Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

January 31

Comments: 2

Review: Trapped by Michael Northrop

by Ann-Katrina

Trapped cover Title: Trapped
Author: Michael Northrop
ISBN: 978-054521-0126
Story Length: 240 pages
Genre: Young Adult/Psychological Thriller

Back Cover of Trapped

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive.

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But the power goes out, and the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the day adds up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision…

Three Quick Points About Trapped

  • Point 1: A smooth read. There was nothing difficult in the reading. One word flowed into the next, one sentence into the next, and one paragraph into the next.
  • Point 2: Underwhelming characters. Each character seemed like a slightly varied stock template, from the bully who wasn’t so bad after all to the hormonally challenged teenage boy to the super hot blond.
  • Point 3: A pressure cooker with too little pressure. The students’ situation was dire, no doubt about it, but there wasn’t enough character variation to spark true conflict.

Continue reading »

2 Comments, add yours...

July 7

Comments: 4

Review: Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

by Ann-Katrina

Still Missing Cover

Title: Still Missing
Author: Chevy Stevens
ISBN: 978-0-3125-9567-8
Story Length: 352
Genre: Adult/Thriller

Back Cover of Still Missing

Eh hem…well…I’m rather embarrassed.

Normally this is where I’d type out what’s written on the back cover of the book, but I can’t because this book is currently on loan to a few people and heaven only knows when I’ll see it again—if ever. (You’ll understand why I say that when you read my thoughts.)

Three Quick Points About Still Missing

  • Point 1: Morbidly captivating. This book deals with some strong subject matter, but it’s so captivating you can’t pull your eyes away from it.
  • Point 2: An easy writing style. Annie’s words flowed in such a conversational manner that reading from one page to the next was perfectly natural.
  • Point 3: Some minor contrivances. There were a few inconsistencies in the story, but in the grand scheme of the novel they were minor. Continue reading »

4 Comments, add yours...

July 5

Comments: 2

Memorable Scenes Monday (2): Broken by Karin Fossum

by Ann-Katrina

Every so often I come across a scene that is so potent that it lingers long after I’ve finished reading it. That’s where the idea for this feature came from. Each Monday I intend to share with you a memorable scene from one (or more) of my reads.

If you like the idea I invite you to join me in sharing a memorable scene on your blog and link to it in a comment or just share the scene in the comment itself. (Please remember to include the book’s title and author so our wishlists and TBR stacks can grow. Also, if your scene is a spoiler, please clearly mark it as one.)

Broken This week’s scene comes from Broken by Karin Fossum, a unique thriller/mystery novel translated to English from its original Norwegian.

I am sitting in front of the computer. My fingers skate quickly across the keyboard. There are times it becomes flexible like a ribbon in my hands and I can bend and twist the language any way I please. Alvar comes up behind me, shifting nervously from one foot to the other.

“Are you really going to burden me with your sleeping problems and anxiety?” I turn around and give him a somewhat patronizing look.

“Everyone struggles with anxiety,” I say. “Can you feel how it eats away at you? In here, behind your ribs?” I tap my chest with my finger. “A cowardly rat sits in here gnawing its way through your ribs. It hurts.”

“But I’m a decent man,” he says. “I always keep my affairs in order.”

I turn off the computer, then turn around in my chair and look at him again. “Yes, that’s true. At the same time, you’re all alone. It’s dangerous to go through life without someone you can lean on. In certain circumstances it might well prove to be extremely dangerous for you.”

“In certain circumstances,” he echoes, “that you are about to put me in?”

I get up from my desk and go to my armchair, sit down, and light up a cigarette.

“What will be will be,” I say to him over my shoulder. He follows me. He stands with his hands folded. It is gray outside the windows. Heavy and wet, no hint of wind or movement.

“That rat,” I continue, “that gnaws at us all, it never feels satisfied. We constantly seek relief in every way possible. And on rare occasions it allows us a brief respite. Do you know what it’s like when everything suddenly falls into place, when that feeling floods your body? It’s like taking off from a great height. We float through the air and everything around us is warm. For a few brief seconds we think how great life can be. You’ll have such moments too, I promise you.”

