Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Price and portions, people!

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

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Time for a foodie review!

 

So, on my birthday I went looking for a restaurant and decided on my favorite of all food: Ethiopian. Unfortunately, I got a little turned around and ended up at a place I’ve never eaten at before called Café Colucci. Oh boy, was I in for a rude surprise!

 

These people are ripping you off if you eat here! I’ve eaten at Ethiopian restaurants all my life, and I’ve never seen anything as ridiculous as the portion size vs price at this place. $15.95 for the tiniest plate ever! If you want to eat good Ethiopian food – GO SOMEWHERE ELSE.

 

That is exactly what I chose to do.

 

I drove about half a mile and ended up at a different, cosy little restaurant called Café Eritrea D’Afrique. The amount and quality of food you get for an even better price is superb! Or, if you like, try out Addis restaurant on Telegraph. Their food is just as amazing for the price.

 

Cornerstone by Misty Provencher

Friday, August 7th, 2015

 

Misty Provencher has outdone herself with “Cornerstone”, the tale of Nalena Maxwell. Nalena and her mother, Evangeline, live a life separated from others. Evangeline’s obsession with writing stories and never finishing them causes an ever-growing pile of papers to overflow their house. Nalena grows more and more isolated from her peers until she meets Garrett.

He reaches out to her, befriending her and saving her life when she is attacked and nearly killed. From that point on everything in her life starts to change as she develops abilities that she doesn’t understand and has no idea how to control. Everything culminates with the need for Nalena to choose her path: to make the choice whether she will live the Simple Life, or take the path that leads to inevitable danger.

I highly recommend this book.  It was given freely as a gift on Misty Provencher’s blog to all of her dedicated readers.  Her book Cornerstone was an excellent read and she is now one of my new favorite authors.  Cornerstone made me laugh and cry and I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.

 

Cornerstone: 4 out of 5 stars:

Zero Returns by Sara King

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

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Before I start this review, let me state that I read the two prior books in the series and enjoyed them alot. Feel free to check out my review of Forging Zero and Zero Recall.

 

Now, I have to admit that I read some negative reviews of Zero Returns before I went ahead and read it myself. I probably shouldn’t have done that since negative reviews can sometimes negatively affect my reading experience. The review I read stated that the reader absolutely hated Joe Dobbs.

 

After reading the third installment of Zero’s series, I could see why.

 

Joe Dobbs in Zero Returns is not the Joe Dobbs of Forging Zero and Zero Recall. The Joe Dobbs in this book is suicidal, horribly negative and, seemingly out-of-the-blue, has decided he hates Congress. The author does mention some exciting sounding adventures that probably led up to this change of character and emotion – but the reader is completely left out and hears about it after the fact. This is not only disappointing, it left me – the reader – feeling disconnected from the Joe Dobbs in this book. Joe, in the first and second book had major flaws as well as likeable qualities.

 

The Joe in this book has Zero. (Pun intended – sorry!)

 

His story line throughout the book seemed contrived and his interactions and hardships with Twelve-A left me feeling as though the writer had run out of adventures and came up with a unimaginably obtuse character (Twelve-A), with the sole purpose of plaguing Joe. In this book, Joe Dobbs actively contemplates beating the crap out of his love-interest. He would never have done that in the first and second installments of this series. He also talks about sexual subjects in front of a child in this story – something I doubt he would have done in the first two books, either.

 

In fact, the secondary storyline focused around his brother Sam Dobbs a.k.a. Slade a.k.a. Ghost, is much more interesting. Which I found ironic because Slade has always been and still is an exceedingly despicable character in the series. Slade is so disgusting that only the act of sex moved him to change his ideas surrounding cannibalism and the forced slavery of women. But I digress.

 

While the book held my attention effectively – I was able to complete the book at least – I was truly disappointed with this installment and I hope that the author invests more into the characters of said characters in the upcoming book Zero’s Redemption.

 

The book held my attention, but left me with a slightly icky taste in my mouth.

