Monthly Archives: August 2014

Review: My Soon-To-Be Sex Life by Judith Tewes

My Soon-To-Be Sex Life

My Soon-To-Be Sex Life is no where near as racy as the title would imply — and that isn’t a bad thing.

Charlie decided that it’s time she lost the “Big V” card and has begun a campaign to find the right guy to experience her first time with. But despite a plethora of potential suitors, Charlie can’t quite go all the way with any of them.

Her plan is complicated when her mother admits she’s got a drug problem and checks into rehab. Charlie is sent to live with her eccentric grandfather, Monty. Now she has to find a way to help mom get through rehab and survive her crazy grandfather, all while feeling an attraction to a new guy named Eric who makes her heart skip a beat.

In many ways, My Soon-To-Be Sex Life reminded me of the first American Pie movie. The hook is the “racy” set-up of a person wanting to lose his or her virginity but the story itself ends up being a character driven one that explores a lot more than just a quick coupling or two. Judith Tewes is to be commended for telling an emotional rich, honest story that packs a few laugh out loud moments along the way. Charlie is an interesting narrator and while the story seems to take a detour or two, it’s still an interesting enough one that it will keep you rooting for her and turning the next page to see what happens next.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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Review: Skin Game by Jim Butcher

Skin Game (The Dresden Files, #15)

Jim Butcher’s on-going Dresden Files has been one of the best things in the publishing world for a long time now. Each new book is a must read for me and I eagerly look forward to the moment I can crack the cover and spend a few hundred pages with my favorite wizard, Harry Dresden.

So maybe I had my expectations set a bit too high for the fifteenth installment, Skin Game.

It’s not that Skin Game is a terrible book or a jump the shark moment for the series. But it just didn’t quite thrill me as much as some of the other recent installments have.

In many ways, Skin Game is the Dresden Files’ take on Ocean’s 11. Harry’s boss Mab loans him out as part of a team that is looking to pull off a heist from an underworld safe. The stakes are just a bit higher however than just stealing the (literal) holy Grail. Dresden is paying off Mab’s debts and his own and failure is not an option.

Butcher does a nice job of pulling in a wide variety of familiar faces from the series and reminding us just what Harry stands to gain and lose should this particular assignment succeed or fail. The book also examines some of the impact and consequences of Harry’s decision to become the Winter Knight and to wield the powers and responsibilities that come with that mantle. I have a feeling that Butcher is setting the stage for some other shoes to drop in future novels as well as tying up a few plot threads here so we can start building toward the end game of the series.

As I said before, this isn’t a bad book. It’s just not my favorite in the series. There’s still a lot to love about our favorite wizard and his world and I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what Butcher gives us next for Harry and his friends. The Dresden Files is still one of the best on-going series on the market today.

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Review: Goldfinger by Ian Fleming

Goldfinger: James Bond Series 7

Goldfinger was the first Bond novel I read during the summer of between my sophomore and junior years of high school when I got really into the Bond canon. It was a summer when I checked out a LOT of Bond novels from the library, reading them in random order based on the movie titles and which ones I wanted to see.

The last impression I took away from my teenage reading a)that the movie was fairly faithful to the book and b)boy the differences between the book and the movie sure were interesting. For example, did you know in the book that Pussy Galore plays for the other team?!? Well, at least that is until she crosses paths with James Bond and he works the old Bond magic on her!

It was this last tidbit of trivia that I liked to throw into conversation from time to time when it came to discussing the James Bond books and movies.

Alas, this wasn’t necessarily something that came up all that often, so I rarely got to utilize this bit of trivia as much as I might have wanted to.

And so it was that a couple of decades later, I decided to return to Goldfinger. But this time instead of reading the book, I’d give the audio novel a listen. Part of the reasoning went back to the fact that the book and movie are so similar in the basic plot that I could easily listen to it while working out and not be too worried about missing a pertinent plot twist or detail. And part of it was that I wanted to have my impression of the book be more than — holy cow, did you know Pussy Galore played for the other team until she met James Bond?!?

