Monday, August 30, 2010

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin


Pages (Hardcover): 400 pages
Publisher: Dial Books
Released: September 7, 2010

Quick Thoughts: I've heard many great things about Nancy Werlin's first book, Impossible. And I knew that she was someone whose books I wanted to read. So when I was offered a copy of Extraordinary to review, I jumped at the chance. Plus, the cover is gorgeous!

Review: In 1772, Mayer Rothschild, made a deal with the Faerie Queen. In exchange of giving him five extraordinary sons, he'll give her a daughter as a sacrifice, not his daughter, not his son's daughters, but a daughter from down his line.

Now in the present, the faeries have finally found a daughter of his to sacrifice, Phoebe Gutle Rothschild. The Queen sends Mallory to work on Phoebe and eventually bring her to the faerie realm. There, Phoebe will be killed and the faerie world will be able to flourish. There isn't a lot of time and with each day that passes, the Queen, and her subjects begin to get weaker and weaker. The only way to help bring them back to their glory is for the death of Phoebe.

Mallory seeks out Phoebe and is surprised to find that Phoebe is drawn to her. The two become fast friends and as the years pass, Mallory’s loyalty starts to shift. She has to help her people in order to survive, but she doesn’t want to lose her best friend as well.

Enter, Ryland, Mallory’s brother. When Phoebe meets Ryland she is immediately bewitched. And as their relationship continues, she’ll find herself drawn to him and questioning everything about herself. But Ryland and Mallory have a goal and Ryland is determined to bring Phoebe no matter what.

Final Thoughts: Werlin is a great storyteller and I found myself captivated and sucked into her story. Extraordinary not only deals with issues about self worth and self esteem, which I think is something that many teens will be able to relate to, but it also asks if killing one person to save millions is the right thing to do?

Some of the characters needed to be fleshed out more, but I did find myself loving Mallory. She is in an awkward position. She wants to save her people and if she doesn’t bring Phoebe in soon, she, along with all the faeries, will die. And yet, she doesn’t want to lose her best friend. Someone she loves like a sister. She’s torn and between the life of her and her people vs. life of one person. You want to root for her, but at the same time, you don’t. I loved it. And while, Mallory isn’t the main character in Extraordinary, I found myself drawn to her story and struggle more than Phoebe.

This brings me to the main character of the novel, Phoebe. I didn’t really like her, but I think it was due to her whining nature. Her personality, while it makes sense for the story, was a little too much. She is someone who is needy, constantly needed validation, and had co-dependency issues. She analyzed her own self worth for pretty much the entire novel, which again, makes sense. It makes sense. It really does, but I still didn’t like it.

Her nature also made it very easy for Ryland to take over. The dynamics between the two was a sad to see. I don’t mean this in a bad way. I liked reading about the two. What made it sad was that it screamed emotional abuse.

Overall, this is a fun book. Werlin is a great storyteller and I did get sucked into the story rather quickly. And instead of making the novel entirely from Phoebe’s point of view, which would make the faeries seem like cruel monsters. Werlin let us see why the faeries did what they did, which helped make them sympathetic and understandable. I may not like Phoebe, but I did love Mallory. It’s a good book, not the best, but good and it even mentions Nantucket, which is always a plus!

Grade: 7.5 out of 10

Thank you to Penguin Canada for providing this book for review.

Reader the shorter review at 5 Line Reviews

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Uzumaki by Ito Junji

Uzumaki, Spiral into Horror

Pages (Paperback): 208 pages
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC; 2 edition
Released: October 16, 2007

Note: I'll be reviewing the entire series, which span between 3 books, but I'll be only posting the first book here.

Quick Thoughts: This is the third or fourth story I've read by Ito Junji. He has a way of taking simple concepts and making them into strange and crazy things. I also enjoy his artwork, when his characters go crazy you can really tell. Anywho, I've heard great things about Uzumaki so I decided to check it out!

Review: The story starts with Kirie Goshima finding her boyfriend's father staring at a snail shell. He's bewitched by it and doesn't even notice Kirie when she walks up to him. According to Shuichi Saito, Kirie's boyfriend, his father has been acting weird lately and doing this kind of thing a lot. He quit his job and spends all day looking at spirals, spirals, and more spirals. Shuichi mentions, in passing, that the town is contaminated with spirals. Kirie doesn’t believe him and when you first start to read the manga, you think he’s kind of crazy too, but as you continue reading, you start to see just how contaminated the town really is.

The spirals start to change Shuichi’s father and drives his mother crazy. People change into spirals, turn into snails, and well, you’ll just have to read the manga to know what else happens to those who are affected by the spiral. Just know that things will get even stranger and stranger for the inhabitants of Koruzo-Cho.

Final Thoughts: I think I love Uzumaki. Not spirals, because I don’t want to go crazy, but the manga is quite wonderful. Ito-san is one of the best horror manga writers in Japan and when you read Uzumaki you really see that. He takes such a simple concept of spirals and makes it into something so horrifying. And the way he ties everything together is quite smart too. The art is clean and crisp and you can tell that Ito-san took his time detailing everything.

