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CONTEST ENTRIES > Best Review Contest (Summer 2012)

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message 1: by Dlmrose (new)

Dlmrose | 17879 comments Mod
This is thread where you can submit reviews for the Best Review contest. The thread is open for submissions and will close at Midnight EST on August 17, 2012. Voting will start the next day and run until the end of the day on August 31st. The person whose review gets the most votes will get to design a 20 point task for the Fall Challenge.

Just a reminder that each person can only submit one review - but you can make edits to your review up until the end. The review does not have to be any particular length and doesn't have to be a positive one (i.e. you can choose to review a book you didn't like).

PLEASE DO NOT comment on people's reviews in this thread - this is for submissions only - you will be able to comment when voting begins.

SPOILER ALERT!- These reviews may include spoilers.

message 2: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 471 comments Is no one going to submit reviews?

message 3: by Bucket (new)

Bucket | 369 comments I usually do, but I submitted a logo and no one else has submitted one of those either - I can't win both! If there's no reviews by Friday, I'll put one up. :)

message 4: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 471 comments I have one I'd submit, but it's no fun if I win by default!

message 5: by Sara ♥ (new)

Sara ♥ (saranicole) | 1136 comments What constitutes a "good" review? Professional? Funny? Makes people want to read the book? Just curious. I could look through mine.....

message 6: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 16197 comments Mod
Bucket wrote: "I usually do, but I submitted a logo and no one else has submitted one of those either - I can't win both! If there's no reviews by Friday, I'll put one up. :)"

well, best logo doesn't involve creating a task, so I don't think the 2 are mutually exclusive.

message 7: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 16197 comments Mod
Sara ♥ wrote: "What constitutes a "good" review? Professional? Funny? Makes people want to read the book? Just curious. I could look through mine....."

I think it's whatever people like. For me, personally, it's a review that lets me know whether or not I would want to read the book.

message 8: by Chris (new)

Chris (chrismd) | 967 comments I think I will be submitting one - just have to finish the book I want to review!

message 9: by Chris (new)

Chris (chrismd) | 967 comments Chris MD

Review of The Yard by Alex Grecian

If some Hollywood producer decided to create a new television cop series set in 1870s London, he or she could get the whole first season's scripts right from this book. There is one major story line: the savage killing of a Scotland Yard inspector whose eyes and lips have been sewn shut and whose body has been stuffed into a too-small trunk. All of the Yard's resources will go toward hunting down the killer. There are several minor storylines, including someone slitting the throats of men with beards--but only after shaving them first. And the characters are right out of every successful police series from Adam 12 to NYPD Blue, just with handlebar mustaches and more formality. There is the perceptive chief of police who truly cares about his men. There's the new detective trying to make a name for himself so he can be worthy of his pretty, higher-class wife, whom we get to see struggling to manage a Victorian household on a policeman's pay. There's one constable who's married to the job, willing to do whatever it takes to get his man, even if it means bending the rules. There's another who's a bit of a dandy, more concerned about his shirtcuffs than his handcuffs. And there's the forward-thinking coroner trying to drag forensic science into the late 19th century. He even carries coal dust around with him trying to find fingerprints because he's convinced they can help solve crime. And there's a fine assortment of criminals and crazies.

Unfortunately, this is not the script to a television series, it is a novel. And as such, it is overblown and underdone. The author can't decide what he's writing about. Is this book supposed to be a thriller or a look at the criminal justice system and the streets of London in the 1870s? A good writer would have been able to combine these into a compelling whole. Crichton did it wonderfully in The Great Train Robbery. Alex Grecian is no Michael Crichton. Intead the book feels more like Grecian tried to shovel in every piece of his research. And then he blows it all up by throwing in modern lines like "Of course the family would need closure." After a while my head began to spin.

The main story does lead to some suspense as the police play cat-and-mouse with the cop killer, but even that finally falls flat. In fact, the author spends a good part of the story foreshadowing what seems like it will be the obvious final confrontation with the killer, and then he seems to have forgotten he wrote it. Other plots pop up, hang in the air like trial balloons, and then have the air go out of them. Others are just plain stupid and have no place in the story at all. I'm still not sure what the point of the poisoning story line was. Another plot hit its peak at the end of a chapter somewhere about three-quarters of the way through the book and then wasn't mentioned again until the very end of the book. I was sure I must have skipped a chapter, but no.

