Random Musings by Frodosco

Posts tagged “Mini-Review

Killing My Kindle: Pieces by Michael Crane

KillingMyKindle

For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.

This week I took a stab at: Pieces by Michael Crane

Released On: May 13th, 2014

Summary From GoodreadsPieces

When a little girl’s body is found in the woods, a once quiet town is shaken to its core as it deals with the aftermath in this short story collection.

A man desperately tries to make a living but finds it difficult when the company van scares potential customers away. A parent fails to see when being protective of her only child transforms into an unhealthy obsession. A man decides he no longer wants children after hearing about the dead little girl, but is there something else factoring into the sudden decision? And in the final story, a child shuts down almost completely and has no idea if she can go on without her best friend.

In these twelve stories connected by a terrible tragedy, grown-ups and children alike try put the pieces back together again without any easy answers.

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

Pieces wasn’t quite what I had expected when I picked it up. I’m very familiar with Crane’s writing and his style, and usually his books (especially the Morbid Drabble series) have a consistent theme or tone to them. Pieces doesn’t quite fit that goofy or twisted vibe that I was used to, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good.

The twelve stories all center around the young girl that was killed and display different ways that humans might grieve after hearing about that kind of news. It doesn’t matter if they were close to her or not, all that had to happen was it being in close proximity for their lives to change in some way. Some coped with drinking, others with isolation, some become obsessed, others just try to go about as if nothing had changed.

Pieces does a solid job at showcasing how the human psyche can be affected by tragedies such as this under a wide variety of circumstances. However, in terms of just enjoying the writing, it missed the mark a bit. A few of the stories didn’t seem to have much point beyond that general scope, and it felt like they were plugged in just to show variety. Other stories were stronger and had a lot of meaning and power to them, such as the best friend at the end or the lady obsessed with the news even though she didn’t know the girl.

For me it was the inconsistency and how some of the stories were rather mundane that put me off a little. Overall I’d say Pieces does what it is supposed to, but knowing Crane’s skill as a writer, it was unfortunate that it didn’t feel like it was as strong as it could have been. Some people wouldn’t be as affected as others, but that doesn’t mean that those stories need to be lacking in purpose.

If you want to read about the many different ways humans react to a singular event then Pieces is probably for you. If you’re a fan of Crane and want his usual brand of twisted humor, then maybe pass on this one. It’s a good piece, just not a great one. Thanks as always for reading.

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The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes: Frodo’s Review

The Art of Lainey

Summary From GoodreadsLainey

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

The Art of Lainey is a book that I’ve been very excited to read simply because of how amazing the author is. Luckily for me, not only did I finally get my hands on a copy of the book, but I got to hear the author’s thoughts on it at the first stop of the MMBB YA Tour (for more info on that click here). Paula Stokes gave her reasoning for why she went with this kind of character, one more preppy and a bit shallow, instead of the standard quiet bookish type. She said she wanted to prove that even the popular girls aren’t all that different from the rest, and in that she succeeded.

Lainey is a tad shallow, pushy, and is certifiably boy-crazy, or at least Jason-crazy. However, I will say that much of how I discovered what she was like was not from how she acted during the story, but from her friends telling her how she used to act, or her comparisons to another diva-type. When you come down to it, Lainey just seemed a bit lost, not as self-centered as I was led to believe, so her “transformation” wasn’t quite as effective as it could have been.

Easy A

As for the plot, well it felt very much like a lighter version of Easy A. For those who don’t know that movie (you should watch it) it’s about a girl who gets paid (in a variety of ways) to fake dates and sexual encounters with guys from her school. Eventually she wants a real relationship but her persona gets in the way until the end when she winds up with the good guy. The Art of Lainey doesn’t get as sexual, but the fake dates are here too, and the strategizing is similar too. With that movie in mind the arc was pretty obvious from the get go, she’d fall for the bad boy who turns out to not be so bad after all (Micah in this case), and well…you can guess the rest.

Despite a few cliches, The Art of Lainey is a well written, light-hearted, and plain fun book to read. Whether you know the outcome or not, it doesn’t make the journey any less fun to take part in. There are some hilarious scenes on some of the dates and they are worth the read by themselves. If you want a nice fluffy contemporary this is a solid option for you. You might even enjoy it more than I did since I had some preconceived notions going into it from the bookish event. Thanks as always for reading. ^.^

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Frodo’s Frisky Friday: The Price to be Paid

Frodo's Frisky Friday

The Price to be Paid (A Fairy Tale Romance) by Leigh Wilder

Summary From GoodreadsThe Price to be Paid

Dairymaid Kay’s life is one trial after another, mostly caused by her father’s drinking. When he drunkenly brags of her ability to spin straw into gold (she can’t even spin wool) he attracts the attention of the cruel king. She has two options. Spin the straw into gold…or off with her head.

Fortunately she has some help…but is the price to save her life too high? This is an adult fairy tale and contains sexual situations. Short.

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

The Price to be Paid is a naughty version of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale and is written by Leigh Wilder, one of my favorite authors. However, I can’t say that this short story is very similar to her other works because the sexual scenes aren’t nearly as descriptive and are brief even if they are frequent enough. Normally Wilder offers some new twist or spin on the fairy tale and then gives depth to the naughtier bits by making the scenes vivid and entrancing. I can’t say that was the case for this.

