Friday, February 27, 2015

The Rules

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult
Category: Science fiction; romance
Rating: 3 stars

Melissa Thinks: To start, I would like to point out that despite the fact that this is a sci-fi story, there won’t be much science fiction in it. I like to think of this as more of a character driven story rather than a plot driven one. That being said, the plot was still intriguing albeit cliché at times. So, let’s dig in shall we?

Ariane is not your typical teenager. She lives by a set of rules put in place by her adoptive father; never trust anyone, they are always searching, don’t get involved, keep your head down, don’t fall in love. These restrictive rules are there to keep her safe and for the last ten years of her life living on the Outside, Ariane has followed them closely. Now she finds herself in the middle of some typical high school drama surrounding one Rachel Jacobs and her stereotypical jock friend Zane Bradshaw. To get back at Rachel for her childish bully behavior, Zane and Ariane team up to give her a taste of her own medicine. What Ariane wasn’t expecting was for Zane to turn out to be an okay guy. In fact, he’s more than okay; better than she could’ve imaged. She’s breaking all her father’s rules for him, but when their “fake” relationship comes to an end, will they stay together? How long can Ariane pretend she’s a normal girl? How long until Zane finds out she’s half alien?

This book appealed more to my teenage girl side than it did to my literature loving adult side. I enjoy a good fluff book every once in a while and I think that’s what The Rules was for me. Don’t get me wrong, the sci-fi aspect to it, the entire “half alien half human raised in a lab” idea was interesting – something that I normally would find fascinating – but in this case I feel like that romance was really at the forefront of the book. Zane was a great main character. Half the book is in his point of view, which really lends to his character development and gives us an inside look at his struggles with his family.

A big turn off for me when reading is when the male character is arrogant, possessive, disrespectful of other characters, and just plain abusive; we don’t see that in The Rules. Zane is respectful of Ariane and her various needs. He listens to her when she speaks and is genuinely interested in her. He’s an all-around nice guy – I greatly appreciated his character. Ariane is also a character I can admire. She’s intelligent and quiet, but always has a lot to say. The way she goes from almost uncaring and apathetic to emotionally driven and kind makes this book worth reading.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hard Time

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 7:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Adult
Category: Romance; contemporary
Rating: 4 stars

Marta Thinks: Thanks to ‘Hard Time’, I’ve started to see a typewriter as a terribly romantic object and love letters have gained significance. I’ve never seen much of a point of love letters; they’ve always seemed over-the-top, trite and essentially meaningless despite declarations of grand sentiments. No longer is that the case. If anything, I want my own love letter. Now if only I could find the right person…

Annie Goodhouse doesn’t have that problem. She has Eric. They start out as a perfect example of forbidden romance. Eric is in prison; Annie is the librarian who comes in to do sessions with the convicts. What follows is an exchange of heartfelt (and dirty) letters: “Darling, I missed you since our last visit. A few minutes a week with you is almost more cruel than it’s worth...I think about your mouth, and about kissing. And other things.” It’s easy to see the relationship slowly growing. And then Eric is released from prison and Annie has to decide whether to pursue what they have commenced.
Banner Credit: Marta

Cara McKenna is amazing; she is a very, very good writer, and especially brilliant at developing emotions and engaging the reader. I loved the character development and I completely understood Annie’s doubts. Despite Eric’s kindness, is it possible to accept the horrendous act he committed in order to receive his sentence? If I put myself in Annie’s place I think it’s easy to empathize with her position and I don’t think her doubt and cautioness was not at all reasonable. My favourite character, however, was Eric, who was an utter sweetheart and, as Annie put it, ‘the most honest man she has ever met’, despite having met said man in prison.

I started reading this book with reservations as it deviated quite a bit from my usual read. All I have to say is that I’ve been rewarded for stepping outside of my boundaries. I hope you feel that way too.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Black Beast

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 2 comments

Age: Adult
Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars

Marta Thinks: Nenia Campbell. An ex-fictionpresser, member of the now dissolved Plagiarism Haven, indie author, book reviewer active on Goodreads. Yes, she is all of these things - true - but she is also something else. A very, very good writer. Her prose is gorgeous (‘…it was a golden skeleton key…it was the benediction of pristine predigree…’) and I would even go so far as to claim that it’s practically impossible to not gain pleasure from her words. She has the ability to string phrases together and create a beautiful painting, vivid and lush.

