Archive for Guest Review
Awesomesuace Kelly from Reading the Paranormal is just blowing UP Smash Attack Reads! She’s back with another original review! You REALLY want to read this one!
Sold into slavery to pirates at the young age of four, Summer learns to survive the rough seas of subterfuge and thieves through silence. When the boat she’s lived on most of her life is destroyed, Summer finds herself washed up on the shore of a new world, a phantom universe full of the bizarre and extraordinary. She meets Gage, the one boy who understands the girl with no speech. But when their lives are put on the line, will Summer finally call out? Or will all be lost in the fathomless depth of silence?
My Thoughts: Before we get into this review, I’m going to take a moment to talk about pirates. I have a long standing love affair with fictional pirates, provided they have good hygiene and don’t have scurvy. In fact, I’ve made it one of my missions in life to educate people on the dangers of scurvy (and good oral hygiene but that’s only because I read The Postman when I was young and impressionable and the talk of the survivors dying of “raging oral infections” stuck with me in a BIG WAY! *shudder*). Now, I don’t actually know much about scurvy except that you get it if you don’t eat enough vitamin C and it makes you lose your teeth. Therefore, the sum of my PSA is “eat oranges, don’t get scurvy”. Ta-Da! Words to live by, people. Words to live by.
But we were talking about pirates, weren’t we? Now, my ideal type of pirates tend to be strong, clean men who often work without their shirts and bathe regularly. Due to the fact that they’re usually displaced noblemen with a chip on their shoulders they have access to plenty of oranges and they NEVER get scurvy. The pirates in this book weren’t quite in that realm, I must admit. They were a little on the dirty side and, as it turns out, none of them were displaced noblemen. How disappointing.
Admittedly, the pirates played a smallish role in this book. We were also given men who dealt in human slavery (jerks), time travel (err… what?), a dystopian society (err… double what?), and a girl who was taught that talking leads to beatings. The time travel part took me a bit by surprise. I probably could have gleaned it from the cover but… I’m apparently not very observant.
The beginning of the book takes place in 2010 with flashbacks to Summer’s life as a young slave. It chronicles how she came to be in the hands of slavers and how her spirit was crushed and she learned to stop talking to protect herself. Then some big stuff happens and suddenly she and a few of her fellow slaves find themselves 200 years in the future in a world that has changed drastically from what they knew. Picked up by a group of young soldiers, one of whom begins falling for Summer almost immediately, they’re shuffled off to interment camps for the people who keep popping up from the past.
Part of me can see why Gage falls for Summer so quickly. She’s physically fragile, emotionally damaged, and she has no sense of self-worth. He feels a need to protect her and show her that she’s more than just a slave girl who was an oddity because she refused to speak. Summer slowly lets down her walls and allows Gage to get close to her. I’m personally a huge fan of insta-attraction and I think it was well done here.
Plot wise, we have a mysterious group who keep popping up to try to capture Summer (for reasons that aren’t revealed until close to the end), a futuristic government that doesn’t quite know what to do with the multitudes of people suddenly appearing out of thin air, and another group that looks like it’s trying to help those displaced in the great time-travel debacle. While I enjoyed parts of the book, I was really taken aback by the time travel. I honestly didn’t realize that the first part of the book took place in modern time (I’m sorry, when I hear “pirates” my knee-jerk reaction is that it’s the 1800s) and to suddenly have the setting shift dramatically and have to learn the history as to what led to this new world government was a bit jarring. I adjusted to it and I ended up enjoying the book but I did have to shift mental gears halfway through.
Overall interesting, if at times a bit chaotic, you’ll enjoy this book if you go into with an open mind. And if you don’t think that pirates only plundered the seas in the 1800s. There’s huge setup for later books, so don’t expect everything to be made clear when you reach the end. Still, I had fun reading it.
She’s baaaaaaaaaaccccccccccccck. Kelly from Reading the Paranormal is back with a great review! This book sounds pretty awesome!
Pammy has had enough of Bobby, her abusive drunk of a husband. One lovely spring day, she decides to kill him, despite the fact that they will soon be divorced and he will, at least in the eyes of the law, be out of her life for good. Indulging in homicidal daydreams for years has led her to devise her own perfect and completely bizarre plan.
My Thoughts: I picked this book up thinking it was going to be a fun, gory diversion and it was. But it was also an oddly poignant look at a woman who is trying to break free of a life that has beaten her down and made her a pale shadow of herself. Honestly, I was in it for the blood and guts and I ended up with SO MUCH MORE!
