Maybe I'm expecting too much from IDW's Star Trek comic book line. Every time I pick up a collection, I find myself coming away disappointed in some w...moreMaybe I'm expecting too much from IDW's Star Trek comic book line. Every time I pick up a collection, I find myself coming away disappointed in some way. In the case of this collection of seven stories from Star Trek: Year Four, I came away with far more disappointments than I anticipated or wanted.
Freed from the limitations of a television budget, I was hoping for some stories that captured the spirit of the original series while taking full advantage of the nearly limitless special effects budget of what can be drawn within a comic book panel. Instead, what we get are some stories that feel like they're trying to be too clever for their own good (including one where the crew stumbles across a planet that is addicted to reality TV shows and the Enterprise becomes the focus of one. It should have been fun, but the meta-ness and the feeling of the writers trying to be too clever for their own good quickly takes over. It even feels too long and it only runs about twenty or so pages) or end up feeling a bit too rushed into the single-issue running length. It's ironic that many times reading modern comics, I can't help but wonder if we're getting one issue of plot spread over six issues of publication. But I kept thinking that maybe making some of these stories into two-part installments might have allowed them to breath a bit or given us a few more moments to enjoy a bit of time with the characters.
That is, of course, assuming that you can figure out who is who character-wise. Thankfully, these are characters I've spent a lot of time with over the years, so it only takes a few moments longer than it should at the start of each story to figure out who's who. This is my not-so-kind way of saying that the art in these issues is all over the map. I don't deny the artists a bit of artistic license when it comes to drawing the familiar faces in each of the panels, but I found myself frustrated time and again by how the feeling that there wasn't much effort being put into the art in this book. It's enough to put a guy in a blue shirt and give him vaguely Spock-like features and we're good to go, I guess.
Of course, if you look at the cover you can't tell this is going to be the case. The superbly drawn covers from each individual issue are the highlight of the collection. But that's seven pages compared to the hundred or so others that make up the majority of this collection.
In short, this one is a miss -- and a pretty big one. The idea of telling stories from the fourth and fifth year of the Enterprise's five year mission isn't a new one but it's interesting enough and there's some good stuff that could be done with it. Unfortunately, there's very little done with it in this collection. (less)
Growing up, I loved checking collections of Peanuts comic strips out of the library. During my younger years, there were two size to the Peanuts colle...moreGrowing up, I loved checking collections of Peanuts comic strips out of the library. During my younger years, there were two size to the Peanuts collections -- the smaller, standard size paperbacks, which rarely included the Sunday strips and the larger trade paperbacks that included more comics per page and the Sunday strips. I have found memories of reading those collections over and over again and always heading to that section of the library with the hope that a new collection was on the shelf today -- or at least one I'd only read a dozen or so times before.
Part of this love stemmed from the animated Peanuts specials and the feature length movies. And part of it came from the collection of Charlie Brown records, where dialogue from the animated specials was put onto vinyl and I could listen them over and over again. Like the books, there were two sizes -- the shorter play records that ran from eight to fifteen minutes and the LP that included pretty much the entire special in audio form. In the days before we had VHS (yes, there were such dark days. We also walked to school, against the wind both ways through snow drifts, even in the middle of summer or when I lived in climates that didn't have snow), those records helped me to enjoy the stories of Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy and Snoopy over and over and over again.
It was always fascinating to see the strips that became some of the source material and inspiration for those various animated specials (and records).
And while I knew I wasn't reading all of the published Peanuts strips simply because my local library didn't have them all, I still felt like I was getting as much as there was available from the entire run of the classic comic strip. Turns out that isn't the case. Those collections were selected strips from the run of the Peanuts and not every strip that Charles M. Schultz ever produced during his long run.
But now I've got the chance to read all the strips thanks to this new collecting of The Complete Peanuts. And I've got admit that after one volume, it's fascinating. Yes, I'd seen the first ever Peanuts strip (I saw it in a biography I read of Schultz), but I doubt I've seen many of the other strips in this volume that covers the series run from late 1950 to the end of 1952. Watching Schultz develop his voice, style and characters over the run of these strips is fascinating. Even more fascinating is how there are certain characters who feature prominently in these early strips who later fade into the background or vanish entirely from Peanuts (I'm looking at you Shermy).
