Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to She Writes Press and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my hone...moreDisclaimer: My sincere thanks to She Writes Press and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres, specifically books dealing with the Holocaust. Told using two narratives The Sweetness follows the lives of two cousins during WWII: Rosha, an eight year old girl from the Lithuanian city of Vilnius and her teenage cousin Mira who is an upper middle class teenager living a very different life in New York.
This was a much lighter look at the Holocaust and overall didn't seem to have the energy or the emotion that I was expecting. This stems from the fact that it mainly focuses on Mira and her life in the USA as she tries to make her way in the fashion business and deal with her day-to-day family issues in the garment business. The differences between Rosha and Mira's lives were unquestioningly glaring in contrast. You could sense Mira and her family's fear for their relatives overseas as well as the cost to her aunt's mental health but ultimately it left me feeling like Mira's life was much more superficial than Rosha's loss and daily fears.
While this book did give the reader a view of the Holocaust through the eyes of a privileged Jewish teenager in the US, I can't say it was as emotional or riveting as I was hoping. I can see it being popular with people who want a lighter read involving WWII and how the war affected a Jewish family on two different continents. My Rating: 2.5/5 stars
My Review: The fact that this book is set in a remote Newfoundland village in the 1950's caught my attention since I'm always on the lookout for new (...moreMy Review: The fact that this book is set in a remote Newfoundland village in the 1950's caught my attention since I'm always on the lookout for new (or at least 'new to me') Canadian authors. I found Morrissey's writing to be very engaging and lyrical as she vividly describes Newfoundland and its culture, unique dialect and small coastal town feel.
But it was an interesting premise regarding Kit's living situation and that kept me reading. Kit, Josie and Grandma Lizzie's characters were well thought out and felt very believable. So believable that there were a few times when I got frustrated with what Kit had to deal with on a daily basis with her mom, Josie. It was a lot to bear for a teen and I could feel her frustration as well as her strong devotion to her family.
There are a fair number of secondary characters as we see what life is like in the small coastal village of Haire's Hollow. I only wish the reader got to learn more about these unique characters - some of which, if I'm being honest, were just a tad too clichéd for my tastes. It would have been great if the 'bad guy' had some redeeming quality or have a look into why the resident 'mean girl' is so mean (she reminded me a lot of the spoiled Nelly Oleson from Little House on the Prairie fame, an image I couldn't shake throughout the book).
There was one scene that had me nail biting/on the edge of my seat but unfortunately I saw the major plot twist from a mile away. Even after I figured it out I was hoping for a red herring but that unfortunately never happened. It was still a solid read but I would have loved to have had just one more twist. After the plot twist was revealed the book felt a little jumbled and out of sorts with the ending being the weakest part of the book.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read with a wonderfully eastern Canadian feel to it. The characters and location added a truly unique spin to the book. I look forward to reading more from this author.
My Review: By my quick calculation this is the sixth Harlan Coben book that I've read over the years. His Myron Bolitar series is by far my favourite...moreMy Review: By my quick calculation this is the sixth Harlan Coben book that I've read over the years. His Myron Bolitar series is by far my favourite from this highly touted author of suspense and what makes this series stand out are the characters, specifically Myron and his cohort, Win and Esperanza, his unique office manager.
Myron is a former professional basketball player whose career was cut short by an injury. He now runs his own agency representing sports stars and seems to have a penchant for solving crimes too. If you are not a self-proclaimed sports aficionado (like myself) don't fear, the sports settings and jargon aren't overused.
Admittedly I've read a few books in this series out of order (which I typically don't do) and the one thing that I've noticed is that in Drop Shot Win isn't quite as funny or as dangerous as he is portrayed in future books nor is Esperanza used as much as I would have hoped. It's these relationships that make this series for me. The connection between Win and Myron is very unique. I love the psychopathic personality of Win juxtaposed against 'Moral Myron' who can't bring himself to do the things that he uses Win for. It's a good (if sometimes creepy) mix that I haven't seen in suspense reads before.
