Showing posts with label paranormal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label paranormal. Show all posts

Monday, May 1, 2017

[Review] The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black: Vampire Segregation and An Actually Quite Fun Love Triangle


In THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN, Tana is among the sole survivors of a vampire attack. Supported by a vampire and her infected ex-boyfriend she now has to find a way to save her ex from fully turning.

What intrigued me: I'm attempting to read every vampire novel ever published.




Fresh concept, but a very, very frustrating read

THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN definitely brings a fresh concept to the table and surprised me with it. I love the idea of Coldtowns and the way Black treats vampires in this new world. 

However, the execution of it all couldn't really grip me as much as I would have liked. The writing is very difficult - it reads like you're trying wade through mud and the reading flow is often broken by narrative passages.

There are flashback-like narrative info dump passages at the beginning of every chapter that annoyed me immensely. The story is very interesting and getting thrown off the main storyline by having to read through these flashbacks is a little irritating. All of these do serve a purpose, but I think they could've been implemented into the story more elegantly. Because of all this narration the concept is basically trampled down and it took me ages to read even a couple of pages of this. I never really got really into the story, couldn't possibly because of all those flashbacks, and it's really sad because I love the basic idea.

The first love triangle I tolerate, but an annoying cliche vampire

The characters are interesting, If you're going to do a love triangle, please do it like Black. I loved how her annoying ex-boyfriend tried to compete for her attention while vampire Gavriel wasn't even trying. I absolutely loved the relationship Tana and Aiden have and it's super amusing to read - I almost wish there was a contemporary novel about the two. 

However, it doesn't get more vampire cliche than Gavriel. Strangely talking in a weird accent, extremely aware of every phrase he speaks. 
I have a huge problem with characters who speaks in awkward, archaic lingo and it almost never works. The entire time Gavriel was on screen I pictured the author trying to come up with a witty, deep line rather than the character. He seemed utterly one-dimensional and pretty unappealing to me. It's kinda sad that this otherwise so fresh and promising read plays into the typical vampire stereotype personality-wise with him. 


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Ugh, difficult. I think it's not a must-read. I like that it's a stand-alone, but the writing made this terribly difficult for me to read and I just am not a fan. Probably not. 



Additional Info

Published: September 3rd 2013
Pages: 419
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Vampires
ISBN: 9780316213103

Synopsis:
"Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself."(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite vampire novel?

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Top 10 Things That Will Make Me Want to Read a Book Instantly

Today you'll learn a bit about my favorite tropes, little things, genres - anything that I enjoy and will make me pick up a book instantly.

#1: f/f!
I'm so predictable. There is unfortunately so little representation for sapphic girls in YA, that I gotta take what I can get. I pretty much buy anything if it has girl-loving girls.

#2: Paranormal Horror!
You'd think there'd be more horror YA books out there. But unfortauntely it's very hard to find something that isn't gore-y, actually scary, and doesn't use mental illness as a poorly-researched premise. I also definitely can't stand crime-related horror with murderers or kidnappers or whatever. If it's paranormal and spooky, I'm in. But please, no ghost romances.

#3: Magical Realism!
Again, you'd think there'd be more. Magical Realism is a genre that most books on  the market claim to be, but if you actually pick it up it usually turns out to be Urban Fantasy. I've learned that it's best to stick with Latinx authors.

#4: Parallel Universes!
You guys know I love anything involving parallel universes. Generally you can hook me with anything that has multiple dimensions in them.

#5: Travelling to Space!
I love love love when authors write about space and introduce wacky world building that you'd never see anywhere but in space. Unfortauntely very few authors put the emphasis on the world when writing Science Fiction, so I'm stuck with trial and error.

#6: Aliens, Aliens, Aliens!
I have no idea how I developed this tendency, but I'm such a sucker for good old paranormal romance with aliens. I gobble these books up. Actual romance in space is hardly ever my thing, but if it's a weird alien coming to Earth, disguising themselves, and falling in love with a human? Sign me the heck up!

#7: Time Travel!
Another instant buy. I love a well-executed time travel book. It's very hard to get that right, I think time travel is one of the hardest things to execute well and to still have it make sense. My utmost respect to all authors who try. I love a good angsty high-concept time travel romance.

#8: Mixed format!
This is one of my newest obsessions. Any book that has a semi-intriguing premise AND features multiple formats (texts, chat logs, newspaper articles etc.), is definitely something I'll have to buy and have to own a physical copy of. No clue why, but I really enjoy the variation.

#9: My marginalizations!
I think this is a thing that gets everyone hooked. I've got a couple different marginalizations and having just a little bit of my identity represented automatically gets a buy. Oddly enough, while I do like identitiy representation I want any book set in a country I've lived in to be as physically far away from me as possible. Really deeply hate those for some reason.

#10: #Ownvoices!
Honestly? I dread reading non-#ownvoices and I try to avoid it. You guys know I read a lot (like, seriously A LOT) and from experience I know that most non-#ownvoices books are absolutely terrible. Either they're riddled with offensive, problematic content or just completely poorly written. Is this a thing or do I just pick up the worst books unintentionally? Every time I read an ownvoices book, it turns out to be a five star read. Odd. Let's investigate this.


What are some things that will make you pick up a book instantly?


