Review of Stolen by Vivian Vande Velde

Stolen

Stolen

The same day that the villagers of Thornstowe finally hunt down a witch with a reputation for stealing children, a 12-year-old appears in the woods with no memory of her past. Is there a connection between Isabelle, the girl who doesn’t know who she is, and the girl the witch stole six years earlier? One of the few things Isabelle remembers is a chant that keeps running through her head:

Old as dirt,

dirty as dirt.

Ugly as sin,

mean as sin.

Don’t let the old witch catch you!

Could Isabelle have been stolen by the old witch of the woods, or has she lost her memory as the result of an accident? And what about the baby the witch stole right before the villagers attacked? Did either the witch or the baby survive the fire the villagers set?

I thought this book was good! I was expecting something different the book to be with more paranormal qualities. The cover was a bit deceiving in that aspect. However! I think the book is still worth the read!

The plot has all the makings of a great fairy tale and there is a good amount of mystery and intrigue to keep you guessing. There is a neat little twist in the end of the book which I wasn’t expecting and I enjoyed the ending.

The characters are all right and Honey happens to be a downright dirty villain. She wasn’t such a nice person to begin with anyway but what she reveals just makes her look awful and nasty. I’d have to say most of the characters have the making of a fairy tale, not one of the “classic” ones. It’ll be a tale similar to the ones in the Grimm’s fairy tales. It’s darker, and the violent content is there, but enough to not make it overwhelming.

Pick this book up for a quick light read, the story is good and will keep you guessing until the end. It’s a perfect book for all ages. Don’t let the cover fool you and if it’s not what you expect, keep reading it anyway. You’ll find it’s worth the time.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

 

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Review of Ophelia by Lisa Klein

Ophelia

Ophelia

As a teen, I read Shakespeare. For FUN. I loved his plays and even watched a lot of movies based on them. Of all the plays he wrote, Hamlet was my absolute favorite one. So when I found out about this book I had to take it out of the library. I thought it would be interesting to see it from different character’s point of view.

In this re-imagining of Shakespeare”s famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes center stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen’s most trusted lady-in-waiting. She catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, and their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and ultimately, Ophelia must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life. (Taken from Chapters Indigo. Parts were cut off as I thought it revealed too much of the plot.)

When I first started reading this book I loved it. The chemistry between Hamlet and Ophelia was there and it was definitely interesting. It’s a total different take on the play and an interesting view on the characters within. It was interesting how background information is provided (as how Ophelia and Hamlet met for the first time) and how they spent their childhood years. So although it does deviate from the original play it’s not so much or goes too far out of context. For a while at least.

The parts with Ophelia and Hamlet in love are well done. As mentioned before the chemistry is there and Hamlet stays true as there is definitely emotion and passion. I do have a problem with Ophelia later on. She becomes needy and really clingy. It got annoying and although there’s lots of miscommunication between her and Hamlet, all she really had to do was ask him what the problem was instead of whining about it constantly and forgetting about it when he started to “act” normal. Hamlet did sort of reveal his agenda to Ophelia, but perhaps he didn’t spell it out for her and she just assumed Hamlet stopped loving her altogether. For crying out loud Ophelia. You were raised like a tomboy and that sort of thing affected you when you could have just approached Hamlet and even punched him if you wanted to? That kind of contrast was a little too outrageous for me. I found Laertes different. I never really expected him to be quite the jerk portrayed in the book and always thought of him as an older brother who was protective towards Ophelia. I thought that was a little skewed.

So, I have to say, the first half of the book was good. Despite some character flaws with Ophelia. The little twist with her finding out who really murdered the King was good, and her relationship with Gertrude proved interesting as well. However Gertrude also got moody, and whiny. It was as if the female characters just suddenly developed a syndrome to become this way all throughout the novel. Of all the characters in the book though, I really liked Horatio, he seems to be the only character that stays constant and true throughout the entire book without the severe personality changes.

