Book Review

Review | The Widow by Fiona Barton

25734248The Widow
Author: Fiona Barton
Series: Kate Waters #1
Published: February 16th 2016
Publisher: Berkley Books
Pages: 324
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…

But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

Review

I just finished the last page and my thoughts are spinning. What an intense read. I got so invested in finding out the truth that I couldn’t put the book down if I tried.

The story goes back and forth between multiple perspectives as the mystery of a kidnapping unravels over the course of 3 years. So much evidence is discovered and investigated and it all seems to be leading to the same person. But there never seems to be enough evidence to prove guilt. This mystery shows all sides, as detectives, journalists, and the heartbroken mother of a missing child tries desperately to discover what happened to young Bella.

I’ve never hated a character more in my life. Glen is a despicable man, and I found myself needing to take a breath a times while reading because my hatred for this character overwhelmed me so much. There is a trigger warning for sexual abuse and pedophilia as said topics are prominent throughout the novel. I wish I would have known this before reading the story because I am very squeamish when it comes to such difficult and disgusting topics.

I had a hard time rating this novel. It was compelling, but jumping back and forth between three years worth of investigating and events, as well as jumping between different perspectives had me spinning at times. It was easy to piece together, but I wish that the story would have stuck to one timeline.

I liked the main detective and journalist, as I could truly tell that they’re intentions were pure while trying to solve the crime that took place. It was hard to know who to trust throughout the book, but it was easy to tell from the beginning that Bob and Kate were solid characters.

I am giving this book 3 stars for the compelling writing that kept me wanting to know more. It drove me crazy not knowing what happened, and I couldn’t stop until I found out. I do want to mention again that there are triggers in this book. So please be aware of that before picking this one up. I am uncertain as too wether I will be continuing on with this series, because I did find this book hard to read at times. Especially that one chapter where we were in the mind of the accused. Ugh.

3 Stars

14031516ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Fiona Barton, the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow and The Child, trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards.

Book Review

Review | The Boy In the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

39999The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Author: John Boyne
Published: September 12th 2006
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Pages: 224
Genres: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis

Berlin 1942

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

Review

This book explores the subject matter of World War ll and the Auschwitz concentration camp through the eyes of a 9 year old boy named Bruno. Bruno’s father is apart of the german forces. After receiving a promotion, the family moves to a new home, located right next to Auschwitz. Bruno is confused about the big fence and the boys in striped -pyjamas that he sees out his window. Being an explorer, Bruno decides to venture out into the forest to get a closer view. There he meets a young boy his age that lives on the other side of the fence. Their friendship grows as they begin to spend time together, the fence always between the two.

This book was very sad. Reading about the way that people were treated during the holocaust broke my heart. Knowing that Bruno’s new friend was a prisoner even though he was just a little boy who did nothing wrong in his life, broke my heart. All people deserve to be treated as equals. That’s why this war is so extensively talked about in schools and curriculums. in my opinion. We as people, need to keep understanding that all people are equals. No one deserves mistreatment, especially for the colour of their skin, the religion they follow, or the place they were born.

It did bother me at times, the lack of understanding from Bruno. He was 9 years old, so it was expected that he didn’t understand everything that was happening around him. But he seemed unaware of everything that was happening around him. He seemed to be younger than the author intended him to be. As for his sister, she was a little brat. Her personality was very unlikeable, which made the story a little less pleasant for me.

The storyline really spoke at my heart strings. This entire book, I was stuck between feeling such sadness for humanities passed mistakes, and annoyed at certain aspects of the story. I wish it had been written a little differently so that we as readers could get a better understanding of the events that were happening. Everything was passed over, to make sure that know one got uncomfortable during the story. But stories like this one should make the reader feel uncomfortable. Should make the reader wish for different truths.

I’m giving this book 3 stars, because the subject matter and plot of the novel was worth the read. The characters however, were severely unlikable, which is what decided my rating. I would recommend this book to those looking for a glimpse in the path without harsh scenes, but if you want a true glimpse into humanity’s past evils, I recommend Night by Ellie Wiesel, a book written from a prisoner in Auschwitz, as he tells his tale of what happened in the camps. 3 Stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

7195John Boyne (born 30 April 1971 in Dublin) is an Irish novelist.
He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he won the Curtis Brown prize. In 2015, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by UEA.
John Boyne is the author of ten novels for adults and five for young readers, as well as a collection of short stories.
His novels are published in over 50 languages.

