Showing posts with label four stars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label four stars. Show all posts

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Recommendation: Geekerella - Ashley Poston: Star Trek and Conventions

In GEEKERELLA, Elle enters a cosplay contest to win tickets to meet the star of the reboot of her favorite TV series.

What intrigued me: I was craving some more classic takes on fan fiction tropes and stories!

Super cute!

GEEKERELLA is an intensely fun story about a fangirl falling for the new actor who was cast in the reboot of her favorite series, and whom she despises. If you love a good enemies-to-lovers story with You've Got Mail elements and lots of nerdy references, you will absolutely adore this. 

GEEKERELLA is sprinkled with references from Star Wars to Princess Bride, and is definitely one of those happy-go-lucky reads that will make you feel all fuzzy inside. GEEKERELLA follows the tradition of a couple similar books that pay hommage to fandom culture, but remains wholly original through the fairy tale spin. As you may have guessed from the title, this is a Cinderella retelling, complete with mean stepsisters and all. If you love Jenny Han and Rainbow Rowell, and want a cute contemporary, you will absolutely adore this. 

Fabulous Writing and Characters

Poston is a very talented writer that immediately managed to catch my interest through the fabulous dual narration. As we all know dual narration is pretty much always hit or miss and requires an immense talent to pull off. Poston definitely possesses that. Love interest Darien is absolutely my favorite character in this and I loved him so much that I wished the whole story was told from his perspective. You'll definitely play favorites when reading GEEKERELLA. Elle, who lives with her vlogging bratty stepsisters and stepmother, is completely different than Darien, teen heartthrob and secretly just as much of a Starfield geek. It makes for such a great almost-starcrossed lovers story to read about these two secretly falling for each other. 

It should also be noted that Darien is a man of color, he's Indian if I'm not mistaken. Poston generally managed to gain a bazillion sympathy points with the way she handled adding characters of color into this story. GEEKERELLA is for the fans out there who love obsessing about TV shows. It's spiked with little references to the age of technology with a blogger protagonist and an online romance. You'll love this.



Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

GEEKERELLA is a super cute love letter to fangirls and fanboys out there. Especially if you love Star Trek, you'll adore this.



Additional Info

Published: April 4th 2017
Pages: 320
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781594749476

Synopsis:
"Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?"
(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite geeky read?

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

[Review] Poison Study (Study #1) - Maria V. Snyder: Food Tasters and Poison





In POISON STUDY Yelena was arrested for murder and is released from the dungeon to become a food taster.


What intrigued me: I've seen this one around a lot.

Let me love you, Yelena!

The story starts right off with Yelena getting released from her dungeon, malnutritioned, almost hallucinating, and absolutely exhausted. POISON STUDY had me from the first page.

Snyder has a way of conjuring up images with words that make this novel easy to read and the fantasy world easily accessible. I often struggle with the High Fantasy genre because I don't really encounter concepts that fascinate me. Same with POISON STUDY to some extent - I didn't really care about the fictional region of Ixia that is ruled by different generals that have their own territories and force everyone to wear uniforms. 

I zoned out whenever there were intricate descriptions of uniforms. The whole world is certainly a weakness of POISON STUDY - the story about Yelena could take place in any other fictional world and be just as fantastic. I didn't find the world building particularly inventive or outstanding.

Making a murderer the food taster doesn't sound that interesting and groundbreaking of a story either, but it just is. There doesn't happen much in POISON STUDY, aside from Yelena getting attacked continuously by the soldier's of the father of the guy she killed, but yet it's ridiculously addicting. The writing is top-notch, the story feels like you are Yelena, you're experiencing everything first-hand and wandering through the castle yourself. I seldom have found myself so thrown right into a book as I read and grown attached to a protagonist.

Wonderfully refreshing concept

If you read a lot of YA and are very tired of seeing the same cliche tropes everywhere, POISON STUDY is the novel for you, because I don't think I counted a single one. No love triangles! No Mary Sue! No plot convenience! Actual danger! Consequences for messing up! It's so refreshing to read a book that makes you feel like the protagonist is in actual danger the whole time.

