Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Ransom's Voice by Gary Dvorkin

2 stars
R- 4
Language.  Like... lots of language.
Also violence (including graphic sexual violence)
received for review

Okay, first of all I kind of hate doing more negative reviews when it's actually a scheduled blog tour type review situation.  On the other hand, I always prefer to READ negative reviews.... so maybe I'm helping somebody out there.  As of the date I finished this book, mine was certainly the only even remotely negative review on GoodReads.

Reading the positive reviews made me wonder if I'd read a different book.

I don't usually include summaries, but here's the summary of this one:
"Dominique Stein is beautiful, young, and Jewish. Her sanity is overly dependent on external cues, chameleon-like. She awakens every morning at 5:59:59. She weighs in at exactly 111, her snug palindrome. These are her ''friends.'' They keep her safe. Then, it all explodes. She desperately searches to find her way back inside that cozy bubble of sanity she had constructed. Lost, her bearings off and wobbly, her instincts are not functioning. Crimes are committed; not everyone survives. Found not guilty by virtue of temporary insanity, she is sent to a psychiatric prison for women. There she is caught between the kind, serene Freudian analyst, Dr. Haddad, and the head of the institute, the manic, megalomaniacal Dr. du Chevre, who offers her the Faustian contract; be the subject for his secretive, odd research, and he will get her out of prison earlier. Dominique has to navigate her way out of this maze of institutional insanity. Which shrink is telling her the truth? Or, are they both lying to her, manipulating her for their own strange motives? All of this while trying to survive the random explosive violence of the women's prison. In this psychological thriller, Gary Dvorkin crafts a compelling story of love, betrayal, and reality-shifting anxiety. Dominique hears many voices in her life. But which one can she trust? Which voice will ransom her sanity?"

Sounds interesting, right?  Compelling.  Fascinating.

And here's the thing-- that description is technically correct.  All of those things are in the book.

Except it's like they wrote a description of what the book wanted to be.... rather than what it actually was.

Some of the issues were first novel issues-- needed tightening and such.  There were whole sections that I don't see why they needed to be in there.  Some of the issues were of the editing variety-- sorry, but character names really need to not change at random.

Some of the problem was word choice-- I'm not sure if English isn't the author's first language or if he was trying to have a fancier vocabulary, or if it's a "American English vs Canadian English" thing but.... sometimes it was a case of "I don't think that word means what you think it means".  (Number of times the word "oleaginous" appears-- 4)

Speaking of word choice, my husband asked if I kept track of the f-word and no, I didn't, because I would have lost my mind.  For the record, he said he counted like 20 on the page he looked at over my shoulder.  Now the whole book wasn't that bad, but you get the idea.

Anyway, 2 stars for an interesting premise, but at nearly 500 pages it was way too long for what little actually happens.... except that I still don't know what happened because there's not really a nice wrap up that explains what scenes were even real.  Some were clearly delusions but rather than furthering the plot they just leave the reader wondering what the heck was real.  

I don't mind a book that keeps you guessing about the character's sanity and reality but you really have to let the reader in on it at some point.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

A Few More Picture Books

Yeah, I'm catching up on review copies.

Samanthasaurus Rex by B B Mandell

You had me at "You clearly need to evolve".  That page made me laugh SO HARD.  Samanthasaurus is not a typical T-Rex, but in the end she can save the day HER way.  Fun story about just being yourself.

My Little Sister and Me by Maple Lam

So cute.  This book captures the bond and the responsibility involved in being a big brother.  Good for any siblings but especially recommended for a big brother with a little sister.

Paddington Sets Sail by Michael Bond

This is a Level 1 I Can Read book.  A few words were a little tricky for MeiMei, but overall it's a good fit for where she's at right now.  Plus she LOVES Paddington, so really.... can't go wrong.

