Monday, July 25, 2016

Book Review: Three Truths and a Lie by Brent Hartinger

Three Truths and a Lie by Brent Hartinger book cover and review
Wow.  It's been so long since I've written a review I almost forgot what to do...

Three Truths and a Lie is touted as a psychological thriller.  For me it was a twisted story, but I failed to get the heart pounding thrill that I was after.

Two couples decide to spend the weekend in a remote family cabin deep in the woods. Rob is excited. It will be a chance for he and his boyfriend Liam to get to know each other, and for Rob to understand the long friendship between Liam and Mia. Mia has a relatively new boyfriend, Galen, who Rob isn't to comfortable with.

Weird things begin to happen. Their satellite phone disappears, the outhouse gets destroyed, someone sets a fire in the burn pit. Galen tries to take charge and neither Liam or Rob trust him.

So who is sabotaging their weekend and why? Is it the neighbor who hates Mia's family for buying up the land? This seed is planted early, but never really takes hold. I don't think it's a spoiler to say this is obviously an "inside job." But which one of them?

I enjoyed the reading experience, but I gotta say, I forgot about Three Truths and a Lie quickly. I didn't get the tense feeling at all. I was surprised by the huge twist at the end, but really didn't think it "made" the book. I do think teens will enjoy Three Truths and a Lie more that I did.

Published by Simon Pulse, August 2, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
272 pages

Rating: 3/5





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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Book Review: The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury @AHintofMystery

The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury book cover and review
I'm not usually a fan of books with a lot of fantasy elements, but The Sleeping Prince is an exception. The rich world building and lovable (and despicable) characters made this a thoroughly enjoyable read.

The Sleeping Prince is a companion novel to The Sin Eater's Daughter. It can be read alone or first.  In fact, it had been a while since I read The Sin Eater's Daughter, and I didn't really remember all the relationships until the end of the book, but it didn't really matter.

Errin is struggling to survive after her father died and her brother, Leif, left to serve in the army. Leif hasn't been heard from, and Errin refuses to believe he is dead.  Her mother is ill, and Errin believes she is somehow possessed because she gets very violent, especially around the full moon.  Errin has used all her knowledge as an apothecary's assistant to cure her mother to no avail.

When the government declares that all must evacuate the village, Errin doesn't know what to do. She must keep her mother locked up and no one knows about her illness.  The village will be taken over by soldiers in anticipation of an invasion by The Sleeping Prince.  It seems he is no longer asleep and has taken over the neighboring country and slaughtered many including the royal family.  His use of golems makes him a formidable opponent.

She gets help from a mysterious friend, Silas. He appeared in the village and is hiding in an empty cabin. He keeps his face hidden, but has helped Errin by paying her for her medicinal potions. Now he vows to help her by taking her and her mother to a safe but secret place.  Errin puts her trust in him only to be betrayed.

The legends and histories of the different countries and characters at times was a bit confusing, but didn't stop me from following the story and feeling the tension.

Her journey to find her mother (who has been captured by the army) and find the secret place that Silas has revealed to her is exciting and perilous. I was stunned by the ending. This is not a happy situation, and I'm begging for the next book because really, you can't leave Errin in that situation very long, can you??

I can easily recommend The Sleeping Prince to my fantasy fans, and I can't wait to do so.

Published by Scholastic, May 31, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
336 pages

Rating: 4.5/5





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Saturday, July 2, 2016

2016 EBook Reading Challenge - Post Your July Reviews Here


Sorry this post is late. Blogging on Annette's Book Spot has been sparse lately. We are in the final stages of building and moving into our new house! No time for reading... Hopefully you are continuing to make progress on your 2016 EBook Reading Challenge. Keep on Reading!

You can sign up for the 2016 EBook Reading Challenge here.

You can see my progress on my 2016 Reading Challenges Page.

Here's a link to the June Reviews Page.

Post your July reviews below:





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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Book Review: The Hired Girl, by Laura Amy Schlitz

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz book cover and review
Well I love historical fiction, so I loved The Hired Girl.

