And the John Green love-fest continues! Seriously, I think I may be falling in literary love with him. Each one of his characters is someone I genuinely want to hang out with. Someday, I am going to become famous and powerful in the literary world, and John Green and Richelle Mead will be my BFF’s. We will finish each other’s sentences and make people feel excluded by our plethora of inside jokes. Until then, shall we get back to the book review?
In typical John Green fashion, the teens in Looking for Alaska are quirky and intelligent, yet incredibly realistic. Miles hasn’t made much of an impact at his high school, so he goes to boarding school looking for adventure...or at least something different from his boring life. Through his roommate, Chip (who insists on people calling him The Colonel), Miles is drawn into an eclectic group of mischief-makers. He learns how to smoke, drink, stage elaborate pranks and gets his first experience with girls. Each character in the group is so unique, but Green crafts a strong chemistry between them. The Colonel is bossy and too smart for his own good. Tikumi is a free-style rapper. Lara is from Romania. She comes across as timid at first, but she has an underlying strength and courage inside. And then there is Alaska. Alaska is outspoken, impulsive, reckless, sexy and incredibly damaged. Every boy except for The Colonel is half in love with her.
As you can probably guess by the title, the plot of the novel revolves around Alaska, yet this is definitely Miles’s story. He is the character who grows and changes throughout the story. Alaska acts more like a catalyst for his transformation. That’s my take anyway. I’m sure some people could argue Alaska was the main character. But as interesting as Alaska was, I was drawn more to Miles. I found her too reckless and moody.
Something I loved about this book was that the author allowed the boys to show their emotions. More than once, they were allowed to cry. Yes, we all know boys can cry, but they also fight to hide these emotions. There is a scene after a particularly horrible event where Miles and The Colonel are standing in front of their car holding each other and crying, and it was so moving. Not once do they fear of what others might think about them. For this reason alone, I think teen boys should read this book.
My only problem with the book, and it was minor, was that when Miles finally admitted to himself that he loved Alaska, it felt like the timing was off. I understand why he was attracted to her, but the “L” word was dropped a little too soon. I don’t really think he loved her anyway. He was drawn to her because she was everything he was not, but part of him wished he could be. I think he cared for her deeply. But theirs was not really a romantic relationship.
Last, and I hate to do this, I have to issue a bit of a warning to some parents. There are a few things in this book which some sensitive parents might not like their teens reading, especially younger teens. I guess if you are someone who cares about these things, you might want to read it yourself first before you buy it for your kid. (Although, parents, unless your kids are abnormally sheltered, they know about all of this stuff already.)
Overall, I give Looking for Alaska...
Plot - 4 1/2 bookmarks Character Development - 5 bookmarks Dialog - 5 bookmarks (witty, but not unrealistically so) Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Kristin Stewart (Alaska), David Kross (Miles), Joshua Logan Moore (The Colonel) ...more
Wow, it is so hard to talk about this book without giving anything away. Anew starts as a blank slate for Scarlet. She wakes to find herself alone in a forest with almost total amnesia. All she knows about herself is her name and that she is fifteen years old. From there, it is almost best to let the reader discover the mysteries of her past as she learns them, so I won’t say much more about other than it has something to do with an American legend. Can you guess what it is? No? Then read this book!
Last month, I read and reviewed Chelsea Fine’s book Sophie and Carter on my personal blog. Fine’s ability to create strong, interesting characters truly impressed me. Anew proves that the success of Sophie and Carter was not a fluke. This author knows how to craft characters to a T. Scarlet is a girl who could have gone all emo about her situation, but instead, has chosen to make the most out of her strange circumstance. Her best friend Heather is hilarious, and provides an excellent contrast to Scarlet’s character. It is easy to see why they are so close.
And as for the boys....? I think I may be in literary love again. Unfortunately, I don’t know who I love more, Tristan or Gabriel. Both brothers are smoking hot, but so is every guy in a YA novel. I think what I liked best is the contrast between these brothers. Gabriel is fun and loving and laid back. Tristan is the brooder, but not without some serious reasons behind his angst. There is a love triangle in the book, but it’s not your typical situation. I think reader will find it a refreshing twist.
