Size Doesn’t Matter (19): Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (19): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerWillful Machines by Tim Floreen
Narrator: Cristin Milioti
Published by Simon Pulse on October 20, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Romance
Pages: 370
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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In the near future, scientists create what may be a new form of life: an artificial human named Charlotte. All goes well until Charlotte escapes, transfers her consciousness to the Internet, and begins terrorizing the American public.

Charlotte's attacks have everyone on high alert—everyone except Lee Fisher, the closeted son of the US president. Lee has other things to worry about, like keeping his Secret Service detail from finding out about his crush on Nico, the eccentric, Shakespeare-obsessed new boy at school. And keeping Nico from finding out about his recent suicide attempt. And keeping himself from freaking out about all his secrets.

But when the attacks start happening at his school, Lee realizes he's Charlotte’s next target. Even worse, Nico may be part of Charlotte’s plan too.

As Lee races to save himself, uncover Charlotte’s plan, and figure out if he can trust Nico, he comes to a whole new understanding of what it means to be alive ... and what makes life worth living.

This book is surprisingly cute. I mean, there’s some dark, messed up stuff in here, but the impression I’m left with is how cute it was.

Lee Fisher is depressed and deeply in the closet. He does his best to avoid notice, which is hard to do when your father is the president of the United States and you’re infamous for an attempted suicide attempt. Enter the brash, happy new boy, Nico. From the moment Nico flirts with him and smiles, Lee’s knees go all squishy. Basically, he’s a goner. Their romance is pretty cute, though I could have done without the heavy dose of instalove. Still, their dynamic reminded me of Please Like Me and made me smile.

gif please like me shirtless kiss

The plot is at once interesting and predictable. It’s a dystopian future that seems all-too-plausible, where the advent of human-like robots leads to a humans first movement that also happens to want to revert things back to the 1950s. I called both of the really big twists, but I don’t think that invalidates the fascinating discussion on what it is to be human in Willful Machines. It’s a bit on the simplistic side, but I think it will great for readers new to sci fi and the question of what a truly sentient robot would mean for humanity. After reading this one, I’d recommend leveling up to Illuminae and The Scorpion Rules.

I was leaning towards a 3.5, but the ending was more open ending than I like, the unsatisfying kind rather than the thought-provoking kind. I’d like more resolution to the degree that I’m wondering if this is a secret sequel scenario, considering that View Spoiler »

Size Doesn’t Matter (19): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #5
Published by Bloomsbury on June 1, 2003
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Pages: 766
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected...

A perk of my mostly useless memory is that I get to reread these last three Harry Potter books almost like the first time. I remember a few things, of course, mostly the sad ones, but there’s a lot that’s just gone. Plus, I’m a different sort of reader now than I was as a child, which is really coming into play here. I loved all the Harry Potter books then and I love them all now, but how I love them is somewhat different. I’m going to stick with the list format because I honestly don’t really know how to “review” Harry Potter.

  • Pretty sure that like a lot of people, I didn’t enjoy angsty Harry in Order of the Phoenix, but now I totally do. He’s very much a teen who feels left out and not given his due, which I mean he’s very much a teen. I think this phase of anger and projection and bad choices is really necessary for him to grow.
  • Sirius used to be my very favorite Harry Potter character, but he’s not anymore. I think I saw him through Harry’s eyes, more than just the POV requires. I idolized Sirius, and I think I appreciated that he encouraged risks and fun. Now, as an adult, I see him differently. I still love him, but he’s not my favorite anymore. As a character, he also lacks character growth, which is a great tragedy of his life. View Spoiler »
  • Also, I kind of like Snape now. I always hated him. Even in the flashback, I didn’t feel bad for him at all because he was a jerk to Harry. As an adult, I have much more sympathy for him, though obviously he’s got a whole host of problems.
  • The Weasley twins are the fucking kings of this book.
  • Umbridge is an excellent villain, and she brings out the sassy McGonagall which is always a wonderful thing.
  • Harry Potter and the Most Awkward Date Ever. I also hated Cho when I was a teen, probably for reasons that do not reflect well on me. I still don’t love her, but I am very amused by this whole interlude now. Cho and Harry are completely lacking in chemistry and it’s so funny.
  • Dumbledore finally gets to show off that he is in fact a total badass, which we’ve been told since book one but now he’s in action and yasssss.
  • Ginny of the many boyfriends has come out to play, sassy and fabulous. Love this Ginny. Once she grew up enough to get over her desperate crush on Harry, all that spirit has come out to play. She turns out to have smarts akin to Hermione and the flare of Fred and George. Basically, she’s a treasure.
  • The prophecy plot is weird because everything’s about this prophecy, but also the prophecy is stupid and says basically nothing that we don’t already know. Which I think is both a super clever twist on the prophecy thing and also semi annoying. Though it is funny that they destroy almost all the prophecies, like fuck prophecies for being such cheap storytelling tools.
  • Biggest feels of OotP? Molly Weasley trying to defeat the boggart. CRACK.

