Book Review–The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti

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This is the 6th book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti
Published April 7th, 2009 by Simon Pulse

Maybe it was wrong, or maybe impossible, but I wanted the truth to be one thing. One solid thing.

Quinn is surrounded by women who have had their hearts broken. Between her mother, her aunt, and her grandmother, Quinn hears nothing but cautionary tales. She tries to be an optimist — after all, she’s the dependable one, the girl who never makes foolish choices. But when she is abruptly and unceremoniously dumped, Quinn starts to think maybe there really are no good men.

It doesn’t help that she’s gingerly handling a renewed relationship with her formerly absent father. He’s a little bit of a lot of things: charming, selfish, eccentric, lazy…but he’s her dad, and Quinn’s just happy to have him around again. Until she realizes how horribly he’s treated the many women in his life, how he’s stolen more than just their hearts. Determined to, for once, take action in her life, Quinn joins forces with the half sister she’s never met and the little sister she’ll do anything to protect. Together, they set out to right her father’s wrongs…and in doing so, begin to uncover what they’re really looking for: the truth.

Once again, Deb Caletti has created a motley crew of lovably flawed characters who bond over the shared experiences of fear, love, pain, and joy — in other words, real life.

 

————-

Plot:

The beginning was a little hectic at first, but once Quinn discovered the items in her father’s house, things got much more exciting. At times this book was hard to put down because I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I’ve always been a sucker for road trip themed books.

Setting:

Since this is a book with a road trip, there are several settings. Not too much emphasis is put on all of them, but I found the town in Canada to be the neatest place, as well as Joelle and Frances Lee’s town.

Characters:

Quinn was a bit difficult to like at first, but she grew on me. I loved her sisters, Sprout and Frances Lee, and pretty much all the women in her family. I also liked Jake and Brie pretty well. Quinn’s grandmother had me in hysterics.

Relationships:

There’s several relationships in this one, and I think it was neat to see how Quinn’s dad had affected all of his past lovers. Quinn’s own relationship with her dad was interesting and complicated. I loved the relationships that Quinn had with the female side of her family, especially her little sister, though the one with her older half-sister was also intriguing.

I was expecting the romantic relationship the moment he was introduced, but I ended up liking and rooting for them.

Writing/Voice:

The beginning felt wordy, but I grew to mostly enjoy this as the book went on. While I liked the little personal stories scattered throughout the book told from the different female POVs, some seemed a little unnecessary.

Ending:

Definitely bittersweet, just like real life can be. Everything was tied up nicely by the end.

Overall:

Overall, I really liked this one. If you want a fun book with colorful characters, complicated family relationships, and a road trip quest, this is right up your alley.

 

 

4halfstars

 

jncname
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Book Review–Someone Else’s Life by Katie Dale

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This is the 3rd book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Someone Else’s Life by Katie Dale
Published February 2nd, 2012 by Simon & Schuster UK

When 17-year-old Rosie’s mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington’s Disease, Rosie’s pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when Rosie tells her mother’s best friend, “Aunt Sarah,” that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie wasn’t her real mother after all. Rosie was swapped at birth with a sickly baby who was destined to die.

Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, joining her ex-boyfriend on his gap year travels, to find her birth mother in California. But all does not go as planned. As Rosie discovers yet more of her family’s deeply buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonizing decision of her own, one which will be the most heartbreaking and far-reaching of all.

 

————-

I thought I would try a different approach to reviewing books by breaking my review down into particular sections.

Plot:

The overall plot was interesting and unpredictable–in a good way. I didn’t know much about Huntington’s until reading this and I feel the author did a great job with it. It was also very engrossing and at times very hard to put down.

Setting:

The book starts in England, but moves to New York and New England later on, then returning to England. I enjoyed all of these settings and it was a nice change to see different ones.

Characters:

I really liked Rosie’s point of view. While she is not without her flaws, she is overall a character that I came to care deeply about and who I wanted to be happy. Her boyfriend, Andy, is also pretty awesome. It was nice to see a love interest who I liked yet still had realistic flaws. I also really liked Jack Woods and Rosie’s nana.

It was really hard to tolerate Holly. I wanted to feel bad for her, and while I did hate her situation, she was so dramatic, vindictive, and immature that it made it difficult for me to feel bad for her. She finally got better near the end, but she still irked me enough that I feel the need to deduct half a star from my overall book rating.

