I picked up a copy of Breed this year at BEA and initially I was incredibly excited for it. A horror novel in theOriginally posted at Hooked on Books
I picked up a copy of Breed this year at BEA and initially I was incredibly excited for it. A horror novel in the vein of Rosemary's Baby? What's not to love about that? As I started reading, however, I found that this book was nothing like I expected to be and that this was both good and bad.
Breed is divided into two parts and my feelings about these two parts are as different as night and day. The first part focuses in on Alex and Leslie and their struggles to get pregnant and produce an heir. It was touch and go for a bit on whether or not I was actually going to finish this book, Alex and Leslie are such unsympathetic characters. Leslie is whiny and annoying and Alex is condescending and ignorant. (I mean really you're going to complain multiple times about how hard it is to be rich?) As far as I can tell you were supposed to feel this way about them, but it makes it really difficult to keep me interested in a novel when I absolutely do not care about what happens to the characters.
The second part, switches gears to after the children are born and I found it much easier to get into and it kept me hanging onto the very end to find out what happened. Because of the comparison to Rosemary's Baby I wasn't expecting the children to be overly developed, and though they weren't as fleshed out as I would like, there was still actual substance to them. It was easy to care about them, and cheer them on. I do wish more time would have been spent on Alice, as I felt Adam dominated part 2, but it wasn't a huge problem.
Overall, I didn't find Breed as scary as I expected. It was interesting and quite strange (seriously, there must have been some bizarre expressions on my face while I was reading this one the subway) but the characters were poorly developed and I can't say I'm 100% satisfied with it's resolution. It felt like it was falling just short of being a really exciting novel.
Recommendation: If you're looking for a book that will send chills up your spine this Halloween, Breed is not it. ...more
Out of all the books I read for Halloween Book Week this year, I knew right from the get go, that not only did I nOriginally posted at Hooked on Books
Out of all the books I read for Halloween Book Week this year, I knew right from the get go, that not only did I need to review this book, but that I would the final spot of the event for it. Because when it comes to horror, few can compare with R L Stine. Before I was waiting in lines at midnight for the newest Harry Potter, I was reading Goosebumps. They scared the pants off me. First the books and then later the shows. When I heard he had a new novel just for adults, I was confident it would be just the scare I was looking for.
The story starts out on a small, very creepy island off South Carolina in the midst of one off the worst hurricanes in years. From the wreckage, Lea (an out of work travel writer) finds a pair of orphaned boys and takes them back home to Long Island. I can officially say, that because of R L Stine's I am terrified of twins. Honestly if I ever meet a pair of blond twins, around 12 years old, I may run screaming in the other direction. To me, the mark of a great horror story is when something ordinary, because the stuff of your worst nightmares. And this is something R L Stine has always done really well.
One nice thing about the mystery and the thrills in Red Rain was that they were really well paced out. There's nothing I hate more than when the action seems to happen all at once, giving the reader no chance to react and absorb what's going on. Red Rain unravels slowly, leading the reader step by step to the final conclusion. It had me biting my nails down to the quick, worrying and wondering about what surprises where ahead.
Red Rain was exactly what I wanted in a horror novel. It was creepy, it was twisted, it kept me up long into the night. And it proved that R L Stine is just as capable of scaring me now that I'm adult as he did when I was a kid.
Recommendation: A super creepy read that is certain to give you chills this Halloween (or any other time of year!)...more
Before I start my review I have to confess that I have never read the Nightshade Trilogy. I've heard gThis review originally posted at Hooked on Books
Before I start my review I have to confess that I have never read the Nightshade Trilogy. I've heard great things about it, but I'm always a little sceptical about werewolves so I put off reading it. But then I started hearing murmurings of Rift and I thought "Why not? Maybe I should find out what all the fuss is about."
But then from my mediocre expectations about werewolves, Rift rose to astound me in ways I never had anticipated. This a single phrase: This book was absolutely stunning.
The fantasy and mythos of Rift was so beautifully constructed and rich that you get completely swept away by it. I wished that I could somehow transport myself into the pages so I could be part of Ember's world. I wanted to train to be a fighter, I wanted to be surrounded by magic. I was so extremely jealous of these characters and the amazing world they got to play in. The whole dark fantasy angle was not what I was expecting but it definitely influenced my overall reading experience.
