My Review: Recently I had a hankering for a good suspense read - the kind that you can lose yourself in the plot and characters and have a little edgeMy Review: Recently I had a hankering for a good suspense read - the kind that you can lose yourself in the plot and characters and have a little edge of your seat action. Linwood Barclay's latest book, Broken Promise, hit the spot.
One of the things that stood out for me was the fact that this is a wonderfully well paced book. There were no dull moments and it had just enough things happening with its interesting and diverse cast of characters that I had a hard time putting it down. I will admit that I guessed one of the big twists but overall it was still a very enjoyable book.
Barclay is also adept at having a lot going on in his books with various plots. There are several gripping subplots that were easy to immerse yourself in and I enjoyed seeing how Barclay weaved these plots around each other and resolved them in the end ... for the most part.
The characters are varied and interesting with each of them having a strong purpose to propel the plot forward. You definitely love some and love to hate others. And although there are quite a few characters in this book Barclay easily reminds his readers of who is who without dumbing things down or spoon feeding his readers which I appreciated.
The chapters are fairly short and the story is told via multiple points of view. David Harwood tells the majority of the story but I liked how other characters took up the reigns so that readers could get inside their heads to round out the story telling. David was a likable main character and even though there was one subplot involving his 'love life' that was a little hard to swallow overall his decisions were believable and he was an easy guy to get behind. The other characters rounded out a very diverse and interesting cast of characters.
While this book could work as a stand-alone it is actually the first book in a new series and some readers may recognize David Harwood from Barclay's earlier book Never Look Away which focuses on David's life a few years before Broken Promise's story begins. I have yet to read Never Look Away but not getting David's background didn't hinder my enjoyment of this book but I understand how other people may like to get a more detailed look at David's life before jumping into Broken Promise.
At the end of Broken Promise Barclay leaves his readers hanging just a bit with some unfinished business. Not so much to be frustrating but just enough to have them coming back for more from the cast of Promise Falls. And you can bet that I will be eager to revisit Promise Falls and its inhabitants for the next installment of the series.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Random House Canada and Linwood Barclay for providing me with a complimentary hardcover copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: I loved this a suspenseful read with its complex characters that had me captivated throughout. How's that for an opening line?
Pretty BabyMy Review: I loved this a suspenseful read with its complex characters that had me captivated throughout. How's that for an opening line?
Pretty Baby has a lot going for it. It is a great suspenseful read that slowly builds tension as the reader is made privy to more information about the main characters, each of whom have their own healthy dose of personal baggage. It has a tightly knit plot with great writing and perfect pacing making me eager to get back to this book as much as possible. Let's just say that not a lot got done at the Bookworm abode while I read this book. Yup, this was a good read.
The characters were really well thought out and definitely weren't one dimensional. The story is narrated by three of the characters - Willow, Heidi and Heidi's husband Chris - which gives the reader a chance to get inside of each of their heads. But things don't stop there. Kubica then gives more insight into each of their lives which made me view them differently. I cannot remember the last book that had me jumping character allegiances and I loved it!
This is not a light book by any means. It deals with several serious issues - child abuse, foster care, homelessness, family secrets, marriage issues ... but they're all incorporated into the main plot seamlessly and help give each of the main characters a lot of depth.
In the end, this book had many layers, was a very well executed suspenseful read and was hard to put down for any length of time. Needless to say I am eager to read Kubica's first book, The Good Girl in the very near future.
Highly recommended to fans of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Harlequin MIRA and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: Mãn reads like a novella as Thuy tells her story via short chapters (some only a paragraph or two) about her immigration from Vietnam to CaMy Review: Mãn reads like a novella as Thuy tells her story via short chapters (some only a paragraph or two) about her immigration from Vietnam to Canada. The writing is simple but with a very unique and lyrical feel to it. It's not overdone, definitely not verbose and almost poetic as she recounts brief glimpses of Mãn's life to her readers.
"Mãn", which means "perfectly fulfilled", or "may there be nothing left to desire", or "may all wishes be granted". I can ask for nothing more because my name imposes on me that state of satisfaction and satiety…I grew up without dreams.
As a reader I felt for Mãn and her cold and, for the most part, lonely existence. It was through her love of food and her Vietnamese culture that she found a way to endure. My favourite part of the book were the vivid descriptions of the Vietnamese inspired food. They were sprinkled throughout the book and illustrated how deeply our memories are linked through the preparation and sharing of food from our past and/or culture.
