Archive for the ‘ Reviews ’ Category

Review: Crossroads by Mary Ting

Author: Mary Ting [website]

Published: April 2011 by World Castle Publishing

Format: Paperback, 312 pages

Source: Won in a Goodreads FirstReads giveaway hosted by the author herself. Thank you!

    

 

Synopsis:

Claudia Emerson has a good friend who shares the same first name and last name. That friend unfortunately dies in a tragic accident during homecoming dance. Claudia is distraught at the loss of her friend, but is even more disturbed by her dreams, which seem to take her to another place called Crossroads. Unknown to her, Crossroads is like a second heaven, a place between heaven and earth. It is where the souls of humans in comas or near death experiences may wander. There, Claudia meets Michael, a nephilim, a half angel, half human, whom she often meets in her dreams. It turns out that this isn’t her first visit to Crossroads, which is an enigma for no human can ever travel there until Claudia. Now the fallen and demons are after her, suspecting she must be special and it is up to Michael and the other nephilims to protect her. Can Michael fight his growing feelings for Claudia and protect her as a guardian angel should?

Rating: 

Cover Art: Love the cover art; the wings in the background of the arches are perfect. Not loving the typography so much however.

Review:

[Book 1 of 3 in the Crossroads Saga]

This book was great in the sense that it was different from the other paranormal romances by having angels as a main concept as opposed to vampires or werewolves. Not that these two species are not fun to read about, but having a different culture [if we can call it that] makes the read more fun and enjoyable.

Another aspect I liked about this novel is the travelling between worlds concept. The creativity and thought that were necessary to come up with such a place is much appreciated for this novel. It really made a difference in my opinion of the book. The characters could have been more developed, but I am giving the author the benefit of the doubt, as this is her debut novel and the first in a series. I thought the main characters were well written and had some chemistry [though not as much as I would have liked]. The plot was simple and easy to follow. However, I think I was expecting more to happen in the story. Perhaps it carries on in the sequel, which I hope to get my hands on in the future.

Overall this book is recommended for those who like paranormal romance [there is much of it in this novel], angels, and new worlds to explore.

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Review: Every Day by David Levithan

Author: David Levithan [website]

Published: August 28, 2012 by Knopf Books

Format: Hardcover, 336 pages

Source: Bought at TheBookDepository.com

    

Synopsis: 

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

Rating: 

Cover Art: Loving the cover art; it captures the concept of the story so well!

Review:

Very sweet, genuine story. Although the story focuses on the life of one main character, it touches upon lives of several people. What I mean by that? The story does follow A throughout his life and his love story and his perceptions, however, the bodies of people he enters are another story altogether. I love that whomever A’s life touches, we as readers get a glimpse of how that person lives his/her life. We see through the eyes of A, but his mind battles with the person’s mind. So we essentially can “feel” how it feels to be a druggie, to be obese, to be a twin, to be loved or unloved. It was interesting to read how A battled with the thoughts and instincts of the bodies he was temporarily inhabiting.

A’s character is very sweet and genuine, just like the story. The reader can instinctively know he is a good person, just through his actions and what he says to other people. His “insta-love” with Rhiannon starts out cute and sweet, however, I feel that there was a little too much trying-to-get-to-her and not enough getting-to-know-her in the book. That said, that did not take anything away from the story. I think it just shows A’s need to be close with the person he loves.

Levithan did a wonderful job of using this concept and executing an engaging story worth reading. It is a great contemporary novel that young-adults will enjoy and find meaning in. Definitely recommended!

Review: Pyg: The Memoirs of a Learned Pig

Author: Russell Potter [website]

Published: July 2012 by Viking Canada

Format: ARC paperback copy

Source: Won from a Goodreads FirstReads giveaway hosted by Penguin Canada. Thank you!

