Posts Tagged With: weekly review

Book Review: Every Reasonable Doubt – 3/5

Every Reasonable Doubt by Pamela Samuels Young

doubt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There are a lot of things about this book I really liked. Good writing, interesting plot, good pace, strong characters; there is a lot to love. I really enjoyed the dynamic of the law that you need in this kind of thriller paired with the social dimensions of race and relationships. Overall, really well done.

So – why only three stars? There are two things about this story that drove me nuts and I just couldn’t get over. In many ways, they ruined it for me. It’s not stopping me from starting book two, but if book two rubs me the same, I won’t be continuing from there.

Now that I’ve created suspense, here are the two catastrophic issues I had with this novel.

1) Shoddy Investigation: Obviously, a big draw of a legal thriller is an interesting crime and a good investigation, especially when the capabilities of the attorney are so hyped. Seriously though, the details of this crime were SO poorly done. I have no background in any form of investigation and I can poke holes in a ton of this. For example (no spoilers here, no worries). This murder was supposedly committed by a tiny, weak woman and NO ONE asked how it was possible that the man didn’t/couldn’t defend himself. Excuse me? Then there’s the question of blood on the main suspect’s clothes – it finally came up at the very end of the book but it was the lamest after-thought ever. She changed clothes and NO ONE noticed? I don’t care how similar the dresses were- people at a social charity event know if you went and changed your dress. It’s ridiculous, and those were just two obvious things. Maybe I’m off the mark since, like I said, I don’t have that background, but it was bothersome.

2) A Whiny Little Prick of a Husband: This is 100% purely personal opinion here so take it with a grain of salt. I loathe Jefferson. Seriously. What an ass! Look, I get it. I love my husband to death and I hate it when he or I get busy at work and cannot see each other. But do I guilt trip him every five seconds that I see him? NO. Does he make me feel terrible when I work late? Absolutely NOT. When one of us has to ramp up and do more we support each other. I recognize when my husband is stressed and working his butt off and I help him through it. Jefferson did the opposite and look, I get to a certain extent the frustration, but the lack of support he provided to his wife was unreal. And the book made it seem like the main character, the wife, was the one at fault. I saw absolutely nothing in the Jefferson character that showed me how he supported her at all. He knew darn well when he married her that she was a lawyer and to sing a new tune just when she’s hitting it big is just a dick move. It was infuriating and a very main part of the plot.

So! Unfortunately, despite a lot of really positive things with this novel and author, those glaring pieces of the plot really sucked the enjoyment out of the novel for me. I’m hoping for an improvement moving forward!

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Book Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora – 3/5

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

locke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book and I have a love/hate relationship. I find it really hard to give it a rating. I had a hard time getting into it from the start. It wasn’t that it was bad. In fact, I found it pretty funny (I personally love excessive swearing). But nothing really caught me. Still, I pressed on.

There’s this big block in the middle that is legitimately interesting. You have intrigue, good plot, twists and turns, it’s truly marvelous. I was seriously caught up.

Then there’s some crazy shizz that happens. Everything hits the fan. And normally that would hook me more… but it didn’t. Because when everything hits the fan is not the climax of the book. It’s like… 4/5 of the way through. So there’s this part after the climax that’s just plain boring. Seriously. I was way too sunk into reading it to stop but I considered it.

By the end, it picks up again. There’s new twists and things end on a note I am satisfied with. But even with all the good, the bad is just too great. This is a roller coaster where the highs are exciting but the lows make you want to die. I fear the rest of the series will be just the same. I wish I could tell you if that was true, but I have no intention of picking up the rest… at least not anytime soon.

By recommendation? Read at your own risk.

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Book Review: The Gods of Gotham – 5/5

gotham

 

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Engrossing! This book had me hooked from the start. I’m not one who often tackles mysteries but this has so many other nuances – historical fiction, romantic interest, poetry – it’s going to be pleasing to all kind of readers.

