Monthly Archives: July 2014

Confessions the Private School Murders – James Patterson

Summary:
Confess if you don’t feel safe.
Young women from New York’s most exclusive neighborhoods are being murdered, and the polie aren’t looking for answers in the right places.
Confess if you don’t trust anyone.
Enter Tandy Angel. The first case she nailed was the mystery of her magnificently wealthy parents’ deaths. Now she’s working to exonerate her superstar brother in his glamorous girlfriend’s murder. And danger just got closer.
Confess if you’re in too deep.
One of the victims of he recent murder streak was a student at Tandy’s own elite school. Shee has a hunch it may be the work of a serial killer, but the NYPD isn’t listening to her…and Tandy can’t ignore the disturbing fact that she fits the profile of the killer’s targets. Can she untangle the mysteries before she becomes the next victim?
The confessions reveal all.

Review:
Confessions the Private School Murders was a book I knew I was going to like before it even came out. Anything by James Patterson is wonderful. This book was exactly what I expected. The plot had the depth I enjoy. There were so many different stories going on at once. The book being written from Tandy’s point of view, we got to learn all about her past and the things that she was put through by her crazy parents. This book was very fast paced and had so many different things going on all at the same time. I loved every page.
Tandy was a wonderful main character. She’s funny, determined, intelligent, everything you want in a female lead. She doesn’t take shit from anyone, well, except her three brothers. She was confident with herself. She knew that if she just worked hard enough, or thought about something enough, she would figure out what was happening. And she wasn’t wrong. She once again bettered the NYPD and solved the murder of her brother’s girlfriend and unborn child, as well as the murders of the private school girls. I just loved reading about Tandy and her life and I am more than ecstatic that she gets the happy ending she deserves.
The Angel boys were seriously entertaining. The bond these siblings had was wonderful. They stuck together after finding out what their parents had been doing to them all their lives. They would do anything for one another. I just love any book that has a strong family sense to it and this book definitely does. These boys were hilarious on every page.
The last character I’d like to mention is Jacob. I’m going to be kind of vague about him because I don’t want to give anything away, but I absolutely adored him. He taught the Angel kids what it’s like to have someone actually care about you. Someone that wants you to be careful and wants to know where you’re going, who you’re with, what you’re doing, just because he cares. The kids definitely needed to get used to this new person that cared about them, but I really liked watching them adjust to having an adult that actually cared for their well being. Jacob was definitely my favorite part of this book. And the twist he’s involved in! I never even saw it coming.
Confessions, The Private School Murders was a wonderfully written fast paced thriller. It surpassed every expectation I had for this book. The twists were shocking, the characters were wonderful, and when I closed the book I was thoroughly satisfied, which is something I haven’t been able to say with some books I’ve read lately. I suggest this book to anyone who’s ever learned how to read. But I definitely think it’s aimed toward the older readers. It does have a bit of detailed violence, but what Patterson novel doesn’t? So, go to your library or bookstore and get this book and read it. Then let me know what you think!

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.


To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han

Summary:
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Summary:
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was a very cute book. It was a quick read that I really enjoyed. It was fast paced and entertaining. I think my favorite part about this book was the family aspect of it. The min character, Lara Jean, has two sisters and their dad. Their mother passed away when they were younger. These three sisters have the relationship I’d like to have with my siblings, or the relationship I’d like my kids to have. They support one another through everything. Everything they do, for the most part, is for their sisters. They put each other before anyone else and I think that’s wonderful. I loved reading about these three girls and seeing the ups and downs of their relationships.
Lara Jean was a very interesting character. She’s very innocent, but also exteremly intelligent. She doesn’t always ask for help when she should, but always manages to fix whatever mess she’s created. I really enjoyed reading about Lara trying to grow on her own after her oldest sister, Margo, goes off to college. Lara really makes an effort to step up and take on the role Margo played at home. She knows she needs to be a good role model for her youngest sister, Kitty. Lara was just a very good character. She was smart and always tried to do the right thing.
Her boyfriend Peter however, I didn’t like him, at all. He’s a little full of himself because he’s popular. He doesn’t take Lara seriously and treats her like a kid sometimes. But what surprised me the most is that by the end of the book, I’d fallen in love with him right along side Lara Jean. He showed his true self. Honest, caring, sweet, thoughtful, everything I never expected to see from Peter. I really liked their relationship when I finished this book. I would liked to have seen more of it though.
That was one thing I didn’t like about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the ending. It did just that, ended. It left too much open for my liking. I would have liked to see a reunion between Lara and Peter or anything really more than what Jenny Han gave us in the last few pages. This is definitely a book aimed at a younger age group, but it was a quick, fun, and entertaining read that any young adult reader would like.

