Posts Tagged: ARC

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

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I received this book for free from Penguin in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: On the Island by Tracey Garvis-GravesOn the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves
Published by Plume (Penguin) on July 17th 2012
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Penguin
Buy on Amazon

Two people stranded on an island struggle to survive—and slowly fall in love—in the runaway New York Times bestseller from the author of the forthcoming novel COVET.

Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure. Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring sixteen-year-old T.J.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere. His cancer is in remission and he wants to get back to his normal life. But his parents are insisting he spend the summer in the Maldives catching up on all the school he missed last year.

Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahan’s summer home, and as they fly over the Maldives’ twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens. Their plane crashes in shark-infested waters. They make it to shore, but soon discover that they’re stranded on an uninhabited island.

At first, their only thought is survival. But as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

We’ve all been asked something along the lines of “What would you bring with you on a deserted island”, but for Anna and TJ, this is not rhetorical anymore. And unfortunately they didn’t even get that choice. All they have on the island they’re stranded on, is what has floated in from their plane crash. A suitcase full of mostly useless stuff, but stuff nonetheless. Stories like these really make you appreciate everything we have, here. The choices that we have. For Anna and TJ, they’re only hoping to survive from one day to the next.

One thing I appreciated from this novel is that it isn’t overly dramatic. There’s not a new crisis in every chapter, they don’t have near death experiences and close calls every 3 pages. Don’t get me wrong, the book is still intense and you never know what the next disaster will bring or even when it will come crashing in, but their journey on the island is made to be realistic – psychologically and physically draining – and not just full of shock value. It’s fascinating to see them adapt and eventually accept that they might be there for the long haul. They quickly learn to make do with the very little that they have, to live in the moment, to find joy in the smallest of changes in their routine – like finding a crab for dinner, or adopting a chicken as a pet. It’s the little moments that make this book substantial; that make these characters real.

Surprisingly, the story of On the Island is not a survivalist story – sure it’s a fairy big part of the novel; its foundation, even – but ultimately, it’s a love story. A love story between two people who form a bond under the most extraordinary of circumstances. A love story that, in the real world, would not be taken seriously. It would be frowned upon because of a number – something that has become so incredibly inconsequential on their island. I even came to hope they could and would somehow survive and stay on their island forever, because you just know that if or when they do get rescued, hearts will be breaking, including our own.

The easy pace and psychological aspect of this story makes for a deeply character driven read. You get to know who these two people are to the bone. You watch them grow and mature into who they need to be to survive this minimalistic lifestyle. The novel spans not only weeks or months, but years of their lives. TJ who begins the novel as a mere teenager shows the most character growth, where we see him turn into this independent, confident adult right before our eyes. While these time gaps work very well for the most part where days are filled with the same old, I did find it made the last quarter of the book feel incredibly rushed. So much happens in the span of 50 or so pages that I felt it could have been a whole book just on its own. I don’t feel cheated at all, tough, and on one hand I appreciate that the book was kept short and to the point, but I do think it could have been even more by allowing us to truly experience all that was happening, instead of rushing through it. In the end, though, this book is one that is bound to be memorable for years to come, and perfect for those who are looking for a story filled to the brim with character depth and emotional attachment.


4 Hot Espressos

Review: The Awesome by Eva Darrows

Review: The Awesome by Eva Darrows

Posted by on 12/17/2014 • 16 Comments

This book was all sorts of fun!! I just kind of want to flail and gush over it. It is full of humor, most of it inappropriate. I found myself laughing out loud plenty of times while reading it. The characters were fabulous. Maggie’s mom was one of my favorites, and I loved their “pet zombie”. Really, they have a Zombie, but it’s not actually a pet. Anyways, they are monster hunters and people know monsters of different variety do exist. There is a whole crazy vampire storyline that happens, and it’s totally hilarious. (Well, not all of it since vampires are scary, but whatever. Let me spazz here.)

