Tag Archives: review

The Maze Runner is Adventurous and Suspenseful

maze-runnerIn The Maze Runner by James Dashner, people are brought up from an underground cage and put into an enclosed area in the maze with a supply crate. Every month a new person is brought up along with a new supply crate. Thomas is brought up into the maze and when he is, weird things start to happen. Thomas gets curious of what’s beyond the walls but he’s not allowed to go beyond the enclosed area because he’s not a runner. A day after he comes into the maze, someone else comes in, which is odd because it’s usually once a month. When Teresa comes up, she’s the only girl there. In their supply crate they get a note saying that it was the last one. When one of the runners gets hurt, the other runners aren’t going to save him, so Thomas runs into the maze and gets stuck there. No one ever survives the night in the maze because of the grievers who will kill you if they see you. It’s up to Thomas to help everybody find their way out of the maze before it’s too late.

I liked The Maze Runner because it was very suspenseful. Thomas is a strong character because he won’t take no for an answer. He does whatever he needs to in order to get out of the maze instead of just standing there and accepting that this is his life. When Teresa enters the maze it changes how the maze runs and how they had to live their lives. Though Teresa is unconscious for most of the story, she is able to talk to Thomas through her mind which was an interesting twist.

I recommend The Maze Runner to anyone who likes adventurous and suspenseful books.

Britbear gives this book

five-bears

 

“The Page Turners” by Kevin T. Johns Piques Avid Readers’ Imaginations

the page turnersIn The Page Turners by Kevin T. Johns, Nate and friends Danny and Spencer are The Page Turners, an after school club meeting in the school library to discuss the books they’ve read. After saying an incantation found in an old book in the library, the boys have a disagreement and disband the club. But when Spencer’s girlfriend, Marie, dumps him for Valonde the Lover, a character in the Dark Wedding series novels entitled The Blood Bride, the boys must reunite to save her. The question is will the boys survive the confrontation? What other literary villains are lurking in the shadows?  Can Diana even be saved?

I really liked Johns’s novel which reminded me of Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair. The prospect of characters in a novel leaping to life from the pages excites me to no end, and Johns’s telling of the story does not disappoint.The story is well-written, especially the sections concerning Valonde the Lover which are somewhat gothic and entertaining to read. I like that the boys enlist Danny’s sister Diana–a prize archer–in their quest to rescue Marie, though I can’t figure out the significance of describing Diana’s first period in graphic detail. I’ve lived through similar circumstances and still cringed when I read. I can’t imagine teenage girls–or teenage boys for that matter–reading those scenes. It’s not as though Valonde’s only weakness were menstrual blood, or something.

Nevertheless, I recommend this, the first book in The Page Turners trilogy to both the young and the young at heart. If you are an avid reader, or ever imagined yourself interacting with the characters in the book you were reading as you read it (or the book you were writing as you wrote it), then you will most certainly enjoy The Page Turners.

Mamabear gives this book:

four-bears

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Dexter’s Final Cut

DextersfinalcutMy love for the Dexter television series is eclipsed only by my love for the Dexter series of books by Jeff Lindsay, on which the tv series is based. I’m sure most people will agree that (unlike the finale of Breaking Bad) there was something unsatisfying about Dexter tv’s finale. This novel has the same impact.

Dexter’s Final Cut sees anti-hero Dexter Morgan and sister Deborah Morgan consulting with television stars on a CSI-type television show. Though Dexter is saddled with watching the male star, Robert, he is drawn to female star, Jackie, like he’s never been drawn to anyone before, including wife, Rita. When a series of brutal murders are linked to Jackie’s stalker, Dexter does double-duty as Jackie’s body guard. It is there he becomes intoxicated by the Hollywood lifestyle Jackie has to offer.

