REVIEW: The Dollhouse

cover47401-mediumStars: 4/5

Format: Kindle ebook via NetGalley

Read: June 15, 2014

I was looking forward to reading the Dollhouse, though it seemed out of my normal young adult genre and more of a suspense crime/thriller. I was wrong, in a sense. This book is more paranormal than crime/thriller, though there are definitely overtones of the thriller bit.

I was sucked into the world of Cassie and Ethan as they search desperately for Aisha. The strange alliances that Cassie must make to ensure the rest of their captors don’t starve or get hurt are poignant and dynamic and the dollhouse carnival theme only makes everything more eerie as the story progresses.

Very few books I finish in one sitting, but I just couldn’t tear myself away from THE DOLLHOUSE. I was so invested in the book that when I reached the end, I hadn’t even braced myself for a cliffhanger and was floored and left craving more.

It’s difficult to review too extensively and not spoil anything, but I will say that as someone who gets creeped out fairly easily, I was able to read THE DOLLHOUSE during the evening hours without my fear interfering with the nail biting storyline. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a crime/thriller without the gore that comes with it!

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from NetGalley and have in no other way received compensation.

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Filed under 4 stars, advanced reader copy, Review

REVIEW: The Fever

cover41424-mediumStars: 3/5

Format: Kindle ebook via NetGalley

Read: June 14, 2014

The Fever centers around what happens when mass hysteria breaks out as girls at a small town high school start dropping like flies with a mysterious illness that seems to manifest with just slight differences in each new girl.

I have to start out by stating that a major detraction of this story was the amount of sex. Not the act itself, necessarily, but flashbacks and talking about it and ruminating about it and how awkward it feels afterwards. Even during the mass hysteria, sex plays a major role in this narrative. The frustrating part was, sex had literally nothing to do with the illness or discussed out loud with anyone. It was a bit strange that this entire town, one way or the other, had sex on their minds. Maybe I grew up differently, but I never thought so much about sex in so much detail.

Now that I’ve gotten the major issue I had with this book out of the way, the rest of the book was fascinating. The reader gets to follow right along with Deenie, her brother, and her father as they begin to see that how people portray themselves doesn’t necessarily mean there’s not something festering- literally and figuratively- inside them.

This tale is full of suspense and leaves you hanging and partially blind to what is happening until the last page. Narratives like this can be a whole lot of fun, but I think the author had a little too much suspense, because I found myself growing just bored enough to talk myself out of reading and going back to studying for the MCAT.

Overall, the star rating dropped down to a three because there was just SO.MUCH.RUMINATING on sex. The narrative was drenched in it. I wanted to beat my head against the wall during some parts. But if you can get past that, there is a very good story that twists you uncomfortably to read in all the right ways.

I received a free advanced reader copy from NetGalley and in no other way was compensated for this review.

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Filed under 3 stars, advanced reader copy

REVIEW: Paradigm

ImageStars: 4/5

Format: Kindle ebook via NetGalley

Read: May 29, 2014

This book was interesting in that every other chapter switched the main character narrative. It starts with Alice and the Day the World Ended and then moves on to Carter and the Day His World Began. In this fashion, the book unfolds, each chapter feeding into the next and bridging the 87-year gap. I found myself yearning to continue the story of Alice after her chapter concluded, only to yearn for Carter’s story to return when Alice took over the next chapter.

The story was a bit weak on the world building, Alice’s world being a bit more fleshed out than Carter’s. This was not a major detraction, however, because just as Carter is trying to navigate a world that is not the same one he left, I empathized because I was yo-yoing back and forth between Alice’s world, Carter’s remembered world, and Carter’s actual world.

I really wish that Carter’s story hadn’t dragged the entire time. I suspect it was so close to being outstanding, that I wished for more character building than was probably strictly necessary. However, that just gives more credence to the author and what an outstanding job she did.

