Thursday, August 28, 2014

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

4 Stars
Still here? Okay, let’s get on with the show.

Upon starting And Then There Were None, I found myself feeling extremely . . . giddy. WTF is wrong with me? Normal people don’t get all smiley when they begin a book where everyone and their dog is going to get murdered. I need professional help.

Generally in the summertime I follow a couple of traditions faithfully:

1. I read a lot of nonsense while sitting poolside (preferably with a smuggled-in piña colada or margarita in hand); and

2. I drive my husband nuts with my annual viewing of Harper’s Island. (I have no clue how we’ve stayed married so long – he doesn’t like Harper’s Island, he doesn’t like Sharknado – I should be nominated for sainthood.)

This summer I’ve kind of broken free of the confines of Rule #1 - not saying I haven’t read some fluff, but I’ve been heavy handed in choosing more thriller/horror novels. Maybe it was the abnormally cool temps that not only kept my toes out of the water, but also helped me keep my wits about me?

Whatever the cause, I’ve had some serious quality reading experiences this summer. Endless thanks to
twelvejan [Alexandria] for bringing this classic tale to my attention. I had read a handful of Poirot stories back in the Paleolithic Era, but found them to be just “okay”. After reading And Then There Were None, I think it might possibly be Agatha Christie’s best work.

Ten strangers, each with a skeleton in the closet, are summoned to an island by a host who only appears as a voice on a recording accusing the guests of murder. What follows is the death of each person


by one

by one

Until no one is left.

Okay, so maybe the murders aren’t that gruesome, but we are talking about a 75 year old book here. I was amazed at how well it stood the test of time and how it had me gripping the edge of my seat in anticipation. And though, at the end of it all, you may claim to have known who the murderer was all along, you mustn’t forget all the times you changed your mind (because your choice of killer was one of the 10 little soldiers who happened to fall).

Recommended to? Anyone looking for a quality murder mystery.

Now for a couple of wishlist items:

1. It’s time for Harper’s Island 2.0. Come on CBS, you know you wanna . . .

2. Someone plan a murder mystery party and invite me. My only requirement is that I get to wear a wedding gown and have the murderer chase me through the woods.

You say you don’t live near any woods? No problem – you can have the party at my house. Just make sure you warn everyone that there are some REALLY weird looking dogs that occasionally hang out around the doghouse.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Blackout by Tim Curran

4 Stars

Hey, what’s that????

Horrifying tentacle monster? Yes, please.

I know there are a lot (and I mean A LOT) of people reading some very different tentacle stories, but for now I’ll just stick with good old fashion horror. Of course, the tentacle monsters in this story did come from the sky, so there very well could have been some anal probing that Tim Curran just decided to leave on the editing room floor.

According to Goodreads, this little tale was 234 pages long, but I read it in like one hot minute. Either the page number stat is wrong, or Curran really knows how to pack a wallop that keeps the pages flying. This baby was seriously high octane . . . (wait, high voltage????? yeah, all the action sprouts from a simple little lightning storm, so definitely high voltage) thrill-ride.

I won’t give everything away, here but if your idea of some quality fun is mixing a 1950s “B Horror Movie”

with the a modern day alien classic

You might like this one more than a little bit.

And the monsters? They kick ass and take names . . .

serious ass . . .

(Technically I think this one may be a squid, but tomato/tomahto – you try finding relevant octopus .gifs on 4 hours of sleep)

The only reason Blackout didn’t earn all 5 Stars from me is for the lackluster ending, but now you’ve been warned, so hopefully it will save you some disappointment and you’ll remember that the other 97% of the story was AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWESOME.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you, NetGalley!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Innocents by Mary Elizabeth and Sarah Elizabeth

1 Star

This one might get a bit ranty.

After reading Fangirl last year, I found myself fascinated by the world of FanFiction and began searching Goodreads to find a “good” FanFic in order to see what all the fuss was about. I realize there are plenty of fics which have morphed into bestsellers (although for the life of me, I can’t understand why), but I wanted an honest-to-goodness written from obsession love, can’t get enough of these people so I’ll do it myself, with a good “what if” scenario to mix things up from the inspiration. You know, kind of like how my good friend Tina Belcher rocks it.

Long story short, I ended up stumbling upon Dusty and decided to give it a go. At over 1,200 pages, this was obviously a labor of love and I was digging the premise (i.e., what if, rather than being a sparkly bloodsucker – Edward’s darkness came from drug addiction), but it’s not like I’m one of those “TwiMoms” or anything. Okay, full disclosure, I totally went to see “Twilight” at an over-21 movie theater and got hammered on “blood bags”, but that just makes me a girl who likes to get her drink on, not a fangirl.

Anyway, I muddled through Dusty and thought it had potential should it ever come under an editor’s red pen. When I saw that Innocents had been created, I figured what the hay and clicked the old one-click. What did I find?

So. Much. Teen. Angst. And guess what? This mother*^%$r hasn’t been edited AT ALL. Rather than cutting any of the hundreds of unnecessary pages, Innocents is just the first 4,572,619 282 pages of Dusty.