Even little details like the stripe on Charlie Brown's shirt take time to become a recurring feature and it's interesting to see Schroeder and Linus introduced as babies in the strip. Of course, one of the biggest changes is in Snoopy, who Schulz initially didn't want to give a "voice." Seeing Snoopy behave as a "normal" dog and only allowed to speak in terms of barking and body language is interesting in light of how he later becomes and it's fascinating to watch the transition in the strip. It's not fully complete by the end of this set of strips and it leaves me curious to the next installment in this series to watch it develop further (though Snoopy has begun talking on an infrequent basis by the time this volume concludes).
There are some recurring bits of Schultz's Peanuts run that are on display here. One of the biggest is Lucy's pulling the football away from Charlie Brown. But there's also some things here that don't make like an adult who is given dialogue to interact with one of the kids.
It's all fascinating but it wouldn't be so if the strips themselves didn't hold up. And they do. While this isn't exactly the Peanuts most of us think of when we hear the name of the strip, there's enough of what makes the strip great on display here. It's a chance to meet some old friends again and maybe get to know them in a different way than we know them now.
And on some level, it took me back to my younger days and my thrill at reading a collection of comic strips from my local library. That nostalgic trip down memory lane alone is worth the price of admission.(less)
Part of the hook of 24 is the real-time component of the show. Take that away and you lose some of what makes the show work so well and what makes Jac...morePart of the hook of 24 is the real-time component of the show. Take that away and you lose some of what makes the show work so well and what makes Jack Bauer one of the more entertaining fictional heroes in recent memory.
I've tried reading some of the tie-in novels for the series and found them lacking, namely because the real time concept doesn't translate quite as well to the printed page. With this collected comic book, 24: Underground, I was hoping the graphic novel structure might lend itself better to the show's structure.
Unfortunately, that turns out not to be the case. Set before the events of the recently concluded 24: Live Another Day, this five-issue series attempts to fill in some of the gap of what happened to Jack Bauer between the end of season eight and the start of season nine. Jack's working the docks somewhere in Russia and his past is about to catch up to him.
My big issue is that there's too much of a "been there, done that" feeling to the story. Jack's hiding out and making friends, but then his past comes calling and his new friends are caught in the middle. Feels like the start of a lot of previous days in the life of Jack Bauer. And since we're only given a brief glimpse into his current life, we never quite feel any connection to these new characters or much concern over their fate.
There's also the issue of the art for this series, which I find hit or miss. I must be getting too old for tie-in comics because I actually feel like the characters should look like they do on the show and be easily identifiable. And I also wish there were more distinctions between the supporting characters and villains, many of whom simply blurred together as I read. (And I read the entire arc in two sittings. I can't imagine waiting a month between issues and losing track of who is who!)
If you've missed 24, stream a season via various on-line services, watch it on DVD or pick up the latest shortened season to get your fix of Jack Bauer. This one is a miss.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (less)
Robert Whitlow returns to his roots with his latest character-driven legal thriller The Confession. After giving us a couple of novels that stretched...moreRobert Whitlow returns to his roots with his latest character-driven legal thriller The Confession. After giving us a couple of novels that stretched both him and his readers, it's nice to see Whitlow get back to a well-told legal story that is easily on par with some of his best works.
Years ago, Holt Douglas made a mistake -- and his best friend died. Holt lied at the time and has been carrying around that guilt since that time. But you wouldn't know it from looking at Holt's life today. He's an assistant DA in a rural Georgia county whose star is on the rise, he's dating a successful and beautiful business-woman and he's got a nice home complete with a friendly, lovable dog. But when a cold case is left on his desk, Holt begins to put his personal and professional future on the line as he begins to do a bit of digging into a mysterious death in the town's history.
To help him dig into the past, Holt asks Deputy Trish Carmichael to delve a bit into the details of the cold case. Like Holt, Trish is dealing with some issues from her past that are clouding her present. And she's also got a bit of a crush on Holt, which could be holding her back from a potential new boyfriend in her life, Keith.
Whitlow weaves the stories of Holt and Trish together in a believable way, allowing both of them to have their strengths and weaknesses. Holt can be a bit short sighted -- having a quick bite with Trish to discuss the case away from their offices sets the small-town gossip-mill to spinning and creates complications for the two of them. Whitlow played with this reader's expectations, zigging when I expected him to zag and not allowing the story or the characters to become predictable. And while the novel doesn't necessarily end on a cliffhanger, I having a feeling that Whitlow plans to visit these characters again in the near future.
