Tuesday, August 25

Book Review: Once Every Never

Title: Once Every Never

Author: Lesley Livingston

Pages: 385

Summary: Clarinet Reid is a pretty typical teenager. On the surface. She’s smart, but a bit of a slacker; outgoing, but just a little insecure; not exactly a mischief-maker … but trouble tends to find her wherever she goes. Also? She unwittingly carries a centuries-old Druid Blood Curse running through her veins. Now, with a single thoughtless act, what started off as the Summer Vacation in Dullsville suddenly spirals into a deadly race to find a stolen artifact, avert an explosive catastrophe, save a Celtic warrior princess, right a dreadful wrong that happened centuries before Clare was even born, and if there’s still time— literally—maybe even get a date.

This is the kind of adventure that happens to a girl once every … never.

My Rating: 5.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I liked the premise of the story and I liked some of the historical background to the book, but overall I couldn't get into the book.

I found it hard to connect to the character and I didn't like the narrative, which made for a slow read. I liked the idea behind the more supernatural elements of the book, but it was such a small piece to the novel as a whole, that it wasn't enough to keep me invested in the book. The pacing of the story was fine, although because I couldn't get into the book, I found it to be a slow read.

Overall, interesting premise, but not a book I enjoyed.

Would I recommend it to read: I think both Young Adults and those who enjoy young adult fiction would enjoy this.

What to read next: Every Never After, the next book in the series

Challenges: 100+ Book Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge

Book Review: The Lathe of Heaven

Title: The Lathe of Heaven

Author: Ursula Le Guin

Pages: 184

Summary: In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George's dreams for his own purposes.

The Lathe of Heaven is an eerily prescient novel from award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin that masterfully addresses the dangers of power and humanity's self-destructiveness, questioning the nature of reality itself. It is a classic of the science fiction genre.

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I inhaled this book start to finish. It's one of those cases where I can't believe I haven't read anything by this author before - but I'm glad I did as it was a fantastic read and there's a good chance the author will be added to my must read everything lists.

It's hard to know where to start. The writing was lovely, if you've heard/think Sci-Fi can't be literary (which is not true), than this is book is the one to read. The writing alone was what pulled me in and kept me reading until the end. On top of that, it was an interesting story. I wouldn't say I loved the characters - they weren't the type that would stay with me in the end, but I was rooting for George and it did have a solid cast of characters.

The plot line had so many layers to it, which I enjoyed, although despite this it wasn't hard to keep track of everything. The novel is constantly changing and switching things up, but it adds an interesting element to the book. There's also a lot to gain from the book, it does show what humans are capable of - mainly how greed and power destroy things. The ending was just as good as the rest of the book, I think some readers might be disappointed, but I found it to be a satisfying ending - save the fact I wanted more from the story, it worked out.

Overall, a fantastic book - I'd highly recommend this one - to readers of any genre.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, not only is it a quick and engaging read, but the story is well done and has a lot to make you think. It would be a great choice for a book club.

What to read next: I'd say more by the author

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

Monday, August 24

Book Review: Case Histories

Title: Case Histories

Author: Kate Atkinson

Pages: Ebook 284

Summary: Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night.

Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random attack.

Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making - with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband - until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.

Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge . . .

My Rating: 5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The beginning of the book started out great, the introduction of the three cases pulled me in right away and I was looking forward to an interesting read, hoping to figure out how, if at all, the three cases were connected. Unfortunately, the book fell short of expectations, the rest of the book began to drag on and that initial intrigue and push I had at the beginning of the book, disappeared. One of the reasons my drive to finish the book fell and most of my interest was the characters. Amelia and Julia were major turnoffs for me, I felt the made the story come to a stop, their eccentric personalities did nothing for me and irritated me more than anything. I felt very little about their story helped move their part of the case forward.

Other characters were fine, but they didn't hook me in to the book like the first part of the story did. While their cases had some interesting aspects to it, I was already turned off by the book by that point. Jackson Brodie as a character is fine, although there wasn't anything special about him to make him stand out for me.

