Tag Archives: publisher: crown

As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka

As Red As Blood

As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka

Series: Lumikki Andersson, Book 1
Published by: Crown Books for Young Readers on January 17, 2017 (US release)
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Lumikki Andersson is what many might describe as a loner. She purposely stays out of other people’s business and problems. To do otherwise will just lead to trouble that she knows she doesn’t need. But when she ends up in the middle of a life-or-death situation that three careless classmates stumbled into, she finds she has no choice but to see it through to the end. And the danger runs deeper than any of them can even imagine…

The overall story arc here is interesting. Action starts right away and pulls the reader into the world of these characters. And it’s a plot that I know I found I wanted to see to the end from the first few pages. But there are a few things that just didn’t quite settle for me. First, Lumikki is just a high school student but she acts like a highly-trained super agent at times, which I found difficult to accept. Second, the resolution seems a bit too tidy and abrupt for such a complicated story. But it is an entertaining and interesting read. It’s still a page turner even with those reservations. So I’d suggest giving it a read if you like suspense.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

The Wolf Road

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

Published by: Crown on July 5, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

When Elka wanders away from her grandmother’s house, the last thing she expects is to be taken in by a local hunter. But that’s exactly what happens. And, to her surprise, he treats her well–provides for her, teaches her skills. And he protects her.

Imagine Elka’s surprise when she learns the man is wanted for several murders. She wants to believe it’s not the man who has become her surrogate father. But before she really has time to do anything about it, she knows she needs to run. The ruthless magistrate is after her, too, assuming she’s somehow connected to the crimes.

Elka sets out on a mission to find her parents. Perhaps by finding them, she can disconnect herself completely from the one adult she’s trusted for years. And hopefully she can get there before either of the people chasing her–the Trapper and the Magistrate–catch up with her.

When I finished this book, I told myself it was a decent historical fiction novel. But then when I went back to start this review, I noticed it’s marked as “dystopian”. I guess there’s a reference in the blurb, but it didn’t really come through at all in the book. I just thought the lack of technology, homesteading, etc. was an element of the time setting.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.]

The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson

The Never-Open Desert Diner

The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson

Published by: Crown on March 22, 2016 (2nd edition)
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Ben Jones lives a quiet life, content as the delivery driver on Route 117, a remote highway in the middle of the Utah desert. There’s not much to see or do on the route. Though there is an old diner, a place that used to be bustling with activity but now sits empty. Owned by Walt, a resident recluse, it provides the main landmark and only real character on Ben’s route.

But everything changes when Ben stumbles across Claire, a beautiful woman who is squatting in a nearby home. She’s different and she’s intriguing. And it doesn’t take long for Ben to start falling for the mysterious Claire, even when he knows he shouldn’t.

A number of other strange things start happening not long after Claire’s arrival. Ben is followed by a woman he’s never seen before. He’s asked to take part in a reality television show. And he’s warned that the police might be looking into him. So much for Ben’s uneventful life…

As Ben learns more about Claire and her history, things slowly start to fall into place. But there just might be more to the story than he could ever piece together on his own.

Every once in a while, I feel the need to change up what I read. And that’s where this literary mystery comes in. It’s not quite crime fiction–which is where the mysteries I read tend to live–but there is a crime involved. There’s a strong narrative here, and a good arc for Ben and some of the other characters. It’s not one where you’ll feel compelled to keep guessing, but there are some twists and surprises that creep up along the way.

If you’re a fan of literary fiction with a dash of mystery, then this one is probably right up your alley.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey

The Productivity Project

The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy by Chris Bailey

Published by: Crown Publishing on January 5, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Everyone wants to be more productive, right? So while I don’t often pick up nonfiction books for the blog, I decided I would give this one a try. If nothing else, I figured it might help me stay on top of the blog work (as well as my work everywhere else)!

What we get here is kind of a mixed bag. Chris Bailey presents a way of thinking about productivity that goes beyond what we get done. It focuses on time, energy, and attention as the things that impact productivity. He also encourages readers to think about focusing on high-impact tasks and being aware of their energy levels throughout the day. There are many tactics and strategies presented in the book that can help in isolation or combination. And while it doesn’t seem too novel or profound, as I’ve thought about it some more, I am starting to think about the ways I work a bit differently.

The key things that the author provides are brief challenges to put some of the tactics in practice. While he says early on there are only a few of these, almost every chapter has one. I did many of them, but there were some that I just read and internalized rather than actually practicing them as I went along.

