Monday, March 23, 2015

Review: Ripper by Isabel Allende

Publisher: Harper
Pages: 512
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss

Release Date: January 28, 2014
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Jackson women, Indiana and Amanda, have always had each other. Yet, while their bond is strong, mother and daughter are as different as night and day. Indiana, a beautiful holistic healer, is a free-spirited bohemian. Long divorced from Amanda's father, she's reluctant to settle down with either of the men who want her-Alan, the wealthy scion of one of San Francisco's elite families, and Ryan, an enigmatic, scarred former Navy SEAL.

While her mom looks for the good in people, Amanda is fascinated by the dark side of human nature, like her father, the SFPD's Deputy Chief of Homicide. Brilliant and introverted, the MIT-bound high school senior is a natural-born sleuth addicted to crime novels and Ripper, the online mystery game she plays with her beloved grandfather and friends around the world.

When a string of strange murders occurs across the city, Amanda plunges into her own investigation, discovering, before the police do, that the deaths may be connected. But the case becomes all too personal when Indiana suddenly vanishes. Could her mother's disappearance be linked to the serial killer? Now, with her mother's life on the line, the young detective must solve the most complex mystery she's ever faced before it's too late.

My Review:

I have heard a lot of great things about Isabel Allende's writing so being able to pick up her newest novel had me excited. The part of this book that truly got me interested was how this is a book about a group of people working together as a group to solve murders happening in San Francisco. Now going into this without knowing too much, I thought I was kind of getting into something kind of about Jack the Ripper, I was definitely wrong, and yet I was not completely disappointed by the story, though I had my issues.

This novel goes through many different perspectives, at times it felt that there were too many voices for this one story. I felt that for a book that was supposed to be about murders and a group of people solving them, that plot kind of fell to the background a little bit. Every once in a while there would be a mention of it, but for the most part this book is about Indiana and the people that her life revolves around. Indiana has a lot of people around her that really love her, but her relationship with her daughter, Amanda is what makes this book. They have a very strong relationship and are there always there for each other, they are each other's best friends (almost like a Rory and Lorelai relationship is what I saw).

Ryan is another character that really helps move the story along, he is someone with a lot of personal issues that Indiana helps through things, and in a way he opens up Indiana's life and shows her there is more to the eye. I love the contrast between all the characters, Indiana is someone who wants to see the good in everybody she comes in contact with, whereas those around her are more into the darker side of things, especially Amanda, and as the book continues, this seems to cause some trouble.

There are some interesting twists that Allende brings out in the book, it was closer to the end where things really start to get interesting and truly where the story picks up. I was close to giving up on this book a couple of times, but that is around the time that a new murder would occur and I would be brought back in. I did find this to be an interesting story at times, but I just felt that what the story was supposed to be about lacked and was overshadowed by other plots, that didn't seem as important. Sadly, it just didn't end up being the best book for me.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 336
Received: Received an e-copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 14, 2015
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous.But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

My Review:

Courtney Summers has always had a way with words, her stories truly draw a readers' attention and she delves deep into the emotions of her characters. This book really hit me hard, and reading about everything Romy goes through makes this a very difficult story to read at times. Readers come into the story after Romy has tried to tell the truth about Kellan Turner, and we get to see what that has cost her and how she is trying to rebuild her life.

I definitely felt that Summers made this book an emotional rollercoaster for readers to really see how silence can affect a person, but so can speaking out if it is against the so called "golden boy". Romy is the perfect character for this role, she truly tries to hide herself away and she wants to reinvent herself so much that she gets a job out of town where no one really knows her or the past. But when someone else goes missing from a party, the truth must come out or there is the chance that more people will get hurt. Romy doesn't know how to get the truth out, no one will believe her because she is just someone from the wrong side of the tracks trying to bring down the good child....

