Mariah Aubrey has made a terrible mistake. Her father has kicked her out of the house, and now her only sanctuary is the Gatehouse at her aunt's estate. When she and her companion, Miss Dixon, move in, they expect to be left to themselves. But when Mariah's aunt passes away, she leaves a secret - one that her stepson Hugh will do anything to discover. And when Hugh lets the main house to a naval Captain of great wealth, Mariah has yet another reason to guard her heart. But there are mysteries about the Gatehouse, and the poorhouse that can be seen from Mariah's window. It will take all her courage to solve these mysteries - and to make sure she does not lose her heart. Again. __________________________________________
My thoughts - I seriously wanted to like this book. I had heard amazing things about it and, knowing it is a love story and I am a sucker for love stories, I was so excited to dive in. When I did, I was met with: an unexpectedly low pace; major character inconsistencies; a really weird atmosphere that didn't match up at all with the time period; modern dialogue; stupid, inconsistent emotions, or too much exaggerated emotion; and a whole lot of waiting...and waiting...and waiting.
Character notes - I honestly felt no real or lasting respect, love, or sympathy for these characters. At times I would find myself going, "Aw, how cute!" or "Oooh that's intense." But most of the time I felt: "What? He just said that?" or "He was just displaying a totally different emotion and then without notice or reason, BAM he's different." One moment, Jeremiah Martin was a mysterious, weird character who you didn't know if you could trust. The next, he was a guest in Mariah's gatehouse because her aunt had left him to her as a manservant. But more than that - she suddenly trusts him!
All the characters acted either overly dramatic or really bland about things. Captain Matthew Bryant was, of all of them, the most steady/likable character, but even he acted out of character. I admired him some of the time, and then other times could care less about what happens to him.
Story notes - This is not a well-developed story. Inconsistencies are everywhere. There are a few loose ends that I wish had been tied up, but even worse - there are loose beginnings! Example: Halfway through the book, two characters started talking about a conversation that I felt like I was supposed to know about but that I never read. I was dreadfully confused. A lot of the story seemed forced, unnatural - like Julie Klassen just had to make it all work. I know what that feels like/looks like in my own work sometimes and I saw that issue clearly all throughout this story.
The love story progressed slowly (a little bit too slowly), but it was probably the most stable aspect of the story. And still there were inconsistencies to it... Like, big ones, such as - why is Bryant attracted to Mariah? They hardly even knew each other, and Bryant had only heard terrible things about her. It was a bit clearer toward the end, but not satisfactory.
One word to sum up this book (and final thoughts) - Inconsistent. I've used this word many times in this review, and honestly that's the only word that comes to mind. That and weird. I'm definitely going to get rid of this book now...it's taking up space on my bookshelves where really good favorites could be. I'm so disappointed in this book and don't even have the desire to try out Klassen's other books, for fear of falling into yet another under-developed, slightly stupid story.(less)
I forgot to add this to my DNF list last year... I loved the narrator of the audiobook, so I thought, surely that'll get me more into the story?? NO....moreI forgot to add this to my DNF list last year... I loved the narrator of the audiobook, so I thought, surely that'll get me more into the story?? NO. Unfortunately. I wish it had, but honestly, I've tried this book about 5 times now and as much as I want to like it, I'm done trying. :((less)
Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore (Magic Under #1) Pages: 225 Release Date: December 22nd, 2009 Date Read: 2011, October 12th-13th Received: Library Rat...moreMagic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore (Magic Under #1) Pages: 225 Release Date: December 22nd, 2009 Date Read: 2011, October 12th-13th Received: Library Rating: 2/5 stars Recommended to: 13+
SUMMARY - Nimira is a Trouser Girl, a lowly singer for a company. But her voice is beautiful, and it catches the eye of a man who has something very special in mind for her. He owns an automaton, which plays beautiful music on the piano; Hollin Parry, the gentleman, wishes Nimira to come sing with the automaton as a full-time job. A few other girls tried the job, but they all claimed the automaton is haunted! When Nimira discovers that this is, indeed, true, will she have the courage to do whatever it costs to free the man locked inside the clockwork piece?
