Category: Book Reviews

Book Review: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Posted September 22, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Title: State of Wonder

Author: Ann Patchett


Publisher: Harper Collins
 
Publication Date: June 2011

Genre: Adult Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here
Review: 
Marina Singh is sent into the unknown, the most remote region of the Amazon, to find her former teacher Dr. Annick Swenson. Dr. Swenson is working on creating a drug for Dr. Singh’s company- a drug that will enable women who are long past menopause to be able to conceive children. A drug that will bring their company millions of dollars. A drug that may be worth more than a life lost along the way.
I haven’t read Bel Canto and had nothing to compare this novel to. I’ve heard wonderful things about Patchett’s writing and decided to listen to the audiobook. No one could have read it better than Hope Davis. She brought Marina to life, and made Dr. Swenson into a clear and sometimes even sympathetic character. And I’d like to mention quickly that the cover of the book is beautiful. It caught my eye right away.
I loved the contrast between Marina and Dr. Swenson. To be honest, I found Swenson much more interesting than Marina. Marina, for all her good intentions, seemed weak and unsteady. Sure, she was pushed into going to the Amazon for a number of reasons, and the left over baggage between her and Swenson didn’t make it any less appealing. But as much as Marina lacked character, Swenson made up for it. A force to be reckoned with, she was strong, selfish and unapologetic. Read the book for Swenson alone, but be warned, she doesn’t make an appearance until almost half way through.
The writing is lyrical, flowing easily with deep descriptions. The Amazon feels heavy, thick and suffocating. Minnesota is clear, clean, cut and dry. The contrasts were beautifully done. I could see Mr. Fox. I could see Anders. I could see Easter, another solid and beautifully written character.
The book is almost cut into two halves. The first is Marina getting to Brazil and trying to locate Dr. Swenson. The second is her exploration of the Amazon and what she finds there. The segue way felt jarring and unnatural for some reason, the book changing direction so wildly it felt like another book altogether. I would have liked more time in the Amazon, more time with Easter and Dr. Swenson. Even though the book was evenly divided between her time in and out of the Amazon, I felt like the timeline was uneven.
I can’t say enough good things about Hope Davis’s performance. I highly recommend the audiobook. 
Rating 7 Pretty Good Would Recommend

 

Posted September 22, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments


Book Review: My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares

Posted September 19, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 1 Comment

Title: My Name Is Memory

Author: Ann Brashares

Publisher: Riverhead

Publication Date: June 2010

Genre: Adult Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One

Synopsis can be found here.

Review:
Ann Brashares, best known for her Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Young Adult series, takes on adult fiction in the first book to this stunning new trilogy.
Every lifetime, the love of Daniel’s life is reincarnated into another being, and he must find her. Sometimes, he doesn’t find her until she’s old. Sometimes she’s too young. This time, they are just right. Around the same age and in the same high school, Daniel remembers his past tries over the centuries. But someone from Daniel’s past lurks one step ahead of him, and he is intent on punishing Daniel forever.
I had never read Brashares’s other series, but was intrigued by the premise. A love story spanning hundreds of years? Sign me up! The true romantic in me swooned over the glittery cover and the promise of a well-told story. And after having read The Time Traveler’s Wife years ago, this seemed like something I would enjoy.
I dove into the lyrical language and beautiful tone of this novel. The heartbreaking history of these characters weighs heavily on Daniel, the only one who remembers all his lives. Daniel is a sturdy and true character. Complex and lonely, his soul relives every loss and win, every lifetime. Instead of being bitter, Daniel is a fighter and continues on, hoping for a better chance next time. Lucy, his soulmate’s name in this lifetime, is a strong teenager. She doesn’t flip back and forth or whine. She’s mature and though things seem a little unreal about Daniel, she does realize something special is between them.
Full heavy emotions fill the pages and I found myself really caring about these characters, rooting for Daniel and Lucy to somehow find a way to be together. The entire time I read this book, time did not exist for me. I was so swept up in their story.

And then the end…
I almost screamed and threw the book down! The end?!  But no, thank goodness I went online and began searching the web in outrage over the book’s ending. Only to find it’s book one in the series. Whew! So don’t expect a neat ending because it’s not over.

Brashares, please write faster!! I’m eagerly awaiting book two.

Review: 10, One of the best






















Posted September 19, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 1 Comment


Book Review: Breathe My Name by R.A. Nelson

Posted September 15, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Title: Breathe My Name

Author: R.A. Nelson

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication Date: November 2007

Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.