My only complaint would be Kirie. I wish she actually listened to Shuichi and figured out that he was right. Kirie, despite warnings from Shuichi, keeps getting involved with spiral cases. Once she does, she always seeks out his help. I would think that after awhile, she’d start to understand where he is coming from. I do understand why she didn’t and once you get to the ending of the manga, you’ll understand as well. I just wish she did something.

Other than that, this is a fantastic manga! I still haven’t read everything by Ito-san yet, but so far, I think this might be his best work. Definitely check this out! This is one manga that you don’t want to miss!

Grade: 10 out of 10

Read the shorter version of this review at 5 Line Reviews

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah

Room Swept White
Pages (Paperback): 448 pages
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Released: August 24, 2010

Quick Thoughts: First, let me thank Penguin Canada for providing me with this review copy. I've been wanting to read Sophie Hannah's books for awhile now and this one was a great place to start.

Review: Helen Yardley, a mother who was wrongfully convicted of killing her two children, is killed. Sarah Jaggard, who was acquitted of charges of killing the child she babysat, is attacked. Rachel Hines, another mother wrongfully convicted of killing her two children, just wants to be left alone. Dr. Judith Duffy, the woman who helped send Helen and Rachel away and almost did the same for Sarah, doesn't want to be bothered by anyone.

Fliss Benson, who was just been 'promoted' to executive producer, took over the responsibilities of producing a documentary about the three women and how the Dr. Judith Duffy destroyed their lives.

When Helen is murdered, the police find a single white card with sixteen numbers on it. The same card that Sarah received after her attack and the one that Fliss keeps receiving in the post. But what do the numbers mean and how does it link the four women together?

Final Thoughts: A Room Swept White was an interesting look at infanticide and the aftermath of families who were wrongfully convicted. There are two sides to every story and I felt like Hannah did a good job making me not hate Judith. I came into the novel thinking that I would dislike the woman who sent innocent women to jail, but the more I read about her, the more I liked her. I don't know if this was because of the hate many of the characters had for her caused me to feel bad and therefore like her, or if it was because knew that this was fiction, and therefore, didn't have to feel guilty for liking her.

Her reasons for sending her testimony were valid, through her eyes, and even though she was wrong, she wasn't, if that makes sense. If I were one of the mothers or a member of their family and friends, I would hate her too though. I did feel guilty that the more I read her accounts, the more I started to doubt Helen and her innocence.

My biggest complaint is the character of Fliss. The book starts with an interview and then a news article about Helen's death. After reading about these, you want to know what will happen next, but then the novel introduces Fliss and the flow was lost on me. Her parts are in first person, when everything else is written in third. This was the biggest reason why the story threw me off when I got to her parts. I’d be reading a news article, or about what the police are doing, and then the novel would switch to first person and it was slightly awkward to read. I did get use to this as the novel went by, but at first, it was challenging. It's not until she meets Rachel when her parts become more interesting, and even then, it's not due to her, but her surroundings.

There are some questions that weren't answered, especially about the police or if Helen really did kill her kids (gosh I feel bad writing this), but overall I enjoyed my time reading the novel. It's thought provoking, intriguing, and has a nice mix of drama with suspense. I loved the Hannah included news articles, interviews, and book excerpts, these were my favourite parts of the novel and it made the situation feel more serious and heavy. I look forward to reading more books by Sophie Hannah.

Grade: 8 out of 10

Read the shorter version of this review at 5 Line Reviews.

Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino

Grotesque (Vintage International)
Pages (Paperback): 544 pages
Publisher: Vintage
Released: February 12, 2008

Quick Thoughts: Ever since I read Out, I've been a fan Natsuo Kirino. She has a way of taking writing things that you just don't expect, or taking a small situation and making it into something strange and crazy. I love it!

Review: Usually, I would write about the novel here and mention what happens, without spoiling the book, of course. But somehow, I feel like if I even attempted to do that I would ruin the experience of the readers who decide to pick up this book. For me, the story, which is intriguing and keeps you on your toes, isn't the main thing or the driving force of this novel. It's the characters. You have the Miss Hirata who is spiteful, and cruel. Her sister, Yuriko Hirata, a narcissist, who is incredibly beautiful, Kazue Sato, a sad individual, and Zhang, a Chinese immigrant who killed both Yuriko and Kazue.

Through these four people, the story unfolds and you slowly learn why Yuriko and Kazue, both of which were prostitutes, were killed.

Final Thoughts: This isn't as amazing or mind blowing as Out, but it did have its moments. One of the things that I loved about this book was how I didn't like anyone. I couldn't get myself to like Yuriko, and understood why her sister hated her. But she was an interesting character and shows how even though you are beautiful, life isn't always full of roses. I wanted to like the Miss Hirata, but she seemed so spiteful and hateful about her life and sister that I just pitied her. I understand why she hates her sister, I do, but after 30 some years, she should have gotten over it.

