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Archive for July 2012

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

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The Way We FallWhen a deadly virus begins to sweep through sixteen-year-old Kaelyn’s community, the government quarantines her island—no one can leave, and no one can come back. Those still healthy must fight for dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest. Because how will she go on if there isn’t? (From Amazon.ca)

This book is in a journal narrative. I’ve known some that may not like that format – I’m okay with it as long as it’s interesting. For the majority of the book, it is VERY interesting. Kaelyn’s a great narrator. Everything is through her eyes, so you know her thoughts, but you can definitely feel her fears and her concerns. Especially her paranoia. Oh yes, you can feel it. I myself, started getting itchy all over just because the way she describes it gives you the heebie jeebies. (It’s like watching the movie Contagion…and having to wash your hands 6 times and getting nervous when the people around you start to cough).

It’s interesting to note this takes place on a small island, so you’re not going to have a huge societal breakdown where massive amounts of chaos and anarchy come to life. Yes, there is a breakdown in order but nowhere near what you usually come across in books that take place in great metropolitan areas for example. Still, I like the way Kaelyn takes charge. I like how she manages to take care of Meredith despite all the circumstances. I just love her strength. It really resonates throughout the novel as the virus spreads.

The virus itself is scary and well written. It’s enough to get you all paranoid and make you want to whip out the hand sanitizer every few minutes. There were moments of sheer rage in the book, just because some people just acted so stupid (realistic, however, given the circumstances) and I just about screamed for blood about the outcome of a certain character (not going to give it away!).

So after reading all this, I had to ask myself; Where in the WORLD is Drew?!?!?! and the ending just got me impatient for the next one. This is definitely worth a read. YA Readers will gobble this up and enjoy reading it as much as I did!

I give it an 8 out of 10.

And lots of bonus points because it takes place in Canada. woot! 😀

Written by Karoline

July 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Under my Skin by Charles de Lint

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Under my SkinFor the past six months, something has been happening to young people in Santa Feliz. Week after week, there’s news of another teen changing shape, transforming from human to wild animal and back again. The federal government has stepped in, running public service announcements calling for affected youth to turn themselves in for “orientation and training.” Josh Saunders has seen the news reports, but he is still unprepared when it happens to him. one minute he’s arguing with his mother’s boyfriend and the next, he is looming over the man, blood dripping from his claws—he has transformed into a mountain lion. When he switches back to his human body, he knows his life has changed forever. He has become a Wildling.Trusting only his best friends Des and Marina with his secret, Josh tries to return to regular living. But an encounter with Elzie, another Wildling, brings him unwanted attention from the authorities. And when an accidental betrayal reveals Josh’s secret, his carefully constructed cover is ripped apart, forcing his friends to intervene. They must grudgingly put their trust in others, including other Wildlings—and, most challenging, in each other— if they ever hope to save him. (from Amazon.ca)

I had fun reading this book. It wasn’t too bad, and it was interesting enough to keep me going until the finish. What I enjoyed was the switching of narration between Marina and Josh. I can’t seem to choose which one I like better. Both of them were interesting and fun to read. Both of them seemed to have developed throughout the novel. Josh goes through a lot more and it seems there’s lots to be expected from him. Then there’s Desmond, who’s the comic relief of the novel, but I also enjoyed reading about him as well. He seems to be the ‘outsider’ of the group but I’m hoping that’s not the case (if you know what I mean) 😉

When Elzie came into the picture, at first I didn’t seem to like her. She’s very abrasive and hard to like – but that’s just the way her personality is. As you progress further into the book, you start to like her and her strong independent personality is suddenly likable.

The plot of this book was pretty good, a nice mixture of school life, action, comedy, and even a bit of romance in some parts. It’s all interesting. There’s a bit of background information on the Wildlings, but you’re still left with questions unanswered and how Josh fits into the big picture. The big climax towards the end was pretty good, although I found the ending a little lackluster and not packing a punch like I expected it to. There’s no cliffhanger ending (perhaps that’s a good thing for some?) and perhaps because I’m so used to it, it caught me off guard.

I’ll be picking up the second one when it’s out, I’m curious as to how Josh is going to fit into the big plans. Come to think of it, there’s quite a bit to look forward to in the next book! I most definitely recommend this for YA readers.

I give it a 7/10

Thanks to Penguin for giving me a review copy!!! 🙂

Written by Karoline

July 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson

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As a midwife in turn-of-the-century New York, Sarah Brandt has seen pain and joy. Now she will work for something more — a search for justice — in a case of murder involving one of New York’s richest families. (From Amazon.ca)

The endless detail gives this book a good sense of historical accuracy. The sights and smells are well described and definitely give a good picture of the setting. The plot however, was a bit slow paced and it took me a bit of time get into this book and be interested enough to finish.

The main character, Sarah is very well done though. I like her independence and how she broke away from her high society obligations. It’s admirable especially for a woman during this time period. She’s able to make a name of herself and become self sufficient. Besides her independence she also had a bit of a temper, which makes a fun read but also gave her a bit of spark of life to her character (which was needed, because the plot remained flat for a while.) If it were not for Sarah, I’d probably would have set the book down and moved onto something else.