(I saved my FAVORITE for last)

Chicken in Space
You know what? This requires CAPS

CHICKEN IN SPACE (that's better) by Adam Lehrhaupt
illustrated by Shahar Kober

Oh. My. Gosh.  This book is hilarious.  It is a HUGE hit at our house.  AND there are sequels planned.  I can't wait. :)

If you check out NOTHING ELSE that you see on my blog this month, seriously-- do yourself a favor and check this one out.  It's really that fun.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Angry Birds

(copies received for review)

To go along with the movie release, Harper Collins has a slew of game/movie inspired books for the Angry Bird lovers in your life.

The Angry Birds Movie Official Guidebook (what kid DOESN'T love an official guidebook?)

The Angry Birds Movie: Laughtastic Joke Book

The Angry Birds Movie: Big Trouble on Bird Island and Seeing Red
(These are what my friend calls "spinner books" from her days working at Borders-- those square kids' books that are usually found on spinner displays)

The Angry Birds Movie: Meet the Angry Birds and Too Many Pigs
(These are Level 2 I Can Read books-- a little text-heavy for where MeiMei's at right now, but still enjoyable for her)

The Angry Birds Movie: The Junior Novel
(A great fit for mid-elementary school kids-- especially reluctant readers)

How's that for a great list to jump-start the summer reading in your house?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

All About the Earth

What?  You say Earth Day was back in April??

Okay, you're right, but June seems like a good time to highlight these titles too.

(Copies received for review)

Little Butterfly by Laura Logan

This is a BEAUTIFUL wordless picture book.  Forget the kids, this one's for me. :)

Sunshine Makes the Seasons and Earthquakes by Franklyn M. Branley
A Tree is a Plant by Clyde Robert Bulla

These are full of great pictures and good info, but they kind of feel like they'd work better in a classroom than at home.  Unless you have a child that can read them himself and is really into the subject-- they'd be a great choice for that kind of kid.

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes

We really liked this one at our house.  The little kittens throughout the book are cute and the text is great.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Swatch The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos

received for review

I love this one.  I really do.

The story is fun and the art is awesome.

This book is a great choice for any wild child or art lover in your life.

Plus, you can find out more about the book trailer and the cool music in it on Julia Denos' blog.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Picture Book Round-Up Again

I'm starting to feel like this is all I post lately, lol.

(Copies received for review)

Mighty Truck by Chris Barton

A truck gets clean and BOOM-- he becomes MIGHTY TRUCK!  Totally cute combination of vehicles and super hero books.  Great pick for the obsessed-with-all-things-vehicular preschool crowd.  (Come on, I can't be the only person who knows at least one!)

Honey, I Love by Eloise Greenfield

I guess this is a paperback book version of an older poem? I wasn't familiar with it.  Cute, but not really my style.

In the Land of Words by Eloise Greenfield

A poetry book about words and poetry? Count me in.  I enjoyed this one.

My Chinatown by Kam Mak

The concept here was cool-- going through a full year in poems that show the young narrator's changing feelings about moving to America.

This Is the Earth by Diane Z. Shore
illustrated by Wendell Minor

I LOVED the illustrations, but the text was a little too "preachy" for me personally.

The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown

Meh.  Other than totally gross me out (they're touching the dead bird... EW), this one just did nothing for me.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

What This Story Needs Now Is....

(Copies received for review)

So, a while ago I reviewed What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig.  We've since read the next two books in the series-- What This Story Needs Is a Hush and a Shush and What This Story Needs Is a Munch and a Crunch.

Both follow a similar template as the first, with simple but entertaining text and fun pictures.  MeiMei is at the point where she can read them herself and enjoys that aspect.

Hush and a Shush is probably the one I fine more amusing as an adult, and has the bonus of being full of animal sounds.

Munch and a Crunch is about a picnic ruined by weather, which is possibly something more kids can relate to.

Either way-- two more great options for the pre-k into k or 1st grade crowd.  Great phonics/rhyming words while still being a really fun story.