    

 


Synopsis: 

Blending the sophisticated satire of Jonathan Swift with the charming exuberance of a Pixar film, Pyg tells the story of Toby, a truly exceptional pig who lived in the late eighteenth century. After winning the blue ribbon at the Salford Livestock Fair and escaping the butcher’s knife, Toby tours the country, wowing circus audiences with his ability to count, spell, and even read the minds of ladies. Quirky, beguiling, and endlessly entertaining, this memoir of a “remarkable sapient pig” is a sharp and witty delight.

Rating: 

Cover Art: It’s a pig. Fitting I suppose.

Review:

Written like a memoir would be written, except the subject is simply a very very smart pig.

From birth to retirement, this is Toby’s story. The story of a pig living in the eighteenth century. On the surface it sounds very interesting. What did a pig do in that age? Were there any differences to today’s age? In fact, Toby’s story is very unique and likely not the norm amongst all pigs. I love that there is history involved within the story; it makes Toby’s memoir all the more realistic.

His character is a unique one. He reminds me of an elderly British gentleman, if that makes any sense at all. The language is a bit upper class and some vocabulary may not be appealing to some of the younger audience members. However, his point of view and stories were fun to read. This is a story that is unique, but may need a certain mood to enjoy. It is not a typical fictional book. Not too much humour involved. And it was at times dry. However, it may appeal to certain audiences. Good read nonetheless.

Review: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Author: S.J. Kincaid [website]

Published: July 2012 by Katherine Tegen Books

Format: ARC paperback copy

Source: Won from a Goodreads FirstReads giveaway hosted by HarperTeen. Thank you!

    

 

Synopsis: 

More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible–a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War III. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted–friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters–but what will it cost him?

Rating: 

Cover Art: Love the cover art! Suits the style of the book; sci-fi and computers!

Review:

I have to admit, this took me a lot longer to read than anticipated. I think I had to be in a certain mindset to get into the sci-fi technology based book. However, the beginning and the end were both very engaging and fast-paced.

The set-up of the story and introduction of the main character (male!) was very well done. I love the futuristic setting of the story and although there was not a lot of world building in the beginning, the details and history of the world can be gathered throughout the novel. By the end of the book, you will be sad to leave the world Kincaid created. Although I generally do not have much technology knowledge base, I was able, for the most part, follow along the story and the various descriptions of equipment or machines. That said, there were a few times where I was a little lost. However, that did not deter from enjoying the read. The technology aspect is likely the best part of this book. So much imagination and details and creativity went into this novel. Simply amazing!

The main character, Tom, is a teenage boy who loves gaming and is very good at it. Typical, but he does reveal more than that throughout the book. There isn’t much to  him at first, but as you get to know him, he is a great main character – funny, awkward, and very real. Since this is only the first of the series, I’m sure his character will develop well and become even more interesting and fun to read.

In the end, this book is definitely worth picking up if you are a science-fiction fan, history fan, techie, or gamer. Well even if you aren’t in any one of those categories, this debut novel by Kincaid is written very well and will engage readers everywhere.

Review: Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

Author: David Levithan [website] and Rachel Cohn [website]

Published: August 2007 by Knopf Books

Format: Paperback, 230 pages

Source: Bought online at BookCloseouts.ca

    

 

 

Synopsis:

Naomi and Ely are best friends. Naomi loves and is in love with Ely, and Ely loves Naomi, but prefers to be in love with boys. So they create their “No Kiss List” of people neither of them is allowed to kiss. And this works fine – until Bruce. Bruce is Naomi’s boyfriend, so there’s no reason to put him on the List. But Ely kissed Bruce even though he is boring. The result: a rift of universal proportions and the potential end of “Naomi and Ely: the institution.” Can these best friends come back together again?

Rating: 

Cover Art: So Yellow! Simply great.

Review:

Simple story, simple plot-line, (mostly) simple read.

