Monthly Archives: December 2015

Our Favorite Books of 2015

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Nicole:

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Out of My Mind

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)

Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)

Girl With a Pearl Earring by Pearl Chevalier 

Girl With a Pearl Earring

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor 

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Logans, #4)

Isis:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven

Carry the Ocean by  Heidi Cullinan

Carry the Ocean (The Roosevelt, #1)

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Why Not Me?

Angelfall by Susan Ee

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine by Carey Wallace

 

Our Most Disappointing Books of 2015

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Nicole:

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

A Clockwork Orange

Psycho  by Robert Bloch

Psycho

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

172 Hours on the Moon

Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters

Keeping You a Secret

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine by Carey Wallace

The Blind Contessa's New Machine

Isis:

Psycho  by Robert Bloch

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

The Song of Achilles  by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On

Writing Projects – Update #3

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Dreadful Dreams

Dreadful Dreams

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Literary, Adult, LGBTQ.

Summary: Like every other human, Erin Reed makes mistakes. Growing up in rural Montana allowed Erin to create a dream life, consisting of riches and fame. When she finally leaves home for college, Erin knows she has finally made it. Free from the reigns of her past, Erin gambles her future for a chance at success in Los Angeles. She leaves everything behind to pursue an acting career. Everything goes according to plan, until Erin meets with the cruel reality of life.

When Erin becomes pregnant, she is alone in a city without a friend. There she meets Priscilla, a woman that offers to solve all of her problems for a high price. Time and time again, Erin stumbles with the fragments of her past, unable to run away from them forever.

Sometimes, you have to make rash choices in order to improve your lifestyle. Sometimes your so called dreams lead you to the most dreadful situations.
Word Count: 78,606

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Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – Book Review

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“What you are is a fucking tragedy, Simon Snow. You literally couldn’t be a bigger mess.”

I’ve done it. I’ve read my most anticipated book of 2015, a few days before the year is over. I have a few things to say about Rowell’s newest release.

Carry On was born from Fangirl. It is essentially Harry Potter fanfiction, a la Rowell. The gist of it is that there’s a powerful magician by the name of Simon Snow, and he is the Chosen One, born to defeat the threat to the magic world, the Insidious Humdrum. Simon has a trusty, brilliant friend, Penny, a girlfriend he doesn’t really love, Agatha, and an enemy with a dark secret, Baz.

One of my favorite things about this book is the magic system. Words–commonly used phrases, lyrics, poetry, plays–make up the spells used by the magicians. There are so many fun spells. However, many things regarding this magic system were never explained.

The story is filled with many subplots, stacked one on top of the other, and I also didn’t feel like many of them were explained. The story itself was entertaining enough that I still wanted to keep reading to find out as much as possible. Some things were fully revealed and brought to a satisfying close. Others, not so much.

The characters were another thing entirely. We have Simon Snow, who is, well, he’s Simon Snow. He’s always eating, and he’s a terrible magician, and he’s a little bit obsessed with Baz. And with all of that, I found Simon to be quite endearing.

Then we have Penny, the quirky one that always has Simon’s back and is excellent at keeping him out of trouble. She is much better at using her magic than Simon. And she is incredibly intelligent. Sound familiar?

Agatha is Simon’s girlfriend. She is beautiful and rich, but her parents want to marry her off to a stronger magician so her children can be powerful. Although she was painted as an average, sort of annoying character, I had a soft spot for Agatha. I liked her honesty a lot.

And finally, we have Baz. His full name is incredibly long and ridiculous, so I’ll just keep it short and simple. He’s dark, mysterious, snarky, and secretly a vampire. I get the sense everyone is obsessed with Baz, but he wasn’t my cup of tea. I couldn’t really find anything to cling to when it came to his character. I pictured a beautiful boy, but not more than that.  I’m in the minority here, oh well.

There was a lot to love about Carry On, really. I devoured it in three days, lost sleep over it, laughed out loud, but I never felt completely satisfied with the resolution. I was left with more questions than answers, and a love story I was never completely sold on. Again, I’m sure I’m in the minority here, but that’s just my opinion.

I have to admit, I much prefer Rowell’s contemporary novels over her first attempt into fantasy. I think she always has a perfect balance of romance and real life issues in her other novels. But in this one, the magical issues were overwhelming sometimes, and there wasn’t quite as much romance–not enough to sell me on it anyway–to balance it out.

