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OnlineBookClub.org Book Review: Isabella’s Painting (Karina Cardinal Mystery #1)

Isabella's Painting Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=87551

I was going to in my next book review for OnlineBookClub.org put some of my first couple paragraphs from my review on the site on my blog post and then link to the review. However, in order for me to do so, I’d need to get in contact with someone from the site to make sure that was okay.

But when I actually did that, my message never went through to the person I was trying to send it to. I don’t know why because I put a lot of effort into writing that message. I found out because whenever I didn’t hear back from them I went into my Inbox and discovered that the PM never went through. Once I found out that happened, I was going to attempt to send another message. But right now, I quite frankly just wanted to put up my review on the site for you all to go check out sooner rather than later. And I just didn’t feel like spending another ten minutes working on another private message for it not to go through once again.

As a result, I have provided another link to a review I’ve written on OnlineBookClub.org. I’ll try sending a private message again later whenever I have the energy for it so that with these reviews in the future you can catch a glimpse of a little of what I’ve written. But until I’m able to get permission from the site, this is what I’m going to continue having to do.

Until then, please read my review and share it if you really like it. That would mean so much to me.

Also, I have some really exciting news I’m planning on sharing with you all on my next blog post. It’s personal/life stuff so I’m going to write a new blog post about it once the excitement of it wears off for me.

Until then, I hope you all have a good day today and enjoy my review!

Book Review: Dark Places

Dark Places Book Cover

Rating: 2 stars

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

I know a lot of people won’t be too pleased about my thoughts and feelings with this book. But I didn’t enjoy reading this book as much as other people did so I’m sticking by that.

However, before I get into all of my criticisms with Dark Places, let me start by saying that there are some aspects of this book I did enjoy. For one, I think the storyline was fascinating to read. A story about a woman whose whole family was murdered in their home and the surviving family member points to her brother being the murderer is a story that interested me. Especially as she begins feeling doubtful about her original statement to the police and investigates to find the truth. I usually enjoy stories like this where the protagonist goes undercover to find out what really happened. But there are several factors with this story that lead to me not enjoying it, which I’ll talk about shortly.

I also enjoyed the writing in this story. In particular, the different points of view in the story where the author shifts from present day Libby to Ben’s perspective before the murders happened. I found that it helps supply the reader with more information about what actually happened as well as introduces the reader to key characters who play a crucial role in the events leading up to the murders. You learn what life was like for Libby before these events happen and how this moment changed her life completely.

However, I still didn’t enjoy reading Dark Places despite the interesting storyline and alternative points of view. While I admit I did enjoy the storyline, I did also find it lacking in depth as well. What I didn’t enjoy about it was the mystery surrounding the murders and how the truth was revealed. I was hoping that the story would provide a twist that as a reader would make everything I read in the story click together and everything I didn’t like about this book would make sense. Instead, once the truth was revealed, I was left feeling disappointed in the story I was reading.

What didn’t help was that I found myself disliking all of the characters in the story. Especially the character whose supposed to be the protagonist in this book Libby. But she’s actually an unreliable narrator who admits that she lies, and as a reader you witness her stealing from people as she’s investigating the death of her family members. I also found her unlikeable because she came across as being a very selfish person throughout the story. When she met the various members of the Kill Club, all she cared about was knowing if a lot of the members were really interested in what happened to her and her family instead of asking whether they actually had any good theories on who killed her family. There’s also the fact that she’s upset when people pay attention to other cases instead of hers and she doesn’t want to do any sort of work to help herself get money until she’s asked by the Kill Club to uncover the truth of her family’s murder. But she only does it in the first place because they offer to pay her for talking to certain people.

I was hoping Dark Places would redeem her character by making her be the murderer because that would’ve at least made this book more enjoyable for me to read. Instead, we have other characters who play a role in her family’s death and the reasoning behind it all is completely senseless. I was also hoping to have at least one character in the story that I actually liked, but wasn’t too surprised when that didn’t happen either. While I found Libby being an unreliable narrator an interesting choice for the story, I felt like it didn’t really go anywhere to make this book a worthwhile read. I also felt the same way about the mystery surrounding her family member’s deaths because nothing worthwhile happened in this story that resulted in them dying.

As a result, I wasn’t particularly fond of Dark Places. There was just too much disappointment with everything for me with regards to this book for me to even give this book a higher rating. In fact, I would’ve given this book a one star rating if I hadn’t finished reading it. Nonetheless, I finished this book and am disappointed by what I read because I was expecting more from the story than was given.

