This book was given to me as a present and as such I felt obliged to read it. The synopsis already told me that it wasn't one that I would have ordina...moreThis book was given to me as a present and as such I felt obliged to read it. The synopsis already told me that it wasn't one that I would have ordinarily picked for myself but I read it anyway.
Aunt Elspeth is dead and twins, Julia and Valentina, inherit her flat next to High Gate Cemetary in London with the one condition that neither of their parents can enter it. Fair enough.
Unfortunately, not one of the characters was really likeable and their actions didn't often make sense. On top of that, the plot (what plot?) didn't seem to be going anywhere fast with the author just taking the twins on various tours of London until the she seemed to realise that she needed more to her novel than just shopping trips and fiascos on the underground. When it did finally kick off, the plot was still bland and on top of that it was just horrible. And by horrible I mean that I was disgusted beyond words by the characters' final actions.(less)
As can be gleened from the title of the book, this story follows in the footsteps of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. Although this book was somewhat better...moreAs can be gleened from the title of the book, this story follows in the footsteps of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. Although this book was somewhat better than some of the others of the genre that are out there, it wasn't spectacular but it was a good enough read for when you're stuck in the airport.
The main character is a linguist and that being my area of study, I enjoyed the sections on languages. He must, however, be an absolute genius to be able to translate an ancient language that no one has seen before in meer days when it took real linguists years to decipher the hieroglyphics even though they had the Rosetta Stone as a means to help them translate.
One of my main gripes was that I didn't like how every single female seemed to immediately lust after the protagonist - that was beyond my suspension of disbelief. Unless he was the academic version of George Clooney, but that wasn't the impression that I got.(less)
This book came as a recommendation from a close friend and in the shop I was debating between buying this one and another. I have to say that I'm glad...moreThis book came as a recommendation from a close friend and in the shop I was debating between buying this one and another. I have to say that I'm glad that this one won out! It's translated from Russian, of course, and I think that most of the many song lyrics (and there were more than I was comfortable with) lost their meaning in the translation.
The story itself was original and I found myself easily drawn into it each time I picked the book up again. Agents of the light and the dark have to keep the peace by keeping an eye on each other and stopping their foes, be they vampires, sorcerers, or whatever, from influencing the everyday citizens of Moscow.
I enjoyed the protagonist's narration, though I didn't really understand what the hell was going on at the end of the book. Moscow not long after the end of the communist influence made for a very different setting, with the matchbox apartment buildings. I enjoyed the way that the author showed West beginning to seep into East.(less)
Although I enjoyed this story for what it was (while I was reading it) - a bit of easy to read fluff - it wasn't particularly good story telling and o...moreAlthough I enjoyed this story for what it was (while I was reading it) - a bit of easy to read fluff - it wasn't particularly good story telling and once I'd finished it I wasn't entirely sure of how I viewed this book. I'm not certain that I can say that I actually enjoyed it, but it most definitely drew me in while I was reading.
The length of the chapters annoyed me somewhat. They were never more than about 6 pages long, with the chapters only starting half way down the page, and I felt like it was a huge waste of paper. Though maybe the publishers were trying to make the book look longer than it really is.
The story is also riddled with holes. Example: She's lying on the bathroom floor, alternating between coughing and dry-heaving, sure that she's dying and hardly able to get to the phone but immediately after she's perfectly able to get to the hospital on her own... err? How does that work?(less)
I've been a fan of the TV show Dexter for a while now and I felt it was high time for me to read the book it's all based on. The whole time that I was...moreI've been a fan of the TV show Dexter for a while now and I felt it was high time for me to read the book it's all based on. The whole time that I was reading I could hear Michael C. Hall's faintly sardonic voice narrating the story to me. Dexter has a great and distinct voice. I will definitely be passing this book on as a recommended read to friends and family.(less)
This was a satisfying continuation to Bickle's first novel, Embers. By the end of the book, a number of threads are neatly wrapped up but with enough...moreThis was a satisfying continuation to Bickle's first novel, Embers. By the end of the book, a number of threads are neatly wrapped up but with enough questions left unanswered as to hint at a future third book in the series. I hope we won't have to wait too long.
Again, I think Sparky was my favourite character and I simply loved the scene where they went shopping together. I could just imagine they mayhem they caused! (less)
It didn't take long for me to become sucked in by the story at the beginning to the book. Sarah's story stirred a mixture of feelings in me: sadness t...moreIt didn't take long for me to become sucked in by the story at the beginning to the book. Sarah's story stirred a mixture of feelings in me: sadness that this was ever permitted to happen in the first place, annoyance, frustration that the French have managed to pretend that this part of their history never took place because they were considered one of the allied victors of the war, etc. I consider myself in part French even though I don't hold the nationality, as I grew up there - this book made me feel somewhat ashamed of the culture that shaped me. The events of World War Two should not be forgotten and the first part of the book is dedicated to that. Even the present day narrative focuses almost entirely on what happened to the Jews in Paris that summer of 1942. Definitely 5 stars.
I wasn't as fond of it, however, when Sarah's story petered out about half way through. The present day Julia Jarmond was far less interesting and I just really could not bring myself to care about her soap opera of a life. I also began to question her sanity. This task that she'd taken on of finding Sarah became an obsession to the point where I could no longer connect with the character and felt like she'd become someone akin to a stalker. She ploughs through everything with no respect for the people she's coming across, thinking only of her own selfish reasons for what she's doing and she leaves a number of lives shattered in her wake. I did not like this half of the story. A wishy-washy 2 - 3 stars for this bit.
I'll meet in the middle at 3.5 - 4 star read.
Although I agree with the message of this story, that we must never forget what we did to other human beings, I do not agree with the execution of the story. I would have much preferred to just read Sarah's story.
