Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book Review: Scammed by Christopher Elliott

Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals

A leading consumer advocate reveals how to protect your money, time, and integrity from corrupt businessesOnce upon a time store prices were simple and fair, businesses stood behind their products with guarantees free of fine print and loopholes, and companies genuinely seemed to care about their valued customers--but those days are long gone. In this groundbreaking expose, consumer advocate Christopher Elliot reveals the broken relationship between American consumers and businesses and explains how companies came to believe that fooling their customers was a viable, and profitable, business plan.
"Scammed" explores how companies control information to mislead, distort the truth, and even outright lie to their consumers.Exposes the various ways companies have led their war against information--from seductive ads, disingenuous fine print, and unconventional promotions that involve seeding discussion forums and blogs with company-friendly commentsOffers consumers insider knowledge of the system, reasonable expectations, and a clear understanding of the games businesses playChristopher Elliott is one of the nation's foremost consumer advocates.
Protect yourself, your time, and your money from the predators of the consumer world. Armed with knowledge, readers will become far more discerning and every business's worst nightmare.    

 My Review:

Pros: Going into this book, just starting it, I had no problems. Though, I was a bit mislead because I thought it would be a financial version of "Eat this, not that." I appreciated that the writing was easy to understand, held my interest even if it didn't encourage the best speed-of-reading (took me about four days to trudge through this one). and I liked that it didn't seem biased toward either consumer or company.

Cons: There was definitely SOME kind of bias there. It was towards the Consumer advocates. Other idisyncracies that got under my skin: The use of "gotcha" and "getcha", abundant cliches--"By hook or crook", "Heck of a lot of...", and this little gem of a quote: "...or whatever Frankenstein's monster was afraid of." that popped up around the same time that the author was disparaging consumers for only reading fluff and not "real" news/reading.

Movie Potential: No. Definitely Not.

Writing style: Easy to follow, but towards the middle just made me angry. This is NOT a book that made my brain happy. In fact, it aggravated me.

Format: Physical book.

Overall Rating: 2/5

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Book Review: Eve and Adam by Michael Grant

Eve and Adam
And girl created boy…
In the beginning, there was an apple—
And then there was a car crash, a horrible injury, and a hospital. But before Evening Spiker’s head clears a strange boy named Solo is rushing her to her mother’s research facility. There, under the best care available, Eve is left alone to heal.
Just when Eve thinks she will die—not from her injuries, but from boredom—her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy.
Using an amazingly detailed simulation, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up. Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect... won’t he?     Michael  Grant

I was born in a manger and grew up in a log cabin where I read law books by firelight. . . Oh, wait, that wasn't me, that was someones else.
I had a hard childhood. Hard for my parents. Not that bad for me. I was an Army brat, moved around a lot. Then I didn't settle down. I just kept moving. Why? What inner turmoil drove me? Mmmm, I gotta say none. I just have a short attention span. Easily bored.
I'm living in Tiburon, CA right now. How much longer? Don't know.
I've written 150 books. That's right, I said 150. In your face, Stephen King. Granted, mine are shorter than his. And less popular. And less likely to be made into a major motion picture. And I guess i don't play in a band with Dave Barry, either, do I?

Sorry: Salieri complex acting up.

Most of those books -- and by "most" I mean 149 out of 150 -- I wrote with my wife, the lovely, the talented, the eternally hot, Katherine (K.A.) Applegate. We've been together for 29 years. Which is a long time. Looooong time. Sweet lord what a long . . . No babe, I'm not implying anything.

Damn internets: you never know who's reading things.

My Review:
Pros: Speed of reading on this was high--I was interested enough in this book to finish it in a day. The premise is beautiful--a big corporation doing really good things to hide some other, not so good things tries to hide everything from the daughter of the boss. Meanwhile, the daughter of the boss is making an actual human boy on what she believes is no more than an educational video game.
Cons: In retrospect, the title is a bit misleading. I mean, why not name it Eve and Solo? Adam really only came in the end, almost as an afterthought. Now, as an author, I can completely understand if Grant and his wife decided "What if Adam became a real person!?" at the last minute. I don't understand why the title of the book is after a last minute decision.
Characters: Characters are fairly well rounded. We have Evening Striker, the girl who accidentally created a man. Adam, the man who was accidentally created by a girl. Solo, who's well-roundedness I won't really say because of super intriguing plot twists, and Terra "terror" striker, the mom behind it all. Oh, and Aislenn, the somewhat goofy sidekick that usually needs saving. Still, she was an interesting read.
Movie Potential: I had trouble deciding this one. But the end result is: this would be better as a series or carttoon. There's just no way to describe the intricities that are in the book without animating it and following it up with more episodes about the Striker Pharm. I just can't see it as a blockbuster movie.
Format: Real, physical book. Beautiful.
Overall Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book Review/Author interview: Sheltered by Debra Chapoton

Living together unsupervised, five troubled teens confront demonic forces and are compelled to deal with their problems in distinctly different ways. Paranormal meets psycho meets Goth in this story of a supernatural haunting and budding love.