Now we get to the last half. I can’t believe I actually went through with it too. I admit the alternate ending to Ophelia’s fate was rather interesting but the story just went to a halt and started to crawl. There were pages and pages of Ophelia’s time at a convent which did nothing to advance to plot and had me baffled as to wondering where this was going. It was borderline preachy as Ophelia tries to “find” herself while her time at the convent. I didn’t care for this part. In fact I skimmed through most of it because it was extremely boring. I actually skimmed the last 50 or so pages until the very last few to see the outcome of Ophelia. I rather figured it would end up that way, as the book slightly hinted at it. It was satisfactory, but reading dozens of boring pages isn’t worth it. Also the theme of revenge is just so overdone in this book. Sure, it’s the main theme, but it’s just so overplayed and over exaggerated it makes the emotion fake.

So, would I recommend this? yes, and no. Yes, if you’re not a Shakespeare fan. You might just enjoy it. No if you’re a very perfectionist type and love Shakespeare. Like me you’d probably wonder  who is this whiny girl (who is also a tomboy) and what has she done to Ophelia. Also, the last half of the book might just put you off of the whole thing. It’s very frustrating and unfortunate as it has good potential but just fell apart. It could have definitely been better.

I give it a 4 out of 10.

Review of Horns

Horns

Horns

I heard about this novel from Shelf Awareness, and other book blogs out there. It certainly got me curious, despite the mixed reviews. So I gave it a chance and decided to give it a go.

At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real. Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic. But Merrin’s death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside. . . . Now Ig is possessed of a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look—a macabre talent he intends to use to find the monster who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It’s time for a little revenge. . . (From Amazon.ca)

This book definitely had a very different and interesting concept. What I did not expect was the comedy that went along with it. Ig’s new found power (which took me a bit to figure out what it was) is an interesting gift, and could potentially be either; very dangerous, hurtful, or downright hilarious. Throughout the first bits of the book I couldn’t stop laughing. The moments of Ig’s childhood years (the shopping cart incident) and the situation with the two policemen made me laugh, and kept me reading the book. Yet there were serious moments too, with Ig finding out the truth about Merrin and her death, who was really behind it, and the real true feelings of people close to him (like his parents). It’s a bit shocking, to read how his parents really felt of the situation surrounding Ig and at a certain point of the book I really felt sorry for him.

The first half of the book was really enjoyable to read. The middle part where it focuses on Ig, Merrin, and Lee wasn’t so bad. Lee’s a jerk. A real jealous one. I never really liked him to begin with and when you see his true colors, I hated him even more. Ig was such a nice guy and Lee just took advantage of that and stepped all over him. I liked Ig as a character although throughout the second half of the book he just got really strange and started behaving rather odd. This is where I thought the book was rather stuck in a rut and it suddenly dragged. I felt the pace of the book just stopped all of a sudden and started to crawl.

The ending was good and after that rut, the pace starting picking up a bit. I was definitely unprepared for the ending and it caught me by surprise. When I finished this book,  I wasn’t sure how I felt. I had an empty feeling, I guess because the ending wasn’t what I expected, but also because I thought perhaps it could have ended differently. For a book that had such a promising start, the ending lacked the punch to finish it.

I would still say, give this book a chance. The idea and concept is really entertaining and interesting. If you don’t mind reading through the little stall in the middle of the book you’ll find the book isn’t so bad after all. Even though to me, it had a disappointing ending, but read it to be entertained and to have a laugh. It’s certainly worth a look through.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

Review of Ancestor

Ancestor

Ancestor

I’ve read 2 books already by this author (Infected and Contagious). Both I have immensely enjoyed. There’s a third book to that series but I’ll have to wait. In the meantime, I turned to this book because I found it on the shelf by chance at the library and also I’ve been hearing so much about it since it’s offered as a podcast on the Scott Sigler’s website. Since I’m not a podcast type of girl, might as well get the book (plus it was a brand new hardcover, and I like the smell of them) (yes, that’s a dirty little secret.) (stop smirking).

