Book Review: DOLLHOUSE by Anya Allyn

Genre: YA, Paranormal, Mystery

Released on: September 2012 *new Kindle edition available May 20th, 2014 by Paper Lantern Lit Imprint

Pages: 205

Buy the book:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Dollhouse-Anya-Allyn

Goodreads Summary:

Dress-up turns deadly. . . When Cassie’s best friend, Aisha, disappears during a school hike, Cassie sets off with Aisha’s boyfriend Ethan and their best friend Lacey, determined to find her. But the mist-enshrouded mountains hold many secrets, and what the three teens discover is far more disturbing than any of them imagined: beneath a rundown mansion in the woods lies an underground cavern full of life-size toys and kidnapped girls forced to dress as dolls. Even as Cassie desperately tries to escape the Dollhouse, she finds herself torn between her forbidden feelings for Ethan, and her intense, instinctive attraction to The Provider, a man Cassie swears she has known before… Because Cassie’s capture wasn’t accidental, and the Dollhouse is more than just a prison where her deepest fears come true—it’s a portal for the powers of darkness. And Cassie may be the only one who can stop it.

My Review:

I first want to start by saying that I recieved a kindle edition of this book from the wonderful folks at Paper Lantern Lit, a great organization I’ve had the pleasure of working with for almost two years now. They sent me a copy in exchange for an honest review, so, here it is.

I was so surprised by this book. Most of the ARCs I recieve from PLL just don’t seem to hit home for me. They ususally fall flat and I end up disliking the books. So, going into this I was a little on edge. But the summary enticed me enough to start it upon first recieving the email with this book attached.

Right away we are thrown into the scene of the crime – quite literally in fact. The deed of the kidnapping has already taken place and we are thrown into the fray of wondering what the heck happened and why was their friend taken? In that first scene we also meet our main characters and immediately I can get a sense of who these characters are and what they’re like. This author uses a lot of the dialogue to really get across how a character is and how they are as a person. Which is different from the usual, “let me use my main character’s inner monologue to tell you all about her friends and her life.” Nothing like that. It’s quite refreshing.

I had a hard time really relating to the main character, could be because she’s only fifteen (as is pretty much all the characters in the book, besides the small children/dolls), or it could be because she’s sort of one dimensional? Hard to explain, but let me try.

The main character, Cassie, has a troubled past. We don’t know what it is in full detail, only that she has one. She’s afraid of the dark. She’s afraid of creepy houses. She’s afraid of the man who lives in said creepy house. Then she’s afraid of confessing her feelings to the guy she likes. It just seemed like the main character was always afraid of something. It made it a bit difficult to swallow it all. Almost like beating a dead horse. Wasn’t completely off-putting but it definitely didn’t make me feel sympathy for Cassie. I get that all humans are afraid of stuff, but we also find joy in a lot of other stuff. If you were to ask me what Cassie likes to do on her spare time, I couldn’t tell you because I don’t know. If you ask me what Cassie’s scared of, I got you. Hopefully that makes sense.

But I think towards the end of the book (especially the very end) there is redemption for this character in my eyes. I guess that’s the whole point of first novels – to create that journey from fearful to fearless – and Cassie definitely starts to comfront the very heart of her fears in the end. I was so cheering for her in the end like, “Go girl!” …Which brings me to the ending…

I was SO frustrated with the ending! I mean, talk about MAJOR CLIFFHANGER. But then again, it was so fitting. It almost felt like a slavery to freedom story in that Cassie finally broke free of her chains/fears and her freedom was whatever she saw in the end (trying to avoid spoilers, sorry!). For that reason, it seemed right that we didn’t see what she saw at the very end. We’re kinda left in the wild to assume what we want and create our own version. Always a nice touch. But, still. I sat there for a good half hour just like “wtf, how could the author do this to me?!” But that’s always a good sign of a good book 😉

Overall, not a bad read. Finished it in one sitting of about two and half hours…I kept getting distracted by my popcorn. Anyway!

