Book Looks are mini reviews where I attempt to review books I have read in one of two formats, inspired by two lovely lady bloggers. Kate's Book Views at the Neverending Shelf attempts to review books in 75 words or less, and Staci's Six Sentence Saturday reviews (gotta love the alliteration) at Life in a Thumb.
Today's Book Looks are both in the 75 words or less format.
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High--from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last. Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death--and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing. (Publisher's summary from Powell's Books)
Before I Fall is one of the best debut novels I have read this year. Although reminiscent of the movie Ground Hog Day, Oliver in-depth characterization and authentic YA issues is unique. As Samatha relives the day of her death, Oliver accurately portrayed the five stage of death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Samatha’s growth was one of the most dynamic changes in a character I have ever read. The ending was a surprise.
Final Thoughts: The unique plot, strong characterization, and compelling message makes this a fantastic read. This is definitely not a book you should miss. Oliver’s is a gifted writer and I am look forward to her next book.
Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaws Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchants home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets including those of her own past. (Publisher's Summary from Powell's Book)
After seeing a lot of positive reviews for this novel, I have to say I was disappointed. While the overall concept was interesting, I found the characterization lacked depth. The relationship between Mary and James was flimsy and strained. Some aspects of the action were suspenseful and because of this I did feel compelled to continue reading. I did however, love the setting and thought Lee did an excellent job with her descriptions.
Final Thoughts: Although I did not love the book, I do think that Lee is a talented writer and will probably get around to reading the second Agency book, The Body in the Tower.