 

 

OnlineBookClub.org Book Review: Escape (30th Century Trilogy #1)

Rating: 3 stars

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=85188

Like with my last OnlineBookClub review, I’d really appreciate it if you shared this one too.

Thank you very much, and happy reading!

Book Review: Cujo

Cujo Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

“Once upon a time, not so long ago, a monster came to the small town of Castle Rock, Maine.”

Cujo used to be a big friendly dog, lovable and loyal to his trinity (THE MAN, THE WOMAN, and THE BOY) and everyone around him, and always did his best to not be a BAD DOG. But that all ends on the day this nearly two-hundred-pound Saint Bernard makes the mistake of chasing a rabbit into a hidden underground cave, setting off a tragic chain of events. Now Cujo is no longer himself as he is slowly overcome by a growing sickness, one that consumes his mind even as his once affable thoughts turn uncontrollably and inexorably to hatred and murder. Cujo is about to become the center of a horrifying vortex that will inescapably draw in everyone around him—a relentless reign of terror, fury, and madness from which no one in Castle Rock will truly be safe… 

As an avid reader who doesn’t mind horror novels, this book didn’t meet my expectations. I didn’t mind the premise of the story because I love dogs and a dog turning rabid with rabies sounded right up my alley. Instead, Cujo made me feel more sad than horrified, which wasn’t something I was expecting.

However, I did have some enjoyment with this story. What I liked about this book was the premise. A dog who’s very loyal to his family one day goes chasing after a rabbit only to get rabies and tries to kill any human that gets close to him. I found this plot to be interesting because as someone who loves animals, I was invested in finding out how Stephen King was going to make this story more horrifying for his readers.

I also enjoyed how Cujo became associated as the monster Tad was starting to see in his closet in the beginning of the story. When Tad, Vic and Donna first meet the Camber’s dog Cujo, both Vic and Donna are weary of their son interacting with him. Both of them already saw him as a monster before he became infected with rabies. So it made sense later on in the story that he was the monster Tad saw in his closet. It was a nice parallel for these characters who already began seeing Cujo for the creature he became.

While this story wasn’t all that frightening, I did enjoy the horror elements King incorporated into the book. From monsters in the closet to somnambulism and a dog that turns wild, I thought these elements in the story made it a much more interesting read. You see all of these elements of horror in this book via the characters in the story. For example, you find out from Charity that her son Brett used to have a serious case of somnambulism that seems to return in the book while they are away from home. He’s seen walking around the house in a trance feeding their dog Cujo. This scene foreshadows that something bad is about to happen even though none of the characters have any clue what that’s going to be. It’s horrifying because you as the reader already know that Cujo is infected with rabies.

I think what I enjoyed the most about Cujo is that I felt sympathy for him. He never had a clue that his whole life was going to change all just because he chased after a rabbit. In this story, I felt sympathy for him because he was just so care free up until the point he got bitten. He was just a normal dog who suddenly turned into a monster. And I felt for him once that happened. He was in pain from that moment until he died, which to me was more sad than terrifying. In essence, this book made me sympathetic to Cujo because it made me more aware of how rabies impacts animals. It gave me a better understanding of rabies as a disease so I feel like I learned something new while feeling for Cujo.

However, there are a lot of things with this book I didn’t particularly enjoy. For one, I hated how the story switched back and forth between characters. While I normally don’t mind books that have multiple points of view, I felt like in this story it just dragged the plot along. Once Cujo was infected with rabies and started his killing, I felt like there were certain moments that didn’t need to be in the story. You as the reader know already that certain characters aren’t going to be in town when everything really begins, but I didn’t feel like we needed to see exactly what they were doing. This bothered me because the plot of the story didn’t pick up or interest me until close to the middle of the story. So the rest of what I was reading just felt like filler up until Cujo’s rabies took over.

I also didn’t like most of the characters in the story besides Cujo and the two children in the story Tad and Brett. None of the adults in the story had much in the way of character development and I just didn’t particularly care about anyone in the story. I liked the children in the story because they still had their childhood innocence, but none of the adults were people I really wanted to get to know. I think it had to do with the adults having no idea what was going on around them while the children seemed to have more of a sense that something bad was coming. Either way, I wasn’t fond of too many of the characters so I didn’t really care what happened to them.