Anew is a fabulous start to a fun new paranormal series. Cliffhanger endings drive me insane, and this book is no different. I’ll be hopping up and down with anticipation until the next book in the series, Awry, comes out.
Overall, I give Anew...
Plot - 5 bookmarks Character development - 5 bookmarks Setting - 5 bookmarks (the Kissing Festival was a fun way to introduce the town of Avalon) Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Skyler Samuels (Scarlet), Jean-Luc Bilodeau (Gabriel/Tristin), Alexandria Deberry (Heather), Olivia Wilde (Lauren)...more
On The Road is a novel that celebrates the Beat generation and provides a portrait of America in the late forties/early fifties. The story revolves around the narrator, Sal Paradise, a twenty-something writer and ex-GI who travels the country by car, bus, train and hitchhiking. Along the way, he meets interesting people and a revolving door of friends who are also embarking on journeys of their own. The book pay homage to the freedom of the open road.
While the book lacked a unified plot (it’s mostly strings of stories woven together which make up a patchwork quilt-type book), I honestly have to say that this book had some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read. Kerouac’s description is amazing! He was able to say in five words what would take lesser writers two paragraphs. His use of metaphor could have won him a gold medal if writing was an Olympic sport. I’m not a note taker…not even in school…but I found myself writing passages down to ponder over later.
The characters in this book were slightly disturbing, especially Dean Moriarty. Sal seems to worship Dean in a bizarre and unhealthy way. Dean is a philandering, pedophilic criminal, yet Sal sees him as some sort of mystical god-like being. I don’t get it. The guy is a creep. People have to lock up their daughters when he’s around. He marries women, knocks them up and runs off with another over and over again. At one point, he obtains a quickie Mexican divorce from his second wife, rushes back to marry his third wife, and that very night, leaves wife #3 to go back to wife #2. What a pig! But Sal sees Dean as some sort of modern philosopher, always talking about and eluding to Dean’s deep thinking. I just saw him as a dude high on pot going, “Whoa, man!” “Yes!” over and over.
On The Road wasn’t the most exciting book, nor had it the deepest characters, but it definitely has historic and literary value.
Overall, I give On The Road…
Plot – 1 ½ bookmarksCharacter Development –2 ½ bookmarks Literary Value – 5 bookmarks Historic Value – 4 ½ bookmarks Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Penn Badgley (Sal Paradise), Chris Pine (Dean Moriarty), America Ferrera (Teresita), Anne Hathaway (Camile), Tom Hardy (Remy), Reese Witherspoon (Mary Lou), Viggo Mortensen (Old Bull Lee), Lukas Haas (Carlo Marx)...more
I have been recommending this book to everyone. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but this book was fascinating. It tells the story of how our language evolved from ancient Sanskrit up through the centuries into what we speak today. I know that sounds boring, but if you like history, you will love this book.
One of the reasons I loved this book is because I actually listened to it on the audio version. If you have never heard Old English spoken, it is both familiar and foreign at the same time. Very strange. Even the English of a few centuries ago would be hard for us to understand completely if we were to go back in time. (Claire from Outlander would have never been able to understand Jamie...) This is one that I think was better as an audio book. The history in the book was really interesting. I think my favorite part was leaning just how big a role French played in the formation of our language. I’m descended from the Normans on both sides of my family. During the Norman invasion of England, French very easily could have taken over completely, causing English to die out in the way Cornish and Gaelic did. Instead, English persevered by taking on many French words and making them part of the total lexicon.
Anyway, whether you are a word nerd or a history buff, The Adventure of English is definitely worth the read...or listen.
Overall I give The Adventure of English...