The book does provide some great food for thought, even if it’s not a total game changer. I also encourage readers to get past the beginning to get into the actual substance of the book. I was a little put off by what appeared to be the author’s need to assert his heterosexuality (mentions of attractive women, relaying Mila Kunis fantasies, and more than one reference to having a girlfriend). The mentions seemed unnecessary, but it was easy to set them aside as completely irrelevant to the text.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

Quality of Silence

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

Published by: Crown on February 16, 2016 (re-release)
Rating: 4 stars (★★★☆☆)

Ruby lands in Alaska, excited to see her father. That’s why her mother, Yasmin, said they were traveling. He should be waiting to pick them up at the airport. But when they get off the plane and a police officer greets them, they know something’s wrong. Ruby, who is deaf, must rely on reading lips and the little bits her mother will tell her. She learns there was an accident and her father may be dead. Yasmin and Ruby refuse to believe it, and set out to search for him when the police have all but given up. But winter in Alaska is dangerous. There’s a storm rolling in. And there’s a small chance someone may be following them. But neither will rest until they know the truth. Whatever that truth may be…

This one pulled me in a bit more than I expected. The writing style, which includes many flashbacks, took a couple of chapters to grow on me. But once I was into it, it seemed to take on a life of its own. The suspenseful adventure for this mother and daughter makes a compelling story. Some of the twists will surprise you. Recommended for readers who enjoy stories that take the reader on the characters’ journey.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

The Quality of Silence on the Crown website

The Other Son by Alexander Söderberg

The Other Son

Book Info

Title: The Other Son (Brinkmann Trilogy, Book 2)
Author: Alexander Söderberg
Published: July 21, 2015 (in English)
Pages: 388
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Author’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Sophie Brinkmann has taken on a role in a crime family that she never wanted. After the head of the family was murdered and his son–her connection to the family–is left in a coma, people look to her more than she expected. And not only does she not feel entirely cut out for this type of work, but she still has some moral issues with the operation. Rival families are closing in, however, and they’ve made it clear they will take what they want if they have to. And when they start to make good on that threat, Sophie knows she’s going to have to act on her own if she wants to make it out alive–and her son along with her.

There’s a lot of plotting and action in this book. So many groups and parties are moving against each other, sometimes with knowledge of the others and sometimes with people being caught completely unaware. But with so much going on and so many characters, it was confusing at times for me to really keep track of what was going on, how each person fit into the story, and where things were headed. It was an intriguing story, but difficult to follow at times, to be sure.

This is the second book in a trilogy (the third book is yet to be released), but I had no problems following the story. The reliance on the events of the first book is light, and what readers need to know is referenced with enough detail for it all to make sense.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from BloggingForBooks in exchange for an honest review.]

The New World by Andrew Motion

The New World by Andrew MotionTitle: The New World (Return to Treasure Island, Book 2)
Author: Andrew Motion
Published: July 14, 2015
Pages: 368
Publisher: Crown
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

After washing ashore after what he was certain was his death, Jim Hawkins finds he has somehow survived–a fate almost everyone else onboard the Nightingale did not share. But his companion Natty has made it to shore with him, and they’ll need to find their way. When they’re intercepted by a tribe of natives and imprisoned, they know their choices are limited. When they find a moment to escape they expect they will never get again, they take the chance. But they soon learn it’s not as easy as just getting out of the village, and the new American South is nothing like the home–a home they hope they will both get a chance to see again someday.

This is a sequel, but I don’t think you need to have read the first book to follow the story. The adventure here is pretty self-contained, and any references to previous events are shared with enough context to understand what’s going on.

If you’re a fan of an epic adventure, you’ll enjoy this. Jim and Natty are on the move from very early on in the book, and their pursuers are hot on their trail. There are twists and turns to keep you guessing as a reader, and it’s never quite clear how it’s all going to resolve until it gets there. I picked this up on a bit of a whim, to be honest, but I’m glad I did. It’s a departure from everything else I’ve been reading lately, and a refreshing one at that.

[I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

Armada by Ernest Cline

Armada by Ernest Cline

Title: Armada
Author: Ernest Cline
Published: July 14, 2015
Pages: 355
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Zack Lightman lives for video games. He plays them and excels at them, and his after school job just happens to be in an arcade and game store. And the game he’s the best at is Armada, a space invader multiplayer flight battle simulation. But maybe there’s a bit more to his talent and obsession than even he realizes on its face. And he quickly learns there is much more to the video game he’s been playing than he could have imagined when he starts seeing the machines from the game in the sky near his school. Thankfully all those hours at his computer have helped prepare him for what’s to come.

