Category «Book Reviews»

Single Sundays: Team Human by Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Mel is horrified when Francis Duvarney, arrogant, gorgeous, and undead, starts at her high school. Mel’s best friend, Cathy, immediately falls for the vampire. Cathy is determined to be with him forever, even if having him turn her could inadvertently make her a zombie.

And Mel is equally determined to prove to her BFF that Francis is no good, braving the city’s vampire district and kissing a cute boy raised by vampires as she searches evidence in this touching and comic novel

Review:

I went into this book thinking it was going to be a fun read about a tough girl braving the world of vampires in a satire. I’m not sure why I was expecting this because as I reread the summaries from Goodreads and my local library’s collection, I really should have got the clue that this book wasn’t for me.

I didn’t find this book very funny. I don’t think this is a good sign because I laugh at everything–and I truly mean everything. To give it credit, I think I did chuckle at a few things but overall I was left disappointed in the humour aspect. I expect books written as satires to have a little ironic humour in them and I didn’t think this one did.

Also, Mel drove me crazy. She annoyed the crap out of me and I found it hard to continue reading. She’s rude and selfish and unnecessarily violent. Francis is weird and I wanted to give Cathy a good slap. The only character I enjoyed was Kit because I thought he was quirky and probably delivered on the “satire” part of the novel. (After I read this, I guess the satire part shines in the characters because they are everything I hate about angsty teen vampire romance novels–so bravo!).

The plot was ok and I guess I see the irony (*coughcough* Twilight) but there was nothing that really wowed me about it.

Conclusion:

This book was a miss for me. It fails to deliver as a satire and has unlikeable characters. Thankfully, it was a quick read.

Rating: 2.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Teen, Romance, Vampires, Satire
Recommended for: 15+
Similar Reads: Nightlight by The Harvard Lampoon

Single Sundays: I’ve Got Your Number by Sophia Kinsella

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):

I’ve lost it. 🙁 The only thing in the world I wasn’t supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It’s been in Magnus’s family for three generations. And now the very same day his parents are coming, I’ve lost it. The very same day! Do not hyperventilate, Poppy. Stay positive 🙂 !!

 
Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!
 
Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.
 
What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.

Review:

I really enjoy chick-lit from Britain so I wanted to read a stand-alone novel from this genre. After reading Kinsella’s Shopaholic Series, I decided to see what her other novels were like, so mission created.

The whole concept of the story is a little far-fetched for the logical thinker in me but I think that is why I enjoyed it so much. It was a fun, quick paced and humourous read. It was like a mash-up of the Shopaholic series and Bridget Jones’ Diary–book series I have really enjoyed–into one.

At times, I felt like it was a little too much Becky from Shopaholic, so I left with the impression that Poppy wasn’t a totally original character. It makes sense to me as Kinsella’s success has been based on a specific character type with her Shopaholic series and she can obviously write that character type very well (and she is well liked by fans). From my experience with her other novels I have read by her since, this is the character personality she has stuck with–in nearly every.single.book. But I think I would have liked a little more “originality” in Poppy.

The plot was fun, if a little predictable but I did laugh quite a bit throughout it and that is always a good sign in my books (no pun intended!)!

Conclusion:

There isn’t too much else to say about this without giving away spoilers but if I had to choose between I’ve Got Your Number and Wedding Night, I’d pick this one. I enjoyed it much more and the characters are a lot more likeable. A solid British Chick Lit Novel.

Rating: 3.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Chick Lit, British Lit, Romance, Contemporary, Humour
Recommended for: 22+
Similar Reads: Wedding Night by Sophia Kinsella and The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot (Boy Series #1)

Single Sundays: A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Talia fell under a spell…Jack broke the curse.

I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic…

I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.

I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger’s soft kiss.

I couldn’t help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn’t know this would happen.

Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!

Now I’m stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels…The good news: My parents will freak!

Think you have dating issues? Try locking lips with a snoozing stunner who turns out to be 316 years old. Can a kiss transcend all—even time?

Review:

If you were to ask me who my favourite Disney Princess would be, it would be a tie between Jasmine from Aladdin and Princess Aurora, aka, Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty isn’t as popular a princess as Cinderella or Snow White or Belle so when I read that this book was about Sleeping Beauty, I jumped at the chance to read it because in the past, the retelling of fairy tales that I have read have been about those princesses and it’s refreshing to read about something else.

