Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review: Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra

Only Daughter by [Snoekstra, Anna]
Image source: Goodreads.com

Only Child by Anna Snoekstra
Publisher: Mira Books
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publication Date: September 20th, 2016
Rating: 4.5/5

This is one of those books that the less you know before reading, the better it is! So I’ll try to review it without giving much away…
In 2003, Rebecca Winters, a sixteen-year-old went missing. Eleven years later, in 2014, a girl dodging a shoplifting arrest decides to take her place. The “new” Rebecca does her best to assume Rebecca’s old life. She learns to fit in with the family and Bec’s old best friend, Lizzie. The plot is told from the viewpoints of Rebecca in 2003 and fake Rebecca in 2014.
This book sucked me in from the first chapter and kept me guessing until the end. Although some parts were a bit predictable/unbelievable, this is an incredibly solid debut novel. I’ll definitely be checking out the author’s new books. I did have a few issues with it…The biggest is how the tone changed at the end and didn’t match the rest of the book. Throughout the whole novel the book does not delve into graphic gore; it focuses more so on being a psychological thriller. However, towards the end there are a few scenes that are rather graphic and not good for the faint-at-heart, or animal lovers (like me!). Although crucial to the plot, they just didn’t seem like they fit with the overall tone of the novel. That being said, I can deal with a couple of scenes that felt off in exchange for a thrilling, quick, read. It was very fast-paced and you can definitely read it in one sitting. After reflecting on the ending, all my other issues disappeared after finishing the book. Without giving anything away, all my qualms definitely made sense keeping the ending in mind. I would definitely recommend this book!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review: The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman

Source: Goodreads.com
The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Short-story
Pages: 96
Publication Date: October 31st, 2017
Rating: 3/5

Summary: This is an illustrated short-story written by the same author that wrote A Man Called Ove. The story is from the point of view of a man telling his son a story on Christmas Eve. He opens by telling his son that he has taken a life, but will not say whose life yet. A week before this story telling takes place, the father met a little girl with cancer in a hospital. As he describes this girl, he ends up describing more about himself, career, family, and legacy. He eventually is given the chance to save this girl’s life, but before doing so he wants to tell his son the whole story.

·       The illustrations added a nice amount of whimsy and contributed to the Christmas setting.
·       I love how the story gives the main character a chance at saving another person’s life; I can’t say much more about that without spoiling the story. But I liked the mechanics of it.
·       It’s Fredrick Backman. So far, I have loved his writing in all of his books. He has the ability to be straight-forward, pull you in, and play with your emotions.
·       I know it is supposed to be a short story, but it was too short! I read the Kindle version, which told me I was only 56% done when the story ended. The rest of the Kindle version was a preview of his book Beartown.
·       I feel like some of the points could have been explored so much more; perhaps this was the author’s intent? It left me with more questions than answers. I suppose this is both good and bad; I’m still thinking about the story weeks after I read it!
·       Something just felt like it was missing; I’m not sure if it is due to the length, or the word choices…It just felt like it was missing the mark.
Final Thoughts:
·       As a fan of Fredrik Backman, I enjoyed this short story. Although, I wouldn’t bother buying a physical copy of the book. Renting the e-book from my library was sufficient. The story definitely made me think, but led to more frustration because I feel like I’m missing something. Definitely check it out if you want to read all of the author’s works, but skip it if you aren’t already hooked on his style.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Review: Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon

Source: Goodreads.com
Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Pages: 250
Publication Date: April, 2007
Rating: 4/5
Kate Cypher, a forty-something-year-old school nurse comes home to a small town in Vermont to take care of her mother, who has Alzheimer’s. The day Kate arrives in town, a young girl is murdered. This murder is creepily similar to her childhood friend’s murder nearly three decades ago. The first girl, Del, that was killed was Kate’s secret friend because everyone thought of her as the poor, dirty outcast; they nicknamed her “Potato Girl.” Over the years, that unsolved murder became the town folk tale; kids told her story during sleepovers, everything bad that happened was blamed on the Potato Girl. Present day, Kate unintentionally finds herself involved in figuring out who committed these brutal murders.
·       The book was fast paced and kept me interested throughout. It was suspenseful, but not downright scary.
·       I liked how the chapters alternated between the past and present, it kept the plot moving quickly.
·       McMahon created a small town feel with likable characters. If not for the murders it would be a town I would want to visit!
·       Every time people called Del the Potato Girl, I couldn’t help but chuckle. It ruined the suspenseful mood too many times because nothing is scary about potatoes.
·       It was a bit too predictable in certain points of the plot.
Final Thoughts:
            I really enjoyed this for a quick two day read. I can’t wait to check out more of Jennifer McMahon’s books from the library. It is good if you like the small town feel of cozy mysteries but want a slightly spooky twist to it. If it were a bit more unpredictable it would have received a higher rating. It’s not my favorite Jennifer McMahon book, but nevertheless, check it out!
“The dead can blame…”

