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review 2018-04-06 22:49
[Book Review] Famous Last Words by Katie Alender
Famous Last Words - Katie Alender

[Very minimal spoilers] Famous Last Words is a book by Katie Alender, an author known for other novels such as Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer. Her books are fast but long reads, a long amount of time packed into 100-200 pages. This is the first book of hers I've read, and I think I'd read more. They aren't amazing, but they are good. 

 

Famous Last Words is set in common day, and features a teen girl, who's actually imperfectly perfect. She seems like a real person, three-dimensional with all the faults and pros any functioning human would have. Her name is Willa, and she has been playing with the supernatural. After her she moves with her mom to her stepdad's, a famous Hollywood director with lots of dough, she is miserable. She has to go to some fancy school, where she only seems to be accepted by one person. Meanwhile, a killer has been on the lose, and she may of accidentally taken the notebook of the school creep, which leads her down a path she probably didn't want to be on. Her fiddling with the serial killer's plans and trying to figure them out mixed with her supernatural dabbles mixes for a horrible combo. 

  

I read this book on a plane, and to be honest, I'm glad I did. It was entertaining. The beginning starts off fast, and I'm not sure if you enjoy that, but I do. I hate when a book has a complex beginning just to tell an easily explainable story. Though, that's besides the point right now. 

 

The story develops well, and isn't rushed. The characters are introduces and the author takes care into making sure each is well-developed. That's something I appreciate and don't really expect when reading novels for teens. YA books like John Green's or Rainbow Rowell's are ones I have higher standards for. YA books that are more on the edge of just general fiction or K-8 oriented I don't have really any for, as long as it's a good book, being that the words 'book' and 'good' are used lightly. Anyways, I was pleasantly surprised. You can see how each character deals with what is happening and how they change their ways according to what is happening, something very realistic that real humans do. You can find this especially in the main character, because she is the one dealing with the most problems, like grief, supernatural activity, and loneliness. She's also a relatable character in many ways, at least for me, and it's not obvious that Alender wants you to relate to her, therefore her positive attributes aren't forced. It's kind of up to the reader to interpret her morals and pros and cons as the book continues. This is a good way to involve the audience, then giving them a mold and telling them they can only fill it with one thing - that said character they wrote. 

 

The idea behind the book is also very good, it's creative and modern whilst staying true to it's horror roots. Now, I don't get scared very easily. I mean, heck - I laughed at The Ring and found Candyman and The Shining to be two movies to casually watch and enjoy, not something to toil over late at night and have nightmares about. Maybe, though, you'll find it scary. Regardless, the killer in the novel is pretty obscure and creepy during the flashes Willa has of scenes between said murderer and his victims. This person [the murderer], even though they aren't revealed until the end, is extremely well developed and therefore adds to the plot of the book. You know what's happening even if Willa isn't at the actual killing, and you are giving foreshadowing. This is helpful and creates great plot development throughout the whole novel and leads up to a great resolution.

 

Now, I have glorified this whole book for you. But here comes the bad news, and the reason why I didn't put it under the good section on my blog.  The plot twists. They are ridiculously obvious. About 40-50 pages in, I knew what was going to happen, and what the book wanted to make you think. Sorry, Alender, you just made it too obvious! It might of been purposeful, but I suppose not. Maybe she thought we just wouldn't get what was happening? But anyway, that's something to work on. As this is the first book I've read of this author's, I don't know if this is the rule for the rest of her novels. 

 

To wrap this up, because it is way too long already, this is a good book. I do recommend it. It is just for my own opinions that I put it in the category I did. I may change it though, if I decide to pick it up for another read. Anyways, definitely pick this up if you see it at a book store, or check it our from a local library. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-05 21:45
The Unlikable Character in a Bad Place
Girl in a Bad Place - Kaitlin Ward

Girl in a Bad Place is another one of those April Henry-esque type books, where it's a suspense/horror written for young, teen girls. A spice of romance, a suspected plot twist. But this one is not as good as April Henry's books. Really, it isn't. April Henry is, for what she writes, a pretty good author. One or two of the books I've read by her have been just bearable, but the rest have been quality enough I could read it again, and The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die is probably my favorite so far.  But anyway, this novel by Kaitlin Ward does not live up to Henry's standards. 

