Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review: A Case of Identity + The Boscombe Valley Mystery

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Classics, Mystery 

A Case of Identity:
Miss Mary Sutherland, angry and beside herself with feelings of loss, asks Sherlock Holmes to solve the sudden, mysterious disappearance of a shy and attentive man she has grown to love upon the very day they were to be married.

The Boscombe Valley Mystery:
Lestrade summons Holmes to a community in Herefordshire, where a local land owner has been murdered outdoors. The deceased's estranged son is strongly implicated. Holmes quickly determines that a mysterious third man may be responsible for the crime, unraveling a thread involving a secret criminal past, thwarted love, and blackmail.

You can read my reviews on the other Sherlock Holmes stories here. 

In A Case of Identity, I got the point as quickly as Mr. Holmes himself. In one of the Sherlock episodes they do an adaptation of this one (very quick) and it's really similar. 

The Boscombe Valley Mystery was my favored of the two, because I liked that they traveled, and that there was a little bit of Mary in the beginning. Also, this story was complex- there is strong, substantial evidence pointing to a certain culprit, and yet the legendary detective comes up with ridiculous and complicated and absolutely brilliant deduction that explains all the findings with a completely different outcome. It was terrifically enjoyable, and a lot of build-up. I guessed the guilty party of this one, too, but I had no idea how he'd prove it so it was a definite page-turner. 



Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review and Author Interview: Jesse's Girl!

Jesse's Girl (Hundred Oaks)Jesse's Girl (Hundred Oaks Series)
Miranda Kinneally
Contemporary romance

Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.

But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?

As you can tell by the sneak peek I posted way back in March, I was soooooo psyched to read Jesse's Girl. Below, an interview with Miranda Kinneally herself and my thoughts on the book!

1. First off, loving the title, and of course the song it's based on(: Did you name Jesse on purpose? 
How, in general, do you name your characters?

A:  Actually, I named Jesse a few years ago when I first started writing it. Originally, I wanted to call the book BEST DAY EVER. I knew Sourcebooks wanted me to come up with a new name for the book, but I was having trouble. My author friend Tiffany Reisz happened to be at a baseball game when the song "Jessie's Girl" came on the speakers, and she thought it was the perfect name for the book, because she had read it and liked Jesse's character. In general, I pick out names by browsing :) 

2. In Jesse's Girl, Jesse is only 19 and has already won 3 Grammys and has been called the king of country. How realistic was your portrayal of the music industry in the novel? (i.e. Wannabe Rocker, Jesse's life and lifestyle)

A: I think it's realistic. There have been many teenagers who have become big music stars. Some of my favorites are Taylor Swift and the Jackson Five. And don't forget Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. They were huge stars by the time they were 17.

3. You grew up in Tennessee, like Maya. How much of her story and experiences are based on yours, if at all?

A: Like Maya, I was in my high school's show choir. I was a complete smart a$$ as a teenager, so I wrote down that I wanted to be a country music singer when I grew up for my school's career day. That's where I got the idea for JESSE'S GIRL. 

4. Your bio lists becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer and a UN interpreter as dreams of yours. What inspired you to write?

A: I've enjoyed writing since I was a little kid. When I got to college, I didn't do so well in my literature and writing courses, but I kept working at my writing until I got published. 

5. So among others, you've told us Sam's story, and now Maya's. What's next for you? Possibly a novel about little Anna Henry? *looks up hopefully*

A: What a good idea! ;-) I will think about writing Anna's book one day after she grows up. My next book is coming out in summer 2016, and it's about a girl who gets kicked out of her private school and has to start at Hundred Oaks her senior year. 

Thanks for having me!

So, the moment I was totally waiting for. In truth? I wasn't disappointed, exactly, but it did fall short from what I expected of it. Therefore, I recommend coming at Jesse's Girl for a good time but not high expectations.

The main problem was little inconsistencies. For example, Maya says she hates country music but then talks about how she always loved Jesse Scott, aka the king of country. Jesse says he doesn't want to upset his uncle but then shows up to the shadowing day (that his uncle arranged and that Jesse agreed to so as not to upset him) wearing his underwear and being a jerk. If they were the characters' antics, you would expect that to be addressed.

Also, I don't know much about country music, but I can tell you Jesse's Girl  is 100% the king of cliche. Seriously, I counted. There was the usually-aggressive-pet-takes-unusual-liking-to-the-love-interest, the adults-all-leave-so-the-'kids'-can-bond, boy-throws-pebbles-at-girl's-window-to-apologize-although-he-is-not-technically-at-fault, and the classic, let's-NOT-tell-major-secret-to-other-major-character-for-no-logical-reason-whatsoever-except-further-the-plot.

But now for what I did like:

A.It was funny. I had some definite LOL moments.
B. Jesse. Awwwwww I just love him
C. LGBT characters portrayed what I judged to be realistically. Like Maya, I have a gay best friend and we talk to each other similiarly(:
D. Country language. I'm still giggling from the 'hit the sack' phrase. 
E. Country people's reactions to NYC.. perfect and probably based on the writer's experience. VERY CUTE

Overall? I had a very good time reading Jesse's Girl - I accidentally stayed up a lot longer than planned to finish it, and I haven't done that in a looong time. Rating:

Monday, July 20, 2015

Review: Unravel Me

Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2)
Tahareh Mafi

it's almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life.

You can read my review of Shatter Me here. As you can see, I adored the first book in this trilogy. However, Unravel Me fell short of my expectations.

