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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Catching Up

I'm cleaning out the review closet. If you're looking for balanced, well-thought out reviews, you've come to the wrong place.  I suppose I could do that sort of analysis, but that seems too much like I'm just gonna highlight the things I really liked and / or disliked about each and leave it at that. Presented in the order I've read them:

Demon Princess by Michelle Rowen
Premise: Average girl discovers her father (who has been MIA) is actually a demon and not just that, he's a demon king.  Trouble is brewing in his kingdom (which is the Shadowlands - a kind of buffer between Earth and Hades/Hell. 

Sequel? - There is one, but everything was tied up in book one to my satisfaction, so I have no motivation to read another at the moment.  That could change.

My take: I enjoyed the book while I was reading it, but it didn't resonate with me after I finished.  There's nothing I can say I really disliked about it except maybe I guessed where the whole story was going from the beginning.  There weren't any great surprises for me, but I still enjoyed it.

Demon Chick by Marilyn Kaye
Premise: Political mother sells her first born to the devil in exchange for a fast track to political power.  Daughter must come back to find a way to stop her.

Sequel? I don't know if there is or not. Everything was tied up to my satisfaction, so I don't feel any great need to pick up a sequel at this point.

My take:  I had trouble swallowing the premise -- that a mother would sell her first born for power. If that were true, I wanted more angst from the main character.  I like the depiction of Hell and her demon "keeper", but I guessed a lot of the plot points ahead of time.

If Only It Were True by Marc Levy
This book is the basis for the movie Just Like Heaven with Reese Witherspoon. 
Premise: Young doctor crashes her car and winds up in coma.  Man who rents her apartment is only one who can see her 'ghost'.  They fall in love, and he has to find a way to save her before they take her body off life support.

Sequel? I don't think there is, but I don't think I'd bother with it if there was one.

My take:
I don't usually see a movie before I read the book.  But at the time I saw the movie, I didn't know it was based on a book. I love the premise of the book, but at the end of the day, I prefer the movie, and I NEVER say that. 

The hero accepted the fact he was seeing a spirit way too easily.  I preferred how the movie handled it.  I also thought the characters in the movie were more complex than they were in the book.  And then there was a whole lot of blah blah blah back story about the hero's mother that really had no bearing on the story except to explain how he came to own a beach house. Again, I preferred the twist in the movie that explained their connection.

K-Pax by Gene Brewer
Premise: Patient in mental institution claims to be an alien from the planet K-Pax.  Therapist spends the book trying to debunk the claim.  It irritates me how some books will go out of their way to find rational explanations for extraordinary events.

Sequel? I just learned there is another book, and I may read it at some point.

My take: I really liked this book, but it bugs me in paranormal books/movies how there's always SOME ONE who refuses to believe something extraordinary could be going on.  I want to believe K-Pax is an alien but the ending rationalizes everything and it kinda pisses me off. 

Goddess Bootcamp by Tera Lynn Childs
This is a sequel to Oh. My. Gods. The first book was checked out of the library, so I got this one.
Premise: Newly discovered goddess must attend a bootcamp over the summer to learn to control her powers so she can past a test the Gods are going to give her. 

Sequel: Well, this is the sequel, but I think I would enjoy reading the first book.

My take: I enjoyed the story. The pace moves along at a nice clip, though I thought some of the main character's inner angst was repetitive.  It bugged me how often she stressed over the upcoming test.  I wanted to shout All right all ready. I get it.  There's a big test coming up. And then after all that build up, I kinda thought the ending was lame.  I won't give it away, but her actual test was pretty anti-climactic.

Demon Glass (Hex Hall) by Rachel Hawkins
Premise: Demon girl whisked away by demon father to England for the summer, and big drama ensues.

Sequel: There sure as hell better be a sequel!  NOW, please.

My take: Again, the first book was checked out so I grabbed this one.  This is one of my favorites.  The plot zips along nicely and OMG what a cliffhanger.  I actually shouted/pouted at the end.  I did not like being left hanging like that. 

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn
Premise: Guy meets girl, they die.  Repeat throughout history.  Eventually guy gets girl.