When mothers taught their daughters to cook, they spoke in hushed tones, whispering so that their neighbours couldn’t steal recipes and possibly seduce their husbands with the same dishes. Culinary traditions are passed on secretly, like magic tricks between master and apprentice.
Lyrical writing and food descriptions aside, I have to admit that I struggled to stay invested in Mãn's story, to keep track of who certain characters were or even keep the story arc in plain view. A lot of this feeling stems from the fact that Thuy leaves a lot left unsaid in the book. I'm a 'need to know' kinda gal so when some scenes are only hinted at it left me wanting. For example, I found it unusual that readers aren't privy to Mãn's husband or children's names. I also wanted a more in depth look into certain aspects of her life (for example I would have loved to have learned more about Mãn's Maman). I felt like I was given a glimpse - a taste - into part of her life only for the story to move on before I was ready to let go.
Overall, this book had beautiful language and I loved how Thuy shared her love of food and her Vietnamese heritage with her readers. Unfortunately the beautiful prose had more weight than the story line and in the end I was left wanting a more definitive plot.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Random House Publishing and Kim Thuy for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review....more
My Review: Circling the Sun details the life of Beryl Markham, a real-life British expat who was raised in Africa in the 1920's. Living in the rough aMy Review: Circling the Sun details the life of Beryl Markham, a real-life British expat who was raised in Africa in the 1920's. Living in the rough and wild African landscape the book also looks at the rather frivolous lifestyle of rich British expats.
Beryl was unique and stood out from other young women of the time. Her accomplishments were impressive and her goals admirable. She was a strong and fiercely independent woman especially for the era in which she lived. She became an accomplished and respected horse trainer and the first woman to fly solo from east to west over the Atlantic Ocean (the fact that this flight was barely mentioned in the book was rather disappointing). She paid a high price to follow her own path but, in the end, I don't think she would have wanted it any other way.
I found it interesting to read about Beryl's connections to Denys Finch Hatton and Baroness Karen Blixen (who wrote under the pen name, Isak Dinesen), the author who wrote "Out of Africa". The story is told with the beautiful and wild backdrop of Africa which was vividly described for the reader.
Beryl was a hard person to figure out. At times you applaud her for her accomplishments and breaking through the barriers put up around her. Even though Beryl endured sexism, abandonment and some rather nasty relationships involving family members and men, Beryl was resilient. Then other times she makes some rather bad choices, comes off as self-centred, immature and so focused on her goals that she barreled through life without enough thought to the consequences. I suppose that makes her realistic but, in the end, not overly likable.
A lot of the book focuses around Beryl's tumultuous relationships with men as well as her dysfunctional family life. She had lived through hard times - abandonment, loss, failed relationships - but I can't say I really connected with her. It was her relationship with her childhood friend Ruta (which I would have loved to read more about) where I felt we truly got to see the real Beryl and its within that relationship that she was able to truly be herself.
This was an interesting read -- the era, the beautiful location, the African culture, the fact that it is based on a real woman -- but I didn't find it overly riveting. This may stem from the fact that the story is told only through Beryl's eyes. I would have loved to get other characters' input on Beryl and her choices - the good and the not so wise. Circling the Sun had a rather leisurely pace as it followed Beryl's life and fans of "Out of Africa" should enjoy this book and its different take on the relationships that were first mentioned in Blixen/Dinesen's work.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Random House Canada for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: Chevy Stevens is a Canadian author who has this whole suspense genre thing down pat. I have truly enjoyed some of her books, especially StiMy Review: Chevy Stevens is a Canadian author who has this whole suspense genre thing down pat. I have truly enjoyed some of her books, especially Still Missing and That Night which left me on the edge of my seat more than once. In Those Girls she adds in a big emotional factor as readers follow the lives of three sisters who go from being tormented by their father for years to being victims of aggressive sexual abuse and torture at the hands of strangers.
The first half of the book is told from the point of view of Jess, the youngest sister. Her recount of their horrendous upbringing and subsequent escape was heartbreaking and told in a no holds barred kind of way. Jess' account of their experiences was very suspenseful and yes, at times, very hard to read. Please note that this book isn't for the faint of heart. While the rape scenes weren't overly graphic, not a lot was left to the reader's imagination as to the torment these three went through with these men.
