Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review: THE REUNION by A.A. Pencil

A high school reunion of misfits soon turns into a weekend in a hell-house.
Soon after the guests arrive, strange happenings begin to occur leading to the death of two of the ”friends.’ The survivors find themselves locked in a rented mansion which has its own secrets. With each devilish event, a new suspect emerges. With each new death, the remaining guests’ distrust of one another grows exponentially. Friends become enemies and enemies become co-conspirators.



My thoughts: A 10-year high school reunion proves that some things change but most things never do. Jealousy, resentment, and heartbreak all play a key role.

There were too many characters with too much baggage, which was dull and slow. Get to the point already!

The whole story was nothing but bickering, accusation, and gossip. Secrets are brutally tossed out of the bag, exposing truths and causing shame. It all seemed compelling, but it was actually exhausting.

When someone ends up dead, it takes on an “I Know What You Did Last Summer” tone with frantically trying to get rid of a body and deciphering the best tactic to lure out a potential killer.

Overall, the story was an unorganized and stale bore.

My rating: 2 stars




Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: BRAIN: THE MAN WHO WROTE THE BOOK THAT CHANGED THE WORLD by Dermot Davis

Daniel Waterstone has had aspirations to be a successful and famous writer, one that would follow the chains of Steinbeck and Faulkner. Fantasies about it often overwhelmed and clouded his head.

Although somewhat prideful and arrogant at his graduation, Daniel had a point. “Our literature has been in decline for decades. Loopy fads and fantasy genres, of questionable merit, now clog our once-great literary arteries.” (3) There was an “urgency” for a revival of great American literature.

Now, 10 years later, he is living as a “true” artist—in a run-down apartment with a bed, a desk, and a typewriter. He was the poor, starving artist. But he did win that writer’s award in college. Yeah, that’ll pay the bills.

I liked this book because it authenticated the struggles and passions of a real writer trying to come up with the next great story while also trying to make a buck. Aren’t we all? 

But to hear the words: “Nobody is buying what you write. No one is buying your books…Your work has no commercial appeal.” (15) Heartbreaking. Of course, the classic was Daniel’s reaction—utter freeze mode. “I don’t have anything else. This was it. This is it. I poured my soul into these pages…agonized over every single word, every phrase, every description…every vowel.” (17)

A question that every writer must ask is: What do I write? Do I write something the market wants and that will sell? Or do I write what I want?

“Idiots do not have the intellectual capacity to identify genius. All that idiots are mentally equipped to recognize are other idiots.” (32) But what do they read? “People are miserable and are leading lives filled with a mix of boredom and pain.  Books help them to escape all that.” (37)

But “[Daniel] didn’t want to pimp out his genuine talents and become a hack, just to sell books and become ‘popular.” (41) But he was broke and he needed to do something.

“As frustrating as it may be…you can only watch from the sidelines as your baby grows up. In most cases, they die or, more likely, stall in infancy. In some rare cases, however, a book becomes a monster. Whether we like it or not, once it goes public, a book takes on a life of its own.” (72)

“People say that it’s good to have an open mind but the best kind of mind to have is one that’s totally vacant.” (131)

 
The agent is crazy! In fact, the entire publication spectrum was crazy—yet accurate. For a dream to finally come true but to have none of the fulfilling qualities one anticipated seemed lyrical, ironic and, to paraphrase Daniel, satirical.

The novel explores the dark, cold recess of the publishing world along with a slew of ineffable, metaphysical possibilities.

Well-written and enthralling, this smart and witty novel is a must-read! Funny, sorrowful, and relatable. It will stay with you long after you’re done.  

 
My rating: 5 stars
 
 
 
 
 





Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: BEHIND THE VOICE by Cassi Gray


 

This story quickly grabbed me with its captivating start and descriptive details.

As she was running late for work, Cordelia somehow gets stuck in an elevator….with a strange voice. Could it be her imagination running wild? Or perhaps she was just going mad? Or was it really a ghost or a vengeful spirit? Who the hell knows, but it was creepy and mysterious.

The voice was named Jeremy, and he asked her weird questions, like “would you save someone?” What was even stranger was that the voice claimed he was actually helping her, saving her. Really? It was just getting creepier and creepier.

