Book Review: Befriending the Girl Next Door? Only If You Speak The Right Language

 

I have not read a Young Adult book in several years (the last one being Jay Asher’s “The Future of Us” before starting doing more reviews for this page), and was excited when I read the synopsis for Jared Reck’s “A Short History of the Girl Next Door” ( Knopf Books For Young Readers 2017), however the book is as disappointing as losing the championship basketball game that the main character may encounter.

The book is about Matt , who is in love with his best friend, Tabby, and has yet to tell his feeling for her. They have been friends since childhood, hanging out watching Star Wars movies and eating his little brother Murray’s Nerds candy after taking him Trick or Treating. But when Tabby starts to date the star player on the basketball team, a senior named Liam, her freshman year, Matt starts to feel jealously and wonders if he is losing his friendship that he grew up loving.

There are plenty of basketball descriptions in the book, since both Liam and Matt are on the basketball team(and live for the game), which is reminiscent of the television show “One Tree Hill” (which I loved), but once something tragic happens in Matt’s life, he has to struggle with dealing with his feelings while handling his other pressures, like school, assignments, and basketball.

There are some good things about the book, like the humorous titles that start each chapter, and Matt’s English Teacher, Mr. Ellis, is not your typical teacher that a person on the basketball team would find amusing, but Matt enjoys the writing and jokes that happen in his class (once again, a possible nod to “One Tree Hill’s” Lucas character). Another humorous part is when Matt’s mother decides to match his Halloween costume with Murray, who is four at the time, which gives the reader a flashback to the classic movie “A Christmas Story.” Without giving spoilers, there is a part towards the end of the book that captures a touching interaction with Matt and his Grandfather. Also, many o have dealt with the struggles of having feelings for their best female friend growing up either in high school or junior high and whether or not to tell that person.

With that said, the biggest distraction from the book is its language. There is not a page that goes by where there is not some sort of cuss word on the page, and most of the time, it is not in a humorous way. The cursing is overdone to the fact that it just gets annoying, and offensive, after a few chapters. Yes, I know kids today cuss more than usual, but in this case, it’s almost used as a way that the author couldn’t come up with a creative way to get the characters to say anything. High school kids can (and do) drop F -bombs from time to time (my years in education can attest to that), but it’s totally useless to have something along the lines of “What the F#@*’n F,” or “F&$*’n F%ck Me” (the exact quotes are not used but are similar in nature, due to the fact I am using an advanced copy for this review, but it’s very close to this on a constant basis). This book is geared for ages 12 and up, but I wouldn’t let a 12-15 year old get a hold of this book just because of the language. This is geared for a more mature teen reader, closer to 18 year olds.

The story is nice overall, but the ending becomes a let down, and leaves the reader hanging with wanting to know how the characters end up, but even that made me not really care about the characters that much, due to the excessive language throughout the book. I ended up not caring or feeling sympathetic towards Matt, or his problems, with his massive use of cussing so much. I have much respect for any writer who gets a book published, along with getting their book on a major publisher, and as much as I wanted to like this book, due to the language and story ending, the overall book falls flat in my opinion.

 

(A Special Thanks to Random House Teens and Knopf Books for Young Readers for the Advanced Kindle Copy for this review).

 

“A Short History of The Girl Next Door” by Jared Reck (ISBN: 978-1-5247-1607-3) is available where you get books. You can download it as well (EBook ISBN: 978-1-5247-1609-7) or go to: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com , along with their other book titles.

You can find Jered Reck at http://www.jaredreckbooks.com

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Book Review: Take A Journey Into The Storm

Sometimes readers will stumble upon a book that has an interesting plot, and takes the reader on a path that they are not sure where it is going, but they have to keep reading to find the end of the journey. Ramcy Diek’s “Storm At The Keizer Manor” (Acorn Publishing , November 2017) is such a book.

It is described as a “Time Travel Romance,” which involves Annet, who lives with her boyfriend Forrest, and works at the local museum, named The Keizer Manor, where the art work of 19th century painter Alexander Keizer is featured. While Annet works her way up the ladder at the museum, Forrest struggles to find work , while living with her.

Finding out she is pregnant, Annet deals with her plans for the future, Forrest’s intention of marriage, and trying to balance the 200th Anniversary party of the Keizer Manor, which involves the descendant of Alexander Keiser, Mrs. Caroline Rothschild, who will display her collection of dolls at the event.

After an argument at the event with Forrest, Annet leaves the Manor, with Forrest chasing after her. They get caught up in a thunderstorm that separates them, and Annet wakes up in a monastery in the 19th century, while Forrest stays in the current era. Annet tries to find her way back to her normal life, while carrying her future child.

The book takes the reader through situations, much like a Back to The Future plot, where Annet ends up trying to adjust to the 19th century, where there are no cell phones, showers, or other modern advances that she is used to. She also is stuck in an era where women are not vocal about opinions, yet Annet is known to blurt out anything without thinking. This part of Annet’s character ends up being humorous at times in the book. The only difference about this book compared to the Back to The Future stories, is that neither Annet (or the author) deals with the fact that every person she runs into in the past could affect her future, or theirs (there are one or two references in the book, but it’s not a major theme but is only brought up towards the end).

