Tag: 3 stars

The House of Small Shadows


Author: Adam Nevill  
Published: July 21, 2015
384 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

Catherine’s last job ended badly. Corporate bullying at a top TV network saw her fired and forced to leave London, but she was determined to get her life back. A new job and a few therapists later, things look much brighter. Especially when a challenging new project presents itself ― to catalogue the late M. H. Mason’s wildly eccentric cache of antique dolls and puppets. Rarest of all, she’ll get to examine his elaborate displays of posed, costumed and preserved animals, depicting bloody scenes from the Great War. Catherine can’t believe her luck when Mason’s elderly niece invites her to stay at Red House itself, where she maintains the collection until his niece exposes her to the dark message behind her uncle’s “Art.” Catherine tries to concentrate on the job, but Mason’s damaged visions begin to raise dark shadows from her own past. Shadows she’d hoped therapy had finally erased. Soon the barriers between reality, sanity and memory start to merge and some truths seem too terrible to be real… in The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill.

Kim’s Review:

The description and cover of this book drew me in. I’m all about some historical houses filled with all kinds of old stuff! My inner history nerd got all worked up! But unfortunately, this book was disappointing. I found Catherine to be weak and whiny. I get that people have traumatizing events in their pasts that can cause some problems later in life, but come on. I didn’t get the sense that her problems matched her past “trauma.” Her friend was taken, but she wasn’t, so . . . that doesn’t seem like as big of a problem as she’s making it. The bullying makes a little more sense, but I’ve been laughed at on the playground, I know many people who were abused by their parents and families and we’ve all come out without letting all that shut our lives down completely.

I know I’m not very sympathetic, but I just didn’t get why Catherine let her past keep her from living her life. She uses everything as an excuse for her life instead of getting over it and becoming successful. And she lost her job because she made the choice to attack a coworker, and she never seems to take responsibility for that. The story itself had so much potential, but it just never came together for me. There was no real connection between the taxidermist and the kidnapper, the puppets and the kids. I just didn’t understand all the details. There were some scary parts that had me turning all the lights in the house on, but other than that, I wasn’t really thrilled with this read. I would only recommend this book to certain people, ones who are incredibly detail oriented AND enjoy a good scare.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Rebel with a Cupcake

Author: Anna Mainwaring
Published:  April 3, 2018
208 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: March 20-27, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

Jesobel Jones is bold and brash, the daughter of a hand model and a washed-up rock star. Jess sees no need to apologize for her rambling house, her imperfect family, her single status … or her weight. Jess is who she is. She makes her own cupcakes and she eats them, too. No regrets.

That is, until Own Clothes Day rolls around at school. Jess and her friends dedicate the requisite hours of planning to their outfits, their hair and their makeup for the one day they are free from school uniforms. But a wardrobe malfunction leaves Jess with a pair of leggings split open at the worst spot, and a mean girl calling her the one thing that’s never bothered her before: fat.

The encounter shakes Jess’s formerly iron-clad confidence, and she starts to wonder if she’s been just a little too comfortable in her own skin. When the boy of her dreams invites her to a party, she must decide whether to try to fit in for the first time in her life, or remain true to herself — whoever that really is.

Jessica’s Review:

**This review will have spoilers without giving too many in depth details.**

I liked Jesobel (Jess), she is spunky and embraces herself for who she is…then she has a wardrobe malfunction at school.  It is like Mean Girls and The Duff but worse. You see how catty teen girls are to teach other now.  Jess is far from perfect which makes her seem all the more real. I liked how she enjoys cooking AND eating.  I liked the Jess at the beginning where she embraces herself.

Despite liking Jess, the story is not original.  It is the typical teen ‘makeover type’ story as Jess has a crush on the popular boy at school. When she begins to get attention from him she has varying questions: Does he like her? Is this a date or not?  She is unsure of his intentions- is he interested in her or is this something else?

I did not like that Jess tries to change herself for a guy.  Also, her mom buys her a dress for prom that is one size smaller than she wears.  Mom means well (she used to be a hand model); she is just going about it the wrong way.

In the end Jess does end up comfortable with who she is and accepts herself.  She even writes an article for a blog that goes viral. And she gets the guy… but which guy?

I liked how each chapter started with an ‘invisible rule’ or ‘observation’ made by Jess. Let’s have a whole book like that! It was very Bridget Jones like, and I love Bridget!

This is a novel that has a good message of embracing yourself for who you are.  No one is perfect and we are our own person. Trying to change yourself for someone else won’t help.  Be comfortable with who you are!  Don’t let those “mean girls” tell you who you should be.

I did like Jess, but for the most part I did not really connect with the novel. I think the teenage drama in this novel was a bit much for me.  It makes me glad I am not a teenager now.  Other than the issues I had I would say  I would recommend it as it does have an overall good message.

Special thanks to KCP Loft for sending me a copy to read and review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Velvet Undercover

Author: Teri Brown
Published: October 20, 2015
336 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the home front as a messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, mathematics, and complex puzzles, hoping to make him proud. When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche, she’s torn—while this could be an unbelievable adventure, how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes she can’t refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity. Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known only as Velvet. Deep undercover in the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Sam must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she must fight a forbidden attraction to the enemy—a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Sam find Velvet before it’s too late . . . for them both?

Kim’s Review:

I saw this in a Book Nerd Problems video from EpicReads waaaaay back near the beginning. The cover is gorgeous and the description sounded intriguing so I decided to read it. I did enjoy it.  Unfortunately, there were some things in the book that kept me from loving it. The main thing is that it is technically historical fiction, but there was just too much suspension of disbelief. If I’m going to read historical fiction, then I want some realism. During the whole story I kept thinking “why would they send a child into a warzone to spy with almost no training??”

Samantha was a likeable enough character, though like a typical teen who probably shouldn’t be sent out on a secret espionage mission in the middle of a world war, she let her emotions get the better of her at nearly every turn. The first chapters of the book highlight how smart and intelligent and special she is, but then the whole rest of the book seems to contradict that. She’s great at codes and languages . . . because that’s all it takes to be a spy!!!!

I’ll admit that the twist at the end caught me by surprise. I had my suspicions about who Velvet was, and I was pretty excited to find out I was right! The story itself was pretty interesting and I enjoyed reading it and watching it unfold. Overall, it wasn’t a bad book, but I doubt I’ll read it again. I would recommend this book to some teens, but not to many adults.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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