Now, I’m not saying that I hear voices or anything (no, really. I don’t.) but who hasn’t planned out the perfect murder in their head? Mine involves a frozen leg of lamb and a pack of wild dogs. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Moving on. When the little voice in Pammy’s head tells her she’s going to kill Bobby, she’s at the end of her rope and this little thought takes root and begins to grow into an intricate and nicely thought out plan.
Pammy is almost frighteningly clear-headed as she begins to prepare things for her big moment. When unexpected news comes her way she adjusts her plan accordingly and she ultimately pulls it off beautifully. The wrench in her plan comes after the fact when she is given a tiny piece of information that she never expected.
Unexpected and surprisingly blood free, this book was one where you were rooting for the soon-to-be killer from the start because her life is just so awful that you want her to find a way out of it. I always like it when the underdog takes a stand and comes up a winner.
Blighted by an eye disease, Joanna Raines undergoes a corneal transplant operation to stop her going blind. The procedure is successful, but in the weeks that follow she begins to see dark coronas surrounding certain people. By turns fearful that something has gone wrong and worried that she’s going crazy, Joanna searches for an answer to the phenomena.
What she finds will change her life forever. The transplant has opened a door in her mind, and the strange coronas are not legacies of the operation but proof that a legion of demons plans to invade the earth!
Now the only thing that stands between the demonic horde and their plot to take over the world is Joanna, a young woman with the power to see them for what they really are.
Seeing is believing.
The demons are real.
Joanna just has to convince everyone else before it’s too late.
My Thoughts: I have this fear. No, this isn’t the one about clowns. Or the one about bugs. Although those are both valid (and debilitating) fears when you’re at the circus. No, this is this little niggling fear in the back of my head that if I ever need an eye transplant I’ll end up getting the eye of a serial killer and somehow my eye will make me attack people and kill them. Admittedly, I haven’t worked all the kinks out of this phobia… I mean, how is my EYE going to make me kill anyone? I don’t know. Frankly, it’s one of those great mysteries of the universe. Or of my brain. The point I’m trying to make here is that when you accept strange body parts from unknown people you never know what you’re going to get.
Now, I’m not implying anything here, but Joanna really got the short end of the stick with this transplant. She can see some very scary things (neither of which are clowns or bugs) and those very scary things also happen to be VERY BAD THINGS! WOE! I guess the upside is that now she has a chance to save the world and everything but still…those are some VERY BAD THINGS, PEOPLE!
Nicely paced with a wonderfully creepy ending, Joanna’s journey will leave you looking extra hard at the shadows and worrying that you’re going to get an eye that makes you see VERY BAD THINGS. Now, if clowns had made an appearance at any point during the book I would have been a gibbering mess on the floor. What? We all that things that scare us. Mine happens to wear grease paint.
…and I squeezed her arm for one last review…for now. Actually, she surprised me with this one! Please welcome back Amanda!
|Cut by Patricia McCormick
In Six Words: Cut‘s a quick but interesting read.
A tingle arced across my scalp. The floor tipped up at me and my body spiraled away. Then I was on the ceiling looking down, waiting to see what would happen next.
Callie cuts herself. Never too deep, never enough to die. But enough to feel the pain. Enough to feel the scream inside.
Now she’s at Sea Pines, a “residential treatment facility” filled with girls struggling with problems of their own. Callie doesn’t want to have anything to do with them. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with anyone. She won’t even speak.
But Callie can only stay silent for so long….
Why I Started Reading This Book and Final Verdict
I first saw a review for Cut on Infinite Shelf. I immediately added it to my TBR list, because cutting is one of those issues that hits close to home. My best friend from middle school was a cutter, and it tends to be something that is misunderstood as a way of getting attention. Maybe that is true for some people, but for others, cutting is a way of release or control; it is a coping mechanism. I was drawn to Cut because I was curious how it would portray cutting and what it could add to the discussion. Cut was good, but I also think that it requires the reader to see beyond what is written, which could be difficult for those who do not have a basic understanding of cutting. If you’re looking for an introduction to cutting, I’d suggest the same book that my friend recommended to me: Skin Game by Caroline Kettlewell.
I was torn on how to rate Cut. When it comes to tackling the issue of cutting and what it entails, I thought that Cut fell in the 4 star range (8 on my scale). But Cut is also a very short book, and the ending felt rushed and much too neat, which I am not sure I liked given the nature of the issue, and put me in the 3 star range (6 on my scale). I ended up settling in the middle.
