Goats Just Don’t Look The Same…

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When four old University friends set off into the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic Circle, they aim to briefly escape the problems of their lives and reconnect with one another. But when Luke, the only man still single and living a precarious existence, finds he has little left in common with his well-heeled friends, tensions rise. With limited experience between them, a shortcut meant to ease their hike turns into a nightmare scenario that could cost them their lives. Lost, hungry, and surrounded by forest untouched for millennia, Luke figures things couldn’t possibly get any worse. But then they stumble across an old habitation. Ancient artefacts decorate the walls and there are bones scattered upon the dry floors. The residue of old rites and pagan sacrifice for something that still exists in the forest. Something responsible for the bestial presence that follows their every step. As the four friends stagger in the direction of salvation, they learn that death doesn’t come easy among these ancient trees . . . (From Goodreads)

So you know when  you’re watching a horror movie and there’s an unseen being involved and you only catch little glimpses here and there throughout the film, and when you do actually see it you think (or more likely, scream out) WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?

Yeah that’s basically what you get throughout the book. It could be similar horror elements like Blair Witch Project, only you do find out what it is towards the latter part of the story. (And it’s still pretty creepy to figure out and picture).

I really do enjoy the horror aspects in this book and the feelings it invokes. You can really feel the desperation, frustration, and anguish felt within the characters. Tempers flare and understandably fights happen from within the group. You feel Luke’s anger and his highs and lows as you follow him throughout this horror journey.

There’s not many twists or blindside moments in this book it’s pretty much standard that you would see in horror books but the setting is very well done. A remote forest in Scandinavia while there’s something big and bad out there provides great atmosphere for the dark and scary.

It does drag out through the last third of the novel where you just have to feel for Luke and you wonder how much the human spirit can take. The ending really should have ended about 50 pages ago and there is repetition through the novel that some may find a trial to go through when reading. It’s manageable most of the time but I was close to losing my interest towards the end of the novel but powered through. It was still an enjoyable read, and recommended for those that want a good solid horror.

I’ll be reading more of his books for sure. I enjoyed the thrill and can only imagine what his other books will be like.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

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More Like a Guilty Pleasure Book

1616203536.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgHarper has never been worried about falling in love, something she is skeptical even exists. But everything changes when Logan moves to town, and to Harper’s shock, the two tumble into an intense romance. It’s everything she never thought she wanted. Then she meets Logan’s twin brother, Daemon, who was expelled from his last school. True, he’s a bad boy, but Harper can’t shake the feeling that there’s something deeply sinister about him–something dangerous. When Logan starts pulling away, Harper is convinced that Daemon’s shadowy past is the wedge being driven between them. But by the time she uncovers the truth, it may be too late. (From Goodreads)

 

I would call this a guilty pleasure book. Why? Because it’s not the most greatest read out there but you read it anyway because something about it just draws you to continue reading. Whether it be characters, or the cheesy plot albeit ridiculous as it may be.

This is supposed to be a modern day retelling of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I see some similarities although the way it’s explained (the soul thing) is a bit of a stretch. At least with Jekyll/Hyde he had something concrete and explanatory (eg; the serum that gets him to change personalities).

The book itself is filled with oodles of cliches so it’s not for everyone. It may induce eye rolls and may have some readers frustrated and quit reading altogether. Why did I keep reading? It’s a very simple plot and there’s not much when it comes to twists and turns, there’s a bit of a creepy and chilly factor which was actually pretty well done and I stuck with it. Despite the plot being as it is, the writing was pretty good and I enjoyed it.

A couple of things however. I’m not sure what Madison really had to do with the story. She’s just your average mean girl but doesn’t really add to the plot (except for being a previous romance. Woopie) so to me, this was just unnecessary filler moments in the novel.

Harper isn’t really that likable and there were moments where she goes off the deep end into the realm of stupidity. I do admit though, she’s got good chemistry with Logan and the writing that conveys their feelings towards each other is well done. Logan seems to be a great boyfriend if it wasn’t for that fatal flaw. Harper does tend to have some annoying qualities to herself – being a forgiving doormat for one, and lacking common sense in particular stages of the story (seriously? You’re going to break into a house and you say: “hello?” can we say first one to die in a horror movie here?)

Although this book has quite a few flaws, I couldn’t help but enjoy reading it. It’s a very quick read and it’s like you’re watching a B movie but you enjoyed it despite the many cliches and things you normally wouldn’t watch. There’s just something about it that makes you want to continue reading it. I’m not going to recommend this one, but if you’re up for a quick read to get back into the reading groove, why not?

I give it a 6 out of 10.