Connect with me!
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Thursday, February 23, 2017

[Review] Talon (#1) - Julie Kagawa: Dragons, Slayers, and a Love Triangle





In TALON, dragons Ember and her brother Dante are forced to temporarily mingle with the humans for the summer. Unfortunately they end up accidentally attracting a couple of dragon slayers.

What intrigued me: I was looking for a nice high fantasy book with dragons!

Paranormal Romance with Dragons

TALON absolutely isn't what I expected it to be. This isn't high fantasy but a class A paranormal romance with a love triangle, following the usual spiel that we've all read about a thousand times. 

We have dragon slayers, dragons, action scenes, and of course, high school and boy drama. Unfortunately these things don't go together at all. What is this book? Paranormal romance, fast-paced shooter action, sweet summer romance, high fantasy? It reads like it's trying to be several things at once when it reality it's not even well-written enough to be one of those. While the narration voice, especially Ember's, is okay, the writing is messy, the structure all over the place and the lore not really imaginative. 

TALON could've been a typical quite original paranormal romance had it just stuck with Ember's POV instead of multiple POVs from people who lead drastically different lives. I would have surely enjoyed the story of a dragon that sort of doesn't like humans falling in love with one a lot more. Shape-shifter stories are usually never my thing, but with dragons? Yes! 

Lacks in World Building

The dragon part was really what initially drew me towards this book and intrigued me and after realizing this isn't even High Fantasy, I was really rooting for the lore to make this grand. But unfortunately there is hardly any specific lore. 

The dragon organization Talon and their dragon-slaying nemesis St. George are organized in that typical military, lazy-writing style I've read about a billion times. Generally, there is absolutely nothing magical about being a dragon. The only actual giveaways we have that Ember is a dragon is that she thinks all humans look the same (before she meets her love interests of course), and that she likes shiny things. I would've loved to see more original takes on dragon lore. 

In a novel that deals with actual dragons, I expect rich world building. This might as well have been a regular shifter romance with werewolves. If you want dragons, don't read this. 


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you're a paranormal romance fan, this surely is a welcome and pleasant spin on the topic, but it was just not what I was looking for when I picked this up and therefore didn't like it. The writing isn't for me, the world building is lacking, and the love triangle wasn't my thing either.



Additional Info

Published: October 18th 2014
Pages: 449
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Dragons
ISBN: 9780373211395

Synopsis:
"Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.
 "(Source: Goodreads)

Do you know any good books about dragons?

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Recommendation: The Women in the Walls - Amy Lukavics: Victorian Mansions and Disappearances

In THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS, Lucy and her cousin Margaret are hearing voices inside the walls of their Victorian home after Lucy's aunt disappears.

What intrigued me: Horror, horror, horror, give me all the creepy YA horror.

Bursting with talent

I've seldom read such effortlessly beautiful writing. There is not a single word too much in this book, Lukavics writes so infuriatingly beautiful that you can't help but be a little jealous of her talent. THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS tells a fascinating yet very simple story without much of a complicated plot that is so, so, so enhanced and livened through the fantastic writing. Lukavics has a very atmospheric writing style that is so essentially eerie. It's incredible how much Lucy's voice sucks you into this story, makes you feel like you're wandering through this creepy Victorian mansion with her.

I started out slightly skeptical because of the setting - it surely isn't anything I haven't seen before, but THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS perfectly illustrates that you can write with the most overdone premise ever and turn it into a masterpiece, if only you put your own spin on it. And that's what Lukavics absolutely does. 

Peak Creepiness

When it comes to horror, I'm a reviewer that you wouldn't want to read your book. I'm hardly scared of anything. You need to be exceptional to scare me and that's absolutely what THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is. It feels a little like psychological horror, how Lukavics pretty much gives you zero information on whether these voices are real or not and what they exactly are throughout the majority of the story. Until the bombastic finale that's riddled with absolutely unpredictable plot twists, you'll find yourself questioning whether Lucy and Margaret are imagining things or not constantly. It's so well-done that I genuinely grew a little paranoid while reading and I surely loved the way Lukavics wraps it all up. 

A word of caution towards the end: if you're not a fan of open endings, THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS will be very difficult to part with. Personally, I just can't help but keep thinking about Lukavics' characters because the story doesn't quite have an ending. But that's part of the brilliance and what good horror should do in my opinion. It should leave you thinking about the gruesome creepiness for days. Lukavics certainly and effortlessly managed to knock my favorite creepy horror writers from the throne. THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is absolutely a book you should read if you like everything eerie and Victorian. 


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is exceptional. A masterpiece, really. Written with literary ease and multi-faceted atmospheric writing, this is more than just a recommendation - this is a must-read.

Note: Massive trigger warning for suicide, body horror/gore, emotional abuse, and cutting/self harm if you plan on reading this book.


Additional Info

Published: September 27th 2016
Pages: 278
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA / Horror
ISBN: 9780373211944

Synopsis:
"Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They're inseparable—a family.  

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she's ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother's voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin's sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.
 "(Source: Goodreads)



Have any horror books scared you lately?

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Monday, January 16, 2017

[Review] The Graces (#1) - Laure Eve: Witches and Twilight

In THE GRACES, River is new to town and immediately grows obsessed with the town "celebrity" family Grace, who are said to be witches.