The last half of the book, told from Skylar's point of view, took on a different tone which I didn't enjoy as much. A lot of that had to do with the fact that some of the characters made silly and extremely dangerous decisions. Their sudden choices didn't mesh with how they had tried to keep away from their past for so long. I understand that if they had let things lie it wouldn't make for an interesting suspense read but I was hoping for a more realistic final half. I just couldn't imagine these women ever, EVER, wanting to go back and face their tormentors. If Jess and Dani had just sat down with Skylar and told her the truth then that situation could have been avoided. Skylar, even though she is young, made too many silly and dangerous decisions. Sure, it propelled the story line but her decisions/reactions often felt ridiculous.
In the end this is a well written story. While there are some aspects that I wasn't fond of overall it was a good, disturbing suspenseful read. I liked the fact that Stevens also focused on the strong bond between sisters. As the oldest of three sisters, I can relate to the closeness and the 'butting of heads' that Stevens writes about.
This isn't a 'whodunnit' kind of suspense read. The reader knows the identity of the 'bad guys' all along. The suspense comes from how these women deal with their tormentors and try to take back some of the power that was wrenched from them so many years ago.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to St Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Once again I loved this book. It was probably the fourth time I've read it but the first time listening to it as an e-audiobook. Loved remembering allOnce again I loved this book. It was probably the fourth time I've read it but the first time listening to it as an e-audiobook. Loved remembering all the smaller plots left out of the movies. The voice work was great except for the whiney tone given to Hermione. ...more
My Review: Those Girls follows the lives of three teenage best friends. It's deemed to be "raw, honest, hilarious, and thought-provoking, with a healtMy Review: Those Girls follows the lives of three teenage best friends. It's deemed to be "raw, honest, hilarious, and thought-provoking, with a healthy dose of heart" and while I whole-heartedly agree that this book is raw and thought-provoking I have a hard time agreeing with the description of 'hilarious' or 'a healthy dose of heart'.
Instead, what I will vividly remember from this book are the numerous, excessively sleazy and explicit descriptions of teen behaviour, sexual 'relationships', language and stereotypical characters. It was a very disturbing and sad commentary on modern teens and maybe it's because (thankfully) these three teen girls bare no resemblance to any teenage girl I've ever met, but it felt like the movie Mean Girls meets Gossip Girl on steroids.
Each girl had her own issue to deal with: Mollie - the Mean Girl with the eating disorder and a cheating boyfriend; Veronica - the lonely, excessively promiscuous party girl and Alex, the pot smoking loner who is secretly in love with her best friend. Those are the three main characters and surprisingly it's Veronica who has any sort of transformation of the three even if it's fairly minimal in the end.
I have to admit that I never felt connected to any of the characters. I realize that I'm not in the target audience (in fact I'm a Mom to two teens and a tween) but I still think that I should have felt some connection. What was lacking in the characters were the reasons why they were the way they were. What made Veronica so promiscuous? Why was Mollie so mean? The reader isn't given enough access into their pasts to understand why they are that way, leaving the girls to be caricatures of mean teens. Instead the book is filled with scenes that are included for shock value instead of taking the time to develop the characters. If those scenes were omitted I don't think there would be enough of a story to keep the average reader engaged.
The final straw for me was when the story lines all culminate in a train wreck of revenge that affects all of their lives. Unfortunately the end result of the revenge scene was handled too easily and flippantly for the seriousness of the action - especially the subsequent issue that happened to Veronica. Sadly, the abrupt ending was the proverbial nail in the coffin for me.
As for humour? There were a few amusing comments (mainly between Alex and Drew) but they were at a minimum. I think that some of the name calling between the girls was supposed to be deemed funny but having her best friends call Veronica every type of slutty reference (whorebox, c*m guzzling crack whore ...) felt over the top and just generally icky. I couldn't believe that these self-proclaimed BFFs would regularly call one of their own derogatory, shaming and self-esteem destroying names on a regular basis.
If Saft was going for a raw book showcasing the social jungle that is high school I think she may have overshot her mark. This book deals with many teen issues but to the point of excess - eating disorders, feeling abandoned by parents, promiscuity, sex, rape and a lack of importance on self respect, contraception, underage drinking and drug use .... It was just too much. Under it all, I believe the main issue for all three girls is trying desperately to fit in. To be loved by their friends - warts and all - even when they're not sure they can trust each other or have enough faith in themselves. Unfortunately I think that the excessive bad language and extreme sexual scenes detract from the opportunity that Saft had to bring some of these real teen issues to the forefront and deal with them in a believable and heart-felt way.