Let’s start with the last I mentioned; the poetry. Faye’s writing is beautiful. I just love the way the story is described. The unfortunateness of an audiobook is how hard it is to dog-ear favorite lines but I have a lot of them. The way people grimaced, the way the sun fell over the city, the smells and sounds of the day all were described so uniquely and so beautifully. It fit is really well with the setting and I think that manner of seeing the world a little differently helped us as the reader understand the main character as well. It was like the general narration was a part of what made Tim such a great detective- he already saw the world in a unique way.

Let’s add that on to the historical fiction – oh, I love the setting. So interesting, so changing. I adored the use of the different language and jargon – it worked extremely well in the book. Very pleasingly hard to follow at times. It wasn’t just thrown in there to be in there – Faye used it well.

The characters in this story are unique – people in particular like Valentine and Mercy are a mixed bag of questions. They really off-set the other cast of characters. That’s the thing with mysteries that is always hard – you have to have a good sequence of people so the suspect list isn’t too short, but you can’t flesh out everyone. Having two really unique people I thought helped balance it out nicely. The fact that these people meant a lot to the main character – brother and love-interest respectively – made it all that more important that they were the interesting ones.

Lastly, of course, there’s the plot. It was a truly good story! Unique background that kept me guessing. Toward the end I had a very good understanding but it wasn’t so far in advance that it was predictable.

And that’s that! I don’t have a bad thing to say about the book. Recommend!

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Book Review: Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella – 3/5

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

Weddingnight

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I power read this book and, normally, with a power read, it means the book was soaring. Not so today. I really, really wanted to love this book (after all, I’ve Got Your Number is one of my favorite books out there) but it just didn’t happen. I tried. I read it with gusto. I laughed aloud at parts. I wanted the love to flow, and it just couldn’t happen.

Thinking back, there was just no one I felt I could root for. I like a good flawed characters but these ones were just too much. Fliss and Lottie, two sisters, did nothing by lie to each other (and truly, everyone) all the time. It became so frustrating – you got to the point as a reader where you just wanted all the action to stop and for some conversations to happen. It just seemed all too illogical. And – this is going to sound horrible – but the addition of Fliss’s child, Noah, was terrible. It just made her look like a horrible parent. Instead of being a comic relief, the child was obnoxious and made Fliss out to be completely incompetent at life. Without her son, I think I could have liked her. Don’t get me started with Lottie – she’s dumber than a box of rocks and I couldn’t identify with her at all.

Next, there is not one, not two, but three potential love interests in the book and – honestly – they all kind of suck. Each one is wrapped up in his own issues and, even though these issues chance and evolve, they never seem to truly mesh up to the right parts at the end. Lorcan gets the closest, but even he doesn’t make it there. It all just kind of… ends. I don’t get the sense that any of them will truly be happier because of it.

I’m disappointed by the book. I had some pretty high hopes. Parts are certainly cute and I did laugh aloud; the idea of the wait staff keeping the lovers at bay was hysterical. As this is my second Kinsella I won’t let it stop me from trying some of her other works, but it’s still painful. For me, it just missed the mark.

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YA Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green – 5/5

Paper Towns by John Green

Papertowns

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

John Green is some kind of word magician. Or plot sorcerer. Or character wizard. I don’t know what exactly, but the point is that Green is filled with glitter and rainbows and confetti magic.

I devoured this book in less than a day. When I closed the final page I just gave one nod and said, “Nailed it.” Green knows exactly what he is doing in all his stories.

When a book is truly 5 stars I don’t feel like my reviews are needed. What’s there to say? Go read this book is pretty much sufficient. But, still, I suppose I can relay a little of what makes this beautiful.

I have never seen a better trio of boy friends. Q, Radar, and Ben are fantastic. Green’s dialogue is perfect. You can see each person, you can understand who they are, and, even better, you can understand why the three of them are friends. That’s a lot to know about people who aren’t the main stars in a relatively short book.

Then, of course, there’s Margo. Probably the only thing that is a stretch is the relationship between her and Q – it’s too stale in their history for it to start being friendly again now, but I’ll take it. Regardless, I love all the different ways we see her and the influence she can have on people.