What intrigued me: Witches!

Carbon Copy of TWILIGHT

Many reviewers note that THE GRACES bears a lot of similarities to TWILIGHT. Which - well if you've been here for a while you know that I certainly wouldn't mind that. But it's very much a carbon copy of TWILIGHT, just interchanging vampires with witches. This is exactly the same reading experience, I don't even know what to say about the plot beyond that. 

The Grace family is exactly that brand of pretentious characters that speak in pseudo deep sentences that really makes you feel detached from the narration. None of the characters feel real, rather almost like a parody, because THE GRACES takes itself so, so seriously.
Eve has this poetic quite dreamy writing style that surely showcases her skills but it absolutely doesn't work in combination with that plot.

Beyond that we have our typical Mary Sue protagonist that's not like other girls and so special and different - can we just retire this already? There's nothing wrong with being exactly like all other girls. Girls are awesome.

Racism, Ableism, and Homophobia Galore 

THE GRACES is littered with slurs and insensitivity. So much so that I could basically educate you on what not to use just by using quotes from this book. Because it's just so much I'll use a list format.
I won't use any verbatim quotes here in the following in order not to clutter things up (and also because it's so much that going back and checking page numbers would take a century.)
  • Questionable POC/Asian rep. There is one non-white character in this book, mean girl Niral who engages in frequent homophobic comments and slut shaming. It's absolutely irresponsible to make your single POC (South-East Asian) character a despicable human being. It's even worse to include this in the first place if none of her horrible action are ever addressed and/or correct. This equals condoning her behavior.
  • Biphobia. THE GRACES uses bisexuality as a plot twist. If I tell you which character is bisexual, this would spoil the story. This is not how you represent LGBT* characters. Beyond that it's stigmatized and seen as disgusting and horrifying when the character is forcibly and violently outed. THE GRACES also features a hate crime on the basis of sexuality that is normalized and encouraged. 
  • Queerbaiting? Protagonist River has an obsession with Summer Grace that comes across more like a misguided crush. This book could've been so much more interesting if the romance was between two girls and not about running after a boy who doesn't really seem interested.
  • Homophobia. Mean girl Niral spreads rumors about a side character being a lesbian. I don't know in what world being a lesbian is a negative thing, but THE GRACES makes sure to portray it like that. Earlier on before the bisexual character is outed him being bullied by a boy is described as '[the bullied boy] seemed to enjoy [getting bullied] a little too much'. 
  • Casual racial slurs. You'll find g*psy and many more in this book as casual descriptors that are never addressed. Normalizing slurs is unacceptable. Racism isn't cool or quirky.
  • Casual ableism. The lovely line 'their parents divorce hung over them like lepracy' and calling a boy 'too strong to faint like that' are always quite lovely to read.
  • Straight-forward ableism. There's this lovely dialogue between two characters fairly early on where they talk about a supposedly mentally-ill character and say 'well you can't be friends with someone [...] with mental problems.'
...and this isn't even a complete list. At some point I just grew so emotionally exhausted that I just wanted to get this over with and stopped keeping tabs. Most of the things I mentioned can be found within the first 80 or so pages. 

It's extremely disappointing to not only see a racist homophobic and ableist book like that published, but also to see reviewers and bloggers recommend this happily. I was hurt by this book. And so many other marginalized readers in the future will be.

So yeah. That was THE GRACES. If you plan on reading this, be extremely careful.

Rating:

★☆☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE GRACES shocked me through the frequent insensitivity, homophobia, biphobia, and racial slurs. It's extremely horrifying that all of this ended up in the final version. Marginalized readers, please be very careful. Beyond that it's a typical Mary Sue moves to new town story that has so much in common with TWILIGHT that you can only call it fan fiction.

Trigger warning for: racial slurs, slut shaming, homophobia, biphobia, hate crimes (LGBT)


Additional Info

Published: September 1st 2016
Pages: 415
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Witches & Wizards
ISBN: 9780571326808

Synopsis:
"Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?"
(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite book about witches?

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Monday, November 21, 2016

[Review] Trollhunters (#1) - Daniel Kraus & Guillermo del Toro: Trolls and Abduction

In TROLLHUNTERS, children are disappearing and supposedly abducted by trolls.

What intrigued me: I love del Toro's movies and was hoping for some creepy vibes.

Middle Grade Horror - Not YA

I think I went into this with the wrong expectations. TROLLHUNTERS is a story intended for a Middle Grade audience even though it seems to be marketed as YA. The writing reminds me a lot of the FEAR STREET books maybe with a side of Stranger Things and definitely comes across as Middle Grade horror. Protagonist Jim doesn't quite read like a fifteen-year-old, I feel like everything about TROLLHUNTERS just screams Middle Grade and it's quite irritating that it poses to be something else.

Del Toro and Kraus absolutely manage to capture this unique feeling of uneasiness that I enjoy a lot when reading books in this genre. However, even though the feeling is spot on, the world builing fantastic, it just wasn't my thing. I wasn't looking to read Middle Grade horror, but if you're specifically looking for that this will be an excellent and fun read. 

