Tag: ARC

Review: The Fourth Stall Part III by Chris Rylander

Posted February 13, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 2 Comments

Title: The Fourth Stall, Part III

Author: Chris Rylander

Publisher:Walden Pond Press

Publication Date: February 2013

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book III


Synopsis can be found here.
You can check out my author interview and review of Book Two in this series here.
I received this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

Mac and Vince are trying to live a simple, uncomplicated life now that their business is closed. But you know what they say- you can’t ever really leave. Being pulled back into business, a new nemesis from another school, and Mac and Vince are in way over their heads. And it’s not just them who are in trouble. Their entire school has a target on it and the only way to save everyone is by banding together once and for all.

Filled with humor, crazy jokes and a lively cast of characters, The Fourth Stall Part III is a seriously fun ending. Mac and Vince are still stuck like glue- best friends till the end. And when their enemy Staples, from Book One, appears asking them for help, a strange camaraderie ensues, but is it real? Or does Staples have a hidden agenda?

The plot keeps you guessing again and again, leaving you running after Mac and Vince, rooting for them the whole time. Mac’s voice, his observations and narration, are my favorite part, but following closely behind is good ol’ Vince and his grandmother’s ramblings. Even the secondary characters, and acquaintances, have clever nicknames, odd personalities and funny quirks. (At the moment, the new kid Matches, is probably my favorite. Yes, his nickname is Matches. Guess what he likes to do.)

It’s such a great book and a fantastic series.
A sure hit with any middle grade reader, or, ehem, older reader like me.

Rating 8 Cookie Worthy

Posted February 13, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 2 Comments


Giveaway and Review: Notes from Ghost Town by Kate Ellison

Posted February 8, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Contests / 13 Comments

Title: Notes from Ghost Town

Author: Kate Ellison

Publisher: Egmont

Publication Date: February 2013

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.

I received this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

Olivia is away at school when her best friend Lucas Stern dies, in her mother’s arms. The clues point to Olivia’s mom killing Stern, but Olivia doesn’t believe it- not when Stern’s ghost returns to her and tells her it wasn’t her mom, but someone else. And he needs her help to solve it. The murder trial is in days and Olivia must figure out who really did it before she loses her mom forever. And what about Stern, who comes to her like he’s real, like he’s still there, like they still love each other. How can you get over a ghost?

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read Notes from Ghost Town. Ghost story? Madness? Mental illness? Detective story? It’s all of those things.
Ellison does a great job writing Olivia’s own suspicions of herself and her descent into madness. Olivia is terrified of being like her mother and the illness that engulfs her, but what else is there to suspect when your best friend comes to you as a ghost. This really adds to the uneasy tone of the book. At times, I see Olivia as an unreliable narrator so I constantly cast suspicion on her and her mind. It takes a while for Olivia to figure things out, but this had to do more with self doubt and caution.
And the murderer, villain is pretty extreme. I’m not sure if I buy into the motivations, and the subsequent actions in the last part of the book by the killer, but it’s a twisty ride to get there.

Ellison has some really well written pieces in this book that flow off the page and suspend you in time, a snapshot of a scene or a life. I really those parts, especially because they were so peaceful and lovingly descriptive. The book is tense and dark, much darker than I expected, so these lovely parts serve a great balance as well.

Rating 7 Pretty Cool, Would Recommend


Giveaway!!
Thank you to Egmont USA for offering these fantastic books for the giveaway and providing me with an ARC!

You could win a Hardcover of Notes from Ghost Town and a paperback copy of The Butterfly Clues, both by Kate Ellison from Egmont USA!

Just fill in the rafflecopter below!
This giveaway is only for my followers and it ends the night of February 13th.
US and Canada only.
Good luck everyone!

Synopsis of The Butterfly Clues is here.
You can follow Kate on her website here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted February 8, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Contests / 13 Comments


Review: The Ninth Step by Grant Jerkins

Posted January 17, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Title: The Ninth Step

Author: Grant Jerkins

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime

Publication Date: September 2012

Genre: Adult Crime/Thriller

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.
I received this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Don’t know what I was expecting, but it sure wasn’t that.

Helen is a recovering alcoholic and seeks out Edgar, the man who was driving the car she crashed into, resulting in the death of Edgar’s beloved wife Judy. As Helen and Edgar’s relationship grows, Helen becomes part of a blackmail scheme when a note appears: does he know you killed his wife?

With the threat of losing everything, Helen must come to terms with her past and what this means for her future and the man she now loves.

This is a swift read with interesting characters and some great twists. I didn’t think I would find Helen to be a very interesting or sympathetic character, but Jerkins does a good job making her human and good intentioned. Her character changes so dramatically from the beginning of the book to the end, I don’t honestly know what I think of Helen by then, but I do know it was a great ride.

Edgar on the other hand is safe, sweet and quiet. He’s a school teacher who collects Japanese puzzle boxes, awaiting the birth of him and Judy’s first child when they are struck by Helen’s car and his life changes forever. Edgar’s normal life is set into an uncontrollable downward spiral so that when Edgar does finally manage to pull it back together and find happiness, I’m rooting for him. It’s easy to see early on that Edgar’s choices will forever be tainted by this series of events, so that when things do reach their climax and get out of control, Edgar becomes an extreme character of himself.

