Showing posts with label adult. Show all posts
Showing posts with label adult. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

[Review] Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel: Epidemics and the Apocalypse

In STATION ELEVEN, an epidemic outbreak changes the lives of different people forever. 

What intrigued me: I felt like reading some dystopian.

Very Literary

I tried my best with STATION ELEVEN, but we just weren't meant to be. This one of those extremely literary books that you have to have a taste for, and I think I'm just lacking that. 

STATION ELEVEN is written absolutely beautifully with multiple POVS that each unfold the lingering pandemic a little bit more. I was fascinated for a couple chapters, but quickly lost interest when I realized that this is an extremely quiet story. And what can I say - I like my dystopian books to be gritty, fast-paced, and action-filled. STATION ELEVEN is none of these things. It's a story about survival over the years that couldn't be more niche.

If you're looking for classic dystopian lit, this might end up disappointing you just as much as it did me - STATION ELEVEN demands your full attention at all times. So many protagonists, so many details to pay attention to, so many filler chapters. You really have to be invested in the story and the characters. 


It's Not You, It's Me

STATION ELEVEN is one of those epic reads that span decades, have dozens of protagonists, and are more about the world than the characters. Add a couple time jumps in and you know exactly what kind of book this is I personally cannot empathize this for the life of me. This is very much a hard case of It's Not You, It's Me syndrome. It's undoubtedly a skillfully and beautifully written book that just oozes talent and magnificent prose, but for me personally none of this matters when I find the story unengaging. Again, this is a by no means an objective judgment of the quality of this book, this is just me having peculiar taste.

Ultimately I think the thing that just made this unenjoyable for me is that STATION ELEVEN is more about the journey and the story as a whole than what is happening in the moment. Everything comes together in the big picture - but this technique personally never works for me because I'll lose interest on the way if the journey isn't filled with plot twists and secrets and adventure.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

STATION ELEVEN is a little too literary for me and absolutely not my cup of tea. I expected a regular dystopian story, but got an epic decade-spanning saga. You have to be in the mood for these kinds of books.



Additional Info


Published: September 14th 2015
Pages: 416
Publisher: piper
Genre: Adult / Dystopian
ISBN: 9783492060226

Synopsis:
"One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur's chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Twenty years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten's arm is a line from Star Trek: "Because survival is insufficient." But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave."
(Source: Goodreads)



Do you like literary books?

Continue Reading...

Thursday, November 17, 2016

[Review] Aurora - Kim Stanley Robinson: Colonization and New Planets





In AURORA, a giant spaceship full of colonists is approaching the end of its 159-year-long journey to a new planet.

What intrigued me: I love reading about alien planets.

Extremely technical and difficult read

I picked up AURORA hoping for something in the vein of Scott Sigler's Generations trilogy, but was bitterly disappointed. AURORA is hard sci-fi, space opera even, that reads very clunky, difficult and facts-centric. The really interesting premise is pretty much negated through the way it's written. 

I especially struggled with the strange character voice that borders on extremely juvenile in a condecending way as the story begins being told through 12-year-old Freya's eyes. Mixed with terms and concepts that are impossible to understand if you don't have a degree in quantum physics. From detailed paragraphs and paragraphs about how the spaceship works to rambling passive narration, AURORA does everything it possibly can to derive from the plot. 

If you care about the mechanics of spaceships and their logistics, this will be a treat for you. For me, who's just looking for some fun space travel, this is a very clear miss. This story absolutely has no business at all being 500+ pages long. It drags, it's difficult to read and understand, and really just doesn't get to the point. It took me a ridiculous amount of time to even understand that the ship has a conscience and it's not just some more rambling directed at no one in particular. 

So, so, so much filler

AURORA is separated into seven parts that chronic a specific stage of the journey, centered on a handful of characters, but yet somehow written in omniscient perspective. It takes a ridiculous amount of time until the actual plot takes off. You could basically skip about 200 pages and have a great reading experience - AURORA has so much filler, so many unnecessary scenes, and so much rambling that you really really don't have to bother reading the whole thing. 

This is just a story that revels in the authors storytelling - this isn't about the characters who are mediocre cardboard cutouts at most, it's about the author showcasing their knowledge about space travel. Enhanced by off-screen comments from the sentient spaceship it's quite obvious that AURORA isn't about the characters. That's essentially what made it so hard for me to connect with this narrative and stay focused and interested in the story. AURORA really just is a pick for die-hard space opera fans.

Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

AURORA is a hard miss for me. Strange writing paired with lots of filler and mechanics and logistics-centric narration is absolutely not what I was looking for. If you enjoy hard sci-fi and space opera, and love yourself some technical reads about spaceship mechanics and physics, this is your perfect pick.



Additional Info

Published: November 14th 2016
Pages: 560
Publisher: Heyne
Genre: Adult / Space & Other Planets
ISBN: 9783453317246

Synopsis:
"A major new novel from one of science fiction's most powerful voices, AURORA tells the incredible story of our first voyage beyond the solar system. 

