Amanda M. (tapcat16) - Reviews

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600 Hours of Edward
600 Hours of Edward
Author: Craig Lancaster
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 8/31/2010


Lancaster provides an extraordinary look into the mind of a man with Asperger's syndrome. Edward's life revolves around ritual. He has a hard time interacting with people. Yet Lancaster does not leave him without hope. He shows how compassion and from others and encouragement and constructive criticism to continually work to overcome the illness can lead to a much fuller life for those struggling with mental illness. Although Lancaster sometimes gets carried away showing us Edward's rituals with a bit too much detail (I did not need to know how long he pees or hear summaries of Dragnet episodes every chapter), and the ending comes a bit too soon, it is still a strong book that provides a greater understanding of Asperger's syndrome in particular and mental illness in general.

Check out my full review


The Accidental Demon Slayer (Demon Slayers, Bk 1)
The Accidental Demon Slayer (Demon Slayers, Bk 1)
Author: Angie Fox
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 294
Review Date: 5/11/2010


Fox takes a refreshing twist on paranormal romance tropes by giving us a feminine lead who isn't moony-eyed mopey chick. Similarly, vampires are pleasantly absent and demons are just evil not fallen angels seeking redemption. Unfortunately Fox sticks to the tropes on the romance end with the completely typical romance storyline between Lizzie and Dmitri. I actually found myself grateful whenever they were ignoring the romance bit of the storyline. Hopefully their romance improves in the next book.

Check out my full review.


Alien Tango (Katherine 'Kitty' Katt, Bk 2)
Alien Tango (Katherine 'Kitty' Katt, Bk 2)
Author: Gini Koch
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 36
Review Date: 12/24/2010
Helpful Score: 1


A delightful twist on the paranormal romance genre, Alien Tango features aliens instead of the more typical vampires and shapeshifters. These aliens are more advanced in some ways than humans, but less advanced in others. They only wear Armani suits, and our heroine, Kitty Katt, is dating one while simultaneously leading a special forces division protecting Earth from superbugs. Kitty is everything you want in a heroine--witty, strong, and still feminine. Her emotions are understandable, and her sex scenes are modern and great. I highly recommend this book to lovers of paranormal romance and scifi readers alike.

Check out my full review.


American Psycho
American Psycho
Author: Bret Easton Ellis
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 298
Review Date: 1/10/2011


This book that tells the tale of Patrick Bateman, a Wall Street yuppie who suffers from Antisocial Personality Disorder, is distinctly uncomfortable to read. It forces the reader to alternate between identifying with Patrick and being horrified by him. That does not make it a bad book, however. It takes the reader outside of her comfort zone and forces her to confront everything society has mandated to her.

Check out my full review.


The Android's Dream
The Android's Dream
Author: John Scalzi
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 74
Review Date: 11/21/2010


This humorous scifi political intrigue book in the style of Douglas Adams revolves around Harry Creek's attempts to find and protect a specific breed of sheep in order to keep relationships between Earth and a lizard-type species of alien known as the Nidu from dissolving into chaos. The characterizations are all strong and visual, whether the character is seen for a few pages or throughout the book. Action sequences are creative and well-written, utilizing both real-world fighting styles and scifi gadgetry. The story is intensely witty and the protagonist of Harry Creek is incredibly likable. I do wish the first chapter had featured him instead of the start of the political intrigue, but I suppose it was necessary to show the impetus for the whole thing. Overall, it's a highly witty book lovers of scifi are sure to enjoy.

Check out my full review.


Anna and the French Kiss (French Kiss, Bk 1)
Anna and the French Kiss (French Kiss, Bk 1)
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 39
Review Date: 12/13/2010


Perkins takes a typical YA storyline--teen gets sent away to boarding school--and puts her own delightful twists and slants on it to create an immediately readable and thoroughly enjoyable tale. Teens are presented as human beings just like anyone else with good and bad qualities, doing their best to navigate the world. Plus, the setting of Paris is simply gorgeous, as is Perkins' writing. Highly recommended to teen girls and adult women who appreciate YA alike.

Check out my full review.


Arizona Free
Arizona Free
Author: Doug Martin
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 12/16/2010


Not in years have I read a book I disliked this much. On top of high school level writing consisting of showing not telling and incredibly awkward dialogue, the plot has zero structure. It bounces around with zero sense of internal consistency or logic. That is enough to make a book unreadable, but toss in the rampant homophobia throughout the book, and it becomes the closest thing to a piece of trash a book can be, in my opinion.

Check out my full review.


The Birth House
The Birth House
Author: Ami McKay
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 27
Review Date: 6/27/2011


This book set in the early 1900s in Scots Bay, Canada and Boston depicts the historic and current struggles of women to gain rights over our own bodies and lives. Dora Rare is first an apprentice to then the midwife for Scots Bay. She must face violence, death, injustices, and the threat of world war in her struggle to protect not only herself but the women all around her. This book particularly eloquently depicts the injustice of the medical community labeling just anger as an illness through the labeling of the main character as having hysteria. An excellent book and a must-read for women everywhere, as well as men sympathetic to the cause of women's rights.

