Sunday, March 1, 2015

Book Club Review: Inherit the Dead

Inherit the Dead by Twenty Different Mystery Authors

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Pericles “Perry” Christo is a PI with a past—a former cop who lost his badge and his family when a corruption scandal left him broke and disgraced. So when wealthy Upper East Side matron Julia Drusilla summons him one cold February night, he grabs what seems to be a straightforward (and lucrative) case.

The socialite is looking for her beautiful, aimless daughter, Angelina, who is about to become a very wealthy young woman. But as Christo digs deeper, he discovers there’s much more to the lovely “Angel” than meets the eye. This classic noir tale twists and turns down New York’s mean streets and along Hamptons' beaches and back roads during a bitterly cold and gray winter where nothing is as it seems and everyone has something to hide.

Review: February wasn't the best for the book club, as many people couldn't make the meetings and I was the only one who actually finished the book. Therefore, I don't really have much to add from the other members about what they thought. The one girl who was reading the book thought it was okay but it wasn't something that really held her interest. As for me, I think Inherit the Dead was a fairly quick read, and I did love the premise, but it wasn't the best story.

Inherit the Dead was like an old noir film, so that aspect will be hit or miss for some people. The story line can seem a bit over the top and you always have to have a sexual woman. In this case, that would be Angel, who is missing at first and who definitely has her fair share of secrets that need to be found out.

I thought the case was interesting overall and I was definitely curious to see where things would lead. Each chapter, instead of having a title, is designated by an author name. That means that the following chapter is written by that particular author.  You get people like C.J. Box, Charlaine Harris, and more. These are all names I know but I had never read any individual books by them. I think certain authors were better than others. There were times where the writing style differed too much between each chapter, which was a bit jarring at times. I think it worked for the most part though.

In the end, Inherit the Dead was a unique book and I'm happy to have read it. I'd suggest getting it from the library first though if you're curious!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: This New York Times bestselling novel and National Book Award nominee from acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers tells the story of Steve Harmon, a teenage boy in juvenile detention and on trial. Presented as a screenplay of Steve's own imagination, and peppered with journal entries, the book shows how one single decision can change our whole lives.

Fade In: Interior: Early Morning In Cell Block D, Manhattan Detention Center.

Steve (Voice-Over)
Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I'll call it what the lady prosecutor called me ... Monster.

Review: This was another book I chose to read for my young adult class. We were told to pick something by Walter Dean Myers, and I thought Monster looked quite good. This is a book that you could easily read in a day, or even a couple hours. It's written as a screenplay, Steve imagining his current situation as a movie he could tell, as well as journal entries here and there. This style was interesting and it made the book unique, as well as allowing the novel to stay at a fast pace.

Steve Harmon is a teenage boy who is now on trial for his life, along with another man, for being involved in a robbery where the owner was shot and killed by his own gun. Steve was supposedly the one who scoped out the store beforehand to make sure it was empty of customers before two other men robbed the place (one of which is James King, also on trial). It's fascinating to see how the justice system works and how the prosecution is willing to make deals with criminals and other people who admitted involvement in this crime in order to make sure someone is put in jail for the death of this store owner.

As readers, it's easy to feel sorry for Steve. You can see a young boy getting involved with the wrong crowd and finding himself in jail. It's easy to imagine, but Monster doesn't provide all the answers. You do get a verdict in the end, but a lot is still left in the air as to what you think about these characters. Definitely worth reading, and I could see a lot of reluctant readers enjoying this one.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Some Fine Day Launch Giveaway

Some Fine Day launch giveaway!
Grand Prize: Kindle Paperwhite with custom cover, preloaded with Some Fine Day
Second Prize (2): Signed copy of Some Fine Day
Third Prize (2): CD audiobook of Some Fine Day
This contest runs from February 7 to March 7.

Synopsis: A generation ago, continent-sized storms called hypercanes caused the Earth to flood. The survivors were forced to retreat deep underground and build a new society.

