Just a book blog

Just a book blog

I'm Jenn.

I like to read then blog about it :-)

Review
5 Stars
S.
S. - Doug Dorst, J.J. Abrams

Ship of Theseus is the final book written by V. M. Straka and published in 1949. It's about a man who has no idea about his past or who he is. He's shanghaied onto a strange ship with a strange crew and thrown onto a perilous journey. The writer himself, Straka, is enigmatic. Nobody knows what he looks like or exactly who he is. Even his translator had never seen him face-to-face.

When a young woman named Jen picks up this book, left behind by a stranger, she discovers margin notes. She, too, becomes entranced by the story and responds with notes of her own and leaves the book for its owner. While Jen is a college senior, Eric, the owner of the book, is a disgraced grad student. But they're both facing crucial decisions about who they are and who they want to be. And how much they're willing to trust another person. And they're both trying their hardest to figure out the hidden secrets of Ship of Theseus.

Oh. My. God. This book was so good. It's easy to be intimidated once you open it up and go through it. There's so many things underlined and so much written in the margins and in different colours. There's pages and pictures and postcards stuck in between the pages. How do I read this thing?? I went through the main part first - Ship of Theseus. We follow a man simply known as S. He doesn't know who he is, his past, what he's supposed to be doing. The story had a lot of depth. It was very interesting and kept me turning the pages. Then we read Jen and Eric's notes back and forth to each other. The way I read this was penciled notes, which are Eric's notes to himself, along with blue and black notes first. Then orange and green. Then purple and red. Then, finally, black and black. As much as I enjoyed Ship of Theseus (especially the first couple hundred pages!), I enjoyed their story more. They're trying to find out just who Straka was and there are all kinds of hidden clues in Ship of Theseus for them to uncover something amazing. The book itself is beautiful. It's made to look like an old library book - stamps on it, yellowed pages, stains. The actual book and the stories inside are well-written, clever and amazing and I'm just so in love!

Review
1 Stars
Anatomy of a Scandal
Anatomy of a Scandal: A Novel - Sarah Vaughan

James Whitehouse is a loving father. He's handsome, charismatic, and he's a successful public figure. But he's been accused of a terrible crime. His wife, Sophie, is convinced he's innocent and will do anything to keep their family from being torn apart by lies. But Kate Woodcroft, the lawyer hired to prosecute the case, is certain that he's guilty and determined to make him pay for his crimes.

I was looking forward to reading this one and was excited to get an early copy. Unfortunately, I hated everything about this book. I didn't like it from the very beginning, but I figured it would turn into something really good later on. I was wrong. I found it very boring and repetitious. I didn't like the characters or the writing. Even the twist didn't do anything for me. Around the halfway mark I started skimming. This one was a big disappointment.

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC.

Review
4 Stars
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness - Peter Godfrey-Smith

Cephlapods are interesting and often overlooked in the intelligence department. This book mainly focuses on the octopus - evolution, nervous system, behaviour, memory, their skin and how and why they change colour. There are some funny stories along the way as well as some cool pictures. I definitely enjoyed my time in Octopolis where octopuses hang out, mate, fight and eat scallops.

 

It was also interesting to read about how the first living things lived during the Ediacaran period and how things evolved and came to be what they are today. As the book went on I found it a bit repetitious and boring as some things did not tie in with cephalopods. Once I got a taste of octopus that was all I wanted. But still an enjoyable read overall.

Review
5 Stars
The Last Mrs. Parrish
The Last Mrs. Parrish: A Novel - Liv Constantine

Amber Patterson is tired of being a plain Jane and a nobody. She deserves a life of luxury and power. She wants the life Daphne Parrish takes for granted. Daphne's handsome husband Jackson is a philanthropist and a real estate mogul. They have two lovely daughters. They live in a mansion on the water in the exclusive town of Bishop's Harbor, Connecticut. It seems as though they're straight out of the pages of a fairytale. Amber has a plan - she's going to worm her way into their lives by using Daphne's younger sister who passed away from cystic fibrosis. Pretty soon Amber is Daphne's best friend and closest confidante. She's traveling to Europe with family and spending Christmas with them. And she's growing closer to Jackson. But something from Amber's past is threatening to destroy everything she's worked so hard to take away from Daphne.

