Book Review: The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood (4/5)

Image

The Wicked Girls is the story of two 11-year-old English girls who made a mistake one summer day. Annabel Oldacre and Jade Walker met that one day and killed a four-year-old girl. For the next 25 years, they lose contact and face the consequences of that mistake.

This thriller builds on a very gripping premise — it’s bold, fresh and shattering. Rehabilitated, hated and tortured, Annabel and Jade grow up into different lives. One becomes Amber, a cleaning manager who is something of a pushover with her employees and her boyfriend, Vic. The other becomes Kristy, a successful journalist with a caring husband and two kids. When Kristy the journalist comes to Amber’s town to investigate a string of murders, the two women’s lives collide.

And they know then how fragile these new identities they’ve created are. How the media could shatter and break everything they’ve tried to rebuild. How they can never run from their past.

To say the least, The Wicked Girls is gripping and emotional. Readers feel a great deal of sympathy for these two women. At the same time, I wish there had been more exploration of their emotions — it would have made the book even more deeper and heart-wrenching. I feel like a couple serious issues may have slipped away in the pacing of the thriller/mystery. The mystery, for me, was not really a mystery. I guessed/hunched right away at the twist.

This novel is something new and ventures thoughts onto a road not taken… It raises questions about children who commit crimes. Obviously Amber and Kristy are searching for redemption; in the end, I think they receive it, albeit in a different and bittersweet form. Life is never as sweet as fairy tales.

***ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for my review

Visit my blog for more reviews of up and coming books: https://rememberingwonderland.wordpress.com

Advertisements

Book Review: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron (4/5)

Image

Set in Victorian times, The Dark Unwinding opens with a gothic atmosphere. Our main character, Katherine Tulman, is a penniless orphan who must obey the commands of her tyrannous Aunt Alice. So when Aunt Alice sends her to the countryside to proclaim her uncle mentally insane, Katherine resigns herself to do so.

Little does she know, she falls in love with the world her uncle lives in. Her uncle is (I think) a savant. He’s marvelously talented at numbers and inventions, yet mentally a child. At his estate, a whole community of people flourishes – can Katherine really destroy everything they have? Can she commit her childlike uncle to an asylum?

I really liked the gothic, almost steampunk-like feel of the setting and atmosphere. The characters all have very distinct personalities and voices – Davy, the mute little boy with the hare, is particularly lovable. And then, the classic love interest, Lane, is stereotypically tall, moody, dark and annoying (to me).

For some reason, I think I liked the ideas more than the actual book. There is definitely skill, novelty and risk-taking in Sharon Cameron’s writing and plot…but I can’t help but feel like The Dark Unwinding could have been something deeper, something more emotionally entangling.

***book provided by Creative Kids Magazine for review

Read more of my book reviews here on my blog: Remembering Wonderland!

Book Review: The Books of Elsewhere #1: The Shadows by Jacqueline West (4.5/5)

Image

The Books of Elsewhere is absolutely amazing. I’m afraid I have to compare it to Harry Potter. It’s just as brilliant as Harry Potter, only with more of an appeal towards the middle grade audience. Jacqueline West has infused her words with wry humor, chock-full-of-personality characters (especially the talking cats), a suspenseful plot, imagination and strong underlying messages.

Here’s the premise: 11-year-old Olive is the only child of two mathematicians. Thing is, she’s not good at math at all! Instead, she has something of a wild imagination. When her family moves into an abandoned house on Linden street, she’s the only one who senses something strange and spooky. The paintings, the cats, the rumors. But Olive only finds out how strange and spooky when she discovers the secret – the paintings are portals to a place called Elsewhere. And someone in the house wants to get rid of her family….

From the first line of The Books of Elsewhere, I knew I’d love this book. West has a very original writing style that’s both down-to-earth and amusing. But that’s not all – there’s a wonderful plot and very real characters. I imagine elementary school kids, middle school kids and anyone older will greatly enjoy The Books of Elsewhere. Speaking of which, my nine-year-old brother just ran off with my copy of the book…

***copy provided by Creative Kids Magazine

Read more of my reviews here on my blog: https://rememberingwonderland.wordpress.com

Book Review: The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke (3/5)

Capture

When child psychologist Anya begins to treat Alex, a schizophrenic 10-year-old with hundreds of imaginary demons, she feels like something is wrong. This is not a straightforward case. Alex knows too much for a 10-year-old and claims his best friend is a centuries-old demon named “Ruen.” This friend may be real…. Ruen takes an interest in Anya and seems to know everything about Anya’s personal life and inner demons…

I enjoyed reading this psychological thriller. But I don’t think I’ll be reading it again or adding it to my favorites shelf because the plot twist just felt off. I felt like this book could have stabbed me in the heart; it could have been something deeply touching and impactful…Instead, the plot twist kind of ruined the mood of the book.