High school junior, Ben, hacks into his step-father's real estate holdings and provides rooms in an old two-story house to various outcasts: the schizophrenic kid, the angry Goth girl, and the homeless girl who worships him. When Megan needs a place to live she comes to the rooming house with a different set of problems and the ability to confuse and attract Ben.

One by one strange and mysterious occurrences stretch the teens’ beliefs in the supernatural. How they deal with demons, real and imagined, has tragic as well as redeeming consequences.

Debra Chapoton
Debra's first YA novel, EDGE OF ESCAPE, reveals the fractured heart of Eddie, an emotionally impaired 18-year-old who has spent most of his school years in special education classes. Stalking gets a strangely sympathetic twist in this story of obsession and survival. (Released in German, spring 2012.)
In her second YA novel, SHELTERED,five troubled teens confront demonic forces and deal with their problems in different ways; paranormal meets psycho meets budding love.

Find out more at

My Review: An engaging story that deals with and mixes the issues of homelessness, schizophrenia, depression, suicide, and the occult. As the reader follows along with the five kids (six, including, um...Adam) and the fictitious Mrs. Kremer, they're engaged by the opposing personalities in the house, the secrets that are (or aren't) kept, and they root for these teens in their quest to just stay in the house (even though maybe we shouldn't. Kids need adults!)
I admire how the issue of teen homelessness was addressed, veering away from the common idea that homeless people are all elderly, dirty and on the streets. The percentage of teen homelessness has gone up in the united states lately, and that doesn't necessarily mean they're out in the cold--most often it means they're at a shelter or homeless opportunity program. (For more facts and how to help, visit

Pros: This is a fascinating book that keeps you reading. The change in tense between the Dream world and the Awake world is a bit unusual (though not unpleasant) at first, but you get used to it.
Cons: It was hard to follow sometimes, and while interesting, I would find myself putting the book down to do something else.
Characters: While the characters balanced each other out nicely, a couple of them (Cori, Megan, Ben, Ben's stepfather) were a bit cut-and-paste. The bright side of this? Chuck/Adam, Emily, and "Mrs. Kremer" are original enough to balance it out.
Movie Potential: I really wouldn't want to see this movie. It's a decent book, certainly, but not quite a blockbuster.

Format: Kindle on iPod touch, no problems.

Overall Rating: 3/5    
Author interview:
On your nightstand now:  My Kindle with about 80 books to read.

Favorite book when you were a child: Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircasse
Your top five authors: Crichton, Evanovich, Grisham, Sparks, Rowling
Book you've faked reading: Any high school social studies book.
Book you're an evangelist for: The Bible. I’m not kidding. I’ve tried to learn some Hebrew words and I’ve discovered some pretty amazing codes. Supernatural, really.
Book you've bought for the cover: I’ve never judged a book by its cover; I read the blurb on the back cover.
Book that changed your life: My first Spanish textbook
Book you most want to read again for the first time: Jurassic Park
Why any human should plunk down cash money for your book:
“Sheltered” is a novel that works on multiple planes depending on the expectations and beliefs of the individual reader. The lives of five teens are exposed on social, psychological, and supernatural levels and the themes in this book beg for hard questions and answers, but at the same time the plot is pure entertainment.
Based on the description of “Sheltered” I know there may be some supernatural scenes as well as a little romance. But can you tell us what more to expect?
You might learn a little about schizophrenia.
What made you decide to write this book in the first place?

I had to give a speech and in my research I came across some interesting facts about demon possession. Hmm, I thought, what if the scientific explanations and the religious beliefs were somehow both right. An idea was born and the story took off.
What is your writing style?
I sit on the love seat in the sunroom of our log home with my laptop. I write early in the day and try to write about a thousand words per session.
Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Writing is my only job, but it’s part-time so I can enjoy the rest of the day by reading and goofing off.
What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I want to entertain readers. I hope they take away a few good hours of enjoyment.

In the point of view of any of your characters, answer these three questions:
What is your darkest secret?
What happened to me last year.
What is your heart’s desire?
That things work out for me with both Simon and Ben.
A dragon has just appeared in front of you, ready to attack. What do you do?

After what I’ve been through . . . I just laugh.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?