 

I first bought this book figuring it was by April Henry. I had just read one of her books, and was willing to spend more money to get another by her, because why not? The novel had been good enough to read again, so trying out another wouldn't be a bad idea. The story of Girl in a Bad Place sounded up my ally, being about a teen and her friends encountering - and communicating regularly with - a cult, and there being something fishy about it. A common horror movie trope, of a supposedly-good-guy-gone-bad and some mysterious things lying around a remote place. It didn't seem too bad. Boy was I wrong.

 

I read this for a project in school, because the theme was horror, or spooky, or something like that. But anyway, I had to read it in about a week's time. This was such a short read, so it wasn't worth spending a week trying to make a half-decent project out of it. During that time I was able to spend a while thinking over and analyzing the novel itself. One subject that I kept going over was the characters and their development, if there even was any. The characters are dreadful. There is one main character, Mailee, who seems like the perfectly unperfect popular girl, similar to every 90s/00s teen diva. She's lazy, unkempt, controlling, and self-centered. She makes her best-fried, Cara, clean up her room and help her plan things out, doesn't think to at least tidy up when her boyfriend comes over, gets possessive of Cara to the point of fighting with her, and always wastes time and other's patience by putting looks over ability, safety, or sensibility. But, she's pretty, has plans for the future with good grades, and the perfect boyfriend and best-friend. That totally makes up for her negative qualities, right? Then there's Cara, the book's play-thing, who does actually seem perfect. She's clean, sweet, patient, and forgiving. She puts her mind to something and does it, and looks after her friends. She's the victim of the book, truly, as much as the author tries to portray Mailee as the one getting the bad end of the stick. Cara is the one who is blamed for fighting with Mailee over her irresponsibility, and the one who gets dumped by her boyfriend. She is the one who intiates the story by urging Mailee to bring her, her boyfriend, and Mailee's boyfriend to the cult site. She battles with depression and uncertainty of the future throughout the novel, and the author makes it seem like this is a bad thing that isn't appropriate. Cara's true struggles are pushed aside for the story, and it's unfortunate, because her character barely develops. She goes from okay, to joining the cult and feeling better about herself, then pulled back into Mailee's world where she's just okay again. Granted, the cult was somewhat dangerous. Next we have Gavin and Brigit, the two that are obviously meant to be token characters, which is super unfortunate because they are two of the most sensible and well-developed characters, while being super minor. Brigit is a cult member who somewhat knows something is wrong. She helps Mailee, too. Gavin is Mailee's boyfriend, and obviously is annoyed by her. He is the most sensible,telling Mailee and Cara that, the nature is nice and all, but the cult is dangerous and they barely know the people there. He's even one of the first to realize something is wrong with Cara, even though his girlfriend annoys him. 

 

The story itself is fine. It's all fine. The plot, the development, the everything is fine. Overplayed by now, classic horror tropes that aren't even great ones. The writing is okay, basic and bland. The climax is probably the best part, and so is the beginning. The end is nothing special and really is lacking. The author, with this idea, could've written a book that was great. Something creative and a reminder of classic thriller ideals with a modern spin that made a remote cult something darker. But she didn't do that. That's why this book is only two stars. Maybe it would of been better if the main character was more likable or relate-able. Actually, scratch that, it would of been better. 

 

Maybe if you're a somewhat-immature and uncritical 5-8th grader, you'd enjoy it, but I'm in 8th grade and I did not. It's quick, so if you just want to see what it's like or experience a saltine-cracker type enjoyment, then go for it.

 

 

 

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text 2018-04-01 16:30
Reading progress update: I've read 141 out of 197 pages.
Fishhead & Other Carney Gothic Horrors - Lawrence Adam Shell,Guillermo del Toro,Mark Evan Walker,John Wooley,Michael H. Price,Irvin S. Cobb,Joe R. Lansdale

loving all the contents of this--the 'Fishhead' story was just the start, the other carney comics that followed were just as much fun. switchover to an essay about famous little people who worked in Hollywood--many having tried a career in the sideshows of carneys--was an informative look at folks like Billy Barty, and the great Michael Dunn.

