Showing posts with label rcr. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rcr. Show all posts

Friday, June 10, 2016

[Review] The Gracekeepers - Kirsty Logan: Circus Artists and a Flooded World





In THE GRACEKEEPERS, Callanish and North live in a flooded world, one is a circus traveler, the other one lives on land.

What intrigued me: Honestly, I was just hoping for a nice Magical Realism story.

High Fantasy in disguise

THE GRACEKEEPERS truly sounds like a magical story if you've read the blurb and the writing definitely supports this. It reads like a fever dream, strange, yet very comforting. However, that kind of writing isn't for everyone. Paired with the multiple POVs, THE GRACEKEEPERS simply used two things that I personally don't like, as well executed as they may be. Especially the multiple POVs are lacking here because it very easily makes it difficult to get truly immersed in the world. 

Because the two protagonists North and Callanish lead dramatically different lives and have numerous side kicks that you have to keep up with, I easily lost interest and motivation to read this novel. Hence my reading experience felt forced, dragged out, and not really pleasant. This is by no means a bad novel, merely the beginning is lacking. The world could be super interesting, I've only ever encountered a flooded world in CURRENTS before and quite enjoyed the concept. I would've liked GRACEKEEPERS to explain more, to show me more world building. I assume the novel is trying to be Magical Realism, but honestly, it's just High Fantasy. Just throw in world building, please, this concept doesn't work for this story.

Severely lacks world building

The world building or lack thereof generally is what makes this novel not succeed in my opinion. I would've loved to see strong concepts from the first second on. There's a circus on a raft in a flooded world! This is epic! This is a great idea! Why are there so few descriptions? 

Basically we get the facts like reading a bullet point journal but NONE of the atmosphere. The writing itself absolutely cannot convey the atmosphere, it won't hurt to add a couple of descriptive scenes, would it? In a novel like this that's about two characters with vastly different lives, you can't just omit society and culture. There is almost nothing of that in this. Sometimes it feels like your average medieval-inspired fantasy book, sometimes it feels like something out of a Guillermo del Toro movie. THE GRACEKEEPERS lures with a great premise, but honestly can't deliver and immerse in the world.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

I don't think it's worth the trouble. I really wanted to like THE GRACEKEEPERS, but I do think even two stars is very generous, mostly for the idea. I didn't enjoy the story much and I think there are better similar books out there. THE NIGHT CIRCUS, PANTOMIME etc.



Additional Info


Published: March 10th 2016
Pages: 293
Publisher: Vintage
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9781784700133

Synopsis:
"A flooded world. 
A floating circus. 
Two women in search of a home. 

North lives on a circus boat with her beloved bear, keeping a secret that could capsize her life.

Callanish lives alone in her house in the middle of the ocean, tending the graves of those who die at sea. As penance for a terrible mistake, she has become a gracekeeper.

A chance meeting between the two draws them magnetically to one another - and to the promise of a new life.

But the waters are treacherous, and the tide is against them."(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read THE GRACEKEEPERS?

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

[Review] Dreaming of Antigone - Robin Bridges: Greek Plays, Drugs, and Manic Pixie Dream Boys





In DREAMING OF ANTIGONE, Andria's twin sister Iris died of a heroin overdose. Andria has been suffering life-threatening seizures all her life and is counting down to getting declared seizure-free for six months by her doctor, so she can get her driver's license.

What intrigued me: The absolutely stunning cover.

A little over the top

DREAMING OF ANTIGONE is one of those typical coming-of-age novels that try to hook you with a side of romance and a deep topic of choice - in this case poetry. The whole novel has sprinkled in parts of poems that Andria and a mystery person in her school scribble on their desks. The premise isn't necessarily new, I've read books about similar scenarios before. The boy she's communicating with is of course her late twin sister's ex-boyfriend, a Manic Pixie Dream Boy Deluxe. And of course they fall in love.

I just didn't connect to the characters at all, which is probably also because they don't seem like real people. Bridges tried to spice the story up by splattering in bits of highly sensitive topics. From heroin addiction to child abuse to suicide - you'll find everything in this. And frankly, it's just too much. Things like this don't happen in high school and even if they did, you'd think that the parents would at least comment once on it. Or that the children would be more aware of it. Despite Andria's twin sister recently having died, there is virtually no grief in this. Frequent clumsily written, cryptic dreams, but not actual grief. I just didn't buy it.

