Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book Review: Dysfunctional

Dysfunctional (The Root of Betrayal) by Tameka Oliver-Hicks is the story of Tamara Brown from her early teen years through her early twenties. She gets a diary for her fourteenth birthday so the reader is able to follow her exploits. This includes more than dysfunction. I believe Tamara is psychotic. This drama-filled book has calculated revenge that includes murder and abuse to which Tamara doesn't bat an eye. When I first started reading this book, I didn't like it at all. Tamara's diary entries seemed a little too mature at first to me. Then it did begin to sound like the ramblings of someone much younger. I didn't like the narrative when it wasn't Tamara's diary entry. I think it would have flowed much better if the entire book was diary entries or entirely narrative with sparse diary. I say this because the narrative wasn't in third person all the way through. Sometimes it sounded like Tamara telling those parts. Then there were several parts that had nothing to do with Tamara. For example, there is a large section about her aunt Alexis and her dealing with a pregnancy and conflict with her boyfriend. This did not directly impact Tamara and did not further the story at all. Another section dealt with a disturbing attack on another aunt by the aunt's new husband. Some of Tamara's story did involve this aunt but it still contained too much irrelevant story.


Now the inconsistencies in character development bothered me as well. Tamara was raised until the age of 12 by a strong-willed grandmother. So I saw a lot of parallels with Tamara and grandma's handling of situations: fight first, talk later. But the girl's aunts (who were raised by the same woman) were weak-willed and needy, giving in to abuse and being used by no good men. Tamara was smarter (street wiser) than all of them at only fourteen. 


Also, I didn't see Tamara as abused. She is definitely used by her biological mother as a housekeeper and babysitter. But everything she does or allows, especially with the males in her life is calculated and for a purpose. Tamara says several times that she is street smart, and that is definitely what she is. From beginning to end, Dysfunctional shows Tamara as always having the upper hand or planning to get the upper hand. She always has a plan. She trusts no-one and uses everyone. People who think they're her friend are just her pawns. That's something the book doesn't show, how does Tamara get so many different people to do whatever she wants? Everywhere she goes she easily gets people to do things that involve felonies, and she gets away with everything unscathed. I think Tamara could've easily gotten caught in several situations but this is fiction, so she doesn't. Tamara is not a very likeable character. She's mean, unfeeling and disrespectful, so I don't know how she gets her loyal minions. But she and the book have entertaining drama for sure. The only thing that kept me reading was the promise of her next plan. 

Toward the end Tamara is at her best at being bad. It reads like a soap opera drama at this part. It becomes less "hood" (for lack of a better word) and more "beverly hills" dysfunctional. Some parts were predictable, some parts shocking, some parts implausible. I don't read a lot of urban lit. I picked this up for a change of pace. I would recommend this book for those who like non-stop drama and purely ignorant folks causing trouble for no reason, because there is a lot of it in this book. Adult content.


Rating: 3/5

The Patchwork Girl of Oz Book Review

The Patchwork Girl of Oz
by L. Frank Baum
I listened to The Patchwork Girl of Oz as an audio book. The story was very creative with many odd and unique characters. Although named for the patchwork girl, it is really about a munchkin boy who must go on a quest to find items for a magic potion to restore his uncle who was accidentally turned to marble. The Patchwork Girl goes along to help since she inadvertantly caused the uncle's accident. She is funny and says the weirdest things. It was enjoyable yet it had a very "pat" ending. The munchkin boy's "hero moment" falls short to me.
Rating: 4/5

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Book Review: The World of Fairy


The World of Fairy A Sketch Book & Artists Guide to Fairy by Ty Hulse
The artwork in this sketchbook is so imaginative and beautiful. Some of the images of fairy are familiar while others boggle the imagination. There are tree fairy and rock fairy and water fairy. There are fairy with multiple eyes and faces on really peculiar parts of their anatomy. According to the 10 things you didn’t know about fairy in the first pages of the book, they have been around since before humans and were not always the sugary-sweet, helpful pretty little things we see today. When I read Peter Pan, I thought Tinkerbell was so mean and mischievous. I didn’t realize fairy weren’t were there to help humans. Some did have good relationships with humans and helped develop agriculture and some helped with cities. Other fairy would curse you to look at you.  I would’ve liked more structure to the tales and information included. I think having the text correspond more to the sections of artwork would’ve made it even better.  I enjoyed reading about the history of fairy from many different cultures. I’m not an artist or know much about artwork, but I think this is a good art coffee table book. Rating: 4/5