MY THOUGHTS - I've wanted to read this book for about a year now. And as most of you know, when you've had a book on your list for a whole year, you kind of want it to be good. Well, I'll speak honestly and plainly - I thought Magic Under Glass was stupid. I hate using the "s" word in reviews, but there it is.
I thought it had potential to be good (probably not great, but good). It had nice characters and decent writing, with a sweet love story. But there was no room to develop, and the ideas the author used to make the story go faster (that's what it felt like) weren't strong or fascinating or awe-inspiring. If she had built a little more and allowed herself more room, honestly, I probably would have liked it. It was too crammed in, like she was trying to force 200 pages instead of 300.
CHARACTER NOTES - These characters were good enough, but they didn't grow after page one. They stayed the same, never learning or growing; never developing more for the reader to enjoy. I guess this is not exactly possible in 200 pages, but I expected more. I felt that not even the basics of building characters (and story - see below) were displayed.
Some of the characters were also super...I dunno. Out of character? Immature? Some of the conversations seemed strained. Things have to flow naturally.... If a scene doesn't flow, then I'm reminded that I'm reading, that I don't belong in the story, that it's all make believe. I dislike that very much.
STORY NOTES - This could've been an adorable fairy tale. Instead, it was full of some weird characters, a world that felt unestablished and removed, and had a very strange ending with lots of holes. There was so much room to grow, but that room, I felt, was not utilized.
The end was very abrupt to me, too weird for my tastes, and just stupid. I felt like I did when I read The Pirate Captain's Daughter - all the mysteries and dilemmas were soon solved, leaving no suspense for the reader. Nimira hears the name of the Queen of the Dead, once, then decides she needs to call on her to free Erris. She learns the incantations and summons the Queen, who mutters a chant and disappears. Viola - 4 pages later, and we've moved on. No dwelling. No details. Oh, and get this - the wicked Queen of the Dead who is extremely dangerous...she came in love because of love. ?????
SUMMING IT UP - Forced. And, well...stupid. I'm kind of sad I wasted my time. Oh, and what was with the weird Jane Eyre copying? Seriously?! I know my reviews aren't normally this scathing, but this one really got to me, and as a reviewer I have to be honest. A lot of people have really enjoyed this book, but I just couldn't.
FOR THE PARENTS - A few minor cuss words. Some reference to affairs. Some dark magic is involved to free Erris. Overall clean. 13+(less)
Ring of Fire by P. D. Baccalario (Century Quartet #1) Pages: 304 Release Date: September 8th, 2009 Date Read: 2011, November 12-22nd Received: Borrowed Rat...moreRing of Fire by P. D. Baccalario (Century Quartet #1) Pages: 304 Release Date: September 8th, 2009 Date Read: 2011, November 12-22nd Received: Borrowed Rating: 2/5 stars Recommended to: 10+
SUMMARY - Fernando of Melodia, owner in part of the Domus Quintilla hotel in Rome, has made a huge mistake. He came to the airport, expecting to pick up a French woman and her daughter to transport them to the hotel - but now three other families are all saying they booked the same room for the same night! Fernando's daughter, Elettra, makes room for the foreign children in her own room - Sheng from China, Mistral from France, and Harvey from America. Things seem to go smoothly until the children discover they all have something extraordinary in common. When they are given a briefcase by a man who is clearly in trouble - and later killed - the four children team up to discover what this briefcase is about, before another murder is committed.
MY THOUGHTS - There are books out there that are childish but timeless. Childish in the manner of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, or in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. These books are not rare, but they are not easy to come by, either. If you think I'm going to say that Ring of Fire falls into this small category, you will have to forgive me - I will say no such thing. I wish it wasn't so - I really wanted to love this book - but it fell short in a lot of areas.
The writing is very short. Like... Oh, it's strange. It's also a translation, and some of the phrases had me cringing. For one, they often described the MC as "the girl" or the Antagonist as "the man". Soooo annoying.
In the end, I just skimmed. How sad. I don't feel remorseful at all.
CHARACTER NOTES - Elettra was a really neat character, I'll give her that. Sharp, witty, kind, and willing to work hard. My only problem? She seemed a bit too sharp. Like, too smart and knowledgeable and trained for a 12-year-old. Slightly unbelievable, don't you think?