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.


The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine & Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Sorry I’ve been slacking on reviews. To make up for the past three months of barely reading (seriously, four books in April, ZERO in May, and three in June), I’ve spent the last two weeks reading constantly and not really stopping for anything. So in the next few days I’ll try to write a bunch in between books.
One thing I’ve noticed about the more than thirty books I borrowed from the library is that there’s quite a few that have very similar storylines. In order to consolidate the number of reviews I need to write, I’m going to do something a little different and group some of the books together and compare them instead.
For this first review I’m comparing two middle-grade books about princesses: The Two Princess of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine and Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

Two Princesses of Bamarre Summary: When plague strikes Bamarre, Princess Addie must fulfill an ancient prophecy.

Brave and adventurous, Princess Meryl dreams of fighting dragons and protecting the kingdom of Bamarre. Shy and fearful, Princess Addie is content to stay within the safety of the castle walls. The one thing that the sisters share is their unwavering love for each other.

The tables are turned, however, when the Gray Death leaves Meryl fatally ill. To save her sister, meek Princess Addie must find the courage to set out on a dangerous quest filled with dragons, unknown magic, and death itself. Time is running out, and the sisters’ lives—and the future of the kingdom of Bamarre—hang in the balance.

Princess Ben Summary: “My gown suited me as well as I could ever hope, though I could not but envy the young ladies who would attract the honest compliments of the night. My bodice did not plunge as dramatically as some, and no man–no man I would ever want to meet, surely–could fit his hands round my waist. What I lacked in beauty I would simply have to earn with charm…”
Benevolence is not your typical princess–and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale.

With her parents lost to assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts:mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle’s pantries, setting her hair on fire… But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat to her kingdom. Can Ben save the country and herself from tyranny?

Plot:
I loved both plots equally. In Two Princesses, shy and timid Princess Addie has to go on a quest to save her sister. There’s magic, dragons, trolls, fairies, etc. I loved the way this was executed. Since it’s not a terribly long book, you might think too much information was crammed into it but Levine makes everything work together wonderfully. With the help of her Seven-League boots, Addie can move between different sections of the kingdom instantly and encounters tons of different creatures. Many of them, (trolls, specters, gryphons) are simply monsters but I was happily surprised to find the dragon was intelligent and had a complex personality. She was still evil, but the depth she gave to the story was fantastic. Though the story revolves around Addie, the secondary characters were well rounded and I felt like I knew them just as well as I knew Addie.

In Princess Ben, Benevolence must overcome unforeseen circumstances to save herself and her country. There’s magic, dragons, a somewhat evil queen, a war with neighboring country Drachensbett, etc. This was also executed fairly well and I enjoyed the little bits of history of Montagne that we were given. I also enjoyed the fact that the love interest started out as the enemy. I love when misunderstood characters are simply that: misunderstood. That probably stems from my long-standing love of Beauty and the Beast.

The Heroines:
I adored Princess Addie. At first I thought I wouldn’t because of how timid she was. Terrified of everything, she hardly ever left the castle and when she did, she stayed on castle grounds. I was expecting to be annoyed by her, but when her sister’s life is in danger, Addie pushes back her fears in order to save her. She doesn’t suddenly become fearless, but she doesn’t let her fears control her either and by the end of the story she comes to realize that some of her fears (not all of them) aren’t as scary as she thought they were. I loved watching Addie grow into herself and couldn’t help but admire her strength and resolve.

Princess Ben, quite frankly, annoyed the crap out of me for most of the book. I understand she’s young and I understand her parents didn’t raise her to act like a princess, but from what we learned of her parents I would have expected her to be a lot more mature than she was. She was petty and spiteful and made the same mistakes over and over again. No matter how many bad things happened, she never grew up or took responsibility until she became a prisoner of Drachensbett. After that, I liked her much better and she became someone I could relate to, even though she was still a little impulsive and stubborn.