My Rating: 2/5 stars
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Little, Brown Book for Young Readers and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: This is a book about the power of family. I had read and adored one of Lucinda Riley's previous books, The Midnight Rose, last year so I waMy Review: This is a book about the power of family. I had read and adored one of Lucinda Riley's previous books, The Midnight Rose, last year so I was eager to read more from this acclaimed historical fiction author. I have to admit that it wasn't until I had finished reading The Seven Sisters that I realized that it is the first book in a seven book series - with each book focusing on a different sister's past. Cool premise but a big commitment from readers.
This first book focuses on Maia's search for her birth family and what she discovers is a gaggle of familial secrets on a different continent spanning generations. The secrets themselves weren't all that scandalous and were even predictable but this book held my interest for the most part.
Honestly, I wanted to learn more about Maia and her adoptive family than her birth family. There were so many unanswered questions - I wanted to know more about Maia's adoptive father, Pa Salt, and his mysterious life as well as how and why he adopted six baby girls from all over the world. And yes I said six, not seven, because the seventh sister was never introduced. Mystery ... dun dun duuuuun. I suspect that Pa Salt has a lot more to his story than the reader (or the sisters) are privy to. His death was quite sudden and the way he died and even how he was buried was quite suspect. I sense that he had (and will have) a much larger role in each of his daughter's lives than they initially believed.
The characters were interesting enough and quite diverse. I have to give credit to Riley for giving each of the sisters a very unique voice in the beginning of the book. Sadly we really don't get to see much more of the six sisters for the remainder of the book which was unfortunate because they were quite an interesting and diverse group of women. After Maia takes off to find her birth family the plot began to falter for me. As the story progressed it became less about Maia and more about Maia's great great grandmother, Izabella. While Izabella's story was fairly interesting it was Maia who I wanted to read about. And with the inclusion of Maia's grandmother and mother into the story, at times, it became hard to remember which generation we were talking about.
The setting and history aspects are what enthralled me. Rio isn't a place that I've read about (let alone visited) before and while I know what the Christ the Redeemer (aka Christo) statue looks like it was interesting to learn more about its design and construction as well as a brief history of Brazil. The streets, people and culture of Rio was vividly described and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this unique city as it's woven within a fictional tale.
In the end, I can't say that I loved this book. It was good, not great. The pace dragged and it felt like it could have been condensed quite a bit and still kept the story in tact. The lackluster ending leaves readers with too many unanswered questions which may be used to entice readers to read the future books in the series but it left me feeling a little jilted if I'm being honest. Overall, this was a decent book but not up to par with some of Lucinda Riley's early works.
My Review: Going into this book I was hoping it to follow along the lines (action, pace, amazing character development) of Kagawa's earlier Blood of EMy Review: Going into this book I was hoping it to follow along the lines (action, pace, amazing character development) of Kagawa's earlier Blood of Eden series (Immortal Rules, Eternity Cure and The Forever Song) which I ADORED! That was an utterly engaging and a great series for teens and adults alike.
It is obvious from the beginning that Talon follows more in the footsteps of her Iron Fey series in that it's much more suited for older tweens or young teens. The premise of Talon was interesting (dragons living among us and dragon slayers out to get them) but like the Iron Fey series the pace and focus wasn't as raw or engaging as I was hoping. Case in point, my thirteen year old son liked this book. Me? Argh. Not so much.
I'm going to assume that Kagawa has set her audience as a late tween/early teen reader. If I'm going from that standpoint this was a decent read. The plot itself is straight forward and fairly predictable from the get go. I think that older tween/young teens will enjoy the Romeo and Juliet themed romance as well as the warring young men vying for the affection of Ember and the general teen drama that is a large part of the book.
For me the book was divided into two sections. The first half was much slower paced with the emphasis being on Ember and Dante making friends and setting up the romantic element. In the second half the pace picks up and the story line takes on more intrigue ending with a cliffhanger to entice readers to proceed with the next book in the series, Rogue. Overall, I found the book to be predictable and a bit slow since more time was spent with the budding romantic entanglements than dragon in plain sight issue . There were some great action scenes towards the end of the book but when dealing with dragons, an evil organization and dragon slayers I guess I was expecting a little more fire and fight throughout the book.