However, this book is very, very, very slowly paced. I did like this at first, but the more the pace slowed down, the more I disconnected from the characters. I do like to know what I'm getting myself into when I start a novel and the introduction of magic halfway in confused and annoyed me a little. POISON STUDY takes a completely different direction halfway in, causing me to lose interest completely. I was very enamored with the premise of the food taster and would have loved to just see an story about intrigues without any magic.

POISON STUDY awkwardly turns into Duel of the Magicians and this is just not what I'm personally interested in and/or signed up for. Regardless, I did enjoy this and think it's a good read!


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

POISON STUDY is a fantastically unique novel. I really needed this breath of fresh air and I can recommend this book to you, because it's just so creative and fun! If you don't mind a dash of magic, sure, go for this!



Additional Info

Published: March 1st 2007
Pages: 409
Publisher: Mira
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9780778324331

Synopsis:
"Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison...

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear...
 "(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read the Study series?

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Monday, November 28, 2016

[Review] The Blazing Star - Imani Josey: Time-Travel and Ancient Egypt

In THE BLAZING STAR, Portia touches a scarab and accidentally time-travels to ancient Egypt.

What intrigued me: Black girl on the cover! <3

Slow Start, but Killer Setting

THE BLAZING STAR is a hard one. It takes an immense amount of time until the premise kicks in. The first 60ish pages are spent introducing characters and bantering and simply filler. I almost lost interest completely because the premise of time-travel and ancient Egypt just isn't delivering from the get-go. Especially because this is only 239 pages that's a little disappointing. But I'm glad I stuck around. 

When protagonist Portia is finally transported to Egypt, Josey packs a punch and shows what she's capable of. THE BLAZING STAR is written beautifully, with lush imagery and such an ease that it's a pleasure to fly through the story. I'm fascinated with the time travel aspect and it's one of my favorite favorite things to read about. Josey definitely didn't disappoint, she amazed. 

I just love love love Josey's rendition of ancient Egypt. I had the images right before my eyes and felt like a lot of research went into creating this. Culturally sensitive and lovely, I just love how Josey doesn't play into stereotypes and strives for authenticity instead. All my love for seeing writers strive for that.

Diversity and Charming Egyptians

Because of the slow beginning in the high school there's a lot of time to be spent with Portia and the side characters, but the characters I grew to love the most are actually -all- Egyptians. Her world building and characters are just so much stronger in this part of the book and I wish wish wish that there had been more. Because the characters and the world are that great. 

I think it's obvious that this is an extremely diverse book starring a Black protagonist (I mean look at the gorgeous cover), but I'm still going to spell it out. This book mostly takes place in ancient Egypt and of course everyone is Black. Extremely diverse and extremely great.

Go read THE BLAZING STAR.


Rating:

★★★½☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you can look over the structural issues, THE BLAZING STAR is definitely a book you shouldn't skip if you love fantasy, diversity, and time-travel. Portia's journey through ancient Egypt is mesmerizing and so is Imani Josey's writing.


// review copy provided by Rich in Variety Tours //


Additional Info

Published: December 6th 2016
Pages: 239
Publisher: Wise Ink
Genre: YA / Historical Fantasy
ISBN: 9781945769160

Synopsis:
"Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.

But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?

She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.

Great.

Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.

As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home."(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite time-travel read?

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

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

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

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

Extremely Diverse 

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

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

Charming and Educational

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

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


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

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



Additional Info

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

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

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

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


Have you ever read Jewish fantasy?

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

[Review] Inked (#1) - Eric Smith: Magical Tattoos and Adventure

In INKED, Caenum is due to receive his magical tattoo that marks his coming-of-age, when the Scribe who is supposed to perform the ritual gets in major trouble and needs his help.

What intrigued me: I've been folllowing the author on Twitter for a while and eventually grew interested in his writing.

Lovable Characters

INKED is essentially a classic adventure story. Wrapped up in a world spiked with extensive mythology and an innovative concept, it's very easy to lose yourself in. Caenum is a very likable character whose narration I thoroughly enjoyed. However, his spotlight is easily stolen by the side characters.

My favorite is the scribe, a sassy-yet-vulnerable boy called Kenzi, whom I immediately grew to love. You'd expect the main character in such a setting to be the one with the unique abilities and all, but for the most part it's not him. Such a fantastic twist to the whole narrative that made me rejoice with joy. 

