Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown


Torn Away by Jennifer Brown
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:  May 6, 2014
Date Read:  April 29, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Algonquin Books and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.


3.5 Stars


I am going to be completely honest.  I have had a very hard time deciding on a rating for this book.  I thought parts of this book were wonderful, but I really question why the book took some of the turns that it did.  I requested this book right away when I saw it on Net Galley because I have become quite intrigued by tornadoes in recent years.  I live in Missouri where tornadoes tend to hit every year.  A tornado actually hit my subdivision a few years ago which was way too close for comfort.   I am so very thankful that nobody was hurt in the tornado that hit so close to my home.



Jersey is a teenage girl who lives with her mother, step-father, and sister Marin.  On what seems like a regular day, Jersey stays home while her mother takes Marin to dance class and her step-father Ronnie is at work.  While she is alone, the tornado sirens go off and Jersey makes her way to the basement.  As she hides under a pool table, her house is torn apart.  When it is over, she emerges from the wreckage to find her neighborhood has been destroyed.

The first third of the book deals with the tornado and the immediate aftermath.  I found this to be the best part of the book.   Everything rang true to me.  I think the author captured the panic, fear, and uncertainty that comes with this type of catastrophe.


Jersey is finally reunited with her step-father, Ronnie but the reunion is not what it could have been as she learns that her mother and sister did not survive the tornado.  To make matters worse, Ronnie decides to send her to live with the father she has never known.


At this point, the book takes a turn that makes no sense to me.  Why send her away to live with a group of drunken rednecks?  She loses her mother, her sister, her home, and now she has to sleep on the porch?  Really?  I really think that this book would have been much better if we could have watched Jersey mourn and rebuild in her hometown with her step-father.


After she runs away from her father's family, Ronnie picks her up and drops her off at her grandparents' home.  Jersey's mother was estranged from her family and Jersey has never met her grandparents.  It quickly becomes obvious that her grandparents do love her and together they start to heal.


The last part of the book where Jersey moves in with her grandparents is much better than the middle section of the book.  With her grandparents, Jersey starts to mourn and heal.  I liked the characters of her grandparents and the love they felt for Jersey seemed so very real.

All things considered, I enjoyed this book.  While I found the section of the book that had Jersey living with her biological father ridiculous, the beginning and the end of the book made up for it.   

The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth



The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth
Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date:  April 29, 2014
Date Read:  April 25, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Algonquin Books and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

4 Stars

I enjoyed this book and found the story intriguing.  This book has a middle grade audience but I found it quite appealing even as an adult.  The story pulls you in right away and keeps you interested until the very end. 

This book is set in a future world that is quite hot.   Devin has lived on the farm with his grandfather but when his grandfather suddenly dies, Devin must take care of the entire farm alone.  When he realizes that the task is more than he can handle, Devin decides to head to the city to find help.  City life turns out to be much harder than he expected.  Devin is quickly robbed of all of his possessions and must make his way with nothing more than the clothes on his back. 

Devin soon meets a young girl, Kit, who has learned how to navigate the cruel city.  When the rains come, Devin and Kit seek refuge at an old school with other kids where they meet Roman.  Roman invites Devin to come with him to a place where he will be taken care of, a home for children.  Devin agrees to go but only if Kit can come as well.  On the surface the children's home is more than they could have ever wished for but soon they learn that not everything is quite as it seems. 

I found the world building in this book to be well done.  I could completely envision the cruel city where children are left to fend for themselves in a world with too little food.  The children's home was a world of its own even though it was largely a facade.  I thought that the book was well written with believable characters.  

I do have to admit that I am still a bit confused by Devin's special abilities and found that it added nothing to the story.  I also thought that is was strange that Devin wanted to go to the children's home when his goal was to get help for his farm. 

I would recommend this book.  This is the first book by Tania Unsworth that I have had a chance to read.  I plan to look for other works by this author in the future.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Kraken King Part Two by Meljean Brook


The Kraken King Part Two by Meljean Brook
Penguin Group
Publication Date:  April 22, 2014
Date Read:  April 17, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Group and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.  This story was included in my review copy of The Kraken King Part One.

Solid 4 Stars

The Kraken King Part One was the very first steampunk story that I had read.  But let's be honest because that was only the beginning of the story.  Part two of the story picks up right where part one left off.  