The other children were just...meh. Harvey - serious in an unrealistic too-mature-for-an-American-teen-his-age. Sheng - I found him quite stupid (while he tried to be funny). You'd think he'd start babbling off in Chinese every once in a while in his nervousness or fear; but no, the only Chinese he ever said was, "Hao"...for everything. And Mistral - just flat.
Jacob Mahler, the villain, wasn't near enough spooky or intimidating or nasty mean. Based on his description (he carries a violin that entices people when played and makes them fall asleep; it also turns into a weapon from a horror film) you'd think he'd be amazing. But no. I mean, maybe the point-blank writing style takes away the mystery and excitement.
STORY NOTES - Too easy. Waaaay too easy. Maybe not to the typical 11-year-old who hasn't had a full taste of the world and good literature yet. But to an adult who has read nearly 500 books and who has written a few (drafts) - just, stop, ok? No more. I can't take how easy it is. There are no disappointments, setbacks, or frustrations. Even for a children's book, that's just not very good story-telling.
There was one scene in the very middle that struck me as really cool, but it was the only scene. The children are searching a professor's house and they discover something very interesting about it - and it turns into something intense and - stops. Things lull. Holes form. Beatrice suddenly gets a whim to save the girl. Why was she here in the first place? You know what, nevermind, I don't care.
SUMMING IT UP - A lull of boringness. Oh, my sister, how I wish I could have liked it. I'm sorry - I really tried.
I read this book a year and a half ago...and I didn't like it. At all. I felt it was strange how the book is called Ivanhoe, and yet, Ivanhoe is eithe...moreI read this book a year and a half ago...and I didn't like it. At all. I felt it was strange how the book is called Ivanhoe, and yet, Ivanhoe is either gone or wounded for most of the book. The other characters are more prominent. And then the writing wasn't my favorite either; it was just weird. This book was just, overall, lame. There was nothing to bring me back to it later on. Maybe one day a long time from now I'll have a whim and decide to try it again, but I seriously doubt it... :/(less)
Catherine's mother has just died - and her father is a pirate. Dealing with grief, Catherine must convince her father to allow her to go on his next cruise with him. He is the only hope she has left; she doesn't want to be left with her Aunt. She has wanted adventure all her life, and this is finally the chance. And then there's the question of the man who was prowling around their house the night before her mother died. He'd gotten in, looking for something, and Catherine barely managed to scare him away. If she stays, something like that could happen again. So when her father accepts, Catherine is thrilled. But pirate life is not what Catherine - now Charlie - bargained for. And the danger of her request may cost her the lives of those she loves. ______________________________________________
My thoughts - If this book hadn't been so short, I would have put it down half way through. Or maybe, if it had been longer, it would have been better, with more meat and substance and intrigue. But the fact of the matter is: it was short, underdeveloped, and even stupid. I know Eve Bunting was trying to create a pirate world that was based off reality more than romanticism, but I'm sorry, it just didn't work. There was nothing working in her favor here. The events were real, perhaps, but not beneficial to the story. Things must happen for a reason, or else all falls apart. Writing a realistic story does not mean having characters die for no reason. (Well, if there was a reason, I must have missed it...) With that said, here is a little explanation for why I finished this book (it's not much, I can assure you; how did I manage?!): 1. I liked the writing. 2. It had potential. By potential, I mean I was able to, in my mind, picture things the way I wanted them to be or to go. Other than that... Yah. That's pretty much it.
Character notes - There was very little character development. Charlotte was a sweet girl who meant well and learned a lesson, but she fell flat. William was the best character, but he was so underdeveloped it was sad...I wanted to get to know him more. The rest of the characters felt forced and unnatural. Like, maybe Bunting was trying to create interesting and unusual characters. Maybe trying too hard. Because basically, it lacked. Someone's distinct, strong, and disgusting smell should not be his only distinguishable character trait.
