Monday, May 21, 2012

Things I've Read Recently (3)

If you're new here, Things I've Read Recently are basically mini-reviews. Sometimes it'll be because I didn't have that much to say about a book, or it wasn't the main focus of this blog (like the romance novels I love) or that the books are overdue from the library and I desperately need to return them.

So here are a few more books I've read recently and my thoughts:

Dumb Luck by Lesley Choyce

Published: October 15th, 2011 by Red Deer Press
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Binding: Paperback
Page count: Goodreads says 214 but I forgot to check my copy before I returned it.
Part of a series: Nope, don't think so.
Amazon link.

Summary (from the publisher's website): As he approaches his 18th birthday, Brandon DeWolf knows he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He failed a grade in an undistinguished school career, and is contemplating spending two more years in school when most of his friends will be graduating at the end of the academic year. He tends to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, has no real ambitions, and seems to be at a dead end. Among the few happy moments of his life are the ones he spends with his good friend Kayla, a girl he's known from childhood, another misfit.

Two days before his birthday, however, everything changes for Brandon. First of all he falls out of a tree - and survives intact. On his birthday, savouring his lucky break, he picks up a lottery ticket, and discovers he's won three million dollars. Suddenly everyone's his good friend, and his parents - a discontented frequently squabbling pair - rejoice in anticipating all that this sudden bonanza will buy them. The school's hottest girl becomes Brandon's coach in this new unaccustomed life he has to adapt to. His old friend Kayla realizes their friendship is withering, and Brandon doesn't have the capacity to do much about that.

Plunged into a world that is completely new to him - and without any real moral compass to follow - Brandon flounders and eventually is brought down in disgrace, spending a night in jail after being caught drinking and driving. There is no happy ending for Brandon, just a solemn understanding that he cannot recover his old life and needs to find the integrity to map out a new one.

Thoughts: Okay, first of all, this is not the cover I read. Which I know is a small thing but it bothers me that this one doesn't match the one I read. So. Go look at amazon or the publisher's website to make me feel better. :P

I had some issues with this one. The largest one was that he won three million dollars, right? So a couple days after he claims it, he basically goes to the bank and in his bank account is three million dollars, right?

Except... that's not how it works. Lottery winnings are taxed like any income. And you pay more if you take a lump sum than if you take payments (like twenty-five grand a year or whatever it is you choose). Either way, you wouldn't get the three million. The taxes are why those dream houses people win can end up bankrupting you. And I know, suspension of disbelief and all that, but I think there's a line when suspension of disbelief doesn't apply and that line was crossed when a.) it was a contemporary book and b.) you can google this stuff!!

So I had a problem with that and... maybe it just wasn't completely my kind of book, but I found it a tad bit predictable. You guys might like this one more than me if contemporary is more your thing. It just didn't completely do it for me. But, hey, Canadian author! So check it out. But I'd probably give it a three and a half roses out of four.

Next up:

The Dead Kid Detective Agency by Evan Munday

Published: September 1st, 2011 by ECW Press
Genre: Upper middle-grade to lower-YA paranormal mystery. (Is that a genre? It should be.)
Binding: Paperback
Page count: 292 of book, 318 with extras
Part of a series: Yes, but there's not a cliffhanger or anything.
Amazon link.

Summary (from goodreads): Thirteen-year-old October Schwartz is new in town, short on friends and the child of a clinically depressed science teacher. Naturally, she spends most of her free time in the Sticksville Cemetery, which just happens to border her backyard. And that cemetary just happens to be the home of five dead teenagers who quickly become October's best friends.

When Sticksville Central High School’s beloved French teacher dies in a suspicious car accident, October enlists the aid of her dead friends to figure out why. Using October's smarts and the dead kid's abilities to walk through walls and stuff, they form the Dead Kid's Detective Agency solving Sticksville's most mysterious mysteries.

Soon October and the five dead kids find themselves in the middle of a nefarious murder plot - thick with car chases, cafeteria fights, sociopathic math teachers, and real estate appointments - and a zany adventure that could uncover the truth a forty-year-old explosion.

Thoughts: I liked this one. It wasn't perfect, but it was solid and good. How about we do the things that bothered me first just to get them out of the way? Okay? Okay.

So the book starts out in third person past tense, right? (He said, she said.) Present day and all. Then there's a first person present tense (I say, I am) diary entry from 1968 by some guy we've never heard of before, then the second chapter is first person past tense from October's POV.

