Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

The Lake House by Kate Morton

Title: The Lake House
Author: Kate Morton
Publication date: October 20, 2015
Number of pages: 678
Series: none
Synopsis: From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, an intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heartstopping suspense and uncovered secrets.
Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…
One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.
Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.
A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I can’t express my love for this book enough. While I usually don’t read mysteries, the genre is among my favorites to read if written and paced well. In my opinion, mystery books are both hard to read and write because the author has to know what happens without making it blatant to the reader from the beginning. This book definitely kept me guessing and second guessing myself. Another thing I like about this book was the cozy aspect of it as it was set in a small town.
Firstly, I loved how unique the book is, or at least to me it is, in that it switches between the present and the past to convey the story. This switch was especially interesting because it added more mystery to the plot. Since Morton switched between time periods, I was left wondering what would happen next, whose version of a story was true, and how everything connected. Again, I like how Morton wove this story because I wasn’t exactly sure of the timeline of events until the very end.
Second, I really liked the writing style, characters and plot in this book. The characters were all likeable, and each had a story of their own that needed to be told. The characters also had their own issues that were resolved in some way through their interactions with the other characters in the novel. Each characters’ story also helped to develop that specific character as well as the rest of the characters and plot. The writing in the book was full of details and I found myself trying to dissect each one for a possible clue to the mystery. Each detail was divulged at the moment when I thought I had the puzzle figured out, causing me to analyze the new detail and try to fit it into what I already had. The contrast between the cozy setting and the overarching storyline was well written, giving the book both a sense of comfort and a deeper sense of foreboding. I know, it seems confusing, but I promise that if you read the story you’ll understand what I mean.
My only complaints with the book would be the pacing and ending. In terms of pacing, I found it a little slow at times. Sure, it was mostly great, but sometimes I felt there were extra descriptions and details that weren’t needed. The beginning of the story had both too many details and too few details, which made it a little hard to get into. While I can understand Morton might have done this on purpose to create that sense of foreboding and comfort and give people cause to overanalyze everything, I found it to be a little overwhelming at times. In my oppinion, the balance between too many and too few details was a little distorted, detracting from the beginning and some middle parts. While I liked the ending and how things turned out for the characters, I felt that the last chapter/epologue could have been expanded upon a little. Still, I really liked how Morton wrapped everything up.
Overall, this was a great mystery that incorporated past and present in a unique way. It’s plot, characters, and writing style all helped to develop the mystery and a sense of intrigue. I would definitely recommend this to mystery lovers looking for the action and suspense of a mystery, while having a cozy setting.


Review: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Title: The Lightning Thief
Author: Rick Riordan
Publication date: June 28, 2005
Number of pages: 377
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Number in series: 1
Synopsis: Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse—Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena—Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This book is exactly what comes to mind when I think of middle grade bordering on yung adult books. Not only was it extremely well written, but the character and plot development, pacing, and humur really made this book what it is. The incorporation of Greek mythology into today’s society also makes this book really unique because it uses the myths and our society to create a new version of our world. Without changing much of our world, Riordan weaves the myths into it in a believable way that doesn’t seem overly outlandish.
Percy Jackson, the main character, is absolutely one of the funniest characters I’ve ever read. I really enjoyed seeing things through his eyes as it helped me connect with him and appreciate his humur. The male perspective was also really refreshing, and in my opinion adds something different to the genre. Most mythological retellings I’ve heard about are usually told through a female’s perspective, so the fact that this wasn’t adds a new dimension to the retelling and myths. Percy’s age also makes this book unique as most retellings are either told from an older teens perspective or from an adult point of view. Plus, his age makes the books enjoyable by everyone as it engages younger readers, older teens, and adults who might want to remember their youth.
The other characters in the novel were also really unique and added their own touches to the novel. Annabeth, a child of Athena, added brains, wisecracks, and her own special humor to the novel. As an experienced demigod Percy meets at Camp Halfblood, Annabeth is able to help him navigate the newfound parts of the world and their politics. She is also amazing at explaining the myths to Percy, and in turn, the reader. Grover, a satyr, is integral to the story because he introduces Percy to the world he’s a part of. He also helps out along the way, and acts as a mediator between Percy and the Greek world to ease Percy into everything. All three of these main characters’ developments was so much fun to read about because they all had something they needed to develop–whether it be knowledge, people skills, courage, or faith in themselves and others. Lastly, these characters were integral in the development of the plot and the rest of the characters and events that happened in the book.
Again, the inclusion of Greek mythology is amazing! I especially like how the myths are explained without prior assumptions that the reader will know them. Even for knowing most of the common myths introduced in this book, I had forgotten, or didn’t know the full story. Riordan also does a great job at shaping old myths and current events in the book around our past and current society. Events such as storms, hurricanes, and wars were shaped around the Gods, Greek myths, and demigods. Even so, Riordan shaped these myths into the events in a credible way that didn’t change the events themselves, but added a touch of magic to them.
The pacing in this book was well written and didn’t feel bumpy–it wasn’t overly fast or slow. I didn’t feel as if I was missing chunks at the beginning or that it was too rushed. Riordan kept the pacing consisstant throughout the novel, slowing and quickening at the proper parts while keeping the action level high throughout the book. Even at the end, the writing and characters kept the pacing steady.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it to Greek myth enthusiasts. If you’re an adult and are hesitant to pick this up because of the age classification, all I can say is to give it a try because the writing in this book offers something for everyone.