Before I read this, I read Beastly by Alex Flinn which is a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast so I was familiar with her writing style. Her books are definitely geared towards a younger teen crowd (14+) but I did read this when I was a little younger so I enjoyed it. Now, I don’t think I would so much just because I am slightly outside that target audience.

Jack and Talia (aka Sleeping Beauty–Sleeping Beauty’s first name changes depending on which version you read) are both self-centered in their own ways. But they aren’t annoying like “I have to put this book down I can’t stand them”–more like you know that they are going to learn a valuable lesson by whatever transpires in this novel. It’s nice to see them grow through their relationship and the events that happen together.

I loved the interaction between these two, more so than in Beastly. I think it is mostly because Talia doesn’t know everything about the modern world (like phones, etc.), so I find the comments she says are pretty funny and Jack has some great responses.

Conclusion:

It’s been a long time since I read it, but I really enjoyed this book. Probably my favourite of the books I have read by Alex Flinn. I recommend this more for younger teens but I think older audiences might enjoy it as well.

Rating: 4/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Middle School, Romance, Fairy Tales, Time Travel, Magic
Recommended for: 13+
Similar Books: Beastly by Alex Flinn and Devoured by Amanda Marrone

Single Sundays: Cloaked by Alex Flinn

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
I’m not your average hero. I actually wasn’t your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.

It all started with the curse. And the frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.

There wasn’t a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I’ve ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Keys.

Don’t believe me? I didn’t believe it either. But you’ll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got CLOAKED.

Review:

I’ve enjoyed Alex Flinn’s work after reading Beastly so I have read a few of her other fairy-tale based books and enjoyed them. I like how she takes well known stories and makes them applicable to the modern world so this book seemed like a no-brainer.

What I like about Cloaked was that it wasn’t just one fairy tale book used in this story (so don’t think it is about Little Red Riding Hood because it isn’t!). In her author note, Alex talks about using lesser known fairy tales in this novel as her main purpose for writing this book and she succeeds in this mission. While I wasn’t familiar with all of the tales used, it added a bit of freshness to the story as I didn’t know where it was going and I was able to learn about other fairy tales that haven’t been made into Disney movies.

However, I just didn’t like this book as much as I hoped. I think I was a little too old to be reading it so it took me a while to get into it. It definitely picked up once you got into it but nothing really wowed me about this book. It was a long time ago when I read this and the fact that this review is so short she be a good indication of how much I enjoyed and remembered the story.

Conclusion:

Definitely better for a middle school crowd who enjoy action, minimal romance and like modern adaptions of fairy tales.
Rating: 3/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young adult, Adventure, Magic, Fairy Tales
Recommended for: 12+
Similar Books: Kill me Softly by Sarah Cross and A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

Single Sundays: Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

Single Sundays: On Sundays, I review a stand-alone book that is not a part of a series. Here is this week’s offering:

Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Miranda has Shakespeare in her blood: she hopes one day to become a Shakespearean actor like her famous parents. At least, she does until her disastrous performance in her school’s staging of The Taming of the Shrew. Humiliated, Miranda skips the opening-night party. All she wants to do is hide.

Fellow cast member, Stephen Langford, has other plans for Miranda. When he steps out of the backstage shadows and asks if she’d like to meet Shakespeare, Miranda thinks he’s a total nutcase. But before she can object, Stephen whisks her back to 16th century England—the world Stephen’s really from. He wants Miranda to use her acting talents and modern-day charms on the young Will Shakespeare. Without her help, Stephen claims, the world will lost its greatest playwright.

Miranda isn’t convinced she’s the girl for the job. Why would Shakespeare care about her? And just who is this infuriating time traveler, Stephen Langford? Reluctantly, she agrees to help, knowing that it’s her only chance of getting back to the present and her “real” life. What Miranda doesn’t bargain for is finding true love . . . with no acting required.

Review:

I am a huge Shakespeare nut. In university, I took an introduction to Shakespeare course as my elective and every year I see at least 2 of his plays. So needless to say, if I see a book that is based on a Shakespeare story or has Shakespeare in the title/plot summary–I am there.  So I am happy to say that I very much enjoyed this book!

