Review: Weregirl by C.D. Bell

30090014*This review has a minor spoiler.*

This was one of the more disappointing books I’ve read in a while. I’m a big wolf lover, and I’d take werewolves over vampires any day. And even though it is written for middle grade readers, I went into this book have moderate expectations.

The book summary sounded interesting enough. Girl gets turned into werewolf, starts exploring suspicious things going on in town. Alright, let’s see how we go. It started off well but soon started to slip.

I felt things were reiterated too often, things the reader surely would have remembered after the first mention. The shaman character, who is supposed to help Nessa understand her abilities and guide her, is exceedingly absent. Which, I get is probably the point, but he just felt too absent. And Nessa never really even seems to figure out her powers on her own. Or she does in a really passive way, like she wasn’t even trying, just kind of went with it.

The writing was alright, a little clunky and oddly structured for my taste. If someone in the target age range was reading, they probably wouldn’t have minded as much, but it just didn’t grab me. Also, and this bit is gonna be a bit spoiler-y so…***SKIP THIS BIT IF YOU PLAN ON READING AND DON’T WANT SOMETHING SPOILED*** Luc so should’ve been the gray wolf Nessa kept tooling around with! Like, it even felt like that’s what the author was going for, but no! Maybe there is gonna be another book and it will just be revealed then but still! That should’ve been a thing.

Anywho, yeah. Not terrible but definitely not very good. If you have a young wolf lover in your life they will probably enjoy it some. But best to make it a library read just in case.

~Ren

Review: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

23272028I’m not afraid to admit that it was the new BBC Sherlock series that got me amped up about all things Sherlock. So when I came across Brittany Cavallaro’s book A Study in Charlotte I was pretty darn excited.

Cavallaro’s book follows Charlotte Holmes and James Watson. They are descendants of the great Sherlock Holmes and John Watson respectively. The two finally meet at a boarding school in Connecticut and are immediately shoved into solving a murder together, of which they are prime suspects.

The fear with books like this, for me anyway, is that the author will try too much to recreate the original but with a modern spin. I think Cavallaro finds the perfect balance between telling her own story, creating her own characters while keeping the well-known habits and quirks of the beloved originals present but not overbearing.

James has a love of writing and a bit of a temper, but is tolerant of Holmes’ unorthodox behavior. Charlotte is calculated and emotional stunted much like her great-great-great grandfather, but has a better ability to express her more human side than he ever did (though she’s still rather stubborn about it).

The plot continued to thicken as the book went on, the relationship between Watson and Holmes grew and by the end I loved them as much as I loved Freeman and Cumberbatch’s pairing, or Law and Downey’s. I also absolutely loved the last chapter, but I don’t think I’ll say why so as not to spoil it.

~Ren

Review: Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

30965521-_uy200_Oh boy. This review makes me a bit anxious. This is such a hot button issue, I believe the term is. That fact alone hurts my heart. And this book hurt me more. But it is an issue that we cannot afford to ignore.

I have never experienced anything like the main character in O’Neill’s book, and haven’t talked much with anyone who has. But I don’t doubt the accuracy that O’Neill has captured in her book. I’ve seen news stories to confirm it. It blows my mind to think we live in a society where we preach “innocent until proven guilty” and in the same breath can turn around and condemn a woman for speaking out, brushing it off a “looking for attention.”

Okay, not gonna go any further with that. Spewing words in a book review is the wrong place to have a discussion about this. The book is a rough ride. There is not even a semblance of a happy moment anywhere. Not only is what happens to Emma disgusting, from the very beginning it is clear she lives in a toxic environment. Her relationships with her friends are toxic, and with her parents. I felt so down every time I thought about picking up the book.

I know it seems counterintuitive to pick up a book that will just depress you and anger you, but I think it’s important to try and gain as much understanding as possible. To continue to remind ourselves that this is a problem that needs to change, and that we can help make that happen, even in the smallest of ways.

~Ren

Review: While Mortals Sleep by Kurt Vonnegut

whilemortalssleepI don’t read a lot of short stories, but I do really like Vonnegut and am on some sort of poorly planned out mission to read all of his works. Of all the Vonnegut books at the Nelson Library, this is one I hadn’t read and was sure I could finish on time (on time meaning before I left the country).

Something I think many people tend to do is get caught up with trying to identify the moral of a story. Every story has to have a message, a purpose and a lesson they are trying to impart to the reader. And in some cases that is the truth, and in some cases it is more obvious than others. What I decided while reading While Mortals Sleep is that stories don’t have to have a moral. Sometimes they are just funny, sad, or perplexing stories and they exist simply because the author felt like writing it.

There is nothing wrong with writing a story, or reading one for that matter, that serves no other purpose than to entertain us. Stories that teach us things or make us think more critically about things and see familiar things from a different perspective are good, too. But like in all aspects of life, there should be a balance in reading. Happy and sad, funny and dark, practical and just down right silly. They all have a place in the literary canon.

The stories collected in While Mortals Sleep have all the elements you would expect from Vonnegut. Bizarre character names, undertones of satire and social commentary. And in some cases, a feeling of whimsy, in the least whimsical of ways. I do believe I have gone on long enough.

~Ren

Review: Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg

51oxxafqlkl-_sx328_bo1204203200_I have been a fan of Simon Pegg for many years now. I also enjoy the occasional memoir. So when I first came across Pegg’s autobiography, I knew I’d have to pick it up one day. That day has now come and passed! I now know more about Simon Pegg than I did before, and I loved every page of it.

A quick summary of the book would be, “Sincere, funny, self-aware and just a bit meta. And, of course, full of nerdy goodness.” Pegg starts the reflection on his life when he was a young boy and explores all the events that had significant impact on where his life is today. Sounds like a memoir, right? Throughout the book are insights about the circularity life can have, how coincidence and the Chaos Theory seem to always have their hand in things, to some extent or another, and how following your passion can in fact pay off.

Interspersed between the chapters discussing Pegg’s life is a fiction narrative that follows Pegg himself and his trusty android butler on a mission to track down the Scarlet Panther and is completed with a twist ending (spoilers!). This was a fun an unexpected addition to the book, which I enjoyed a lot, mostly due to the totally hyperbolic and ridiculous nature of the writing.

Personally speaking, it is sometimes difficult to read a book about someone you admire and envy a bit for their experiences and success. Sometimes while reading I’d catch myself think things like, “If only I liked horror movies more, if only I’d joined more clubs, if only I’d lived somewhere else, etc.” Sometimes I’d even catch myself feeling like I wasn’t actually that nerdy (to which I think certain people I know would scoff and say, “Yeah, right.”).

If you ever have moments like this when reading books by your idols and heroes or watching special features of a movie you love or reading interviews with your favorite authors, try to remember this: you are taking your own path and you will have your own amazing experiences. Don’t try to live someone else’s life. Just live your own. Like the things you like, do the things you want to do, and let the biggest thing you try to emulate from your idols be their passion for what they love.

~Ren