Review: Babyville by Jane Green

Title: Babyville
Author: Jane Green
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Broadway
Format: paperback
Rating: 3/5
Read for: 2011 Chick-Lit Challenge

Meet Julia, a wildly successful television producer who appears to have the picture-perfect life. But beneath the surface, things are not as perfect as they seem. Stuck in a loveless relationship with her boyfriend, Mark, Julia thinks a baby is the answer . . . but she may want a baby more than she wants her boyfriend. Will a trip to New York City with a jet-setting friend—and all the glittering energy and eligible men the city brings—help her discover what she really needs?
Maeve, on the other hand, is allergic to commitment. A feisty, red-haired, high-power career girl, she cherishes her ability to do just as she pleases and breaks out in a rash every time she passes a stroller. But when her no-strings-attached nightlife leads to an unexpected pregnancy, her reaction may be just as unexpected.And then there’s Samantha—happily married and eager to be the perfect June Cleaveresque mother. But baby George brings only exhaustion, extra pounds, and marital strife to her once tidy life. Is having an affair with a friend’s incredibly sexy husband the answer? (goodreads.com)

My Thoughts

The book is broken into three parts: Julia’s story, Maeve’s story, and Sam’s story.

I’ll admit that I got a little frustrated with Julia, whose only focus is having a baby in order to save her relationship. I kept wishing that she would just take a step back and realize that a baby would have probably caused more problems between herself and Mark, but instead she just becomes more and more obsessed until her friend suggests she go to New York for vacation. I was so glad that she went to New York, if only because it was a little rough reading about how jealous Julia was getting when she happened to run into someone at a coffee shop or on the street that had a baby when she couldn’t have one. It was such a relief to see her having fun and not thinking about having a baby.

Maeve’s story overlaps with Julia’s, because when Julia leaves her company to go on an extended vacation in New York, Maeve takes Julia’s place at the company. The summary is a little harsh towards Maeve, who is not necessarily so drastically opposed to having a baby but is just not interested. She is career-driven and a refreshing change from Julia’s baby-obsessed ramblings.

Of course, Maeve doesn’t just take Julia’s place at the office, but seemingly in her old house (in which it is repeatedly said that Julia was not comfortable in such a large house and much preferred a tiny flat) with her old boyfriend. Oh, Maeve. Maeve’s section ends with her in labor, and then it switches.

Sam is the classic over-stressed, bored, stay-at-home mom who wants to go back to work but at the same time doesn’t want to leave her little one with anyone else. She is bored with play dates with other moms with children the same age as little George, and she is frustrated because her husband doesn’t seem to want to help her with their son.

Sam sees an opening when she and her husband agree to have dinner with his co-worker and her husband. He flirts openly with her, and Sam finds herself attracted. I wondered sometimes if it was simply her attraction to the attention, and less to the man himself, that had her worked up into a tizzy. It’s a little heartbreaking to see Sam realize that he is just leading her on, but I was also glad to see that she returns her sights to her husband when she realizes that a fling isn’t what she needs after all.

I sometimes enjoyed the book, and sometimes I didn’t. Maeve’s section is the only one written in first person, and it went by really quickly. I got bogged down in both Julia’s and Sam’s sections, but Sam’s was at least a little more interesting because she learns that she can have a job and be a stay-at-home mom all at once, and she has the extra dilemma of being one of Julia’s best friends and befriending Maeve, whom she initially sees as the enemy but is later glad to have as a friend.

Overall, I’m a little torn about it, but it’s a fun read none-the-less.

Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Title: Revolution
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: hardback
Rating: 3.5/5
Read for: Amazon Best of 2010 Challenge

Brooklyn: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.
Paris: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fatal encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want–and couldn’t escape.
Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages–until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

My Thoughts

It took me almost a week to get through this book. Not because it’s a particularly difficult read in terms of language, but because I was just not interested. It took almost half the book before I was interested, and by that point I was ready to put it down and put a DNF (did not finish) on the rating.
Andi comes across as a self-centered, rich, spoiled brat, and that’s mostly because she is. She speaks to her headmistress at her private school however she pleases, and in Andi’s case, she’s rather rude. She back-talks her father. She smokes pot, because she’s bored and it’s the “thing” to do.
It wasn’t until Andi comes across Alexandrine’s diary that I began to get interested, and I was more interested in Alex’s story than I was Andi’s. I just couldn’t bring myself to care about Andi’s self-pity party, but Alex’s story about the king and queen of France, and the Dauphin, was a lot more interesting and I found myself looking forward to the diary entries.
Overall, I thought the book was okay. It was an interesting read, but I found it hard to identify with the main character.