One thing I really enjoyed about this was the history within it. Mingle’s writing makes me feel like I am living in that exact moment of history. Especially with respect to the history of Catholic and Protestant religions in Britain. I had studied that in school and I felt that she captured that history incredibly well. She is descriptive enough to allow you to create the world in your head but not so descriptive that you are skimming the paragraph to get on with the story. It is the perfect balance which makes this book so enjoyable to read.

You don’t have to be a Shakespeare nut to like this book. It has very little to do with his plays and focuses more on what his life was like back in his time. There is a bit of mystery and suspense, and of course, romance but it mostly focuses on the history.

That might be why people don’t like this book. If you don’t enjoy history focused novels, you might want to avoid this one. You might not like the heroine either. I didn’t particularly love Miranda–she wasn’t as annoying to me as some other heroines but I didn’t find anything that I particularly liked about her.

The book ended pretty suddenly in my opinion (it might have been because I was tired when I finished it though :P). I also like a little bit more closure in my books so I wouldn’t hate the idea of a sequel but it really isn’t necessary.

Conclusion:

I really enjoyed this book. I liked the history of it all but that history might not appeal to everyone so be warned!

Rating: 3.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Time Travel, Shakespeare
Recommended for: 16+
Similar Books: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly; Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (Ruby Red Trilogy) and Juliet by Anne Fortier

Single Sundays: Alternity by Mari Mancusi

Single Sundays: On Sundays, I review a stand-alone book that is not a part of a series. Here is this week’s offering:
Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Imagine waking up in a post-apocalyptic, nightmare world–and being told your whole life is but a dream. Skye Brown thought she was your typical teen–good grades, hot boyfriend, and an afterschool job that pays her to play videogames. But then she started having the dreams.

In her dreams, there is no Earth. Only Terra, a bleak, underground wasteland where people live in squalor and oppression. In her dreams, there is no Skye–only Mariah, a rebel leader fighting against a vile, dystopian regime. And then there’s Dawn, a handsome, but haunted solider who sees her as but an empty shell of the girl he once love–a betrayer he vows to hate forever, despite what she sees deep in his eyes.

Now, ripped between Dark Siders and club kids, the mundane and the mystic, Skye finds herself in a fight against time–to learn who she really is, where she belongs.. .and why. The shocking truth will have her questioning her own reality…and her heart.

Review:

I’m not too sure how I feel about this book. I feel bad giving it a 2 (I would stretch to say my rating is a 2.5) but I didn’t really enjoy the first half of the book.

The whole concept of the book was what intrigued me to read it. After reading the description I was reminded of the anime .hack//sign and how similar the plots were. That should have been my first clue that I was in for a confusing and odd book because that anime still puzzles me to this very day and I’ve seen every episode twice.

The book jumps right into the action with no work-up to the main plot. Normally, I would be fine with this (I hate reading long and tedious events before the true plot of the story emerges) but with this it just confused me. I can appreciate a little bit of mystery to keep the reader interested but with this it felt like I should already know what was being discussed.

Usually, I can predict how a book will end before the halfway point but with this, I really had no idea what was going on–let alone how it would end. It wasn’t until I was 1/3 of the way through that pieces started to fall into place but I still didn’t predict what was really going on until it was revealed (so thumbs up for an original twist).

Skye annoyed me to no end at the beginning. She was so wish-washy in her thoughts and convictions that it started to get on my nerves. After learning more about her character later in the book, I could somewhat understand why her character was presented that way but there were still a few things that I felt she should have reacted differently.

The whole concept presented is very interesting and I can respect where Mari Mancusi was going with this. I just feel like it didn’t deliver enough to make me fully appreciate the story.

 

Conclusion:

Do I regret reading this book? No, it definitely got better near the end but the ending seemed too abrupt for me to truly appreciate the story. I’m just glad it’s not the start to a series that I would now feel compelled to read. There are better reads out there but if you want to take a chance on a different type of story, (and have the time to do so) then it might be worth the couple of hours it will take you to read this.