Review: Someone Like Him by Ann Herrick

Someone Like Him by Ann Herrick

Title: Someone Like Him
Author: Ann Herrick
Publication date: March 3, 2016
Number of pages: 125
Series: none
Synopsis: City girl, country guy. Will opposites attract—or clash?
When New-York-City girl Emily visits her cousin Janelle in Oregon, Emily wonders how she’ll survive the wilderness. Janelle wonders if the wilderness will survive Emily’s visit—and if she can convince her cousin to help save part of an old-growth forest.
Meanwhile, Emily also wonders if a big-city girl can get along with a county guy—named Bret. Under forest canopies and by crystal-clear waters she struggles with her growing attraction to him. But they’re so different. Whoever thought she’d fall for someone like him?

I received a copy of this book from the author on a read to review basis in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I really liked how lighthearted and sweet this book was. Seeing the events that went on through Emily’s point of view helped me connect with her and appreciate her growth as a character. She really changed, learning to appreciate the wilderness and the differences between her lifestyle and that of her cousin. I also liked seeing her growth from a New York city girl into an open-minded girl who broadened her knowledge and wasn’t so quick to dismiss things. Seeing her cousins development was also really interesting because she really got out of her shell. As a somewhat shy person myself, seeing this played out really struck with me as I struggle to let loose sometimes, which like Janelle can make it hard to talk to people.
I also really enjoyed seeing the development of a sweet romance between Emily and Bret, and Janelle and Seth. The romance was slowly built, allowing me to see all of the parts, the slow growth of a crush, and then the romance itself. Sadly, I can’t really say much because the book was so short. Still, I thought the romance was well written and would have liked to see more of each phase as well as each of the girls’ thoughts.
Like I said, my biggest complaint with this book had to be the length; I thought this book was extremely short and would have liked a longer book to see more of the development in Emily, her cousin, Bret, and Seth. Had the book been longer, I think the author could have made a five star book that showed Emily’s full development as well as the development of all the relationships in the story. Due to the length of the book, I felt the development of all of the characters, although well-written and sweet to read about was extremely rushed, leaving out details that truly demonstrated their growth. I honestly felt that I would have appreciated the development more if it had not been so sudden–one second I was reading about Emily being a city girl with no appreciation for the wilderness and the next, she really appreciated it. The story itself would probably have been a little smoother had it been longer as the author could have given more background on Emily and her cousin’s homelife.
The second problem I had with this was minor, but still really annoying. I can’t believe that Emily didn’t know what S’mores or bigfoot are. Sure, she’s from New York, but still… They sell S’more flavored cookies, s’mores, and other things in stores. Also, with the internet around, as well as documentaries, I find it hard to believe she’s never even heard of bigfoot. She may be from the city, but these things she supposedly didn’t know are extremely hard to believe. To me, this was an exaggeration of what a city girl placed in the wilderness is like.
Overall, I thought the romance in Someone Like Him was really cute and liked seeing the development, but I found the book extremely short and some things a little unbelievable.