Reviews by camelsamba
not a how-to book
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A lot more "why" than "how to". They don't even get to designing your own until p 161 and only runs 7 pages. An additional 10 pages in the previous chapter is helpful for planning, but this book is nowhere as specific as some others. It focuses more broadly on a variety of bioretention techniques, and most of the case studies (there are many!) are on a larger scale than a household. Creating Rain Gardens is much more practical for a home gardener.
not exactly what it seems
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I tried to read (or maybe listen to?) this once, many years ago - I didn't even get through the first chapter before I gave up. So when 9yo recently asked me to read it to him, I was not enthusiastic - until Holly entered the book, and I realized the plot is not at all what I thought. The initial few chapters make you think it's all out a hard-core teen-aged criminal, but then the fairies get involved. The story is fun, although a bit too much - gore, villainy, whatever - at times.
not as it first appears...
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I tried to read (or maybe listen to?) this once, a few years ago - I didn't even get through the first chapter before I gave up. When the 9yo asked me to read it to him, I was not enthusiastic - until Holly entered the book, and I realized the plot is not at all what I thought. Not sure if we'll read more in the series, but I thought it was fun (although a bit too much - gore, villainy, whatever - at times).
not my cup of tea
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f I remember correctly, i learned about the creator of this series from an NPR piece. She has a regular gig as a party princess. It probably mentioned the disparity between that and her graphic novel series. Yup. This is not a party princess book!

Apparently I don't enjoy gothic tales or empty-eyed manga looking characters, because I didn't enjoy this much. The artwork is inconsistent. Some spreads are lush and detailed, others are sparse. Perhaps that's standard for manga, but it threw me off. Sometimes the two main characters look distinctly different from one page to the next, and it's not because of a plot change. And I really hate the look of the empty eyes that show up every now and then. I don't need to read any more of them.
unrealistic skills
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I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as Smile (by the same author). Although it's allegedly set in middle school, it seemed a lot more like high school. The sexuality seemed slightly more sophisticated than the middle schoolers I know, but I can overlook that (currently have 7th and 9th graders and a 9yo, so I do have some recent observations to draw on!). Since the romance was a bigger focus than in Smile, that's part of what made it less appealing for my 9yo.

But the skill level relative to the drama production is where I was really shaking my head. I'm supposed to believe an 8th grader can design and make all costumes for a period piece (including boning in corsets??), a 7th grader design all the sets and manage their production? Sorry, but no. Especially not without significant adult help, and we barely even see the teacher sponsor in this. I suppose this is another example of absent adults so the main characters can have the dramatic literary tension, but that ruined it for me. (My drama experience: sister of a costume designer. Even in college she wasn't doing shows on her own!) Because I couldn't think of these characters as tweens, the rest fell flat.