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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Beauty Queens | Book Review

Beauty Queens

Written by: Libba Bray
Number of Pages: 396

Average Rating: 3.6/5
My Rating: 4/5

Published: May 2011
Read in July 2017

Summary According to Goodreads

When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island's other diabolic occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.

My Thoughts

I have to be honest when writing this review, about 25% of the way through my ebook edition, I was considering giving up reading it. I was not engaged in the story or the characters, but felt an underlying later of potential that convinced me to power through. I ended up switching to the audiobook, and I am so glad I listened to that instinct! 

The audiobook is narrated by Libba Bray herself, and it made it so much better. She brought so much life to these characters, and I think it was because she was reading characters that she created. She was engaged and gave each character (and there were many) a very distinct voice. This story is best enjoyed through audiobook because there was so much extra detail put into it - extra sound effects, transitions, and footnote inclusions to name a few.

Speaking of the footnotes, I do think they were a little overdone. When I was reading this on my ereader, I ended up ignoring the footnotes because it was so annoying having to flip through the pages to see what the footnote was. I know that this was probably because of the way the ebook was formatted, but it was something that took away from my overall reading experience.

The plot overlapped quite a bit and was a bit confusing to understand, but thankfully it was a very character-driven novel. I understood all of the Confederation aspects and how it translates to the climax, but I think it was a bit too much. It is just a light read that you don't have to think too much about, and for this reason think I would have enjoyed it more if I'd read it a couple of years ago.

This novel touched on so many different themes and social issues, I don't think I'd even be able to name them all here. The most prominent ones were LGBTQIA, feminism and gender stereotypes, racial discrimination, self-love, disabilities, and friendship. Each of these characters were so different, but blended together to form a strong group. None of the characters were perfect, and although they did try to cast that image, they eventually came to terms with who they are and set more realistic expectations for themselves. I also really appreciated the epilogue and closure that it provided for all of the girls - I loved seeing how their future played out in such a fun way!

Overall, I ended up being pleasantly surprised by this novel. It will go down as one of my favourite audiobooks for sure! This was my first time reading this author, and I enjoyed her writing style enough to be interested in wanting to read The Diviners. I am sure she has grown as a writer since the publication of this six years ago, and I am looking forward to seeing her progress.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Once She Dreamed Duology Review

Once She Dreamed by Abbi Glines

Part One - Published October 10, 2016

# of pages: 107
Average Rating: 3.6/5
My Rating: 4/5

Part Two - Published December 8, 2016

# of pages: 99
Average Rating: 3.72/5
My Rating: 2/5

Summary According to Goodreads

Everyone in the small country town where Sammy Jo Knox had been born and raised, never left. They made their life there. Got married, had kids, lived in the same houses that were always there along the streets that never changed. The whole white picket fence and tree swing might look good on greeting cards but in real life it was boring, at least to Sammy Jo.
When Sammy Jo was a little girl she began dreaming of something bigger. Brighter. Something that wasn’t her town. She wanted to see the world and experience it all. Just how she was going to do that she had no idea. Because if her momma had her way, she’d marry one of the boys in town and be spitting out babies and going to church on Sunday with them all lined up in a row.

The day Hale Christopher Jude III walked into the bakery she worked at, she knew he was it. That part of life she was missing. He smelled of foreign places and exciting things. He represented all the bright lights she dreamed of and simply put, she hoped he was her way out of this place.

What Sammy Jo didn’t realize was things that appear perfect… aren’t. And chasing her dreams could lead to something very different.

My Thoughts

I am a huge Abbi Glines fan, but these weren't some of her best works. It was overall very problematic for me, and I ended up enjoying the first part more than the second.

In the first part I loved reading about our main character Sammy's friends and family, but I didn't connect so much with her. She had huge aspirations and seemed like a strong character, but she was very naive, and very easy to manipulate. She continually talked about her dreams and how everything was coming true but she never had to do anything to get there. A rich guy found her attractive and willing, and she was blinded enough by his attention, and followed him like a puppy. I had been hoping to see more character growth and development in the second part, but she didn't learn much at all. 