Frank on the other hand, I found hard to like. Not because he was mean or bad (well he was rather stubborn and pig headed, and was a bit rude to Sarah at times) but I didn’t find him very interesting to begin with. His personality was pretty boring and the potential chemistry he has going with Sarah, well I don’t feel that it’s really there. He improves a little towards the end of the book but it wasn’t enough to change my mind about him.

The plot, although slow, had few interesting hooks with it. What really got my attention was the last third of the book because all of a sudden you’re blinded with a very shocking (and might I add really skin crawling) revelation So, in some part, the slow pace of the plot was forgivable, because the ending really did make up for it.

Those who have a taste for historical mysteries might be able to like this one. The book isn’t really that long, it’s the pace that makes it long. I say stick with it, it’s worth the read – if only to see Sarah argue with Frank.

I give it a 6/10

Written by Karoline

July 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

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Reeling from newly uncovered family secrets, and anger at her mother and aunt for keeping them from her, Joy runs away to Shanghai in early 1957 to find her birth father—the artist Z.G. Li, with whom both May and Pearl were once in love. Dazzled by him, and blinded by idealism and defiance, Joy throws herself into the New Society of Red China, heedless of the dangers in the communist regime. Devastated by Joy’s flight and terrified for her safety, Pearl is determined to save her daughter, no matter the personal cost. From the crowded city to remote villages, Pearl confronts old demons and almost insurmountable challenges as she follows Joy, hoping for reconciliation. Yet even as Joy’s and Pearl’s separate journeys converge, one of the most tragic episodes in China’s history threatens their very lives. (From Amazon.ca)

I was very disappointed with this book. I had high hopes because I really did enjoy Shanghai Girls. The beginning of the book wasn’t so bad actually. It was pretty interesting. I liked the way you follow Joy through her journey to China – it was an eye opener, but her naivete also gets the best out of her as well. The reader already knows she’s in for a quite a bit of pain and suffering and so sometimes you find yourself shaking your head at Joy’s blind faith in the system.

I actually preferred Pearl’s point of view of the story and her journey, because she had left so much behind and some questions were left unanswered. I loved how she went back home, back to her town and back to where she used to live, to find it radically changed, but she found people she recognized. It wasn’t really a reunion that would be considered nice, but after so many years of not seeing these people, it was nice to see they were still there. I really liked reading Pearl because she showed a lot of strength and courage to go back and face anything to get Joy back.

When the Great Leap Forward comes along, I liked how this was added in, to make the plot move, and to put Joy and Pearl’s journeys on a similar backdrop, but I just could not get into it. It was really slow and things just seemed to drag. The switching back and forth from Pearl to Joy wasn’t so bad but the pace of the book was about the same as watching molasses being poured out of a container. Joy’s plot really did seem to drag its’ heels. I did not know how much of her stupidity I could take.

The ending wasn’t so bad. However by the time I was almost done, I really wanted it to be done. It was very drawn out, and the writing just seemed really bland. It did not have the same dramatic tone as Shanghai Girls did. One thing I will mention though, this book does a good job in drawing out feelings from the reader.

It wasn’t the greatest book, if you’re a fan, or wanting to know what happens at the end of Shanghai Girls, well you might as well read it. Otherwise, you could just skip it. It’s too slow and bland to be fully enjoyed which is too bad, it would have been an excellent novel otherwise.

I give it a 5 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

July 16, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Posted in 5, Review

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Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

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GlowThe Empyrean is the only home 15-year-old Waverly has ever known. Part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space, she and her boyfriend Kieran will be pioneers of New Earth. Waverly knows she must marry young in order to have children who can carry on the mission, and Kieran, the handsome captain-to-be, has everything Waverly could want in a husband. Everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Still, there’s a part of Waverly that wants more from life than marriage, and she is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth. Suddenly, Waverly’s dreams are interrupted by the inconceivable – a violent betrayal by the Empyrean’s sister ship, the New Horizon. The New Horizon’s leaders are desperate to populate the new planet first, and will do anything to get what they need: young girls. In one pivotal moment, Waverly and Kieran are separated, and find themselves at the helm of dangerous missions, where every move has potentially devastating consequences, and decisions of the heart may lead to disaster. (From Amazon.ca)

At first, this book reminded me of Across the Universe. However it wasn’t at all the same. The only thing that would be considered similar is it takes place out in space, on a ship. That’s it. And I was so very very glad it came out much more different because I thoroughly enjoyed this book and practically devoured it in one setting. Yes. It was THAT good.

The plot was very well done. It took you on several twists and turns you sort of had an idea on what to expect, but you just didn’t know how it was going to be planned out. I think that was what made the book so enjoyable to read. There are two main story arcs, and I can’t decide which one I liked better, because I liked reading about both. I’d have to say though, the one that drew my emotions out more had to be Kieran’s story. It was almost like reading Lord of the Flies, but on a spaceship. That particular story arc made me want to gnash my teeth in anger at how Kieran was treated.

