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Review of Starters by Lissa Price

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Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie’s only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie’s head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator’s grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations’ plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . . (From Goodreads)

I loved the idea behind this book. An interesting concept that makes for good reading for a novel that features dystopia themes. Although it’s not that much different from your usual themes (your usual plague ridden society, with the poor suffering, and the rich being..well rich) it was still worth a read and I rather enjoyed it. The world building and setting is well written and provides a good foundation for reading.

I can’t say I really like Callie though. Sure, who wouldn’t like to live the life of the Ender with all that luxury but she’s not that likable (and you just have those moments where you shake your head and think to yourself ‘really? REALLY? DID YOU JUST DO WHAT I THOUGHT YOU JUST DID?’) and Blake. I really don’t know what the appeal is with him. Sure Callie, he’s cute and all and he’s a lovely treat to look at. That’s ok right? Because poor Michael is back there at home with your suffering brother wondering where the heck you are. But that’s ok, you can walk all over Michael while you fawn over Blake like a lovesick cow.

I have no patience for that kind of stupidity. Really.

So aside from the characters that don’t really appeal to me, I still thought the book was worth the read.  It’s a good addition to one’s collection of dystopian fiction. Give it a try. I’ll be reading Enders (sequel to this) for sure just to see where the story ends up. (Also if my prediction ends up being correct..)

I give it a 6 out of 10

Written by Karoline

March 20, 2017 at 8:17 am

Posted in 6, Review, Uncategorized

Review of A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger

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London, 1385. Surrounded by ruthless courtiers—including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt’s flamboyant mistress, Katherine Swynford—England’s young, still untested king, Richard II, is in mortal peril, and the danger is only beginning. Songs are heard across London—catchy verses said to originate from an ancient book that prophesies the end of England’s kings—and among the book’s predictions is Richard’s assassination. Only a few powerful men know that the cryptic lines derive from a “burnable book,” a seditious work that threatens the stability of the realm. To find the manuscript, wily bureaucrat Geoffrey Chaucer turns to fellow poet John Gower, a professional trader in information with connections high and low. Gower discovers that the book and incriminating evidence about its author have fallen into the unwitting hands of innocents, who will be drawn into a labyrinthine conspiracy that reaches from the king’s court to London’s slums and stews–and potentially implicates his own son. As the intrigue deepens, it becomes clear that Gower, a man with secrets of his own, may be the last hope to save a king from a terrible fate. (From Goodreads)

 

Definitely not a book to be read in a quick setting. Are you into literary figures? Historical fiction? Historical mystery filled with spies and intrigue? Something that takes place in the Middle Ages? All of the above in one book? Sure! Let’s take it!

I’d have to say, there can be no better description of the Middle Ages than in this book. Everything was so visual and well written. The setting itself has good amounts of description, the characters definitely helped as well. They even had the mannerisms and speech of the time.

Speaking of characters.

Oh Chaucer. No. Just no. I don’t like you. He’s not exactly painted in the most best of light here is he? Manipulative, wife stealer, even with his supposed close friend he’s not upfront and honest with. You definitely have sympathy with Gower here. Even though he has a questionable job and past with his son Simon, he’s still a much more likable character than Chaucer in my opinion. Other characters that I liked; Edgar/Eleanor – the story arc with Millicent and Agnes was a good one. I enjoyed their side of the story with the ‘dregs’ of society. Another character I liked, Hawkwood. Yes he’s an odious villain that oozed all the horrible things you didn’t like. But he was such an awesome villain! Cold, calculating, and not one to trifle with when you get on his bad side and think you can get away with (that poor sod – those who read the book should know what I’m talking about)

The plot itself was pretty good. Lots of plot twists and turns. You’re left peeling layer after layer of intrigue and mystery while you get to the bottom of it. Once you had it figured out there’s still more left to figure out. I enjoyed it! There’s something about all the layers of intrigue that makes it a more compelling read.

However, a couple of things that made this read a not so easy one. The amount of characters. Quite a few to keep track of. So this isn’t the type of book that you can drop and come back to after a while (I mistakenly did that unfortunately, as life got in the way). You need to take you time, get to know the characters, the plot and how everything comes together. It sometimes can get a little confusing so some extra attention is needed while reading this book. Also, have a dictionary beside you. I suppose to keep with the medieval thing, there’s some medieval terminology that you’ll need to familiarize yourself with. It adds more to the book but I could have done without it. To be on the bright side, my vocabulary has increased with various middle age words.