With Kazue, I felt so bad for her because I understood why she was doing what she was doing. She reminded me of someone who tries to fit in, who doesn’t think of themselves as good enough, even though they are at the top of their class and work incredibly hard to succeed in life. Had someone helped her and worked on her self-esteem issues, she might not have died. Zhang, the most interesting character out of the four, I won’t say much about him, but I will say that I loved what Kirino did with him.

This is truly a book where you won't like anyone, I know I didn't, but Kirino wrote it in such a way that even though you didn't like anyone, or relate to them, you wanted to hear their stories and see what happens next. The dark, ugly side of the characters truly represents the title of this novel, Grotesque. It’s not pretty and it’s disturbing for the most part, but there is something about the novel that I just a great time in reading. It’s not a book for everyone, but I for one, loved almost every minute of reading it. My only complaint is that it is a little slow to get into, but once the story picks up, you quickly forgive it.

Just a note, I was reading some reviews of Grotesque and found that the publishers censored the end of the book, which is a shame, since it did feel like you were missing something. Hopefully, there is a version that has the complete ending out there.

Grade: 9 out of 10

Is this review a little too big, read the shorter verison at 5 Line Reviews.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Little Red Book by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff

My Little Red Book
Pages (Hardcover): 240 pages
Publisher: Twelve
Released: February 26, 2009

Quick Thoughts: As someone who use to hate the idea that a female would bleed every month, I wanted to read this book so bad. Now that I'm older and wiser, I can appreciate my period a little more and even respect it.

Review: Every girl remembers their first period, you may forget some details, like the date, but you remember what happened and the situation surrounding it.When I first got mine, I remember that I was playing outside and fell down pretty hard on my bottom. When I went home that afternoon and took a trip to the washroom, I saw something that I didn't want to see. I told my mother who told me I had my period. I denied it. Then denied it some more and my mum basically had to convince me that I actually had my period. But all I remember is that I hated it!

Which is weird, because most girls want to have their periods. I remember in grade 6, girls were gushing about it, and me (who got hers at 9) was thinking that they must be crazy. I was a weird kid, but reading how the different authors experienced their first period was funny, emotional, and thought provoking. One thing that I noticed was that many of them were very mature about it, something I clearly lacked.

Final Thoughts: There was one story in the book where the author said that how you deal with your period, reflects on how you'll deal with big problems in your life. When I first read this, it made me think. I never thought of it that way. I hope it isn't the case with me, but it is an interesting theory.

My Little Red Book, is charming and it's truly unique. You don't really hear about periods, so it was nice to have a book that is so open about it. That being said, since it is a book filled with different stories, poems, and essays, it was hard for me to read it at one go. I have this problem with anthologies as well, which isn't a bad thing. I just think it starts to get a little tedious reading period story after period story in a short span of time.

There was one thing in the beginning, when Rachel was talking about how different cultures and religions deal with periods, that made me raise an eyebrow. Not because it was out there or crazy, but that the verse was taken out of context. Before I read this book, I learned about how Muslims deal with periods, so the verse used didn't really make sense to me. I understand the reason for it, but because I know what the verse meant and the reasoning behind it, it didn't really work for me.

Other than that, this was a good book. Definitely take your time reading this and enjoy it!

Grade: 8.5 out of 10

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki

Parasyte 1

Pages (Paperback): 288 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Released: May 1, 2007

Note: This is the first book in the series, however, since I finished this manga I'll be reviewing the entire thing. If you do pick this up, make sure you pick up the Del Rey version since it's adapted better in English than the former one.

Quick Thoughts: When I reviewed The Host, I mentioned that in the beginning, it reminded me of Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki. Since I'm a lover of manga, I decided that I'll review this on here as well.

Review: Parasite like aliens come and invade earth, they are small and shoot themselves into people's heads in order to take over their host's body. This is understandable, considering that aliens need to do what they can to stay alive. Sadly, in order to survive in this world, they need to eat us. Again, very understandable, except it's not. And they keep killing a lot of people in incredibly gruesome ways.

One of these parasite tries to infect Shinichi, a high school student, but misses his target and ends up getting lodged into Shin's hand. There, he is stuck, unable to reach his target the parasite lives his life in Shinichi's right hand. Shin, is freaked out about this, but the two form an understanding and decide to help each other out. Shin even gives the parasite a name, Migi, which means right in Japanese.

Things should be okay, but other parasites who successfully took over their host, notice the strange nature of Shin and attack. As you keep reading (and you will) the plot deepens and becomes so much more about Shin and Migi trying to survive and more about humans psyche. It was beautifully done.

Final Thoughts: The artwork takes a more realistic approach and has a lot of details. It's also interesting to see what form the parasite takes, since they are able to manipulate the host's body and change their shape, appearance, and even become a killing machine.

