Monday, June 29, 2015

Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 390
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 14+

When Avery's grandmother creates a set of challenges to determine who will be her heir, Avery is glad for the chance to get away from her boarding school. However, the thought of spending time with her uncles and cousins leaves much to be desired. Over two weeks and several countries, Avery learns more about her family and where she came from.

This book was one of those books that I just wanted to keep reading, which is tough when I read during my lunch break. The adventure comes through these series of challenges, a sort of giant scavenger hunt based on family history. Avery is a complex character, tough but vulnerable, smart but somewhat naive.

As in her previous novel, Myers weaves an interesting and complex story, full of twists and turns, make it enjoyable to read and fairly hard to predict. Which I love. I like her characters, her settings, and the descriptions. And who can deny the presence of an attractive guy?

There is no language and no sexual situations. Perfect for teens.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film by Patton Oswalt

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Scribner
Pages: 222
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 16+

Oswalt spent four years sinking deeper and deeper into his addiction. It was alcohol or drugs, but film. He needed it, craved it, as much as any other drug. He planned his weeks around his movies, lost a girlfriend, and alienated friends. While he eventually found his way out, he shares these stories to show what he learned.

This is one of those books that makes you rethink your own life and actions. Are you enjoying life or only seeing it through a screen or reading it on a page? Like Oswalt, are we saying that we are going to do something, that we're getting "inspiration," but never actually doing it?

In fact, there were times that I almost felt uncomfortable reading it because I could see parts of myself in it. But I think that's what made it good and worth reading. Shouldn't memoirs help us learn a little about ourselves? The writing was good and entertaining. I think those interesting in film and cinema would especially like it.

There was some hard language.

*I do not receive any compensation from Amazon.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Halley's Gift and Eight Other Extraordinary Tales by Carey B. Azzara

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: By the author, produced by Boston Writers Publishing
Pages: 232
My rating: 2 stars

In nine short stories, the reader is introduced to nine different people who overcome trials in a variety of ways. From Halley learning to use her gift to Elysha fighting for her life and her treasure.

I liked that Azzara's stories are about people overcoming their difficulties, even if I didn't think that the way that some of them overcame them was the best way to do so. And I have a lot of respect for someone who puts their fiction out there for the world to see and judge.

That being said . . . I guess it's time for my judgment. It's difficult to turn off my editor's eyes. I've trained to have them and sometimes I can, but sometimes I can't. I think that Azzara would have benefitted from the help of a substantive editor during the revision phase, and a proofreader/copy editor before printing. I came across chronological errors, as well as some typos. In one story, it seemed that Azzara's character bio for the main character was left in--because I couldn't make it fit into the story.

It's obvious that Azzara loves to write. It was clear that he did a lot of research for his stories.

There is some language and sexual situations.

*I received this book from the author in exchange for this review.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier (trans. Anthea Bell)

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Pages: 319
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 14+
Series: The Silver Trilogy

Liv has lived all over the world, loves a mystery, and is looking forward to settling down in a little cottage in Oxford with her mom and sister. Things don't turn out the way Liv was expecting and she ends up living in London. Her dreams become vivid and more intense--and then she starts seeing the four hottest boys from her new school in her dreams. And that's only the beginning of the weirdness she encounters in the first few months of her new life.

I really liked Gier's first trilogy (the Ruby Red Trilogy) and I'm so glad that this book has now been translated into English. Gier creates unique and interesting stories that grab you and keep you reading. In Ruby it was time travel and this one it's the dream world. She creates good characters, not just main characters, but secondary and background characters too. And it's obvious that she has the same love of London that I do.

I also feel like there needs to be a shout out to Bell. Her translations are amazing. There are moments when I wonder how on earth she was so flawlessly able to translate something that obviously is a play on words or turns of phrase. That is a talent that I know I will never have (not being fluent in another language . . .) and I admire her work. There were a few times when I think that the language was a little too formal for the characters, but I'm not sure if that was an error in translation or was originally written that way by Gier.

I am so looking forward to the next installment to this trilogy and hope that I won't have to wait too log for it to make it to the states.

Some sexual innuendo and mild language.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician's First Year by Matt McCarthy

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Crown Publishers
Pages: 323
My rating: 4 stars

"Over the course of the year, I'd developed a belief that if I had touched a patient--if our flesh had made even slight contact--that person was my professional responsibility." Dr. Matt McCarthy started his internship at Columbia as a Harvard grad, but that didn't make actually working on patients any easier. Through accidents and mistakes, McCarthy takes us on a backstage view of what it takes to become a doctor.

This book was so interesting. Easy to read, without feeling like McCarthy was condescending to me. I had never thought much about the process that a doctor goes through to become a competent doctor. It really seems like a trial by fire process.

I became invested not only in McCarthy, eagerly reading to see what would become of him, but of his patients. At the beginning of McCarthy's first year, I found myself thinking "I don't want some intern working on me!" Then as the year progressed, I started seeing how much McCarthy cared, how much he tried not to care, and how much he couldn't help but care. And I think I would want a doctor like that. If I were to ever end up in the hospital (knock on wood) I would want a doctor who felt that I was his professional responsibility from the moment he touched me.

I gained a lot more respect for doctors (and I respected them a lot already) from reading this book and seeing how their education doesn't end when they graduate, but continues on throughout their career.

There is some hard language throughout this book.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, June 1, 2015

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

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Publication date: 2013
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 407
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 14+

A misdirected email puts teen heartthrob, Graham Larkin, in contact with small town girl Ellie O'Neill. Through months of emails they become closer, but when they are suddenly put in the same town, things don't seem so certain. Ellie is shocked to learn who Graham is, and with a secret of her own, she isn't sure that she wants to pursue anything with him.

I really enjoy Smith's books. That said, I think that this is probably my least favorite of her books. It's not really anything big, just that I feel the plot and details aren't as good as they were in The Statistical Probability.

Graham is definitely a heartthrob, and it seemed as if he really did like Ellie. But Ellie seemed a little passive about it all. I think it's difficult to do a "famous"/"normal" romance, and while it was an enjoyable escape, I didn't really believe it.

Great book for younger teens looking for romance. No sex, no swearing, just a cute story.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.