Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Book review: Possession: Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano

Possession: Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano book cover and review
Possession fell flat for me. While haunting, it fails to step-up the tension which makes it seem slow and repetitive.

The story is narrated by Laetitia, first as she writes entries in her very popular blog, then as she changes those posting to private.  She had lofty ambitions to be a famous singer, but all that changes as she loses her singing voice and begins to have very realistic dreams about being tortured in which she actually feels the pain. She begins vomiting up weird things. These same symptoms happen over and over which makes the story drag.  She stews about what's wrong with her for a long time before we ever see any action towards figuring out what is happening. Although Laetitia has serious problems, they don’t seem to progress or get any worse until the very end.

There is a side story about the trial of a police officer for shooting a black teen that doesn’t add anything. There are several bits of the story that seem just thrown in and not fully explored. There's a kid she has a crush on who is involved in the protesting, but all she ever does is "wonder how he is." There are two episodes where she apparently brings an animal back to life. Her friend Angela who gets mad at her in the middle of the book and suddenly appears at the end and they make up. All of this feels incomplete and therefore unnecessary. The ending, written as a very short editor’s note, was anticlimactic and so quick it didn't have any emotional impact.

There are photographs and reports from various medical and legal professionals that add an interesting element. Mom, Gramma, and Miss Pierre’s magic are the highlights of Possession. And while I found it repetitive and somewhat boring, die hard fans of stories about possessions will relate to the vivid and horrid dreams and the other gruesome symptoms Laetitia exhibits.

Possession is the second book in the Diary of a Haunting series, but it isn't necessary to have read the first book.

Published by Simon Pulse, August 30, 2016
ARC obtained from School Library Connection Magazine
340 pages

Rating: 2.5/5

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review: Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee

Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee book cover and review
Every Falling Star is a harrowing memoir about a young boy first fighting for his life and then escaping from North Korea.

Sungju lives a life of wealth and comfort in the capital city of Pyongyang.  His father is high up in the military fighting off the evil Americans and South Koreans.  His life drastically changes when his father falls out of favor with the government and he and his parents are sent to Gyeong-seong for a "holiday."  Sungju very slowly realizes that his family is now helpless.  They get nothing from the government, and even if his parents worked, they would not be paid.  He has led a very sheltered, brainwashed life and has difficulty adjusting to their abject poverty.  He can't let go of his loyalty to Joseon (the natives' name for North Korea.)

After both of his parents leave him to find food and don't return, Sungju must learn to survive on the streets.  He forms a gang and after struggling, starving, and being beaten, they become very adept at stealing to survive.

Every Falling Star is very difficult to read. There is so much heartbreak and suffering, it was hard for me to pick it up at times.  I did think the book was a bit long.  The trials Sungju and his "brothers" must go through become a bit repetitive.  I realize this is all true, but we know at the beginning that he is going to escape, so I just wanted to get to that part more quickly.

Ultimately this is a story about family and love.  Sungju's gang become his family, and even to this day he worries about them and is trying to help them, and many others, from afar.

This book, although set in a different country, had the same feel as McCormick's Never Fall Down, so if you have kids who liked that book or like stories about different cultures and survival, point them to Every Falling Star.

Published by Amulet, September 13, 2016
ARC obtained from School Library Connection Magazine
316 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Stacking the Shelves - Getting Back at It

It's been a while since I've participated in Stacking the Shelves. I just haven't had much time to read or blog this summer.  I'm just going to post a few recent acquisitions, not everything I've received since the last post...

For Review:
Mars One by Jonathan Maberry book cover
Mars One by Jonathan Maberry from Edelweiss

Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson book cover
I really enjoyed Walk on Earth a Stranger and am looking forward to this one!

Mind Games, by Heather W. Petty from Edelweiss
Another sequel that I'm looking forward to.

So how about you? Anything good this week?  Leave me a link so I can add to my wish list.  Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews.