There’s life lessons galore but there’s so much to giggle at as well. Such a wonderful book.

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YA Book Review: Mila 2.0 – 1/5

MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza

Mila

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

No. This book is just a giant no.

There are so many obnoxious things about this story. I really, really wish I hadn’t even finished it. I slogged through it because I had a theory and, of course, it wasn’t until I got to the end that it occurred to me I might not be able to test my theory until the next book in the series, and there’s no way I’m picking up that brick.

For a book about an android/cyborg/whatever you want to call Mila, it was freaking boring. Mila is the lamest machine-like-thing ever. She can do crazy ninja-like moves, which is cool if predictable, but what else? She can insert a microchip into her wrist (but can barely process it) and she has GPS. That’s it. So. Lame.

Nothing about what she is makes sense. “Mila” is supposedly some kind of weapon the U.S. has made? Why in the world would they EVER design an android weapon to take the shape of a teenage girl? Dumb. And this entire project is run by two scientists? Equally dumb.

There is just so much about this that is absurd. I can’t resist naming a few:

1) Kaylee, her so-called best friend of a month, tries to kill her over a boy who moved into town two days before. The crazy of that situation was so glossed over.

2) Mila’s “love” for a boy who, again, had been around for two days. Why? There is zero connection. I’m so suspicious of him but we don’t get any more information before the end of the book, so I have no way of knowing if my guess is right (seriously, though, Mila is on the run from a “secret organization” who “knows no bounds” and a strange guy shows up, all handsome, decides he loves Mila, and his name? HUNTER. *slow blink*)

3) Mila has all this attachment to her school, and friends, and horse, and mother, etc, but she’s truly only been “alive” for a month. For a machine with human feelings she has about 500% the amount of feelings anyone has for anything in that length of time.

And then – there’s the biggest, most ridiculous thing of all. It’s after Mila and her mother’s capture (sorry for the spoilers, seriously though, you don’t want to read this book) and the scientist is putting her through “tests. ” Apparently if she can show that she doesn’t have emotions (when they already know she does) then she can live. So they decide to put her through these tests using emotion as the main incentive for her to succeed. In the final test she literally has to go through a Tough Mudder-like course all the while watching TV screens of her mother slowly being burned to death.

I’m sorry but if Mila works so hard to win at these games isn’t that showing exactly how her emotions are controlling her actions and not her logic? A true machine would look at this obstacle course and be all like “that seems like a risk to a lot of people and myself just to save one woman.”

I always feel a little guilty when I go into these rants, but I just can’t get over how little sense this book made. If you were thinking about picking this up, just stop. If you want to read a good book about a young adult cyborg lady, pick up Cinder instead.

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Book Review: The Poisonwood Bible – 4/5

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

poisonwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books I resisted picking up because I didn’t know what to expect. Books that talk about religion – good or bad – tend to make me antsy. I know next to nothing about any religion so I wasn’t sure how this would sit. Obviously, it sat well.

Kingsolver is such a fantastic writer. Politics and opinions in the book aside, she did an incredible job of making this story come alive. The Poisonwood Bible is told from the perspective of five different females whose lives are wholly changed by, truthfully, one man – the father of the family. I love how differently Africa changed each of them – turning inward, turning out, growth, death, and even stasis. I think we all have (or will have) an experience in our lives that change us forever. It was fascinating to see one event change so many characters.

Kingsolver’s writing is poetry. The way she describes not only the atmosphere and setting but also the thoughts are incredible. Each female voice is incredibly distinctive. Adah and Ruth May are particularly wonderful to read. I was able to enjoy this book on audio and the narrator is phenomenal. The way she does Rachel – it’s perfection.

For me, I think the book should have ended prior to the girls growing up. This is the distinction for me between five and four stars. The end of the book, while still enjoyable, gets political. Whether I think one way or another about it, when it’s a historical fiction novel, it’s hard to know what is fact and what is opinion. I liked seeing how the women turned out, but part of me wanted to stay back in the Congo, too.