I almost instantly fell in love with the relationship protagonist Caenum has to his best friend Dreya. If it weren't for this lovely friendship with some tension, I'd probably say this is more of a Middle Grade than Young Adult read. The prose is very simplistic and colorful, but definitely does read like the intended audience is on the lower side of YA. 

Own Spin to it All

The magical tattoos are an interesting factor that defines this world. In INKED, you get a tattoo that marks what your destiny and/or future profession will be. Smith managed to incorporate them flawlessly into a world that I inexpclibaly immediately associated with a  Disney made-for-TV movie. It's so colorful and upbeat, but does fall into a couple of stereotypes. 

The villains feel very stereotypical, having scars and shaved heads, and the protagonist accidentally stumbles on a conspiracy, as you'd expect from a chosen one story. Despite those stereotypical elements, I do feel like Smith manages to put his own spin on all of it. 

If it weren't for the comparison with Disney movies, I'd say this essentially reads like DESCENDANTS meets FURTHERMORE. INKED really surprised me with being unlike what you'd expect from the blurb and really bringing a breath of fresh air into the genre.


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

INKED is a lovely little read if you like light High Fantasy and YA that's on the lower side. It made for a fun bedside table read, I found it very entertaining and was pleasantly surprised!



Additional Info

Published: January 20th 2015
Pages: 250
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9781619638594

Synopsis:
"Tattoos once were an act of rebellion. 

Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin. 

And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can't escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice. 

But when he upsets the very Scribe scheduled to give him his Ink on his eighteenth birthday, he unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that sends the corrupt, magic-fearing government, The Citadel, after him and those he loves. 

Now Caenum, Dreya, and their reluctant companion Kenzi must find their way to the Sanctuary, a secret town where those with the gift of magic are safe. Along the way, they learn the truth behind Ink, its dark origins, and why they are the only ones who can stop the Citadel."(Source: Goodreads)


What would your magical tattoo look like?

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Recommendation: Wrecked - Maria Padian: Sexual Assault in College





In WRECKED, Jenny gets sexually assaulted at a party, but the people around her are too preoccupied with their own lives to get what's going on.

What intrigued me: I usually don't go for novels with themes like these, I wanted to step out of my comfort zone.

Smart and Compelling

WRECKED is an incredibly unique read. It's written in multiple perspectives from people who in some way are connected to Jenny and the rape. Padian cleverly gives all of them their own struggles, their own little problems that make it easy to ignore what's happening outside of that. 

Each storyline is compelling in its own: Haley, who gets benched in her soccer team after a live-threatening concussion; and Richard, who just got dumped by Carrie whom he desperately wants to win back. I was invested in their struggles and it's such a smart way to illustrate what happens in real life as well. People are just preoccupied with their own lives. So smart, such a fantastic metaphor.

WRECKED is essentially a guessing game, even though it seems obvious at first, you'll constantly feel insecure in your perception of what actually happened. It's definitely one of those books that you have to read multiple times to fully get the whole picture.

Literary and Character-Driven

The writing is also extraordinary and another reason why I'm very sure WRECKED will go on to win a couple literary awards in the future. It's very literary, very much character-driven with a very strange, unique narrative voice in each POV. The narration flip flops back and forth between past and present and uses flashbacks to give background information. Normally, this wouldn't work. For Padian it does. I have no idea how. 

Exactly this contributes to the icky feeling I had while reading. There are constantly new thing revealed about the people involved and you never know what to think or whom to trust. I grew especially invested in Richard's storyline, the boy that's so blinded by his love for his ex-girlfriend that he doesn't realize it's an obsession. It's weird to be on the other side of a situation that I'm sure many girls out there have experienced - dating the boy who just doesn't take no for an answer. 

The story in itself is just so compelling and it's absolute word magic to convey this serious topic in such a subtle way, yet make it so obvious that the reader knows what happened from page five on. Just fantastic.


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

WRECKED is a very important book that should be compulsory reading at every school. An absolute recommendation if you don't mind YA that's on the literary side.



