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review 2018-09-27 02:31
Inception: Like It Says, Just a Beginning
Inception - Bianca Scardoni Inception - Bianca Scardoni
I know I'm supposed to be a little more forgiving of YA vampire novels than ones aimed at an adult audience, but Inception makes that job harder than usual. The first page starts it off pretty well, promising an intriguing story of how everybody lied to the protagonist and now she has to deal with it. And over the course of the novel this turns out to be true. So on paper, that level of plotting isn't the easiest thing in the world and nets some admiration from me… but I can't shake the feeling that I've read this book before.

Let's see if I can hit all the clichés without spoiling too much of the plot. I think the moment it started for me was when Jemma, the new-girl-at-the-high-school protagonist, dropped her books and the dreamy love interest picked them up for her. It continued through the bad boy one immediately pegs as a vampire turns out to be, yep, a vampire. But that one's a little forgivable because this is YA (younger readers may not have read as many vamp books as adults) and there's a spell on the protagonist that prevents her from cluing in to vampiric presences. The moment where it stopped being fun for me was when the protagonist turned out to be a vampire Slayer… yes, of all the terms in the world, that's the one the author chose.

There's a world-building info dump about Nephilim and supernatural bloodlines, which might have scored some points if it weren't followed by a barrage of labels like Shifters and Keepers and Casters, all coming at me until I totally did not care. Almost every named character in the elite high school is a supernatural woogums of some sort or another, and somehow they can keep their mouths shut about it unlike every high school student I've ever met.

This is too bad, because the characters have some decent interplay amongst the stereotypes; rather than just being standard shallow teens, they're motivated as often as not by convincing reasons like "If I don't lie about this important thing, it may lead to my death or hers." This lends the story a little weight and some nice characterization. There's also some genuine angst as Jemma's backstory gets explored through magical means. 

But that doesn't matter as much as you might think, because like so many urban fantasy series these days, Inception is just the first volume and doesn't have a proper ending or climax. It's a cliffhanger, and so can't be judged on the merits of its incomplete story. Plot threads that might have come together to give the protagonist more trouble (like the jealous mean girl who exemplifies the non-supernatural life Jemma can't get together) just kind of fizzle with a promise that the next book will answer all my questions. I remain unconvinced. I'm rating this 2.5 out of 5, with the 0.5 extra for the layered characterization. I'd be on the fence about recommending it to a YA audience. I liked it better than Twilight but considerably less than strong YA bestsellers like Hunger Games or HP. It did manage to soak up a lot of time on my flight to Beijing, though, so at least it's got that going for it.

 

Source: www.amazon.com/Inception-Dark-Paranormal-Romance-Marked-ebook/dp/B015KOI7F0/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1538013322&sr=8-5&keywords=bianca+scardoni
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review 2018-07-30 11:54
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake (memoir) by Anna Quindlen
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake - Anna Quindlen

In this irresistible memoir, Anna Quindlen writes about a woman’s life, from childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, using the events of her life to illuminate ours. Considering—and celebrating—everything from marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, parenting, faith, loss, to all the stuff in our closets, and more, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves. As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen uses her past, present, and future to explore what matters most to women at different ages.

Amazon.com

 

 

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is Quindlen's 2012 retrospective of her life after turning 60. Presented through a collection of essays, Quindlen addresses topics from her childhood right through to the "empty-nester" years and everything in between. There's mention of how she didn't start having children until the age of 31 and then tried to write op-ed pieces on aging in her 50s but got some flack from some older readers for not being quite old enough (in their minds) for her to write about such things. Maybe an extra decade will give her the proper amount of cred for geriatric critics?

 

Quindlen explores themes of marriage, female friendship, parenting, trying to age gracefully, personal loss and the subsequent struggles with faith, etc. One topic I made a personal connection with is when she writes on losing a parent when you're still young and how that changes you -- taking health / life more personally and such. Might not be surprising for some readers that within this memoir the topic of death is brought up a fair bit. 

 

Quindlen admits to once being offended by women who CHOOSE a life of domesticity but later realizes that -- brace yourself --- some women might want different things! 