Ten Books that Make Us Smile

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Holy Cow: A Modern-Day Dairy Tale by David Duchovny

Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling

Carry the Ocean by Hiedi Cullinan

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

One More Thing by B.J. Novak

The Book of What Remains by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

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The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore

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Edge of Darkness by Travis McBee – Book Review

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Where do I start?

I’ve seen some of McBee’s Youtube videos, and I find him to be quite entertaining, so I decided to give his writing a shot. I’m a fan of horror, and an even bigger fan of short stories. I had no reason to dislike this as much as I did, but I find myself completely frustrated at this collection. Somehow I willed myself to push through the entirety of this collection, often skimming because I couldn’t stand the irrelevant in-depth details I was being told, not shown, repeatedly.

My first complaint is that the stories are not scary, at all. Neither are they funny. Maybe that’s just a personal taste and sense of humor, so I won’t fault the author for that, but there is so much more than that.

The first story, Chupie, deals with an ambiguously evil guinea pig owned by a very ridiculous character. My biggest issue started when I found myself cringing at the absurd portrayal of college girls. It made me question whether McBee had ever even met a girl in his entire life. These girls were not only stupid, but they were also completely defenseless, so much that they had to get a big manly boy to save them from the dead animals that kept appearing at their doorstep. And yes, these girls owned all the pink things because *giggles* that’s what girls love. In the end, the narrator doesn’t even have a bit of common sense, the dialogue is eye-roll worthy, and I was sure I had been pranked somehow.

The rest of the stories followed the same trend. The characters were all flat, dull, and boring. The girls, again, always just whining and shrieking and being overly annoying. The stories themselves were just not interesting. The twists at the end didn’t even make me blink. There was absolutely no suspense, nothing to keep me reading. But I did, because I was still unsure if I was being pranked. I kept asking myself, is this author for real?

Then we get to A Dutiful Son, and things get overly complicated. We have two burglars breaking into a house. Then we have their backstories (we have lots of those just thrown in there for the heck of it). Then we have the backstories within the backstories. Then we have facts about small, irrelevant characters tossed in the mix. At this point, I’m wondering if these burglars are even going to break into the house or if I’m going to find out what they had for lunch six years ago. Then the story shifts to an author and his friend, arriving at the house being broken into. I won’t even get into how McBee based the author character on himself–he explained that in the afterword, although it was pretty obvious while reading it. We get to hear the lengthy backstory of this author, filled with things I couldn’t care less about because all it accomplishes is pulling me out of the main storyline. But no, the author must explain to me why he dropped out of college and every single step that it took him to get to his super successful writer life, how he was such a great athlete, how much he loved guns. Because I couldn’t put that together from the events that followed, obviously. I have to be taken by the hand and explained every single thing so I can really get the picture. (Also, sidenote, as an aspiring author, balancing work and college, I do find enough time to work on my writing. That entire commentary about dropping out of college to pursue a writing career? Yeah, not buying it.) The twist at the end of this story was not believable. All of the characters were senseless.

I do have a positive opinion on one of the stories in this collection, though. In Blood Type, the character Nick was very sassy. I enjoyed his twisted humor. He actually had a semblance of depth. I didn’t need to have a ten-page backstory for him to know him as well as I did. My feelings about this collection were just about to improve. But then, of course, both male characters insult a woman when she tries to defend herself when her life is being threatened. What a stupid, stupid woman, right? What rational human would try to defend itself in a life or death situation? That’s just nutty.

Then we have this beauty:

“Feminine shrieks of startled nurses and masculine grunts of pain from paramedics.”

That, my friends, is the perfect sentence to describe this collection. We must assume that all nurses are female, and that all paramedics are male, and that’s just how it is, dammit. Everyone has to fit into their gender roles. And when the doctors are women, well, they’re just too darn stupid to function, trying to save themselves with weapons. It was a bad idea for a woman to be a doctor, huh? Guess that must be it.

I know now that I wasn’t being pranked. This is supposed to be either frightening, or hilarious, or a combination of both, according to the cover, but here I am, feeling kind of angry with myself for sticking through this entire thing. I hardly ever review books that I dislike, but I felt the strong need to voice my comments on this piece. It was, all in all, atrocious.