your comment below to be eligible to win a mass market of The Gulf of Time and Stars plus Julie’s latest book in hardcover, To Guard Against the Dark. US and Canada.

To enter the tour-wide giveaway of the entire nine-book series, click here: https://sweeps.penguinrandomhouse.com/enter/clan-chronicles-series-giveaway

House Keeping 9/26/17

So, I’m a bit late posting this.

There’s a couple of things coming up soon that I think you all will enjoy. I’m going to be taking park in pre-release build up for a novel by an author I keep meaning to read. That means giving you all the heads up on a giveaway and getting to host an excerpt from the book itself.

I’ve also got something of an idea for what I want to do for Halloween, though I’m not sure if it’ll work as well as last year. This one’s going to be based more on what my table top group is doing now rather than nostalgia. It should still be fun though, and that’s the whole point of it.

Plus, some friends of mine and I went to see IT today. If it wasn’t a split movie adaptation, with the second movie covering when the characters are adults, I’d be jumping at the chance to do a Book vs Movie of it. Maybe after the next one.

I also figured out how to make the Too Much Monday link a widgit, so that’s pretty cool. Clicking on it will take you to my affiliate link for the program, letting you set up a subscription or just order this month’s box. I also really like that they’ve set it up so you can just order the box for the month, it seems like it would offer more flexibility for the customer. As always, if you’re interested you can save 15% off your first box with the coupon code Tympest.

Guest Post: T.E. Carter

I don’t remember when I became interested in telling stories. I almost feel like it’s just part of my DNA. My earliest memories are of books, plays, movies, etc. When I was only three, my aunt and uncle took me to see my first Broadway show, and that resulted in my reenactment of the play for months to follow. I’ve always loved making things up, which is only generally acceptable in storytelling!

Growing up, writing was something I did for myself. I can’t say I ever really saw myself as a writer or that I ever believed I’d be an author, because I wasn’t writing for any reason because I had to do it. I needed to get all the ideas out of my head and onto paper.

When I first decided I wanted to do something with my writing, I wasn’t ready. I finished a novel and although I spent a significant amount of time on critique groups and editing, I didn’t have the ability yet to filter out feedback and so the novel was a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster of a story. It was five people’s different takes on how the story should go and as a result, it was beyond unwieldy. For someone who tends to write short, it’s kind of funny to me to see this 130K word monster on my hard drive.

From there, I continued to write but I wasn’t really sure what I envisioned that to mean for me personally. Writing was a compulsion, but publishing was just a fantasy. From time to time, I would submit something to a magazine or query an agent, but I felt like I was spinning my wheels and I wasn’t active enough to say that I was pursuing publication.

Eventually, I did take the leap – and I failed miserably. I’m not ashamed to admit it, because the end result was better writing and a stronger sense of what mattered to me as a writer. I’ve completed somewhere between 15 and 20 novels to date (because some were merged with others and some are in a questionable state of completeness, I do have a hard time settling on a real number with any accuracy). Of those, I queried five before my 2018 YA debut. One was the Frankenstein’s monster novel, because I was naïve! After that, it was almost 15 years before I tried again. When I started querying this time, I found varying levels of success. One novel yielded no results, two received a lot of partial requests and some small successes but nothing of any significance, and one actually got a number of requests but eventually, it was shelved because it didn’t resonate with anyone. By this point, my passion for writing had started to wane as well and I realized I’d become so focused on the wrong things. I didn’t love it anymore, and so I walked away from writing.

For several months, I wrote nothing down. I couldn’t even find that part of myself that drove me to tell stories. But sooner or later, it caught its spark again and while I wasn’t ready to start writing yet, I did find myself thinking more about ideas. After about a year, I began drafting some chapters and concepts. It wasn’t the same focused and determined writing I’d become accustomed to, but I had started to lose myself in words again and for that, I was grateful. It helped me to put the rest aside and a few months after that, I had decided that I would write because I needed to and publication would not be a part of my journey.

When I finished I STOP SOMEWHERE, I knew something was special about it. It was the first story I remembered writing with no strings attached. For the last few years, every word I’d written had carried with it the weight of the long-term and big picture approach. Was this marketable? Would an agent or publisher like it? Was it “good enough?” With this novel, though, I didn’t care about those things when drafting– because I had no intention of publishing it. Once it was done, however, I felt like maybe it was worth taking one last chance on my dreams. I told no one and I began the next steps toward that process, finally sending it out to a pool of agents in late February 2016.

In less than 24 hours, I already had a request and I signed with my agent just over a week later – after having a number of agents read and request. It was a whirlwind and then, I had an offer from a publisher in three weeks. I hadn’t expected such a quick turnaround since the content is dark and I know the book straddles a weird line between YA and adult fiction, so I wasn’t sure how it would work from a publisher’s standpoint. Clearly, I was wrong, though, and now I have another two titles contracted with the same publisher.