 

There are even a few celebrity stories thrown into the mix. She writes about meeting playwright Tennessee Williams (of A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie fame). Quindlen also discusses how her friendship with actress Meryl Streep came about -- Streep played the lead in the movie adaptation of Quindlen's novel One True Thing. They've been good friends ever since. It was interesting to read that Streep's characteristic way of smiling and speaking softly was something she deliberately developed back in high school! 

 

In her commencement address to the graduating class of Barnard College in 2010, Meryl Streep said that the characterization of the pleasing girl she created in high school was a role she worked on harder than any ever after. Speaking for so many of us, she recalled, "I adjusted my natural temperament, which tends to be slightly bossy, a little opinionated, a little loud, full of pronouncements and high spirits, and I willfully cultivated softness, agreeableness, a breezy natural sort of sweetness, even shyness if you will, which was very, very, very effective on the boys."

 

Maybe I read this at the wrong time in my life, since I'm not in my retirement years just yet. Maybe it's just a matter of Quindlen's style of writing not being quite my thing. This is the third or fourth book of hers I've tried and all have fallen under "just okay" for me. Some of the stories were good, others turned a bit boring, sometimes depressing. In between you run into some "Captain Obvious" style platitudes (but I guess that's how we recognize them as platitudes? lol). 

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review 2018-03-13 02:07
A fanciful way to battle a toddler phobia
Nils Cuts His Nails - The Scissors Game - Nurit Zvolon ,Rotem Lots-Zaiden

The success of this book -- like almost all of them for the pre-reading set -- comes down to the effort put into it by whoever is reading the book to the child. If someone gets into the rhyme, oohs and ahhs over the art just right, and has a lot of fun with it, I can't imagine how a kid won't either.

 

Zvolon wrote this to help her granddaughters deal with the trauma of having their nails trimmed -- which can be a struggle for some kids, I know. So Zvolon came up with a way to turn the experience into a game into something fantastical. She tells a very simple rhyming story about Nils overcoming his fear of getting his nails trimmed with the help of a game. It's a neat idea told in an attractive fashion.

 

The art is something else -- if it doesn't make you think fantasy, nothing will. Rotem Lots-Zaiden doesn't illustrate this like any contemporary children's book -- it feels like something that came out of the 1970's -- maybe early Sesame Street animation. This is not a bad thing, I think it serves the story pretty well, and the strange features and interesting colors should keep the attention of young readers.

 

I honestly never thought I'd read a book about trimming nails, or helping someone through the struggle of it. But now that I have, I can't imagine a better one on the subject. This is good stuff, and I hope it helps some kids.

 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinions as expressed above.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/03/12/nils-cuts-his-nails-the-scissors-game-by-nurit-zvolon-rotem-lots-zaiden
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review 2018-03-07 18:08
What Happened To The Strong Willed Girl ?
Attraction: Elements of Chemistry (Hypothesis) (Volume 1) - Penny Reid

Audiobook
2.5 stars This book wasn't fun or sexy for me as book 1. It changed, and muddled the characters too much for me and went places I didn't like. I'm going negative here There was a bad taste with some family drama that seemed very Maffia like that was just way out there. It read like a bad TV drama in the middle of a NA love story. Excessive cheesy lines and comic style villains just ruined the moment that the books had been leading to. That wasn't all the MC is a virgin, with self imposed rules about how she wants to lose that status. The character has been preaching her vows since the first kiss, but just gives in. The "deflowering" was really uncomfortable to read, it didn't come across as completely consensual. The next few encounters were even more uncomfortable with her sudden lack of self respect. She turned into a doormat sexually, allowing him to do as he wished even when it hurt. This was not the girl I got to know. The reality of this guy, who he is turning out to be is disturbing. I see a controlling man who walks a dangerous line boarding on abuse. I just want her to run from him and that is not a great lead on to the next book.

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review 2017-03-22 18:46
House of Paine
House of Paine: A Bad Boy Romance Novel - Kylie Walker

This shot off and just never slowed down. Look, I didn't put it down until I finished. Great characters and great storyline. Read it, absorb it and enjoy it.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1542809261?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1
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