Review: American Assassin by Vince Flynn

Title: American Assassin
Author: Vince Flynn
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Atria (Simon & Schuster)
Format: hardback
Rating: 3.5/5
Read for: Amazon Best of 2010 Challenge

Before he was considered a CIA superagent, before he was thought of as a terrorist’s worst nightmare, and before he was both loathed and admired by the politicians on Capitol Hill, Mitch Rapp was a gifted college athlete without a care in the world… and then tragedy struck.
Two decades of cutthroat, partisan politics have left the CIA and the country in an increasingly vulnerable position. Cold War veteran and CIA Operations Director Thomas Stansfield knows he must prepare his people for the next war. The rise of Islamic terrorism is coming, and it needs to be met abroad before it reaches America’s shores. Stansfield directs his protegee, Irene Kennedy, and his old Cold War colleague, Stan Hurley, to form a new group of clandestine operatives who will work outside the normal chain of command–men who do not exist.
What type of man is willing to kill for his country without putting on a uniform? Kennedy finds him in the wake of the Pan Am Lockerbie terrorist attack. Two hundred and seventy souls perished that cold December night, and thousands of family and friends were left searching for comfort. Mitch Rapp was one of them, but he was not interested in comfort. He wanted retribution.
Six months of intense training have prepared him to bring the war to the enemy’s doorstep, and he does so with brutal efficiency. Rapp starts in Istanbul, where he assassinates the Turkish arms dealer who sold the explosives used in the Pan Am attack. Rapp then moves on to Hamburg with his team and across Europe, leaving a trail of bodies. All roads lead to Beirut, though, and what Rapp doesn’t know is that the enemy is aware of his existance and has prepared a trap. The hunter is about to become the hunted, and Rapp will need every ounce of skill and cunning if he is to survive the war-ravaged city and its various terrorist factions.

My Thoughts

I flew through the first half of the book. I couldn’t get enough. The second half got a little more bogged down, more political, and I had a hard time keeping track of names. Eventually, I gave up trying to keep track. It was much more interesting to read about Mitch Rapp, so that’s what I did.
I’m a little torn about this book. Initially, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After reading the synopsis, I thought maybe it would be a bit like Jason Bourne, only without the memory loss, and I was some-what right. But Mitch Rapp comes across as already a little bit super-human before he even goes into training to be a “superagent”, whatever that is, and it took a little bit of the reality out of it for me. Mitch Rapp is not military–he’s a fresh-out-of-college athlete. I got a little lost with that; somehow, being a natural athlete made him capable of learning everything fairly easily, and not only the physical stuff.
Anyway, overall I really liked the book, but spies aren’t really my cup-of-tea. I’m interested in Rapp’s character enough to try to start at the beginning of the series (this was book eleven).

Review: The Cellar by A.J. Whitten

Title: The Cellar
Author: A.J. Whitten (Shirley & Amanda Jump)
Obtained: ARC obtained from publisher via netgalley (cover image obtained from publisher’s website)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: digital
Rating: 3.5/5
Release date: May 2011

Blurb (from the publisher’s website)

Meredith Willis is suspicious of Adrien, the new guy next door. When she dares to sneak a look into the windows of his house, she sees something in the cellar that makes her believe that Adrien might be more than just a creep—he may be an actual monster.
 But her sister, Heather, doesn’t share Meredith’s repulsion. Heather believes Adrien is the only guy who really understands her. In fact, she may be falling in love with him. When Adrien and Heather are cast as the leads in the school production of Romeo and Juliet, to Heather, it feels like fate. To Meredith, it feels like a bad omen. But if she tries to tear the couple apart, she could end up in the last place she’d ever want to be: the cellar. Can Meredith convince her sister that she’s dating the living dead before it’s too late for both of them?

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Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Title: Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Format: hardback
Rating: 3/5
Read for: 2011 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. (from dust jacket)

 

My Thoughts

The book started slowly for me, but it picked up pace quickly and by the time I was 3/4 of the way through, I couldn’t put it down.
I had a hard time starting it because, despite the interesting premise, the book itself just couldn’t hold my attention. I felt like I was reading a recap of last week’s episode: “Last week, on Hex Hall.” Really, it didn’t start picking up momentum until almost halfway through the book. The first half was like a trip back to high school for me.
Although I did find this quote on page 277 hilarious: “‘my gaping chest wound, let me show you it.'” Really, I almost died laughing. I wanted to go create a LOLcat image for it. It was just so wildly out of place from the rest of the book, but it was also appropriate for the scene.
Overall, I thought the book was okay. I’m interested enough to want to read the sequel, Demonglass.

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Title: Found
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Obtained: Borrowed from library
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: hardback
Rating: 3.5/5
Read for: 2011 Wish I’d Read That Challenge

Thirteen-year-old Jonah has always known that he was adopted, and he’s never thought it was any big deal. Then he and a new friend, Chip, who’s also adopted, begin receiving mysterious letters. The first one says, “You are one of the missing.” The second one says, “Beware! They’re coming back to get you.”
Jonah, Chip, and Jonah’s sister, Katherine, are plunged into a mystery that involves the FBI, a vast smuggling operation, an airplane that appeared out of nowhere–and people who seem to appear and disappear at will. The kids discover they are caught in a battle between two opposing forces that want very different things for Jonah and Chip’s lives.
Do Jonah and Chip have any choice in the matter? And what should they choose when both alternatives are horrifying? (from dust jacket)

My thoughts are under a cut because there is some spoiler-ish talk. You’ve been warned.

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Review: Afraid by Jack Kilborn

Title: Afraid
Author: Jack Kilborn
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Format: paperback
Rating: 3/5

Blurb (from goodreads.com)

Welcome to Safe Haven, miles from everything, with one road in and out, this peaceful town has never needed a full-time police force. Until now…
A helicopter has crashed near Safe Haven and unleashed something horrifying. Now this merciless force is about to do what it does best. Isolate. Terrorize. Annihilate. As residents begin dying in a storm of gory violence, Safe Haven’s only chance for survival will rest with an aging county sheriff, a firefighter, and a single mom. And each will have this harrowing thought: Maybe death hasn’t come to their town by accident…

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