The end of the book does tie things up. But, I'm not sure how I feel how things worked out by the end.

Overall, a strong start, but a not so satisfying read in the end.

Would I recommend it to read: I'm not sure about this particular book, maybe the author, but I'm not sure about this book.

What to read next: I'd try more of the author's book. While I didn't love this particular one, I've heard good things about the author.

Challenges: 100+ Books Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, Ebook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge

Book Review: Deceptions

Title: Deceptions

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 458

Summary: Olivia’s life has exploded. She’s discovered she’s not only adopted, but her real parents are convicted serial killers. Fleeing the media frenzy, she took refuge in the oddly secluded town of Cainsville. She has since solved the town’s mysteries and finds herself not only the target of its secretive elders, but also her stalker ex-fiancé.

Visions continue to haunt her: particularly a little blond girl in a green sundress who insists she has an important message for Olivia, one that may help her balance the light and darkness within herself. Death stalks Olivia and the two men most important to her, as she desperately searches to understand whether ancient scripts are dictating their triangle. Will darkness prevail or does Olivia have the power to prevent a tragic fate?

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book picks up close to where the one before it (Visions) leaves off, which is an aspect of the series I'm enjoying, there isn't big time gaps and it helps keep the flow and momentum of the book going. I was hoping for a little more with her ex-fiancé and his creepy stalking issues, but that was finished early on in the book and I felt that that part of the ex-fiancé issue was a slight let down, although his story line and how it was tied up was very well done. I really wish I could say more, but I don't want to spoil things. I thought it was a good way to tie up his storyline.

I'm starting to like Olivia more, although she's also the one character that gets on my nerves the most. She can be very immature and naive at times, although she's growing and starting to understand the real world, there are times I just want to smack her. Ricky's character is rather interesting and Gabriel is a character that is so different than the others in the book, he really adds something interesting. But all of them, are incredibly well written, and I've become very attached to all of them. Both main and secondary characters.

I enjoyed the ending a lot. It tied things up enough to keep me mostly satisfied that and there wasn't any cliff-hanger (which is good if all the books are published). But, the ending also left a lot up in the air that has me anxiously awaiting the next book in the series. It will be very interesting to see how certain things play out. There were a few twists along the way, although I was guessing at one of them, there are some interesting pieces that will come out in the next book.

Overall a great book and a fantastic series. This is a series not to be missed!

Would I recommend it to read: Oh yes! Probably my favourite in the series so far, if you've read the others, then read this one.

What to read next: Betrayals - book four in the series, which isn't published yet.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Chunkster Challenge

Sunday, August 23

Book Review: Going Down Swinging

Title: Going Down Swinging

Author: Billie Livingston

Pages: Ebook 268

Summary: A remarkable debut novel and bittersweet tale of the unflinching love and devotion between a mother and daughter. Razor sharp and darkly funny Going Down Swinging chronicles two years in the life of the Hoffmans. Eilleen Hoffman has just told Danny, her con-artist lover and father of her youngest daughter Grace, to get out — for good. Once a teacher, Eilleen lived a middle-class life, but her taste in men coupled with a predilection for pills and booze has brought her down.

Desperate to prevent her family from sinking deeper into poverty, Eilleen reluctantly goes on welfare. Eventually she turns to the only friends she has left, hustlers and hookers, to learn how a woman makes fast money, no investment necessary. With Eilleen on welfare and her older daughter Charlotte a teenaged runaway, child welfare authorities descend on the Hoffmans. As Eilleen trails through several attempts at drying out, the well-intentioned Children's Protection Society finally intervenes to apprehend Grace. With the threat of prolonged separation now a stark reality, Eilleen and Grace must rally to confront their demons with grit, determination and humour.

Unblinkingly observed and brilliantly written, Going Down Swinging is about the powerful bond between mother and child. And with her skilful narrative interplay, Billie Livingston illustrates poignantly how the truth of our stories lies not so much in the black and white, as it does in the grey.

