Friday, January 27, 2017

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock -

Title: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Author: Matthew Quick
Format: Paperback 


Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate, Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

In this riveting look at a day in the life of a disturbed teenage boy, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.


Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a look at one boy's life on the day he is going to kill hos best friend, then himself.  We find out little morsels about Leonard's life throughout the book - like the fact that his mom just up and moved to NYC, leaving him behind to care for himself, and also the fact that his former best friends Asher raped him for months before Leonard finally said enough.  This book was at once a revelation and a heartbreaker. 

Leonard has little in his life to live for - or at least that's what he thinks.  Many people who are right on the verge of suicide don't think about just how much they have in their lives - they are in a very desperate situation.  Suicide is never an easy topic to discuss.  But it's a necessary one.  People need to be more candid about asking if someone is in crisis or is suicidal.  People need to know that it's okay to look for signs in their friends and family members to see if that person is thinking about suicide.  Leonard had that in his teacher - Herr Silverman was the person who noticed that Leonard was completely messed up.  He gave Leonard his personal cell phone number, telling Leonard to call him if Leonard felt like he was going to kill himself.

Anyway, I digress - let's talk about what I actually thought of the book.  I 99% loved it.  The 1% I didn't like was that I found it hard to believe that Leonard's ONLY FRIEND was his elderly neighbor Walt.  Maybe the fact that he had been raped for so long by someone he trusted made it hard for him to befriend people.  Maybe he just genuinely didn't like people. Who knows?  But the chances are that Leonard had at least one friend his own age he could have turned to or who would have noticed something was wrong. 

Other than that, I think the book was very well written and the characters were well developed.  It was easy to get insight into Leonard's anger, and to understand just why he was so angry.  I do think that his mother was an idiot and that she either should have stayed with him, moved him with her, or found another capable adult to care for him while he was still underage.  Maybe then someone would have realized even sooner what had happened to Leonard and he could have gotten some therapy (because, let's face it, he needed therapy and what teenager is going to go to a therapist on their own?) 

I think in some ways Leonard was a bully.  When he met Lauren, for example, he earned her trust almost instantly because he told her that he wanted to get to know Jesus.  Now, granted she did seem like the type to trust people easily, but that's neither here nor there.  He goes to her church, where he proceeds to mock her because of the religious tracts she was handing out, and was asking her and her boyfriend if they ever parked their car somewhere to have sex - it may not sound scandalous, but the way that he phrased it was incredibly horrible.

The story definitely seemed cohesive from beginning to end - and flowed as smoothly as one would expect in a book that also has some flashbacks. When Leonard finally called his teacher, after a failed attempt to shoot himself (because the bullets wouldn't come out of the gun), it totally seemed plausible.  I was pissed that he just up and left the next morning without even talking to his teacher though.  Herr Silverman went out on a limb for Leonard and he acted like he didn't even care.  Of course, he could have picked up that attitude from his snotty mother. 

At the end, when Leonard just walks out of his house leaving his mother behind, I was not at all surprised, except for the fact that their is a cliff hanger of sorts - you never really find out whether or not Leonard actually got help like he told Herr Silverman he would, or whether or not he went on to kill himself.  Perhaps that was intentional on the part of the author, but it drive me crazy. 

Anyway, all in all, I would recommend this book.  It was a solid 4 star read for me.



Friday, January 20, 2017

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child


Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Author: Jack Thorne
Format: Hardcover

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
 


Let's be clear: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was a play that I wanted to love.  I wanted so desperately to love this play.  For it to be everything that it's predecessors were.  But after finishing Act 1, Scene 1, I knew, without a doubt, that this was not a Harry Potter story I would love.  When I finished, I realized not only did not I not LOVE it, I didn't even really like it.  

I have been a Harry Potter fan for 15 years.  For 15 years, I loved those first seven books.  From The Sorcerer's Stone when Harry gets that letter, then hears the words uttered by Hagrid that changed his life -  "You're a wizard, Harry" - to the moment in The Deathly Hallows when Harry kills Voldemort and the entire great hall erupts in cheers, and crying, and clapping, I have loved these books.  

I fell in love with Fred and George Weasley, laughing when they told Ginny they would send her a Hogwarts toilet seat.  I cried when Dumbledore, and Sirius, and Fred, and Lupin, and all these other amazing and wonderful characters died.  I rolled my eyes and groaned when Dolores Umbridge came out with yet another bloody educational decree.  I cried when Harry went into the headmasters office after he'd killed Voldemort and all the portraits were crying and clapping and happy.  