Great world building

The highlight of TROLLHUNTERS is a combination of the brilliant black and grey illustrations and the fantastic world building. I absolutely believed Del Toro and Kraus that this is something that could've happened - TROLLHUNTERS threads a fine line between horror and what I would probably most accurately describe as paranormal magical realism (totally just invented this). The trolls are such a fantastically eerie element of the story that absolutely feels organic and terrifying. TROLLHUNTERS makes for a terrifying bedtime story for badass kids. 

The world of TROLLHUNTERS is fantastic, spell-binding, and the trolls are nothing short from terrifying and unsettling. For a younger audience this definitely is a must-read if you enjoy stories on the spookier, creepier side. I wish TROLLHUNTERS had been published when I was in the Middle Grade reading age!


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

TROLLHUNTERS is the book I wish I would've come across when I was eleven or twelve. The perfect horror read for Middle Grade readers, but because this isn't what I was looking for or expected, it didn't really impresss me.



Additional Info

Published: October 31st 2016
Pages: 416
Publisher: Heyne Fliegt
Genre: YA / Horror
ISBN: 978-3-453-27049-7

Synopsis:
"In San Bernardino, California, children are going missing. 

The townspeople don't believe the rumours of trolls, but fifteen-year-old Jim Jnr knows that they're a very real threat. At night, is anyone safe? 

TROLLHUNTERS is a funny, gruesome and undeniably del Toro-esque adventure perfect for teen readers and fans of Pan's Labyrinth."
(Source: Goodreads)



Do you like reading Middle Grade?

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

[Review] Rebel of the Sands - Alwyn Hamilton: Middle East, Guns, and Djinn

In REBEL OF THE SANDS, Amani wants to escape her abusive family by leaving town and ends up having to team up with a fugitive.

What intrigued me: Mostly recommendations from friends.

Very Unique and Hard to Get Into

REBEL OF THE SANDS has a beautifully unique setting that's somewhere between a Middle Eastern and a classic Western town. Surprisingly, the mashup isn't as strange as you'd expect. There's shooting, djinns, other malevolent creatures and magic. It's certainly something that I have never seen before in YA and therefore definitely gets the full score if we're talking originality. Though I do think that REBEL OF THE SANDS plays into stereotypes too much and does very little to help you familiarize yourself with the world. 

I love that Hamilton drew inspiration from Middle Eastern culture, but I really would've wished for her to make it easier for the average reader to truly understand the culture. Similar to the criticism I had for THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, which also features a Persian-inspired world, I would've been over the moon happy if there was a glossary included. So many words of Arab origin that you'd never understand or recognize unless you're googling what it means, little nods to clothing and culture and food, that you'd have no way of understanding. 

I think especially when you're not including a Western setting, considering that this is a book first published in the US in English, you have to consider that that will frustrate readers. It did frustrate me and take away from the narration because I was constantly looking up words and absolutely couldn't get truly immersed into the world.

Gimmicky and Lacking in Execution

Ultimately it's a mixture of the lackluster storytelling that just didn't get to the point, and the confusing world building that really didn't make REBEL OF THE SANDS match my taste. Hamilton merrily uses lots of info-dumps at the most inconvenient times that made me want to skim, skip, or even quit altogether. I never quite grew invested in the story, all about it felt gimmicky to me and kind of unbelievable. 

REBEL OF THE SANDS tries to be a western with paranormal elements, but also a classic high fantasy novel and the genre-mashup just doesn't work. I found it lengthy and boring and the writing too bulky and awkward to pull all of it off. At the core there is just no story to tell. REBEL OF THE SANDS purely relies on the world building (which is pretty much summed up by "there are monsters in the desert"), and that just doesn't work. While the setting is interesting, I think this lacks severely in execution and storytelling and I wish there was more to it all aside from the unique setting. 


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?


REBEL OF THE SANDS tries to bring a new perspective and breath of fresh air into the genre, but doesn't quite deliver. If you generally enjoy Westerns, you still might enjoy this. But don't expect this to be the first Western to get you into the genre.

Important: It has come to my attention that Hamilton's portrayal of Middle Eastern culture is a little offensive. Please read the review by my blogger friend Aimal, she's Pakistani Muslim and makes some valid points that you should take into consideration.

EDIT: This is actually more racist than I thought, so I'm lowering my rating. I don't feel comfortable speaking on any of the issues because I'm not Muslim or Middle Eastern and I wouldn't know what I'm talking about.


Additional Info

Published: August 22nd 106
Pages: 352
Publisher: cbt
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9783570164365

Synopsis:
"She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from. 

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him... or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is." (Source: Goodreads)


Have you read REBEL OF THE SANDS?

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Recommendation: Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) - Zoraida Córdova: Witches, Latinx, and Demons





In LABYRINTH LOST, Alejandra discovers that her witchy powers are stronger than she thought when she accidentally sends her entire family into limbo.

What intrigued me: I can't pass up books about witches, even less books about Latina witches!

Brujas > Witches

LABYRINTH LOST will show you witches in a way you definitely haven't seen them before. 

Córdova skillfully manages to merge Latin American tradition with magic in a way that makes it seem natural and extremely believable. I thoroughly enjoyed how she doesn't shy away from adding lots of diversity, lots of cultural influences, and lots of little nods to Latinx people. The world building is impeccable, I probably won't ever be able to read about witches again without thinking of Córdova's brujas. 

Paranormal Romance AND Fantasy Adventure in One!