Lack of plot

I think DREAMING OF ANTIGONE would have been better off if it had been written with a different audience in mind, maybe as a work of Literary Fiction. Like this, it just reads like Bridges tries too hard to hide the fact that there is nothing to the novel, there is absolutely no story, and the little we get is very, very predictable. I do like the chronically ill main character, but something just didn't sit right with me, Andria's narration reads very detached, very devoid of emotion. Again, she doesn't feel real, none of the characters do.

The little nods to the Greek Play were more exhausting than a nice addition. Bridges didn't manage to show Andria's fascination with Antigone, and all the similarities to her own life just feel forced. I caught myself skimming halfway through all passages summarizing Antigone, and I just didn't feel like it's necessary.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

DREAMING OF ANTIGONE just wasn't for me. If you like coming-of-age stories and don't mind the occasional poetry excerpt, maybe you'll feel differently.



Additional Info

Published: March 29th 2016
Pages: 304
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781496703545

Synopsis:
"Every star has its own path… 

“I can’t ever be the blazing star that Iris was. I’m still just a cold, dark satellite orbiting a star that went super nova.”

Andria’s twin sister, Iris, had adoring friends, a cool boyfriend, a wicked car, and a shelf full of soccer trophies. She had everything, in fact—including a drug problem. Six months after Iris’s death, Andria is trying to keep her grades, her friends, and her family from falling apart. But stargazing and books aren’t enough to ward off her guilt that she—the freak with the scary illness and all-black wardrobe—is still here when Iris isn’t. And then there’s Alex Hammond. The boy Andria blames for Iris’s death. The boy she’s unwittingly started swapping lines of poetry and secrets with, even as she tries to keep hating him."(Source: Goodreads)


Do you like stories inspired by Greek plays?

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Monday, April 25, 2016

[Review] Forewarned (The Near Deaths #2) - Holly M. Campbell: Serial Killers and Psychics




In FOREWARNED, mind reader Hope and her death-seeing boyfriend Lance are on the hunt for the kidnapper that tried to abduct Hope and her friend Claire in FORESHADOWED.

What intrigued me: I liked the first book!

The serial killer is back

The first book initially left me a bit disappointed that the kidnapping storyline isn't completely resolved but picked up again in the second novel. What could have possibly ended in a dragged out disaster actually proved to be a smart decision. 

Where FORESHADOWED still introduced characters, FOREWARNED absolutely compliments the series by concentrating more on the action. I grew very attached to all the characters and am an absolute fan of the protagonist Hope. 

Her narration is so essentially teen and relatable that it's just fun to read her story. The mind-reading part that I initially was very skeptical of, because it's hardly done well, became one of my favorite things about this series. Campbell flawlessly manages to capture the thoughts of her characters.

Fantastic ending ... where's the sequel?!

FOREWARNED is a typical transition novel and it shows in the plot. Because of Campbell's light and easy writing style it doesn't quite bother me as much, but I really would have loved for things to get ugly in this one. FORESHADOWED hints at all the action and I was really hoping to see the showdown in this novel or at least get a little bit more information of the killer that would make it easier to pinpoint who he exactly is. Well, in the end I did like the sequel than the first, which is mostly because of the great ending that had me longing for more. 

In both FORESHADOWED and FOREWARNED, the last thirty pages were by far my favorite part of the books. Campbell is exceptionally talented at fast-pace narration, building up tension within a couple of pages, and really, deeply making me worry for her characters' fate. FOREWARNED yet again surprised me with a devastating and fantastic ending, and made me want to immediately continue the story and read the sequel. 

Full of surprises, relatable and thought-provoking, FOREWARNED is truly a reading pleasure!


Rating:

★★★½☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

I liked FOREWARNED better than the first and am very much looking forward to continuing the series and I would absolutely recommend it!



Additional Info

Published: April 26th 2016
Pages: 398
Publisher: 48Fourteen
Genre: YA / Thriller

Synopsis:
"Death is not finished with her…

With a little help from her death-seeing boyfriend, Lance Hampton, Hope Murdoch has already defeated fate once. Doing it again—and stopping a serial killer in the making—shouldn’t be too hard…except she hasn’t healed from her last brush with the psychopath, Lance is struggling with his personal demons, and she’s grounded. Tracking down a murderer is not easy when you’re basically under house arrest.

Yet, the seventeen-year-old mind reader isn’t about to let those trifling obstacles slow her down. So what if she has to lie to her parents and sneak out of the house to catch him? She is not the only one in danger.