Honestly, I love how Courtney Summers deals with such heavy social issues and she brings her readers deep into Romy's world. Romy wants to keep others from feeling how she does and from being as persecuted as she has been over the past few months. I can tell you though, that all this good about the book does not make it a light read at all. Summers definitely tackles a difficult situation and she truly shows the darkest part of it possible. Everything about this is gritty and hard to get through at times. This book is about Romy's struggles with her past and being able to open up again.

The one character that I absolutely loved was Leon, he was like a breath of fresh air for Romy. Someone who doesn't know about her past and can't judge her for what has happened. I truly believe that without him this would have been a completely different story. I wish I had more experience with Summers' writing before picking up this book, but I know I want more from her. She has really taken this story above expectations and brought out the dark truth behind a very real situation. But the other thing that Courtney Summers is able to do with this story is show the hope beneath the situation, despite all the problems Romy goes through for speaking out, this is a story of her coming to grips and knowing that there is still a light at the end of the tunnel.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Review: The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne

Publisher: Crown
Pages: 323
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: May 20, 2014
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Meena, a young woman living in a futuristic Mumbai, wakes up with five snake bites on her chest. She doesn't know how or why, but she must flee India and return to Ethiopia, the place of her birth. Having long heard about The Trail -- an energy-harvesting bridge that spans the Arabian Sea -- she embarks on foot on this forbidden bridge, with its own subculture and rules. What awaits her in Ethiopia is unclear; she's hoping the journey will illuminate it for her.

Mariama, a girl from a different time, is on a quest of her own. After witnessing her mother's rape, she joins up with a caravan of strangers heading across Saharan Africa. She meets Yemaya, a beautiful and enigmatic woman who becomes her protector and confidante. Yemaya tells Mariama of Ethiopia, where revolution is brewing and life will be better. Mariama hopes against hope that it offers much more than Yemaya ever promised.

As one heads east and the other west, Meena and Mariama's fates will entwine in ways that are profoundly moving and shocking to the core. Vividly imagined and artfully told, written with stunning clarity and deep emotion, The Girl in the Road is a true tour de force.

My Review:

This was a book I was excited to read after hearing about it, it seemed to be something different and a great story dealing with self discovery. The book opens up right away with Meena waking up and not really knowing what happened, she must flee India and return home. As Meena prepares to leave, we switch stories to Mariama, a woman from a different time period on her own quest of self discovery.

For awhile I was confused as to whose story I was following, both of these women were traveling and had a lot of difficulties to get through on their journey. Meena has a very long journey through The Trail, a bridge that is as long as the Arabian Sea, she takes this journey on foot and readers see her struggle through a very treacherous walk. She meets many interesting people along the way that help her along the way and we slowly learn more about Meena's life as she reminisces about her past and what brought her here.

Mariama's story is what really captured my attention, after her mother's rape, Mariama joins a group of travelers and she learns a lot about life from these people. Mariama falls in love with Yemaya, they become very close and Mariama trusts her with everything. Yemaya tells of a revolution that is happening in Ethiopia (where they are headed) and you can tell that she will have a strong affect on Mariama's life even after she is not around. Monica Byrne has penned a story that may stick with you, but I believe you need to give this story the time and really let it sit with you to understand everything that is going on.

Throughout the entire time I was reading this book I was trying to connect the dots and figure out how these two characters relate to each other and how their stories connect. As the book continued on I thought certain things about how the stories would come together, but when it ended, I was still a little surprised. I think there is a lot that readers can learn from both these women about perseverance through tough times. Both stories show that you can't always get by on your own and there is no harm in getting help from people, you see this especially with Meena's storyline.

This is truly a hard book to describe because there is so much that happens and both these women are trying to make a better life for themselves in different ways. Though, the way that Byrne slowly reveals their stories keeps readers interested and wanting to come back to learn more about what brought these girls to their journeys. There are a lot of emotions running through and Monica Byrne knows how to capture that perfectly, you can feel for these girls and you want to become friends and help them through their journeys.
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