Love interest Nova, fellow brujo and troublemaker deluxe grew close to my heart and became my favorite character throughout the novel. To save Alejandra's family, she bribes him into coming with her to magic limbo, or Los Lagos. Their adventures there differ a lot from the first impression I had of this. On the surface, LABYRINTH LOST is a typical paranormal romance novel, but halfway in changes into an epic magical, mythological-feeling fantasy adventure. 

This is difficult to pull off, to change the entire tenor of a novel so far in, but I think Córdova did a fantastic job. Exactly the fact that we have the first half to get to know her family, raises the stakes and personally made me invested. I needed Alejandra to save her family just as much as her, and I sucked up every little bit of information and lore about Los Lagos

I generally feel like the world building is the core and reason why I consider LABYRINTH LOST to be a gem in the genre. All those stories about the Deos/Gods La Mama and El Papa, the little snippets from the Books of Shadow of Alejandra's ancestors - where is Córdova getting all this from? Regardless whether this is based on real lore, it's fresh, it's fun, it's fantastic.

I need to have a separate bonus novella with a collection of all those little spells! LABYRINTH LOST has the potential to be the beginning of a truly epic and memorable series and I am already in pain when I think about how long I'll have to wait for the sequel. 


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

LABYRINTH LOST is a fantastically magical book about family, adventure, and first love. I can wholeheartedly recommend this to everyone, especially because of the wonderfully and skillfully interwoven Latin American base frame.


Additional Info

Published: September 6th 2016
Pages: 339
Publisher: Sourcebooks 
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Witches and Wizards 

Synopsis:
"Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…"(Source: Goodreads)


Can you recommend some witchy books to me?

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

[Review] The Human Cure - Tracy Auerbach





In THE HUMAN CURE, Kate gets kidnapped by the vampire Hunter and held captive in an underground city to become a breeder for him.

What intrigued me: As if I could ever, ever say no to a vampire book, guys.

Old school vampires!

Sometimes books seem to find you at the perfect time. THE HUMAN CURE looks like a scary vampire read, possibly with a side of romance. But what it actually is, is a flat out hilarious, incredibly witty, and captivating fun urban fantasy story. This is fast-paced, strangely funny, and a delight for any vampire lover.

I loved all the characters. I seldom say that because there's always one I despise, especially with a dual POV (which is almost never done well). I love, love, love how this isn't your average "girl meets swoony, mysterious boy. they kiss. they are in love now. but wait, he's a vampire!!!" story. It's actually quite the opposite. The vampires in THE HUMAN CURE are reckless, mean, rude, and absolutely perfect. This is how I like my vampires - old school and angry. I'm so very glad I decided to read this.

All the basic ingredients for the perfect fun vampire read

The biggest issue I had with this is the length. THE HUMAN CURE is truly a fun and entertaining read, but I struggled a little with connecting to the characters up until the end, just because this is such a short novel. Sometimes it felt like the characters were rushing from one scene to the next, and I just wanted it all to slow down a little, give the reader more time to fall in love with the undoubtedly unique concept and great characters.
The novel doesn't do itself a favor by being so fast-paced. The writing style and sentence structure mirrors the pace of the novel - it's quick, it's down to the point, it's devoid of metaphors and anything that doesn't bring the story forward. That's not a bad thing necessarily, it's very easy to read, but it makes getting attached a little difficult and doesn't compliment the world building (which has so much potential!).

What I cherished most about this is the very unexpected hilarity. I grew very attached to Hunter's vampire cousin Chase, whose dead-pan tone and dislike of humans is definitely the highlight. The protagonist Kate has a bunch of lines that almost made laugh-cry, too! THE HUMAN CURE is really entertaining and that's exactly what I wanted from this - a short distraction that made me laugh. You can't argue with that, it's a great read.


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

I do. It's quick, it's fun, it won't hurt to read this. If you like your vampires mean and gore-y, you're going to love Chase just as much as I do.



Additional Info


Published: 5th November 2014
Pages: 167
Publisher: 48fourteen
Genre: Adult / Paranormal / Vampires
ISBN: 9781937546366

Synopsis:
"Kate Plesser is leading a dead-end life as an office assistant with a penchant for bad relationships. She is lost. When Kate is kidnapped by Hunter, a gorgeous stranger, she assumes he is just some sick psychopath. She never suspects he is actually a vampire, and that she is about to be plunged into a world stranger than her wildest dreams. In the underground city where Hunter lives, she encounters his otherworldly cousin Chase, who holds the key to her freedom. She is thrust into a village where humans are farmed for feeding and breeding. In this mysterious new world beneath Queens, New York, Kate finds something she never expected."
(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite vampire novel?

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Monday, November 9, 2015

[Review] The Rise (The Originals #1) - Julie Plec





In "The Rise" by Julie Plec, the three original siblings Rebekah, Elijah, and Niklaus find themselves fighting for the reign over New Orleans in 1722.

Werewolves and witches are ruling the city and the siblings choose the most inconvenient time possible to all fall in love.


Wait, haven't I seen this before?

While I do like the TV show, the novel is a very different thing. The characters do not feel true to the show and there is a lot of instant love involved.