Every five minutes, a transplant candidate dies while waiting for a heart, a liver, a kidney.  Imagine a technology that could provide those life-saving transplant organs for a nominal fee … and imagine what a company would do to get a monopoly on that technology. On a remote island in the Canadian Arctic, PJ Colding leads a group of geneticists who have discovered this holy grail of medicine. By reverse-engineering the genomes of thousands of mammals, Colding’s team has dialed back the evolutionary clock to re-create humankind’s common ancestor. The method? Illegal. The result? A computer-engineered living creature, an animal whose organs can be implanted in any person, and with no chance of transplant rejection. There’s just one problem: these ancestors are not the docile herd animals that Colding’s team envisioned. Instead, Colding’s work has given birth to something big, something evil. With these killer creatures on the prowl, Colding and the woman he loves must fight to survive — even as government agents close in to shut the project down, and the deep-pocketed company backing this research proves to have its own cold-blooded agenda.  As the creators become the prey in the ultimate battle for survival, Scott Sigler takes readers on the ultimate thrill-ride—and offers a chilling cautionary account of what can happen when hubris, greed, and madness drive scientific experimentation past the brink of reason. (Taken from Amazon.ca)

I am amazed and wowed again by another one of Sigler’s books. This one will definitely be on my favorites list. Not only did it have a perfect blend of science, horror, and action, but it was well written and it definitely grabbed my attention from the very start of the book. I really liked how there was a buildup of suspense throughout the first parts of the novel. Obviously, something didn’t seem right from the start but the suspense was very well done and everything just exploded (literally and figuratively).

The science used in the book was a little more complex than the usual novels I’ve read that are science fiction. Yet what I like about the writing style is, although complex, Sigler provides enough information so you won’t feel confused, or easily intimidated with all the scientific terms. The subject matter (harvesting organs) is also very interesting and may come across as a really good idea although there’s lots of violation of moral and ethical codes that go along with it. The scientific idea may or may not seem possible, but it’s such a fascinating yet horrific idea.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book. The villains in it are extremely nasty, brutal, and people you just don’t want to be near to or mess with. Especially Magnus. Nasty bugger. Yet so well written that he could very well go as most nastiest villain I have ever read in a book. Naturally though, one of my favorites would be Sara. She’s tough, and not about to back down from a fight but I liked her personality too. She had her girly moments too. Then there’s Mookie the dog. Whoever thought a character with a minimal role in the book would come out looking like such a grand hero? I was cheering for Mookie all the way! Colding, being the main character of the book is all right. I didn’t like him, but I didn’t hate him either. Although at first I thought he was just some sort of whimpy scientist. Eventually he did manage to grow on me though. A little.

I also liked the little “poke” at the Twilight series. Although I haven’t read that series (yet), I thought it was a small jab, but nothing too offensive (well, maybe for some people?) yet entertaining and funny nevertheless. This book does contain a lot of graphic gore and violence so it may not be for everyone. However  I do urge first time readers to seriously pick this one up. It’s a got a perfect blend of comedy, action, horror, and a bit of romance. There’s definitely going to be a sequel for this one (though I’m not sure about the release date)

I really do recommend this book to all readers out there. Whether they’re into science fiction, or horror, or both. It’s definitely worth the read. The reader will be in for a fast paced book, filled with explosions, mutated monsters, dastardly villains, and a dog hero. What more could you ask for?

I give it a 10 out of 10.

Review of The Devil’s Right Hand

Devil's Right Hand

Note: This is the third book in the Dante Valentine series. So yes you have to read them in order. I think you’d be pretty confused if you didn’t. Start with Working for the Devil and follow up with Dead Man Rising.