Additional Info

Published: October 4th 2016
Pages: 368
Publisher: Algonquin
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781616206246

Synopsis:
"Everyone has heard a different version of what happened that night at MacCallum College. Haley was already in bed when her roommate, Jenny, arrived home shell-shocked from the wild Conundrum House party. Richard heard his housemate Jordan brag about the cute freshman he hooked up with. When Jenny formally accuses Jordan of rape, Haley and Richard find themselves pushed onto opposite sides of the school’s investigation. But conflicting interests fueling conflicting versions of the story may make bringing the truth to light nearly impossible--especially when reputations, relationships, and whole futures are riding on the verdict."
(Source: Goodreads)


Can you recommend any good books about sexual assault?

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

[Review] Something Wicked: A Ghost Hunter Explores Negative Spirits - Debi Chestnut: In which I'll be sleeping with the lights on





In SOMETHING WICKED, a ghost hunter gives an introduction to negative entities, how they come into our lives, how they operate, and what they are exactly.


What intrigued me: I love reading about the supernatural.

Absolutely terrifying...

Instead of just bombarding with knowledge and giving this as a text book feel as I feared, Chestnut alternates between pure information input and personal experiences. I absolutely enjoyed the little stories about the demonic spirits (or negative entities) she encountered and sometimes even forgot that I wasn't reading fiction. 

SOMETHING WICKED is truly a terrifying read. Just thinking about these evil creatures coexisting with us is absolutely unsettling. Even more reason to pick this up and educate yourself about the different types of entities, and the way you might have accidentally already invited them into your house.

There is just something about SOMETHING WICKED that makes me deeply uncomfortable. While I did want to read this just as a nice past time, because I half believe in anything paranormal and half just needed a good ghost story, it did somewhat convert me into actually, fully believing that we're surrounded by benevolent creatures. Chestnut doesn't necessarily force her beliefs on the reader, she states quite a couple of times how she is open to all religions and everyone's beliefs. The only thing that she is adamant about is that if you're being haunted by something wicked, you'll know. 

...and very fascinating

SOMETHING WICKED balances somewhere between being a strictly informative non-fiction book and a memoir, telling the scariest anecdotes I've read in a while. If you're a horror fan and have problems getting scared, pick this up. Trust me, I will be sleeping with the lights on tonight and I'll definitely be hyper sensitive to anything that even remotely seems like I'm in an otherworldly presence. 
More than once I felt a shiver down my spine reading this, not because Chestnut is pushing it and trying to scare, on the contrary, her narration is pretty straight-forward and clean, but because to me true facts are always scarier than any fiction could be.


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

SOMETHING WICKED is a fantastic read for those with a healthy curiosity about the paranormal. Even if you're a non-believer, there are quite the fascinating ghost stories in this that may or may not convince you to overthrow whatever you believe in. But caution: this is honestly one of most terrifying reads I've encountered.



Additional Info

Published: July 8th 2016
Pages: 240
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Genre: Non-Fiction / Spirituality
ISBN: 9780738742175

Synopsis:
"Forget what you know or think you know about negative entities. Unless you are one of the few who have encountered a demon, it's almost impossible to grasp the depth and scope of such pure evil and how these creatures can enter someone's life and completely turn it upside down. Something Wicked explores the topic of negative energies, dark forces, and exorcisms with fresh eyes so that you may come to your own conclusions."

Do you believe in ghosts?

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

[Review] Unicorn Tracks - Julia Ember: Safari, Conspiracies, and Hunting




In UNICORN TRACKS Mnemba and tourist Kara are determined to find out who is hunting down unicorns and sawing off their horns.

What intrigued me: Unicorns and lesbians. Everything I want in life.

Fresh, creative, and fun

The world building is reminiscent of South East African culture, and absolutely spot on. I really enjoyed seeing concepts and setting we don't usually get in fantasy novels and I found them to be very realistic as well. I especially noticed how uncanny Ember's unique approach is - I can't name a single stereotype that I've seen before, this is truly a 100% fresh read with a great concept. From the descriptions, to the writing, to the animals featured, this is so refreshing and new! 