 

I was hooked from page one. The writing was great. Lots of manipulation, dark secrets, envy (maybe even from me at times), and surprises. It was easy and fun for me to envision all the expensive things and beautiful places that were in this book. The characters really came to life and I enjoyed how we got both sides of the story - very interesting and well done. This was an entertaining and compulsive read.

Review
5 Stars
The Liars' Asylum
The Liars' Asylum - Jacob M Appel

This is a collection of eight short stories. Each one is solid and thought-provoking. They're tales about the frustrations of romantic love. For me, nothing seemed to be missing from any of the stories. I really liked "Prisoners of the Multiverse" which tells the tale of a suicidal physicist and his top student, and "The Summer of Interrogatory Subversion" which is about a young girl turning eighteen and her mother renting out their basement to a graduate student who looked like a medieval shepherd and who was deemed creepy by the girl's best friend.

Thank you to Netgalley and Black Lawrence Press for a copy of this book.

Review
5 Stars
The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily
The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily - Laura Creedle

Lily Michaels-Ryan is a highschooler with ADHD. When breaking something lands her in detention with Abelard, a beautiful and brilliant guy who has Asperger's, she can't help but feel intrigued. He seems thirty seconds behind in a conversation while she's thirty seconds ahead. When a paper gets posted online - one that never should have been posted in the first place - Lily and Abelard discover that they both love old novels, especially The Letters of Abelard of Heloise. The two fall for each other hard but their relationship isn't going to be an easy one. 

Those black lines through the hearts got my attention. I was hooked from the very first page. The writing is so good - the whole book flowed smoothly, the characters were three-dimensional and they were interesting. We get a glimpse of what it's like for Lily being a teenager with ADHD. School is hard for her and nobody understands her. She feels like she's dragging her mother down. She has to make some tough choices. I like how the author showed how naive she was and also how she grew and took charge of her life. Lily and Abelard were so cute together and you can't help but root for them. This is one of those stories that will stick with you long after you've read it.

I won a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers for an ARC.
 

Review
5 Stars
The Good Liar
The Good Liar - Catherine McKenzie

An explosion has just taken down a building in Chicago, killing 513 people. Cecily Grayson was supposed to be inside that building but was running late. She watched the explosion knowing her husband and her best friend were both inside. Kate escaped disaster and is now living thousands of miles away, praying her past won't catch up with her. Franny is a young woman who is searching for her birth mother. While watching the morning news that day she knew that the woman she was desperate to meet was inside the building. The tragedy once again dominates the news now that it's the one-year anniversary. And these three women have their own secrets and lies that are becoming impossible to keep hidden.

Another five star read by Catherine McKenzie. She's one of those authors that I don't really have to read what the book is about because I already know it's going to be great, whatever it is. She creates such vivid characters and lives for those characters that it's impossible for me not to feel as though I'm part of. Her writing is so effortless that I can't believe how many pages I've read when it's (sadly) time to put the book down. I loved it!

Thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC.

Review
1 Stars
Ballad for a Mad Girl
Ballad for a Mad Girl - Vikki Wakefield

Grace Foley is a seventeen-year-old prankster and risk-taker. The only thing she's afraid of is losing. One night she accepts a challenge as part of a feud between the two local schools, but things don't go as planned. Something she can't explain happens and now she's haunted by voices and visions. She's drawn into a twenty-year-old mystery surrounding a missing girl named Hannah Holt, and she's having trouble figuring out what's real and what's imagined. Grace is losing herself and she doesn't know if she's uncovering the truth or if she's going mad.

 

I don't know what made me request this book. Reading the blurb now it doesn't interest me at all. I found this book extremely hard to get in to. The writing was disjointed, it was hard to follow along. I did not like any of the characters. I just don't care. DNF @ 43%.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Text Publishing for a copy of this book.