Zenobia, her friend Helena, and her mercenary bodyguards begin their travels across Australia with Ariq, the Kraken King.  They are traveling in a spider like machine across Australia.  





Zenobia is completely amazed by a simple kangaroo in this unusual land.  They find that they must also watch out for boilerworms and end up having a very bad experience with one.  

In this section of the story we see more of Zenobia's ability to think fast and act bravely.  We also witness, Ariq letting her know that he knows that there is more going on than she has said.  The chemistry between the pair is fantastic.

I really did enjoy this story but I do wish that it had been published as a book rather than a serial novel.  I hope to finish this story because I am quite interested.  

I do recommend this to anyone who enjoys serial novels.  I plan to read more of this author in the future.

The Kraken King Part One by Meljean Brook



The Kraken King Part One by Meljean Brook
Penguin Group
Publication Date:  April 15, 2014
Date Read:  April 17, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Group and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

Solid 4 Stars

How have I read so many books but somehow missed reading even a single steampunk novel?  Beats the heck out of me to be honest.  I don't know if it counts for anything but I did see exactly one steampunk movie and I really was not all that impressed to tell the truth.


  
This is the first part of an 8 part serial novel.  I actually have not read a serial novel either before beginning this story.  This story introduces us to Zenobia and Ariq.  Zenobia is an author traveling with a friend and a pair of mercenary guards.  When the ship she is traveling in is attacked, they find themselves literally jumping to safety.  Next thing you know, Zenobia is being pulled from the water by Ariq, the Kraken King himself.  

This story pulled me in right away and I can not wait to see where it goes.  I found the chemistry between the main characters to be incredible.  I think this is going to be a fun story.  

My one problem with the story is really the fact that it is a serial novel.  I do not like to wait and I often get side tracked.  I prefer to consume a story in short order from beginning to end so the idea of weekly installment really does not appeal to me at all.  I actually fear that I will get side tracked at some point and fail to finish this story which would be a shame because I think it is going to be a good one.

I would recommend this story to others as long as they like the serial novel aspect of the story.  I had never read anything by Meljean Brooks before.  I definitely plan to check out her other works.

Hard Time by Cara McKenna






Hard Time by Cara McKenna
Penguin Group
Publication Date:  April 15, 2014
Date Read:  April 20, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Group and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

4.5 Stars

This is not the type of book that I would normally read, but I have to admit that I am oh so glad that I decided to give this book a try.  The reason that I am oh so glad?   One word - Eric.  I fell in love with Eric.  Eric is a honestly good guy who just happens to be a convict, so he has also been a bad guy.  This book was well written with characters that draw you into an intriguing plot.

Anne is starting her work as the prison librarian.  Despite all of her efforts to dress down and only focus on the task at hand, she finds herself drawn to a certain inmate at the prison with the numbers 802267 across his chest.  That same man, Eric, later comes into her area for help and the chemistry between the two is instant and intense.

The pair begin sharing letters where they share fantasies with each other.  Anne, or Annie as Eric like to call her, has spent the past 5 years of her life emotionally distant from others due to a past relationship.  Eric has spent the past 5 years behind bars.  The letters that they share wake something up in both of them. 

This is a hot, steamy read filled with lots of sex.  I usually do not seek out this kind of book because I have found the story linking the sex scenes usually fall short.  This book was different.  The sex scenes advanced the plot which was fantastic. This book was not perfect by any means but it was perfectly enjoyable.

I would recommend this book.  This was the first book by Cara McKenna that I have had the opportunity to read but I can assure you that it will not be my last.  This author has definitely secured a spot on my future to read pile.  I am in awe of this author for writing a character as perfect as I found Eric to be in this book.




We Were Liars by E. Lockhart



We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Publication Date:  May 13, 2014
Date Read:  January 18, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Children's Publishing and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

4.5 Stars

STOP!  Quit reading reviews about this book!  The only productive thing anyone is going to be able to tell you about this book is that you need to read it.  If anyone tries to tell you anything else, do not let them.  No good can come from knowing anything about this book.  Your friends who wish to tell you about the book are really just ruining it for you.

If you are in public and hear people discussing this book, the best thing to do would be to cover your ears and sing Mary Had a Little Lamb at the top of your lungs so that you cannot hear what is being discussed.  One minor flaw in that plan would be that new discussions may start about the crazy person singing nursery rhymes at the top of their lungs in public for no apparent reason.  Maybe this is not a good plan.  