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Movie Review


Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell, Jimmi Simpson
Rated: R
Violence, some nudity, coarse language
I first became aware of this as a book trailer. I thought it was creative. When I saw the MOVIE trailer, I knew I had to go see it. (Tip: NEVER watch the making of a movie before you see the actual movie. That was a big mistake for me. It showed me too much.)
The film stars Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln. We follow Lincoln from when he was a boy, to a young man and finally to president of the United States of America. Of course, in history we hear all about how Lincoln grew up and how he was a self-taught man going from lawyer to politician and president, through the Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation. Some books tell of his marriage to Mary Todd. But what doesn't the history books tell us?
I am a fan of history-made-fun type of books and movies. Things we would never think of and the motives behind what famous people did in history.
I haven't yet read the book, but in the movie it is suggests that Lincoln's mother was killed when he was a boy. When he becomes a man, he goes after that man he thinks did it intending to kill him, only to find out that the other is a vampire. Dominic Cooper's character Henry Sturges saves Lincoln and then trains him how to properly destroy vampires. The rationale behind many of Lincoln's actions and decisions in history and linking them to his exploits as a vampire hunter was seamless as far as I was concerned. The author (Seth Grahame-Smith) of the book and screenplay really thought about ulterior motives for many of the events in Lincoln's life. It makes me want to read Abraham Lincoln's biography.
The only thing that I would've changed was how quickly Lincoln went from clueless to a powerhouse vampire hunter. I felt like some scenes were missing. I also didn't care for some of the Adam's (Rufus Sewell, the vampire leader) decisions. He was either overconfident or dumb. There is a lot of violence due to dismembering and there being several war sequences, although there is nothing too gory. There is brief nudity and sex, and coarse language in the beginning. But the movie was great to watch, with awesome stunts and the re-imagining of the way scenes played out. Abraham Lincoln's weapon of choice was an ax. The stunts with the ax were great. The movie was a good length and a good pace. I really enjoyed it. I would recommend this movie to those who like "hero" movies, vampire movies, and interesting spins on history. I would NOT recommend this movie for younger movie-goers. The R-restricted rating is pretty accurate.
Rating: 4.9/5

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: The Altercation of Vira


The Altercation of Vira by Kenechi Udogu is the story of Ama, whom I liked right away. Ama is on her way to a going-away party for her closest friend, Mel and his girlfriend Janet. She hasn't seen Mel in a few years since he moved to the big city and hooked up with Janet. Ama is driving to the city and thinking about her dislike for Janet when she nearly hits something that runs across the road. Her already ancient car gives up the ghost and she starts walking to find help. From there Ama ends up kidnapped (or so she thinks) and taken away from Earth realm to Vira which turns out to be her real home. But before she's whisked away, Ama manages to contact Mel because she thinks she's in danger. In search of Ama, Mel is taken to Vira also seemingly to help save a race who has been persecuted for generations. However, Ama and Mel find themselves on opposite sides in a brewing war.
The world building in this book is imaginative and believable. Vira is a dark realm, remaining in "night" for most of the book. I had a hard time remembering this, but the author does remind the reader sufficiently. The characters do not seem to change as much as I would've liked. Mel is not tested and is really just a plot device, although he is a fleshed out plot device. Ama changes only slightly inwardly due to a shocking trial she endures. It was one of craziest things I've read that was completely plausible. I could see ancient earth peoples doing these rituals no matter how crazy they seem to us now.
The book drags between maybe chapters 5 and 13. There is a lot of narrative and explanation that bogs it down, but it is cool history of Vira. But once it picks up, the story progresses and builds anticipation. I was up to 3 a.m. reading and only stopped because my phone battery died. The ending was a little quick. I kinda thought it should have been extended. I wasn't expecting what happens between Ama and Mel, especially after all the build up. I gave it 4 stars for the entertaining world building and interesting plot. I couldn't give it 5 because of the slow down in the beginning set up, and because the climax and ending, although satisfactory, left more to be desired. But I had to accept the ending no matter my or Mel's personal feelings on the matter. There were also several characters that I felt needed more purpose or could've been left out altogether. Overall a good read.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Flora the Dress-Up Fairy: Book Review