Review:Realistic fiction becomes physiological thriller in this book. Frances Robinson is a typical high school teenager, but she’s hiding a secret only her family and best friend knows. Years before, she barely escaped her birth mother’s hands. Now her birth mother is out, asking Frances to see her, and to finish what they started.

I knew going into it that this book was going to be intense. Nelson’s other book I read, and reviewed, was equally jarring, scary and emotionally explosive. Breathe My Name doesn’t let up for one second.  The flashbacks are the most disturbing for me. Traveling back and forth between France’s current life and her former one leaves the reader feeling off balanced. You already know what’s going to happen, and every flashback leads you closer and closer, achingly close until the very end.
Meanwhile, the present Frances is doing everything she can to come to terms with what this means to her.  With her new boyfriend Nix in tow, they begin a journey that I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to end.
Frances is a real, warm character. She has been through a lot, but she doesn’t come across as whiny, annoying or overly dramatic. She’s level headed, brave and seems far older than her years.  Nix is sweet, funny and a great supporting character to Frances. It’s easy to see the chemistry between these two characters. Nix makes Frances laugh and she feels safe around him. The scariest character of all is France’s birth mother. Tense and unhinged, she is her own force; a hurricane you can’t help being pulled towards and almost swept up in. Nelson does an amazing job in the flashbacks, describing her pull, her fears, and her insanity.
Without revealing too much, the plot twist at the end left me a little empty. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a well-written and thought-out ride to get there.  

Rating 7 Pretty Cool, Would Recommend

Posted September 15, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments


***Romance Report*** Book Review: Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

Posted September 12, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Title: Maybe This Time

Author: Jennifer Crusie

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: August 2010

Genre: Adult Romance/Ghost Story

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.

Review:

Andie is ready to get married. She’s newly engaged and ready to start over, and forget about her ex husband North Archer. But as she’s severing ties, North pulls her in to babysitting two orphans who are now in North’s care. Andie realizes these two children aren’t acting out from being neglected. Something more sinister is at work and to save the children and herself, she has to uncover what.
This is my first Jennifer Cruise book, and as I’m relatively new to the romance genre, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After being enchanted by this story, I went out and read a couple of other books by Cruise. While some reviewers thought this book was a little different from Crusies’s other works, that’s what I liked most about it. (I found Cruise’s other works to be lighter than this story.)
There is a lot to like in this story. Andie is a smart and loyal character, just doing her best and trying to stay away from her handsome and emotionally detached ex husband. She’s had enough! But oh, who could really blame her for being pulled back in…
North is sexy, standoffish and romantic all in one. As the misunderstood hero, he’s flawed and stubborn. North’s journey through the novel is the most drastic, and the most satisfying
Add that North’s fun and charming brother, Andie’s mom and North’s mom around to make trouble, two haunted children and some ghosts and you have a novel that’s not completely romance, but not just thriller/ghost story either. It’s really more than that. And did I mention the story is creepy? Children and ghosts really spook me out in general, but Cruise goes a step further making me scared for Andie and the kids. This is not Casper and his uncles. We’re not talking horror or anything, but it was way scarier than I thought it was going to be for a little romance novel.
I leant my copy out to a couple of friends, both devoured the book in less than two days. 
There are some scenes that are for mature audiences, though not as graphic as some romance novels I’ve read in the past, you have been warned.
Suspenseful and hot, this has become of my favorite romance stories. 

Rating 9, Ridiculously Awesome like Cookies and Ice Cream

Posted September 12, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments


Book Review: Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Posted September 8, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Title: Five Flavors of Dumb

Author:
Antony John

Publisher: Dial

Publication Date: November 2010

Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.


Review: Through a series of brave choices, Piper offers to manage Dumb, her school’s band that has just won an indie band rock award. She makes the band a deal that she can get them a paying gig in a month. Any other teenager, and this would have been a less interesting story, but Piper is hearing impaired, so an entirely new set of challenges await her. And she’s ready to overcome all of them.

