Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Read Along - The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale - A #Resistance Read-Along #13WLRP

Hosted by:  Gather Together Read

Discussion will take place in our Gather Together and Read group on Facebook. There is a discussion post on the blog for those who are not on Facebook. When/if you mention the read-along on social media, please use the hashtag #Resistance

  • Start reading on Febrary 1st
    Read through Chapter IX - Night (ending on page 147)
  • Midpoint discussion will be on February 15 in our discussion group on Facebook - there will be a post here for those who are not on Facebook.
  • Start reading section two on February 16
    Chapter X - Soul Scrolls (page 151) - read to the end of the book (you can elect, or not, to read the historical notes - we will probably discuss, as I'm sure they give insight into the book)
  • Discussion on section two/book as a whole on February 28 in our Facebook discussion group - there will be a post here for those who are not on Facebook.
You can sign-up by posting about it on your blog (or on social media) and adding your link in the Mister Linky widget at Gather Together Read. Please use #Resistance when sharing about this read-along on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What the Hell Happened?

What....the.... hell happened?  Over a year ago, that was the question I was asking myself.  My personal life crumbled into a ball of shit and lit itself on fire.  What I thought was the worse thing that could happen to me, actually turned out to be the best.  Yes, it sounds cliche, and you know how much I love them, but ironically it is the simple truth.  Betrayal, divorce, starting over...yes, it sounds like a romance novel that I'd never read; instead, I got to live it.  Here I am, mid-life, feeling tossed aside, lied to, deceived, and completely pissed off.  So, how is it the best thing that could've happened?

It was the shake up, wake up, I needed.  As much as I hated going through it, I'm finally coming out the other end in one piece, better in fact.  Sure, I'm poorer and that is scary, but I have my own space, money and a freedom that I didn't even know was possible.  Also, I have love...real, true love. Wait, what?  I didn't plan it, didn't even conceive it, really, but in the midst of all the chaos, I reconnected with my soulmate.  23 years later, two divorces, traveling the country, raising kids and living different lives, our paths finally merged at the right time. I thought my divorce was the worst thing that could happen to me, but it brought me back to the man (in my opinion) I should have married in the first place.  Sure, we both had to take the separate journey for us to be the people we are and to end up in the places we did, which is now finally together, happy and ridiculously so.

With that said, it's time for me to get back to reading and writing.  As I sit in my new home, with my two dogs, I've decided to resurrect Miss Bling and her wonderful reviews.  It's time to reconnect with the book community that I've greatly missed.

Don't worry, I'm not going to write a romance novel -- but I do plan to resume work on book #4 and of course, reading and reviewing.

Monday, May 19, 2014

PANIC! by Lauren Oliver

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Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought. Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for. For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.
Review: Panic is the caffeinated version of the old childhood game, "I Double Dare You." The story  is told from the perspective of 'reflecting' back on past events. In this book, willing teen participants agree to challenges in hopes of winning a cash pot. In the small town of Carp, Panic is the yearly event that amuses the bored graduating class and their followers.  Place your bets, and pick a favorite!  Lauren Oliver does an adequate job with the plot, but doesn't hit the middle of the target to make this one a winner.  There are too many places that tension, suspense and creative structure could have been achieved, but were scuffed over and the climax suffered as a result. 

The story is fairly predictable, nothing really unexpected happens -- yep, you won't get that awesome, "PLOT TWIST!" surprise.  Some of the details and insight into supporting character lives will leave you wondering by the end why it was included in the first place. Sure, developing characters are supposed to create relatability and conjure sympathy, but if it leads to the question "So What?', then the reader is left wondering why they invested in them at all. Unfortunately, certain parts of the story were over developed and other (more important events) were under developed.  

Panic is a good read, but I wanted more depth.  It just didn't deliver, and instead was a bit too shallow and predictable to be a 2014 YA favorite. 
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*ARC provided by HarperCollins courtesy of Amazon Vine

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Please, Kill Me Now! So NOT Dexter!

Did I just get a double dose of these books suck? Yep, I totally fell for the 'Fans of Dexter' will love these books propaganda. Even though Dexter is over for good, the craze for likable serial killers has just begun. It appears this is the summer for teen serial killer books. Unfortunately, they are churned-out, watered-down, rip-offs that will leave most fans of the compared TV series red-faced and ready to kill.  

First up, is Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell. 

Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known.But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there. 
The spin for Katherine Ewell's, Dear Killer states that it, " a sinister psychological thriller that explores the thin line between good and evil, and the messiness of that inevitable moment when life contradicts everything you believe."

Review: May I state that the spin and back cover promise is not delivered.  Instead, we get a strange plot-driven tale with holes that are plugged with editor's tape and some spit before print. All I can say is "Ugh, are you kidding me?"  Is his really another book claiming to be for those who love "Dexter!" Let me assure you, if you are a fan, you will probably be disappointed by the current titles claiming (advertising) comparisons. They are more like, rip-offs and spun plot steals that are weak and tepid. 

Secondly, the age at which the killer begins to train and kill. Come on! Enough said. Dear Killer, is a perfect example of turn and burn. Whip out a story and edit the gaps in order to release while the subject material is hot. I love the concept of teen serial killers, too bad the industry is cranking out junk. Not even worthy as a cheap beach read. 

NEXT....!!!! Take-two on the cheap knock offs!  They just keep on coming!!!!

Killer Instinst 
Author S.E. Green
She’s not evil, but she has certain... urges.Lane is a typical teenager. Loving family. Good grades. Afterschool job at the local animal hospital. Martial arts enthusiast. But her secret obsession is studying serial killers. She understands them, knows what makes them tick. Because she might be one herself. Lane channels her dark impulses by hunting criminals—delivering justice when the law fails. The vigilantism stops shy of murder. But with each visceral rush the line of self-control blurs. And then a young preschool teacher goes missing. Only to return... in parts.

