Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review: The Chase

The Chase
The Chase by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nicolas Fox has been caught. After running from Special Agent Kate O’Hare for years, she is able to apprehend him and put him in FBI custody. Then Fox completes his most elaborate con. He convinces the FBI to team up with him to uncover and catch the world’s most untouchable criminals. Their current criminal is the former White House chief of staff who used his power and influence to steal rare artwork and artifacts. Nick and Kate’s newest assignment is to steal back a rare Chinese artifact that was stolen from the Smithsonian and return it before the Chinese government comes to retrieve it. Can they pull off this elaborate scam? What rules will Kate be willing to break in order to take care of this master criminal?

Readers who were taken in by Kate and Nick in The Heist will not be disappointed in this second book in the Fox and O’Hare series. The Chase has everything a reader can want: a fast pace, sexual tension, thrilling adventures and many plot twists and turns. Evanovich once again creates a book with supporting characters as interesting as her primary characters. Readers will laugh out loud at the conversations and antics of everyone involved. Fans of Grandma Mazur in the Stephanie Plum series will enjoy Kate’s father, Jake, as he helps Kate kick a** around the world. I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this read and devouring it quickly.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: 16 Things I Thought Were True

16 Things I Thought Were True
16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Morgan has over 4,000 followers on Twitter. She is not famous in the usual sense; she is famous because of a video of her dancing in boys underwear that went viral. Now it is the summer between her junior and senior year and she is working her summer job and not socializing with anyone. Her mom suddenly gets sick and decides it is time to tell her about the dad who walked out on them when she was a baby. Or so she thought … #thingsIthoughtweretrue becomes the hashtag to follow as Morgan strives to reach 5000 Twitter followers and discover what makes a real friend. Adam and Amy convince Morgan to go on a road trip to meet her father and they all learn more about each other than they were planning to share.

16 Things I Thought Were True is a coming of age story with many heartfelt moments intertwined with laugh out loud spurts. Readers will enjoy the banter in cyberspace as well as the person to person conversations. Gurtler’s portrayal of teenager’s me-ness is spot on. It won’t matter if the reader is a preteen, a teenager or an adult, they will recognize the attitude and mindset of the current tech generation. Although I picked up this book because of other books I have read by Gurtler, readers new to this author will be completely taken in by her style and will look for her past and future books to read.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Review: Dangerous

Dangerous by Shannon Hale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Maisie Danger Brown wants to leave home for a while. After being home schooled and isolated from most of the world, she applies for a chance to attend astronaut camp. She is unexpectedly accepted and she takes her life on a ride with this chance of a lifetime. See, due to an accident at birth, she does not have a right hand and she is not willing to let that stop her being all she can be. She doesn’t expect to fall in love and she definitely never planned to discover a secret that kills her friends and might kill her. This secret is deeper than originally believed and actions already taken are changing life on Earth already. Is Maisie really the answer to what Earth needs to survive?

Dangerous is an action packed novel stuffed full with so many variables it would be hard to place in one genre. Readers will find science fiction, romance, action and intrigue all rolled into one story. Although the main character is a female, this story will satisfy readers from both genders and multiple age groups. Hale’s character development and world building are seamless and do not distract from the larger story being told. I found myself wondering who Maisie should trust and reevaluating my choices again and again. Whether readers have read other books by Hale or not, they will not go wrong with this reading option. The story does move along quickly and some portions could have been developed to make this a series, but it is nice to find a book that isn’t a series dragging me through multiple reads.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: The Finisher

The Finisher
The Finisher by David Baldacci

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vega Jane has never left her village. Actually, no one has. Their village is surrounded by a forest named the Quag and it is believed that it is filled with monsters. After Vega’s mentor mysteriously disappears, she discovers a hidden message and begins to wonder what is true and what are lies. The Council believes that Vega knows more than she is willing to share and through several twists of fate the Council is able to convince her to do the impossible with the chance of saving her life. As she develops mysterious powers she must decide what actions are necessary and when her powers must be used.