Book Review

Review | Ninth Grade Slays by Heather Brewer

2272813._sy475_Ninth Grade Slays
Author: Heather Brewer
Series: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod #2
Published: April 17th 2008
Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books
Pages: 278
Genres: Paranormal
Rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis

High school totally bites when you’re half human, half vampire.

Freshman year sucks for Vlad Tod. Bullies still harass him. The photographer from the school newspaper is tailing him. And failing his studies could be deadly. A trip to Siberia gives “study abroad” a whole new meaning as Vlad connects with other vampires and advances his mind-control abilities, but will he return home with the skills to recognize a vampire slayer when he sees one? In this thrilling sequel to Eighth Grade Bites, Vlad must confront the secrets of the past and battle forces that once again threaten his life. Find out why author D. J. MacHale calls The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod “Gruesome, heartwarming, spellbinding.”
Review

After the events of Eighth Grade Bites, Vlad is feeling very cautious on who he lets into his life. His uncle is on the run and he wants nothing more than to be with him. But he couldn’t possibly worry his aunt and Henry like that. He is even making a new friend is Henry’s cousin Joss. He’s even worse at video games then himself! But with a vampire hunter in town, and getting caught on camera floating in the air, Vlad is in trouble. So it’s decided that he will travel to Siberia with his uncle to train himself to become a better vampire. There  are so many skills he was never taught because he was raised by a human.

This book was full of action and it kept me engaged from beginning to end. I loved the new characters that were introduced. They offered a lot more growth to the story. Especially his new mentor in Siberia, an old acquaintance of Vlad’s father and his uncle. Vlad was taught how to use his psychic abilities more thoroughly. After all, every vampire should be able to control the minds of humans. Right?

The only problem I seem to be having with this series is that I find it quite predictable. I know the plot twists before they are revealed. I know who the villains are before they are discovered. I just wish that there was a little bit more mystery than the obvious outcomes. I don’t want to be able to know an entire plot before it happens. It makes me feel like the book is way too obvious.

Still, I’m going to continue on with the series, because I did like this one a bit more than the first. So maybe the next one will be even better! It’s a solid 3 star series as of now. I am rating this book the same as the first. While I did like this one a bit more, it wasn’t enough to change the rating. There were still a few problems I had with it that make my rating stick. 3 Stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

14131444Heather Brewer is the pseudonym of Zac Brewer…but you can call him Z.

Zac is the NYT bestselling author of The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series, as well as The Slayer Chronicles series, Soulbound, The Cemetery Boys, The Blood Between Us, and more short stories than he can recall.

He grew up on a diet of Twilight Zone and books by Stephen King. He chased them down with every drop of horror he could find—in books, movie theaters, on television. The most delicious parts of his banquet, however, he found lurking in the shadowed corners of his dark imagination. When he’s not writing books, he’s skittering down your wall and lurking underneath your bed. Zac doesn’t believe in happy endings…unless they involve blood.

He lives in Missouri with his husband, two children, and four furry overlords that some people refer to as “cats”.

Book Review

Review | The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

34275232._sy475_The Hazel Wood
Author: Melissa Albert
Series: #1 The Hazel Wood
Published: January 30th 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Pages: 359
Genres: Fantasy
Rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

Review

Alice has been on the road with her mother Ella, her entire life. Any time they settled down, something bad would happen. To keep the bad luck at bay, they never stayed in one place too long. That is until Ella falls in love and they settle down in rich town with their new family. But of course the bad luck finds them. Just when life seems to be turning normal, Ella is kidnapped and Alice is on a mission to find her. And the only place she could be is the Hazel Wood. The hidden home of her grandmother, where sinister stories have kept them away all these years.

This book started off so strong for me. I love the New York setting and Alice, who is such a likeable character. The mystery of her grandmothers book, and how she could never find a copy to read no matter how much she tried was so intriguing to me. I wanted to know what the deal was with these supposedly cursed fairy tales. And boy did we ever find out.

I did have a hard time adjusting for weird things happening in New York, to being thrown into a whole other world completely. Home to make believe and sinister stories. I’m not that big a fan of fairy tales. So when your entire life turns into one, I started to lose interest.

There were a few chapters where I was completely bored out of my mind and I just wanted the story to end. But then the action and plot twists would pick back up again and I would be back into loving the story. That’s why I had such a time rating this one. One second the book is great, and then the next I’ really disliking it. So I figured the only fair rating would be right in the middle of love and hate.

