Review: The Stupidest Angel

Recap: Just in time for Christmas, an angel wants to grant a wish to a child. And that wish comes just in time, since a little boy from Pine Grove, California recently witnessed “Santa Claus” get killed in a cemetery. What better timing than now, so the boy can ask the angel to revive Santa from the dead? All of this happens while the townspeople in Pine Grove are getting ready for their annual Christmas party at the local church, near the cemetery.

Really, what could go wrong? Except everything goes wrong, when the boy’s wish is granted and not only does Santa come back from the dead — so do many other bodies buried in the cemetery. And to top it all off, they come back as brain-eating zombies.

Analysis: If you’re in the mood for a light, silly book, this is the book for you. With Christmas around the corner, it might be just the right time to read it. The book is funny, and it’s completely off its rocker. Some people might be into that. I am not. I had a rough time reading this book, and in fact, almost gave up finishing it entirely. But because it was for a book club, I kept on reading.

There were some funny jokes, but all of the characters were pretty warped, generally obsessed with sex, drugs or things that are just plain weird. The plot itself is psychotically silly and very focused on death in a comical, twisted way.

I’ve read that author Christopher Moore used several of his characters from his previous novels in this one, so maybe had I read some of his other books, I would have enjoyed this one more. If you already know you’re into Christopher Moore novels and his style, then I imagine The Stupidest Angel would be right up your alley. But it’s sarcastic, dark humor was too ridiculous for me to wrap my head around. I mean, read my recap again — and you be the judge.

Get The Stupidest Angel in hardcover for $13.59.

Or on your Kindle for $7.99.

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Scribd Adds 30,000 Audiobooks

Good news for those who like not to read their books, but to listen to them.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the streaming subscription service Scribd is adding thousands of audiobooks to its catalog — 30,000, to be exact. The new books will include old and new releases from some of the more well-known publishers and authors, including Scholastic and HarperCollins and Haruki Murakami and Suzanne Collins.

Before the addition, Scribd’s catalog included more than half a million titles.

But according to The Verge, that catalog was only made up of e-books, not audiobooks. The hope is that the company will be able to compete now with Audible.

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J.K. Rowling’s Detective Series to Be Adapted into TV Series

Harry Potter may not be coming back to the big screen — or any screen — time soon, but J.K. Rowling’s other novels are soon expected to make their TV debut.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the BBC has announced it will adapt J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike novels into a BBC One TV series. The detective series was written under Rowling’s pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The TV show will start with the telling of the first novel in the series, The Cuckoo’s Calling, which was published last year. Rowling will be involved in the project, working with BBC and Bronte Film and TV. So far only two novels in the series have been published — The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm. A date for the TV series has not yet been announced.

But Bronte Film and TV is also helping Rowling adapt her other adult fiction novel, The Casual Vacancy, into a three-part series that will air on BBC One in February 2015. The Casual Vacancy is not part of the Cormoran Strike Series.

So…who will be watching?? Considering how much I loved The Cuckoo’s Calling, I know I will!

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Review: In the Company of Educated Men

Recap: When three friends graduate from Harvard, they feel like the world is their oyster. Sort of. In reality, they’re clueless about where they want to go and what they want to do. Lennie comes from a wealthy family and can virtually do whatever he wants. Paul is quite the opposite. Louisa is the beautiful brainiac with all the potential and no particular goals. A few weeks after they leave school, Lennie is on a mission; he wants an adventure. So he enlists Paul and Louisa — whether they like it or not — and sets out on a cross-country road trip.

But things get interesting — and frightening — when the trio is held up at a gas station in the middle of nowhere by a man with a gun. The man turns out to be a teenager who then hops into their car, looking for a ride to California. As they ride along, scared they’ll be shot and killed, the group realizes there’s yet another person in the backseat — a little girl who followed them out of a diner and into the car with plans to run away from her parents.

Lennie, Paul and Louisa all have different plans for what they should do next — what’s the safest and most ethical option? But while Lennie continues looking for adventure, everything falls apart in a tragic, horrifying and life-altering way.

Analysis: When I first started reading In the Company of Educated Men, I thought this would be just your average coming-of-age story. But when the three friends got held up at the gas station, I scratched my head wondering where this was going. Suddenly, the story became completely unpredictable to me.

The best way to describe this novel is to call it an “extreme” coming-of-age novel — one that portrays how how an eclectic group of young adults from different socioeconomic backgrounds handles a bizarre, rare and extreme situation. Along with fighting for their lives, the friends fight amongst themselves, leading to betrayals and changing their friendships forever.