Review: Fans of Dexter (which I am one) will insulted rather than overjoyed with this book. It's a total plot sham with a few changes and not for the better. Too convenient and basic to be really intriguing or believable. The ending had me rolling my eyes and if I had to sum it up with one word, it'd be "Really?" I'd recommend to non-Dexter fans who are younger and want a Disneyland-rated serial teen killer tingle rather than a dark psychological thriller.My biggest issue was with the blatant plot formula steal and tired stereotype traits of a psychopath. The book tries to stray from that by stating on the back cover that Lane comes from a loving home with no drama or trauma, but it's misleading, and not in a good way. Her mother and step father are FBI agents, after all, so that allows for careless and convenient access to information. Sure, she hates her sister, but isn't that 'normal' too? Oh, did I mention she has a friend who is a computer hacker? Yep, that sure helps. Too neat, too tidy and way too ridiculous.

Just not good on so many levels. I'd recommend passing on this one if you are a fan of psychological thrillers and serial killer mysteries. Too basic for a seasoned reading veteran.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

Boy, Snow, Bird
Author Helen Oyeyemi
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In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman. A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.
Review:  I love this take on a fairy tale.  Helen Oyeyemi  knows how to craft a story into literature that can span time.  Although this story is based on Snow White, it's done in such a way that sets it in another time and adds a completely different concept and dynamic.  The bones of the story are recognizable, but it's written in such a manner that the old tale is subtle and fresh.  Boy, Snow, Bird, is a thought provoking piece of lit. that is classroom worthy, and perfect for a book club or group discussion.  It's thematically rich without being overdone.  It's a gem of genius and can be viewed as a serious work, or simply a good read.
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*ARC provided by Riverhead courtesy of Amazon Vine

The Adventures of Jillian Spectre

The Adventures of Jillian Spectre
Author Nic Tatano
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Welcome to the Mystic Quarter... Jillian Spectre knows what happens after you die. Because the seventeen-year-old mystic seer can see the future of her clients even after they've passed on. And that's not even her coolest power...She can be in two places at once. Problem is, her heart can only be in one. Supernatural abilities aside, she's a typical high school senior torn between two guys. But that gets put on the back burner when she discovers the father she had long assumed was dead is actually alive, with unique powers of his own. He's a technopath, with the ability to interface his mind with technology. And he's got a plan to take down society. Unless Jillian can stop him.

Review: This was just 'meh' for me. It is a quick, plot driven read with high school characters that are geared toward the younger end of the YA scale. I would categorize it as a 'teen' read. In order to avoid too much explanation or creativity, many things in the plot take an expected path for the sake of convenience and quick explanation. It's all too neat and the timing is too perfect to really give it the punch it needs to hold tension and intrigue. The character development is a little strange, especially the BFF, an amazon muse slapped with an aggressive stereotypical Italian personality. From meatballs to the over use of "confessional" catholic rantings, I got a bit bored and found myself doing the 'eye roll'. 

This one just wasn't for me and although, I read it quickly, it left little lasting impression besides another plot-driven disappointment that takes the easy way out by grabbing at stereotypes and inserting some paranormal (and not knowledgable) elements to sell because those are "hot," and "popular" items in the book market at the moment. 
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*ARC provided by HarperCollins UK, HarperImpulse courtesy of NetGalley

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Liv, Forever

Liv, Forever
Amy Talkington
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When Liv Bloom lands an art scholarship at Wickham Hall, it’s her ticket out of the foster system. Liv isn’t sure what to make of the school’s weird traditions and rituals, but she couldn’t be happier—especially when Malcolm Astor, fellow artist and scion of one of the school’s original families, starts falling for her. Fellow scholarship kid Gabe Nichols warns her not to get involved with a “Wicky,” but things are finally going Liv’s way, and all she wants to do is enjoy it. But Liv’s bliss is cut short when she is viciously murdered. In death, she discovers that she’s the latest victim of a dark conspiracy that spans 150 years and many, many lives. Gabe, cursed with the ability to see their ghosts, turns out to be Liv’s only link to the world of the living. Liv must rely on Gabe’s help to prove to Malcolm that she’s still present… lingering with the other spirits. Together, Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm fight to expose the terrible truth that haunts the halls of Wickham before more lives are lost. Together, Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm fight to expose the terrible truth that haunts the halls of Wickham before more lives are lost.

Review: Lately, I roll my eyes when I see 'boarding school' on the back cover of a new release book because it has been overdone (to death) in the YA genre.  It's a convenient method to get the parental units out of the way so the kids can experience things that they would normally not, if under the same roof -- or at least, without having to explain it. The absentee parent allows the writer a certain freedom and liberty.  

With that said, I enjoyed this after death mystery despite the Harry Potter plot formula.  It's a quick read suitable for teen readers. It's paranormal (horror) light with a sweet romance and BFF weirdo.  

A young girl's life is cut short and covered up to protect the reputation of the school.  There is a history, backstory and present day tie-in's that keep the plot moving and interesting.  Comedic relief comes in the form of Liv trying to figure out her ghostly body, which lightens the overwhelming dealings of murder and death.  

Overall, I liked it.  I did.  I admit it.  The characters were well-developed, possessed unique voices, and functioned in a world that was clearly described and easy to imagine.  A few paranormal things remained a bit blurry and I can't help but wish they would have been further managed to give this read the extra little punch, but I can live with the conclusion.  
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*ARC provided by Soho Teen courtesy of Amazon Vine