Joan, who is 14, has had to quit school and work to support her father and brothers on their poor Pennsylvania farm. It's 1911. Joan's mother has died and she is the only one to do the "woman's work" that her brutal father demands. Joan wants nothing more than to go to school and become a teacher. It's what her mother had planned for her too.

Joan devises a plan and using money that her mother hid in her doll, Joan runs away to Baltimore. She is taken in by a Jewish family to be their hired girl. At $6 per week, Joan, who now goes by Janet, feels like she is well on her way to financial independence.  She becomes attached to this family, even though she's never met anyone Jewish before. She works hard and also makes some serious mistakes.

The Hired Girl moves at a slow, methodical pace. It's written in the form of a diary, which adds to the atmosphere. There's a forbidden romance and some tense moments, but mostly the tone is very even. I'm not sure if that's the right word, but suffice it to say that my heart didn't ever pound. I never cried. I was never frightened. It kept my interest, though, and was very entertaining.

The Hired Girl is an ALA Notable Book, and has won the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction as well as some other awards for Jewish literature. As I find is often the case with award books, I don't think The Hired Girl will be very popular in my library. However, for the historical fiction reader, this one is not to be missed.

Published by Candlewick, 2015
Copy obtained from the library
387 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Monday, June 13, 2016

DNF Book Review: How to Disappear by Ann Redisch Stampler

It's been a record year for me for not finishing books. I know that part of it is me. Less time to read and still a huge TBR pile. But still, there's something about How to Disappear that just didn't click.

Nicolette is on the run. She witnessed (or committed?) a murder. Jack is after her; he's supposed to kill her. Jack is the only upstanding citizen in the Manx family. His brother, Don (who is in prison), says Jack has to kill this girl or else his mob bosses will come after Jack's mother.  So Jack leaves school, missing his graduation, to find and kill Nicolette, who now goes by Cat.

So, what didn't I like? It moved very slowly. I read half the book. It just took so long for anything to happen. It was very repetitive. I got really tired of hearing about how awful Jack's family was over and over. It was predictable. So, Jack and Cat are gonna fall in love, right? You can't think that's a spoiler; we all know it's coming. Now, I didn't finish the book, so I'm sure there's some twists and turns that I wouldn't anticipate, but still. It's jumpy. I was reading the ARC, so this could change. But we jumped periods of time without any warning. No breaks in the text. For example, she's trying to gain weight to disguise herself, and all of a sudden, she's gained weight. The scenes flip suddenly and sometimes periods of time have passed, and it takes a minute to get back in the story.

I could have easily finished How to Disappear. and given it a rating of about three. I got a feel for the book, and I still think many teens will love it. That's my purpose in reading a lot of YA. To recommend it to my teens. And I won't hesitate to recommend How to Disappear. I just don't have the patience to finish it.

Published by  Simon Pulse June 14, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
200/416 pages

Rating: DNF





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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Book Review: With Malice by Eileen Cook

With Malice by Eileen Cook book cover and review
With Malice reveals an exciting and interesting premise, but the resolution just fizzled.

Jill wakes up in a hospital severely injured, and her first concern is will she still be able to make her planned trip to Italy. She is shocked to find out that her injury occurred in Italy, and that she has lost the memories from the last several weeks of her life.

She also wants to see her lifelong best friend, Simone, and soon finds out that they were both in a car accident. Jill was driving and Simone was killed. Her father had Jill jetted back to the US presumably to receive the best medical care, but also to receive the best legal advice. It seems the Italian authorities think the car crash may not have been an accident.

Jill spends the rest of her time in the hospital and then in rehab trying to figure out what happened. The reader gets police interviews and blog posts from those that were witnesses or those that were close to the girls. While the interviews reveal some details, the truth still isn't clear to the reader.

Jill is convinced there's no way she would have harmed Simone, no matter what they were arguing about. Even if it was about the Italian tour guide that Jill had a huge crush on and Simone tried to steal. But as the truth comes out...

Well, I'm not going to say any more. The ending is ambiguous and the expected twist really didn't materialize. There is an interesting revelation that any savvy reader could have predicted. With Malice  has been compared to We Were Liars but doesn't pack nearly the punch. I didn't experience any attachment to Jill. Maybe I'm not supposed to. I didn't dislike her, but I didn't really feel myself pulling for her.

