Thursday, April 25, 2013

review: pulse by patrick carman

Because I enjoyed Patrick Carman’s Dark Eden, I was excited to read his latest book. Unfortunately, I just didn’t really get Pulse. I kept turning to the vague back cover copy as I read because I couldn’t figure out what the book was supposed to be about other than teens living in what’s left of the United States after some unnamed event created two States that some people live in, but others live outside of. Some of these teens are supposed to have a “pulse” (hence the title), but who has a pulse and what exactly it is isn’t revealed until very late in the book. Pulse really picks up toward the end, but the front half dragged and was a little confusing. There’s a lot of Faith sleeping while things move around the room and Tablets mysteriously disappearing and reappearing. I did like the commentary Carman was making with the Tablets (the teens are super-attached to their issued from birth Tablets that have GPS trackers and have replaced the need for school teachers), but that was the only thing to hold my interest in first few sections. One of my pet peeves is for a book to force a sequel; Pulse seems like it was written entirely as a prequel to whatever book the start of the series should actually be.
Review copy from Amazon Vine.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

review: pretty girl-13 by liz coley

During a Girl Scout camping trip when Angie was 13, she was kidnapped. Pretty Girl-13 starts with Angie’s inexplicable return home three years later. She has no memory of the last three years or how she ended up back in her neighborhood, but there are scars around her wrists and ankles indicating she’s suffered traumas. The story of what happened to Angie unfolds as she visits a psychiatrist and begins to interact with the people she once knew.

Despite a few quibbles (the doctor missed something he really should have been able to tell), I was thoroughly engrossed by Pretty Girl-13. Liz Coley’s debut was a tough one to read (I kept thinking, “Oh no, not that too”), but I could not put it down as each detail revealed what Angie would have to endure next. The story of Angie and the alters her mind created to survive is incredibly haunting, but it is also triumphant. At the end of the book, the detective tells Angie it was an honor to meet her; I felt the same way.
Review copy from Amazon Vine.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

review: secrets from the past by barbara taylor bradford

After losing both of her parents to natural causes, 30 year old Serena Stone gives up her dangerous career as a war photographer to write a biography of her beloved father who was also a war photographer. While writing in New York, Serena realizes that some of the family albums are at their other home in France, so she makes a trip to where her sisters live. She’s soon distracted from writing the biography because her ex-boyfriend has been traumatized while working as a war photographer and Serena believes only another war photographer can help.

When a book is titled “Secrets from the Past,” it stands to reason the plot will center on a secret from the past; however, the novel is more than halfway over before Serena even realizes there might be a secret to uncover. There were a few little hints dropped for the reader, but by the time the secret came about, I was already bored. Initially it seemed like there’d be some great secret surrounding the year 1999 as that’s the album Serena goes to Europe to look for, but that storyline went nowhere. Furthermore, the writing is very passive (lots of “I was” and “they had”) which contributes to its excruciatingly slow pace.
Review copy provided by Get Red PR.

Friday, April 12, 2013

review: levitating las vegas by jennifer echols

This post contains affiliate links.

Jennifer Echols’s foray into the New Adult genre proved a disappointment. Levitating Las Vegas revolves around recent college graduate Holly and the others who work for a Las Vegas casino. Holly’s father is a magician who Holly and her mother assist during performances. Holly really wants to be let in on her father’s secrets for the act, but he refuses just as he and Holly’s mother refuse to let her do much of anything. They wouldn’t let her date a boy named Ethan in high school and now they won’t even let her live alone. Holly accepts this because she’s been told she’s mentally ill, but there’s a different reason for the overprotectiveness—Holly, Ethan, and many others in Las Vegas have special powers. So when an outside group escalates their ongoing threats, Holly and Ethan are unwittingly forced into action.

A number of issues kept me from enjoying Levitating Las Vegas as I’ve enjoyed previous books by Echols. I never connected with any of the characters, Holly in particular. She came across as weak (why did she never research her own “illness”?) and very self-involved (at the most ridiculous times she was concerned about her appearance). Additionally, there was never an explanation regarding why Holly’s parents and the other adults in Las Vegas drugged the kids so they wouldn’t know about their special abilities despite Holly and Ethan each having someone explain it all to them (yes, the excruciating explanations actually came separately and back-to-back). The rivalry between the casino group and “the Rez” (the outsiders that threatened the casino and possess special powers as well) was also unclear as no explanation for the animosity or the sudden escalation was ever provided.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket Star.

giveaway winner: when she was gone

Congratulations to the winner, Laurie C, of When She Was Gone by Gwendolen Gross!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

top ten tuesday: before blogging

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday the site has a new top ten list with this week's being the top ten books I read before I was a blogger.

My list:

Friday, April 5, 2013

review: ring around the rosy by jackie fullerton

Jackie Fullerton’s Ring Around the Rosy again follows law student Anne Marshall, who despite being on vacation, finds herself involved in yet another murder investigation. Just before Anne and her fiancĂ© arrive at his parents’ house in Florida, Jason’s father discovers the body of a member of his wife’s book club. Although Jason (who comes across as a really big jerk in this book) insists Anne stay out of it, she can’t help but lend her knowledge (which partly comes from her deceased father who always shows up at just the right moments to help his daughter) to the detective on the case, especially when it becomes clear that the dead woman’s son and grandson are also in danger.

As with Fullerton’s previous book, Revenge Served Cold, I found the plot interesting but the dialogue to be quite stilted. There was some improvement, but the awkward formality remained in many instances. It wouldn’t be so noticeable if not for the fact that most of the story is dialogue. It was hard to get a feeling for any of the characters because of how formal all of them were with each other. 3/5

Review copy provided by The Cadence Group.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

review: forbidden sister by v.c. andrews

This post contains affiliate links.

Forbidden Sister, the start of a new set by the ghostwriter hired by the estate of V.C. Andrews, incorporates elements familiar to readers of previous Andrews titles while also deviating from what had become the standard tales of abuse. Emmie has a superficially great life with supportive though strict parents; however, Emmie has only one friend at the private school she attends and she worries she will one day upset her father just as her now-banished sister once did. Emmie and her friend decide to track down Emmie’s sister, but just as they do, Emmie’s family is shattered with the death of her father and her mother’s sudden illness.

Forbidden Sister is not typical Andrews fare which was a little disappointing. With Emmie’s sister working as a high-class call girl out of a fancy hotel, I expected there to be a titillating storyline and a lot of scandal. Instead the plot moved along slowly through Emmie’s typical teenage world of dating (with only a little pressure about sex) and school cliques before anything about Roxy’s life as a prostitute came in. Even then there’s little danger for Emmie as the aloof Roxy turns out to be quite protective of her younger sister.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket Books.