Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book review: Unremembered by Jessica Brody

I apologize if you can't see the cover! I've tried and tried to get the cover to show, but if you read this on your phone, it may not show the cover. gah!!

Going into 2014 I heard a lot of hype about a number of books. Unremembered is one of them. This book, if I'm not mistaken, was optioned for a movie this year. I was able to buy it on sale for my Nook. I was pretty excited to get that deal. When I read the book, I was a bit underwhelmed. Although I like the cover and I think it's excellent for this book. 

From Goodreads: 

"When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.

Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?"

Since reading this book I've read many books that involve the main character not knowing who they are, where they came from, loss of memory and so on. Those books were easier to follow. This story was confusing at times. I'm not sure I'll read the next book in the series.

It is true in the summary, with every clue comes only more questions ...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Book review: The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell

The Death of Bees

This book, ah, this book, I read this earlier in the year. I STILL think about this book even today. Those are the best books - the ones that stick around in your head for along time. I tend to shy away from books that deal with child abuse or neglect. I work at a newspaper so I already read a lot of stories about those type of situations. I heard the rave reviews about this book, so gave it a shot.

From Goodreads:
"A riveting, brilliantly written debut novel-a coming-of-age story with the strong voice and powerful resonance of Swamplandia! and The Secret Life of Bees—in which two young sisters attempt to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parents.

Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved.

Marnie and her little sister Nelly are on their own now. Only they know what happened to their parents, Izzy and Gene, and they aren’t telling. While life in Glasgow’s Hazlehurst housing estate isn’t grand, they do have each other. Besides, it’s only one year until Marnie will be considered an adult and can legally take care of them both."

You can't help but feel for both of the sisters. It always amazes me how parents can sometimes be "unparents" if that makes sense. But sadly, there are many, many kids who deal with the neglection of parents.

While the subject matter was tough, the resiliency of all the characters, including the side characters, was fascinating to read. I'd recommend this for both teens and adults.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Book review - Help For The Haunted by John Searles


One of these days I'll have a what-did-I-do-this-weekend post. But this past weekend, I was sick most of the weekend. I think I had a several day virus. Gah! So my list of projects to work on was not worked on. at. all. I'm going to look at it in a positive way as, holy cow, I needed some rest. Even to just veg on the sofa. It's been a long time coming.

For whatever reason most books I read are written by women authors. I don't think it's on purpose. I usually pick out books based on recommendations. Blogs are my go-to for suggestions, but my sister-in-law is also a great source of interesting books.

She recommended this one by John Searles. There are appearances by a handsome young man, a crappy sister and ta daaaaaaaaa....a creepy doll! I have no idea why I'm now, in my 40s, infatuated with creepy dolls.

One night while reading the book I texted my sis-in-law a picture of the humongous Hello Kitty doll that inhabits my daughter's bed. "I'm particularly concerned about Hello Kitty who is probably about the same size as Penny."

From Goodreads:
"It begins with a call in the middle of snowy February evening. Lying in her bed, young Sylvie Mason overhears her parents on the phone across the hall. This is not the first late-night call they have received, since her mother and father have an uncommon occupation, helping "haunted souls" find peace. And yet, something in Sylvie senses that this call is different than the rest, especially when they are lured to the old church on the outskirts of town. Once there, her parents disappear, one after the other, behind the church's red door, leaving Sylvie alone in the car. Not long after, she drifts off to sleep only to wake to the sound of gunfire.

Nearly a year later, we meet Sylvie again struggling with the loss of her parents, and living in the care of her older sister, who may be to blame for what happened the previous winter."

Another book where the parents' mistakes cause problems for the kids. In this book, unlike others, I believe the parents truly did love their kids. 

This book would be enjoyed by most teens, especially those with dolls (LOL!). Adults will appreciate the mystery of the plot.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Book review: Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher


Exactly what can drive a teenager to go through with a plan of killing one's self? This book was another one of my "I'm scared to read this!" books.

From Goodreads:
"Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.
Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers."
Do you ever wish you could just write a letter or send a message to someone who has done you wrong? That's what Hannah did to 13 people. I do not agree with Hannah's way of getting her point across after her death.
It does seem like the best revenge though, no? 
Something that threw me off with the story: not enough parental involvement. I wish the author had placed more emphasis on what was the parents' role in her act? Did the way they raise her contribute to her demise?
We also get a nice up-close look at the damage gossiping can do. It's all around us. It's like a cancer that takes over people's lives. It's often used as a weapon. The story does a good job of displaying the ramifications.
I don't know how the teenagers today do it with the presence of social media. I have had not-so-nice things said about me online (by someone I know-not strangers). The damage that did to me was heavy. So to be a teenager, as opposed to adults like me, navigating all the crap online said about them is tough I'm sure.
I recommend this book for teenagers and adults. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Book review - Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt


This turned out to be one of my favorite books this year. I'm surprised because contemporary young adult books are a tad, just a tad, boring to me. I've read so many books now that have involved other worlds, kingdoms, mystical powers,odd characters and murrrrrders. (muwhahaha laugh)

So for me to like a young adult book which involved zero killings was different.

From Goodreads:
"When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). The List:
1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous
But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far."

I love that Mallory swore off technology. I often have days where I swear I'm taking a social media break. Yeah, that lasts about a day or two. Doesn't the "noise" just get to you sometimes? 

So I can appreciate a character who instills a no-technology zone in her life. It is fairly short-lived I suppose, but we see how addicted Mallory (and us) truly is to the convenience and, gasp! drama technology causes in her life.

I also liked the parts of the plot where she tries to follow her grandmother's list. The idea that Mallory can somehow make her life more productive was interesting.

This is a good read for anybody wishing for a simpler life, for those sick of Facebook's comments and for those who liked the days of curlers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Book review: The Woman in Black - Susan Hill

You may have heard about this movie when it came out last year. It looked like a pretty creepy ghost story. I decided to check out The Woman in Black which was written in 1983. Old school!

The movie, which I have not seen yet, stars Daniel Radcliffe. Apparently the ending of the movie was different from the book's ending. And oddly enough, Goodreads had not much of a description.

From Amazon:
"A classic ghost story: the chilling tale of a menacing specter haunting a small English town. Arthur Kipps is an up-and-coming London solicitor who is sent to Crythin Gifford--a faraway town in the windswept salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway--to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of a client, Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. Mrs. Drablow's house stands at the end of the causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but Kipps is unaware of the tragic secrets that lie hidden behind its sheltered windows. The routine business trip he anticipated quickly takes a horrifying turn when he finds himself haunted by a series of mysterious sounds and images--a rocking chair in a deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child's scream in the fog, and, most terrifying of all, a ghostly woman dressed all in black."

Unfortunately the book was not as exciting as I thought it would be. It had it's frightening moments. The description of The Woman in Black was spot on in terms of what you'd think a woman in mourning-turned ghost would be.

In my opinion, there was just not enough action in the book. I'm glad I read it and would recommend it for those who like ghost stories and haunted houses.

I'm always interested in the book covers. The one above with Daniel Radcliffe is more enticing than the original cover:

The Woman In Black

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book review - Room by Emma Donoghue

Room was one of the few non-young adult books I read this year. I have a small list of books that I'm absolutely scared to read. It's the crazy little things such as what if it's going to invoke nightmares? What if the subject content will put me in a perpetual state of sadness? I'm not one to enjoy crying while reading books.

Room was at the top of this paranoid, ridiculous list. From Goodreads:

"To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another."

Shocking to me, I did not shed one tear. I'm guessing because I knew going in, it was going to be a tough read. I wasn't too sure how I'd like the story being told from a 5-year-old's point-of-view. 

We hear of true stories of the kidnapped being rescued and I just can't fathom how they stay sane enough to escape or to hang on tight enough to live. I'm definitely glad I conquered my fears of this book.