Natsu ni Mebuku wa Koi no Oto – Shiina Maumi
During my second year of high-school, a transfer student, Yamauchi, arrived in my class.
Although he appeared to be an ordinary guy, he was unexpectedly anti-social!
I wanted him to quickly get along with the rest of class, so I called out to him, but things didnt go as I wanted no matter how I tried.
“That’s how it is…” I thought.
But out of the blue, Yamauchi smiled at me and since then I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
Hey, Yamauchi… can you smile for me once more?
How introverts makes friends: an extrovert found them, liked them, adopted them.
Even though you can go anywhere on your own, thank you for letting me into your world.
A beautiful sparkling summer story!
Illuminati Cycle: The Illuminati Circle by Robert J. Ristino
Two sicarii, the Illuminati’s deadly assassins, make their way from the Arab Emirates to the French Alps leaving a trail of bodies as they search for one of their own. They are cleaning up loose ends caused by the FBI’s disruption of the Illuminati’s child sex trafficking network. On their trail are SSA Bing Ingram and his FBI CARD team assigned to an Interpol task force charged with destroying the network uncovered in the United States. The sicarii and the task force find themselves in a cross-continental race to locate the one man who could cause the ultimate destruction of the network – a high-ranking member of the Illuminati Circle. With the lives of countless children hanging in the balance, the task force must find the cunning Circle member before the sicarii do. The race from Abu Dhabi to Torun is as thrilling as the Grand Prix … but far more deadly.
The Illuminati Circle has a Hollywood feel to it, like something directed by Ron Howard. We get fast-paced action, gorgeous French scenery, beautiful women and gun-fights. We can cast Clive Owen as SSA Bing Ingram, Brie Larson as Trish and Amber Heard as Haseena.
The Illuminati, unlike the occult Illuminati we typically know of, are a group of criminals with an MBA-like criminal network specializing in child trafficking. What I know of child trafficking is that they usually get their victims from poorer countries like Cambodia or the Philippines. It’s an eye-opener that they also abduct children from developed countries. The Illuminati caters to extremely rich clients by providing them what they specifically requested via the dark web. This is a very sickening crime and the book did a good job showing the extent of these criminal activities and the experiences of the children without getting too explicit or too graphic.
Plot-wise, you can’t go wrong with a really interesting one like this and it was a breeze to read as well. However, I wasn’t feeling the characters. There is a good attempt to give them their quirks, personalities and sexual tension but they still come across as flat. LeFrenniere, who was an amoral, professional criminal (and played by Vincent Cassel), came the closest to being the most interesting but he didn’t quite get there. I would have wanted him to be more nuanced or at least be intimidating. Meh, he caved in too easily to Bing’s bluff. The female characters were the type you would call ‘strong’. They know how to fight and take charge but again, I wish there were some backstories. It would also give the book an extra layer and make the most of the omniscient POV if the relationship between Haseena and Enrika Venclava (played by Eva Green) was fully fleshed out. It would make Enrika’s motives in the next book much more convincing.
All in all, I want to witness CARD destroy the Illuminati and rescue the children but hopefully we get that much needed depth to the characters.
Thank you to the author, Robert J. Ristino for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it
Can you walk away?
This is a rapid fire book tag where I answer the first thing that pops in my head. Borrowed from The Bibliophile Girl
E-Book Or Physical Book?
Physical books. They so much easier on the eyes, literally and figuratively
Paperback Or Hardback?
Paperback. I am not into hardback books. I know they’r pretty to look at but they’re heavy and I hate dealing with the book jacket.
Online Or In-Store Book Shopping?
In store definitely. Online shopping has infinite choices but nothing compares to being surrounded by books. And smelling them.
Trilogies Or Series?
Trilogies. Only because there are less books to wait for.
Heroes Or Villains?
I almost always go for the villains. They’re more interesting and nuanced. I love finding out their backstories.
A Book You Want Everyone To Read?
Recommend An Underrated Author?
Claire Davis & Al Stewart. This writer duo writes some of the cutest, most heartwarming LGBT+ stories there is.
The Last Book You Finished?
Weirdest Thing You’ve Used As A Bookmark?
The edge of the bedsheet since I read in bed. Also, waterbottle that doubles as paperweight.
Used Books: Yes Or No?
Yes. I like the smell of old books. I also love discovering scribbles, notes and forgotten bookmarks inside used books.
Top Three Favourite Genres?
MM, mystery and fantasy
Borrow Or Buy?