So, when I heard that there was ANOTHER story being developed - this one for the stage - I was excited, if a bit cautious.  After all, according the the end of the Deathly Hallows, "all was well."  After all, Voldemort was dead.  He stayed dead.  Hogwarts, Harry, the entire wizarding community - they were all safe.  Then, suddenly, The Cursed Child comes along, and shatters the pretense and, apparently, the illusion that all was well.  

Harry's children are at Hogwarts.  They are living their lives as little witches and wizards in training.  They are learning to fight and dream and time travel (because all the time turners DID NOT get destroyed at the Ministry after all.  And Harry - dear Harry - finds himself with his scar hurting again.  He also finds himself in the midst of a tumultuous time with his son Albus.  (At one point, he actually tells Albus that he wishes Albus were not his son.)  

The whole plot felt like a big train wreck.  Sure, the whole loving people for who they are thing was still there - Harry had to learn to love Albus for who he was and not who Harry wanted him to be, after all.  And they kept the theme of acceptance for all people.  That was good.  But overall, there was really minimal development and the whole story was predictable and poorly planned out and executed.  Also, I was really surprised at Albus's inability to figure out that Delphi was related to Bellatrix.  Was he not educated about who Bellatrix was?!  Surely he had seen at least ONE PICTURE of Bella in his life, and surely the remembrance of what she looked like would clue him in to the fact that Delphi was her DAUGHTER!!!!!!!




In terms of characters - there was no real change or development.  Even from who they were at the end of The Deathly Hallows.  Ron was an absolute moron in this book - he was just completely incapable of anything.  Now, out of their trio, we all know Hermione was the freaking genius.  But Ron is and never was completely stupid.  If anything, he was just your typical lazy teenage boy - but he should have grown out of that by the time he was grownup.  And the way Harry acted towards Albus was just not something I would have expected from him - he was horrific to Albus.  Mr. Treat everyone Kindly was an asshole.  He even went so far as to tell Albus he couldn't hang out with Scorpius, because Scorpius is a Malfoy and all the Malfoy's are evil no matter what!

With characters that fell flat, writing that was nowhere near as good as J.K. Rowling's, and a plot that could fight with Fifty Shades for the gold in Crap, I'd say that even die hard Potterheads like myself are better off saving your time and reading something else.  If you must read the book, get it from a friend or the library and save your money.  








Thursday, January 19, 2017

Cover Review - Crossroads






BOOK & AUTHOR INFO:

Crossroads
by Laney McMann
(The CrossWorld Chronicles #1)
Publication date: Winter 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Synopsis:
Hawk Holland is dead—he just doesn’t know it.
At seventeen, Hawk is a professional Motocross rider. Hot, badass, smart—with a drug problem—and a death wish. Winning is what he does best. Being in the spotlight is second nature. But after his best friend dies of an overdose during a televised race, Hawk goes down a road that leads to a similar fate—and that’s just the way he wants it—or so he thought.
Fawn Marchat is a CrossWorlder. Her lineage stems from her greatest of grandmothers, the Goddess Hecate. Fawn has many gifts, including the ability to see into the Afterlife and save souls on the Crossroads of death. But between her over-bearing grandfather insisting she follow the path of her elders in Wiccan Craft and assume her birthright, her uptight private Catholic school, and her mom always on her case about the only positive diversion in her life—Fawn has no desire to save anyone but herself.
When the world of the living collides with the world of the dead, Hawk Holland realizes a choice he made while under the influence set him on the fast-track to the Crossroads, a waylay station for lost souls with a one way ticket to Hell—and Fawn is the only one who might be able to save him.



AUTHOR BIO:
Young Adult Dark Fantasy Writer, Myths and Legends Believer, Voracious Reader, Music Snob, World Builder, Poet, Quote Junkie. My thoughts on Writing, Social Media, Reading, Books, Publishing, and Music. Generally. Author of The Fire Born Novels TIED, TORN & TRUE Author of The Primordial Principles CRYSTALLUM 2015, DAEMONEUM 2016 Author of The CrossWorld Chronicles CROSSROADS (2016) Pub'd by J. Taylor Publishing, Jagged Lane Books, and formerly by Booktrope Editions Publishing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Paper Towns - John Green

Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Format: Paperback

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew...

