Friday, May 5, 2017

Review: THE GRUMPFACE by B.C.R. Fegan

"In a land far away, in a time long ago, was the Village of Hay near the Forrest of Ho."  I had to giggle at this first line.

The story of Grumpface had sort of a "Beauty and the Beast" theme. A man, who only seeks to win the heart of a beauty, must complete a list of challenges when he is captured by Grumpface. I guess the tasks would only represented the man's worthiness of the fair maiden. The illustrations were simple and vibrant. I especially liked the volcano rendering and I enjoyed the comical undertone throughout. But I thought there were a few holes in the story line. It just had some things that didn't quite make sense, and I also didn't take to the language too well. Were kids even going to understand that? Rhyming was cute, even though some of the lines were a bit too cheesy for my likes.

Overall, I thought this was a cute children's story.

 

My rating: 3 stars

Review: THE MISSING PIECE by Marie Lavender

Alyssa is a reserved college student, an English lit major that preferred the company of a paperback more than anything else. "She wasn’t prepared to venture into the dating scene like everyone else on campus. Of course, ‘dating’ was actually a pretty loose term these days. She preferred her own company to that of the male persuasion. They all seemed to be caught up in the weekend scene and were so full of themselves that it was probably better if she avoided them altogether." (5)

One morning, she wakes up on the lawn in front of an unknown fraternity house with a raging hangover and absolutely no recollection of the night before. It's at this point that she learns that, under the influence of too much alcohol, she actually went upstairs with a guy she didn't know. Oh, no! You don't suppose that they...that she...? With rampant thoughts of pregnancy and STD's, Aly becomes paranoid and seeks to find answers to what happened that night. Did she go all the way with some guy named Brendan? Fortunately, the guy's roommate, Justin, was willing to help her out.

The "missing piece" is finding the truth for young Aly, and the reader becomes interested to find out, too, especially when Aly is such a sweet girl that you can't bear for anything bad to happen to her. You feel for her as she goes through the stages of confusion and panic over the possible what-ifs of that night. I liked that Justin was there for her, making Aly realize that her crisis may have revealed a very small and very cute diamond in the rough.

Short and compelling, story is a quick, satisfying read.

 

My rating: 4 stars

Review: THE SUGAR BABY CLUB by Teresa Lo

"My name is Jasmine Lewis, and this is my story. It’s a cautionary tale about money, sex,

and power, but I guess those words are redundant. Money is always about sex and power. And sex is always about power. And why have power if you can’t have sex and money? But anyway, this is a story about money, sex, and power. This is the story of The Sugar Baby Club." (8)

The night of a frat party was the night Jasmine screwed some loser douchebag, egged a dorm room, and got arrested for underage drinking. As we dive deeper into the story, it ripples into the different lives of a group of dorm girls, but mainly centering on Jasmine and Kita. They each have their issues and problems, but they strive for purpose and independence. Jasmine was seeking validation from a man who wouldn't cast her away like some cheap, ugly lay, and Kita wanted to go to Paris. Then Jasmine discovers this thing called "sugaring," where a young girl dates an older, rich guy, who pays for tuition, vacations, and other great stuff. One girl made $50K a year being a sugar baby. Wow! Where do you sign up? But, wait, what's the catch?

With the goal of going to Paris, Jasmine and Kita decide to be sugar babies. The goal was to make $40K each and get out before it becomes too addicting. Sound easy, right? Of course, it's never that easy.  

So the reader tags along as Jasmine and Kita go through "sugaring." Although intriguing at first, after a while though, you feel like you've gone through as many dates as you can handle and the "sugaring" gets a little old. I mean, some of the guys are pretty boring. What I liked, however, is that it doesn't get dirty. Yes, there's sexual acts, but it's subtle and not overly done. Even though I felt the girls were degrading themselves and pretty much selling their bodies for money, I still felt a sense of empathy for them, especially when they were so inexperienced. How can someone fall into this life at such a young age? Well, as crazy as it sounds, it does happen. And this life pretty much becomes a learning process for the girls, who are repeatedly spurned by "salt daddies" yet continue to recite the mantra, "It's all about money." But will money bring them the happiness they seek? Or will they realize that money is the root of all evil?

So raw yet sensitive, story is a expressive rendition of the life of a call girl or "sugar baby." It's touching, but, like I said, it gets old fast.

 

My rating: 3 stars

Review: TIME WILL TELL by J.A. Roth

This is the story of a teenage girl muddling through the world of high school.

"They say beauty comes from the inside, but “they” must not be teenagers. Most teenagers don’t judge you for what’s on the inside." (16) Full of doubt and insecurity, Sydnie struggles to compete with her peers on boys, grades, teen privileges.

Luckily, she has an outlet."Dancing is my passion, my outlet when I am overstressed, which is often, it’s the one place I can escape my problems... But sometimes the dance studio is the root of my stress… " (20)

So the story centered on dance, more specifically, ballet. As an artist, I couldn't relate to the whole dance theme, but  I admire those who can do it, especially since "a dancer ... must be
an athlete and an artist!" (28)

Just like in everything else, the world of dance has that "mean girl" that makes life a living hell. But Sydnie takes these challenges in stride and refuses to let them get the best of her.