Instead of the sanguinary, dangerous original hybrid Niklaus we get a love-struck doofus that is instantly falling in love with the first ~special~ girl he sees. Elijah's story line feels just like filler and we've seen him fall in love with witches before. Of course Rebecca is choosing another vampire hunter to fall in love with. It's all been done in the show before and it's extremely disappointing because I was hoping for additional content, not just a rewrite of things we've already heard and seen. 

The story around the werewolves and witches fighting over New Orleans feels very repetitive if you've seen the show. In the book, the three siblings have arrived in New Orleans and are desperately looking for a place to stay in a city that's already crowded with supernatural creatures. Sound familiar? We have repetitive filler love interests, the same setting, and characters that are in no way comparable to the compelling and exciting characters from the show.

It's very hard to keep up

However, the main problem I have with this book is not the repetitive plot or the characters. If you look over all of that and just read it without actually thinking too hard about this being a novelization of the show, it's an okay read. It's well-written, but the writing is insanely dense, which just makes it super hard to keep up with everything that's happening and get invested in the characters. 
We have three separate story lines for the siblings that play out at the same time. This is only a 400-page-book so there's not much time to develop the plot in much detail. All plot lines end up resolved very conveniently for the siblings to further the plot and it's just not exciting. The second they face an obstacle, you can be sure that it's going to get resolved in the next chapter.


Rating:

★★☆☆



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Well-written, but just not the same thing as the TV show. The plot is very similar but the characters feel off. I would have enjoyed this way more, had it only focused on one of the siblings. The story is interesting but is too dense to be crammed into a 400-page-novel. Stick to the show, this is only for super fans.


Additional Info

Original Title: The Rise
Author: Julie Plec
Published: October 12th 2015
Pages: 440
Medium: Paperback
Publisher: cbt
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Vampires
ISBN: B00XSQE41Y
Synopsis:
"Family is power. The Original vampire family swore it to each other a thousand years ago. They pledged to remain together always and forever. But even when you're immortal, promises are hard to keep. 

Arriving in New Orleans in 1722, Original vampire siblings Klaus, Elijah and Rebekah Mikaelson believe they've escaped their dangerous past. But the city is lawless, a haven for witches and werewolves unwilling to share territory. The siblings are at their mercy…especially after Klaus meets the beautiful and mysterious Vivianne. Her impending marriage is key to ending the war between the supernatural factions—and Klaus's attraction to her could destroy the uneasy alliance. As Elijah works toward securing a piece of the city for his family, and Rebekah fights her unexpected feelings for a French captain, will Klaus's volatile desires bring their world crashing down—and tear them apart for good?(Source: Goodreads)



Do you watch The Originals?


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Monday, November 2, 2015

[Review] Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) - Charlaine Harris




"Dead Until Dark" by Charlaine Harris is the first novel in the Southern Vampire Mysteries Series.

In a world where vampires are acknowledged by the general public, telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse meets and befriends vampire Bill Compton.

When people start getting murdered in the small town of Bon Temps and everyone suspects Bill, Sookie is determined to defend him.


Show or Books - Pick one.

I love the TV show, so picking this up was a no-brainer. However, it feels more like the books were written after the TV show came out, not the other way around.

As a dedicated fan who knows every single line in almost every episode, I couldn't help but notice that even the dialogues are absolutely the same. I would even go as far as to say that you don't have to bother with the books/show if you're familiar with one of them. It really just reads like a transcript of the show. Therefore I was insanely bored and couldn't really get into it.

Cardboard Cutout Characters

Sookie is a very nontransparent character, it's super hard to sympathize with her. Harris is absolutely unable to portray her emotions, so all her reactions towards things seem to come out of the blue. Every other page Sookie starts crying and from one second to the next everything is okay again. It honestly felt like the story were told from the perspective of an omniscient narrator instead of an actual person.
We really don't find out anything about the love interest, the vampire Bill. I don't think Harris even bothers to explain what he looks like. One second he's there, the other he's gone and all the relationship between the two is 100% dialogue.
Then again, their dialogues feel like chat conversations and they don't really seem to react to anything the other one says. The whole novel reads like a transcript. It feels extremely static and the characters just don't come to life. No chemistry either, their first kiss and attraction in general came out of the blue.


Rating:


 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Stick with the show. Don't even bother. It's just flat out very bad writing, I'm sorry. I have never read a book that made it so difficult for me to get pictures in my head. While I do love the premise and overall idea, "Dead Until Dark" is a trainwreck.
The southern feel doesn't come across, it reads like a caricature, I even enjoyed "Beautiful Creatures" more than that.


Additional Info

Original Title: Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
Published: September 3rd 2008
Pages: 292
Medium: Paperback, Media Tie-In
Publisher: Ace Books
Cover: Ace Books, 2008
Genre: Adult / Paranormal
ISBN: 9780441016990


Synopsis:
"Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of "disability." She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome - and Sookie can't 'hear' a word he's thinking. He's exactly the kind of guy she's been waiting for all her life.

But Bill has a disability of his own: He's a vampire. Worse than that, hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, with a reputation for trouble - of the murderous kind.

And when one of Sookie's colleagues is killed, she begins to fear she'll be next ...
 "
(Source: Goodreads)

Have you seen the TV show?


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Sunday, July 26, 2015

[Review] Origins (Stefan's Diaries #1) - L.J. Smith


In ORIGINS, we get to find out how it all began and how Stefan and Damon met and fell in love with Katherine.

