Thursday, March 26, 2015

{The 2015 Amazing Book Race Challenge Review} THE BONE CLOCKS by David Mitchell

ISBN #: 978-1400065677
Page Count: 640
Copyright: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Random House; First Edition

Lupe's Review:

Wow. I really don't know what else to say except this was amazing. Following Holly through life and seeing how all of her time streams connect was just crazy and beautiful. I think the climax was by far the best part and to think the person I for sure thought was a bad guy wasn't?!? Omg way to throw a curve ball! I am so glad that this was a book I purchased instead of having to take back to the library. What David Mitchell does with this story, even with all the characters, is he makes you feel for each and every one of them. They are all important to you, you are rooting for the success of the whole, not realizing it's exactly what you're supposed to be doing. Simply a masterpiece of literature. Solid ending too. I was in tears. Just. So good. I really don't have the words.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

{Review} UNBECOMING by Rebecca Scherm

ISBN# : 978-0525427506
Page Count: 320
Copyright: January 22, 2015
Publisher: Viking

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

On the grubby outskirts of Paris, Grace restores bric-a-brac, mends teapots, re-sets gems. She calls herself Julie, says she’s from California, and slips back to a rented room at night. Regularly, furtively, she checks the hometown paper on the Internet. Home is Garland, Tennessee, and there, two young men have just been paroled. One, she married; the other, she’s in love with. Both were jailed for a crime that Grace herself planned in exacting detail. The heist went bad—but not before she was on a plane to Prague with a stolen canvas rolled in her bag. And so, in Paris, begins a cat-and-mouse waiting game as Grace’s web of deception and lies unravels—and she becomes another young woman entirely.

Unbecoming is an intricately plotted and psychologically nuanced heist novel that turns on suspense and slippery identity. With echoes of Alfred Hitchcock and Patricia Highsmith, Rebecca Scherm’s mesmerizing debut is sure to entrance fans of Gillian Flynn, Marisha Pessl, and Donna Tartt.

Mandy's Review:

One of the definitions I found on Merriam-Webster's website for unbecoming is "not according with the standards appropriate to one's position or condition of life." I would say this novel, specifically the character Grace, exemplifies this definition over and over again.

Early on in life Grace understood that she was different, that she wasn't quite right emotionally. She didn't know how to be loved or show love. She knew that there was something bad in her and she wasn't sure how to get rid of it. Grace's family wasn't rich so when one of rich boys showed an interest in Grace she immediately became unbecoming.

Grace became everything Riley wanted her to be. During her transition, she spent more and more time with his family, integrating herself into their home and hearts. Mrs. Graham even began to think of Grace as her daughter and even made one of the rooms in their house Grace's bedroom.

After high school, Grace went to college in New York where she began to change again. She adapted herself to how the snobby girls dressed, acted, talked, etc. One incident in New York affected Grace so badly that she went back home to Tennessee and to Riley ... the last place where Grace thought she knew who she was.

It's while Grace is back home that a plan enters her mind. This plan will change her life forever, but it won't change who Grace is. She will always be someone who is inherently a bad apple.

I have mixed emotions concerning this novel. It was well-written in character portrayal and story development. There were times, though, where the subtleties of the conversations sometimes left me confused. Once I finished the novel, I could replay some conversations in my mind and realize where the subtleties lay. They weren't so obvious during my reading, unfortunately. I think they may have been blatantly obvious to the author while she wrote this novel but I have yet to develop my telepathy skills and, therefore, was left clueless a few times.

Overall, the novel is interesting enough for me to tell you that you should give it a go. I would've liked to see a slightly different ending. Perhaps something involving karma finally biting Grace in the behind.

*A hardcopy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

{2015 TBR Pile Challenge Review} THE ULTIMATE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams

ISBN #: 978-0345453747
Page Count: 832
Copyright: April 30, 2002
Publisher: Del Rey

Lupe's Review:

Just like the book says, this is the ULTIMATE guide! However, I wouldn't recommend reading it all in one sitting! I loved Douglas Adams wit and satire and his humor was off the charts! It could get tiring reading the same jokes over and over but if you put it down for a bit and came back to it, it was like reading a fresh book. Which, since there are 5 of them, makes sense. By far my favorite book is Hitchhiker's but a close second has to be So Long And Thanks For All The Fish.

I think my only complaint was the utter lack of Marvin! And if Ford and Arthur are friends, why are they not with each other more often?!? But hey, spacetime travel is complicated, I totally get it. Anyone know which dimension has a good Guide??

Friday, March 20, 2015

{Review} THE NEVER-OPEN DESERT DINER by James Anderson

ISBN #: 978-0912887104
Page Count: 288
Copyright: February 15, 2015
Publisher: Caravel Mystery Books

(Taken from press release)

Ben Jones, the protagonist of James Anderson's haunting debut novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner (Caravel Books, February, 2015), is on the verge of losing his small trucking company. A single, thirty-eight-year-old truck driver, Ben's route takes him back and forth across one of the most desolate and beautiful regions of the Utah desert.