Once again, Hope is faced with the burden of choosing between saving her own life and the victims starring in Lance’s visions. Getting past her parents’ house alarm is a walk in the dark compared with trying to get a murderer behind bars…or in the ground. With only a few clues to piece together, every path looks like a dead end—literally. 

This time, the cost of changing her future may be too much to bear."(Source: Goodreads)


Do you like books about mind readers?

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Friday, April 1, 2016

[Review] Lucky Me - Saba Kapur: Bodyguards, Rich Kids, and Movie Stars






In LUCKY ME, rich girl Gia is threatened by an anonymous caller, which causes her father to hire a shockingly attractive bodyguard to follow her around.

What intrigued me: I was hoping for a light Kinsella-esque read.

Great first person narration

The most striking thing and actually also my favorite thing about LUCKY ME is definitely the main character, Gia. She's incredibly funny and just comes across as a real person. You hardly encounter novels about rich kids that don't play into stereotypes, and Kapur really managed to create a likable protagonist. I loved her witty banter with love interest and bodyguard Jack, their dialogues are definitely the highlight.

As much as I enjoyed reading about Gia, the other characters remain very one-dimensional and uninteresting. Because the narration is so focused on Gia and her internal monologue, LUCKY ME lacks world establishing. Hardly anything is described, from Gia's surroundings to the looks of the people around her. I do like that Gia's voice is so strong and seamlessly can transition from background information to the present tense storyline, but I would have liked this more if I didn't have to conjure up all images on my own. 

One-dimensional love interests

The bodyguard storyline isn't very groundbreaking and didn't really get to me that much. The immediate danger of the situation is mostly defused by the fact that Gia absolutely ignores it. There isn't much urgency in the story - which would have really spiced things up a little. 

Jack is always just hovering around as the sole reminder that something is actually wrong. I didn't really connect with him, most of the time I just couldn't make sense of his personality. Is he being sarcastic? Is he just trying to come back at Gia for her sassy comments? The only info we get of him is that he's attractive, and that just makes him a very flat character to me that I didn't have any reason to care about from the start. Same with the other love interest, neither of them were really fleshed out enough to actually make me root for either of them to end up with Gia. I wish the novel had tried less to force the inevitable love triangle and had played more with the stalker sub plot.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

LUCKY ME is a sweet, fun contemporary novel. It may be very predictable, but it's without a doubt a nice pastime if you can look past the generic love interests. The narration is truly impeccable, hilarious, and absolutely unique.



Additional Info

Published: April 5th 2016
Pages: 329
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9780692536407

Synopsis:
"For eighteen year old Gia Winters, having a movie star for a father, a former Playboy bunny as a mother, a Hollywood mansion, and a closet stocked with Chanel is simply another day in the life.

But her world is turned upside down when her father mysteriously hires a group of bodyguards to trail the family 24/7 and threatening phone calls from a "Dr. D" start buzzing daily.

When Gia scores the coveted role of Miss Golden Globe, she is forced to strike a deal with her bodyguard, Jack, who is almost as arrogant as he is attractive. Juggling Gia's romantic failures, fashion faux pas, and celebrity obsessions, the duo investigate a series of clues with the help of a police cadet, who has a special set of skills and an even better set of dimples.

But with the Golden Globes just around the corner, danger levels rise higher than her stilettos as Gia learns that the biggest secrets might be the ones buried in her own home.

In a place where the hills have eyes, high school nemeses, bad hair days, raging parties, and stolen kisses, there can only be trouble for a girl who was just starting to consider herself lucky."(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite light, funny book?

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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?

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Monday, March 14, 2016

[Review] Trick - Natalia Jaster: Wit, Poetry, and Princesses


In TRICK, Princess Briar is determined to expose the arrogant Court Jester Poet, because she thinks he has a secret.

What intrigued me: Recommendation from friends.

Diversity in High Fantasy! Hallelujah!

TRICK won my sympathy very early on with its beautiful portrayal of sexually and ethnically diverse characters. It's very rare to find this in High Fantasy and it had me squealing with excitement. Jaster's characters feel absolutely real, from the way they talk to the way they present themselves. You won't find any generic YA stereotypes in here.

Princess Briar is a character that I very much identified with. I love how her mixed feelings for Poet are first expressed through frustration and anger. It's so refreshing not to see a heroine that's immediately melting into a puddle of goo at the sight of her love interest. I absolutely enjoyed her chapters, but I also liked Poet's. It's hard to choose here, I loved getting inside his head, to know what this insanely mysterious guy is thinking, but again, I struggled a little with the writing. 