Review
3 Stars
The Liar's Girl
The Liar's Girl - Catherine Ryan Howard

When Ali is nineteen she begins college at St. John's and meets charismatic, attractive Will and they become inseparable. Ali is shocked when she learns that Will is the Canal Killer - having stalked and drowned five young women in the muddy waters of the Grand Canal, including Ali's best friend, Liz. Will has been sentenced to life in jail. But it's been ten years and Will is locked up in the city's Central Psychiatric Hospital, so when a young woman is found in the Grand Canal the Garda detectives visit Will in hopes that he can help them solve the copycat killing. But Will won't speak. The only way he will is if Ali comes to see him. The last thing Ali wants is to leave her anonymity and the Netherlands to return to a time she's worked so hard to forget. But the right thing to do is to go back and so she does.

I really had to think about what to rate this. The first chapter was great, it was strong, it pulled me in. I loved the setting. I really enjoyed the chapters about Ali's past, about the excitement about going to college with her best friend and how everything is so new to them. The characters were three-dimensional. But I felt like in the present chapters there was just a whole lot of the same thing going on which also made it feel as though a whole lot of nothing happened. Ali was brought back to Ireland to solve a case - really? The detectives are trained to do this sort of thing, that's their job and they had to bring in someone else to do it for them? It just didn't sit well with me.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for an ARC.

Review
5 Stars
Lies She Told
Lies She Told - Cate Holahan

Liza has thirty days to write a thriller that could put her back on the bestseller list. Her real life isn't going so well - she desperately wants a baby and her and her husband are struggling with that and he's distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick. Liza focuses on her latest heroine, Beth. Beth is a new mother. She suspects her husband has been cheating on her while she's been taking care of their newborn. She sets out one night to catch them together and the next thing she knows she's throwing the body of his lover into the river. When Nick's body has been found in the Hudson River and Liza's husband is arrested for his murder, she realizes that the lines between reality and fiction are blurred.

I read Holahan's last book, The Widower's Wife, and loved it! So when I saw this on Netgalley I had to request it. I didn't even care what it was about; I knew it'd be good. This was one of those books I had to stay up late to finish even though I was extremely tired. This is a book within a book and it's so well-written and so clever. The characters, the places, everything has depth. Both stories were equally as good and the switch back and forth between the two was seamless. It felt as though it was happening in my own life and not just on the pages I was reading. Soo good! 

Thank you to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for an ARC.

Review
4 Stars
A Stranger in the House
A Stranger in the House - Shari Lapena

Karen and Tom Krupp are happily married, they live in a nice house in a nice neighbourhood, Tom is a successful accountant. But one night when Tom comes home from work he notices Karen's car isn't in the driveway, the front door is unlocked, supper has been left on the counter waiting to be cooked. And no sign of Karen anywhere. She didn't even take her phone or her ID. When the police arrive on their doorstep Tom learns that his wife has been in an accident - she lost control of her car as she sped through a rough part of town. Karen is in the hospital with a concussion that leaves her with a pounding headache and no memory of what happened to her. The cops think that's convenient. They think she was up to something and doesn't want her husband to know. 

There are lots of secrets and lies in this book. Trust no one. I couldn't wait to find out exactly what happened the night of Karen's accident. The writing itself isn't spectacular, but it's not awful either - the suspense keeps things moving right along. Lapena definitely created an unlikable character in this one! A compulsive read for me.

I won a signed copy through Goodreads First Reads. Thank you Penguin Random House Canada.

Review
2 Stars
Before I Let Go
Before I Let Go - Marieke Nijkamp

Corey has moved away from the small town of Lost Creek, Alaska, and her best friend, Kyra. It's been seven months and she's just days away from going back to visit. But Kyra has died. Corey is devasted and confused. How could this have happened? Kyra promised to wait for her. When Corey returns to Lost, it isn't the same small community who accepted her and talked about Kyra, saying she didn't belong because of her mental illness. It's the opposite - Corey is the outsider now and Kyra is praised for her talent. The people of Lost say her death was meant to be. But Corey knows it wasn't meant to be. She knows Lost is keeping secrets and she's going to find out what they are.

 

When I started this book I thought it was so good! The writing was wonderful, the bond between the two girls was strong, the Alaskan setting was beautiful. I put this down just after the halfway point because I needed sleep. I couldn't understand how this book was getting such low ratings. When I picked it back up in the morning, I couldn't stand it anymore. It was SO repetitious. Corey is staying in Lost for just under a week and it's the same actions and conversations over and over and over. No characters had any real depth except for Corey and Kyra. And then when I found out what actually happened, ugh. It was absolutely absurd!

