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22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson

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22 Britannia Road

22 Britannia Road

Silvana and Janusz have only been married a few months when the war forces them apart. Silvana and their infant son, Aurek, leave Poland and disappear into the forests of Eastern Europe, where they bear witness to German atrocities. Meanwhile Janusz, the sole survivor of his slaughtered military unit, flees to France. There, he takes up with a local girl and, though he loves her, awaits the war’s end so that he can go in search of his wife and son. He eventually finds them in a refugee camp and they travel to England together, where they attempt to put the past behind them. But the secrets they carry pull at the threads of their fragile peace. Hodgkinson alternates viewpoints to relay the story of three desperate characters, skillfully toggling between the war and its aftermath with wonderfully descriptive prose that pulls the reader into a sweeping tale of survival and redemption. (from Goodreads)

I enjoyed reading this one. I rather liked the story, even though it’s dark and moody. The setting and the theme was well done and although Silvana and Janusz are supposed to be together, you can feel the detachment between the two of them because of the war. It changes everything and when they do get together, the love just isn’t there. You’d have to wonder if it was lust at first sight instead of love.

You don’t quite connect with the characters here. Again, it feels like detachment is the main theme of this story. The characters themselves don’t quite connect with each other either. So I can see why this book might not be for everyone. Nevertheless, despite this, I liked how it was written and the mood overall was very well done.

There is a little twist in the plot. It’s not mind numbing or shocking, but it sort of livens up the story a bit and it was an unexpected twist for me. I’d have to say Silvana’s story while she was trying to survive was a good one. She endured a lot and while reading her side of the story it’s filled with how people would just take advantage of one another during these times (or in any time during a war). It’s just a matter of survival and how humanity would take drastic steps to do so even if it means stepping over particular boundaries that one wouldn’t normally do in other circumstances.

Historical fiction readers may like this book for its’ beautiful writing. I thought it was worth the read. It may not be for everyone, but it’s worth a read through.

I give it a 9/10

Thanks Penguin for the review copy!!!! Much appreciated!

Written by Karoline

August 6, 2014 at 9:04 am

Until I Die by Amy Plum

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Until I Die

Until I Die

Kate and Vincent have overcome the odds and at last they are together in Paris, the city of lights and love. As their romance deepens there’s one question they can’t ignore: How are they supposed to be together if Vincent can’t resist sacrificing himself to save others? Although Vincent promises that he’ll do whatever it takes to lead a normal life with Kate, will that mean letting innocent people die? When a new and surprising enemy reveals itself, Kate realizes that even more may be at stake—and that Vincent’s immortality is in jeopardy. (From Goodreads)

I absolutely loved the first one. I loved Vincent so much and he instantly became a book crush. Both he and Kate made a great couple, and although they had the chemistry going on, their relationship sort of went in the way of the overall plot.

The plot had great potential and it was just as exciting as the first book. I loved the idea of the Revenants, and Kate managed to develop into a stronger character (remember the middle finger incident? haha!). My favorite characters still are Jules and Vincent. Their personalities are likable and I’m glad they haven’t changed a bit.

Although the book was a good one, there were quite a full lulls throughout the story, and as mentioned before, Kate and Vincent’s romance marred it. Don’t get me wrong, I love them both together, they had wonderful chemistry and a great romance, but I don’t want to read their sappy one liners, and how much they love being in each other’s company. I want the plot to keep going, I want to see the action, I want to see what next suspenseful thing is coming next. But I’m stuck reading on love and kissing scenes. Not quite what I had in mind. On top of that, the action really happens in the last 50 pages. So it felt as if time was wasted.

So, it’s worth a read because it’s the second in the series, but I’m hoping the third will be better. A little less on the sappy romance, more action on more Revenants please!

I give it a 7 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

July 23, 2014 at 8:47 am

Embers of Love by Tracie Peterson

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Embers of Love

Embers of Love

The logging industry in eastern Texas is booming, and Deborah Vandermark plans to assist her family’s business now that she’s completed college. Unexpectedly, her best friend, Lizzie Decker, accompanies her back home–fleeing a wedding and groom she has no interest in. Deborah, the determined matchmaker, puts her sights on uniting her brother and dear friend in a true love match. Deborah soon meets Dr. Christopher Clayton, a much-needed addition to the town. As their lives intersect, Deborah realizes that she has a much greater interest in medicine and science than the bookkeeping she was trained in. But when typhoid begins to spread and Lizzie’s jilted fiance returns, Deborah wonders if true love can overcome such obstacles…for those dearest to her, and for herself. (From Amazon.ca)

I enjoyed this book somewhat. Deborah was enjoyable to read as a character, she’s very strong willed and knew exactly what she wanted from life. Especially during this particular time period where she had an interest in medicine and science, it would have been hard for a woman during that time to pursue these types of interests. Her strong and likable personality was what made the book a nice read.