So far I've read Deal Breaker as well as Promise Me from this series and Promise Me has been my favourite. By the eighth book (or possibly sooner since I haven't read books 2-7) Coben has his characters more fleshed out and the sardonic humour is at an all-time high which I really enjoyed. So at least I know that there is character development in the future of the series.
Drop Shot was a solid, slightly predictable, mystery with a decent twist at the end but while this was a quick read I can't help but feel that this wasn't my favourite Coben book in this series
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my hone...moreDisclaimer: My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: I really enjoyed reading The Arnifour Affair, the first book in this series back in December 2013. So when I saw that Gregory Harris had a second book in this series out I jumped at the chance to read it. I do love me a Victorian mystery with unique characters.
Unfortunately, I felt that this book suffered a little from the sophomoric blues and I didn't find it nearly as riveting. Even though there is a definite time crunch for the duo to solve the crimes, it lacked suspense and I really missed the humour between the men and Mrs Behmoth. She was a breath of fresh air in the first book as she put the men in their place. And while she was in The Bellingham Bloodbath she was a very tertiary character and I missed her.
By this second book in the series I was hoping to get a deeper look into the characters, their relationships and how they solve the crimes. I still like how Colin and Ethan's relationship is written in a very casual way since the novelty of the relationship has worn off by the second book. That said, I was hoping for a better look into their relationship and their pasts. The reader gets a glimpse into Ethan's past but Colin is still very much a mystery.
What I do know about Colin Pendragon is that he continues to have a very strong Sherlock Holmes vibe to him. He is moody, brooding, self-centred, brilliant and yes, very arrogant. Without getting a chance to see more of Colin's inner workings I fear that he will begin to be (if not already) just a Sherlock cliché. I continue to have a weak understanding about how Colin deduces whodunit or even how he feels about situations and people. Instead his thought processes were replaced with scenes where he was either off pumping iron or doing push-ups while he figured out the mystery. As a reader, I prefer to see how the sleuth comes to his or her predictions and ultimately solves the case. In this book the reader is supposed to just assume that Colin knows what he's doing and that didn't sit well with me.
Ethan's character came off as much more of a petty doormat not wanting to disrupt the brilliance that is Colin even though he came up with some great tips on his own. And their 'spat' seemed petty and didn't endear either of them to me or give me insight into their relationship (if that's what Harris was going for).
As in the first book there are two mysteries that Colin and Ethan are trying to solve. While there was enough momentum to keep me reading I can't help but feel that the mysteries weren't as dynamic this time around. And while I did find the overall theme of tolerance to be a good message the character development and suspense weren't as gripping or enlightening as I was hoping.
With this review it sounds like I didn't like this book but I did. I guess I was just hoping for more. In the end I thought that this was a quick and easy read and while I didn't love it as much as The Arnifour Affair it is still a decent follow up. I'm hoping that in the future books of the series the author will take the time to help the reader understand the enigma that is Colin Pendragon.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Sourcebooks Jaberwocky and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for m...moreDisclaimer: My sincere thanks to Sourcebooks Jaberwocky and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: I have to admit that I very rarely read (let alone review) children's literature. I'm not talking about Harry Potter or Percy Jackson but books for younger kids -- tweens and younger.
That age group just hasn't been on my radar as a book reviewer. But as I try to get my almost eleven year old daughter into reading I thought reading and reviewing a book that looked like it would be her 'cuppa tea' would be a great way to encourage her. The fact that Missy Moo is an introvert like her dear old ma and one of the main characters, Pip, is also an introvert was icing on the proverbial cake.
Going into this book I was assuming it was going to focus on the younger tween reader, grades 3-5, because the cover is really cute and oh-so-pink. Ava (the main character and narrator) feels like a subdued Ramona (from Ramona and Beezus fame) which is also why I thought it would be for pre-teen girls. But it also deals with Pip and the social issues she deals with as an introverted teen so in the end I'm not quite sure what age group this is aimed at.