This is the first Cohn-Levithan collaboration I have read. The story goes into the trials and tribulations, well, actually just one tribulation between the two main characters, Naomi and Ely. As one can tell from the synopsis, the story is simple, but the book was presented in a really complicated way. I knew it was a multiple POV, but I was expecting alternating chapters between Naomi and Ely’s characters. Instead, there were at least another handful of characters thrown in just to give their point-of-view on the situation. At times the external point of view was very unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the book. At other times, the point of view was just boring / difficult / annoying to read. This definitely was not my cup of tea.

The story itself, however, was not bad. I’m sure it could have been better presented, but what was done was simple and easy to understand. The major conflict was solved rather easily, as in most real-life situations; so in this way as with many other aspects to the story, it was somewhat realistic.

The characters, Naomi and Ely, were interesting to read – aside from the swearing like sailors part. They were, for the most part, normal young-adults (19-20 year olds – which, in itself is a great aspect of this book. Not many books deal with this age) who have gotten themselves into a normal conflict between friends. They show some great, albeit simple, revelations in the book.

Overall great story. Minor point deductions for the multiple POVs, but interesting contemporary book with this particular theme.

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Author: Veronica Roth [website]

Published: May 2012 by Katherine Tegen Books (imprint of Harper Collins)

Format: Hardcover, 525 pages

Source: Bought at TheBookDepository.com

    

 

 

Synopsis: 

One choice can transform you–or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves–and herself–while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable–and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Rating: 

Cover Art: As with the first of the series, keeps with the theme. LOVE that the symbol is gold on the actual book cover.

Review:

[Book 2 in the Divergent series]

Filled with action and plot worth reading about.

This sequel is filled to the brim with Tris and Four travelling from faction to faction trying to avoid the eye of the war. The book is very well paced with the characters’ encounters and adventures. I loved that more of the other factions were revealed (Amity, Candor, Erudite) – it definitely filled in holes that were very prominent in the larger picture that is the background of the world Roth created. The world building continued to develop in this book, however, there are still gaps – which I’m hoping will be filled in the next sequel.

I didn’t love the characters so much here – which is part of the reason why I docked a star. Tris was well developed, yes. But she wasn’t likeable – which is a huge problem for me when I read books. If I don’t like the characters or don’t think they would be likeable if they were real people, I end up not enjoying the book as much as I could. Tris was being stubborn, quick-tempered, and deceptive throughout a lot of the book. Four did not seem to be in a lot of the book as well. And when he was, he was a little too broody or a little too nice. Their histories as characters and their family’s histories were a great addition to the story though! Loved learning about how they came to be.

Overall the story continues and this is ultimately what kept me reading. The plot is bound to lead somewhere and you, as the reader, know it’s going to be good. Can’t wait for the next one!

Book Trailer:

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Author: Veronica Roth [website]

Published: May 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books (imprint of Harper Collins)

Format: Hardcover, 487 pages

Source: Bought at TheBookDepository.com

    


Synopsis: 

In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

Rating: 

Cover Art: Ver y bold and straight forward; love the symbol on the front of the cover and on the book itself.

Review:

Dystopian novel filled with unique situations and has an overall great concept.

The story is of a dystopian world where there are five factions and each person is supposed to “fit” in one of those factions based on his/her personality. I had difficult putting this book down because of this unique story concept – this is of course a good sign. The world building sort of started in the middle with no real “origin” story of how this world came to be. However, this didn’t detract from the story and the world building that was explained. The reader can easily gather knowledge of the factions and how each works throughout the book from the characters and narrator’s thoughts.

The characters were well written, I thought. Tris, the narrator, is awesome. She’s a strong-willed person and as much as she tries to defy her upbringing, the reader can still see the traits fall through. She makes a great character to read from the point of view of. Four is great as well. Though he does not appear as much in the first 3/4 of the book, his development, I’m sure, will carry on into the sequel.

The pacing was great and filled the plot nicely. Though not too much happened in the first half of the book, story-wise, the information and the concepts were all new and unique that the reader can’t help but keep going. The end is a cliffhanger, of course, but with three books in the series, this was a very nice set-up and beginning.

Book Trailer: