Book Review: “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” by Emily M. Danforth

I love the way that the model is posed in this shot. I’ve often been in a similar position during haying season– it allows you a “world view” of the hayfields that is just awesome.

Title: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Author: Emily M. Danforth

Maturity Level: Upper YA. There are a few marginally explicit sex scenes and a lot of difficult concepts.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy YA that’s written in a more adult/literary style;  you remember what it was like to be a teenager; you have an interest in LGBT issues.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you don’t enjoy literary fiction.

Cameron Post is your average teenage girl, devoted to swimming and old movies. But on the day her parents die in a sudden and violent accident, Cameron is busy shattering the status quo of her tiny-town-in-Montana life in a big way: kissing Irene Klauson in a hay loft. Suddenly and orphan, Cameron moves in with her super-conservative Aunt Ruth and tries to forget all about that day, hiding her sexuality in an attempt to blend in. Until Coley Taylor comes swooping in, that is, and Cameron can no longer hide.

This book was beautiful in so many ways. It was poignant and heartbreaking, with just enough humor mixed in to lighten the darkness. The whole “de-gaying facility” subplot was handled very well, with some really obvious research and care given to its portrayal. There is not a character in this book who is not wonderfully flawed and yet totally relatable, and the world is also drawn in such a way that you have no doubt where you are.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It has such a lovely feel to it, and I appreciate Danforth’s concise but lyrical prose. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more of Danforth’s work in the future!

Pros

  • Attention to detail. Danforth has dropped us right into the 90’s-era Bible Belt culture without being preachy.
  • The leisurely pace. Rather than being draggy, it was a joy to read and savor.
  • Cameron and I could be friends in real life. She was likable without being perfect, and I ached for her loneliness and confusion, celebrated with her when she had her breakthrough, and generally identified with her despite our differences.
  • The Promise kids and the research that Danforth obviously did into these sorts of facilities.
  • Adam and the wonderful portrayal of the winkte concept.

Cons

  • Slightly slow-moving, and definitely written in a style more suited to adult literary than YA—but I can’t say I didn’t like it!

Favorite Scene (s):

  • Pg 311-394. The whole end bit ran the gamut from arresting to terrifying to beautiful, a raucous roller-coaster ride of emotion that left me stunned by its ferocity. Very well done.

Favorite Line (s):

  • “There was more than just one world beyond ours; there were hundreds and hundreds of them, and at 99 cents apiece, I could rent them all.” ~Pg 40
  • “It felt really good to do something that made no sense at all.”~ pg 71

Star Rating on Goodreads: 5 stars out of 5.

Final Grade:  A+. Transformative, sad, and poignant.

REVIEW: Oleander House by Ally Blue

Title: Oleander House

Author: Ally Blue

Warnings: NC-17. Strongly graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Disturbing imagery, particularly in Sam’s dreams.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND STRONG OPINIONS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Let me just preface this review by saying that I really did WANT to like this book. It had, from a quick glance at the cover copy and the first couple of pages, all the things that I truly enjoy seeing in a romance/horror novel. It had a paranormal investigative element. It had a lovely, nicely drawn Southern setting that made me want to go live in a rambling old house and hunt ghost. Sam and Bo had palpable chemistry and enough UST to cause a small earthquake, and the secondary characters were just as intriguingly quirky as the main characters. There was some overly clunky exposition, mostly concerning Sam’s past, but I was willing to overlook that for a good ghost story with some sexy boys full of angst and sexual tension.

Then, around page 82, my interest started seriously flagging. Sam’s primary character trait at this point was his unrequited love/lust for Bo, which would have been fine had there not also been several pointless scenes where it seemed like all of the characters had long, meaningless discussions that seemed like they were merely there to take up space. Sam had a lot of dreams, which were primarily about sex and ghosts. Near the middle, though, both plots started picking up  pace again, so I assumed that this little lull had been just a one-off,  and that the rest of the book would live up to my expectation of it.

It did.

Right up to the last twenty or so pages. Which basically took the entire book and tossed it down the drain. Which is where the incredibly stupid antagonist and the ridiculously easy fix should have ended up. I was going to give this book 3 stars until I got to the end, for being an enjoyable and sizzling distraction!read at work, but that ending dragged it right down, despite the fact that Bo and Sam were almost kind of together by the end and appear to be headed toward a HFN ending if not an HEA. For the sake of that, I will read the next book in the series, but I can only hope that Miss Blue becomes more adept at bringing her stories to a satisfying conclusion.

Pros

  • There is a ton of angsty romance, which is awesome if you’re into that sort of thing.
  • I love the Southern mansion setting, especially with the paranormal investigative edge.
  • There is one scene on page 104 where I literally punched the air on Sam’s behalf (at work, no less!), when he confronts Bo and basically tells him to either shut up and kiss him already or back off. In that single instant, Sam grew a backbone and I loved it.
  • I loved Cecile as a psychic. 

Cons

  • The prose is often peppered with bad, clunky exposition, particularly in the beginning.
  • Sam is often characterized solely by his desire to jump Bo’s bones.
  • Many scenes have no real point and seem like they are mostly intended as filler.
  • The ending was terrible. I mean, seriously. Aliens? That, despite being terrifying, ancient creatures that otherwise have been completely invincible, can merely be pushed away by the power of Sam’s mind? I don’t think so. It seemed like the author realized how ridiculous this was and quickly threw out a happy ending for the romance, but a little bit of boykissing does not make up for such a terrible example of deus ex machina.

Stars: 2.5 out of 5.

Final Grade: C. Will probably not reread. Other books in series will be low priority.