What if you could become a fairy and help keep everyone safe? Rachel and Kirsty get the chance to be fairies and visit fairyland on a regular basis. In this extended special edition, one of the girls' cousin is having a costume ball. But Jack Frost sends his goblins to steal the costumes and disrupt the party. However, with the help of Flora the Dress-Up Fairy and her magic mask, Rachel and Kirsty trick Jack Frost and save the day. You'll have to read it to find out how.
This is a great read. My daughter loves fairies and just being able to imagine being and helping fairies is a great adventure for her. Recommend to girls ages 6+.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Blackbrooke

Title:
Blackbrooke

Author:
Emma Silver

About the Author: (CrookedCats Publishing)

Emma was born and raised in Manchester but now resides in Liverpool.
Blackbrooke is her debut young adult horror novel after spending many years honing her skills drafting short stories and devouring horror through the ages from R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps collection through to Stephen King.Emma is also the author of a semi-biographical account of her dad’s years in a rock band in the 1970s, Driving Exile.Outside of her day job in public relations, Emma has worked for a Manchester entertainment magazine, reviewing theatre shows gigs and movies.She gets most of her ideas and is inspired by music and also the fighting spirit of young people who aren’t afraid to challenge the norm and stand up for what they believe in. This fleeting ‘moment’ in life is what she tries to capture in her writing.

Summary: (Goodreads)
I live in Blackbrooke and you would have had to be living under a rock to never have heard of it before now. This town is different to most others…Humans aren’t the only residents…”
The residents of Blackbrooke share their town with the Creatures, or Crits as they are known. Grotesque, roaming the streets at night looking for food, their presence means humans have to live by the Rules, keeping them indoors and forbidding them of basic desires.
The most important Rule?
Don’t be a ‘walk out’!
Straight-A student, Liberty Connor, hates the Crits and the endless Rules she and her tight knit group of friends have to live by.
Planning her new life on the Outside with her boyfriend, Gabriel, Liberty whiles away her days waiting to turn 18, so they can leave and be free. That is, until the world she thinks she knows begins to unravel…
Her friends start to walk out. So she’s told. However, something’s not right. Things don’t add up.
Liberty faces a race against time to discover what’s going on with the Creatures of Blackbrooke.
Is it them she has to fear, or something much closer to home?
Blackbrooke is a Young Adult horror novel that has you on the edge of your seat.

I'd Recommend to:
Teenagers

My Rating:
4.8/5

My Thoughts:
In a town surrounded by woods, there are two worlds peacefully living together, or so it seems. There is the daytime world of the humans, and there is the nighttime world where Creatures thrive. There are rules set in place to keep these worlds separate, and if they are broken, there will be deaths.
Unfortunately for Libby Conner, deaths seem to be occurring a lot lately. Her mother is practically dead, in a coma-like state all day and night, her best friend now isn't her friend, classmates "walk out" and do not live, then her boyfriend goes, followed by her current best friend. Life isn't in Liberty's favor right now.
But something just doesn't add up. Why would Gabriel and Gemma do that? It doesn't make sense, and Lib, along with the help of Noah and Cassius, and maybe a hippie named Denzel, plan on getting to the bottom of it and making sure there is a stop to the strange behavior of the townspeople.
It's a dangerous mission that could very well get her, and all her friends and family, killed, but that's a chance she's going to have to be willing to take.
I started this book at around 8 or 9 pm last night. I read it until I literally could not keep my eyes open any longer at 4 am this morning. Then when I re-awoke at 11 am, I continued to read it until I was finished. That is how much of an enthralling, suspenseful book it is.
When I got to the last 95% of it (I have a kindle, so it shows percentages, not pages), I knew that it was going to end on a cliffhanger and that I would need to read the next book in the series. My suspicion proved to be true, and I am looking forward to the next addition.
I do have to say though, that this story is a bit emotional, and it does mention suicides a lot. And it mentions deaths. A lot.
I'm just gonna lay it flat out there, suicide is NEVER the answer. Legit, no matter how bad your life seems, it cannot be that bad. There are plenty of hotlines you can call if you need help. Don't be afraid to get some.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Something Blue: Book Review

I read this only because I saw the movie Something Borrowed. Which I only watched because Ginnifer Goodwin from ABC's Once Upon a Time was in it (SnowWhite). OUAT is the only show I watch....ever besides Sprout Channel and ESPN. You can tell who controls the TV in my house. So anyway, at the end of the movie, Darcy (Kate Hudson) goes to England. Then I heard that the movie was based on a book and it had a sequel. Something Borrowed was checked out so I read this book. It is Very chick-lit and had a neat "bow-on-top" happy ending for everyone. And I mean Everyone. Darcy is not likable even when she "changes". It pretty much rehashes the first book from Darcy's point of view for the first couple of chapters before she actually leaves for England. Predictable ending, But easy to read.
Rating: 3/5