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started out questionable for me, I was unsure if I would enjoy it, but in the end, I found it be an great read.

It deals with a lot of dark topics, but the author did a fantastic job at showing the characters' stories and how their lives were affected by an assortment of life trials including drug abuse and foster care. The characters are a mess, I became very invested in their lives, wanting to shake them into reality. Which makes the book, such a good read, if it makes you become invested in the characters well being.

The narrative was very different than I've read before, as one of the character's narrative was in second person, which I think it may have been the first time (or at least the first time in a very long time), I've read a book with second person narrative. At first I was unsure if I would like it, but it worked out . I don't think it helped me get into that character's head more, or understand her more, but it did create a very unique perspective on that character's life, and helped create a different reading experience.

I enjoyed the ending a lot. I think it was a great way to end the book, I do think some readers might be unsatisfied with the ending, but I thought it was very fitting.

Despite my uncertainties in the beginning, it ended up being a great read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, overall I thought the book was a good read and one well worth reading.

What to read next: More by the author

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Ebook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Book Review: Enduring Love

Title: Enduring Love

Author: Ian McEwan

Pages: Ebook 276

Summary: In one of the most striking opening scenes ever written, a bizarre ballooning accident and a chance meeting give birth to an obsession so powerful that an ordinary man is driven to the brink of madness and murder by another's delusions. Ian McEwan brings us an unforgettable story—dark, gripping, and brilliantly crafted—of how life can change in an instant.

My Rating: 3.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The beginning of the book, the opening chapter showed promise. In fact I was pulled in right away and was looking forward to the rest of the book. It had a lot going for it, lovely writing and interesting premise. The it fell apart, and the book became a chore to finish. The characters in the book just didn't do it for me, the main protagonist bothered be to the point I nearly gave up on the book, multiple times. His tangents and observations took away from the story and I found it to be very disruptive to the rest of the plot. I also found the ending to be rather anti-climatic.

In the end, the book just didn't work out for me.

Would I recommend it to read: I'm not sure I would, the beginning of the book showed promise, but I found it to be disappointing overall, so it's not one high on my list of books to recommend.

What to read next: Not sure about this one, I'd say the author, but I keep trying to read his books and most always fall short of my expectations - but a lot of readers enjoy the author.

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

Book Review: Visions

Title: Visions

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 476

Summary: Omens, the first instalment in Kelley Armstrong’s exciting new series, introduced Olivia Taylor-Jones, daughter of notorious serial killers, and Gabriel Walsh, the self-serving, morally ambiguous lawyer who became her unlikely ally. Together, they chased down a devious killer and partially cleared her parents of their horrifying crimes.

Their success, however, is short-lived. While Olivia takes refuge in the old, secluded town of Cainsville, Gabriel’s past mistakes have come to light, creating a rift between the pair just when she needs his help the most.

Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed to look like her, but the body vanishes before anyone else sees it. Olivia’s convinced it’s another omen, a sign of impending danger. But then she learns that a troubled young woman went missing just days ago—the same woman Olivia found dead in her car. Someone has gone to great lengths to kill and leave this young woman as a warning. But why? And what role has her new home played in this disturbing murder?

Olivia’s effort to uncover the truth places her in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces, forces that have their own agenda, and closely guarded secrets they don’t want revealed

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: While I found the pace to be slower in the first half of the book, it was worth it, as there's a lot of information given out, there's a lot to process and piece together, but it does help build up to the ending and towards the entire series. While it doesn't end with a cliff hanger, it does have you wanting to immediately start the next book.

I'm loving the folklore that has been interwoven into the book, I find it very interesting and it's refreshing to read this element of the speculative genre, compared to what else is out there. I think the author has done an amazing job at entwining it into the story. I can't say much more about that, to avoid spoilers, but it is interesting. I also find the omens side of things to be a different element to the series, it's a small portion, but it does add some different to the story compared to other mystery/thrillers.

