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What’s Left of Me – Kat Zhang (Review)

11 Mar

Description

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else–two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t…

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet…for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

My thoughts

Let’s see … Did I love this book? The answer would be no. The first 30% of What’s Left Of Me almost made me give up on reading it. The plot was very slow and I just couldn’t get into the story. I don’t know exactly why because the characters were OK and the idea was somehow original: every person is born with two souls. One of the souls will become dominant and will control the body, while the other will slowly fade away and eventually disappear.

The main character of this book is Eva (she also narrates the story), a recessive soul, who shares the same body with her sister, Addie. Most children begin settling in kindergarten, some during middle school, but those two sisters never settled at all, which makes them a hybrid. Here is the problem: everyone thinks that the hybrids are a danger to the society, so when one is discovered it’s taken away by police and maybe institutionalised in order to be “helped” to settle.

In order to live a normal life with their family, Addie and Eva had to learn to lie, to pretend that they settled and that everything was normal about them. Addie was the only one in control, Eva being just trapped inside the body, with nothing else to do but just speaking with her sister and practically being a spectator to everything that happened in her life. Everything is going “well” until they meet two other hybrids – Hallie and Lissa; Devon and Ryan – who promise to teach Eva how to talk and walk again. Thinking this is a great opportunity, Eva convinces her sister to accept the offer, but this decision will soon change everything. All of them will be discovered and taken to a hospital where they should be helped to settle.

Like I said, the idea of the book was original, but at the same time I had a hard time trying to believe that that could actually happen in the real world. There was no explanation for how the world got that way, for how the hybrids first appeared. Also, I’m not sure exactly when the story takes place: in the near/far future or the present, in an alternate world? Since this is a trilogy, maybe the author will explain everything in the next books.

Eva is the main character and I know I should have felt sorry for her for being trapped inside a body and practically being dead to everyone, but there were a lot of moments when she got on my nerves. There were times when I just couldn’t sympathize with her because she acted in a selfish way, without thinking about the repercussions of her actions and decisions. In the end, I think I liked Addie more because she was more cautious.

I think I would have given What’s Left of Me 4 stars if I hadn’t previously read Unwind and The Darkest Powers trilogy. This book reminded me a lot of the books that I just mentioned, a good amount of the plot taking place in a hospital where the doctors made experiments on the children. With that being said, I will give this book 3 stars. So, did I love this book? No, but I admit it was a worthwhile read. I still recommend it and I hope you, guys, will like it more than I did!

Thanks to Netgalley.com and HarperCollins Publishers UK for sending me this e-book.

My rating cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400

Haunted Places: True Encounters with the World Beyond – Hans Holzer (Review)

2 Feb

ebook, 52 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers

 

Description

Join paranormal expert and ghost hunter Hans Holzer as he investigates the most famous haunted locations around the world.

Ghosts have been known to haunt not only houses but other locations as well—such as dark forests, trains, ships, and even airplanes. Professor Hans Holzer looks at several of the most menacing of these cases, from the ghost bride of Nob Hill in San Francisco to the “gray man” of Pawley’s Island in South Carolina and the haunted organ at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

My thoughts

I could compare “Haunted Places: True Encounters with the World Beyond” with “A Haunting”, a paranormal TV series which I used to watch from time to time on Discovery Channel. This book contains several stories about haunted places which the author visited alone or with a psychic friend of his.

The author described very well the locations and he also presented the history of all those places as well as people’s experiences, their encounter with ghosts. Even though the provided information was interesting in most of the stories, some of them contained too much history and tended to be quite boring.

What I liked:
-Some of the stories were quite spooky.
-In several cases, the author presented the identities of the ghosts.

What I didn’t like:
-The history parts were boring sometimes.
-I wish certain locations were analyzed in more depth.
-Some of the stories were accompanied by photos, but I wish more of them were included for us to be able to see the haunted locations.

All in all, I found this book interesting and I will continue to read more books written by Hans Holzer.
Thanks to Netgalley.com and Open Road Integrated Media for sending me this e-book.

