Archives For 3 stars

learningtoswimLearning to Swim by Sara J. Henry

Publisher: Crown Publishers (a division of Random House Books)
Publication Date: February 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 289 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense

The Blurb

“If I’d blinked, I would have missed it. But I didn’t, and I saw something fall from the rear deck of the opposite ferry: a small, wide-eyed human face, in one tiny frozen moment, as it plummeted toward the water.”

When she witnesses a small child tumbling from a ferry into Lake Champlain, Troy Chance dives in without thinking. Harrowing moments later, she bobs to the surface, pulling a terrified little boy with her. As the ferry disappears into the distance, she begins a bone-chilling swim nearly a mile to shore with a tiny passenger on her back.

Surprisingly, he speaks only French. He’ll acknowledge that his name is Paul; otherwise, he’s resolutely mute.

Troy assumes that Paul’s frantic parents will be in touch with the police or the press. But what follows is a shocking and deafening silence. And Troy, a freelance writer, finds herself as fiercely determined to protect Paul as she is to find out what happened to him. What she uncovers will take her into a world of wealth and privilege and heedless self-indulgence—a world in which the murder of a child is not unthinkable. She’ll need skill and courage to survive and protect her charge and herself.

Sara J. Henry’s powerful and compelling Learning to Swim will move and disturb readers right up to its shattering conclusion.

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My Thoughts

For me, this book was just OK. I went into it hoping for a lot more than it actually delivered. I was expecting a book full of suspense, a thriller – I mean, a little boy is thrown off a ferry, the synopsis hints at a great story, but it completely missed the mark. There wasn’t suspense, and what the synopsis hints at never comes about. I kept anxiously waiting for the big reveal only to be left disappointed. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a good book – it was well-written and the plot was OK, it just misrepresented itself which was a let-down. It was slow in the middle of the book, nothing eventful really happened, but there was a lot of character development done there.

The character of Troy was likeable but I found she made really weird decisions that makes the book as a whole hard to believe. She finds a boy and decides that she loves him so she doesn’t turn him in to the police – then tries to solve the case on her own. She uses Google to find the boy’s father (who has managed to keep a kidnapping out of the media for several months, by the way) and decides to drive up to Ottawa to see if he could kill his own son.  Then moves in with the guy – but not in a romantic sense. She just drops everything and moves in to help with Paul. Because that would be the normal thing to do. I felt the ending was a bit far-fetched but it wrapped up the book nicely, and I suppose in this crazy world it could be plausible.

A small problem I had with the book was all the little asides about Canada and how Canadians live. I felt that it stopped the flow and detracted from the story. The cultural differences between Canada and the USA aren’t that big, so to me it felt unnecessary to stop the story progression in several places to explain to the reader these slight differences. I didn’t have a problem when it was worked into a scene (like Troy’s brother trying poutine for the first time, so Troy had to explain it to him before he tried it), it was the little side comments during narration that annoyed me.

It sounds like I hated this book, lol – I didn’t hate it. I thought it was OK. Enjoyable, even. It was just misrepresented. If you go into it knowing that it’s not going to be a mystery or thriller, and more like contemporary fiction, I think it would be a better read.

My Rating: 3 stars

**EDIT**

Sara J. Henry stopped by the blog to give me an updated synopsis, one that I think is a lot truer to the book, so here it is:

When she sees what looks like a child tumbling from a ferry into frigid Lake Champlain, Troy Chance dives in without thinking. When she gets the child to shore she discovers that his name is Paul, he speaks only French—and no one seems to be looking for him. Her determination to protect Paul pulls Troy from her quiet life in a small Adirondack town into an unfamiliar world of wealth and privilege in Canada and then in Vermont. Her attachment to him—and the danger she faces when she tries to unravel the mystery of his abandonment—force her to evaluate everything she thought true about herself. Sara J. Henry’s riveting, award-winning debut will keep readers engrossed right up to its shattering conclusion.

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This is a bit different for me, since this is a series of prequels leading up to the release of the first book in The Grimm Diaries series, Snow White Sorrow. I decided the best way to do it is to group the prequels together in bundles, since they are such short reads, and review them all together. I noticed after downloading the prequels that this book is getting quite a bit of buzz on GoodReads.com right now, and not all of the buzz is favorable. I haven’t read the book(s) that this one is being likened to so, without any comparisons, this will be a completely honest review.

