Archive for April, 2013


Lost Souls by Lisa Jackson

lost soulsLost Souls by Lisa Jackson

Published March 25th, 2008 by Kensington

Buy this book at: Books a Million / Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

Kristi Bentz wants to write true crime. All she needs is that one case that will take her to the top. She finds it when she enrolls at All Saints College after learning that four girls have disappeared in less than two years.

All four girls were “lost souls”–troubled, vulnerable girls with no one to care about them, no one to come looking for them if they disappeared. The only person that believes Kristi is her ex-lover, Jay McKnight, a professor on campus. The police think they’re runaways, but Kristi senses there’s something that links them–something terrifying. . .

As Kristi gets deeper into her investigation, she gets the feeling she’s being watched and followed–studied, even. Then the bodies start turning up, and Kristi realizes she is playing a game with a killer who has selected her for membership in a special club from which there will be no escaping death.

 

Rating: 1 star

 

Review:

Lisa Jackson, what is happening with you? You’ve made me sad, very sad.  I have been a fan of this series, and another of hers too, from the first book.  The last book in this series disappointed me but it still had a few strong points.  This book not only was disappointing, there were no strong points.  Every sentence of this book reminded me of every other book in the series so far.  And Kristi just irritated the living hell out of me.  However, I am getting ahead of myself.

Let’s address Kristi first.  In the beginning I liked Kristi quite a bit.  She was intelligent, sassy, street savvy, and one of the better characters in my opinion.  But somewhere along the way Kristi lost her brain.  It might have fallen out her ear when she was abducted by a serial killer in the last book.  I’m just not sure what happened.  First, she seems to have trouble remembering whether she likes her stepmother or not.  In one paragraph she says that she likes her and just a page later she says that they don’t really get along too well.  Well, which is it?  Then she moves and becomes obsessed with missing girls at her college.  Gee, that sounds smart!  Next thing you know, she’s running around doing all those TSTL things that make me despise so many YA heroines.  For the record ladies, it is NEVER a good idea to walk home in the dark when you know someone is watching you just because you’re too stubborn to let your ex drive you home.  Things like that made her really get on my nerves.  Also ignoring her instincts.  Her instincts are excellent for sensing trouble, unfortunately she’s too stupid to listen to them.   She actively recognizes that her instincts are correct and then disregards them.

The plot has been done so many times in this series.  Kristi must have a serial killer attractant tattooed on her ass, because she seems to be the perfect victim type for every serial killer on the planet.  Which brings me to another plot point.  The actual whodunnit was not that great of a reveal.  One part of it was painfully obvious, to the point where the characters were making observations about how obvious it was.  The other two were so obscure that not a single clue was given through the entire book over who it was.  But in the end there was nothing about the plot that was different or new and exciting.  It was just like all the other books in the series except more boring.

One last annoyance, isn’t this series about Bentz and Montoya?  We hardly saw either of them at all.  Kristi should never have been a main part of this series because she just isn’t interesting enough.  All the good people got taken out and the book suffered for it.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

unwindUnwind by Neal Shusterman

Published November 6th, 2007 by Simon & Schuster

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Books A Million / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

 

Rating: 4 star

 

Review:

There are very few books that I have ever read in my nearly 30 years that I know will stay with me, this is one to be added to that list.  I know that I will have nightmares tonight and yet I am still glad that I read it.  It made me think about some deep and profound things that I wasn’t expecting.  Unfortunately, I have no idea how to review this book either.  At least I didn’t until I saw a news report today that disturbed me just as much as this book, and then I got an idea.

This book deals with the extreme version of something we see in society today.  Everyone is aware of the endless, circular debates between the pro-choice and pro-life camps.  It’s gotten to the point of insanity.  This novel takes that debate and extrapolates it as far as it will go.  What would  happen if this was the compromise?  Can’t touch a life from conception to 13.  But if your kid isn’t really living up to expectations then you can just “unwind” them and have them harvested for transplant parts.  Pro-choice can be happy because you allowed the parents a choice about whether to be a parent or not.  Pro-life people are happy because technically that life lives on in those that receive their harvested parts.  I was expecting for this to be a projection that went too far into the unbelievable.  Speculative fiction is at its best when you know that it’s very far out there but you could imagine how it could get there.  By the end, I can see the “how it could get there” and it’s frightening.

Unwind isn’t a normal kind of horror book and yet it horrified me all the same.  The horror in this book is more subtle.  It’s that creepy crawly feeling on your arms.  It’s that pit in your stomach that you can’t shake.  It’s that horrible feeling that you don’t want to read the next page but can’t help yourself.  There was one scene in particular that led me to not eat my lunch and just stare at the book blankly for a good hour, absolutely horrified at what I was reading.  Anyone who has read the book knows exactly which scene I’m talking about, so I won’t elaborate.