Cut launches us into Callie’s story without much warning or background on why she is at Sea Pines. Callie narrates, but it alternates between past and present with only the tense change to clue us in (side note: I noticed some general formatting issues in the ebook, so I’m not sure if the paperback would be different in this regard). Callie also refers to her therapist/psychologist as “you” and never by name. These elements combined could turn off some people. I found them intriguing rather than distracting.
Though there are other characters at the “residential treatment factory,” they are often difficult to keep straight during the story, especially at the beginning. It was moderately frustrating, but given how Callie interacts (or doesn’t interact) with them for a good portion of the book, it makes sense. I don’t have much experience with the kinds of issues the girls struggled with, but they seemed real enough to me once I had them mostly sorted out. And though the girls’ problems were different, it appeared as though many of the underlying causes were similar.
As Callie begins to reveal her story, it is both disheartening and sad. The connections between Callie’s story and how it relates to her cutting are implied rather than ever stated until the very end. One of the few grips I have with this story is that people who have little understanding of cutting may not make these connections and become frustrated with the story. The ending, though positive, felt too easy for me. Bottom line: Cut is an interesting look into world of cutting, though it is not suited for those searching for an introduction to cutting.
I love Amanda even more (if that were possible) for reading and reviewing this book. I hope you take a moment to appreciate the importance of such literature.
I’m so happy to welcome Amanda back as a guest reviewer. I really enjoy and respect her reviews (and her!), and I am so thankful that she has offered to write a few reviews since Smash is going crazy with balancing work/life. ♥
|Grave Witch by Kalayna Price (Alex Craft, #1)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Read: 10/19/2011 — 10/20/2011
In Six Words: The feeling: I liked it, but…
Kalayna Price — Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter
Amazon — Paperback | Kindle
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1. Grave Witch
2. Grave Dance
3. Grave Memory
Not even death can save her now.
As a grave witch, Alex Craft can speak to the dead-she’s even on good terms with Death himself. As a consultant for the police, she’s seen a lot of dark magic, but nothing has prepared her for her latest case. When she’s raising a “shade” involved in a high profile murder, it attacks her, and then someone makes an attempt on her life. Someone really doesn’t want her to know what the dead have to say, and she’ll have to work with mysterious homicide detective Falin Andrews to figure out why…
Why I Started Reading This Book and General Thoughts
Grave Witch was recommended to me by Tara @ 25 Hour Books. I picked it up because it was on a list of books Smash was interested in having me review. Overall, I enjoyed Grave Witch, although there were a few elements of the book that pulled me out of the story.
A More In-Depth Look
I had an “I liked it, but…” feeling with Grave Witch. It was good, but there were times I felt lost in Alex’s world and did not quite understand what was going on, or how certain connections were being made. The plot seemed to drag a bit, and the ending slammed into us at the end. If these issues had not been enough to pull me out of the story, I would have enjoyed Grave Witch a little more than I did.
There was not enough information about Alex’s abilities, or the abilities of witches in general, for me, but raising the dead — or shades, as they are called — was certainly interesting, and while not completely similar to the ghosts and shades in Jeri Smith-Ready’s YA series, there are some common threads (having the dead testify, for example). I think Alex’s ability to raise the dead is one of the more fascinating aspects of Grave Witch and ultimately (I am assuming) of the series.
The Fae make an appearance as the only paranormal creature in Grave Witch, so that the Fae and witches are the only beings capable of magic. It seemed that it might also be possible for normal humans to dabble in magic, though it was certainly never explored in depth. Both the Fae and witches have “come out of the closet” so to speak, though they are not completely accepted, which creates a certain amount of tension.
I believe it is well-established I am not a fan of love triangles. And while there is not exactly a love triangle here, it seems… possible for future books. This possibility is kind of bothersome, but at the same time, I did not really get attached to the love interest, so as long as there isn’t some epic love triangle fall-out, I can be okay with it. Alex was a decent MC, and I appreciated the fact that she is a struggling PI, but I didn’t connect too strongly to her, probably because there was not quite enough snark for me.
With more world building — or less nit-picking, or less need for information — this could be a more enjoyable book. But it is still good, and I still enjoyed it. The mixture of Fae and witches make for an interesting magical combination that I hope will eventually be explored. Grave Witch is good for a quick, light read.
You Might Enjoy This Book If…
Urban fantasy fans with an interest in witches or even the Fae might enjoy Grave Witch.
Ohhh. I am loving the sound of the Fae piece, but I am sad to hear about the lack of snark. Smash needs much snark in her life. Thanks, Amanda! ♥