The biggest thing this taught me was not about following your dreams or persevering in the face of adversity, despite that being the takeaway to some degree. What this experience taught me was that passion needs to come first. When writing no longer held that same joy for me, I needed to walk away and I resolve to do that if it happens to me again in the future. I STOP SOMEWHERE was the result not of determination, but of reigniting my love for a story and my commitment to telling the story I wanted to tell regardless of outside feedback, publishing chances, or the likelihood of success. I also feel that my focus on writing for myself and for the pure love of it has allowed me to create something that resonates, far more than worrying about writing for approval.

As a result, I am prouder of this novel than of anything I’ve ever written previously. Not because it’s the one that yielded the most external success, but because it provided me with the most internal satisfaction and joy to create.

First autumn frost on Stinging Nettle leaves - France  -  -  -

Bio:

 

TE Carter was born in New England and has pretty much lived in New England her entire life (minus a few years in high school). She still lives in New England with her husband and their two cats. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found reading classic literature, playing Xbox, organizing her comic collection, or binge-watching baking competitions.

 

Social Links:

 

Website: http://tecarter.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/tecarter7

Instagram: http://instagram.com/tecarterbooks

Facebook: http://facebook.com/tecarterbooks

 

Book Info:

 

I STOP SOMEWHERE

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan (North America – 2/27/18)

Simon & Schuster UK (UK – April 2018)

 

Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

 

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn’t need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

 

But when the unthinkable happens, Ellie finds herself trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn’t the first victim and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

 

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

 

TE Carter’s stirring and visceral debut not only discusses and dismantles rape culture, but it makes you slow down and think about what it is to be human.

 

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29751533-i-stop-somewhere

Purchase Pages:

North America: http://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250124647

UK: http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/I-Stop-Somewhere/T-E-Carter/9781471167782

Hey all. Got a review for you, this one’s from my library and is kind of a throwback to last year. Enjoy!

Places No One Knows cover

Waverly Camdenmar’s life is perfect academically, socially, even her extracurriculars. Her life is utterly perfect, except that she hasn’t slept in days and instead spends all night running to escape herself. Marshall Holt’s life has been falling apart for years. His family can’t stand each other. His friends are bellow the bottom of the social latter. He’s close to not graduating. But he doesn’t care, he drinks and smokes and utterly wrecks himself with how much he doesn’t care. He’d never be good enough for Waverly anyway. But then one night she dreams herself into his room, his life, and nothing can stay the same. She can change in her dreams, but is Marshall worth risking everything she’s built?

Places No One Knows, by Brenna Yovanoff, isn’t my standard fare by any means. I started it back when I worked at the book store and finished it because I’d started it. It is very much a teen romance, but one that’s got some other stuff going on. The other stuff is what kept me going and held my interest.

See, both of our leads have pretty serious issues that they either can’t talk about or just don’t want to acknowledge. Marshall’s home life is terrible and he feels like a failure because he can’t not be bothered by it, so he self medicates. That leads to him being an academic failure and everything cycles back around. He has feelings and wants to help people, but doesn’t know where to start or how to help himself.  The flipside to Marshall is Waverly, the popular girl with the fantastic grades and the best times on the track team. Waverly who isn’t good at social cues or actually dealing with people despite being able to read them like it’s nothing. Who feels robotic and memorizes all manner of trivia to distract herself from her own faults. Waverly who runs until her feet bleed and she can’t think anymore to escape her own mind and the concerns that her life isn’t what it should be. These two I find interesting because they don’t feel standard, but I wish Waverly’s issues had been gone into a little more deeply. She feels like she didn’t get a full character arc and, while this would usually be a positive, the book leaves a lot of room for her to back slide massively and let everything fall to pieces.

In light of both the sheer amount of character stuff going on, and my own lack of interest in romance plots, I would have liked to seen less of the romance and more of Marshall and Waverly figuring their stuff out. Marshall gets a fair amount of this and we see him making efforts to pull himself out of his issues. Not so much with Waverly, she stays pretty entrenched in her belief that she’s somehow broken until the book’s climax. But that doesn’t feel right for her as a character, she moves by inches throughout the book unwilling to admit that she needs anything and unable to meet most people at an emotional level, but then all the sudden there’s this big character moment and things are fixed? It doesn’t fit for me.

I also find myself wishing that there was more with the minor characters. Waverly and her social group have this whole Mean Girls thing going on with a strict hierarchy and unspoken rules. But then along comes Autumn, the social outsider, to shake things up because she’s bored. I would have liked to have seen more of the fallout from that, instead of it being fast forwarded through for magic candle romance stuff.

Ultimately Places No One Knows isn’t a book for me. It has some really interesting character stuff, but then also a romance that feels unnecessary and forced. There’s fantastic ideas, but subpar follow trough. It’s the kind of book that I finished and shrugged, because it ended the way it had too but without resolving a lot of character issues. I didn’t dislike it, but I also wouldn’t read it again, so it winds up with a three out of five.