As with all of Whitlow's work, the characters ring true and feel authentic. Holt's journey is a believable one and it's nice to see a Christian author who allows his characters to be nuanced and have shadings to them both before and after they're saved. It's also nice to see that those who start the novel in the fold (as it were) have flaws and foible as well and that becoming a Christian doesn't miraculously cure all the ails facing these characters. Trish faces problems of bitterness and unforgiveness related to the death of her father and her mother being crippled after a wreck with a drunk driver. And her struggle between the man who is interested in her and her crush on Holt is nicely played since Whitlow makes Keith (her suitor) out to be a nice man and he's not put in there as an obstacle to she and Holt getting together.
Whitlow is one an author who has long been on my "must read" list and any new offering is immediately put on the to-be-read list. For the most part, his books don't stay there long.
The Confession is among his best.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.(less)
When it comes to Jim Gaffigan's Dad is Fat, I feel like my lack of love for the book isn't so much about the book itself, but more to do with me.
I've...moreWhen it comes to Jim Gaffigan's Dad is Fat, I feel like my lack of love for the book isn't so much about the book itself, but more to do with me.
I've enjoyed Gaffigan's stand-up material and a lot of it is well-translated to the page (or in my case the audio book). But I was probably mentally not in a place to truly enjoy jokes about the daily trials and tribulations of raising five kids.
Gaffigan's stories of trying to raise five kids in a two-bedroom New York City apartment are utterly charming and amusing. Gaffigan is even self-deprecating enough to appreciate the absurdity of certain things.
And yet I just couldn't love the book. I tried.
It's not you, it's me, I kept thinking. And it probably was. (less)
In the introduction to A Place Called Hope, writer Philip Gulley admits he "lost touch" with his old friend and pastor Sam Gardner. But when the two c...moreIn the introduction to A Place Called Hope, writer Philip Gulley admits he "lost touch" with his old friend and pastor Sam Gardner. But when the two crossed paths at a recent "Quaker's pastor retreat," the two reconnected and have in contact since. The result is the first Harmony novel in five years.
It was worth the wait.
As his oldest child heads off to college and his youngest son contemplates joining the army, Sam finds himself having issues at home and in his professional life. At home, his wife wants the chance to use the degree she earned in college now that they are facing an empty nest. In his professional life, Sam agrees to do a favor for the Unitarian minister in town and ends up saying a prayer over a same-sex couple's commitment ceremony. And while Sam sees nothing wrong in offering up a prayer for two people who love each other, members of his small Quaker church (especially Dale Hanshaw, who is in fine form for the novel) disagree.
Suddenly Sam is faced with a future of selling cars or working at the coffee show with Deanna while his work supports them on her new part-time salary working for the local library. Offering his resignation rather than tearing his small flock apart, Sam finds himself black-balled by the local church higher ups and in need of a new church home.
Just when it seems as if all hope is lost, Sam gets a call from a once thriving congregation that is down to a dozen members (but they have a really great pie ministry). Sam must consider this calling, all while trying to balance the needs of his wife and family.
As a fan of Gulley's Harmony novels, I was absolutely delighted when I found out he was returning to the Quakers and Sam Gardner. Gulleys novels remind me of the Garrison Keillor, though without as much cynicism. Gulley uses his fiction to help make points about grace, love and how we are called to relate to each other as Christians. And he does all this by keeping his characters grounded and authentic. While Sam may gain a few points for his open mindedness on the same gender couple's commitment ceremony and the role he plays it in it, it's still nice to see he's not exactly a saint in others areas of his life (dealing with Dale and the rest of the crew at his local church, his consistent ability to drive his wife just a little bit crazy, etc.). All of the characters in this book are human, flawed and just as inconsistent as many of the people we know and love (including, if we're honest, ourselves).
Since his last Harmony novel, Gulley has written a couple of books on grace and you can hear echoes of the lessons he conveyed in those books on full display here. It makes for one of the strongest entries in the Harmony series to date and it left me feeling like the fictional exploits of Sam Gardner aren't wrapped up just yet. Thankfully, Gulley appears to agree since the A Place Called Hope includes a chapter from the next novel in the series and a forecast publication date of early next year.
