I had high hopes for this book. Bob Massie has had some seemingly insurmountable challenges in his life. Despite this, he has overcome and beaten the...moreI had high hopes for this book. Bob Massie has had some seemingly insurmountable challenges in his life. Despite this, he has overcome and beaten the odds. His descriptions of his childhood are heartbreaking, but his attitude and strength are truly admirable. Towards the middle of the book though, his story became a bit of a drag. His college years and onward just didn't hold my interest the way his younger years did.
This was just an ok read for me. Though Massie himself has done remarkable things, his book fell short.(less)
In Your Face is a very interesting book. It sets out to see what humans find attractive in one another, and why. Not only is it very well researched,...moreIn Your Face is a very interesting book. It sets out to see what humans find attractive in one another, and why. Not only is it very well researched, the author also presents the information in a very accessible manner. Someone without a scientific background could easily pick up and following along in this book. It is clear, concise, and engaging.
Overall, this is a very fascinating read, and I definitely recommend it!(less)
The Cranes Dance, by Meg Howrey, follows the life of ballerina Kate Crane. She takes us through an especially rough patch in her family life that coin...moreThe Cranes Dance, by Meg Howrey, follows the life of ballerina Kate Crane. She takes us through an especially rough patch in her family life that coincides with the career boost she may just need.
Kates sister, Gwen, is the superior dancer. Everyone knows this: Kate is a soloist, but Gwen is a principle dancer. But when Gwen’s neurosis get to be too much to handle, Kate calls up her dad to take her away. While Gwen is getting treatment, Kate injures herself but dances what has to be her best season yet. She snags lead roles, but her dependence on painkillers might be clouding her world.
Kate’s voice was instantly likeable for me. She is witty and funny. She addresses her audience directly, and is quite blunt and honest in her opinions. She is a very self aware and strong female lead. Her dancer lifestyle isn’t entirely relatable to me, but I felt I understood her regardless. Her emotions and thoughts are very well described.
Overall, this novel was interesting and engaging. I was never bored with it. I always wanted to read just a bit more before putting it down. Because of this, I finished it in one sitting. It’s a very quick read, but very good as well. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone, dancer or not.(less)
What would you do if you could choose to be something . . . more: have your vision and hearing enhanced, become smarter and stronger, be vital even in...moreWhat would you do if you could choose to be something . . . more: have your vision and hearing enhanced, become smarter and stronger, be vital even in old age. Even fix medical ailments and control prosthetics with your mind. In Daniel H. Wilson’s Amped, people can now choose to have their brain implanted with a amplifier and their bodies enhanced. Thousands of Americans have chosen to become better versions of themselves. They are becoming “amps”. But as more and more people become amps, “pure” humans feel threatened. They can’t compete against amps. The amps go against the natural order, against God. As more and more legislation is passed, amps lose their rights and backlash is inevitable. Owen Gray has an amp. But his is medical, only intended to treat his seizures. Or so he believes. On the day that amps lose their Fourteenth Amendment rights, he learn that his amplifier might be something greater than he ever knew. Even greater than the standard implants, in fact. After heading out to seek the truth, he gets drawn into a plot that could rock this nation to its very core.
Owen is a middle-of-the-road kind of guy. I didn’t dislike him, but I didn’t immediately connect to him either. His backstory is minimal: we get the reason for his amp and not much else. The same is true for all characters, in fact. They aren’t given much of a description or story, leading to an overall lack of empathy on my part for them. Lucy, for instance, is a character it seems I should care about, but I can’t possibly bring myself to. I can’t even see why Owen should care for her. Their romance, if it can be called that, is as deep as a shower. Nick, on the other hand, I liked. He seems like a sweet kid just trying to grow up in a turbulent time.
The pace is breakneck, perhaps to a fault. Everything happens so fast and there is hardly ever a dull moment. It all very exciting for the duration of the novel, but then the ending seemed slapped together. More description in the latter pages would’ve helped tremendously. In the interest of not posting spoilers, I’ll just say some things were skimmed over and I’m still curious as to how certain points resolved themselves. Still, this is definitely a fast and fun read. Between the fight scenes and the chaos, the amp abilities and the lawlessness, it was hard to put this one down. I finished the book in one afternoon, and I can easily see this book being made into a movie.
Amped raises some very interesting questions: How do we define humanity? How far can science go? Where do we draw the line? But the most pressing question of of all: Could the sort of legal discrimination that occurs in Amped really happen in America? It has in the past, here and elsewhere. The parallels in Amped to the Holocaust are most apparent, the maintenance port a Star of David. And surely this nation has learned from the worldwide history of human suffering. . . right?
Amped isn’t a philosophical look at the human condition in the midsts of a societal crisis, though. It’s a fast paced, action packed novel with some serious entertainment value.(less)
After her grandmother caught her having sex, Sarah Weaver has two choices: go to the college of her choice but pay for it on her own, or go to her gra...moreAfter her grandmother caught her having sex, Sarah Weaver has two choices: go to the college of her choice but pay for it on her own, or go to her grandmother's alma mater on her grandmothers dime. She chooses the later and finds herself at Wetherly College, and all-female school. There she meets Madison, her new roommate, and Agnes, the bizarre best friend.
Maddy is your quintessential beauty. Everyone seems to just love her. Worship her, even. There is a darker side though. Her initial quirkiness starts to take on a sinister edge. Agnes is Maddy’s best friend and bank account. Agnes is intensely loyal to Maddy, and her undying affection keeps her blind to the truth.
