June 25, 2016

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #2 Matthew S. Cox, Alison Goodman, Jeri Smith-Ready


Intro


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I had never though I'd done minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted with some shorties for a blogging event in 2015. And Karen from For What It's Worth started praising my short recs/recaps :). Just to be clear,  I'm NOT taking a break from writing long review - no such luck LOL. But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, or in case I want to draw attention to some old ones I've already reviewed, I might as well give you the short version ;). Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random! So, here goes...

June 16, 2016

Christopher Pike: "Strange Girl"

Title: Strange Girl [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Christopher Pike [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary with a Twist, Paranormal
Year: 2015
Age: 14+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Peculiar story (though...see: cons), heartfelt and honest.
Cons: ...But Pike already wrote something similar (see: review). Characters sound oldish and a bit stiff. Some incidents sound contrived. An abusive behaviour is "almost" condoned.
WARNING! Some sex but mostly implied. Hints of violence. An abuse story recounted without details.
Will appeal to: Those who are in for a mystical journey working its way around a series of real-life occurrences.

Blurb: From the moment Fred meets Aja, he knows she’s different. She’s pretty, soft-spoken, shy - yet seems to radiate an unusual peace. Fred quickly finds himself falling in love with her. Then strange things begin to happen around Aja. A riot breaks out that Aja is able to stop by merely speaking a few words. A friend of Fred’s suffers a serious head injury and has a miraculous recovery. Yet Aja swears she has done nothing. Unfortunately, Fred is not the only one who notices Aja’s unique gifts. As more and more people begin to question who Aja is and what she can do, she’s soon in grave danger. Because none of them truly understands the source of Aja’s precious abilities - or their devastating cost. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: Apparently, a few months ago, Christopher Pike joined Wattpad (well, Simon & Schuster had him joining Wattpad) with the sole main purpose of advertising this book (the first 6 chapters can still be read on the site, BTW). I'm saying this because he used to be on there every day or so until the book came out...then, silence. Well, to his credit, he did post all of Remember Me (I mean the first installment) and a great advice-for-aspiring-writers series, too. Anyway, I'm digressing. What I'm trying to say is, either S&S had him cornered, or he did think Strange Girl was his best book like he went on repeating, or probably both - but he talked like this novel was special and deserved special attention. Well, this is the pre-review I posted on Goodreads after reading Strange Girl for the first time...


I've reread this novel since then, and unfortunately, I still feel the same way. I honestly can see where Pike is coming from. But I'm still, honestly, not thrilled. Here's the good, the bad and the ugly about it.
(...Psst...just in case you don't know, or you're too young to remember - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was an Italian movie starring Clint Eastwood...and it came out the year I was born. Actually, the day after I was born. Erm).

THE GOOD

  • As far as young adult books go, Strange Girl is unprecedented. Though Pike is used to weave Eastern spirituality into his novels (from Remember Me 2 & 3 to, more notably, the Thirst series), this is the very first time that he has a character embodying not only some of its concepts, but a transcendental entity. I have mixed feelings about the result, but I can see that he tried hard and earnestly to walk the fine line between what he calls the Big Person and the Little Person. And though I can't say I love Aja, there are at least a couple of beautiful scenes where she tries to explain her inner truth. Then again, to be honest, I'm not a spiritual person, so the book as a whole might reach a different audience better.
  • There's a strong accent on friendship in this novel. I really like how Pike never shuns pairing boys and girls together as best friends. There's also a gay character, who is not particularly developed, but at least his sexuality isn't made a big deal of - plus he later conveys the normality of gay marriage and paternity.
  • Music plays a big role. The main character Fred and his friends are in a band, and love for music is portayed in different ways, none of which à la "I-want-to-be-a-teen-idol". OK, it may not be a popular concept among nowadays teens, and someone might say that Pike is not in tune with them - but it's refreshing to meet characters who actually have a passion for music instead of a craving for being on TV, and it's healthy for young adults to be exposed to them. [...]

June 12, 2016

Graham McNamee: "Beyond"

Title: Beyond [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Graham McNamee [Site: none so far (including Facebook and Twitter) | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural, Horror, Afterlife, Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2012
Age: 12+
Stars: 2.5/5
Pros: Interesting premise. Lead you can empathise with. Peculiar sidekick. Family plays a big role.
Cons: Main characters lack depth. Their friendship feels a bit unlikely. Massive use of colloquial/informal speech (understood subject).
WARNING!: Kid abuse is implied. There's tension and psychological horror, and the ending is pretty intense. Nothing terribly scary though.
Will appeal to: First-time horror/supernatural readers.

Blurb: Jane is not your typical teen. She and her best friend Lexi call themselves the Creep Sisters. Only Lexi knows why Jane is different from anyone else: her own shadow seems to pull her into near-fatal accidents. Jane is determined to find out why these terrifying things happen, and to overcome her shadow enemy. Her sleuthing with Lexi connects her own horrors to the secret history of a serial killer. (Amazon)

Review: Premise...despite my rating, this is not a bad book. I had a few problems with it, but in all honesty, I think that, as a horror/supernatural novel for beginners, it delivers. I'd recommend it to young teens who are dipping their toes in the genres.

BIZARRE FRIENDSHIP

First off, the blurb is not accurate. Jane would, indeed, be a fairly typical teen, if not for her shadow trying to kill her since she was a kid. She's a nice character...only, you know, a little bland. Now, her best Lexi is definitely the not typical half of their small team, with her goth appearance and her penchant for shooting videos that, more often than not, revolve around dead and decomposing animals. Mind you, I enjoyed the descriptions of Lexi's photography and videomaking, because the author was able to convey both her passion for those artistic media and her "vision". What I didn't buy was Lexi's friendship with Jane to begin with. It sounds like Lexi originally went after Jane because she was a freak in some respect, courtesy of one of her "incidents" that had left her hands burned. Yes, Lexi is protective of Jane, and helpful when it comes to investigate her scary situation, but still I was never able to get a real sense of their friendship.

PECULIAR SHADOW

The mystery behind Jane's predicament was what kept the book going for me. I do believe it's an original spin on the "killer shadow" myth. The connection between Jane and such shadow, the reason why it tries to kill her, the reason why it has a life of its own to begin with - it was fascinating to read. If the Goosebumps or Point Horror series still existed, Beyond would make for a solid addition to both...even more sophisticated than some of their original books, I can safely say. [...]

June 09, 2016

Screen Time #4: Dear Screenwriters, You Have No Right


Welcome to Screen Time, my own feature where I ramble about spotlight some iconic and/or favourite TV series from the '80s, '90s and 2000s!
I'm a child of the '60s *big shock*. This accounts for me fondly remembering some oldies I grew up with, or having some of them in my all-time favourite list. But don't worry, I'm not stuck in the '80s ;). There are plenty of series I've liked and followed in the most recent years...and some current favourites too. So tune in with me, and don't forget your popcorn...

***

OK, I'm going to do something different with this feature for once. Because - while my life doesn't revolve around my favourite TV series - I hate it with a passion when a screenwriter comes along and basically throws in a total game changer. One of those WTF ideas that have the power to retroactively ruin all the investment I had in a show. Not to mention, to sever all my ties with it from that point on.


There has been a bit of a commotion lately for The Walking Dead season finale. And, in the comic sphere, even more commotion for the grand reveal about Captain America being *gasp* a secret Nazi. With the serialization and the reuse of popular characters growing more and more intense, writers are always trying to come up with shocking contents in order to give stories a new spin...and a longer life. Which, frankly, more often than not brings them to absolutely bad decisions. Some TV series are becoming soap operas in disguise. And I am enraged, or disgusted at least. Are you?