The Nazwimbe savanna is full of mythological animals that tourists from other countries are seeking out for fun. They are all incorporated believably, some with their own little backstories, some without, and I really enjoyed it. I feared that the concept of unicorns would come across as little dorky and strange, but Ember makes it truly feel like an adventurous, fun story. I absolutely loved reading about manticores, phoenixes, and many other mythological creatures you don't often encounter in novels. 

Too Short & too Dense, but worth the read!

The majority of UNICORN TRACKS deals with what's happening to the unicorns, and I do think that it all got resolved way too quickly. While I do like the approach, the idea behind all of it (which is also a very realistic one), the mystery is just missing. Or simply resolved too early. I wanted to guess with the characters, but you won't do that for long because UNICORN TRACKS is written incredibly densely. 

A lot happens in these 180 pages, but in my opinion, squeezing all of it down to this low page count doesn't do the story justice. Especially the lovely f/f romance which is so sweet and tender, could have benefited from a higher page count. Even though Mnemba and Kara's interactions feel genuine and painstakingly adorable, their relationship almost feels instant-love-y because UNICORN TRACKS is so short. 

In general this is my biggest problem with the novel - the density and the low page count make it harder to read than it deserves. The story is great, the characters are great, but it deserves to be longer, have more descriptions added, and even the occasional filler. 


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

UNICORN TRACKS is an incredibly fresh story, with a seldom before seen setting that you don't want to miss. A must-read for fans of f/f and original fantasy.



Additional Info

Published: April 21st 2016
Pages: 180
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9781634768788

Synopsis:
"After a savage attack drives her from her home, sixteen-year-old Mnemba finds a place in her cousin Tumelo’s successful safari business, where she quickly excels as a guide. Surrounding herself with nature and the mystical animals inhabiting the savannah not only allows Mnemba’s tracking skills to shine, it helps her to hide from the terrible memories that haunt her.

Mnemba is employed to guide Mr. Harving and his daughter, Kara, through the wilderness as they study unicorns. The young women are drawn to each other, despite that fact that Kara is betrothed. During their research, they discover a conspiracy by a group of poachers to capture the Unicorns and exploit their supernatural strength to build a railway. Together, they must find a way to protect the creatures Kara adores while resisting the love they know they can never indulge. "
(Source: Goodreads)

Can you recommend some African-inspired fantasy?

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Recommendation: We Awaken - Calista Lynne: Dreamwalking, Asexuality, and Girl Loving Girls





In WE AWAKEN, Victoria meets a beautiful girl in her dreams that bears messages from her comatose brother.

What intrigued me: Asexuality and girl loving girls! Who could say no to that!

Dreamlike and Magical

WE AWAKEN stuns with an incredibly beautiful cover that absolutely suits what you'll find inside. The writing is atmospheric, lyrical, and makes this novel read like a fever dream. Lynne absolutely manages to immerse truly in this fantastically magical story and weaves a dreamy plot through sheer word artistry.

Protagonist Victoria is a lesbian asexual whose dream is to get into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. After her brother and father get into a car accident, the only lifeline she has to her comatose brother is Ashlinn, the novel's equivalent to the sandman. Hearing that a novel features dream sequences usually makes me groan and quite possibly stop reading. But Lynne manages for some unknown reason to fascinate me; may it be for the artistic writing or the brilliance of the lovely girl/girl romance. 

The story sucks you in around the first time the two girls, Victoria and Ashlinn, meet and you'll soon find yourself frantically reading and reading until you'll get to see the two together again. Lynn e doesn't shy away from stating clearly and openly that this is the story of two girl loving asexuals falling in love. To some degree this is a coming out story, but not as much as it is a tale of self-discovery. 

A very quiet love story

WE AWAKEN is a very quiet YA love story. You won't find any dramatic plot twists or action-filled fight scenes in this. To some degree this is the reason why I'm not rating it five stars - I would've loved more plot, more action, more drama. The stakes are a little low, but the story is all the much more lovely and romantic. A sweet love story.

True to the theme, it reads like a dream, but never loses itself in that. Aside from the dream sequences, we get lots of scenes that will ground you in Victoria's reality without losing the magic of the meetings with Ashlinn. Lynne manages to tell a fascinating story with very minimal plot complication and delivers a stunning romance that you won't soon forget. WE AWAKEN will have you  long to meet your own keeper of dreams and fall madly in love like Victoria and Ashlinn.