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for a copy of this book.

Review
3 Stars
Wonderland
Wonderland - Jennifer Hillier

Wonderland is the biggest amusement park in the Northwest. It's located in the small town of Seaside, has a giant ferris wheel and a creepy Clown Museum, and has generated a lot of money over the years. It seems everyone in Seaside has worked there at one time or another. So when a dead, decaying body is left in the midway for the Wonder Workers to see, Vanessa Castro begins to unravel Wonderland's secrets. Vanessa is new to Seaside and is the new Deputy Chief. It's her first day on the job and she has to find the missing teenage employee of Wonderland whose picture of himself at the very top of the Wonder Wheel went viral just before daybreak - around the same time the unidentifiable man was left near the bottom of it. 

This took me a while to get into. It feels as though there was something missing - large chunks of the book had nothing really happening. The twists weren't really surprising; they seemed, for lack of a better word, planned. I loved the amusement park itself. It wasn't a bad read but it left me wishing I had gotten more out of it.

Review
4 Stars
Final Girls
Final Girls - Riley Sager

Quincy Carpenter and five of her friends were celebrating a birthday at Pine Cottage, but things didn't go as planned and only Quincy made it out of there alive. That was ten years ago, but she will always be a member of a club she does not want to belong to - the Final Girls. Lisa lost nine sorority sisters and Sam was the only survivor during her shift at the Nightlight Inn. Despite the media's attempts the three never meet in person. Quincy is doing well. She has an understanding and supportive boyfriend, they live together in a beautiful apartment, she runs a popular baking blog, and the police officer that saved her life is still there for her any time of day or night. And she'll need him when she learns that Lisa has committed suicide and Sam comes out of hiding and shows up at her door. Since Quincy never could remember the details of what happened that night in the woods, Sam is intent on making her relive the past so those memories finally come to light.

I had to sit and think about what I'd read for a day afterwards. I really enjoyed the writing. I liked how we got a glimpse here and there about that night at Pine Cottage. And when I finally got to the big reveal I wasn't disappointed. I thought the story was clever. So many secrets and lies. I made some guesses at what could've happened but (of course) I was wrong. I felt like maybe there was too much in the middle - Sam shows up and we get lots of Sam and Quincy spending time together. But overall I really enjoyed this book.

Review
4 Stars
Island of the Dolls
Island of the Dolls (World's Scariest Places Book 4) - Jeremy Bates

On the Outskirts of Mexico City lies Isla de las Munecas - a reportedly haunted island that is home to thousands of dolls. A group of people are going to film a documentary on this island against the boatman's better judgement to wait until the storm passes. While stranded there overnight, the wind and rain add to the already spooky atmosphere but when they discover a dead body they begin to realize that something evil really is lurking on the island.

This was a fast-paced read. I really liked the setting and felt as though I was there. Most of the characters were unlikable but they did feel real and I liked that they were different from one another and had their flaws. A lot went on during the last couple of chapters but overall I was happy with the ending. Another good read from the World's Scariest Places series!

Review
3 Stars
Box of Terror
Box of Terror (4 book horror box set) - Michael Bray

Box of Terror contains four stories. The first one immediately drew me in. I liked the writing and the content was interesting - a man finds himself inside a supermarket that sells a different assortment of food than other supermarkets and it was too late to escape the second he entered the store but he will stop at nothing to return to his family. Then I found the story dragged on and I wasn't as invested as I was at the first, but overall this one was good. 

The second story started off good, I liked the concept - a family has just moved to the middle of nowhere and they keep losing their power and the man stays and waits for the repairman while his wife and child go to stay with her mother before it gets dark. But then the author started to lose me with those made up words and I also found this one too long. 

I did not like the third story - a man hides himself away from the world and is obsessed with numbers. In no way did this one interest me. 

I did like the fourth story - a boy is excited to start school again after the summer, hoping the school bully will leave him alone but he doesn't and the boy wants revenge. 

So overall not a bad read for me but it wasn't great either.