It also makes you wonder, if we, as humans, can kill animals in order to survive and eat something. Does that make us hypocrites if others do the same to us? And if you need to survive and attack another person to do so, is it bad? Migi, doesn't think so, he's incredibly cold and does what he needs to do in order to survive. Shin, being human, is clearly conflicted by this and tries his best to retain his humanity and show Migi what is truly important. I liked Migi, I thought he was a fascinating character in this story, but there are times when he scared me.

One of my favourite side stories was of a parasite, who infected a pregnant woman. Seeing how she, who is hardwired to eat humans, deals with bringing a child into her life. What would she do with the child? There are scenes with the two of them together and slowly she tries to understand a way to bridge her world with the humans.

This manga is kind of gory, no...actually there is a lot of gore, so I wouldn't recommend it to younger readers. However, if you enjoy action, comedy, a hint of romance, and psychological thrillers, then you need to pick this up. What the manga starts with and what it leaves you with at the end is completely different. I loved it!

Grade: 9.5 out of 10

Reader the shorter version of this review at 5 Line Reviews.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host: A Novel

Pages (Paperback): 619 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Released: May 6, 2008

Quick Thoughts: I've owned this book for awhile now, but didn't read it. I'm not sure why, perhaps it was the page count that always made me look at another book. Then I read Twilight, soon after I read the rest of the books in the series. After I finished them, I decided that I need to read The Host.

Review: Meet the Wanderer, an alien being that travels the planets, never settling for one place or another. Her race, called Souls, have survived by becoming parasite like creatures that take over their host's body. Now on earth, the Wanderer is placed inside a human named Melanie.

Normally, the souls completely take over, but when the Wanderer hears Melanie's thoughts, she knows something isn't right. The two can't stand each other and rightfully so. Melanie wants her mind and body back and the Wanderer wants her body to be free of it's former host.

That all changes when the Wanderer sees Melanie's life and realizes she can't inform her companions of Melanie's family. Despite herself, she's loves Melanie's brother, Jamie, and Melanie's love interest, Jared. So the two hatch a plan to leave the compound and seek them out.

Their arrival to the humans isn't a smooth one and it isn't easy for both of them to witness the brutality of their 'family.' But the more the Wanderer, now dubbed Wanda by the humans, stays with her new friends, the more she can't help but want to be a part of them. But will the two species be able to cohabitate together? Or will the war between them continue?

Final Thoughts: When I first started to read The Host, it reminded me of the manga, Parasyte by Iwaaki Hitoshi. Both have very simple ideas, but take it to a whole other level. Both stories deal with parasite like creatures invading their hosts, but messing up, causing the the human and alien to join forces. Parasyte is more about the psychological aspect of this, while The Host is more about the journey one alien takes to find themselves.

Wanderer is a fantastic character, completely different from Bella, Wanda is sympathetic, caring, and yet completely aware of herself. She knows she won't be accepted very easily and despite this, she continues trucking along so that others can acknowledge that she means no harm.

The love triangle, or should I say square? Was actually quite interesting to read. I personally dislike the use of love triangles in a story, because more often than not, the girl will string along both guys and be stupid about it. Plus, there is always cheating involved and I find it hard to respect a character like that. However with The Host, it made sense. Melanie is in love with Jared. Wanda loves Jared, due to Melanie's thoughts, but finds herself falling for Ian. It's not really a love triangle/square in the tradition sense, but it ends up being that way due to Wanda and Melanie sharing the same body.

The writing style was what blew me away though. It's the same, but completely different from how Meyer's wrote the Twilight series. I've read that she was targeting adults with this book and I guess that somehow made her novel jump out more. Her writing suits this kind of story and themes than it did with vampires. It's a shame though, because I want to read more of Meyer's adult novels now.

This is a real treat and I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading this. I need more Stephenie Meyer! :p

Grade: 10 out of 10

ps. Pick up Parasyte by Iwaaki Hitoshi, tis a fantastic manga and one that will make you think.

Was this a little too much, if so check out the smaller review at 5 Line Reviews

Prey by Thomas Emson


Pages (Hardcover): 469 pages
Publisher: Snowbooks Ltd.
Released: November 1, 2009

Quick Thoughts: Maneater was fun. Skarlet was noteworthy, and Prey is...

Review: Laura Greenacre has been hiding since the events from Maneater, keeping her distance from her non-werewolf aunt and her love, John Thorn. The Templetons are still trying to kill her and the authorities haven't given up searching for her.

Despite all this, a loyal group of regular joes remain supportive of Laura through the internet. Sharing their stories of how Laura saved them on that fateful day and keeping tabs on any werewolf sightings and hoping that one day they can see Laura again. Laura has her own mini fan club.