Overall:
Two Princesses was a quick, fun read that I enjoyed immensely. Everything tied together to make an exciting, heartfelt story that I couldn’t put down.
I also loved the ending. It wasn’t what I was expecting and was a little bittersweet, but I was glad there wasn’t a random and improbable miracle to make everything end perfectly. Even though I love reading about magic and fairytales, I also believe magic should have limits and while I want every book to have a happily ever after, I don’t particularly like when they become completely unrealistic.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fairytales and strong, smart heroines.

Princess Ben didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The first half was slow and I didn’t like the protagonist at all. Murdock made up for it in the second half where the pace picked up and it became a story I couldn’t put down but I still can’t forget the fact I almost put it down in the beginning. I would recommend this one to anyone who likes fairytales, but if you’re the type of reader that needs a fast-paced book to hold your attention, this might not be the book for you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on either of these books and what you think of this joint review. Should I do another like this or stick to regular reviews?
-Antonia.


The Storyteller – Antonia Michaelis

Summary:
Anna and Abel couldn’t be more different. They are both seventeen and in their last year of school, but while Anna lives in a nice old town house and comes from a well-to-do family, Abel, the school drug dealer, lives in a big, prison like tower block at the edge of town. Anna is afraid of him until she realizes that he is caring for his six-year-old sister on his own. Fascinated, Anna follows the two and listens as Abel tells little Micha the story of a tiny queen assailed by dark forces. It’s a beautiful fairy tale that Anna comes to see has a basis in reality. Abel is in real danger of losing Micha to their abusive father and to his own inability to make ends meet. Anna gradually falls in love with Abel, but when his “enemies” begin to turn up dead, she fears she has fallen for a murderer. Has she?
Award-winning author Antonia Michaelis moves in a bold new direction with her latest novel: a dark, haunting, contemporary story that is part mystery, part romance, and part melodrama.

Review:
The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis was another one from my library haul. I loved this book, but I also hated this book. As soon as I started reading I was hooked. There were so many things I liked about this book. It had a fairy-tale theme. Most of the book focused on Abel telling Anna and his younger sister, Micha, a made up story that we find out is loosely based on real life events and people. I really liked the fairy-tale aspect of the story in the beginning. It’s creative and kept me interested. I spent most of the book guessing about what was going to happen next. There was a significant amount of foreshadowing, so much so that I thought the book had an easy and obvious plot. I thought my assumptions were right and I knew exactly what was going on. Michaelis proved me very wrong when I got to the ending of the book. The conclusion to The Storyteller is the reason I also hated this book. Every assumption I had made was wrong, and I was shocked and very unhappy about the truth.
Anna was a pretty likable character. The only thing I didn’t like about her was that sometimes she just did really stupid things. She definitely isn’t the smartest main character I’ve read about. She doesn’t always make the best choices and it was slightly annoying. The innocent quality that Michaelis gives Anna helped me get over her stupid moments. Something I didn’t understand was that Anna calls both her parents by their first names, then I realized this book wasn’t originally written in English. I absolutely adored Anna’s parents. They were totally and completely supportive of her every action. They let her do her own thing for the most part. The gave her the perfect amount of independence.
Abel Tannatek was a character I immediately fell in love with. He seemed like the typical moody male main character that slowly accepted and fell for the pushy female lead, until I kept reading and realized that he was so much more than that. Abel was a very believable character. I never thought The Storyteller would end the way it did because I loved Abel so much. There were a few times where I changed my mind about him. He did a few less than desirable things through the story, but his words were always to convincing. He is someone I definitely never want to meet because it just wouldn’t end well for me. Abel broke my heart right along with Anna’s when the secrets were revealed.
This is definitely a book EVERYONE needs to read. Well, the older young adult readers. There are a few parts that I wouldn’t want my younger sister to read about. So this is definitely an older age group book. The storyteller was written wonderfully and I loved and hated almost every page. I’m glad I read it and I’d definitely like to read more books by Antonia Michaelis.

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.