Much of what drew me into Lindsay’s previous six novels was the cat and mouse play of Dexter and his prey, and his constant struggle keeping a leash on his “dark passenger”, both of which there is little of here. Most of the story focusses on the Dexter-Jackie connection, which wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that Dexter’s married. When you read Dexter, you know what you sign on for–a murder mystery narrated by murderer, anti-hero Dexter. This is not that. Dexter kills once, quickly, not according to his modus operandi, which is unsatisfying, to say the least. While there is killing near the climax, none of it is by Dexter’s hand, which is equally unfulfilling. Lindsay’s narrative is on the money most of the time, keeping the ball and some of the suspense rolling, though while the ups are high, the lows are so low they border on the boring. I won’t say this episode of Dexter is enough to turn me off of Lindsay’s series; I just hope that–if there are more instalments–he will return to his original mode of story-telling, that of cat Dexter, playing with his mouse-bad-guy prey, expending any remaining energy on keeping Dexter’s dastardly deeds secret.

Mamabear gives this book

four-bears

Review: Broken Realms

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00006]Broken Realms by D.W. Moneypenny is a fabulous adventure spanning multiple worlds. Mara Lantern is on a turbulent plane ride when a blue light envelopes the cabin. She believes she’s sleeping or hallucinating, because what she sees–another version of herself, lights flashing, strange creatures replacing the passengers–doesn’t see real. The plane crashes in the lake and passengers are pulled from the lake. Everything seems business as usual until strange things start to happen and Mara learns her life will never be the same again.

I liked Broken Realms, primarily because it reminded me of an episode of  X-files, following the investigation of the crash with Special Agent Ethan Suter of the FBI and Detective Bohannon of the Portland Police Department. Ditto the creatures from other realities. While I realize this is the first of a trilogy and a little leeway should be given to the length of the story to set up the premise of the series, I found the characters a little one-dimensional for my liking.

In Broken Realms, Moneypenny has set up an incredible fantasy universe that will have no problem supporting sequels as Mara, her Miyagi-esque mentor, Ping, and her brother from another dimension mother, Sam, track down the remaining Flight 559 passengers and save them (and the world) by sending them back to their respective realities,

Mamabear gives this book:four-bears

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest
review.

Review: Frostbitten

frostbitten-cover-heather-beckHeather Beck’s Frostbitten, is an entertaining addition to the YA werewolf paranormal romance canon. In Frostbitten, seventeen year old Anastasia is sent to her grandparents when her mother can no longer control her behaviour. It is there, in Cedar Falls, Anastasia meets Frost, a young man adopted as a baby by her grandfather’s business rival. For Anastasia and Frost, it’s love at first sight. Life for Anastasia is complicated what with Anastasia being the new girl at school and brushing the popular kids the wrong way while trying to win her grandfather’s approval. She finds solace in fellow outsider, Frost’s embrace. After neighbours are mauled by what Anastasia thinks is a cougar, she soon learns there’s a dark secret in Cedar Falls’ past, one that is soon to come to the fore. And she and Frost will be thrown right into the middle of it.

I liked Beck’s werewolf tale. The story was fast-paced, and the characters are differentiated. Beck’s story keeps true to the rules popular culture tells us must govern this supernatural being, which is somewhat comforting, especially for a newbie to the genre like me. There are other similarities to be had with romances of the genre, most notably that the main characters fall fast and hard for each other, which is the problem I have with the genre (not necessarily with Frostbitten), and why I’m not a fan of the genre. Beyond this necessary trope, Beck handles the relationship well.

In the end, Frostbitten is a captivating read that, given a bit of polishing, won’t disappoint it’s young adult readers.

Mamabear gives this book

four-bears
 

Note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Invention of Wings

the-invention-of-wings-sue-monk-kiddWhen Sarah Grimke, in Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, is gifted ten year old slave Handful for her eleventh birthday, her first order of business is to set her free, an act that horrifies her parents. It is the first step Sarah takes on the road to becoming a full-fledged abolitionist. Set in Charleston in the early 1800s, Sarah not only believes her family’s insistence at keeping slaves is wrong, she also believes the subjugation of women wrong as well. Young Sarah wants to be a lawyer like her father and brothers. She refuses to believe all that was meant for her in life is marriage, having children, and socializing with Charleston’s upper class.