I also missed the world building. Kagawa is amazing at bringing her readers into the worlds she creates. Talon brings the reader to ... the California coast's teen beach scene. Yup. I almost expected Dylan Walsh, Brandon and Brenda to walk up to them at the beach smoothie hut (I jest about the 90210 reference but the Smoothie Hut? Yup, like the Peach Pit of 90210 fame it was a popular location in the book).
Ember was a likable character. She had normal teen insecurities and a twin to go through it with in Dante. They had a believable relationship but if I had one beef it was that they blended into the teen beach scene a little too easily. I know that Ember and Dante had been trained on how to live among humans but they seemed to fit in with no major issues. I guess I was expecting a lot more 'fish out of water' floundering but they seemed to jump into the teen beach scene easily.
Kagawa is an amazing writer and she kept this mom of three's interest for the most part. I just think that her focus in this book was more about the romantic entanglements than in the dragons living among us which was a let down. I would suggest this book for older tween/young teens who want a lighter fantasy read with the emphasis on budding romantic entanglements.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
** This book review, as well as hundreds more, can also be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm (www.thebakingbookworm.blogspot.ca) where I also share my favourite 'tried and true' recipes. ** ...more
My Review: One of my informal 'Reading To Do's' is to read more Scandinavian authors. I've read Stieg Larsson but there are so many other authors fromMy Review: One of my informal 'Reading To Do's' is to read more Scandinavian authors. I've read Stieg Larsson but there are so many other authors from that area that I routinely see on the shelves at the library where I work whom I find intriguing -- Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell and Camilla Lackberg to name a few. After reading some great reviews about The Keeper of Lost Causes I thought I'd jump back into the Scandinavian suspense genre with this series.
I was not disappointed. This was a great read with the author doesn't waste any time throwing the reader into the suspenseful story line and unique, engaging characters. The story is told using the alternating viewpoints of police detective, Carl Mørck and the victim, Merete Lynggard, a controversial politician. This method of storytelling keeps the reader actively involved in the police search as well as what is happening to the victim. I found both viewpoints equally engaging. Merete's struggle was emotional and, at times, hard to read but Carl Mørck really stood out for me as a solid main character. He was the epitome of a curmudgeon who has a real talent for solving crimes but also has his own demons to battle and a lot of emotional baggage to bear. His assistant, Syrian refugee Assad, added light comic relief which brought some levity (and some additional mystery due to his own mysterious past) to a story which, without it, could have been a little too heavy. Truth be told, Assad was my favourite character.
Without giving anything away I did have a bit of a negative feeling about the story line which was a little unbelievable. That said, I don't think that it greatly affected my overall enjoyment of the book and I was able to forgive it but it was just one of those things that didn't sit right with me when I read it.
This was a fast-paced suspenseful thriller that one can't help but make comparisons with another extremely popular Scandinavian crime series, Stieg Larsson's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". They both have an intense and sadistic feel to them with some truly cringe worthy moments but their twists and fast-paced writing keep readers on the edge of their seats. With well-developed and believably damaged characters and a dollop of humour here and there this is a series that I plan to continue.
My Review: This was a hard book to put down. I adore historical fiction that is set during the emotional and tumultuous time surrounding slavery and cMy Review: This was a hard book to put down. I adore historical fiction that is set during the emotional and tumultuous time surrounding slavery and civil rights - the raw emotion, the vivid setting and the opportunity to read about truly interesting characters. This book was no exception. Duet For Three Hands is a historical fiction read (with a romantic undertone) which is set in the American south during the 1920's and 1930's. It deals with bigotry, lost dreams, a big ol' dose of familial turmoil and the benefits and negative aspects of standing by your spouse through the good times and the very bad.
From the beginning of the book I was engrossed in the Bellmont family's issues as well as their servants, Jeselle and her mother. As the reader you're quickly pulled into the lives of these people but it was Nathaniel, the former world renowned pianist, that had the most growth and I found the most interesting out of all of the characters. In the beginning he was quite naive (I could see his wife's motives a mile away) but over the course of the book you see him mature and finally learn about what he needs in order to be happy.
There are some definite villains in this book. Ohhhh, how I loved to hate them. But I have to give Thompson credit because they never came off as caricatures or one dimensional. They all felt authentic to me and (sadly) I could easily picture them. I loved to love some and loved to hate others.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and read it in a matter of a couple of days while battling pneumonia. This author is new to me and I'm very happy she approached me to review her book. I am quite eager to pick up more of her books.