Story notes - I was so looking forward to a story about pirates that's actually good. (The other one I read was Steel by Carrie Vaughn. Come on, people! Step it up a notch!) Unfortunately, I discovered not too far into this story that that was too much to ask. I felt like there was seriously no adventure. Danger, maybe a bit. Lots of talking and explaining. Quite a bit of useless details and hurried explanations packed into tiny sentences. Within seventy pages or so, she was already on the ship. At seventy-five pages or around there, William figured out she was a girl. Wait, there are only 125 pages left - how's she going to tie up everything and finish it off well, when not much as actually happened?! Truth is, she didn't. She didn't let the suspense build and explode in the end. Instead, she'd let you think about some mystery for twenty pages or less and then explain away the suspense.
Summing it up - Flat. Boring. Fast. Too fast. Too short. Too uninteresting. I wish it had been more, but unfortunately it wasn't.
For the parents - Recommended to ages 11+. But it was stupid because at the end it was implied that Catherine and William have sex on the beach where they're marooned, after they've practically starved for two weeks. It was weird to say the least - they hadn't even developed a relationship! Ugh!
So, basically I'm looking for a good, solid, realistic and still romantic pirate story. Anyone have any suggestions?(less)
What?! What is even going on here?! Ok, so if you know me, you know I'm a hopeless romantic. If you know me, you know I love cheesy a lot of the time....moreWhat?! What is even going on here?! Ok, so if you know me, you know I'm a hopeless romantic. If you know me, you know I love cheesy a lot of the time. I usually don't laugh hysterically at cheesy things unless it's Twilight.
But this book. OMYGOSH. How many flipping times are they going to stare into each other's eyes? I swear, I laughed so hard and I only got 50 pages in. I'm sorry, but it was just too ridiculous to me. I don't mean to be mean, at all, because I know a lot of people really enjoyed this, but by golly those 50 pages gave me a good laugh.
Maybe I'll try again later... But I'm not sure it's worth it.(less)
Sisters of Glass by Stephanie Hemphill Pages: 160 Release Date: March 27th, 2012 DNF date: 2012, January 17th Received: ARC via NetGalley
SUMMARY - (From Go...moreSisters of Glass by Stephanie Hemphill Pages: 160 Release Date: March 27th, 2012 DNF date: 2012, January 17th Received: ARC via NetGalley
SUMMARY - (From Goodreads) Maria is the younger daughter of an esteemed family on the island of Murano, the traditional home for Venetian glassmakers. Though she longs to be a glassblower herself, glassblowing is not for daughters—that is her brother's work. Maria has only one duty to perform for her family: before her father died, he insisted that she be married into the nobility, even though her older sister, Giovanna, should rightfully have that role. Not only is Giovanna older, she's prettier, more graceful, and everyone loves her.
Maria would like nothing more than to allow her beautiful sister, who is far more able and willing to attract a noble husband, to take over this role for her. But they cannot circumvent their father's wishes. And when a new young glassblower arrives to help the family business and Maria finds herself drawn to him, the web of conflicting emotions grows even more tangled.
MY THOUGHTS - I was very, very excited about this book when I first heard about it. Italy? Romance? Glass blowers? Magical, right?
I wishwishwish I'd been able to get into this book. From page, say, 5? I was lost. Where is this going? Why can't I get into it? Why do I not care? Why?!
It was a frustrating experience.
Here are my reasons for DNF-ing this book:
1. The verses themselves. They felt very complicated, too complicated. Almost like they didn't hit the right description or conversations, just flailed around uselessly.
2. Characters. Ummm...who? Who is this book about? Seriously. So flat, so unrealistic. So...not even there...
3. The romance. Or lack thereof. I skimmed ahead some when I got bored out of my mind and saw that the romance didn't come around this much too late in the book...well, to catch my interest. I was looking for some awesome love story, based on the description and what I'd read about it, but Sisters of Glass did not deliver.
So, while this could have been a great book, it was more of a chore than anything. I hope others find it fascinating, but I cannot say I recommend it.
