Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Last Book Ever Written by Jonah Kruvant

Science Fiction

Victor Vale is a detective in the future, many years from now where you need only insert a needle into your arm to be connected to the virtual reality internet, art and expression is not allowed, and robots are part of every day life (Vale has a robot housekeeper... Jetsons anyone!?). His boss tasks him with taking down a group of creators, which are artists and not allowed in the world. Using future technology, Vale changes in to his alter-ego as a reporter and visits this forbidden underground world. He quickly realizes that perhaps these creators aren't as bad as society makes them out to be. Don't we all have a bit of creator in us?

The concept of this book is fantastic. It's the future, things have changed a lot, and there's a lot of cool technology. I always enjoy reading how others envision the future in these types of books. There were some interesting gadgets so I was more than satisfied in this part of the book.

There were some plot items in this book that didn't add up for me and left me with questions at the end of the book. The first that Victor's alter ego was requested for an interview by the leader of the creators. He gets to the office, they chat for a bit, and then Victor gets up to leave. The interview was only one or two questions, which doesn't equate to much of an interview to me. It was a way for the author to get his main character in to the epicenter of the action but it isn't believable because of the execution. The other issue was that creators are not allowed but there are movies and plays. Who writes the movies and plays? Even though some is propaganda, perpetuated by the government, don't creators write plays and movie scripts?

I almost never say this, but I feel like this book could have used more pages to flush out some of these issues a bit better. Arguments are resolved too quickly and characters accept their fate too quickly. A few extra pages to make these items feel more like a struggle and more real would have helped.

That said, there's definitely an audience that will really enjoy this book. It's got a cool factor to it that sci fi fans would enjoy.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this book tour!

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First Line: "It all starts when we're born."

Rating:
(3/5)

About the Author
A writer, teacher, and student of the world, Jonah Kruvant received his Bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College, his Master’s degree in Teaching from Fordham University and his MFA degree from Goddard College. After living abroad in four different countries, Jonah lives in New York.

Check out his Website

Friday, May 08, 2015

Orient by Christopher Bollen

Mystery

Orient is a small island at the end of Long Island, which has seen its tightly knit community start to erode as rich people try to move to the island as an alternative to the Hamptons. Those that grew up on the island don't want to see this happen and the community board is doing everything it can to stop the influx of cash. Paul Benchley is one that grew up on the island, though he left to become an architect before returning when his mom was sick. The locals find out that Paul is bringing home a kid from the city to help clean out his mom's house and it doesn't go over well. Mills Chevern is that kid, one that's hopped around from foster home to foster home, and has had drug problems in the past. Mills' arrival sets of a chain of events that change the island forever. The local care taker is found drowned in the water and a mutant animal washes up on the beach.

This book is a long book (600+ pages) and has a lot of characters, so it takes a bit of time to get in to and remember who is who. But the upfront investment is definitely worth it. You really get to explore the characters in this book and find out what makes them tick. Granted, a good chunk of them grated on my nerves. There were many self-righteous local villagers who have tunnel vision and there's Beth who hits it off with Mills but finds out she's pregnant and can't make a decision on whether she wants to keep the baby. It takes Beth at least 350 pages, if not more, to make that decision! All of this helps build a great base for a pretty interesting mystery.

Looking back, having finished the book, I felt like there were chapters were not much happened, and yet at the time of reading I didn't seem to notice. The mystery of this book was good and there were lots of items to try and put you off the trail of who was responsible. There were a few times when I wished more was revealed sooner in the book but I was happy with the ending. Not the type of town I'd want to live in!!

First Line: "This is how I first saw you, Long Island, on a map in the front seat of Paul Benchley's car."

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour.

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Rating:
(4/5)

About the Author
Christopher Bollen is an editor at large for Interview magazine. He is the author of the novel Lightning People, and his work has appeared in GQ, the New York Times, the Believer, and Artforum, among other publications. He lives in New York.

Check out his Website

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Boom! by Mark Haddon

Children's

Jim and Charlie are spying on their teachers when they hear two of them start speaking in a strange language. Trying to get to the bottom of what those teachers are talking about, suspicious events happen. The boys set out on an adventure to try and figure it out.

There isn't a Haddon book I've met that I haven't liked. Until now. I enjoyed some of the moments between Jim and his dad, who is unemployed and trying to figure out how to contribute to the family when he's given a beginner's cook book. There were also some good moments between Jim and his sister. The rest fell flat for me.

Jim's sister is dating a weird guy (Craterface) who seems abnormally violent. Looking back on this character, he seemed to serve no purpose other than the use of his motorcycle. Surely there's an easier way to get a motorcycle than inventing a character?