What if all you knew about fairy tales was wrong?


Snow White Blood Red by Cameron Jace

The Blurb

I have always wondered why you never asked about my name. Was I so superficial to you? So stereotypical and mundane? Why did you treat me as if I were just the monster of the week? You know what I think? You never had the time to really hate me. You wanted to hate me, long before you even met me. You wanted to scrape my existence and avenge your childhood princess by laying all blame on me. What if they didn’t call me the Evil Queen, what if I told you the real story from my point of view instead of hers, would you ever think of me as an angel? Could I ever make you care? I know that deep inside of you, you adore me,but you’re just scared, afraid to admit how much you love the Snow White Queen.

My Thoughts
This short story just sucked me right in. This one is in the form of a letter from the Snow White Queen to one of the Brothers Grimm, and it pulled me right along. I’m not usually into vampires and paranormal stuff, but for whatever reason, this one grabbed my attention (possibly because I like the idea of how the author is building up anticipation for his book Snow White Sorrow).

Anyhow, back to this short story/prequel. It has a prologue in which we learn the basics of the story – the Brothers Grimm and the fairy tales not being true. And then we read the Snow White Queen’s version of events – which was actually really interesting. The author has managed to stir together several fairy tales, letting on that these characters all know each other. It’s a short little tale, but it’s got my curiosity piqued – and I’m quite excited for the debut of the novel (and now I’m off to read the next of the prequels).

My Rating: 4 stars

Ashes to Ashes and Cinder to Cinder by Cameron Jace

The Blurb

Seventeen-year-old Alice Grimm lives a dangerously enchanted live. Other than being distracted by a Dreamhunter called Loki Blackstar who has a heart of gold but acts like a jerk, she has a job to do. Being a descendant of the Brothers Grimm, she is one of few in the world who can locate the fairy tale characters and remind them of who they are. This time, Alice flies to Venice where an 800 hundred year old witch’s skeleton surrounded with seventeen glass slippers was found by archeologists in the city that invented the art of glassblowing. When Alice and Loki follow the lead, they find one of the fairy tale characters she had been searching for. It’s a famous girl character that you know by name, but never really knew what actually happened to her.

My Thoughts

In this prequel to The Grimm Diaries series, we are introduced to Loki (a Dreamhunter who, I understand, is going to be a big part of the first book, if not the whole series), and Alice Grimm. And we are treated to the usual YA girl-meets-boy-but-doesn’t-want-to-admit-she-likes-him banter between them. It was amusing, albeit slightly over-the-top, and their dialogue made me smile in a couple places. In this one, we learn the story behind Cinderella…or at least the very beginning, mixed in with some historical fact. Jace does a good job of using these prequels to sell the stories he’s about to tell – expertly explaining (without being too obvious) parts that will be important in the series.

My Rating: 3 stars

Beauty Never Dies by Cameron Jace

The Blurb

Peter Pan has a plan. Since it’s been hundred years since his friends were all cursed by the Brothers Grimm, he is about to wake up Sleeping Beauty, his eternal lover. Oops, you didn’t know that. Blame it on the Grimms.

But in the middle of the ceremony, he is visited by the Evil Queen who manipulates him into helping her with information about Snow White. This or she will expose him as he has been secretly kidnapping kids to help him rebuild Neverland in the Dreamworld.

After the deal is made, Peter continues with the ceremony, bringing Sleeping Beauty back into life. What Sleeping Beauty is capable of and who she really is are like nothing ever written in the books.

My Thoughts

Well, this one was a surprise…a big one. Here we reunite with the first prequel, and meet Peter Pan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Count Dracula, and Sleeping Beauty as Jace now weaves characters from other authors into his storytelling, drawing them in on what I hope will be some elaborate plot. It’s told from the point-of-view of Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up…and he acts (and talks) like a kid. I’m not sure yet if that’s annoying or endearing. Now the plot thickens, as the Evil Queen tries to figure out the clues of the Lost Seven (aka The Seven Dwarfs), while Peter Pan is very little help at all. The writing is juvenile in places, but it’s entertaining enough to keep me wanting to read, I’m starting to get high hopes for the plot of the book.

My Rating: 3 stars

Watch for my thoughts on The Grimm Diaries Prequels #4-6, and (once the book is published), my review of Snow White Sorrow. If you’re interested in picking up these prequels, they’re just $0.99 each on Amazon (for Kindle only), you can grab them here.