 

2.5 out of 5 stars

 

 

 

 

 

Zero Recall by Sara King

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

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I’m back again with a review of Sarah King’s sequel Zero Recall! If you’d like to see my review of the first book in Zero’s series, check it out HERE.

 

Like I mentioned in my review of Forging Zero, the sequel is even better. I feel that my experience of reading this novel is better than the first mainly because there are fewer flow hiccups than in the first book. That is not to say that the storyline doesn’t backtrack – there are moments where the storyline moves forward and back on the continuum – but, to me, the storyline didn’t feel interrupted.

 

In any case, Joe Dobbs a.k.a. Zero is recalled by his arch nemesis Maggie who does her best throughout the book to make his life miserable. Joe’s storyline and objectives in this book are interwoven (outside his view for most of the book) with the storyline and objectives of an alien called Forgotten. The story archs of several of the characters interweave and interact with each other in such a way that after you’ve read the book once, reading it again will make the entire complexity of the story snap into focus.

 

I enjoyed the story itself. I did read some reviews of other readers who absolutely hated Joe in this book, and upon introspection I could see why. Joe is not a gentle character. However, I read the book from a perspective that kept in mind his traumatic training in warfare in the first book Forging Zero. When you keep that mind, I think you’ll be able to weigh his faults against his more positive qualities and abilities in bringing together the varying alien species in his group.

 

The story gripped my attention – I didn’t put it down until I’d read it completely. The flow felt much more smooth and the transitions back and forth across the story timeline felt appropriate. A great read and I made certain to pick up the third book, Zero Returns as well ^.^

4 out of 5 stars

Read my review of Zero Returns!

 

 

Forging Zero by Sarah King

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

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Kindle ads strike again! I think the worst thing about the ads is that I’m compulsively tempted to click and spend money I really shouldn’t spend – although, in the end, I usually find it well worth it. Forging Zero definitely rewarded my compulsive clicking. Enter Joe Dobbs, a fourteen yr. old who witnesses first-hand the alien take-over of Earth.

 

Now, before I ruin the surprise for anyone, let me say that in this review there be spoilers! Now that you have been properly forewarned, here we go!

 

First off, I have to mention that while the main character of this book is a teen, the themes and subjects in this book are geared for much older teens – say 17+. The feel of the writing, the age of the main character, and the focus on violence throughout the plot reminded me of The Hunger Games, and The Maze Runner, with the more scientific influence and bent of Orson Scott Card’s classic, Ender’s Game.

 

While the circumstantial hardships described in the book will definitely remind the reader of similar teen-focused dystopian world settings, the subject matter is actually much more unique than the gratuitous violence implies. Joe Dobbs stages a rescue to prevent his little brother and hundreds of other children from being taken by the aliens in their draft.

 

Ok, now here is where I get to complain. This particular rescue wasn’t described until almost the end of the book. Not only did this leave me very frustrated – it pulled me out of the story every time the rescue was mentioned because I questioned what happened, how did it happen, and why didn’t the writer of the book just damn well tell us how the rescue happened in the first place? When the scene was finally described at the end of the story, it answered those questions, but the suspense of not knowing only left me feeling as though the writer was interrupting the general flow of the story.

 

This kind of story line interruption and flow-hiccup happened several times. The first of which was the missing scene I just mentioned, and the others occurred every time the story line was stopped for flashbacks of the secondary characters. The flashbacks felt as though they were popped in there because the writer didn’t know where else to place them. And every time I read a flashback, it brought me out of the story flow because I started wondering why the writer just didn’t have the characters discuss the information in dialogue.

 

Now, that I’ve complained about these little hiccups, PLEASE DO NOT LET THAT STOP YOU FROM READING THIS BOOK. Trust me, this book is well-worth those small little bumps. I was sucked in and was unable to stop reading. I started the book sometime in the afternoon, and finally finished the book at 5am the next day- with a migraine as punishment for my lack of sleep. I literally could not put the book down.

 

In fact, I immediately purchased the sequel, Zero Recall which, I must add, was even better than the first.