Plot - 4 bookmarks (Normally, I wouldn’t think of a non-fic as having a plot, but this was interesting, fast paced and made you feel as if you were journeying through time. I call that plot.) History - 5 bookmarks (Along the way, the book explains how historic people and events shaped the language. Shakespeare, Chaucer, Bible translators, Native Americans, etc.) Research - 5 bookmarks (Some of the stuff the author came up with amazed me.) Narrator - 5 bookmarks (I strongly recommend this as an audio book.) ...more
Lauren’s life is perfect, but she’s not happy. Wah, wah, wah...my heart bleeds for her. This book is one long story of indecision; if you know me at all, you know I hate people (and characters) who are indecisive! She’s got this really cute boyfriend who is kind and comes from a good family, but she feels as though she has to pretend to be a different person when she is with him. Hey, that happens sometimes. Just because a guy is cute doesn’t mean you are going to have chemistry together. I can see going along with it for a while to see if something develops, but when it doesn’t, move on.
Instead, Lauren mopes around about how miserable she is. When Evan, a boy from her past, moves back to town, the chemistry between them heats up. But rather than break up with her boyfriend and go for it with Evan, Lauren sneaks around and cheats on him, making me dislike her even more. Her reason for staying with him (so she wouldn’t be like her mother) was lame, and the logic of it never really connected with me. At least Evan has a conscience about his role in the cheating. Lauren just mopes along hoping not to get caught.
It also bothered me that Lauren treats her “best friend” Katie like crap. Katie is going through a lot in her life, but Lauren is too busy moping to notice. (Seriously, Lauren makes Bella Swan seem like the most carefree, happy girl in literature.) I found myself more interested in what is going on with Katie at home, but the author never really develops that story line, which is a real missed opportunity in my opinion.
This story might also have been improved by the author developing the back story of Lauren and Evan. As children, Evan’s mother and Lauren’s dad dated and moved in together for a while. There could have been a really cool storyline developed from that, but instead, it just sort of gets dropped. There could have been some reason why the two had to rely on each other because of problems at home. Or there might have been some dramatic break when Evan and his mother moved away. Unfortunately, her dad was just a jerk of a boyfriend...end of story.
Overall, I give Bloom...
Plot - 2 1/2 bookmarks Character development - 2 bookmarks (and the only reason I’m being that generous is because I liked Evan.) Love story - 1 bookmark (Evan should have hooked up with Katie instead.) Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Sarah Hyland (Lauren), Cassie Scerbo (Katie), Kendall Schmidt (Evan), Hunter Parrish (Dave) ...more
I really don’t like the Amazon description of this book. I don’t get the whole reference to “...that knowledge comes very close to destroying her...” I really don’t like the Amazon description of this book. I don’t get the whole reference to “...that knowledge comes very close to destroying her...” I didn’t pick up on anything that dramatic in the book. That being said, this book was well written and had a fascinating plot. Many writers claim to hear the voices of their characters in their heads, but in Carrie’s case, her character is telling the truth, giving her a view into actual events from history. I don’t know any writer who would not want that to happen to them. She is skeptical at first, thinking she must have read these details somewhere before, but one coincidence after another finally leads her to understand what is happening to her: she is channeling the memories of her ancestor.
My favorite part of this book was the history. Part of me longs to live in a damp castle on top of a cliff in Scotland. The author did a great job of explaining the context of the Jacobite cause without making it sound like a giant info dump. Even though the main characters in the historical part of the book are not major players in the Jacobite cause, you get to see how so many regular people worked behind the scenes in an effort to bring King James Stuart back to the throne.
The plot of the book goes back and forth between the past and the present, but still, the plot moves together in a linear motion and is not confusing at all. In fact, each scene complements the other, building the story.
There are two love story plots in the book: Carrie and Graham in the present, and Sophia and John in the past. Both were understated and grew naturally. But of the two, I was more interested in the romance between Sophia and John, particularly since we know from the beginning that Sophia ended up marrying someone else only three years later. I couldn’t figure out how Sophia could possibly get her happy ending, so the twist at the end was a pleasant surprise.