So! why did I say I enjoyed this book ‘somewhat’? a few things. The pace of the plot was a bit too slow for my tastes. The characters are great and all, but if the plot is going nowhere, or it’s going at a snail’s pace well, there’s only so much the characters can do to capture and maintain your attention.

Then come the ‘convenient’ bits. Not going to go into much detail here to avoid spoilers, but let’s just say some people just pop up magically, while others just disappear and you’re wondering where the heck they went to. It seems like a cop out, and it’s like these characters can’t have anything wrong happen with them, and if it does, it’ll be swept under the rug conveniently. This gets tiresome and it makes the story dull and predictable possibly warding off potential readers.

I haven’t read the second or third yet, but I don’t think I’ll rush to go ahead and do so. If I find the second one, I’ll take it, otherwise I’ll take my time. Take it or leave it on this one.

I give it a 6/10

Written by Karoline

July 15, 2014 at 9:37 am

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out. When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself? (from Goodreads)

Oh my. It’s been a while since I’ve read an excellent book. Then you pick up a giant tome like this one and it just sweeps you off your feet. I fell in love with this book in the first few 50 pages. It had an interesting fresh look on fantasy for YA without your standard monsters (ie: dragons – not that there’s anything wrong with dragons, but we’ve all seen and read about them dozens of times).

The idea of the chimeras and the seraphim with a Romeo and Juliet twist is what I found the most appealing in this book. Now it may not be entirely different when it comes to the starcrossed lovers theme, but putting that theme with something different and fantastical is always a good thing and refreshing to see. Also, I loved the setting. Not many that take place in Europe, so that also makes the book all the more worth reading.

The characters are all memorable. Loved all the chimeras they each had their own personality and you couldn’t help but love them all. Zuzana made the perfect sidekick with Karou, I loved her and how much she supported Karou through it all. Thiago is horribly slimy and makes your skin crawl. The plot goes back and forth between what’s happening now, and in a different fantastical world, but it’s weaved together and it’s so well done you don’t notice any hitches. It’s a beautiful plot, and although the size might intimidate some, don’t be. You’ll be surprised at how fast you fly with this book because the plot is so engaging and will draw you in.

Definitely recommended. It’s something different, and the cliffhanger ending will make you scream.

I give it a 10 out of 10

Written by Karoline

May 28, 2014 at 7:13 am

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Hybrids by Whitley Streiber

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Hybrids

Hybrids

For years, people have feared that sexual material removed from victims of alien abductions might lead to the creation of something that modern science considers impossible: hybrids of the alien and the human. They would think like aliens, but appear human, and be able to do something that full-blooded aliens can’t–walk the earth freely. In Hybrids, Whitley Strieber unleashes his unparalleled skills as a thriller writer and his unique knowledge of the abduction phenomenon to explore, what might happen if hybrids invaded the earth–not from the stars, but from exactly where the aliens told him they would emerge, when one of them said, “We will come from within you.” (From Goodreads).

I loved the book for the action. The utter chaos and graphic depictions in the book are rather hard to swallow at times so it might not be for the feint of heart. It’s a typical story plot where you have elements of aliens and the government going hand in hand. So, don’t expect anything new or different. I’d have to say there’s two memorable moments that got to me in this book: San Francisco gone absolute amok, and the part with the hybrids and that village. The latter creeped me out. I’d have to give the author major props for writing descriptive settings that make the hair on the back of your neck rise.

Besides the action, well, writing wise it doesn’t do much, and sometimes when you think you’re on a roll to something in the plot, it stops abruptly and the rhythm of the book is all gone. It may not make a difference to some, but it makes the reading haphazard and uneven.

Characters in the story aren’t that much to be fully attached to, and really they’re just there for the plot. The little romance going on between the two main characters was a bit leaning towards the cheesy side, the book could have done without that.

Don’t expect too much from this book. To me, it was just a decent quick read (sort of like the Hollywood movies you watch just for the special effects, not for the storyline) the creepy factor makes it a good read otherwise, you could give it a pass if it’s not your thing.

I give it a 6 out of 10

Written by Karoline

May 7, 2014 at 7:47 am

For Such a Time by Kate Breslin

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For Such a Time

For Such a Time

In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz. Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy. Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself? (From goodreads)

I normally don’t read these types of books. Everything about this just sounds so….let’s say cliched. Either I was going to cry over the complete uber cheesiness of this book and power through it or I might just actually enjoy it.