Are you a little bit confused right now? So was I. It's confusing at first. And it takes FOREVER for us to find out who the heck is telling the third person chapters, plus the font changing between them was hard on my eyes. Personally I liked the first person ones better. The voice seemed better in those ones. But it wasn't a huge deal and I adjusted to it after a bit.

The other thing that bothered me a lot and I don't know why was that October was 13 and it was set in the present day, but she mentions her dad singing along to 60s songs he knew and embarrassing her. I'm 19 and my mom was born in 1965. (Don't tell her I said that or I'll die.) Buuuuut she was probably exaggerating and I'm nit-picking, which is my issue, not the book's.

Things I liked: October's voice is freaking hilarious. Here's a passage that cracked me up:
pg. 42
For the uninitiated, curling is a winter sport played on an ice surface that combines the fast-paced action of shuffleboard with the innate thrill of cleaning your house. That said, curling can occasionally be a very exciting and competitive sport to play, but spectators of curling should keep in mind that the appearance of the Zamboni machine should be regarded as the absolute height of excitement in any game.
Like, how funny is that??

October was a great character, the ghosts were really neat, the mystery was good - and I didn't guess who dun it - and I did enjoy this one quite a bit. Oh, and there were illustrations scattered throughout which is cool, plus it's Canadian. I'd read the sequel. Four roses out of five.


dancergirl by Carol M. Tanzman

Published: November 15th, 2011 by Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA Thriller (That's not one I type very often but it totally fits, right? Right.)
Binding: Paperback
Page count: 248
Part of a series: Yes, but from what I can tell from reading the sequel's summary on Goodreads, they work as standalones, too. I think it's about completely different characters.
Amazon link.

Summary (from goodreads): Ever feel like someone's watching you? Me, too. But lately it's been happening in my room.
When I'm alone.

A friend posted a video of me dancing online, and now I'm no longer Alicia Ruffino. I'm dancergirl. And suddenly it's like me against the world—everyone's got opinions.

My admirers want more, the haters hate, my best friend Jacy— - even he's acting weird. And some stalker isn't content to just watch anymore.

Ali. Dancergirl. Whatever you know me as, however you've seen me online, I've trained my whole life to be the best dancer I can be. But if someone watching has their way, I could lose way more than just my love of dancing. I could lose my life.

Thoughts: I don't know what I was expecting when I grabbed this one. Mostly it was new and I tend to steal most of the new books at the library because the whole new book thing doesn't happen that often when it comes to YA books. I was pretty much expecting your basic, did something stupid, ruined your reputation, date the popular guy, realize your best friend is in love with you and that you're better off just being yourself, plot. You know the ones, right?

Not. What. I. Got. There was a stalker!!!!! (Not that stalkers are a good thing. But it was exciting! There wasn't just a ruined reputation at stake; there was actual danger!)

Ali is not always the most likeable character. She can be a bit of an idiot, honestly. She was underage but drank and smoked pot (and you guys know how I feel about that) and made REALLY stupid choices sometimes (especially when she wasn't sober which kinda proves my point there). But she was also really, really interesting, especially the dancing stuff. I know next to nothing about dancing of any kind, mind you (I know the hokey-pokey and that's about it) but it was fascinating to read about.

The other characters were good. I adored her best friend and I only barely managed to guess who the stalker was. And honestly, I had two people I thought it might be.

One thing that bothered me isn't actually about the book. Ali's mother was born in Puerto Rico, and her father was, "a mixture of Italian, African-American, and, he claimed, a bit of Cherokee." Ali herself says she has a "mixed-salad heritage". Now do me a favour and scroll up to check out the cover again. I'll wait.

*waits*

Do you think the face on the cover looks like the girl in the book? Anyways. No judging a book by its cover, right? Right. Just by reviews, especially mine because I'm that awesome. Okay, seriously now, this one was a solid four and a half out of five roses. Recommended.

(Also, the title is supposed to have a lowercase D. It isn't a typo by me, honest!)

Okay, I have two more books to read today or I'm going to go bankrupt paying my overdue fees and I'm hoping for a mini-review of one of them and a full of the other, so... peace, tweeples!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

1 comment:

  1. Dancergirl does sound awesome, as does the 'sequel' (though like you said, they seem to be totally different, maybe like Anna/Lola/Isla books). Glad to hear you loved it so much, it's a short read it seems so I'll have to pick it up soon myself!

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