Consider this one reader who will definitely be back for more. (less)
Every time I delve into the extra features on an 80's era Doctor Who DVD release, I'm a bit saddened that John Nathan Turner passed away before he cou...moreEvery time I delve into the extra features on an 80's era Doctor Who DVD release, I'm a bit saddened that John Nathan Turner passed away before he could fully participate in a couple of extras from his tenure as producer. I'd be fascinated to see what his thoughts on his (at times) controversial tenure were like as well as have some insights from his role as producer for the show during the turbulent era when the ratings declined and the show was cancelled, brought back and then put on hiatus that final time, leading to the wilderness year.
It would be interesting to hear Nathan-Turner get a chance to defend himself or at least respond to various criticisms laid at his feet in various commentaries and extras from that era.
The closest we'll get is this two disc set of Nathan Turner reading his own memoirs that were originally published in Doctor Who Magazine. Listening to it, I'm struck by how much of a gentleman Nathan Turner was and his insights into certain creative decisions made during his long run as the show's producer. Also of interest are his take on certain segments of the fandom who were extremely vocal about the perceived shortcomings of 80's Who.
Nathan Turner proves to be far more a gentleman in discussing a certain script editor and his departure from the show than the script editor has been in certain interviews during that time. It's interesting to see him take the high road and relate what happened from his perspective without necessarily taking others to task or getting into a game of "He said, he said" about the whole thing. We may never fully know what went on behind the scenes, but at least we get to hear JN-T's side of things.
What comes across in the memoirs is first that JN-T loved Doctor Who and second that he grew weary of his growing niche at the BBC being the producer of the show for so long. The second disc seems to be a lot of JN-T's attempts to step aside as producer and bring in some new vision to the show, only to have it implied that without him, the show won't go on. And while there were clunkers from that era, it's hard to imagine the show stopping before getting to some of my favorites like "The Caves of Androzani" or "The Curse of Fenric." Even JN-T's thoughts on averting "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" from cancellation make like him a bit more, if only because I consider that story an underrated classic.
For good or bad, JN-T was a big influence on Doctor Who and this audio memoir is a solid one. It probably won't change the mind of those who are determined to dislike his era, but it certainly will give the rest of us an intriguing look inside the production of a tumultuous era in the show's history. (less)
When she's chosen to be one of three exchange students with the recently discovered alien race the L'eihrs, Cara Sweeney sees not only a chance to get...moreWhen she's chosen to be one of three exchange students with the recently discovered alien race the L'eihrs, Cara Sweeney sees not only a chance to get a full ride to college but also the change to jump start her career as a journalist. But that Cara didn't expect was rampant xenophobia from her friends and planet or that her exchange student Alix might have a different agenda than promoting peace and understanding between the two cultures.
Oh, and she also didn't expect that she'd start to fall for the alien living under her roof.
Melissa Landers' Alienated starts off with a very interesting premise and story line, tackling some interesting threads and showing us the unintended price that Cara is paying for making the choice -- she loses her boyfriend and her best friend in the rampant xenophobia overtaking her community. But somewhere around the third or fourth disc of this audiobook, things began to quickly go awry and I found myself enjoying the story less and less. It's probably about the time that both Alix and Cara begin to fall for each other. It's not because Landers doesn't spend a time in the first half of the book setting these two unlikely heroes up as a couple. It's because once the Cara starts trying to making food palatable to Alix's alien palate that things the story begins to lose track of the interesting questions that drove the first half of the novel and slowly begins to center on just attracted these two are to each other.
Dropped from the story is the thread about how Cara's mother was saved by L'eihr technology and how that could impact Cara and her family's acceptance of Alix and his fellow student ambassadors.
About the only thing that kept me going for the final half of the novel was the mystery of what Alix and his exchange program counterparts are devising to inflict upon humanity in order to destroy both sides willingness to form an alliance. Unfortunately by the time we get around to any answers, I'd long since lost interesting and found myself doubling the audio rate on my iPod simply to get through the book. The answers aren't anything I hadn't already sussed out from the novel's early stages and by the time I got to the final disc, I was ready for the whole thing to be over and done.