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2016 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende book cover and review
Allende's books tend to be slow and detailed but beautifully written.  The Japanese Lover is no exception.

We start out with the story of Irina, who after a troubling past (which we learn about throughout the story) is working at Lark House, a home for the elderly. One of the people she cares for is Alma, who has a secret past that Irina and Alma's grandson, Seth, are trying to piece together.

Alma's past involves Ichimei, a Japanese American who grew up with Alma as his father tended their gardens. The two were pulled apart during WWII, when Ichimei's family was sent to a Japanese internment camp.

Alma disappears every few weeks, usually for one night. Irina and Seth want to know if she's going to meet Ichimei. Seth is also in love with Irina, but she's not able to accept his advances.  Why?

The Japanese Lover weaves a web of vivid characters with complex pasts and slowly exposes the reader to all the details. The story is charming and warmed my heart.

The audiobook narrator, Joanna Gleason, is perfect. I highly recommend this version of The Japanese Lover.

The Japanese Lover is and adult book and would appeal to a select few teen readers.

Published by Atria, 2015. Simon & Schuster Audio, 2016
Copy obtained from the library
336 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Book Review: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski @marierutkoski

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski book cover and review
The Winner's Crime is an interesting and exciting continuation of the story in The Winner's Curse.

It's always harder for me to review a book that took me a long time to read. Especially when it's not because of the book. My reading pace has just slowed tremendously because of other things, and it's hard for me to engage in the story.

However, I really enjoyed The Winner's Crime and the direction it took the characters.  You need to read the books in order, however.  Kestrel and Arin are apart for most of this book, but they are each working to better the situation of their countries, and they are keeping a lot of secrets.

That's the only complaint I have about The Winner's Crime. I don't like when a romance is unable to proceed because of secrets. I didn't really see the necessity of Kestrel keeping her motives a secret from Arin.  I know it was necessary to the plot, but other than that she could have come clean.

I do like the relationship between Kestrel and Verex, her betrothed. It's pretty honest, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they may accomplish together.  And the emperor is scaring me. He's absolutely ruthless and I'm frightened for all of our characters.

If you enjoyed the first book, don't wait to experience The Winner's Crime. It will keep you guessing, and you will still be guessing at the end! I need to get my hands on The Winner's Kiss soon.

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 2015
Copy obtained from the Library
402 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

2016 EBook Challenge - Post You August Reviews Here

Sorry this post is late. Blogging on Annette's Book Spot is still very sparce. We are moving in our new house and have also had a tragedy in my family.  Still not much 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 July Reviews Link Page.

Post you August reviews below:

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Book Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo @LBardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo book cover and review
Six of Crows is and exciting adventure that kept my attention, although there were some slow spots.

Six of  Crows is told from several points of view which adds to the drama and excitement. Kaz is a criminal in Ketterdam. He has a crew that helps him with his capers. He has a chance to make it rich if he can just steal a very special person from a prison in a faraway land. This prison has some of the most sophisticated security precautions, but Kaz has never backed down from a challenge.  Especially when he will be set for life if he succeeds.

The Grisha have special powers, but they must keep their magic secret because they are being hunted and killed or imprisoned. Or.. they are captured and given an new drug, jurda parem, that enhances their powers and turns them into weapons. The inventor of jurda parem is the person who Kaz and his team are trying to find and bring to Ketterdam so that no one can have access to the drug.

One of Kaz's crew is a heartrender, a Grisha who can heal. Will she survive the mission to go to this dangerous place where her kind are being tortured? All of the characters are vivid and exciting. The story builds up the tension nicely. My only complaint is there were a few sections that seemed to drag a bit, and this might be because I was so anxious to see what was going to happen to them next.

The ending is a bit of a cliff hanger, and the sequel, Crooked Kingdom, will be released in less than a month. Good thing!

Teens are loving Six of Crows, and I will keep recommending it to them.

Published by Henry Holt, 2015
Copy obtained from the library
465 pages

Rating: 4/5

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