While this was a sweet book I have to admit that I wasn't a fan of the much used word games that Ava seemed to play throughout the book, specifically palindromes. Ava and Pip's quirky parents love word games and their daughters love to look for palindromes in their day to day lives. It's a cute idea but after more than a handful of palindrome examples I had had enough. Perhaps they just felt out of place because I cannot imagine my daughter willingly throwing palindromes back and forth with her brothers or friends. The story seemed to be peppered with them and, honestly I think it took the focus off the plot too much.
The relationships between the characters, specifically Pip and Ava as well as Ava and her mother were touching and felt authentic. It was great to see how the sisters (and their friend) band together to help Pip with her awkwardness but the introvert in me (especially after recently reading and reviewing a book specifically on introversion) didn't like the fact that Pip's introversion was something negative within Pip that she had to change in order to be successful socially.
Ava and Pip, while being a light read, also deals with many childhood issues including bullying, social groups and even feeling invisible within your own family. I liked how the author focuses on one lesser known form of bullying. I'm not even sure if bullying is the right term because it's not the 'in your face' kind of bullying, whether it be physical or verbal, but the bullying that happens by not thinking through our words or actions and hurting someone in the process. I think that focusing on this kind of behaviour will help kids to think more of what they say and instill some empathy for others.
Overall, this was a cute book that focuses on the relationship between sisters and mothers. It has a good overall moral message and I'd suggest that this book would be a good fit for older tween girls.
My Review: Every so often I enjoy picking up a teen read so when I heard glowing reviews of Eleanor and Park (even from a library co-worker) I was thi...moreMy Review: Every so often I enjoy picking up a teen read so when I heard glowing reviews of Eleanor and Park (even from a library co-worker) I was thinking that I was going to get something along the lines of "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green (ie. a touching teen read that requires you to keep Kleenex at the ready).
While this book does focus on first romance it didn't have the emotion I expected nor did I have the connection to the characters that I was hoping to have. The book follows the day-to-day lives of Eleanor and Park and it pieces together their little moments together as their relationship blossoms. But I needed a bit more than sharing cassette tapes and rides on the bus to get invested in their lives and I needed the evolution of their relationship to be believable. And it just wasn't. Their relationship went from him swearing at her on the bus to them suddenly sharing music and holding hands. This quickly morphed into them hating being apart on weekends and feeling like they can't breathe when they're apart. I prefer to see their relationship evolve and these were just too many leaps to be believable.
I also had a hard time picturing these two together. Park is a nice guy and I liked being able to see his family life but I can't see what Eleanor brings to the table in their relationship other than a negative attitude. I get that she has a lot of reasons to be negative but even if the author had given me one little glimmer of what Park saw in Eleanor I think it would have helped me better understand their attraction.
The pace was rather slow and meandering throughout the book as it focuses on the small moments Eleanor and Park share. There was no big 'wow' moment between them and yet the author still managed to keep me interested (no easy feat). Unfortunately towards the end, just as the pace and my interest picks up, the story abruptly ends - leaving me feeling like the final chapter was missing. Literary skid marks.
I. Hate. That.
This was a hard book to review because while it definitely had things that I didn't like there were some moments that I really loved. The biggest thing that I liked about this book was how the author brought some rather heavy issues into the forefront. From bullying, self identity, abusive home lives and poverty there was a lot going on in this book. I found Eleanor's family situation heartbreaking since she's been dealt a rather crappy lot in life. While I was hoping to see more character development with Eleanor, at the same time I can see how her home life could contribute to her consistently negative attitude as well as her deep need to feel connected to someone who brings even the smallest iota of positivity into her rather bleak life.
Overall, this book about a couple of misfits held my interest even if it was a bit underwhelming. While I applaud the author for bringing serious teen topics to the forefront, Eleanor and Park's relationship felt very disjointed and the disappointing ending negatively influenced my enjoyment of the book.
My Review: Have you ever finished reading a book and don't have a firm grasp on how you feel about it? You kind of liked it, but kind of didn't. That'...moreMy Review: Have you ever finished reading a book and don't have a firm grasp on how you feel about it? You kind of liked it, but kind of didn't. That's where I stand with this book.