I especially didn’t care for how it all ended. I was hoping that the ending would be seriously grim with Cujo killing all of the characters in the story, minus Tad and Brett. Instead, it was sad because Cujo deserved a lot more than what he was given and I felt a little terrible for Vic and Donna. I think this is why I had a hard time seeing this book as horror because all the moments I wanted to feel scared I felt sad instead. I felt sad for Cujo who went from a friendly dog to a monster in the blink of an eye. And I felt bad for Tad and Brett, both for different reasons I can’t reveal without spoiling the story.

Overall, I did enjoy reading Cujo because the premise is interesting and the horror elements King did incorporate into the story made it a more fascinating read. But the plot was bogged down with too much information , characters I wasn’t particularly invested in, and an ending that made me more sad than scared that I did have a hard time continuing to read the story to find out what happened next. The idea behind this book made me fascinated to read it, but its execution didn’t meet my expectations at all so I came away from this book disappointed that it didn’t meet its full potential. However, I haven’t read too many of Stephen King’s books so the way I feel about this one isn’t going to stop me from reading more of his work.

 

Book Review: A Ship Made of Paper

A Ship Made of Paper Book Cover

Rating: 2 stars

No novelist alive knows the human heart better than Scott Spencer does. No one tells stories about human passion with greater urgency, insight, or sympathy. In A Ship Made of Paper, this artist of desire paints his most profound and compelling canvas yet.

Daniel Emerson lives with Kate Ellis and is like a father to her daughter, Ruby. But he cannot control his desire for Iris Davenport, the African-American woman whose son is Ruby’s best friend. During a freak October blizzard, Daniel is stranded at Iris’s house and they begin a sexual liaison that eventually imperils all their relationships, Daniel’s profession, their children’s well-being, their own race- blindness, and their view of themselves as essentially good people.

A Ship Made of Paper captures all the drama, nuance, and helpless intensity of sexual and romantic yearning, and it bears witness to the age-old conflict between the order of the human community and the disorder of desire.

Overall, A Ship Made of Paper was an okay read for me. I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t necessarily enthralled by the story and characters either.

The main plot centers on Daniel Emerson, a lawyer who moves back to the small town he grew up in with his girlfriend Kate Ellis and her daughter Ruby. While back at home, he meets Iris Davenport, an African-American woman whose son is best friends with Ruby. He becomes deeply attracted to Iris Davenport and begins to explore a deeper relationship with her one snowy night in October when a blizzard traps them inside her home. But this secret relationship ends up affecting every aspect of their lives.

What I enjoyed about the story was the writing. It was very descriptive to the point where I felt like I was right in the story as these events transpired. I especially enjoyed seeing the dialogue in the story because it brought the characters to life even better for me.

What I also enjoyed when reading A Ship Made of Paper is the variety of topics that can be discussed when it comes to this book. These topics include racism, sexual desire, infidelity, interracial relationships, justice (these events take place around the time of the OJ Simpson trial), alcohol addiction, and pedophilia (one of the married characters in the story is in love with a blind girl who he’s fancied since she was a child).

I feel like each of these aspects was wonderfully woven into this story through some of the characters who in some ways represent one of these topics. For example, Daniel’s girlfriend Kate Ellis is a writer who to me seems like a good example of what racism and alcohol addiction look like. She denies being racist (of course), but is convinced that OJ Simpson is guilty and writes about the trial throughout the story. She also calls the police when two boys brake into her home during the storm and is convinced that the boys who broke into her home are the recent prisoners who escaped from jail in the story, despite not at all getting a glimpse of their appearance. She also drinks heavily throughout the book, doesn’t matter what’s going on in her life. She always finds a reason to drink even when her relationship with Daniel is starting to fail. She’s a wonderful example of what racism and alcohol addiction look like and I feel like I can see other topics of discussion through all the other characters too.

While I enjoyed reading A Ship Made of Paper because of the writing and the different topics that can be discussed, there are a whole lot of things I overall don’t like about this story that make it difficult to give it a higher rating. While I enjoy the way the story is written, I found the pace and plot of the book to move very slow. It made reading this book all the more difficult for me because I kept waiting for the plot in the story to move along, to reach a climax that made me reading this book worthwhile. But the story kept disappointing me again and again. There were only two moments in the story that really made me want to continue reading to see what happened next: the night of the blizzard and the night when Marie Thorne goes missing. But even that was short lived for me, especially the night when Marie Thorne goes missing, because excerpts of what happens during the search for her are at the beginning of each chapter. So even the most exciting parts of the book become mundane for me because I already catch a glimpse of what’s going to happen even if I don’t get to see all of it.