 

Twists Turns Surprises Oh my

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When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement. You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves. You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her. You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships. Assume nothing. (From Goodreads)

 

I got this ARC from a contest I entered and started reading it as soon as I was able to. It started off excellent in the first chapters and it completely caught my attention.

The book certainly keeps you guessing all throughout the novel and it certainly keeps you on your toes and you realize this is probably how the ex wife (can’t name names, it would give the plot away) felt as you progress through the story. The twists and turns keep you blindsided and it keeps you guessing even until the final pages of the book. It was a great and thrilling. Every other chapter I heard myself going: “WHAT THE HECK DID I JUST READ?”

I really felt for the ex wife though. There’s a lot of cringeworthy moments for her and it almost hurt to read her part of the plot. I was stuck feeling like I wanted to give her a good girl pep talk or slapping her upside the head for acting in a particular way. However when it’s revealed why her actions were done then you’re left with a smile and approving nod.  Ma’am, you are bloody brilliant. Manipulative, but brilliant and it costed you just about everything.

So with the multiple twists and turns, and the roller coaster feelings you get, the novel does a great job in tying everything together and making everything meet at an apex point. It’s very well done and everything is explained to you. Now I didn’t like how some of the characters got away with what seems like a slap on the wrist, and I wanted to know more about Maureen’s motives which although was explained in very minimal detail so in this aspect, it was a bit of a cop out.

Otherwise, this was such an excellent book to read and greatly recommended for thriller lovers who like to be surprised at every twist and turn possible. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I give it an 8 out of 10.

This Book Had It’s Moments…

1616203536.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgWhen a building collapses around five teenagers and they just barely escape they know something strange is going on. Little by little, the group pieces together a theory: Their parents are working together to kill them all. Is it true? And if so, how did their parents come together and why? And, most importantly, how can the five of them work together to save themselves? With an unlikely group of heroes, sky-high stakes, and two budding romances, this gripping murder mystery will keep readers guessing until the last page (From Goodreads)

 

I have to agree, this was indeed a page turner. It started off with a bang and it was one event after another until our four characters started putting the pieces together. It got really thrilling at certain moments of the book and even you are left wondering what the heck is going on and you’re feeling just as lost and confused as the characters.

The plot itself in general was all right. Be prepared for some predictable scenes. It didn’t bother me as much as it was expected but there were plenty of moments in the book where you were blindsided with surprise which makes up for some of the predictability.

The characters were well done and complimented each other as a group despite each one having their differences. The narration done throughout the novel is by Caleb and Saralinda. Both characters are likable to an extent. I prefer reading Caleb’s side of the story instead of Saralinda only because she got annoying towards the second half of the novel. I thought she was trying too hard to be the happy nerdy girl with the forceful jokes. (You certainly CANNOT be thinking of first kisses and romance while you have the police and your murderous parents after you…seriously now?)

The read was all right. Some thrilling moments here and there and an ending that’s enough to close the story. Would I recommend this? Not really. I’d say more along the lines of: take it or leave it.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

The Sworn Virgin Had High Hopes…

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When eighteen-year-old Eleanora’s father is shot dead on the cobblestone streets of 1910 Albania, Eleanora must abandon her dream of studying art in Italy as she struggles to survive in a remote mountain village with her stepmother Meria. Nearing starvation, Meria secretly sells Eleanora into marriage with the cruel heir of a powerful clan. Intent on keeping her freedom, Eleanora takes an oath to remain a virgin for the rest of her life—a tradition that gives her the right to live as a man: she is now head of her household and can work for a living as well as carry a gun. Eleanora can also participate in the vengeful blood feuds that consume the mountain tribes, but she may not be killed—unless she forsakes her vow, which she has no intention of ever doing. But when an injured stranger stumbles into her life, Eleanora nurses him back to health, saving his life—yet risking her own as she falls in love with him… (From Amazon.com)

So what I really liked the most about the book is the historical background and aspect. It’s rich in detail and sheds a light on the customs in Albania. I loved the descriptions of the setting, the clothing especially and how family life was at the time. Despite that Eleanora lived differently from others in the village, traditions are deep rooted, strong and followed to the exact detail. It’s all about maintaining family honor and if disgraced, the way to gain it back is likely with someone killing the other from the rival family that did you wrong. It’s pretty harsh and during that time doesn’t give much voice to women in general, but Eleanora’s personality is strong and admirable even though she’s pretty much a daddy’s girl (which helps her let her be who she wants to be).