The general of the plot had potential to be successful, but I think it was too rushed to peak. The second part took on a completely different tone from the first, and although it fit with a "twist" in characterization, I didn't enjoy it. I am a huge New York lover and a big dreamer myself, but even I wouldn't make the kinds of decisions that she did. It is so important to emphasize hard work and passion, something she didn't find even at the end.

Speaking of the end, that epilogue was pointless. I understand the need for it, but it wasn't done in a way to give justice and closure. It felt random and rushed, and could have been developed a bit more. I had to read those pages a couple of times just to be sure I understood what had happened.

Overall, I was really disappointed with this duology overall, and although I generally recommend Abbi Glines novels, I would skip these ones. 

One of Us is Lying | Book Review

One of Us is Lying

Written by Karen McManus
# of Pages: 360

Average Rating: 4.07/5 stars
My Rating: 5/5 stars

Published: May 30, 2017
Read in June 2017

Summary According to Goodreads

The story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Brownyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the criminal, is already of probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High's notorious gossip app.

Only Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn't an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he'd planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes them all suspects in his murder.

Everyone has secrets right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My Thoughts

This novel is one that was high on my "Most Anticipated" releases of 2017, and I was not disappointed! I read this novel over the course of a couple days, but each time I put it down I craved picking it back up. Eventually I had to sit and finish the last 100 pages in one go just to find out who the killer was!

There are four suspects in this novel, and it is written in a way that gives us each of their perspectives across the timeline of the investigation. These were such ordinary characters (a brain, a beauty, a jock, and a troublemaker), but the author was able to make them so unique while still keeping them relatable. One of my favourite things about this novel was how anyone could read this and find some part of themselves in a character. Was it racially diverse? Not completely, but there was diversity there. I think I personally related to Addy the most, going through a tough-time in order to come out of her shell and stand on her own. There was a lot of character development, and it was very well done.

This novel covered so many themes: friendship, betrayal, romance / young-love, family, drug abuse, and more. Nothing specifically felt like an add-on and instead it all came together to form a cohesive plot. I found all of their secrets rather interesting to discover, some more surprising than others but all, again, realistic to current high school students.

Reading this novel I was so nostalgic to my own high school career, and can't imagine being in the position these four were. I did guess who was behind Simon's death, but more in a "what if" scenario than being completely convinced.

I gushed so hard over the romance in this novel, because it would seem so random but it actually felt so real. It was frustrating at times but came together enough that once I finished reading, all I could say was "AWE!" Overall this was such a fast-paced, interesting thriller that you should look into reading! An exciting new release from a debut author that I will be reading more from in the future!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Weave a Murderous Web | Book Review

Weave a Murderous Web

Written by: Anne Rothman-Hicks and Ken Hicks
# of pages: 216

Average Rating: 4.3/5 stars
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Publication Date: February 6, 2016
Read in May 2017

Summary according to Goodreads:

Jane Larson, a hot-shot litigator for a large law firm in New York City, is sucked into an unfamiliar world of divorce and child support when she helps out a friend. Jane's discovery of the deadbeat dad's stash of money soon unravels a web of lies, drugs, and criminal activity that keeps getting more dangerous. Soon, Jane is involved in a high stakes race to recover a missing suitcase of cash and catch the murderer before she becomes the next victim.

My Thoughts:

     I received a copy this novel for review, but that does not affect my opinion on it. 

     When I was first emailed about this novel, I was so intrigued after reading the synopsis. While reading, it took me a while to get into the plot, as there was some back story to get you acquainted with the characters. Everyone had a history connecting them to another, and it made it seem like a small-town even though it is set in New York City. I thought the characters were fairly well developed, and each contributed something to the story. You never knew who to trust, and in the end I was surprised with the conclusion. However, I was disappointed with how our main character treated the people close to her, and did not think before she acted. Considering she is a lawyer, she was slow to think on her feet at time, and would go from doubting everything to confronting someone with an entire truth. It was difficult to understand her thought process, and even though we came to a conclusion I am still unsure how we got there.

     I dropped my rating on this novel for two reasons: 1) I found it very slow to read and 2) the plot went many different ways at once. I would put this book down and never be drawn to picking it back up. I was never completely hooked and that could be because there were times where I was very confused with what was happening. I would have preferred less twists, and a more developed plot. 

