Tag Archives: Book Review

Book Review: Uncaged

Title: Uncaged (The Singular Menace, Book 1)uncaged
Author: John Sandford and Michele Cook
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Rating: 3/5

Uncaged follows Shay Remby as she searches for her brother, Odin, who disappeared after a Singular animal testing laboratory was ransacked in Eugene, Oregon. Shay discovers that Odin is traveling with an animal rights group called “Storm” and follows him to Hollywood, California. Upon her arrival, Shay meets an artist named Twist, who owns a hotel for street kids, and decides to stay with him. As she attempts to find her brother, Shay begins to uncover the secrets that Singular is trying to keep hidden. With the help of West, a disgruntled Singular employee, and a few new friends from the Twist Hotel, Shay concocts a plan to break into the Singular facilities and save her brother from a horrible fate.

The novel is told from various viewpoints and because of this, I never grew especially attached to any of the characters. The majority of the book is told from Shay’s perspective. I liked her as a character and appreciated her determination to find her brother. The other portions of the book were told from different characters within the Singular corporation. Besides West, none of these characters seemed to have much personality. They were static, stereotypical “bad guys” and I didn’t think their chapters added anything to the novel. I would have preferred their portions being cut in favor of some additional character development amongst Shay and her friends.

The supporting cast in Uncaged was pretty entertaining. Twist owns the hotel that Shay finds herself staying in. Twist is a street kid turned wealthy artist and because of his humble beginnings, he takes in street kids. I thought he was an interesting character and a good companion for Shay. Shay befriends a few other fellow street kids while at the Twist Hotel, such as Cruz and Cade. Sandford and Cook allude to a deeper background behind both boys, but it’s never elaborated on. Shay’s roommate, Emily, was also interesting and I wish her character would have been developed more as well. Although Odin wasn’t in the novel very much, I thought that his relationship with Shay was very endearing.

The villain in Uncaged wasn’t a person, it was a corporation. Singular owns the laboratory that Odin helped break into and it is allegedly attempting to merge humans and machines. Throughout the novel, the operations and people of Singular are very vague and all that was revealed was that it’s a very important company that will go to great lengths to keep their operations private. There wasn’t much personality from any of the characters that worked for the company, aside from West, and I was never really interested when the book would venture into any of the Singular character’s points of view.

This novel is the first in a series and it unfortunately ends in the middle of a scene. Although I don’t normally mind when a novel that ends in a cliff hanger, this novel stops so abruptly that it’s jarring. There’s absolutely no resolution and I thought that it made the ending slightly frustrating.

In terms of the genre, I would definitely say that it’s a more mature YA book in terms of subject matter. There are a few graphic scenes, including torture scenes, that may not be appropriate for younger readers. There are some scenes throughout the novel that involve animal abuse.

Overall, I thought that book was okay. It’s a very easy read, but I was never really invested in it. The novel became very science fiction oriented and without a connection to any of the characters, I wasn’t hooked. I honestly don’t think there was much character development at all. I think that if you are more interested in a plot-based story with bits of science fiction sprinkled in, you may enjoy this book more than I did.

If you have read Uncaged, please share your thoughts in the comments. To view Uncaged on Amazon, click here.

Book Review: Paper Towns

papertownsTitle: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Release Date: September 22, 2009
Rating: 4/5

Paper Towns is the young adult novel about Quentin Jacobsen, the boy who has never really taken risks and values his routine. One night, Quentin’s life is changed when Margo Roth Spiegelman comes to his window and convinces him to accompany her on a mission to get revenge on all of the people who have wronged her. Quentin has loved Margo, his next door neighbor, since they were ten years old and throws caution to the wind in order to assist her. After a thrilling night, Quentin is convinced that Margo will leave the crowd of friends that have been a source of her unhappiness and decide to spend the rest of their senior year of high school with him. That is, until Margo does not show up to school the next day. After several days and an appearance by a police detective, Quentin takes the case into his own hands and decides to find Margo. With the help of Quentin’s friends, Ben and Radar, he begins to piece together the clues that Margo left behind. Before he can find Margo, though, he must first discover who Margo Roth Spiegelman really is.

The entire novel is told from Quentin’s point of view and I thought that Quentin was an incredibly likeable character. He is awkward and quirky and it makes him easy to relate to. Quentin’s friend, Radar, is incredibly smart and spends most of his time revising and adding entries onto an online database. I definitely preferred Radar to Quentin’s other friend, Ben, who referred to women as “honeybunny” and was pretty shallow. The dialogue between the three friends was all believable and I preferred their conversations to the ones that Green constructed in Looking for Alaska. I thought that the characters in this novel were much more realistic and much less pretentious than the ones in Looking for Alaska.

Margo Roth Spiegelman is the girl that Quentin is intent on finding and although I thought that he seemed almost unrealistically obsessed with her, at the point of putting his perfectly planned future in danger, I thought she was an interesting character. I think Green used her character in order to make a point of never really knowing a person and how appearances can be deceiving. Although Quentin is trying to physically find Margo throughout the book, he’s also trying to find out what kind of person she is within the clues she has left behind. Margo is a different person to everyone and I thought that the point that Green was trying to make was fascinating. John Green has a tendency to get slightly philosophical in his novels and Paper Towns is no exception. Quentin has several internal philosophical musings throughout the book, but I never thought that they were too much. I enjoyed the themes presented in this novel and thought that the characters made the story even more enjoyable.