A series of creepy and shady characters complete Helen and Edgar’s friends and non-friends. The unsettling feeling of something always being a little off starts on page one and reaches a powerful climax by the end. The good guys aren’t good, the bad guys aren’t bad. Well, they are, but oh, how that line is very blurry by the end.

The ending is satisfying, yet extremely harsh. I did like the ending but the momentum for the story was so out of control by that point, I feel like everything was uneasy still. Which isn’t a bad thing.

I really enjoyed this book and I think most people would really like it. It’s a thriller you can’t put down.

Rating: 7 Pretty Cool, Would Recommend

Posted January 17, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments


Review: The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen

Posted January 10, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Title: The Vanishing Act

Author: Mette Jakobsen

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company

Publication Date: September 2012

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.
This book was given to me by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

Twelve year old Minou lives on a remote island with her father, Boxman who is a magician, a priest and a dog called No-Name. One day, the body of a boy washes ashore and they take care of his remains for three days until the boat can come and take him away. In these three days, Minou relives the time she shared with her mother, who disappeared off the island.

I had such high hopes for this story, a mere 218 pages. But for me the story falls short, never reaching it’s full potential. Minou is a strong voice, for a twelve year old, narrating events she doesn’t fully understand. Stuck on this island with her philosopher father, who treats his daughter more like an accomplice than a child, she recalls the events leading up to her mother’s disappearance. While Minou’s character is strongly influenced by her father, logical thinking, her creative and whimsical mother tries to lure Minou to use her imagination more and through this coaxing, we see Minou’s trapped mother and content father.

There are some wonderfully vivid scenes in the story, especially dealing with Minou and her mother once her mother is gone as Minou begins to explore this new world she creates. But overall, I found the story lacking heart. Minou’s voice fails to express the loneliness and sadness around her. She calls the priest Priest, and her dog No-Name, and the former magician Boxman because he makes boxes that he sells overseas, taking everything at face value. Just that, the lack of curiosity or view of depth made me question Minou’s voice. In other parts of the story, she is alive with realistic insights and observations. I’m torn between who Minou in the story is and who I wished she could have been.

As for the plot and story itself, it moves slowly which isn’t a bad thing. The isolation and quietness of the island is another character in the book. Jackobsen does a great job creating the setting and drawing the reader in, so much so that even after I have read the story, the island comes back to me. The mother’s umbrella and peacock, her shoes and bag. I just wish there was something else happening on the island.

And then it ends, and I’m not satisfied. Not all of my questions are answered. Minou’s secret is less than surprising and it leaves me unsettled.

Rating 4 Not My Cup Of Tea

Posted January 10, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments


Book Review: You Came Back by Christopher Coake

Posted September 10, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Title: You Came Back

Author: Christopher Coake

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Publication Date
: June 2012

Genre: Adult Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone


Synopsis can be found here.

Review
Mark Fife believes he has moved past the death of his seven year old son, and the collapse of his marriage. Living with his girlfriend Allison, and ready to propose to her, he is thrown off balance by the arrival of a strange woman who claims his dead son, Brendan, still haunts the old house they used to live in. And that Brendan is calling for him.

Mark doesn’t believe in ghosts, but the temptation is too strong to check out the house and see if his beloved boy is haunting the place. Throw in his damaged ex-wife and Mark doesn’t know what to believe anymore. And what is real.

Beautifully written, You Came Back kept me engaged until the very last page. Coake does a stunning job of portraying the complicated emotions that plague Mark and Chloe over their son’s death and the real possibility that they will have a chance to make ammends. Mark questions everything about that day, the days before and over analyses almost to obsession his failed marriage. This is not really a ghost story. It is a story about love, family and grief. And how you can convince yourself of almost anything if you want to.

The beauty and tragedy in the story stems from Mark’s own guilt. How he wishes beyond reason things were back to the way they were, when Brendan was still alive, when his ex-wife Chloe was still in love with him. Though he has moved past that, and onto his new life, when his old life comes crashing back, the temptation to settled back into the past and try again is too strong for him. And this makes Mark a human character- to want to try again so deeply, he is willing to believe almost anything, hurt almost anyone, lie even to himself.

As Mark grapples with his feelings of desire for his past, Chloe is there pulling him along. While Chloe is a huge character in the book, I feel less sympathy for her than Mark. They are suffering through similar grief and understanding, but while reading, I didn’t get a strong sense of happy, loving Chloe. There are some flashbacks, and pictures of Mark and Chloe, content, together. But a lot of Mark’s reflections is how they were around the time of the accident- fighting unhappy and spiteful with each other. Maybe that was the point. Mark’s love for Chloe was as she was before, not as she is now and you know how dangerous it is putting your love on a pedestal.

The story moves fast, the language flowing nicely and before I knew it I was over half way through the book in one sitting. Watching Mark’s journey was emotional and sad and the twists in the story were believable. No matter how deep Mark got, I was still hoping he would pull himself out from the mess.
After finishing the book, I sat there, in awe of the story I just finished. I went back, re-read certain passages, especially the end. 

 Rating 9 Ridiculously Awesome like Cookies and Ice Cream

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book

Posted September 10, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 2 Comments