*This ARC copy was provided by NetGalley (thanks a million!!) in return for an honest review. I was in no way compensated; all thoughts and feelings expressed are my own.*(less)
What I need to say: I'm sorry, to all my friends who've told me it's one of the best books they've ever read. I'm sorry, to everyone out there who rec...moreWhat I need to say: I'm sorry, to all my friends who've told me it's one of the best books they've ever read. I'm sorry, to everyone out there who recommended this book to me. I really really tried to like it. I tried. I put it down and tried again. But I didn't care one penny about these characters or this story. *le sigh* I guess you can't like it all.(less)
UGH. I can't believe this book. The sexual content made me want to barf and there was way too much language and the ending totally left me unsatisfied...moreUGH. I can't believe this book. The sexual content made me want to barf and there was way too much language and the ending totally left me unsatisfied and irritated. I hated Max, "new girl" was just super flat, and I suppose I strongly disliked everyone else as well.
Too bad. Tooooo bad. At least there's still the amazing original "Rebecca" story, untainted by stupid high school girls and getting drunk and having sex to break someone's heart.
Before the Scarlet Dawn by Rita Gerlach Pages: 327 Release Date: February 1st, 2012 Date Read: 2012, April 15th-17th Received: ARC via NetGalley Rating: 2/...moreBefore the Scarlet Dawn by Rita Gerlach Pages: 327 Release Date: February 1st, 2012 Date Read: 2012, April 15th-17th Received: ARC via NetGalley Rating: 2/5 stars Recommended to: 14+
SUMMARY - Eliza's father, a man of humble means, has just passed away, leaving Eliza with no house or money, just the clothes on her back and the housemaid. In an effort to find work, she is reunited with the man she once loved as a girl, and who she still loves as a woman. When she offers to go with him to America as his bride, he refuses... But soon changes his mind for a daring journey in the night. Can they brave through the storms of life in a new country where Eliza must face trial after trial?
MY THOUGHTS - "This is great, this is great, this is...ahhhh... Nevermind." I'm SO bummed out about this book! It just...flopped. It had loads of potential but did not live up to any sort of goodness.
CHARACTER NOTES - Oh, Eliza. Why? WHY?! I just don't understand. I really liked you...and now I just don't know what to think. Eliza is one of those characters who just...deteriorated. At least for me. I just couldn't respect any of the decisions she made after she heard the Terrible Awful News. Not even just her lack of judgement - but that lie she told to Hayward about it? GOLLY, so bad. I felt like her relationship with God didn't really go anywhere either. She went through so much hardship but there were no profound faith revelations or anything.
And Hayward... Holy SMOKES - if I ever met that man, I would need someone to restrain me and remind me that murder will land me in a hell of a lot of trouble.
Fiona and the rest were okay, I guess. They served their purposes but were not well-developed.
STORY NOTES - What. The. Heck. HAAAAPPPPEEEENNNNEEED?! Okay, so I'm all for sad books. A few (The Idiot, Before I Fall, Mockingjay) are my all-time favorites and I read and read and read and cry and cry and cry.
But cruel? Like hardcore cruel, backstabbing, with what did NOT feel like a redemptive ending? Ummm, not okay with me. Hayward was a full-on cruel, cold-hearted jerk who did horrible things.
I honestly don't remember much else of the story, except Eliza's fall into depression so deep she totally went out of character, and the end where all I could think was, "Why? This is not redemptive." It does not have to be happy - just...redeeming. It was so hard. And sad. And CRUEL. And stupid and unrealistic, if I may say so myself.
SUMMING IT UP - The word I've been saying over and over again. Cruel. I feel bad giving this kind of review but this book really got to me - in a bad way -ad on vacation no less!
For the Parents - A few adult situations referenced to. No details. Some minor curse words. Recommended 14+. Actually, not recommended at all, but...if you must...
Really disappointed with the last 100 pages. At first it was good, but not great. Kinda slow. Then it picked up and I was hooked. And then the charact...moreReally disappointed with the last 100 pages. At first it was good, but not great. Kinda slow. Then it picked up and I was hooked. And then the characters changed (so out of character, so sudden) and it suddenly felt really preachy and just...meh. I'm super bummed. :((less)
The Little Woods by McCormick Templeman Pages: 336 Release Date: July 10th, 2012 DNF date: 2012, June 26th Received: ARC via NetGalley
Reasons for DNF -
1....moreThe Little Woods by McCormick Templeman Pages: 336 Release Date: July 10th, 2012 DNF date: 2012, June 26th Received: ARC via NetGalley
Reasons for DNF -
1. The main reason was the stupid amount of content for a story like this. It seemed to be more about smoking pot, getting boyfriends to sleep with, and a really confused MC who really has no moral compass.
