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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Time Bomb | Book Review

Time Bomb

Written by: Joelle Charbonneau
Number of Pages: 352

Average Rating: 3.66 / 5 stars
My Rating: 3 / 5 stars

Published: March 13, 2018
Read in July 2018

Summary According to Goodreads

A congressman's daughter who has to be perfect. A star quarterback with a secret. A guy who's tired of being ignored. A clarinet player who's done trying to fit in. An orphaned rebel who wants to teach someone a lesson. A guy who wants people to see him, not his religion. 

They couldn't be more different, but before the morning's over, they'll all be trapped in a school that's been rocked by a bombing. When they hear that someone inside is the bomber, they'll also be looking to one another for answers. 

My Thoughts

This novel was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018, but I was quite disappointed - maybe I hyped myself up for it too much. In terms of  the plot and characters I would say that this novel rates at more of a two star, but because it was such a quick read I had to bump it up. 

Joelle Charbonneau is most well-known in the YA community for her "Testing" trilogy, but I am one of the few who haven't read those books. I enjoyed her writing style in this novel and found it to read very quickly, however I didn't like the way that she told the story. It felt very flat, and I never felt any rushes of adrenaline or anxiety wondering if any of them weren't going to make it out. While reading this novel I also had a fairly strong idea who the bomber was, and was not at all surprised by the ending. I think that it was because we read from all five of their perspectives that we didn't get that suspicious thrill, and instead I think having a single perspective would have made the reveal more shocking. 

In novels such as this it is so important to have strong, developed, and distinct characters - which this one didn't. I felt disconnected from them all, and was more annoyed by how generic and cliché it all was. Each of these five characters was a walking stereotype, a couple of them were irrelevant to the development of the plot, and none of them displayed any type of complexity.

Overall, I appreciate the author's attempt at writing about a controversial and important subject, but this fell too flat for me. As I said earlier, I was not surprised by the reveal of the bomber, but am still confused as to their motivations. The ending was just a quick info-dump to get it over with, but there were some aspects that don't add up for me.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Books I DNF'd in 2018 | Part One

Books I DNF’d: 2018

We are officially halfway through the year, and looking back on my reading of these past six months I've realized there are quite a few books I've given up on! Today I'm going to share with you what those books were and why I gave up on them, but of course I mean no offence if these are some of your favourites. 


• Wonderland by Stacey Derasmo

     - Read 46 pages 
     - The writing style did not mesh well with me, it felt too forced and too heavy. 
     - The plot wasn’t something I usually read, and although I’d like to branch out more this wasn’t the one for me. It was boring and I couldn’t see where the plot would go. 


• Dead Men Walking by Christopher Berry-Dee

     - Read 40 pages / 5 cases
     - I find true crime novels to be fascinating, but I just didn’t care for the authors commentary that came with the background on the cases. I was interested more in what these people did to land them on death row, and not the authors personal opinions on them. 
     - I am going to hold onto my copy as I do think this is something I will pick up again sometime. 

• Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley

     - Read 35% of the ebook, equating 130 pages
     - I received an e-arc of this to review from NetGalley, and I was really hoping to love it. I couldn’t get into the writing style, or the plot. 
     - It was really just too many things going on at once. There weren’t smooth transitions or a consistent sequence to the perspectives. I was easily confused on where the focus was supposed to be, and wasn’t able to connect to any part of the stories or characters. 


• My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

     - Read 60 pages while also listening to the audiobook. 
     - I found this story to be insanely boring and flat. I didn’t care about the characters and got confused on who most of them were. Not my type. 

• Room by Emma Donoghue

     - Listened to 55 pages of the audiobook, and couldn’t handle the child narrator
     - I’m very interested in the story, so I’ll likely still watch the movie since I’ve heard good things
     - I really wanted to love this story, but I do also have an ebook copy on my iPad if I ever change my mind 


• Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

     - I was so excited to read this after loving The Long Walk, and was so disappointed in how bland this one was. I got about 140 pages into it, trying to both read it physically and listen to the audiobook, but I was never interested.
     - It was not suspenseful or thrilling because we read both the detective's perspective, and the killer's (whose identity was revealed very early), and this made it very hard to get through because I was bored almost the entire time.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

We Rise, We Resist | Book Review

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices

Edited by: Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson
Number of Pages: 74

My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Expected Publication: September 2018
Read in June 2018

Summary According to Goodreads

What do we tell our children when the world seems bleak, and prejudice and racism run rampant? With 96 lavishly designed pages of original art and prose, fifty diverse creators lend voice to young activists. 