Okay, so Maggie is a monster hunter. She started doing it when she was 13 years old. It’s a family…

Review: The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Segdwick

Review: The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Segdwick

Posted by on 12/15/2014 • 20 Comments

This is one of those books that I really have no clue how to review. The writing was beautiful and lyrical, and the stories were intriguing and kept me interested, but I feel like maybe I wasn’t smart enough for this book. Now, I’m not a stupid person (I don’t think anyways), but I just didn’t get it. I liked how we start way back in time with the first story, and progress through time and even into the future in the next three. I enjoyed seeing how each previous story tied into the next. I just didn’t quite get it all. I can’t really explain it. I understood what the spiral means and signifies, but how the stories were told had me scratching my head.

The first story…

Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

Posted by on 12/10/2014 • 19 Comments

Very readable and incredibly character driven, On the Fence was the perfect pick for a cold Sunday afternoon. I can’t say that I loved it quite as much as I had expected to based on the slew of 5-star reviews I had seen, but it was definitely a sigh-worthy read that left me smiling at the end.

Our protagonist, Charlie, has an easy, relatable voice that instantly pulls you in. She’s a tomboy, she loves sports, and she’s living with her dad and 3 brothers, plus a neighbour who pretty much lives there, too. That gives us a great, hectic family dynamic that I thought was just wonderful. The brotherly banter, the silliness, their overprotective nature towards Charlie – it’s all super sweet and fun to read. It also…

Review: Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas

Review: Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas

Posted by on 12/04/2014 • 13 Comments

Just in time for the holiday season, this book is set on Christmas Eve. It was a fun and fast read with a bit of a mystery element. The characters were interesting, though not thoroughly developed, and the story was a bit mindless. There are random lists that scatter this book quite frequently, but being that it is told by Chloe, it really shows her personality. She loves lists and it is very much a part of her daily life. At first it was a bit distracting, but quickly became a fun part of the story. This is just one of those books that you can sit down and read in one sitting, that you don’t take too seriously, and it’s a few hours worth of entertainment.

Chloe’s family…

Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Posted by on 12/01/2014 • 10 Comments

Having really enjoyed the first book, I couldn’t wait to read this one. I am a big sucker for companion novels too because I love getting to know other characters in the same world, and knowing that I will get a glimpse of characters from the previous book or books. I adored the two main characters in this one and thought that they both had really strong personalities. They were also very loyal to their people and even knowing that they both will very likely die, instead of taking the easy escape, they want to make things right on Avon. The writing is fabulous too. I could easily visualize the world and feel the tension. This was a very pleasing companion novel.

Jubilee Chase is tough as nails. She is…

Review: No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

Review: No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

Posted by on 11/28/2014 • 9 Comments

I was extremely bored while reading this. Even at 80% I felt like the book was going nowhere. The plot was dragging through the mud and the characters, while some are well-developed enough, were uninteresting and lacked any sort of compelling nature. It might be a good book to pick for when you just want a mindless read one boring Sunday, but otherwise I wouldn’t expect to become especially enthralled with No Place to Fall.

When we meet our main character, Amber, she seems like this party girl who makes a hobby out of hooking up and getting high with strangers from all over the world who stop by her town. She keeps track of her nightly… adventures.. on a map. But then we learn that she’s supposedly this good…

Review: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Review: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Posted by on 11/19/2014 • 16 Comments

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of this series. With every new book I fall a little bit more in love with this town and its characters, which I thought was impossible by now. What I appreciate the most is how even though it’s a series, each book is a stand-alone with new main characters who tell us their story, and if you have read the others, you get a kick out of the familiar faces that return for secondary roles. I love hearing what Jordan and the others are up to, and they’re all so grown up now *sniff*.

In Breathe, Annie, Breathe, we meet a girl who’s dealing with grief and self-blame after the death of her boyfriend. A boyfriend she knew she was eventually going…