On the surface this book has a lot of things that I enjoy in a book - a Gothic setting in a rather creepy ancestral home, dual narrative in two eras and historical references. Sounds great, right? I was expecting this book to be along the lines of the The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton or The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. And while it did have similar settings and time frames That Summer didn't have the substance or character development that the other two authors bring to their books of a similar genre. There's something missing in this book. I was a decent read but that's it.
I think the mystery started off strong and I was eager to see what family skeletons Julia would unearth in her new abode. The addition of some extended family with questionable motives was wonderful but it wasn't used to the full extent I was hoping. The story kept referring to Aunt Regina knowing all kinds of family lore and secrets but her role was very undeveloped and wasn't used to boost the storyline at all which was a shame because I think she could have brought a depth to the story.
I also didn't feel connections to Julia or Imogen and I know that that affected my feelings towards the book. In the end, I was hoping for a grittier plot, a more substantial treasure hunt and more interesting characters. This book felt more like Gothic Mystery Light - a hint of mystery but unfortunately not an edge of your seat kind of read.
My Thoughts: I picked up this book never really knowing anything about the main character, Dinah (pronounced Dee-nah) from the Bible. I'm in no way an expert on the Bible. Shamefully, I have never read it cover to cover. As I read this book much of what I knew (which admittedly wasn't much) came back to me in the form of several "oh ya! I remember that person" kind of revelations.
Since I never knew of Dinah I didn't have any expectations on how accurate Diamant would be in her retelling. I think I may have enjoyed the book more if I had known more about the lives of the main characters (Jacob, Leah etc). I had vague recollections but that's about it. Diamant took the famous Bible story of Jacob and filled it in with fictional details to make it a very entertaining read. Some people may be bothered with the fictionalization of Dinah's life.
I really liked two major things about this book. First of all, I loved that this book was from the viewpoint of women in the Bible. Nothing like some Girl Power in Biblical proportions! I cannot imagine how different the Bible would have been written if it had included the stories and lives of women more. Imagine how many wonderful stories and lessons could have been learned from the women of the time if they were only included in the writing of the Bible? Imagine how many stories have now been lost forever? Sad.
I found it fascinating learning how women lived at the time and how they were treated by the men in their lives. This book celebrates the transformation from girlhood to womanhood as well as the miracle (and danger) of giving birth. It shows us the deep connection that women had with each other as they celebrated their common experiences that men can never truly understand. Diamant portrays the women as strong, connected with each other and their ways and very resilient and resourceful. Fascinating to take a look so far back in time.
My Review: As I enter my 40's I'm starting to 'get' myself more. Accept me for me. One of the main things that I've learned about myself is that I'm a...moreMy Review: As I enter my 40's I'm starting to 'get' myself more. Accept me for me. One of the main things that I've learned about myself is that I'm an introvert. That's no big shock to me or to my family and friends (I don't think anyway). That doesn't mean that I'm ultra shy (although I can be quiet and sometimes was thought of as a snob when I just didn't have much to say). I have a healthy sense of humour and will share it with people when I feel comfortable with them. I much prefer to socialize in small groups and really get anxious when I think about going into a huge group, especially full of people I don't know well. While I can't claim to having 500+ friends on Facebook, the friends that I have I keep close and have many friendships last for several decades.
Okay, enough background on me. Because of this revelation of myself, when I saw this book on my friend Nicole's GoodReads feed I knew I wanted to read it. I wanted to validate some of my feelings of being an introvert and maybe have someone tell me the positives about being more of a quiet person.
The main thing that I took away from this book was that it's okay for me to not be an extrovert. We get so many messages on a daily basis (school, work, media) that an outgoing personality means success, more friends and is generally more valued than introversion. It was nice to hear that it takes all kinds of personalities to make the world go round.