For Lennie, the incident does more than just alter his friendships. It changes the entire course of his life, as he realizes he became more focused on having an adventure than taking caring for others. In an effort to avoid hurting others anymore, he goes on to lead a life of solitude and correct his earlier mistakes. The story is written through a series flashes — jumps between the incident and 10 years after the incident until the reader finally learns at the end of the novel what happened and how Lennie resolved it.

In the Company of Educated Men exemplifies that young people make mistakes, but how you deal with those mistakes is what most affects your life. In the Company is dark and frightening, but full of lessons about growing up, growing apart and learning from your erroneous ways.

MVP: Louisa. She’s the only character that truly stays calm and holds herself together both during and after the “incident.”

Get In the Company of Educated Men in paperback for $11.05.

Or get it on your Kindle for $4.99.

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Chris Colfer To Pen More Books in Series

It was just about this time last year when I told you Glee star Chris Colfer would be writing more books in his The Land of Stories series. Well, now he has even more to write.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the actor will be penning two more Land of Stories books — The Mother Goose Diaries and Queen Red Riding Hood’s Guide to Royalty — to be released in 2015 and 2016, a perfect project for him as Glee comes to an end next year.

But that’s not all. In addition to the new books in the series, Colfer also plans to write two picture books based on the Land of Stories series and two companion books to be released as part of a holiday box set next year.

Colfer is already a bestselling author from the first books in The Land of Stories series. As long as they continue to sell well, Colfer may not need to rush to find his next acting job after Glee ends. It seems like he’s doing just fine.

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Review: Dare Me

Recap: Addy and Beth have worked hard to make it to the top of their high school cheerleading squad, with Addy always coming second to Beth. Beth is the girl who rules the school — a beauty, a force to be reckoned with, an angsty problem child with an attitude. But things go sour for Beth, when a new young Coach takes away her “Captain” status and leaves no one but herself in charge. Meanwhile Addy  is fascinated by Coach.

Coach whips the girls into shape, but also enforces strict liquid diets. She invites the team over to drink in her backyard while her husband works late. She has sleepovers with the girls. So while the girls’ bodies tighten and they learn to stunt and tumble, they also develop eating disorders, party hard, have sex, and do drugs. She encourages them to experiment with boys. Addy feeds into all of this, while Beth vehemently dismisses it.

The team is cast under Coach’s spell, especially Addy, who has become Coach’s favorite. She’s the one Coach calls when she finds the dead body of someone close to her. She says it was suicide, but was it? While Coach claims she’s innocent, Beth works to convince Addy that Coach can’t be trusted. But in this dark world, who can?

Analysis: With Dare Me, author Megan Abbott aims to prove there’s more to the world of cheerleading than a mess of lollygagging girls focused on ponytails, sparkles, and miniskirts. This is a dark, twisted story of manipulation, trust, and loyalty. Dare Me is like an unfunny, hyped-up, crime-infused version of Mean Girls.

The prologue sets the creepy, twisted tone of the novel, describing the scene of the mysterious death. One would think that the novel would center around that death. As it turns out, midway through the novel, we’ve already learned who died and have some idea of how. At that point, I thought the remainder would focus on the fallout. But ultimately, the death serves little purpose other than developing relationships between other characters. In the end, it’s the one character that seemed to be the most important, who matters the least.

That’s when it becomes obvious that this isn’t a novel about a crime. It’s a novel about girls becoming women —  how friendships ebb and flow, how quickly loyalties can change, how women at times can be both subtle and dramatic, and how much they manipulate each other because of jealousy and competition. It’s a precautionary tale of three good girls gone bad — two of whom manipulate each other and the third who — in a surprising twist — manages to manipulate the reader.

MVP: Beth. She is the one every guy wants and every girl wants to be. She is both admired and hated. Everyone knows a girl like this. Especially in high school. At the end, her pure evil juxtaposed with her sheer vulnerability makes her the novel’s most complex character.

Get Dare Me in paperback for $12.41.

Or on your Kindle for $8.89.

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Bill Cosby Biography Will Not Be Revised

The bad news keeps coming for Bill Cosby, who today resigned from his position on the Temple University Board of Trustees. While his status and job offers continue to change, one thing is staying the same: the details of his recently-published biography.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Cosby: His Life and Times will not be revised to include the latest news and allegations of sexual assault. The book’s author, Mark Whitaker, published the biography in September. Whitaker has said he may revise future editions of the biography since “the story has changed,” but he’s also defended Cosby.

It’ll be interesting to see if/how this plays out in future editions of the book.

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