Book Review | Anna by Niccolò Ammaniti

anna cover.jpegA dystopian young adult novel, Anna is reminiscent of several previous works. After the Red Fever virus has swept through the world infecting and killing all adults, but sparing youth until puberty, a child only society takes hold. The plot focuses on the survival of Anna and her younger brother Astor. In their quest to traipse across Sicily and head to the mainland of Italy, they encounter various difficulties.

Though the written word in this text is appealing, the plot and characters are somewhat lacking. Despite having a strong female protagonist, none of the characters are particularly like-able, and are somewhat flat. The story flows at a decent enough clip that the book can still be finished, but it may leave a reader feeling their time could have been better spent. It would serve as a quick read for an adult seeking temporary distraction, or could be used in a t(w)een book group to generate discussion. Though translated from Italian, a fair number of libraries have it, so check with 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.


Book Review | Damselfly by Chandra Prasad

damselfly cover.jpgReminiscent of Lord of the Flies, Prasad’s latest YA novel details the events of teens surviving a plane crash on a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean. The high school fencing teams from an elite East Coast boarding school were in route to a competition in Japan when their private jet went down. As they learn to utilize the island’s resources to survive, they are simultaneously threatened by discord among themselves and an unknown enemy who wants them gone on threat of death.

Damselfly is an easy text to jump into. The story proceeds at a good clip, focusing mainly on the plot. While the cast of characters is not very likable, they aren’t off-putting enough to discourage the reader. Prasad includes social issues such as racism, eating disorders, mental health and environmentalism, perhaps making this text more relevant today than Golding’s classic. It could serve as a quick read for an adult seeking adventure, or be used in a teen book group to generate discussion. Check it out from a library near you!

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

Book Review | Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar

29567845At the opening of Spaceman of Bohemia, protagonist Jakub is leaving Prague on a solo mission into space to collect cosmic dust. Leaving behind his wife Lenka is stressful for him and it’s not long before she runs away from being the “astronaut’s wife”. Jakub quickly grows weary of his alone time and makes friends with a giant spider-like creature he encounters aboard the ship. Coupled with alternating chapters from Jakub’s youth, the book is an existential voyage of an engaging nature.

For fans of the surreal and thought provoking, this debut novel would be a solid choice. A limited cast of characters and concise writing style make the text easily digestible. Some of the “flashback” chapters are a bit slower moving, but overall the book flows well. References to places in Prague will be appreciated by travelers. Spaceman of Bohemia is definitely literary fiction, not science fiction. 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.

*If you’ve enjoyed reading Spaceman of Bohemia, you may be interested in The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia (2005).

Book Review | The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

sunlight-pilgrims-cover Set in the near future, The Sunlight Pilgrims shares the story of a young man who has just lost his mother and grandmother and is about to face the worst winter ever. Dylan takes the ashes of his dead relatives and heads from London to a caravan his mother has left him in Scotland, near where his gram’s family lived. As the temperature quickly plummets, he befriends his trailer park neighbors, a lovely independent woman and her transsexual teenage daughter, Stella. Told with focus alternating between Stella and Dylan, it is an interesting coming of age tale as well as a story of family discovery and a battle against the elements.

This book was better than expected. The story jumped right in and was clearly written with a chronological plot. Foul language is included, but didn’t feel forced. The coming of age story of the transsexual character was done very tastefully and would serve as a good introduction to leery readers. Short chapters were appreciated and allowed the book to easily be picked up and put down. Check it out from a library near you.

I received an advance uncorrected proof 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 | Horrorstör : a novel by Grady Hendrix

horrorstor by grady hendrixWhen the furniture showroom doesn’t look as it should in the morning, a manager set on keeping his job pulls two recruits to spend the night at the store patrolling with him. On their first round, they discover two young employees attempting to film a supernatural episode. Next they discover a man who has repeatedly been sneaking into the store and spending the night amongst the furniture. Things get really out of hand when they decide to hold a séance and the ghost of a warden takes over the man’s body. Apparently the store has been built on the site of a panopticon prison. Things take off into crazyland after that, a suspense thriller, will they make it out alive.

I picked this (e)book for its appealing cover. The book was alright. It was not at all hard to get into, especially for those who enjoy workplace or corporate fiction. The 24 year old female protagonist is sarcastic and edgy. The storyline, although seriously unreal, carried well and was easy to read with a fast moving plot. Horrorstör would make a good airplane book. Check it out from a library near you.

Book Review | A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik

book cover  A Marker to Measure Drift A Marker to Measure Drift begins after tragic events in Liberia, when 24 year old Jacqueline has fallen into a vagabond lifestyle. Hungry and alone, she wanders from place to place, trying to avoid danger while looking for somewhere to make her new home. Jacqueline is living in a cave on the Greek Island of Santorini, attempting to squelch hunger pains and eat enough to allow her to walk upright all day. She silently battles with past demons by using her intense and immediate needs to block them out. As Jacqueline plods on, the reader is given glimpses into Jacqueline’s past, flashbacks involving her pregnant sister, her government employed father, her drink-in-hand mother and her diplomat boyfriend. The book comes full circle only at the end when Jacqueline’s account of events in Liberia takes us back to how everything began.

This book was a great read. Though most of the book was fairly slow paced, it was very interesting. Maksik’s descriptions allow the reader to visualize each piece of the story. He allows those unfamiliar with day-to-day suffering to get a better understanding of it through the text. A Marker to Measure Drift is certainly not an uplifting book that you would want to read to your kids, but it is a gripping story about surviving that would make a great book club read. Check it out from a library near you.

Film Review | All Is Lost starring Robert Redford

movie poster for all is lostAfter watching the trailer for All Is Lost, the title went directly onto my list of upcoming films to see. I enjoy films about sailing and the ocean and have nothing against Robert Redford, though this movie did sound a bit like Life of Pi. While the premise of being stuck at sea is the same, these movies are very different. Plot: Redford is solo sailing the Indian Ocean. His boat sustains damage/ a hole to the hull when it crashes into a shipping container. He attempts repair, but is unable to weather the coming storms which turtle his vessel and snap the mast. The film chronicles his fight to survive.

From the opening scene, I was rapt. I stopped eating my popcorn and stared at the screen. The shots were brilliant with a great color balance. The large picture and surround sound of the theatre really enhanced the experience as sounds on a boat do come from every direction. Redford is the only character and he rarely speaks. Generally the lack of speech would be an issue for me, but it really worked in this instance, giving the viewer the ability to process all of the information about what’s going on without superfluous words. Though some parts were a bit unrealistic and I wasn’t particularly fond of the ending, I would definitely say I enjoyed the film and recommend it to others with similar interests.