In Case You Missed It

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Viral videos and photos are a well-known entity in the world of the web. Recordings of people doing funny things, a chance encounter, and so on. It can be as cute as the dog whose owner dressed up as Gumby, or as outrageous as the cat mesmerized by his owner’s camera.

But there’s a dark side to viral items. Information stolen by hackers that can be accessed by people all around the world, such as the DNC emails from the 2016 election cycle or celebrity’s private pictures. What if all of your personal information was stolen? Not meaning your credit card information or social security number, but text messages, emails and your electronic journal. This is the focus of the Sarah Darer Littman’s novel In Case You Missed It.

Sammy Wallach is looking forward to finishing out her junior year on a high note: acing her AP exams, landing a date to the prom and planning for her future. That all changes when hackers target her father’s company files, and also access her family’s personal online cloud. They then post the stolen information online for the world to see, all of the Wallach family’s emails, text messages and Sammy’s journal.

Littman presented an interesting take on something that’s in just about everybody’s lives. Most of us have social media accounts, but we get to pick and choose what we share online. Sammy has to deal with the repercussions of having her private thoughts posted for anyone to read, with no control over how many people can see it.

This novel is about more than just hacked information though. Sammy and her family are forced to confront each other about the secrets that their emails reveal about their family. Littman emphasizes the importance of face-to-face communication and the effect it has on family dynamic.

I definitely recommend this book, as it takes on a prevalent topic and illustrates the importance of having real-life relationships with people instead of just with electronic devices.


One Paris Summer

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Paris is a popular setting for numerous novels. Not surprising, since it has an extraordinary history and incomparable beauty.

One Paris Summer, by American author Denise Grover Swank, is told in first-person narrative by main character Sophie Brooks. A sixteen-year-old Charleston, South Carolina native, she is sent to live in Paris for the summer with her father and his new wife. Along with her older brother Eric, Sophie begrudgingly goes with low expectations.  It doesn’t help that her new stepsister Camille is not welcoming, nor is Eric’s friend Dane who has tagged along for the first half of the trip.

Sophie finds solace in playing piano. When she’s offered the opportunity to audition for a major Paris school, she finds herself having to choose between her life in Charleston and the offer of a  dream music education.

Although I enjoyed the book, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss. Both novels employ a teenage girl protagonist who is sent to live in Paris. There are some differences. Anna is sent alone to attend foreign high school, whereas Sophie goes to spend the summer there. Each of the girls has their main interest- Anna being movies and Sophie being music. But both of them end up meeting a boy whom they initially don’t want to be with, but then they do, and so on. Honestly, I felt like this novel was almost a spinoff of Perkins’ book, or even part of the same series. I felt like it lacked originality and was predictable.

Swank’s novel did have some good elements. Sophie’s relationship with her older brother is a major plot point and made for some good interactions, as are her attempts to reconnect with her estranged father. I also enjoyed reading about Sophie’s first time on the Eiffel Tower, and the mesmerizing feeling the view had on her.

Overall, I recommend this novel to those who enjoy reading stories that take place in Paris.


Happy New Year and 100th Post

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Happy New Year! It’s technically three weeks into the new year, but we are still in January.

This is the 100th post on this blog, originally started about five years ago combining my hobbies of writing and reading. I was a college junior at the time, and now I live in Washington, D.C. and am working out in the real world.

Although I have a Kindle, I still do read actual books as well. There’s something about the feel of a real book in your hands that a Kindle can’t always suffice to. Most libraries now offer an option to borrow ebooks digitally. It’s nice to see libraries are catering to the times.

Anyway, I want to thank everyone for reading my blog. I will continue to post on here as often as I can.

Edge of Black

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This book is part of the Dr. Samantha Owens series, written by J.T. Ellison. Last summer, I reviewed What Lies Behind, the latest in the series. Wanting to read the rest, I backtracked to the second novel.

In Edge of Black, Sam has just arrived in D.C. and is teaching forensic science at George Washington University. She is enjoying a fresh start in a new city with her new boyfriend and new house. However, when a foreign toxic substance is released in to the Washington metro system and sickens hundreds, Sam soon finds herself pulled into a national security investigation. With the help of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and her homicide detective friend Darren Fletcher, Sam follows the trail of the villain, not knowing what might happen next.

I really like how Ellison’s main character is a medical examiner, a change from the usual protagonists of detectives and lawyers. Sam’s medical perspective creates an interesting angle with investigating the crime, particularly with examining the victims’ bodies. I myself can’t imagine doing a job like that, but I admire those who do. I also appreciate that Ellison did her research for the scientific terms that are used in the novel.

Living in the same city as Sam, it was easy to picture the places she went to during her research. The plot was decent, but I felt like it was a bit more predictable than What Lies Behind. Even so, I do recommend this novel to people who want to read about crime investigations from a different point of view.

Wishful Drinking

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In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Star Wars prequels came out and introduced the franchise to an entirely new generation of viewers. Granted, the prequels cannot really compare to the originals, but those movies were the ones my brother first got on video and watched constantly, which meant I saw them constantly too. We obviously watched the originals, and I remember thinking how cool it was to see the difference between the old scale models used in the originals versus the modern computer animation. And of course, I’ve seen the Force Awakens.

In honor of the legendary Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia, I decided to read her memoir Wishful Drinking, based off of a one-woman show she’s presented around the country.

Fisher writes about growing up in the spotlight, being the daughter of 50’s icon Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher. The book is split into multiple chapters that detail certain events in Carrie Fisher’s life, including her experience with drug addiction and alcoholism. She also talks about her parent’s divorces, and the multiple remarriages they both had over the course of several years.

I really liked Fisher’s writing tone, she was honest about a lot of her experiences through a dry sense of humor, even using some suggestive words. I admire her for her openness and willingness to make fun of herself and her family, even so much as to make a web illustrating the interconnections of her family’s divorces and remarriages.

This book is on the short side, only 178 pages, but is a great, quick read for those who appreciate a good sense of humor and memoirs.