Monthly Bookish Awesomeness: July 2015

In which I recap what went down in the last four weeks here and outside the blog.

July had been utterly wondrous. I met the lovely Robyn Schneider—as smart and funny and nerdy as her work. My dearest godson Carlisle, who is the adorablest, turned three. I was more actively present in our church than ever and still had the energy to help organize a bloggers/readers meet up. I had my visa interview. And on top of these I managed to blog regularly and finish six (6!) books. Time is a peculiar thing.

Books I Read

Extraordinary Means 02Fans of the Impossible Life 02The Night We Said Yes 02

Other Stuff I Posted

Book Birthdays

Paperweight   You and Me and Him 01   Go Set a Watchman 01

Happy book birthday to Paperweight (7th, HarperTeen), You and Me and Him (7th, HMH Books for Young Readers), and Go Set a Watchman (14th, Harper), which all found a place in the shelves this month!

Book Radar

Never Always Sometimes 01   Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes 01   Another Day 01   The Rest of Us Just Live Here 01

This coming month, I’m excited for Never Always Sometimes (4th, Harlequin Teen), Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes (18th, Disney Hyperion Books) (!!!!!), Another Day (25th, Alfred A. Knopf BFYR), The Wild Ones (25th, Philomel Books), and The Rest of Us Just Live Here (27th, Walker Books).

Gold Star

#BOOKWORMSUNITE YOU GUYS!!!

It’s strange how we pulled this off but we did. Three weeks maybe. Three weeks was all it took to, in a whim, suggest a meet up, get an enthusiastic response, brainstorm, put the words out and make it happen. But stranger is the event itself. Stranger is people actually showing up. Stranger is people actually having fun. In fact, standing in that room, in a coffee shop roughly sixty miles from home, I’ve never felt more myself, more at ease with my own skin, amongst people I’ve only either met briefly before or known online. Some even were just introduced that afternoon. But I felt the camaraderie. It was heartwarming. And I’m grateful Dianne, Hazel, Inah, Faye and Aimee all said yes that fortunate day.

Shannelle 01Eriele 01image

Around the Interwebs

Now that I actually have a news feature, aptly called Unmissable Weekly, there will be less items in this section.

How was your month? What was the amazing book or film or music or dessert you consumed? Is there a post you think I should check out? Also, HAVE YOU READ Go Set a Watchman? Sound of in the comments below!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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REVIEW: After Dark by James Leck

After Dark 01

Title: After Dark
Author: James Leck
Format: E-ARC
Publication: August 1st 2015 by Kids Can Press
Source: Publisher via Netgalley (thank you Kids Can Press and Netgalley!)
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Horror, Humor, Paranormal
Other classifications: Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | Fully Booked

Synopsis

Fifteen-year-old professional slacker Charlie Harker can’t believe his bad luck. On the first day of the summer holidays, his mom springs the worst news: they’re moving to the sleepy town of Rolling Hills to restore Charlie’s great-grandfather’s old inn. Summer is supposed to be about lazy days spent by the pool, sipping ice-cold lemonade. Manual labor and early mornings were definitely not on Charlie’s to-do list. Things go from bad to weird when his new neighbor Miles Van Helsing runs screaming out of the night, insisting that he’s being chased by “humanoid creatures.” Charlie chalks it up to Miles being the town nutcase. But it soon becomes clear that something’s not right in Rolling Hills. A mysterious illness seems to be spreading through town. At first it seems harmless enough, but the number of infected people keeps growing—and what might be a simple headache by day becomes something entirely different when the sun goes down …

Review

I received a review copy from the publisher which in no way swayed my opinion about the work. Wry and engaging, After Dark pokes fun at tropes of the genre with irreverent tone and a smart-alecky protagonist.

Tenth-grader Charlie Harker is so ready for summer, a “time for sleeping and swimming and watching three really bad horror movies back to back to back.” But Ma has a better idea: move to the old hick town of Rolling Hills and renovate the family’s decrepit inn. And right on Charlie’s first night, he meets Miles Van Helsing, the town’s resident conspiracy nut. As the two spend more time together, Charlie begins to suspect that Rolling Hills, after all, might not be too boring. Nor safe. Leck’s latest novel finds its strength in its MC. Nothing gets me to stick to a book better than an interesting character and Charlie is exactly that and some. He’s hilarious and endearing and curious but also afraid and lazy. He’s a person. The author triumphantly mixes sarcasm with sincere dopiness.

“Seeing those tracks made my bladder ache. If the Baxters showed up now, I was going to need a new pair of pants.”

After Dark also benefits from its self-awareness. It owns its ridiculousness, and that’s the most amusing part next to the narrative voice. Almost every investigation Charlie and Miles undertake—ironically yet effectively juxtaposed with commentaries from the former—often ends up being an episode of the horror movie Charlie mocks. It would be tacky except our hero is very tongue-in-cheek. Plus, there are several winks at gothic cult (Miles’s last name is Van Helsing, there’s a character called Igor) as well as family drama. The family drama, however, is decent at best, paltry at worst.

“”A trapdoor that leads into a dingy root cellar is exactly the kind of thing I’d expect to see in a ridiculously predictable horror movie. And you know what else would be predictable and absurdly stupid …?” I asked. “I’m going down,” Miles said.”

Moreover, the book is effortlessly atmospheric. Rolling Hills’s sleepy-town-ness is palpable, the kind that teleports you back to your childhood days watching Goosebumps. The kind that exudes old school horror movie vibe. Albeit, more eerie and less scary. And the monster of the story, the “zompire,” is a nice twist on two of today’s most celebrated undead. In fact, I can see After Dark being a massive hit with a younger audience. Because I feel like the resolution was a bit flimsy, at least for my taste. And with a denouement that both surprises and does not surprise, a sequel is not unlikely but unnecessary.

“The world doesn’t want heroes, Charlie. You’ll learn that eventually.”

Light and thoroughly enjoyable, be sure to include “read After Dark” in your to-do list.

3.5 out of 5

Author

James Leck 01

James Leck lives in Nova Scotia, where he’s spent almost all of his summer vacations. He’s always enjoyed lounging beside pools, drinking ice-cold lemonade and sleeping in. Poison ivy, running face-first into trees and waking up alone in the dark are some of his least favorite things. However, he’s pretty sure being chased by humanoid creatures would be worse.

Twitter | Website

What was your last light, entertaining read?

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