Dante Valentine, the necromancing, half-demon bounty hunter, returns for a third installment in this entertaining series from Saintcrow. This time out Dante is summoned, along with her demon lover Japhrimel, by Lucifer himself, who makes her an offer she can’t refuse: it seems that four demons have escaped from hell, and Lucifer wants Dante to track them down and return them to his dark domain. Though there isn’t much negotiating room when dealing with the Devil, Dante strikes a bargain and accepts the assignment. With the help of Japhrimel, she recruits a posse of supernatural beings and sets out to accomplish the Devil’s dangerous mission. Of course, not all is what it seems-the Devil isn’t called the Prince of Lies for nothing-and soon she and her crew find that their souls are at stake. (Taken from Amazon.ca)

This was a much better improvement from the second one. (I found Dante to be a little whiny). She still packs a punch with her wit and literally kicks butt in the action scenes. Although she’s still emotional at times, and Japhrimel doesn’t really help her much (at least it seems like it). I’m glad Dante got back on her feet and is somewhat back to her normal self.

Like the previous two novels, the action scenes never disappoint me. They’re well written and very descriptive and it really does feel as if you’re watching a movie instead of reading a book. I still think Dante still needs to develop a bit more. It’s like she’s stuck in a rut and can’t seem to get past the emotional stage of her development. It’s developing, but I think it’s developing a little too slow. Yet as I mentioned above, I’m glad she’s back to her butt kicking ways. She still has some issues to resolve, and hopefully they’ll get solved soon to get the plot moving faster.

The relationship between Dante and Japhrimel seems strained and tense. Although there’s a lot of love, there’s also a very deep sense of mistrust between the two of them as Japhrimel still hides a lot of secrets. I like them as a couple and they both compliment each other well.

Plot-wise, the book was good. Although it was slow at first to get into. The action does pick up and some twists were revealed to keep the story interesting. I still feel as if the story is missing something though, but it could be because I just don’t like the way Dante’s character is developing. The twist in the end was good and I’m looking forward to picking up the next book to read the series further.

Dante Valentine fans will be happy that she’s back to her own self (somewhat) and Japh is still sexy as ever. The action and plot twists will keep us coming back for more. Let’s hope with this new twist, the plot will be taken further and will be an enjoyable read like this book.

I give it a 7.5 out of 10.

Sunday Salon: Review of Innocent Traitor

Innocent Traitor

Innocent Traitor

Up until now, I have not read a Tudor hist fic novel that includes Lady Jane Grey. From the books I’ve read, she’s only mentioned sparingly if hardly ever and she’s reduced to maybe a page or two. I’m glad I found a book that finally covers her life. (Even if it is a historical fiction novel.)

The child of a scheming father and a ruthless mother, for whom she is merely a pawn in a dynastic game with the highest stakes, Jane Grey was born during the harrowingly turbulent period between Anne Boleyn’s beheading and the demise of Jane’s infamous great-uncle, King Henry VIII. With the premature passing of Jane’s adolescent cousin, and Henry’s successor, King Edward VI, comes a struggle for supremacy fueled by political machinations and lethal religious fervor. (Taken from Chapters website)

Innocent Traitor was excellent. I could not put the book down and was glad I took the time the read it. Since I knew very little about Jane Grey, it was as if I got to know her a bit more throughout this book. My heart went out to her as although she tried hard to please her parents (her mother in particular) but never received the proper love and support except only when it suited them. It was only too late when her parents actually came to fully appreciate and love her. I really felt for Jane especially in her early childhood years. Her mother was just plain awful and only really cared for Jane (if you could call it that) when it suited her purposes (i.e. mostly for political gain and ambition). There were times when I thought Jane had what it took to stand up to her mother, but she backed down whenever she tried. It got frustrating and I thought Jane was never going to have her own personality and she’ll just be a puppet for everyone. Yet past the midway point of the novel Jane does take a slight turn for the better and eventually stands up for herself (particularly against her husband). Towards the end, Jane becomes a much stronger woman and despite her circumstances, maintains her strength. I loved that. She became such a strong character that I loved her even more than I did in the beginning.