One person who isn't in the club is Ruth Templeton, who wants to kill Laura for murdering her family. Now, a werewolf herself, she's embraced her animal side and will not let anything get in her way of seeking her revenge. She finds a man, by the name of Wheeler Burns, to help her. Burns, along with his rich friends, bored of hunting animals have decided to up their game and hunt humans. Ruth decides to give them Laura and have a fun afternoon hunting the werewolf.

Final Thoughts: Wow, I was actually surprised by how much I liked this book compared to the last two. The addition of Burns was a great one. He's someone who you want to hate and want to see killed. Hunting humans for sport is sickening, but it made sense in the novel and it was interesting reading about him and his horrible involvements.

I loved the contrast between Laura and Ruth. Maneater was very much a story about Laura's revenge on the Templetons and the way Laura went about that was completely different to how Ruth tried to get back to Laura. Ruth was spiteful, mean, hateful, and did anything she could to get what she wanted, when she wanted it. While Laura was just going to go full force and guns blazing, Ruth would use her resources.

It was nice and despite myself, I looked forward to the chapters involving Ruth. She was definitely not a woman you could trust and if you failed, she would eat you. She was definitely the truest definition of a cougar.

As much as I love the character of Laura, I found myself more interested in Ruth, Burns, and Major Lev Dasaev. Laura is still a memorable character and she's great in this book, but Lev took over my favourite character spot in this novel. He's a wonderful character and incredibly sympathetic at that too. I wish we saw more of him, but I did like how he ended up becoming the hero in the end.

Prey wasn't something anticipated, Emson mentions that he didn't plan to write a sequel after Maneater, however, I'm glad he did. Everything that I loved about Maneater was intensified in Prey. Great characters, great premise, and tons of actions. Can't wait to read more from Emson!

Grade: 10 out of 10

Visit 5 Line Reviews, for the shorter version of this review.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen


Pages (Paperback): 256 pages
Publisher: Speak
Released: May 11, 2004

Quick Thoughts: This is the first novel by Sarah Dessen that I read. I remember really wanting to read this one, because I love blue hues. If you haven't noticed yet, I'm incredibly shallow when it comes to book cover. When I heard what the book was about, I was interested. I read one book about abuse and while for the most part I liked it, the book didn't only talk about the victim.


"It was like he wanted to be mad, so he'd have an excuse to do what he did to me."

~ taken from page 168 of Dreamland

On the morning of her 16th birthday, Caitlin's sister, Cass, runs away, leaving behind a present and a note for her parents. She ran away with her boyfriend Adam, and now works in a Jerry Springer like show.

Her mother takes the disappearance the hardest, sulking and watching the show religiously, the moment it comes on the TV. During this time, Caitlin takes up cheerleading (it's something Cass wouldn't do) and meets Rogerson, a drug dealer, and super genius. The two hang out and pretty soon Caitlin start falls in love for the resident bad boy.

After a scene involving Rogerson's father when the two really become close and pretty soon Caitlin's whole life starts to revolve around Rogerson. It doesn't take long for Caitlin to start falling behind in school and failing almost every class, but as long as she's with Rogerson it doesn't seem so bad. Rogerson introduces her to sex, drugs, and sadly his fists as well.

Even though I knew it was coming, when the first punch happened it still surprised me. I think I even gasped when it happened. The abuse doesn't start until the middle of the book, which is something that I liked. Abuse doesn't usually start right away in a relationship. There is usually a time period when everything seems perfect and emotions start to develop. It's after this period that the abuse happens. The book follows the same sort of formula, which is why the abuse so shocking.

Final Thoughts: Dreamland is a depressing book, with a message about hope, but it's mostly depressing. But when it comes to abuse, I think it needs to be. It's heartbreaking and I was so emotionally invested in Caitlin that every time she came home with a new bruise and make an excuse for it, I wanted to find her, give her a hug, and tell her to wake up! It's frustrating to watch someone give up and let this happen to them, but watching how Caitlin falls made me understand why she stayed. The reasons why he hurt her was illogical and the reason she stayed with him was stupid, but it's realistic.

I loved this book, because it didn't shy away from abuse and how the victim deals with it. Dreamland is a brutally honest book that is chilling to read. It's also a book that I will never forget. This is a book that you definitely need to pick up!

Grade: 10 out of 10

For the shorter version of this review, visit 5 Line Reviews.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Skarlet by Thomas Emson


Pages (Paperback): 448 pages
Publisher: Snowbooks Ltd.
Released: December 1, 2009

Quick Thoughts: I've mentioned that if there is a book where the author takes a popular supernatural creature, but changes it in a way to make it their own, I will almost always want to read about it. I liked what Emson did with Maneater, so I had high hopes for Skarlet.

Review: It's a normal night in London for Jake Lawton. Jake, a disgraced ex-solider, works as a bouncer at a local nightclub called Religion. The club is popular with wannabe vampires and goths and it's up to Jake to keep the clubs free from vermin and drug dealers.