Brilliantly imagined and beautifully told, it is the work of a writer at the height of his powers. 

Our voyage from Earth began generations ago.

Now, we approach our new home.

AURORA.
"(Source: Goodreads)


Do you like hard Sci-Fi?

Continue Reading...

Sunday, November 13, 2016

[Review] Furiously Happy - Jenny Lawson: Mental Illness and Life-Affirmation

In FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny Lawson tells anecdotes of her life. In the center of it all stands her life motto of being furiously, aggressively happy no matter what life throws at you.

What intrigued me: Felt like reading some Non-Fiction.

Loud and Eccentric

FURIOUSLY HAPPY is such a loud book that you're probably in danger of going deaf when reading it. It's quirky, eccentric and voice-y and definitely a book that will catch your attention and stay in your memory for quite a whilte. Lawson's narrative voice is sometimes off-trail, mostly shouting, and absolutely unique. And it's just too much for me personally.

It reads like some sort of strange diary without any sense of structure of coherence. Even after reading it I still don't know what this book is about, really.

You have to be in the mood for this type of writing, a type of train-of-thought esque narration.

Offensive humor?

The message of the book and the only thing that sort-of connects the very random chapters to each other is that they're all a mixture of anecdoctes that showcase the author's "crazy" (her words, not mine) behavior because of the multitude of mental illnesses she lives with. And I just don't like that. 

I can't get behind these self-degrading characterizations and as someone who has had experience with mental illness it actually quite offends me. I get that it's a memoir, at no point Lawson ever tries to make judgements about other people who live with mental illness. But at the end of the day it just rubs me the wrong way when she describes the way she reacts to anxiety-inducing situations as overreacting and ridiculous and calls herself insane.

That's just the humor of this book, this is all that FURIOUSLY HAPPY is about - making fun of your own illness to make peace with it. This isn't a negative thing, it's just soemthing that you have to get, that you have to understand and agree with. I don't. I didn't find FURIOUSLY HAPPY life-affirming in any way. I found it disregarding and quite ignorant, which again, is just my personal takeaway and not the author's fault or in any way an objective judgement of the book. You have to see for yourself if that type of humor resonates with you. 


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

FURIOUSLY HAPPY isn't my kind of book. Random chapters, train-of-thought narration, belittling mental illness - it's not my thing. It felt quite pointless and absolutely not funny to me.



Additional Info

Published: 17th October 2016
Pages: 320
Publisher: Kailash
Genre: Adult / Non-Fiction / Biographies & Memoirs
ISBN: 978-3-424-63130-2

Synopsis:
"In LET'S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: "Some people might think that being 'furiously happy' is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he's never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos."

"Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you'd never guess because we've learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, 'We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.' Except go back and cross out the word 'hiding.'""(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite Non-Fiction read?

Continue Reading...

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

[Review] Modern Romance - Aziz Ansari: Digital Age and Dating

In MODERN ROMANCE Comedian Aziz Ansari explores the peculiarities of dating in the age of technology.

What intrigued me: I was in the mood for some Non-Fiction.

More academic than funny

MODERN ROMANCE reads more like a sociological study than a humorous little book peaking fun at dating habits in the 2010s. Undeniably a lot of work went into this as most chapters contain the outcomes of multiple surveys and interviews with people from different age groups. While that is quite the interesting premise, I feel like MODERN ROMANCE would have benefitted more from mixing humor with anecdotes exlusively. Aziz is incredibly funny and MODERN ROMANCE just doesn't embrace that.

Knowing Ansari's stand-up I was hoping for basically a novelized version of one of his performances. Lots of stories, lots of fun things to laugh about. This absolutely isn't what MODERN ROMANCE is, it's an academic study in my opinion that doesn't quite committ. 

Decent Bedside Table Read

It's half anecdotes half academic text and this is just not a flattering combination. I ended up skimming many passages simply because I wasn't interested. It truly does read like a lecture, which isn't surprising since this book has been co-written with a sociology professor. 

Initially MODERN ROMANCE lures you in with pretending to focus primarly on the digital age- which is why I picked it up - but essentially it compares generations. I'm not quite sure what MODERN ROMANCE is trying to do, it certainly doesn't deliver any new revelations that you didn't know if you grew up in the last 20th century. Ultimately I do think aside from a bedside table read that you can skim through whenever you're feeling like you need a light distraction, it's probably just a pick for people who really love Aziz Ansari.


Rating:

★★½

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

MODERN ROMANCE is a well-researched book and has its fun moments, but ultimately wasn't quite what I expected and disappointed me through being more academic than funny. If you don't mind that, MODERN ROMANCE still makes for a nice bedside table read.



