Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review: Eyes Wide Open

Eyes Wide Open
Eyes Wide Open by Ted Dekker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Christy Snow is stuck in a hole under a room full of coffins and believes she is about to die. She was using her phone as a flashlight and now only has enough juice to make a short call and is not able to leave enough information. In an unexpected turn of events, she is able to get out and stumbles into the psychiatric ward of the hospital. The staff believes she is delusional and will not let her leave. To make matters worse, the boy she calls for help arrives to give assistance and becomes confined also. What is the truth? Before she fell in the hole or now? The memories seem real, but she can’t remember her early childhood either. Can they both be having a shared delusion?

Eyes Wide Open is a compilation of four short novellas released earlier in 2013. The high intensity story line and heart palpating events will cause the reader to devour each novella in one sitting, or if the reader can’t control himself, they may find an afternoon wiled away with this great book. This is a Christian thriller that leaves no guesswork at the end. The reader will understand what Dekker was pushing toward and hopefully will think long a hard about how we and the world see us. As a reader I feel there will be a connection between this book and others to come. ** Sits with fingers crossed **

View all my reviews

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Review: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant
The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Today is the first day of school for Anne Merchant. She can’t believe that she has been accepted to this private school, but is also astonished that her uniforms are so small. It is as if she grew overnight. At orientation she discovers that she has been assigned a staff member who will watch and grade her on her one special skill, and when she accepts this expectation she must sign it with her blood. She continues to unearth more and more questions such as: Why is there a red line across the island? Why is she forbidden to cross it? Why is Anne not allowed to live in the dorms with the other students? The ultimate challenge that all of her fellow students are faced with is becoming valedictorian.

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is the first book in the V Trilogy. Readers quickly learn what the V stands for and will think they know where the book is going. I will assure readers that their guesses during the first half of the book will be thrown out eventually. As a first novel, Wiebe creates characters that readers will love to hate as well as a protagonist to root for. The story moves quickly without cutting short the intrigue and plot twists that readers of adventure mysteries expect. If this is a first novel, I can’t wait to see what else Wiebe has in store for us.

View all my reviews

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review: The Troop

The Troop
The Troop by Nick Cutter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When a group of Boy Scouts venture to a small island for their survival lessons, the lessons becomes all too real after a stranger arrives and then quickly becomes ill. Their scoutmaster, the local doctor, attempts to investigate the disease, but ends up becoming the next victim. The troop has no choice but to wait for the boat that is scheduled to pick them up, but it becomes evident that they are not going to be rescued and in order to survive they must fight against this unknown disease and eventually each other. Do they have the skills needed to survive? What is this disease and can they keep from catching it?

The Troop is not for the faint of heart. Cutter uses graphic descriptions of diseases and destruction as he leads the reader through the story. This book takes the reader on a wild ride inside the minds of victims and non-victims alike. One downside of the story is the intermittent notices giving insight into actions off the island. Due to this information, the reader discovers the outcome of the island before actually experiencing it with the boys. It is not enough to take away stars and it does lead to reader anticipation while waiting to discover the “how.” Whether the reader is looking for a medical mystery or an adventure story, they will not be disappointed in this read.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 23, 2013

Review: Defy

Defy by Sara B. Larson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Alexa Hollen is faced with a choice. She can cut off her hair and pretend she is a boy to serve in the king’s army, or she can enter the breeding house and be raped until she is pregnant. Obviously, the choice is easy, especially since she is an extremely good fighter who has been training with her father and twin brother. She quickly earns a place as one of the prince’s guards, but must keep her gender secret. When a sorcerer comes into the castle and kidnaps her, a fellow guard and Prince Damian, they are taken to an enemy country where sorcery is not looked down upon. During her time in captivity, Alex quickly learns that she is not the only one who has been keeping secrets. She finds that two men want to lay claim to her heart, but after years of hiding her feminine side, she is unsure about her own feelings and what actions she should take.

Defy is a fantasy novel that includes many redeeming attributes, but these same characteristics make the story slightly formulistic. As Larson’s debut novel I believe it will be well received by readers of fantasy books, and I look forward to the developing series. As all of the twists and turns were revealed, I felt like screaming “another one!” Many of these twists did not need to be included and added to the formulistic feel. Now that Larson is a published writer, I hope she explores the characteristics that are vital for the story and doesn’t feel the need to include so much variety. I do not hold this against the series and look forward to the second book projected to be released in 2015.