I read Paper Towns during Bout of Books 18.  I was so, so excited to read it - and it started out promising.  But by the end of the book, I found myself filled with loathing for this book.  That's right - loathing.  Not just dislike, but actual sheer loathing.

The book starts with Margo, a main character who is not actually part of the book for a majority, coming into Quentin's window and taking him on an all night adventure whereby she put fishes in peoples houses and cars, breaks into SeaWorld, and basically raises hell all over Orlando.  After the night is done, Margo takes off, leaving Q and her friends wondering where she is.  She leaves clues that Q believes are for him, but we come to discover, he's wrong.

After Margo leaves, Q makes it his mission to find her.  After all, why would she come take him on this all night adventure, then take off and leave clues if she didn't want him to find her, right?????!?!?!!!  So, along with his friends and their new girlfriends, they visit all these pseudovisions (a subdivision that never actually got built) that Margo could be at - and come up dead every time.  Then they revisit one pseudovision where they rediscover these clues - a map, crumpled up food wrappers, etc - that lead them to a "paper town" in New York.  (A paper town is a town that exists only on a map.  Map makers create paper towns so that they will know if their map has been copied by other people.)

When they discover this information, Q and his friends Radar and Ben, along with Margo's friend Lacey, skip their high school graduation and drive 21 hours to the made up town in New York where they find not only one tiny falling down building, but also Margo.  When she discovers that these people have come all this way looking for her, she freaks out, saying that the clues weren't actually clues and that she never wanted anyone to find her.

The plot of the story is pretty basic.  There's not a whole lot of development, and the ideas just fall flat.  There is tension in the book, but it feels forced.

The characters are all flat as well - and there is not a lot of change or growth in them, especially in  Margo.  She starts off as this selfish kid who only thinks about herself, and she's the exact same at the end.  She doesn't care about anyone but herself at all.  I understand that teenagers are at an age where they are bound to be self-centered just because of their age, but even teenagers are capable of growth and change and have the ability to think about people other than themselves.

The be all, end all thing that really made me hate this book, though, was the fact that the author felt comfortable using the R word throughout the book. Not even just once, but three separate times.  I think this is a deplorable thing to do, especially considering that the author is using is to describe people who don't have developmental disabilities.  I don't think that word needs to be described to use any people, but when it's used to describe people who don't have disabilities, the person using the word is basically saying that they think there is something wrong with people who have disabilities.  They are saying that if you make a mistake or slip up, you deserve to be called that word, and that you are no better than people who have disabilities.  It implies that people with disabilities are less than other people, and that's not okay.

I can't, in good faith, give this book more than 1 star.  I would not recommend it. You can find better books to read.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo





Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Format: Paperback

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.


It's hard to explain how much I love this book.  Shadow and Bone is like every fantastic magical novel rolled into one and packaged in a fabulous book that I COULDN'T PUT DOWN!

A lot of people were hating on this book, or weren't really feeling it, and I really just don't understand.  I loved it.

 Let's start with the plot.  Alina and Mal, two kids who grew up in an orphanage, were tested when they were young to see if they held any grisha power.  Apparently, they didn't, and they were sent to be in the military.  When Aline is older, it is discovered that she does, in fact, have Grisha powers and is known as the sun summoner.  Anyway, this discover leads Alina down a road that is full of love, lust, and some pretty creepy discoveries - especially about the Darkling.  I won't give away TOO much, but let's jut say that I was rooting for Alina from beginning to end.  I loved the whole story.  I thought the plot was great, well planned out, and held together well.

The characters were, in a word, amazing.  Each character had their own personalities, and they all worked together so well.  There was tension between characters in the right places, and easy conversations between characters as they go to know each other.  I think Mal and Alina also had a lot of personal growth throughout the novel, and the ability to adapt as necessary. They had moments of anger and rage with each other, and then also the ability to forgive and love each other anyway, even when they were mad with each other.

I loved the back and forth between Alina and the Darkling - the attraction to each other, and also Alina's hesitance towards him because he is the Darkling.  It was interesting to see her reaction and growth upon learning that the Darkling is in fact the Black Heretic.

I loved watching the changes between Mal and Alina, and their willingness to forgive and love each other anyway, even when they thought they couldn't or didn't really want to.  I think their relationship was a testament to what friends can be when things are not good (and the Darkling wants to claim you!)