These books are the prequels to the TV show and are written by a ghostwriter. They stand in no relation to the book series by L.J. Smith.
If you're a fan of the original books, this will definitely confuse you. If you're a fan of the show and want to find out how it all began, be my guest.

I'm a sucker for the TV show and it's not a secret. So naturally I jumped at an opportunity to find out the origin story of the Salvatore brothers and Katherine. Because all these books are written by a ghostwriter, the writing is very, basic, clean and absolutely not unique. It feels generic. The characterization of Stefan isn't really something I'd agree with as a fan of the show.

I've read the third novel before I read this one and as both a human and a vampire, Stefan acts like a little boy. There's nothing left of the charming gentleman of the first season, he's just an insecure kid. For a seventeen-year-old he's very immature and naive. I get that this probably the point - to show a side of Stefan that the fans of the show not know, but I just couldn't empathize with his character, because he's so unlike the Stefan that I know.

A Novelization of the Show

The relationship between Katherine and him is extremely off as well. Through the show you've got the impression that it was epic head-over-heels love between the two and they really thought they were meant for each other at the time. In ORIGINS, Stefan falls in love with her madly from the second he sees her and it's absolutely ridiculous. He's supposed to marry some other girl and is conflicted because he fell in love with Katherine after talking two sentences. Unbelievable. I didn't buy it and it really made me dislike him irrationally. Katherine isn't even portrayed charmingly. She's barely in the novel and Stefan characterizes her passively, which just leads to unrealistic expectations. More show, less tell.

I can just overall say that I was insanely bored with this and had to force myself to keep going. Stefan proves to be a super boring and almost sleepy character to read about. No doubt, had this been the first Stefan's Diaries book that I'd read, I wouldn't have even bothered to pick up the sequels. I think the main flaw of this is that they really tried to incorporate all the flashback scenes and dialogue from the show in too little time. Literally every scene we've seen with Katherine/Damon/Stefan in 1864 is in this novel and it happens in a ridiculously short time span. It's not realistic, it's just boring. I can't find any better adjective to describe it.

Rating:

☆☆

 

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I'm not a fan. I liked the third novel way better and even that one was a pretty mediocre read. I'm probably still going to continue reading these novels to find out more backstory to the show, because I'm really interested in the characters. The books on their own aren't worth reading if you're not a hardcore Vampire Diaries fan.



Additional Info

Published: November 2nd 2010
Pages: 237
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Vampires
ISBN: 9780062003935

Synopsis:
"A love triangle that will span eternity… 

The year is 1864 and the Civil War rages on. But seventeen-year-old Stefan Salvatore is fighting a battle all his own. Engaged to marry someone he does not love, Stefan falls for a mysterious girl named Katherine. With her gleaming curls and mischievous brown eyes, Katherine is beautiful and seduction…but she also harbors a dark secret: She’s a vampire.

Based on the popular CW TV show inspired by the bestselling novels, Stefan’s Diaries reveals what really happened between Stefan, Damon, and Katherine—and how the Vampire Diaries love triangle began."
(Source: Goodreads)

Have you seen the TV show or read the novels?

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Monday, March 2, 2015

[Review] Spirit Bound (VA #5) - Richelle Mead


In SPIRIT BOUND, Rose is back at St.Vladimir's Academy after her quest in Russia. Having failed to kill her newly turned Strigoi lover Dimitri, she just wants to graduate now and focus on her own life.
I must say that this is definitely my last chance for Mead to turn it all around. I wasn't a fan of  BLOOD PROMISE, the fourth novel, especially because she decided to flip the setting. I'm happy that we're back at St. Vladimir's now and getting back to all the familiar characters instead of those annoying filler people in Russia. 

You don't have to read the fourth to understand the fifth. All the characters that were introduced don't really matter and it didn't do anything for Rose's character. What Rose did in Russia is merely just briefly mentioned and nobody actually cares.

Just another filler story...

As a fan of Dimitri and Rose as a couple it pains me to say this, but at this point I just wish Mead had killed Dimitri off for good in the last novel. I'm sick of that storyline, I just want Rose to focus on herself and becoming a guardian and just let it go. Though Mead made the whole hesitation thing believable and all, it's hard to believe that she actually staked the man and he still survived. Somebody's attached to her characters, eh?

I'm not going to sugarcoat it- I really skimmed a lot of it. Since SHADOW KISS (#3) the series has really started to drag. Things that are said to be impossible suddenly work and are used for another super innovative storyline, and seriously, I can't even tell you in a few sentences what happened in the last novel anymore because everything just seems so irrelevant.You can just tell that Mead is trying to fill pages and beat around the bush up until she's reached that typical point about 80% in where she finally tells the story she meant to tell in the first place.


Really lazy writing and too little stakes

As terrible as the non-existant plot is, the character development in SPIRIT BOUND is just amazing. I loved that Dimitri got a chance to grow as a person and I also loved how Rose dealt with adult life and realized that it isn't all fun and games just like she had imagined back when she was still at St. Vladimir. A major major major thing that bothered me insanely though is Adrian's and Rose's relationship. Seriously. Rose made it clear from FROSTBITE (#2) on that she doesn't and never will like Adrian romantically. Starting the novel off with them together just seems like a lazy way of starting a weird love triangle off.