This is the story that sixteen-year-old Jansin Nordqvist has heard all of her life.

Jansin grew up in a civilization far below the Earth’s surface. She’s spent the last eight years in military intelligence training. So when her parents surprise her with a coveted yet treacherous trip above ground, she’s prepared for anything. She’s especially thrilled to feel the fresh air, see the sun, and view the wide-open skies and the ocean for herself.

But when raiders attack Jansin’s camp and take her prisoner, she is forced to question everything she’s been taught. What do her captors want? How will she get back underground? And if she ever does, will she want to stay after learning the truth?

Some Fine Day is available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can find more reader reviews on Goodreads.
About the author:
Kat Ross was born and raised in New York City and worked several jobs before turning to journalism and creative writing. An avid traveler and adventurer, she now lives with her family—along with a beagle, a ginger cat, and six fish—far enough outside the city that skunks and deer wander through her backyard. 
You can find Kat on Twitter and her website

Monday, February 23, 2015

Shooting Thoughts: True Confessions of a DUFF

The True Confessions of a DUFF

I read The Duff by Kody Keplinger around the time it came out, and while I've been meaning to read it again, I haven't had the chance. Therefore, I will say right now that this post is not going to be a compare and contrast with the book and movie. Yes, I've read the book and I really loved it. But yes, I also saw the movie and really loved that too. I'm one of those people that don't care too much about changes between a book and a movie because they are two separate things. Not everything from a book can or should be translated the same way on screen. With a book like The Duff, I knew people were wary about the movie because it seemed too different, and not for any good reason. One reason that pops up is that Mae Whitman is playing Bianca, and in no way is Mae what someone would call "bigger" or "plus-sized." I think that's alright though, especially after seeing the movie, because Mae isn't stick-thin and not only plus-size boys and girls have issues with their body or have people make fun of them for something physically "wrong" with them.

At any rate, back to the title and how this relates to me. I had never heard the term DUFF before until I read the novel by Kody, but it's a phrase people do use. If you don't know yet, DUFF means Designated Ugly Fat Friend. I have often joked about being the least pretty of my friends or needing to find friends that are skinnier than I am. I say this was a joke because I would never ditch my friends for being skinnier and/or prettier than I am, at least in my eyes, but it was something I saw and it's not a great feeling for someone who doesn't have that much self-esteem to begin with. One of the reasons I used to joke about needing to hang out less with my pretty friends is because in high school and college, I would like certain guys that would ultimately end up liking a friend of mine, someone I deemed prettier. Looks aren't everything though, and it's something to always remember.

I loved that Bianca was known as plus-sized in the book because you don't always see that. So many YA books talk about girls that are smaller or more average. You even get those so-called plain looking girls that somehow have two guys fighting over them. Does this happen in real life? I'm sure it has, but it's not as realistic as YA likes to make you think. So yes, I understand people being upset that a more plus-sized actress wasn't portraying Bianca in the film. It looks like another example of Hollywood taking attractive actresses and pretending they are "ugly" until they get a full makeover. This isn't quite how the movie goes, however. Sure, Bianca in the movie learns to dress a bit more feminine but she doesn't change who she is or what she likes, and I appreciated that. Plus, like I said above, I do think the overall message is that you don't have to actually be a DUFF to think that you are a DUFF. The movie points out that someone will always be prettier or skinnier, so you have to be okay with what you have and who you are to truly be happy.

As for me, I won't say I'm 100% happy with the way I look, but I think it's a work in progress. Most people have something they don't like about themselves physically, whether they think they are ugly, fat, or something else. The DUFF movie might be different from the book, but they keep the message that being yourself is the most important thing, and in the end, that's the main thing.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Look Back at Blog World (5)

A Look Back at Blog World (5)

I haven't had one of these posts in a couple weeks, so some of these links are a bit older than just a week! Enjoy!

Books I'm Now Curious to Read-

 My So-Called Chaos wrote a review of the book Tell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I've seen this book around before and I loved the title, but I never knew what it was about. It sounds quite good!