If you have read the book, zip it.  Your friends deserve the same chance that you had.  Allow them the privilege of going into this book blindly.   I know that we all like to prepare our friends for what is ahead.  In this case, don’t do it….you are not helping!  

If you feel that you MUST discuss this book, here is what you can do.  Buy extra copies of the book and give them to your friends.  Wait until your friends have read the book.  Then and only then discuss the book (but not in a public area so that we can avoid the whole singing episode previously mentioned).  It will be fun.  It will be like when you were little and played school…and this time you get to be the teacher because you will be handing out the assignments.

I must say that I did figure out the big twist in the book about half way through but I had to find out that I was right so I kept reading and enjoyed the journey.  If I had known that I was right, it seriously would have ruined all of the fun.

Seriously?  Can nobody follow directions anymore?  Why are you still reading this review?  Stop…just stop and go read the book.


The Temptations of Anna Jacobs by Robyn DeHart



The Temptations of Anna Jacobs by Robyn DeHart
Penguin Group
Publication Date:  April 15, 2014
Date Read:  April 22, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Group and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

4 Stars

I almost forgot how enjoyable it is to read a well written historical romance.  As a reader who reads a little bit of everything, I have somehow not picked up a historical romance in quite some time.  This book was a quick read with very likeable characters.  The romance in this novel was balanced quite nicely with one the biggest mysteries of all time. 

Anna is studying to be a physician much to her mother's dismay.  While Anna's mother would like her to focus on finding a husband, she has given up on the possibility of marriage and has instead focused her energy on medical school.  

Drew has just been released from prison after being wrongly accused of committing the crimes of Jack the Ripper.  Anna's brother, Simon, asks Drew to work as an Inspector with Scotland Yard to help solve the crimes.  Drew agrees but Simon is quickly sent away leaving Drew to try to piece things together on his own.  Drew soon starts to depend on Anna's help on the case.   Drew and Anna are drawn to each other but Drew holds back because he feels he is not suited for a proper woman such as Anna.

I did note that this is book two of a series.  I am sure that the first book covered events leading up to this book but this book is quite enjoyable on its own.  The characters in this book were fantastic.  Anna was strong willed and more than willing to go against the path society felt she should take.  Drew was a flawed man but also strong.   He worked hard in this book to make himself a better man.  I loved the author incorporated Jack the Ripper into this book as well.  It made for a very interesting story.

I would definitely recommend this book.  This is the first book by Robyn DeHart that I have had a chance to read.  I look forward to reading more of this author in the near future. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares



The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Random House Children's Publishing
Publication Date:  April 8, 2014
Date Read:  April 5, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Children's Publishing and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

4 Stars!

This was a quick, easy book that was fun to read.  This book is about a teen girl, Prenna, living in New York City with her mother.  She is part of a group of people from the future living with a strict set of rules.  The group has come to live in our current time from the not so distant future of around 2100.  The future world is not what we would have hoped with plagues and pollution.  This group has traveled to the present to live out their lives but have developed a set of rules that are enforced.  

Prenna is having a hard time following some of the groups rules.  She finds herself drawn to Ethan, a boy from school.  It is against the rules to have any kind of intimate relationship, physical or emotional, outside the community.  Prenna soon meets a homeless man who says some things to her that make her start to question the community.  Prenna begins to wonder if the rules are really necessary and wants to stop some of the devastating things that have caused the world's future state from happening in the first place.

I thought that this book was well written and will probably appeal to the teen audience.   I liked the main characters.  Prenna is willing to question the people in her community who held the power.  Ethan is a great character although obviously fiction since he was a little too perfect.  

I enjoyed this book even though it was far from perfect.  There were more than a few things that happened in the book that were simply unbelievable and I can understand why it would not work for some people.  It is a time travel book so I did not expect it to be believable.  I would recommend this book to others. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hillary: Tail of the Dog by Angel Gelique


Hillary: Tail of the Dog by Angel Gelique
CreateSpace
Publication Date:  December 31, 2012
Date Read:  March 23, 2014

4 Stars!

I am going to be perfectly honest.  This is exactly the kind of book that I would not usually give a second glance.  I saw several people talking about this book on Goodreads and I was curious so I decided to take a chance.  I am so glad that I did. 