Fraser Lithgow, a drug dealer, is usually not allowed to go into Religion, but gets special permission to go on in. There, Fraser does what he does best, give drugs to people. The drug today is one called Skarlet. He doesn't know what it does or how good it is, all he knows is someone told him to give it out and that is what he's going to do. Things should be normal for him, but when club goers start dying after taking the drug, his life just went from bad to worse.

Everyone who takes the drug dies almost instantly. Fraser knows it's due to his drug and Jake knows that Fraser did something. But why was he allowed into the club in the first place and who gave Fraser the drugs in the first place?

48 hours later, the dead clubbers come back to life and they're hungry and kind of disgusting, but mostly just hungry.

It's up to Jake, Fraser, and a journalist who ruined Jake's career, to team up and figure out what is going on, before it's too late.

Emson has a way with writing and the short chapters help make the novel fast paced. The action is amazing, and the Babylonian myth that he weaves into the story was nicely done. The characters, for the most part, are developed nicely. You may not like them, but you do understand where they are coming from. Jake is still bitter after being wrongfully discharged from the army. Fraser, well...Fraser is just stupid (but I like him that way) and thankfully, he does grow a bit as the novel goes on.

The story behind journalist, Christine, was the most realistic. I don't like journalists doing whatever they can to get a story, even if they have to ruin people's lives, and while I didn't like her, I did sympathize with her situation. Her home life, while frustrating to read, had a lot of truth in it. I know that there are a lot of couples going through what Christine is going through and I liked how Emson added this in.

The villains in the novel are human and hearing about them is one of the best parts in the novel. The first chapter is both horrifying and yet so satisfying at the end of it. You hear about the villains from the present, which was interesting, but it didn't have the impact that the flashback chapters about them had on me. They do some really bad things, but due to their actions from the flashbacks, they had redeeming qualities about them.

Final Thoughts: If you are a fan of vampire novels and enjoy horror, then definitely pick this book up. While Maneater had the theme of revenge, this one had survival and you could really feel it as you read the novel. I will say that the same problem that I had with Maneater did continue here, as there were some words and phrases were overused and made some of the dialogue repetitive. However, there were many things that I did like; the chapters remain short, keeping up with the fast pace of the novel, the characters were fleshed out nicely, and there is just so much action in this that it was just so much fun to read. The ending does leave you with some questions, but seeing as this is the first in a series, I'm sure we'll be seeing the answers soon. Can't wait to read more from this series and from Emson.

Grade: 9 out of 10

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The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns by Elizabeth Leiknes

The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns

Pages (Hardcover): 167 pages
Publisher: Bancroft Press
Released: June 15, 2009

Quick Thoughts: This is a small book. Probably won't take me anymore than an hour to read. The premise is what interested me in wanting to read this book, something about people selling their souls sounds like a fun reading time to me. But it's a small book.

Review: When Lucy was a child, her sister was in a terrible accident and fell into a coma. The situation looks dire, so Lucy rushes home and writes a letter 'To whom it may concern,' pleading for them to save the life of her sister. Sure enough, the letter is answered and Lucy's sister gets better. Things are great, until Lucy realizes what exactly happened and once she does her life will never be the same.

Years later, Lucy, now a facilitator to Hell, sends bad people away to her basement. The job provides her with beauty, money, almost anything she could ever want or ask for, except a real life with friends and family. Something Lucy craves and wants. It isn't until a meeting with her singing idol that Lucy finally takes the initiative and tries to get out of her contract. The loophole she finds may be a blessing and would enable her to have the life she always dreamed of, but if she fails, well let's just say that she'll be taking a trip downstairs and not coming back.

The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns is funny, charming, and a surprisingly sweet story. The way she got herself entangled into this situation isn't a bad one. She did, what I would assume, many children would do if their friend or family member was in critical condition with no hope of surviving.

Also, the fact that Lucy doesn't age, is beautiful, and can have anything she wants, yet is still depressed about her life is, well depressing. Material wealth may make one happy for a moment, but at the expense of losing loved ones it seems like such a bum deal. This was one of the many reasons why it was so easy to root for Lucy.

This being a supernatural chic-lit means that there is some romance in the novel, but I liked that it wasn't so overly played and the main thing about the novel. It's nice Lucy found someone though.

Final Thoughts: I was nervous when I realized how short The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns is, but my worry left the minute I started to read it. It's charming, funny, and you can't help but smile while reading this. Lucy is a wonderful character and you can't help but root for her to get out of this contract and live a normal life. I do wish this novel was bigger though and we saw more of Lucy's life growing up and her job, but what can you do.

This is a lovely book that is a must read!

Grade: 9.5 out of 10

Enjoy the smaller things in life, then check out the smaller version of this review at 5 Line Reviews

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Likeness by Tana French

The Likeness: A Novel

Pages (Paperback): 512 pages
Publisher: Penguin
Released: May 26, 2009

Quick Thoughts: I was on the fence about In the Woods, it was a beautifully written novel, with an amazing lead character, but the plot was predictable and one of the plot points never gets solved. When I heard about the Likeness, I thought that the 1984 murder case would be talked about here and perhaps solved. Unfortunately, it turns out that this is a separate novel, with the lead character not being Rob *gasp* but Cassie.

