June 12, 2017

Review: Cujo by Stephen King

Title: Cujo
Author: Stephen King
Published: September, 1981
Paperback: 432 pgs

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Outside a peaceful town in central Maine, a monster is waiting. Cujo is a two-hundred-pound Saint Bernard, the best friend Brett Camber has ever had. One day Cujo chases a rabbit into a bolt-hole - a cave inhabited by sick bats. What happens to Cujo, how he becomes a horrifying vortex inexorably drawing in all the people around him makes for one of the most heart-stopping novels Stephen King has written.

FYI -- before I tell you my thoughts on the book, I want you to know that I have never seen the movie. I had zero ideas on what to expect, except that it had something to do with an evil dog.

In so many ways...this book will MESS YOU UP.

I already had a little fear when it came to dogs, but now I am downright terrified! Especially because when we first meet Cujo, he is the sweetest dog you could ever imagine. He's a gentle giant, in every sense of the word, and no one would ever suspect the horror he could unleash. And as a reader, we feel genuinely sorry for Cujo. Stephen King is simply THE master at that --  he is the Director of our emotions. He makes you fall in love with Cujo. He makes you feel sorry for Cujo. And even after all is said and done, you still can't help but wish that someone had just helped that poor dog.

In a nutshell: Cujo is accidentally infected with rabies after he chases a rabbit down a rabbit-hole filled with bats. It's not his fault at all. But then it makes you wonder -- well who's fault is it? Who can we blame it all on? And the beauty of it all is that you can take your pick. Donna Trenton, who cheats on her husband and ends up fighting for her life? Yep, some fault lies with her. Joe Camber, Cujo's owner and a wife abuser? You can definitely blame some on him. Almost every single side character can hold some of the blame and it is literally one of those unfortunate circumstances that simply could not be avoided.

Another reason this book will mess you up: the ending. I don't want to give it away. I want you to read it for yourself. But I promise you, it will torture you long after you've turned the last page. I actually closed the book angry with Stephen King for this one.

Incredibly suspenseful page-turner. Well worth a read!

5 out of 5 stars.

June 07, 2017

Review: Ruined by Amy Tintera!

Title: Ruined
Author: Amy Tintera
Published: May 3, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins)
Hardcover: 368 pgs

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A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

Talk about an action-packed, girl-power, kick-ass novel!

From the minute you read the first word, Ruined is filled with fighting, disguises, espionage, and murder. You are immediately thrown into the middle of a war that has been waging in the background for years, and it's mesmerizing.

And the best part about it -- for me at least -- it all centered around a kick-ass female warrior.

Despite the fact that she was born different from the other Ruined; despite the fact that she has no powers; despite the fact that she had to watch her own parents murdered, Emelina is one of the fiercest protagonists I have yet to discover. She is a woman on a mission and nothing will deter her from getting what she wants. She is constantly on guard and always thinks of new ways to escape a situation before it even arises. She is incredibly intelligent and that in itself is a strength no one gives her credit for.

Okay, okay...so she makes the tragic mistake of falling in love. We've all been there. And it kind of throws a wrench in her plans. But to me, it only makes her more relatable and true to life. Despite everything she's been through, she's still a young woman, and Casimir is still a handsome prince (one who's actually noble, no less!). How could she not fall in love?

I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in this series (Avenged) which came out in May 2017. Have you all read it yet? Is it just as good as the first?!

5 out of 5 stars.

June 06, 2017

Double Review: Reboot & Rebel by Amy Tintera!

Title: Reboot & Rebel (Reboot Series)
Author: Amy Tintera
Published: May 7, 2013 & May 13, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen (Harper Collins)
Hardcover: 365 pgs & 340 pgs

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Synopsis for Reboot: Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation). Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum. The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

Fascinating Concept. Incredible Writing. Authentic Characters.

I went to the library intending to pick up Ruined by Amy Tintera -- which was highly recommended by another GoodChoiceReader -- when I unfortunately learned that it would be checked out for another few weeks. Instead, my trusty librarian suggested I read Reboot and Rebel. I don't feel ashamed to say that I think it was fate.

The basic concept: when you die, you stand a chance of coming back to life -- you will be rebooted, per se. And when you do, you will be stronger, faster, and heal easier. You'll also be able to deal less with those pesky emotions that humans have to deal with all the time. Sounds great, doesn't it?  Except for the fact that the remaining humans no longer trust you. Even your own family will see you as a monster and turn their backs on you.

The longer you take to reboot, the stronger you will be. And our main character, Wren, is the strongest reboot so far -- taking 178 minutes to come back to life. When we meet Wren, she is disconnected from all of her emotions. She is basically a soldier who always takes orders, never falls off course, and is the perfect person to have on hand when you need any "dirty work" taken care of. Until she meets Callum, that is.

Wren is looking for a challenge when she meets Callum (who rebooted after only 22 minutes and is more human than reboot). She decides to become his trainer and is surprised when she realizes how much of an effect he has on her. The chemistry between the two is adorable and well-written. I loved them as a couple from the minute they got together and I loved watching the changes in Wren as she re-learned her human emotions.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the great action sequences in these novels as well. There are plenty of guns, bombs, fighting, deaths, war, and revenge. It's awesome!

Have you read these books yet? What do you think?

5 out of 5 stars.

June 05, 2017

Review: Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Title: Truly Madly Guilty
Author: Liane Moriarty
Published: July 26, 2016
Publisher: Flatiron Books (MacMillan)
Hardcover: 415 pgs

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Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong? Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other. Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite. Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

I could NOT put this book down!

Liane Moriarty has the most incredible talent and is the master of creating the ultimate suspense. She starts off with a simple, ordinary day/event/moment and hints that something extraordinary has taken its place. She is an expert at dragging it out, revealing only tidbits at a time, and making it worth every second of the wait. In the case of Truly Madly Guilty, it begins with something as simple as a backyard barbecue between friends and neighbors. But something's happened. Something's gone wrong. Something's turned everyone's worlds upside down and you literally will not put the book down until you figure out what that is.

What I truly enjoyed about this novel was the fact that every character is authentic and relatable. Their relationships, their ambitions, their struggles -- they're all something that most everyone can relate to within their own lives. Moriarty's characters have such nuances that you can imagine they live right next door to you. It's not something you find often -- or at least, I don't -- and I commend her so much for her talent.

The one issue I had with this book is that it took me a long time (longer than I'd care to admit) to distinguish between each of the characters and who were in relationships. I kept getting confused and it wasn't until three-quarters of the way through that I finally could say with certainty who was which.

Other than that one glitch, I thought this book was phenomenal. Give it a read and let me know your thoughts!

5 out of 5 stars.

June 02, 2017

Gearing Up for "Fear The Walking Dead"!

The Walking Dead, and Fear the Walking Dead, are two of my absolute favorite television shows! I've also read all of TWD comics, and if you haven't, you should. They're way better than the show.

In honor of the season premiere of Fear the Walking Dead, airing this weekend, here are Seven Popular Zombie Survival Tactics That Will Get You Killed (courtesy of Mike's Gears Reviews). Enjoy!

Tactic #1: Heading to the Gun Store! 

Tactic #2: Evacuating Immediately! 

Tactic #3: Turning Your House Into a Fortress! 

Tactic #4: Using Close-Fighting Weapons! 

Tactic #5: Aiming for the Head! 

Tactic #6: Living off the Land! 

Tactic #7: Going it Alone!