TRICK is undoubtedly written lyrically, beautifully. Jaster is an insanely talented writer, but it's also very hard to get into the writing when you're not used to it. I'm not a fan of poetic writing personally and struggled with understanding and paying attention to Poet's lines. This isn't the book's fault, it's mostly personal preference. It truly fits Poet's character to speak like this, lyrically, poetically, but it made it hard to just let the pages fly by and get lost in the writing for me. 

Too much world building?

The thing that makes me knock off one star of my rating would be the world building then. I just didn't get it. There were too many things introduced very quickly. 
I did understand the basis of these four seasons-themed kingdoms, but I'm not a fan of this concept generally, which reminds me a lot of SNOW LIKE ASHES, and I would have wished for the novel to just leave this out because the story can definitely stand on its own if it would take place in a regular fantasy world.
With a stand-alone, too much world building is usually just ruining the experience a little for me. However, the characters just make this work and TRICK is truly a unique and magical novel that I'm sure will be even more enjoyable for high fantasy fans.  


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

I think within the genre TRICK definitely stands out through the wonderfully diverse characters and the writing. If you're a fan of high fantasy, this is your pick.



Additional Info

Published: November 4th 2015
Pages: 310
Publisher: Createspace (self-published)
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9781517494957

Synopsis:
"There is a rule amongst his kind: A jester doesn’t lie.

In the kingdom of Whimtany, Poet is renowned. He’s young and pretty, a lover of men and women. He performs for the court, kisses like a scoundrel, and mocks with a silver tongue.

Yet allow him this: It’s only the most cunning, most manipulative soul who can play the fool. For Poet guards a secret. One the Crown would shackle him for. One that he’ll risk everything to protect.

Alas, it will take more than clever words to deceive Princess Briar. Convinced that he’s juggling lies as well as verse, this righteous nuisance of a girl is determined to expose him.

But not all falsehoods are fiendish. Poet’s secret is delicate, binding the jester to the princess in an unlikely alliance . . . and kindling a breathless attraction, as alluring as it is forbidden."(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite High Fantasy read?

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

[Review] Dreamscape: Saving Alex - Kirstin Pulioff: Saving the Queen in a Video Game




In DREAMSCAPE, Alexis gets sucked into her favorite childhood video game.

What intrigued me: I'm forever searching for a book similar to READY PLAYER ONE.

Is she even in a game?

The world of DREAMSCAPE sure is interesting, but it is absolutely not what I expected. When Alexis first gets sucked in, we are presented a world that is more reminiscent of your average high fantasy novel than a video game. The aesthetics of a pixelated game are just missing and exchanged for real life people and objects. 
It doesn't feel at all like she's even in a game, maybe sucked into a very unoriginal medieval world instead. I missed all the little nods to pop culture that I loved so much about READY PLAYER ONE, and found it absolutely strange that Alexis didn't show recognition or fascination with anything that was happening, considering that she actually landed right in her favorite game.

Unoriginal High Fantasy Setting

The main quest of DREAMSCAPE is for Alexis to rescue Queen Elin, because she is immediately recognized as one of the Golden Heroes of the game. Until that plot line even begins, we are presented with lots of filler as opportunities to showcase the world, which just isn't original at all. I might as well could have read any medieval-inspired high fantasy novel and exchanged it for this one, it's full of cliches and at no point surprised me with its world-building. 

The perk of this way of storytelling is simply that it kept me going. I wanted to see whether it would get better, was desperately waiting for a fun twist that would make this original and unique that just didn't come.
DREAMSCAPE wasn't really what I expected, which doesn't necessarily mean that it's a bad novel. The voice is extraordinary believable for a teen girl, Alexis is a fun character to read about and the writing absolutely matches the pace of the story. It just wasn't for me, because I wasn't expecting a generic high fantasy story.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you were interested in this because you were hoping to find a book that's similar to READY PLAYER ONE, I'll have to disappoint you. DREAMSCAPE is a very unoriginal novel about a fantasy world instead of a fast-paced Sci-Fi adventure.



Additional Info

Published: April 12th 2015
Pages: 348
Publisher: Createspace 
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Virtual Reality
ISBN: 9781507726921

Synopsis:
"Sixteen-year-old Alexis Stone is used to getting away from life’s frustration with Dreamscape, a video game she's loved since childhood. As her family prepares to move, a sleepy night of gaming pulls her into the world like never before. Trapped in Dreamscape’s realm, Alex is about to learn that being a hero has consequences… and this time, the stakes are deadly. Will helping the rebellion cost her everything she knows and loves? Or will she betray them to save her own life?"
(Source: Goodreads)

Do you have any recommendations for books set in a virtual reality scenario?