Relationships:

I loved Rosie and Andy’s relationship. It wasn’t perfect, but realistically done in a way that kept me rooting for them. They also had a lot of cute moments. I also really liked Rosie’s relationship with Jack. And as much as she annoyed me, Holly’s relationship with her dad was also one I liked–in that her dad truly had unconditional love for her, no matter what. Same goes for Rosie and Holly’s relationship with Nana Fisher. I also liked the friendship between Andy and Holly, and the one developing between Holly and Rosie at the end held promise.

Writing/Voice:

I enjoyed the author’s writing and voice of Rosie, though I was confused at who the other POV was. They are not labeled until the end. I’m not sure if this was done on purpose, to make you wonder who the other POV was or not, but if so, the author did a great job. At first I thought the other POV was of Kitty. Once I realized I was wrong, I had to go back to re-read the few sections.

Ending:

I liked the overall ending, though the epilogue was a bit sappy. Still, I liked the idea of Nana possibly knowing the truth (or guessing it) all along.

Overall:

Overall, I really liked this one. Holly’s character kept me from enjoying it as much as I would have liked, but I would still give it 4.5 stars, recommend it, and possibly re-read it in the future.

 

 4halfstars
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Book Review–Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen King

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This is the 85th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen King
Published September 24, 2013 by Scribner

 

Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

 

 

——

 

So I had a kind of long review going on and then my computer decided to turn off without warning. So I’m going to summarize my initial thoughts because there is no way I am re-writing all that.

The beginning started off strong, got a little boring/slow, and then went to being awesome and exciting not too far from the halfway point. So if you start to feel the story is getting boring, keep going!

The character development was very strong. I originally didn’t care much for grown up Dan, but ended up loving him by the end. Abra is probably my favorite “good” character, though I also liked Billy Freeman, too. Most of the villains were also well written and had a likable edge despite their awful actions. I especially liked Rose the Hat and Snakebite Andi.

There’s some neat twists in the book. I especially liked the twist with “the baseball boy.” The final battle scene isn’t nearly as anti-climatic as a scene from earlier, but still very enjoyable. Also loved the guest character who makes an appearance.

The ending was so incredibly sweet that it brought tears to my eyes.

Overall, a wonderful sequel to the original. Would definitely recommend to horror fans, Stephen King fans, and especially <i>Shining</i> fans. I’d love to see a movie adaptation just to get a better picture of the characters, especially the True Knot ones.

Make sure to check out the beautiful illustrations that are in an out-of-print version by Vincent Chong: http://www.brianjamesfreeman.com/2013/05/11/doctor-sleep-by-stephen-king-color-artwork-by-vincent-chong/

 

3halfstars

 

 

 

 

 

jncname

The Book vs the Movie: Skipping Christmas/Christmas With the Kranks

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christmaskranks

Book written by John Grisham 2001
Movie directed by Joe Roth, 2004

Synopsis from Goodreads.com:

 

Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded shops, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on the street without a rooftop Frosty the snowman; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences – and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined.

A classic tale for modern times, Skipping Christmas offers a hilarious look at the chaos and frenzy that has become part of our holiday tradition.

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

VS

Picture Source: Amazon.com
Picture Source: Amazon.com

Which I Viewed First: The movie.

Which I Enjoyed Most: The book, just by a fraction.

Out of 5 stars, the Book Gets: 4 stars.

Out of 5 stars, the Movie Gets: 4 stars.

Things the Book Did Better: More details concerning the character’s motivation, more heartfelt.

Things the Movie Did Better: More humor than in the book.

Verdict?: The book.

Why?: While I enjoyed both, the book was more touching than the movie. Christmas with the Kranks is still one of my favorite Christmas movies, despite the poor rating most people give it.

Should the movie be re-made?: Nah.

What do you think? Agree, disagree? Would love to hear your thoughts!

 

jncname

 

Book Review–The Merciless by Danielle Vega

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Since I’m a little behind on my book reviews, I will be posting more of them than usual.

 

This is the 73rd book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

The Merciless by Danielle Vega
Published June 12th, 2014 by Razorbill

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.

Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.

Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .

