A Subject to be Aware of. Definitely Recommend this one.

48fc036cb417fe6596d4b637051434f414f4141.jpg

In order to save her family’s farm, Roshen, sixteen, must leave her rural home to work in a factory in the south of China. There she finds arduous and degrading conditions and contempt for her minority (Uyghur) background. Sustained by her bond with other Uyghur girls, Roshen is resolved to endure all to help her family and ultimately her people. A workplace survival story, this gritty, poignant account focuses on a courageous teen and illuminates the value—and cost—of freedom. (From Goodreads)

This was a great eye opener albeit a sad read on what’s going on with the Uyghur and how they’re being treated by the Chinese government. They’re not a very well known group of people and after finishing this book it’s an eye opening experience.

Throughout the novel you follow the narrative of Roshen, who’s left her family behind and a potential fiance to work in a factory. As a reader you already have an idea on how this is going to go as factories over there are usually sweatshops with grueling horrifying conditions. What I was not expecting, and because I didn’t know much of these peoples is they’re on the bottom rung of the ladder everywhere they go. Since they don’t look like your average Chinese, they stick out as a visible minority and because their beliefs are very much different, they get treated horribly and are pretty much slaves.

You follow Roshen and a group of Uyghur girls as they toil through the factory under horrible conditions. You can feel their fear and mistrust, even amongst themselves because anyone can become an informant. What I was not prepared for, was for Hawa’s character. You already had an assumption about her because of her behavior but when she does something completely unspeakable on behalf of Roshen it was a complete blindside. The negative feelings you had towards Hawa disappears completely and is replaced with a kind of respect for what she went through.

Definitely recommended to read. It’s horrifying what these families and girls go through, and awareness is key.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

Advertisements

Slow plot, characters uninteresting except for one

48fc036cb417fe6596d4b637051434f414f4141.jpg

Mercy McClain joined the school board to protect the children of Teaville, Kansas, from the bullying she experienced as a child. When the worst offender from her school days applies for a teaching position, she is dead set against it. Yet Aaron Firebrook claims to be a changed man. Can he earn Mercy’s trust–and her support for the challenges to come? (From Goodreads)

 

I really tried to like this book, and to be fair it was good at the first third of the story. I was hoping the plot would pick up, and there would be more development throughout, but it just wasn’t there. Which is unfortunate because although this type of plot has been done in so many countless novels, it still had the potential to be good.

There wasn’t much to the characters in the book although Mercy seemed to have been the only interesting one and the only one with personality.  The chemistry with Aaron and Mercy isn’t that great and as you progress throughout the novel it’s always back and forth with them. You feel like you’re watching a never ending tennis match between these two where they’re not doing anything to gain advantage in the game. And well, to be frank it’s pretty dry.

Aaron  seemed like an all right character to read about, a guy out for redemption and feels bad for his past treatment of a lot of people (he was the town bully so to speak) and although it was nice to see part of his development and him trying to redeem himself it didn’t quite work out as I had hoped, he ended up being mopey, weepy but to the point where you have to wonder if he’s suddenly become emo. True, he’s had some pretty awful things done to him in the past but his constant mood changes from feeling good about changing, to moping on past regrets got old pretty fast, and this contributed more to the never ending tennis match I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

The secondary characters surrounding our main ones have each their own issues and problems and although Jimmy’s story was a good one, it just wasn’t enough to give this book justice. The plot was slow moving and dry with minor events happening in which it doesn’t make much of a difference to the story. Sad to say this book just didn’t quite cut it for me.

I give it a 2 out of 10.

Creepy House and a Scene not to be read at 1 AM…

48fc036cb417fe6596d4b637051434f414f4141.jpg

Evil doesn’t always look scary .Built at the turn of the twentieth century by one of the richest and most powerful men in the world, tucked away in the pristine Pocono Mountains, Summer Place, a retreat for the rich and famous, seems the very essence of charm and beauty, a scene borrowed from a wondrous fairytale of gingerbread houses, bright forests, and glowing, sunny meadows. But behind the yellow and white trimmed exterior lurks an evil, waiting to devour the unwary . Seven years ago, Professor Gabriel Kennedy’s investigation into paranormal activity at Summer Place ended in tragedy, and destroyed his career. Now, Kelly Delaphoy, the ambitious producer of a top-rated ghost-hunting television series, is determined to make Summer Place the centerpiece of an epic live broadcast on Halloween night. To ensure success, she needs help from the one man who has come face-to-face with the evil that dwells in Summer Place, a man still haunted by the ghosts of his own failure. Disgraced and alienated from the academic community, Kennedy wants nothing to do with the event. But Summer Place has other plans . As Summer Place grows stronger, Kennedy along with the paranormal ghost hunting team, The Supernaturals, sets out to confront and if possible, destroy the evil presence dwelling there. But sometimes in a paranormal investigation, the ghosts hunt you… (From Goodreads)

The beauty of reading horror books is this: even though you’ve probably read this same thing or read the same horror book with similar plots, cookie cutter characters, etc, what really matters at the end of the day is; does it provide you with enough chills and creep factor to get you reading?