 

Anyways, where was I?

 

Ah, yes.

 

Joe Dobbs stages a rescue.

 

Long story short, Joe is taken in the draft instead of his little brother. As punishment, the aliens give him the name Zero as all children taken in the draft are given numbers instead of names. From there, Joe must decide whether he is going to learn what the aliens want to teach him about warfare – or turn against his new friends and allies.

 

I could go on and on – the book is long – but I’ll end my review with this note: If it weren’t for the chronological hiccups in the story I would have given it a full 5 stars. This book was worth my time, though. Suffice it to say that you won’t regret picking this book up, and by the time you put it down you’re going to want the next book immediately.

 

3.5 out of 5 stars.

See my review of the sequel, Zero Recall.

 

 

 

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

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Thomas wakes up inside a metal box moving up a shaft. He doesn’t know where he is, how he got there; he doesn’t remember anything but his name. When the pulley finishes pulling his box upward, he discovers he’s arrived in a small community of teen boys who are just trying to survive.

 

When he arrives, he learns that they are all prevented from leaving by a gigantic maze filled with hideous creatures outside of the stone walls that surround their community.

 

His appearance is the beginning of the end of the small groups way of life and, as things become more and more dire, Tom is forced to come up with a plan to save them all.

 

I stole the physical copy of The Maze Runner from my sister’s personal library in a desperate search for something to read – and finished the book in half a day. The plot is so fast-paced and filled with suspense, there was no way I could have put it down.

 

I did have some moments where the language that Tom thought in didn’t sound very YA, but I guess that was because Tom was supposed to be exceptionally intelligent.

 

 

——SPOILERS——

 

 

First, let me give a disclaimer. I’m a total wimp and a softy when it comes to tear jerking scenes. The first time I watched Bambi, I cried. And I was an adult at the time. So keep that in mind when I explain my lack of connection to the characters.

 

I found it hard to connect to any of the other characters in the book. I was able to connect a little bit with Tom, but not at all with Teresa or Chucky – and I should have been able to.  I’m not certain if it was because the focus was on the action in the novel or the pace of the plot, but I still should have felt something when Chucky died.

 

Instead, I felt – nothing. Nothing at all.

 

The book was really good – the plot was enjoyable and moved along, but when I got to the end and realized there was going to be a sequel – with, most likely, the same amount of dark, dreariness that this book had – I didn’t feel excited. I felt drained.

 

That was just my reaction though – and says nothing for the writing in The Maze Runner. It was good. Good enough that I might read it again in a year or so if I had nothing else on my shelf.

 

4 out of 5 stars

Book Review The Red Harlequin

Saturday, July 4th, 2015

 

 

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I discovered this gem of a book through one of my paperwhite ads. The cover caught my eye, and the book description hooked me enough to download and start reading.

 

The world opens intriguingly. Everyone is identified by their Chrome or the color of their essence. 14yr old Asheva is of the Black Chrome clan. We join Asheva as his father takes him to an execution, and the pace doesn’t slow down. A war is declared, family and friends die, and within the space of a few chapters, Asheva commits a crime and becomes a fugitive.

 

The world-building was superb, the suspense built deliciously, and at the risk of giving away more spoilers, I’ll just say my only disappointment was that it ended too soon.

 

4 out of 5 stars.

The Prediction by Darren Sugrue

Monday, June 8th, 2015

The Prediction by Darren Sugrue 4 out of 5 stars

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I actually discovered this book through the advertisements on my paperwhite.

 

I’m not normally a lover of forced advertising, but I actually like that books show up randomly on my kindle. The randomness of the advertisements leads me to authors I might not normally be exposed to on my own search for new books.  I saw this particular book as a result of these advertisements and it was the byline that caught my eye, and made me decide to purchase the book:

 

Nobody knows the day they’ll die …Until now. 

 

Interesting, right?

 

The price helped also, a mere $.99 on the kindle. After all, if I didn’t like what I read, I’d only wasted a dollar, right?