As far out of the realm of possibility as this notion seems, I couldn’t help but think is it really THAT out there?  I don’t mean for this to turn into a debate on abortion and my own personal feelings on abortion (whether for or against) are irrelevant for the purposes of this review.  But this book made me ponder the issue in ways I never thought I would.  Have we really lost any value on life?  Could we lose that respect for life this badly?  Planned Parenthood performs abortions every 94 seconds, despite the founder of the organization being an avowed racist who wanted to exterminate blacks through abortion.  Okay, fine, we can’t throw out the whole organization because it was started with bad intentions right?  I suppose that’s fair!  But then we have the constant debate over when is it abortion and when is it murder?  Where is that line?  Society doesn’t really have a clear answer for that, and so the vitriol from either side continues.  But I can’t help but wonder how far down this particularly creepy road we are when I see pictures of completely empty courtrooms at the trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell.  He is charged with 8 murders, 7 viable infants that he performed “partial birth abortions” on by cutting their spinal cords while partially out the birth canal, and 1 mother whom he gave a lethal dose of Demerol during an abortion procedure.  The testimony is sensational, the accounts of the crimes are lurid, and the charges are horrific.  Yet, the media isn’t salivating all over this trial, it isn’t even giving it air time.  Why?  Is it because it treads too close to the abortion debate for comfort?  Or perhaps is it because, as a society, the value we place on human life is dwindling?  I don’t know, the answer, but it troubles me.  Just like this book troubled me.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/alleged-victim-calls-philadelphia-abortion-doctor-kermit-gosnell/story?id=12731387#.UWi8akrDmSo

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-kermit-gosnell-why-so-little-coverage-20130412,0,4790500.story

I believe this is a book that needs to be read and needs to be discussed.  I couldn’t put it down and it will be a long time before it leaves my thoughts.

the restorerThe Restorer by Amanda Stevens

Published: April 19th, 2011 by MIRA

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Books A Million / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

My name is Amelia Gray. I’m a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I’ve always held fast to the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.
It started with the discovery of a young woman’s brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I’ve been hired to restore. The clues to the killer–and to his other victims–lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I’ve vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.

 

Rating: 2 star

 

Review:

Every time I pick up a book lately my only thought is “Please God don’t let this suck!  All I seem to do is leave bad reviews!”  I had such high hopes that this might be the one to break the streak.  First, it has an orgasm worthy cover.  I could stare at this cover for hours and not even blink once, it’s just that gorgeous.  The synopsis just about made me faint in ecstasy.  It sounds EXACTLY up my alley!  This book excited me, it intrigued me, and ultimately it disappointed me.

My biggest sticking point with this book was that Amelia is SO DAMN BORING!  You can’t even call her a Mary Sue because she manages to screw up everything she does and doesn’t have anyone falling at her feet and begging her to be theirs.  Amelia is supposed to ignore the ghosts…why?  Well we get a vague answer about haunted people being drained of life force but honestly it’s never entirely explained how people become haunted because most haunted people can’t even see the ghosts.  So, *headscratch* try and figure that one out!  Then Amelia has the most boring job on the face of the earth.  She spends hours cleaning tombstones with brushes and doing….other restoration thingys that never get explained.  As if this wasn’t boring enough, she is asked to assist on a murder investigation and then does NOTHING.  No, I literally meant nothing.  She stands around and eavesdrops on other people and then asks a few stupid questions and then stands around some more.  Then, for the cherry on top, let’s throw in her obsession with Devlin.  It’s actually really creepy.  She turns into a complete stalker.  She tracks down information about his dead wife and child behind his back for fuck’s sake!!  I just can’t even begin to describe how much of a line crossing that was.

The murder mystery of this book couldn’t even hope to overcome how boring everything else was.  Frankly, I don’t even remember how it got resolved because I was very nearly in a coma by then.  I couldn’t even get enough passion about this to one star it and tear it apart.  I give it two stars because the cover still rocks, the rest is useless.  If you need a cure for insomnia, give it a shot!

Miscellania

I don’t particularly feel like doing a book review tonight.  I’ve had a lot of other things going on and thoughts running through my head about stuff so decided to run with that.  Let’s begin with movies I’ve seen lately…

 

The Host

Color me underwhelmed.  I read the book and quite enjoyed it.  Twilight was always a guilty pleasure, like a soap opera, for me.  You know that it’s awful and ridiculous but you can’t help but reading it anyway.  I found The Host highly superior to Twilight and loved the “bigger picture” aspect to the plot.  Unfortunately the movie came off as cheesy, corny, and nothing more than a teenage love flick.  The conversations with Melanie and Wanderer made me do a snortgiggle with how silly they sounded.  The plot was glossed over and it was all about how the alien finds penises that she likes and suddenly her entire existence makes sense.  Um, really?  That’s all you took from the book?  Because that’s sure as hell all that came across in the movie.