Overall, I give The Winter Sea...Plot - 4 bookmarks Character development - 4 1/2 bookmarks History - 4 bookmarks Romance - 3 1/2 for Carrie & Graham & 4 1/2 for Sophia & JohnDream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Amy Adams (Carrie), Ewan McGregor (Graham), Tom Hardy (John), April Pearson (Sophia)...more
I really liked this book. The characters were unique, intelligent and well-developed. That goes for the side characters also, which is really unusual for a young adult book. Looking at the cover, I was expecting a light, summer-type read. But these characters have real issues, and they are all moving forward, albeit at different paces. There is not a stereotypical character in this book. Each have layers to them that peal back as the story progresses.
Auden starts the story off as a bit of a snob. Having been raised by two ultra-selfish intellectuals, she almost couldn’t help it. I loved watching her progress to a more open-minded person throughout the course of the book. Although I did have problems with how she treated Eli. He was this fragile young man who was just beginning to show signs of healing after the death of his best friend, but Auden treats him a bit carelessly. I suppose that was part of her growth process, but it still made me sad to see it.
Speaking of Auden and Eli, the romance plotline is very understated. Considering the cover of the book, this also took me by surprise. The story really revolves around Auden and her progression. Eli does play a role in her development, and he develops himself too, but I love how Dessen allows them to work their lives out on their own. Eli doesn’t fix Auden, and Auden doesn’t fix Eli. Not only is this refreshing, but it sends a good message.
Overall, I give Along for the Ride...
Plot - 4 bookmarks Character development - 5 bookmarks Moral lessons - 4 1/2 bookmarks (not preachy and kind of understated, but the reader learns along with Auden) Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Rooney Mara (Auden), Jackson Rathbone (Eli), Joseph Morgan (Hollis), Mary Marguerite Keane (Maggie), Peter Sarsgaard (Dad), Jane Adams (Mom), Jessica Chastain (Heidi)...more
Whether you like his style of books or not, I don’t think anyone can disagree that Stephen King is a genius. My reading history with King has been perilous. As a teen, I read every book he wrote—devoured them like candy—until The Tommyknockers. I’ve never quite forgiven him for The Tommyknockers. It killed me to have to put it down, but seriously—250 pages on the inner workings of a battery? I understand that King was coked out of his mind when he wrote it, and it showed, but his editor should have had a “come to jesus” talk with him at that point.
Okay, I know King has been drug and alcohol free for fifteen years now, but I just wouldn’t let myself go back to him…until On Writing. Mr. King, I want to publically forgive you for The Tommyknockers and let you know that I’m a believer again.
On Writing is part memoir/part guide for new writers. As a writer myself, I am fascinated by those who have “made it” in the business. Since King is one of the most recognizable and prolific authors of our time, there is no greater expert out there to talk on this subject. In fact, reading the second half of the book was like King having the “come to Jesus” talk with me. He called me out and kicked my ass on all of the things I’m doing as a writer that I shouldn’t—and he’s 100% right. I needed this book right at this time. I am ¾ of the way though my second novel and have completely fallen out of love with it. Since King wrote this in second person, it felt like he was talking directly to me, calling me out on all my bullshit excuses. I needed that.
On Writing is not just a dressing down—the story was very inspiring as well. King has been through a lot of crap over his career, some of his making and he’s honest about that, but he has come through it strong. Most of all, this book showed me that even successful writers have been through the same self-doubt and aggravations that I go through. He too had a formidable stack of rejection letters wracked up. Finishing this book made we want to tackle that manuscript again. Thank you, Mr. King.
Overall, I give On Writing…
Plot – 3 bookmarks (primarily non-fiction, but there is a personal narrative which threads through.) Practical Application – 5 bookmarks. (Every writer should read this book—preferably when they are down on themselves.) Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Stephen King as himself. ...more
On a recent trip to the theatre, I caught the new trailer for the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie. It looks amazing! So knowing that the book is usually better than the movie, I thought I’d check it out.
Readers of my reviews know I love vampires almost as much as I love history. This was a mash-up made for me! And I did like it...I just didn’t love it.
I think what I liked best about AL:VH was the mixture of fact and fiction. You could tell the author was passionate about his subject matter, because the research that had gone into this project alone was impressive. Weaving the vampire stories into the slave trade was genius. I also learned some things about President Lincoln that I didn’t know. (Did you know Mary Todd Lincoln had mental problems? I should read up on the First Ladies sometime.)