Hillary finds herself in a strange house unsure of how she got there.  Dr. Morrison says that he is there to help her but refused to tell her anything.  Before long, her situation worsens and she is now tied to the bed in the room hooked up to an IV and a catheter.  Dr. Morrison's wife, Monica, cares for Hillary's hygiene needs but refused to help Hillary in any way.  Dr. Bentley also visits Hillary and says that he is her psychiatrist.  Everyone tells Hillary that she can after she regains her memory.  Hillary really just wants to go home.

When I first looked at this book on Goodreads, I could not help but notice this at the top of the page:

WARNING: This novel contains disturbingly explicit sexual and deviant content that may be considered offensive to some readers, including rape, torture and cannibalism.

I had no idea what to think about book that comes with a warning like that but I knew that I had to read it to see what the fuss was about.  I am not sure what it says about me that I really liked this book but I did.  

This book was a well written dementedly entertaining tale.  I would recommend it to readers that know that they can handle gory and graphic violence.  This is not a book for just anyone but it is a wonderful book for those that enjoy this kind of book.  I understand that this book is the first in a trilogy.  I do plan to read the other books in the trilogy soon.

Missing You by Harlan Coben


Missing You by Harlan Coben
Dutton Adult
Publication Date:  March 18, 2014
Date Read:  March 28, 2014

4 Stars!

I have to start this review by saying that I am a HUGE Harlan Coben fan.  I have waited in line with my pile of books to get his signature.  I have devoured his books and have read every single book that he has written.  I know that I expect a whole lot out of a Harlan Coben book.  This was a great book but it was not as great as some of the books that Mr. Coben.

One of my fangirl moments with Harlan Coben

Kat Donovan is a NYPD detective.  Her best friend, Stacy, has signed her up for a dating website as a gift.  As Kat is scrolling through the photos of available men on the site, she finds Jeff, the man that she had planned to marry 18 ago.  She reaches out to Jeff online but he does not seem interested in reliving the past.  Meanwhile, a young man, Brandon, comes to Kat at the police station.  He is afraid that something has happened to his mother.  His mother has been a widow for several years and has went away with a man that she has met online.  While Brandon has had some contact with his mother, he feels that something is wrong.

Several plot lines connect and intertwine as the book comes to an exciting conclusion.  This book had no shortage of the twist and turns that characterizes Coben's writing.  Everything did fit together nicely by the end of the book.  The characters were well-developed.  The plot of the book was intricately planned out and believable.  The only thing that is keeping me from giving this book a 5 star rating is the fact that it did take a while for me to feel "hooked" by the story.  I actually found the beginning of the book very put down-able which is unusual for me with a Coben book.  The second half of the book had no such problems and I read it very quickly.

I would definitely recommend this book.  It is an intelligent mystery that keeps you guessing and will appeal to most readers.  I look forward to reading future works by this author.

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina


The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina
Candlewick Press
Publication Date:  April 8, 2014
Date Read: April 2, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Candlewick Press and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

4 Stars! 

This was one of those books that the more I read, the more I liked it.  I find myself gravitating towards YA books right now.  I found this to be a great addition to that genre.  I was first intrigued by the cover of this book which shows a fierce face of  young girl.  It is a wonderful cover that I would no doubt pick up if I were browsing in a book store.

This book is set several hundred years in the future.  The world has changed a lot in this future.  Land masses have changed after a great flood.  The new focus is on balance.  To keep everything in balance, individuals with special abilities are called Illegals and are kept away from the rest of society.  Ashala is part of a group of Illegals who live in Firstwood where they live to stay out of the detention centers.  

The book opens with Ashala in a detention center.  The administrator of the detention center, Neville Rose, is determined to find out all of Ashala's secrets.  To do so, he orders the use of "the machine" on Ashala.  The machine has the ability to read the memories of anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves in its clutches.  

The beginning of the book was confusing at times.  As things are revealed, everything starts to come together to form a very cohesive story.  The cast of characters were well developed, likeable, and more than intriguing.  The world building was well done and I can clearly envision world that Ashala and her tribe calls home.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys dystopian young adult novels.  I would feel completely comfortable with my 13 year old reading this book so I do feel that it is suitable for a younger teen audience and above.  This book is supposed to be the first in a series.  I definitely plan to read future works by this author.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...