The orphan son of a Native American father and a Jewish social worker, Ben is drawn into a love affair with a mysterious woman, Claire, who plays a cello in the model home of an abandoned housing development in the desert. Her appearance, seemingly out of nowhere, reignites a decades-old tragedy at a roadside café referred to by the locals as The Never-Open Desert Diner. The owner of the diner, Walt Butterfield, is an embittered and solitary old man who refuses to yield to change after his wife's death.

Ben’s daily deliveries along the atmospheric and evocative desert highway bring him into contact with an eccentric cast of characters that includes: John, an itinerant preacher who drags a life-sized cross along the blazing roadside; the Lacey brothers, Fergus and Duncan, who live in boxcars mounted on cinderblocks; and Ginny, a pregnant and homeless punk teenager whose survival skills make her an unlikely heroine.

Ben’s job as a truck driver is more than a career; it is a life he loves. As he faces bankruptcy and the possible loss of everything that matters to him, he finds himself at the heart of a horrific crime that was committed forty years earlier and now threatens to destroy the lives of those left in its wake.

Ben discovers the desert is relentless in its grip, and what the desert wants, it takes. An unforgettable story of love and loss, Ben learns the enduring truth that some violent crimes renew themselves across generations.

The Never-Open Desert Diner is a unique blend of literary mystery and noir  fiction that evokes a strong sense of place. It is a story that holds the reader and refuses to let go and will linger long after the last page.

Charlene's Review:

Ben, a truck driver, and sole contact for many along his isolated route, is dedicated to delivering packages for his customers and not asking questions. When he accidentally discovers a cello-playing woman hiding in the desert, his life takes a dramatic turn. As he longs to pursue a relationship with the mysterious woman, deadly secrets unfold and he must fight to keep the past from recurring.
The Never-Open Desert Diner is a deftly written novel that transcends any expectations of a debut writer. This is a poignant look at humanity and its adaptation to adverse conditions, within its environment, as well as in life. Mr. Anderson has crafted a story that engages and saddens. The eccentric cast of characters play perfectly together to enrich an already riveting storyline. While some may have not been necessary for the plot to play out, they each added to the mystique of the desert route that set the backdrop of the story.

I was deeply affected by the violence, but even more so, by the human spirit that triumphed over it. This is as much a love story, both romantic and familial, as it is a mystery. I would love to see a story written from the point of view of Walt Butterfield. His character spoke to me in so many ways and left me wanting more. I highly recommend this book. It is haunting and beautifully crafted. I believe it will stay with me for a very long time.

5 out of 5 stars

*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

{Blog Tour: Review} FLUENCY by Jennifer Foehner Wells

ISBN #: 978-0990479819
Page Count: 376
Copyright: June 25, 2014
Publisher: Blue Bedlam Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

NASA discovered the alien ship lurking in the asteroid belt in the 1960s. They kept the Target under intense surveillance for decades, letting the public believe they were exploring the solar system, while they worked feverishly to refine the technology needed to reach it.

The ship itself remained silent, drifting.

Dr. Jane Holloway is content documenting nearly-extinct languages and had never contemplated becoming an astronaut. But when NASA recruits her to join a team of military scientists for an expedition to the Target, it’s an adventure she can’t refuse.

The ship isn’t vacant, as they presumed.

A disembodied voice rumbles inside Jane’s head, "You are home."

Jane fights the growing doubts of her colleagues as she attempts to decipher what the alien wants from her. As the derelict ship devolves into chaos and the crew gets cut off from their escape route, Jane must decide if she can trust the alien’s help to survive.

Kathy's Review:

This book draws in the reader from the initial scene where the astronauts are ready to dock onto this mysterious, city-sized ship. Quickly we learn the background of Jane Halloway and Alan Bergen, who are the two main characters in the novel. The story jumps back in time to show how Jane came to be part of the mission, as well as more of the build-up of the relationship between her and Bergen (hint: at least one of them wants to be “more than friends.”)

Imagine if this was you. Ten months in a spaceship, all preparing for this moment. You’re in space, doing something no human being has ever done before. Not sure what you’re going to walk into. If the ship is inhabited, if it’s empty. Wells does a skillful job of building up this tension.

The novel unfolds into a space ride full of surprises, danger, thrills, weirdness and romance. The book summary kind of gives away that yes, this ship isn’t totally deserted. So I don’t feel too bad telling you that a third main character is the alien navigator on the ship, Ei’Brai. What’s cool about writing sci-fi is you aren’t limited in the respect of having human characters and the Earth as your backdrop. The goings-on on this ship are well thought-out and totally plausible. Having things like space slugs that secrete a poisonous slime could easily go over-the-top, but the author keeps it completely believable within the confines of the novel.

At times I got a little bit lost, but I think that’s part of the author’s intent. Ei’Brai manipulates the humans on board the ship in order to achieve his goal. At times they believe things are happening, but in fact, they are only hallucinations. The mind control or brainwashing, whatever you want to call it, adds another aspect of fear and suspense to the story.

Overall I give this novel high marks. I wouldn’t consider myself a sci-fi nut by any stretch, but I was able to enjoy the plot and was interested in the fates of the characters. Could easily see this as a movie.

*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the tour host for the purposes of this tour and in exchange for an honest review.
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