Rating:


★★★★½☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

WE AWAKEN is a beautifully dreamy story that I can only dearly recommend to lovers of dreamy writing, Gabrielle Zevin, and Maggie Stiefvater's books. If you like wonderfully magical novels that walk the tightrope between fever dream and reality, this is the pick for you.



Additional Info

Published: July 14th 2016
Pages: 180
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Genre: YA / Magical Realism
ISBN: 9781634769969

Buy from Harmony Ink

Synopsis:
"Victoria Dinham doesn’t have much left to look forward to. Since her father died in a car accident, she lives only to fulfill her dream of being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. But soon she finds another reason to look forward to dreams when she encounters an otherworldly girl named Ashlinn, who bears a message from Victoria’s comatose brother. Ashlinn is tasked with conjuring pleasant dreams for humans, and through the course of their nightly meetings in Victoria’s mind, the two become close. Ashlinn also helps Victoria understand asexuality and realize that she, too, is asexual.

But then Victoria needs Ashlinn’s aid outside the realm of dreams, and Ashlinn assumes human form to help Victoria make it to her dance audition. They take the opportunity to explore New York City, their feelings for each other, and the nature of their shared asexuality. But like any dream, it’s too good to last. Ashlinn must shrug off her human guise and resume her duties creating pleasant nighttime visions—or all of humanity will pay the price.
 "(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite book about wlw?

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

[Review] The Devil's Intern (The Devil's #1) - Donna Hosie: Time-traveling, Devils, and Witty Humor





In THE DEVIL'S INTERN, the devil's intern Mitchell steals a time travel device. Together with his friends, they decide to go back in time to undo their deaths.

What intrigued me: I can't pass up a story that combines the devil and time travel. Who could?

Yes for friendships!

I absolutely love semi-satirical stories about the afterlife. THE DEVIL'S INTERN starts off just like that, the first pages just fly by and I caught myself laughing so hard that I had to put the book down. You'll find a lot of funny jokes in this, but THE DEVIL'S INTERN is so much more than that. 

The story revolves around a group of friends, a 17th century peasant, a Viking, a snarky girl who died in the 60s, and Mitchell, the devil's intern who's up to no good. What I liked most about this is definitely the strong bond these four have. There is no third-wheeling, the characters' friendships feel genuine and I especially truly enjoyed every single scene with the viking Alfarin who just says the most unintentionally funny things. Essentially, this is a very sweet story about friendship. 

Paradoxes and time travel - my head hurts

A huge chunk of the novel is spent time travel and I'm not going to sugarcoat it - it's not easy to get a hang of all those paradoxes. It's undeniably well-done, but I had to reread some paragraphs to really understand what was happening. Time travel is hard to do well, but I think Hosie did a great job at making everything seem plausible and even catching me off guard with a couple of plot twists!

I really feel like the whole novel is pretty well-rounded, every scene is absolutely necessary for the plot, causing this to be very dense reading. It's definitely one of those books that I will reread eventually. 

THE DEVIL'S INTERN is a fast-paced, utterly hilarious and heartwarming novel that will make you long for the sequel. 

Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE DEVIL'S INTERN is a charming urban fantasy story that will make you laugh and cry. Definitely recommending this, I need the sequel right now!



Additional Info

Published: August 1st 2015
Pages: 229
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: YA / Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780823434527

Synopsis:
"How did you die?"

It's the most popular question in Hell, and Mitchell Johnson has been answering it ever since he was hit by a bus at age seventeen and inexplicably ended up in the Underworld. Now Mitchell is The Devil's intern in Hell's accounting office. Lately, he's noticed a disturbing trend: the volume of new arrivals is straining Hell's limited resources. Then Mitchell overhears his boss discussing plans to limit newcomers with a legendary time travel mechanism. With a device like that, Mitchell realizes, he could change history and prevent his own death. 

Mitchell's plot goes awry when his three closest friends—Alfarin, the Viking prince; Elinor, from 17th-century London; and Melissa, from 1960s San Francisco—insert themselves into his plans. It soon becomes clear that the fates of all four are entwined in dangerous and unpredictable ways."(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite read set in Hell?