Overall, my reaction to this book can be summed up as follows:





 5 stars all the way.  Read it!  Now! 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Bout of Books - Day 4 Recap

Happy Friday!  I can't believe it's Friday already, but here we are. Anyway - here's my recap for Thursday: Day 4 of Bout of Books!


The books I am currently reading:







The Books I've Finished:




And the count:

Books Started: 3
Books Finished: 1
Pages Read on Thursday: 95
Total Pages Read: 438

Now friends, let's play a game!  It's time for "If you like this, try this!"

If you like Divergent and other YA Dystopian fantasy, try Legend, by Marie Lu.  (Trust me, you will fall in love with Day and June!)

If you like books about magic, try Freeks, by Amanda Hocking.  (It was just released a couple days ago.  I read it as an ARC, and it reminded me of AHS: Freak Show.)  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Bout of Books - Day 3 Recap

It's time for a day 3 recap, y'all!

Here's what happened on Wednesday:

I ended up adding Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince to my reading list on audiobook.  So, here are the books I am currently reading:






And now, the FINISHED BOOK:




And now, the count:

Books Started: 3
Books Finished: 1
Pages Read on Wednesday: 147
Total Pages Read: 343

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Bout of Books - Day 2 Recap





Welcome to my recap post for Day 2 of the Bout of Books 18 readathon!  Here's what happened on Tuesday! 

Books Started: 2



Books Finished: 0
Pages Read Tuesday: 51
Pages Read Total: 196

I'm not nearly as far into my reading as I would like to be, but it's only Wednesday!  I don't work today, so it's the perfect day to sit around and just read!


And now, the part of the post I know you've all been waiting for: the Books To Movie Challenge!

The Mara Dyer Trilogy, by Michelle Hodkin:

NEEDS TO BE A MOVIE SERIES

 




My Perfect Cast Would Be: 
(I only picked a handful of characters that I either really loved, or who I could really see the actors for!)




 Mara Dyer would be played by Naomi Scott.  Can you imagine a better Mara?  She has the innocent quality that Mara should have, with the look that says "I can and will kick your ass if I have to.)



Daniel, Mara's brother, would be played by Avan Jogia (Isn't he just amazing?) I think Avan Jogia could pull off the smart ass attitude and the caring about his family that Daniel does so well.



Mara's smart ass friend Jamie, could be a great role for Trevor Jackson.  He has the look to pull of the crazy attitude that Jamie has while still saying, "Hey, it's cool, I love my friends!"


Mrs. Dyer, Mara's mom, would be played by the talented Sakeena Jaffrey, from House of Cards.  If you've read the Mara Dyer trilogy, you'll know why she's a perfect fit! 
 
And Mara's dad, who I imagine is kind of one of those dad's that everyone loves to check out, would be played by Christian Bale.  (Tell me she could have a better dad - I dare you!) 





Jude, the bad boy and psycho ex-boyfriend of Mara's, literally could not be played by a better actor than Kenton Duty. (And I'll go to the mats on that one.)









Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Bout of Books - Day 1 Recap

Hi y'all!  Welcome to the land of people who compulsively read more than one book at a time!  (Come on, you know you do that too!) 

Here's where I am sitting after Monday (also known as the first day of one of the best readathons ever!)

BOOKS STARTED: 2




BOOKS FINISHED: 0 
TOTAL PAGES READ: 145



And now, my biggest goal for 2017
(aside from reading a lot of course):


(Losing some weight and getting healthier.  I've struggled with my weight throughout my whole life, but have gained more weight than I really should.  After finding out I have arthritis in both my knees, I am even more determined to get healthier and lose some weight, because I know losing weight will help take some of the stress off my joints and help keep me more pain free.)


Monday, January 2, 2017

Bout of Books: Day 1

HAPPY JANUARY!  Can you believe it's 2017 already?!  I mean, come on, where did 2016 go?







Anyway, today marks the FIRST DAY of Bout of Books 18!  I'm so excited.  (Fair warning: This post will be filled with an excessive amount of exclamation points.  You've been warned!!!)

Let me tell you what I hope to get read this week:

I started today with






Other books I plan to read throughout the week:












I might add more to the list or check out some graphic novels or manga, but for now these are the books I am focusing on! 

Stay tuned on my blog, or follow me on Twitter to check out my reading throughout the week. (Or to see my challenge responses!)