My rating:  cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400

Hysteria – Megan Miranda (Review)

23 Jan

Paperback, 272 pages
Expected publication: February 14th 2013 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published February 5th 2013)

 

Description

Mallory’s life is falling apart.

Her boyfriend was stabbed. He bled to death in her kitchen. Mallory was the one who stabbed him. But she can’t remember what happened that night. She only remembers the fear…

When Mallory’s parents send her away to a boarding school, she thinks she can escape the gossip and the threats. But someone, or something, has followed her. There’s the hand that touches her shoulder when she’s drifting off to sleep. A voice whispering her name. And everyone knows what happened. So when a pupil is found dead, Mallory’s name is on their lips.

Her past can be forgotten but it’s never gone. Can Mallory live with that?

My thoughts

Thanks to Netgalley.com and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc for sending me this e-book.

I was somehow disappointed with this book, not because it wasn’t good, but because I expected so much more from it. Seeing the cover and reading the description, I thought Hysteria was going to be a little bit creepy and full of suspense. Unfortunately, for the most part it was another “girl goes to another school, encounters some mean girls and falls in love with a nice boy” story. Don’t get me wrong, there were some suspenseful scenes and some mysteries that needed to be solved, but for me those weren’t enough. I think the plot should have been more focused on those aspects than on the teenage drama or romance.

Mallory is a 16-year-old girl who killed her boyfriend-Brian. Though she can’t remember what exactly happened, the evidence points to self-defense, so she is cleared from the accusations. Since her parents think that she is in danger because Brian’s mother is stalking her, they decide to send Mallory to a boarding school (I don’t really understand what they were thinking: that once she gets there she will forget everything and have a happy life?). Unfortunately her life doesn’t become easier. Everyone knows about the incident and is judging her, she is still haunted by the event and on top of that she thinks that someone is after her. Mallory has a sleeping disorder, every night she has the same nightmare and in the morning she finds bruises on her body. Even though she knows this is wrong, she never tells anyone about it, and she refuses to seek help. At the boarding school she also meets an old friend, Reid, who eventually becomes her boyfriend.

I liked the fact that we don’t know from the beginning why Mallory decided to kill Brian. Throughout the story there are some flashbacks about her past and little snippets that help us understand what happened that night. Then, there are the nightmares and the marks that appear every morning on her body. I am still a little bit confused about how she got them, but those two elements were actually what kept me interested in Hysteria and made me finish reading it in a few hours. Even though those were my favourite parts of the book, I still think they could have been more developed and that the author should have written more about the psychological aspect of the book instead of romance or teenage drama. I wanted the book to be more dark and more focused on Mallory’s struggle to fight Brian’s memory. Also, I found some things a little bit predictable (I am mostly talking about the person who was stalking the main character at the boarding school).

All in all, I think Hysteria was better in premise than execution, but I still recommend it. It is a good teen thriller.

I ran away. And only when I was a good ways past the diner and the gas station did I realize I was running toward something. No, not something. Someone.

You may not be able to outrun your past, but you can sure as hell try.

My ratingcute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400

Unwind – Neal Shusterman (Review)

11 Jan
Paperback, 335 pages
Published June 2nd 2009 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published November 6th 2007)

Description

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

My thoughts

After reading tons of positive reviews and watching a lot of Youtube videos in which people recommended this book, I finally decided to add this book on my “have to buy soon” list. Then, while browsing on BookDepository, I saw it and I couldn’t resist the impulse to click on the buy button. I’m glad I did. This book was GREAT, FANTASTIC, EXTRAORDINARY etc. but at the same time quite disturbing. I had high expectations for Unwind and I’m glad to say that they were not only met, but also exceeded.

The plot is set in the future, where parents can choose to have their children between ages of 13 and 18 unwound, or in the case of kids without parents, the orphanages take this decision just to cut the costs. After the unwinding process, all the parts of the body are used for transplants “needed” by other people (some of them just want new eyes or hair because they don’t like the color of theirs). As the doctors say, since 99.44% of the body is being reused, unwinds do not technically die, because the individual parts live on.