Which is a shame because, as I said before, the story starts off well with some interesting questions. The novel ends of a cliffhanger of sorts but I can't say that I'm curious enough to want to pick up the story when the next installment hits shelves.(less)
Following his final confrontation with the Queen in "Planet of the Spiders," the third Doctor is slowly dying of radiation poisoning. Determined to ge...moreFollowing his final confrontation with the Queen in "Planet of the Spiders," the third Doctor is slowly dying of radiation poisoning. Determined to get back to his friends at UNIT to say farewell, the TARDIS brings him on a side detour to what appears to be an English village. But beneath the happy surface, there is something sinister going on -- including that no one is allowed to utter the "D-word" or else face the consequences.
Joanne Harris' The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller captures the essence and character of the third Doctor in this fascinating, light novella set at the end of Jon Pertwee's tenure. Reading the story, I could hear Pertwee delivering the dialogue that Harris creates for his Doctor and this one feels like a nice little side-step into a familiar era of the show.
It's interesting that I picked this up right after listening to the Big Finish version of "Love and War." That story also references the end of the third Doctor era and his dying of radiation poisoning. This story slips nicely into Paul Cornell's take on the end of that era with the Doctor spending a decade in the TARDIS alone, dying of radiation poisoning.
I received a digital ARC of this story from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.(less)
Before I started running, I often wondered why people who ran did it. After all, as the old joke goes, you never see a runner smiling widely or lookin...moreBefore I started running, I often wondered why people who ran did it. After all, as the old joke goes, you never see a runner smiling widely or looking like they're having much, if any, fun.
Like author Matthew Inman (better known as The Oatmeal from his on-going web-comic), I didn't really understand the appeal of running long distances until I actually got out there and started doing it.
Inman's attempt to explain why he runs long distance is chronicled in The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances.
Not a how-to manual on the best technique or style to run, this book chronicles what drives a person to get out there and hit the roads, chalking up the miles and signing up for races that seem to be impossible distances. Some of the stories are serious and some offer humorous insights into the mind of this particular runner. Inman gives us some insight into how he developed his running technique and things he recommends doing (push on past the first mile, get used to being uncomfortable for most of your run) and things that he doesn't recommend (treadmills, using an iPod while running). Some of these I agree with (treadmills are good but they have their limitations) and some I don't (I'm just not focused enough to run without my iPod because I'd spend much of the time talking myself out of going farther). But it's still fascinating to get inside the head of a fellow runner and hear his successes and foibles out there grinding out the miles.
If there's one criticism I have of the book, it's that it feels a bit repetitive at times. It could be that it's meant to be read in single chapter servings rather than one big gulp as I did. It feels like Inman circles around a couple of points multiple times during the course of his own personal running journey.
So, if you're a runner and you have difficulty explaining why you do what you do, this book might be a good way to help non-runners understand it a bit better. It won't help you be a better runner, but it may help you understand your motivation to get out there and clock those miles.(less)
There are certain monsters and villains that lend themselves well to audio and some that don't. The Zygons probably fall somewhere firmly in the middl...moreThere are certain monsters and villains that lend themselves well to audio and some that don't. The Zygons probably fall somewhere firmly in the middle since their ability to disguise themselves as various people in the story can be more easily realized in the audio landscape. But then again, the Zygon voices also suffer from the same thing that the Dalek voices do -- they can be a bit grating to listen for an extended period of time in an audio release.
And so it is that we come to Zygon Hunt, the final release of the current fourth Doctor adventures and a story that worked far better than I initially thought it could or would. I'll say that the story suffers a bit in comparison to how superbly the Zygons were used in the fiftieth anniversary story, but overall I can't help but feel that this current run of fourth Doctor stories has gone out on a solid note, even if it never delivered on the early conflict between the Doctor and Leela that we saw in The Kings of Sontar.
The Doctor and Leela arrive on the planet Garros where they meet up with expedition that is hunting the Zygons for sport. But the question quickly becomes who is hunting who and just how does this play into the Zygons' plan to conquer the Earth? As I said before there are doppelgangers and questions of loyalty abounding in this story, but once those big reveals are stripped away, I'm afraid the overall story does quite hold together. Part of it that the supporting cast aren't really all that interesting or memorable so it's hard to really care much about who is human and who is a Zygon in disguise.
