Saturday, March 21, 2015

Review: Asylum

If you've been reading my posts for a while, you may remember that I mentioned not liking horror books. After reading and enjoying both Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City, I decided to give horror books another shot.

Which brings us to today's review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux.

Daniel Crawford is excited to spend six weeks at a summer college program in New Hampshire. A self-proclaimed psychology buff, he can't wait to attend a program where he won't be the only one fascinated by it. Add to that the fact that the regular dorms are closed, and the students will instead be staying in Brookline, an old dorm that used to be a psychiatric hospital.

Curious to know more about the building and its past, Dan and two other students decide to sneak down into the locked-off old wing to explore. But things take a turn for the weird when Daniel starts dreaming about what they've discovered down there. There may be a good reason the residents of the town want Brookline torn down...

Although I really enjoyed it, this book was a little too creepy for me. I want to finish the series, but I definitely won't be reading it at night.

The story is very good, the plot intriguing, the characters engaging. I thought Dan and his two friends he meets at the program, Abby and Jordan, made a very good team. They kept me engaged in the book, which moved at a fast pace but not rushed (except at the very end).

I loved how this book made use of old photos from actual psych wards, although they did add to the creepy factor. It helped the book come alive.

There was some swearing, but not a ton. The ending felt a little rushed, probably because there was so much build up to it, and then the actual reveal and "final battle" was over in a few pages. It was a good ending, but it felt like it needed a little more to make it completely satisfying.

If you're not into creepy books, you may not care for this one, but otherwise I recommend
it, even if you're not a big fan of horror.

You can buy Asylum* on Amazon in print, audiobook, or Kindle format.

 *This is an associate link, meaning if you purchase through it I get a referral fee but it costs the same as if you had just gone and ordered it through Amazon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Review: Summer Sisters

I'd never read anything by Judy Blume before picking up this book. I've heard of her, and that she is a fantastic children's author, so I thought I'd check this book out.

Victoria Leonard, Vix for short, is reserved and comes from a blue-collar family. She has nothing in common with wild Caitlin Somers, whose family is well-to-do although her parents are divorced. So Vix is surprised when she is invited to spend the summer after sixth grade with Caitlin at her dad's house on Martha's Vineyard.

The girls quickly form a bond, and the summer trip becomes a tradition as they grow from adolescents into young women. As they weather the storms of growing up together, will their struggles to figure out their futures pull them together or apart...

I was really disappointed with this book. I really liked the idea of the plot, but I feel it devolved from a book about friendship to being more about sex. There were scenes I skipped because it was too explicit for me. The amount of profanity is also atrocious.

The story itself read like it was supposed to be for girls 11-16, but the amount of lewd behavior and profanity suggested it was for adults. I'm not sure who this book was written for.

I had a hard time liking the characters. Caitlin comes off as selfish and manipulative, while Vix is a pushover. My favorite character was actually Caitlin's step-mom Abby: I felt like she was trying to do the right thing, even if sometimes she went about it the wrong way. Caitlin's brother Sharky also intrigued me. I feel like he was a better character than either of the girls, but we don't get to see him much in the book.

This novel was written back in 1998, so I'm hoping Ms. Blume has come a long way from this sort of thing. I'll debate about whether trying one of her other books. If you're considering reading some of her work, I recommend skipping this one.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Review: Paper Towns

This is one of the books from my first library haul of the year (I'm a little behind getting the reviews up).

Basically, Quentin Jacobsen (Q for short) has been in love with his neighbor Margo for a long time. Having grown up together, the two have drifted apart somewhere along the way, until now in their senior year, graduation in sight, they don't even speak that much, and their social circles are vastly different.

All the more surprising for Q when Margo comes banging on his window in the middle of the night, and drags him along as her getaway driver in a series of escapades. Although he spends half the night wondering if they really should be doing all these things, Q is starting to hope for something again between him and Margo, at the very least friendship...

When she disappears the next day.

Her parents, used to her constant running away and faced with the fact that she is eighteen and a legal adult, throw their hands up and are done with her. But Q begins the search for her, relentlessly trying to piece together the trail of vague clues she's left, trying to figure out what happened to his friend, and why she left.

Although this book wasn't quite what I expected, it was a rather good story. Some of the jokes were too crude for my taste, and there was quite a bit of swearing in the book, but the story itself was rather interesting.

Some of the friendship dynamics in the book didn't really work for me. I kept asking myself, "Why is this girl friends with her after she did that?" and similar questions. After some of the things which some of the characters did, I don't think it was very realistic that the people they hurt would remain good friends with them.

Although I was a little disappointed with how John Green ended the book, I still really enjoyed it. Q's search to find his friend took him on another journey to find himself that I could really relate to. All in all, it was a really good coming of age tale, and one I recommend if you like those kinds of books.

If you prefer just to get your own copy, instead of borrowing from the library, you can get Paper Towns* on Amazon in print, audiobook, or Kindle format.

 *This is an associate link, meaning if you purchase through it I get a referral fee but it costs the same as if you had just gone and ordered it through Amazon.