Buy. I can’t remember how many times I have contemplated not returning books to the library because I love them so much. So I just bought my own stuff
Character Or Plot?
Oooh, tough one. Hmm… maybe I’ll lean towards plot because I hate that going nowhere feel.
Long Or Short Books?
Short and preferably gay. I lose patience for books that go and on.
Name The First Three Books You Think Of
Books That Make You Laugh Or Cry?
Laugh. I hate the melodramatic
Our World Or Fictional?
Fictional, no contest there. Widdershins is calling me!
Audiobooks: Yes Or No?
Yes, definitely. I have always wondered how people can work with computers all day, go home, read and blog without getting their visions impaired. I need those audiobooks to give my eyes rest. Also, I love how the characters come alive in the hands of a great narrator.
Do You Ever Judge A Book By Its Cover?
All the time. As an avid reader of MM, I’d be the first to say that majority of the covers are cringe-inducing.
Book To Movie Or Book To TV?
Neither really. If pressed, I’d say TV has the better format to capture all the book’s elements
A Movie Or TV Show That You Preferred To The Book?
Legally Blonde is way better as a movie than a book. I also like how the movie Like Water for Chocolates took almost everything from the book quite literally.
Series Or Standalones?
Standalones. Waiting for that next book always kills me.
Mitsumete, Yurarete, 15-bu – Mofumofu Edako
Everyday, the train conductor looks forward to seeing that special passenger who brightens his day.
This perked me up too. What a charming one-shot!
Being the kid abducted by old Ms. Easton when he was four permanently set Cole’s status to freak. At seventeen, his exit plan is simple: make it through the last few weeks of high school with his grades up and his head down.
When he pushes through the front door of the school and finds himself eighty kilometers away holding the door of a museum he was just thinking about, Cole faces facts: he’s either more deluded than old Ms. Easton, or he just teleported.
Now every door is an accident waiting to happen―especially when Cole thinks about Malik, who, it turns out, has a glass door on his shower. When he starts seeing the same creepy people over his shoulder, no matter how far he’s gone, crushes become the least of his worries. They want him to stop, and they’ll go to any length to make it happen.
Cole is running out of luck, excuses, and places to hide.
Time for a new exit plan.
Ever had a dream where you’re suddenly in a public place with no clothes on?
That could very well be Cole’s reality when he suddenly gained the ability to teleport and he needed to get it under control fast! Teleportation is one of my top five must-have superpowers and like Cole, I’d have my fun with it too but we could all do without the creepy guys watching our every move.
The way teleportation was used in this book was closer to magic realism than full blown fantasy because it was hardly focused on majority of the book. It was more like just another skill Cole needed to work on on top of academics and art. At some points, it felt inconsequential on the face of the everyday events Cole and his friends dealt with. It even occurred to me, this subplot was just there to give the book an extra something because without it, it would simply be a typical LGBT-themed YA.
It took me a while to totally get into the story. It started slow for me then picked up when I was a third in. What I really enjoyed the most were the people and their relationships. I really loved Cole’s parents and I am happy to see a teenager who has a happy and contented relationship with his parents since many teenagers in books and movies seemed to complain about their parents. The Rainbow Club is a joy and even Grayson, the one they complained about, did good. Cole and Alec’s friendship are goals, Malik is a sweetheart and I want Candace in my corner. The representations were awesome and genuine. I think the only thing missing was a dog.
The story zooms back to the teleportation part on the last 30% of the book. Cole finally meet the creepy people face to face, did some gutsy moves then poof! it ended just when him and Malik were heading somewhere fun. I don’t know if the book has a sequel, I hope it does. The way things ended between them, I think he might hear from other teleporters in the future. Also, I want to go places with Cole and Malik.
Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks deals with a lot of things, from sexuality, growing up, career plans, disabilities to discovering you have superpowers. Some of these were well-developed and I particularly liked the inclusion of ASL in the novel, something the author knows first hand. Other aspects were either rushed or tossed around then left open such as Grayson and Alec’s conflict, Alec and Ben or that year-end party that was mentioned here and there but not shown. These asides and casual mentions reflects real life conversations but in a book, they’re kind of frustrating.
Another plus for me is that while the book is about a gay teen, it is not about coming out and all the LGBT+ teens were happy being themselves. Overall, I enjoyed the book and I think most people would also like the positive relationships, the diversity, and realistic portrayal of teenagers.
I received a copy of Exit Plans For Teenage Freaks from Bold Strokes Books via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
All good things find their open doors