 

Warm Bodies

I am 50/50 on this one.  I haven’t read the book and perhaps that was part of the problem, I can’t be sure.  Some parts of it were very funny and I really enjoyed it.  But it had a few sticking points that I couldn’t quite get past.  For example, R kills her boyfriend.  No I meant that literally, he ate his face off in front of her.  R tells her this and she just shrugs and says “well, I suppose you’re a zombie and so it makes sense.”  Wait…what?  He ate your boyfriend’s face, you brush it off and then start falling for him?!  What is wrong with you!  I also had a lot of unanswered questions at the end, but since it’s part of a series I suppose that’s the reason.  At the end, this was entertaining and a decent use of my time but nothing amazing.

 

Chernobyl Diaries

I should have known.  Please, everyone who warned me, feel free to scream “told you so!’ from the nearest building you can find.  This one isn’t new, but I wanted to see it and saw it on a movie channel recently and decided to give it a shot.  What the fuck was this piece of garbage?  Sometimes, I can look past factual inaccuracies for the sake of a story.  Unfortunately for this movie, there was no story so nothing was preventing me from laughing at the absurdity.  Here’s the problem.  I watched a show about Chernobyl that was filmed in 2009-2010 (around the same time as the film) and discussed all the things that have to be done to prevent danger to visiting people.  This film ignored all of those.  Let’s just take a look here:

1. The area around Chernobyl is set in rings that are fenced, locked, and guarded 24/7 by military personnel.  You have to show signed forms proving that you have permission to pass and, even then, if the guards there don’t like it then they can refuse you entry for any reason.  In this film, these tourists just hired someone to take them to the site and they just drove right into town.  Uh huh, okay.

2. After passing the final checkpoint, everyone is required to wear a head to toe radiation suit in order to protect them from the radiation unless you will be there less than a few hours.  Even this suit is not 100% and you are only allowed to stay for a certain time until the radiation saturation in your body starts to rise too much and then you have to leave or risk radiation poisoning.  Workers who are trying to restore the area are only allowed to work 5 hours a day for a month before they have to take 2 weeks off.  In the film, everyone was there in their street clothes for over 24 hours (maybe closer to 48, it was hard to judge) before showing any signs of radiation sickness at all.  In fact none of them showed any signs of radiation issues until they walked into the reactor itself, which is obviously the most dangerous area.  That’s not even close to being possible.

3. The batteries on any electronic equipment will be substantially impacted and their batteries drain much more quickly.   Not in this film!  In this film they all had cell phones that were fully functional the entire time…did I mention this was like 24-48 hours?

4. While some animals do live in the area surrounding Chernobyl, they are usually affected by the radiation and rarely do they live in the actual city since there’s not much there.  According to this crappy movie, bears wander in and out of buildings all the time, and there’s a pack of dogs that are in the city full time attacking people.

So those are my factual problems.  But the story just sucked apart from that.  Apparently they are attacked by radioactive people who are now…cannibals I guess?  I’m not sure if they were supposed to be workers who died there or tourists who’d died…I just don’t know and I don’t care.  Here’s the reasons I should have known better:

1. It’s from the same people that brought us the demon chicken of Paranormal Activity.

2. It’s from the same people that brought us the “all male characters are narcissistic dicks who really need to die” of Paranormal Activity 2.

3. It’s from the same people that brought us “we can’t even bother to read a plot summary of our two previous films so we’ll just make it up as we go” of Paranormal Activity 3.

4. They are also the same people who brought us “we don’t really have a story but we want your money” of Paranormal Activity 4.

5. Oh and it’s the same people responsible for that horrendously bad TV show The River (ripped off Destination Truth frame for frame in the series premiere).

6. It’s the same people that gave us “worst ending ever” Insidious.

7. And of course its the same people that tortured us with “even the preacher wasn’t this preachy on Sunday” Area 51.

I am disgusted with myself, I admit it.

 

Now on to weird stuff….

So I was listening to The MVP podcast today, old episodes but I heard this ad for a different podcast.  It’s tagline was something to the effect of:

Mermaids, vampires, werewolves.  What if those mythical creatures were not only real but were one creature?

Um….okay.  If I read that on a book cover I’d probably start giggling and put it back down.

 

And in TV news….

I finally brought myself to watch the series finale of Fringe.  I wanted to shake all tv and movie execs (and maybe a few authors too) who screw up endings and go “THIS IS HOW YOU END A FUCKING SERIES!”  It was so great, I laughed and I cried and I was surprised and then I cried because it was over.  I absolutely loved it.  They couldn’t have ended the series better in my opinion.  The way they take you to that scene that we’ve seen so many times over the course of a season and you are hoping and praying that it ends differently.  And finally, after so much agony, you see Peter’s daughter land in his arms and then….*sniff* oh man, here go the tears again.  *wipes eyes* I think I should stop talking about it now, I’ll start ugly crying soon.  You know, the kind of crying where your nose runs down your face and the neighbors can hear you two buildings away and you just don’t give a damn.