The characters were well done. I liked Waverly, I wasn’t sure what to make of her at first, but as the story progressed, she grew increasingly stronger and I loved that about her. Kieran is the same and I think that’s why they just go so well together. I’m concerned about Kieran though. He’s definitely misguided and I’m hoping Waverly doesn’t rely too much on that evil horrible character Seth (oh I really hated him, Kieran,why did you have to be so nice??!!!) because I really didn’t like the way the story was headed in the end (not that I didn’t like reading it, more like, I am hoping Waverly doesn’t make bad decisions here). However, I still loved the book. The ending was a cliffhanger, which makes you want to anticipate the second book even more!

So, read this! seriously! pick this book up! and enjoy like I did!! I can’t wait for the second book (which is due out soon). Definitely recommended if you like Sci-fi YA or if you liked books like Across the Universe.

I give it a 10 out of freakin 10! (see? that’s how much I liked it) 😀

Written by Karoline

July 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm

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Love in Disguise by Carol Cox

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Love in DisguiseWhen costume-maker Ellie Moore suddenly finds herself out of a job in the middle of a bleak Chicago winter, she uses her knowledge of theatrical disguise to secure a position as an undercover operative with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Her assignment: find the culprit behind the theft of silver shipped from the mines near Pickford, Arizona. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie begins her investigation. Soon she finds she must also pose as the dazzling young Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk. Mine owner Steven Pierce is about to lose his business after the theft of several bullion shipments–until hope arrives in the unlikely form of Lavinia Stewart, who offers to invest in Steven’s mine. In his wildest dreams, Steven never expected to be rescued by an inquisitive gray-haired widow…or to fall head over heels for Lavinia’s captivating niece, Jessie. But then the thieves come after both Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn’t safe no matter which character she plays! Will she be forced to reveal her true identity before the criminals are caught? What will Steven do when he discovers the woman he loves doesn’t exist? (From Amazon.ca)

I love these kinds of books. Not only are they light hearted to read and perfect when you’re ‘in between’ heavy reads. I love the historical setting, it’s so well written and I could picture everything so easily. I would say it’s accurate to the history aspect of things and it certainly does capture the ‘Wild West’ picture quite well.

I loved Ellie. She’s so determined! I liked that quality about her. Her talent for switching between Jessie and Lavinia is very well done and as she dodges several obstacles here and there (the part with Amos being an unwanted admirer was fun to read). The other characters in this book are really just secondary characters – even Steven, who’s the love interest, doesn’t really develop in great detail as Ellie does. However, Ellie’s character development is very well done. The book focuses more on her, and how she realizes who she really is despite playing two very different roles. I liked this part of the book, it was very well done.

The plot itself was a great read. Although, I would have preferred more emphasis on the mystery part of the book. There is a mystery element, but it’s not that heavily emphasized. In certain chapters, there is a bit of suspense built up and makes you wonder who it could be, but there’s just too many secondary characters to really take a good guess and I personally found myself to not really care too much about the mystery part of the book. I was more focused on Ellie and her character development.

The ending itself was good – a little too quick on solving the mystery, but it was a sweet ending nevertheless. I definitely would recommend those that like these types of books, or who need a light read after the ‘heavy’ ones! I definitely enjoyed reading this one.

I give it an 8 out of 10

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.

Thank you for the review copy!

Written by Karoline

July 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

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Hate ListFive months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life. (From Amazon.ca)

The writing in this book is amazing and well done. There are flashbacks, and it goes back and forth. We get when Valerie and Nick are in love, and they share their hate list. Then, fast forward to the present, and Valerie deals with the consequences of the hate list, memories, and tries to overcome her guilt. It doesn’t help that her life at home isn’t so great either. Overall throughout the book it just felt like Val’s got the real short end of the stick here. It’s hard not to be against her, instead you feel sympathy towards her even though her behavior was frustrating at times.

Nick, although understandably hated because of what he’s done, is somewhat painted in a sympathetic light. He was bullied, just like Val, and some of the treatment he gets does make you want to punch his tormentors in their faces. However he’s a very explosive individual and you can feel his anger and resentment.

It’s hard not to feel angry towards Nick and Val’s bullies. Some of them were just so nasty a small part of you feels they deserve a good slap in the face (Christy was the one I hated the most she was a horrible nasty creature) even after the shooting, some of Val’s classmates still acted like jerks to her you’d think they get the hint and just leave her alone. Apparently, they don’t and you’d have to wonder if the cycle would repeat.

I also hated Val’s dad. Wow, what a selfish chit. I’d understand it’s probably really hard to go through something and realize your child could possibly be a cold blooded killer, but he just did a complete turn around and was more preoccupied with himself and his nice new trophy girlfriend. It was just sickening. This was where I really felt for Val. She just lost her entire support network and had no one to rely on. On the other hand, this is where I really admired Jessica’s behavior. Despite being a previous tormentor of Val’s, she realized her actions and attempted to reach out to her, which I thought was the right thing to do and very brave of her to do so in front of her peers and the rest of the community.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone it’s a great read, it’s so well written you feel the emotions of the characters and it brings out a lot of conflicting emotions within the reader. It’s well worth the read considering the subject matter.

I give it a 10 out of 10

Written by Karoline

July 3, 2012 at 6:54 pm