Category «Book Reviews»

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

Book Review: The Taming by Teresa Toten

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Katie likes to believe she’s invisible. It seems much safer than being exposed as she is–shy, poor, awkward. So getting up on stage in the school production of The Taming of the Shrew should be complete torture. But as Katie tells it, something totally unexpected happened when she stepped on stage: “My head exploded. I loved it. Acting hit me like a sucker punch and I loved, loved, loved it! . . . Invisible Katie became visible Katharina.”

Evan Cooper is, as they say, another story. He knows just what it takes to get noticed, and he uses every one of the skills he’s honed after years of being the new kid. Like tossing the keys to his father’s high-end Audi to a kid he’s never met, first day of school. “I have insurance for car theft,” he explains to a shocked Danny. “And there’s a full tank.” An abuse of the power that comes with privilege and money? Sure.

But more dangerously, is his romance with Katie another version of the same thing? Or is it the real thing?

Review:

This book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be after reading the description from Goodreads. I was expecting a lighter story; a typical “rich boy goes after shy girl” type of romance story. Maybe I just didn’t read the summary too carefully but the description on the back of the book was more accurate to what the story actually is.

The themes in it the were darker as it deals with various forms of abuse but it was done in a way that is completely realistic and believable.

The parallels to The Taming of the Shrew in the modern world really add to the story. Maybe because I am a Shakespeare-nut and am familiar with the story that I can see what the author was doing and can appreciate it. Those who may not be too familiar with the story may not get it right away but the major plot ideas from The Taming of the Shrew are explained in the book so you won’t be completely lost.

I also liked the fact that the story was told in part by Evan. While I feel that Shakespeare’s play focuses on the abuse of women, Evan’s presence in the book shows the affect abuse can have on males and children living in abusive homes.

My only complaint about the book was the way it ended. I would have liked an epilogue or some sort of wrap-up because I really want to know how these characters grow from this.

Conclusion:

In short, if you enjoy books that aren’t filled with the typical “high school soap opera drama” and are comfortable reading about abuse in family and romantic relationships then this book is worth a read.

Rating: 4/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult; High School; Shakespeare; Abuse
Recommended for: 16+
Similar Books: nothing immediately comes to mind