My Thoughts

I received an advanced readers copy of this anthology from BEA, but that does not affect my opinion in any way. 

I really enjoyed this collection, it was a very quick read that I picked up while waiting to board my flight home from NYC. There were a lot of writers and creators I hadn't seen or read from before, so I am interested in checking out some more works from a few of them! What I enjoyed the most about this anthology was its diversity in theme and presentation, each entry was unique and I loved getting more exposure into some of the poetry and artwork styles that were included.

Overall, I really enjoyed this anthology and would recommend it to readers of any age! It is short which makes it a very quick read, and bright and colourful in a way that makes you want to keep turning the page. If you are looking for a fun but important coffee table book, I would recommend this one!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Long Walk | Book Review

The Long Walk

Written by: Richard Bachman
Number of Pages: 416

Average Rating: 4.11 / 5 stars
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Published in July 1979
Read in May 2018

Summary According to Goodreads

In the near future, when America has become a police state, one hundred boys are selected to enter an annual contest where the winner will be awarded whatever he wants for the rest of his life.

Among them is sixteen-year-old Ray Garraty, and he knows the rules - keep a steady walking pace of four miles per hour without stopping. Three warnings and you’re out - permanently. 

My Thoughts

“He seemed to have put in as many miles in his brain as he had with his feet."

I loved it! I had been wanting to pick it up for years, and I was in Chapters one day and decided to just give in and pay the full price for it. I started reading it the day that I bought it, and off all of the Stephen King novels I’ve read, I read this one the fastest - I just couldn’t put it down!

At first I couldn’t understand why these boys would willingly sign-up to participate in this walk, but the more you read the clearer the motives become. I interpreted “The Long Walk” to symbolize more than just a hundred boys walking for days, but also how no matter how far you push in life there’s so much more road to travel. It only ends when you decide that it’s over.

It is written in third person narrative surrounding Ray Garraty, but it all felt so genuine and real that you could find a connection to all of the boys. I had some genuine favourites, and it was heartbreaking sometimes because you know that only one boy is coming out of this walk alive. 

I’m not going to say anything about the ending for spoilers sake, but it’s one you have to sit on in order to understand why he wrote it that way. This was such a unique story that I’m still thinking about a week after finishing, and is one that I would recommend to everyone interested in Stephen King’s works. This novel not only makes my favourites of 2018, but makes my favourites of all time!

It also helps that reading this book motivated me to go to the gym more!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Unraveling Oliver | Book Review

Unraveling Oliver

Written by: Liz Nugent
Number of Pages: 258

Average Rating: 3.83 / 5 stars
My Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Published: February 6, 2018
Read in May 2018

Summary According to Goodreads

Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease - until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma. 

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbours, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.

My Thoughts

I received an e-arc copy of this novel to review from NetGalley, but that does not influence my opinion.

I’m not sure how I feel about this book, since I didn’t really like it but I also couldn’t stop reading it. I was never truly sucked into the story, and didn’t find any mystery or thrill. Reading this novel was very much like reading a true-life story or even a psychological assessment; a little dull but an interesting message overall. 

There were many different perspectives and time frames described in this book, and some of them I enjoyed more than others. My opinion on Oliver didn’t change too much through the histories revealed, but instead I developed an understanding for his motives. He is generally an unlikeable character, and I couldn’t find myself caring about his life. 

My biggest complaint about this novel would have to be in the writing. I said earlier that I was never sucked into the story, but I also never felt any connection to the characters. Each chapter changes perspectives, giving us background on Oliver throughout the years, but I didn’t find any of them to have a distinctive voice.

Overall, this was just alright and I decided to give it two stars instead of one because it was a quick read regardless of my boredom. It wasn’t awful, but I didn’t take anything away from it either. There wasn’t anything shocking about it, since you know from the very beginning that Oliver kills his wife and everyone around him can’t believe it. t went into it expecting something more thrilling or mysterious, and am a bit disappointed with what I got. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Then She Was Gone | Book Review

Then She Was Gone

Written by: Lisa Jewell
Number of Pages: 368

Average Rating: 4.37 / 5 stars
My Rating: 2 / 5 stars

Originally Published: July 27, 2017
Re-released: April 17, 2018
Read in March 2018

Summary According to Goodreads

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her. 

And then she was gone. 

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a cafe, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters - and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away. 

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

My Thoughts

I received an e-arc copy of this novel from NetGalley to review, but that does not influence my opinion.

I love thrillers, and I was immediately intrigued in this novel after reading the synopsis. The beginning of the novel started strong, but then slowly began to weaken. Her writing was not anything extraordinary or addicting, and was something I would have expected from a debut author. 