But what are words without a plot? Not much. So here’s the deal: Catherine Pierce is a shapeshifter. And there’s no problem with that. But shapeshifters are meant to settle into one animal form after puberty. Catherine hasn’t. Crown Prince Phineas Riordan notes this error in the record book and follows Catherine in order to fix the mistake: he finds something else instead. And all the while Catherine finds a magical book, has terrifying dreams about the eponymous Shadow Thane and Slayers are infiltrating the school. Fabulous.
Banner Credit: Marta

There’s incredible world building: witches, shapeshifters, slayers, vampires, magic, talking animals and prophecies. There’s order and structure within this universe, background to the current situation and mentions of past wars. And, like in every Nenia Campbell book, there is earthy sexual attraction, crude thoughts and desires, not for the faint-hearted.

A minor qualm would be that there wasn’t a lot going on (the ending is a little bit-anticlimactic) but I believe the book is worth the read, and provides the appropriate introduction and build-up for its sequel.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Cinder Creek

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 3:55 PM 0 comments
Cinder Creek by SophieInPink
When the always-responsible, always-practical Sloane Lennox's father dies, the only way to keep her siblings together is to move in with an insufferable new guardian. Soon, Sloane must contend with a growing attraction to him, despite her better judgment. She fights hard not to care for him only to realize he is likewise battling feelings for her.
Banner Credit: Sarah
Melissa Thinks: I have waited a long while for this story to be long enough for me to review; I cannot say I’m disappointed with what I’ve found within “Cinder Creek”. It’s definitely reminiscent of a story I reviewed early on in my ADoR days by this same author, SophieInPink.

When her father dies, seventeen-year-old Sloane is left to care for her three younger siblings. This is nothing new considering she’s been doing it since she was twelve, their alcoholic father not willing to care for them properly. Of course, Sloane is still a minor and by law is not able to gain custody. On top of that, due to debt left behind by her deceased father, the Lennox’s childhood home is about to be repossessed.

Just as Sloane is about to lose all hope, John steps in. John is the stepbrother of Sloane’s long dead mother, Gracie. The only living relative of the children, John must either step up as their guardian or leave them to be split up by the foster system, despite the fact that he’s only twenty-three. The Lennox children weren’t expecting him to say yes, neither were they expecting him to invite them to live with him in his cramped two-bedroom home on the outskirts of town. This is where the story really begins, as Sloane has to learn how to work together with John to raise the kids.

SophieInPink has a way with words; her narration leaves little to be desired and her plot, though cliché, is mended by the reader’s love of her characters. Sloane is a mature and strong character. Both her willingness to do anything for her siblings and her hardened resolve give her substance. Even though the romance between Sloane and John is a slow build, I found each chapter enjoyable – every character interaction worth the time. Not all authors can say this, for I often see novels in which there is nothing natural about the way relationships progress.

A Time to Kill

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Adult
Category: Mystery & Crime
Rating: 4 stars

Helen Thinks: A Time to Kill follows young lawyer, Jake Brigance, trying the case of his career. The novel starts with two white men raping ten year old, Tonya Hailey, who is a black girl. The book is set in Mississipi where racism is still high and everyone knows that there is a high chance that the two men won't be tried for their crimes so Tonya's father, Carl Lee, takes it his own hands and shoots the two boys dead in the courthouse because he knows he'll never get justice for his little girl going through the correct channels. This then leads to Carl Lee being arrested for murder. A Time to Kill follows Brigance trying to prove that Carl Lee was insane due to his grief at the time of the killings and therefore is not guilty but also sees his life going to hell as the Ku Klux Klan come back to Clanton to terrorise those helping a 'negro' get free after his crime towards the whites.

A Time to Kill is Grisham's debut novel that was released back in 1989 and only got a small five thousand book deal from the twenty ninth publisher he sent it too. It wasn't until he released several more books that A Time to Kill got the audience that it truly deserves. I first studied this novel in English Literature classes in my G.C.S.E. years as we contrasted it to To Kill a Mockingbird and that put this and the movie adaptation (which has an all star cast if you ever want to sit and watch it) on my list of all time favourite.