I also loved getting the validation that some of my anxious feelings in large groups may stem from the fact that I'm just not necessarily wired to like that kind of thing and that my feelings aren't a social deficiency within me. Quiet also helped me to see the introversion in my own kids (and husband) and that I need to stop pushing so much to get my kids to be outgoing because that's what I've been told (by society and others) that they should be doing. My new plan is to let them be who they are but still encourage them to live life to the fullest ... in their own, unique ways.
While this book had some great validation and descriptions of introversion in the beginning and end of the book I will admit to skimming through the middle. The middle felt like the author was focusing too much on extroversion with only little comments to show the benefits of being an introvert.
Overall, the benefits at the beginning and end of this book outweighed the slow go in the middle. This was a good book for those who want to learn more about the different social needs that introverts have compared to extroverts.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to author Pam Stucky for providing me with a complimentary copy this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: Wh...moreDisclaimer: My sincere thanks to author Pam Stucky for providing me with a complimentary copy this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: When the author, Pam Stucky approached me about reading and reviewing her book I was intrigued -- a novel and recipes? Sounds perfect for me. But I was also a little nervous because this story is only told via emails and texts between the characters. In the past it's not a format that I've loved (and yes, I didn't love it in Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society either) because I felt disconnected from the characters but I figured I'd give it a shot.
Once I started to get a feel for the characters in Wishing Rock I was able to get into the storyline and the email format seemed to not matter so much. What I was left with was a heart-felt, feel good book that gives off a strong sense of community where readers are immersed in the lives of the people of this unique small town.
When I say 'unique' I'm talking about how the town is set up. This is a town on a small island off the west coast where all of the town inhabitants live in one big building. I will admit to furrowing my brow as I first read this because I had a hard time imagining such a place. I still do, actually. Think of it as a cute, multi-generational version of Melrose Place with everyone all up in each other's business (and beds) minus the cat fights and shocking storylines. Other reviewers claim that this is a cute version of Northern Exposure. I've never seen an episode of that show but if you're a fan you may want to pick up this book series.
This is a character-driven novel and the characters are definitely quirky (Ruby's Gran was my favourite - fun and feisty, she was!). Very quickly their different tones in speaking/writing came through making it easy to distinguish who was speaking. It's also a book that focuses on three things: food, romance and travel.
I have but two wee criticisms. First, I think a little too much time was spent describing the setting in Scotland. I adore travelling and Scotland is almost at the top of my 'next to visit' list but there was so much time spent on describing the landscape and culture that I found it distracted from the general storyline and I will admit to skimming a bit during those sections.
Secondly, while Letters From Wishing Rock deals with believable, quirky and sometimes humourous characters and situations it always had a light tone and fairly mild drama. A little grittier issues would have gotten me a lot more invested in their lives and spiced things up a bit.
Pam Stucky has taken an original idea, different format and some quirky characters and tops it off with some 'tried and true' recipes. Overall, I think this is a good start to a new series. It has a cute, charming feel to it - if a little too predictable for my tastes. If you're looking for a light summer read you may want to take a trip to Wishing Rock.
My Review: A couple of days ago I reviewed Shatter Me for the second time. I'm not an avid re-reader (too many books, so little time) but as I looked...moreMy Review: A couple of days ago I reviewed Shatter Me for the second time. I'm not an avid re-reader (too many books, so little time) but as I looked around my book shelves I noticed a few series that I've failed to keep up on. So I informally named the summer of 2014 as the "remember all the book series that I need to catch up on!" Ya, it's a catchy title.
Kelley Armstrong's wonderful 'Women of the Underworld' series was unfortunately one of these series that I had fallen behind on. And that's sad because I adore it. In my recent review of Shatter Me I had stated that the old adage 'you can never go home' can come into play when rereading a book you once loved. Meaning, that you may find yourself not quite so smitten with the book the second time around. I'm happy to say this isn't the case for Dime Store Magic.