The story focuses on Connor, Risa and Lev- three children that are supposed to be unwound- and their efforts to survive. This is a third person narration told from different points of view (mainly Connor, Lev or Risa, but there are also some additional perspectives which helps the reader to see and understand the whole picture). All the characters, even the supporting ones are well developped, are three-dimensional, complex and have a special story.

I recommend this book to everyone, but I also want to warn you that Unwind is not an easy book, it’s quite disturbing (not in a graphic way) and it will leave you asking yourself a lot of questions.

P.S. I think the 61st chapter is the most shocking thing in the whole book. I still can’t get it out of my head!!!

“…One thing you learn when you’ve lived as long as I have-people aren’t all good, and people aren’t all bad. We move in and out of darkness and light all of our lives. Right now, I’m pleased to be in the light.”

“I’d rather be partly great than entirely useless.”

My ratingcute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400

First Love – Ivan Turgenev (Review)

10 Jan
Paperback, 112 pages
Published December 14th 1978 by Penguin Classics (first published 1860)

Description

When the down-at-heel Princess Zasyekin moves next door to the country estate of Vladimir Petrovich’s parents, he instantly and overwhelmingly falls in love with his new neighbour’s daughter, Zinaida. But the capricious young woman already has many admirers and as she plays her suitors against each other, Vladimir’s unrequited youthful passion soon turns to torment and despair – although he remains unaware of his true rival for Zinaida’s affections.

Set in the world of nineteenth-century Russia’s fading aristocracy, Turgenev’s story depicts a boy’s growth of knowledge and mastery over his own heart as he awakens to the complex nature of adult love.

My thoughts

The “First love” is a frame story, which starts with a party where the guests are challenged to recount the story of their first love. When Vladimir Petrovich’s turn comes, he tells the other men that he is going to write down his story. Now it’s our turn to read about his memory.

The main character is Vladimir, a 16-year-old boy, who falls in love with the daughter of a princess, who just moved next door. The young princess’s name is Zinaida, she’s 21 and has a lot of suitors. She is not in love with any of those men and she constantly misleads them, especially Vladimir. In the end we find out that her heart belongs to someone else, Vladimir’s father, which was a big shock only for the main character, not for me, since I anticipated that from the beginning.

My biggest problem with “First love” were the characters and I must admit that I didn’t like any of them:
-Vladimir is only 16 but he acts and speaks in a more mature way, but since the book was written in 1860, maybe that’s how all the boys behaved. When he finds out that his father not only cheated on his wife, but he cheated on her with Zinaida, he has no reaction and acts like there wasn’t a big deal.
-We find out that Pyotr married his wife only because she was rich, not because he loved her. He doesn’t act like a father to his child, but like a stranger and there are only a few times when he seems to get closer to him.
-Zinainda was just a spoiled woman, she was quite difficult and I couldn’t understand what she wanted.

There were only a few moments that I really enjoyed reading about, including the ending which I thought was pretty solidly built.

I burnt as in a fire in her presence … but what did I care to know what the fire was in which I burned and melted–it was enough that it was sweet to burn and melt.

…and I would sit and gaze and listen, and would be filled with a nameless sensation which had everything in it; sorrow and joy, a premonition of the future, and desire, and fear of life.

My rating cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400

They Do It With Mirrors / Jocuri De Oglinzi – Agatha Christie (Review)

7 Jan

Paperback, 224 pages
First published in 1952

 

Description

Miss Marple senses danger when she visits a friend living in Stoneygates, a rehabilitation center for delinquents. Her fears are confirmed when someone shoots at the administrator. Although he is not injured, a mysterious visitor is less fortunate—shot dead simultaneously in another part of the building.

Pure coincidence? Miss Marple thinks not, and must use all her cunning to solve the riddle of the stranger’s visit … and his murder.

My thoughts

I started reading this book two and a half months ago and I’m happy that I finally managed to finish it. It took me that much because I not only didn’t have much time to read or wasn’t really in the mood for it, but also because I didn’t find “They do it with mirrors” as interesting as other books written by Agatha Christie. I also think that I like Hercule Poirot more than Miss Marple, even though he tends to be arrogant sometimes. So far I prefered the books with the famous detective because he is more present in the story than Jane is.

