Review: Supernaturally

The follow up to Paranormalcy was fun, but that’s about it.

Last week I gave a pretty enthusiastic review of Paranormalcy, a book that was both engaging and funny while still keeping its protagonist a fierce female with the power to save herself. Loved it! This week, I read the follow up to the book, Supernaturally, and though the title is reminiscent of one of my all-time favorite television shows, that’s where my joy for this book unfortunately ends.

It wasn’t a terrible book by any means. It was still funny, with some wicked adventure—a couple of missions with some new creatures were pretty cool, and I am still enjoying this clear-boyfriend path that’s simply not covered in other books. Anything new and fresh is always welcome, especially in this genre.

But this time around, everything just didn’t feel as urgent as it did in the previous book. Evie is still plagued by fairies (as well as other creatures, though we aren’t sure as to why), and her unusual abilities are still present, even though she tries to resist using them. We do learn more about who she is, and the fact that she’s a highschooler living with a roommate and working is nice—you don’t often get either of those concepts (particularly a job) detailed much in YA lit, though many teens experience both.

Evie and Lend’s relationship just didn’t feel like it had much chemistry to me in this novel, and the ultimate villain was a bit predictable, which was too bad since the person (not telling who!) was so intriguing and even fun at times. That’s always the way it goes, though, isn’t it?

I think what I didn’t like most about this book was that it felt like everything was in limbo—which is how middle books often feel, to be fair. There weren’t the big, pressing dangers that we normally face—in fact, some scenarios felt more subdued than anything—and the ending itself wasn’t very satisfying. Yes, we had Evie make some good revelations about herself—and finally understand herself a bit more—but overall, it was left so wide open for the third book that it didn’t really feel finished on its own, as it should have.

In the last book, I truly enjoyed that the relationship wasn’t a front burner topic, but in this book it seemed like such a key plot point that its diminished coverage didn’t feel balanced. Even so, the book is still enjoyable; teens will continue to enjoy Evie’s girliness and general sarcastic tone that also sort of gets on your nerves after a while, and the little romance that is there is still fun to read about. Evie’s new friendship with a vampire is also enjoyable. I do look forward to reading the third installment when it arrives this year.


Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Changes

The classic, terrifying images that we loved as kids are being replaced with more “child friendly” alternatives.

Have you seen this horrifying news? The classic Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark that we read as children has become so terrifying, so grotesque and scary and monstrous, that I am scared to buy them for my own daughter, as I had planned on doing in a couple of years. No, they’re not gorier. They’re not grislier, or scarier stories, or even more subtly chilling. Instead, they have new watered-down art that will render them unreadable.

Gone are the bone-chilling illustrations that we knew as children, with the screaming skeletons and blood-dripping creatures and other nightmare-inducing artwork; in their place are these round, Disney-fied joke characters who wouldn’t inspire nuns to have nightmares. Seriously? This is horror?

Schwartz’s masterpiece was an enormous chunk from my childhood—something that inspired not just nightmares and even daytime fears, but my own scary writing. It was a pioneer piece of horror that got all of the kids talking and whispering in hushed, scared voices—much like Harry Potter after it—and it wasn’t just the stories that did it.

Flipping through books was key in checking them out at that age, and once you flipped through Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, you couldn’t very well put it down. How would you know what happened to the skeletal bride that way? The art was absolutely gripping, something that wouldn’t let you turn away.

And now it’s being cartoon-ified.

You know what? If you want to focus on cleaning up children’s media to make it less scary, let’s start with the Toy Story 3 and Cars 2 and other shows that actually depict torture, death, and other scariness. These violent sequences are much worse than the artwork being edited out of our beloved stories—and these stories aren’t even aimed at the young audiences that these films cater to! They are available in the fifth and sixth grade libraries (at least, in my own experience) and can easily be monitored by parents. They’re also not live action, which has to give them less impact.

I would like to vehemently oppose the changing of these excellent books and that future generations not be gifted with watered down versions of Scary Stories. It’s a useless action when you can, as a parent, simply ask that the stories be read at a later age (not to mention that the stories themselves are just as scary; are they not being edited, too?). There are worse boogeymen in your children’s lives, believe me.

Nashville Author Jennie Bentley

Flipped Out

Author Jennie Bently, a native of Nashville, TN, has made the New York Times Bestseller list with her new book Flipped Out. This is the fifth book in Jennie Bentley's bestselling Do-It-Yourself Home Renovation mysteries published by Penguin/Berkley Prime Crime. The book features Avery Baker, a textile designer, and Avery Baker's boyfriend, a local handyman, who renovates houses in the fictitious town of Waterfield, Maine. Flipped Out is the fifth book in this series, and she is currently writing number six.