 

No worries, I didn’t waste my dollar ^.^

 

This book is about Daniel, a “failed” mathematician. He creates a theory that death is possible to predict if you utilize all possible data necessary to estimate a given person’s predilections to disease, accidents, and other negative genetic information. The storyline jumps forward and backward six months in time which, along with the many main characters involved, got a tiny bit confusing. However, each and every character mentioned was absolutely essential to the flow of the plot.

 

I don’t want to ruin some of the plot twists of the book so I won’t say too much about who dies and who doesn’t, but the ending of the story was both heart-rending and bittersweet. I was in tears by the end of the book. The story flowed smoothly and was well-thought out; the pace was even and picked up rather quickly. The plot twist at the end caught me by surprise. All-in-all, an absolutely excellent read, and one that is staying in my kindle for good.

 

For those of you that care about such things, the author seems to be an indie author – and one that, if all his writing stays true, will become popular very quickly.

 

Excellent job —-> 4 out of 5 stars.

Hugh Jackman’s Awesomeness

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

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I just wanted to wax into verbosity for a moment on just how awesome Hugh Jackman is. I had the lovely opportunity to watch Les Miserables, then ended up on an all day Hugh Jackman Marathon. Les Miserables was stunning. Hearing Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried burst spontaneously into song surprised me and took a moment to get used to, but once I did…goose bumps.

 

I would really be hard put to recall when last I saw such affecting performances. I cried for at least 90% of the movie. Now, admittedly, I am a softy when it comes to tear-jerking scenes – but that does absolutely nothing to negate just how wonderful their performances were. That movie deserved the accolades it received – I give it 4 stars only because I had a headache from crying so hard by the time it was through.

 

I went on to watch Real Steel. This movie was a heart-warmer. Watching Hugh Jackman play a dead-beat, irresponsible, impulsive loser was definitely a role I’m not used to seeing him in. I got my first taste of Hugh-Jackman-Awesomeness when I watched him play Wolverine in Xmen, and Gabriel Van Helsing in Van Helsing, (which BTW are both equally awesome movies). So his performance as Charlie Kenton in Real Steel caught me off guard. I enjoyed watching his transformation from a cowardly jerk who sells off his son for 50k – into a man who slowly changes into something more on a summer-long, robot-boxing, road-trip with that same son.

 

I do have to say that the storyline was pretty predictable – nothing happened in the general plot that surprised me, but the ending was cheering and heart-warming and, really, what else could you ask for on a cold, snowy night? I give Real Steel 3.5 stars.

 

Finally, I capped off the night with Kate & Leopold. May I get off track for a moment by saying just how much I miss Meg Ryan? What happened?! Sleepless in Seattle was one of the greatest movies (I think) in its time! Ok – back on subject. Hugh Jackman. Awesome. Loved his performance as a duke dragged forward in time.

 

However.

 

(HERE THERE BE SPOILERS)

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Can I just say that the thought that Kate dating what was technically her great, great grandson CREEPED ME THE &%^! OUT!

That’s just wrong on soooo many levels!

Ok, done.

Loved the movie – but that not-very-well-thought-out incest dropped the movie to a 3 star for me.  Just saying.

 

Still, that in no way negates Hugh Jackman’s awesomeness.

 

He’s awesome.

The Grimm Prequels 1-6 by Cameron Jace

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

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I downloaded The Grimm Diaries Prequels 1-6 during its free download period on amazon. This series is one of the most unique sets of short stories I’ve read. Not only were the stories based on research, they actually made you wonder if the actual stories told in the past by the brothers Grimm, might not have had a different foundation/truth behind the tales.

 

I sincerely enjoyed these stories, and I especially enjoyed book  #6 Blood Apples . It had a humorous, tongue-in-cheek feel to it that reminded me of Piers Anthony’s Xanth Series. The only reason I could not give these stories a higher rating was because of some of the editing issues throughout the collection. Otherwise, I enjoyed the creativity and uniqueness of the Grimm Prequel stories, and I’m looking forward to the following books in the series.

 

3.5 out of 5 stars