I didn’t hate this book, but I just expected it to be a little different, to be more focused on the “delinquent boys”. Unfortunately only two of them played a somewhat important role in discovering the mystery. Speaking of the mystery of the murderer, it wasn’t that big…I managed to guess who the culprit was, but it was still fun to read about his motives and how the murder was exactly executed. There were a few surprises as well.

All in all, I still enjoyed this book, even though it wasn’t my favourite out of the nine Agatha Christie books I read so far.

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Numar pagini: 250

Carte publicata de editura Rao, 2012

 

Descriere

Jane Marple e coplesita de un sentiment de rau augur cand merge sa-si viziteze o veche prietena, Carrie Louise, la conacul victorian unde aceasta locuieste impreuna cu familia. Cladirea este folosita si ca un centru de reabilitare pentru tineri delincventi. Temerile lui Miss Marple sunt confirmate cand Lewis Serrocold, sotul lui Louise si totodats administratorul centrului, este agresat de unul dintre „protejatii“ sai, iar un vizitator inopinat este impuscat mortal intr-o alta aripa a casei. Nimic nu poate scapa insa mintii iscoditoare a lui Miss Marple, care intrevede un joc al iluziilor in spatele celor doua atacuri concomitente.

Parerea mea

Am inceput sa citesc aceasta carte acum doua luni si jumatate si sunt fericita ca in sfarsit am terminat-o. Mi-a luat atat de mult pentru ca nu prea am avut timp/chef de citit, dar si pentru ca “Jocuri de oglinzi” nu mi s-a parut la fel de interesanta ca alte carti scrise de Agatha Christie. De asemenea, cred ca imi place mai mult Hercule Poirot decat Miss Marple, chiar daca el este cam arogant cateodata. Pana acum mi-au placut mai mult cartile ce l-au avut in prim-plan pe faimosul detectiv deoarece, dupa parerea mea, este mult mai prezent in poveste si are o contributie mai mare la rezolvarea cazurilor.

Nu mi-a displacut aceasta carte, dar am avut asteptari mari de la ea. Am crezut ca o sa fie un pic diferita, ca povestea se va axa mai mult pe “tinerii delicventi”, insa, din pacate, doar doi dintre acestia au avut un rol cat de cat important in rezolvarea misterului. Vorbind despre misterul ucigasului, nu a fost atat de surprinzator pentru mine, deoarece am reusit sa ghicesc vinovatul inainte de final, insa tot a fost interesant sa citesc despre motivul si modul in care acesta a comis crima. De asemenea, au mai fost dezvaluite si cateva surprize.

In concluzie, pot spune ca mi-a placut cartea, chiar daca mi s-au parut mai bune celelalte opt carti scrise de Agatha Christie pe care le-am citit pana acum.

My rating/ Punctaj cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400

Puteti cumpara carte de pe site-ul rao.ro sau elefant.ro.

Send – Patty Blount (Review)

23 Dec

Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 1st 2012 by Sourcebooks Fire

Description

It’s been five years since I clicked Send.
Four years since I got out of juvie.
Three months since I changed my name.
Two minutes since I met Julie.
A second to change my life.

All Dan wants for his senior year is to be invisible. This is his last chance at a semi-normal life. Nobody here knows who he is. Or what he’s done. But on his first day at school, instead of turning away like everyone else, Dan breaks up a fight. Because Dan knows what it’s like to be terrorized by a bully—he used to be one.

Now the whole school thinks he’s some kind of hero—except Julie. She looks at him like she knows he has a secret. Like she knows his name isn’t really Daniel…

My thoughts

The main character of this book is Dan (real name: Kenneth), an 18-year-old boy who made a mistake when he was 13: he posted a photo of a boy in his underwear on the Internet, because he thought it was funny. Later, the boy commited suicide and, to be punished, Dan was sent to juvie for nine months. Because when he gets out everyone is judging him and is violent towards him, his family decides to try and give him a new life by changing town, school and even their identities. Dan feels like his life will be normal again, he meets Julie, whom he falls in love instantaneously, and Brandon who becomes his best friend. There is just one problem that will change everything: Julie has a big secret and Brandon is planning to kill himself, because he is bullied.