The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Summary:
Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?
Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.
A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?
Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

Review:
Antonia and I recently went to the library and took out a ton of books. This was one of hers but she thought I would like it, so I gave it a try. She was right. I did enjoy reading this book. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (TSPOLAFS) was a cute, romantic, quick read. I think I liked this book mostly because the main character Hadley was so relatable. She’s on her way to her dad’s wedding, to a woman she’s never met before. Her parents divorce pretty recently. I am a child of divorced parents myself, and when I was younger it was something I had a really hard time with, similar to how Hadley is feeling in the book. I think relatable characters are one of the most important things to have in a book. I liked TSPOLAFS because I grew attached to Hadley, because she was going through something I’ve had to go through in my life too. So I understood what she was feeling. Hadley was a very positive character, aside from the moaning and groaning about her dad. She tried to find the silver lining wherever she was and I liked that a lot. She was also very spontaneous which added some entertainment to the story.
The part I enjoyed the most about this book was following Hadley in her slow acceptance and forgiveness toward her dad. She has many harsh feelings about him when the book starts and is pretty much forced to go to his wedding. Hadley makes the best out of it and ends up meeting a boy in the process. I really like reading about Hadley and her dad closer to the end of the book. She finally lets him in and she leans on him in her time of need. This was something I really liked because her dad tries throughout the whole book to better his relationship with his daughter. He never stops trying. So he’s there when Hadley finally crumbles from everything going on around her. She lets her dad into her life and tries to make the effort he’s been making all along. I really didn’t like Hadley’s dad at first. Mostly because of the divorce being his fault. He definitely proved himself to his daughter in these pages.
Now, the boy I mentioned, Oliver. He meets Hadley in the airport right after she’s missed her flight by four minutes. Oliver is mysterious and funny and charming. Everything a cute British boy should be. The two talk about so much on the seven hour flight together. At first the relationship seems innocent, but as the book goes on it becomes intense very quickly. I really liked reading about these two together.
This book was a good, quick, entertaining read that I would suggest to any young adult reader. The characters were fun and relatable. The story line was interesting enough. Overall I liked this story, so you give it a try too.

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.


The Collector – Nora Roberts

Summary:
As a professional house-sitter and freelance writer, nothing ties Lila Emerson down-not her work, not a home, and definitely not a relationship. She spends her life moving from one job to the next, sometimes crashing at a friend’s Manhattan apartment. And though she can appreciate her client’s extraordinary homes, their expensive collections, and their adorable pets, Lila has never longed for possessions of her own. Everything she has, including her heart, is portable.
But when she witnesses a possible murder-suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as Lila knows it takes a dramatic turn.
Artist Ashton Archer knows his charming, clever, and impulsive brother couldn’t have killed his girlfriend-or taken his own life. His hope of unraveling what happened lies with Lila, the only eyewitness. And even buried in grief, Ash longs to paint the woman whose deep, dark eyes seem to hold endless reserves of strength and a fiery passion.
Chalking up their intense attraction to the heat of the moment, Lila agrees to help Ash in trying to find out who murdered his brother and why. From the penthouses of Manhattan to grand Italian villas, their investigation draws them into a rarefied circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you posses is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession.