Overall, I feel like the latest fourth Doctor season started out on a high note and that it was all a downhill slide from there. Certainly Zygon Hunt isn't as disappointing as the last two entries in the range, but I still came away feeling a bit letdown overall by the season. (less)
Being a Doctor Who fan these days is interesting. What was once a more solitary fandom has now become more social. Where it was once just me enjoying...moreBeing a Doctor Who fan these days is interesting. What was once a more solitary fandom has now become more social. Where it was once just me enjoying my VHS copies of the stories and haunting my local bookstores for the latest novel, it seems like these days you can't turn around twice without seeing Doctor Who merchandise for sale everywhere.
It's become so pervasive that there were copies of "Deep Breath" for sale in Wal-Mart the other day. Wal-Mart! It appears we're in a golden age for tie-in merchandise to my favorite series.
And with a new Doctor arriving on the scene, it seems that the BBC is doing all it can to capitalize on fan enthusiasm, starting with the release of three new Peter Capaldi Doctor stories this week. Thanks to the kind people at NetGalley, I was able to secure ARC copies of the books a week or so before Capaldi made his debut on our screens. But being the obsessive fan that I am, I couldn't bring myself to crack the digital covers of the books until I'd at least seen his debut story. I didn't want to unintentionally spoil myself on details of the first story or to create any more notions of what I wanted from the Capaldi Doctor.
First up in the reading list was Mike Tucker's The Crawling Terror. The Doctor and Clara arrive in a small town that is literally crawling with giant, potentially deadly insects. Investigating further, the Doctor uncovers unnatural experiments taking place that could have a tie to British and German experiments from the second World War and a potential alien invasion just waiting to happen.
While the concept of an alien invasion of our planet through the U.K. isn't necessarily the most original Doctor Who plot, Tucker throws in just enough references to the classic and new series and gives it just enough of a twist that I didn't necessarily mind that much. I'm also impressed with how well Tucker had translated Capladi's take on the Doctor to the printed page. There are many instances where I could hear Capaldi delivering the dialogue that Tucker gives the Doctor. Clara is also well served by the story and feels authentic as well.
It makes me curious how much background material Tucker and his fellow authors were given to the early episodes. Did they read scripts or see test footage?Was it BBC sanctioned or did they have to get the scripts and footage via alternate means (since the first five scripts and working prints of a couple of episodes leaked to the Internet).
Whatever the case, Tucker does a solid job with The Crawling Terror. The story is effective and creepy.
As I said before, I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (less)
On the night of her father's funeral, Alex's best friend Becca slept with her boyfriend. Needless to say this didn't go over well with Alex and she ha...moreOn the night of her father's funeral, Alex's best friend Becca slept with her boyfriend. Needless to say this didn't go over well with Alex and she hasn't spoken to Becca much since.
Now as a new school year arrives, Alex decides it's time to get past Becca's indiscretion and continue their friendship. Looking for her friend on the first day of school, Alex discovers that Becca has cancer and that the time they have to forgive and forget may be less than both of them expected or counted on.
To make up for lost time, Becca gives Alex her bucket list of items and asks that Alex begin to cross them off for her. Some are fairly straightforward and easy to cross off while others like touching the rear of Battlestar Galactica star Jamie Bamber or having sex with someone you love may take a little more effort and work. And instead of being maudlin about the list and calling it a "bucket list," the two decide to call it The F--- It List..
In the world of young adult stories, it feels like stories centering on someone with a terminal disease are a dime a dozen these days. Julie Halpern's The F*&^ It List brings something different to the table because it tells us the story not of the person diagnosed with the disease, but of her best friend. And while Becca's diagnosis serves as a catalyst for the story, it's really the story of Alex's need to forgive herself and deal with some of her unresolved issues surrounding not only Becca but her departed father.
In short, the novel is a winner on just about every level with Alex as a fundamentally flawed character who is struggling with a lot of authentic issues and situations. It's interesting to see how Alex uses others around her to try and escape dealing with some of her larger issues and it's nice to see that the novel allows her to get away with this to a point and then begins to call her on it.
I'll admit that I was drawn to the book by its title, but once I'd cracked the cover, I stayed for the well-drawn characters and Halpern's storytelling. I will warn some of you who don't like to deal with the fact that young adults think about and participate in such things as masturbation and sexual intercourse that you probably won't want to read this novel. Both of these things, as well as a little flashing of the homeschooled boy who lives next door to Becca, occur in the novel. So, if you think you or your young readers can't handle that, I'd suggest not picking this one up.
However, if you think you can handle young adults acting like young adults, then I highly recommend this book. It stands out from the crowd. (less)