Additional Info

Published: 19th September 2016
Pages: 352
Publisher: Goldmann
Genre: Adult / Non-Fiction / Sociology
ISBN: 978-3-442-17619-9

Synopsis:
"At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?” 

But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Andrew Cherlin, Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before."(Source: Goodreads)


Do you know Aziz Ansari?

Continue Reading...

Sunday, October 23, 2016

[Review] The Olive Conspiracy - Shira Glassman: Jewish Fantasy and Queerness

In THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY, Chef Yael is blackmailed because she is transgender and Queen Shualmit is not having any of that.

What intrigued me: Jewish fantasy! Who'd say no to that. I love high fantasy in diverse settings so much.

Extremely Diverse 

Even though THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY technically belongs to Glassman's Mangoverse series, you do not have to have read the other books to read this one. There are a lot of established character relationships that you will have no problem understanding if this is your first Mangoverse read. Quite on the contrary actually, I found myself growing very interested in her characters and am even more intrigued to read the rest of the series because THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY hints at all the interesting things happening before.

THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY is so diverse - it's fantastic. There are transgender, sapphic, and POC characters whom you'll all grow to love. The Mangoverse is inhabited by different peoples who all have their unique customs and Glassman cleverly uses this to establish Jewish customs and familiarize the reader with the setting. THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY is a very easy and educational read that absolutely managed to fascinate.

Charming and Educational

THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY reads quite like a cozy mystery in a diverse high fantasy setting. Though I hoped to see the story anchored to a specific character, which ultimately made it a little more difficult for me to follow the plot. Glassman narrates for the most part from an omniscient perspective that sometimes focuses on shape-shifting wizard Isaac, whom I absolutely grew to adore. 

I wish the story would've been told from a different perspective, maybe first-person. Especially for first-time readers of the Mangoverse it does irritate a little and did make it a bit harder for me to truly get invested. THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY does work as a stand-alone and is an absolute must-read if you're looking to diversify yours(h)elf. I found myself learning a lot about Jewish culture that I didn't know before and found it quite charming how effortlessly Glassman incorporates this into the setting. 


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY is a unique and original delight. Jewish queer fantasy at its best and if you want to learn more about Jewish culture, I absolutely recommend this novel considering that it's written by a Jewish writer.



Additional Info

Published: July 20th 2016
Pages: 229
Genre: Adult / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9781944449780

Synopsis:
"When Ezra tries to blackmail Chef Yael about her being trans, she throws him out of her restaurant and immediately reports him to the queen. When police find Ezra stabbed to death, Queen Shulamit realizes he may have also tried to extort someone more dangerous than a feisty old lady.

The royal investigation leads straight to an international terrorist plot to destroy her country’s economy—and worse, her first love, Crown Princess Carolina of Imbrio, may be involved. Since she’s got a dragon-shifting wizard at her disposal, contacts with friendly foreign witches, and the support of her partner Aviva, Shulamit has hope. What she doesn’t have is time.

A love story between women, between queen and country, and between farmers and their crops."(Source: Goodreads)


Have you ever read Jewish fantasy?

Continue Reading...

Saturday, October 1, 2016

[Review] Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) - Sylvain Neuvel: Giant Robots and Outer Space




In SLEEPING GIANTS, a little girl finds an enormous robot hand made of metal in the woods and the military immediately grows interested in it.

What intrigued me: The tagline they used in promotion got me. World War Z meets THE MARTIAN? Um yeah, get on my shelf ASAP.

Perfect transitional read for people who don't like Sci-Fi

SLEEPING GIANTS is told through interview snippets and diary entries from multiple characters. All in some way connect to a mysterious man who is secretly in control of the operation to get the robot to work.  Most of it is actually dialogue, which I loved. 

It makes this way easier to read and hides the fact that this is a pretty heavy Sci-fi thriller with political elements. Especially for people like me who shy away from epic Sci-fi or political thrillers, this could serve as a nice transitional read to get more into the genre.

I definitely struggled a little with the tone of the novel. Most of the plot is told from the perspective of military officials and scientists who use highbrow language and complex scientific processes to explain things. Even though Neuvel tries to simplify all concepts and processes, I found myself zoning out whenever someone started talking about chemical elements. This is very minor though, because the story about the ancient robot hand will eventually suck you in and force you to keep on reading until your eyes burn. It happened to me. At some point the story just starts to become so gripping and you get so invested that it's almost impossible to put it down. 

Enchanting and thrilling

I was surprised to grow attached to the characters and their fate. Neuvel manages to paint multi-faceted character relationships by telling the majority of the interactions in retrospective. If two characters who aren't the mysterious interviewer and another character interact, it's always told after it happened and through the eyes of one of the people who were there. 

You'd think that format would get tiring after a while but it really doesn't. I'm so glad Neuvel wrote this almost exclusively in dialogue, because I'm sure I would've zoned out or even quit the novel altogether if that story was told in a classic way. Like this it's easy, it's handy, it fits the plot. I enjoyed this a lot and found myself unable to predict any of the twists, which is really rare. SLEEPING GIANTS is a very unique, almost experimental read that will surprise and enchant you.