The Finisher is a dystopian fantasy written for a younger audience. Although it is not a short book, many middle school and young adult readers will be willing to devote the time to work through its pages. Readers should be forewarned that there is a lot of world building and a made up language to decipher throughout. With that said, it is NOT a crime novel like Baldacci’s adult books. He was willing to break the mold with this creation and readers need to read it on its own merit and not on his other works. There is a definite conclusion to this book, yet Baldacci has opened the door into a world where additional stories and books are calling to be written.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Review: Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue
Out of the Blue by S.L. Rottman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Stu’s life has completely changed. He is moving to Minot, North Dakota with his mother who will become the commander of the Air Force base located there. His brother is going away to college and his father will be moving to Nevada to help take care of his aging mother. With his family spread across the nation and his mother busy with her military career, Stu discovers that life on an Air Force base can be a lonely place, even if you never alone. His mother wont grant him more independence, he recognizes issues with a family across the street, but is not sure if he should act and he discovers that his long time pen-pal will be moving to the same base he has recently arrived at and their anonymous correspondences will no longer be anonymous. A true tragedy strikes very close to home and Stu quickly discovers that decisions he makes also affects those around him.

Out of the Blue has the potential to affect any reader who gets to the end of the story, but unfortunately the story doesn’t get gripping until over half way through the book. Rottman’s writing was great and I found myself wanting to finish the book and discover how it was going to end, but if I had not committed to reading this book for a review, I might not have gotten to the end to discover these truths. Readers looking for a realistic fiction book may be happy with this choice, but it probably would not be a priority on their To Be Read pile.

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Review: Grim

Grim by Christine Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fairy tales take a dark and twisted path when a group of young adult authors compile short stories in the guise of classic tales. Variations on Hansel and Gretel, The Snow Queen, and Beauty and the Beast are easily recognized, but stories with the hint of a tale remembered and others that should have an age old story retold are intermixed. Many short story collections have great stories with duds included, but Grim surpasses all preconceived notions about anthologies with winner after winner till the very end. Johnson was able to select and arrange these fairy tales into a book that can be savored story by story or devoured in a few sittings (like I did). Whether the reader chooses this book because of Ellen Hopkins, Claudia Gray, Sarah Rees-Brennan or the many other great YA authors represented, they will not be disappointed. Grim refreshes my view on short story collections and I will make sure to pick them up more often.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Review: The Shadow Throne

The Shadow Throne (The Ascendance Trilogy, #3)The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jaron believes he has put another’s life before his own when he left Imogen behind to return as king of Carthya. After he learns that she has been kidnapped in order to force his hand, he begins a mission to rescue her, but everything goes wrong. He is still injured from his last foray into foreign territory and now he has to battle and outwit several enemies. Can he save his country? Must he sacrifice himself in order to achieve his goals?

The Shadow Throne is the third and final book in the Ascendance Trilogy. Readers who were pulled into the story of Jaron with the False Prince will not be disappointed in the conclusion of this series. The battles are fierce and the intrigue is ever present, yet readers will be anticipating the ending until the last chapter. Nielsen uses every page to pull the reader to the conclusion and readers need to be prepared to stay up late or miss an appointment if they reach the end without enough time to finish. With that said, readers must be reminded that this is a series and if the first two books have not been read, STOP, go back, and get them first. Otherwise, little nuances will be missed by reading the last book alone.

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Review: Grasshopper Jungle

Grasshopper JungleGrasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Austin Szerba has witnessed the end of humanity and feels it is his duty to record this history for future generations. In a round-about narration describing events in the present, recent past and the pasts of his Polish ancestors, Austin tells the tale of the rise of unstoppable human sized praying mantises in his small Iowa town. If the end of the world is not bad enough Austin and his best friend, Robby, are being overrun with hormones and are having enough trouble keeping their feeling straight and their bodies understood. Austin seems to be in a constant state of horniness and his biggest problem is that it is directed at Robby AND Shann, his girlfriend. Is it normal to be attracted to a boy and a girl?

Grasshopper Jungle is a story about the actions that lead up to an apocalypse. Can the world end when a sphere is dropped? Is it possible to push the scientific envelope so far and then not prevent what you know will happen? Smith’s writing will definitely have the reader laughing at the thoughts coming from Austin’s mind, but this book is not for the faint of heart. Although there are not a lot of gory details, Austin spends a lot of time discussing his erection, the need to masturbate and the urge to repopulate the world through sex. That may make some readers pick this book up just to read those passages, but it may also be a turn off for some. Let this be your warning. I highly recommend this sci-fi pre-apocalyptic novel to those curious enough to make it to the end.

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