Sequel: This book was it's own prequel through sequel

My take: Meh.  The book is imbalanced.  Some sections are long and some are less than a page.  Essentially, each section is the same except for name and wardrobe changes to reflect the current era.  The premise held lots of potential, but I think some sections should have been cut and other sections expanded. I don't feel like I spent enough time in any one time period to really connect with the characters.  I also had mixed feelings about the repetitive themes. She's a singer, he's an archer in the first meeting and so those predispositions followed them throughout the book.  It seemed a little predictable by the end.  Also, the heroine's nemesis is reincarnated time after time, and he was a jealous brute in each life -- I would've liked more depth and diversity.

The Next Door Boys by Jolene Perry
The Premise: Cancer survivor goes off to college and must balance desire for independence with healthy living and various relationships

My take: I enjoyed this a lot.  It was a quick, easy read (just right for the white sands of Mexico).  There are strong religious elements which define the character but were foreign to me and certain elements of courtship seemed dated (pardon the pun).  I found the main character's need for independence and to distance herself from her "sick girl" identity to be completely believable and well-done.  I liked how Noah seemed to be a great guy (what a first date!) and how the relationship with Brian just simmered in the background.  One of my favorite parts is when Leigh realized she had feelings for Brian and starts analyzing everything he does/says to try and figure out if he felt the same.

Identical by Ellen Hopkins
The premise: Identical twins deal with absentee mother and abusive, alcoholic father.  In verse.

Sequel: I don't think so.  But there are lots of other books out there.

My take: My daughter was reading this and I picked it up after she finished. I was leery of the whole book-in-verse thing, to tell you the truth.  But WOW.  It swept me up immediately and didn't let go.  Ellen Hopkins is a genius with making every word count. I loved when switching POV from one sister to the other.  Certain words would be highlighted in each of their poems -- but with completely different meanings.  Sometimes the poem is aligned into a shape or a letter which adds even more depth to story.  And the ending -- I didn't see it coming, that's all I'm saying.

The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian

The premise: A man suffering from dementia and his terminally ill wife leave their home in Michigan for one last cross-country trek -- to Disneyland!

Sequel: No sequel, but there are several other books to quench your thirst.

My take: My sister brought this to Mexico and when I ran out of reading material, I snagged this.  This is a quick and breezy read at turns laugh-out-loud funny and then grab-a-tissue poignant.  The characters Ella and John are brilliantly developed.  The ending I kind of suspected, but was still very satisfying. 

You Don't Know Me by David Klass
The premise: Teen boy deals with his first love and his mother's abusive live-in boyfriend.

Sequel: I don't think there's a sequel, but there are plenty of other books.

My take: I wasn't sure about this when I started it.  Who wants to read about a poor, abused boy while sunning on the white sandy beaches of Mexico?  Boy, was I wrong.  Fourteen year old John is smart and funny and completely engaging. You will feel for him when he gathers up his courage to ask his "Glory Hallelujah" out on a date...her response is completely unexpected.  There's a lot of unexpected in this book -- but John's charming narrative won me over in the end.

A reminder about the Well I Never Blogfest December 1st. Just post a line or two about something you've never done, never thought you would do or just don't understand. 
Sign up below (hope this linky tool works):


Carole Anne Carr said...

When I saw the date for this I knew I just had to join in. :0)

DL Hammons said...

I love these "nitty gritty" reviews! Right to the point without retelling the whole book. :)

salarsenッ said...

Wow! Way to catch up! I find what you said about the first book interesting. You feel it wrapped up so nicely that you're not interested in reading a sequel. Hmmm...

Hahah...I just noticed that chicken on your sidebar. What's that all about???

And sure, I'd love to do your blogfest. But what to write about??

Janet Johnson said...

Okay, cyberspace ate my comment.

short version: Great reviews! Wish I could participate in your Blogfest. Happy Thanksgiving!

Shallee said...

Thanks for these reviews! There are a few in there I really want to read now. And I didn't know K-Pax was a book! I loved the movie.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow, that was a ton of books!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Wow. That's some major reading!! Your honesty is refreshing. It's clear that you aren't quick to love a book, but when you really like something, you're passionate about it. Did you read all this in Mexico?

KarenG said...

I like your approach. And now I really want you to review House of Diamonds. I'd love to see what your response is, I can take it.