Uprooted by Naomi Novik – A Book Review

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Bottom line: Definitely add to your to-read list.

It’s been a crazy few weeks at work, and with the holiday weekend my goal was to unplug and do nothing. I’ve been in a book slump of late, and finding something to capture (and hold) my attention has been hard. Fortunately, while cruising Goodreads, “Uprooted” appeared as a suggested read.

I do enjoy a dark fairytale, and Novik’s “Uprooted” definitely delivered. Set in a world full of magic and an evil mysterious “Wood,” “Uprooted” is the tale of a young woman whose life changes when she is chosen by the kingdom’s magician, the Dragon, to become his companion. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but needless to say the protagonist, Agnieszka, soon finds herself part of a larger battle of good vs. evil.

Though the summary may sound predictable, I was pleasantly surprised with the direction that Novik takes. The tale captured my attention, and I appreciated that this book stands alone (no awful cliff-hanger ending)… that said, Agnieszka is an awesome heroine, and I secretly hope there may be a sequel as I enjoyed her as a character. The Dragon… not so much – honestly, he felt a little bit flat. In fact, he’s the reason that i found it hard to give the book more than four stars- Agnieszka deserved a stronger foil.

Clocking in at 350+ pages, it’s a solid read, but I wouldn’t have changed/edited out anything. The writing is lovely for the most part, but there were some passages where the wording/grammar was a little befuddling. Glad I bought a physical copy of this book as I know I’m going to re-read it eventually.

Available now from Amazon.com.

Second Life by S.J. Watson – A Book Review

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Two things:

First, I was not a huge fan of SJ Watson’s first novel, “Before I Go To Sleep.”
Second, if you feel like you’re having a hard time getting into this novel, STICK WITH IT. Totally worth it.

Julia is a 30-something suburban mother in London who leads a rather unexciting life. When her younger sister is found murdered in Paris, Julia is compelled to solve the crime and discovers that her sister lived a rather adventurous online life. Soon she finds herself pulled into the same world, and quickly realizes that is possibly much more dangerous than she thought – especially after she meets the enigmatic Lukas.

Though the first third of the novel/setting up of the story is slow and Julia really got on my nerves, once Act Three begins you won’t be able to put this book down. Watson does an excellent job of pulling the reader into the story, and its twists and turns kept me guessing (I’ll admit, my initial thoughts on why Kate was murdered and by who were totally wrong!). Julia is not the most enjoyable protagonist- she second guesses herself on EVERYTHING. Literally. Watson has her questioning/debating almost every decision/thought/assumption. However her personality improves once she realizes the amount of danger she is in.

The secondary characters are for the most part bland (ugh, Hugh… seriously, what a wet blanket, and Adrienne is the worst best friend), but once the story between Lukas and Julia picks up, it’s easy to stop caring about them. I also didn’t feel the connection between Julia and her sister – Watson repeatedly tries to remind the reader that they was almost a psychic connection between them, but it feels pretty hollow.

While I started out not sure I would complete this book, the fast-paced plot kept me glued to the pages and made it easier to overlook the weak characters.

Available for pre-order from Amazon.com and on shelves June 9th, 2015.

Disclaimer: I received advance access to this book for the purpose of review.