Nevermind that the author took various liberties with the historical aspect of the book and changed a couple of things herself. This sort of thing would have gotten my knickers in a knot and I would have been pulling my hair out in sheer anger at how someone could just do such a drastic thing especially with this type of historical subject. She does write a good author’s note at the end so I can forgive…..

I also shrugged off the fact that it got a little semi preachy towards the end of the book, (I had to remind myself this was an inspirational novel – however I’m not that fond of the preachy tones) not to mention the romance during the last third of the book got my stomach a little queasy as I’m just not that used to this.

I shrugged off the biggest thing that made me irksome in this book and that was the name Aric and I wondering how the heck is that a suitable name (what the heck was wrong with Erich??? which is a much more realistic sounding and perfect name for that era….if there was more research done in this particular era in history you’ll find DOZENS of soldiers named ERICH (including a famous general) so why does he need to be named something different??? is he a child of Hollywood??????)

I overlooked all those three things that normally in any other book I’d have thrown to the wall and never touch again. Why?

Because I absolutely loved Aric and Hadassah.

The tense moments, the moments where they’re oh so close yet they come apart, or that one dramatic moment where everything actually DID, it just all was an emotional ride. However because their chemistry was so good, I couldn’t help but love them both together. They were so good together you wanted them to hit it off right away. They’re both almost made for each other and one just can’t help but be totally caught up with them through the entire book.

So I said this was an emotional ride. Yes…aside from the very sensitive subject matter, you can’t help but absolutely hate the antagonists in the book with such a rabid rage you feel like going into the book and gave them the haymaker of your life, or skewer them like sausages (hahah a reference to Hadassah’s Herr Sausage haahhaha!) however if the author’s intention was to instill these kinds of emotions from the reader with these kinds of characters; then consider the job very well done.

As to the plot; again if you’re a historical nitpick this might hurt. However, detailed setting descriptions and the overall mood of the story does fit well. The story itself is alright if one can forgive the historical inaccuracies and the attempts to make it fit into the plot, all the action seems to have been crammed into the final third of the novel which does give it a feeling of being rushed, but nevertheless the reading is good. It’s really the characters that carry the novel.

The ending, made me weep (whether happy or sad tears, I am not going to say. It would be considered a spoiler) :)

Would I recommend this? yes, if you want to read a pair of characters that just hit it off from almost page one. No, if you’re bothered by the preachy undertones, the historical warping, and the somewhat nauseous romance that develops later…

I give it a 10 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

April 30, 2014 at 6:54 am

In the Shadow of the Lamp by Susanne Dunlap

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shadow of the lampIt’s 1854 and sixteen-year-old Molly would give anything to change her circumstances as a lowly servant in a posh London house. So when she hears of an opportunity to join the nurses who will be traveling with Florence Nightingale to the Crimea, she jumps at the chance. The work is grueling, the hospital conditions deplorable, and Miss Nightingale a demanding teacher. Before long, the plight of British soldiers becomes more than just a mission of mercy as Molly finds that she’s falling in love with both a dashing young doctor and a soldier who has joined the army to be near her. But with the battle raging ever nearer, can Molly keep the two men she cares for from harm? (From Amazon.ca)

The historical detail in this book is pretty well done. It’s on a historical subject (Crimean War) that is not really covered by a lot of YA out on shelves. So, to choose a subject like Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War,and nursing is an interesting one. So right then the plot was bound to be interesting for any historical YA reader out there.

I myself was a little disappointed. Although I like the historical detail, the book is really just a love story. It did focus a lot on the romance elements and less on Molly and her nursing job which was unfortunate. I don’t have much knowledge about this particular aspect on history and a little more information would have been better than just reading the romance story, nevertheless the romance was all right and readable, but to some historical fiction fanatics this might not be something they want to delve into.

I for one, could not really sympathize with Emma, and I actually figured out just by being introduced to her character what was going to happen to her. It just seems to be common that there’s going to be that one stupid character to cause a great upheaval (whether good or bad) in the main character’s storyline. Argh. Someone surprise me with a scenario where the main character slaps the stupid one upside the head and leaves her to her own fate. I’d love to read something like that. What’s even more aggravating? Will just happened to be a character to be conveniently there. Oh goodness. Can I roll my eyes now?

This wasn’t really what I was looking for. I was hoping more historical fiction. Less romance. Not really recommended unless romance is more your style.

I give it a 6/10

Written by Karoline

April 23, 2014 at 8:38 pm

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