In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

 

——

 

I happened to see this book in the new section while looking for YA books to read for the next two weeks. The cover is what grabbed me–it’s simple but something about it just screamed “Read Me!” The back reads “FORGIVE US, FATHER, FOR WE HAVE SINNED.” And that’s all it took to add to the pile in my arms.

I ended up loving this book. If you’re a fan of horror, this one might be right up your alley. I’ve always found exorcisms to be intriguing, and the fact that a YA novel tackled it is pretty awesome. The best thing about this book is that you start to think you know who’s side the main character, Sofia, should be on only to be wrong (again and again in my case). I felt like I was in the middle of the Tug-of-War game.

Honestly, I didn’t care a ton for Sofia. The other characters are fleshed out pretty well. I especially liked Grace and Brooklyn. I guess Sofia just didn’t have all that much of a personality. But the story and other characters made up for it. It was very hard to put down at times.

If you’re looking for a good horror read this October, I highly recommend this one. I hope Danielle Vega will continue to write YA Horror.

 

 

 

5stars

 

 

jncname

The Book vs the Movie: Catching Fire

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Picture Source: foreveryoungadult.com
Picture Source: foreveryoungadult.com

Book written by Suzanne Collins, 2009
Movie directed by Francis Lawrence, 2013

Synopsis from Goodreads.com:

 

Sparks are igniting.
Flames are spreading.
And the Capitol wants revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

In Catching Fire, the second novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before…and surprising readers at every turn.

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

VS

Picture Source: redbox.com
Picture Source: redbox.com

Which I Viewed First: The book.

Which I Enjoyed Most: The movie.

Out of 5 stars, the Book Gets: 4.5 stars.

Out of 5 stars, the Movie Gets: 5 stars.

Things the Book Did Better: More details concerning plot, had scenes that helped better understand District 13 and the relationship between Katniss and Peeta. Also made me feel more deeply for character’s deaths.

Things the Movie Did Better: Story overall flowed better, not being from Katniss’ POV allowed more of a view of what was going on elsewhere. Additional scenes helped add to the story, like the scene with President Snow’s granddaughter. Some of the action scenes were also easier to understand by watching (and harder to picture in the book).

Verdict?: The movie.

Why?: I loved the book, but I loved the movie just a little more because of how well it all flowed. When the credits rolled, I was absolutely ecstatic over what I’d just watched.I’d felt a similar excitement over reading the book, but even more after the movie. Especially with Coldplay’s song that plays right after the final scene. I did feel more deeply for the characters in the book, though.

Should the movie be re-made?: No way!

What do you think? Agree, disagree? Would love to hear your thoughts!

 

jncname

 

Book Review–Me, Him, Them, & It by Caela Carter

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This is the 67th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Me, Him, Them, & It by Caela Carter
Published February 26th 2013 by Bloomsbury

 

ME is Evelyn Jones, 16, a valedictorian hopeful who’s been playing bad girl to piss off THEM, her cold, distant parents. HIM is Todd, Evelyn’s secret un-boyfriend, who she thought she was just using for sex – until she accidentally fell in love with him. But before Evelyn gets a chance to tell Todd how she feels, something much more important comes up. IT. IT is a fetus. Evelyn is pregnant – and when Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn has no idea who to turn to. Can a cheating father, a stiff, cold mother, a pissed-off BFF, and a (thankfully!) loving aunt with adopted girls of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow?

 

——

 

At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book at all. Evie, the main character, was hard to relate to, though I found the overall story intriguing. However, as I read on, I grew to actually like and be able to relate to Evie. I loved her relationship with Mary, the woman at Planned Parenthood, as well as that with her aunts and little cousins. I felt bad for her situation with her parents and her pregnancy. I was ready to support any decision she wanted to make.

I felt this book explored teen pregnancy and the hard decisions that must be made very realistically. It was nice to see a realistic and non-biased look at all of the options. I also like how religion even played a small role.

This book really played with my emotions. My heart about broke for Evie toward the end. While I don’t believe she researched her option as well as she should have, I also know that young women like Evie make rash decisions and end up feeling much like she did toward the end.

If you want a realistic teen pregnancy book that doesn’t demonize any options (abortion, adoption, or keeping it) that also might play with your heartstrings, this book is definitely for you.

 

 

 

4halfstars

 

jncname