It’s pretty horrible . . . and (for me, at least) not horrible in the ways others have stated. I didn’t mind reading about EdwardThomas/Dusty’s downward spiral into drugs or the progression of Bella Leighlee and Thomas’ relationship into a sexual one. The problem I had was the writing – for the love of god the writing is sooooooo bad.

First, we have the excessive nicknames for our female MC:

“Princess kid”
“Sunny side”
“Pretty girl”
“Princess Blissy-bliss”
“Princess baby”
“My cherished”

Did you barf yet? My apologies.

Second, we have the obligatory references to how everything/everyone smells:

“Chocolate chip cookie and playtime scented”
“Cotton candy, corn dogs, and just-cut grass”
(I bet Old Spice is ALL OVER this one)
“Baseball sweat and dirty play clothes”
“Smoke and lily flowers”
“Sweet grass, trouble, and vanilla”
“Pure, unreserved mischief"
– be careful about enjoying this one too much

“The scent of teenage boys: sweat and clay-dirt, cut grass and leafy green.”Uhhhhh, I have a teenage boy – he don’t smell like that. It’s more like:

“Marshmallows, summertime, and cake, dark rain and wet grass”
“Vanilla and pot and nighttime and meadows and smoke and Thomas”

Finally, there are these giant, rambling paragraphs about “love” (I flagged a shitton of these, but I’ll only post one – don’t say I never did you any favors):

“Love is indescribable, cumbersome, silly-selfish, consuming, life-changing, goose bump-giving, knowing-all-the-words-to-the-song exciting. I-can’t-think-straight-without-him-overwhelming, sigh-swooning, laugh-out-loud-for-no-reason anxious. It’s a rule-causing, jealousy-inducing, leg-kicking, dream-giving, wonderful, filling, shake-trembling, wonder-where-you-are-always obsessive, necessary, requiring, joyful flow.”

Hold your horses, it’s not over over yet, kids.

“Our love is secret-keeping, late-night sneaking, gift-giving, cream-soda loving, vanilla, trouble, and princess-pie-duty incomparable.”

Needless to say, Innocents did not make me feel all “lemon-sunshine and dizzy dazzly.” Oh, and if you’re looking for a big payoff in the “losing of the V-Card arena” – you’re going to be disappointed.


Monday, August 25, 2014

The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson

2 Stars
Advance apologies for the profanity laced .gifs. I have a case of the Mondays.

At the ripe old age of 44, Rosie really wasn’t spending her days dreaming about having a little bundle of joy.

No, Rosie had bigger fish to fry. Problems like dealing with her long-time boyfriend Jonathan’s teacup obsession and his multiple proposals (first, to get married after being a couple for 15 years and second, to move across the country in order for Jonathan to accept his dream job of managing a teacup museum) as well as the problem of her aging Grandmother and the random “caregiver” she’s moved in to her house. Rosie finally decides to take control of things, sends Jonathan packing to California on his own and moves in to Grandma “Soapie’s” house to find a reasonable solution to dealing with her failing health. She never would have guessed an unprotected moment one night morning would lead to yet another little problem . . .

or that she would find herself falling for Soapie’s live-in helper, Tony.

So, this was a perfectly decent little book, but it didn’t do anything to rock my world. This is a story that’s been told a time or twelve before, so if you’re a fan of the “gets knocked up by a complete jackass, but then finds love in the arms of an adorable cab driver gardener” like in

you’ll probably like The Opposite of Maybe.

My problems? It was way too long. This could have easily been wrapped up in 300 pages rather than 400. Also? Jonathan was a total douchewad. I kept waiting for Rosie’s hormones to take over and give him the tongue-lashing he deserved. Something kinda like:

but it never happened.

Also? When dealing with the whole “time to have the baby” in an already clichéd romantic comedy, it’s common knowledge there has to be an over-the-top delivery scene. Rosie was kind of a hot mess, so I was hoping for some giggles when it came baby time . . .

but once again, it didn’t happen.

In addition, things got muddled up (unnecessarily) toward the end with the story of Rosie’s deceased mother. By that time I was counting down to the finish line and really didn’t need another plot twist.

The couple of redeeming factors that kept me interested were (1) (as I stated in one of my status updates) the description of Tony brought delicious imagery into my brain:

and (2) Soapie started off as a foul-mouthed firecracker of a granny

but unfortunately morphed into kind of a hateful old bag the more we got to know her.

At the end of it all, that left The Opposite of Maybe as just “meh” for me.

ARC receveived from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review

Friday, August 22, 2014

How to Survive an Amazon Forum Troll Attack: A Writer's Guide by Michele Foal

4 Stars


Are you an internet troll?

LIAR! You answered that question waaaaaaay too fast. That means you probably are.

Have you ever insulted an author’s baby book?

Have you ever dared to have an unpopular opinion of an obviously GREAT work of art that you were too stoooooopid to understand?

If so, you need to read this book immediately in order to see the error of your ways. No longer will your abuse be accepted. And don’t even get me started on trolls with who take destructive actions like having the nerve to warn someone that they are violating a website’s Terms of Service. That behavior will no longer be tolerated!