There are many good books about life in Victorian London. This isn't one of them. I also think it's highly doubtful anyone will want to make a TV series about a Victorian police force. After all, what would the theme song sound like?

message 10: by Michelle (last edited Aug 29, 2012 08:18AM) (new)

Michelle (deckfullojokers) | 47 comments MICHELLE VA

Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Gilt was a very cleverly chosen title.

gilt (adj): thin layer of gold: a thin layer of gold or of a substance that looks like gold applied to a surface

Catherine Howard throws herself into riches with little abandon, and chases other pleasures with equal wholeheartedness. She is the girl who practices hard to get the attention of those she wants and to display just the right emotions to manipulate others into getting what she wants. She drags her friends into her chase, and into the royal court when she becomes the fourth wife of Henry VIII. But Cat is not really golden, and the court is really a rich facade of treachery, cold-heartedness, and survival.

Gilt is pronounced like guilt.

Guilt is what Kitty Tylney feels at the end. The story is told from her perspective, which saves the book from reciting history. Kitty is Cat's shadow, the girl who is bullied, but mistakes being bullied for love and friendship. She is the girl who is loyal to a fault, sacrificing her own life for the gilded life of Cat. But guilt is not Kitty's burden alone.

This book would have made an excellent beach or poolside read, but I suppose my bed served just fine. It was fast, enjoyable, and despite knowing how the story would end, I raced to see it for myself.

message 11: by Bucket (new)

Bucket | 369 comments Well, in that case, I'm going for it! :)

Below is my review of In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. I read the last volume in the novel this season and this review is of all seven volumes together.

I’ve always said that I’d rather a book be short on plot andlong on thought than fast-paced and full of clever plot devices but lackingrealistic characters and something thought-provoking to sink my teeth into. Thefact that I truly loved reading this 3000-page novel, from beginning to end,puts my money where my mouth is. After all, the first volume (Swann’s Way)opens with 30-ish pages describing that weird feeling of waking up and notknowing for a split where, who, or when you are.

In Search of Lost Time is impossible to summarize, but hereI go: The novel is about Marcel (the narrator, not the author) discovering,after a long life of distractions and failures, that he can reach the goal ofwriting a novel that he gave up long ago. The novel has two “I’s” - both youngMarcel and old Marcel (writing the novel we’re reading) wax and wanethroughout. This provides the reader with two different looks at characters andevents that combine to give us a more rounded perspective. As Roger Shattuck,literary critic and Proust scholar says, this is just like the way that our twoeyes with their slightly different locations on our face work together to givewhat we see depth.

There are dozens of central characters and plot points andhundreds of pages of philosophical musings and digressions, but the last 100pages are a glorious culmination. Proust comes at his major themes from anendless variety of closely-associated angles, teasing out every nuance. Ultimately,I feel comfortable distilling In Search of Lost Time down to the following themes,in order of increasing importance, that will continue to haunt my thoughts fora long time:

Art and Literature – Proust is very clear that bothliterature and art are tools for human growth and reflection. This does not,however, mean that reading a good book or watching an acclaimed play willautomatically change the reader/viewer and help her grow. Rather, literatureand art are means to an end, starting points. As Marcel (our narrator)describes the readers of his novel: “For they were not, as I saw it, myreaders, so much as readers of their own selves, my book being merely one thosemagnifying glasses… I would be providing them with the means of reading withinthemselves.” Merely having and experiencing the tool isn’t enough, the readermust then do his or her own internal work to gain from the experience.

Identity – We are, each of us, an endless number of people.As we change over time, we become new people. Additionally, we are a differentperson in the eyes of each person who knows us. As Marcel describes himself: “Iwas not one single man, but the march-past of a composite army manned,depending on the time of day, by passionate, indifferent or jealous men.”

Memory and Time – I’mdiscussing these two themes together because they are so interwoven. Proustvery thoroughly show how our memories aren’t static, but are shaped andfiltered by how our identity changes and what happens to us over time. Lifeweaves new connections and ideas around old memories, changing them. Proustalso argues that the more we consciously focus on creating or thinking about amemory, the less real and visual it will be because we wring all the strengthout of it. Involuntary memories – what readers of In Search of Lost Time wouldcall “Proustian moments” – are the most potent. The most famous Proustianmoment in the novel is when the narrator takes a bit of a madeleine cake he hasdipped in tea and very suddenly recalls his childhood in an extremely sensualway. This moments allows the narrator tooccupy two time periods at once, the one he is in and the one he recalls – he “experience[s]in a flash a little bit of time in its pure state.” The novel closes with arapid succession of five such moments, which ultimately lead the narrator towrite his novel.

It took me six months to work my way through In Search ofLost Time and I would not be exaggerating to say that the experienced haschanged me. My perspective has deepened, my self-visualization has beenrefined. And, to end on a lighter note, I’ve found another reason to readliterature to add to my growing mental list:

“To read genuine literature is to accumulate within oneselfa fund of possible experiences against which to achieve an occasionally intensifiedsense of what one is doing, to recognize that one is alive in a particular way.”