I still have to say I really enjoyed the book. It was a fun read and I thank it for introducing me to the genre of adult psychological thrillers!

***eBook provided by Netgalley in exchange for my honest review

Bookstore Haul

I have some 40+ books on my to-read list…but I just had to get more from B/N on Saturday. I had some gift cards accumulated from writing contests. 

Books for me:

1) Tuesdays at the Castle (a children’s book that seems really good, I’d love to write MG of this premise)

2) Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales (read “The Little Peasant” to my brother last night. It was quite dark, satirical and funny. A whole village commits suicide…)

3) Cinder (I have been told that the novel I’m working on for NaNoWriMo seems to have elements inspired by this book)

Books my little brother picked:

1) Warriors book (I used to love this series)

2) How to Train Your Dragon #2

3) Ship in a Bottle Building Kit (his fourth choice of kit, which I finally approved of…)

Book for the parental units:

1) How to Make Sushi Kit (I love sushi and want to eat sushi. 😛 So I suppose it’s really for me…)

Book Review: Parallel Heart by J.L. Robinson (1/5)

Screen Shot 2013-07-13 at 11.49.26 PM

From page 1, I did not get along well with Parallel Heart. The prose contained glaring grammatical errors and the voice  just seemed off. It felt stilted and dense — as though it was trying too hard to be witty, descriptive and aloof. I would know. I wrote similarly (although in a more child-like tone) several years ago, toying around with big words and awkward sentence structure. Writing needs to flow, and when it flows well enough, it will make the reader comfortable enough to stay for about 50,000 words in the novel’s world.

Parallel Heart could not make me stay. It had a potentially very interesting premise — an unhappily married man longs to escape into a parallel world with a lover who may or may not be real. I thought, “This is interesting,” in my head when I read that the novel is based on the author’s love of quantum mechanics and explores the concept of parallel dimensions and blurred realities. All of this sounded new, fresh and different.

But I just couldn’t get into it. I tried very hard…the voice (as well as plot, characters and developed) just came off as stale. I’m sure Parallel Heart, given a liberal editor, time and a different direction, could’ve been something real special. But it just wasn’t for me… Again, all this is my own opinion. Perhaps you will think differently!

Leave me a comment below and tell me what you think of this review/book.

Update: ALL the books on my list

Image

Netgalley Titles

  1. Thin Space
  2. The People in the Trees
  3. Peregrine Harker and the Black Death
  4. Parallel Heart
  5. The Boy Who Could See Demons
  6. Aimless Love
  7. For the Good of Mankind
  8. Born to Blog
  9. Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself
  10. The Heart of the Matter
  11. Unexplained Fevers
  12. Gene Keys
  13. Sons of Liberty
  14. Amandine
  15. The Goddess in Every Girl
  16. Eat Move Sleep
  17. The Best of Connie Willis
  18. PS – You’re Invited

Creative Kids

  1. The Books of Elsewhere #1
  2. The Dark Unwinding

Leisure Books (Not Obligated to Review)

  1. Timeless (won from Figment contest)
  2. Timekeeper (won from Figment contest)
  3. Change Anything (library book)
  4. Dragon Slippers (library book)
  5. Leviathan #1 (library book)
  6. How to Find an Agent (library book)
  7. Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning (ordered from Amazon)
  8. Reckless (ordered from Amazon)
  9. another library book…I forgot the title of…
  10. The Tragedy Paper (won from Figment contest)
  11. The Wind in the Willows (recommended by a friend)
  12. Angels and Demons (recommended by a friend)
  13. The Da Vinci Code (recommended by a friend)
  14. The Lost Symbol (recommended by a friend)
  15. Inferno (recommended by a friend)