Thankfully, this one delivers!

The plot is pretty standard; haunted house that is on the market but nobody buys it. It needs a super cleansing and a group of people are gathered and led by a Professor who’s looking out for redemption. It seems pretty much like a typical horror plot out there but it’s well written and the flow is consistent. That being said, the real action starts about the last third of the book. Think of this book as an introduction to a cast of characters, and what their ‘gifts’ are like. Their background stories are provided, and everything leading up to the night at the house is well done. It prepares to reader as to what to look forward to (with some creep factor in between)

So let’s get to the creep factor. It’s definitely there. The descriptions and events happening is enough to give the reader chills and leaves it to their imagination. There’s plenty of loud noise moments, evil laughter, and things going bump in the night to contribute to the enjoyment of reading this book.

One particular moment that got me on edge was this part:

result_1523238180908.jpg

I thought this particular passage was perfectly written and it still clings to me even after finishing it. It gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about something coming at me via the stairs.

The characters could have been better now, perhaps because it’s an introduction to the group but there’s not much substance to them (at least to some) I was a bit disappointed in George and Leonard because they had a lot to contribute but it seemed to have fizzled out when it really counts. For the most part it’s mostly John, Jenny and Gabriel in the spotlight. They’re all pretty much likable and their own storylines are good to read to provide more ‘fleshing out’ of the character.

It’s a solid horror story with a good ending. Of course it looks like there’s a second book coming out and I’m going to go and read it. I enjoyed this one immensely.

I give it a 10 out of 10.

 

Rich Historical Setting in a So-So Mystery

48fc036cb417fe6596d4b637051434f414f4141.jpg

Oxford University, in 1264, the savage murder of a young girl kindles a frenzy of suspicion between privileged students and impoverished townspeople. And when one of Falconer’s students who may have witnessed the crime narrowly escapes being beaten to death by a lynch mob, the Regent Master rushes to his defense. (From Goodreads)

 

This is a pretty short mystery to read through. Looks can be deceiving though. Despite being short, it’s packed in with some heavy duty stuff.

The setting for example. Very rich in detail and gives you a sense on how it was back then in William Falconer’s time. Add in some political intrigue, a Jewish Quarter, and some rioting and it gets pretty exciting. I really can’t get over how great the setting is. It’s so descriptive you can feel the darkness and the dampness that permeates throughout the novel. Morson also does an excellent job to stay close to historical accuracy here in this novel as well. Forensic pathology is frowned upon, and you even get to see Falconer try on a strange contraption that looks a lot like Medieval opera glasses at the time. 🙂

The plot is pretty straight forward although there is not much of a secret mystery element in it. The suspect list is not extensive (thankfully! You’ll see why as you read further into this review) and when revealed it’s not much of a surprise or an a ha! Moment. There isn’t much personality to the characters except Falconer and his student Thomas. Thomas is a particular dolt. A Farmer boy who managed to be gifted and chosen to study and be a Scholar, well, for all the idiotic moves he makes, you have to wonder how the University chose this guy to let him attend their school. He fumbles and stumbles at the worst times and always manages to get himself into some life threatening situations (and doesn’t learn from it). It was funny the first few times, but after a while it gets annoying and you want to slap this boy upside the head. (You don’t deserve Hannah’s attention, you twit).

I’m going to assume it will get better with other books in this series, and this one serves as an introduction to the series. Since I really do love the historical aspect I will stick with this series and see where it takes me. Historical mystery lovers will love the setting and theme of this book, the mystery part, not so much.

I give it a 5 out of 10.

Going Mad? maybe. Surviving? Oh yes!

48fc036cb417fe6596d4b637051434f414f4141.jpg

An imprisoned man awakens to find himself face-to-face with the Indian Red Scorpion, harbinger of the brutal and terrible 3-day death. He hopes in vain for someone to come and help him—a guard, perhaps, though he knows the Turkmen mercenary guards are almost as dangerous as the Scorpion. He knows he wants to live, he knows he has forgotten something—something in his past, perhaps—but he has no recollection of who he is or where he has come from.How far can a man be pushed, before fear becomes an irrelevant to him? What does it mean to truly lose everything? (From Goodreads)

So a couple of things why I said yes to review this book. One, the cover. It’s beautiful yet simple. Second, the plot was catchy and engaging. Third, the book itself is a thin one, and here I was wondering how you are going to write a prison story in this short novel?

So what I liked about this book. It’s to the point! And I love it! Anyone who’s writing this type of book could have gone on about every little detail thus making the plot drag, and adding all sorts of fluff to even make it ‘poetical’ and ‘lyrical’. None of that nonsense here. Yes, there are some parts which are descriptive. However the great thing about it is, it’s descriptive to enhance the plot, and also to move it along. There’s been too many times I’ve read something similar, and it gets stuck at describing every little surrounding, and every little feeling the protagonist is going through. This is where attention span goes down and the book is then put down and forgotten or ends up in the “Did not finish” pile.