Also, just a little side note, the author was obviously taught British English as, despite her protagonist being American, the spelling of certain words is British. That made me smile.(less)
In all honesty, this book is well-written with a good, if slow and not all that juicy, plot. I believe, though, that it is aimed at an older readershi...moreIn all honesty, this book is well-written with a good, if slow and not all that juicy, plot. I believe, though, that it is aimed at an older readership than me. The protagonist and her romantic interest are both in their 50s - 30 years older than me - so I found I was unable to really connect with either of them. Libby's constant fussing about Ben's thoughts, feelings, whereabouts, actions, meanings behind the actions, etc. got old pretty fast, probably because I do not really associate 50 year olds and the idea of embarking on a new relationship like some hormonal teen.
One thing that bugged me is that if Libby's known Ben for years, why does she magically realise that she fancies him at the start of the book? I think I'd have found an on-going attraction more realistic than this miraculous realisation.
I don't buy the gay man being seduced by a woman known the be the village bicycle.
The character "flings" her cloak on a lot, like there was no other verb to describe the action.
Enjoyed but I doubt that I'll continue with the series at this time.(less)
The story opened with a book that did not fail to snag me. Jacob, the narrator, mentions that his life has two halves: B...moreFull review can be found here.
The story opened with a book that did not fail to snag me. Jacob, the narrator, mentions that his life has two halves: Before and After, and they, as with all important events in his life, are linked to his grandpa Portman. When Jacob repeats the tales he was told in his childhood, I was gone - hook, line and sinker. I loved the way these tall tales were the truth when he was a child but justified by more mundane explanations (if you can call the Nazis mundane) as he grew older.
I lost interest a bit for the short while that Jacob was going through counselling but then I was drawn straight back into the fold as soon as he arrived in Britain. I've seen plenty of criticism levelled towards the story that it’s slow and boring. In some respects I can see where these people are coming from but at the same time, I think that the slower pace was quite important for the author to get all his building blocks in place. So yes, it was slow burning, but the ending had my adrenaline pumping!
Throughout the story there were various points where another idea would slip into place and I would come to understand both Jacob and grandpa Portman a bit better. There were even moments when it was like a light bulb going off in my head! The whole story was a complex riddle prompted by grandpa Portman's last words and even towards the very end there are still bits that he's just coming to understand.
Though the concept is far from new, the way it was treated was very interesting. This is one of the more plausible ideas for time travel that I've ever read. I actually had a moment when I wondered whether it was going to turn out that Jacob was his own grandfather, but I think my brain must have dropped out for that thought to filter through because grandpa Portman spoke English with a Polish accent his whole life and Jacob has an American accent, so they couldn't possibly be one and the same unless Jacob changed his name and then chose to affect a fake accent for the rest of his life!
The incorporation of photos was a very original touch, though. The only problem with this was that it was too dependent on the photos from time to time and as such the story was twisted in ways that weren't always necessary just to make it come back to the photos in question. In fact, a lot of the time I found that I would just glance at the photos and then move on with the story. I was far more interested in the story itself than I was in the photos that supported it.
Unfortunately, a lot of the time the children didn't really have particularly strong personalities. I'd often find myself reading a name and trying to associate it with which child that was and which ability they had. I would have liked to have not come face to face with that issue. Yes, the abilities were rather X-Men-ish, but they were fun.
The one thing that really didn't sit too comfortably with me was the romance. It is established that Emma has been pining after Jacob's grandfather, who left her and the other children to live his own life, and then suddenly there's a romance blossoming between her and Jacob? As Jacob says himself, this girl is his grandpa's ex and it was a bit ick. It might have been better to wait until the next book for that! As it was, it felt almost like Jacob just replaced Abraham for her.
Despite this, I still enjoyed the story and I'm looking forward to seeing where there adventures will take them from here.
Also: it appears that the author had a small problem with his British vernacular! At one point, two teens from the island ask Jacob whether he's "taking a piss" and then clarify that they want to know whether he was joking. No, in British English, "taking a piss" means just that - urinating. Taking THE piss, however, is making fun of somebody / something. I suppose this mistake may have come from the way we pronounce it. In my particular dialect, the phrase sounds more like "teckint piss".(less)
The premise of the book is interesting: the girl who commited suicide leaves behind a number of tapes, each narrating events that happened to her that...moreThe premise of the book is interesting: the girl who commited suicide leaves behind a number of tapes, each narrating events that happened to her that led up to her decision to take her life.
The book itself does not quite live up to this premise.
All throughout the book I expected something bigger, more earth-shattering, to happen to Hannah but it never did. It just seemed to be the culmination of a number of little reasons, the first few of which, at the very least, were very minor. Every girl has had rumours spread about her by a boy.
I think that the book probably appeals more to people who are emotionally scarred in a way similar to Hannah Baker (which I'm not, my emotional scarring is very different so I couldn't really connect with her) or people going through their own teenage angst (which, again, I'm not.)
My one biggest issue with the story was (view spoiler)[the cop out concerning Clay. He seemed to be a character that really was too sweet to be true. I would have liked him to have done something to Hannah without realising he was doing to it and not just the excuse of "honey, you don't belong". If he was on the tapes, he should have done something to deserve this position. (hide spoiler)]
I liked Hannah's voice. I preferred it to Clay's, which was rather weak in comparaison. The author has a tendency to tell not show with Clay's narrative, which put me off at first. It improved as the novel went on, but it was never as strong as Hannah's voice.
The message the book sends is a good one, one that should be kept in mind: our words and actions can affect other people's lives in unexpected ways. We should never take another person's presence in our life for granted.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
After having read several books with soppy or flowery narrators, this book was a complete breath of fresh air. Christoph...moreFull review can be found here.
After having read several books with soppy or flowery narrators, this book was a complete breath of fresh air. Christopher does not see the world the same way as a normal person does and as a first person narrator this means that the voice of the story is very different to any other that I have read. The idea is that Christopher has decided to chronicle his investigation (with support from his class teacher) so he really is telling his own story.