Ember herself was an amazing protagonist. She's headstrong and focused on her goals. I like that she never wanted to use anyone as a crutch -- she always wanted to take care of everything herself even if it was perfectly acceptable that she ask. But she wasn't so arrogant that she denied help when it was offered to her. She's a fighter and she has faith in her actions. I don't think you can ask for much more in a knight.
One thing I really appreciated about this book, was how religion/the church are portrayed. As soon as I saw the religious angle I was a little bit worried. But even with one of the antagonists coming from inside the Church, Andrea Cremer, never demonizes religion. It was always really clear, in my opinion, that the actions of the antagonists, were actions of individual people, not the actions of an overarching religious system. It made the story believable and compelling but still respectful.
Rift is an absolutely gorgeous novel, that I look forward to reading again and again. It also has me excited to go back and finally read the Nightshade Trilogy (or anything else Andrea Cremer writes from now on). It defied my expectations in every way.
Final recommendation: If you like beautifully constructed fantasy worlds, and strong, intelligent heroines, then move this book to the top of your list. Even if you haven't read the Nightshade series. ...more
Being semi-obsessed with speculative fiction often means I'm a little behind when there's a must-read book fromOriginally reviewed at Hooked on Books
Being semi-obsessed with speculative fiction often means I'm a little behind when there's a must-read book from another genre out there. Such was the case with Code Name Verity. I enjoy historical fiction and I actually read quite a bit of it. I don't, however, follow the new releases as carefully as I do spec-fic. But after reading Code Name Verity I find myself reconsidering that position.
Why was this book so amazing you ask? Well to start off with, it was a pulse pounding, heart wrenching adventure of a book. I've read a lot (a lot) of World War II novels in my day. That's pretty much all they gave us growing up. This wasn't a bad thing, but it did give me the impression that I had "read them all." Code Name Verity proved me wrong. This book was beautiful and surprised me over and over again as I was reading. I don't have enough words to describe the emotional depth and authenticity of this novel.
I also loved getting to know the main characters of Code Name Verity. Unique, independent and strong, I'm honestly not sure if I prefer one over the other. Queenie is a quick thinker and a little arrogant, but I couldn't help admire her throughout all her struggles. I couldn't imagine how horrible her life would have been after being captured by the Germans and I felt overwhelmed by an urge to protect her, even though I barely knew her. Maddie on the other hand, is more withdrawn and practical. Her level of courage and determination is something we can all aspire to.
I could go on about this novel, but at the end of the day it comes down to this. You need to read this novel. It hits all the right emotional notes and does so with incredible historical detail. And to top is all off, it has an ending that all but made me sob on the subway ride home.
Final recommendation: I can't recommend this book enough. Whether you regularly read historical fiction or not, you're sure to love it....more
This is one kick ass, action filled novel in a unique setting. At one point the novel says "thinking dThis review originally posted at Hooked on Books
This is one kick ass, action filled novel in a unique setting. At one point the novel says "thinking did nothing. Action was the only thing that would truly yield results" (p. 179). I think this is basically the mantra of this story and I loved it as a resuly. If there is one thing Kate Locke does really well is write action scenes. Every kick, duck, punch and jab. She captures it all. Scenes go by in a whirlwind, but a whirlwind you can picture perfectly in your mind.
In addition to the action I am in love with all of the main characters. They're witty, thoughtful and just plain interesting. I was particular attached to Xandra, our heroine of the story. Although heroine may not be the ideal word. She's by no means a perfect person, she's got a temper and is not afraid of letting it take over. It was refreshing to see a character that wasn't idealized. Flawed characters are just so much more fun. And I am extremely jealous that Xandra gets to eat all the food. I wish I could eat like she does!
So we've got an amazing main character and some thrilling action scenes. But my praise for this book doesn't stop there. To me the brilliance of the book is all the little details. To me these details make all the difference. They turn a fun story into a great book. Some things were silly (in a good way) - like the inclusion of Mr Jones, an alternate future Doctor Who, others I found more significant. Like the inclusion of a lesbian couple, Avery and Emma. And then there was the slang. Normally have a hard time with British slang (or just slang in general) but Locke slipped it in seamlessly, I never felt like I was in over my head.