I liked the characters and I think they were developed pretty well. Even though Dan made a big mistake I couldn’t stay mad at him. You can see his pain and his struggle to redeem himself. He knows that he did something wrong, but he needs to learn to forgive his 13-year-old self and move on, something which happens but at the end of the book. His family is very loving and supportive and is willing to do everything to protect their son.

We don’t meet only Dan, but also Kenny, his 13-year-old version, whom Dan started seeing during detention. “They talk” daily, arguing and trying to find a way for Dan to forgive himself for what he did in the past. I wasn’t a big fan of this “character” and I think that I would have liked the book more if Kenny hadn’t been part of it, but in the end I became aware of his importance.

With Julie, I had a love-hate relationship. She was too moody, she kissed Dan, next she didn’t want to talk to him, she was happy, than she was angry. Also, she watched Brandon being bullied and she did nothing about it, even though her brother commited suicide because he had been bullied. Her life isn’t easy, her parents are divorced and she thinks her father started hating her after his son’s death. She also keeps a secret from Dan, a secret which is revealed nearly the end of the book.

Send is a quick read, it’s dramatic, deep, it has an important message and it will leave you thinking long after you finish reading it. I recommend it to everyone.

Thanks to Netgalley.com and Sourcebooks Fire for sending me this e-book.

My rating:  cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400cute_flower_smiley_face_sticker-p217285791912455194envb3_400

 

When I look inside me for the voice, I see me but yet…not me, not exactly. More like a version of me, the me I used to be at thirteen. All gangly limbs, big feet, and bad skin. I call him Kenny and try to keep him bound to a dark, empty corner of my mind. If I could find a way to gag him too, I’d be psyched. As hard as I fight to forgive myself for what I did to Liam Murphy, Kenny fights as hard to make sure I can’t. I figure he’s just one more part of God’s Wrath Plan I’d put in motion five years earlier when I was thirteen.

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About the author:

Technical writer by day, fiction writer by night, Patty mines her day job for ideas to use in her novels. Her debut YA “Send” was born after a manager suggested she research social networks. Patty adores chocolate, her boys, and books, though not necessarily in that order.

Saving June – Hannah Harrington (Review)

16 Nov

Paperback, UK, 336 pages
Published June 1st 2012 by Mira Ink (first published May 1st 2011)

Description

Your sister is dead. Nineteen songs can tell you why. Only one boy can help you understand.

Harper Scott’s older sister, June, took her own life a week before high school graduation, leaving Harper devastated. So when her divorcing parents decide to split up June’s ashes, Harper steals the urn and takes off cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going-California.

Enter Jake Tolan, a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession…and an unknown connection to June. When he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what Harper needs. Except…Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn her life upside down again.

My thoughts

“Your sister is dead. Your family’s falling apart. How do you remember who you are?” This and the fact that the book had a 4.1 rating on Goodreads really grabbed my attention. Then I read the description and I really thought I was going to like it very much. I thought it was going to be dramatic, but it turned out to be just another “girl meets boy, girl falls in love, happy ending” book. I admit it. I liked the first few chapters, but then it sort of went downhill for me, mainly because I didn’t like the main character.

‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

So, Harper is a 16 years old girl whose life is far from perfect. Her parents are divorced and her sister, June, just committed suicide. The relationship between Harper and June was never the best one, but Harper is very shocked by her sister’s choice – to take her own life, just a week before her graduation, without even explaining why. Since her sister always wanted to move to California, Harper takes the ultimate decision: to go with her best friend there and spill June’s ashes in the ocean. There is just one problem: they can’t afford the trip. Here is where Jake Tolan enters the story and offers to accompany the two girls to California. Apparently, he had a connection with June, so Harper takes his offer. Then, an almost-two-weeks-journey begins….