Through literature, the young look forward to life, and theold look back at it.

message 12: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 471 comments Yay! I'm glad there are reviews! Here's mine:

13 to Life by Shannon Delany

OK, so this is not my usual type of book. Really. And had it been some sort of girl meets boy, girl likes boy, girl has messy parental/female relationships that interfere with liking boy, and oh, by the way, "boy" is a werewolf, I probably would have chucked it across the room. In fact, most of the book was exactly that. The saving grace for me was that werewolf boy was also Russian, and I'm a sucker for most things Russian. The fact that the Russian mafia and CIA are also looking for werewolf boy was just enough to keep me going, and possibly enough to keep me going with the series.

A few things annoyed me though. The biggest being, why do we have to always pretend like we don't know that at least one character is a werewolf, vampire, ghost, whatever? Really? I was shocked at the transformation in the woods? Not hardly. I'd love for a story to be like, "hey, I'm the new kid in town, you're hot, and I'm a werewolf. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, we can have some real plot in our story." I doubt it'll happen though. I also didn't understand Jessie's fascination with the wolf attack in the nearby town, and with things Russian *before* she met Pietr. It was like she knew she had to find clues to support the end of the story before she knew that these pieces of info would be clues.

2 highlights were: the excessive use of classic literature throughout the book. Lots of nods to Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Salinger, etc was very cool. Also, I really liked the aforementioned "messy" female relationship. Trying to turn the school's biggest bitch into your best friend without her even knowing it is happening (and the set up for extreme failure should she find out), brilliant.

message 13: by Randi (last edited Aug 16, 2012 06:17PM) (new)

Randi (mrsrandimoulton) | 256 comments I had so much trouble deciding what review to submit!

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

5 stars

Disclaimer: There may be gushing ahead. You have been warned! There are so many things I want to say about this book. I have read a lot of great books this year, but I honestly think this may be my new favorite. It was just.that.epic. I loved it. I read it in one sitting. I want to reread it over and over (and I am not a rereader). Yes, it's a book with zombies. But it's not only about zombies - it is so much more. Sloane is our first-person, present-tense narrator, and she does a hell of a job. There is action, but the story is highly character-focused, but we'll get to that later. Where to start?

The writing is beautiful. Gritty and heartwrenching and even lyrical at times. I had my husband pick up some page markers at the store while I was reading (I usually dog-ear the pages I know, I know, don't hate me! mostly because I usually only have a couple places in a book that I actually want to mark), and there are so many vivid lines. Here's a sample: "A splintering sound reached my ears and then again, again and again. Something splitting open. At first I think it's me, that when you die, you splinter into a million pieces, but then I feel wet - wet against me, but slick and wrong. And then a dead wet weight on top of me" (101). Another: "These words cut me, feel like they cut me when they come out. They tear up my lips, make them bleed" (209). The way Sloane thinks, and describes her thinking, honestly stuns me! She is broken, but somehow finds herself, and the journey and description Summers gives us to get there is brilliant. (Sorry for so much gushing!)

Sloane finds strength in herself throughout the novel that she didn't realize she had. She may not seem like a "strong independent" heroine in the beginning, as we see her cowering from her abusive father and lamenting the fact that Rhys and Cary saved her rather than leaving her to be eaten by the living dead, but we see her grow and change right before our eyes. I loved Sloane as a character - she is not perfect by any means (at some points, I wondered if perhaps she suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), and that makes her even more realistic. I love Rhys and Cary (I may have a teeny tiny book-crush on Rhys...) who are both courageous but vulnerable. Grace is nice, and I love her relationship with her brother. I don't care for Harrison, whom I see as a weakling and a follower (and the person I hope I do not become in the case of a zombie apocalypse). I'm not a fan of Trace either, though his loyalty to his sister is admirable. To me, all of these characters are honest and realistic portrayals of the different kinds of teenage personalities we might expect to find grouped together during the zombie apocalypse.

The zombies...are scary as hell! As I mentioned, this is more than just a zombie novel, so we don't get a ton of face-to-face zombie action, but the constant threat of them is always waiting just beyond the barricades. They are machines! They are not as helpless seeming as I've read them in other books, rather they are fast, tricky, and nasty buggers.

Overall, I can say without a doubt that this book will definitely make my top 10 books of 2012, and it may even be at the very top. I will be checking up on Summers' other works. Even if you're not a fan of zombies, the feel of this book is very contemporary to me (you have a girl who doesn't want to live = understandable issues, maybe a hint of romance, perhaps?), so you should read it. If you're not a fan of contemporaries, there is enough survival-mode atmosphere (and some zombies) to pique your interest, so you should read it. Sensing a pattern here?

message 14: by Kara (new)

Kara (karaayako) Let's Pretend This Never Happened A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

Four and a half stars.

