Book Review Sunday: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

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Recommended for: Those who love Dystopian novels, especially fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent
Read from April 14 to 16, 2013

 

I received an e-copy of The Testing thru NetGalley. Now, mind you, at the time I read this I did not have a kindle or any other type of e-reader, so I had to read this book on my computer and I loathe reading on my computer. However, every time I get an e-copy of a book I start reading it and unfortunately a lot of times my borrowed time of the book expires before I have a chance to finish. (I mean come on… I don’t bring my computer every where with me like I can a book…or even an e-reader) OK, so I read the first couple paragraphs and I am hooked!(Read it in two days!) I loves me a good Dystopian Novel and this is a good one! Yes, there are similarities to The Hunger Games and in my opinion even to Divergent, but hey… I LOVED THOSE BOOKS! So why wouldn’t I love this one as well! I have learned over my many years of reading that if you look hard enough (and sometimes you don’t even have to look hard) you will indeed find similarities in all books. After all they say there is only a few major plots (or something to that effect…affect? I always get those two mixed up). Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I feel The Testing is a good book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves dystopian novels, especially fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.
In addition, as soon as the book is published, I will be going out to buy a physical copy of my own and I look forward to reading the next installment!

Book Review Sunday: Defy by Sara B. Larson

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*Thank you Scholastic for sending me this copy via Netgalley.*

Much in the lines of Mulan, Alexa Hollen disguises herself a s a boy and joins the king’s army.

I have to admit I had a hard time getting into this book in the beginning. I actually put it down for a good long time before I picked it up again. But once I did, I was glad.

Defy has a few issues that were brought up but never really covered. First, the “rape houses”. That is a big issue to have and not really go into. Another issue that I wished was covered more was the world itself. There was not that much building of the world and I would have liked a bit more of what the lands (country’s) were about.

But all in all once I got further into the book I found myself enjoying it.
Towards the end Defy became a bit predictable. I knew what was really going on, but even so there weer still some elements that came as a surprise.

Ultimately, there were not enough issues to drive me away from the book….. And I have recommended Defy to others already.

I will be purchasing the physical copy of this book and am looking forward to the second book in the series.

My copy looks as if it has already been through the War…

Published in: on November 29, 2012 at 7:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Book Review Sunday: Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans

 

Stuart Horten is small for his age and to make matters worse he was given a name that “could be written down as S. Horten” and anyone could see that given his stature and unfortunate name he could very well be nicknamed Shorten. That is OK, because Stuart’s life is good he has a great house that he has lived in all his life, a tree house, a bike and tons of friends. But all that is about to change when his mother who is “a doctor (not the sort who stitches up bleeding wounds, but the sort who peers down a microscope)” lands a new job in Beeton; which just so happens to be the town his father was born in. Now, Stuart is forced to move away from all his friends and the only house he has ever lived, and if that weren’t bad enough he has to do this at the start of summer vacation! So what is a ten year old boy to do with all this time on his hands and no friends? If you are Stuart, you happen upon an adventure.
One morning Stuarts father, who is “a writer (not of films or of bestselling books, but of difficult crosswords)”, asks Stuart if he would like to go on a “brief perambulation” and it was on this short walk that Stuart learns of the family business, Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms and of his Great-Uncle Tony’s “lost legacy.” And when Stuart finds “eight threepenny bits” and a secret note meant for his father hidden in one of his father’s mechanisms given to him by his uncle, Teeny-Tiny Tony Horten, it sets up Stuart for the adventure of a lifetime, whereby Stuart will make both friends and enemies.

I loved this little book! This wonderful book, also being short in stature (one of the undersized type paperbacks), is 270 pages packed full of excitement. The characters were great, we did not see much of Stuart’s mother, but you still got a great sense of who she was, and Stuart’s dad…oh my, I loved him and his large vocabulary! My thirteen year old son is going to love that character. Oh and the bit where Stuart says he should just have a question mark tattooed to his forehead so every time his dad says something he could just point to it… I could see this so clearly in my mind.
Stuart’s neighbors, triplet girls named April, May and June (clever naming *grinning*), run a little newspaper and at first are nothing more than pest for Stuart, but later play a vital part in finding his great-uncle’s hidden workshop before it is too late.
This book brought on a case of nostalgia and sent me back to my childhood; a more carefree time, where we kids were outside all day during summer, bike riding for blocks and making adventures. Not coming home till the streetlights came on and sometimes, on rare occasions, having magnificent night time excursions.

