Tag Archives: 4 stars

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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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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Review: THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS

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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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REVIEW: Delia’s Shadow

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Stars: 4/5

Format: Kindle ebook via NetGalley

Read: August 2, 2013

Delia’s Shadow caught my eye mostly because it combined two things I love to read about: ghosts and historical fiction. I was delighted when I received a copy to review.

The book was fairly well written, with Delia immediately being a fun character to read about. She’s very demure and down to earth, though pensive because of the perpetual companion, a ghost she christens “Shadow”. Add a brooding policeman who lost his wife and unborn child in the same earthquake in which Delia lost her parents, throw them together in a life or death situation, include a few decade old cold cases and a serial killer who has begun to kill again, and you’ve got a good start to a leisurely novel.

This novel was definitely leisurely. The plot was fairly well paced with a nice balance of supernatural, a deranged killer, and delightful characters. The main drawback was the fact that although Delia’s perspective is written in third person, the author switches to third person for the brooding policeman Gabe’s perspective. This really shook up the flow of the book. Plus, when the murderer is identified, it took a while before I realized the exact significance because although the main characters are independent and easily recognized, the sub characters blend together colorlessly.

I very much enjoyed the character building of the main cast and their developing relationships with one another. The apparition definitely gave the tale a unique twist, but not enough to really make this book shine like a newly minted coin. This mattered little to me, as it provided a very refreshing change of pace from the books I normally read. I did, however, wished the author had not wrapped up the book so abruptly.

All in all, Delia’s Shadow is a very nice read for anyone who likes hauntings and historical fiction, especially in the same novel!

I received a free ebook copy from NetGalley and have in no way received any other recompense other than the free copy for this review.

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REVIEW: Why Atheists Love Breasts

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Stars: 4/5

Format: Kindle ebook via Publisher

Read: July 20, 2013

Upon receiving this book, I was a little bit taken aback by the title. Obviously it really grabs your attention. However, this book was not all about why atheists love breasts. There was maybe two pages dedicated to that topic. This book is a compilation of a college blog author, Rinth de Shadley, where she covers topics from political problems to Gossip Girl, to the hurdles of growing up, especially in the medical field.

Rinth was witty and funny, but she could also be downright odd. I wasn’t gripped immediately with the book as it felt just like the title: trying to be raucous to gain attention, even if it meant presenting Rinth as juvenile. But I stuck with it, and after that rocky start, Rinth got a good rhythm going with her humor and the depth of her posts. The one major drawback was that the further I got into the book, the more I noticed “chapters” (each individual blog post) would sometimes refer to a blog post that I had no way of referencing at that point in the book. Sometimes the post would appear later and sometimes not at all.

Despite my initial impression, I really found Rinth had some wise advice to give. What she writes is an opinion that doesn’t shove it in your face. She casually prods you to contemplate the issue, even if you don’t agree with her.

Overall, I’ve been very happy with this book and would recommend as a short, fun read!

Disclaimer: Other than receiving a free ebook copy of this book, I have received no other recompense for this review.

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Review: BRAVE NEW LOVE: 15 DYSTOPIAN TALES OF DESIRE

Stars: 4/5

 Format: Paperback

 Read: April 29, 2012

The average of all the individual stars was 3.6, but I rounded up.

Just a small disclaimer, I have nothing against gay/lesbian/bi/etc. couples, I am critiquing the writing only.

This book had the “brave” and some of the “new”, but love was lacking in some of the stories. Please be aware that five of these stories do have gay/lesbian/bi themes so if you don’t like it, skip those stories. They will be noted in the individual reviews below.

HIDDEN RIBBON by John Shirley
4.5 stars- Good world building, a fast paced story, and a sweet romance. Classic dystopian world with a sealed bubble that only the elite can live and thrive in and the rest of the contaminated world for the rest of them. Girl gets invited in, boy loves her and can’t go, and conflict ensues.

THE SALT SEA AND THE SKY by Elizabeth Bear
2.5 stars- Two girls, in a world where women are only allowed to procreate with a man or run away. The main character only has her heart set on running away and seemingly is indifferent to Shaun, the love of her life. Shaun proclaims her love to Billie several more times, but the characters were flat and the situation was further exacerbated by cliched lesbian stereotypes. The story just didn’t have a very strong foundation.

IN THE CLEARING by Kiera Cass
4.5 stars- A great dystopian society coupled with a group that has essentially “defected” made for a great short story. This rogue group have made themselves ‘Borrowers’ of a sort by taking essentials from the proper society. This story could definitely become a novel, even if the idea was already written in UNDER THE NEVER SKY. Great character building in such a small allotment of pages.

OTHERWISE by Nisi Shawl
3.5 stars- Gritty and rough, two lesbians (one bi) plan an escape to a safe compound to find Aim’s boyfriend. Oh, and they randomly pick up a kid. Being dropped in mid-story doesn’t help matters and it kept me confused until the end. However, there are no lesbian stereotypes and the “in your face” characters were endearing. As far as dystopians go, there’s no clear reason why the world fell apart and in this case a reason would really help the story.