The plot of this novel was well written and very interesting. It follows Jane all throughout her life and it highlights moments of interest such as the marriage of Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour, and its’ failure. The addition of something like this is a little strange considering this should have been told all in Jane Grey’s point of view. I’m not really sure why this was added as it really had nothing to do with her (except maybe because she was around Katherine a lot around the time?) yet it was a small but well done way to take a break from the main plot and add in a mini story arc to it. I’d have to say the ending was one of the most dramatic. Jane stayed true to herself and that makes her all the more admirable. I absolutely hated the way everyone around her just started using her as a political pawn and her parents are just as bad as parents today who live through their small children and use them for their own gains. I really disliked her mother though. She was horrible! and she didn’t gain any sympathies from me at the end. Her emotions and “love” came way too late to even make a difference. I’m not sure what to say about Jane’s father. It looked like he was the “better” parent of the two, but his love was misguided and ambition just went in the way. It was sad to see that, as I thought he loved Jane more than her mother did.

I thought this was a great novel featuring Lady Jane Grey. It’s a tragic story but her strength is strong throughout the entire novel it’s hard not to admire her. This is definitely a worthy read for Tudor fans.

I give it a 8 out of 10.

Review of The Hollow

The Hollow

The Hollow

First I have to add, this is one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen. It definitely caught my eye and I was drawn to it. I recently picked up the second book of this trilogy: The Haunted (which I have yet to start!)

When Abbey’s best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone else is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead…and rumors fly that her death was no accident. Abbey goes through the motions of mourning her best friend, but privately, she refuses to believe that Kristen is really gone. Then she meets Caspian, the gorgeous and mysterious boy who shows up out of nowhere at Kristen’s funeral, and keeps reappearing in Abbey’s life. Caspian clearly has secrets of his own, but he’s the only person who makes Abbey feel normal again…but also special. Just when Abbey starts to feel that she might survive all this, she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her death? As Abbey struggles to understand Kristen’s betrayal, she uncovers a frightening truth that nearly unravels her—one that will challenge her emerging love for Caspian, as well as her own sanity. (Taken from Amazon.ca)

I will warn you all ahead of time: be prepared for a VERY LONG novel. Although 544 pages may not seem big, the book is filled with endless descriptions of sounds, sights, and smells. The plot is quite slow moving. In fact, it’s very slow moving. I was about halfway through the novel and I was still wondering where this was going. I don’t really recommend this to people who just want a fast moving plot to read through in one sitting. It’s just not done with this book. This book was meant to be slowly read, taking in the setting, and the descriptions but at the same time reading a slowly evolving plot.

So then we ask; did I enjoy this book or not? I’d have to say despite the slow moving plot and there were a few times here and there where I almost gave up reading it. However I really did like how the scenes were described, the smells were so well written I could almost literally smell them myself. It felt as if you were there, as the descriptions were rich and filled with the Legend of Sleepy Hollow references. I thought Sleepy Hollow was a nice quaint little place to live in and just the way it was described really took me there. (I wouldn’t mind living there myself!)

There is a sense of mystery throughout the novel, regarding Kristen’s death and it still remains unsolved. I thought Abbey was a likable character although she did not stand out as much and could be considered “normal” (as opposed to characters we are used to reading). I did like reading about her hobby on making perfumes. I thought that was interesting and haven’t read a character that’s set in present day who is into that sort of thing. It’s definitely different. Abbey’s relationship with Caspian is nice to read, although I wish more was added to it. The story behind Caspian is a bit obvious and easy to guess but it was still an interesting read. I wanted to know more about Kristen and her secrets. There was so much more to go into but not much has been revealed.The mystery surrounding Caspian, Nikolas, and Katy was interesting, however it was a little predictable. It was well thought out though, and it ties nicely with the Sleepy Hollow legend.

I think this is a perfect novel to read around Autumn/Halloween. The setting is perfect and suits the season, and although the plot was slow moving, and reading the book felt like a very slow walk in the park, I suggest to stick with it and read it through. It’s a beautifully written book and certainly deserves to be read.

I give it an 8 out of 10.