I would recommend this book to those who want more of an adventurous and darker dystopian that is not reliant on romance to push the plot forward; especially Alice’s story, which left me wanting to read for hours more.

This ebook was received from NetGalley in exchange for a review. I have only received a free advanced reader copy of the book and have not been otherwise compensated for this review.

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Filed under 4 stars, advanced reader copy

Third Term of the First Year

I am almost at the end of my first year of my masters program! Well, I say almost, but in reality, it’s the second week of the third term that ends the first week of June. Then I have the MCAT the third week of June. So, you know, everything is relative.

I have neuroscience and physiology this term, which are both harder and easier than my anatomy and embryology and micro anatomy courses last term. But it also means that I feel decent enough to start reading again. It’s been a struggle, but I can’t wait to start losing myself in text again. In the meantime, I’ll be catching up on posting the reviews I have written since last August (not too many, but a handful) and we’ll get this show on the road!

I do have a neuroscience exam on Monday, so I bid adieu as I go and study before classes tonight.

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Level Completed: Grad School Week 1

So I am finished with the first week of my biomedical sciences grad program. Well, four days of it. I get Friday off. Pretty much always. I do not question the extra free time they give me to study.

I have four classes. Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology (also lovingly referred to as BCMB), Scientific Communication (how to read scientific papers), Research Survey Seminar (how to write scientific papers), and Biomolecular modeling (a mix of BCMB and how to present to a scientific audience without looking like a bumbling idiot).

Classes are three to four hours a day from 4 pm to 7ish pm. The first day was a bit of a wash, mostly because it was tarnished by my standing up, the chair grabbing my foot, and promptly falling right back down on my poor knees in a very dramatic and painful manner. My knees were instantly numb (I probably made those nerves very upset) and even today I have two bruises the size of golf balls on either of my knees that are a deep purple. The bright side was only the girl sitting next to me saw me. The down side was that my knees were a tingling numb that was indicative of something Not Good.

Tuesday and Thursday of last week were BCMB. Apparently this is not the way it normally is. I think it’s Mondays and Wednesdays from now on. But the professor is pretty cool. She keeps us engaged for three hours straight (a harder feat than you might think) and taught us all about prokaryotes/eukaryotes and proteins.

Biomolecular modeling has probably one of my most favorite professors I’ve ever had. His name is Dr. M. He was the main reason I was so excited to go to my grad school. Dr. M really, truly believes in you in a very natural, “why shouldn’t I believe in you?” kind of way. He spent the entire class teaching us how to study and learn and why other ways aren’t effective long term. This was such a wonderful, amazing lecture. No one really teaches you how to properly learn. He didn’t speak at us, he spoke to us. I would go over the moon for that man. He expects a whole lot from you, but he gives you a way to help get you there if you put in the effort.

Wednesday resulted in myself being used as a human pincushion and getting boosters, antibody titers done, and a tuberculosis test. The TB test requires a needle, which I did know, but putting a glob of TB antigens right under my skin so it looks like I’ve just been inserted with a tracker which I was unaware of. It hurt. And bled a lot. But mostly it hurt. You’re not supposed to touch it, breathe on it, look at it funny, or even think about it because apparently it might result in a “positive result”. So, good little person I am, I avoided the fact that it was on my forearm and am officially negative for TB. What they don’t tell you is that after you’ve been tested, if you accidentally, say, happen to scratch it lightly, it’ll swell up, turn bright red like a mosquito bite, and hurt quite a bit. So just in case you ever have to have one, don’t touch it.

So now that I’m done gushing a bit, I had an assignment to “reverse outline” a chapter on proteins. No biggie, right? Well, let’s define “reverse outlining”. This means that you go in a chapter, take every paragraph, find the main point of the paragraph, and then come up with three to five supporting facts that establish the main fact. That seems fairly simple. But the chapter was 65 pages long. I read fairly quickly and I think I’m pretty smart, but that assignment took me 18 hours and was 18 pages long. I felt so rushed because I wasn’t able to be ahead in anything else with me trying to finish it before the deadline on Friday at noon.