Towards the start of the book, Christopher explains that he understands the emotions behind :) and :( but anything more complicated than that goes straight over his head and he has to rely on knowledge of what he thinks the facial expression should mean. He can’t read people’s emotions. He can’t understand implicitations in speech (cf Grice). He does not like being touched. He has little routines that help him get through his day and he does not like it when there are factors that intervene and upset his timetable. I liked all of the little snapshots into Christopher’s mind, like how he likes the colour red but he avoids anything that’s yellow or brown; how he can’t eat food that has touched another type of food on the plate but it doesn’t matter if the different food items touched before they were on the plate. It was a very informative look into how things are for an autistic person. Considering the fact that the author has worked with autistic children, this is also a very informed look into this sort of life. The reactions of the people around him are always realistic too. I particularly liked the elderly neighbour with the dachshund.
There were plenty of scenes that were very emotionally powerful for me, especially the scene where Christopher is taking the underground. I felt completely overwhelmed by the situation right along with him. Another thing that I found to be very interesting was the addition of what I’m going to term ‘side chapters’ where Christopher would explain a moment from his life, a scientific theory or maths problem. Some of these interrupted the flow of the story, but others really added to it. In particular, I liked his ideas about the images we see in the stars and how Orion the hunter could just as easily be a T.rex – I had to stop and laugh at that bit. It is, however, obvious that the book is now a little dated as some of the scientific theories presented have now ‘evolved’ from the one presented by Christopher. I feel that, despite them digressing from the main plot, it was very important to include all of these passages as science and maths are Christopher’s main interests so obviously he would want to talk about them in the same way that a protagonist who wants to grow up to be a professional singer and dancer would refer to singing and dancing a lot.(less)
***Warning: some spoilers concerning the relationship.***
The thing that hit me the most with this story is that througho...moreFull review can be found here.
***Warning: some spoilers concerning the relationship.***
The thing that hit me the most with this story is that throughout it all, Joe is such a hypocrite! He really rubbed me the wrong way. It’s established within the first few chapters that he has women in all the foreign cities he regularly visits and that he enjoys no-strings-attached sex with each of them. Fair enough. It is then established that he is attracted to Tess, does not really act on it then goes abroad to one of his broads. Again, fair enough. Then he starts sleeping with Tess and when he next goes abroad, he goes straight to his f*** buddy (‘scuse my French.) Not cool. Not only this, but he keeps it from Tess and then has the nerve to get all high and might when she keeps a secret from him. He really wasn’t a male character after my own heart and with lines like: “His head was full of Tess but his face is full of Nathalie”, I kept hoping that Tess would wake up, smell the coffee, dump this two-timing twat and find someone who recognises that she has a good heart and deserves to be more than just ‘sex at home’ as opposed to the various women who make up ‘sex abroad’.
What’s more, whenever they fight, Tess is always the one who ends up apologising profusely even when she’s not the one who was in the wrong. The dynamics of their relationship just didn’t work for me and in a romance that’s never good. The balance was all wrong and Joe’s revelations, when they finally come, don’t get addressed properly and he never has to atone for his sins while atone is all Tess ever seems to do!
What I did like:
- Wolf: A big lummox of a dog, you can never go wrong with that! Plus, I liked his characterisation.
- Em: very cute and a bit too well-behaved for a baby. Often I found the tags that accompanied her actions would leave me smiling. She might have been too quiet for a toddler (in my experience) but she made for a very cute non-speaking character.
- Seb: I suspect that I transferred my like to him when I decided that I really couldn’t bring myself to like Joe. I just wish he’d had a bigger role.
- The girl chat: now this was a relationship where the dynamics really worked for me, though I think it would have been better to have Tamsin and Lisa as two very different personalities rather than Lisa just basically being Tamsin’s northern, and present, clone. Despite this, I enjoyed the scenes where Tess and Lisa were letting their girly sides run wild.
- Mary, the home, and Em’s stardom there: these amounted to very cute scenes often reminiscent of a sad reality of the forgotten elderly that is all too present in our society.
- The feeling of solitude: this practically oozed from the pages when Tess was yearning for the company of someone who can actually talk.
What I didn’t like:
- Joe: for the reasons previously mentioned.
- The bridge comparisons: I get why they’re there but they’d just go on for far too long and I’d find myself zoning out.
- The descriptions of the town: again, they weren’t that frequent but when they did appear I felt like I was being whacked over the head with the big, long descriptions. I would have preferred them to have been more interspersed in the narration.
- The ending: the climax came at least 50 pages before the end and everything tacked on after that was essentially to ensure that the reader fully grasped that this is how it’s going to be from now on! Eat it up! Really, it was unnecessary and just prolonged the book. With careful editing I’m sure this thing could have been at least 100 pages shorter, if not 150.
However, I do have to give credit where credit is due and admit that despite my reservations, I did find myself drawn back to Secrets each time I put it down.(less)
First of all, because I feel this is important, I’m going to point out that this story isn’t in any way bad. It’s very r...moreFull review can be found here.
First of all, because I feel this is important, I’m going to point out that this story isn’t in any way bad. It’s very reminiscent of the stories I would read on FictionPress back in the day (the good ones, that is as anyone who’s been on FictionPress will know that it has a very wide range of quality). It’s enjoyable from start to finish. It’s a high school tale with a paranormal (half-)faerie twist. The only problem is that there is very little by way of danger.
It stays in the fairly safe zone of the cliché high school story: new girl (albeit with a half-faerie twist); geeky guy best friend; unpopular girl best friend; popular cheerleader who’s nasty to everyone and looks down on her ‘followers’; good looking jock who takes an interest in the new girl; posse who surrounds evil cheerleader and romantic interest jock.
For a long time, the focus is on Shayla fitting in at public school after having spent her whole life moving around the country with her grandparents in their mobile home. Obviously, public school is very different to the home-schooling that she’s used to. Not to mention that the faerie half of her can make things difficult – such as turning invisible or having to find a way to deal with her pointed ears when she’s required to tie her hair back in science class.
I really didn’t understand where the romantic interest came from. For Shayla, sure, he was good looking and she felt some form of attraction. For Jace, I am completely clueless. As of the very first day he shows interest in her and there’s no explanation as to why he would. What was with him inviting her to be part of the student council or committee or whatever it was? It gets mentioned when he invites her to be a part of it and then it gets dropped. They never have a meeting or anything like that. In that way, the romance didn’t really work for me. It was sweet, but it didn’t have a foundation. I might have overlooked this a few years ago but as it is, I found I wasn’t particularly interested in whether or not Shayla and Jace had a future together.