If you take Ender’s Game and set it on modern Earth, you’ll get something like Armada. Video games as a training ground for an epic space battle against an alien race? A protagonist who is involved in an altercation that indicates he might have anger issues? Being thrown into battle before one is ready? A leadership that isn’t completely honest about the facts of how things got to where they are? Yeah, it’s all here. It’s not the exact same story, obviously, but it’s clear what inspired this tale very early on and throughout the book.

While it’s likely imperative to make the story work, the ease with which Zack is able to do things and get out of troublesome situations quickly seemed a bit much to me. Even in science fiction, I like to have a fair sense of a realistic basis–I didn’t think we got that as much as we could with this protagonist. That said, it wasn’t too much that I turned me off completely.

Ultimately, this was an entertaining read–and a quick one, too, despite its length. I think fans of science fiction, especially space opera (and extra points for those who enjoyed Ender’s Game, would enjoy this book, as well.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

Bradstreet Gate by Robin Kirman

23395729Title: Bradstreet Gate
Author: Robin Kirman
Published: July 7, 2015
Pages: 320
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★☆☆

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.]

Alice, Charlie, and Georgia begin their studies at Harvard each with the promise of a bright future. Their paths cross and they quickly form a unique sort of friendship. But when the campus is rocked by the murder of one of their classmates, the secrets that the three of them have kept from each other might prove enough to pull them apart forever. And while they all three want to put the murder behind them when they leave campus, they find that it might just continue to follow them–individually and collectively–until they can find a way to make peace with themselves and each other…

One of the hallmarks here is the vivid characters, which made it very easy to connect to them as a reader. There’s a depth and complexity to each of them, but it is effortlessly presented, which is something I always appreciate when I’m reading. The story here is on the darker side, and I find that many authors will let the plot take the spotlight in these types of stories. But that’s not true here, as this is very much a character-driven story and they shine through all three parts of the novel.

I honestly was hoping for a bit more of a specific resolution when I reached the end of the story. But after reflecting after putting the book down, I think that it does wrap up in a way that is fitting for the tone and nature of the story. There are still some twists and revelations, even if all the answers aren’t given before reaching the back cover.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

23363928Title: The Library at Mount Char
Author: Scott Hawkins
Published: June 16, 2015
Pages: 388
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

I usually try to start off a review with a brief summary of the plot (main themes/storylines and such) before going into my thoughts about the book. But this is one where I don’t know where to start because any attempt to summarize this book would no doubt fall way short of doing it anything close to justice. And while it’s not a disjointed story by any means, there are just so many themes and takeaways here that I could probably write an entire treatise on the depth that exists within this book. That said, I will make an (admittedly feeble) attempt to present the gist of the story so you will know if it might be for you (though I will say that if you like fantasy–especially urban fantasy–anything dark, or character-driven stories with an interesting array of side characters, this is probably a must read).

Carolyn is a librarian. But she’s not the kind of librarian you think of when you hear that word. No, she is one of twelve students of a man she knows as Father, a very powerful man who adopted her and her now siblings when she was a child. Father has a vast library and each of his twelve students is responsible for reading, understanding, and mastering a specific catalog from within the library. But these books, like their owner, are not ordinary, and the power that they contain is beyond what a normal American could ever imagine. And Father will settle for nothing but the highest level of effort, success, and obedience from his students–even if he must use brute force to get it.

But now Father has gone missing and the librarians have reassembled to try to find out where he’s gone and if he’s okay. The dynamics between Carolyn and her siblings aren’t what an outsider would necessarily describe as functional, but they do all have a vested interest in finding the man who raised them and getting back into the library to continue their studies. But to do so, they will need to enlist the help of some outsiders–Americans–and their involvement quickly reveals there is much more going on here than meets the eye…

This book definitely seems a little strange at first, but that’s because it is different. And until you get a sense of Carolyn and the initial backstory, it’s easy to wonder what exactly is going on. But don’t worry, you’ll wonder that through most of the book, but in different ways with each chapter. As it all starts to come together, if you’re like me, you will be in awe at the foreshadowing and the various other hints that have been dropped along the way.

Hawkins does an excellent job of keeping the story moving forward and occasionally inserting what he labels as ‘Interludes’ which take readers back in time before the story to provide just enough of Carolyn’s past to better understand what is going on in the present. And the character dynamics and interactions do not disappoint at all.

I definitely give this a very high recommendation. It’s up there among the best books I’ve read so far this year, and I’m glad I picked it up.