Books

Escape to a Future: Review

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When I first began reading “Escape to a Future” by Brian Wigley, I didn’t think I would be able to get into the story or enjoy it much. Yet, by the end of the third chapter, I found myself immensely curious as to what would happen next with the main character. Despite not truly liking a lot of the aspects of the book, on the whole, I didn’t have any trouble finishing it and was fairly pleased with my reading experience

The story follows the adventures of Jonathan, or rather the misadventures and then subsequent good fortunes of Jonathan. Jonathan starts out as a lowly farmhand, working the fields with his father, but is soon transported to the big city of London where he works to better himself. When the city is plagued by sickness, Jonathan flees to the coast where he then is caught up amongst events out of his control (mostly) that send him around the world. Jonathan deals with everything thrown his way, regardless of how dreadful it may seem, and somehow always comes out of things with a spring in his step. One thing to note when reading this book is that, although it seems like everything happens within the span of months, the story actually spans multiple years. Just keep that in the back of your mind when reading because I found myself wondering how so much time could have passed throughout the story, I obviously wasn’t paying enough attention to subtle clues as to the passing time.

The main character, Jonathan, drove me absolutely bonkers. I didn’t really mind him at the beginning. He just seemed like a basic character, nothing too deep or confusing about him. But by the end of the story, I absolutely hated him. By about a quarter of the way through the book Jonathan started acting like an entitled and spoiled brat. He seemed to forget his humble roots very quickly and expected to be treated better than everyone else, regardless of his situation. He made the point of stating (many times) how lucky he was and grateful, but then he’d turn around and act like an entitled jerk. I strongly disliked him.

The writing in this book is just alright. I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style. In fact, I found myself getting annoyed at times. The author has a habit of posing questions at the end of paragraphs or chapters. While this does make some sense, as the character is likely thinking these questions as he goes through life, I found the questions throughout the story grating and annoying. Wigley’s writing also isn’t very eloquent. Wigley writes in a very straightforward and simple manner, which while not a bad thing just isn’t my style. If you’re into books that are straightforward, without a lot of description or details than this story is a good choice.

Now although it might seem like I have a lot to complain about within this book, my overall experience wasn’t bad. I was genuinely curious as to what would happen next to Jonathan, which kept me reading right up until the last page. The simple writing style also allowed this book to be read extremely quickly- making for a relaxing weekend read. Bottom line- I enjoyed this book, and although it wasn’t my favorite, I would recommend it for those looking for some simple and enjoyable historical fiction.
I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Bless the Skies: Review

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Although “Bless the Skies” by Julie Elise Landry took me quite a few pages to really get into, it turned out to be a marvelous book and one that I couldn’t stop reading. Although the writing wasn’t as polished, the story and characters really put me in the mind of Scott Lynch’s “Lies of Locke Lamora”. The words in this book, the characters, and story just had the same taste as Lies, which kept me wanting to read more long after the story was finished.

“Bless the Skies” follows the lives of 3 young ladies- the Tavens Sisters, Elaina and Laeli, and their friend, Sophie. Although they lead a rough life as prostitues and thieves, it is a relatively safe one. At least it was until they botched a robbery and Elaina was kidnapped as bait by Lord Anderton, an absolutely horrendous villain. I won’t give away any more details, because all of this happens in the beginning of the book, but I will say that there is a lot more going on than just that. There’s a war brewing, a mysterious man called the “fog”, and a unique world just waiting to be explored.

The characters in this book are all very solid. At the beginning of the story I found myself not really liking any of the women and I couldn’t understand how this Lord Anderton character was supposed to be the villain. By the end of the book, all of the women had really grown as characters and I found myself rooting for them. As for Lord Anderton… well let’s just say that he turned out to be an incredibly disturbing man, portrayed in a way that was so realistic and rational it left me too disturbed to go to sleep.

The writing in this book, while not perfectly polished, is easily readable and fits smoothly within the genre. The only true gripes I had with the writing itself were that the author changes perspective too frequently and suddenly to suit me, although I did get used to this by the end of the book, and the author throws the reader right into the middle of the story without much explanation or introduction. I was rather confused at the beginning, this story takes place in a slightly different world and contains complex characters and a fast moving plot, but the author provides the reader with a glimpse into the past about halfway through the book that worked wonders at clearing up all my questions and keeping me glued to the pages. The writing style itself reminded me of Scott Lynch and left a really pleasing taste in my head after reading. If the author continues to write at this caliber in her later works, with only a little more organization, I will definitely be reading more.

“Bless the Skies” is a fantasy novel that represents the genre well. There’s a unique world within the pages that is just begging to be explored- one populated with diverse characters and just enough horrors to keep you reading long into the night.

