Reading Lately is a monthly book review linkup that I cohost with Alison of Puppies & Pretties. We’ve decided to make a Facebook group for Reading Lately, which you can join here, to have more discussions about the books we’re reading! I had a really successful month reading, finishing four books for Erin’s Book Challenge! That’s better than I did in the entirety of the last challenge. Anyways, rather than ramble on, I’m just going to get straight into my reviews since there are a lot this month! And my reviews are more in depth and thoughtful (at least I think!). Don’t forget to link up with us for Reading Lately at the bottom of this post. We love seeing your books reviews. Also let me know in the comments below what you’ve been reading lately, or if any of my reviews make you want to read one of these books!
The Girl From the Woods by Chris Keane
c/o Free and Fast Reviews
Dante wakes up one morning to a note from his parents – they’ve gone off to Europe and they’re sending him to his grandmother’s house in the middle of nowhere. There he has no cell service, no tv, and no car. With nothing to do, he wanders around the woods. In the woods he meets a sexy, slightly older Angie, who is the daughter of the local doctor. As his grandmother starts developing some memory loss, Dante spends a lot of time with Angie and at the doctor’s office. But a warning about the doctor sends Dante researching the doctor’s credentials and his ties to the Salem Witch Trials. When his grandmother suddenly goes missing, Dante puts his feelings for Angie aside to track down the truth and rescue her.
The description for this book really intrigued me, but I think the story fell a little short. It is a quick and easy book to read. I consider it a mix of Young Adult Literature and New Adult Literature. I really liked the idea, like I said the description really drew me in. But I think the paranormal aspect took a backseat in the novel, it plays only a small role in the story. The book makes references to the Salem Witch trials which I think is a unique idea, but I wish there was more of the paranormal activity from the characters. I think the way it affects different characters is unique and I wish we could have seen more of it.
It reads more like a young adult novel, the lack of parents present and the writing just seemed for a younger audience. So the very descriptive sex scenes surprised me. Dante is out of high school, yet he has absolutely no experience with girls. Or being an adult, he is very spoiled.
I also found much of the story unbelievable (yes, I know paranormal stories are unbelievable). But everything just happened so quickly without enough depth or detail and everything was over the top. The dysfunctional family, with the parents just leaving for Europe and leaving a horrible note behind. Who says that kind of stuff to kids?! Then Dante sees Angie and realizes she’s the girl from his dreams. And their relationship seems really immature and quick. Some events never get fully explained, so their presence in the story seems unnecessary. While they may not be critical events in the story, these should be explained further if they’re brought up.
That being said, I definitely didn’t hate the novel, I think it’s a great idea and with a little more substance it could be even better. I would love to read this as a 300 page novel with more depth. But it’s a quick, easy read as is. I definitely picked it up and finished it in less than a day. 3/5 stars.
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
Scott Burroughs is a struggling artist who paints disturbing images. When he runs into his friend Maggie Bateman, the wife of one of the wealthiest men in New York, on Martha’s Vineyard, they realize they are both heading for New York. Maggie insists that Scott come on their private plane that night. On board are David and Maggie Bateman, their two children, the family’s head of security Gil (hired after threats to the family), wealthy friends Ben and Sarah Kipling (Ben under investigation for illegal money laundering), Scott, and three flight crew.
Sixteen minutes into the flight, it crashes suddenly into the Atlantic ocean. The only survivors are Scott and the Bateman’s four year old son, JJ. Pulling JJ behind him, Scott swims through the night, finally landing on Montauk Beach. Initially hailed a hero, Scott faces scrutiny when newscaster Bill Cunningham (friend and employee of Bateman) throws out theories that Burroughs caused the crash. Worried about a terrorist attack, the FBI investigates the crash, Scott Burroughs and his suspicious paintings, and Ben Kipling’s illegal affairs. As the investigation unfolds, the story reveals peoples insecurities and secrets.
This book was quite a let down. I like the idea but it was not what I was expecting at all. It’s labeled a thriller, but it isn’t really, so it’s pretty misleading. There’s only the mystery in trying to figure out what caused the plane crash, but it’s not really thrilling. I found the book to be more commemorative of the victims, there’s a lot of background information on the characters and some of their history isn’t relevant to the story. But it does make for well developed characters. So the story for me dragged on a lot and it took me a long time to finish. I also found the finish to be somewhat anticlimactic.
There were some repetitive sentences, the protagonist is constantly “thinking about this” before responding to questions. And towards the end of the novel there were two sentences that were almost identical. I liked the idea, just didn’t love the delivery. I think I was expecting more of a thriller that dealt more with actual crash. Rated 3/5 stars.
Finding Trust by Natalie Gayle
No two relationships are the same and it’s important to remember that there are no rules when it comes to relationships between a man and a woman. It’s up to you two to make your own based on your own needs, wants, and what works for you. The most important thing is you need to be honest with each other.