Interesting Posts-

My Chocolate Moments shows you how you can make your own personalized ABC book using Shutterfly. How adorable! 

The blog Novel Ink has a fun feature on their blog titled Inked where bloggers and authors can share the stories behind their tattoos.

Emily from The Freckled Fox has a cute, love-themed playlist on her blog for the month of February.

Questions Answered from ShootingStarsMag-

Q. On my review for Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I got a comment asking about the appropriate age range for this book/series.

A:  I've read the first two books now and there are mentions of grown up topics, as well as violence, so I would definitely say it's an upper young adult book. Ultimately, it's up to the reader though and what they can handle!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Panic by Sharon M. Draper

Panic by Sharon M. Draper

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Diamond knows not to get into a car with a stranger.

But what if the stranger is well-dressed and handsome? On his way to meet his wife and daughter? And casting a movie that very night—a movie in need of a star dancer? What then?

Then Diamond might make the wrong decision.

It’s a nightmare come true: Diamond Landers has been kidnapped. She was at the mall with a friend, alone for only a few brief minutes—and now she’s being held captive, forced to endure horrors beyond what she ever could have dreamed, while her family and friends experience their own torments and wait desperately for any bit of news.

Review: When I was in middle school, I read and loved a couple of Sharon M. Draper's novels, so it's a bit sad that I never gave her more recent work a chance. However, I was told to pick any book by Draper to read for my young adult class, so I chose Panic.

This book is told in the third-person point of view of four teenagers, one of which is Diamond, who goes missing from the mall. The other narrators are Justin, Layla, and Mercedes. All of these teens are in a dance academy together and have their own problems and worries. Justin is often made fun of for being a guy dancer. Layla is in an abusive relationship, but she is desperate to see the good in her boyfriend. Mercedes was at the mall when Diamond went missing, and she blames herself for leaving her, even if it was only for minutes. All of these teens love to dance, and they get lost in the music. Panic shows that this is their escape and way to be free. This even includes Diamond, who imagines herself dancing as a way of leaving her current situation.

Draper does a great job with these narrations, bringing the stories together with the overarching theme of Diamond's disappearance and how that affects everyone. Panic is a relatively short book, but I feel like it gives enough depth and emotion to the storyline. One of the things that I really enjoyed was that the beginning of each chapter starts with a quote from Peter Pan. This is a ballet the dance company is going to put on over the summer, so it ties in there, but the use of Peter Pan also shows the loss of innocence within the storyline of Panic.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Review: I was assigned this book for my YA literature class, and as I'd heard wonderful things about it, I was quite excited. After finishing this book, I knew it would be one that I would think on for awhile. It's a modern classic and something that more people should read. I got my copy from the library for my class, but I hope to buy my own copy to keep and re-read in the future.

The book starts in 1987, but it's essentially timeless. This book isn't really about the place or the time period. It's about these two teen boys who go through many of life's hardships but who always find their way back to each other. Dante comes into Ari's life when he sees him at the swimming pool and offers to teach him. From that moment on, they are almost inseparable, until Dante's dad gets a job in Chicago and they move away for a year.

Ari tries to live his old life, never telling other "friends" about Dante. I put friends in quotes because Dante was Ari's only true friend. Ari didn't mind being alone, but meeting Dante, he slowly learned to open up and explore the world with someone by his side. When Dante returns, things are a bit strained between the two. Dante has told Ari he likes to kiss boys, and while Ari knows Dante loves him, he's not sure how to handle his own feelings, let alone the ones that Dante is trying his best to hide.

Besides their friendship, the two boys deal with their own trials of growing up and becoming men. Dante has his sexuality to come to terms with and learn to handle. Ari has an older brother in prison who nobody talks about and it leaves Ari feeling a bit broken. Ari has an anger problem and isn't afraid to use violence to handle this, but thinking about his brother has him scared for his own future.

Overall, this was a wonderfully written book that seemed to perfectly capture the beauty and pain within growing up.