Monday, November 24, 2014

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

Buy here*
Publication date: 2012
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 259
My rating: 2 stars
Ages: 16+

The Torrington household is preparing for a birthday party, when suddenly, the small party is made considerably larger by the inclusion of a group of survivors from a nearby railway accident. The family grudgingly opens their home, but things are quickly turned upside down and the celebration turns into something much more . . . other worldly.

My local library had touted this book as something that fans of "Downton Abbey" would like. While this takes place in the same time period, it's not anything like the classy period drama of a high society family with an army of servants.

For most of the book, I was annoyed at the family. They were the most forgetful people I had ever read about--the whole lot of them. The youngest, Smudge, seemed to spend most of her life in her bedroom being forgotten by everyone, including her mother. Then when the survivors come, they forget about them until they have to remember. And then none of them seemed to actually do anything; instead they all just reacted to whatever happened to them.

Mostly, I think, I wanted some explanations. There were a lot of strange things going on in that house, but nothing was explained until the very end of the book. If there had been some explanations scattered throughout, I may have found the book more interesting. There is a mild sex scene, but no language.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, November 17, 2014

See Jane Run by Hannah Jayne

Buy here*
Publication date: 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 272
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 14+

Riley is an ordinary high school student with overprotective parents. Her biggest worry is convincing them to let her go on a college trip--until she finds a birth certificate in her baby book for Jane O'Leary. Suddenly, Riley doesn't know what's real or not, and with someone following her, Riley is certain that the truth her parents are hiding about Jane is nothing good.

Anyone familiar with the book The Face on the Milk Carton might be reminded of it for the first half of the book. In fact, I believe there are even references to that book with this one--including the term "daymare." The difference between Face and Jane is that Riley's discovery completely changes how she views everyone around her--including her parents, though they have always been loving and kind, if not a little protective. That really bothered me--I wish that she had just asked her parents about the birth certificate. If she had asked them at least once before going a little crazy, I think I could have accepted it.

However, it turned into a story that was interesting to read, though didn't take too long. I read it in one day, with my reading only taking place on my lunch break and after work. So if you want something to read, but don't have a lot of time, this would be a good one. It's not very thought provoking, and it's a little predictable, but sometimes you just need a book like that.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Real Children by Jo Walton

Buy here*
Publication date: 2014
Publisher: Tor
Pages: 317
My rating: 1 star
Ages: 18+

Patricia has two sets of memories: two sets of children, two careers, two lives, two worlds. The nurses say she's confused, so she humors them, but she knows that the four children she had with Mark are just as real as the three she raised with Bee. Is it all just a butterfly effect or is one real and the other not?

The premise of this book seemed so interesting. Parallel universes based on one decision and it's alternate, coming together at the end of Patricia's life. Unfortunately, for me, the book didn't live up to its potential.

The chapters alternated between Patricia's two lives, one as Tricia, the other as Pat. But with one chapter spanning anywhere from a year to 10 years, it seemed more of a quick travelogue through their lives instead of a story. I felt no connection to her/them. By the time I reached the middle of the book I was bored--it didn't seem that anything was actually happening. Tricia raised her four kids and put up with her bully husband; Pat raised her three kids and went to Florence every year. Things happened in the background, but in this alternate history Walton created, I had a hard time caring about that as well. Man built a moon base in the 80s? Really? It was more than my suspension of disbelief could handle--especially as I wasn't expecting that.

There is an exploration of sexuality and alternate life choices throughout the book. For those who have read Walton before, this might be something you would enjoy, but I don't recommend it.

*I receive no compensation from Amazon.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Secrets of Life and Death by Rebecca Alexander

More info*
Publication date: 2013
Publisher: Broadway Books
Pages: 365
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 18+

In 1585, Edward Kelley and John Dee traveled to Hungry, looking to see if they could save Elizabeth Bathory, though it might take sorcery and result in evil. In 2013, Jack and Felix are racing to see if any of Kelley's writings can help to save a fourteen-year-old girl's life. But there is a mysterious woman and an inquisitor after Jack and Sadie which may result in one or both of their deaths.

Unlike the previous book I had received from Blogging for Books, I was drawn into Secrets. I did like the parts that took place in 2013 more than Kelley's journal, perhaps because Kelley was a little too pious in his writings. The story was interesting, especially as it was based on a historical figure who has become something of a myth.

The book, like a lot of British books, contains hard language, but not too frequently. There is also references to sexual encounters of different kinds. It's not exactly a book that I am desperate to share with my friends or really want to have anyone read it so we can talk about it, but it wasn't hard to read  and I found the drama and magic of it enjoyable.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, November 3, 2014

We'll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter Memoir by Jennifer Coburn

Buy here*
Publication date: 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 372
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 16+

Convinced she will die young like her father, Jennifer decides she wants to give her daughter experiences to remember her by. When Katie is eight, Jennifer convinces her husband to let them go to Paris and throughout the next eight years, Jennifer and Katie travel to Italy, Spain, Amsterdam, and back to Paris where it all started.

I picked up this book when I was at the bookstore. It was on a table labeled "Summer Reads." And it is a great summer read. Coburn shares parts of her childhood with her father as well as the travels she and her daughter go on. Her relationship with Katie is close and real, both of them sharing jokes and Katie taking care of her mother when she freaks out about their trips.

I was reading this off and on while I had family visiting and I just had to keep reading sections that made me laugh out loud. Coburn is similar to me--wanting to see things and experience things, but wigging out when it actually comes down to it. It's funny, it's tender, it's interesting to read, and fun to share with family.

There is a bit of language.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.