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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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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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Sunday, December 20, 2015

[Review] Anatomy Lesson - Matt Spadafora


"Anatomy Lesson" is a collection of eleven autobiographical short stories, all centered around the human body.

I'm not a short-story person. Especially not if they're autobiographical. To me, non-fiction can easily get tiring. So it's quite an accomplishment that I actually liked this one.





Vivid Imagery and Honest Writing: A Winning Combination
I have to admit that I needed a while to get accustomed to the writing style. Spadafora writes in very short, staccato-like sentences. If you're not used to it, it's very hard to get used to. I started skimming pages at first and then forced myself to go back because I didn't want to miss anything.

The first story isn't a great way to hit things off, too much monologue and too little direction made me put this book away and try again later. By the second story though, "Ears", a story involving bullies and sexuality, I completely lost it. I think it was a mixture of the writing and the way Spadafora is able to convey emotions that made me so angry and emotional, and - wow. By then, the deal was sealed. I didn't expect to like this as much as I did.

In general the book really benefits from Spadafora's extraordinary ability to convey emotion. I especially loved it when he just wrote the thoughts of the protagonist out in cursive, it just feels honest and real. I really liked that you can tell he isn't trying to alter the way things happened. Spadafora just knows how to set a scene. The images were popping into my head starting from there and to me it felt like the narration was getting realer with every story I read. Or maybe I just started to connect with the protagonist.

The biggest danger and mistake you can make when writing non-fiction is losing yourself in details. Spadafora chooses the topics he wants to talk about carefully and I'm actually amazed by how many interesting things a twenty-something has to tell. The more I read, the more I thought I wouldn't mind reading a contemporary novel about this.


Continuity Issues and No Common Theme

I'm not so sure what I think of the collection as a whole. There is not really a common theme to me, it just feels anecdotes, connecting through the body parts. Maybe that was the intention, but I felt really unsatisfied when I finished this.

I'm not a fan of time-jumps, flashbacks, and the like. My favorite books all stick to one timeline and therefore it really irked me whenever Spadafora jumps in time. Just when I grew to understand the Matt of one story, we jump five years back or forth.
I loved the continuity (ish) between "Heart" and "Hands", two stories about a crush on a girl. I feel like the whole collection would have definitely benefited from it all, had Spadafora chosen a common theme, and a set time line.


I would have loved for it all to tell a story, and to make sense in the end. Then again, they're short stories. This is why I usually don't read them, I like the feeling of knowing how it all ends, even if it's just about a chapter in the author's life.



 Rating: 
★★★★

   

Overall: Do I Recommend?

Usually I don't read biographies or memoirs, or any kind of non-fiction really, unless I have a special interest in the person who wrote it or the topic. I'm glad I tried this out. Short story collections are usually not for me, I'm not a short story person. Spadafora has a unique way to write that needs some time to grow on you, but when it does, it sucks you in. Combined with the strong character voice (obviously - because it's his own, *ba dum tss*), it's very entertaining.

I wouldn't advise to read this all at once, because I noticed that you actually have to think about the stories for a while to understand what it's really about. That's what I love about "Anatomy Lesson", it feels like a part of the authors soul has gone into writing this. It's genuinely honest. I wish more of the non-fictional autobiographies I read were written in that way.

I wholeheartedly recommend giving this a try, because it's a very honest approach to the trivial things in life. And yes, I want a sequel. I'd love a contemporary from the author. Even if it's not autobiographical, I think the voice is really intriguing and I think there is potential for more!



Additional Info

Original Title: Anatomy Lesson
Author: Matt Spadafora
Published: March 26th 2014
Pages: 136
Medium: Paperback
Publisher: Life Rattle Press
Cover: Life Rattle Press, 2014
Genre: Adult / Non-Fiction / Biographies & Memoirs
ISBN: 1927023696

Synopsis:
"Anatomy Lesson is a collection of autobiographical non-fiction stories, each centred on a different part of the body. Stories range from humorous nights on the job to high school heartbreak, from physical injury to mental anguish, from embarrassing childhood mishaps to grappling with body image and bullying."
(Source: Goodreads)


 Can you recommend some good short story collections to me?

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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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