So the good thing is, although there’s a dream sequence, and few moments of prolonged description, but because of these moments you learn more about the character and his background. To be frank, you’re pretty much just as lost as he is at the start of the story. It’s the things like that, which immerses the reader into the plot and makes the reading experience more enjoyable.

There’s two  more books after this one, and the first one ends in a semi cliffhanger because of what’s going to happen to our main protagonist. I thought it’s a great light read and it’s quick and it’s to the point. Looking forward to what’s going to happen next to our main guy!

I give it an 8 out of 10.

I received this book from the Author in exchange for an honest review. Thank  you!

Ghost story and asylums? Awesome! Romance and Dragged out Ending? Boo!

48fc036cb417fe6596d4b637051434f414f4141.jpg

In 1919, Kitty Weekes, pretty, resourceful, and on the run, falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House—its plaster is crumbling, its plumbing makes eerie noises, and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms. It’s known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patients all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it? Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman… or maybe both. But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces. And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both. (From Goodreads)

Anything to do with a horror ghost theme and an asylum has to be good right? Well, yes and no. The book was somewhat enjoyable to read but it had its’ moments.

The plot itself was good. It  had the elements of a good gothic theme – not scary enough to make people read it in daytime (seriously?) but it had some good decent creep factor in it. It’s enough to set the mood and theme of the book but nothing to make the skin crawl. The element of mystery was also there and the ghost story aspect was good – nothing to blind side you – except perhaps for a little twist in the end (with where the ghost was and who was it manipulating etc etc). It’s pretty much a stable plot with all the main points closed (or is it? *queue creepy organ music*) so I’d have to say the gothic ghost story was what was in it for me.

Character wise. Kitty is likable. She’s resourceful, and a survivor from horrible abuse. Big applause for her for being strong and able to stand up and survive through various ordeals. Captain Mabry stood out for me because I enjoyed reading about his character. He seemed to be the strong stable silent type in the asylum where you have various patients with various issues (most were casualties of World War One) and there was a certain calmness about him that made him likable.

It’s pretty much obvious Kitty and Jack were to be together. The romance aspect in the book was all right. Necessary? I’m not sure perhaps. It’s not really for me. When their romance was more cemented was where the book was starting to take a slight turn downhill.

So near the ending when everything was revealed, all plot holes start to close. Sometimes, depending on the writing, you can stretch it out and make it interesting. Or you can make it drag. This one, unfortunately drags. We’re done with the ghosts, everything was answered, and the last 30 pages or so I just wanted the book to end. The romance of Kitty and Jack intensify and this is where intense eye rolling is also induced. Dear Lord, am I reading this just to see if there’s a scary twist at the end? Or am I wasting my time? Well sadly, I wasted my time. It was good to see what happened to characters like Mabry, and even Matron, but it just dragged way too much. Yeah okay we get it Kitty and Jack forever. Why do we need so many pages of this, am I suddenly reading a romance now?

Other than the ghost story in this book, the romance nearly killed it for me and a dragged out ending. Perhaps a nice twist in the ending would be nice. Or maybe skim the 30 pages and be done. I would say take it or leave it with this book. It was moderately enjoyable for me.

I give it a 5 out of 10.

Great action and plot, bad love triangle

48fc036cb417fe6596d4b637051434f414f4141

MACKENZIE AND AMY WERE BEST FRIENDS.

UNTIL AMY WAS BRUTALLY MURDERED.

Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf. Lupine syndrome – also known as the werewolf virus – is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control. Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk. (From Goodreads)

***Possible spoilers, you’ve been warned***

The book starts off well and has a good pace and momentum throughout the book. The setting is also well done and small with a handful of characters so it’s simple and makes the reading enjoyable. I particularly liked the dream sequences Mac has with Amy. They can be cliche but it helps move the plot along and adds to the mood.

The werewolf aspect is interesting in the book. The notion of them having a ‘rehabilitation’ camp has a dystopia feel and there’s also Mac trying to solve Amy’s murder. So there’s different characteristics of the book to please YA readers which makes the experience reading this fun and enjoyable.

Of course you need a bit of romance in the story as well right? I’m all for Kyle and Mac being together. I found the love triangle aspect here irritating and forced on. Jason did not have sort of chemistry at all with Mac. It felt forced, awkward, and well…it just didn’t sit well with me (your boyfriend likes your best friend…just. No.) The love triangle just made things so cliche and sappy. The story didn’t need this. It was fine with just Kyle and Mac!

The mystery aspect was good throughout the novel. The crumb trail to figuring out who was behind the attacks wasn’t that obvious until the late third of the book and although it was already known who it was, the action sequence and climax of the story was pretty exciting and a lot of things are revealed. The revelations weren’t the type to blind side you, it fits well into the story and puts the pieces together. Which is fine. I think the action scenes are enough to keep readers interested.

I was happy with the way the book ended and I’ll be picking up the second one. Recommended for YA lovers who just want a good light read with some good action and a readable enjoyable plot.

I give it a 7 out of 10.