I really liked this book. It was a fun young adult novel about finding yourself and learning to search deep to find others. I thought that the ending worked well with the overall story and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good young adult novel to read. The characters were likeable and if you are a fan of John Green’s writing, you will not be disappointed.

The film adaptation of Paper Towns is scheduled to be released on July 24, 2015.

If you have read Paper Towns, please share your thoughts in the comments. To view Paper Towns on Amazon, click here.

Book Review: Swerve

51FRirjrxDL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Swerve
Author: Vicki Pettersson
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Rating: 3/5

Swerve is the horrifying psychological thriller that ensues after Kristine Rush and her fiancé, Daniel, stop at an abandoned rest stop in the middle of the desert on their way to his mother’s house for a Fourth of July party. Kristine desperately needs a place to change and although she is leery of the deserted rest stop, she goes in. As she changes, Kristine is ambushed by a man and when she narrowly escapes with her life, she finds that Daniel is missing. When Kristine gets into the car, she discovers that Daniel’s phone has been left behind and a message from her phone illuminates the screen. She realizes that her attacker is communicating with her through Daniel’s phone and if Kristine wants him back alive, she will need to follow all of the attacker’s instructions. Kristine is pushed to her limits as her attacker tests how far she will go to keep Daniel alive. She has twenty four hours to save Daniel and her attacker ensures that each obstacle is more terrifying than the last.

The entire story is told from Kristine’s point of view, as she struggles to complete the tasks that her attacker demands of her. It’s obvious from Kristine’s inner dialogue that she has a dark past, but her past doesn’t become clear until much later in the book. She continuously mentions the Coal Man and thinks back to how she has dealt with a psychopath before, but what she is alluding to isn’t revealed until the end of the novel. After learning about Kristine’s past, I really respected her as a character and continued to root her on. Kristine will stop at nothing to find Daniel and she proves to be resilient in her mission to find him. Her daughter, Abby, is mentioned throughout the book and eventually appears in a few of the later scenes. The love that Kristine has for her daughter is so unconditional and I really enjoyed the scenes that they shared together.

About halfway through the novel, Kristine discovers who her attacker is. I hadn’t been able to guess who the attacker was, and it left me a little shocked. As she interacted with her attacker, his twisted and psychotic thoughts are revealed. The attacker justifies all of his actions and truly believes that he is doing good in the world. In fact, he even tries to blame some of his actions on Kristine. When the attacker shares the a scene with Kristine, it’s cringe worthy and enough to make your skin crawl. I think Pettersson did a great job creating such a frightening villain and his actions kept me on edge until the end of the novel.

One of the main reasons that I did not really enjoy the novel is the amount of gore that it contained. The book is filled with graphic and violent scenes and although the plot was interesting, the violence was too much for me to handle. I also did not really like how the motivation of Kristine’s attacker seemed to change. In the beginning, the attacker tells Kristen that he is doing all of this to see if she cares about people, rather than the possessions she seems to value instead. The motivation then changes and the attacker claims that he kills in the name of evolutionary progress. Although a small disconnect, the inconsistency stuck with me throughout the novel.

Swerve is a psychological thriller that will keep you at the edge of your seat and afraid to turn off the lights. It is definitely a book for those who enjoy the horror genre and not for those who are a bit more sensitive. I am not personally a horror fan, nor do I enjoy copious amounts of gore, so this wasn’t the book for me. However, I appreciated the plot and storyline and thought that it was a very engaging novel. The characters were interesting and if you can handle disturbing, horrifying, and violent scenes, this would be a good novel to read.

If you have read Swerve, please share your thoughts in the comments. To view Swerve on Amazon, click here.

I received a copy of Swerve from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Every Last Word

everylastwordTitle: Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Rating: 5/5

Every Last Word is a young adult novel that focuses on Samantha McAllister, a seemingly popular girl that is attempting to hide her crippling Purely-Obsessive OCD. Sam is tormented by the constant demands of her group of friends, the Crazy Eights, and is always obsessing about her every action around them. Her thoughts can turn into dark spirals, causing her anxiety to spike. After a negative encounter with her friends, she meets Caroline, a laid back girl who struggles with depression. Caroline introduces Sam to the Poet’s Corner, a small room under the stage where the Poets gather every Monday and Thursday to share their poetry. As Sam grows closer to Caroline, she gets more involved in the Poet’s Corner, writes more poetry, and meets a guy that she can’t stop thinking about. For the first time in her life, Sam begins to feel normal. However, one crushing piece of reality will make Sam question her sanity and fear the opinions of those around her.

The novel is told from Sam’s perspective and I thought that her point of view was written beautifully. The anxiety and nervous thoughts are consistent throughout the novel and I thought that Ireland Stone did an amazing job creating such an authentic character. I really liked Sam and thought that she was incredibly easy to relate to. I found myself rooting for her throughout the entire book.