Shatter Me end off with Juliette, Adam and Kenji arriving at Omega Point, so naturally I was excited. It's always so much fun to arrive at the center of the resistance in dystopian novels. When you start reading Unravel Me it becomes clear that Omega Point is a whole lot like District 13- right up to the dubious, supposedly good-intentioned leader. While that sounds good, I was actually really annoyed. The whole book played out like every. other. dystopian. novel. ever. 

And worse, so much happened for no. reason. whatsoever. Like, you have the supreme leader all incapacitated at your feet but instead of capturing him, you'll take the son hostage. WHY. I'd write more examples of this but I don't want to be too spoilery. Basically, I''ll tell you I rolled my eyes a lot.

Another thing that bothered me in both the books was how attracted all the male characters were to Juliette. I mean, COME ON, the girl has been isolated and starved in a cell for 3 years, how good can she look? And even after that - she has no access to any hair products or hair removal techniques, and is constantly on the run in all sorts of conditions. I refuse to believe she can constantly be so pretty. Or at least, to the point where EVERY MALE CHARACTER HAS TO COMMENT ON IT. MULTIPLE TIMES.

Also, in every chapter, Juliette would make some sort of resolution to be more helpful, to accept herself, to stop whining over her problems with Adam and see the bigger picture. Usually these promises were after an inspiring speech from Kenji. AND YET, EVERY TIME, she would find herself doing the exact thing she said she wouldn't do about 3 pages after she said it she wouldn't. IT WAS SO TIRING. 

Despite all this, I did find myself enjoying Unravel Me. Kenji is my love, and curiosity about Warner fueled my desire to keep reading. Rating:


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mini-Review: Ace's Basement

Ace's BasementAce's Basement 
Ted Staunton
High Interest/Low Reading Level

Following the demise of his first band, Ace has started a duo called "Two" with Lisa, a girl he has a huge crush on. As Ace and Lisa get serious about their music, Denny, Ace's hapless friend, tries to help out by filming their every move so that he can create the ultimate music video. As a joke, Denny puts together a Two video capturing all of the embarrassing moments--moments that Lisa in particular doesn't want shared. Somehow, the video gets posted on YouTube. Lisa and Ace find themselves starring in the latest comedic viral video. Lisa is humiliated and refuses to talk to Ace--until their fame turns out to have positive results.

Orca Book Publishers write books specifically meant for teenagers with low reading levels, or learning English as a second language and such. I take the time to read and review them because we have a good market for them in the book store I work at, and I think it's important to give a reluctant reader something he or she will actually like. You can read my other reviews of Orca books here(:

Ace's Basement is a cute, short read, all of 107 little, well-spaced pages. It's got a modern context of young musicians putting themselves on Youtube, as well as the relatability of a high-schooler crushing on his older, good-looking friend. Overall, nothing special to remark on except that there were a few aspects that I felt could be expanded upon, like his relationship with his stepdad, or what happened to his biological father. Rating:

Have a whole bunch of reviews to catch up on, hope to get at it this week! Till then(:

Monday, July 6, 2015

Happy Birthday Percy Jackson and the Olympians!

The Lightning Thief: 10th Anniversary Edition (B&N Exclusive Collector's Edition) 

Rick Riordan
Illustrated by John Rocco

Before my thoughts, a tidbit: I reread a lot. A lot of times, in between every review I post here, I've reread another book that I don't review.  In most cases, every time I review a book in a series I reread all its predecessors, meaning I recently reread all of The Sisters Grimm series and The Lorien Legacies. Not to mention all The Heroes of Olympus and Mortal Instruments. 

I don't review rereads on principle (I'm talking about a book I read before I started blogging, therefore there is no review for here on Boarding with Books). The reason for this is because if your reading it again/ continuing the series you obviously liked it enough to do so. Also, your thoughts are very different from the initial impression you got when you immersed yourself in it the first time, more like a personal comparison with what you felt before, not so much review material. 

Anyway! Why, if so, am I doing this review on a book I have learned by heart read many times since my youth and is among my all time favorites? 

Well, it's been ten years. 

God this is so emotional.

When did we get so old??

I remember getting my copy of The Battle of the Labyrinth and staying up all night (or so I thought) until my dad made me go to sleep so I went to bed clutching it. I also remember spoiling it for myself because in grade 4 (or 5) I did NOT have the self-control it takes to avoid the internet. Lord, I didn't even try! I googled it myself! (:

Oh, wait. I meant to review the bonus content in the anniversary edition.

We'll start with the cover: I've seen opinions all across the spectrum. Honestly, I kinda like it. But no, not enough that if given the choice I'd choose to own the new ones. Christine at PolandBananasBooks made a video with her new Percy Jackson swag (so jealous) and made a good point... they just don't stand out like the old covers did! I'd miss the big gold writing on my shelf. 

However, just for this anniversary edition of The Lighting Thief it worked. It was done by the amazingly talented John Rocco (who did every other Rick Riordan thing ever) along with a gorgeous mural of all the new art on the inside jacket. On the inner side of the cover are the covers of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief in a bunch of different foreign languages... so cool!

There's the original outline (Twas the first time I've seen a real manuscript ouline. Twas fascinating), Riordan's first submission letter, a little Q&A, a letter from John Rocco, maps of Camp Half-Blood and the Underworld, a little note from Percy, a Greek Mythology reference guide and a list of myths relating to the story. Basically, lots of cute stuff. If I could ask for more I'd want interviews with the gods, maybe with some of the campers - though I realize it's premature for The Lightning Thief, come on. Who buys the collectors edition if not for avid fans?

Overall, I was so happy. It is an amazing gift to get, and I urge you to give the same present to yourself or to your favorite demigod friend. Rating: