Monday, May 18

Book Review: Four: The Initiate

Title: Four: The Initiate

Author: Veronica Roth

Pages: EBook 40

Summary: "The Initiate" provides readers with a glimpse into Tobias's Dauntless initiation experience, including an epic game of late-night Dare; his first tattoo; the beginning of his passion for training new initiates; and his nascent understanding of the danger of being Divergent.

My Rating: 8.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: There were some nice parallels between Four's days of fitting into Dauntless and Tris, which I liked and thought was rather clever - and I think that helps me understand their relationship later on in the series and why they connected the way they do. I think that's the best part of the these short stories is that there are a lot of little pieces, some very subtle, that help pull out plot pieces, both major and minor from the series. Some of which I never really appreciated and others I always felt, were slightly awkward in how they fitted in the book. Now they are less so because of the short stories.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes

What to read next: Four: The Son

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Saturday, May 16

Book Review: The Transfer - A Divergent Story

Title: The Transfer - A Divergent Story

Author: Veronica Roth

Pages: EBook 55

Summary: In "The Transfer," readers witness Tobias's aptitude test, Choosing Day, and the moment he is given the infamous nickname "Four."

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: It was a well done short story through Four/Tobias eyes, and it added to his character and helped me appreciate him more. I liked the insight to the background of his character as well as other details throughout the series as a whole. While I think this may have been my least favourite of the short stories staring Four, I do think this was one of the more important ones, and it helped set up the entire series and has some interesting hidden jems for the rest of the series, that I never thought about before

Would I recommend it to read: I would - it helps add to the character's development as well as the story as a whole, and I think any fan of the series would love these little shorts

What to read next: Four: The Initiate

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Book Review: The Book of Negroes

Title: The Book of Negroes

Author: Lawrence Hill

Pages: Ebook 367

Summary: Readers will follow the story of Aminata, an unforgettable heroine who cut a swath through an 18th-century world hostile to her colour and her sex. Abducted as an eleven-year-old child from her village in West Africa and put to work on an indigo plantation on the sea islands of South Carolina, Aminata survives by using midwifery skills learned at her mother’s side, and by drawing on a strength of character inherited from both parents. Eventually, she has the chance to register her name in the “Book of Negroes,” a historic British military ledger allowing 3,000 Black Loyalists passage on ships sailing from Manhattan to Nova Scotia.

This remarkable novel transports the reader from an African village to a plantation in the southern United States, from a soured refuge in Nova Scotia to the coast of Sierra Leone, in a back-to-Africa odyssey of 1,200 former slaves. Bringing vividly to life one of the strongest female characters in recent fiction, Lawrence Hill’s remarkable novel has become a Canadian classic

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: It's hard to know where to start with the book. It was intense, graphic, horrifying at times. But it was also such a powerful story, it was hard to put down.

The writing was superb, the author create Aminata's voice wonderfully. Her character felt very real and I couldn't help but fall into the book and become lost in it. While the alternating time jumps took a while getting used to, it did help break up the story, especially considering some of the scenes in the book. Which was my least favourite part of it. There's no way the book would be the book it is without everything that's in it, but there are some horrifying moments in the book.

Words are hard to come by to fully explain the book, it's one of those books you need to read and experience for yourself. The writing was lovely, the characters stick with you, the story is one t hat should be read by all. What an incredible read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, although it is rather intense and graphic at times, it's also a very lovely and powerful read, and one I'd highly recommend.

What to read next: The Help,

Challenges: 100+ Book Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 8th Annual Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, New Author Challenge, Ultimate Canadian Book Challenge

Book Review: Girl on the Trian

Title: Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

Pages: 318

Summary: Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and evening, rattling over the same junctions, flashing past the same townhouses. The train stops at the same signal every day, and she sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof terrace. Jason and Jess, as she calls them, seem so happy. Then one day Rachel sees someone new in their garden. Soon after, Rachel sees the woman she calls Jess on the news. Jess has disappeared. Through the ensuing police investigation, Rachel is drawn deeper into the lives of the couple she learns are really Megan and Scott Hipwell. As she befriends Scott, Rachel pieces together what really happened the day Megan disappeared. But when Megan's body is found, Rachel finds the chief suspect in the case. Plunged into a world of betrayals, secrets and deceptions, Rachel must confront the facts about her own past and her own failed marriage.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started off slow for me, and while it did pick up and ended up being an okay read for me, it wasn't what I was expecting.

The first half of the book was something I felt I had to slog through. Not a lot happened, and while it was a good time to set up the characters and story, I felt it the author took too long to do this, and it caused me to dislike all three of the narrators. Rachel especially was a character that was hard to like and read about. She was a mess throughout the book, and I never could understand her or some of her actions. While there were some issues she had, I found it hard to be sympathetic towards her with her drinking problems. There was some good development with her by the end, but even by then she wasn't a likeable character for me. I think she was well written as an unreliable character - actually it's safe to say all the women (and narrators) in the book were not the most likeable but were incredibly well written as unreliable characters. It made for a fun read because of the three character and never knowing who to trust.

I did like the ending, although it was somewhat predictable, I think the author did a good job with it. While the book wasn't the read non-stop start to finish, it was still a good book, it just wasn't the type of thriller I was expecting.

Would I recommend it to read: I think I would. It wasn't what I expected, slower than other thrillers out there, but a fairly good book over all, if you enjoy the genre, you'd likely enjoy the book - but it didn't live up to the hype.

What to read next: Gone Girl

Challenges: 100+ Book Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, Cloak and Dagger ChallengeNew Book Challenge

Book Review: Flowers for Algernon

Title: Flowers for Algernon

Author: Daniel Keys

Pages: 287

Summary: Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie's intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance--until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was a wonderful book, very emotional at times but it was an incredible read. I'd never have read this book, if it weren't for a online book group I belong to, and I'm glad I got a chance to read it. Not only was it well written, but it was also an incredible story.

I liked Charlie from the start, I think the author did an excellent job at creating his voice and creating the character. He was instantly likeable and I loved following him on his journey. I also loved how the author transitioned Charlie's transformation throughout the book. I think he did an incredible and detailed job at developing that aspect of the book.

The book was an emotional one, as Charlie led a difficult life, and how people treated him was heart wrenching. With that being said, the author did a fantastic job at bring the harsh realities people with mental disabilities like Charlie has to light and how they're viewed in society. While the book was written decades ago, a lot of the points and issues the author rises can be applied to today.

Overall, this was an incredible read, and I'd highly recommend it.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes! It was an excellent book, which I think everyone should read.

What to read next: There's a short story version of the book, which would be worth reading.

Challenges: 100+ Books Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, New Author Challenge

Sunday, May 3

Book Review: Trains and Lovers

Title: Trains and Lovers

Author: Alexander McCall Smith

Pages: Ebook 169

Summary: beloved and bestselling Alexander McCall Smith: a story that explores the nature of love--and trains--through a series of intertwined romantic tales.

The rocking of the train car, the sound of its wheels on the rails...there's something special about this form of travel that makes for easy conversation. Which is just what happens to the 4 strangers who meet in Trains and Lovers. As they travel by rail from Edinburgh to London, they entertain one another with tales of how trains have changed their lives. A young, keen-eyed Scotsman recounts how he turned a friendship with a young woman co-worker into a romance by spotting an anachronistic train in an 18th-century painting. An Australian woman shares how her parents fell in love and spent their life together running a railroad siding in the remote Australian Outback. A middle-aged American arts patron sees 2 young men saying goodbye in the station and recalls his youthful crush on another man. And a young Englishman describes how exiting his train at the wrong station allowed him to meet an intriguing woman whom he impulsively invited to dinner--and into his life. Here is Alexander McCall Smith at his most enchanting

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed the concept of the book a lot, and I think the author did a good job on how he brought all the characters and their stories together.

Although it read like a short story collection, I wouldn't exactly call it that in the traditional sense, but like with all short story collections, I enjoyed some characters stories over others. All of the stories were incredibly well developed and told, especially considering how short each of the characters stories were. But, despite that, each character had a very personal, tale that had a profound effect on their lives - all of which is connected by trains.

I would have liked the book to be longer, as I wanted to know more about some of the characters and their stories, in fact, I would have loved to see some of them in fully length novel.

Overall, it was an enjoyable, quick read - and a very perfect choice, if you commute by train.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a good, quick read, not quite a short story collection, but it has that feel to it.

What to read next: More by the author

Challenges: 100+ Books Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, Read Scotland Challenge

Thursday, April 30

Book Review: Shadow

Title: Shadow

Author: Amanda Sun

Pages: Ebook 77

Summary: Meet two teens whose worlds are about to change forever in this paranormal Young Adult novella, a prequel to Ink by debut author Amanda Sun…

Katie Greene’s worst nightmare comes true when her mother dies, and she’s devastated to learn that she will have to leave the only home she’s ever known. Desperate to find where she belongs, she must decide if she has what it takes to start a new life across the ocean. For Yuu Tomohiro, every day is a nightmare. He struggles to control his strange ability, and keeps everyone at a distance so they won’t get hurt—even his girlfriend, Myu. At night, a shadow haunts his dreams, and a mysterious woman torments him with omens of death and destruction. But these haunting premonitions are only the beginning…

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed the short story, it was a very good lead into the first book and helped build some character development around Tomohiro and Katie.

It's a quick read, and while I don't think it's necessary to read this one before Ink, it does help bridge a few plot points together and gives you a better understanding on who the characters are and opens up the book on what's to come - basically it gives the first book added depth. Overall, a good short story.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. I'm not sure if it's best to read the first book first and go back to this prequel like I did, or read this then the series in the proper order. But, it does help add some development to the characters in the story.

What to read next: Ink, Rain (Books one and two in the series)

Challenges: 100+ Books challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 8th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, EBook Challenge, Ultimate Canadian Book Challenge

Tuesday, April 28

Book Review: Saltsea

Title: Saltsea

Author: David Helwig

Pages :EBook 193

Summary: A lovely, meditative novel, a story about memory, and about how what once was continues to affect what is and what will be. It is the story of a place -- a hotel on the shores of Prince Edward Island, of the family that used to own it, and the people who have been its caretakers.

My Rating: 6 /10

What I liked/disliked about the book: While I enjoyed the writing style, it pulled me in from the start, the characterization and overall story didn't connect well with me, which put me off the book.

I loved the style of writing, it was lyrical and helped set the scene of the book and added to the setting of PEI, Canada. I enjoyed that aspect of the book and that aspect of the book gave me high hopes for the rest of the story. Unfortunately, I didn't like the characters, I couldn't connect with them and found them to be bland, crude and had little development. While I did like the idea that some characters were probably, meant to be unlikeable for the story, something about them took away from the story as a whole.

I also found while I enjoyed the initial idea behind the story, it didn't seem to go anywhere in the end, and I began to get bored with the story, as it felt like it wasn't going anywhere.

Overall, I enjoyed the writing, I found the rest of the book didn't exactly connect with me.

Would I recommend it to read: I'm not sure, while the writing was excellent, the story and its characters just didn't connect with me - and I think other readers would feel the same.

What to read next: Tide Road - it also takes place in PEI

Challenges: 100 Books challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 8th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Authors Challenge, Ultimate Canadian Book Challenge