You Read What? Book Review – Quarantine: The Loners

LEX THOMAS is the combined names of writing duo; Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies. Quarantine: The Loners is their debut novel.

(Picture of the Authors: Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies)


A science classroom in disarray. Two hooded figures in the center. The word: Quarantine. Need I say more? Having graduated high school two years ago, I understand the need to want to escape and the fact that the title suggested otherwise had me itching for a read.


It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High—until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.

A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you’re as good as dead. And David has no gang. It’s just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school.

In this frighteningly dark and captivating novel, Lex Thomas locks readers inside a school where kids don’t fight to be popular, they fight to stay alive.

[WARNING: Spoilers are featured in this review…]

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You Read What? Book Reviews: Beautiful Disaster

This book was taken from Netgalley with the permission of the Publisher.

JAMIE McGUIRE is the author of the Providence trilogy and the New York Bestselling Novel – Beautiful Disaster.

(Picture of the author: Jamie McGuire)












The cover was wonderful. I love that in the center it’s lighter and grows darker as it expands to the edges of the book. It’s very much like the toaster effect on instagram. The dark butterfly in contrast to the brightest spot on the jar (and book) is a nice touch. The title was a smart idea as well. The world beautiful is a basic black in cursive font while disaster is in red and in all caps. The duality of it really shows on the cover and fits wells with the synopsis.


The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend America, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the charming college co-ed. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his charms, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’ apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

[Warning: This review might have some spoilers]

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You Read What? Book Reviews: The Nightmare

I bet most of you guys are secretly cheering, “Yay! Finally, a book that isn’t YA or dystopic!” I don’t go in thinking, “Mmm…is this YA? Is this going to discuss a crappy potential future I might have?” I just pick up whatever interests me…which also happens to be a lot of shitty future stuff. 🙂 Whatever, I’m happy for something new too.

LARS KEPLER is a pseudonym for a husband and wife team of writers, Alexander and Alexandra Ahndoril, who’ve joined under one name to separate themselves from their individual works. After the success of their smash hit, The Hypnotist, they’ve returned with the follow up, The Nightmare, and The Fire Witness (unknown when it’ll be available in English).

(Picture of Authors: Alexandra and Alexander Ahndoril)












There are multiple covers of the book but the one that I got from the library has dark silhouette of a man who’s in front of a chain linked fence/wall. Behind the fence is a dimly lit hallway/tunnel which gives off this creepy vibe. Overall, it’s a dark and vague cover which is great because, with a title like The Nightmare, you’d want to read this in hopes of being scared. As a fan of The Hypnotist’s cover (creepy, dark, silhouette of a person at the top of the stairs…), I felt that this was in line with series.


Following the massive success of The Hypnotist both in Sweden and internationally, Lars Kepler is back in full force with The Nightmare (original: Paganinikontraktet), which has already sold 460,000 copies in multiple formats.

On a summer night, the dead body of a woman is found aboard an abandoned pleasure boat drifting around in the Stockholm archipelago. Her lungs are filled with brackish water, but there are no traces of this water on her clothes or other parts of her body.

“She drowned, Joona,” says the professor of forensic medicine.


The professor nods and smiles. “She drowned on board a floating boat,” he says.

“Probably someone found her in the sea and pulled her on board the boat.”

“If I thought that’s what happened, I wouldn’t be taking up your time,” says the professor.

The next day a man is found dead in his state apartment in Stockholm. The man is hanging from a noose from the lamp-hook in the ceiling. How did it happen? The room has a high ceiling and there isn’t one single piece of furniture to climb on in the room. Nevertheless, Detective Inspector Joona Linna is convinced that it is suicide.

Of course he is right, but that doesn’t close the case. In fact it’s only the prelude to a dizzingly intense and dangerous course of events. Certain things are never finished, even when you’re dead…

Thought I’d give my rankings early due to the extreme spoiler warning.

I give this 4 ½ Nightmares out of 5

[WARNING: Spoilers are featured in this review. Since this is a crime/mystery novel, the spoilers can ruin your reading experience. Proceed with caution…]

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Um…I’m Not White…

Probably one of the touchiest subjects out there. Thought I’d preface by saying that no race should be made inferior. This is just about the races who aren’t represented enough in films, shows and…books.

Cassandra Clare is the author of the popular series known as The Mortal Instruments (which is now being turned into a movie) and she discussed the issue of white washing on her blog after the casting information for the movie included an Asian or half Asian actor to play one of the key characters. Here’s a snippet of the post that was featured on her Tumblr blog (Magnus and White Washing):

 vanillanightt asked you:

It’s not really a question, but an observation. I understand the reasons, but on Facebook after the recent post about TMI casting information a lot of fans are confused as to why they would want an Asian actor for Magnus Bane. Think you could clear it up, once again, to clear the confusion?”

Okay, although I admit I am confused about the confusion. They want an Asian actor to play Magnus because Magnus is Asian. (Technically, Magnus is biracial. I would be perfectly happy with a biracial actor playing him — but otherwise the option is an Asian actor, not a white actor. It doesn’t matter if any of Magnus’ background is white. Casting him white would erase that part of his background that is Asian. And important. There are plenty of roles out there for white actors. Most roles are for white actors. This is not one of them.