The action was also really good. Abe wielding his big axe and chopping the heads off of vamps is just too cool!
My favorite character in the book was Henry Sturges, Abe’s vampire mentor. In fact, I wish there had been more of Henry in the book. He was a vampire who led the hunting of other vampires. We learn why eventually, but the mystery of him was compelling. I wish the author would write a sequel with him as the main character.
So if I liked history and the action and Henry, why am I left lukewarm? For me, books are about forming an emotional connection with the characters. I love it when my heart races along with theirs--when I experience the terror/elation/heartbreak/love the character feels as if it is happening to me. While I found this book incredibly interesting, I failed to connect emotionally with the characters. It was like I was almost there--poised right on the brink--but never actually fell over the edge. I’ve always thought the photos of President Lincoln make him look wooden. The character of Abe in this books kind of came across the same way. A couple of times, I almost put the book down, but the concept and the history ended up pulling me through. Overall, I give Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter...
Plot - 3 bookmarks Character Development - 2 bookmarks Historic Elements - 5 bookmarks Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Eric Bana (Abraham Lincoln), Henry Cavil (Henry Sturges)...more
I buy Jaci Burton’s books on the lickable covers alone. It’s a bonus when her stories are good. :)
Taking a Shot is the third book in her Play-by-Play series, which revolves around the Riley family and their uber-jock family and friends.
I totally related to Jenna in her desire not to date a jock. I never was much of a sports fan (that has changed a bit with age), and it was one of my criteria when looking for potential boyfriends also. And like her, I ended up breaking this rule when I found the Mr. Right. However, I was disappointed in Jenna as a character. I thought she would be this tough chick who could challenge Ty. Instead, I found her to be a bit of a weenie. These two sides of her character did not balance well. One small rejection in her youth completely holds her back from pursuing her dreams? Oh, come on. Maybe I’m callous because I’m a writer, and we have to wade in rejection daily, but this did not seem like an adequate stumbling block for the character to have to overcome. I know the author could have come up with something deeper and more troubling.
I had the same issue with the character of Tyler, even though I did like him better. We are led to think there is some sort of really deep issue in his family history, but it just turned out that his mother is slightly bitter over her divorce and his dad has a really bad sense of humor. I mean who isn’t embarrassed by their parents a little? Aside from the boring backstory, Tyler was more likable.
I found the plot entertaining enough, and the character chemistry was strong. While I think this is the weakest book in the series so far, I still think Jaci Burton is a great writer. I will definitely be first in line for the next book Playing to Win which comes out in September.
Overall, I give Taking a Shot...
Plot - 3 1/2 bookmarks Character development - 2 1/2 bookmarks Love story - 4 bookmarks (The chemistry was good.) Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Chris Hemsworth (Tyler), Ashley Greene (Jenna)...more
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I am not a big fan of shape shifters. (I keep saying that, but look at all of the shape shifter books that I give good reviews to...) I love the premise of this book. We have a creepy small town in the middle of nowhere owned by a medical research corporation, a girl who has an abnormal talent with wild animals, a new guy in town with a secret past and a best friend who dies under mysterious circumstances. This plot could go in a lot of different directions.
I love the main character, Maya. She is smart and kind--a little judgmental, but she’s working on that--and her talent with animals has me insanely jealous. Maya has a great sense of humor and she has some really funny lines. I enjoy the way she teases her parents.
Maya: "Have you met the tattoo artist? Is he hot?" Mom: "He's a she." Maya: "Is she hot? Cause I'm still young, you know. My sexual identity isn't fully formed." (pg. 37)
The friendship between Maya and Daniel was really nice. I liked how close they were in a platonic way. Many male/female friendships in YA are fronts for one party crushing on the other, whether reciprocated or not. Since this is only the first book in the series, there is time for something to develop between them, but I really hope not. I like them just as friends.
Rafe was also an interesting character. Yes, it seems that every YA novel has a mysterious new guy in school who happens to be totally hot and only has eyes for the main character. While Rafe fits this stereotype to a T, I liked him. I can’t help having a soft spot for the bad boys.