I don’t know how much to say without giving away spoilers. I feel like this is the type of book that you should jump into blind, so I don’t want to speak about the plot too much.

I’m giving this book 3 stars because I had so many mixed feelings about The Hazel Wood. I loved the characters so much, but the setting and tone of the story didn’t always sit well with me. I will be reading the next book, because it releases in the new year. Maybe reading the second book will help me sort out my feelings for this story. 3 Stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

8384949Melissa Albert is the founding editor of the Barnes & Noble Teen Blog and the managing editor of BN.com. She has written for McSweeney’s, Time Out Chicago, MTV, and more. Melissa is from Illinois and lives in Brooklyn. THE HAZEL WOOD is her first novel.

Book Review

Review | Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer

2456529Eighth Grade Bites
Author: Heather Brewer
Series: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod #1
Published: August 16th 2007
Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books
Pages: 182
Genres: Paranormal
Rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis

Vlad has to keep his vampire urges under control while dealing with the pressures of middle school. Thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod really hates junior high. Bullies harass him, the principal is dogging him, and the girl he likes prefers his best friend. Oh, and Vlad has a secret: His mother was human, but his father was a vampire. With no idea of the extent of his powers, Vlad struggles daily with his blood cravings and his enlarged fangs. When a substitute teacher begins to question him a little too closely, Vlad worries that his cover is about to be blown. But then he faces a much bigger problem: He’s being hunted by a vampire killer.Review

I’ve seen this book title circling for years. In libraries, on Goodreads, on other social medias. Yet, I never bothered to look at the synopsis. I never stopped to see what all the buzz was about. I think the main reason was because this book was set in eighth grade, and I well past that age, that I didn’t think I would be interested.

Eighth grade bites is your typical teen story. Our main character Vlad is a vampire. He goes to school like any normal boy his age. Except he’s keeping a secret that would send all his classmates screaming in terror if they ever found out.

His best friend Henry is the only person that knows about him besides his aunt. The three of them keep Vlad’s secret no matter what. If they want to keep living normal lives then know one can know. But a teacher goes missing and a newcomer in town seems to know more than he should. Nothing is as it seems.

This book was good. It was funny, entertaining and it held my attention till the end. There was nothing overly special or unique. It was a standard plot with twists that I guessed before they happened. I will be continuing on with the series, especially since each book transpires a year after the first. So by the last book Vlad will be out of junior high and in the process of graduating. And I’m hoping that with the characters being closer to my age, I will have a better time reading their adventures.

I’m giving this book 3 stars. It was a good story. It kept me intrigued and it left me wanting to read more. There were definitely a couple things that irked me about the book, but I was able to get over them. I recommend this one if you want a humorous tale of junior high problems with a taste for blood. 3 Stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

14131444Heather Brewer is the pseudonym of Zac Brewer…but you can call him Z.

Zac is the NYT bestselling author of The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series, as well as The Slayer Chronicles series, Soulbound, The Cemetery Boys, The Blood Between Us, and more short stories than he can recall.

He grew up on a diet of Twilight Zone and books by Stephen King. He chased them down with every drop of horror he could find—in books, movie theaters, on television. The most delicious parts of his banquet, however, he found lurking in the shadowed corners of his dark imagination. When he’s not writing books, he’s skittering down your wall and lurking underneath your bed. Zac doesn’t believe in happy endings…unless they involve blood.

He lives in Missouri with his husband, two children, and four furry overlords that some people refer to as “cats”.

Book Review

Review | The Raft by S. A. Bodeen

12987986The Raft
Author: S. A. Bodeen (Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Website)
Published: August 21st 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 231
Genres: Contemporary, Adventure
Rating: 3 Stars
Where to buy: Amazon US |Barnes & Noble | Amazon CA | Indigo CA |

Synopsis
Robie is an experienced traveler. She’s taken the flight from Honolulu to the Midway Atoll, a group of Pacific islands where her parents live, many times. When she has to get to Midway in a hurry after a visit with her aunt in Hawaii, she gets on the next cargo flight at the last minute. She knows the pilot, but on this flight, there’s a new co-pilot named Max. All systems are go until a storm hits during the flight. The only passenger, Robie doesn’t panic until the engine suddenly cuts out and Max shouts at her to put on a life jacket. They are over miles of Pacific Ocean. She sees Max struggle with a raft.

