The Impersonator

Finished The Impersonator by Mary Miley.  I received a copy for review from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

In 1917, Jessie Carr, fourteen years old and sole heiress to her family’s vast fortune, disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, her uncle Oliver Beckett thinks he’s found her: a young actress in a vaudeville playhouse is a dead ringer for his missing niece. But when Oliver confronts the girl, he learns he’s wrong. Orphaned young, Leah’s been acting since she was a toddler.

Oliver, never one to miss an opportunity, makes a proposition—with his coaching, Leah can impersonate Jessie, claim the fortune, and split it with him. The role of a lifetime, he says. A one-way ticket to Sing Sing, she hears. But when she’s let go from her job, Oliver’s offer looks a lot more appealing. Leah agrees to the con, but secretly promises herself to try and find out what happened to the real Jessie. There’s only one problem: Leah’s act won’t fool the one person who knows the truth about Jessie’s disappearance.

Set against a Prohibition-era backdrop of speakeasies and vaudeville houses, Mary Miley’s Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition winner The Impersonator will delight readers with its elaborate mystery and lively prose.”

This was an incredibly fun novel.  I love the fact that it features vaudeville and speakeasies.  I wasn’t too familiar with vaudeville and my knowledge of Prohibition is basically incredibly limited (although I want to learn more) and I immediately loved Leah/Jessie.  She’s got intelligence and strength for days.

I also love the way that she falls in love with her family but is also still homesick for vaudeville.  It’s literally the only life she knew, and those people were her family before she inserted herself into the Carrs’ lives.  (Fun fact: several famous people make cameos in this.)

I also love the fact that Leah is definitely not Jessie.  There’s no amnesia or revelations that she and Jessie were twins and one was stolen away, never to be spoken of again.

I’m not a huge fan of the ending, but that’s a minor thing. There’s a sequel that I’m ridiculously excited to read (hopefully within the next couple weeks).

If you want something fun to read, this is for you.  Recommended.

A Nightmare on Kel’s Street: 31 Horror Films, 31 Days

So as you know, we are thisclose to October, which means that it is time for horror movies!

I saw on Twitter that there’s a challenge to watch 31 horror films in 31 days (over October, obviously) and because I like challenges and making myself even busier, I thought, “Well, YES PLEASE.”

I’m even going to make a list of what I plan to watch, although I would pay good money on me breaking the last by the end of the first week.  An * means I haven’t seen it before.

1)  The Possession of Michael King*

2)  The Rite

3)  The Possession

4)  The Omen

5)  The Omen (remake)

6) Omen 2

7)  Omen 3

8)  Omen 4

9) Rosemary’s Baby

10)  The Exorcist (director’s cut)

11)  Misery

12)  Cujo

13) The Ward

14)  In the Mouth of Madness

15)  Last House on the Left (original)

16)  The Hills Have Eyes (original)

17)  The Hills Have Eyes (remake)

18)  Village of the Damned

19)  The Fog

20) Christine

21)  A Nightmare on Elm Street (original)

22) A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: Dream Master

23)  Child’s Play

24)  Child’s Play 2

25)  Friday the 13th IV: The Final Chapter

26)  Friday the 13th (remake)

27)  Scream

28)  Scream 2

29)  Scream 3

30)  Halloween 3

31)  Halloween.  Because mandatory.

Vision

Finished Vision by Lisa Amowitz.  I received a copy for review from the publisher.  (Note: I work for this company, but have not worked on this book.)

Summary (from Goodreads):

The light is darker than you think…

High school student Bobby Pendell already has his hands full—he works almost every night to support his disabled-vet father and gifted little brother. Then he meets the beautiful new girl in town, who just happens to be his boss’s daughter. Bobby has rules about that kind of thing. Nothing matters more than keeping his job.