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars (bumped up to 5 stars for this site)
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to author Tess Thompson for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of her book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: Count me in for a book that sparks a debate on a sensitive issue and has some heart. When author Theresa Rizzo offered me her book that focMy Review: Count me in for a book that sparks a debate on a sensitive issue and has some heart. When author Theresa Rizzo offered me her book that focuses on stem cell therapy to read and review I thought that this would be a good fit.
Rizzo brings up the hot topic of using embryonic stem cells (as well as cord blood stem cells) for medical treatment and covers several viewpoints on the issue without bogging her readers down in too much medical detail. I admit that I only knew the basics of this issue and Rizzo brought to light the many different sides and morality of this debate.
This wasn't a heavy read and actually took on a much more romantic twist that I was initially anticipating. I'm all for some romance but a little less emphasis on Skylar and Mark's love life and more focus on the emotion and ethical debate would have been my preference. The romance took more of a hold of the story towards the middle and I found it to be a bit distracting with some of the dialogue between them felt weak and didn't add to the overall plot.
My main concern with this book is Skylar. She's a hard one to get behind. I liked that she adored her family but she often came off as brash and while she does mature a little throughout the book overall she wasn't very likable. And while she had a good reason for not supporting Senator Hastings views on the stem cell issue, her deep hatred of him seemed too intense and too personal.
It was actually Senator Hastings' family that really intrigued me and, I felt, got to the heart of the ethical and emotional results of stem cell use. The Senator, his son and especially his wife Noelle were my favourite characters and felt like they handled the issue with heart and believable emotion.
The ending. All I will say, without jeopardizing the plot and my feelings towards one of the characters, is that the epilogue will give you a lot to think about. While it is a little vague I kind of liked wondering where this character stood and why s/he made certain choices.
No matter which end of the spectrum your thoughts and feelings lie on this issue, Rizzo brings up some good points to think about regarding stem cell therapy. There are no villains in this book just people trying to figure out where they stand on this very controversial issue as it pertains to their own lives. Overall, this was a lighter book than I was expecting but it kept my interest. I think that fans of Diane Chamberlain (or those who want a lighter Jodi Picoult read) would enjoy this book.
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars (increaed to 4 stars for this site)
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to the author, Theresa Rizzo, for providing me with a complimentary electronic copy of her book in exchange for my honest review. ...more
My Review: I'd deem Opening the Veil as a light supernatural mystery with a touch of humour. It has a lot going on, especially with it being the firstMy Review: I'd deem Opening the Veil as a light supernatural mystery with a touch of humour. It has a lot going on, especially with it being the first book in a new series, but overall it worked.
Personally I would have liked more suspense and supernatural action but I think that cat lovers who like a light mystery with a paranormal twist will enjoy this book. My concerns about this book generally have more to do with personal preferences than quality of writing. Clark's writing is generally strong and descriptive which helped in setting up the scenes and introducing the secondary characters (which were quite entertaining and memorable).
Unfortunately I'm not a cat person per se and this book is a cat lover's paradise. I have nothing against cats but I found the references to all things kitty too overpowering for the story. I realize that Cassie loves her cat, Alli, but there were some scenes that I just felt were too over the top to be believable. For example, I just couldn't believe that hospital staff, family and friends of Cassie's would think that bringing her cat into the hospital to stay with Cassie was a good idea.
Cassie was a likable and endearing main character with a good sense of humour and a penchant for putting her nose into mischief. A good mix for a protagonist of a light mystery. She's new to this investigation stuff but she doesn't come off as stupid or overly naive for the most part. She has a heart (as witnessed in the trailer scene which I found touching) and is brave enough to jump into the fray to solve the mystery. She makes some rash decisions at times but I'm chalking that up to her new found status as newbie investigator.
Clark wasn't afraid to go into this book with both feet and I appreciate that. There is a lot going on in this first book in a new series. Many ideas were good but I can't help but feel that not enough time was given to some of Cassie's supernatural abilities. The reader gets a peek at these powers but I would have loved to get a better understanding about why Cassie has these powers or why suddenly her cat can talk to her and has special abilities. I can only assume that these loose ends will be given more page time in future books.