But you know what? Despite all the grueling work, I am in love with my graduate school program. This isn’t the “I’ll love it as long as I’m good at it” type of relationship that most people have. This is a “I know I’ll sweat blood to make this work, but I’ll love it in a very small corner of my mind” type of relationship. I feel smart again, something my undergrad institution had me questioning for five years.

I’ve also gotten questions as to how I have time to read and maintain a review blog while carrying a full grad school load. The answer is, I reward myself with reading. Reading keeps me sane and grounded. Even if I read an entire book in two pages snatches and it takes me a month, I’m still going to choose that over clubbing with the med students or doing karaoke with my classmates. I’m not antisocial and I do have friends (though they are currently all up in Nashville and I miss them dearly) and I will make friends here again, but this is how I work.

Off to bed with me to prepare for another week of learning new things and feeling like I actually got a degree that’s useful!

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Review: THE DREAM THIEVES

ImageStars: 4.5/5

Format: Kindle ebook via NetGalley

Read: August 18, 2013

I have been in love with Maggie Stiefvater’s work for a long, long time. Not since the beginning, mind you, but since she published SHIVER. I’m lucky enough to have a casual acquaintance with her, I have a picture of her and my rabbit, and I have some doodles in my signed books from her especially to me.

Although this is true, I am not biased. To date, I have not met a book she has written that I haven’t liked. A lot. Her writing style is just so dry-humored and smooth like dark chocolate.

Okay. So back to the review at hand. THE DREAM THIEVES is a wonderful sequel to THE RAVEN BOYS. This book mostly focuses on Ronan with a good dose of Blue and little Adam, and Gansey. There’s an assassin in town that’s looking for a valuable thing that Gansey may or may not possess and will stop at nothing to get it. Plus, Cabeswater has disappeared into thin air and with it, any chance Gansey has to find the king he’s been looking his entire life for.

Maggie’s prose is lyrical, witty, sad, and rings with the truth of consciousness for every one of her characters. She breathes life into the pages seamlessly and grabs you along for the ride until the words run out. I was so, so pleased to get to read this second installment in The Raven Cycle a month early and I will definitely be buying the hardcover when it comes out!

I received a free ebook copy from NetGalley and did not receive any other recompense for this review.

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Filed under 4.5 Stars, advanced reader copy, Review

Review: THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS

Image

Stars: 4/5

Format: Kindle ebook via NetGalley

Read: August 24, 2013

This was a very light and fun read. I requested it simply because it mentioned the circus and I’m a bit of a shy carnie fan. The beginning was a bit weird, with chapters alternating “present” time and what happened in the past to get to where Lexi is currently.

So Lexi is a typical, quiet girl who likes her books as much as she likes her close-knit friends Eli and a girl she refers to as “Adventure Barbie”; one of those born perfectly and can do anything a man would like from rock-climbing to stunning a night club silent.

So one bad decision and a freak accident (not at the same time, of course), Lexi is homeless and cannot go back to her prepaid prep school without an adult legal guardian. So Lexi is swept to Florida on a Greyhound bus on a wild goose chase to try and find her mother who, when Lexi was eight, left her and her father to run off to the circus. Alright, I could live with that, cool. But when Lexi gets there, her mother isn’t even remembered by the ring master. However, he does give Lexi a job and a home and thus starts her adventure of living with a traveling circus.

I actually devoured this book in a day and a half. The half is because I fell asleep reading it. I think I was really drawn to the light heartedness of the book. Lexi was fairly independent and enjoyable to read, with enough depth to make her interesting. I loved her family dynamics with Lina and Lishka, the daughters of the ring master. It was the tiniest bit disjointed and I wished it flowed better with the change of chapters, but I really had a good time reading it!

I received a free ebook copy of this book from NetGalley and have received no other recompense other than the free text for my kindle.

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Filed under 4 stars, advanced reader copy, Review