View all my reviews

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Review: The Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is Sarah Grimke’s eleventh birthday and she is given ten year old Hetty “Handful” to be her handmaid. That night she tries to write a legal document setting her slave free, but in this early nineteenth century Charleston, it was not to come to pass. Sarah and Handful reluctantly accept their positions in life, but both are harboring secret dreams that they sometimes don’t even admit to themselves. The Invention of Wings takes these two stories and tells a tale interwoven with history. Kidd was inspired by the true story of Sarah Grimke and she is able to add depth and emotion to this tumultuous time period.

The Invention of Wings causes the reader to reflect on the early American abolition movement as well as the limits on women at that time. Although we don’t want to downplay the role of those who secretly assisted in the abolition of slavery and inner workings of the Underground Railroad, we should continue to be awed and inspired by those who were vocal in a public setting to the realities of slavery. Many readers will pick up this book because the author also penned The Secret Life of Bees, but I recommend this book to all readers on its own merit and see it being recommended to teens and adults alike.

View all my reviews

Friday, December 20, 2013

Review: A Breath of Frost

A Breath of Frost
A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gretchen, Emma and Penelope have grown up privileged. They discover during their debutante year that they are descended from a long line of witches and as they begin to come into their powers a dangerous conspiracy comes to life and they are stuck trying to decide who to trust. To make matters worse, debutante witches are being killed for their powers and somehow Emma is connected to the murders. Why does she keep finding the bodies? Can the girls discover why their gifts were hidden from them for so long? Will they be able to find the killer before one of them is attacked?

A Breath of Frost is the first book in the new Lovegrove Legacy series. The story takes place during a time when girls are quickly married off to the men of their father’s choosing and love either follows or it doesn’t. Harvey pulls the reader into this historical time and creates a world that is believable yet fantastical. As the reader tries to determine who can be trusted and who should be hated, they quickly learn that the lines are blurry and not easily deciphered. There are a couple of story lines that the reader must keep straight, but this does not make the experience confusing in the least. I recommend this book to those who love historical fantasies and I will be adding her other books to my “to read” shelf.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Review: In the Blood

In the Blood
In the Blood by Lisa Unger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lana Granger has many secrets. The number of lies she has told over the years has defined who she is in many ways. She is about to finish college and her trust fund is running dry. She is being encouraged to take on a job, and her professor mentor suggests babysitting a troubled boy. Luke has been expelled from schools all across the country and is used to controlling the people around him. Has he met his match? Has Lana? Lana’s best friend, Beck, has disappeared after they had a fight. Unfortunately, this is not the first friend that disappeared and the last one was found dead latter on. Is Lana hiding information about that night? What other secrets will be uncovered?

In the Blood is a book that weaves together several murder mysteries and hereditary psychological disorders. Unger’s tale takes some adjusting to since each chapter is telling a different part of the story from various characters and various time periods, but when the reader unravels the threads and begins to put together the strands to connect them, they will be shocked at the revelations. This was my first book written by Unger and I will be looking for future and past books to devour.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Review: Alliance

Alliance by Mark Frost

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In The Paladin Prophecy Will West discovered a secret society known as the Knights of Charlemagne. He decides to stay at the Center during the summer break and discover what his new abilities include. His friends are also attempting to learn what they can do, but are realizing there are more secrets in their backgrounds that need to be uncovered. The group quickly discovers that there is a deeper plot that has been set in motion and it is not easy to decide who is really on their side.

Alliance is the second book in the Paladin Prophecy series and it leaves more questions unanswered then it answered. The story is action packed and readers barely have time to take a breath before another twist or turn approaches. Frost was able to deliver a compelling group of characters that have strengths and flaws like all of us. Second books are usually a hit or miss and this book swings both ways. Overall the story moved forward with purpose, but many segments of the story felt completely as if it was setting up for the next story without adding to this one. I loved the Paladin Prophecy and liked Alliance. I look forward to the third book which seems necessary after the unsatisfying ending.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review: Unhinged

Unhinged by A.G. Howard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alyssa Gardner has traveled to Wonderland and survived with her head and sanity intact. All she wants now is to finish her senior year, attend prom and move to London so that she can attend art school. Her plans begin to falter when her mother is release from an asylum and decides to be over protective. To make matters worse, Morpheus reappears and wants her help with another quest to save Wonderland. As Wonderland is literally bleeding through her art, Morpheus promises that Queen Red is preparing for another battle. Can Alyssa keep her human part separate from her Wonderland self? Will she be able to protect those she loves?