Size Doesn’t Matter (19): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerThe After-Room by Maile Meloy
Narrator: Cristin Milioti
Length: 8 hrs, 54 mins
Series: The Apothecary #3
Published by Listening Library on November 3, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

It’s 1955, and Benjamin Burrows and Janie Scott are trying to live a safe, normal life in America. It’s not easy, when they have the power to prevent nuclear disaster, and sinister forces are circling. Soon the advice of a mysterious, unscrupulous magician propels Janie and Benjamin into danger, and toward the land of the dead.

Meanwhile, their friend Jin Lo washes up on a remote island where an American spy is stationed, and finds herself on the trail of a deadly threat in China. But she’s on the other side of the world—how can Janie and Benjamin reach her?

The triumphant finale in the trilogy that began with Maile Meloy’s bestselling, critically acclaimed The Apothecary, and continued in its captivating sequel, The Apprentices, The After-Room is full of enchantment and heart, with Ian Schoenherr’s stunning illustrations throughout.

It’s been a while since I read this series, and I really hadn’t given it a thought since I read book two in 2013. Still, when it popped up on the audio review list, I thought eh why not?

The After-Room, like the rest of the series, is a pleasant read, but it’s not one that really stands out in any particular way. I like elements of the story and characters, but also any time I try to sit down and think about the strengths of this book I’m left without much of anything to say. The plot’s a bit convoluted, the magic herein contained so easy and convenient that it really loses the cool factor. I mean, Janie hears that telekinesis is possible and teaches it to herself no problem. It’s not even a huge plot thing; it mostly just happens.

However, the audiobook was truly fantastic. The narrator, Cristin Milioti, does a great job with all of the voices and accents. Even though I wasn’t absorbed by the plot of the book itself, I sped through the audiobook because she was so good at the storytelling.

4 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (19): Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger”

  1. Dahlia Adler says:

    Ooh, I’m excited you read and liked WILLFUL MACHINES! I haven’t really heard anyone else’s thoughts on it yet and I wanna make sure I read it by the end of the year, and I think I have an eARC…plus, beginner-level sci-fi sounds perfect for me!
    Dahlia Adler recently posted…Top Ten Sophomores and a Special Release DayMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I found the plot rather predictable. It might not be as much of an issue for you since you don’t do much sci fi. Either way, there are some adorable gay romance moments and it was a fun, quick read. I’d rec mostly to younger YA, I think, but I approve either way. 🙂

  2. Heather says:

    Ha! I actually liked Order of the Phoenix more when I read it the first time. The book was definitely necessary for Harry’s growth, but reading it again earlier this year, I was like “SHUT UP, HARRY. YOU HAVE FRIENDS WHO HAVE TURNED INTO FAMILY, AND I WANT TO SLAP YOUR WHINY FAAAACE.” It really did sound like an authentic teenage voice, though, which is probably why I enjoyed the book so much more back in the day, as I could just relate to it better. His feelings really did make sense with all he dealt with, but he still made me a little crazy 🙂

    I always liked Snape, but I’m so with you on Sirius. He was probably my absolute favorite character when I first read these books, and while I still like him now, I wouldn’t call him my favorite anymore. It’s really interesting how a few years can change your perspective on things.

    Also, I think I hate Umbridge more than Voldemort. Is that weird?

    • Christina Franke says:

      I don’t think it’s weird to hate Umbridge more. She sort of reminds me of politicians, always claiming she wants the best for people but she wants power and gets off on having it over people. Like, she ought to be against Voldemort, and I’d imagine she is technically, but she’s more concerned about her position and holding the ministry line than actually protecting the country. People like her are why evil can reign in the first place. *growls*

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