Check out my full review.


Blackbringer (Dreamdark, Bk 1)
Blackbringer (Dreamdark, Bk 1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 4/5/2011


A nice change from the direction of most current faerie fantasy tales. The story of Magpie Windwitch, a gypsy faerie who travels with crows trying to rid the world of devils and save the last of faerie magic, steers clear of over-romanticizing or over-sexualizing the faeries. It does, however, contain a strong heroine, non-gendered roles, and inter-racial relationships. Although the plot struggles a bit, it is still a highly enjoyable read for fans of fantasy, particularly those with progressive leanings.

Check out my full review.


Blue Bloods (Blue Bloods, Bk 1)
Blue Bloods (Blue Bloods, Bk 1)
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 369
Review Date: 4/29/2010


Schuyler is part of the wealthy elite in NYC. She thinks her problems mainly revolve around getting Jack Force to notice her and hoping her mother wakes up from her coma, but soon she and many of the other students at Duchesne Academy are informed that they are Blue Bloods--vampires who have been in America since the Mayflower. Essentially Gossip Girls meets Vampire Diaries, it could have been an entertaining series if the vampire lore was better done. Vampires are presented as fallen angels atoning for their rebellion by being trapped in human bodies. They reincarnate through in vitro fertilization, etc.. It is all overly complicated and eye-roll inducing. Additionally, you should be aware that there is incest in the book that is accepted by the vampires. However, it is written well on the sentence level, so if you think you would enjoy that vampire lore mixed with NYC high society, you'll enjoy it a lot more than I did.

Check out my full review.


The Book of Night Women
The Book of Night Women
Author: Marlon James
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 10/11/2011


This is the story of Lilith. A mulatto with green eyes born on a plantation in Jamaica to a mama who was raped at 14 by the overseer as punishment to her brother. Raised by a whore and a crazy man, all Lilith has ever wanted was to improve her status on the plantation. And maybe to understand why her green eyes seem to freak out slave and master alike. Assigned to be a house slave, Lilith finds herself in direct contact with the most powerful slave on the plantationHomer, who is in charge of the household. Homer brings her into a secret meeting of the night women in a cave on the grounds and attempts to bring Lilith into a rebellion plot, insisting upon the darkness innate in Liliths soul. But Lilith isnt really sure what exactly will get her what she truly wantsto feel safe and be with the man she cares for.

There is so much subtle commentary within this book to ponder that Im finding it difficult to unpack and lay out for you all. Part of me wants to just say, Go read this book. Just trust me on this one," but instead I'll give you a few excellent reasons to read this book:

1) This is a personal, vivid depiction of what happens when an entire society is based on greed and inequality instead of love and caring. It shows the desperation, the despair, and how nearly impossible it is to fix the situation once you're in it. No one is happy. Everyone is miserable from the master on down to the youngest slave girl.

2)Demonstrates how seeing race is a social construct.

3)Interracial love in an impossible situation that just breaks your heart.

Is this a difficult read? Yes. Is it a life-changing, thought-provoking one? Yes. I hope everyone will read it.

Check out my full review.


Born Wild: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Passion for Africa
Review Date: 12/5/2011


Tony Fitzjohn never quite fit in in England or the middle class existence he was adopted into at a young age. By his early 20s, he was roaming around Africa, and eventually found a job with Georgethe elderly Englishman famous for his belief in reintroducing lions into the wild whose efforts were chronicled in Born Free. In his biography, Tony accounts the steps in his life that led up to his assistantship with George, the two decades he spent learning from him in Kenya, and the efforts he himself has made in Tanzanias parks.

Although Tony's memoir can periodically be a bit dull when he's naming names or talking about politics or the way the trust is run, when he's talking about the animals, his passion and understanding of them completely wipes any boredom away.

Tony is the type of person who I doubt I'd like very much in person (although maybe I would now that he's older, young Tony was a bit of a....party boy). However, I respect and admire him very much.

His book gets the message across that we are stewards of the animals; we are here to protect them, not use them, in a subtle, beautiful way. I think a lot of people who read this book will come away with that new understanding without even really realizing it.

Overall, I recommend this memoir to nonfiction lovers with a passion for Africa, environmentalism, or animal rights.

Check out my full review.


Breakfast at Tiffany's
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Author: Truman Capote
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 5/19/2010


This collection of the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's and 3 short stories consist of the writing style typical of mid 20th century American literature. Much focus is given to setting the scene, and there is a fondness for showcasing unlikable characters without giving the reader any mind-changing insight into what makes them tick. It's not an unpleasant read, but it misses the mark. Thankfully, the movie version of Breakfast at Tiffany's hits this mark. I believe that's the first time I've ever liked the movie version better than the original book.

Check out my extended review.


The Buddha & The Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, & Online Dating
Review Date: 11/23/2010
Helpful Score: 1


This is by far one of the best memoirs I have ever read. Kiera has one of the mental illnesses that is most difficult for those who don't have it to understand and empathize with--Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Yet here she manages to make her pain and struggles incredibly relatable. From prior to her diagnosis when she would write boys letters in her own blood begging them to take her back, to treatment with Dialectical Behavior Therapy, to her gradual recovery and embracing of Buddhism. Throughout the book she also reaches out to her "Borderline brothers and sisters," letting them know that they are not alone. That their pain is real, but recovery is possible. An entirely engaging, thought-provoking read. I highly recommend it to everyone, but fans of memoirs and those interested in mental illness in particular.