When Bobby starts to get blinding migraines that come with scary, violent hallucinations, his livelihood is on the line. Soon, he must face the stunning possibility that the visions of murder are actually real. With his world going dark, Bobby is set on the trail of the serial killer terrorizing his small town. With everyone else convinced he’s the prime suspect, Bobby realizes that he, or the girl he loves, might be killer’s next victim.”

Oh, you guys, this book.

It grabbed me right away with the synopsis: how creepy does that sound? You get these horrible headaches and, as a fun bonus, you temporarily go blind AND see these horrific things? So you know you’re either going crazy or something literally insane is going on.

And then—THEN—as a bonus, his visions start happening.  But you can’t really talk about it because if you do, you get locked  up—either in jail or in an asylum.

I immediately liked Bobby and was very nervous for him.  (I mean, what if the killer can sense him, too?)  And I loved his friends (potential love interest Gabe and his best friend Coco) and his little brother, Aaron.  Even before this, Bobby had to deal with things teens shouldn’t have to, and he handled his responsibilities like a grownup.

But best of all, this book is actually creepier than the synopsis would have you believe.  It’s absolutely perfect for Halloween.  I was in the mood for scary and this book more than delivered.

Well, no.  Best of all is that there’s the possibility of a sequel.  (Yes, please.)

Highly recommended.

The Zodiac Collector

Finished The Zodiac Collector by Laura Diamond.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

For almost-16 year-old Anne Devans, the annual Renaissance Faire means three  things—her dad spending weeks in the smithy, her bipolar mom doing some manic costume making, and another ruined birthday for her and her twin sister, Mary.

This year, Anne wants things to be different, and she’s going to do things her way.

On the eve of the Faire, Anne (along with a reluctant Mary) conjures up a spell that will  make their 16th birthday party a whirlwind event.Little do they know that it’s a literal request.

After the mini tornado in their room subsides, the girls realize they’ve invoked the power of the Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux. That’s the good news. The bad news is they also caught the attention of a sorceress named Zeena who has been collecting children born under each Zodiac Sign to enhance her power. Once she captures Anne and Mary, Gemini twins, the entire Zodiac—and the world—will be hers.

Anne leads the fight against Zeena, but her one-sided decisions could throw them into a world so far from home, even the Renaissance Faire would seem like a brilliant vacation. Between managing their new Zodiac powers, dodging their manic mother and trying to stop Zeena, they’ll get a 16th birthday they’ll never forget.”

This book is incredibly fun and fairly creepy for something that’s not meant to be horror.

I think the biggest strength of this novel is the way that Laura Diamond writes sympathetic characters.  Even though Anne makes the worst possible decision every single time, I still liked her and wanted her to be able to defeat Zeena.

Also, I absolutely loved Mary (Anne’s twin).  I think she’s an incredibly good balance for Anne (and vice versa) and the two together are just almost impossible to beat.

This is just a delightful novel.  Recommended.

BOLO: The Game of Love and Death

This is inspired by Jamie’s feature Save the Date.  Because I’m so far behind, I don’t generally get to read books so far in advance that I need to alert people to watch for it.  But this case deserves it.

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough will be out May 1 of next year.  It’s being published by Scholastic.

Synopsis:

“A young adult novel both epic in scale and exquisitely observed, two teen jazz musicians fall in love despite the obstacles of money and racial politics, without realizing that they are the pawns of Love and Death, shape-shifting immortals who throughout history have played games with human lovers.”

This book is amazing and perfect and wonderful.  You need to read it.  And you will thank me.

My feelings about this book are too big to be expressed coherently, so basically  if you trust my opinion, read this book.  And probably get some extra copies, ’cause you’ll want other people to read it, too.

Books I’m Looking Forward To

I continue to be perennially behind (although I’m starting to catch up, sort of) but I’m finally reading like me again.  (YAY!)

And that’s good because there are a lot of unread books.  A LOT.

But here are some of the ones I’m most looking forward to getting to.

1)  I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.  I’ve hard so many things about this, all of them good.  It’s coming up within the next week or so.