The main character in the book is Avery, who is a transplant from New York who has fallen in love with Waterfield, Maine. She works with her boyfriend, Derek, at renovating properties. In this book, they are renovating the home of a local TV personality and fiancee of Derek's ex-wife, Melissa. A DIY television show is planning to tape the renovation.

Avery and Derek walk the crew through the house on the first day, and set up a time line for the film. The next morning Avery and Derek arrive at the house to start their renovation and soon find out that the homeowner has been murdered by a screwdriver. Suspicions soon fall to Melissa, but Avery does not think she is the killer. Avery and Derek soon find themselves in the middle of a murder mystery that they have to solve.

The story is very well-detailed and the plot is excellent. She does a tremendous job blending in the back story. It's a quick read and one you will not be able to put down until you turn the last page.



Nashville's Book Stores


In this economy, it's always great to find good deals. The BookMan/BookWoman book store located in Nashville on 21st Avenue in Hillsboro Village. It is a very unique book store that any bibliophile will fall in love with. The owners, Larry and Saralee Woods, opened this bookstore because they needed a place for their huge collection of books they have collected over the years.

BookMan/BookWoman bookstore sells the latest best seller books, as well as gently used books at huge discount prices. It is consistently being voted Nashville's favorite bookstores by local book lovers, and they support authors by reporting their book sales to the New York Times Best Seller Lists each and every week.

One of the best things about this book store is you can almost always find that latest best seller at up to 90 percent off the original price, they have many used books at even more of a discount.

If you own many books yourself, take them to Bookman/BookWoman bookstore and trade them in for a new book at a great discount and save even more money. Visit their website to get great book reading suggestions if you are stuck on what you should read next. Visit this unique bookstore and you will be sure to find that great book that you just can't put down.



McKay Used Book Store

I am always on the hunt for  new book stores and I was delighted to find this wonderful book store while I was in Nashville Christmas shopping. McKay's Used Book Store has almost everything you could want. They have a great children's book area to delight any child that loves to read books. There is also a large selection of fiction books for any adult. The fiction books are mostly in paperback, but they do have some  hard back books to be found there. They also have a wide range of nonfiction and young adult books.

McKay's Used Book Store not  only has books, however. I was delighted to see that they had music, movies, gaming systems, iPods and other MP3 players, and audio books.

McKay's fiction books are sorted by genre, and then sorted alphabetically by the author's last name, so they are very easy to find. They do shelve the hardback books and the oversized paperbacks separately from the smaller paperback books. They also separate out newer released titles and best selling authors.

They buy and sell MP3 players, such as iPods. Each MP3 player is thoroughly tested before they put it on their shelf to sell.

They also sell and buy video games, video game systems, and accessories. If you are looking for controllers, memory cards, or cords to go with a game system that you own you very well may find it at McKay's Used Book Store. They sort the video games by game system type so you can easily find what you are looking for.

McKay's Used Book Store is one of those stores that you love to find. The atmosphere is wonderful, the store clerks are very nice, and they have a wide arrangement of used books at great prices.

Life's Little Instruction Book

Read it, but not for the reasons you think

If you are looking for a great book to review in your book club, might I suggest Life’s Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.? I know it’s an oldie—published in Nashville ten years ago—but it’s a goodie, and it’s one of the top books I would recommend for people to read.

The book is filled with little one-liners like, “Respect teachers,” and “Don’t waste time learning tricks of the trade. Learn the trade.” Some are quite obvious, while others make a light bulb go off over your head. The book was out before the big self-help rage that began more recently, so its material is more fresh and honest rather than the quick sell we’ve come to expect.

I don’t recommend this book for the same reason that many other people do—because they think the wisdom within it is so important and unique that every human being must experience it and incorporate it into their lives somehow. The thing is, this is true for a few gems you will find in the book. But the real reason why I like to recommend it is the same one an honors college professor gave to me when he recommended it—so I could further build upon my critical thinking capacity.

He wanted me to evaluate the instructions and choose ten that I really felt were good and to explain why. He also wanted me to select another ten and explain why I thought they were a load of crap. Another ten, he said, should be items I thought were partly true, and that would be true if modified a certain way; I was to modify them and explain why. Finally, he wanted me to create ten of my own.

How I wish I could remember the ten little instructions I made on my own! Knowing my feminist roots, I am sure one HAD to have been about the menstrual cycle… All joking aside, this is a fantastic way to evaluate the written word, but also the world itself. You can learn quite a bit about yourself when you do this, and I bet if I did it again and had my original paper to compare my new lists with, it would be quite different.

My own copy of the book has been passed around family members over the years, with some items underlined, others crossed out; we have many margin notes including a few of our own perspectives, too. My dream when purchasing the book as a young adult was to pass it around and glean wisdom from my elders, and then to add my own thoughts when I was older to share with my own children. If you can get a copy of this book—or the others in its series—and wish to do the same, I would be honored in your sharing of my tradition.