As Big as the Sky (NeRdyWYRM’s Review)


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Title: As Big as the Sky
Author: Amy Aislin
Publisher: MLR Press
Release Date: August 4, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 134 pages
Reviewed by:
NeRdyWYRM
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Blurb:

Sam wants nothing to do with his irresponsible, sarcastic neighbor…or does he?

Sam McAuley is having a rough start to the summer: Not only is he being sued, but the new guy running the animal rehabilitation center next door has no idea what he’s doing and his runaway chickens constantly end up in Sam’s pristine yard.

Everything is temporary for Bo Novak. For as long as he can remember, it’s been one town to the next, one school to the next, one job to the next. Even his current job—running his sister’s animal rehab center while she’s away on a four-month leave—is temporary. And he does know what he’s doing, thank you very much. Sure, things don’t always run smoothly, but the stick-in-the-mud next door could be a little nicer about it.

One overheard conversation, an olive branch, and a baseball game might show these guys that being at odds isn’t really what they want, and that what they want might just be each other.


Underwhelmed

Everything about this book was … fine. The main characters were fine, Sam’s family was fine, the premise was fine (although the twists were boring and predictable), and the editing and writing were fine. It was all just … fine. Soooo! I’ll try to explain why I’m about as excited about this book as this guy looks:

FINE

It was boring. That is probably a function of the fact that there were themes, but nothing to the plot, at all. Sam is facing a specious law suit that an idiot could have told him not to worry over, and Bo? Well, Bo had a relatively crappy childhood, a selfish sister, and a poodgy belly. The end. I kept waiting for something, anything to happen and nothing substantive ever materialized. We ultimately found out some things about Bo’s sister that were … underwhelming and unsurprising. Really, I saw it coming (or something like it anyway).

Selfish

Oh! And the insta-love was strong with this one. It was light years faster than instant and so was pretty much every sex scene. Of course they fell in love with each other in about 30 seconds. Of course they did! Of course the sex read like quickies. Of course it did! ~EYEROLL~ I hear an authoritative media voice in my head saying something like:


Kindle Unlimited subscription … Ten dollars.
A copy of As Big as the Sky … Six dollars.
Going from supreme annoyance to busting a luuuurve nut in 10 paragraphs … Priceless.

What else? I liked the personal growth and realizations. That part rang true and made the characters, especially Bo, more likable. In a real life setting, this relationship would have been a slow, boring burn. In this book’s reality, it was a fast, boring burn. But let’s face it, readers would have died of boredom if this book had allowed a realistic time-frame for relationship development.

It should have been a slow burn, but it couldn’t because the nonexistent plot wouldn’t support it. There was nothing driving this relationship or otherwise ‘encouraging’ these guys to be together, not even an initial, mutual attraction. All they had going was a shared fence line with hedges and some ornery chickens. That’s an execution problem right there, son! An insurmountable one in this case.

Pfft

Speaking of which, I was missing details. For example, I have no idea, none whatsoever, how old Sam is. We were told, repeatedly, that Bo is 24 but we got nothing on Sam. I think he might be in his 20s too, given some context clues, but he read like an older man. It was confusing and made it hard to connect with him.

Even the most basic and banal details weren’t fleshed out properly, only it didn’t stop with Sam, but was rampant throughout. It’s hard to get involved with a story if you have no idea who the characters are or what their worlds is like beyond the obvious. So I guess that’s it right there. From the blurb and the title, this story seemed like an iceberg. I could only see the tip of it, but at first it felt as though if I read long enough, there would be a lot more to see under the surface. Unfortunately, the further I got the more confused I became about the lack of substance until I finally realized this story was less like an iceberg with hidden depths, and more like an ice cube in hot coffee.

There was nothing there. Even the possibilities for anything forthcoming dwindled as time went on. There were good things about the romantic bits, but I finished this book and felt … nothing. Quite simply, it was superficial, emotionally unengaging, generally uninteresting, and sadly, was entirely forgettable.

This review is cross-posted at Goodreads. Other reviews by NeRdyWYRM can be read here.

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of As Big as the Sky provided by MLR Press in exchange of an honest review.

Author

I am a life-long reader and an avid learner. I remember reading books without pictures when I was about four, and raided every title on my parents’ full and intimidating book shelves—well, the ones they would let me read, anyway—from then on. Characters written by authors like Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Raymond E. Feist, Mercedes Lackey, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, and Anne McCaffrey were my childhood playmates.

Back then, I went nowhere unless I had a book in my hand. While the rest of my generation was shifting from cassettes to CDs and from Atari to Nintendo, Sega, and Playstation, I spent my allowance on Myth & Magic pewter figurines and on books at the Stars and Stripes bookstore. These days I don’t have a book in my hand anymore, at least not the printed variety. Instead, it’s any device with a Kindle app.

I stubbornly held on to the printed page until a military move weighed my book collection in at over a ton. Oops. Sorry-not-sorry, but I did have to exercise some pragmatism in that area, unfortunately. Now I only buy hardbacks from my favorite authors, the classics, or long-running series. Otherwise, I’ve surrendered to the times and our weight allowance and have gone all digital.

I stay strictly on the fiction side of the fence because non-fiction is generally too dry to hold my interest. I was always a scholar, and so have read enough textbook-like titles and required reading for school and college to last me a lifetime, thank you very much. So, non-fiction? No, thanks. However, barring non-fiction and biographies (ewww people), there’s not much out there I won’t read.

I have loved romance novels since I was prepubescent. Something about historicals and anything with horses, i.e., Native American inspired romances just did it for me. My grandmother was appalled that my parents let me read that ‘smut’ as she called it. I’d already justified my position on being allowed to read those controversial titles with a logical argument that there were a lot of historical facts in those books that couldn’t be learned in the classroom alone. And to this day, I maintain that stance. I have learned more from books, specifically romance and fantasy novels, than I ever did in a classroom.

~~wink-wink~~

My dad always said I was too smart for my own good. Looking back, he was probably right! I could logically talk my way into and out of just about anything. It’s served me well, but caused me no end of problems, too. That said, despite my love for the romance genre in general and the m/m romance genre in particular, there is little chance that a decent book of any kind will fail to catch my interest, and there’s nothing at all I’m unwilling to learn. So bring it on. I hope you enjoy my reviews.

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