The other thing is that only one lesson is ever shown: first period science class. There are also plenty of scenes in the cafeteria, but we never see Shayla in any other class. Why not? Well, possibly to keep from boring the reader with passages where little happens, but it got to the point where it felt like science class was the only one that existed.
Eventually some sort of threat is introduced, but it doesn’t actually becoming very threatening until the very end of the book. I think I just wanted more of a sense of danger from the book. As it was, it was mostly about day to day life in high school. I’ve done that once and it’s not something I’m in a rush to get back to (though of course my lycée experience was very different to the typical American high school experience).
As for the ending itself, there were a lot of new, different ideas introduced very quickly that were never expanded on. Had they been introduced earlier on in the story, I might have cared about them, but as it was they only garnered some form of mild interest from me. The author had stuck me in a situation where (I think) she expected me to get caught up in the action but because all of this had had no lead up, I didn’t really manage to get beyond a mild interest.
Mister Digby was an interesting character – possibly the most interesting. He was one of the few where the author managed to leave me unsure of where I stood with him. I went through phases with him. At first I thought he was another faerie, then I thought he was some form of troll, and then I just couldn’t figure him out at all. The descriptions of him were good, though. I kept imagining something similar to Professor Flitwick form the Harry Potter books.
As I said at the start of the review, the book isn’t bad. It’s just slow and it should be taken as such. This is not the sort of story where the action keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s one to be enjoyed in a moment of calm. I think it’d appeal to younger female readers (maybe 12 or 13+) more than it will to older readers. There are loose ends and things that could have been improved but overall I enjoyed the story.(less)
I have to be honest as I start this review: I think that this is one of the most difficult reviews that I have ever writ...moreFull review can be found here.
I have to be honest as I start this review: I think that this is one of the most difficult reviews that I have ever written. Even in my own head I am very torn about this book. On the one hand, I did like the story and the message that it conveys, but on the other hand it was lacking something for me. But what, exactly, was it lacking? Well, I’m finding that I can’t quite put my finger on that. I’m going to try to figure it out for myself as I write this.
So what’s the book about? The synopsis covers that extensively. Emma, having always lived in her mother’s shadow as she strives for her approval, finally sets out to discover life and what she wants from it. So she goes to live with her aunt Daisy in the small town of Riverview and there she embarks on a voyage of self-discovery. She soon meets Nicholas and her voyage of self-discovery becomes the adventure of falling in love for the first time. But her summer happiness is doomed when Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer and Emma has to find new pillars of strength inside herself in order to be the rock that Nicholas needs to help him weather this storm.
I much preferred the second half of the story, but why? I think that the answer lies in the fact that in the first half of Blue Sky Days there is no threat in any form. There’s nothing hanging over their heads as the reader knows that the cancer problem is coming, but the characters don’t. It’s not even really the story of Emma and Nicholas falling in love as that happens right off the bat. It’s more a chronicle of what they did together that summer. There are two what I’m going to term “speeds”. Most of the time things were set on “play” and the reader would experience events as Emma lived them. Other times it was like things were on “fast forward” as Emma gave the lowdown on what they’d been doing until we’re caught up with her present again.
Because there was no threat to what was going on, to their happiness, I felt a bit like a voyeur standing at a window and looking in on these people, which in turn left me ill at ease. More than this, though, the physical interactions between the characters left me uncomfortable. Now, I consider myself to be a fairly touchy-feely person and I’m all about hugs and kisses (much to my boyfriend’s ever-lasting frustration!), but these characters took touchy-feely to a whole new level. They were constantly kissing each other on the cheek or forehead or hugging even when it was the first time they’d met. This may be a culture issue, I don’t know. Again, I just felt bordering on voyeuristic by the intimacy of it all.
I didn’t really feel the growing relationships between the characters at this point either. Daisy and Emma already had a close relationship before the events of the book even started; Maggie and Vince, Nicholas’s friends, didn’t really get much on-page time and the reader just had to take Emma’s word for it when she mentioned that they’d become friends during one of the fast forward passages; and I felt that the scenes between Emma and Nicholas were more a way of chronicling the events of the summer than really showing the evolution of their feelings as the feelings just seemed to be there as of the get go.
It was interesting to watch Emma come to find her own two feet with the help of these other characters but I found that my discomfort during this half of the story was often hard to overlook and the fact that for 50% of the book there was nothing to threaten their happiness meant that I felt that they had nothing to lose. Consequently, it was hard to stay interested at times.
The second half of the book really picked up. I know that some readers were reduced to tears when reading this half of the book as Nicholas has to fight leukaemia. Personally, I didn’t cry but I suspect that this stems from my difficulties connecting with the characters in the first half of the book.
Funnily enough this part of the story reflects events that took place in my boyfriend’s family just before I was drawn into the fold. We’re talking almost the exact same trials and tribulations as Emma and Nicholas and the same mentality on coming out the other side. It’s very true that such an experience leaves you with a very different outlook on life. There were a good number of quotes in this part of the book that really impacted me. The most important of these was something that Daisy says to Emma when Emma’s feeling close to breaking point as things go from bad to worse. "You're going to give him all you have, just like you've been doing, and when you don't think you've got anything left to give you're going to dig deeper and somehow find more strength..." I loved this quote. It meant so much to me. I wish I knew how to add quotes to GoodReads so I could add that one to my favourites, alas I don’t.
This was a very poignant insight into the horror that people – friends and family of cancer sufferers – go through every day. I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt, though my experience was diagnosed as terminal so there was never a point when raised hopes were dashed as they are in the book. I think the most striking scene for me was when Emma climbed into her car and just broke down, she felt so powerless and that translated really well.
In fact, the author’s ability to portray these feelings (as several of the characters end up feeling like ships without anchors) was really admirable. She’s got great talent for bringing such emotions to life for the reader. Had I connected with the characters better, I’m sure that I too would have been reduced to a blubbering mess.