This book is art, and I loved listening to the words wash over me. There’s a reason its well known and it’s worth your time and effort to experience Kingsolver’s style.

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Book Review: Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander #8) – 5/5

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon

MOBY

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This!

Love! Love love love love love!

Book > Expectations

Diana Gabaldon is is genius, Davina Porter has the voice of an angel, it all culminates into a beautiful mixture of bliss.

When the last line of the book came, I gasped – aloud, on the street. I kid you not. With audiobooks it’s hard to know when the end is near and I was blindsided. I so, so, so want more! It was perfect and horrible all at one time; mostly because I can’t stand the thought of not having any new Outlander to read. I had only just finished book 7 a few months before this one came out.

I don’t know what it means to not have more at my fingertips.

I cannot handle this.

Did I mention that I love this? If you’ve made it this far to the series, you’re not going to need to read the reviews. Just know that Gabaldon is a wizard. Or mayhaps a witch.

Don’t care, just love.

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YA Book Review: Instructions for a Broken Heart – 2 of 5

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson

instructions

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sorry, folks, this is not good. I know some of you loved the book, but this was cringe-tastic. It’s like Culbertson took all the bad parts of a YA novel and shoved it all into a beautiful package.

This book has so much potential! A recent break-up, an Italian vacation, twenty dares from a best friend – I love the premise. The execution was total blerg.

Where do I begin? Let’s start with my biggest frustration – the trip. That was the most boring, god-awful travel log I have ever read. Seriously, how do you write a book about a trip to Italy and focus only on the bad parts? I’d done a trip like what Jessa experienced in this book and I know what Culbertson was getting at – school trips abroad are generally terrible ideas. You sit in a boring bus all day, you barely have any time at locations, etc. I don’t want to read about it. I don’t need to see all the nuances of why traveling in a group sucks.

This book, to me, is just littered with Culbertson’s life experiences. It’s so obvious to me that each experience Jessa has Culbertson likely had in life. I’m all for authors drawing on true experiences, but this is just too much. All the referrals to specific musicals and games and whatnot – it was all too exact. Television shows and movies were just too alienating; as a reader I didn’t know a lot of the pop culture that was mentioned. None of it had meaning to me and so I just felt like I was listening in on a young girl’s (boring) life.

And then, of course, my main issue. Every single character needed to just get over him or her self. I know people are self-absorbed at that age but I don’t want to read about it in the extreme. Jessa’s pity party went on for far too long – blah blah you loved him blah. Based on everything we learned from Carissa, he obviously sucked, so you shouldn’t have loved him. And this whole “being too busy” thing was just lame. And can I mention how apparently everyone in their brother was poet or a singer? I know they were drama kids, but still.

I don’t know, it seems like very little in this book rang true (what’s up with Jessa having like six incredibly close guy friends? And everyone on the trip hooking up? What was up with her telling a new story for her scar all the time?) or, when things did ring true, I didn’t want to know (I don’t need to know how bored you are on the bus. I really don’t,)

It’s not my intention to be completely mean.  I did finish it, after all. The writing was decent and there were some really nice lines but I just couldn’t get lost in it. So not worth it.

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Book Review: The Pillars of the Earth – a (surprising!) 4 of 5

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

pillars

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 with a surprising round-up.

Really surprising. I’m not even sure I can leave it at a 4 star review. This book should not have been something I liked, I’m not a fan of religion, after all. If fact, for a lot of the book I didn’t like it that much… but somewhere in there I got won over.

Obviously, this book is long. That sucks about it. It really doesn’t need to be that long. There’s quite a bit of unnecessary rambling (yes, yes, buildings and architecture are complex, etc.) and Follett seems to assume that by the end of the book we’ve forgotten what happened in the beginning so he has to repeat it (which, I suppose is fair, due to the length). All of this makes it tedious – but not enough for me not to like it.