Review:
I knew I was going to love The Collector before I even opened it. An assumption I made solely on the fact that it is written by Nora Roberts. After reading the first couple of pages, I was hooked. There were so many things I love about this book, but I’ll start with Roberts’ writing style. She always gives the reader several different points of view. Every few chapters or so a new character is introduced with their point of view. Although we don’t always know who the character is when they’re introduced, the many points of view give us readers a much better picture of the whole story rather than just what one character is experiencing. This is something I really love that Nora Roberts does with many of her books. I love being able to see the big picture, getting to know things that the characters are oblivious to. Another thing I love about the way Nora Roberts writes is her attention to detail. Each new character that is introduced to the story has their own history and Roberts’ is never shy with her supporting character’s backgrounds. This is something I really enjoy because I feel like too many authors focus on the main characters and the plot rather than the details. While reading The Collector there were so many times that I just had to stop reading and say, “Holy shit, what just happened?” This book just had so much depth and detail to it. There were so many little connections between characters that I never saw coming. Which brings me to the next thing I really liked about The Collector. I never once correctly predicted anything that happened in this book. Every page had some new shock or surprise that just blew my mind. This book was just wonderful, like most of her novels.
I immediately fell in love with the main character, Lila Emerson. I decided I needed to have her life. Every page I read made me like Lila more and more. I think that’s because she was a really relatable character. She reminded me very much of myself with some of the things she did and said. Enter Julie, Lila’s best friend. These two girls together reminded me so much of myself and Antonia it was almost unreal. Relatable characters are something I think is necessary for a good book. There were so many moments when I stopped and read something aloud to Antonia so that we could both laugh and agree that we would do the same or say the same thing as the characters. The relationship between Julie and Lila was, I think, my favorite part about this book. Lila was an amazing female lead character. She was very intelligent and independent, she stood up for her beliefs. Julie was an excellent supporting character. Like Lila, she’s smart and funny and always said the right thing. The two had a really great relationship together.
Now, to talk about the handsome men in The Collector. I’ll mention Luke first. Ashton Archer’s best friend. He’s handsome, smart, determined, everything you could want in a man. He was another wonderfully detailed supporting character. He was just a really genuine person and that’s not something you see too much anymore. He made me laugh and squeal excitedly every page he was on, especially once he reunites with Julie. Luke definitely shared some qualities with people in my everyday life which I enjoyed immensely. Onto Ashton Archer. The rich and handsome artist who we learn is so much more than that. The first thing I loved about Ash was the way that he sees things. As an artist, the way he looks at the world is significantly different from the normal person and I’m not sure I know how to explain what I mean. Which means that you all need to go read this book and love it as much as I did. Ash is part of a very large, dysfunctional family, another thing that I related to. He’s very family oriented and sees himself as the problem solver of the family. He’s a very strong and opinionated person, which is where he and Lila clashed. The relationship between these two was a very amusing one. They were always going back and forth about one thing or another. They’re both passionate about their beliefs. I loved the fire their relationship had and following them as the grew together in that relationship was a wonderful experience.
The Collector, overall, was an amazing book. There was everything that I require for a really good book. It was suspenseful and exciting. There were excellent character dynamics and so much depth to the story itself. I would suggest Nora Roberts to any reader, but The Collector specifically. I’d love to hear some thoughts from anyone else who’s read this.

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.


Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday- Blogging Confessions

It’s Top Ten Tuesday time! This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and today’s prompt is Top Ten Blogging Confessions. I’ve decided to center mine more around books since I couldn’t think of that many blogging confessions. Here they are in no particular order:

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1. Sometimes, I think blogging is boring. I feel terrible saying that but doing the same types of posts over and over again drives me nuts.

2. Usually I read the last page or two of a book before I even start it. I try not to, I really do, but it’s gotten to the point where I’ll just be looking at how long the book is and find myself reading the end without even thinking about it.

3. I’m awful at liking and commenting posts. Whenever I look at someone’s post I always plan to at least like it even if I don’t have anything exceptional to say in a comment (unless I hate it for some reason which never happens). But most of the time I end up completely forgetting about it and closing the window before I remember.

4. I don’t care if the books in a series match. I was actually kind of taken aback when I realized people do. Books are books are books. I can’t imagine waiting to buy a book because a store doesn’t have the matching copy. I literally don’t have that much self control. I love books no matter what they look like. BOOKS HAVE FEELINGS, TOO.

5. I can be very judgmental toward other readers. I try not to. I’m a firm believer in reading no matter what that might be, but sometimes I judge people who read nonfiction. That sounds a little backwards because I’ve found it’s usually the other way around but I absolutely hate reading nonfiction. It’s not because I have anything against reality or learning or anything like that. I would just much prefer to watch a documentary than read about it.

6. I have no problem putting a book down unfinished. It’s not that I particularly like doing it but I’m very decisive in my opinions and if I don’t like the beginning plot or hate the main character(s), I won’t finish it.

7. I’m usually in the middle of several books at once. And I have no trouble keeping track of where I am in each. I could literally read a paragraph of one, then a paragraph of another, then the next and rotate between them simultaneously. (I don’t really do that though, it’d be kind of annoying.)

8. I almost never read a book if I’ve seen the movie first. I have no idea why. #2 obviously shows I have no problem knowing the ending first and movies always miss the little details but I can’t seem to stop doing it.

9. I don’t take care of my books as well as I should. And I love it. I’m not saying I rip them or leave them out in the rain or anything like that (I would die first), but I dog ear pages and don’t worry about bending the covers. I like the character it gives to books. I’ve actually had to laminate the covers of my favorite books because I’ve read them so many times.

10. I sometimes collect multiple copies of books. Mostly my favorites and sometimes by accident. The only ones I really deliberately collect are the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Between the four books, I have 31 copies total.

I had so much fun with this topic and could probably keep going for forever but here’s my top ten. What book/blogging confessions do you have?
-Antonia