This book was recommended to me by various readers, so I’m not going to lie, I had some high hopes. And it lived up to all of them. Piper is a strong but struggling teenager. Her very young sister Grace is also hearing impaired, but Piper and Grace are treated very differently. The emotional rollercoaster Piper endures every night she goes home is heartbreaking. I felt all of Piper’s frustrations and sense of abandonment.  Her complicated relationship with her parents was sharp and unbearable at times. I felt a real sense of injustice on Piper’s behalf.
Finn, her brother, is a stable and well-rounded character who Piper grows closer to as the novel progresses. It’s easy to see why these two turn to lean on each other and it gave a nice sense of balance to the family life.
Yay to Antony John for creating Ed Chen, a shy chess playing geek as the love interest, who enjoys rocking out on his drums.  Ed is fully formed and well crafted. He is part teenage boy, part loyal friend and Piper’s sturdy rock. His refreshing friendship with Piper is light hearted and fun.
Tash, Will and Josh round out the rest of Dumb nicely. Each has distinct personalities, or lack thereof in Will’s case. This allows Piper to really shine through the novel, the reader experiencing her journey, her mistakes and her ups and downs as if they were their own. The obstacles Piper has to overcome in this novel are unique to her situation, and while she is a sympathetic character, she’s equally flawed, which makes her even more interesting.
The use of sign language through the novel and Piper’s struggles with that and her hearing aids are well written. John does a fantastic job using Piper’s communication skills as another layer.
A wonderfully rich and fun story. Piper is a girl you want to root for. And Dumb is well, pretty awesome.

Rating 8, Cookie Worthy

Posted September 8, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments


Book Review: Faithful Place by Tana French

Posted September 5, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Title: Faithful Place


Author: Tana French

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: June 2011

Genre: Adult Mystery Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book Three
Synopsis can be found here.

Review:
Tana French continues to impress me with her layered mysteries and haunted writing.
The first book in the series: In The Woods, is a creepy mystery that won many awards.
Book Three is another addition to this fantastic series.
Frank Mackey, a small supporting character that has popped up in the world previously, gets his own mystery to solve.
Faithful Place is Frank’s old neighborhood, a haunted poor town he fled twenty some odd years ago. He goes back only to find some things don’t change, such as his abusive family. But he also remembers the night he left, and the girl who was supposed to leave with him but never did. So begins his own investigation into his past, and solving a mystery that perhaps should have remained unsolved.
French’s stories are all haunting and beautiful, weaving Ireland and its people through like mythical beings. Honestly though, I think this is her best book in the series. Frank’s history is rich in detail, as is the town he once lived in. His family problems are laid bare, real and uncomfortable. The dialogue is beautifully written and I had to read slowly to get the full thickness of the words. I could hear the voices as clear as if they were next to me. And again, the writing, the mystery, it’s all done so well I forgot to eat, drink tea or feed my bunny. Seriously. I just needed to know what was going to happen.
This chilling and intense story will keep you reading through the night.
If you want to start at the beginning of the series, In The Woods is book one and The Likeness is book two. (If you are going to read either books one or two, read them in order. It makes a much more emotional punch if you do.)

But you don’t need to read either of these to enjoy Faithful Place. 

Review 10 One of the Best















Posted September 5, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 4 Comments


Book Review: Death Cloud (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins) by Andrew Lane

Posted August 29, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Title: Death Cloud

Author: Andrew Lane

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
 

Publication Date: February 2011

Genre: Young Adult Historical Mystery Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One

Synopsis can be found here.


Review: There may be more stories written by other authors about Sherlock Holmes than by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself.  That says a lot right there. Holmes is clouded in his own mystery- a solitary figure, master in the art of deduction, a bit eccentric and very little is known about his past.

This is what makes Andrew Lane’s Holmes so enjoyable. Whether you are familiar with the original Holmes stories or not, he is so engrained in western culture with his signature deerstalker style hat, its hard to not recognize the popular literary figure.
Lane’s Holmes is young, curious and adventurous. While we see the slowly layered foundation of the man he is to become, this Holmes is fun to read. Along with his tutor Crowe and friend Matty, Sherlock starts his first adventure. He is only just a boy, but the potential is there and fueled by Crowe’s own skill and wisdom, it’s easy to see how young Sherlock develops into the man he is famous for.
Matty is true and loyal supporting character. Young, alone and rough around the edges, he makes the perfect friend for privileged Holmes.
Lane does a good job of prolonging the mystery, even if I had guessed it chapters earlier. There is a good deal of action and a couple of very threatening characters, so I think young boys might really enjoy this early Holmes adventure.  It’s light on the girl, and yes, of course there’s a girl, and heavy on the danger, which makes it perfect for boys maybe around 13 yrs old.
A quick read and a good debut to a promising series.



Review 6 Good but wouldn’t own a copy

Posted August 29, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 4 Comments