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Following the events in SLEEPING GIANTS almost became an addiction. It's really impossible to put down and a fantastic thriller that you should read if you like conspiracies and aliens. It put me in the worst reading slump ever because it's so genius!



Additional Info

Published: August 8th 2016
Pages: 416
Publisher: Heyne
Genre: Sci- Fi / Aliens
ISBN: 9783453316904

Synopsis:
"A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?"(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read SLEEPING GIANTS?

Continue Reading...

Friday, September 2, 2016

[Review] Leave Me - Gayle Forman: Heart Attacks and Leaving Your Family





In LEAVE ME, the overworked mother of twins Maribeth decides to leave her family after she had a stress-induced heart attack.


What intrigued me: I've read other books by Gayle Forman and liked her writing style, so I was eager to try something else by her.

Devastating premise

The premise of LEAVE ME is a very devastating one, which is half of the reason why I wanted to read this. 

Having read other novels by Forman before, I'm confident in her ability to portray strong emotions. She didn't disappoint me. LEAVE ME manages to portray this horrible scenario in a very realistic, emotional way. 

Maribeth is an incredibly relatable character and I did understand her choices, however cruel they are. I'm not really a fan of the perspective, I'm positive I would have enjoyed this even more if Forman had decided to write this in first person instead of third.  This perspective makes it hard to connect to to Maribeth and to really see things the way she does, which is in my opinion crucial to enjoying and understanding LEAVE ME. Forman tried to incorporate little flashback-like scenes to establish relationships, mostly the one between her former best friend and now-boss Elizabeth and Maribeth. I'm not a fan of flashbacks generally and inserting them right into an ongoing scene just confuses me and throws me right out of the story. However, this is really minor criticism. 

The difficult thing about LEAVE ME is that it doesn't follow a straight plot line, there is no real goal that Maribeth is working towards in the story. I was expecting leave me to start with Maribeth's departure, instead we get about 70 pages of what I'd call introduction. I do like that we get an insight view of Maribeth's life and that indeed makes it more easy to understand why she would leave her family just like that. 

Very literary and definitely recommended

At the end of the day, there's no way around saying that LEAVE ME really could have used more structure. I did enjoy following Maribeth into her new life and I read the book fairly quickly, however I just personally like novels to follow a clear storyline. The reason why this novel just worked for me is undeniably because of Forman's uncanny ability to portray emotion. 

Maribeth is relatable, her experiences very real, and it just reads less like fiction, but more like something that might actually happen.

If you don't mind novels that go more into the literary direction and are a fan of Foreman, this is a must read. 


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

LEAVE ME is an interesting, thought-provoking novel that I enjoyed. However I can only recommend this to you if you don't mind the slow pace and the lack of action.



Additional Info

Published: September 6th 2016
Pages: 352
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Genre: Adult / Drama
ISBN: 9781616206178

Synopsis:
"For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who's so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn't even realize she's had a heart attack.

Afterward, surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: She packs a bag and leaves. But, as is so often the case, once we get to where we're going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is finally able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from those she loves and from herself."(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read books by Gayle Forman?

Continue Reading...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

[Review] Nightmares & Dreamscapes (#1) - Stephen King: 90% filler and Eerie Conclusions. You call that horror?






This is a short story collection full of supposedly scary short story tales.

What intrigued me: I haven't read a book by Stephen King before and I'm in a massive reading slump, so reading a scary short story collection seems like a good idea!

Not scary, not even remotely horror!

My favorite thing about this is probably the foreword. The stories weren't what I expected them to be. I was hoping for a lot of scary reads, but this is just a random collection of mediocre short stories.

His ideas are very unique, inspiring, and interesting, but in no way what the title NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES suggests. You aren't going to find anything remotely creepy in here, most are just tales about weird people with weird goals, but scary and nightmare-ish is a completely different thing. As it is I was somewhat entertained, but this is just not what the short story collection is advertised as and it's very disappointing, especially because this is my first Stephen King read.

However, I do enjoy King's writing style to some extent. It's easy and quick to read, but I think he overdoes it with the character building. That's also why most of his stories have very weak and slow beginnings that make you want to quit before you've actually gotten to the story. Especially for short stories, you don't need to know about the protagonist's parents and grandparents, or any other specific character building element. I was hoping for the stories to terrify me from beginning to the end but most stories can only deliver a small somewhat eerie conclusion and are 90% filler.

Individual stories & ratings

  • 1. Dolan's Cadillac ★☆☆☆☆

Plot: A widower is trying to murder the guy who's responsible for his wife's death by digging a hole and burying him and his expensive car alive.
Opinion: Not scary, just insanely boring. and long-winded. I could hardly finish this.

