Friday, March 13, 2015

Review: LYRIC THE UNKNOWN by Jim Maher

I've never played an instrument in my life; I can't imagine the violin would be the easiest one to learn, but surely it can't be that difficult. Nonetheless, Lyric hates playing it.

Quick and easy to read, this story is full of that youthful exuberance, almost silly in a way. I still don't quite understand how the world suddenly came to an end. Apparently, it was being swallowed up by this "blackness," like the blob. Where did that come from?

Alone, in an empty world, Lyric had only one thing left: her violin. Then a strange cast of characters show up out of nowhere telling her that she is "the unknown," an alien in their world. Okay, so the aliens took over Earth, right? This whole new world just seemed cosmic and surreal, giving the reader a small claim of muddled doubt. And all these "councillors" don't make things any clearer. So what's the deal here? Is Lyric supposed to save their world to get back to hers? And what's up with all these tests? And was she supposed to combat the obstacles with "the music of her heart?" Well, in any sense, I would say that they did pick the right candidate then as Lyric is a bright and courageous kid. I think most children would be able to relate to her in some way.

Enriched with a language so simple and clean, this is an okay kid's story, best suited for those who like bogus adventure tales.

My rating: 3 stars

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Review: THE MAN WHO LOVES TOO MUCH by John Rachel

This is the story of Billy Green, a precocious young boy with a cruel father and a coddling mother who deemed him “special” from the start.

Full of curiosity, the kid loved school and loved to learn. His Catholic school was a “Toys R’ Us to make you smart.” Of course, much of the history and debate involving the church did not interest me so much.

The fascinating thing was that although the story centers on Billy from childhood to adulthood, story expands slightly to the other characters, enlightening readers on their bio and history (ex: his mom, Sister Bernadette, Sister Mary, etc.) Sister Mary’s story was particularly sad.

Though sheltered by his mom, Billy had some unsettling experiences in regards to sex—things that made you go WTF!? At times, it was a tad vulgar and crude. I wondered if it was really necessary.

I liked the list that Billy considers the things he learned so far.


Nothing is sacred

God is calling in sick

Everybody is dispensable

People are in pain

People will do anything to make the pain go away

People create their own heaven

People create their own hell

Everybody is both beautiful and ugly

Everybody is insecure

Life is a race to the top

There are no winners

It is impossible to tell the truth

People lie to themselves then to others

Freedom is an illusion

Life is a train to nowhere

Sex destroys love

Love destroys sex

Love makes the world go round

The world stopped spinning a long time ago

[Ch. 2]

I thought this list read almost like a poem, both haunting and beautiful.

Billy is a smart and perceptive kid, who was often bullied by his peers, which he speaks extensively on some, making it, at times, for laborious reading.

“If [the missing concept and perspective] had been there, people would have had to see how bogus and childish and truly embarrassing all the hand-wringing and heart-wrenching and torrential downpour of tears really was—how infantile and cowardly the collective response of the American people was to the events of Sept. 11.” (LOC 1852) I totally agree! In fact, Billy makes some excellent points here.

However, in spite of a few minor oversights, this was still a well-written and thought-provoking story. It’s a critical and comprehensive study on sex, people, social conduct, marriage, religion, America—life.

Honest and clever, story is colorfully rendered in pale beauty and striking candor.

My rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Review: JAMIE’S GAMBLE by Gregg Bell

At 21-years old, Jamie has run away from her controlling father and will prove to him that she can make it on her own and doesn’t need his Fortune 500 company. Right away her strive for independence and self-reliance was admirable. Reader can sense the fear and tension as she wanders into Texas with a bag harboring little money and a revolver.

When a job offer falls through, Jamie must waitress at a honky tonk bar, where she meets Ricky, a blond fisherman. But something is wrong in Texas. Apparently, someone is killing Mexican prostitutes.

I liked how the book added awareness to the media image played on minorities. It’s amazing how little to no attention we receive.

But Jamie feels it’s her duty to stop the killings, even if it means facing the Texas Ku Klux Klan, who also happens to run the town.

Story is a romance mixed with the politics of injustice and the hunt for a cold-blooded killer. Full of corruption and excitement, this is a well-written, fast-paced tale you’ll enjoy ‘til the end.