Thankfully, they ended up casting actor Godfrey Gao for the role who meets the physical standards of the character but there have been instances in the past where characters have been white washed.

The perfect example of this is the Prince of Persia where most of the leads were white yet the characters are supposed to be Middle Eastern (i.e from PERSIA). Another example is the movie 21 which was based on the true story of black jack team of Asian American student from MIT and yet the two leads where played by two white actors (Kate Bosworth and Jim Sturgess)

And don’t think that books are immune. Author, Justine Larbalestier, published a book called Liar whose main character was a compulsive liar…and black. Yet, the earlier versions of the US cover featured a white girl with her straight hair covering her mouth despite the description of the character as “black with nappy hair which she wears natural and short.” (Ain’t That A Shame)

Not too long ago, a new debate (not so new really) was sparked over race representation in television after the HBO hit show, Girls, aired with its predominating white cast. In the same year, television had its first African-American female lead (on a show called Scandal) in 38 years.

What’s wrong with this picture? More importantly, why is this still happening today?

After centuries of being told that being white was the only way to go, you can’t help but have your brain make that your default…no matter what race you are. I remember seeing the trailer for the movie, Takers, and was fully aware how strange it was that most of the main characters were of color. I wouldn’t have batted an eye if it was a mostly white cast since that’s what I’d see on my screen, on countless occasions, my entire life but a large group of minorities was something that would grab my attention…for just the sheer shock of it.

So I again I ask why?

People say that minorities as leads can’t sell. Having a black girl on a cover or some other minority as the lead won’t sell the show, book, movie, etc. The Hunger Games controversy seemed to have proven that when an out pour of twitter users were angry that the character in the film, Rue, was played by an African-American girl. They went as far as saying that her death scene in the film wasn’t as upsetting as it was in the book (when they thought she was white).

But she never was. Suzanne Collins described the character in the book from the beginning as having “dark brown skin and eyes”.

Yet, people’s claims that people of color or minorities can’t sell doesn’t make sense. You know why? One person. Will Smith. He’s the one of the most successful actors at the box office, almost guaranteeing any one of his movies to rake in some serious cash.

  • There are other black actors/actresses: Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Whoopi Goldberg, Angela Bassett, Jamie Fox, Eddie Murphy, Halle Berry, friggin’ Bill Cosby…
  • Or Asian actors: Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Lucy Liu, Ziyi Zhang, Bruce Lee, Sandra Oh…
  • India has Bollywood! and Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Parminder Nagra, Kunal Nayyar…just to name a few.

Race is important. Not to use as a way to assert dominance or superiority over another. It’s important because it plays a part in the character’s pathos. I mean, how different would Superman be if he was African-American? (The other supermen from the other dimensions don’t count. i.e Earth 2). Would he still act the way we’ve known him to act? Will he still be the Kansas farm boy without a chip on shoulder who comes across as naive due to the privilege he carries for being white and a man?

It’s something to think about as a writer but as a viewer/reader as well…

A. A. Omer

Writing Tip: Book Proposal

Sorry for the lack of posts for the last two days. Ramadan is kicking the crap out of me and I’m working full time on top of it. Enough of that thought because I got some writing pointers for you all.

I recently saw this via twitter and thought I’d pass it along. Writer, Jill Williamson, offers 10 reasons why writing a book proposal BEFORE writing your book is a great idea.This might reaffirm the beliefs that are held by people who think planning your story before hand is the way to go while converting others who thought otherwise (like moi!).

10 Reasons to Write a Fiction Book Proposal Before You Write Your Book

By Jill Williamson

Everyone is different. Not all writers like to get organized before they start to write. But after I published a few books and got an agent, I learned that authors with a few traditionally published books out there don’t necessarily have to keep writing full novels to sell them. Once you’ve proven yourself, you can sell a fiction book off a proposal. I did this this past year with my upcoming bookCaptives.

But there are other reasons why it’s smart to write a little book proposal before starting a new book. Here are ten reasons why:

1. You’ll know your story. 
Your three-act structure will be sound. You’ll have brainstormed a beginning, middle, and end that makes sense. And writing a synopsis will have forced you to create the overall plot and ending.

2. You’ll know your characters 
Your main characters will already have solid goals, and you’ll know how your characters will change or grow through the story.

3. You’ll know your theme
Though this may change once you do write the book and your story gets a life of its own.

4. You’ll know your audience 

5. You’ll know your competition 
You’ll know which titles are similar to yours, how to make your book different, and how your book will stand out from your competition. This is very important in convincing a publisher why they should publish your book.

Want to know what the other five reasons are? It’s only fair to check out the original site here.

An example of a proposal can be seen on the site. It might seem like something you’d do later on in your career when you can just propose a book idea without having to actually write the manuscript but it’s great practice for even the first book (which you still need to write a full manuscript for…unless your Oprah or someone else who’s famous).

Hope this was helpful,

A. A. Omer

I promise to put up a post on white washing in pop culture and media (ie. films, television, books) at some point tomorrow. 🙂