Tuesday, August 18, 2015

DNF QUICK REVIEW: Eating Sarah by Jaret Martens

Synopsis

Ever since childhood, all Sarah wanted was to participate in the Hunt—a monthly ritual in which her people sneak into a nearby city to gather food. Only in Sarah’s world, that food is human.

After her first Hunt ends in catastrophe, Sarah is forced to prepare their captives for slaughter. While this once would have been an easy task, recent events have caused Sarah to question whether or not she’s still capable of murder. Worse, she finds herself caring for Troy: a captive she knows she will be forced to kill.

But she can’t leave. Doing so would mean the deaths of both Troy and her family. With cannibals turning up dead—and suspicions of mutiny rising—Sarah and her family must be more careful than ever.

Yet there’s something not quite right about her family . . . Something that might just get her killed.


Paperback, 274 pages
Published September 14th 2014 by Immortal Ink Publishing (first published January 1st 2014)
ISBN 1938750101 (ISBN13: 9781938750106)



About the Author

Jaret was raised in the unremarkable town of Hepburn, Saskatchewan, where he first penned his debut novel Eating Sarah. Since then, he’s moved to the city of Saskatoon, splitting his time between working as a technical support agent, writing new novels, and battling the ever-present existential crisis.

Jaret`s debut novel, Eating Sarah, is scheduled to be released in the fall of this year.


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My Thoughts
I traced the scarlet lines across the young girl's body as she squirmed in the evening sun.
You know, I'm not a prude. I love horror and post-apocalyptic. Blood, gore, violence and vulgarity don't phase me. So I thought I'd give this one a try. I mean, it's an interesting concept. Cannibalism is something that we are all horrified by and fascinated with at the same time. 

So I tried. I really did try. Right from the beginning I was turned off by the needless brutality. And the writing was so juvenile that it reminded me of what a teenage boy might write when he's alone in his bedroom and his mind is running wild. Then I learned that it is being classified as "young adult". This both made sense and was a little disturbing. Young Adult is a cross-over genre that tends to appeal to a younger crowd. And while I was reading some very disturbing things by the age of 12, I don't think every kid can take it. So I'm a little uncomfortable with the idea of this book making it into the hands of 11 and 12 year olds out there. These people don't just practice cannibalism. These people eat people alive, cut limbs from their bodies and keep them alive for awhile, etc.

Additionally I found the writing to be lacking. It was sort of choppy and cheesy, and I mentioned earlier that it felt "juvenile". And things just didn't jive or make sense to me. These people live like a primitive clan, living and working in "shacks" and "halls", no electricity, subsisting on human meat. And then there will be a mention of a "hoodie", and I would think, "Do they mean a sweatshirt? These primitive people wear sweatshirts?" One minute these primitive cannibals would be referencing the "metal sticks" of their enemies (which I took to mean "guns", and which they didn't seem to know they names of, but later would mention guns?), and the next they would be talking about the armor worn by their prey, striped suits (what kind of primitive person is familiar with a striped suit), and magic eight balls!

My final word: I just didn't get it. The violence felt over-the-top and gratuitous, the writing was severely lacking, the story felt disjointed and mish-mashed together. I couldn't finish it. I made it about 80 pages in, and I called it a day-- something I never do. This was a "did not finish" for me, and therefore I won't be rating it.


The Cerebral Girl is a forty-something blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.

I received a copy of this book to review through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. 


 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

ARTICLE SHARING: Before They Became Famous: Big-Name Authors & Their Weird Jobs

INFOGRAPHIC: Unusual Jobs of Famous Writers

Unplag plagiarism checker has provided an infographic of well-known authors and the odd or sometimes mundane jobs they had before they became famous authors.

via Unplag.com
 



Monday, August 10, 2015

TLC BOOK TOURS and REVIEW: Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

Synopsis

When Noel Bostock—aged ten, no family—is evacuated from London to escape the Nazi bombardment, he lands in a suburb northwest of the city with Vera Sedge—a thirty-six-year old widow drowning in debts and dependents. Always desperate for money, she’s unscrupulous about how she gets it.

Noel’s mourning his godmother Mattie, a former suffragette. Wise beyond his years, raised with a disdain for authority and an eclectic attitude toward education, he has little in common with other children and even less with the impulsive Vee, who hurtles from one self-made crisis to the next. The war’s provided unprecedented opportunities for making money, but what Vee needs—and what she’s never had—is a cool head and the ability to make a plan.

On her own, she’s a disaster. With Noel, she’s a team.

Together, they cook up a scheme. Crisscrossing the bombed suburbs of London, Vee starts to make a profit and Noel begins to regain his interest in life. But there are plenty of other people making money out of the war—and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn’t actually safe at all. . . .


Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 6th 2014 by Doubleday (first published August 14th 2014)
ISBN 0385614330 (ISBN13: 9780385614337)



About the Author

Lissa Evans, a former radio and television producer, is the author of three previous novels, including Their Finest Hour and a Half, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Crooked Heart was also longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize); it is her first novel to be published in the US. Evans lives in London with her family.




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My Thoughts
She was losing words.
This unusual story opens with Noel living with his godmother Mattie, although I don’t think the book ever addresses how he came to be living with Mattie, what happened to his parents, or Mattie’s relation to his parents. However the bond between Mattie and Noel is evident. Noel is bright and inquisitive, and he possesses wisdom and understanding beyond his years. Part of this has to do with Mattie's unorthodox style of parenting. She is a bit of a "free thinker", and has always pushed Noel to question the status quo. I found Noel very likable right from the beginning. He is a brave and resourceful sort, taking whatever life throws at him and making the best of it. When WWII gears up and there is word of Hitler's troops heading their way, Noel is one of the 3.5 million civilians who are evacuated by train out of London to outlying areas deemed safer.
He didn't want to be sitting here, in this hot metal box. He didn't want to be anywhere; the world felt like a horsehair vest that he couldn't remove.
Noel arrives in St. Albans, where he is taken in by Vee. Vee will do whatever she has to do to survive in life. She gets quite crafty, deciding to take in Noel who appears to walk with a limp, with dreams of financial assistance for doing so. Instead it turns to be Noel who has the mind for crafting "schemes" that keep the family housed and fed. Vee and Noel share a home with Vee's son Donald, who himself is thought to be disabled (but is really just spoiled) and Vee's mother.