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Mystery Mini-Reviews: The Silkworm, All Day and a Night & And Then There Were None

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike, #2)The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Last year, J.K. Rowling created a bit of buzz in the publishing world when she published a mystery novel under the pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. But once the initial buzz was over, fans discovered that Rowling had crafted an enjoyable mystery novel with The Cuckoo’s Curse and that she’d already penned and the sequel The Silkworm.

As a fan of the first novel, I was curious to see what Galbraith had in store for us with the second Cormoran Strike novel.

Basking in his new-found fame and finally getting back on his financial feet, Strike has more work than he can handle. But that doesn’t stop him from taking a case that may not necessarily mean a huge financial windfall for him (in fact, the client may not be able to pay at all) but has instead piqued his detective’s curiosity. Novelist Owen Quine has gone missing and his wife asks Strike to help track him down. Quine has just written what he believes is his masterpiece, a thinly veiled portrait of various people he knows within the publishing industry. This means there is no shortage of subjects who would love to see the novel never see the light of day and to finally silence Quine’s poison-pen.

Many might say that Rowling is biting the hand that feeds her with a mystery set within the literary community. But that would sell short the intriguing mystery and, once again, the compelling character of Cormoran Strike.

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Catching Up on Reviews 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Double-Booked for Death (Black Cat Bookshop Mystery, #1)Double-Booked for Death by Ali Brandon

When it comes to mysteries, I’ll admit I’m usually drawn more to those with a harder edge. But the combination of a murder in a book store along with a mystery solving cat caught my interest with Ali Brandon’s Double Booked For Death.

Darla Pettistone inherited her aunt’s bookstore in New York City, along with a car, an apartment and a cat named Hamlet. Darla’s working to keep the store afloat and a signing by the biggest name in teenage supernatural literature certain can’t hurt. But Darla wasn’t counting on protesters, long lines of teenage fans in goth outfits and capes and the death of the best-selling author near the premises.

It all seems like an accidental death until Hamlet uncovers a clue that sheds new light on things.

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Booking Through Thursday: Bookcases

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When you visit a friend’s house, do you find time to browse their bookcases? Does it shock you if they don’t have one?

It depends on how well I know the friend. If I know them well enough that they won’t mind me taking a look at what they’ve got on their shelves, I will do it. But I feel like they would mind, I may only cast a glance at the shelves and look for familiar spines — probably similar to the ones I may have on my shelves at home or have read at one time or another.

As for not having bookshelves in an area that my friend allows me to visit of their home, I’m not surprised. They could have bookshelves in other parts of the home, like I do. And it could be possible that their bookshelves are like mine — packed to the gills with books I’ve read and books I want to read. And they don’t feel like having the whole world see what appears on the outside to be disorganized but deep inside my mind, I’ve really got a reason for why each book is placed where it is — or at least I did when I put them up on the shelf.

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Review: Personal by Lee Child

Personal (Jack Reacher, #19)

In a bus station in Seattle, Jack Reacher comes across a copy of the Army Times with a classified ad addressed to him with instructions to make contact. Reacher does and is quickly swept up into a race against time to stop a potential assassin from taking out the heads of state of the world superpowers at an upcoming economic summit.

One of the potential killers has a connection to Reacher — he was put behind bars years ago during Reacher’s time in the army. And it appears the potential assassin has an ax to grind with Reacher and wants to take him out as well as the heads of state.

The nineteenth entry in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series Personal is most disappointing one I’ve read so far. Usually the novels narrated by Reacher have been among my favorites in the series, but Personal never quite clicks and spends seemingly long periods of time with Reacher doing little or nothing to impact the investigation or the plot. Part of the problem is that Reacher is part of a team this time around. The character has had help in the past, but he seems less the unstoppable force that he has been in previous novels.

In fact, there were points during this book that I found myself double-checking to make sure this was a Reacher novel and not so other standard thriller I’d picked up. But every few pages, I’d be reminded of Reacher’s love of coffee and diners and the portable toothbrush is the greatest invention in the history of humankind so I knew I wasn’t reading the wrong book.