Friday, August 3, 2012

Witchcraft in America: Book Review

Witchcraft in America by Peggy Saari
Easy to read and follow. The Salem witch trials were a sad and shocking time in American history. Includes history of witchcraft in Europe and its impact on early American society. It discusses the possible causes of the witch hunts and letters written by participants which include apologies. Also had a short history of the rise of the Wiccan religion. The book can be used in classrooms. It has some social studies like questions.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Thursday, August 2, 2012

21 Jump Street

My friend, Austin, was watching 21 Jump Street one day and told me to watch it sometime, so when I saw it was on the list of movies on the airplane I could watch, I immediately clicked on it.
My father saw me watching it, and told me that he "loved that movie! It's so funny!", proving that this movie has a wide variety of audiences when it comes to age (at least 16-46 year olds like it lol - That's a 30 year age difference!). The only thing was that it had a bit of cussing in it, so it probably isn't best for youngsters.
So, what happens is these two guys went to high school together. One was a total geek, the other a popular jock. But when they both apply to become police, they partner up and become best friends for life, more like brothers, actually. They become so close that they would actually take a bullet for the other. Anyway, they're not very good at their job, being newbies and wanting to show off and impress others and all. So they are sent to 21 Jump Street.
There, they are told about their new mission. A new drug has been discovered in a local high school and they need to go in and stop the production of it before it spreads to other schools. They also need to catch all the people involved with the creating and distributing of the drug. Jenko, the previous jock, likes the name given to Schmidt better than the one given to him, so they trade schedules and this time Schmidt gets to play the popular guy while Jenko is stuck being the left out loser. But they quickly make friends, and Schmidt becomes vastly popular. Him and his new friends throw parties, do drugs, drink a bit, and soon Schmidt and Jenko are both about to be kicked out of 21 Jump Street.
But, just in the nick of time, they bust the drug ring that big, scary motorcyclists have been after for years. Who was the main guy behind it? You'll never guess. Watch the movie to find out!
I liked this movie. It was legit funny. Like seriously. I told my sister to watch it and she liked it to. It's for anyone (girl or boy) and is liked by anyone whose seen it that's told me. Ages 12-46, boy or girl, have all liked it. So, maybe you should check it out. But be warned, it's rated R. I think it should've been rated PG13 though.


21 Jump Street (2012)

R 109 min  -  Action | Comedy | Crime  -   16 March 2012 (USA)
A pair of underachieving cops are sent back to a local high school to blend in and bring down a synthetic drug ring.

Directors: 

Phil LordChris Miller

Writers: 

Michael Bacall (screenplay)Michael Bacall (story),and 3 more credits »

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Corolla, North Carolina, USA

Photo credit:  http://photo-observer.smugmug.com/
Corolla is a part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It seems to be its own little island, and there's only road in and one road out.
IT SMELLS SOOOOO GOOD!! Okay, little kid moment dealt with, I'll try to explain what I mean. Everywhere I would go in Corolla, not Duck or Kitty Hawk, just Corolla, there would be this smell. It was sorta a sweet smell, kinda an oceany smell? I don't really know how to explain it, but its definitely the best smell I've ever smelt (even better than Hollister!). I've often wondered what Heaven would smell like (yes, I understand I'm not normal, haha) and I'm fairly certain I think I've just found out.
While on our boards in the ocean, it seemed to be carried in by the wind, coming off the water from the north. But it was not only smelt in the water, but also from ashore, right outside a little shop, about half a mile from the beach. I'm not really sure what the smell was, but I'd love to find out.
Okay, enough about my little smell-obsession. Let's get back to Corolla in general. 
Corolla seemed to kind of keep to itself, making it seem like its own little isolated island, even though its on a peninsula. Corolla has its own Food Lion, produce stands, fire station, tourist shops, surf shop, ice cream parlors, beaches, and everything else a good town needs to survive on their own. The only thing they're missing is a teen night club. They even have a movie theater for rainy weather. 
It's definitely a nice place that I plan on visiting again!
I might even want to live there when I get older, but maybe that's just the residue of whatever the smell was talking, lol. 
But seriously, if you're looking for a quiet little beach spot destination for your vacation, you should consider Corolla, part of OBX, NC.