The paranormal elements of this story are really cool. I’m happy to see the Native mythology used. I also love felines of all kinds, so it’s refreshing to have a shifter story not focusing on werewolves.
The book ends on a cliffhanger with a lot of unanswered questions. I’ve come to expect that with the first book of a series, but some readers might find it annoying. My advice is to have the second book of the series handy so you can keep going.
Overall, I give The Gathering...
Plot - 4 1/2 bookmarks (I wanted more with the medical research facility. Left with too many questions.) Character development - 5 bookmarks Mythology - 4 1/2 bookmarks Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Q'orianka Kilcher (Maya), Zach Roerig (Daniel), Diego Boneta (Rafe)...more
I started off really liking this book. Zoey’s head injury has caused her to forget the night before, but because her jerk of a father, she has to pretend like nothing is wrong. When Brandon and Doug start acting strangely the next day, she sets out to piece together the truth of what happened before her accident. Cool plot. However, Zoey takes a little too long to catch on to the clues. I mean, she knows from the beginning that Brandon is a total player. Why she thinks she is his exclusive girlfriend is beyond me. Her naivety irritated me at times. That being said, I liked Zoey. She was sweet, a tad innocent, and a good person.
The love triangle between Zoey, Brandon and Doug really isn’t a triangle, because at no point does the reader think there is any kind of chance for Zoey with Brandon. The guy is a total meat head. Doug, on the other hand, is hotter than hell! He’s slightly brooding and dark, but in a sexy way, not annoying. The chemistry between him and Zoey is perfect.
Like a lot of young adult books published by MTV, there are some sexual situations in the book. Obviously, they are not graphic, but some parents might prefer younger teens not read this. Older or more mature teens should have no problem with the content.
Overall, I give Forget You...
Plot - 4 bookmarks Character development - 4 bookmarks Love story - 4 1/2 bookmarks Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Emily Kassie (Zoey), Evan Alex Cole (Doug), Ed Speeler (Brandon) ...more
It’s been a while since I’ve read a really good mystery. This book balanced multiple plots and some really unique characters to create a satisfying read. As the first in the series, Larsson introduces us to Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative reporter recently convicted of slander, and Lisbeth Salander, a social misfit with a talent for computer hacking. Through a series of incidents, they end up working together to solve the mystery of a teenager who has been missing for thirty years.
My favorite part of this book was the character of Lisbeth. I can honestly say, Lisbeth is the most unique heroine I’ve ever encountered. Coming from someone who reads as much as I do, that is saying a lot. In the tradition of Holden Caulfield, she is a true anti-hero. It’s not just that she dresses in Goth clothes or has tattoos & piercings that makes her different. Lisbeth has severe emotional and social problems, to the point that social services thinks she is mentally unstable and unable to care for herself.
At twenty-four years old and still a ward of the state, Lisbeth is assigned an abusive guardian who has complete control over her life. When her guardian goes too far, he finds out too late that he underestimated her capacity for revenge. For Lisbeth, he is just another example of men who hate women.
The character of Mikael Blomkvist is a nice balance to Lisbeth. He is calm and rational. He doesn’t over-react to Lisbeth’s apparent rudeness or lack of respect for his privacy. Over time, he becomes the one person she can actually trust.
While it took me a few chapters to get sucked in, this is a fast-paced thriller and easy to lose yourself in on a lazy weekend afternoon.
Overall, I give The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo…
Plot – 4 ½ bookmarks Character Development – 5 bookmarks Action – 3 bookmarks Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Ellen Page (Lisbeth), Liam Neeson (Mikael), Vera Farmiga (Erika), Ian McKellen (Vanger), Helen Miren (Cecilia...more
Both Addison and Shane are doctors leading research teams inside the powerful, Triptych Corporation. Both are extremely powerful psychics. They don’t like each other much and Addison is livid when she discovers that the embryo implanted in her by Triptych is her egg fertilized by Shane’s sperm in a lab. Management apparently want to see what their two most gifted psychics might produce for offspring. Expecting a baby together brings Addison and Shane closer, but just as they are standing on the threshold of love, Triptych steps in and breaks them apart with deceptions.