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

[Review] Pearl - Deirdre Riordan Hall: Rock star moms, boarding schools, and Frida Kahlo





In PEARL, the daughter of a rock star turned drug addict gets sent to a boarding school.

What intrigued me: The beautiful cover.

A very unique premise

PEARL starts off beautifully, intriguingly. The setting is unique, you don't read about addiction in YA very often, even less when it's about aging rock stars. It's fascinating to dive into this foreign world and Riordan Hall absolutely manages to make this bizarre scenario seem realistic, not over the top, and tragically exciting. 
I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning, getting to know Pearl and her mother JJ. 

I would have loved to see PEARL continue in this direction, to see what life is like for Pearl with her addict mother and her abusive boyfriend. PEARL takes a direction that just isn't for me. I'm not a fan of boarding school novels and I feel like much potential is wasted here by ditching the superb premise and simply turning the novel into one of those "story of a girl" coming-of-age ones. At the boarding school, the novel slips into cliches, losing most of its unique and interesting basic idea. 

Beautiful, beautiful writing

I didn't root as much for the protagonist Pearl as I would have liked, mainly because I never quite developed a connection to her. Though the novel is written from her perspective, it feels like you're watching from above, Pearl just seems like a vessel for the story, for the reader.

I am absolutely a fan of Riordan Hall's writing. Her writing gives the novel a very specific tone and voice that makes it stand out: This isn't a regular quickly read contemporary novel per se - the characters feel more mature, almost shamelessly honest. It surely isn't light reading. Because this novel isn't commercial fiction per se, you'll have to expect slower pacing, less stakes, less loud action. PEARL is a rather quiet read, a character study, but very much worth the read.

PEARL bounces back and forth between literary and commercial, sometimes light and dorky, sometimes so shockingly thought-provoking that you have to put the book down and think for a moment. 


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

PEARL is a beautifully written and thought-provoking novel. It couldn't quite win my heart with the characters as I'd hoped, but the writing is absolutely promising, making it worth the read.



Additional Info

Published: March 1st 2016
Pages: 352
Publisher: Skyscape
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781503948587

Synopsis:
"Run fast and run far, unless you’re fearless. Unless you’re courageous. I’m not, but I’d like to be.

Pearl Jaeger is seventeen and homeless after drugs, poverty, and addiction unraveled the life she shared with JJ, her formerly glamorous rock star mother.

This moment of happiness is fleeting; someone will take it from me. 

When tragedy brings a chance to start over at an elite boarding school, she doesn’t hesitate. Yet the only salvation comes from an art teacher as troubled as Pearl, and she faces the stark reality that what she thought she wanted isn’t straightforward.

I trace the outline of my reflection in a window. I am no more than a replica of my mother. This is not the self-portrait I want to paint.

Through the friendships she forms at school—especially with Grant, a boy who shows Pearl what it means to trust and forgive—she begins to see a path not defined by her past. But when confronted with the decision to be courageous or to take the easy way forged by her mother’s failures, which direction will Pearl choose?"(Source: Goodreads)


Do you like boarding school novels?

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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?

Continue Reading...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

[Recommendation] The 5th Wave (#1) - Rick Yancey


 In THE 5th WAVE, aliens are invading the earth. In four surges they have already murdered the majority of the earth's population.

Teenager Cassie is one of the sole survivors, preparing for the fifth surge of the alien invasion.

I'm not sure what happened here and how it happened but this is definitely my favorite read of the year. And it's November, so that says a lot. This was my first audio book in a long time, and I'm very, very happy I chose this one.



Prose to die for

Yancey manages to write the most relatable teen girl protagonist I have encountered in YA so far. Cassie's voice is just essentially teen, her thoughts, her feelings. I can't imagine how a fifty year old man managed to pull that off. I'm honestly truly, truly impressed.
I especially enjoyed the first chapter, which is essentially a monologue, but with a truckload of depth. Cassie's feelings about the invasion are described so powerfully and so movingly that I couldn't even do anything else while I listened to the audio book. I was absolutely sucked into this strange world.