He sits down on the sofa, on the edge as usual.

“Are people supposed to settle for a few brief moments of happiness?” he asks, dismayed.

“That’s a good question. It’s up to each and every one of us to decide. The majority spend most of their day looking for some kind of relief. A cigarette, a bottle of red wine. A Cipralex, going for a run. I won’t deprive you of sleep, Alvar, I promise you. But you have come to my house. I have seen you close up, and some events are inevitable. At this point in the story I’m no longer free; there is a clear structure and I have to work within it.”

-pg 55-6 (from the ARC)

Let me back up a little bit and mention that this is a book within a book. The author sees a line of people outside her door, each of them waiting to have their story told.

One evening, the author is awoken by one of those characters who pays her a visit and begs her to write his story because he’s worried she’ll die before she gets a chance to. However, he’s cut in front of another young woman holding a possibly-dead baby. Despite this, the author is somehow engaged by him and decides to start writing his story. During the process, like whenever she takes a break to eat or sleep or write letters to people, he pops in to chat her up about the progress of his story.

Frankly, that entire premise is the reason I decided to read this book. It sounded so fascinating that I couldn’t pass it up and so far, I’m not disappointed. This is more of a character study than a typical thriller/mystery, but I enjoy that. It’s pace is leisurely, but not slow and a few of the passages so far has made me stop to think…about life in general and writing in particular.

The book is scheduled for publication on August 1st, 2010, but it’s available for pre-order on Amazon.

2 Comments, add yours...

April 21

Comments: 6

Review: Morpheus Road: The Light by D. J. MacHale

by Ann-Katrina

Morpheus Road: The Light Cover

Title: Morpheus Road: The Light
Author: D. J. MacHale
ISBN: 978-1-4424-0438-0
Story Length: 344 pages
Genre: Young Adult/Psychological Horror

Back Cover of Morpheus Road: The Light

It begins with mysterious sounds, a fleeting face outside a window–all things that can be explained away. That is, until he comes face-to-face with a character who only exists on the pages of a sketchbook–a character Marshall himself created.

Marshall is quickly convinced these strange incidents have something to do with his best friend, Cooper, who has gone missing. Together with Cooper’s beautiful but aloof sister, Sydney, Marshall searches for the truth about his friend while ultimately uncovering a nightmare that is bigger and more frightening than he ever could have imagined.

Three Quick Points About Morpheus Road: The Light

  • Point 1: More of a creepfest than a gorefest. Although I’d definitely place this book in the horror category, there’s a relatively small amount of blood and guts.
  • Point 2: So. Much. Tension. It just didn’t stop. Right when you think all is well–BAM!–something else jumps out at you.
  • Point 3: There’s a mystery begging to be solved. Too bad the second book isn’t out yet, because (and I can’t believe I’m going to say this…) OMG I can’t wait for it!

Continue reading »

6 Comments, add yours...

December 4

Comments: 2

Recent Arrivals: Numbers by Rachel Ward

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Numbers by Rachel Ward

Numbers

First line: There are places kids like me go. Sad kids, bad kids, [...]

Initial thoughts:  I can’t remember the name of the blog, but I remember reading a synopsis of the book and thinking to myself, I want to read that book.

Then lo and behold, the book fairy delivered a copy to me (OK, it was really the publisher via the postal lady) and I did a little happy dance.

It’s about a girl who can look into someone’s eyes and see the date of their death. There’s a bit more to it, but that’s the gist.

The premise just sounds intriguing, no? Right up my alley.

Book description:

By the Numbers…

"Listen, Jem." The words came spitting out of her face. "I don’t need this today, so just…shut…up." Syllables stinging like angry wasps, her venom fizzing all around me. And all the time, as we sat eye-to-eye, her number was there, stamped on the inside of my skull: 10102001.

Four years later, I watched a man in a scruffy suit write it down on a piece of paper:

Date of Death: 10/10/2001

Book Details: 336 pages; Chicken House; Pub. February 2010

2 Comments, add yours...

 

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