Saturday, June 22, 2013

Review: Mandatory Release by Jess Riley

Mandatory ReleaseMandatory Release by Jess Riley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first Jess Riley book that I've read but the description sounded like something right up my alley! I am so glad that I took the time to read this one and I think I may have found a new author to seek out! I love books with an underlying darkness, a sense of snarkiness and good writing. This book has all three in abundance!

The storytelling in this novel is excellent and I really loved getting to know the characters that Jess Riley created here. The characters all felt real ... alive, flawed and wonderful! They just came alive on the page, making me care about them and their journey in the novel! There are two primary characters in this novel - Graham and Drew. I came to love them, identify with them and I admit that I was a bit sad to say goodbye to them at the conclusion of the book.

The novel has elements of a love story but it's so much more than that. In fact, calling it a love story makes me a bit uncomfortable because its so much more than a simple romance. This novel is really about love, friendship, growing, and healing. The characters in this book are broken but fighting back ... and not letting themselves get pulled down into the vulnerability of their situations. I love that there is such hope and raw emotion packed into this book. I was so taken with these characters and how they grew through the course of the book. The rawness of these characters and their experiences is what really makes this book special!

I see that Jess Riley has been compared to Jonathan Tropper (who I adore) and I would agree that they have a very similar sensibility and that they both write complex characters who feel real. If you're a Tropper fan, I suspect you'd enjoy this book!

Bottom line - I recommend this book! Especially if you like great story telling, well developed characters and enjoy fantastic dialogue! And if you like to laugh, I suspect this will also be one you'll enjoy because I literally laughed out loud numerous times while reading this one! Anyway, I will definitely be seeking out more of Jess Riley's writing in the future! This one comes out on July 16th so I definitely recommend you pick it up then!

NOTE: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher for purposes of reading and reviewing the book.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Review: Wolrld War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie WarWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am really struggling with rating this book ... I waffled between a 2 or 3 star rating. This is one of those books that started off GREAT for me but then just lost steam somewhere along the way. By the end, I was just wishing it would hurry up and end. I no longer cared about the Zombie War or the aftermath. I just wanted to move on to the next book.

In the beginning, I loved how the book was set up - as if it were a series of non-fiction telling of experiences from a wide variety of people in a wide variety of places. Very cool and smart concept. But, over time, that concept plays itself out and I began to not care any more. The set up became boring, lengthy and inane for me. I ended up speed reading through the last section of the book because I just couldn't care enough to read it more carefully.

I'm not really sure what it was that I didn't connect with in this novel but it just doesn't seem like a good fit for me. This is another that I wanted to love but didn't. However, I will say that I can understand why so many DO love it ... It has a strong non-fiction vibe so perhaps a fan of non-fiction might enjoy it more than I did?

View all my reviews

Monday, June 10, 2013

Review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Reconstructing AmeliaReconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book despite some flaws. It's not a perfect book but it is definitely very readable and interesting. The premise was compelling and the book was structured rather well. I the writing to be quite good. The pacing and plotting is excellent. It was a book that I didn't want to put down, that I wanted to stay up late reading! That is always a good sign!

There were some things that I didn't love but they were easy to overlook since reading it was so effortless. Some of the story itself was pretty predictable but I still enjoyed the story overall. I found it to be a pretty interesting story with some nice twists and turns. The primary thing that bothered me was how involved the local police allowed the mother to be in the investigation - that didn't feel realistic to me. But, otherwise, I really enjoyed this one.

It's certainly a YA novel but I think it's a book that adults will enjoy as much as young adults. Rumor has it that this is being made into a movie and Nicole Kidman is in talks to play the mother. I'll be interested in seeing if that is the case. I think this could make a really compelling movie! This is one that I definitely recommend!

View all my reviews

Review: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of BeliefGoing Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Given my fascination with religion, faith and belief, this book was on my TBR from the moment that I heard it was coming. And Lawrence Wright certainly delivers ... this is one of the best nonfiction books I've read this year.

I knew next to nothing about Scientology going into the reading of this book but was fascinated with the little that I did know. The religion felt rather cult-ish to me but I really didn't know enough to truly understand if that was the case or not. This book really educated me so much on Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard and the current leadership of Scientology. And, all I can say is WOW! This is one of the most comprehensive, well researched and well written books that I've read in the history of my reading life. That Lawrence Wright took on this subject despite the harrowing experiences of others who have done the same is commendable.

I cannot even put into words just how astounded I was as I read this book - the tenets of this belief system, the way Hubbard set this religion up, the way the average member is treated, and the numerous abuses and violations by the Church that have been documented over the years. It's all just so horrendous. I find it so sad that so many people searching for something to believe are finding it in Scientology since I now believe the entire religion was made up in the mind of a man that I'm convinced suffered from severe mental health issues. I have a hard time understanding how intelligent individuals can buy into much of what I read in this book. I guess that it's a testament to the power of belief.

More than anything, however, this book confirmed my discomfort with the role celebrity plays in Scientology. The 'celebrity' appears to be one of the only members of this group that isn't faced with abuse and terror. They ultimately seem to feed off of the efforts of the 'common' Scientology member without accepting any responsibility or asking any questions about the treatment of others despite quite a bit of evidence that there are abuses going on. I will no longer support projects connected to these Scientology celebrities (Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley, Anne Archer, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, etc). I just cannot support these people who seem to be so clearly benefiting from the abuses within this organization. I find their lack of awareness to be self-serving.

If you're a Scientologist, you will certainly hate this book and find offense throughout this entire review (if you're even allowed to read it which is unlikely based upon the information in the book). I would say that if you're curious about this particular religion, it's relationship to science, and it's relationship to celebrity - this is definitely a great piece of investigative journalism and will answer most questions you could have about Scientology. I found this book fascinating and it has changed my own thinking about Scientology in many ways. I strongly recommend this book!

View all my reviews