Emma’s dad also makes his appearance in the second half after having been more or less absent for the first half of things. He’s supposedly breaking free from the chains that shackle him to his selfish, unfeeling wife but most of this goes on off-page so the reader doesn’t really get to observe his evolution. I would have liked to have seen more or it. As it was it felt like it was a little too much in the way of tying things up with that bow of perfection. It didn’t help that I found the mother’s character very hard to believe. I just feel that had she really been jealous that her only child chose to spend her time with her aunt instead of her mother, the mother would have gone to lengths to get her back rather than just keep pushing her farther and farther away at each point.
So I find that I’m torn about this book. I think really this is in part my own fault as the reader for not connecting very well with the book. When I look at it from a distance, I’m aware that this book is worth at least 4 stars, but it just didn’t work that well for me. I enjoyed it for the most part but I wasn’t invested in it.
The message, however, is perfect. May we all strive to make every day a blue sky day.(less)
This is a case of a book that lies outside my comfort zone. It is fairly rare that I will read books about every day tee...moreFull review can be found here.
This is a case of a book that lies outside my comfort zone. It is fairly rare that I will read books about every day teen issues nowadays (though I did enjoy them when I was a teen myself), and it would seem that this is for a reason. Last month I read a similar book and had a similar experience. In both cases I found myself faced with a book that I recognised as being a good read with a good message, but one that just didn’t really fit my own personal tastes.
I guess that this is really a coming of age story. It was a very interesting decision to choose to write it from a male point of view. There are too few stories of this genre out there with male narrators, though I suppose that this could in part be due to a very restricted male audience for such books. This said, it was a different experience to see a boy tackling issues such as how and when to go forward – when to take that next step in a relationship, when it’s the right time to take things to the physical level for the first time.
It has to be said that, for me, the synopsis was a little misleading. When I read “the disaster of his senior year”, I expected Jameson to be tackling issues in school as well as outside school. I never really felt that his school year was threatened, or that there was ever a point where his high school career was under threat. That said, I am not American so I have no idea just how devastating it would be to be told you will potentially not be allowed to walk at your graduation. I doubt it’s such a big deal that it could be considered that your school life is falling apart, though.
Really, everything goes well for Jameson in school. He’s pretty much on a high as he’s a very strong swimmer competing for the school team with no small modicum of success. Sometimes things spill over from his home life and he seems to spend a day or two moping about, but I seem to remember that being pretty much normal!
Other than the school thing, I quite liked Jameson as a character as he grew and realised that things are not always black and white and there’s a whole range of shades of grey in-between. Sky brought out the best in him when he just comes across her on a street corner (she’s walking home, not ‘working’) and she insists that if they are to be friends then he needs to be honest about absolutely everything. It is through his relationship with her and the honesty that she demands on him that he realises just how dishonest things have been up until this point.
Take Sarah for example, the girl Jameson is “in love with”. The two of them have been best friends for three years. In all that time, he’s secretly liked her but never plucked up the nerve to tell her about it. Now, Sarah’s got a boyfriend – the school’s resident jerk who likes to check out all the ladies. It takes a while but eventually Jameson realises that Sarah’s made her choice: it wasn’t him and he needs to let her make her own mistakes even if it means that their friendship won’t survive. He was never brutally honest with her and now that he’s decided that honesty is the road to take, she doesn’t want to hear his opinions. It’s ironic really, isn’t it? Ignorance (or turning a blind eye as the case may be) really is bliss.
Sky herself is a wonderful character. True, she keeps secrets from Jameson when she demands honesty from him so she’s rather hypocritical in that respect, but she has her reasons. Though I don’t necessarily agree with those reasons, I do understand where she’s coming from and when her secret is revealed my heart broke for her. I can’t even begin to imagine the mental trials and tribulations that such a situation would incur. I liked how open Sky seemed to be; how she was willing to take a chance on a boy who obviously still harboured feelings for another girl; how she forced herself to swallow her fears and face life with a positive outlook.
The events with Jameson’s father also lead to some very powerful scenes. Personally, I wouldn’t have reacted in the same way – while Jameson gives way to his anger, I’m one of those people who swallow everything, simmer in the anger and close a door that it takes a lot to get me to reopen. Consequently, I did find myself frustrated with his actions at times but only because this is written in the first person – I – and “I” would never react in such a manner.
It was also an interesting decision to mix up cultures. Jameson is pretty much American through and through despite his Mexican heritage, but Sky is Native American and she comes from a community in Alaska. I liked the little hints about how things work in her community, their beliefs and how they go about their daily life. It’s fairly rare that I will ever read a book that contains such titbits about Native American life (but only because they’re not featured in the genres that I prefer) so this was a nice change for me.
At the end of the day, this book was a really good, very well told story that will end up with many fans. But it wasn’t the story for me. I prefer what I read to have some form of threat throughout while this story was more the idea of coming to terms with life and growing up. It was a well-crafted piece and conveys a good message about being honest with not only the world around you, but also yourself.(less)
The decision to read this book was one of those spur of the moment things. It’s a very different sort of story to what I normally read but of course reading is all about expanding your horizons. I’m not the sort of person who really keeps to a limited reading sphere, so I figured I’d take a chance on the book!
When Elizabeth falls pregnant, Christian gives her an ultimatum: him or their unborn child. She chooses the child and walks out of his life. Six long years later, a chance meeting between Christian and a young girl draws him into the life that he’d turned his back on, the life that includes fatherhood. A small taste of what he had up until that moment never known is enough to make him crave it and he muscles his way into his daughter’s life, despite knowing that Elizabeth is less than comfortable with this change.
The story mostly focuses on the excursions that the three of them make as a family, showing the reader just how Christian is growing as a person in order to embrace the new role that he has taken on. He’s actually a very interesting character and I enjoyed observing his evolution from spoilt rich kid to doting father, even if I did often find the interactions between Christian and Lizzy (his daughter, not to be confused with Elizabeth, the mother). I suppose this reflects on my relationship with my parents. It’s a healthy relationship, but we tend to show our love through actions rather than endless direct proclamations.