This woman is so funny. Laugh out loud funny. Her book reads more like an extra long blog post (or a compilation of them) than a book of short stories, but that makes sense given that she's a blogger (well, the Bloggess if you want to get specific).

I thought I had gone into this completely open-minded. A lot of the reviews seemed to be from people who followed Jenny's blog, and that didn't seem fair. They were predisposed to love it. I, however, had never read her blog and could provide an unbiased review. Or so I thought.

I went through the first three-quarters of the book (occasionally laughing out loud while reading on an airplane and really annoying the people around me trying to sleep) before I hit the rooster chapter. And I had read it before! It's because this post from Jenny's blog had gone viral last year. And I had loved it. And if I were more of a blog-reading kind of girl, then I definitely would have bookmarked her blog. Unfortunately, I am not; fortunately, I am a reader, and Jenny came out with this wonderful little book.

Jenny very honestly tells her story of living with general anxiety disorder. She tells it in such a fresh, open way that I started wondering if I had general anxiety disorder. Not because I could possibly, but because I empathized with her so much. I would be reading about her rituals of asking the cats to wish her luck or how she keeps telling an awkward story even when she knows she shouldn't just because she needs to finish or viewing the growing pile of clean laundry in the spare bedroom as a sign of accomplishment while her husband views it as one of laziness and I would think: I would totally do that! And it's not because I actually would (except for the laundry thing because I totally already do that). It's because Jenny conveyed herself so clearly that I could understand exactly why she would do all of the crazy things that she did. There's tragedy here--more than her fair share of it--but there's also love and happiness and a willingness to laugh at herself.

(Side note: There's quite a bit of swearing. If that's not your thing, this might be one to avoid.)

message 15: by Paul (last edited Aug 17, 2012 08:35PM) (new)

Paul | 285 comments Superman Kryptonite Nevermore! by Dennis O'Neil Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore!

4 stars !!

This is a wonderful book, not for the plot, but for the insight it provides into the history of DC comics during the changes in the 1970's. Read the graphic novel for sure, but make sure you read the preface and especially the Afterword (by Dennis O'Neill). Dennis was in the thick of the "relevance" revolution at DC comics in the 1970's by virtue of his writing on Green Lantern / Green Arrow.

So they tried to do the same thing with Superman. After all, what can you do with a character that is invulnerable to pretty much everything ? Previous writers created kryptonite (not part of the original legacy). As you may recall, green kryptonite would weaken and could (theoretically) kill Superman. There were many other forms of kryptonite (see the Wikipedia link for more than you ever wanted to know about it: Somehow they decided to destroy kryptonite (so he is impervious to all harm?). Seems counter-intuitive, but hey, this was the 70's.

Anyway, they (the writers) destroy all the kryptonite (not a spoiler !), but the interesting part is the journey. This book is filled with many instances of gloriously kitschy dialogue. Here are a few of my favorites:

1) Page 17: Superman eats some kryptonite after it has been rendered harmless, and says "Mmmm... Not bad! A trifle STALE... and it could use a bit of SALT... but all in all, a nice little snack!"

2) Page 66: After defeating two smalltown hoods (really, Supes ?) with Batman's "sharp detective work" according to Superman, Superman says "We ought to CELEBRATE! Can I buy you a cup of coffee ?. They never celebrate when they save the world as the justice league but two thieves warrants a "celebration" ?

3) page 98 (my favorite): Earth folks are being infected by some disease that turns them into hideous monsters. Superman thinks he is somehow responsible, but it really doesn't matter. Superman tunes into a small television (rabbit ears, yay !) and hears a doctor say "ATTENTION, SUPERMAN, wherever you are! I've isolated the virus from space... it looks like nothing I've ever seen before ! More importantly, I've discovered it doesn't affect EVERYONE -- and those it DOES infect can be cured by a mere injection of LIQUID FREON!

Really ? And how did the doctor discover this little gem ? "Hmm... let's see gentlemen, here's the injections that didn't work: gasoline, swamp water, paint, pork gravy... I guess we have no choice but to see what will happen when we inject our patient with liquid freon !"

All in all, a delightful trip in Mr. Peabody's WABAC machine to those innocent, ignorant days of the 1970's!

message 16: by Kristina Simon (last edited Aug 18, 2012 06:45AM) (new)

Kristina Simon (kristinasimon) | 10973 comments Mod
The Best Review contest is now closed for new submissions. Thanks everyone who posted a review! The poll to determine who will design task 20.3 will go up soon.

message 17: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (m_sarah) | 69 comments I just wanted to say that it was very hard to choose only one amongst your great reviews.
I really enjoyed them all.

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