  • 2. The End of the Whole Mess ★★★★★

Plot: A brilliant prodigy finds a way to cure humanity from its original sin. But for a price.
Opinion: I loved this so much, it's so interesting to see how the mind of a highly intelligent character works. I would love a full-length novel about this. Some continuity issues and an unsatisfying ending, but overall SUPER interesting. Again, not scary though.

  • 3. Suffer the Little Children ★★★☆☆

Plot: Mean teacher is the only one that realizes all children in her school are possessed by monsters.
Opinion: Another boring one. The premise is very interesting, but it's not very scary and too much is left open. 

  • 4. The Night Flier ☆☆☆☆☆

Plot: Reporter seeks out someone whom he believes to be a serial killer that thinks they're a vampire, but the guy actually turns out to be a vampire.
Opinion: Horrible. Such a slow beginning, so much unnecessary monologues and backstory, and a very, very disappointing creature that isn't scary in the least. A very long story that feels like I 100% wasted my time even bothering with this one.

  • 5. Popsy ★★★★☆

Plot: A gambling-addict-turned-child-abductor abducts a monster spawn.
Opinion: I loved this. Less annoying backstory as in the previous stories and a convincing monster story, that I really, really liked. Not as scary as I wanted it to be, but another candidate that I'd like a full-length novel of.

  • 6. It Grows on You ☆☆☆☆☆

Plot: A mysterious house keeps on growing and adding new wings even long after its owner died.
Opinion: The worst case of please show instead of tell I've ever witnessed. So much backstory oh my god. Seems very pointless to me.

  • 7. Chattery Teeth ★★★★☆

Plot: A man picks up an evil hitchhiker and gets saved by a joke item.
Opinion: Interesting and a little eerie. Though too much gore for my taste. 

  • 8. Dedication ★★☆☆☆

Plot: A maid consumes eats her boss' semen to work a magic spell so her child would grow up to be as talented as him
Opinion: The main flaw of the story is that it's told in retrospective. It's also really weird.

  • 9. The Moving Finger ★★★☆☆

Plot: There is a moving finger perking out of someone's drain and they really don't like it.
Opinion: Super weird. I don't know if I thought it was scary, more bloody, actually. It was okay, but I missed the ~logical explanation~ part.

  • 10. Sneakers ★★☆☆☆

Plot: The ghost of a murdered man comes back to sit on a toilet and wear dirty sneakers.
Opinion: Not a fan of public restroom horror or whatever this is. I was glad to have at least one ghost story in this though.

  • 11. You Know They Got a Hell of a Band ★☆☆☆☆

Plot: A couple on a road trip encounters a town full of dead musicians.
Opinion: Too much gore for me and a very weak premise.

  • 12. Home Delivery ★☆☆☆☆

Plot: An old-fashioned zombie outbreak story.
Opinion: Nothing special, very boring!


Overall Rating:

★★½☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Not as your first King read. I was disappointed because I was looking for something super scary. It's an okay short story collection, but the title is very misleading.



Additional Info

Published: June 30th 2009
Pages: 897 (1+2)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Adult / Horror
ISBN:  9781439102565

Synopsis:
"A collection of short stories, several being published for the first time, offers a spine-tingling journey to the nightmare world created by a master of sheer terror and grotesque imagination."
(Source: Goodreads)

Can you recommend some good scary reads?

Continue Reading...

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

[Review] Horrorstör - Grady Hendrix: Zombies in Ikea






Strange things are happening at Orsk, an Ikea knockoff store in Ohio. When the store closes, the cameras automatically shut off so in order to investigate some employees have to work a night shift.

What a strange, strange concept. I was expecting a terrifying read with a possibly super twisted ghost or monster story, but got a very gory, very unsettling read that is more reminiscent of a Supernatural episode than an actual horror novel.

More parody than horror

You can't review this novel without appreciating the formatting. The design is phenomenal. If you put this book next to an Ikea catalog, you'll end up accidentally grabbing the wrong book eventually. It's so convincing, so beautiful, and just perfectly illustrated. As for the story, I'm disappointed. I expected too much, probably went in with the expectation to read a horror novel when it's more of a satirical ghost story. Not even a ghost story to be honest, the focus is heavily on ridiculing retail stores and their philosophies. It's entertaining, but to me the potential got pretty much wasted. 

For everyone who reads a lot of horror it's obvious what will happen and there is more gore than actual horror. I'm all for spine-tingling reads that make you want to sleep with the lights on, but "Horrorstör" is definitely not that. Regardless, it's a decent read, simply not what I was looking for.

Wasted potential

I didn't really connect to the narrative firstly because the characters aren't that important to the story. It's told from a mix between omniscient and character-centric narration, focusing mainly on Amy, an employee that thinks she's in a dead-end job and just waiting to be transferred into a different store when the hauntings start. Hendrix only draws the side characters very roughly and none of them get an actual ending, making the book end on a very weird note that just left me unsatisfied. 