Elizabeth was another matter entirely. She started off as a woman willing to make a difficult choice and ready to face the consequences of it. Unfortunately, while Christian evolved, I felt that Elizabeth devolved. Christian hurt her and she never got over the pain of his betrayal. I get it. Considering his actions, her reticence around him was taken too far and just ended up as a lot of repetition about how he’ll just hurt her again so she should keep her distance – but it’s so hard! I lose all respect for her when she held Christian accountable for her actions and made him responsible for them not having sex. When she then takes out all her fears on her daughter while claiming to be protecting her, she became a weak-willed character that was a shadow of the strong woman she’d been; a character I could not stand.
I understand why this is in the story but it just didn’t work for me personally. What’s more, once Elizabeth lost my respect, she failed to regain it before the story ended so I parted ways with her feeling dissatisfied with her character, and because of this ultimately with the story as a whole.
My copy of the book also had some formatting issues and I’d come across sentences like:
“He could wanted, but it would never change what he discarded us and he had no right in our likes. apologize all he did. He had”
Sometimes I could reconstruct these broken sentences but others I had no idea where the fragments were supposed to fit in. I couldn’t say for sure whether I missed anything important because of this.(less)
As of the very beginning things were not going to be easy for me with this book. Sod’s law and all that. For some reason the PDF wouldn’t covert to .mobi so I was stuck reading the book in PDF form, which is hard on my eyes. I ended up reading it on the Kindle as the boyfriend was using the tablet and I know from experience that reading from the PC screen no longer works for me. So I just had my nose smushed up against the screen and went from there!
The plot is fairly simple: Callie’s mother leaves a confession in a letter that, upon her death, was sent to the father she’d hidden Callie from all her life. Said father is Warren Sherbrooke, who happens to be running for president. The revelation comes as a shock to all parties involved but Warren is determined to meet this long-lost daughter and bring her into the family fold. His campaign manager, wife and step son, Dylan, aren’t convinced that she really is his daughter and not just some bawd with her own agenda trying to scam them / hurt Warren’s chances of winning the election. So Dylan offers to be the one to go and meet her in order to take her measure.
As soon as he sees her he can’t deny the family resemblance and knows that she is who the letter claims she is. Warren’s campaign manager is still wary though and Dylan agrees to keep an eye on her in order to make sure that she doesn’t do anything potentially disastrous, such as taking her story to the media.
Spending time together soon leads to initial attraction transforming into deep feelings taking root and it’s not long before their relationship turns physical. It can’t be that easy, though, and an overhead conversation leads to Callie feeling shattered and betrayed, and Dylan having to overcome old fears in order to ensure future happiness.
The vast majority of the book focuses on Callie and Dylan and what they get up to together. There are various activities and landmarks described, which the author certainly has a knack for, but I did occasionally find my interest waning as things took too long to get to the point. In fact, it isn’t until the 75% mark that the spanner actually gets thrown in the works. Although I did enjoy reading about their outings together and the author did a fantastic job of bringing Massachusetts to life for me, I would have preferred to see more interaction between Callie and the other Sherwoodes instead. She doesn’t get to spend very much time with her father at all, despite it being his desire to get to know her that pushes the narrative. The ending also felt a little rushed in comparison with how drawn out a lot of the rest of it was.
There are some minor continuation errors, such as Callie claims she’s only ever left Massachusetts once to go to Florida, but later in the book she talks about a school trip to New York. Now, admittedly I’m not all that familiar with US geographical layout, but I’m 99.99% sure that New York is not in Massachusetts, although I suppose it could be considered close enough that it’s not all that exciting (like how my home in France is close enough to Switzerland that a trip across the Swiss border is not all that out of the ordinary).
Generally speaking, I prefer my stories to have a little bit more conflict in them, but as an easy-read romance, this book succeeded in alleviating me of the headache my day had caused!(less)
As soon as I read the synopsis for this one, I was intrigued. I wanted to know more and so when the promo tour also offe...moreFull review can be found here.
As soon as I read the synopsis for this one, I was intrigued. I wanted to know more and so when the promo tour also offered six review copies, I immediately signed up for one of the six. I didn’t actually receive my copy until after the promo post (here) and I had a couple of other blog tour books to read before I could crack this one open, but I had itchy-finger-syndrome when it came to this one.
I cracked it open for the first time after having just finished another book of a very different genre. In hindsight, that wasn’t the best idea ever. I should have given myself some time to unwind from the first book before I cracked open this one. I also only allowed myself the time to read the prologue and things might have been different had I been able to immediately continue on to the first couple of chapters. The consequence of not doing so was that the prologue left me thrown and not entirely enraptured. This is my own fault, of course, and I suspect that my experience of starting the book would have been very different had I approached it differently.
It doesn’t help that I’ve been very busy recently, which meant that for the first few chapters I was only managing to snatch a chapter or two at a time rather than sitting down and reading a large chunk all at once (which is my preference). As a result of this style of reading, the story felt very slow-burning to me. This is not at all a bad thing. The author took her time to present each part of the story just as she wanted it to be presented, taking the reader down a dark path of confusing twists and turns and more than a few dead ends rather than rushing in to things head on.
There were certain things that were certainly confusing. At times I could tell that the person Tandie, the main character, was interacting with was not of our time. In fact, it seemed odd that she herself didn’t stop to question why on earth these people would be wearing period dress rather than jeans and a t-shirt. At other times I couldn’t figure out whether she was interacting with someone living or with one of the dead. These sorts of scenes really leant to the spooky feel that was gradually being built up in the story.
Right now I have a thing about ghosts in my paranormal / urban fantasy stories. They’re not as used and abused as vampires and werewolves (yet) which gives the author a little more leeway to make their ghosts relatable characters who are still unique in their own way. I liked all of the characters but one of the ghosts in particular (not naming names so people can deduce which of the characters are ghosts on their own should they choose to read the book). She was a chilling but fabulous character, very complex.
