Conversation Hearts ARC

It turned out to be a fabulous weekend for me, in terms of getting my hands on ARCs. I also got one from Kata Cuic for her third release in the Hectic Holidays series. I reviewed the first book, A Bird in the Oven, here earlier and I’ve read the second, Stocking Stuffer, although I didn’t review it.

I continue to be charmed and invested in Ollie and Olivia. They are working so hard to have a healthy, mature, fulfilling relationship and the world is determined to make it difficult for them. Olivia has always known that Ollie falls on the autism spectrum, but she’s learning that there are aspects of his life that she really doesn’t understand. Ollie depends on his logical analyses to navigate real world situations, but now he has to adjust when he learns that some of them are based on incorrect assumptions. And the aspect that makes it feel especially realistic is that I want to beat both their families with a big stick.

I am by no means an expert on neurodiversity, and even if I was, every person on the spectrum is unique, so you can’t write one “right” or “wrong.” But it’s a topic that a lot of people are uncomfortable with and that triggers a lot of big feelings in the community. To me, Ollie comes across as a well-developed and realistic person and I love Olivia for the way she loves him. Kudos to Kata Cuic for writing them both with such care and attention to detail. Their story isn’t done yet, and I look forward to the next holiday!

A Bird in the Oven

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Kata Cuic’s writing. When she released this Thanksgiving-timed story last year, I snapped it up and enjoyed it tremendously. The only problem is that it’s too short and I heartily agree with another reviewer who stated that a follow-up Christmas story is necessary.

I am not an expert of neurodiversity, but I’ve always been impressed with Kata Cuic’s ability to include characters who represent a wide range of human experience, and do it in a way that feels real and engaging. The range of experience and growth that Liv and Ollie have in the space of a novella is astonishing. I couldn’t love them more.

Review 28: First and Goal

I won a copy of this ebook in a contest on a Facebook page. I had never heard of the author before and I really had no idea what the book was about, beyond a quick scan of the Goodreads blurb. First and Goal is the first in the linked series Moving the Chains, by Kata Cuic.

Because I didn’t do a heck of a lot of research on this one, it caught me by surprise that it ends on a heck of a cliffhanger. Going back to the Amazon description, it does mention this, but I missed that detail. You think you are getting the HEA epilogue and *bang* – what just happened??!? Now to be fair, this is not a short book at 363 pages, so don’t think it’s one of those series where they charge full book prices for a short story and it turns out to be one book portioned out in five purchases. You get a full read.

On to the book itself. This is one of those books that I have trouble really placing, because although the characters are “young adults”, in this case, really young adults because they are all in high school, they have an emotional awareness that I find rare in most of the population, regardless of age. Not necessarily emotional maturity, mind you, but their inner landscapes are incredibly well-examined. In some books, I find this off-putting, just because I consider it unlikely, but sometimes the characters and the writing overcome my objections, and this is the case here.

It’s true, in movies or books, if the dialogue entertains me, I can forgive a lot of other problems. I realize this is not true for everyone, so that’s your grain of salt. The main plot here relies on a bit of that “drama for its own sake” craziness that usually turns me off, but at least here I can forgive them because a) their age, b) there is actually a lot of character development, so they are learning as they go, and c) it’s not over the top. Eva and especially Rob really did suck me in, and for a group of high school kids, they have an interesting and fairly rich supporting cast.

If I had more disposable cash, I’d likely be buying book 2, but it’s definitely going on my TBR. I’m giving this one 4 stars on Goodreads.