MY RATING: 3.5/5

P.S. Isn’t the cover absolutely beautiful? Mesmerizing.

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Book Review: THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS by Sarah Ockler

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Released on: May 20th, 2014 by Simon Pulse (first published May 21st, 2013)

Pages: 384

The-Book-of-Broken-Hearts-Sarah-Ockler

Buy the book:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Indiebound

Goodreads Summary:

When all signs point to heartbreak, can love still be a rule of the road? A poignant and romantic novel from the author ofBittersweet and Twenty Boy Summer.

Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.

Opening Sentence: 

The law of probability dictates that with three older sisters, a girl shall inherit at least one pair of cute shorts that actually fit. Agreed?

My Review: 

I knew from reading that first sentence that I was going to like this book. If not the book, then at least the main character Jude Hernandez. But that was no problem! I loved the book.

I’ll start by saying that writing a book where one of the characters has Alzheimers is difficult. It’s a delicate and touchy subject that, like most books where disease is mentioned, should be treaded lightly. But I felt that Ockler executed it perfectly. I felt the pain and heartache that Jude felt. I felt the confliction of doing what’s best for her daughters to helping her husband that Mama felt. I even felt the sense of protection that Jude’s sisters had when it came to telling Jude the truth of the situation.

But I think the one factor of this book that won be completely over was the sense of culture. Ockler got it DOWN. I could smell the empanadas in the kitchen. I could hear the spanish tongue whenever it was spoken. The sense of family was so, so strong. As a hispanic female, I thought it was all accurate.

I love Ockler’s writing style in this book. It was so character driven and her character of Jude has a very strong voice that carries weight as the story progresses. Jude’s quick wit, her snark – all characteristics I got from her voice and loved about her. Even when she felt embarrased about something I could feel that embarrasment through her voice. It was very compelling.

The chemistry between Emilio and Jude is hot hot hoooot. It’s definitely not an insta-love, thank god. But you can see the parts where it becomes more than just Emilio’s flirty banter, more than Jude staying away because of an oath. You can see the parts where it started to become love and that was beautiful.

The ending left me so incredibly satisfied. I love Jude’s dad – HE ROCKS! But it was also heartwrenching to see her dad become self aware, meaning he understands just how much pain he’s bringing to his family and the heavy burden he’s become. Even if his family doesn’t see him that way, that’s how he feels. So the end was definitely a moment where Jude’s dad put his foot down on what needed to be done, and it gives Jude the strength to do the same. With that said, their father-daughter relationship was my favorite in the book (with Emilio and Jude a close second). Their dynamic was so touching and reverent.

Simply beautiful.

MY RATING: 4/5 

CoHF Surprise?? + CoHF VLOG!

Hey ya’ll

The TMI madness continues! Yesterday my friend and I recorded a bit of a video where we review and discuss City of Heavenly Fire. It was a lot of fun to film and absolute hell to edit, but it definitely brought to light some of the flaws in CoHF, not just the great things about it.

Anyway. I’ll post it in a moment. First, I wanted to post my CoHF Surprise chronicles! The day of release for CoHF was a mess. My special signed edition did not come in the mail when it was supposed to and I was really upset about that. My advice? Don’t pre-order books from Barnes and Noble if you want the book ON release day. Pre-order from Amazon instead. Or just go to Target or Walmart on release day because Target offered great bonus content such as an illustrated deleted scene from CoHF. It’s adorable and I love Cassandra Jean’s art!

So there are 3 parts to my CoHF Surprises series that are up on my YouTube channel. Please watch and enjoy my distress.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-cbD8tA2eY (part 1)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etRbNEW8zYA (part 2)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGT0VJFKSRs (part 3)

Next, as I said before, the vlog for City of Heavenly Fire Review, is also up on my Youtube Channel, so please please go watch. Be warned, IT HAS SPOILERS. Actually the entire video has spoilers so, just be aware of that. Go watch (if you’ve read the book) and tell me some of your thoughts. I’m genuinly curious to know what ya’ll think.

Thanks, guys! That’s all for today.

Be well,

Alex