A lot happens in the book, some great character development, although I did find the conflict between Gabriel and Olivia to be a bit tedious at times. I also enjoyed the insight on some of the other Cainsville characters. Again, I can't say much more about them, because of spoilers, but some interesting pieces come together in the book.

The ending was fantastic and it sets up for what will be a great third book in the series. Fantastic read all around.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes. If you enjoy mysteries and/or thrillers, with a small, paranormal twist, this is the book for you.

What to read next: Deceptions - next book in the series!

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

Saturday, August 8

Book Review: Heat Rises

Title: Heat Rises

Author: Richard Castle

Pages: EBook 274

Summary: Fast-paced and full of intrigue, Heat Rises pairs the tough and sexy NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat with hotshot reporter Jameson Rook in New York Times bestselling author Richard Castle's most thrilling mystery yet.

The bizarre murder of a parish priest at a New York bondage club opens Nikki Heat’s most thrilling and dangerous case so far, pitting her against New York’s most vicious drug lord, an arrogant CIA contractor, and a shadowy death squad out to gun her down. And that is just the tip of an iceberg that leads to a dark conspiracy reaching all the way to the highest level of the NYPD.

But when she gets too close to the truth, Nikki finds herself disgraced, stripped of her badge, and out on her own as a target for killers, with nobody she can trust. Except maybe the one man in her life who’s not a cop: reporter Jameson Rook.

In the midst of New York’s coldest winter in a hundred years, there’s one thing Nikki is determined to prove: Heat Rises

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book became a very gripping, in-depth read, which I wasn't expecting from this series. While the books have had some hairy, suspenseful moments, I mainly pick up these books for more of a mindless read. Not this one. It had a lot in it, a lot pieces from all over the place to complete the story, pieces pulling the plot in every direction and a lot of trying to figure out the truth and lies. Which of course made for a great read - it was very hard to put down in the end, and I wasn't disappointed for a more complex read.

"Richard Castle" did a great job here, there are some similarities to plot lines that happens in the show (Castle), but it was still a great read - and the series itself is well worth reading, fast pace and complex. The characters are well done, and while they do have the quirks and corny moments, it makes for a fun read - and this of course was no exception - great read!

Would I recommend it to read: I would, although it's a bit over the top at times, this one had a lot of depth to the back story, and it ended up being a page turner. It' overshadows the show, but has a little more back story to it - so if you enjoy the show, you should enjoy the books. And if you enjoy thrillers, but a little less dark thrillers, than this is also a good choice.

What to read next: Frozen Heat

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

Book Review: Swarm

Title: Swarm

Author: Lauren Carter

Pages: EBook 264

Summary: In a not-so-far-off future of diminished energy reserves and collapsing economies, thirty-seven-year-old Sandy Burch-Bailey lives a difficult existence. She survives by fishing, farming, and beekeeping in a small island community with her partner, Marvin, and their elderly and ill friend, Thompson. As they wait for an overdue supply ship to arrive with medicine for Thompson, vegetables go missing from their garden. A footprint in the soil leads Sandy to believe the thief is a homeless youngster. Childless and aching to be a mother, Sandy narrates her story to the child, reliving her life in a city plagued by power outages, unemployment, and violent protests. When the girl’s life is threatened, Sandy and Marvin must come together to protect both the child and their fragile community.

Told in two storylines divided by geography and time, Swarm is a suspenseful and powerful debut novel about survival and coming to terms with life’s regrettable choices.

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I really enjoyed this book, it had a slower pace compared to other post-apocalyptic books, but that is what made the book as good as it was. The author took careful time to examine her characters and how they developed throughout the story, as well as taking the time to create her post-apocalyptic work, which was incredibly well done, and very realistic.

The story and many of its characters, was dark, depressing, but the book was very engrossing and hard to put down at times. I really enjoyed the writing style and would definitely read the author again. This book in particular is one I'd highly recommend.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was an enjoyable post-apocalyptic read. Dark, but good.

What to read next: The MaddAddam Trilogy

Challenges: 100+ Books, 2015 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge, Ultimate Canadian Reading Challenge,