Sarah’s story alternates with that of Handful who, like Sarah, refuses to accept her lot in life. Handful believes herself better than the way she’s treated, in large part due to Sarah’s inculcating her beliefs about equality in her. While Sarah lives in fear of losing her father’s approval, Handful lives in fear of being whipped or worse, but both women persevere in their attempts to change the world and promote equality for women as well as people of colour.

Sue Monk Kidd’s story is told with a parallel structure. At first, the two protagonists are hard to tell apart. But as Sarah ages, her diction changes and it is easier to discern between the two. One might think an upper-class teenage white girl would have nothing in common with a slave of comparable age, but Kidd manages to find common ground. Sarah and Handful are portrayed for all intents and purposes as sisters, in an effort to demonstrate no matter your skin colour or walk in life, we are all related as members of the human race, each and every one of us worthy of respect.

Of especial interest is the afterword, for that is where Kidd shares her research with her reader. Though Kidd took poetic license with some of her research, much of the plot is based on a true story. I was surprised to learn Sarah Grimke and her blood sister, Angelina, were real people who sacrificed their positions amongst the Charleston elite to speak out against slavery and women’s rights. Both of them were revered speakers and activists who fought for equality for most of their lives.

The Invention of Wings is an incredible read. At times light-hearted, at times tragic, Kidd’s narrative is gripping and straightforward, weaving together real-life with fiction in this tale of the roots of the human rights movement in America.

Mamabear gives this book:

five-bears

 

 

Beautifully written and compelling

http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/i/2013/05/16/Jason-Mott-The-Returned_612x612.jpgMy biggest regret? Not being able to say goodbye to my father before he passed away.

It all happened so quickly. One minute he was going to be okay and I needn’t have to rush to the hospital and the next it didn’t look like he’d make it home. He died while I was stuck on Highway Seven in rush hour traffic, just as I went through an underpass. I know because I had a feeling and I checked the time. When I got to the hospital I learned his time of death was within minutes of my “feeling.”

My second biggest regret? Not going with my mother to visit my grandmother in the convalescent home in the days before she died because it was boring.

I’ve often thought in the twelve years since my dad died and the thirty-five years or so since my grandmother died that I’d like to have that one last chance to say goodbye.

This is the exact sentiment Jason Mott explores in his novel The Returned.

In The Returned, eight year old Jacob returns to his parents, Lucille and Harold, almost fifty years after his death by drowning in the river behind their house. Lucille welcomes him with open arms. Harold is suspicious of his son’s return as he is of all those who have returned without explanation and seemingly without purpose. When the government begins arresting the returned and warehousing them in internment camps, Harold accompanies his son, grows closer to him, and discovers a kinship with those who have returned, as well as with their families.

Part “In the Flesh” (minus the zombies), part “The 4400”, The Returned is a beautifully written and compelling read, so long as you have willing suspension of disbelief enough to forget about why the dead have returned and simply accept the fact that they have. The overall theme of the book illustrates patterns in history, and that we are doomed to repeat ourselves. Case in point, warehousing millions of Jews in concentration camps during World War II and the establishment of Japanese internment camps later in the century. The comparison with these events in the novel is interesting but heavy handed at times, like when a Jewish couple attempts to hide a handful of returned German soldiers on their property. The soldiers are portrayed as innocents, caught up in something in which they have no say, acting as society demands of them, until they are taken outside and shot for their compliance in the war.

The Returned is being made into an American television series called “Resurrection” (the trailer is available on YouTube and it looks amazing), but given the track record of similar series, I don’t know how successful it will be. I know I’ll be watching it, for no other reason than I like the honesty and emotion of the novel and the ultimate message, how society treats “the other” with a combination of demonization and/or segregation and how one man, Harold, grows to overcome his prejudice of “the other” and learns no matter our stories of origin, we are all just people; we are all the same. (original post date: 18 Dec 13)

Please note: this is a book review sample. For my full blog (including more book reviews), see eliseabram.com.

Works Cited

Cover image from http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/i/2013/05/16/Jason-Mott-The-Returned_612x612.jpg