Thursday, May 30, 2013

Demonic Dora

Demonic Dora
by Claire Chilton

After years of dealing with her televangelist father and former stripper/born-again mother, Dora has gotten tired of the constant Bible thumping.  Now that she's finally got the missing ingredient, she can summon a demon, do some damage, and get the heck out of town.

Unfortunately, the demon she summoned is a teenage boy who can't seem to get spells right, but does seem to have the hots for Dora.  After nearly getting burned at the stake by her own parents, Dora and her demon take a portal to Hell to hide out.

But Hell isn't everything Dora thought it was and it's going to take everything she has (and a few things that she doesn't) to survive.

Final thoughts:  This is completely schizophrenic.  The writing style feels like it's meant for middle school, but the foul language and constant references to sex are meant for an older audience.  The plot itself is full of holes (and HUGE time/location jumps with no warning), as it goes from comedy, to romance, to mystery as if imitating a fly in a room; it zooms all over with no consistent path or pattern.  It's got some decent moments, but it's really not very good and I didn't even care about the cliffhanger.

Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood

Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood
by Abby McDonald

The Weston patriarch has died shortly after he left his first family and started a new family with a stuck up, petty, selfish woman.  While Mr. Weston had worked hard to take care of his first family, he hadn't put anything in writing, so with his death comes the complete loss of funds for his ex-wife and two daughters.  The new wife even sells the first family's home out from under them.

Now Valerie, Hallie, and Grace Weston must leave San Francisco and head down to Los Angeles to live in the guest house of a wealthy cousin and his young wife.  Not only must they leave their home, they must leave behind all they've ever known.

Valerie sinks herself into her art, while Hallie works to be in the in-crowd in order to make it in Hollywood.  As they live in their own worlds, the more pragmatic younger sister, Grace, works to simply get through the day-to-day work of finishing high school and maintaining a part-time job.

For the sisters, life and love loom large.

Final thoughts: This is a retelling of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility and really seems to keep a little too tightly to the story.  While the author doesn't really use the original names much, she drops them around the story to the point where it's distracting.  Hallie's whining gets frustrating at times, but it's tempered by the alternating points of view between her and Grace.  I wish the relationships had been a little more fleshed out, with less talking about their talks and more actual talks.  However, it's a nice little story with some good moments.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, May 12, 2013

45 Pounds (More or Less)

45 Pounds (More or Less)
by K.A. Barson

At 16 years old, Ann doesn't remember a time when she hasn't struggled with her weight.

All of the other women in her family look fantastic and thin, while she fights to fit into something other than baggy pants and t-shirts.

When her aunt announces that she's getting married in just a few short months and Ann is going to be in the wedding party, Ann knows she's got to lose 45 pounds in order to feel confident among the beauties in her family.

On her journey, she tries fad diets, "incentive" clothing, bargaining with herself (just one more donut and I'll be good tomorrow), and so much more.

Can she find herself among all the words of wisdom, help, and hate that surround an overweight girl?

Final thoughts: Ann's struggles are realistic, if a little repetitive.  She sometimes comes off a little whiny, but the overall message is good.  Tricks don't work. Fads don't work. Fat doesn't magically come off. People who are overweight aren't necessarily lazy or pigs; they are just regular people who don't really know how to balance food and fitness.  There are other messages about the dangers of being thin, too.  How are we affecting our future generations with our constant messages about being skinny?

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dead Silence

Dead Silence
by Kimberly Derting

Violet has been drawn back into the group whose leader has threatened her family.  Whether she wants to help or not, she's got to protect those she loves and she's got to follow the echoes of the dead.

Following echoes can be a little difficult now, though, since she's got an echo of her own.  Ever since she accidentally killed her kidnapper while escaping, Violet has had to hear an incessant music box melody droning over and over in her head.  

She's never free of it.  

It never stops.

But neither do murders.

Violent deaths are everywhere and Violet can't help but try to put the dead to rest.

When someone she loves is put in danger, Violet must risk everything to protect her.

Final thoughts: Ok.  That's it.  I may be done with this series.  Violet isn't strong anymore. Her grandmother's journals seem really convenient and solve a few problems, while also introducing new mysteries.  Jay isn't as awesome; in fact, he's one-dimensional and kind of annoying.  The team is barely seen except when needed.  And I was just disappointed.  It was just okay.  It wasn't fantastic and it wasn't awful.  (Btw, the official book trailer from HarperTeen doesn't really fit the book.)

Rating: 3/5


by Mary Shelley

When Robert Walton decides to head to the Arctic to challenge himself and go on an adventure, little did he know that he'd meet someone whose life adventure far surpasses his own.

Just hours after seeing one giant man pass by the ship, then stranded in the ice, another man appears, sick, tired, and on a journey to destroy his greatest creation.

That man is Victor Frankenstein and his quest is destroy the monster he made.

He tells Walton his tale, both as a warning and prayer.

Final thoughts: It's an iconic book with that rare female author of her day writing a "man's" story.  Unfortunately, it's annoying.  It's a story within a story within a story and every single narrator has more than one moment where he says something to the effect of, "I know I'm talking a lot, but... " and then keeps on talking. Walton is re-telling the story of Victor, who at one point re-tells the story of the monster.  There are a few brief moments of feeling sorry for the monster, but he keeps turning it around and becoming a whiny pain in the butt.  And Victor isn't great, either.  Gothic, maybe.  Good, not really.

Rating: 2/5


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