I would recommend this book for lovers of fantasy, especially those looking for a dark and disturbing story. If you get confused easily by multiple perspective switches then you might want to pass on this book, but if you’re confident in your ability to keep characters straight then definitely give this book a shot. It’s a delightful glimpse into a fantasy world that’s realistic but dreadful. I look forward to reading more by this author.
I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Safe Room: Review

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I was invited to read and review this book by the publisher. Needless to say, when I got the email inviting me to read The Safe Room I was super excited. I had read The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro and really enjoyed it, the opportunity to read her newest book (or so I thought) was thrilling. I was a little dismayed when I logged onto goodreads and noticed that the original publication date was 2002, hmmm must be a reprint. But that does not change the fact that The Safe Room was a really good read and a book I would highly recommend.

This story starts out following the life of Lee, an idealistic 27 year old who lives with her grandmother in an old house in Lexington that was a pivotal point in the underground railroad many generations prior. This book also tells the story of Sarah, the daughter of an abolitionist, through her diary entries. The two women’s stories begin to intersect part way through the book with the introduction of a (possible) ghost in Harden House; that of Silas- a runaway slave living in Harden house and awaiting the fate of his two brothers (also runaway slaves).

It took me until about 26% of the way through this book before I was really into it. But once more of the plot was introduced, I was hooked. I read the rest of the book in a day because it was so difficult to put down. I still can’t decide if this was a truly masterful work, as it wasn’t quite as polished as The Art Forger but it is still a book I would highly recommend.

The Safe Room deals with issues of race throughout the story, but does so in a way more unique than that of the typical pre-civil war era story. The race issues dealt with in this book were also that of modern day. There are parallel race issues going on throughout the story between Lee, in the present day, and Sarah, in the 1850’s and 60’s- whether all white people are the same in their racism towards blacks. I won’t reveal anything more about the race issues in the story, as they are truly what make the story beautiful, but just know that there is a lot more than meets the eye in terms of race in this book.

The characters in this book were really quite wonderful. I felt by the end of the book as if I truly knew the characters, especially Sarah and Lee. Although there were times when I thought the characters reactions were not exactly realistic or that they were not acting the way I expected them to, I realize now that is what made the characters all the more dynamic. The relationships between the characters were also quite beautiful and there were a few relationships (I won’t give anything way), that I wish could have ended differently.

The writing in The Safe Room was consistent with the Shapiro’s style, although not quite as polished. There were a few times where the perspective would shift from Lee to Trina in the middle of a chapter and I would find myself confused as to who’s perspective it was. This occurred more at the beginning of the story as once I was able to recognize the character’s style of thinking, shifts were easier to follow.

In the end, The Safe Room by B.A. Shapiro is a truly beautiful take on a ghost story that deals with serious issues and portrays characters that are extremely likable and easy to relate to. I would highly recommend this book for those with an interest in the underground railroad, tasteful ghost stories, or just beautiful stories.

I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Circle of Stones: Review

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When I first finished this book I thought to myself, “what a good book”. Yet, the more I really thought about the book, the more faults I found in the book.

This story follows Nik and Jennifer, along with a barrage of other characters who interact with the main characters or are in some way related to Nik and Jennifer’s story. While Nik, an extremely talented art student, is in Vancouver visiting his grandmother, a heavy drinker with Parkinson’s disease, he receives an urgent message from the love of his life, Jennifer. Nik is forced to cut his visit short and fly back to see Jennifer, but when he arrives home he finds Jennifer, a beautiful and talented dancer, missing leaving no trace of where she went. Thus begins the story of Nik, searching across Canada for the love of his life.

As the reader follows Nik and Jessica’s story, they meet a host of other characters, big and small. Each chapter is from a different characters perspective, whether it’s Nick’s grandmother or a misunderstood teenage artist. While I thought that the array of characters was really interesting and unique, I also found it very frustrating. It’s not often that authors choose to have the story of the main character told through the eyes of someone they met on the street or through brief glimpse and incomplete story lines, so I thought that was incredibly interesting. I loved being able to glimpse the actions of the main characters through the eyes of other, minor characters who would only portray their view for the chapter. The part that I found so incredibly frustrating about that style was that not enough closure within the minor characters’ stories. I would have liked to have read more about each minor characters story, or had less of their personal stories to begin with so that I was not left wanting more.

The main reason that I wanted more from each minor characters’ chapter was because Suzanne Andrew did such an amazing job of creating relatable characters. Many of the characters within the story are facing real life challenges that impact many real life people throughout the world and they react to the situations in ways that I would expect most people to act. I loved reading about the struggles the characters were facing and how they overcame or coped with those struggles.

This is one of those books that reads like a Hallmark movie, so Hallmark take note, this would make a fabulous movie for your channel. And please have it end the same way because (not giving anything away) the ending was lovely.

