Listen to my latest short story "The Forest Trail"

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Friday, August 28, 2015

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green | Book Review

This book was hit and miss for me. I didn't like it at all until about the last quarter of the book. Act 3. Why, you might ask, did you keep reading if you didn't like it until then? And my response to that would be: because the last two John Green books I read I loved and they were nothing like anything else I'd ever read and they were their own kind of wonderful. But in those books I loved the characters. In this book I kind of liked some of the characters but do not like Colin the main character. He's really annoying and even though I know I'm supposed to feel sorry for him I just want to tell him to shut up and stop whining. I kind of liked him by the end of the book.

There were parts in this book that made me smile and even made me laugh out loud. There's some good stuff in there, but overall it wasn't my cup of tea. I wanted to like this one, I really did, but it just didn't do it for me. This is the third book I've read by John Green. I LOVED the other two but this one was kind of blah. I read The Fault in our Stars first, then Looking for Alaska. Both of those books blew me away. I thought they were fantastic. This one seemed to be trying too hard. The eccentricities of the characters that usually make them more interesting were just kind of extra annoying fluff in this one. I think what it all comes down to is that I didn't like the main character Colin, or even his best friend Hassan. By the end of the book I did like Hassan more than the main character Colin, but these still weren't characters I really cared about.

So yeah, not my cup of tea but I'm still super excited to read all of his other books because like I said I loved the other two books I've read by him. You can't win them all. Even my favorite authors, John Green is easily now one of them, have written books I don't like. I have a feeling that I'm going to love Paper Towns though.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 27
The Regulators by Stephen King & Joyland by Stephen King

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In this 27th episode I review two books by Stephen King - The Regulators, and Joyland. Listen to hear why I didn't care much for The Regulators and absolutely loved Joyland. It's two for one this week people! Two book reviews with only one download! Enjoy.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Written by Stephen King
Narrated by the Michael Kelly

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Strangers On a Plane by Kay Kendall | Book Review

This is the first Prometheus story I've read that takes place over a very short length of time. It encompasses one plane ride where the main character ends up sitting next to the being I've come to know from this saga of short stories named Prometheus. An alien sent from another place to Earth to watch and learn of humans. A being constructed from our DNA who can heal itself and change its form to whatever age and gender it wishes. It lives on generation after generation interacting with humans to observe them. In this story Prometheus is taking the form of a sweet old lady with a firm constitution and special gifts.

As I read the story I really enjoyed it's flow and pacing. It just kind of folds out in front of you. It was a very enjoyable story to read. I like the writer's choice to use first person in this story. We get to see Prometheus up close and personal as the main character interacts with it. It was really cool to see that after reading about this being in so many other stories.

This story brought me back to a time in history, as many of the other Prometheus stories had, but to a very specific person's experience instead of having a more broad cast of characters. It takes place during the Vietnam war where a character is in Canada because her husband is trying to dodge the draft. In this way it was a more intimate story that left me wanting to know what was going to happen next to the character when the story ended. Maybe it was because I've flown on planes a lot this year but I could totally picture myself right there with the characters as I read the story. I think it was because the author Kay Kendall is a skilled storyteller. It was a fun mysterious tale leaving you wanting more. If the author ever writes what happens next I'd love to read it. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ancient Enemy by Mark Lukens | Book Review

This was a fantastic horror novel. The only other horror novels I've read are Stephen King books. This one was much more straight forward and cinematic than a King book. While I love King's literary leanings and beautiful prose this book felt very much like a movie as I read it. If this book was a movie I would not want to watch it alone at night! Though I could sometimes tell what was generally going to happen next in the story I never had an idea of how it would happen and was surprised every time by how the author pulled off what happened next. It was one stairway into hell after another for the characters and riding along as a reading was a fun yet freaky thrill ride.

I loved how everything got worse and worse for the characters. Some of the most terrifying scenes I've ever read are in this book. It was awesome. I loved the intensity in this story. When crazy stuff went down the characters reacted in a very believable way and I kept thinking how I would react if I were in the same situation. I liked the variety between the characters and it was fun to see how they all reacted in a different way to the horrors they faced.

The evil behind all of the gruesome things that happen to or around the characters isn't revealed until the very end of the story and I really liked the explanation of it. I'd love to go into it but I don't want to have any spoilers in this review so I'll just say it's based in history and is awesome. The author came up with a really cool bad guy in this book and though it does unbelievable things to the characters by the end you'll find yourself a believer in it's wicked existence - at least in the realm of the story world.

