Saturday, May 7, 2016

Review: Into My Silhouette: Discovering the Dark

Into My Silhouette: Discovering the Dark Into My Silhouette: Discovering the Dark by Becca Noire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I was given a free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Becca lives the life a lot of us do—divorced, raising a teenager, wading through the disappointing world of online dating. But then she strikes the jackpot with John... or at least she thinks she does.

I am not a frequent reader of erotica, but when I do I end up really loving it or really hating it. If you're like me and the dumpster fire of 50 Shades of Grey turned you off of the genre, please take this as my personal invitation to dive back in—because this was outstanding. Becca is so real because you know her. Maybe you are her. Or maybe she's a wittier version of you (at least that was the case with me). There are no Mary Sues here, just a real woman falling down the rabbit hole, feeling what is happening to her, but helpless to stop herself. So many of us go through life with longing, and when we finally get what we have been dreaming of, how many of us would have the courage to run away when it got too deep? We all like to think we would, but it rarely ends up that way. The mastery of this writing is that we feel every bit of Becca's journey and we are left with the sinking feeling that if it were us in that situation, it probably would have ended up the same way. And with all the smokin hot intense sex scenes, maybe... just maybe... it was all worth it in the end. Definitely put this one on your to-read shelf.

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Friday, May 6, 2016

Review: UnWholly

UnWholly UnWholly by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book series can be tricky; you never know if the sequels will live up to the original. Unwholly not only lived up to Unwind, it surpassed it. Shusterman gives us a wider view of the world in which our characters live and the slippery, all-too-believable slope that brought our America to the reality of tearing teenagers apart for their organs and limbs. Using multiple POV characters and the dispassionate, all-seeing eye of internet news, Shusterman shows how easily people can do the unthinkable, if only enough people agree that it's the "right" thing.

The characters arcs of Connor, Lev, and Reesa were both fascinating and true to their characters as they were established in the first book. We also met new characters: Miracleena, a steadfast tithe who has what Gretchen Rubin calls an "Upholder personality"; and Starkey, who is the most perfectly manipulative bully to ever walk the earth. These were the major players, but there are others, and even the ones with only a few lines of dialogue or exist only to move the plot forward are real, living people with inner lives and unique attributes. Not only is the ploy riveting, the people and the world make the stakes matter to you as you're reading it. I can't wait to read the next one.

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Remember that breakup you weren't sure you could recover from? The one where your partner just brutally dumped you? You almost teetered off the edge, withdrawing from your friends and your job, and drinking more than you should have. But then you said to yourself, "If I don't stop this, I will become someone I can't bear to look at it in the mirror." And you dusted yourself off, called your sister or your friend, and you got on with your life. If you had not done so, Rachel, the titular girl on the train, is what you would have become.

This was a fantastically written book, yet very hard to read. The plot is not at all like Gone Girl (all the reviews compare it to Gillian Flynn's book). But it is similar in that all of the characters—I repeat, ALL of them—are hideously unlikeable. From the pathetic boozehound stalker, Rachel, and the cheating, lying Megan Hipwell and sad-sack enabler Anna, there is no one to root for in this book. They are all the type of women you would do well to immediately excommunicate from your circle of friends. So why did I like this book? What took me through to the end even though it was supremely painful at times?

Hawkins is a master at realistic narration, dialogue, and motivations in damaged women. Both beautiful and terrible, her words inspired both self-reflection and objective admiration of how she wields her craft. I firmly believe likable characters are not a necessity for good literature, and this is a prime example. I recommend this book. But fair warning, my lady friends... if you're fresh off a divorce or infertility, you might want to keep it on your 'to-read' list for a little while before you start on this one.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Daredevil Review (Spoilers)


Rating:




Last April, Season 1 of Netflix's Daredevil landed on the scene with almost enough force to scrub the memory of that rancid Ben Affleck movie from our collective consciousness. The series was awesome, from top to bottom. Season 1 gave us Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock AKA Daredevil, an actor who delivered both physically and emotionally. He captures Dadredevil perfectly, right down to the Catholic guilt that drives him and the Jeremy Irons-like sadness that permanently haunts his face. He is balanced by his law partner and best friend, Foggy Nelson, played by Elden Henson (Fulton Reed from the Mighty Ducks), and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Wohl, Jessic from True Blood) as the classic damsel in distress. The trio make up the heart of the series, but I would be lying if I said they were the most entertaining part of the show.

Like all good fiction, the conflict is derived from the villains. Season 1 gave  us Wilson Fisk AKA Kingpin, played by my imaginary boyfriend, Vincent D'Onofrio. Vinny D has played some truly frightening people (Pooh Bear on The Salton Sea, Carl Stargher on The Cell). But Wilson Fisk is my second favorite, as nothing can replace Goren from Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He was both frightening and sympathetic, with the writers showing the audience exactly who he is and why. He played the type of villain who you were almost kind of sad to watch go down in the season finale, even though you knew he would rise again.

Season 2 brought a whole new patch of villains, first in the form of Frank Castle, AKA the Punisher (John Bernthal). I never read the Punisher comics growing up, as he was too dark and too solitary for me to relate to him or root for him. The previews lead us to believe the Punisher would be our "big bad" for the season, which made it confusing when he was jailed not even midway through the season. Then we realized Frank would not be our terror in the dark. I'll admit it caught me by surprise. When the screen lingers on an old Japanese man looking down at his accountant and says, "Who said I was Yakuza?", the comic book fans all sucked in their breath. Holy shit. It's The Hand.

The Hand has made appearances across the Marvel World, including the X-men and Deadpool, which is why I know about them. They are truly frightening people. And unlike Frank Castle, they do not have the human foibles that make them relatable or sympathetic. They are just terrifying and impossible to stop. They can be shooed away with sufficient effort, but they're never completely gone, as poor Matt will find out.

It speaks to the quality of Daredevil and the trust I have in its creators that I did not immediately stop watching it when they revealed the actress playing Elektra. That is, Elektra Natchios, a Greek woman—played by an Asian lady. Such an unforgivable casting decision might otherwise have resulted in a rage spiral, but in this case I simply waited, having full faith this choice would be explained. And you know what, I was right. Instead of insulting the audience, specifically the portion of the audience that read the comics, the writers acknowledged what they did and why, cementing that the Marvel Cinematic Universe will always in some ways be different that the comic book universe. Just like last season's shocking death of Ben Urich at the hands of Kingpin, we the viewers are invited to be patient and trust there is a reason for all of it. In the case of Elektra, it was done to tie her childhood to Stick (and it was probably hard to find a Greek chick who excelled at Martial arts). In the case of Ben, his death paved the way for Jessica—Sorry, Karen. Her name is Karen in Daredevil—to become the reporter, cementing her growing character arc through the rest of the series.

One of the major criticisms of the more recent Marvel movies is that they have no soul, but rather exist solely to set up the next movie in the franchise. Does Marvel think the movie audience won't notice and/or protest? Clearly not, because they are not repeating this mistake with their tv series. Both in the outstanding Jessica Jones and in Daredevil, it is clear the writers not only trust their audience, but respect our intelligence as well. It's that trust in its audience that makes the series so great.