Though I had some reservations to begin with, the story soon smashed them all apart and turned out to be a gripping thrill ride. Well, I say thrill ride but I want to stress that it is slow burning. Things come together very slowly, but once all of the pieces are in place, it is definitely worth it! I really enjoyed the book.(less)
I came up against some problems when getting into this book. The first and foremost was how utterly incapable I was of relating to the protagonist. She’s very materialistic, to say the least. Personally I have absolutely no interest in expensive clothes brands so reading about a character that is focused on such things is not always easy. She also felt very shallow, especially when at the very beginning her boyfriend is giving a speech and she’s thinking at him to hurry up and finish so they can go home and have sex. Maybe it’s just that I’m coming from a very different humour background, but that just didn’t work for me and it placed a wedge between me and the character.
When she loses her boyfriend and her job in one day, Leslee decides to move back to her hometown. Once there she mopes around on her best friend’s sofa for a couple of months before she’s forced to start pulling herself together. The story only actually focuses on her obsession with getting her romantic life back on track. There is no interest in her professional life. In fact, it gets completely ignored until towards the end she goes for one job and gets it immediately with no problems. There wasn’t enough balance here for me, especially as she admits that she only has $400 in her account when she arrives (and somehow manages to pay for endless taxi rides). I needed to see more of her worrying about her finances and her professional standing, and not just her attempts to secure herself a new man.
Her dating experiment was an original idea. I didn’t really feel that the basic idea was really worked on. The idea was to go on a series of dates, employing different techniques on each to try to find out what a man wants from a woman. Well, she did go on a series of dates and most of them led to some laugh out loud moments, but it didn’t feel like she was actually trying to do things differently each time. It was more like she reacted on instinct a lot of the time.
She roped in a friend to help her with this. Unfortunately I felt that this showed just how shallow she was. The only time she really showed any interest in this friend, Annie, was when she needed something from her to do with this BACHELORETTE project. As soon as she dropped the experiment, she dropped the friend as well and, at the end, admits to not having seen her in months. I did rather like Annie, though. She was more grounded in a group of other characters that were just weird at times (even if that weirdness did lead to laughs at times).
I also felt that Eric was not really given enough attention. I didn’t feel the relationship between them growing. There were some interactions between them and then a couple of hints at his interest in her, her potential interest in him… and then she got drunk and things get physical. This would have been a great opportunity to work on growing Eric’s character but instead he disappears and Leslee starts going on a few dates with someone else. I wanted to get to know Eric better. From the synopsis, I expected there to be more focus on him and her fighting her feelings for him.
The book wasn’t in anyway bad. It was a well-imagined plot that’s not really anything new in the chick lit genre but entertaining in its own right. I simply felt that the book focused on too much on certain things that were not as necessary and didn’t give enough time of day to other things that needed to be developed more.(less)
This story immediately caught my attention. The synopsis screams the sort of thing I used to read a lot of as a teen. It’s not the sort of book that I still read very often now that I’m a bit older, but occasionally I do enjoy a foray back in this sort of genre. I knew as of the get go that this book was going to be one of those forays.
I have to say I really enjoyed this blast from the past!
That isn’t to say that the book is without its problems. For example, I wasn’t sold on how much of a creep Max was. Maybe it would have been possible to paint him as such a character with ulterior motives, but Max’s never really rang true to me. I got that he was being an arse but his actions didn’t really fit for me. It might have helped to see more backstory of the rivalry between Max and Zack and why Max hates him so much.
That was my one major sticking point, though. For the rest of it, I enjoyed this fluffy, light romance. It consisted mostly of how stricken Chloe is about the unofficial Zack Warren fan club that she set up when she was young but soon abandoned after Zack stole the pink streamers from her bike, resulting in her deciding to hate him forever rather than love him. Unfortunately for her, under her best friend’s ministrations, the unofficial Zack Warren fan club became a living, breathing monster in its own right – a monster to be reckoned with. Even worse, she’s still considered the founder and everything about the group is attributed to her.
Zack meanwhile has been fighting his attraction to Chloe for years now. After losing his mother at a young age, he chose to protect himself from future heartache by not allowing anyone to get close enough for him to have feelings for them. Chloe gets past all his barriers, though, and with his father having just married her mother, he’s going to be forced to spend rather a lot of time around this very dangerous girl. (Dangerous to the barriers he’s erected around himself).
The story is very easy and slow-going. It’s not mile-a-minute or anything like that, but it never fails to keep your attention and even induces a few chuckles with some laugh out loud moments. It’s short and sweet but, apart from the Max weirdness, it really works well!
On a side note, poor any future half siblings! Can you imagine being a kid having to explain to the other kids at school that your brother and sister are dating? Owch.(less)
The style of this story is very out of the norm. It’s one that’s very raw and to the point while still somehow managing...moreFull review can be found here.
The style of this story is very out of the norm. It’s one that’s very raw and to the point while still somehow managing to only skirt around certain subjects. I admit that it took me a while to actually get into the style. I read the book in parts, at first because the style failed to really lure me in and then because I had other reading obligations that were more urgent. The synopsis was one that caught my attention immediately, but I was quite a way into the book before it had really sucked me in. On top of this the jumpy narration occasionally made it quite hard to follow events and I would find myself having to go back and reread passages in order to really understand what was going on. This was frustrating.
Eventually I came to realise that this was written more like the style of Skyosa’s thought flow. I’m not so keen on that style (“je buvais des grenouilles” – I drank frogs – the sentence that put me off this style), but I do see the appeal for it, especially for a story such as this where everything is very dependent on Skykosa’s innermost thoughts and secrets, and her preference to skirt around a certain event in her past rather than tackling the event head on. This event in her past is very important to the evolution of her character. She often alludes to it but never quite manages to tackle it head on.
I think that it is important to note that while the story may be considered aimed at the YA market, it’s more aimed at mature YA or adult readers. There are a number of subjects tackled that I wouldn’t consider entirely appropriate for younger readers. There is a huge focus on sex in particular. And when I say that it focuses on sex, I mean it seems like all of the characters focus on sex almost all of the time. I don’t remember being that sex-mad as a teen but then I did grow up in a very different environment.