Like I previously said, I didn’t like the main character. Yes, there were moments when I felt sorry for her and I tried to sympathise with her, but, overall, I couldn’t connect with Harper. Firstly, I think she was very selfish to steal the urn and decide what to do with it, without telling her parents. I understand that they didn’t get along very well, but June was their daughter too. Harper is treated like an outcast, but just because she is acting like one. She just tries too hard to be something she’s not, to differentiate herself from her sister. She is constantly mean and judgy towards Jake, but at the same time she can’t stop thinking about him. They finally kiss after a week or so and, in the same day, Harper loses her virginty to him. What does she do the next day? She’s complaining again about him… What I liked about Harper was her loyalty to Laney, she was always defending her and taking her side.

“There is so much beauty in just existing. In being alive. I don’t want to miss a second.”

I guess Laney was an ok character. She is Harper’s best friend and she is very supportive. She is kind of fun, and, as opposed to Harper, she makes friends very easily. At the same time, she enjoys sleeping with boys and she even ends up getting pregnant. But don’t worry because everything is resolved: she has a misscariage. I still don’t understand what was the point in this pregnancy event since it didn’t add anything to the story.

Last but not least, we have Jake, a boy who loves music, smokes, dresses in black and owns a van. He is the “bad boy” to whom Harper falls in love. He has a sad backstory, which we discover slowly throughout the entire book. He reminded me a little of Adam from If I Stay and Where She Went, but I didn’t like him as much. He is obsessed with music, and even though that was what I loved the most about him, sometimes he tries to shove his passion down everyone’s throats.

“douche-baggy hipster music snob with the tastes of a forty-year-old white guy.”

I didn’t hate Saving June, but I think the book would have been better without the romance aspect, or at least if that would have been handled in a different way. I couldn’t stand the love-hate relationship between Harper and Jake. I also think it should have been more focused on June and the relationship between the two sisters. There were moments when June was completely forgotten, even though she is the main reason of this book. I loved the music references and that the author included the playlist at the end of the book.

Thanks to Netgalley.com and Mira Ink for sending me this e-book.

My rating:   

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About the author

Hannah Harrington is a YA author. Her first novel, SAVING JUNE, was published by Harlequin Teen in 2011, and her second, SPEECHLESS, was released on August 28th, 2012.

The Mourning House – Ronald Malfi (Review)

2 Nov

Description

Devastated by tragedy, Dr. Sam Hatch is a shadow of his former self. He travels the byroads of America, running away from a past he cannot escape. There is no salvation for him.

And then he sees the house. Like a siren, it calls to him. Yet the house is not what it appears to be. Is it a blessing, a gift…or a curse?

My thoughts

Sam Hatch had a nice life – good friends, a successful career and a lovely family – but everything changed after a car accident. He was the one driving the car that night and, because he fell asleep at the wheel, his wife and daughter died.

Even though he feels responsible for the accident, he tries to move on with his life and to leave the past behind. But that is very hard because everything reminds him of his family. He keeps hearing his wife’s voice and his baby’s crying in the empty rooms of his house, he thinks that he is not alone, that there is a presence following him, so he takes the decision to leave the house for good and to start travelling.

After a year of wandering, he arrives in a little town where he finds an old, abandoned house and, because it seems that the house is calling him, he decides to buy it. Not long after that, he realises that the house is not what it seems. There are stories about it, frightening ones and people say it’s haunted. But those don’t scare Sam and he decides that this is the right place for him to live in so he starts the renovation of the property. Soon, things start to move, noises are coming through the walls and little by little the house seems to transform itself into his former house, in which Sam and his family used to live. Firstly, the floor resembles the old one, he discovers a room which is identical to his little daughter’s room and finally he finds the bones of his dog, the one that he left to his friends, a year before. He comes to the conclusion that the house is a puzzle and he has to solve it.

I liked the story very much. It was a creepy, short read and the atmosphere was quite frightening and claustrophobic. My only problem was with the ending. Not because it wasn’t a happy one, but because I found it rushed. I still don’t know whether the house was haunted or everything happened in Sam’s imagination. Other than that, I don’t have any other complaints about the book.

I think the author did a great job and I hope you’ll also enjoy The Mourning House!
Thanks to Netgalley.com and DarkFuse for sending me this e-book.