Review: Did I mention that there was no Rob in this novel? No, that's not true, he's mentioned, but he isn't really there. *sigh*

Moving on.

In The Likeness, French tells the story of Cassie, Rob's former partner, taking on a special case. The murder division found the dead body of Lexie Madison, who looks exactly like Cassie. Not only that, but she is using the name that Cassie and her former boss, Frank, made up when she was undercover. Since there are no leads to the case and it seems to be going no where, Frank decides to send Cassie undercover as Lexie Madison and find out what happened. Cassie, much to the dismay of her boyfriend and fellow police officer, agrees and soon she is studying Lexie's mannerisms and speech, so that she doesn't get discovered.

In order for this to work, the police lied to Lexie's roomates, telling them that she did not die but is simply unconscious. The roommates are suspicious, but once they see Lexie (who is now Cassie) come back into their lives, they toss their suspicion aside and welcome her in with open arms. Cassie soon finds herself sucked into the lives of her roommates and actually feels happy, despite being in the same house as a murderer. This leaves her with two choices, either continue on with the case and find the killer, causing her new friends to hate her and losing her new life. Or, remaining with the friends and letting the case drag on.

The fact that Cassie is able to sneak her way into the house seems a little implausible. If the roommates were such good friends with the original Lexie, then surely they would have figured out that there is something fishy with Cassie. I think French purposely did this to show that the roommates wanted Lexie, regardless of what happened, just so everything can be the same. I understand this, but the amount of times Cassie messes up and for them to do nothing about it, just doesn't work for me.

However, one of the things I liked from the first novel does show up here. French has a way of taking likeable characters and doing a 180 on them. Even though this is a rehash of what happened to Rob and Cassie didn't fall as hard, it was still fun to read. I think I love train wrecks.

Final Thoughts: The Likeness has some good points, but the plot about Lexie is a bit too much to stomach. I know there were many readers who loved Cassie in the previous novel, but seeing her take the lead here made me realize how much I miss Rob.

I wonder when he's going to come back?

Grade: 7 out of 10

The Likeness: A Novel is available at bookstores and Amazon.

Sometimes smaller is better, if you agree, then check out the shorter version of this review at 5 Line Reviews

In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods

Pages (Paperback): 464 pages
Publisher: Penguin
Released: May 27, 2008

Quick Thoughts: Can I just start by saying that this has a gorgeous cover. It's simple, yet beautiful at the same time. I love it. And that is more or less the reason why I wanted to read this book. What can I say, I'm easy to please and very shallow when it comes to book covers.

Review: One day, Adam Ryan and his two friends decide to go into the woods and play, something they usually did. Except, only Adam of them comes back and they can't seem to remember anything from that day. Twenty later, Adam, who now goes by the name of Rob, is a police officer. His past remains hidden from almost everyone that he knows and he intends to keep it that way. But when a girl is murdered in the same woods that his friends disappeared in, Rob will have to face his past whether he likes it or not.

Okay, maybe not, since the past is never solved. One of the things I really wanted to read about was his past. Two kids disappear, one kid returns disheveled with blood on his shoes, he doesn't remember what has happened and no one has a clue either. His friends remain missing and his memory does as well. This just has oodles of opportunity to make a great mystery novel. And yet, nothing ever comes from it.  The mystery surrounding the girl who died, 20 years later, is predictable and not sadly not as interesting as Rob's mystery. Even though I do understand why French didn't resolve the original murder, I still wish that there was more about it. Not everything will be solved and some things will always remain a mystery, but I still want to know what happened.

One thing I loved though is how French dealt with Rob. He went from a likeable character that you want to root for, to someone who is just wrong, stupid, and unlikeable. His fall from grace was truly a joy to read. This may sound bad, but the more he fell, the more it made me want to keep reading to see how much of a bigger hole he could dig himself into. That and the fact that Rob constantly mentions that he's a very good liar, makes me wonder if he actually knows more about what happened to his friends then he is letting on.

The other characters couldn't really hold a candle to Rob, he was by far the most interesting person in the novel and the one who I wanted to read about the most.

Final Thoughts: From what I've read and seen, this is a book that you either love or hate. I simply fall in between.I do remember one part, near the end, when Rob is telling us about what happen and how we, as the reader, are fooled. Except, I wasn't. It's not because it was predictable (even though it was), but because throughout the novel there are little hints here and there, many from Rob narration, that guide you towards the truth.

In the Woods is a beautifully written novel with a character that is unforgettable, sadly, the book is predictable and we never find out what happened to Rob's friends.

Grade: 7.5 out of 10

In the Woods is available at bookstores and Amazon.