The last quarter of the book was probably the worst part, with many threads unexplored and not making much sense. While I think a young boy would really enjoy this book, I'm not sure anyone else would find it entertaining.

First Line: "I was on the balcony eating a sandwich."

Rating:
(2/5)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Children's

When Ella was a baby, she was "gifted" with obedience. When someone gives Ella an order, she must obey it. As a teenager, this becomes a big problem as people boss her around and make her do things that suit them rather than her. Ella looks to find the person that gave her this curse and see if she can get it reversed.

This is a different take on the Cinderella fairy tale, though you really only get in to the Cinderella part at the very end of the book. The first part of the book was imaginative and fun but swinging in to the Cinderella story line at the end of the book seemed like a bit of a cop out to me.

However, since this book is for kids, I don't think kids would care when they read this. It's still a fun story about a girl who overcomes her curse and everything ends happily ever after!

First Line: "That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me."

Rating:
(3.5/5)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Snakes and Earrings by Hitomi Kanehara

Fiction

When Lui meets Ama, she becomes obsessed with his forked tongue. She is already part of the piercing world, increasing the width of the holes in her ears and now wants this forked tongue as well. Ama takes her to a parlour that helps her start her forked tongue journey. The parlour also does tattoos, and Lui wonders what she should ink her body with. She gets increasingly deep in to this world, experiencing both the good and the bad.

This is a very short book and while I was interested in the world of piercings and tattoos, the meat of the book was packed in to the last 5 pages and not fully explored. This made for a rather disappointing read and a lot of questions.

I'm not fantastic with grammar but Kanehara's seemingly excessive use of commas really started to piss me off. Almost every single sentence had a couple of commas.

That said, I did go look up what a "Barbie girl" was because I previously had no idea and characters called Lui this a couple of times.

First Line: "Know what a forked tongue is?"

Rating:
(2/5)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson

Non-Fiction/Memoir?

Sara Nelson is a compulsive reader. She has thousands of books at home and can tell you exactly what she has and where it is. She didn't always used to be this way but having a mom and sister who are either published or poets, they nudged her in to obsessive reader territory. In 2002, Sara decides to read a book a week and chronicle her journey. Sara sees connections between what she's reading and what's going on her life, as well as the book choices she makes.

Like Sara, I've married a non-reader which can be frustrating at times. When you really want to share a book you've read and your spouse looks at you like you're crazy, I know that feeling all too well. There were anecdotes that Sara described I'm sure any reader could relate to and this was the one for me.

Despite the few items I could relate to, I otherwise felt like this book was completely unnecessary. A book about books, why? Getting to know Sara and her background, one could be inclined to believe that the only reason she wrote this book was to try and catch up to her sister and mother in their literary pursuits.

The other thing that bothered me about this book, was how much of a book snob Sara was, and not in the usual manner of what you would get from a book snob. Sara doesn't read many classics but one thing she almost refuses to read is anything that's popular. Some books are popular for a good reason though, why miss out on those? Instead, you should think about missing out on this one.

First Line: "Call me Insomniac."

Rating:
(2/5)

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekback

Historical Fiction/Mystery

Maija, husband Paavo, and their two daughters trade homes with a relative and move to the Swedish Lapland in 1717. Paavo is a fisherman but has become afraid of the water, making this a good chance for the family to start new. As they move to the mountains, the two daughters come across a dead body. Maija finds other settlers to come examine the body and learns of the dynamics on the mountain. There are a few other families, a priest in the valley, a nobleman and his wife, and the local Lapps. Maija has to wade through old relationships and dredge up past history to determine who has murdered this man. The information does not come easy. When the ghost of this man starts visiting Frederika and she can hear the mountains, the family must quickly find out what happened before anyone else gets hurt.

The majority of this book takes place over the winter and the cold hung over this book giving it an incredibly dreary feeling. Getting through the book, at times, was almost like trying to wade through waist-high snow like the characters. In addition to the winter was the dark. There is no sunlight over the winter in this part of the world and despite all the descriptions for this and the eeriness the book had, I still had troubles picturing this forever night. Despite this, the atmosphere as a whole was incredibly well written.

Reading this book made me feel like I was back watching the TV show Lost. They both keep throwing twists and turns at you and there are varying degrees of supernatural elements at work, but you either never get a full resolution or the questions never get answered. In addition, virtually no hints were dropped about who was responsible. It made for a rather frustrating read, despite being a page turner near the end. I wanted the author to give me some resolution but hardly anything was solved until the last few pages which made things feel unfinished. Some things were never fully explained to my satisfaction either. Like what Frederika did about the wolves and why the letters were kept from Maija.

First Line: "'But how far is it?'"

Rating:
(3.5/5)