May 13, 2020

Review: Hero Complex

Hero ComplexThe second Keaton School mystery
By Margaux Froley
Available now from Soho Teen
Review copy
Review of Escape Theory

Because I enjoyed Escape Theory, I wanted to read the sequel, Hero Complex. However, it had been a while since I read Escape Theory, so I wanted to reread it first, and eventually I decided to just dive into Hero Complex any way.

I had forgotten quite a bit, but it came back to me. Devon Mackintosh was working at a peer counselor at the private school she attended on scholarship to help boost her college applications. Her knowledge from those sessions made her suspicious of the apparent suicide of popular Hutch, which led her to become embroiled in a mystery.

At the beginning of Hero Complex, Devon has figured out who killed Hutch but she's still trying to figure out the why, which could be the key to getting the testimony needed to put his murderer away. But soon a new mystery arises when she goes to a boat party with her friend Cleo and gets clobbered over the back of the head. No one believes her that the assault happened, much less that it was attempted murder.

What I found most delightful about Hero Complex was that Devon never would have known the secrets she uncovers in the novel even existed if the villain hadn't attempted to get rid of her. I love seeing a bad guy hoisted by their own petard. At the same time, Hero Complex feels like the middle novel in a trilogy. The mystery at the center doesn't have the emotional drive of Hutch's death, and the revelations feel like they're setup for the fallout in the third novel.

... which doesn't exist. As much as I enjoy Escape Theory and Hero Complex, I have trouble recommending the Keaton School mysteries since the third novel was never published, leaving the story feeling unfinished.

April 27, 2020

National Theater At Home

The National Theater in London started the National Theater Live program to broadcast performances internationally. You might have seen National Theater Live advertised through Fathom Events before movies, back when you went to movie theaters.

This summer they're making proshot performances available for one week at a time. Last week was a fantastic Treasure Island starring Arthur Davrill, and if I'd watched it earlier in the week, I would've shared it.

This week is Twelfth Night (the Shakespeare play) starring Tamsin Greig. I can't wait to watch!



As for what comes after that ...

We’re excited to announce two new titles for #NationalTheatreAtHome.

#Frankenstein is on 30 Apr and 1 May. Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternate the roles of Frankenstein and his creature.

#AntonyAndCleopatra, with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo, is on 7 May.

https://twitter.com/nationaltheatre/status/1253217039864520704

I appreciate all these theater, musical, and opera organizations making staying at home a more appealing prospect. I am thrilled at the amazing performances I've been able to see.

You can donate through their YouTube channel or the other places listed here.

April 25, 2020

Watch The Globe #AtHome

Adetomiwa Edun in conversation with my class
Shakespeare's Globe is making a number of productions available online. These include full productions, and actors performing some of the greatest love poetry from their own homes. There are also more performances available to buy.

You can see a full schedule here. Please consider a donation to help Shakespeare's Globe continue their work in Shakespeare scholarship and performance.

The current play, Romeo and Juliet (2009) is a special one for me because I saw this cast perform it live while I studied in the UK, and my class was able to do a special Q&A with a few of the actors. You might recognize the stars. Ellie Kendrick (Juliet) appeared on Game of Thrones and Adetomiwa Edun (Romeo) appeared in FIFA 17/18/19.

This stream is available through May 3rd.


April 23, 2020

Review: Kendra Scott Literacy Charm

Back in March, I purchased the Kendra Scott Literacy Charm as a birthday gift to myself.

Turns out it is difficult to take a picture of a bracelet on the wrist of your dominant hand.

50% of the proceeds of this charm benefit First Book, a program I've championed on this blog before. Each charm sold provides a book to a child in need.

Kendra Scott is distributing 2,000 books through First Book to children affected by the COVID-19 crisis, so any purchase of this charm has an immediate impact.

The Kendra Scott Literacy charm is available in gold, rose gold, vintage silver, and vintage gold. I purchased the vintage silver charm to match my charm bracelet.

The included removable bail is very easy to use. You flip it open, place it around the desired link in a bracelet or around a necklace chain, and then close it. It is very secure and I don't think it would come undone on its own.

As for the charm itself, it is heavier than my James Avery charms. I wouldn't do a whole bracelet of Kendra Scott charms. But a few won't cause a bracelet to weigh too much. The front of the charm is stamped with the Kendra Scott symbol and you can open it to read the words "Be Kind. Do Good."

Opened charm
Closed charm
I like seeing this charm on my bracelet. It represents my love of books and helps engender that love within a new generation. I think it was worth the $35 I paid for it and will hang on my charm bracelet for a long time to come. I recommend the Kendra Scott Literacy Charm to any book lover.


World Book Day 2020!

World Book Day is today! This is the 25th anniversary of the celebration of reading, publishing, and copyright.

The UK and Ireland charitable organization for World Book Day has all sorts of cool stay-at-home ideas and author and illustrator masterclasses you can watch.

Amazon has made nine international Kindle books free to download in celebration, ranging from nonfiction to children's books.

I'm most excited for Hard Rain by Irma Venter, with a translation by Elsa Silke.

Chaos, murder, and a hint of sizzling romance descend on East Africa in this electrifying page-turner of a mystery.
Hard Rain
Hard Rain cover
Journalist Alex Derksen’s new assignment in Tanzania should be easy, but he soon finds himself on the wrong side of the news. It starts when he meets Ranna, a beautiful photographer with something to hide. Alex stopped believing in love a long time ago, yet here in the middle of East Africa, it’s found him again.
Alex knows a thing or two about chaos—wherever he goes, it follows. When an IT billionaire washes up onshore after seasonal flooding, he finds himself at the center of an investigation with Ranna as the main suspect. It turns out she may have a good reason for hiding her past.
Wherever she goes, murder follows.
Alex should be used to these cat-and-mouse games, but this time it’s different. Should he listen to his heart and help Ranna hide the bloody trail leading to her? Or should he use his head and run for his life?

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