There are a couple of super interesting characters. From the ghost fanatic Amy to Matt who's pretending to be into ghosts just to get into Amy's pants, to the store manager Basil who's convinced to do the right thing always, to Ruth Anne, the sweetheart who's been working at Orsk forever,  whom you just have to love. There is just so much wasted potential and because the whole thing doesn't get resolved and the hauntings are just sort of happening, I was bored very quickly. Not a fan of gore either, so this one is just not for me.


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you're looking for something fun and don't mind graphic descriptions of disgusting things and bodily fluids - go ahead. This isn't a horror novel per se. If you want to have a good chuckle about the peculiarities of working in retail, pick it up! If you're looking for an actual horror read, you might want to skip this one.



Additional Info


Published: September 23rd 2014
Pages: 248
Publisher: Quirk
Genre: Adult / Horror
ISBN: 1594745269

Synopsis:
"Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.

A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom."(Source: Goodreads)



 Did you ever get lost in an IKEA? Come on, admit it.


Continue Reading...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

[Review] The Beauty, Vol.1 - Jeremy Haun: Epidemics, Beauty Obsessions, and Guns





In THE BEAUTY, VOL.1, humans are able to get more beautiful by getting infected with a sexually transmittable disease called The Beauty. When the infected start imploding all of a sudden, two detectives start investigating.

What intrigued me: Wonderful premise. I love reading about dystopian societies.




Too fast-paced

THE BEAUTY doesn't bother much with exposition, which is probably the reason why I didn't really care much for the plot until about four issues in. It's difficult to keep up with all those characters that are not introduced at all and trying to find out what their relationships are. I'm glad I even managed to catch the two names of the detectives! Therefore, because I could hardly keep up with who was who, I really wasn't as invested as I liked to be, even though the idea is really interesting and intriguing.

We're almost immediately thrown into this world, right into the storyline revolving around the two detectives Foster and Vaughn who are trying to bring The Beauty down because it's killing more and more people. The comic generally has X-Files vibe it, not only because of the protagonists looking just like Scully and Mulder, but also because it is heavy on the action and investigation side. You'll find a lot of gore-y scenes, nudity, and shootings in this.

Unflattering artwork

While the artwork is nice to look at, I don't think that it necessarily compliments the narration. There are lots of eye closeups, lots of background scenes with the characters and their families, and this is just not working very well when you don't know who all these people are and hardly any of them is actually introduced. 

Another thing that kind of bugged me is that I didn't really see the difference between the looks of the people infected with The Beauty and those who aren't. The cover artwork for the issues is way prettier than the actual artwork inside and seems to be done in a slightly different style, which is really a pity because I would have loved for this to be a little more experimental and less yet-another-detective-comic generic.



Rating:

★★½

  


Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE BEAUTY needs quite some time to kick off. With the slow start, I'm hesitant to directly say "Go read this" - I'll probably still stick around for the second volume because I just started to get interested in the story (after reading six issues). If you don't mind a slow, but fast-paced start, go ahead. I'm positive that this series will be improving in future issues.





Additional Info

Published: March 22nd 2016
Pages: 164
Publisher: Image Comics
Genre: Adult / Dystopian
ISBN: 9781632155504

Synopsis:
"Modern society is obsessed with outward beauty. What if there was a way to guarantee you could become more and more beautiful every day? What if it was a sexually transmitted disease? 

In the world of The Beauty, physical perfection is only one sexual encounter away. The vast majority of the population has taken advantage of it, but Detectives Vaughn and Foster will soon discover it comes at a terrible cost. Now, they'll have to find their way past corrupt politicians, vengeful federal agents, and a terrifying mercenary out to collect the price on their heads. "(Source: Goodreads)

Would you get purposely infected with The Beauty?

Continue Reading...

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

[Review] The Second Coming - John Niven: What Happens When Jesus Comes Back to Earth



In "The Second Coming" by John Niven, God returns from His 400-year vacation and is insanely displeased with the development of humanity in the 21st century.

Consequentially, He decides to send down his son Jesus a second time to preach His one and only rule to humanity: "Be Nice".

Strong beginning and premise!

This obviously not a read for people who easily get offended. I remember reading an excerpt of this a while ago and absolutely falling in love with the funny, witty, and super entertaining way Niven decides to tackle this topic. From everyone smoking pot in heaven to gay assistant angels and a quick visit to the ten circles of hell. However, I think a whole book on this is definitely too much. 

Throughout the course of the novel. Jesus gets sent down to Earth and decides to participate in a talent show, because that seems to be the only way to get the attention of 21st century humans. Until then, there is a lot of filler describing Jesus' new life on earth as a struggling musician. I noticed how I zoned out after a while. The beginning, set in heaven, is flat-out hilarious, but Niven is unable to keep up the pace and humor for the rest of the book.