I also don’t like that none of these characters are at all relatable to me. I especially don’t understand Daniel and his stalker-like behavior towards Iris Davenport, the woman he desperately wants to be with despite already being in a committed relationship with Kate Ellis. His behavior throughout the book screams creepy to me when it comes to Iris, and I found the way he felt about her was more sexual desire than actual true love. The only time I ever believe their relationship to be real at all is whenever they both have serious discussions about what they’re doing. Otherwise, I’m not really convinced that their loving relationship will last. It just seems like a fantasy relationship to me throughout with nothing substantial holding them together. I know a lot of it has to do with them both being unfaithful to their partners. I guess I just don’t understand why someone who’s already in a relationship would stay with their partner if they knew they were developing feelings for another person.

The biggest criticism I have for A Ship Made of Paper is the last half of the book after Marie Thorne goes missing. It felt as if the plot after this point in the story took a complete nosedive, leaving the reader feeling confused about what’s going on. While I understood what happened that changed everything, I feel almost as if this part of the story was a whole lot worse than the first half of the book, which wasn’t that much better either. While I liked that the end of this book was ambiguous, the rest of the story just lacked any sort of plot. We know Daniel feels guilty about Hampton’s condition, but the way Scott Spencer decides to take the story with him wasn’t at all an improvement. And then I felt like the robbery at the bar didn’t really add anything to the story because everyone then screamed they were robbed by black people. So all it did was show the prejudice of these characters, that they haven’t at all changed since the beginning of the book started.

So overall, A Ship Made of Paper was an okay read for me. I liked that there are a variety of topics that can be discussed when it comes to reading this book, but the plot of the story isn’t something to boast about. The book was fascinating enough to read, but not a story that I’ll reread anytime soon.

Book Review: Everything, Everything

Everything, Everything Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

While I enjoyed reading this book completely, there were some things with regards to the story that just didn’t add up.

Everything, Everything is about this seventeen year-old named Madeline. She’s allergic to the world and has spent a majority of her life inside her comfy home so that she doesn’t die. The only people she spends time with are her mother and Carla. But everything changes when a moving truck arrives next door and a boy named Olly and his family move in. When Madeline sees Olly for the first time, she knows her she’s going to fall in love and that it’ll be a disaster. But what she doesn’t realize is how much her life is going to change.

Okay, so there are a lot of things I like about this book. I like the characters who seem very personable and relatable. Especially Olly, who we see has a very terrible home life, yet has a lot of energy that allows him to overcome any obstacle that gets in his way. I find myself able to relate to his character the most because I’ve been in his shoes. I know what it’s like to have someone who’s supposed to be a father figure hurt you in the ways his father has hurt their family. But I also enjoyed reading the story from Madeline’s point of view. She’s a very intelligent lady who despite her circumstances manages to make the most of the situation she finds herself in. She becomes close to the only two people she can really talk to, and even though she wasn’t allowed to go outside, she makes the most of the time she spends with those she cares about. Her relationship with Carla is one of my most favorite things about this book. Carla is very kind and caring towards Madeline, almost like a second mother figure for her throughout. She gives Madeline advice and doesn’t begrudge her for any of the choices she makes. Even when she messes up, Carla is still there to support her and guide her in the right direction. I like their relationship because you can see how much they both care about each other, and how happy they are together.

Another thing I enjoyed about reading Everything, Everything is the writing style. It felt very personal, like I was reading into the heart and soul of Madeline’s character. It also reminded me a little bit of a journal because of the cute illustrations that were in the book. Well, that and also the fact that Madeline literally put all of her thoughts and feelings into it. I liked it because I’ve never read a book written like this one. Especially one from the perspective of a teenage girl whose thoughts are pretty personal and relatable. It made reading this book that much more enjoyable because it allowed me an even better understanding of Madeline’s character.

Everything, Everything Image1
An example of one of the pages in Everything, Everything.

However, there are a lot of things about Everything, Everything that don’t particularly add up. For while this book was a good read, I felt like the author should’ve done some research on Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. Especially because Madeline supposedly doesn’t know what exactly she’s allergic to so anything she eats or touches could cause her to get sick. Yet, you see Madeline do a lot of things that should’ve triggered her system if she really had this disease. For example, when she kisses Olly for the first time. She should’ve gotten some sort of reaction from the kiss, but she doesn’t. She ends up being perfectly fine, as if she and Olly didn’t kiss at all. While I completely understand why this disease is talked about in this way, it’s still disappointing because it would’ve been nice to see a positive awareness for this disease. However, I still managed doing research into it myself because I know I don’t know too much about it either. So I even though Nicola Yoon didn’t look too much into it herself, I did some research to at least make myself a little more aware about this disease.