In fact, I’m not sure that this environment could have been any farther from the one I experienced myself. I liked that they were Asian characters, in a very religious environment and yet many of the parental figures take a backseat to the action, seeming to take little interest in their teenage children’s antics. It made for an original setting. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read something quite like this.
There is a darkness that overshadows the whole of this story. It’s not a feel good book. It’s a grim look at a potential reality that a teen could face. There’s a cast of broken individuals who are all struggling to come to terms with events they’ve faced and how their lives have been impacted. It’s not a book that I would normally pick up but it’s one that made me stop and think. And it’s got me intrigued – I’m very interested in seeing where things will go next!(less)
The book promises to be light, funny, romantic, but also real and relatable (even if one of the main characters is a Hollywood God) - and that is exac...moreThe book promises to be light, funny, romantic, but also real and relatable (even if one of the main characters is a Hollywood God) - and that is exactly what it delivers.
The plot itself is very internally driven - that is to say there are no outside factors threatening the two characters (no zombies after their brainzzz) but they're both emotionally and psychologically scarred from their pasts.
He's an arrogant prick, she's determined she'll bring him down a peg. He's determined he'll have her, she's determined she'll not be had. With heavy sarcasm at the fore in most of their interactions, conversations are often snarky and funny.
The one thing that niggled at me was that her ex-boyfriend, a prominent reason why she can't open herself to the idea of a new relationship, is introduced - even going so far as to reach out to her - but that thread of the plot is never tied up. He just kinda gets forgotten and that's the end of that.
All in all, though, a cute romance that's not really steamy and prefect for a lazy day with an easy read.(less)
Too much repetition. The second half felt like it was just one big rehash of one or two subjects brought up in the first half with nothing new brought...moreToo much repetition. The second half felt like it was just one big rehash of one or two subjects brought up in the first half with nothing new brought to the table.
I wasn't moved by the story in any way and, in fact, rather found myself taking a several days to read such a short story.(less)
This book is about a whole fantasy world based on Jane Austen's novels! And there's an obsession with Colin Firth as Mr Darcy! I wanted to enjoy this...moreThis book is about a whole fantasy world based on Jane Austen's novels! And there's an obsession with Colin Firth as Mr Darcy! I wanted to enjoy this novel. I really, really did.
I don't see why being in love with Firth's portrayal of Mr Darcy is something to be so embarassed about that you'd hide your DVDs in your plant pot? I show mine off with Pride (and get just a little Prejudiced if people tell me they don't like the mini series).
A lot of this book hinges on how Jane is hopelessly in love with Mr Darcy. When her great aunt dies, rather than leaving Jane money, she leaves her a trip to "Austenland" - an estate in Britain, separate from the technologically advanced society beyond its grounds, where Jane Austen's stories are played out by the paying clientele and the actors paid to bring their Austen dreams to life.
Jane's supposed to be expunging Darcy from her mind, so that when she goes back to reality she will be able to move on with her life. The way to do this is, of course, to live out Pride and Prejudice in Austenland. So she gets her version of Mr Darcy, complete with snub, and a character that is vaguely relatable to Wickham.
Each chapter opens with a short story about each of Jane's past boyfriends - some of them funny, some strained, some leaving you feeling sad for poor Jane.
Even though it wasn't anything spectacular and there were several scenes that left me feeling frustrated, by the time I'd finished the book the overall feeling was satisfaction.
Austenland is a long way from perfect, but it's not bad either. Just not really what I was expecting.(less)
This book had some really good laugh out loud moments that had me gigglesnorting like an idiot.
However, it was also repetitive (we hear about how hot...moreThis book had some really good laugh out loud moments that had me gigglesnorting like an idiot.
However, it was also repetitive (we hear about how hot the guy is so often it feels like the author is trying to brainwash us into believing it), the girl is a bit of an idiot with frequent word diarrhea (same goes for her mother), some of the scenes are a bit too unbelievable, and Zane was a big, big turn off with all his womanizing in the first half of the book (I'm sorry but if the guy I'm lusting after has a different woman in the house with him every time I come home from school, I turn my attentions elsewhere. What I do not do is throw myself at him with the intention of becoming another knotch on his bedpost - unless that's all I'm looking for from him as well, but that was obviously not the case here with Violet's infatuation).
It was cute, but there were still a lot of things that really didn't work for me that I couldn't overlook.(less)
This story is one of those Amazon freebies I pick up from time to time. I’m not entirely sure why I went for it as it’s not exactly the sort of story...moreThis story is one of those Amazon freebies I pick up from time to time. I’m not entirely sure why I went for it as it’s not exactly the sort of story that would usually draw my attention.
As of the very beginning, though, I found myself encountering issues with the story, mostly due to how obvious everything was and how the narration was very much in a tell style rather than show.
Plus, Lance really wasn’t the kind of guy who fits my knight in shining armour bill, not at all. I can usually grow to accept characters with traits / history I don’t originally like but can get past them as the character and I work to get over our differences. In this case, I never accepted him. Not good in a romance.
The whole way through this story I was being told what each character was feeling (happy, sad, jealous, etc) but not actually being shown the emotions. A lot of the time I could relate to them but I wanted more depth to the narration. Even the synopsis gives more information at times than the actual story! Samantha dated lots of different guys after Lance, guys most girls would love to have even a chance with. No one can make her happy though; she compares them all to Lance. We don’t see any of this. We see that she got engaged to one guy and called it off because she found herself comparing her fiancé to Lance. What about all these other guys? Nothing about them in the story.
On top of this, about a third of the story is just sex! I’m not invested in either character by this point so I’m not invested in their sex either.
Finally, the way they shared their private life with thousands of music fans (Lance happens to make it in a successful band) just really didn’t appeal to me. In fact, it had the opposite effect and left me cringing. It really put me off and on top of everything else that had been putting me off throughout the story, this was the trigger that made me realise that we could never be of one mind, this book and I.