Check out the smaller version of this review at 5 Line Reviews

Maneater by Thomas Emson


Pages (Paperback): 380 pages
Publisher: Snowbooks
Released: June 2009

Quick Thoughts: Once upon a time, I was starting to get a bit burned out from the urban fantasy genre. When you read a lot at the same time, things start to sound the same. It was during this period that I found about this book and I'm glad I did, because it's pretty awesome!

Review: Laura and her family were caught under a dangerous family feud between the Greenacres and the Templeton. Her family, the Greenacres, were all murdered when she was a child, leaving her as the only survivor. The Templetons didn't like that the Greenacres embraced their werewolf side, while the Templetons suppressed it. Many years pass, but one thing remains the same. Laura and her revenge on the Templetons.

The Templetons have changed though, after a bit from Laura one of the family members changes into a werewolf and likes his new found powers. He convinces his family to change as well and embrace it. And it isn't long for the Templetons to realize that in order to achieve their goals, they'd need to take out Laura first.

I think Laura Greenacre is my favourite female werewolf at the moment. I like how her animal side rubs off on her human one, she's very much a lone wolf and you can see that when she's human. If she's in danger, she doesn't hesitate to kill and I think that is something that a werewolf would do, especially one who grew up as a werewolf. She wants her revenge and she isn't willing to let anyone get in her way, I love it.

The Templetons are another matter. I couldn't find any reason to like them, or find something redeeming about them, which is fine since they are meant to be the villains of the book. Their motivations, however, make perfect sense. If you found out that you come from a line of werewolves, but due to your family suppressing this, your powers remained dormant, you might be a little excited when you become a werewolf. And if you start becoming power hungry, well again, it makes sense. When you have power you want to rule the world and if you come from a powerful family, that sort of feeling comes a lot easier.

Final Thoughts: I don't think this book is for everyone, but I loved my time reading this. The chapters are short, which helps keep up with the fast nature of this novel. And the book is action packed. This is a perfect book for the big screen. My only complaint, would be the overuse of the phrase, "she will eat you alive." But other than that, this is a book you don't want to miss.

Grade: 9.5 out of 10

Maneater is the first book about Laura and is available at bookstores and Amazon.

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

The Book of Lost Things

Pages (Paperback): 480 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Released: October 16, 2007

Quick Thoughts: Fairy tales are amazing things. They can scare you, excite you, and take you to another world. When I was a kid, I loved them to bits. Now, as a bigger kid, I still love them. I found out about this book from either the newspaper or Amazon and I thought it sounded fantastic. If there is something I love even more than fairy tales, it's fairy tale retellings.

Review: David is having a hard time adjusting to his new world. His mother, who he loved dearly, recently passed away. His father remarried a woman who David hates, and now the two are welcoming a new child into their lives. The only thing that David finds solace in is his new room. The former resident, his step-mom's uncle, mysterious disappeared without a trace one day. After a fight with his step-mom, David hears his mother's voice in the garden causing him to rush over there.

But the garden is a dangerous place and it gets even worse when a German bomber plane falls onto the garden. David hides in one of the cracks and finds himself in a new fantasy world. With no way back home, David must travel to meet the King and seek his help. The road to the King is a dangerous one, with David losing a companion after companion on the way. David also has to fight off a dangerous Huntresses, who fuses kids with animals to make hunting more exciting, a castle in which Sleeping Beauty resides, and the mysterious intentions of the Crooked Man, who may be friend or foe.

David is a great character, he's a little annoying in the beginning, but it works because he's meant to be. He's lashing out at Rose because he still mourns his mother, it makes sense and works well for his character. I loved how once David goes into the fantasy like world, he grows and starts to appreciate his step-mother and brother. This was nicely done and mirrored David's journey through the world.

The other characters in the fantasy world were great, my favourite being Snow White, a fat, grotesque woman, who oppresses the poor dwarfs so much that they tried to kill her. They tried to pin it on the Evil Stepmother, but she had an airtight alibi and so the dwarfs were caught. As punishment, they now have to serve and be stuck with Snow White.

The Crooked Man, the villain of the story, was another one of my favourites. He not only protects and guides David, but also tries to bring him down. It isn't until the end that you, and David, discover his true motivations, but the journey there was a fun one and I loved seeing what he would do next.

Final Thoughts: This is something magical about this book that had me smiling the entire time I was reading it. One of my favourite things about the book was the stories that some of the characters told. An example is Red Riding Hood, a girl who sees a wolf and seduces it bringing the first werewolf into the land. This and other changes to fairy tales was nicely done and beautifully written. I also liked the parallels between David's journey through the fantasy land and his inner journey and growth to appreciate his situation back home. The book definitely reminded me of old fairy tales, the ones that were scary and didn't always have a happy ending. Great book, definitely check it out.

Grade: 9.5 out of 10

The Book of Lost Things is available at bookstores and Amazon.

Read the shorter version of this review at 5 Line Reviews