Not for the highly sensitive

While I like Niven's humorist approach, he definitely overdoes it in some parts. Every time Jesus encounters another human that doesn't belong to his new-found group of apostles, they're portrayed as vicious and mean.
When writing parodies and social critique it's easy to overdo it, losing the entire message and just turning the whole thing into a joke. I'm definitely not someone that gets offended by religious critique very easily, but "The Second Coming" is walking on a tightrope. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's just flat out insulting and overdone. You can just tell that there is hardly any effort put in character development, but every single chapter is just part of some elaborate joke or pun. There is no way you can connect to the characters at all, so reading a whole book on this is very difficult.

Rating:

☆☆

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I absolutely loved the first 50 pages but quickly lost interest after 150 pages. This would have worked better as a short story.


Additional Info

Published: 7th April 2011
Pages: 376
Publisher: William Heinemann
Genre: Adult / Fantasy / Urban
ISBN: 9780434019564

Synopsis:
"GOD'S COMING - LOOK BUSY!

God really is coming, and he is going to be pissed. Having left his son in charge, God treated himself to a well-earned break around the height of the Renaissance. A good time to go fishing. He returns in 2011 to find things on earth haven't gone quite to plan...

The world has been rendered a human toilet: genocide; starvation; people obsessed with vacuous celebrity culture; 'and,' God points out, 'there are fucking Christians everywhere.' God hates Christians. There's only one thing for it. They're sending the kid back.

JC, reborn, is a struggling musician in New York City helping people as best as he can. Gathering disciples along the way - a motley collection of basket cases, stoners and alcoholics - he realises his best chance to win hearts and minds may lie in a TV talent contest. American Pop Star is the number one show in America, the unholy creation of English record executive Steven Stelfox... a man who's more than a match for the Son of God.
 "(Source: Goodreads)
Continue Reading...

Saturday, February 20, 2016

[Review] Bitch Planet Vol.1: Extraordinary Machine - Kelly Sue DeConnick & Valentine de Landro




In BITCH PLANET, all women that don't match the patriarchy's standards are sent to a prison facility in space.

Violently, Aggressively Feminist

I'm not sure what to think of this. The whole book screams feminism and female empowerment. Usually that's a good thing, I love to read feminist books, but BITCH PLANET takes it a little bit too far.

Instead of focusing on the story or the characters, the whole book consists of small snippets that hardly connect to each other. One second you're learning about a prisoner's past, the other you're thrown into a completely disconnected scenario featuring the prison facility wardens. It's very hard to get into this, it's hardly possible to understand what's going on without reading up on the story online. I had tremendous problems even getting the idea, because the writing is all over the place.

There are a lot graphic scenes and illustrations that convey female empowerment, but that's it. There is no story, no concept behind this, except all men are bad and the patriarchy needs to be destroyed. This a completely wrong approach and insanely frustrated me. This would have been a great read, had there been more effort put into the characters. There is no main character, everyone gets their five seconds of fame in about ten pages and then you're already off to the next story. I didn't get the point, I wasn't emotionally invested, I had a hard enough time even trying to understand what's going on.

Hindsight is 20/20

However, not everything about BITCH PLANET is bad. The illustrations are stunning and the little advertisements at the end of each chapter are hilarious.

After finishing the book I felt like I understood a little more of what's going on and even could keep up with most of the characters. I feel like this is a book that you have to read multiple times in order to fully understand it and have the best reading experience possible. Of course, this is not the aim and you should be able to understand a book the first time around,


Rating:


☆☆

  




Overall: Do I Recommend?

The idea is awesome and super interesting, but the execution is one of the worst I've seen in a graphic novel in a while. It really hurts me to give this a low rating, but the execution is unfortunate.


Have you read BITCH PLANET?

Continue Reading...

Monday, January 18, 2016

[Review] Landline - Rainbow Rowell


In LANDLINE, Georgie McCool gets a chance to fix her failing marriage by talking to her husband's past self through a magical telephone.
What intrigued me: I read both FANGIRL and CARRY ON by her. Plus, a magical realism(ish) premise always hooks me.

This isn't as upbeat and fun as I expected it to be


Actually it's a terribly sad and depressing read about a marriage that's falling into pieces. The premise absolutely tricked me. I expected a mind-blowing super cute time travel romance story, but it's more of a poorly executed unbelievable and annoying pseudo romance story. Rowell mainly uses flashbacks to establish character relations, which throws you off the current plot every single time. I couldn't even concentrate on the non-existent story.

Even as a novel about a crumbling marriage, this doesn't work. The husband Neal is basically absent the whole novel and by making him such an unusual character, Rowell perfectly manages to create the most unlikable person I have ever read about. His lack of appealing physical appearance isn't even the least of the problems, he's an emotionless, mean and equally as oblivious as Georgie kind of person. Neither of them act like mature grown-ups. I felt like I was reading about oblivious teenagers that can't manage to actually talk about their problems. I didn't enjoy any of this at all.