The supporting characters in this novel were just as authentic and real. I loved Sam’s relationships with Sue, her psychiatrist, and with her mother. Regardless of how alone she felt at school or with the Crazy Eights, she always had those two supporting her. I thought that the Crazy Eights were the typical “popular group” but they all seemed to have different personalities, which made them slightly more dynamic. The Poets were all wonderfully depicted and I especially liked Sydney and Emily. Sam’s interactions with AJ were incredibly sweet and I really loved watching their relationship develop, even after Sam’s shocking realization. Most importantly, I thought that Sam’s relationship with Caroline was written with great care and Caroline obviously helped Sam grow stronger and more sure of herself. Caroline was a vital piece of the story and I am glad she was written the way she was.

Sam’s realization that makes her question her sanity is a twist that I had not seen coming. Although I didn’t expect it, the twist made complete sense. I thought that the history behind it was well written and I really enjoyed Sam’s conversations with Sue about it. I think that it added another layer to the story and although it really tested Sam, I think it made her a stronger character by the end of the novel.

I thought that the ending was perfect. It was so satisfying to watch Sam transform throughout the book as she copes with her mental illness. I think that this novel will definitely help reduce the stigma of mental illness and normalize it. It was obvious that a lot of research was done into Purely Obsessive OCD and I think it’ll help others understand it more.The novel also explores some other mature subjects, such as depression, and I think reading about these topics through a teenager’s point of view was very interesting.

I absolutely loved Every Last Word. It is a very easy and enjoyable read that is filled with likeable and believable characters. The story is unique, wonderfully written, and I would highly recommend it.

If you have read Every Last Word, please share your thoughts in the comments. To view Every Last Word on Amazon, click here.

I received a copy of Every Last Word from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Church of Marvels

church of marvelsTitle: Church of Marvels
Author: Leslie Parry
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Rating: 3.5/5

Church of Marvels is a turn-of-the-century novel that unites four unlikely characters after a shocking discovery. Sylvan Threadgill is a night soiler in Manhattan who finds an abandoned infant in the privies in the middle of the night. Despite what others tell him, he rescues the child and brings her to a safe place, determined to find out who abandoned her. Odile Church was a part of an act with her sister, Isabelle, at the Church of Marvels, the Coney Island sideshow that their mother built. A tragic fire destroys the Church of Marvels and kills Odile’s mother and a few other members of the show. Isabelle disappears shortly after the fire and Odile fears something might have happened to her in the gritty city of Manhattan. Alphie worked on the docks before she fell in love with Anthony, the local undertaker. Despite the disapproval of Anthony’s mother, the two married and Alphie has been desperate to impress her. After a violent evening that is all but a blur, Alphie ends up in the lunatic asylum, where she meets an unusual girl without a tongue. The paths of these characters soon collide as they all attempt to solve the mysteries that have been presented to them.

This novel is told from the points of view of Sylvan, Odile, and Alphie. Each of the characters had a very intriguing story and I enjoyed learning about them. I thought that the stereotypes that Sylvan faced were authentic to the era and I found myself hoping that he could find acceptance. Odile is desperate to find her sister and although she always felt inferior to her, I loved her dedication to Isabelle. Alphie lives in a world that doesn’t quite understand her and she spends the novel attempting figure out how she ended up in the lunatic asylum and how she can escape. Alphie’s character is nice and genuine but as she discovers how she ended up in the asylum, I couldn’t help but sympathize with her.

Although I did enjoy learning the different stories of these characters, I thought that there was almost too much background information in the first half of the novel. Since we must learn the stories of these three characters, the book seems to drag out and it doesn’t really pick up speed until the last half of the book. It was obvious that Parry spent a lot of time developing these characters, but there were almost too many details that slowed down the action.

I think my favorite thing about this novel was the incredibly rich and detailed setting. Parry does an excellent job of building an authentic 1895 Manhattan and I could easily picture everything throughout the story. Parry adds small details throughout the novel that add to the authenticity of the era and I really appreciated it. The amount of research that was done for the setting is apparent and the world was incredibly vivid.

I thought that the ending of the novel was well written. I really liked Alphie’s ending and she seemed to finally be at peace by the end of the novel. I felt like Sylvan found the acceptance that he needed. I think that Odile’s ending was a little disappointing after all that she went through, but it did make sense. The epilogue was a little long, but I enjoyed reading from a perspective that Parry did not explore during the novel.

I would have enjoyed this novel more if it hadn’t been so slow in the beginning. The characters were all interesting and the setting was fantastic, but I just felt like the story didn’t pick up until the ending. I will caution any potential readers and say that Church of Marvels is a dark novel and deals with many mature themes, such as illicit drug use and gender identity. I would recommend this novel to a more adult audience who can properly appreciate these topics.

If you have read Church of Marvels, I would love to hear your thoughts as well. To view Church of Marvels on Amazon, please click here.

I received a free copy of Church of Marvels courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.