And then . . . she’s in the water. Fighting for her life. Max pulls her onto the raft, and that’s when the real terror begins. They have no water. Their only food is a bag of Skittles. There are sharks. There is an island. But there’s no sign of help on the way.Review

With short and sweet chapters, The Raft wastes no time in jumping into the suspense and tension that the synopsis promised.

I read this book in once sitting. The short chapters and never ending suspense had me turning the pages pretty quickly. I never knew what curve-balls were going to possibly get thrown my way which was refreshing. I always appreciate an author who can keep me on my toes, as it’s hard to keep readers from discovering plot twists before they are revealed. Unless of course, they are done right. And I am pleased that S. A. Bodeen managed to surprise me.

Robie was a good protagonist. In the beginning of this book, I’m not gonna lie, I was wary. I didn’t think I was going to like her as much as I did. She grew as a character after each hardship she faced out in the middle of the ocean. It’s hard not to respect a character that faces terrifying circumstances and manages to keep going. I admire fighters. In real life and in fiction. Needless to say, I admired Robie.

I do wish the dialogue between characters had been a bit more present. It was easy to forget at times that Robie was not in fact alone on that raft.

I love fast-paced survival stories. And while The Raft was definitely a good one, I do think it was missing something. I just can’t stop thinking about how much better the story could have been if a couple things had been different. There could have been some romance if the characters were closer in age. Or maybe Robie’s family could have been more present throughout the story. We could have seen there side of things as Robie was missing. I hate when I finish a book and all I can think is: “Why didn’t the author do this instead?” I usually don’t go there unless I truly think the book is missing… just something! Ahh, like a key piece that would have made me absolutely love it.

I’ve decided to give this book 3 stars because the story could have been improved, even though it was still very enticing. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, suspenseful read.3 Stars

1182751ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KS.A. Bodeen grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. She graduated from UW-River Falls with a degree in Secondary Ed., then joined the Peace Corps with her husband and went to Tanzania, East Africa. Her first picture book, Elizabeti’s Doll (written as Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen) was published in 1998, followed by six other picture books.Her first YA novel written as S.A. Bodeen, the award-winning The Compound,came out from Feiwel and Friends in 2008. The novel count is up to nine, with the tenth releasing in 2018. She has lived in eight states, two African countries, and an insular possession. Currently, she lives in the Midwest with her husband and two daughters.

Book Review

Review | Paper Towns by John Green

51sofDSqqVL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Paper Towns
Author: John Green (Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Website)
Published: October 16th 2008
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Pages: 305
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Adventure
Rating: 3 Stars
Where to buy: Amazon US |Barnes & Noble | Amazon CA | Indigo CA |

Synopsis

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows.
After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer Q gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.
#1 bestselling author and Printz medalist John Green’s brilliant wit and searing emotional honesty have inspired a new generation of readers.

Review

Being a big fan of the Fault in Our Stars I quickly put John Green’s novels into my TBR pile. I’ve only recently read Paper Towns making that the second John Green book I’ve read.
To be honest I did enjoy this novel a lot, but it did fall a little flat compared to The Fault in Our Stars. I don’t know if it’s because I was expecting a romance or because I couldn’t bring myself to like or understand the mysterious character that is Margo Roth Spiegelman.
I really liked the mystery aspect of this novel. Q and his friends spend almost the entire novel trying to dicipher clues that they think will lead to Margo. I think the puzzle pieces in this mystery were really well thought out.
I also really liked the writing. From the first chapter of Quentin bringing out his inner ninja, to the road trip with Q and his friends. I was at the edge of my seat more then a couple times reading this book. The suspense kept me interested until the very end.
The characters were really well developed, as I suspected they would be. John Green is a master at creating characters. I could really see the different personalities portrayed between Q and his entourage.
I think the only thing that truly disappointed me was the ending. Most of my problems with Margo stemmed from the ending as well. I wasn’t expecting the turn that the plot took at all. I can understand the message that this book conveyed, I feel like the last few chapters of the book took a dive off the deep end. It just wasn’t satisfying in my opinion.
Overall it was a great read until the ending, so I decided to rate this book 3 Stars. I  recommend this book for lovers of contemporary and adventure. Also to fans of John Green, just keep in my that you might like The Fault in Our Stars way more.
3 Stars

 

1406384ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Green is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, and Turtles All the Way Down. He is also the coauthor, with David Levithan, of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He was the 2006 recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award, a 2009 Edgar Award winner, and has twice been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Green’s books have been published in more than 55 languages and over 24 million copies are in print. John is also an active Twitter user with more than 5.4 million followers.