Book Review | The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

impossible fortress cover.jpgReturn to the 1980’s for some of the first consumer computers to hit the market. The Impossible Fortress introduces a few teens not yet old enough to buy the Vanna White Playboy. As the boys try to figure out their best shot for getting a copy, Billy begins programming a computer game with Mary to submit in competition. Billy develops feelings for Mary, which causes a ripple effect influencing the ragtag heist.

A fast paced story with ample chapter breaks, this book can be read quickly. While it reads like a YA novel with emphasis on action and plot, many references to 1980’s things will be lost on someone born after 1980. For adults, the characters may not be relatable and their repeated stupid choices will be very frustrating. Rekulak incorporates some topics that make the book unique, but they aren’t fully played out. In summary, the book is a quick read with a decent story, but it’s value is decreased by the author’s seeming lack of choice between an adult novel and a YA piece. Recommended for outcast teens, those interested in 1980’s computer programming, and video game geeks. Check it out from a library near you.

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

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Book Review | Shadow Man by Alan Drew

shadow man cover.jpgIt’s the mid 1980’s and there is a serial killer in the fancy planned communities just south of Los Angeles. The Night Prowler sneaks in through an unlocked door or cuts through the screen to find a victim he can overpower and then strangles her with his bare hands. Residents are instructed to keep their windows locked while the body count rises. Meanwhile, a high schooler is found dead in a field just outside town. The bullet hole means the MO is not a match for the serial, but is it a suicide? It seems darkness is hiding in more than one place in this community.

Shadow Man was definitely a good read. The story held my interest from beginning to end. The small cast of characters was easy to keep straight and I appreciated the way Drew alternated focus between the various plot lines and character perceptions. Though not as suspenseful as I had expected, there was appreciable tension. Highly recommended for fans of noir crime or literary crime fiction. Check it out from a library near you!

I received an advance reader’s edition of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | White Fur by Jardine Libaire

white fur arcWhite Fur takes place on the East Coast in the early 1980’s. Born-rich Jamey drops out of Yale after falling for Elise who grew up in the projects. For these two it’s like a spark at first sight and then, the more time they spend together, the deeper they fall. Jamey wants nothing more than to get away from his controlling 1% family who use their money for manipulation, while Elise cares only about being with the man she loves. As the two become one, they attempt to cocoon themselves away from their previous lives.

My plot description doesn’t do the novel justice. This book was better than I’d expected. It kept me engaged and wanting to read more. Libaire’s writing is clear and easy to follow, but maintains an artistic edge. Descriptions allow the reader to visualize certain passages, and some sections are graphic, but this is done in a gritty manner that is inoffensive to sensitive readers. White Fur would appeal to those interested in reading a magnetic love story or a story of boy-meets-girl from different social classes. This title is planned for release in May 2017 by Hogarth Press. I received an advance reader’s edition of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Film Review | The Normal Heart starring Mark Ruffalo & Matt Bomer

dvd cover the normal heart

Produced by HBO, The Normal Heart has a lot in common with the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club. These films deal with the emergence and rapid increase of AIDS cases in the United States. The Normal Heart is an adaptation of a play by Larry Kramer that debuted in 1985. It places emphasis on both the gay men’s struggle happening in New York City and the personal life and relationship of an activist and New York Times reporter. The film starts out with Ned (Ruffalo) visiting his gay friends and the group learning about a new type of gay cancer (AIDS). They form a committee, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, with the intent to spread awareness, raise money and support those affected by the disease. Being the 1980’s, the men must tread a fine line with what is and is not socially acceptable and handle conflicts with those close to them.

The film does an excellent job showing how difficult things could have been at the time for gay men. The relationship between Ned and his lover (Bomer) is touching and tragic. The acting is well done and the film flows well. It may make you cry, but check it out from a library near you.

Film Review | The Wolf of Wall Street by Martin Scorsese

the wolf of wall street movie posterIn just about every regard, this film was more than I had bargained for – more profanity, more absurdity, more drugs, more nudity, more small tangents from the plot line, and more laughing. It was however, a bit less satisfying than I’d hoped and I wished there had been a countdown timer in the bottom corner of the screen since this is a 3 hour job. If cursing, hookers or drug use offends you, do not see this film. If you are into all three of those, can handle the wildly absurd and like Leonardo DiCaprio you will probably enjoy this film very much.

The Wolf of Wall Street tells the story of a motivated young man who goes to Wall Street to make it big. He gets the lowest job in the stock market and with aims of getting rich works his way up to owning his own trading firm full of like minded brokers. Along the way he learns tricks that aren’t quite legal to harvest the most from his investors’ money, which allows him a yacht, a mansion, a helicopter, lavish parties, call girls and many other things associated with high life in the 1980’s. As sometimes happens when illegalities occur on Wall Street, he becomes the subject of a federal investigation. This movie is based on the actual life events of stockbroker Jordan Belfort. The film was released in the US on December 25, 2013 and may still be playing at a theater near you.

Book Review | A Vampire Book with a PG Rating

Vampires have become a vibrant aspect of today’s media culture. Are your kids asking you to let them watch or read the Twilight Series or see the HBO series True Blood? Perhaps you’ve had trouble explaining to your children why some vampire books, shows or movies aren’t quite appropriate for them. Here is a book that may be able to help you.

Though this book was not recently published, this vampire tale is still a worthy read. “My Friend the Vampire” by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg is the first book in “The Little Vampire” series of several tales about the nine year old boy Tony and his vampire friend Rudolph. This book begins with Rudolph visiting Tony’s room, and continues on as their friendship develops and they go on small adventures together. Meant for middle-aged readers, this book as well as the other books in the series, is a good fit for that age group. Parents would find no cause for worry in passing this book on to their child. This series would also serve well as a read-aloud book since chapters are fairly short, and the story is engaging enough to entertain adult readers.

If you like this book, also check out the library’s copies of “The Vampire Moves In” and “The Vampire in Love.”