Size Doesn’t Matter (52): Mini Reviews

Size Doesn’t Matter (52): Mini ReviewsOut of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg
Published by Dutton Juvenile on September 18, 2008
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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Star quarterback Bobby Framingham, one of the most talented high school football players in California, knows he's different from his teammates. They're like brothers, but they don't know one essential thing: Bobby is gay. Can he still be one of the guys and be honest about who he is? When he's outed against his will by a student reporter, Bobby must find a way to earn back his teammates' trust and accept that his path to success might be more public, and more difficult, than he'd hoped. An affecting novel about identity that also delivers great sportswriting.

Without having read and loved Openly Straight earlier this year, there is no way that I would have picked up Out of the Pocket. I’d never run across it in LGBT book lists, and the cover says “I am about a struggling football team” which makes Christina walk in the other direction tbh. Out of the Pocket is an excellent novel about coming out and also about football.

My friends who love football (*stares intently at Gillian*) will love Out of the Pocket. There’s a lot of football in here. It’s a true sports novel, not a romance with some sports on the side. I didn’t always completely understand all the football terms, but I still enjoyed it and didn’t find it overwhelming. If you know what a juke is, it’s probably even better.

There’s a cute but forgettable romance on the side, but Out of the Pocket is about a quarterback who is outed. He has to decide how to handle that, and he has to hope it doesn’t affect his college chances. Remember that this book came out in 2008 and would have been written before that, so there weren’t out and proud professional players at that point. Also, despite how old this book is in terms of YA fiction, it’s very diverse.

Out of the Pocket didn’t really hit me in the feels, but it was really excellent across the board. It’s definitely worth getting your hands on this under the radar LGBT title.

I received this book for free from Publisher 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 (52): Mini ReviewsPaper and Fire by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #2
Published by NAL on July 5, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Alternate History, Dystopian
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.

Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…

Like its predecessor, Ink and Bone, I enjoyed Paper and Fire, but it’s also just not the best series for a character reader. I do think I’ll keep reading, but I’m not as invested as I wish I was. If only the series had Khalila as the main character instead of Jess.

My favorite characters is Khalila obviously, who wears a hijab and is by far the smartest person in the crew. She is such a queen. After her, my favorites are Santi and Wolfe, the canon gay ship. The representation in these two makes me smile. But the top main characters are Jess and Morgan, both white Brits. Their ship is super not good too. *sighs*

The plot of Paper and Fire is strong, and I think plot readers will really enjoy it. There’s not much additional world building, which is a trifle disappointing, but I do enjoy the evil library world, even if the world building is minimal.

Though I wish I loved these more, they’re definitely worth a try if the concept appeals to you. Most of the reviewers I trust enjoyed them even more than I did so give it a shot.

Size Doesn’t Matter (52): Mini ReviewsDeathless by Catherynne M. Valente
Series: Leningrad Diptych #1
Published by Tor Books on February 4, 2012
Genres: Historical, Mythology, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
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Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what giants or wicked witches are to European culture: the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations. Valente's take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the twentieth century.

Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever peasant girl to Koschei's beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, that will bring Russian myth to life in a stunning new incarnation.

Often, when a book doesn’t work for me, I feel like it failed me in some way, but in this case I feel like I failed Deathless. I’m not smart enough for this book. I feel like if I studied Russian folktales and dived even more deeply into Soviet history, I would have loved this, but, as it was, the meaning of this book really eluded me. I know enough to know that it was clever and gorgeous, but not enough to understand it.

That said, some of the sections did manage to capture me, the ones that focused on threes, which will make sense if you read it. Valente’s writing is gorgeous and dark. I wish I’d loved all the sections. Even though they’re all a part of the larger narrative and linear, there were jumps from section to section, things transpiring while the camera was off, and these left me feeling jarred and confused. Characters changed when I couldn’t see, so their arcs and decisions were puzzling.

Perhaps some year down the road, I’ll give this one another shot and see if I can understand it better. As it is, I’m disappointed, mostly in myself.


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