For the first fourth, maybe even half, of the book I was certain I would give it a solid three stars, maybe 2.5. Decent quality, just nothing too great. But somewhere from the middle to end I started to care more – I think I just really like Jack. The Pillars of the Earth has a bit of a George R.R. Martin feel; you’re never quite sure if good is going to win over evil or not. I started to care and I started to cheer for people. It was a great feeling.

What I love about this book is who the good and bad people are: they are everyone. The kings and earls, the clergy, the peasants, each group had their good and corrupt representation. I loved the women, especially Ellen. The book really flowed for its length. Some of it was fantastical and hard to swallow as believable but I liked it all the same.

I don’t know, I can’t explain it. This book just lives up to its reputation for me. It’s a story I’ll carry with me for a while. If you’re in the mood for a long book, this will be worth considering!

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YA Book Review: Impluse – 3.5 of 5

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

impulse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I checked this book out from the library, I didn’t bother to crack the cover. I just went on my merry way. When I finally opened the book I almost snapped it right shut – I had no idea it was written entirely in verse (or close enough). I’ve only read one book in this style before, long ago, and it didn’t sit too well. I decided to keep an open mind, though, and jumped in. Overall, I’m glad I did. This book is a solid 3.5 with enough oomph to round up instead of down.

I could have done without that style of writing and just gone with the prose, but it worked. It focused more on the characters and their thoughts and required less regarding the setting and other goings-on (not that those were absent). I also enjoyed the way the three characters’ pages actually looked different. It was an easy way to tell apart the voices (which was needed, since otherwise everyone was similar in their manner of speaking).

This book is angsty to the extreme. It’s necessary, a book about three characters who failed at suicide is bound to be angsty, but it’s still good to know coming in. Despite all their problems, I found their ability to move through the Levels of their care too easy. This book is pro-medication as a fixer; I know meds help many people, so I’m not knocking it, the book just makes the opinion obvious. The workers at this group are strangely oblivious – maybe that’s another statement being made as well. I think by the end we as readers all knew something was going to happen (this type of book couldn’t be all happy-go-lucky, after all) but that unfortunately made the “happening” dulled.

Despite a few of my misgivings, I think this is a very solid YA book about many difficult subjects. My absolute favorite part of the book is how these three characters see each other. I love, love, love how Hopkins did this characterization. All three people, of course, hate themselves in some way (who doesn’t, especially as an adolescent?) but they all see each other as wonderful. They all see the others as strong and capable and beautiful. It’s a great message and woven in very subtly.

Overall – not bad and it’s worth it to try something new!

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Book Review: I Shall Be Near To You – 4.5 of 5

I Shall Be Near to You: A Novel by Erin Lindsay McCabe

neartoyou

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This book is such a good example of why I love historical fiction. Historical fiction can take the liberties needed to craft a really excellent story, while still teaching me a little about the lives and actions of past history. For me, nothing makes things like love or loss ring more true than when I’m reading it in a historical context. McCabe does a truly wonderful job of making all that happen in this book.

I Shall Be Near to You is clearly well researched, but you’re not overwhelmed by facts. The book isn’t about the Civil War in of itself; it’s about Rosetta. She’s a feisty woman who wants nothing more than to run a farm with her husband, Jeremiah, a local boy she’s loved forever. Their lives promise to be happy, if it weren’t for the war.

Rosetta’s voice is incredible. McCabe does a wonderful job of using language of the time and of Rosetta’s upbringing (which would have consisted of only an average education). But her farm-like manner doesn’t hinder the reader from seeing how strong, resourceful, and passionate Rosetta is. And never, not for one moment, do we doubt her love for Jeremiah.

Romantic as it is, this isn’t a book for the weak of stomach or for someone who doesn’t have any tissues handy. About half of this book takes place marching or on the battlefield and McCabe provides us with a myriad of visions, sounds, and smells (especially smells!) of what is going on. It’s gut wrenching and I guarantee you heart is bound to break. In all honesty, I didn’t think what happened was going to happen and I was astounded when it did. I think it was best for the story, but I can tell you it was not what I wanted.

What can I say? This is a great story and adds just a little to what we know and think of when it comes to the Civil War. An excellent read.

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