The writing is easy, and With Malice is a quick read. The story is intriguing, and maybe teens will be more shocked at the revelations than I was.

Published by HMH BFYR, June 7, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
320 pages

Rating: 3/5





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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Book Review: The Hunt, by Megan Shepherd @megan_shepherd

The Hunt by Megan Shepherd book cover and review
The Hunt is even more exciting than the first book, The Cage.

The characters are all separated in different parts of the colony serving the Kindred in different ways. Cora, Lucky, and Mali are part of a safari attraction where the Kindred come to hunt. They take care of the wild animals and Cora also entertains the guests. Cassian is secretly training Cora to compete in an event called The Gauntlet where, if she survives, she can prove that humans are an intelligent species and they will all be freed.

Things don't go smoothly, of course. I enjoyed The Hunt because we get several different areas in which all of our characters are in danger in different ways. The tension mounts for each of them, and in the end they all come together to try to escape from their captors.

If there's any complaint about The Hunt it would be the characterizations. We get a few different POVs, but besides Cora, I didn't really feel like we got to know the others any better. Well, maybe Leon. All of them contributed, and because of the different settings maybe it was just difficult to connect. This is a very minor complaint though.

The ending is definitely an "out of the frying pan..." situation. There is a pretty brutal cliff hanger, so beware. I'm desperately wanting more....

You will want to read The Cage first, but this is a worthwhile series that I'm going to be recommending to my dystopian/adventure lovers. And I have a lot of those.

Published by Balzer + Bray, May 24, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
368 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

2016 EBook Reading Challenge - Post Your June Reviews Here

EBook Reading Challenge at Annette's Book Spot
How's everyone doing? Hopefully you are continuing to make progress on your 2016 EBook Reading Challenge. Keep on Reading!

You can sign up for the 2016 EBook Reading Challenge here.

You can see my progress on my 2016 Reading Challenges Page.

Here's a link to the May Reviews Page.

Thanks for participating.

Post your June reviews below:





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Monday, May 30, 2016

Book Review: The Fall by James Preller

The Fall by James Preller book cover and review
I'm not sure how to stop bullying and I know schools are trying very hard to do so, but reading The Fall by James Preller can't hurt.

I think the problem sometimes is that kids don't think they are bullying. They don't realize it until maybe it's too late. In The Fall we have Sam looking back on his relationship with a friend, Morgan, who has committed suicide after being bullied.

Sam was a reluctant friend. He wanted to keep his friendship a secret. After all, who wants everyone to know you are friends with the person that everyone is bullying. There is one girl who is the instigator. No one knows why she hates Morgan so much, but that doesn't matter. She gives her "minions" assignments to post mean and hurtful messages to Morgan's online account. Sam is a participant because he fears the consequences if he refuses.

Our narrator is a bit unreliable. Who wouldn't have a hard time writing down in a journal the ways in which he contributed to someone's ending their own life? But he gets there.

Is The Fall the best book about bullying? I don't know. I've read quite a few. They all make you think -- at least they make me think. There is a powerful message here, and I hope a lot of teens get it.  The Fall is a very short and easy read. It's appropriate for boys or girls. This one should be widely recommended and would be a great classroom read.

Published by Feiwel & Friends, 2015
Copy obtained from the library
208 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Stacking the Shelves - New Books from Favorite Authors

Sometimes you see an author's name and it doesn't even matter what the book is about, you just request it.  Here's what I got this week:

For Review:
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake book cover
Three Dark Crowns, by Kendare Blake from Edelweiss

Leave Me by Gayle Forman book cover
Leave Me, by Gayle Forman from Edelweiss

The Plot to Kill Hitler  by Patricia McCormick book cover
The Plot to Kill Hitler, by Patricia McCormick from Edelweiss

Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult from NetGalley


From the Library:
The Fall by James Preller book cover
The Fall, by James Preller
I've already read this and will post my review this coming week

Purchased:
And Then There Were None, by Agathe Christie
Kindle Daily Deal. I've always wanted to read this.

So that's a pretty big week for me. I'm looking forward to all of them. What did you get? Leave me a link so I can add to my list. Be sure to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews.






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