     The writing style was very descriptive, which fit with our characters voice as she is a lawyer trained to notice every detail. There was also lots of foreshadowing, but the suspense seemed to be a bit overdone. Each chapter ended in what I assume was meant to be a cliffhanger, but instead just predicted where the story was going to turn next.

     This is not a novel I would typically pick up on my own, but I did enjoy the experience overall. If the series continues I would like to see more personality from Jane and more development, as well as more description of how connections were made. I am happy to have received this adult thriller, and if murder-mysteries interest you, I would recommend giving this a try!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Calling Maggie May: Book Review

Calling Maggie May

Written by Anonymous
Number of pages: 256

Average Rating: 3.79/5 stars
My Rating: 1/5 stars

Published on June 23, 2015
Read in February 2017

Summary according to Goodreads

She had a normal life, until one small decision changed everything. Suddenly, there were new possibilities and new experiences. 

But not all of those experiences were good.

My Thoughts

Note: I completely understand that teenage prostitution is an ongoing problem in our society, and I am not trying to say that it is trivial or unimportant. This review is based on the author’s writing style and the plot that they have written - not any connection it could have to a real-life event. 

I received a copy of this book for review, but that does not affect my opinion.

Going into this novel I was excited because I had read others like it, but this one fell very flat. I felt no emotional connection to this novel because I did not feel as though the characters were real. In my experiences reading diary-style novels, they are less descriptive but more real. 

I did not like our main character at all. She was very impulsive and extremely naive. At the beginning of the novel she was getting straight A’s and had life ambition, and yet she continued to make dangerous and unintelligent decisions. There was not a justified reason for her getting into prostitution, and I felt as though her relationship with her parent’s was an extreme form of a “first-world problem”. She was doing well in school, was participating in extra-curriculars, and after losing her V-card in a one-night stand decided selling herself was a good first job? Most teenagers I know find their first job in fast food not prostitution. She changed personalities so often, she was incredibly hard to follow.

This book took me forever to read - the plot moved very slowly. I have read the other books by Beatrice Miller or “anonymous”, but this one felt so disconnected from the others in more ways than one. The entire story transpired in about 10 months, and it felt like it took that long to read. She was living a fast-paced world and the entries would jump around so much that it was very hard to keep track of the timing that had passed. It was never descriptive enough to get excited in her life moments or feel nervous for her, as it felt almost as though she was just stating things that had happened with no further background. It is really hard for me to describe the plot except to say a teenage girl decides to prostitute after seeing a girl at school with fancy things, and even after bad things happen, she decides it’s worth it.

There was a brief editors note attached to the end of the novel, and I am not sure how I feel about it. It genuinely surprised me enough that I had to read it a couple of times to fully understand what happened, but I think it was just a way to try and make up for the lack of plot throughout. I would have rather seen 100 pages taken out of the middle of this book, and a final chapter on the afterward. 

Overall this instalment in the author’s “series” was the slowest of the bunch, and the least interesting. When I first finished this book I gave it two stars, but now that I have thought about it further I dropped it to one - I strongly disliked this novel.

Monday, January 9, 2017

AYearAThon 2017 Themes!

AYearAThon 2017!

January 2 – 8
            TBR Catch Up
            Read books of one colour

February 6 – 12
            Retellings (Fairytale, Mythology, etc)
            Books recommended to you

March 6 – 12
            Read a trilogy

April 3 – 9
            Read books by one author of the same colour

May 1 – 7
            Big books (400+ pages)

June 5 – 11
            Catch Up / Finish a Series
            Read a book with a character your age

July 3 – 9
            Read books from the year you were born

August 7 – 13
            Childhood Favourites
            Marathon a series

September 4 – 10
            Titles that are one word

October 2 – 8
            Read poetry / short stories

November 6 – 12
            Authors That Are New to You
            Read a duology

December 4 – 10
            2017 Debuts

            Read the most recent books you acquired

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wanted Wednesday - September 7, 2016

Happy Wednesday!

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

Average Rating: 3.83/5 stars
Published: April 19, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Summary according to Goodreads

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.