This story was all about mind games and deep ponderings (well, what else are you gonna do in an elevator, right?) I’ll admit that the ending was a bit of a head-scratcher, but, then again, that may have been the entire premise of this book.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s snarky and witty voice. It’s an engaging thriller.
 
My rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review: GIRL LEAST LIKELY TO MARRY by Amy Andrews

That’s me—the girl least likely to marry.

Cassie is a science geek and a nerd. That’s probably why she was voted least likely to marry. She loves to study and, therefore, has no time for love. She was basically the female version of Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, but not in the funny, lovable way. “[Cassie] wasn’t a slave to her hormones.” (17) Good girl! Of course, all it took was the cocky, arrogant quarterback to stir them up. And that’s what it takes to make Cassie stupid.

There was a slow start in the prologue, which I skipped, of course. The rest wasn’t much better as it seemed to center on the flagrant stupidity of smart girl Cassie.

A disappointment.

My rating: 2 stars





Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: FAT VAMPIRE by Johnny B. Truant (a novella)

It’s hard to believe that a vampire can be fat. Normally they’re supposed to be intoxicatingly beautiful, even with the pale skin and all. But, technically, you are how you died.

Reginald has always been fat and has always been teased for it. Then something about the sword-wielding Goth kid seems fascinating. And that’s when things start to change.

Story started out fine with some wit along with that dry office humor. I was intrigued by the concept and was looking forward to a few chuckles by the sound of it, but the story was mediocre and banal. It was great that Reginald was cool with being a vampire, but then Maurice takes him to school on Vampire 101. Boring.

The whole thing pretty much focuses on Reginald’s fatness. It does suck to be undead AND fat. On top of it, he still has to go to work?!

My rating: 2 stars





Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review: A THIRTY-SOMETHING GIRL by L.M. Stull


“The world seems far too happy for me to be in it.” (LOC 43)
Would anyone notice if I jumped off this bridge? A question that runs rampant on the mind.

“I wonder, am I alone or are there others just as sad as I am?” (3) No, you’re not. It’s totally relatable.

Before her 30th birthday, Hope has had her world crash and burn all around her with her divorce, lost job, no money, and a secret pregnancy. Yeah, you really don’t know people as well as you think.

“I am an unemployed, unattached thirty-something girl, who for the first time in her life isn’t in a rush to go anywhere.” (17)

“Is [life] actually fake happiness filled with doubt, sadness, and fear, or is there a happy ending waiting for some of us?” (25)

“Basically your youth deceives you into thinking you’re special. That you can change the world and have anything you desire. All you have to do is work for it. Then, one day, you wake up, and you’re not only old, but you realize nothing about you is special.” (52) I liked that “right between the eyes” retort. Happiness is fleeting; Depression stays with you.

Then Hope begins to write—write about the life she wishes she had and the life she actually had. Writing is therapy.

Story has a candid and somber voice that is so refreshing. A raw, touching and very real story of life and unanswered questions.  Story is about falling—falling into a depression so deep that you feel dead. It’s about being ashamed of your failures in life.

“Regret is normal. Pain is normal. Sadness is normal…We just have to remember not to let it consume us indefinitely. Grief will happen, but we have to pick ourselves up and move on.” (171)

This is a story about “forgiving, but not forgetting.”

My rating: 4 stars






Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Review: MULTIPLE CHOICE by Claire Cook

There was a time when March Monroe thought she and her daughter Olivia would never really cut the cord. Now Olivia is off to college and March is secretly doing the same thing. It's a high-voltage shock when they run into each other as student interns at the local radio station. From the author of Must Love Dogs, this effervescent story will strike a chord with women of all ages-whether they have kids in college or are just now choosing their majors. Required reading for absolute enjoyment!




My thoughts: I admire anyone who is willing to go back to college. In this case, March just wants to get her degree to prove that she can finish something. Olivia (the daughter) is a spoiled, little brat, who doesn’t like to share. So what if your mom is at the same internship. And March, like any other mother that’s lost connection with her kids, wonders and overanalyzes the descent and fall of the family ties.

Somewhat witty and full of family drama--lots and LOTS of drama--it’s really not that funny. This is really a story for those bored, suburban house moms; not for me.

My rating: 2 stars