Diek’s book is well-written, and keeps the reader involved in the characters so they can find out how Annet and Forrest will end up at the end. She creates entertaining characters with Annet’s mother and her boyfriend, Chuck, who moves in with Forrest after Annet disappears.

Although romance books are not a favorite theme for this reader, Diek’s book gives a unique slant of the genre that satisfies, with some complex (and not so complex) characters, mystery, and a partial setting for those that wonder what it would be like settling down in another time period, without the everyday distractions of today’s modern society. Although the ending is a little bit sudden (no spoilers here, but it may shock some), it does not detract from the journey getting there. Diek’s book show why there are some great independent books that readers may enjoy, with a twist on a genre that at times seem trite.

 

Thank you to Acorn Publishing for the Advanced Reading Copy for the review.

 

“Storm At The Keizer Manor” by Ramcy Diek is available November 15, 2017 (ISBN -13: 978-0-9983098-0-4) by Acorn Publshing.

 

For more information go to : https://www.acornpublishingllc.com , or go to http://www.RamcyDiek.com

Book Review: Catwoman Book A Lively Read.

Tim Hanley’s wonderful book “The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of A Feline Fatale” (Chicago Review Press, 2017) shows that not all cats just have nine lives.

When she first appeared in DC Comics, she was called The Cat, but throughout the years she has been a major part of the DC Universe, which Hanley walks the reader through in a great historical journey, without bombarding the reader with date after date.

The character got her first start in 1940, and became the first female in the Batman world (besides a few women who were only used to show off Bruce Wayne’s playboy image) to have speaking lines. Mainly known as Selina Kyle, the character has changed her costumes, her background story, and even her careers, throughout the years, as different creators got their hands on the characters, which is covered in the book.

The character started out as a minor character, who was a thief, but grew throughout the years having her own series multiple times, from being Batman’s enemy, friend, and lover in the complicated history.

Hanley takes the reader through the history of comic books as well, dealing with the 1954 critique by Dr. Fredrick Wertham. who deemed comic books a bad influence for children due to the violence and gruesomeness, along with sexual innuendos, which ended up creating a comic book council to watch over what was being published. One funny story is how Wertham accused the characters in the books as being Nazis, homosexuals, and lesbians, which was shocking to accuse in the 1950s.

Hanley’s book takes the reader through the early days of the Catwoman character in the comics in the 1940s, to her appearances in movies, television, videogames, and her many disappearances and re-appearances in the comics all the way to 2015 when DC Comics created The Rebirth Universe (which does not feature Catwoman).

My favorite TV Catwoman: Julie Newmar.

The book walks the reader through the success of Catwoman on the ABC TV Series, to the presence she had in the movies (good and bad). All of the actors are covered here, from Julie Newmar to Halle Barry, and the few times that Selina Kyle was not Catwoman in the books, along with the others who took on the role in animation.

Hanley’s history of the character is entertaining and informative, especially for those that may not know all the different arcs that Selina Kyle was in, from being a thief, a prostitute, a mob boss, and a mother who gives up the Cat suit. With the many different writers and artists throughout the years, like many comics, Selina’s image changed as well, from different looking hair styles to outfits, which some emphasized her sexuality, while others were plain and drab to some critics.

Hanley’s history of Catwoman gives the reader plenty of knowledgeable information, but is done so in an entertaining way. The book could easily be written as a date after date history book, but Hanley gives the audience back stories and information for readers that are not familiar with the names of certain artists and writers or those that do not known some of the comic book arcs (He doesn’t just drop the names of the arcs, he explains what is going on, and how it affects the Catwoman character). He also gives a brief history throughout about comic books in general, as mentioned earlier, from the attempted censorship on early comics, to how the certain stories affected comic book sales (whether good or bad). His background on the history of Bob Kane and the myth that he created many of the DC characters he is credited with in the early chapters is one section that keeps the reader engaged.

“The Many Lives of Catwoman” is a must have manual for any fan of Batman or comic books, not just for fans of the Catwoman character. DC Comic readers will love the many plot lines that are covered here. This book is hard to put down, and will keep the readers purring.

 

(A special thanks to Chicago Review Press for the reading copy for this review)

 

The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale by Tim Hanley (ISBN 9781613738450) is available at bookstores everywhere, and through IPG through the order number 1-800-888-4741 or at ipgbook.com.   You can also find it, and other titles, by Chicago Review Press at: http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com

 

If you are looking for comics, culture, and collectables, and live in the Columbiana, Ohio area, visit WatchTower Heroes, LLC, located at 6 Main Street Columbiana, Ohio 44408. Check them out at http://www.watchtowerheroes.com and on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/WatchtowerHeroesComics/