Rating: 2.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction, Dystopian 
Recommended for: 16+
Similar Books: Not a similar book, but a similar TV show is .hack//sign

Book Review: Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
When the Germans begin bombing London in World War II, Betty is determined to do her part. Instead of running air raid drills like most girls her age, she lies about her age and trains to become a spy. Now known by her secret agent persona, Adele Blanchard, she finds herself parachuting over German-occupied France under the cover of darkness to join the secret Resistance movement. Prepared to die for her cause, Adele wasn’t expecting to make a new best friend in her fellow agent or fall for a handsome American pilot. With the brutality of war ever present, can Adele dare to dream of a future where the world is at peace and she is free to live and love of her own accord?

Review:

I randomly picked up this book from the library after seeing the cover. The plot summary grabbed my attention (I had recently started watching the TV series ‘Bomb Girls’ and really enjoyed it) so I decided to take it.

I’m glad I did! I really enjoyed it and appreciated it. It’s obvious that the author has done her research and the atmosphere she creates is amazing. So if you enjoy WWII young adult novels/settings then I recommend this.

The book started a little slow for me but it really picked up. I really respected Adele as a character. She is a strong female and a fighter.

My only disappointments were in the romances. They don’t play too major a role in the story–which is fine because there is enough going on that they really aren’t needed but for some reason after reading the summary I was expecting a little more I suppose.

I would definitely be interested in a sequel based on the premise and how it ended. Even if it wasn’t with Adele but within the same environment with different characters I would be interested in reading it.

Conclusion:

If you like wartime stories with strong female leads, espionage, mystery and intrigue, this is the book for you!

Rating: 4/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult; Historical; WWII
Recommended for: 15+
Similar Books: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Book Review: A Black Tie Affair by Sherril Bodine

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):

Fashion curator Athena Smith will do anything to get her perfectly manicured hands on the Clayworth family’s celebrated couture collection for her exhibit. So when she’s called in to make sure the gowns are the real deal, she’s ecstatic…until a dress she’s examining turns out to be loaded with toxins (talk about killer threads!) and Athena faints, only to wake up face-to-face with the One That Got Away, notorious Chicago bachelor Drew Clayworth.

Drew still believes Athena betrayed him all those years ago, and he’s sure he can’t trust her. But when the priceless gowns go missing, she offers to help track them down. Reluctantly allied in the quest, Drew and Athena are soon stunned by the barely restrained passion still sizzling between them…and memories both bitter and sweet. Is their new partnership just a business arrangement? Or is this something more than…

Review:

I wanted to read this book because on the Goodreads Page it stated that fans of Jennifer Probst would love this one. Not sure who feels this way, but I sure didn’t. This was nothing like a Jennifer Probst book!

Therefore, it’s no surprise that I wasn’t overly impressed with this book. I’ve never read Talk of the Town which is set within the same universe (just before the events of this book) but it isn’t required to read it before this one.

I was hoping it would be more suspenseful with the crime but it wasn’t. I’m not even sure the crime was fully resolved (if it was I missed it completely). The romance built slowly and it was mostly mild sexual tension until the last few chapters.

I liked the characters enough. They were well developed, but I found that I was more interested in the secondary characters, like Athena’s sisters and Conner than I was in Athena and Drew.

I feel like this book would have been better as a short novella. It felt like it dragged (which is something to note considering the ebook is 170 pages in length–not very long at all) but it mostly just built up everything for a sequel (which I gather is All I Want is You). I plan on reading the sequel, but not with as high of hopes as I had for this one.

Conclusion:

If you want a quick, warm romance about reuniting with the love of your life, this is the contemporary romance for you.

Rating: 2.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Contemporary Romance; Second Chances
Heat Rating: lukewarm
Recommended for: quick contemporary reads
Similar Books:

Book Review: Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella


Synopsis (from Chapters.ca):
Lottie just knows that her boyfriend is going to propose during lunch at one of London’s fanciest restaurants. But when his big question involves a trip abroad, not a trip down the aisle, she’s completely crushed. So when Ben, an old flame, calls her out of the blue and reminds Lottie of their pact to get married if they were both still single at thirty, she jumps at the chance. No formal dates-just a quick march to the altar and a honeymoon on Ikonos, the sun-drenched Greek island where they first met years ago.