Vee is not initially very likable. She is dogged and tough, commits unethical acts to get by. Life has let her down, and she's never figured out how to pick herself up. 
The first time he'd ever seen her he'd thought of a magpie, but now she seemed more like a pigeon, drab and directionless, pecking at anything that looked as if it might be edible.
Then along comes Noel, who is really the stronger of the two. He is the type of kid that is just plain odd. He's very bright and lives inside his own head. That means that other kids don't like him, and he tends to make most adults uncomfortable. But occasionally someone will take notice and see something else in them (I think his teacher Mr. Waring eventually did this with him). And Vee eventually sees it, too.

This novel explores the difficulties of living in Britain during the war and The Blitz, with rationing and children being shipped away. It is a war novel without the war. You catch glimpses of the war, in the growl of an airplane overhead, the mention of a ration book, the blackouts, but in St. Albans they are relatively safe from the horrors of war. 

This is one of those quiet stories. It isn't rambunctious, exciting or edge-of-your-seat suspense. It's quiet and gentle. The writing is very easy to read, but it could get a little clipped at times for my taste.

The relationship between Vee and Noel grows throughout the story, and in the end I think they sort of save one another. I love the imagery used throughout the story, particularly in the way that Noel looks at the world. At one point he is talking of a wooden puzzle he'd been given of a street of houses with removable facades, so that you can see what is happening behind the walls, windows and doors.
...you could see cooks in kitchens, children in nurseries, a lady brushing her hair, a gentleman reading a newspaper. It revealed a world of calm and quiet activity, whereas the truth was that you never knew, when you lifted the flap, who you'd find hitting whom, who'd be crying in the corner, who'd be steeling themselves to jump from a window. There were bombs outside, but inside was worse.
 
I would like to thank TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. Check out the website for the full tour schedule:
Tuesday, July 28th: 100 Pages a Day … Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Wednesday, July 29th: BookNAround
Thursday, July 30th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, July 31st: From the TBR Pile
Monday, August 3rd: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, August 4th: Savvy Verse & Wit
Wednesday, August 5th: A Bookworm’s World
Thursday, August 6th: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, August 10th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Wednesday, August 12th: Cold Read
Thursday, August 13th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Monday, August 17th: Doing Dewey
Tuesday, August 18th: Kissin Blue Karen
Wednesday, August 19th: FictionZeal
Thursday, August 20th: Bilbiophiliac
Friday, August 21st: For the Love of Words

My final word: Unadorned and restrained, there was something wistful about this story. It felt sentimental and at times a little morose. But I thought it was a sweet war novel. It is about friendship and what defines (or redefines) family. I would wholeheartedly recommend this one when looking for a quiet read with real characters.


Buy Now:
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
IndieBound


My Rating: A-


Disclosure:

I received a copy of this book to review through TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

QUICK REVIEW: Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne

Synopsis

A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.

But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity—that she, in fact, is Lydia—their world comes crashing down once again.

As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past—what really happened on that fateful day one of her daughters died?


Hardcover, 373 pages
Published January 29th 2015 by Harper Collins
ISBN 0007563035 (ISBN13: 9780007563036) 


About the Author

S. K. Tremayne is a bestselling novelist, award-winning travel writer, and a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines around the world. Born in Devon, the author now lives in London.

My Thoughts
Our chairs are placed precisely two yards apart. 
Angus and Sarah were parents to twin girls, named the "Ice Twins" by their grandfather due to the fact that "they were born on the coldest, frostiest day of the year, with ice-blue eyes and snowy-blonde hair." While physically identical (even their own parents couldn't tell them apart), the girls had distinctive personality differences.

Kirstie was the firstborn, and she was the more buoyant twin, "the leader of mischief", and she loved fluffy and cuddly toys.

Lydia was the quieter second born and "more soulful twin" that loved reading and toy dragons, alligators and creepy reptilian monsters.

There was a tragic accident about a year before that left Lydia dead, her parents lost and despondent, and her sister twinless. Then one day surviving twin Kirstie announces that she is not Kirstie-- she is Lydia. Kirstie died that fateful day.

What is a mother to believe? Is her daughter just confused and perhaps suffering from some sort of PTSD? Could she really be her long-believed deceased twin?

Angus has just inherited an old lighthouse on a small island in Scotland, and the family is ready to make a new start of things. But Sarah continues to be plagued with doubts about who really died that day.

This novel was based on an interesting concept, and that was what grabbed me. However I was left feeling the concept wasn't that well executed and the story felt a little slow. I think that was just the nature of the story. It was suspenseful with a bit of paranormal thrown in, and simply wasn't an especially "exciting" story. And the longer it went on, the stranger it felt, the more "otherworldly" and odd. There were a couple of nice twists thrown in, but things felt a little jumbled. I had a hard time following along at times, some characters were thrown in briefly and then disappeared and felt incomplete (like the doctor).

I don't know. Great concept, but it fell a little short of the mark. I was left feeling a little "meh".

Buy Now:
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
Indiebound

My Rating:





Disclosure:

I received a copy of this book to review through Netgalley and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release.