I had first read Dime Store Magic back somewhere around 2006 and liked it. But, at that time, I think my love of all things Elena and Clay (the two main characters in the first two books in the series - Bitten and Stolen) kind of overshadowed what Armstrong was trying to do with Paige in Dime Store Magic because this time around I loved it. I was really riveted to the story and had a hard time putting the book down. Lots of great supernatural action with well fleshed out characters = a truly great read.
I've waxed poetic about this series by one of my favourite Canadian authors time and again on this blog so I won't tell you to go out and pick up Bitten (the first book in the series) ASAP just because I've gotten more people than I can count hooked on this series. I won't tell you to but I highly advise it. ;)
Highly recommended (but begin with Bitten and read in order!)
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Note: If you look up my first review of Bitten please keep in mind that it is pathetically short. It was literally the first book review I posted here on my blog back in 2009. I did re-read it back in 2010 and posted another (more comprehensive) review of it in case I've got you itching to pick up this series.
My Review: I first read this book back in December 2011 and really enjoyed it but over the past few months I have bought a couple other books in the series and worried that since it had been so long since I had read it that it may be a good idea to reacquaint me with the storyline and main characters ... and I was right. While the overall storyline slowly came back to me it was good to reacquaint myself with the dynamics between Juliette, Adam and Warner.
Do you know the adage 'you can never go home'? This can also be true for re-reading books. I can still see why I liked this book back in 2011 but only vaguely. I guess time changes what we like and all that but I was surprised at how much more 'meh' I felt about a book that I remember really enjoying.
I still enjoyed Juliette's unique 'voice' and Warner's evil personality and his hint of humanity but overall this re-read was just a little lackluster from what I originally remember. Still, it was good to remind myself what was going on at the beginning of the series because I have already read the next book (a novella) in the series Destroy Me (which focuses on Warner's view of things) -review to come!
My Review: I admit to being a little slow on the uptake when it came to picking up this book. It's been out for two years and has been highly recommended to me by quite a few people. With the upcoming movie featuring Ben Affleck in the works I thought I'd finally pick it up to see what all the fuss was about. This was a good read but I wouldn't call it a great read. It was a hard to put down book for the first part and sure, there were twists but not nearly as many as I was expecting for such a popular suspenseful read. I guess I thought that for the amount of hype surrounding this book that the twists would be more shocking and out of left field. Gone Girl started out strong for me but as I kept reading the rating I had in my head for it began to decrease from a 4.5 to a 3.5 or even a 3. The pace and suspense starts our really strong but somewhere around half way the suspense just wasn't there for me and when the book ended suddenly (I'm talking literary skid marks!) my rating plummeted more. There was no finality to the ending. It just ended and that was very unsatisfying. The characters were interesting in their own creepy ways and I did find myself rooting for Nick and Amy at different times in the book. But I never felt like I liked them. Maybe it's because they are utterly miserable throughout the entire book. Honesty, it's hard to believe that a couple could be THAT dark and twisted which (here's hoping!!) is totally non-relatable for the average marriage. Some of Nick and Amy's decisions left me shaking my head because for fairly smart people they made really stupid decisions -- decisions that could affect their entire lives. I think part of the issue that I had with this book is that the plot was too intricate. So much so that it became unbelievable. It felt like everything that happened in the first part of the book was just all part of the bigger plan. Everything had a reason and was plotted out in minute detail to the point where it became ridiculous and hard to believe.
From the second part of the book, Amy goes from this brilliant (that word was overused!) sociopath with an intricate plan to trusting two strangers that begin to derail her ultimately evil plan. It was hard to believe that a woman who set up this elaborate plan would succumb to such naivety. It was ridiculous. Amy was supremely patient when it came to concocting her plan and then falls for the obvious plan of two strangers and believes Nick's TV plea. Her change of heart happened so fast I think I got whiplash. Seriously unbelievable that she could be this brilliant psychopath and yet also be this gullible idiot who suddenly believes her cheating husband adores her again. END OF SPOILER
Overall, this was just an OK read. It started off strong and then the characters and ending chipped away at my rating so that by the end of the book I was left with a generous 3/5 stars. I think I'll take a pass at watching the movie.