HW Assignment: Prompt Response 1

With this assignment we were supposed to answer a few reader advisory questions using NoveList or some other RA tool. For those of you who don’t know what NoveList is, it’s FANTASTIC. You can access it through your local public library (note: not all public libraries have it) and you can use it to get reading recommendations! It’s seriously so awesome. I’m definitely going to be using it from now on!

1. I am looking for a book by Laurell K. Hamilton. I just read the third book in the Anita Blake series and I can’t figure out which one comes next!

There are so many books in the Anita Blake series so I understand your confusion! I looked on Novelist for you just to be sure—it looks like the next book in the series is “The Lunatic Café”.

2. What have I read recently? Well, I just finished this great book by Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer. I really liked the way it was written, you know, the way she used language. I wouldn’t mind something a bit faster paced though.

I’ve got a few great choices for you—all faster paced with a wonderful use of language. If you’re interested in reading about China right around the time of the Boxer Rebellion, I would recommend “Yellow Emperor’s Cure” by Kunal Basu. It’s about a surgeon searching for a cure for his father and he ends up falling in love along the way. It’s dramatic and definitely fast-paced but still with a lot of detail. If you’re in the mood for something funnier, I would recommend “The Plot Against America” by Phillip Roth. This is an alternative history where Lindbergh becomes president instead of FDR and he actually ends up making an accord with Hitler. It’s suspenseful and very character-driven with writing that is both lyrical and witty at the same time. But if you’re interested in sticking with the ecological themes from “Prodigal Summer”, I would recommend “Oryx and Crake” by Margaret Atwood—it’s the first book in her MaddAddam trilogy and it has wonderful world-building. It’s set in an apocalyptic world that is both thought-provoking and a little disturbing.

3. I like reading books set in different countries. I just read one set in China, could you help me find one set in Japan? No, not modern – historical. I like it when the author describes it so much it feels like I was there!

I’ve got three great choices for you. First, I would recommend “The Teahouse Fire” by Ellis Avery. It’s set in 19th century Japan and is about a young American girl who is adopted by a tea master. This book gives a lot of cool information about Japanese tea ceremonies. This book is a moving coming-of-age story. My next recommendation is also set in the 19th century, but instead of looking at Japan’s traditions, it focuses on some of the modernization that occurred during that time. The book is based on real events with very descriptive writing. My last recommendation, “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden, is set during WWII. It’s a rags-to-riches story about a girl who is sold into slavery and her journey as she becomes a Japanese geisha. This book is very atmospheric and the writing has a lot of detail.

4. I read this great mystery by Elizabeth George called Well-Schooled in Murder and I loved it. Then my dentist said that if I liked mysteries I would probably like John Sandford, but boy was he creepy I couldn’t finish it! Do you have any suggestions?

You should try “NYPD Red” by James Patterson. This book is about a detective who is investigating several crimes that happen to coincide with the arrival of a bunch of celebrities. It’s suspenseful and dramatic without being disturbing. If you’re looking for a little dark humor, I would suggest “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” by Michael Chabon. Instead of Israel, Alaska is the homeland for Jews and we follow two policemen as they investigate the death of a heroin-addicted chess prodigy. The writing style is a little different than you might be used to, but it’s still descriptive and suspenseful. If you’re looking for a classic, you can’t go wrong with Wilkie Collins. I would recommend “The Woman in White”. Our main character sees a woman dressed all in white on a moonlit night seemingly in distress on the streets of London. He has to find out what was wrong with her and that leads us on this psychologically thrilling journey. It’s atmospheric and Gothic without being disturbing.

5. My husband has really gotten into zombies lately. He’s already read The Walking Dead and World War Z, is there anything else you can recommend?

Of course! First, I would recommend “The Zombie Autopsies” by Steven C. Schlozman. This book is about a doctor and his staff who have isolated themselves on an island in order to find a cure for the zombie epidemic that has taken over. While there, however, they start to fall victim to the disease themselves. This book is written like a diary and has a lot of dark humor in it. If he’s interested in reading a graphic novel, I would really recommend “Rot & Ruin” by Jonathan Maberry. It’s about four friend who are travelling through the Sierra Nevada mountains while trying to stay ahead of zombie hordes that are after them. This graphic novel is seriously action-packed and has great world-building. If he has any interest in steampunk, I would recommend “Boneshaker” by Cherie Priest. While trying to build a machine, an inventor accidently releases a deadly gas that turns people into zombies. Years later, his teenage son tries to repair the family’s reputation. This book is atmospheric and suspenseful while maintaining a fast pace.

How do you find books to read?

I’m pretty active in the book blogging community so I get a lot of book recommendations and ideas from blogs that I follow. If I’m really stuck, I’ll take a look at Goodreads lists related to authors that I know I enjoy. Of course, I always make sure to be aware of when one of my autoread authors has a new book coming out as well. Now that I’ve discovered Novelist though, I’ll definitely be using it a lot to help me find new books to read!

Not Okay, Cupid by Heidi R Kling [ARC]

Hazel has her entire future planned out. She and her boyfriend are going to get into the same college, then the same grad school, and then they’ll have 2.5 kids together and live in a house with a white picket fence. At least that was the plan until he cheated on her with her best friend Kimmy. Now Hazel doesn’t know what to do. Luckily, someone else does. Felix the Player of La Playa (also Kimmy’s older brother) has a plan for revenge.

518w2bi66fml-_sx331_bo1204203200_This book had so much potential. I really mean that. The premise of this book was great, but the execution was not. The whole book is very surfacey. I felt like there was the potential to go in depth several times with the characters (since Hazel’s dad had died and Felix’s was out of the picture) but nothing ever happened. The book just stayed on the surface when it could have been so much deeper. The story really would have benefited from some character development throughout, but I feel like all of the character development (and there wasn’t even very much) was packed into the last few chapters of the book. This made it hard for me to really care too much about the characters. They didn’t seem deserving of my feelings.

Another thing that seriously bugged throughout was the multitude of inconsistencies that this book had. First Felix’s eyes are blue–glacier blue. Then they’re “sweet chocolate brown”. Next they’re green, only to end up turning back to brown by the end of the story. Other inconsistencies: Does Felix have his surfboard or not? When did they get out of the car? Did Hazel see Felix waving from the shore or not? Does Hazel see Felix while he’s standing by the punch bowl or is the first time she sees him out on the dance floor? Just A LOT of inconsistencies that made it hard to lose myself in the story. I ended up having to reread certain pages to make sure that I didn’t miss something that was there. It almost seems like the author had the beginning and the end of a scene planned out, but then forgot about what she had planned while she was writing the middle. Just very frustrating as a reader.

The last thing that I was so confused about was the relationship between Felix and Kimmy. Okay, we know they’re siblings and we find out pretty early on that Felix is older than Kimmy. But at the same time I thought Kimmy and Hazel were the same age and we know Hazel is a senior…so does that make Kimmy and Felix twins? But that’s never mentioned and I feel like if they were twins, that would have been said at least once. Finally we find out (very near the end of the book) that Felix is older than Kimmy, but he was held back a year so they’re in the same grade. I just feel like this should have been explained much earlier in the book. Or Kimmy and Hazel should have just been juniors or something.

Overall, I was not happy with this book. As I said earlier, there was so much untapped potential! Based on their family situations, Kling really had the opportunity to make us care about these characters but she didn’t capitalize on it. I just feel really frustrated as a reader because I can see what this book could have been but wasn’t.

Overall Rating: 2
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Moderate

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.