2. The double boyfriend thing. OH MY GOSH, could this girl be more retarded?! She just randomly decides she's going to have makeout sessions with both boys, and...yeah. it was so lame. I could hardly stand it. My disappointment level was at like 1388572384639287 because I really liked the MC at the beginning!
3. By the time I realized how stupid the content level was, I'd lost interest in the mystery. I didn't even skip tot he end to see what happens. There was nothing to string me along anymore.
Now, there is a reason why I didn't hate this book: I was really strung along at first. I was scared, because OMG there are some freaky scenes, and totally intrigued. And the writing was beautiful. For those reasons, I don't NOT recommend this to people.... In fact, I feel like being generous today and saying, I actually recommend this to people who love mysteries and are above the age of 16. It just wasn't for me.
Cold Fury by T. M. Goeglein (#1) Pages: 313 Release Date: July 24th, 2012 Date Read: 2012, June 13th-16th Received: ARC won on Librarything Rating: 2/5 sta...moreCold Fury by T. M. Goeglein (#1) Pages: 313 Release Date: July 24th, 2012 Date Read: 2012, June 13th-16th Received: ARC won on Librarything Rating: 2/5 stars Recommended to: 15+
SUMMARY - Sara Jane Rispoli thought her 16th year would be sweet. Instead, she finds herself being chased and hunted like a dog. Her family disappeared, her father's secrets ready to burst. It's up to Sara Jane to take a stand, before she loses her family forever.
MY THOUGHTS - This is one of those books I wish I could write a 5-star review on. Instead, I am left confused and wondering how this book didn't receive some major revision.
I hate writing reviews like this because I don't want to sound rude...just honest. I really couldn't believe this book. I was shocked by the lack of story. The writing was okay but very formulated. Short sentence. Short sentence. Short sentence. Looooonnnng paragraph. And repeat. This is the entire book - I swear. It got strangely irritating.
CHARACTER NOTES - Sara Jane Rispoli was a really awesome character (this is about the only good thing I have to say). I would totally hang out with her at her dad's bakery and talk about old films (her passion). I just wish the story had been better executed so I could have enjoyed getting to know her.
The other characters, for the most part, either fell flat or were cheesy stereotypes. I liked Willy and I really liked Knuckles. However, Doug, Mark and even Sara's parents - I just didn't enjoy them.
STORY NOTES - This book starts out incredibly slllllllooooowwwwww..... It's kind of ridiculous. Some of the stories were interesting, but there is absolutely NO action for, like 80 pages. It's ALL set up. The setup might have been more interesting had the author mixed in the actual story line. But nooooo... I was so bored out of my mind.
I think it's awesome that Sara Jane is a boxer, and a good one at that. I think it would have been amazing to read a YA book about the Mafia. The execution, however, was so poor that I nearly DNFed the book 20 times.
Also, I don't get Doug's part of the story. After a few great, intense chapters involving the mob, Sara Jane goes back to school and uses her powers in the mod to save Doug from committing suicide. Erm, sorry, don't really care. If I had cared for Doug's character, if he had been introduced as a character I was interested in, I would have enjoyed that. But because I was only interested in Sara Jane finding her family, I wanted the mystery, the dark side of the Mafia where beefy guys don't do favor exchanges with 16-year-old girls. Sorry, but it just didn't work for me.
SUMMING IT UP - Very poor. I'm sorry, but it did nothing for me at all. I don't recommend it, but if you still wanna give it a go, by all means - you might actually enjoy it.
For the Parents - Cussing, brief and very strong. (GD, F) No sex. A few very intense sequences, with some blood. Recommended 15+
Nope. Not for me. Content level way out the roof. Good for some - but it wasn't worth it to me! I didn't care enough for the character to push through...moreNope. Not for me. Content level way out the roof. Good for some - but it wasn't worth it to me! I didn't care enough for the character to push through. :/ Some of the things going on were just BLECH.(less)