Book Musings- Joyride by Anna Banks


It has been an incredibly long time ever since my last post and my last book review in general. This is due in part to simple laziness, school work, ending high school, beginning college, forgetting ideas for posts, and simply getting distracted by other things. However, one book that I recently finished has given me some food for thought. I do not know if I will continue to make book review posts in the future, but it is a possibility. As long as a book gives me plenty of things to write about, I would like to discuss it.

Joyride by Anna Banks:

Goodread’s description:

“A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.” 

Joyride first came out in July. It is the fourth book by Anna Banks, and her first standalone novel. At the time of this writing, I do not believe that a sequel has been announced. You may recognize the author’s name from the crew of the How To Train Your Dragon film series.

I was pleasantly surprised by Joyride. Initially, the description made me leery, as it sounded like a typical story where two teenagers from different backgrounds fall in love, despite clashing cultures and personalities. I admit, I am growing very tired of those types of realistic fiction books, as they tend to be, for lack of a better term, boring. Joyride is anything but boring. Right from the second sentence, Mrs. Banks demonstrates a knack for writing humorous dialogue and thought processes, as well as a compelling protagonist. In addition, several important topics for teenagers are addressed throughout the book, such as illegal immigration, racism, white privilege, and low-income families. Additionally, it is nice to read a YA book that features a female protagonist who is a person of color.

On the negative side, the book is told from a dual perspective. Alternating chapters will feature Carly’s point of view in the first person, and then Arden’s point of view in the third person. The difference in literary angles is mostly likely meant to avoid confusing Arden and Carly’s speaking styles, but that problem could be solved by having their names above the chapter, as commonly shown in other books. This difference in outlook also makes Arden’s chapters seem more stilted in comparison, although that could be attributed to his character.

Secondly, I am not entirely convinced that the pair would fall in love, based on several of Arden’s actions. To name a fraction of his exploits, he holds up a convenience store at gunpoint, stalks several characters, forcibly grabs Arden, and insults Carly in front of multiple people, albeit accidentally. He seems like a more likable and kindhearted character after they inevitably get together, but this could stem from Carly’s chapters now being written from the altered point of view of being attracted to him.

Lastly, some of the stereotypical gender roles in the novel irk me. At one point, Carly observes that Arden’s coffeemaker is mostly likely owned by his mother, as it’s not appropriate for someone as “manly” as him. Granted, given an earlier comment about the alleged manliness of drinking only black coffee, that may have been intended as humorous, but it still annoyed me.

Overally, I would recommend Joyride. The good points just barely outweigh the flaws, owing to the relevant social issues, humor, and diversity.

Sources: “Joyride.” Goodreads. Goodreads Inc, n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2015. <https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22718685-joyride&gt;.

Banks, Anna. Joyride. New York: Feiwel & Friends, 2015. Print.

The Book Bag (#7): Lorien Legacies Overview


Hello and welcome to The Book Bag! Today, we’re reaching all the way to the bottom! I love it when authors deliberately try to make it seem as though their stories could be entirely real. My first encounter with this was the Harry Potter series, all the way back in first grade. In the books, Muggles (or “non-magical beings”) encounter magic, their minds are wiped. So, the books could be real and we’ve just been mind-wiped! For all I know, I met Harry Potter at the library yesterday! The point is, I know that the books are not real but it’s fun to imagine that they are. The Lorien Legacies series takes it one step further by naming the author as Pittacus Lore, an ancient Lorien who is hiding out on Earth…possibly. In reality, Jobie Hughes and James Fray collaborated to create the series. Now, what is it?

 

The Lorics are an ancient alien race. However, an evil race of aliens known as the Mogadorians attack their planet. Only nine Loric babies and their Cepans (captains/mentors) are sent with them. The Cepans will train them to use their powers (also known as Legacies) to defeat the Mogadorians, who are hunting them. If they succeed in slaying them all, they will conquer the Earth. The various titles of the books (I Am Number Four, The Power Of Six, The Rise Of Nine, etc.) come from the Loric teenagers themselves. They were referred to only as their number. On Earth, they move from town to town when potential Mogadorians arrive, changing their identities. Finally, the Lorics can only be killed in numerical order. Once one of them dies, the others have a horrific scar burned onto their ankle as an involuntary warning signal. Three have already died. Number Four is the protagonist.