Clark's writing was strong and her plot moved well and held my interest. Her setting was welcoming and her secondary characters were engaging and memorable too. I appreciate that Clark didn't rely on the age old 'romance' factor right out of the gate and kept the focus on introducing her readers to Cassie and Kensington Falls. On the downside I think that the strong focus on all things cute and kitty may detract from the mystery aspect and may not endear her to non-cat people who would rather have more mystery than cute cat scenes.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to author C.L Clark for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of her book in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
My Review: This book had a great, original premise about a group of critically ill teens being given a second chance at 'life' as well as the opportunMy Review: This book had a great, original premise about a group of critically ill teens being given a second chance at 'life' as well as the opportunity to save mankind from an evil Artificial Intelligence being who is out to destroy mankind. Cool idea, am I right?
I have to admit that I'm not in the target audience for this book. First, I'm not a teen or a regular reader of Sci-Fi, nor am I very learned about computers in general (that said, I'm also not a computer novice - I get by). So it should come as no surprise that I found, at times, that the story got too bogged down in the techie jargon. There was a lot of describing the thousands of a second downloads and transferring their consciousness to this machine or that which seemed to happen a lot. But for teens who love technology I think that this would be right up their alley.
The characters themselves were strong and fairly well developed with the main character, Adam, being believable and easy to get behind. You really feel for him (and the other five) who have suffered so much physically from their illnesses that have ravaged their human bodies for so long.
What I had a hard time getting behind is the fact that these teens had such an easy time getting used to their new robot 'bodies'. Sure, Adam had a lot of background in coding and virtual reality but the others just seemed to intrinsically understand how to read hundreds of files in milliseconds, manipulate their new bodies, download their consciousness to various machines right from the get go. Personally, I wanted to learn more about how these teens felt becoming robots and losing their human bodies. It's touched on but I thought that we'd see more struggle.
Sigma was the character that stood out for me the most. It was an amazing foe for The Six. It is evil, focused on its goals and utterly ruthless and heartless. There were a couple of scenes that upped the creepy factor and made Sigma stand out for me as a truly great villain.
This book isn't all about techie speak and evil machines. It also puts the ethical dilemma of killing these teens in order to place their consciousness into robots on the table. We see Adam's mom continually struggle with coming to terms with his new 'life' and how this affects her relationship with her son. Adam and his dad's relationship was touching and the most believable connection in the book but even his father, who engineered the programme, struggled with his ultimate decision to enable his son to 'live' on and I found that to be very authentic.
Readers will be happy to know that The Six is also filled with action scenes and a healthy dose of suspense. There was even a 'romance' scene thrown in but I felt like it wasn't needed and personally I didn't think it added much to the story line.
In the end, this was a good read. While AI isn't something that I usually read about I think that many teens would love this book. It had some heart, action and a very original plot that will make it stand out for teen readers.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to SourceBooks Fire and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: Beautiful Girl had a good premise -- seeing a spoiled and beautiful teenage girl go through the process of self-discovery and self-identityMy Review: Beautiful Girl had a good premise -- seeing a spoiled and beautiful teenage girl go through the process of self-discovery and self-identity. I love books that empower teen girls and this book had the makings of one that could highlight the process of coming into one's inner strength.
The downfall of this book is the pace. Whoa Nelly! Usually I like a fast paced book but this book was so rushed that not enough time was given to delve deeper into some of the issues (which could have had some great emotional depth to them). Instead they felt too easily resolved and rather weak.
The pace also left little time to connect with Melanie (and other characters) and didn't give them enough time to develop leaving them to feel very one-dimensional. That's not to say that I had no feelings for the main characters. Both Melanie and Sam had horrible childhoods and I felt bad for them but the way that they connected so quickly didn't feel realistic and the book went downhill for me from there.
I'm not a fan of 'Insta-Love' but I do like good romance -- if it's realistic. I have to believe the relationship/issues for me to love a story line or character. I just cannot buy into the idea that Melanie falls in love with a boy she's talked to casually twice. There's also one scene between them later on that came out of left field and felt totally out of character for Melanie. It felt like the scene was added to quickly 'tell' the reader that they had a deep connection. I'm not a fan of the 'tell instead of show' type of writing.
The author added in a semi-decent twist at the end to explain some of the behaviour of one of the characters but I never felt like it was a good enough reason. It felt like a weak and last minute excuse for this person to have treated Melanie so horribly most of her life. I honestly didn't need that character to be redeemed. In fact, it would have been more believable if that person had stayed the same and Melanie's character had developed more. Unfortunately there just wasn't enough character development for any of the characters throughout the book and that was really disappointing.
Overall, this book had some good ideas but suffered with weak character development and an overly rushed pace.
My Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to SparkPress and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.