I read this book by listening to the audiobook. The narrator Teri Schnaubelt was new to me but did an amazing job. She has a wonderful reading voice.

It was awesome to see the character work together and against each other. Shifting from trust to weariness to all out fighting. That's all I'm going to say because I want everything to be a surprise for you when you read this book. Happy reading! Read with the lights on :) Thanks for stopping by.

Get the book at Amazon (in audio too!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Problem with Young Adult Dystopian Fiction
Guest Post by Maria Ramos

Over the past several years, the combination of YA (young adult) fiction with a dystopian premise has seen a tremendous leap in popularity. Starting with the 2010 novel The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and continuing with other book-to-film series such as Divergent and The Maze Runner, YA dystopias perform well because they speak to the feelings of isolation and alienation that teenagers typically feel as they grow up. However, there are some specific issues many in their adolescent age experience that are hardly ever represented in these films and are therefore often ignored.
A common theme among YA fiction is the suppression of budding sexual feelings. Protagonists acknowledge their desire to form intimate relationships while realizing that those relationships may be inappropriate for the current situation. This allows teenage readers to identify with the hero's feelings and identify with the confusion and insecurity that often accompanies young love. One example of this is in The Hunger Games in which Katniss seems to struggle with her relationships with both Peeta and Gale in a time of war and government surveillance. Given the world she lives in, however, she seems to solely focus on her priorities as the Mockingjay. Another recurring theme is the disillusionment and mistrust with respect to authority figures and organizations. Teenagers at a rebellious age will certainly identify with the impulse to question the decisions and motivations of those in power, and to take a stand against actions by ruling or governing bodies that are they are morally or ethically opposed to. This is very obviously represented in Divergent and Insurgent in which teenagers are forced to choose separate factions to live in when they get to a certain age and if they don’t belong to any of them, their existence is deemed detrimental to society as a whole.

Unfortunately, some of the issues that would likely be present in a true dystopian society are simply not addressed in modern YA fiction. Racism, which has been a prevalent issue in actual dystopian societies like Nazi Germany and South Africa during apartheid, and is currently a huge social and political topic in the United States, is largely ignored in contemporary YA fiction, where both the heroes and oppressors are typically white. Divergent and Insurgent, both available on Vudu and cable TV, are based on segregation according to personality types, but somehow author Veronica Roth fails to highlight the obvious metaphor to race relations. In fact, the film predominantly features white people even in the backgrounds. In the case of The Hunger Games, many readers didn't even realize that two major characters were black until the movie adaptation was released, which caused a large backlash on Twitter. The absence of people of color in film is nothing new. However, one would think that in dystopian societies, they would be negatively impacted as much as white people.

Sexism, another prominent issue in many cultures throughout history, is also rarely addressed in YA dystopian films and novels. Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games shows little femininity beyond her affections for love interests Peeta and Gale, and there's no discussion of how her gender affects her performance in the Games or the way people perceive her. In The Maze Runner, there is only one girl among the 7 or 8 primary characters, and Ender's Game addresses no sex or gender issues despite the fact that most of it takes place at a co-ed military academy full of teenagers. There definitely are many strong female characters in these films, such as Katniss and Beatrice, but it seems that many of their actions are based on men. This is a common real-life problem many young women face but the message that you should base your decisions on men shouldn’t be something we need to enforce.

To tackle sexism and racism in a respectful and thoughtful manner could open up the readership for YA dystopian fiction beyond its current audience. Young females may respond well to the strength exhibited by their counterparts in these stories, but a narrative that directly addresses gender inequality could provide more emotional resonance. Likewise, a novel or film that actually addresses the practice of racism and/or segregation that would be likely to occur in a dystopian society could have a broader appeal to a demographic that stretches across all types of ethnicities.

To prevent the YA dystopia subgenre from becoming stale, authors must exhibit the courage and willingness to take on these controversial topics, and infuse their stories with parallels to real world issues beyond simple teenage identity crises. Then, the current fad would have the potential to grow into something much more meaningful: a platform for discussion that can lead to positive change and a movement towards equality.

This awesome article was written by Maria Ramos. Click on the label Maria Ramos below to find more articles on this website written by her. 

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