 

I have to be honest. The series has some issues, primarily in the first three books. The exposition can be very clunky at times, especially when referring to the various Legacies. Additionally, I don’t mind love triangles, but I get annoyed when they seem shoehorned in or forced. The early ones seem forced. Fortunately, it gets better by the fourth book.

 

And now, the positives. I love this series. I was getting slightly bored by the third book, but it really picked up by the fourth. I enjoy the plot twists and the characters. I don’t have a lot to say that wouldn’t ruin the series, unfortunately. You see, some of the subplots and side characters have their plots explained or announced in ebooks. This made it very confusing for me when I randomly saw a new villain appearing, seemingly with no introduction. Fortunately, they are being released as companion books. If that doesn’t work, I recommend reading the descriptions on Wikipedia or a different website. It’s not the same, but it might be convenient for those who do not possess Kindles, Nooks, or other inventions of that nature.

 

I’m Zachary Krishef. Have an excellent day!

 

The Lorien Legacies by “Pittacus Lore”

 

Reviewed by Zachary Krishef

 

Ask me questions on TV Tropes, my blog, or here! My troper handle is MiscellaneousSoup.


Next Time: I’ll review a children’s book with suicide, murder, swearing, and cannibalism. This should be delightful! (Spoilers: It is.)

The Book Bag (#3): Eat, Brains, Love


Hello and welcome to The Book Bag! Today, we’re reaching all the way to the bottom! A zombie love story is preposterous, you say? My sister scoffed at the idea. I wasn’t shocked because I like unconventional ideas. It’s time to enter the world of Eat, Brains, Love! Here’s the backstory. It will clear some items up.

 

Firstly, there’s a secret government organization dedicated to hunting down zombies, eliminating them, and using various methods to make people think that something else happened. For instance, let’s say that a zombie attacks your Chihuahua at a dog park. You see that it’s a zombie. After the agents arrive, they might use a telepath to make you see the memory as a large dog or erase it as a whole. Cass, one of our protagonists, is one of the only teenage recruits. She is one of the said telepaths.

 

After that, you get Jake and Amanda. Amanda appears to be the stereotypical popular girl at school while Jake is, essentially, a stoner. I’m not entirely clear as to the definition of the term, but from what I’ve heard, it seems to be accurate. They suddenly turn into zombies and eat their classmates in the school cafeteria. My copy of the book had a version of the cover with the title created out of a scattered lunch plate. I like to think that during that gruesome attack, someone randomly threw their food into the air and it magically turned into the image on the cover. They must go on the run to avoid being caught and killed, while slowly falling in love.  Who’s tracking them? Cass!

 

Eat, Brains, Love is a surprisingly good book. Not having read many zombie-themed books, I was expecting a typical plot with some unusual elements. I received an atypical plot with, well, some unusual elements. The zombies in this are very different from the standard zombies that you can find in the media. Of course, seeing as my only knowledge of zombies comes from a different teen book series and Scooby-Doo, you most likely know more than me. I highly recommend this book. The characters are appealing, especially the antagonist, and the plot is astoundingly good. On the negative side, it does end on a slightly abrupt note, but it should be noted that I did not know that a sequel was being made. Perhaps the ending is still a mite sudden even with that, but that’s a matter of opinion. Lastly, the book is very gory. If you, like myself, do not have a high tolerance for gore, then be careful when reading this book. Surprisingly, I was hardly grossed out. Additionally, there’s some foul language and mature references. Definitely a book for adults, teens, or little kids! (Well, maybe not little kids.) In my mind, Eat, Brains, Love gets nine zombie attacks out of ten! I am eagerly anticipating the sequel, Undead With Benefits. Jeff Hart is an excellent author.