Rihanna works with her father in their veterinary practice. They’ve recently been working on a vaccine to the fatal Hendra virus that affects both equines and humans. At a New Years Eve party with her best friend Jazz, Rihanna catches the attention of the lead guitarist, Brayden, and ends up going home with him. But when she a terrorist group targets Rihanna because of her research and threatens to use the Hendra virus as a biological weapon, Brayden reveals his unusual secret life. As the two work closely to stop the terrorist attack, there is an undeniable attraction neither can ignore.
I must say the amount of sex in this novel really surprised me. I received it as a part of a the Quirky Blind Dates with a Book review group on Facebook, so I’m not sure I knew this was a romance novel. It’s not something I’d normally pick up. But the sci-fi aspect of the novel is really cool! It’s original and interesting, and definitely has me wanting to read the rest of the series. It’s a very easy book to read, and Rihanna is relatable in her over thinking guys and needing her best friends advice. And it really emphasizes breaking down walls and giving love a chance. I really enjoyed this book, and definitely recommend it! I rate it 4/5 stars.
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
I really don’t feel like need to explain the plot to this one, I assume you’ve seen the movie. Mia Thermopolis is just an average freshman in high school when she finds out she’s a princess and the heir to the throne of Genovia.
Now I really like the movie. It’s cute, fun, and stars Julie Andrews. So I really wonder what I would have thought about this book had I not seen the movie. I don’t normally mind when books and movies are different, and I usually like the book better, but I think the movie is better. Mia is very whiny, complaining about everything from her flat chest to her grandma to her cat. The book seems so much more immature and definitely for a younger audience. The grandma in the book seems so evil compared to her character in the movie. There are some other major differences, one being that the book takes place in Manhattan while the movie takes place in San Francisco.
Now I can respect how the story really shows how Mia grows up and learns to stand up for herself. And her insecurities, as well as her awkwardness and naivety, are pretty relatable. But sometimes she’s just too naive. I still enjoyed the read because things happened differently than the movie, but I think I would’ve enjoyed this more if I read it when I was younger. Not sure if I will continue with the series. I rate it 3/5 stars.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Ten strangers are invited out to an island off the coast of Devon, Soldier Island. Their host, an unknown millionaire, is nowhere to be found. Their first night there, a record plays revealing that each guest hides a terrible secret. As they one by one fall victim to this lunatic, they try to solve the mystery and preserve their lives. But by the end of the weekend, there are none. No one survives. So who is the murderer?
This is a great mystery novel. And it’s also my first Agatha Christie novel. I didn’t really feel like I was trying to solve the mystery so much as I was just along for the ride. But it did keep me guessing. I never really tried to figure out who the murderer was. The order of the murders and how they die is predictable because of the poem, but you don’t know who will die or who is murdering everyone. The intro was kind of long and confusing as it introduced all of the characters. Since there were so many, it took a while.
Some of the details of the ending I didn’t like though. I don’t want to give anything away. But there’s no way the murderer could predict that people would behave a certain way. These behaviors conclude the final few deaths and the murderer’s overall plan, but it would be impossible to depend on them happening the way they did. I like that the detectives who investigated the island after the murders couldn’t figure out what happened, but I also didn’t like it. The only way the readers know what happens is a letter sent by the murderer detailing the step by step actions in a bottle thrown to sea.
Spanish Lessons by Jessica Peterson
Vivian is studying abroad in Spain with a group of friends from school. Struggling to keep up with her classes taught entirely in Spanish, Vivian requests a tutor. Rafa Montoya is an excellent tutor, he’s smart, patient, and incredibly charming and handsome. Vivian tries to hide her attraction for Rafa, especially when her best friend Maddie wants him too. But as Rafa encourages Vivian to pursue her dreams, can she push her feelings aside and protect her heart? Or is Rafa right?
I really liked this story! It’s fun and very relatable. I liked how realistic the girls were, in their drama, conversations, and being overwhelmed by living in a foreign country with another language as the main language. I’ve always taken Spanish classes, but it’s an entirely different experience when it’s with native speakers. Vivian’s experiences in Spain, going out to restaurants and night clubs with friends, taking classes, and really learning the culture make me extremely jealous. And it makes me wish I studied abroad during college. I love that it focuses on pursuing your passions and dreams rather than doing what you should do. This was my struggle in college.
There are a few typos which I never like seeing in books. And I’m not really a fan of the instantly in love romance. But her thoughts and feelings are still relatable. I also just really enjoyed the book being set in Spain, it really didn’t help my wanderlust. It’s a fast and light read. There is some romance in the story, but not as much as some other romance books I’ve read. So I rate this book 4/5 stars.
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