I’ve made this observation before, but I think it bears making again here. In the past year or so, Child has published several Reacher novellas and stories that felt a bit rushed and left me wanting for more and a couple of Reacher novels that felt like a short story expanded far past their natural length. Personal continues this trend, feeling more like a solid novella or short story than a full length novel.

And while I didn’t love the latest entry in the series, I’m still hopeful that Child will find his grove again for the upcoming twentieth installment in the series.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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Review: Amazing Spider-Man: Peter Parker: One and Only

Amazing Spider-Man: Peter Parker: One and Only

While Doc Ock was inhabiting Spidey’s body, Marvel decided to appease fans who wanted Peter Parker back with a couple of one-off stories with Peter Parker fully in control of things. The result is this collection of stories that feature Peter Parker front and center as the Amazing Spider-Man.

The first two stories in the collection are the highlight, including one in which Pete must resort to his secret identity and web across town to try and save Aunt May during a blizzard. Along the way, Peter encounters several others who need the help of his famous secret identity and is forced to weigh whether stopping to help them could mean that Aunt May will die because of his delay (a tree broke a window at her house and her power and furnace are out due to the weather). In many ways, this feels like the classic Peter Parker dilemma of who does he feel a “great responsibility” to the most. Combine a great story with some terrific art work (Spidey really stands out against the mostly white background of the blizzard) and you’ve got an intriguing little story that feels like the early days when Smilin’ Stan Lee was writing Spidey stories.

The next story is just as good, looking at just how the various villains Spidey and company go up against get health care and patched up. A black market hospital specializing in the treatment of super villains has opened up and Spidey lands there following a battle in which he gets burns to over 80% of his body. It’s one of those questions that seems so obvious — once someone else has asked it, of course. The big problem I have with this one is that it’s a two-part story and it feels a bit stretched thin by the time we get to the second installment. There’s a lot of your typical Spider-Man trading of punches that help fill out the second installment and after a few pages it begins to wear a bit thin. But again, the art work is good and solid enough and the idea intriguing enough that I give them props for shining a light into an unexplored area of the Spidey universe.

The rest of the stories here aren’t quite up to the standards of these two, though the last one about a young boy who asks himself “What Would Spider-Man Do?” is of particular note. I will warn you that it’s a bit melancholy in tone and a downer to end the book.

But don’t let that put you off this collection. It’s a nice reminder of just what makes Spider-Man Spider-Man.

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Catching Up on Reviews

Side Effects May VarySide Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

What if you were diagnosed with cancer and only given a few months to live? Would you create a bucket list and start crossing things off it? And what if some of the things on that bucket list weren’t necessarily the most positive things — including getting revenge on your ex-boyfriend and the girl he’d been cheating on you with?

Sixteen year old Alice faces the possibility that she won’t make it to her next birthday and decides she wants to wrap up all her unfinished business before her time on Earth is done. She enlists the help of her long-time friend Harvey, who has carried a torch for Alice for years. As the two cross-off items on Alice’s list, including humiliation for the ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend, they slowly begin to grow closer and fall for each other.

But then, Alice’s cancer goes into remission and she’s suddenly forced to live with the consequences of her actions, including her profession that she will miss Harvey the most. Instead of seeing this as a second chance for life and happiness with Harvey, Alice withdraws further into herself and falls back into some of her bad pre-diagnosis habits, including ditching school and hooking up with a random guy under the bleachers each day instead of going to class.

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Top Ten Tuesday — Entry Level

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (Courtesy of The Broke and the Bookish) is the top ten 10 books you’d give to readers who have never read X.   Instead of just going for one genre, I’ve decided to include ten different types of books.  Or at least I’m going to try to do that. We’ll see how the results all come out and if I make it. 

1.  Never read science-fiction: Caves of Steel by Issac Asimov
2.  Never read fantasy:  Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
3.  Never read classic mystery:  The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
4.  Never read British mystery:  A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George
5.  Never read contemporary mystery:  The Poet by Michael Connelly
6.  Never read a graphic novel:  Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
7.  Never read a YA novel: Swim the Fly by Don Calame
8.  Never read a horror novel: The Shining by Stephen King
9.  Never read a short story collection: The Incredible Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson
10. Never read a tie-in novel: Imzadi by Peter David

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