 

I’m Zachary Krishef. Have an excellent day and don’t get bitten by any zombies.

 

Eat, Brains, Love by Jeff Hart

Reviewed by Zachary Krishef

Visit me at http://www.miscellaneoussoup.wordpress.com! My reviews are also posted there!

Ask me questions on TV Tropes, my blog, or here! My troper handle is MiscellaneousSoup.

Follow Jeff Hart on Twitter at https://twitter.com/hart_jeff! He’s a really nice person!

Next Time: I went to the library and picked up a host of new reading material. As I was browsing, I found two books that I knew I had to review. Next time, a new segment will be introduced! “Book Vs. Book”, wherein I compare two books with similar premises. The other reviewing options will have to wait! Also, I am going to post my reviews once a week, instead of every day. Posting them almost every day was a trial run.

Book Review: Wise Acres (Heck: Where The Bad Kids Go #7)


Dale E. Basye is a literary genius. No, I’m not exaggerating. After a certain point in the book, I believe that he truly is a genius.

Plot: This is a much lighter book than Precocia. It almost feels as if Mr. Basye was trying to write something slightly different than the normal format, just to experiment for future literary endeavors. That being said, it is not a bad book. It takes the concept of the word ‘meta’ and brings it up to a level that even Phelous, creator of a film reviewing web series, wouldn’t dare to traverse. Unfortunately, to explain further would be to ruin portions of the book and it is too good to ruin.  Wise Acres feels like a gigantic love letter to the art of creating a novel. An art that I wish I could master, incidentally. If I didn’t officially proclaim it before, then this installment officially convinces me that Heck should be on a list of books to go over in a school’s curriculum. Children, teenagers, and adults of any age will most likely love to devour this in a classroom.

Characters: Once again, the deceased real-life teachers are remarkably well-chosen. In all of his books, Mr. Basye crams in intriguing references to life, including one such reference to a pigeon driving a bus in Precocia. Because the main theme seems to be linguistics, it expands his opportunities to tease young readers with the works of classic authors and remind adult readers of the nostalgic experiences in their high school English course. I can not speak for all teen readers, but it inspires me, at any rate, to look up every single reference. It is what TV Tropes calls a “Genius Bonus.” A delightful scavenger hunt of literary goodness! This version of Lewis Carroll especially interests me. I would read a book just about the staff interacting or the daily minutia of life. In fact, if any television executives are reading this, and I doubt they are, then contact Mr. Basye! Create a Seinfeld-esque comedic program about the daily life of the employees! Alternately, a web series. I don’t know what to say, I just want to find out more information about the life of the normal employees!

This is becoming an unfortunate trend, as with the previous review. I have no idea of what else to say. Future plot events are quite nicely foreshadowed, and Milton and Marlo continue to be wonderful. I do feel disappointed by a certain character, who seems to be out of the series permanently. Even so, it was a good run for the character who I will not name, due to spoilers. Unlike the last book, however, I do have two complaints. Firstly, certain portions of the novel were slightly hard to read, but that is a nitpick. I have never been very good at cursive, despite practicing it many times. (Side Note: We aren’t learning cursive in high school, and I think that is a shame. I want to relearn it.) Secondly, I couldn’t find the usual message at the end of the book, stating the title and date of the next book’s release. However, it appears as though some kind of poem was encrypted into the afterword. My sister and I should work on translating that. Wise Acres thoroughly deserves an A+. I can’t wait for the remaining two books. Wait…A possibility of only two books left in the series? To my disappointment, yet another quality book series will end, leaving me to go on the hunt for a new one. Harry PotterPendragonAlex Rider, countless other series…Why did you go? Why?? Have an excellent day, everyone! Keep reading, and pick up the Heck series! It’s a heck of a good time, pun gleefully intended.