The Price to be Paid does give a bit of backstory that many who are familiar with the Rumpelstiltskin tale will recognize as pretty close to the original, or some of the modern adaptations (such as Once Upon a Time), but it is much of the same really. There is more of a sexual twist and that theme carries through to the end of the story, but there doesn’t feel like much weight is behind it.

The “help” she has is an odd, lustful creature, that is mischievous and only in it for their own sake. While there is nothing wrong with that, they are the only real innovation of the tale, where as the MC is more of a shell that exists because the story requires it.  So when, at the end, the odd creature doesn’t change in personality or intention, the MC just goes along for the ride, and the rest of the world is the same as the original I was left disappointed.

There is nothing specifically wrong with The Price to be Paid. The writing is still solid, the plot flows smoothly, and if you just want to experience a sexier Rumpelstiltskin story than this could work for you. As for me, I think I’m just too spoiled with Wilder’s usual level of expertise, so this didn’t do it for me. It was fine, just not special. Thanks as always for reading.

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Mini Review Monday: Fungus of the Heart by Jeremy C. Shipp

MiniReviewMonday

Fungus of the Heart

Summary From Goodreads

Readers of Jeremy C. Shipp’s fiction will be familiar with his minimalist, breakneck pacing, his surreal forays into political satire, and his seamless blending of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Now, in his fourth book, the Bram Stoker Award finalist expands on what many critics and fans alike have long considered the most compelling aspect of his work-relationships.

This story collection explores how a person’s desire can infect their every action and interaction with others. The desire to protect. The desire to hurt. The desire to be desired. Fungus of the Heart explores what happens between people when society breaks down and the rules go out the window.

Haunting and heartbreaking, pithy and potent, the quirky inhabitants of Shipp’s bizarro world will carve an indelible line from your funnybone to your spleen to your emotional core.

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews on Mini Review Monday! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

Fungus of the Heart is a collection of wonderful stories by one of my favorite writers, Jeremy C. Shipp. It’s got a great mixture of mind-bending horror, humor of all varieties, and all while forcing the reader to stop and think about the people around them and why they do what they do. Perhaps even more importantly, Fungus of the Heart makes the reader examine themselves and think about what is most important to them and what lengths they would go to for those things and/or people.

The first story, The Sun Never Rises in the Big City is one Shipp fans will recognize since it is released by itself, and I read it back in October, 2012. There you get a bit of Noir, and it does stand out from the rest of the stories as a little less dark, and more of a sad story. There is plenty of gore to be had here from The Escapist to Agape Walrus (zombies!), more (dark) philosophical humor in Monkey Boy and the Monsters (what makes a monster?) and Boy in the Cabinet (self imposed prisons), and even just beautifully written twisted stories like The Haunted House and Fungus of the Heart.

For anyone who has followed my blog for a while it will come as no surprise that I loved this book. Jeremy C. Shipp is one of the most talented writers I have ever had the pleasure of coming across and I can’t recommend him enough. He is THE horror writer for me and his bizarro infusions make his work stand out like no other. Definitely check his work out, here, I’ll even give you a link! Thanks as always for reading! ^.^

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #19/365; Mount TBR Challenge #16/200; 2014 TBR Pile #16/50

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Day 4: The Lost Girls by Jason Halstead

Day 4

Summary From Goodreads:  The Lost Girls by Jason Halstead

The only thing hotter than the summers in Phoenix is the temper of a police detective who can’t figure out why young girls keep disappearing. Katalina Wimple is that detective. Her obsession with the missing girls makes her the best person for the job, but it also serves as a refuge from the problems in her own life.

Battling her own demons offers coincidences impossible to ignore. Rescuing the missing girls will require Kat figuring out how much coincidence is too much, as well as fighting her desire for what she can’t have.

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 A shorter piece like this leads me to my own version of a mini-review, Frodo’s Hobbit-sized Reviews! This kind of review was inspired by the amazing Kimberly from Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer who does short reviews called Coffee Pot Reviews where she does the review in the time it takes her coffee pot to finish brewing.

The Lost Girls, the first in a series (currently at 4 novels), was my first sci-fi read in quite some time and was a refreshing change of pace. Following Kat through her action-packed, and slightly insane, journey to find criminals responsible for kidnapping young girls while simultaneously figuring out more about herself was thrilling throughout. There is also some steamy scenes mixed in, though not nearly as graphic as what Halstead does with the action ones that seem almost constant. The combination keeps The Lost Girls fast-paced and the reader on edge.

I loved Kat, she’s a fireball with attitude but with a softer side underneath. That sounds somewhat cliche, and at times it does feel a bit that way, but her sarcasm and don’t-give-a-crap attitude more than make up for it and make her a very endearing character. She has legitimate horrors in her past and overcomes them (to varied degrees of success) with humor, something Halstead does excellently.

The mystery element of The Lost Girls is what brought the piece home. There is a few twists at the end to constantly throw you off the trail and unless you are very shrewd the ending will definitely catch you off-guard. I’d recommend this to anyone who likes a good mixture of mystery/sci-fi/and a bit of romance, or just a good fast-paced read in general. Excellent.

Genre Reading Challenge #3/30 – Category – Mystery; Mount TBR Challenge #4/150+; 2013 TBR Pile #4/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #4/365

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