I also didn’t like how cliché Madeline and Olly’s relationship ended up being. While I liked them as a couple, I felt like it was a cliché because it pretty much follows the boy saves girl plot or makes it where it seems like it’ll be impossible for them to ever be together. Then they end up together because of miraculous circumstances that would’ve never happened if Madeline hadn’t made the decision to leave her house because of Olly.  This bothers me because I don’t like the concept that falling in love with someone will make all your troubles go away.  Real life doesn’t work that way so reading a romance that acts like that’s true is frustrating.

I also felt like the ending to Everything, Everything was a cop out. It was a cheap way of explaining why Madeline didn’t have SCID. It also felt like a slap in the face because Madeline wasted many years of her life for nothing. It was also frustrating because her mother, who conveniently is a doctor, should’ve known that her daughter had no problems and should’ve addressed her own turmoil she was experiencing. While I get treating your own child’s health can cloud your judgment, I felt like it was a complete cop out for an explanation. It also added more into making this story even more unrealistic by using that to get Madeline and Olly back together at the end. Just wasn’t the ending I pictured for Madeline despite that I wanted things to go well for her.

As a whole, Everything, Everything makes a great young adult romance. However, it’s lack of true representation of SCID and giving a unique ending make it hard for those with health issues to feel like they are being represented accurately. I overall liked the story, characters and the style of the writing, but it messed up in the ways that really mattered, which is why my rating isn’t as high as I’d originally planned.

Book Review: Sinner

Sinner Book Cover

Rating: 5 stars

found.
Cole St. Clair has come to California for one reason: to get Isabel Culpeper back. She fled from his damaged, drained life, and damaged and drained it even more. He doesn’t just want her. He needs her.

lost.
Isabel is trying to build herself a life in Los Angeles. It’s not really working. She can play the game as well as all the other fakes…but what’s the point? What is there to win?

sinner.
Cole and Isabel share a past that never seemed to have a future. They have the power to save each other and the power to tear each other apart. The only thing for certain is that they cannot let go.

After reading the rest of the books in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, I was really excited to get started on reading this one. Not because I didn’t enjoy the rest of the books in the series, but I was looking forward to reading a story that focused just on Isabel and Cole.

And I wasn’t disappointed. Taking place after the events in Forever, Isabel and Cole are in Los Angeles. Isabel lives there because her parents made her and to escape her feelings for Cole. Cole has been to Los Angeles before, but is there this time with the goal of winning Isabel’s heart.

One of the reasons I enjoyed reading Sinner is their love story. It’s very apparent that Isabel and Cole are meant to be. Both of them are the same in the sense that they just don’t give a shit about others. They both don’t wear their hearts on their sleeves and let others see their real selves. But that’s one of the reasons why I love both of them, by themselves and together.

Another reason I enjoyed reading Sinner is getting to see the rock star life through Cole’s eyes. Having been to Los Angeles before in his band NARKOTIKA, he’s already familiar with the world around him. But he’s not the same as the last time he was there. He’s a changed man, doing the best he can to live his life the way he sees fit, despite society’s belief that he’s still the same as before. In Sinner, you see him struggle with putting on his fake persona in front of the crowd when all he needs to do is be himself. Cole struggles throughout Sinner with being himself and it’s very apparent when you juxtapose him with the rock star crowd verses being with Isabel.

But Cole is human and he’s bound to make mistakes. And he makes quite a few, despite doing the best he can to stay human for Isabel’s sake. And so does she. That’s why they are the perfect couple: both are chaos looking for their chance to heal and find peace in the crazy world around them. Both of them are sinners, looking for redemption from the one who loves them the most.

The one aspect to Sinner I wish was there was finding out more about what happened with Grace and Sam following Forever. I know this book’s main purpose was to focus on Isabel and Cole’s relationship. But I felt like Sam and Grace could’ve been more present too. Because I definitely wanted to know what was going on with them while all of this was going on and wanted to find out if a cure had been discovered. So while I enjoyed reading this story from Isabel and Cole’s perspective, I did wish we could’ve seen more of Sam and Grace in the story too.

However, Sinner is a well-crafted masterpiece. I enjoyed reading it because of the storytelling and seeing everything from Cole and Isabel’s eyes and am sad that the series is over.

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