My biggest issue with this novel was its predictability. I was able to guess from early on where the plot was going to go, and where the twists would lead - and that took away from the suspense of my experience. I was never sitting on the edge of my seat, because it was an overall flat story. It is classified as a mystery and thriller, but I would consider it to be more of an adult fiction with dark themes. In my opinion, there was nothing mysterious or thrilling about it.

I found our main narrator, Laurel, to be flat and bland, although I do assume her emotional detachments come from losing her daughter all those years ago. Her character did not make a lot of sense to me, describing herself as introverted and wary of everyone, but then all of a sudden diving headfirst into a relationship with someone she only just met. She talked to this man more than she talked to her children, and considering she’d already lost one I was discouraged by how distant she was from her other two.

This novel did grip me in the beginning being told in the “before” and “after” of the kidnapping, and it was nice to get the perspective of Ellie in order to sympathize with what happens to her later. I felt sorry for Ellie and what she went through, but I could not have cared less about any of the other characters. They didn’t feel real, they felt like every generic family you would see on a talk show after one of the members goes missing.I think if the author had done more research on this topic, and rounded out her characters a bit more, she would have had a much stronger novel.

Overall, I was disappointed in this read. It is difficult to write in the thriller genre, so I appreciate the effort, but she didn’t bring anything original to the table with this novel. I am not in a rush to go out and pick up another one of her books, but I will keep an eye out in case any sound interesting enough. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Black Chuck | Book Review

Black Chuck

Written by: Regan McDonell
Number of Pages: 304

My Rating: 2 / 5 stars

Published: April 3, 2018
Read in March 2018

Summary According to Goodreads

Psycho. Sick. Dangerous. Real Dufresne’s reputation precedes him. When the mangled body of his best friend, Shaun, turns up in a field just east of town, tough-as-hell Real blames himself. But except for the nightmares, all Re remembers is beating the living crap out of Shaun the night of his death.

Shaun’s girlfriend, sixteen-year-old Evie Hawley, keeps her feelings locked up tight. But now she’s pregnant, and the father of her baby is dead. And when Real looks to her to atone for his sins, everything goes sideways. Fast. 

The tighter Evie and Real get, the faster things seem to fall apart. And falling in love might just be the card that knocks the whole house down.

My Thoughts

I received an e-book arc of this novel to review from NetGalley, but that does not influence my opinion in any way.

I went into this novel expecting a chilling darkness, which came from both the cover and the synopsis. Reading “psycho”, “sick”, and “dangerous” as the tag lines of a synopsis detailing a guy whose best friend dies, I thought this was going to be gruesome and heavy. Unfortunately it ended up being another contemporary following two teens who shouldn’t be together but fall anyway. 

There were more issues than positives in my reading experience of this novel, one of the biggest issues being the lack of plot development. It started out as engaging, but fell flat for about 70% of the story, before picking up as interesting again. The story slowly became less about the friendships and grieving, and more about the budding insta-love that was happening between Real and Evie. I felt as though there wasn’t enough consistency, too many cliches to count, and a few confusing plot elements that lost my attention.

However, I did appreciate that it is Canadian and focuses on some diverse characters - that being French and of Native heritage. Some of the religious and cultural beliefs recognized in this novel were ones that I was only partially familiar with, so I enjoyed being exposed on a deeper level. I did find this to be a quick read, probably aided by the fact that I read it on my iPad, since I tend to fly through ebooks. Her writing style was engaging and flowed well, but she was also descriptive in her atmospheres which I liked. But everyone cried all of the time, and that got old quite quickly. This is Regan McDonell’s first published work, and I hope she continues to write and develop her talent for storytelling. 

One of the most important elements in a novel is characters and their subsequent development, but I found both to be quite lacking in this novel. This story is told through alternating perspectives of the main characters, which was fine, but it also bounced between past and present randomly and confusingly. Real was built-up as this tough guy that people didn’t mess with, but all of a sudden he’s a crying mess that is torn between two girls? And Evie is written as a quiet girl that only joined the friend group because of Shaun, and is now suddenly centre of attention? Not believable enough for me. t found the characters to be unlikeable, but was able to find some compassion for them through the grieving of their best friend and boyfriend. Unfortunately once the two started pursuing a relationship together and falling too hard too fast, I lost respect for the both of them and just wanted to get to the conclusion of what happened to Shaun.

Overall, I went into this with the expectations of a murder-mystery, and was disappointed to find just another contemporary. If you enjoy reading dark contemporaries, I would recommend checking this one out upon its release, but it wasn’t anything that blew me out of the water.