Overall, take the time to read the book and enjoy. The spinning and weaving of the web and trying to find the center spot is fun and always is a treat to read when figuring out a historical mystery. Greatly recommended for Hist-fic fans.

I give it a 6 out of 10.

Thank you William Morrow for providing me a review copy!

 

Written by Karoline

March 8, 2017 at 7:42 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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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

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

I, Robot by Howard S Smith

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I, RobotNorth Korea defiantly launches a nuclear-tipped missile over Japan, exploding it in a mushroom-cloud firestorm offshore. A nuclear Iran, through its allies in Lebanon, is mercilessly lobbing missiles into Israel. A powerful China launches a killer satellite and destroys half of America’s spy satellites. Will one man’s love for a woman save the world, or destroy it? A fast read with an ending you don’t expect. The technology is cutting edge.
(From Goodreads)

It took me a while to get into this book. It starts off interesting though, as it looks like something hit the fan and the world is going to doom. Although readers may tend to wonder what this all has to do with a Japanese police officer who has a terrible OCD issue, well you just have to read along to connect the dots. To simplify it, Haruto (the police officer) attempts to solve a case, but finds out it leads to a much bigger and badder fish that are out to cause a lot more chaos and havok than usual in the world.

It’s not easy to figure out. There’s lots of scientific terminology in the book and I did find it a bit hard to understand. (There are helpful illustrations though!) The concept of these robots being used as terrifying super soldiers is interesting, although the bloodbath they would create is naturally, horrible. There are a few subplots involved in this book, some that are related to the big storyline, a few aren’t. The plot might not entirely feel solid but the reading is tolerable and can be understood once everything is put into place and perspective.

Haruto as a character, is interesting, yet quirky because of his obsessive compulsive behavior, but his sense of honor and the strict adherence to the “rules” also show a side of naivete. He’s almost like an overgrown child in some sense. His OCD issue does get in the way of a lot of things, and it’s mentioned a lot throughout the book. It can get annoying – at least it did to me.

What I expected from this book, was more robots! there is only one scene where the robot talks to Haruto, but after that, there’s nothing else. I thought there was going to be more interaction between humans and robots besides just using them as soldiers.

There are quite a few characters in the novel, and although it’s easy to tell which ones are the main characters and which ones are supporting ones, some just seem to arrive at certain points of the novel, and then fall out of existence. It would have been nice to figure out what happens them in the long run. The ending of the book was alright, although a little cliche, but it was an alright book overall.

People look at the title, and think of the movie, it’s not about that at all, there is an author’s note about that as well. I’d rather wish he didn’t name it that title as the robots aren’t really what you think (as it was, in the movie for example). However, it was a good read overall, I’d say take it or leave it. The scientific lingo might scare some readers away, or bore them, but the action isn’t too bad.

I give it a 6/10

Written by Karoline

June 11, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Posted in 6, Review

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Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

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Paper Valentine

Paper Valentine

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls. For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness. With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again. (From Goodreads)

What stood out for me the most about this book was the writing. It was very well done. The sights, the smells, and the general feeling throughout the plot was certainly felt. I loved the mood and atmosphere that was set for this story. The whole mystery mixed with some paranormal characteristics was good although I was wrong as to how Lillian died. I certainly wasn’t expecting what she died from. But then, that would be pretty typical right?

The story does sort of try to not become a typical plot you would find in most of these types of novels although when it came to the end it basically boiled down to an ending that you would have expected – but as I have mentioned earlier, what stood out for me was the writing style of the book. Although it may have left you wanting more out of the plot, you can’t dismiss the unique writing style and how well done it was. The ending had a mini twist, but it offered closure and closed all the loose ends nicely.

As for Hannah as a character, I didn’t dislike her or like her. It certainly did feel that Lillian and Hannah were two halves of one person and one without the other would be just an empty shell. You certainly did feel sorry for Lillian and what she went through. As for the romance factor in the story. It was all right. Certainly, it’s typical (bad boy and good girl couple) but they seemed to be fit for each other quite nicely.

Although I thought book was pretty decent, it left me wanting for something more. Also, the plot was a bit slow to go through and the pace could have been a bit quicker. Otherwise it’s a decent read and worth a try at least once, just to get the feel of Yovanoff’s writing style, which was excellent.

I give it a 6 out of 10.

Thank you Razorbill for providing me a review copy! 🙂

Written by Karoline

January 27, 2013 at 7:29 am

Posted in 6, Review

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