My rating:     

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About the author

Ronald Malfi is an award-winning novelist and short fiction writer whose most notable works include the novels Via Dolorosa and Shamrock Alley. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and collections throughout the US and abroad. Most recognized for his haunting, literary style and memorable characters, Malfi writes fiction that transcends genres to gain wider acceptance among readers of quality literature.

He resides in Maryland with his wife, Debra, where he is currently at work on his next book.

A Cold and Lonely Place – Sara J. Henry (Review)

31 Oct

Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: February 5th 2013 by Crown

Description

Troy Chance returns in another riveting novel from the author of the critically acclaimed Learning to Swim

Freelance writer Troy Chance is snapping photos of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival ice palace when the ice-cutting machine falls silent. Encased in the ice is the shadowy outline of a body–a man she knows. One of her roommates falls under suspicion, and the media descends. Troy’s assigned to write an in-depth feature on the dead man, who, it turns out, was the privileged son of a wealthy Connecticut family who had been playing at a blue collar life in this Adirondack village. And the deeper Troy digs into his life and mysterious death, the murkier things become. After the victim’s sister comes to town and a string of disturbing incidents unfold, it’s clear someone doesn’t want the investigation to continue. Troy doesn’t know who to trust, and what she ultimately finds out threatens to shatter the serenity of these mountain towns. She must decide which family secrets should be exposed, what truths should remain hidden, and how far her own loyalty can reach.
   A Cold and Lonely Place, the sequel to Learning to Swim, follows Troy on a powerful emotional journey as she discovers the damage left by long-hidden secrets, and catches a glimpse of what might have been.

My thoughts

I finally managed to finish reading this book. It took me more than a week because I didn’t have much time for reading, but I also found A Cold and Lonely Place a bit slow. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, because I really did, but I think the pace could have been more alert.

Published February 22nd 2011 by Crown

This is supposed to be a sequel to Learning to Swim, but I think it can be read as a stand-alone, even though some characters from the first book make an appearance or are mentioned in this one.

Troy Chance is a freelancer writer who is assigned to write some articles about Tobin, whose body is found in the frozen Saranac Lake. Even though she didn’t know the victim very well, Tobin’s death has a big impact on her, mostly because he used to be her roommate’s boyfriend. In order to write those articles she needs to dig deep into the victim’s life to find details about his childhood, his family, his relationship with Jessamyn and maybe to discover if Tobin’s death was an accident or if someone murdered him. With the help of his sister and the people who used to know him, Troy learns slowly that her first impression of Tobin was actually wrong (“I would have pegged him for trouble from the start, with his frat-boy good looks, floppy hair, sleepy brown eyes, and different manner. It was written all over him that he was the sort of person who assumes life should go his way, no matter what. I suspected he’d gone to an elite prep school, then partied himself right out of Harvard or Princeton before drifting up here, where no one ever asked where or if you’d gone to university”. She also thought that he was violent against Jessamyn and that he influenced her in a bad way).

The only thing which I didn’t like about this book was the pace. I liked the writing style, but the pace was too slow for me and I think that some paragraphs should have been left out. There were a lot of moments when the author was describing the food eaten by the characters and what they were cooking (e.g.: “She had brought wine, which we poured into juice glasses and had with bread and cheese…cicken and cheese blended with broccoli and noodles, with a spice I couldn’t identify…I cooked oatmeal and eggs”).

I found the storyline interesting, unpredictable and the characters were very likeable so, all in all, A Cold and Lonely Place was an enjoyable read.
Thanks to Netgalley.com and Crown for sending me this e-book.

My rating  

You can preorder the book from Amazon or The Book Depository.

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About the author 

Sara J. Henry’s first novel, LEARNING TO SWIM, has been called “an auspicious debut” by Daniel Woodrell (WINTER’S BONE) and “emotional, intense, and engrossing” by Lisa Unger. It won the 2012 Anthony Award for best first novel, the 2012 Agatha Award for best first novel and the 2012 Mary Higgins Clark Award, and was nominated for the Barry and Macavity awards. The sequel, A COLD AND LONELY PLACE, will be out Feb. 5, 2013 – Howard Frank Mosher calls it “a character-driven thriller set in one of the coldest and loneliest places in the United States: the Adirondack Mountains in mid-winter.”