"In the old days, or my parent’s day, nerds were considered the “uncool” kids; it was all about pocket protectors and glasses with tape on them. These days the stereotype has changed to smart, intelligent students who dream of having good futures in high paying careers." (49)

Sydnie is a conscientious, responsible, and dedicated girl. Most kids would be able to see themselves in her. But her story was dawdling and mundane, especially in the first half where you learn about all the other faceless kids. Obviously, the one person that stuck out the most was him--Ryder Morgan, whom Sydnie is totally smitten by. Of course, I did think the cutsy foreplay along with her neurotic fantasies were a bit overbearing. I mean, she receives one text from him and she makes it sound like he proposed or something. But, I guess that's high school. It all sounded like a bunch of teen drama.

So now it would seem that Sydnie has her work cut out for her.

"I have other pressing issues on my mind…like having giddy feelings for this new guy I barely know, having a huge dance competition coming up, and having a project in Engineering class worth forty percent of my grade…my anxiety is through the roof." (44)

This simple and smart YA story of a teen dancer is a testament to the stress and challenges of today's youth. Although not quite captivating, story is easily relatable and it kind of grows on you. Overall, I deem this a pretty good read.

 

My rating: 3 stars

Review: SEVENTIES CHILD by David P. Anderson

"In the 1970s, when we were sent to our rooms, we didn’t have video games, the internet, or iPhones. We were left alone with just our imaginations, which meant worrying about the ninety-nine ways dad could punish you when he came home." (9)

These are the snarky, witty tales of a seventies child. It's about a boy relaying his Wonder Years. I mean, only young boys would land in some crazy adventure getting lost on the way to Jack in the Box. And only boys would devise a Card Heist for the coveted baseball card.

"Telling a kid to play without getting dirty is like telling someone they can swim but don’t get wet." (76)

"My dream back then was to one day strike it rich so I could come back to a drive-in and order every snack they sold: cheeseburgers, hotdogs, popcorn, soft pretzels, candy, slush, soda... Dream Big!" (82)

Quirky, these stories unravel a sense of nostalgia for an era that's come and gone, even though I wouldn't consider the 70's a favorite past time. Actually, I'm quite partial to the 1920's, the 50's, the 80's, and 90's. Still, the author brings these memories to such a vivid life as if they happened yesterday. I'll be he reads these and smiles to himself as he relives these cherished moments. Of course, I couldn't understand every reference and a few of them were a tad mundane. But I'd say these stories definitely shed a bright light on the 70's and what it was like to grow up in it. I liked the boy's perception of these memories and how relatable he made them. I mean, you don't have to be a 70's child to feel and experience all that this kid felt. And it's sometimes nice to dive back into your childhood self again just to relive some of these funny, embarrassing moments. What I liked best was how the narrator indicated the differences between growing up today and growing up in the 70's.

 

My rating: 3 stars

Review: ODDS N' ENDS by Roy L. Cover

This is a collection of short stories all centered on a man, whom I'm assuming is the author, making this book some type of memoir.

The first one was about guns and hunting, two subjects I didn't really take to. The second one was on a funeral honoring a deceased Fred with wacky characters and a lot of drinking. The story about the plumber read like a how-to guide, which seemed strange to me. Why would I need a lesson on plumbers?

Writing was pretty good, but the stories didn't grab me as much as I hoped. Sometimes I wondered if there was even a point in it. I'm guessing these were probably tales of life antics, bizarre and rare occurrences--basically, "odds n' ends." The thing was these so-called "odds n' ends" weren't even that interesting to begin with. They weren't even funny really. Yes, some were quirky and offbeat, but they weren't enough to sustain my interest.

 

My rating: 2.5 stars

Review: CALMER GIRLS by Jennifer Kelland Perry

"Insecure people wear masks, to impress, to fit in, to hide, and to protect sensitive emotions. [Samantha] could relate, often cocooning herself in an aura of indifference and detachment she only pretended to feel. Regrettably, it was a facade [her older sister] Veronica usually knew how to penetrate." (11)

Samantha, along with her sister and mother, have moved to Calmer Cover (Calmer for short), and she's about to start school in Sept. On the first day, she meets Ben Swift, who seems to share in her pain and resentment.

"Like it or not, she knew she had to accept this new existence she’d been handed, but the wounds of grief were still raw." (25)

Calmer Girls mainly embellishes on the relationship between the girls (mother and daughter, sister and sister.) It's a typical coming-of-age story of settling in a new town and harboring old feelings. Story had a lagging flow throughout, making it hard to be taken by it. Although the story was generally well-written, I just found Samantha uninspiring and dowdy. Veronica was just cruel and snobby, and the mother felt minor and insignificant.


I just found the whole thing to be rather dull.

 

My rating: 2 stars