Have you ever been trolled upon like the examples above? Well, then you too need to read How to Survive an Amazon Forum Troll Attack. This book will provide the sage advice necessary to stop these attacks. From the basics like throwing an adequate temper tantrum, to extreme (yet completely necessary) measures like instigating legal action against the horrible trolls who are attempting to damage your reputation, this book covers it all.

If there is a God in heaven she will make sure everyone knows this review is written tongue-in-cheek (just like the book itself). If there is not, this will become Exhibit A with regard to troll-like behavior.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ghosting by Edith Pattou

4 Stars for the story – 5 Stars for the cover

“When I was a little girl
ghosting was a sheet of paper and
a drawing in
black ink.

A crudely sketched ghost,
with a Tootsie Roll
taped on.

Not scary.

A fun Halloween prank.
You slipped it under a
neighbor’s door,
ran away,

“You’ve been ghosted!”


But now
ghosting is:
this can’t be happening,
screams like knives in your ears,
pooling glistening blood.

And death, bellowing
hot and loud

I had
no idea
this book would be
written in stream of consciousness verse form
until after I requested it.

Trust me when I say I was more than just a little concerned that I would immediately decide to hate it for this reason alone. Luckily for me, I’ve read enough ARCs on the Kindle with jacked up formatting that I was pretty much able to ignore the structure (thank God it wasn’t written in iambic pentameter!) and started to hone in on the words.

This book is the reason I am addicted to requesting ARCs. You never know when you’ll end up having an “a-ha” moment and realize you’re experiencing something pretty great – and that you’re the first of your friends to read it.

Ghosting brought back memories of the first time I shared a moment with real, flawed kids . . .

and had to explain to my mother that THAT is what teenagers are really like. They aren’t perfect. They have real-life worries. They are sometimes sad. They are HUMAN. Faith, Maxie, Anil, Emma, Chloe, Felix, Brendan, Faith and Walter are some of the most realistic teens I’ve ever read. Teens who do stupid things like drink and do drugs – or really stupid things like “ride the whip.”  Teens who have witnessed things they should never have to. Teens who are just trying to find their place in the world.

This book is a prime example of why I continue to read YA – it will rip your heart out and piece it back together. I hope Ms. Pattou finds herself on the top of the bestseller list and knocks the wind out of the sails of all those not-so-great books that give YA a bad name.

Recommended to? Anyone who wants to sparkle in a different way:

“I feel as if gulal has been just thrown all over me. That I am drenched with color. A walking talking incarnation of radiant Technicolor.”

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you, NetGalley!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What Might Have Been by Matt Dunn

1 Star

I’m not the type of person who requests an ARC just so I can have an opportunity to shred it to pieces. I don’t have as much free time to read as I would like to begin with, so the books I request are books that I hope to enjoy. Although I’m not a super sappy type of gal, I mix plenty of romance into my reading repertoire – and although I never really like liked What Might Have Been, I was prepared to give it 2 Stars and call it a good day.

Until . . . the same conversation between Evan and Sarah (or Evan and Sarah’s friend Grace) about how one night of passion (followed by the dude leaving the COUNTRY for a freakin’ year) was not just a one-night-stand, but in fact it was the most insta-loviest of all insta-loves and Evan and Sarah were MEANT TO BE TOGETHER, OH WHY OH WHY CAN’T SARAH SEE THEY ARE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. Followed up with the same conversation between Sarah and Evan (or Sarah and her friend Grace) about how she’s engaged to another man, but she’s confused whether she really wants to marry him and he’s kind of a giant jagoff, but she said yes to his proposal and she can’t just not marry the guy even though she doesn’t even like him, right? And there’s no way Evan really knows he loves her because they only had one night together, but it’s totally normal to accept a marriage proposal from a different dude you don’t really care for and have only been dating a whopping THREE MONTHS because he asked first and OHMYGODI’MGOINGTOSTABMYSELFINTHEFACEIFTHEYKEEPTALKING!!!!

After the 17th replay of the same two conversations, I felt like I was reading the equivalent of the background loop on old Hannah Barbara cartoons. You remember that, right? (Say you do even if you don’t so I don’t feel like such a geezer.)

Not to mention the fact that Evan was a musician and I was supposed to probably find him all super sexy kind of like this:

but he was a saxophonist, so the only image my brain was willing to conjure was this:

Which is awesome, but I’m fairly certain most normal girls don’t want to bang Duke Silver like I do. At the end of it all, I think I was supposed to end up feeling all feely like at the end of “The Graduate” (I swear I’m seriously not nearly as old as my reviews would lead you to believe):

or even something sweet and simple like:

but I just ended up feeling like I wasted my time on some bad “Chick Lit” written by a dude. What would that be called? “Dick Lit?” (©Kelly and the Book Boar 2014) Naaaaaah, “Dick Lit” has to be reserved for use when discussing awesome male writers like Leonard or Hiassen. Bottom line – I didn’t like this one, but I hope you do.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!