Their family and friends are horrified. Fliss, Lottie’s older sister, knows that Lottie can be impulsive-but surely this is her worst decision yet. And Ben’s colleague Lorcan fears that this hasty marriage will ruin his friend’s career. To keep Lottie and Ben from making a terrible mistake, Fliss concocts an elaborate scheme to sabotage their wedding night. As she and Lorcan jet off to Ikonos in pursuit, Lottie and Ben are in for a honeymoon to remember, for better . . . or worse.

Review:

I have read most of Sophie Kinsella’s novels and have enjoyed them immensely so needless to say, I was excited for this one. I only became hesitant when I started to read some people’s reviews here and saw the low star rating.

As a fan, I can understand why people might not like this one because of the characters. They are flawed in some way that makes you not like them. I did not care for Lottie at all. She is everything I dislike in a “heroine” but without her, the story wouldn’t be what it is. I actually really liked Fliss–I thought she was hilarious and I wish that more of the story was from her perspective. Without spoilers the love interests were also flawed but I feel like main issue was that all the characters in this are stubborn and set in their ways and that is what frustrates the reader.

Why I gave this book the rating I did was because I did enjoy it despite my initial impressions of the characters. It made me laugh and I enjoyed the plot and all the shenanigans that happened along the way. Like I said before, Fliss really made this book for me, but I can understand why some people might not like her or get her style and humour.

The only thing I disliked about the book was the lack of an epilogue. I’m sure it is implied about how things end, but I really could have used that last bit of closure (hence the rushed ending tag because I felt like I was lacking that closure).

Conclusion:

So if you enjoyed I’ve Got Your Number, don’t mind stubborn characters and can find humour amidst bitter and frustrating situations, you will enjoy this latest offering from Sophie Kinsella.

Rating: 4/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: British Literature; Chick Lit; Comedy; Romance
Heat Rating:  lukewarm
Recommended for: anyone who enjoys Sophie Kinsella’s novels or British Humour
Similar Books: I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Book Review: Before you Go by Clare James

PLEASE NOTE: This is now a part of a connected series. This review will be updated appropriately shortly! (May 12, 2014)
 Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Paralyzed by the past and terrified of the future, Tabitha Kelly is broken.
After a public sex scandal at her college, Tabby moves to a new city with a new school, convinced she can start over. But she soon realizes the changes are not enough. Tabby must take action to help her heal and move on from the past.
And though it sounds crazy, she believes a one-night stand is the best way to take back what’s hers.  If she can choose where, when, and most importantly, who … maybe she can regain control.
First, she needs a willing participant.
She finds more than that when she meets Noah Adler.
Unfortunately, she can’t go through with it. And when she tries to forget about the plan—and the guy—it becomes impossible.
Noah quickly weaves his way into her new life and her heart.  But as he comes dangerously close to discovering her secret, Tabby’s at risk of losing it all.

Review:

I’ve been on a New Adult binge lately and this was just one of the many I have devoured in the last few weeks. Unfortunately it wasn’t one of the best I have read, but I definitely enjoyed it.

What stopped me from giving it 4 stars was the fact that it seemed rushed in parts. Despite the book only being ~115 pages on my Kobo, it still felt like a full novel. It was just that in some parts, things I would have liked to have seen more developed were over quickly (mostly stuff with her mother) or appeared suddenly. The ending I thought was also a bit rushed and I would have liked to have seen a cleaner finish (maybe some more about Jules and Foster??) but I was satisfied with what was given.

I liked the characters and I liked the plot. Both Tabby and Noah were relatable and I could see the chemistry between the two. Their feelings weren’t “love at first sight” which is a major bonus for me and it added to the realistic and believable storyline presented. I could easily see how the situation Tabby was in could happen in today’s society and I appreciated how it was handled.

UPDATED (May 12/14): There is now a sequel that will focus on Jules and Foster called More. I will probably read this though it will be at the bottom of my “to-read” list for quite some time.

Conclusion:

I would recommend this to anyone who wants a quick New Adult read filled with characters coping with their past and a cute couple. It reminded me a lot of J. Lynn‘s book Wait for You only shorter and lighter on the subject matter but I book I also recommend nonetheless.

Rating: 3/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: New Adult; College; New Student; Emotional Abuse
Heat Rating:  warm
Recommended for: 18+
Similar Books: Wait for You by J.Lynn