Size Doesn’t Matter (137): The World Beneath; The Last of August; All Lined Up

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 (137): The World Beneath; The Last of August; All Lined UpThe World Beneath by Janice Warman
Published by Candlewick on May 24, 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 176
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
two-half-stars

At the rise of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, a boy must face life decisions that test what he believes—and call for no turning back.

South Africa, 1976. Joshua lives with his mother in the maid’s room, in the backyard of their wealthy white employers’ house in the city by the sea. He doesn’t quite understand the events going on around him. But when he rescues a stranger and riots begin to sweep the country, Joshua has to face the world beneath—the world deep inside him—to make heartbreaking choices that will change his life forever. Genuine and quietly unflinching, this beautifully nuanced novel from a veteran journalist captures a child’s-eye view of the struggle that shaped a nation and riveted the world.

The World Beneath is one of those awkward books that’s doomed by straddling the middle ground between middle grade and young adult fiction. The length, writing, and protagonist’s age lend themselves more readily to a middle grade audience, but the subject matter might be a bit heavy for the bulk of a middle grade audience (though obviously mileage varies). As it is, reading with the lens of an adult reader who mostly reads YA, The World Beneath lacked sufficient substance to make it memorable or impactful.

The setting and historical aspects were super interesting. I don’t know too much about apartheid South Africa, and, even with its brevity, I did pick up some new knowledge. Joshua has an interesting view of it all too, first living with his mother as she works for a wealthy white family and later as part of the struggle against apartheid.

Sadly, though, there was little to no emotional connection; there’s not much characterization for anyone. I liked Joshua, and I wanted good things for him, but I don’t feel like I knew him well. It really doesn’t help that the book is broken into sections with time jumps in between. Joshua grows up, and we miss it. I’d finally get sort of into the book and suddenly it’s later and Joshua’s with a completely different group of people and I’m confused. Settle in again and BOOM time jump.

The World Beneath felt incomplete, like half of the book ended up on the cutting room floor. The experience of reading it is a bit like watching a movie but falling asleep during a couple of key points and leaving confused and uninvested.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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 (137): The World Beneath; The Last of August; All Lined UpThe Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
Narrator: Graham Halstead, Julia Whelan
Length: 8 hrs, 18 mins
Series: Charlotte Holmes #2
Published by Harper Audio on February 14, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter break reprieve in Sussex after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But nothing about their time off is proving simple, including Holmes and Watson's growing feelings for each other. When Charlotte's beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the Holmes estate--after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring--the game is afoot once again, and Charlotte throws herself into a search for answers.So begins a dangerous race through the gritty underground scene in Berlin and glittering art houses in Prague, where Holmes and Watson discover that this complicated case might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.

As with A Study in Charlotte, I find myself impressed more intellectually than emotionally with the Charlotte Holmes series.

The Last of August mostly worked better for me than A Study in Charlotte. I’m kinda sorting getting on board this ship now. The romance evolves slowly, and there’s a lot of consideration on Jamie’s part to Charlotte’s healthy recovery. He’s very caring and sweet. Male POV books can be frustrating to read, but I like Jamie’s voice quite a bit. Though, admittedly, the audio was pretty funny, because, since he’s American and English, Halstead narrates him with a mostly American accent but peppered with British pronunciations.

The plot’s entertaining, though I was more invested than the romantic subplot than I was in the tensions between the Moriarty and Holmes families. I don’t care about Leander, so it was hard to be fussed about the fact that he was missing. Nor was I remotely invested in August Moriarty, so everything with him was more annoying than anything. Plus, though I still think it’s really well-handled, I still hate that so much of Charlotte’s characterization has to do with her rape and her crushes, and it still bothers me that this would not be the case with a male Holmes. At this point, I don’t think I’ll get over that.

I’ll almost definitely stick with this series through the finale, but I have too many suspension of disbelief issues to get too into it unfortunately. Readers who are more appreciative of mysteries will likely enjoy these way more than I do.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Size Doesn’t Matter (137): The World Beneath; The Last of August; All Lined UpAll Lined Up by Cora Carmack
Series: Rusk University #3
Published by William Morrow on May 13, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 305
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
two-half-stars

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows up her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking It, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights.

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.

Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.

*sighs deeply* Cora Carmack’s books were some of the first NA romances to ever work for me. Losing It meant a lot to me, and Faking It was even better in terms of chemistry and banter. I can scarcely believe All Lined Up is the same author. While enjoyable in a crack way, All Lined Up wasn’t particularly good.

Dallas and Carson trade back in forth in bland, fairly indistinguishable POVs. Their ship is fine. There’s a lot I like about them as a couple objectively, like the focus on consent and how respectfully Carson treats her. I also like how open and honest they are with each other; the only element of the story that didn’t follow typical NA trope lines was when they were honest and trusting about a small misunderstanding instead of it causing huge drama. So yeah, they’re fine, but I just didn’t feel any real passion between them because they both came off rather milquetoast. There was more chemistry between Stella and Ryan in their one scene together than I felt between Dallas and Carson in the whole book.

There’s only minimal focus on anything outside of their romance, and even that feels rushed. Dallas pursues her love of dance and works through her relationship with her dad, both in about two scenes. Carson obtains his goals because the first string QB gets arrested, which is believable but not compelling in fiction. Even Carson comments on how anticlimactic that feels, because he didn’t precisely earn it. Though the romance isn’t instalove, it ends up feeling like it because we see so little of them actually being a couple, though there are references to other dates and hang outs that we don’t get to see. Dallas’ dad is supposed to be this big, scary obstacle to their relationship, and he just isn’t at all. There’s so little tension here.

I’d probably have given All Lined Up three stars had it not been for the occasional offensive content. There are some less-than-delightful comments about girls from time to time. Both female POC secondary characters (best friend Stella and a dance teacher) are described as “exotic.” The most problematic thing, though, was a joke Ryan made when he was trying to guess Carson’s secret girl drama.

“No boyfriend. Hmm . . . former lesbian too ashamed to admit you dragged her back into the closet?”

I don’t need to explain why this comment is hateful, and Carson doesn’t say anything against it. He just laughs. Considering that this is pretty much the only mention of LGBT people in the book (maybe the only), it’s unforgivable.

All Lined Up is bland, lacking in the powerful shippiness of Carmack’s earlier books, leaning on unfortunate new adult tropes. Without the feels, Carmack’s writing and plotting get more attention than they can withstand.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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