Usually I groan when authors don't jump right into the story, but Yancey is inexplicably talented at info-dumping the heck out of the reader and still leave you yearning for more. The premise, the alien invasion, is just executed masterfully. Yancey doesn't give much information about it in the first place, but sprinkles the info-dumps all over the first chapters, so you find yourself yelling at the audio book narrator to hurry up / frantically turning the pages (whichever format you prefer).

There's only one cliché in this book. And it's my pet peeve...

The only things I didn't like as much about the book relate to the (of course we have one) love triangle. I really don't like them. I'm sorry.
Yancey made it a little more bearable by setting the whole thing up from the start. Cassie's infatuation with this boy Ben from her school is mentioned very early in and I understand and it does make sense, but love triangles are just a red flag for me. I'm sorry, other authors ruined this for me.

It just doesn't seem realistic for Cassie's super crush to have survived all of this, when a huge portion of humanity died. I'm surprised that Yancey went for this, because he's so realistic in his writing everywhere else. The invasion isn't sugarcoated, it's just WAR. Blunt, ruthless war without compromises. There are more plot twists that I can count, but then Yancey goes for the most persistent and arguably annoying cliché in dystopian YA: the love triangle between the MC, the crush/ old friend, and the rebel. Man. But seriously, this is the only thing I don't like about this book.

...

On audio narration:
I listened to the German audio book from Der Hörverlag Audible, which is narrated by Merete Brettschneider, Achim Buch, and Philipp Baltus as the protagonist Cassie and her love interests respectively.  Because I loved the book so much, it wasn't a smart choice to listen to the audio book - the narration speed is much slower than my own reading speed. Mainly because I'm an insanely fast reader when I love a book. Brettschneider uses pauses frequently for emphasis, which does work in terms of narration, but I just wanted to binge-listen the whole thing. I wish there had been an option to speed the whole book up a little. 

However, the character voices are so, so, so spot on. You hardly find a narrator that can pull off male AND female voices flawlessly. Brettschneider sounds believable as a 16 year-old teen just as much as a 40-something Dad. It's a little terrifying how good she is, actually. I didn't even notice it's the same person talking. This sounds strange, but she really is that good at sounding like men. I'm in awe. She could have single-handedly narrated the whole audio book alone.

Rating:

★★★★ 


Overall: Do I Recommend?

I'm an alien enthusiast and I have read more alien books than I can count. BUT: This is by far my favorite.
It's written so relatably, so believably, and the world building is amazing. "The 5th Wave" reads like mixture of "The Reapers are the Angels" and "The Host". Just more ruthless and realistic. If an alien invasion is ever going to happen in my life time, this is how it's going down. "The 5th Wave" should be compulsory reading for all YA alien stories fan. Nevermind me while I run to the next book store to pick up a physical copy of this as well.



Additional Info


Published: April 14th 2014 
Pages: 496
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Aliens
ASIN: B00JAD6RPU

Synopsis:
"After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.(Source: Goodreads)



 Have you read The 5th Wave?

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Monday, October 12, 2015

[Review] Don't Get Me Wrong - Marianne Kavanagh






"Don't Get Me Wrong" by Marianne Kavanagh is essentially about the relationship of the sisters Eva and Kim throughout the years. Eva's best friend Harry is always tagging along and constantly annoying Kim.
When Eva gets sick, Kim and Harry are forced to spend more and more time with each other.




Not a Light Read! This NOT Chick-Lit

It's a very tough book to rate. There is just something about Kavanagh's writing that sucks you in every single time. I just couldn't stop reading.
The thing with Kavanagh is that her books seem like cute little contemporary romances that you can read quickly and forget almost as quickly - but in reality they are so much more. Every other page there are sentences that make you want to put the book down and think about it for a while. I could impossibly just read this in a day. I found myself going back and forth all the time because I wanted to avoid overseeing something important. It's just insane how she casually throws in similes that leave you baffled all the time.
...

Again, the story is told over several years to establish the relationship between disillusioned socialist Kim and rich banker Harry.
What worked very well in "For Once in My Life" just isn't as charming in "Don't Get Me Wrong" anymore. I didn't like the time jumps and had a huge problem with the shifts in perspective. 

In general my biggest issue with this is that the novel absolutely lacks direction. I didn't feel like every scene contributed to bringing the story forward. Sometimes Kim would ramble on endlessly and lose herself in comparisons, and the next second there is a cut and you'll find yourself thrown into the next scene. While I do love Kim's rambles and snickered about her comments, this makes it very hard to follow the story. Just like "For Once in My Life", this is absolutely a character-driven book.

Great Character Dynamics!