My rating: 4 stars

Friday, March 6, 2015


Thomas Fischer seems to have it all—lovely wife, money, a mansion, corporate career, even an insignificant affair. Yep, he was the arrogant bastard you just love to hate. Rachel is the pathetically devoted, bored, and lonely wife, who is sick and tired of Thomas’ affairs. But this was just a “political marriage”—a marriage just for show and not love.

The pace is intermittent and fleeting. The reader doesn’t get a chance to absorb the characters or the plot; story quickly shuffles from one character to another, missing out on scenes that could’ve been interesting, like, for instance, Thomas walking in on his wife in bed with another man.

Reading on, more and more characters come in to play. Initially, I was under the impression that the story centered on Thomas and his “sins,” but it didn’t seem to hold true. There were just too many characters. Additionally, when I found out that the new apartment might be haunted, I was expecting Thomas to go through a “Devil’s Advocate” thing with maybe even an actual devil showing up. That would’ve been awesome.

Sadly, this book was not what I expected.

My rating: 2 stars

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Review: THE PUSHERS by Adam E. Morrison

Choices. We make them every day. But what if one last choice determined your fate? And you didn't know it?

All it might take is a push in the right direction. Or the wrong one.

My thoughts: Novel centers around a guy named Cal and a cast of flat, ambiguous characters. I found myself deciphering the point in all of it. The plot summary didn’t lend too much information on the story, yet I was willing to try to figure out the mystery. Driving a slow pace, the story only encouraged bemusement and monotony.

Overall, this was a mediocre story that didn’t grab me as much as I thought it would.

My rating: 2 stars

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Review: TWO FOR THE HEART by Ekta R. Garg

This book is basically two stories in one.

In “The Proposal,” Akshay and Poojah marry and divorce 48 hours later, shirking their Indian heritage tradition. Off the bat, I ask why.

In “Remembrance,” Rose is making funeral arrangements for her dead father and is re-acquainted with a sister that’s been in an accident.

First of all, I failed to see the connection between the two stories. One was clearly a multicultural romance and the other was loaded drama. Clearly, the stories were supposed to have an emotional impact, but I found them daunting and tedious with mildly forgettable characters.

My rating: 2 stars

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: HER PERFECT REVENGE by Anna Mara

Like Carrie, this story begins with a young girl’s harassment by her peers. It all begins when 14-year old Christina experiences the worst day of her high school life. How traumatized must she have been when the kids threw condoms at her? Why is it always the good girls? It was all Billy Havenwood’s fault; he ruined her life.

16 years later, Christina transformed into a hot babe. Of course, as her luck would have it, she runs into her high school nightmare. Billy was still rich, handsome, and still a jerk. At that point, Christina vowed for revenge, to ruin his life like he ruined hers. You go, girl!

I liked Christina! She was cute, sweet, clumsy, and crafty. I loved her bold gumption, especially after realizing that Bill was so arrogant and smug. How dare he flirt with her!  And how dare she like it! As her friend pointed out, “the opposite of love is indifference, not hate. Love and hate are actually this close.” (39) No, but Christina claimed that “with men, what you see is what you get, and she saw a bastard.” (230) She won’t give up until she discovers his juicy secrets, and Bill was hiding something. Then he threw a tailspin of a scheme of asking her to pretend to be his fiancé so his rich daddy won’t cut him off.

The attraction between Bill and Christina was mutual as they go pretending to be “in love.” Seeing them play “house” was actually kind of nice. I would love to play “wife” with Bill, who was a lean, muscular, take-charge kind of guy. His jealousy over Christina’s “boyfriend” was so cute. They were both very good liars, which made them perfect for each other.

Bill’s father, William, was such a ball-buster with throwing all kinds of challenges at the couple, making it harder and more awkward for them. It was definitely a battle of father vs. son with Christina in the middle. After all, “it took a scammer to scam a scammer.” (72) Each new twist threw you in for a loop.

Written in a universal omniscient narrative, this book was a gripping read. This was all about
revenge and blackmail…by ALL (everyone had a reason for it.) The schemes were intricately crafted and weaved together perfectly for a real page-turner. It was like watching a TV sitcom—sweet, romantic, and funny.  

Of course, this book was definitely a re-hash of the Carly Pope movie, This Time Around, which was about a girl exacting revenge on her old nemesis but ends falling for him instead. Still, I enjoyed the fun and quirks by both the novel and the movie.


Other novels by Anna Mara: Why Romeo hates Juliet
My rating: 5 stars