Check out my full review.


Buddhism Plain and Simple:  The Practice of Being Aware, Right Now, Every Day
Review Date: 4/7/2010


This is the simplest, most directly applicable, introduction to Buddhism I have ever read.


Bug Jack Barron
Bug Jack Barron
Author: Norman Spinard
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 4/29/2010


Spinrad in the 1960s lays out a future in the 1990s where race relations are worse than ever, with black people getting ever poorer and white people richer and both more segregated from each other than ever before. Benedict Howards is running a freezing foundation that freezes people who can afford it in the hopes that someday the foundation will come up with a cure for aging and with it, immortality. Bennie wants Jack Barron, a baby Bolshevik turned tv star, to use his show to push the Freezer Foundation's bill through Congress.

It's an attempt at a tour de force that falls flat to this modern reader, reading it with a black man currently president and cringing at the misogynistic storyline given to Jack's lover, Sara. I'm sure it had its place back in the day, but it didn't age well. Still, Spinrad's writing style is enjoyable enough to read.

Check out my full review.


The Call of the Wild
The Call of the Wild
Author: Jack London
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 14
Review Date: 1/10/2011


What is there to say about this book? It's a classic for a reason. The tale of Buck, a pampered southern dog who gets stolen away to be made into a sled dog for the Alaskan gold rush is an ideal storyline to start with. On top of that, it is eloquently told by a man who clearly understands animals and animal behavior. A real tear-jerker, and one definitely worthy of re-reads.

Check out my full review.


Cold Comfort Farm
Cold Comfort Farm
Author: Stella Gibbons
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 21
Review Date: 8/31/2010


The tale of Flora Poste and her cousins the Starkadders set in the near future of the 1940s or 1950s as envisioned in the 1930s has something for everyone. The character study of the calm Flora who just wants everything tidy versus the emotional Starkadders for whom everything is intensely dramatic lends itself both to comical passages and meaningful insights. The slapstick scenes featuring most of or the entire family are pleasantly witty, and the setting is a wonderful alternate world to get lost in. If any of those sound at all appealing to you, you will definitely enjoy this book.

Check out my full review.


Coming of Age in Mississippi
Coming of Age in Mississippi
Author: Anne Moody
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 105
Review Date: 10/17/2011


Anne Moody in her memoir recounts growing up in the Jim Crow law south, as well as her involvement in the Civil Rights movement as a young adult. She was one of the women at the famous Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in. Here we get to see her first-hand thoughts and memories of the struggle growing up surrounded by institutionalized racism, as well as the difficulties in fighting it.

Here we get to see real-life, personal anecdotes that back up the studies into black history published in the 1990s and early 2000s. Anne's mother and father break up early in her life at least partly due to stress from poverty and racism. Anne's mother only takes three weeks off to give birth to her baby. Anne's first taste of good food is the leftovers her mother brings home from the white family she works for, and much much more.

Anne from approximately the age of 10 through highschool works as a domestic servant in white people's homes. She's saving up money for college as well as helping to support her family. The stress from the KKK's violent activities in her hometown take a toll on her physically and emotionally, but also inspire her early activism.

This memoir was published in 1968 and at times Moody's youthfulness is abundantly clear. She is frustrated with every black person not actively involved in The Movement. She seems to be incapable of seeing things from other perspectives. Yes, it is her youthfulness that gives her courage, but it also sometimes blinds her. She can be very judgmental of the other black youth around her, but that is a common fault in the young. Her passion and courage are still incredibly admirable. The fact that she kept fighting and trying in the face of so much failure early on in The Movement is inspiring. It takes people like her, leaders like her, to enact social change. We could use more of them.

Check out my full review (Link will be live on October 22nd).


A Crack in the Line (Withern Rise)
A Crack in the Line (Withern Rise)
Author: Michael Lawrence
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 1/10/2012


Alaric lives in the crumbling Withern Rise house with his widowed father. Nothing has been the same since his mother's death in a train accident two years ago. Now his dad is off helping his girlfriend get ready to move in with them, and his crazy Aunt Liney is there to keep an eye on him. Miserable, he touches a carving his mother made of the house from wood from the family tree years ago and finds himself transported to a parallel universe where a girl, Naia, is living his life--only with their mother still alive.

This is definitely a book for teens that I feel does not cross over easily to adults. Alaric is unrelatably angsty, unless you yourself are a similarly hormonal teenager. The parallel worlds are interesting, but not nearly as creatively done as, say, Stephen King's. What I find interesting as an adult, Aunt Liney and her role, is largely ignored. Similarly, Naia's motivations for participating in the world traveling are unclear.

All of that said, I could see a teenager enjoying this story. Particularly one upset with his parents or wishing his life was minutely different in some way. I thus recommend it to a teen into fantasy and the concept of parallel universes.

Check out my full review.


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