Years pass. Addison and Shane waffle between insatiable attraction to each other and hatred. The whole time, the mystery of Tripych and its creepy management fill the story with intrigue. While there is some serious steamy sex, this is also the story about a family. Shane, Addison and their kids have very realistic relationships. The kids are close since there are few other children in Triptych, and both want to see Shane & Addison work things out. Both Addison and Shane are good parents who do their best by their kids. I loved how human the characters were.
There were a few areas in this story which could have benefited some further explanation. Both of my major issues involved world building. First, this all takes place with a corporation. I gather they do scientific and psychic research, but the details are sketchy. What kind of company has the employees live on sight and dictates every aspect of their personal lives, including who they can sleep with and when and with whom they can have children? The other thing is regarding the aliens. We know Shane is half-alien and there are a few full aliens in the story, but there is not a lot of explanation about the aliens. Where did they come from? What is their role on earth? Are they known to humans outside of the corporation? I felt a bit like I kept missing some fact that would tie all of this together.
Even with these questions, I still really enjoyed this book. It was very different from most things that I read, yet, I found myself engaged and thinking about it between reading. That’s the sign of a good book.
Overall, I give Strange Little Band…
Plot – 4 ½ bookmarks Character Development – 4 bookmarks Love Story – 5 bookmarks Sex Scenes – 4 ¾ bookmarks Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Halle Berry (Addison), Eric Bana (Shane), James Caan (Daniel), Lucy Liu (Joon)...more
Jesi and I decided to do something a bit different on the blog today. A joint review on Maxwell Cyn's CybrGrrl, I want to warn you before you read further their may be spoilers, but we'll do our best not to give too much away. Read on to see our thoughts on some key questions.
Created to be a sexy desktop companion program, Marie emerges into a life of her own. She leads her users, Adrian and Haley, through an erotic adventure as she processes what it is to be alive. The search leads her onto the Internet, and a virtual-world community where she can live an independent existence unfettered by the limits of her server - alive in the cloud - then back into the real world.
1. How long did it take you to read CybrGrrl?
Miranda~ It only took me a couple of hours, i picked it up one afternoon after finishing my daily writing for NaNoWriMo and finished it before the kids got home from school. I couldn't put it down.
[Jesi Lea Ryan] The book reads pretty fast. I think I finished it in an hour and a half or so. Once in a while I like a short novella length read, and CybrGrrl fit perfectly.
2. Did you feel Marie came alive or was she just a program to you through the book?
Miranda~ For me she became a real live character, it became hard to sit back and remember that she was just a program, and honestly in the end I think she was alive in her own way.
[Jesi Lea Ryan] I have to admit, I had to keep reminding myself that she was a program. Marie seemed to be developing a real personality as the story went on. I think she began to be more human to me when she began to experience sexual pleasure because she wanted to, not at the direction of humans controlling her. I’ve never walked in on my Sims pleasuring themselves.
3. Did you feel the advance AI and electronic toys were believable or a bit out there for you?
Miranda~ I think I am 50/50 on that, the AI technology is believable and I have no doubt that it will happen in the future, but the "toys" got to be a bit beyond my sexual comfort level. Though were great for the feeling of the book and the relationships that developed between Adrian, Marie, and Haley.
[Jesi Lea Ryan] Honestly, I found the AI both fascinating and frightening, because I can see how this might happen in the near future. The way Maxwell Cynn described how each advancement Marie made was done, certainly lent to the believability of the AI. We learned about the program along with the characters.
4. What was your favorite part of the book?
Miranda~ Hmm, good question, I would have to say Haley's first encounter with Marie, when they sit down for "girl talk", the intimacy they share and how it ulitimately effects Haley is a turning point for me in the book.
[Jesi Lea Ryan] I have to say, my favorite part of the book revolved around the AI. As I said, it was really cool, but also kind of scary. I can almost picture us all having CybrGrrls in the not-so-distant future. Of course, my business mind kept going back to the efficiencies that could be created for businesses and the number of real humans who could be out of work as a result.