In the end, if the author writes another book that continues the stories of the minor characters, I will gladly pick it up and read it, but if the authors next books are similar in style to this one with no closure for the minor characters, I will be staying well away.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

Dead Until Dark: Review

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Since Dead Until Dark is technically a romance it’s not exactly my cup of tea. But since it was cheap on Audible and I was in the mood for something different, I decided to give the Sookie Stackhouse series a whirl. And I’m glad that I did as Dead Until Dark provided a very entertaining listen while folding laundry.

First I’ll talk about the story itself before delving into the audiobook aspects. The first story in the Sookie Stackhouse series provides drama, mystery, romance, and a touch of humor to create a cute little book. The story follows Sookie as she is seduced by a vampire at work, gets tangled up with a killer, and deals with her own “disability” (she can read minds). Sookie deals with everything thrown her way like a champ, dishing out her southern wit/sass at anyone who stands in her way.

I really enjoyed Sookie as a character. For a romanced lady in a romance novel, I thought that she had pretty good principals. I didn’t feel like she was a slut during most of the book and I thought that she acted realistically. I also really enjoyed her sass and southern witt, both of which added good entertainment factor to the book.

Charlaine Harris writes in a style that makes a perfect audiobook. I can’t exactly vouch for how well the book reads when you’re reading it to yourself, but her writing style definitely suits an audiobook format. I didn’t have any trouble keeping up with what was going on or how the characters were feeling/acting.

Now- onto the audiobook portion. I thought that the audible narrator did a fantastic job reading this book. She had a southern accent that was perfectly suited for this story. She did a really good job of reading the book, but because of her accent I could only listen to the book for so long at a time before it began to get cloying.

The only thing that would have made this book better for me is if there had been no sex in it at all, but I understand that this is technically a romance and thus must have sex scenes in it. In the end, I would recommend this book for those looking for a classic southern romance, with some fantasy, humor, and a little bit of a mystery thrown in for good measure.

The Lazarus Curse: Review

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A fantastic mystery set in London that masterfully blends natural science, the cruelties of slavery, and voodoo into a heart pounding adventure that will leave the reader chilled to the bone.

The Lazarus Curse follows Dr. Thomas Silkstone as he finds himself smack in the middle of a deadly adventure when he asked to catalogue the specimens brought back by an ill fated expedition to the new world. When an important journal disappears and the only remaining member of the expedition party is murdered, Silkstone is thrown into a mystery that will expose him to the cruelties of slavery and the cruelties of people that spans the world.

This story is one that will haunt the reader long after the pages have finished turning. Exposing the reader to not only the cruelties of slavery in England, but to the wickedness of the human being, The Lazarus Curse is a book that will have the reader turning away from the story in horror and eagerly awaiting more in equal parts.

This is the first book that I have read by Tessa Harris and I have to say that I really enjoyed her style of writing. She writes in a manner that is descriptive, without being overly so. Her descriptions of London and the horrors that befell the characters were vivid and easily pictured, yet it was easy to imagine all of the extra pieces without her having to explicitly state what everything looked like exactly. Harris also writes passages of immense action in a smooth and easily followed manner. At no point during the story was I at a loss as to what was going on, the author definitely understands how to paint a clear picture with her words.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in fascinating stories that masterfully blend the world of natural science with that of slavery and voodoo. The Lazarus Curse is a fast paced story that will not disappoint.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

The City: Review

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I was a little apprehensive when I first began reading this book. I’d read quite a few Koontz books prior to reading The City and the start of this book just didn’t feel like a typical Koontz story. After I got about a third of the way through the book however, that feeling changed greatly. The intrigue picked up and I found myself sucked into the story and the characters.

This story centers around a man, Jonah Kirk, as he recants some strange goings on that happened in his childhood. Johan Kirk’s childhood was tumultuous to say the least. Although able to find escape in piano and music, Kirk dealt with a disappointing father and rather sinister mystery involving some pretty shady people. Although at the beginning of the story I found myself wondering when the mystery and excitement would pick up, it quickly does, carrying the reader along on a journey through a few scary years in the life of a young boy.

The characters in this book are all dazzling. Even when I wasn’t able to relate to the characters (which didn’t happen often), I still found myself lapping up the descriptions of their everyday lives. All of the characters were realistic and spellbinding, reminding me of those people you encounter in everyday life that just seem magical for some reason.

The writing in this book wasn’t exactly typical Koontz writing style, but that doesn’t mean that the writing wasn’t enjoyable to read. The writing in this book seemed so much deeper and more elaborate than a typical Koontz novel, which just added to the spellbinding element of the story. I definitely enjoyed reading the writing in this book.

I would highly recommend this book for those interested in reading books featuring bewitching characters and a marvelous storyline. While it’s important to go into this expecting something a little different than the typical Koontz novel, this book still delivers a marvelous read that can be enjoyed by many.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.