2)  Ruth’s Journey by Donald McCaig.  This is an authorized sequel (ish?) to Gone With the Wind and is told by Mammy’s perspective.  I love GWTW (book and movie) and have loved both sequels so far, so I have high, high hopes for this one.

3)  Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.  This is nonfiction and a book of essays.  It’s also apparently incredibly funny.

4)  Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga.  This is the third book of an incredibly creepy series.  Cannot wait to finish it.

5)  Through the Woods by Emily Carroll.  This is something I bought, not something I have for review.  It’s a graphic novel and sounds incredibly creepy.  I look forward to reading it soon, especially at night.  Maybe right after I finish Blood of My Blood…

What books are you looking forward to? Have you read any of these?

 

Things I’m Obsessed With

Welcome to the latest Things I’m Obsessed With!

Books:

I’m finishing up prep work for my second annual (!!!) Books To Watch For feature!  It will start in late November and then run through all of December.  I’ve got some great authors lined up and I’m so excited to share these books with you.

TV:

I’m just happy that my shows are back.

So what are you obsessed with this week?

 

Interviewing Deitre

Today I’m interviewing Deitre, who blogs at A Leisure Moment.    She recently had me on her blog (click here to listen to the podcast) and I am happy to return the favor today!

First, I have to point out that if you have a chance to be on Deitre’s podcast, DO IT! I was incredibly nervous but she put me very much at ease and is a warm, friendly hostess.  (And perfect for a casual conversation!)

Now on to the interview!

1)  What made you decide to start doing podcast interviews, and how much prep work do you do beforehand? (It sounds like a lot.).

The podcast idea came quickly after I started A Leisure Moment.  I have to give all the credit to my husband David.  He has always had a huge interest in media communications.  So this was his chance to turn his interest into a hobby.  At first I complained.  I only wanted to read, reflect, and review.  Nothing more.  He in return stated that all I would have to do is talk casually about all things books.  Over the last 8 months we have grown from one hand held recorder to a whole audio setup that makes editing and listening so much better.  Still working the bugs out with every “casual conversation.”  I spend time researching guest before out chat.  I try to provide an experience that doesn’t require the guest to prepare ahead of time.  I usually have some questions ready, but mainly we just let the conversation flow naturally.  That’s what makes it a “casual conversation.”

2)  What’s your favorite and/or least favorite part about blogging?

I feel a huge obligation to reply to every book review request I receive with the answer of yes, I’ll read your book.  However, like so many of us, the joys of a day time job, mother of 3 (one being his first year in college) doesn’t leave room for me to read full time.  So saying no crushes my heart a bit.

3)  I know that you are part of a blogging team.  How do you decide who gets which books?

I was very deliberate with the make up of our reading team.  At first I thought it would just be me and my teenage son (college can change priorities).  However, now it’s me and 2 others.  One guest team member has younger children that she likes to read with, which makes a perfect fit for the children’s books.  While myself and Yara with Once Upon A Twilight, just love them all.

4)  What advice would you give someone who wants to start a blog or podcast?

Starting either takes time, if you want it done right from the start.  Choosing your platform, Blogger vs. WordPress is a must.  Choose a blog design that is right for you.  A design that represents who you are.  Finally always start small.  Take baby steps along the way, so blogging becomes a fun hobby and if you are adventurous enough to start a podcast and have a great sidekick I like I do, research as well before beginning.  There are so many resources online with free information on how to start.  But above all figure out what your focus is going to be and make sure it represents you.

5)  What are you reading now?

Color Song By Victoria Strauss

6)  If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be?

Now that’s an awesome question!  I actually made this book mandatory when I was still in the middle level classroom.  Double Dutch by Sharon Draper.  I love many genres, but many times our students need the realistic book that pulls at them.  The character that feels the same way they do.  See the same things they are going through.  This book teaches huge life lessons and is one that will always stick with me.  It’s super short.  Check it out.

7)  What are your five favorite books? You can do authors, if that’s easier.