NOW PURPLE WITH LOVE’S WOUND- Carrie Vaughn
3.5 stars- A very dull and overused storyline, this story is not distinctly dystopian. A middle class girl is chosen to be the wife of the Warlord’s son. The question is, was she made to love him by serum or has she always loved him? The son’s a wimp, lamenting about how he loves her but can’t trust her love is real. The girl, meanwhile, dangerously explores ways to prove her love, yadda yadda. Dull, cliched, and had me rooting for no one’s happiness.

BERSERKER EYES by Maria V. Snyder
5 stars- I have always loved Maria V. Snyder’s stories, and this one is no exception. We’re thrown right in the thick of things and the story unfolds with the perfect amount of information given at just the right times. There’s great world building in such a short span of “time” and beautifully polished characters. The characters are deliciously dark and brooding and the story is constructed wonderfully.

AROSE FROM POETRY by Steve Berman
2 stars- Another unfortunate gay couple built of stereotypes. The story started out promising with a strong lead named Tetch, but it was negated completely by weak and wimpy Allard who is young, privileged, and pretty and that’s pretty much it. Very short and not very sweet, the kiss at the end is overshadowed by the very unbelieveable “whoah, even though I’m a teen, I have all of a sudden realized I’m gay RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT and this has never occurred to me before!” Come on, please.

RED by Amanda Downum
4.5 stars- A lesbian couple comprised of one human and one zombie. I sense a new and promising story! There’s fantastic world building and characterization with a few major stereotypical relationships thrown in. I actually enjoyed this spin.

FOUNDLINGS by Diana Peterfreund
4 stars- Twin sisters, one pregnant and one not. Mix in a hot young male agent and a freaky government spy program for young unwed teens, and this could go several directions. Good characterization and decent, plausible actions made for a good read.

SEEKERS IN THE CITY by Jeanne DuPrau
4 stars- Two pre-teens catch a glimpse of one another and make it their mission to find each other once more. Sweet, but a little juvenile and pointless lacking a moving plot like her previous novel (which I loved) THE CITY OF EMBER.

THE UP by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
4 stars- A civilization living underground can’t sustain their lifestyle and must leave their settlement to go above ground to survive is a bit of a worn plot, but this story has some unique sparks to it. The fact that there is communication between other settlements is new, as is the knowledge of the above world. There are careful inbreeding rules enforced that made the plot a bit more realistic (honestly, you’d think that most dystopian writers don’t think through their worlds). This story is mostly a compilation of previously used ideas, but it was a good read nonetheless.

THE DREAM EATER by Carrie Ryan
4.5 stars- Dark and confusing, the main male character is in love with the Cruce, a girl chosen to come every night and take any memories associated with pain or shame from the entire settlement. She’s disgusting and horrible, yet every night the male lead remembers he loved this girl before she became the Cruce, just for a moment before it’s taken from him. Good, but confusing.

357 by Jesse Karp
4 stars- Brilliant world building but super confusing, the protagonist falls in love with a girl who may or may not exist and goes in search of her in the building where each floor is inaccessible from the rest. There are 357 known floors and secrets abound.

ERIC AND PAN by William Sleator
2.5 stars- One of the lamest stories in this entire anthology. This story is also about two gay boys who sneak around and see each other secretly. That’s it. No clear worldly civilization distress, just two flat characters making gaga eyes at each other. Disappointing.

THE EMPTY POCKET by Seth Cadin
2 stars- I honestly could not make heads or tails out of this story. I just know it involves minds, computers, and deserts. I couldn’t even find the love or the bravery.

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Review: THE PLEDGE

Stars: 4/5

 Format: Hardback from the library

 Read: June 2, 2012

I have had my eye on this book for a while and, seeing as my summer vacation has begun, I checked it out at the library. The synopsis was interesting if a little cliched, so I gave it a chance. Luckily, this book was a fairly strong hit!

Charlie, our heroine, was independent and didn’t take crap from anyone which is always a good foundation to begin with. She was loyal to a fault to her silent but adorable four-year-old sister and did a very good job hiding her talent of understanding languages she shouldn’t know. Brooklyn her best friend was a shallow girl with depth; she didn’t feel like a bunch of cliches thrown together and she complimented Charlie very well.

However, though I loved the romance, it was just too flat. I felt that it was a beautiful and lyrical story covered with a thin veneer of grime that didn’t let through all the shine. Plus, the villain was lacking. That could have been because we hardly got to see about the queen, but I just wasn’t fearing for anyone’s life from her. I get it; she’s ancient and big and bad and has magic that can kill, but I was left asking “so what?”. There were also weird random chapters from either Max’s or the Queen’s perspective in the third person (as opposed to first person with Charlie’s chapters) which were nice, but not consistent and, like I mentioned, not in the first person. It didn’t ruin the flow of the book too much, but didn’t exactly add too much to it either. Most of Max’s chapters happened before you really knew or cared about him and the effect was kind of wasted.

It was a bit predictable and wasn’t anything super wowing and going where no dystopian has before, but it was a good ride. If there is a sequel, I will read it. But it didn’t make much of an impression. A good two or three day read while waiting for a new summer release.

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