While I'm not a fan of the pace, I loved the characters. I'm just a sucker for anything along the lines of hate turns into love. Smug Harry and sarcastic Kim, who just can't stop talking about how much she hates him, are a match made in heaven. Their relationship makes up for every other thing that I didn't like as much.
It's flat out hilarious how you can tell from the beginning that Kim has a giant crush on Harry. It's even funnier when you get to Harry's point-of-view and realize that isn't even aware how much influence he has on Kim. You just have to love these two.

The same goes for the relationship between Eva and Kim. I love how Kavanagh builds the novel on the premise that Harry and Kim have nothing in common aside from their unconditional love for Eva. It really translates in the writing.

Rating:

★★☆☆

Overall: Do I Recommend?

Witty, cozy, and heart-breaking. Kavanagh's characters steal my heart every single time.
When reading Kavanagh's writing, I always feel at home. The reason why I'm such a fan of her books is that I've never read anything like this before. Her style is completely unique.

I've recommended her debut "For Once in My Life" a lot to romance lovers, just because it stands out in the flood of cliché romance novels with characters that you'll forget very easily.

If you love romance and character-driven writing and aren't shy to try out something new, I'll recommend "Don't Get Me Wrong" to you as well. Even though this one lacks in pace, her characters will stay with you for a long time.


Additional Info

Original Title: Don't Get Me Wrong
Author: Marianne Kavanagh
Published: August 26th 2015
Pages: 352
Medium: Paperback
Publisher: The Text Publishing Company
Genre: Adult / Romance
ISBN: 9781925240559

Synopsis:
"Londoners Kim and Harry can’t see eye to eye…until the life of the person they both love most hangs in the balance. 

Kim has never grasped what her free-spirited big sister Eva sees in a stuck-up banker like Harry and has spent her childhood trying to keep him out, while Harry’s favourite occupation is winding Kim up.

Both Harry and Kim are too trapped in their prejudices to care about what’s really going on beneath the surface of each other’s lives. They’ll never understand each other—until the worst of all tragedy strikes.

Faced with the possibility of losing the person they both love most, long-buried secrets come to a head in ways that will change both Harry and Kim forever."(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite romance novel?


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Saturday, September 26, 2015

[Review] The Martian - Andy Weir



In "The Martian" by Andy Weir, astronaut Mark Watney gets accidentally left behind on Mars and has to fend for his life until the next expedition crew arrives to save him.

Unfortunately, the next crew arrives in four years and he only has food and water for one year.

As you might know, I love everything related to space, so picking this one up was a no-brainer. I haven't read a novel set on Mars before and I am a huge fan of Sci-Fi novels that heavily build on facts.


Not a Good Choice for Non-Scientists

Even though Weir does his best to make everything easily understandable, the book mostly consists of the technical and scientific alterations Watney has to make to survive. If you're neither an astronaut, mechanic, or gardener, it will easily get tiring and exhausting to try to keep up.

I was hoping to see a book along the lines of "Ready Player One" just for space - a book that makes me feel like I'm an expert on something that I know nothing about. "The Martian" doesn't give me the notion that I know what's going on. I kept on reading, but actually understanding none of the processes, especially the chemical ones, that Watney tries to explain in detail. It's definitely not light reading.

It reads like a how-to book - just in case you get left behind on Mars. However, even if you couldn't care less how Watney splits rocket fuel atoms and mixed them with oxygen to create water, it's a fun read. I salute to Weir - it's incredibly difficult to write a book set in one place with a single character and keep it interesting.

I was hoping for a lot of flashbacks, for a little more plot to add more depth and sympathy for Watney.

The Sassiest Gardener/Astronaut You'll Ever Read About

Mark Watney is a really likable character. The first line already got me hooked and I caught myself chuckling over his frustration all the time. He makes the best out of a pretty much hopeless situation and always has a sarcastic line prepared. He's a cool guy and that definitely adds more entertainment value to the book!
Weir could have easily made Watney emotionally affected by it all, but the mere fact that he keeps a clear head and makes plans makes him insanely likable to me. I rooted for him from the start, because he's so eager to succeed.
...
I'm slightly disappointed with the POV changes. Weir tries to simultaneously tell the other side of the story, how the NASA is reacting to finding out Watney still alive. There is pretty much no structure to it and the second you've already sympathized with one of the side characters, there are time jumps. The pacing is really off, sometimes Weir chooses to skip months at a time, and sometimes he decides to describe redundant processes annoyingly detailed.