God Save the Queen is a fabulous novel that hits all the right notes. It's funny, it's pulse pounding, it makes you want to keep reading late in the night. It even touches on some deep issues like responsibility, family, and class dynamics. There's a lot to this novel if you give it a chance. And you should give it a chance.
Final recommendation: A must read for any steampunk and urban fantasy fans. Also recommended for fans of Kate Locke's (Kady Cross) YA series The Steampunk Chronicles....more
This book has everything! Stolen corpses, gondolas prostitutes, sexy artists, smouldering love sceThis review was originally posted at Hooked on Books
This book has everything! Stolen corpses, gondolas prostitutes, sexy artists, smouldering love scenes, murder, mayhem and so much more.
Fiona Paul immediately sets an exciting tone for Venom through the setting alone. Beautifully described and richly imagined, you know from the first few pages that you are in for a treat. Set in Renaissance Venice, it already marks itself as a unique and almost magical read. The outfits, the canal, the masquerades, it so easy to get swept up in it all. It almost feels as if you're diving into a fantasy novel, everything is so lush and enchanting. And possibly best of all, this was such a unique time and place to set this story. It seems like every YA historical novel I read is set in England or maybe France, in Tudor or Victorian times. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just nice to get a change of scenery.
Cass, the heroine of our story, is pretty capable as heroines go. Running through graveyards at night, pretending to be a courtesan to dig up information, breaking into the house of a potential murder. All to find out what happened to the body of her best friend/stop a killer. It's a lot braver than I could probably manage to be. That being said the idea of a poor rich girl, wanting something different with her life, is a little bit tired, but it worked within the structure of this story.
It helps of course that she is aided by, a young, devil may care artist, who pushes her to be more than the just the girl society expects her to be. From the very first moment Falco stepped onto the page I knew I was going to like him. He had attitude and charisma, but he was more than that. He was an artist, a hard worker, interested in science and knowledge. He may have looked and talked like a bad boy, but underneath there was a layered and interesting character.
All of these fantastic elements were blended together in a fabulous, well crafted mystery that kept me guessing right up until the last moment. I was constantly changing my theories and predictions and I was genuinely shocked by the ending. And speaking of the ending, I was pretty pleased by how it all wrapped up. I hate when books end on a cliff hanger, but Fiona Paul seemed to tie up enough of the major plot points that I felt like this story was ending, but she also left a lot of clues and suggestions that made me eager to continue on with the series and see what Cass gets up to next.
Venom actually made my heart race. This is one of Penguin's "Breathless Reads" this year and it's easy to see why. Not only did it take my breath away, it kept me up all night, pulse racing, wondering where the story would go next.
Recommendation: A book that will appeal to fans of historical fiction, mysteries, romance, action/adventure tales... The list goes on and on. Basically if you like your books filled with mystery, intrigue, mayhem and swoon worthy scenes this one is for you!...more
Sometimes you start a book and you know right away. You just know that this will be one of those books that sticksOriginally posted at Hooked on Books
Sometimes you start a book and you know right away. You just know that this will be one of those books that sticks with you for a long time to come. You'll hang on every word, every interaction and each one will touch you deeply. This was my experience with The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.
It is the characters that really make this book an amazing experience (though the story will captivate you as well). Harold Fry moved me in a way I definitely hadn't expected. I found myself cheering for Harold when things were going his way, crying out for him when obstacles came up against him. There were a couple of times where actual, full blown tears came to my eyes. I loved Harold's spirit, I loved the honesty about who he was and how he saw himself, and most of all I found myself connecting with him in a incredibly personal way. And I don't think I'm the only one that will have that experience.
Although if we're being honest, the real surprise wasn't how much I fell in love with Harold's character. The real surprise was Maureen. At the beginning of the novel, she's a bit annoying and uppity but as the story progresses you learn just how layered her character truly is. At times her own struggles really stole the show and I was amazed by how badly I misjudged her. I found myself cheering for her, just as much as I was cheering for Harold.
I had no idea what to expect from this book. As this is a mostly speculative fiction blog, you can guess that it's not the type of book I usually read. And at face value I don't have that much in common with Harold. But that is where this book is unique. It's a book that spoke to me in a very universal way. I may not look like Harold or live where he lives but we're all on a journey of one kind or another and Harold's journey is just one manifestation of that.The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry has been nominated for the Booker Prize and it would not surprise me at all if it walks away with the award....more