5.Be honest, could you use your own CybrGrrl?
Miranda~ Most definitely, i so could use a virtual assistant. Though if I did have one, I would probably never leave my home. LOL
[Jesi Lea Ryan] Heck, yeah! Only mine would look like Robert Pattinson, have his British accent and sing me sleep at night. J My husband might have an issue with this though.
6. What is your overall feeling and rating of CybrGrrl?
Miranda~ this was a fantastic erotic story that was not only steamy and sensual, but had a good back story that kept you turning the page to find out what happens next. I loved the relationship and trust that is evident with Aiden and Haley. I gave this a 5 star rating, check it out , it's a great read.
[Jesi Lea Ryan] I like reading erotica, and the sex in CybrGrrl was well done. But the more interesting part of the story for me was the AI. It made the story feel fresh to me. I also liked the theme of what it means to be human. I do think the sex was essential for the story, because CybrGrrl was originally marketed as a sex toy (again, totally believable). I give CybrGrrl… Originality – 5 bookmarks Character Development – 5 bookmarks (He turned a computer program into a human!) Sex Scenes – 4 bookmarks Plot – 4 ½ bookmarks (Some scenes had a lot of talking and no action. Considering most of the story requires the main character to sit at his computer, I thought Cynn did a good job with keeping the pacing up.) Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Henry Cavill (Adrian), Emily Blunt (Haley), Holly Valance (Marie) ...more
Going Too Far is the first Jennifer Echols book I’ve read, and I promise it won’t be the last. I am a big fan of realistic YA characters. In real lifeGoing Too Far is the first Jennifer Echols book I’ve read, and I promise it won’t be the last. I am a big fan of realistic YA characters. In real life, teenagers are not perfect. They make mistakes, say the wrong things, act before they think. So many times in YA fiction, authors either make their teen characters unrealistically perfect, or they try to force them into being quirky to the point of ridiculousness. Echols captured a realism in her characters that felt refreshing.
Meg is a bit of a rebel. She drinks, smokes pot and is promiscuous. But it is clear from the first page that this behavior is a defense mechanism burying some serious pain. John is nineteen-going-on-forty. Despite his good grades and talent for art, John has chosen to forgo college and go directly to the police academy. Being a cop feeds his do-gooder side and his need to help others make good decisions. When John sees the destructive path Meg is going down, he works with the local DA to make Meg ride along with him in his squad car for a whole week. He wants her to see the possible consequences of her actions.
The connection between Meg and John is immediate, but their romantic feelings for each other take a little time to develop. Of course, the whole story take place over one week, so it is a fairly quick romance. Given how quickly teenage emotions change, I didn’t find the speed with which Meg and John feel for each other unrealistic, especially given they each carried emotional baggage and desperately needed someone to turn to.
There were a couple of minor issues that bothered me… Meg has blue hair. I don’t have a problem with that, but I do have a problem with it being mentioned every other page. Readers do not need to be beat over the head with these kinds of details over and over. My other issue is that I wanted John to be just a little bit older. In the beginning, Meg mistakes him for being forty-years-old due to his attitude and maturity. I guess I pictured him in his early twenties, so when he reveals he is only nineteen, I didn’t buy it. I also didn’t buy it that Meg and John were only a year apart in school, in a small town, had classes together in the past and had some social connections in common, yet she had no idea who he was. It just didn’t make any sense. Lastly, I thought Meg’s reasons for being claustrophobic were lame. It basically stems from one incident. Given the debilitating claustrophobic problems her has, I would have expected more.
Minor issues aside, I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters were great. I loved the setting. The romance was swoon-worthy. I can’t wait to check out some of Echols’ other books.
Overall, I give Going Too Far…
Plot – 4 bookmarks Character development – 4 ½ bookmarks Love story – 4 ½ bookmarks Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Gia Mantegna (Meg), Liam Hemsworth (John), Allison Siko (Tiffany), Nick Roux (Eric)...more