Although this is a book geared towards middle-schoolers, I highly recommend it to everyone!
I received my Advanced Readers Copy of Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms from a Library Thing member’s giveaway. I hear the British title was Small Change for Stuart… which, in this girls opinion, is a much better title.

Book Review Sunday: City of Bones by Cassandra Claire

I am only giving City of Bones 3 stars… OK maybe 3.5 stars because Ms. Clare failed to draw me into the story until more than half way through. I had to keep asking my daughter if it was worth me continuing to read. She assured me it was, so on I went and I am glad.
The last third of the book was definitely a page turner up to the Epilogue, which I thought was a complete downer after what had just happened. (Trying hard for a no spoilers write up here.)

I enjoyed the references to Star Wars and I am wondering if they are a foreshadow of what is to come in the next books.

One big thing that kept creeping into my mind is the age of Clary… it just seemed to me that fifteen was too young an age. I don’t know, I guess to keep Jace seventeen Ms. Clare had to make Clary fifteen, turning sixteen.

All while reading City of Bones I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Watch Series by Russian writer Sergei Lukyanenko– of which I have read the first two Night Watch & Day Watch. Both The Mortal Instruments & The Watch Series contained all the fantasy characters; vampires, werewolves, wizards, etc.. and those humans, the special ones who were able to see them walking amongst us and fought to keep them inline.

The twist at the end of the book left me really upset and I can only hope that the next book City of Ashes will twist it back. (Hey, it can happen.)

Ultimately, although slow to deliver, City of Bones managed to draw me in enough to read the next in the series.

Book Review Sunday: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Disclaimer: This may contain spoilers…so read at your own risk.


Shiver is told from two points of view, Grace and Sam, going back and forth between them. It is a love story of the paranormal kind. When I first started reading it , I couldn’t see myself going on to read the next book, there were just enough elements to keep me reading… and then it happened… just like that I was pulled into the story.
The story opens with a young girl, Grace, being attacked by wolves. The weird thing is, she is not fighting it, she just gives into it; when one wolf comes to her and lays his muzzle in her hand and then against her cheek. She then sees his yellow eyes and she holds his gaze until he backs away. That wolf was Sam and that was when they first met and he saved Grace from the other wolves. In this way their fascination/obsession with each other begins.
I enjoyed the different take on Stiefvater’s werewolf’s and why they changed; the wolves changed with the seasons, not the moon. When the temperature dropped with the coming of winter… that is when they changed into wolves and with the warming of spring back into human form. However, as they get older they change into human form later and later into the spring and summer until there comes a time when they cease to change and it is this that becomes Sam’s struggle… his fight to hold on to his humanity, not only for Grace, but for himself.

One of the things I did not like about this book was the bit with Sam making up song lyrics… that was a bit too cliché for me.

Side Note: Contrary to others reviews, I do not see the comparison to Twilight and I read all the books. I have found in my years that you can find similarity in all books if you look hard enough. But I do not care what others think, I think for myself and I enjoyed reading Shiver and I will read Linger… I need to find out what happens next.

Book Review Sunday: Room by Emma Donoghue

Room had been calling my name since its publication, and although I want to purchase it, I found myself going with different selections each and every time. I kept a photo of Room in my phone –along with many others—lest I forget it. So there I was at the bookstore every weekend, tapping the cover, showing my kids and saying, “I want this book,” yet never buying it. Not until I joined the Popularity Contest book club in Goodreads.com and we chose it for our June read.
Room is about Ma, a girl who was abducted when she was nineteen and kept in a fortress of a storage shed for seven years, with only a skylight as her only view of the outside world. It is also about five year old Jack, Ma’s son born into this captivity and fathered by her captor. The book is narrated by Jack and it is through his eyes we live out this story. Jack knows nothing of the outside world, only what is told to him by Ma. They have a T.V., but Ma tells Jack that the people and things he sees on there are not real. Ma does her best to teach Jack everything she knows.
I think what allowed me to continue with this story—I hate stories that involve the suffering of children—was that it was told from Jack’s POV. The innocent way he sees his surroundings kept me reading on to find out what would become of Jack and Ma.

Book Review Sunday: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

I am not very good at writing reviews, so I will just share my thoughts.