Unhinged is the second book in the Splintered series and readers of the first book will not be disappointed. Howard’s dark spin of this classic story is tantalizing and spellbinding. Revelations concerning questions left unanswered in the first book gives the reader deeper insight into Wonderland, but since this is not a two book series, readers will be left with new questions. There are many references to the first book throughout this novel, so I do not recommend jumping into this story without reading Splintered. If you have not read the original Lewis Carroll books, you will probably be flocking to your nearest bookstore or library after reading this series. I can’t wait for Ensnared (Splintered #3), but too bad it isn’t coming out until 2015!

View all my reviews

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Review: Drawn

Drawn by Cecilia Gray

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sasha has a secret. She can make you say whatever you are thinking. Whether it is the truth or a lie, it comes out. After being jostled from foster home to foster home, she is finally taken in and used by the United States Government. She eventually begins to form a relationship with her current partner when the CIA asks for her help. They want her to use her human lie detector skills and her drawing skills to infiltrate a group of graffiti terrorists in Belgium. Her biggest obstacle is the fact that she has never learned to make friends.

Drawn is not your traditional novel. Each chapter begins with a comic book flashback into important segments of Sasha’s life. No one understands why she can make people say what they are thinking, but the government has no issue with exploiting it. Can Sasha form the relationships needed to earn this group’s trust? Can she separate her duty from her friendship? Gray outdid herself with the creation of this novel. This does not sit pretty in any one genre. It touches on graphic novels, but only slightly. It includes espionage and teen relationships, but not in a way that any of us will ever experience. I would not place it as fantasy (even though she has this special skill) since you only need to suspend disbelief in that one area. Drawn is an enjoyable realistic fiction book that will give readers of that genre just a hint at what they are missing from the others.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Review: The Rule of Three

The Rule of Three
The Rule of Three by Eric Walters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was just a normal afternoon in the computer lab at school when the power went out. What wasn’t normal was when Adam Daley learned that it wasn’t a typical power outage. Everything that required a computer to run (phones, cars and all other smart devices) were dead in the water. Luckily Adam had an older car without a computer and was able to get his twin siblings and a couple of friends home. No one knows why this happens or when it will be fixed. Adam’s neighborhood gathers together and develops a plan for survival. Will they be able to withstand the vigilante groups forming up in the surrounding area? Do they have what it takes to survive?

The Rule of Three is a fast paced post-apocalyptic tale that will grab readers by their electronic dependent thoughts and hurtle them along a story that will cause them to question their readiness. How long would you survive if ALL infrastructures failed? Walters created a very plausible story that could happen at any time. What I liked the most is the fact that no one really knows why? There was no magic information delivered to the community that explained what happened. They are truly in the dark. Although the likelihood of a neighborhood community including a police captain, police, fire, medical, mechanical, engineers AND an ex-spy is probably infinitesimal, it does make for a fascinating read. The book appears to be a stand-alone novel and the ending is satisfying, but readers will see the openings needed to create more books in this new America.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 2, 2013

Review: These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen had an attraction from the start, but she was an heiress and he was just a major in the military. There was no way to encourage a romance until the unspeakable happens. The luxury spaceliner they are on is pulled out of hyperspace and they end up in the same escape pod. Lilac is the only daughter of the man who owns the spaceliner, and Tarver will do anything it takes to send out a distress call. He believes his life is tied to hers because they must want to come for her. This unexpected team will need to overcome many obstacles in an attempt to survive on this abandoned world.

These Broken Stars is a science fiction love story that will pull in readers from the start. The alternating point of view enhanced the flow of the story and will cause the reader to push through over and over. I found myself saying that I would take a break soon, but then I just needed to know more. Kaufman’s writing was wonderful and I enjoyed the way she weaved in back story to enrich the main storyline. This book is listed as the first book in The Starbound Trilogy and if the other two worlds and love stories are like this, they will be devoured. The book stands well on its own and will entice readers to pick up other space travel young adult novels.

View all my reviews