Rating:

★★☆☆


Overall: Do I Recommend?

Maybe. "The Martian" is a decent survivalist sci-fi novel set on Mars, with a chamber play feel. Certainly a must-read for chemistry savvy space adventure fans, but a little too difficult and packed with science for the average Joe.



Additional Info

Original Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Published: 14th September 2015
Pages: 512
Medium: Paperback
Publisher: Heyne Verlag
Cover: Heyne, 2015
Genre: Adult / Science Fiction
ISBN: 978-3-453-31691-1


Synopsis:
"Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death.

The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next.


Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"
(Source: Goodreads)



 Have you read a good novel set in space lately?


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Saturday, August 22, 2015

[Review] Solitaire - Alice Oseman


For 16-year-old Tori, school is just an annoying necessity. She doesn't have a lot of friends, and she doesn't really care about anything.

When teenage anarchist bloggers under the pseudonym Solitaire start terrorizing her school and a new guy called Michael Holden appears in her life, she is forced to leabe her comfort zone and start acting.


Diversity: How not to do it

I'm not surprised that this is yet another inaccurate representation of mental illness. I'm yet to find a novel that doesn't make my toes curl. 16-year-old teenager Tori is probably the first cliché character that comes to your mind when thinking about depression. 

She's apathetic, she has no interest in anything, and she thinks the world revolves around her. The thing about mental illness is that it affects people differently. Oseman chose the most common portrayal of depression and wrote a novel that's very representative of that.

Not everyone is like Tori, not everyone shows clear symptoms, and to me this is one of the many mistakes this novel makes. There are a lot of diverse characters, gays, bisexuals, anorexics - and every single one of them is a walking cliché. I like that Oseman tried to incorporate diversity, but it just isn't realistic to make every character struggling with an illness or being super eccentric. It just feels like you're reading a bad fan fiction about characters with purple-hair, oddly colored eyes, and weird names. Coincidentally, you can find all of this in "Solitaire".

Very unlikable protagonist ruins the story

Oseman really hits the nail on the head in terms of character voice. Tori's voice and Oseman's writing are a nice match, so you really get how Tori feels, from her apathy to her disconnection from the world. However, I found this incredibly exhausting. There is no way to like Tori as a character. Maybe it's the whole point of her character to be a blank sheet and full of self-centered thoughts and to be living in her own little world where all she matters is her; but really, it's not fun to read about a character like that. You can have the best plot in the world, but it will be exhausting and boring if you narrate it in such an annoying, condescending character voice.

The writing style is very unique, and features a lot of short sentences and information dumps that are absolutely unnecessary. Whenever a new character is introduced, you can prepare for about three pages of backstory of a random memory Tori has of that character. What kept me reading were probably only the pop culture references. I love a novel that addresses the quirks of the 2010s, and the nods to tumblr and blogging here and there were pretty entertaining.

...

I've come across a lot of reviewers that consider "Solitaire" to be a truthful voice of our generation, a brutally honest manifesto of a teenager. Well, I think it's quite the opposite. I don't even think that Oseman intended to try to capture the high school experience. Tori has a very limited perception and is very judgmental. She picks out flaws in everyone and the world that Tori sees does not reflect reality. Everyone around her is irrelevant, nothing has a point for her, and nobody has a right to be happy about anything. Yes, you might say that's just the side effect of her depression, but I'm not a fan of that portrayal.

Rating: 
★★



Overall: Do I Recommend?

I thought it was very boring and exhausting to read. Oseman clearly is a talented writer, but the characters are not doing the novel a favor. I would have liked this more had it been told from the point-of-view of her best friend Becky. I also believe this would have worked better without Solitaire itself. It has potential to be a great character-driven novel, instead of a very badly executed mix between character -and plot-driven.

I wouldn't recommend this, because I think it's very offensive for people suffering from mental illness. Portrayals of depressed characters that just show the apathy and ignorance aren't very creative, and frankly inaccurate. I'd still pick up Oseman's next novel, simply because I believe she is a good writer and just chose terrible characters to write a mediocre story about.

And yeah, the synopsis isn't very accurate. "Solitaire" totally is a love story.



Additional Info

Original Title: "Solitaire"
Author: Alice Oseman
Published: 21st August 2015
Pages: 384
Medium: Hardcover
Publisher: dtv
Cover: dtv, 2015
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9783423761192

Synopsis:
"In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.

I really don’t."
(Source: Goodreads)

 Have you read "Solitaire"?


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