I originally bought this book based on Everything is Illuminated. That book was so good I thought how could I possibly go wrong with this one. But there is sat on my shelf, along with many others on my TBR list. I knew nothing about this book; I brought it into my home solely based on the author being Jonathan Safran Foer. Of course as time went by and a movie was made based on it, I found out what it was about, It wasn’t until very recently, when I saw this quote, ““Literature was the only religion her father practiced, when a book fell on the floor he kissed it, when he was done with a book he tried to give it away to someone who would love it”, and looked up where it came from that I cracked open the book. The quote is so awesome I just had to find out the context.
Well, when I started reading the book I was not that into it, in fact I thought it was boring. But I would not give up and I continued to read… I am glad I did. The story of Oskar Schell left me extremely sad and incredibly depressed, but not as much as the story of his grandparents. I would recommend the book to people based on their backstory alone.
I feel sorry for those who have only seen the movie and not read the book, for the movie does not give you that back story. That being said, I also feel that seeing the movie made me appreciate the book more, and not in the typical ‘the book is so much better than the movie’ way. I cannot explain it but it just did.

I recommend this book especially to those who have only seen the movie, as they are missing so very much. Also, to those who like to read about the Holocaust.

Book Review Sunday: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent takes up just where Divergent left off; in the train car on the way to the Amity faction. I like that there is no instances of recapping what happened in Divergent. Although this might make it hard for those who read Divergent when it was originally released, I found it to be refreshing approach.
Insurgent takes us on a tour, if you will, through the other factions. I really enjoyed being amongst the Amity. We get to know more about the Candor and Erudite as well.
There were a few places in the book that left me confused. On page 207, Tobias is speaking and he mentions Zeke, I believe this was supposed to be Uriah. As well as on page 411 Ms. Roth writes, “The face of Abnegation headquarters is just a cement rectangle, like all the other buildings in the Abnegation sector.” And then on page 430 she repeats herself almost verbatim, “We reach the Abnegation headquarters, and its face is just a cement square like everything else in the Abnegation sector.” In addition, there was a huge continuity error which drove me completely insane. On page 461 there is talk about handing Tris a gun, but due to the Will incident she still cannot bring herself to use or even hold a gun. So they give her a stunner instead. Then on page 464 she says, “I point me gun at the lock…” What gun?! And again on page 471 Ms. Roth writes, “draw my gun, and point it at her…” Again I ask, what gun? And if that isn’t bad enough when we get to page 476 Tris realizes that she forgot her ”stunner in the empty classroom. [She is] unarmed again.” I know this sounds like nitpicking, but they were enough to take me out of the story to investigate them.
Then there is the development of Tris’ character. One of the things I liked about Tris in Divergent was she was not a self-loathing, whiny teenager. Well, in my humble opinion, she unfortunately did not stay that way. Throughout most of the book she did nothing but whine, which reminded me of Twilight’s Bella. I understand that she went thru some tragic events, Will, her parents… her life was destroyed, but I felt that was not in her character.
All my little distractions aside, they book was awesome. I liked that we got to learn more about Four/Tobias. We delved further into the factions, even learned more about the Factionless.
As I got more towards the end of the book, I could not help but feel that it reminded me somewhat of the City of Ember series; which is not bad as I loved those books as well. And with that being said, Insurgent ends with a wicked cliff hanger which I never expected and makes me eager for the next in the series!

Book Review Sunday: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”

If the first page of this book does not draw you in I will be amazed. I have heard about this book for a while now and have often found myself in the book shoppe caressing it, holding the pages to my face and breathing in its very essence. Yet, I always place it back on the shelf, saying to myself soon, soon I will come back and you will be mine.
Then I joined a Goodreads Group ‘The Popularity Contest’ I finally was forced to buy it and it proved every bit as magical as I had hoped.
Morgenstern weaved an enchanting story, pulling the reader in with every turn of the page. Just when you thought you had the story figured out, she proved you wrong.
What I liked about this story is that it was not first and foremost a “love” story. Too often, for me, this is the case in books and I like how that took a backseat to circus.
There were, however, a few things that muddled my mind as I read. One was the date hopping. I had to go back more than a few time to review what year I had been in the last chapter, or what year these particular characters where in the last time I was reading about them. Another would be the name hopping… at one point she would refer to someone as, for instance, Mr. Barris and another time as Ethan. Which normally is not such a big deal, but there are a lot of characters in this book and this only confused things.
Morgenstern’s writing reminds me of my own; she even uses one of my favourite way of saying ‘except’…”save”. However, I feel that she overused this expression and on a number of occasions could have reworded her sentences better and avoided it. Mostly though the language proved to be fresh and interesting and I reveled in her descriptions of the circus… to the point that I even visited the circus in my dreams.
After reading this book there is only one thing I want… and that is more! I want to learn what happens to Baily and Poppet… and Chandresh… all of them. There is more story to tell here and I hope that Ms. Morgenstern continues to tell it.