Well this is easy for me, because there is a viral Facebook post that is going around and yes I excepted the challenge.  The following titles range from middle level to adult:

1.  Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer
2.  Red Hill by Jamie McGuire
3.  The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
4.  The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
5.  Marked Men Series By Jay Crownover
6.  Temptation Series by Karen Ann Hopkins
7.  In My World Series by Jennyfer Browne
8.  Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
9.  Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
10.  Maybe Someday Colleen Hoover

Thanks, Deitre!

Girl Defective

Finished Girl Defective by Simmone Howell.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

We, the Martin family, were like inverse superheroes, marked by our defects. Dad was addicted to beer and bootlegs. Gully had “social difficulties” that manifested in his wearing a pig snout mask 24-7. I was surface clean but underneath a weird hormonal stew was simmering…

It’s summer in St Kilda. Fifteen-year-old Sky is looking forward to great records and nefarious activities with Nancy, her older, wilder friend. Her brother – Super Agent Gully – is on a mission to unmask the degenerate who bricked the shop window. Bill the Patriarch seems content to drink while the shop slides into bankruptcy. A poster of a mysterious girl and her connection to Luke, the tragi-hot new employee sends Sky on an exploration into the dark heart of the suburb. Love is strange. Family Rules. In between there are teenage messes, rock star spawn, violent fangirls, creepy old guys and accidents waiting to happen. If the world truly is going to hell in a hand-basket then at least the soundtrack is kicking. Sky Martin is Girl Defective: funny, real and dark at the edges.”

I wanted to read this because I absolutely loved her book Everything Beautiful.  This book is almost completely different but I enjoyed it too.  (I feel like it’s a testament to Simmone Howell that she’s written two books that are almost exact opposites in terms of tone but that both are amazing, fun books.  I think Lionel Shriver is the only other author I can think of who almost completely reinvents herself with every book.)

In its synopsis, this book is compared to High Fidelity and Empire Records but it reminded me more of Blake Nelson’s book Girl.  It had that same kind of feel in terms of a girl sort of coming of age by way of more experienced friends.

I liked Sky but I loved her brother, Gully.  I can imagine that I’d feel differently if he were my brother, but he was a complete delight to read.  (Gully is a detective.)

This book is an absolute delight.  Recommended.

Poisoned Apples

Finished Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Every little girl goes through her princess phase, whether she wants to be Snow White or Cinderella, Belle or Ariel. But then we grow up. And life is not a fairy tale.

Christine Heppermann’s collection of fifty poems puts the ideals of fairy tales right beside the life of the modern teenage girl. With piercing truths reminiscent of Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins, this is a powerful and provocative book for every young woman. E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars, calls it “a bloody poetic attack on the beauty myth that’s caustic, funny, and heartbreaking.”

Cruelties come not just from wicked stepmothers, but also from ourselves. There are expectations, pressures, judgment, and criticism. Self-doubt and self-confidence. But there are also friends, and sisters, and a whole hell of a lot of power there for the taking. In fifty poems, Christine Heppermann confronts society head on. Using fairy tale characters and tropes, Poisoned Apples explores how girls are taught to think about themselves, their bodies, and their friends. The poems range from contemporary retellings to first-person accounts set within the original tales, and from deadly funny to deadly serious. Complemented throughout with black-and-white photographs from up-and-coming artists, this is a stunning and sophisticated book to be treasured, shared, and paged through again and again.”

This is an incredibly unique book.  It’s a series of poems all connected to fairy tales (some loosely; some incredibly obviously).  There are also photographs interspersed among the poems.

I can see how it could be off-putting (both the poems and photographs can be creepy or unsettling) but it also deals with things that should be discussed more (eating disorders, for example).

We’re all conditioned to want a fairy tale, but most of the time, we never really think about what that means.  We never think about how, for example, Ariel lost her family and all her friends to gain Prince Eric.

This book will make you think.  Recommended.