Talk about things that were dealt with poorly: if you're going to have a lot of casualties and risky battles in your novel, make them matter and don't exclusively kill people you just introduced. The world of the Vampire Academy Series is dangerous, we all get it. There's lot of battles, many occasions where guardians have their life at stake (get it)- but the way Mead deals with it, it's not really believable. Her characters, even main characters are sent into battle all the time, but in the end the only casualties we have are people that remain nameless. At least give the main characters some injuries! It's just bad writing to me to only kill off unimportant people. The battles lose meaning.

Rating:

★★☆☆


Overall: Do I Recommend?

No. After BLOOD PROMISE another very weak novel. I only hang on because I'm desperately hooked on the characters. At this point I'm only here for Dimitri, Tasha and Adrian. Just stop at FROSTBITE and get somebody to tell you what happens. It's not worth the time and frustration.

Additional Info

Published: May 18th 2010
Pages: 479
Genre: YA/  Fantasy / Paranormal / Vampires

Synopsis:
"Dimitri gave Rose the ultimate choice. But she chose wrong...

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri's birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir's-and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can't wait for their real lives beyond the Academy's iron gates to begin. But Rose's heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he's out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. And this time he won't rest until Rose joins him... forever."

Have you read the series or are planning to?

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Monday, February 23, 2015

[Review] Blood Promise (VA #4) - Richelle Mead

In BLOOD PROMISE, Rose Hathaway has dropped out of St. Vladimir's Academy to find Dimitri and hunt him down. After the events of SHADOW KISS, he has turned into an evil Strigoi. Just like she promised him before the battle, she is now off to kill him, because he told her that he wouldn't want to continue life as a Strigoi and would rather be dead. In order to fulfill his dying wish and find him, Rose has to go to Siberia, his home country. 

What intrigued me: I read the first three books. I'm trapped. 
 Interesting Change of Scenery

To me, this novel is definitely entirely different from the previous Vampire Academy novels. Due to it not taking place at St.Vladimir's anymore, the vibe is slightly darker. There's no high school drama as in FROSTBITE and instead of focusing on rivalries 24/7, everyone seems to be preparing for upcoming, possible battles. Because Rose has separated from the familiar scenes, the side characters get very little screen time and are replaced by new Russian acquaintances that she meets on her travels. While I do not really like that Mead decided to simply replace everyone, I understand that with this setting it's hardly possible to keep track of the old characters. For the first time in the series though the bond between Lissa and Rose is now finally useful (at least for the author) to give us at least a bit of information on what's happening back in the US. Clever move, also including the dreamwalking thing that fellow spirit user Adrian does, I have to give that to Mead. 

However, BLOOD PROMISE is solely about Dimitri and Rose. If Rose hasn't been your favorite character before, she certainly won't rise to becoming that now. If you're interested in the two as a couple and Dimitri's family history, you're certainly going to LOVE this. If you've been a fan of other characters in the series, you're most likely going to hate this one. I think it's sad that Mead decided to make such a harsh cut and basically throw in twenty new characters at once that are hardly able to catch the reader's attention as much as those that you've read about since book one. Sydney, who's an alchemist, whose only purpose is to get rid of the dead Strigoi bodies Dhampirs leave around in human territory, is a textbook filler character. I couldn't really sympathize with her, neither was I particularly interested in Dimitri's 34278937 sisters and family members. 

...Wait There Is a Point in This?

Rose's tendency to waste time and go into the whole situation without a plan causes to BLOOD PROMISE to drag extremely. 
When she finally meets Dimitri I was overwhelmed by how out-of-character they both acted. Given that Dimitri is undead now, I was okay with that, not exactly thrilled, but okay. But Rose instantly became such an annoying, whiny, weak and just imbecile character within ONE chapter break that I was actually shocked. I fully understand that Mead wants to put emphasis on the Strigoi being NOT human/moroi/dhampir anymore, but the way she chose to portray Strigoi Dimitri can only be summarized with one word: terrible. It might have as well been any other character, I saw nothing of him in his "awakened" new self and I actually got reminded of Franklin from the TV show True Blood. The situation was almost exactly the same and just as painfully frustrating to watch/read. I lost almost all motivation to continue the novel during Rose's stay at Galina's estate because it was so dull to read and doing nothing for the progression of the storyline. Also, the fact that she lets him take blood knowing what it had done to her previously with Lissa in VAMPIRE ACADEMY... I don't recall Rose ever being that naive. Maybe I was wrong. 

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆


Overall: Do I Recommend?


The weakeast novel so far! I said that before about SHADOW KISS, but this is actually worse. Mainly because you can tell that Mead introduced new characters so that she has something to fill her thin plot with and then completely lost herself in giving all those characters a purpose and backstory.


Official Synopsis:
"Rose Hathaway's life will never be the same.

The recent attack on St. Vladimir's Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse. A rare tattoo now adorns Rose's neck, a mark that says she's killed far too many Strigoi to count. But only one victim matters ... Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honoring her life's vow to protect Lissa—her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess—or, dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She'll have to go to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved?

Now, with everything at stake—and worlds away from St. Vladimir's and her unguarded, vulnerable, and newly rebellious best friend—can Rose find the strength to destroy Dimitri? Or, will she sacrifice herself for a chance at eternal love?"
 
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