Monday, January 22, 2018

Review: Settle for More by Megyn kelly

Source: Amazon.com
Settle for More by Megyn Kelly
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Autobiography/Memoir
Pages: 352
Publication Date: November, 2016
Rating: 5/5
            Megyn Kelly, the anchor of The Kelly File, shares her life’s experiences. She discusses her family’s background, her stint as a lawyer after law-school, and her experiences as a news anchor. She explains how her time being bullied, losing a father at a young age, and experiencing sexism in the workplace have given her tough enough skin to deal with Trump’s attack on her during the 2016 election.
·       This book gave interesting information about Trump’s actions during the election. Photographic evidence is presented in the book that back up the claims about Trump’s constant contact with Megyn Kelly.
·       I think this is a book that can help empower females without falling into the present-day feminist narrative of needing to put men down for women to get ahead. Instead, it shows that we should be empowering everyone so we can all have equality.
·       Honestly, none; I really enjoyed the whole book. It is hard to find the cons of a book that are an memoir; who am I to say I disagree with how the author views her own life.
Final Thoughts:
            I absolutely loved this book. As someone who is about to graduate from grad school and launch into my career, this book came at a great time for me. It shed some great insight on navigating competitive jobs, dealing with loss of family members, and how to not settle for less in life. I knew next to nothing about Megyn Kelly before reading this book, but now I will definitely start following her career!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Review: Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

Image source: Amazon.com
Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 457
Publication Date:  1998
Rating: 4.5/5
Summary (From Goodreads):
            “They are the "Others," an ancient race of supernatural beings—magicians, shape-shifters, vampires, and healers—who live among us. Human born, they must choose a side to swear allegiance to—the Dark or the Light—when they come of age.
For a millennium, these opponents have coexisted in an uneasy peace, enforced by defenders like the Night Watch, forces of the Light who guard against the Dark. But prophecy decrees that one supreme "Other" will arise to spark a cataclysmic war.
Anton Gorodetsky, an untested mid-level Light magician with the Night Watch, discovers a cursed young woman—an Other of tremendous potential unallied with either side—who can shift the balance of power. With the battle lines between Light and Dark drawn, the magician must move carefully, for one wrong step could mean the beginning of annihilation.”
·       I thought the format of having three stories in one book kept it interesting and fast paced.
·       The concept of a treaty between the Light and Dark to keep a balance, complete with a watch force from each side to enforce it, is quite interesting.
·       I really liked the main characters, they all have personalities that make them stand out from each other.
·       The first story in the book was a bit difficult to get into. I’m not sure if that’s because of the writing or because I saw the horrific movie version of it first, which almost made me not read the book (skip the movie, read the book).
·       This book was translated into English which makes some of the sentences a bit awkward to read and understand.
Final Thoughts:
            I will definitely read the next book in the series, which is told from someone else’s perspective. The overall premise of Light and Dark, the twilight world, and having night and day watches made it stand out compared to other fantasy novels I have read.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Review: Aunt Dimity's Christmas by Nancy Atherton

Aunt Dimity’s Christmas by Nancy Atherton
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 224
Publication Date: 1999
Rating: 3.5/5
            Aunt Dimity’s Christmas is the fifth installment in the Aunt Dimity mystery series. This tale follows Lori Shepard as she searches for the true identity of a man who she discovers injured and unconscious in her lawn. She joins forces with a priest that has a connection to the man as they travel from city-to-city piecing together this mysterious man’s past. Lori must learn how to balance her investigation with upholding her mother’s traditions of Christmas parties, cookies, and decorations; all this while her husband, Bill, is out-of-town helping a client. Oh, and she gets help from the not-quite-dead Aunt Dimity through a magical journal.
·       I loved the Christmas theme throughout the story. It was enough to remind you of the season but not too much. You can easily enjoy this book during 
the summer just as easily.
·       The characters Lori meets were quite the characters.
·       I love the concept of Aunt Dimity being a spirit that communicates through a journal. And Reginald, the stuffed rabbit.
·       Now that I’m reading these books in order, I am getting kinda tired of the “Wandering eye” trope that seems to be in every book. It wasn’t as noticeable when I was reading this series out of order and with a year, or so, in between each one.
·       This book honestly made me feel a bit guilty for not being more charitable; it had very strong themes of charity, acceptance, and caring for all. Which is great, but it felt like too much for a quick, fluffy read.
Final Thoughts:
·       This was a solid read; it definitely was not my favorite book of the series, but worth a read if you already are familiar with the characters. It just felt like it was missing the mark compared to the others.

Image source: www.amazon.com

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Review: Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Burned by Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 431
Publication Date: April, 2006
Rating: 5/5
Summary (From Goodreads):
            “It all started with a dream. Nothing exceptional, just a typical fantasy about a boy, the kind of dream that most teen girls experience. But Pattyn Von Stratten is not like most teen girls. Raised in a religious -- yet abusive -- family, a simple dream may not be exactly a sin, but it could be the first step toward hell and eternal damnation.
This dream is a first step for Pattyn. But is it to hell or to a better life? For the first time Pattyn starts asking questions. Questions seemingly without answers -- about God, a woman's role, sex, love -- mostly love. What is it? Where is it? Will she ever experience it? Is she deserving of it?
It's with a real boy that Pattyn gets into real trouble. After Pattyn's father catches her in a compromising position, events spiral out of control until Pattyn ends up suspended from school and sent to live with an aunt she doesn't know.
Pattyn is supposed to find salvation and redemption during her exile to the wilds of rural Nevada. Yet what she finds instead is love and acceptance. And for the first time she feels worthy of both -- until she realizes her old demons will not let her go. Pattyn begins down a path that will lead her to a hell -- a hell that may not be the one she learned about in sacrament meetings, but it is hell all the same.”
·       The format was really unique! I had seen Ellen Hopkins’ books before and had assumed that it was written in some difficult poem format. That assumption was completely untrue.
·       It was an interesting premise to see a focus on Mormons. It seems to be an uncommon religion in popular books.
·       The plot itself was amazing!
·       I was not a fan of the open ending; however, I can fill in the pieces by reading the summary of the next book in the series.
Final Thoughts:
            I wish I had picked up one of Ellen Hopkins’ books earlier! I really loved this book’s plot and format. I will definitely be buying more of them.