 

I had cued this up as 'Currently Reading' quite some time ago, but then bounced it back down to the 'Planning to Read' pile. now that I've finally committed to it, I'm glad to have seen The Shape of Water before meeting Fishhead; not that there's that tight a connection, but Guillermo Del Toro's Foreword to all of this seems to hint at a preoccupation with the half-man/half fish of the swamp mythos, that culminated in his Best Picture winner.

 

it's a unique experience, reading this.

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text 2017-11-12 21:08
DEMONS! GREMLINS! BLACK MAGIC! OH, MY!!!

My drop-down menus returned.

 

I did absolutely nothing, mainly because I don't know how to do anything.

 

Yesterday, before I shut everything down for the night, I shut everything down and then rebooted, just to see if a complete restart would do anything.  It didn't.  I still had no bookmarked sites, no drop-down menus.  So I logged off, turned the computer off, and went to bed.

 

I was also angry because I had had to deal with yet another Stupid Person, so I wasn't in the mood to mess around with computer crap any more.  I read on my Kindle until about 11:30, then went to sleep.

 

This morning, I headed directly for the studio.  I did a little more sewing -- there's all that free fabric, you know -- and started another Angel Feather pendant.  It's one of those really weird shaped ones, so it wasn't fun, but I was forcing myself to be disciplined.

 

When I finally came back in the house and turned on the computer. . . . my drop-downs were back.

 

I give up.  I will never understand it and I'm no longer going to try.  At least I don't have to deal with the McAfee tech people.

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text 2017-08-18 10:43
More Bingo Choices
The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
The Abyss Above Us - Ryan Notch
Stalking Jack - Madison Kent
Faust - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,Walter Kaufmann
The Elementals - Michael Rowe,Michael McDowell
Vampire - In the Beginning - Charmain Marie Mitchell
Demon Lord - T.C. Southwell
Goblins - David Bernstein
Circus of Horrors - Carole Gill
The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

Well, I went through my A-list and B-list and snagged one free book off Amazon, so now my list if full! I also made another change for Classic Noir so I could participate in the group read.

 

So, here is my list now! Still subject to changes if I start to read something and decide it's a waste of my time. Only one re-read this year! I think I kept it down to two last year.

 

Classic noir: The Thin Man by Dashiel Hammett

 

Amateur sleuth: this mystery will have a main character who is not a member of law enforcement. A Spark of Justice by J.D. Hawkins re-read

 

Serial/spree killer: Normally this would have been first on my exclusions, but I've been wanting to read Cabal by Clive Barker

 

American horror story: Children of Chaos by Greg Gifune

 

Genre: horror: The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

 

Gothic: Unnatural Creatures by Neil Gaiman

 

Darkest London: Stalking Jack by Madison Kent

 

Modern Masters of Horror: Helltown by Jeremy Bates

 

Supernatural: Faust by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

 

Ghost: The Ghost of Guir House by Charles Willing Beale

 

Haunted houses: The Elementals by Michael McDowell

 

Vampires: Vampire - In the Beginning by Charmain Marie Mitchell

 

Werewolves: The Werewolf Whisperer by Camilla Ochlan and Bonita Gutierez

 

Witches: The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

 

Demons: Demon Lord by T.C. Southwell

 

Classic horror: I've read rather a lot of these since last year! But I found one I haven't yet read, The Monk by Matthew Lewis

 

Chilling children: The Doll by J.C. Martin

 

Monsters: Dead Sea by Tim Curran

 

80's horror: Faerie Tale by Raymond Feist

 

In the dark, dark woods: Into the Woods by Thomas Washburn Jr

 

Terror in a small town: Goblins by David Bernstein

 

Magical realism: Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

 

Terrifying women: Circus of Horrors by Carol Gill

 

Diverse voices: One Blood by Qwantu Amaru

 

Free square: The Abyss Above Us by Ryan Notch

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