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 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.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exch...moreDisclaimer: My sincere thanks to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: I'm struggling with how I feel about this book. On the one hand I enjoyed the writing and the author was able to keep my attention pretty much throughout (no easy feat). It had a high creepy factor and overall it was an easy read. It also had a few twists (some I was surprised about and some I saw coming) and some truly gruesome and bloody murder scenes.
But there were also some things that just didn't sit well with me. The thing that shocked me the most about this book was the fact that the reader learns the identity of the killer early on in the story -- I'm talking within the first couple of chapters! Not a common thing to do if you want to build up suspense, right?
So instead of a suspenseful murder mystery it suddenly becomes more of a character study of a psychotic killer. The only real suspense in the book comes from the reader waiting to see how various characters will react to certain scenes and the knowledge of the serial killer's identity. And because the identity of the killer was divulged so early in the book I was expecting some huge twist at the end, something to make up for the lack of suspense. Unfortunately I guessed the big revelation from early on in the storyline and I found the ending to be too abrupt and the loose ends tied too neatly for my liking. The character development was also weak with Matt and Sam being one-dimensional main characters with little chemistry between them which didn't endear them to me.
So there were strengths with this book and some weaknesses. I do appreciate the fact that the author was taking a risk using a different method to tell a suspenseful story. Unfortunately I'm just not sure this method worked for me. The Butcher is definitely a gruesome read at times but it was a book that definitely kept my attention. While there is quite a bit of swearing and some sexual content, if you want a creepy read with a different slant on how to tell the story then this might be the read for you this summer.
My Review: I wasn't sure what to expect from Hilary Davidson because I hadn't heard about her before and had only picked up this book based on my long...moreMy Review: I wasn't sure what to expect from Hilary Davidson because I hadn't heard about her before and had only picked up this book based on my long-time friend (and fellow Library Assistant) Beth's insistence that it was a good suspenseful read. Honestly, a 'word of mouth' read is one of my favourite ways to find a new author and Beth knows me and my 'book likes' so very well.
Blood Always Tells starts off strong because Davidson doesn't waste any time getting into the storyline and suspense. It's intriguing, creepy and I wanted to know what was really going on. The story is laid out for the reader and then the twists begin to come and oh boy is there a big twist towards the beginning! I won't give anything away but when I read the twist I honestly muttered 'No! You've got to be kidding me!' when it happened. I totally didn't see that coming and I loved it!
The story is told from three points of view -- Dominique, her brother Desmond and then a fairly tertiary character. Each of these characters were interesting in their own right but my favourite main character had to be Desmond Edgars. I think a big part of this had to do with Desmond kind of resembling in physical description and personality (at least to me) to Harlan Coben's character, Myron Bolitar. Yup, I really liked him. He was the big brother swooping in to save the day. He was a strong, smart and believable main character and I would love to see more of him.
You can tell that the author has some experience with writing mysteries (she has written three books in her Lily Moore series which I'm eager to pick up now). Her pace, character development and complexity of the mystery were all well done. There are multiple layers going on within the story and even though there are quite a few characters thrown into the storyline I never felt confused about who was who.
Finding this book and author was a wonderful surprise for me. It's a story of family and how they influence who we become (good or bad), revenge, murder and deceit. With interesting characters and some great twists this is a great contender for a sittin' and relaxin' summer read.
My Review: I went into this book, the beginning of a series, with pretty much no information on it. I only knew that it was Canadian and I recognized...moreMy Review: I went into this book, the beginning of a series, with pretty much no information on it. I only knew that it was Canadian and I recognized the cover because the series is popular in the library where I work. What I came away with was a solid debut with a very unique main character.
Flavia is in a category all her own. She has quite an engaging voice and humour which was, honestly, my favourite part of the book. Now, I know that some readers have taken exception to eleven year old Flavia's voice because she does give off a 'too old and wise for her years' feeling. Sure she's refreshing, precocious and tenacious but you will need to suspend your belief that there was such a brilliant, well-spoken eleven year old with science expertise out there in the 1950's. That said, her banter with her older sisters was what made the book for me and I really enjoyed her.
The book is set in a small town England in the 1950's which I found interesting and refreshing. Unfortunately I found the mystery to be just okay. It wasn't very complicated or, truth be told, overly riveting for me. A few times I was a step ahead of Flavia's deductions but it was Flavia and her unique wit that kept me captivated.
Note: For those readers who are not fans of blatant violence and/or swearing then this may be a book for you as both were minimal throughout the book.
I think this would be a good, cozy read and I will most likely be picking up the next book in this six book series.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my ho...moreDisclaimer: My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: Lately I've been on a search to find a great sweeping saga of a read - one that spans a couple of generations and has a lot of drama. So when I read the description of this book on NetGalley it seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
This book was described as 'epic in scope' so I suppose I was expecting much more of a intergenerational family saga with lots of energy, familial turmoil, engaging storylines and characters that I could root for. Unfortunately, this book wasn't what I expected and I had a hard time staying interested.
I admit that certain scenes were touching but overall the book felt excessively long and lagged most of the way. I think We Are Not Ourselves focuses so much attention on character development and relationships that the plot and energy waned and got bogged down in small, daily life details.
It didn't help that Eileen wasn't a character that I clicked with at all. She comes off as self-centred and always on the hunt for the 'things' that will make her happy. She was extremely superficial and I didn't connect with her at all. I'm still not exactly sure why Eileen's xenophobia was brought into the storyline either. It didn't seem to give me a better insight into her and made me like her even less than I already did.
Towards the end of this book I was still holding out hope that the author would divulge some big, monumental secret. Some family skeletons that were going to turn things around and give this book some oomph. Unfortunately that big reveal never came. I will say that I found this book, at times, quite touching and emotional due to personal connections that I have with one of the major issues in this book.
I truly wanted to like this book (and my feelings are in the minority with many other reviewers). But while I found this book to be well written unfortunately it was just too slow moving and I wasn't fond of the characters or its unrelenting melancholy.
My Review: I'm a little at a loss with how I feel about this book. It was a very quick read (I read it in just over a day), it had a romantic tone to...moreMy Review: I'm a little at a loss with how I feel about this book. It was a very quick read (I read it in just over a day), it had a romantic tone to it and the characters were okay. It was very ... 'vanilla ice cream' for me. Good, kind of tasty but not something I'd really crave or go out of my way to have regularly.
It started off to a strong start with a fairly unique and romantic situation paired with quirky dialogue. Unfortunately the quirkiness petered off quickly leaving the main characters a little lackluster and I was left with a back and forth 'will they be together or won't they?' as they attempt to stay in contact in a very quaint and romantic way.
While this was a quick, easy read and would be great if you didn't want something heavy, I personally needed a bit more to go on. The storyline itself didn't have a lot of action, the plot was very predictable and I had to suspend reality a bit in order to enjoy the book. Some of the characters were clichéd and a little unbelievable (Lucy's parents in particular) and their relationships weren't developed to the reader enough. Some situations (like Lucy's outburst later on in the book) seemed contrived and out of left field.
Overall this book was just okay for me. Not bad but not memorable either. For hopeless romantics out there this book should tweak your interest. It had a very Nora Ephron feel to it. Think Sleepless in Seattle with a teenage twist. The Geography of You and Me was sweet, predictable, kept me engaged and may appeal to people wanting a quick and easy read.