Sarah comes from a broken home, and all she wants is a family to call her own. She finds one in Maddy and Agnes. So enamoured she is with the new home they’ve created that she overlooks or accepts all the weird and crazy things that happen. The lies and deceptions, she rarely questions. Some of the deceit she even takes a compliment! She is very immature and irrational in this way. And as things spiral out of control, she just goes along for the ride. It’s infuriating at times. I found myself wanting her to just grow up, to just take charge of her situation.
Sarah is promiscuous. She refuses to get into relationships, citing her parents’ failed marriage. She feel love inevitably fails, that she might not even be capable or worthy of it. She has sex with Maddy’s boyfriend Sebastian on their second meeting, and with Reed on their first. With Reed, however, things are different. She feels that she can love him. She does love him, in fact...after about two meetings. Their love is that instant, shallow variety that features entirely too often in young-adult novels. It’s revolting. Reed often drops that “do you even love me” bomb typical of a unhealthy relationship. And our immature little Sarah accepts this as well.
Another bizarre element to this novel is the supernatural. All three girls believe in it and cite it frequently. Psychic intuition and gypsy readings are all taken to be real by the girls. It’s hard to tell if the reader is supposed to believe that supernatural elements are a true part of the novel’s world or just something the girls believe in. For instance, a ritual is spoken of as completely crazy, and yet a spell is used as a legitimate explanation of certain actions. The novel seems confused in this regard, like the author couldn’t decide how far into the realm of magical realism she wanted to go.
I wasn’t going to mention this initially . . . but how could I possibly leave out the deer? It’s a phenomenally absurd situation, unlikely to ever happen in the real world. Wanting to nurse a deer back to health is reasonable. Hiding one in your dorm and then at the St. Regis hotel is completely crazy. The only explanation I can come up with is that the author threw it in to show how unhinged these girls are. Yes, that has to be it.
Katherine Easer’s Vicious Little Darlings, despite its flaws, is an engaging read. Once I started, I was hooked. I wanted to see just how far these girls would go, how low they would sink. I had to know how things would resolve themselves. If you’re into young adult novels and don’t mind some absurdity, you may want to check this one out. It’s definitely a fast, fun read.
[Full disclosure: I received this book through Goodreads' First Reads Giveaway. Also posted on Futuresfading.](less)
Just because we can’t see them does not mean that they don’t exist. Imaginary friends are, in fact, real. Their human fr...more[Also posted on Futuresfading]
Just because we can’t see them does not mean that they don’t exist. Imaginary friends are, in fact, real. Their human friend thinks them up, but then they have their own thoughts and emotions and ideas. They need their friends to imagine them into existence and believe in them to stay alive, sure. But this is just a form of life support, not proof that they’re fake!
Budo, he’s one of the oldest imaginary friends around. Max imagined him into existence, and has believed in him for over five years. Max is a bit different, possibly autistic (it’s never explicitly stated), and has quite the imagination. He imagined Budo being both smart and very human-looking. That, coupled with his age, makes Budo the envy of other imaginary friends. But all is not well for Budo: he worries a lot. Max is bullied in school, and Budo worries for his safety. Max’s parents’ arguments are mostly about Max, too. Budo worries about his friends disappearing as their human imagineers stop believing in them. Mostly,though, Budo is preoccupied with thoughts of his own death. He want to exist for as long as possible, to never disappear. And then, another worry: Max falls into a new and terrible danger. Only Budo knows the truth, and he must save his friend.
This novel is simply wonderful. It’s like a kids adventure story, but made especially for adults. Budo sees the world in a unique way, and he shows us his world the best he can. He is wise but still very childlike, and is the perfect narrator for this tale. This very real imaginary friend takes the reader on a ride and manages to connect on an emotional level. He feels as we humans do, and not only does he learn as he goes along, he grows as well.
With its interesting premise and fast pace, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is a most unlikely coming of age story. For adults looking to indulge their inner child, this book is highly recommended.
[Full Disclosure: I received an advance reader copy via Shelf Awareness](less)
Kate Williams’ The Pleasures of Men is a strange little book telling the strange tale of a strange protagonist and her strange thoughts. Can you guess...moreKate Williams’ The Pleasures of Men is a strange little book telling the strange tale of a strange protagonist and her strange thoughts. Can you guess what I’d call this book in a word? Strange.
Catherine is a troubled young woman living with her uncle in London. She undergoes some trauma as a child, and is now largely isolated. Rarely leaving the house, her imagination is her main company. When a serial killer begins murdering young women, Catherine tries to get inside his mind. She believes she can understand him. Catherine goes to the places where he has killed, the dirty streets where he roams. She imagines his past in vivid detail. She discovers, however, that things are not as they seem—that truth is a lot closer to home.
This books is well written and clearly well researched. This descriptions of London are vivid, the poverty is palpable. Still, it took awhile for me to get into it. The story starts off quite slowly. With shifting narratives in the beginning, it's difficult to parse out who is actually speaking: is it another person, or Catherine's imagination? Things becomes more clear in time, but at the start it’s a bit off-putting. At some point, however, the novel managed to snag my interest. I wanted to find out what Catherine's childhood trauma was, as well as the identity and motivations of the Man of Crows.
Bits of the plot can feel a bit contrived, though, and the biggest flaw is that it feels lacking in an apparent coherence. Still, the book overall is very dark and beautifully imagined. Anyone interested in Victorian England may enjoy this gothic thriller.
[Disclosure: I recieverd this book through a Shelf Awareness giveaway.](less)