The first half of the book was great and got the reading going pretty quickly. It wasn’t until the last third of the novel where things bog down and I was afraid of this: the moment the ‘man of the her dreams’ came into the story. Then I was instantly reminded as to why I hated “Memoirs of a Geisha” so much and this mirrors it. Holy mother. The guy was the sun, moon and stars for Eleanora. I kind of get it after what happened to her dad but for crying out loud I was rooting for Eleanora for taking the vow and being strong. All it takes is an Adonis to break that all down. Eleanora then takes a complete 360 and becomes a mooncalf.

I lost admiration after her treatment of Meria. I get it. Meria shouldn’t have done that nonsense because she’s all obsessed with family honor and had Eleanora’s best interest even though it was far from beneficial. I thought her treatment was excessive to the point of abuse and cruelty and I felt like jumping in and giving Eleanora the beat down for her stupidities.

Then Eleanora’s mood swings go from pity party to guilt and goes back and forth for what seemed like the entire last third of the novel and it got tiresome to read. You know Eleanora, you could have solved all this if you JUST. TELL. HIM.

And when she does. Your patience is done with the book and depending how you found the book you either breathe a sigh in relief or roll your eyes because it took about 50 pages to get Eleanora to smarten up and the book would have ended sooner than later.

I liked the book at first, but it just didn’t hold it for me. The pity trips, and the self torment Eleanora goes through is just too much and made up a good half of the novel. I wish it could have been better because the historical aspect was excellent.

I give it a 3 out of 10.

 

Caraval is like a very Dark Disneyland

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Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever. Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away (From Goodreads)

What I loved the most about the book was the setting of Caraval. It’s so beautifully descriptive it feels like a magical place. You’re taken back to the feeling when you were a wee little one and you’re in Disneyland for the first time in your life. It’s that magical feel good feeling that comes back to you when you’re reading the book. At the same time you know things aren’t what they seem and there’s some dark undertones to Caraval. It’s hard not to get swept away (as they have warned you) because everything seems so real and fun.

I loved the plot throughout the book. Like Scarlett, you had doubts as to whether things were real or not. By the time you finished the novel you were still doubting what was real and what wasn’t. Scarlett was at times frustrating and irritating. She hesitated at the wrong times and didn’t listen to anyone when she really needed to. Argh. You wanted to jump in and drag her to point her to the right direction. I didn’t really see her well with Julian because I really saw Julian as more of a means to an end because he guided her throughout the game. However I have to admit, I liked it when he called her ‘Crimson’ it suited his personality at the time (I hope he doesn’t stop calling her that, it adds more to their characters.)

The last few pages of the novel though. Wow. You’re blown away and you’ll have your heart wrenched and torn out of your chest and then it’s put back in. Yet it doesn’t feel the same anymore and you’re left with more questions and wanting more. OH MY GOD I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE SECOND BOOK! I NEED ANSWERS!

Greatly recommended. Immerse yourself into the world and enjoy. You’ll probably get carried away like I did. Get ready for some good twists that are gut wrenching. You’re not left the same after reading it.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

Likeable characters in An Inconvenient Beauty

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Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, and he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. He’s certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, but while Frederica is strangely elusive, he can’t seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge. Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, her uncle will only help them if she’ll use her beauty to assist him in his political aims. Already uncomfortable with this agreement, the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she wishes to be free of her unfortunate obligation. Will Griffith and Isabella be able to set aside their pride and face their fears in time to find their own happily-ever-after? (from Goodreads)

This book would have made an excellent movie that I would watch several times over. You can picture the characters clearly in your head and play out the scenes as they’re really well descripted and well written. What surprised me the most while reading the book was how funny it was. It’s not a laugh out loud comedy per se, but there were scenes and encounters where you found yourself laughing out loud. I thought it was different. Not all regency romance novels are like this (most are lighthearted romances) so seeing some good funny scenes is nice and puts a different spin on things. (The lawn bowling incident haha!)

Isabella and Griffith were perfect together. They had the perfect chemistry, their intelligence was on par with each other and Isabella was exactly what Griffith needed. He was all about routine, and finding the answers to everything and being prepared. Isabella was exactly the opposite; she made him question his methods, and got him to realize not everything has an answer and sometimes just going with the flow helps brighten up life. The best part was although their romance didn’t start off as usual (love at first sight, etc) it was a gradual bond that lasted throughout the book.

What I didn’t really like was although the characters were great, and the comedy bits made the plot light and fun, it didn’t do much regarding the speed and pace of the plot. It dragged midway in the plot and it seemed to have slowed to a crawl and the change of pace changed considerably.

Aside from the slow pacing in the second half of the book, I enjoyed the characters. They  were fun and likable, and the comedy provided some good light moments. Although this is part of a series, this book can be read as a stand alone as well.

I give it a 5 out of 10.

(The slow pace really got to me in this one, unfortunately)