I am not usually a fan of novels that follow the order side towards 'Law and Order' but when it came to A Time to Kill I could not put the novel down. Each character had their own individual traits that Grisham caught perfectly. We saw Brigance's downwards spiral as the case consumed him with each chapter, including his sudden reliance on alcohol, happen flawlessly without any sudden leaps in changes. Grisham makes you feel for each character as they go through their journeys but more importantly it evokes a discussion between those who have read it or haven't. Is Carl Lee guilty or not guilty?

Friday, January 30, 2015


Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars

Rosie Thinks: I like to really scope out book before I read them, so I saw quite a few reviews saying it was another cheap take-off of 'The Hunger Games'. Are these people reading the same summary I read? Maybe the book was different? No - this book turned out to be absolutely nothing like THG. It is set in the small, dead-end town of Carp, NY, where every summer the seniors participate in a dangerous and sometimes deadly game called Panic. It is pretty much a game of chicken on steroids. The contestants are made to battle against all different times of fears, until they chicken out or get booted out of the running to win the grand prize of almost $70 000.

The story alternates between the POVs of Dodge and Heather - and no, there is no romance between these two (don't fear, though, there is romance). At the beginning, I wasn't so sure about this book. The premise is awesome and the mystery surrounding the whole game and the secrets kept me hooked, but Heather and Dodge's characters almost turned me off. At the start, Heather comes off as whiney and desperate. Dodge really interested me, because his mind switched between cold and clinical, of a boy who has grown up much too fast, to that of a teenage boy with a hopeless crush. Of course, since reading Oliver's 'Before I Fall', I knew to never judge one of her characters too quickly - and I was glad I didn't. This story sunk its hooks deep into my mind until I was so immersed in the world, I began to live and breath Panic. My mind kept going down different paths, trying to figure out all the twists and turns - I got some, but definitely not all. Heather and Dodge, and the rest of the supporting cast, made their way into my heart. Not one of them was good, yet not one of them was bad. Oliver's characterisation is phenomenal in the way that she created people who were real and had such incredible depths and layers. Not once did she tell the reader what the character was like - she showed you through examples and dialogue that was crafted to carry the most weight in the shortest amount of time.

'Panic' perfectly captures just how desperate these kids are, to get out of small town Carp and away from families that can pull them back into a never-ending cycle of despair and loneliness. So don't be put off by the beginning of this story. Allow 'Panic' to draw you in and have you on the edge of your seat until the explosive ending.

And PS, Goodreads has this book under the Dystopia category, but that's not right - it's definitely YA!

Friday, January 23, 2015

And Then There Were None

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Age: Adult
Category: Mystery & Crime
Rating: 5 stars

Marta Thinks: Agatha Christie, most commonly called ‘The Queen of Crime’, has an extremely vast and prestigious repertoire of novels, such as ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ (whose unexpected plot twist earned her reputation) and ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, which was later produced as a movie casting stars such as Ingrid Bergman and Lauren Bacall. Her novels vary - some have no detective (such as this one), some include Tommy and Tuppence, many others have Miss. Marple (my personal favorite), an elderly spinster who uses her small town anecdotes to solve mysteries and of course, Hercule Poirot, Belgian detective with a remarkable mustache and stunning insight into human psychology.

Banner Credit: Marta
‘And Then There Were None’, most commonly considered as Agatha Christie’s masterpiece, features only a group of people invited on an island. The varying point of views allow the reader to see that each invitation comes from a different person that assumes various alias in order to convince the people to come to the island. And, one by one, each person dies. Each person on the island is rightly suspicious and it brings up questions such as: ‘Who is the killer?’ ‘Am I next?’ and ‘Why are we being killed?’ The answers to each of these questions is chilling but also utterly unpredictable. Other than this, however, I cannot add anything else. As Maurice Richardson wrote (correctly) in his review on The Observer: ‘We will also have to refrain from reviewing it thoroughly, as it is so full of shocks that even the
mildest revelation would spoil some surprise from somebody and I am sure that you would rather have your entertainment kept fresh than criticism pure.’

‘And Then There Were None’ was hugely acclaimed upon its release and is Agatha Christie’s best-selling novel, the world’s best-selling mystery and one of the best-selling books of all times. Clearly not a book to miss out on.

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