Very unlikable protagonist & A confusing storyline!

Georgie McCool is a TV comedy writer and stuck in a marriage that's just not working out, but she refuses to realize this. When it's Christmas time, she decides to stay at home and work and let her husband go off to their grandma's alone. Just thinking about the fact that she did this, you don't even need to read the novel to know that Georgie is an unlikable character. 

She is a 37-year-old woman, but has no sense of reality, maturity or in general self-awareness whatsoever. She's completely oblivious to her surroundings and it actually physically hurts to have to read about her mess up her marriage more with every page. In her world, everything is fine though.

I had a hard time concentrating on what was actually going on, because there are so many flashbacks and narrative passages that don't really bring the story forward. It's generally a poorly paced novel. The premise is supposed to be the magical telephone, but until page hundred, the telephone isn't even used. I might as well could have skipped the first fifty pages or so and would have still had the same reading experience. 


Rating:

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I wish I hadn't read this. This is definitely the last Rowell novel for me. If you haven't read anything by her before, don't start with this one.


Synopsis:
"Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn't expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts...

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?"
(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read any of Rainbow Rowell's other books?

Continue Reading...

Monday, January 4, 2016

[Review] The Quest for Integrity - Jaswinder Singh




THE QUEST FOR INTEGRITY is an enthralling tale about politics in modern-day India; about corruption versus integrity. It's set against the background of the Bank of the Nation and a worker's union made up of its employees. 

What intrigued me: I'm a huge politics nerd and a book about the gritty details of the dealings of a bank with its union is just my thing.

Characters lack personality

I've always been interested in politics and this is such a detail-oriented tale about corruption and the struggle against it that I just couldn't put it down. The various intrigues of the characters who only think of their own gain are fascinating to uncover.

The big setback of this novel are sadly the characters themselves. I love to connect with the characters of the books I read but this time it just didn't happen. Basically, there are only three types of characters: the good ones, the bad ones, and the ones that are good but made to behave in bad ways.
A little less black-and-white thinking wouldn't have hurt.

Plus, in the beginning I really stumbled over the way they talk. Their speech seems unnaturally formal and sometimes even stilted. This only adds to the characters' obvious lack of personality. Though I did get used to the way everyone speaks after a while, it's hard to identify or at least emphasize with the characters. I didn't really care all that much about who wins or loses.  

This novel leaves you thinking

Singh really knows how to pace. The plot develops at the perfect speed and before you know it, you're in the middle of it. I loved that the events slowly but surely escalated. At first the power struggles are expressed mostly verbally, but they quickly spread over into actions. The way the characters trip down the lane of their own lies and deceptions is absolutely fascinating.

THE QUEST FOR INTEGRITY is insanely philosophical. Don't mistake it for some light entertaining reading – this novel wants to make you think and it will. Ever so often, a line would make me pause, put down the book and really consider it for a while. The plot serves mainly to illustrate the ethical issues the book is exploring: the way power corrupts. Here, the book makes up for its cardboard characters. It reads like a Medieval Morality Play, with good struggling against evil, the characters serving only as representations of that. This feeling to it is what sets it apart from other books.

While the novel isn't easy reading, the topic got me hooked and the clean simple writing had me turning the pages.

 Rating:

★★☆☆



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Yes – but: I'd only recommend this novel to someone who is inherently interested in politics like I am. If that's your thing, do pick up this novel because you'll love it. If it's not, I'm sorry to say but this won't be the novel to get you interested in it either.

______________________________________

GUEST REVIEW by Steffi 



Additional Info

Original Title: The Quest for Integrity
Author: Jaswinder Singh
Published: January 27th 2013
Pages: 300
Medium: ebook
Genre: Adult / Literary
ISBN: 9781481203876

Synopsis:
"A noble, accomplished man named Purshottam Gill is chosen to replace the latest in a line of negligent managers at the Amlawar branch of India’s nationalized bank. As he attempts to improve the branch’s performance and raise employee morale, he becomes hindered by corrupt trade union officials, politicians, and even some of the bank’s senior officers. He soon discovers that top union leaders control not just the bank, but the politics of his country, causing its citizens to live under fear and great hardships. 

Having come from a life of poverty and disease, Neki Lal, the union leader for Purshottam’s bank, values money and success above all else. Viewing Purshottam’s integrity as a threat, Neki begins a deceptive and corrupt campaign to try and intimidate Purshottam and remove him from his position at the bank. And Purshottam’s loyal employees have no choice but to follow the union directive.

As Neki Lal and his supporters begin to take over the branch, deception and manipulation reign supreme in a battle of good and evil that will forever change the lives of everyone involved.

A riveting tale of power and corruption, The Quest for Integrity is a thought-provoking and inspiring story that illustrates the importance of dignity, morality, and social responsibility.
 "(Source: Goodreads)


Do you like books about politics?

Continue Reading...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...