Book Review: Precocia (Heck: Where The Bad Kids Go #6)


Dale E. Basye is a remarkably good author. His books are well-written, the characters are interesting, and the puns are hilarious. This book, while not too different from the usual Heck-ish fare, takes a slightly darker turn. Join me, will you, for my journey into the  second newest installment of the Heck series.

Plot: You should know that this is much darker than the first books. An alternate universe is shown for a good portion of the novel and it travels into the realms of the genuinely scary. Not that the earlier volumes aren’t creepy, but this almost delves into “Nightmare Fuel” territory. I believe that if Mr. Basye ever chose to write horror novels, he could rival the great Stephen King. Additionally, the puns partially disappear at the story gets darker. I don’t mean that there is a flaw in the writing, I just mean that they populate less of the book in order to focus on the action and universe. When they do appear, they are spot on and almost calculatingly created. Much like Stephan Pastis, author of the newspaper strip Pearls Before Swine, I believe that Mr. Basye plans out certain puns and in-jokes beforehand, making sure to have them be important to the plot, not just throw-away jokes that add nothing to the book.

As for the other portion of the plot, it continues to be engaging. I truly enjoy seeing the new villains of each book, but that can wait for my opinion on the characters. The plot that they come up with is hard to spot and the climax is masterfully done. Similar to,  although this may be a strange comparison, Seinfeld, he manages to combine two partially unrelated plots into one without it seeming contrived.

Characters: Milton and Marlo are as well-characterized as ever. I particularly enjoy seeing the moments where it shows that they do have affection for each other, despite the occasional taunt or threat of bodily harm. In a way, it reminds me of Gravity Falls, though a cartoon is very different from a book, Dipper and Mabel are less argumentative, and they are not dead. (As far as we know. Alex Hirsch, the creator of the show, is also an excellent writer.) As for the teachers, I am amazed at the amount of work that Mr. Basye has put into his characters. I would wager that he spends most of his time researching various historical figures to use for the next book. The characterization in them is so astounding, I find myself wondering if that is what they would actually act like in real life. When they were alive, of course. An interesting thing to note is that I didn’t recognize Yung or B. F.  Skinner when I first perused this book. After the first semester of A. P. Psychology, I can definitely recognize those names. Thankfully, a certain Sigmund Freud didn’t appear, but I do suspect that Mr. Basye may have toned down certain…aspects of his studies for the book. On the other hand, maybe not.

I really don’t know what else to say. The writing is truly engaging. I can’t think of anything that I didn’t like about Precocia. It earns an A+. I hope that the next installment will be just as good! (It is as good, but I wanted to end my review in a good way. Of course, I have ruined that with this sentence, but we will disregard that. Just go to your local bookstore/library and pick up this series. Make fan art and fan videos. Make fanfiction if you want, I don’t know about Mr. Basye’s opinion on that. You will have to ask him.) Have an excellent day, readers!

BOOK REVIEW: Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver


I like to read. I really don’t like to insult books that I don’t like, but I really want to talk about this one. The concept is okay. A girl dies in an alcohol-fueled heart attack, and wakes up the next morning, on the day of her death. She must find out why she has to relive her final day. The main problem is that I dislike her and her friends. This is going to sound brutal, but I think they they are just really bad people. I hesitate to use the word ‘horrible’, but I think that it may apply. They do cruel things every day and are incredibly obnoxious. The behavior doesn’t even change as the protagonist tries to find out why she is reliving the last day of her life.

Additionally, certain issues are covered in this book. I hesitate to say the names, because they are spoilers for the plot. One is only mentioned twice, and seemingly glossed over in the second appearance. The second issue takes up a good chunk of the book. The problem is that the main character does the same thing right at the end of the book!!! Hardly a spoiler!

Finally, the romantic plot is unnecessary, to me. The second portion of it does imply some character development for the main character, but it seems contrived and shoehorned. I just don’t like this book. I recommend it to you, just in case. According to a certain book, Before I Fall was well-received. Fine. They like it, I didn’t. Have an excellent day, I’m going to go read a better book.