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review 2016-08-31 15:27
Whisper to Me
Whisper to Me - Nick Lake

Cassie has been dealing with a lot the last couple of years. Her mother died, she doesn't have a good relationship with her father who is an ex-Navy SEAL, she has no friends. Now she hears voices. The day she makes a gruesome discovery on the beach is the same day she starts to hear a voice inside her head. If she doesn't obey it, it will punish her. The voice is constantly putting her down. She falls in love with one of the guys staying in the apartment above the garage for the summer, but she's too embarrassed to tell him about the voice. She doesn't want his pity. She can't explain where she goes every Thursday night, the night she sneaks off to the bowling alley for the voice support group. Things didn't end well between the two of them. But she wants another chance and this is her writing an e-mail trying to explain why she pushed him away.


I loved the writing and the fact that this book was a long e-mail. I liked Cassie. She felt real to me. She's just a young girl who's been through a lot and had no one to talk to. I liked her character growth. I did NOT like the asterisks. Every time someone swore these ******* things would appear. So annoying!

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review 2016-01-11 02:01
In Darkness
In Darkness - Nick Lake

I always seem to have the same problem with duel-narrative books. I like one storyline more than the other.


In Darkness is about a teenage gang member nicknamed Shorty. After he is shot in the arm, he’s taken to a hospital, but an earthquake causes the hospital to collapse on top of him. While trapped in the rubble, he starts dreaming about Toussaint L'Ouverture, the slave who led a revolt and freed Haiti two-hundred years ago. There seems to be a psychic link between Shorty and Toussaint L'Ouverture. The book flips back and forth between Shorty’s story and Toussaint’s.


I was drawn to this novel because it’s set in Haiti, which isn’t a place that I know very much about. This book is a great introduction to Haiti’s history and present. Even though the book is fiction (mostly), it feels very gritty and real. Shorty is a gangster who committed his first murder at age 12, but he’s still weirdly relatable. He loves his family and is doing whatever it takes to survive in one of the most dangerous slums on Earth.


I’m not exaggerating when I say that this book is gritty. The author isn’t afraid to talk about murder, extreme poverty, gang culture, racism, or drug use. It’s an honest book. Shorty doesn’t hide anything from the reader. He doesn’t even hide some of the disgusting things he has to do to survive while trapped under the collapsed hospital. Sometimes this book made me cringe.


I like historical fiction because it’s (usually) a palatable way to learn history, but I didn’t like Toussaint’s story nearly as much as I liked Shorty’s. Toussaint’s story lacked the depth of Shorty’s. The parts of the book that happened two-hundred years ago didn’t feel as real to me.


I also wondered about this book’s classification as a young adult novel. I’m an adult, and I liked this story, but teenage-me wouldn’t have read this book willingly. It’s denser than most YA novels I’ve read. There are a lot of characters with complicated backstories. There is also a mixture of different languages with no translations, a lot of exposition, a complex nonlinear structure, slow pacing, and not much dialogue. As an adult, I can appreciate the beauty in those things, but teenage-me definitely wouldn’t have had the patience for this book.


If you’re interested in Haiti or unique historical fiction, In Darkness is probably worth checking out.

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review 2015-09-08 13:25
It got messed up somewhere
There Will Be Lies - Nick Lake


The book was my first brush with the concept of coyote and native American folklores, if we can call the book that.


To begin with yes the book had a killer opening in fact so much that I almost jumped out of my seat in excitement picturing a very high paced adrenaline run. I mean with an opener


“In four hours, I will be struck by a car”


who would not be excited for the book so yes I was really prepped up to enjoy the book and so starts the initial chapters which even though a little slow in excitement is good enough to keep you excited and then you continue with the book and very soon you are drowsy and tired and feels like you have been locked up in the back seat of a car with the same visuals repeating over and over again outside the car. So basically there is nothing to do inside in the car or lookout outside the car. It is a one long monotonous journey


I think the story had a huge potential. The problem is that there is so much twists and turns that keep coiling and coiling that at the end you are dizzy not knowing when you are going to fall flat on the floor. Add to this already chaotic flow of the basic plot, a narration that is not clear whether it is referring to the present scenario or something in the past or an inner rambling of the character.


The basic trouble with the book is the pace and the narration. Pace is extremely stale and stagnant. Even in incidents that could actually spark the book, it fizzles out with a less enthusiastic narration. Even if I overlook that little pace deadness, there is this major fault that I see in the narration. The central character talks a lot. I mean a lot in her head and every bit of that conversation is on those papers so you don’t know whether what being said is actually happening or being imagined by the character


I think the author brought in a side track paranormal world including coyote and Native American Folklores which only acts as only another catalyst towards making everything blurry and mushy. The book needed a little vividness and lucid treatment as right now the two parallel world stand to clash with each other and fail to resonate an impact so in my opinion that is two good plot gone amiss


The book has hardly got any pace. The only pace is in its synopsis that promises a good plot and frankly yes the plot is good but somewhere adhering to a lot of internal plot developments has only led to create more chaos and struggling to come out in full force. There are lot of things happening in the book and so much that everything just creates one giant ball of confusion


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review 2015-03-13 20:18
There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake
There Will Be Lies - Nick Lake

I’d never even heard of There Will Be Lies before a good friend of mine emailed me and raved about how I absolutely must read this book. It was an absolute must. I admit, the synopsis had me very intrigued. I love secretive books. I love when the blurb on the back leaves me a little unsure about what the book is about exactly. I love how when I start to read I find myself with questions, and that the answers are parceled out slowly and irreverently as though they are little gifts and they’re all going to lead to something spectacular. Even thinking about these quiet little books with big bang endings remind me of all the feels I got when reading Patrick Ness’s More Than This. It left a marked impact on me and I believe that the reason I was so impacted was because I wasn’t quite sure what was coming.

Needless to say I thought that this would be a good one for Badass Book Reviews. I’m not sure why I thought that. It’s really hard to review a book when you can’t really talk about what the book is actually about. Honestly, telling you about what happens in the book is akin to ruining it. There’s a reason that the blurb is vague and I firmly believe that everyone should go in reading There Will Be Lies blind.

So, in lieu of breaking down the meat of the book, I’m going to talk more about why this book only has 4 stars from me from a technical standpoint.

First, some of this book’s strength was in the poetry of the writing. There’s quite a bit of Native American lore and it felt very ‘dreamlike’, which I thought complimented that mythology. For me I had an issue with the structure. There were a lot of chapter breaks that had strange endings. For instance, the book seems to count down, starting at 7. So some chapter breaks ended with a number, ‘4…’, but then some ended with different versions of ‘in the stars’. Shelby ‘fell into the stars’. Shelby ‘scattered like the stars’. Shelby has ‘stars behind her eyelids’.. When I read the first ‘star’ quote, ‘Stars. Everything is Stars’ I thought it was beautiful, with the second the shine hadn’t worn off quite yet. The longer it went on, however, and with the frequency, it began to feel comical. Like, after putting this book behind me, I’ll still remember all the star quotes randomly and chuckle. Overkill. It didn’t need to be. Sometimes less is more.

Second, let’s just say that I think Nick Lake could have used a little more research. Perhaps with those Native American stories (as other reviewers have said), but also with his characters. When you give someone in your story a very important character trait it’s best that you take time and understand the effects it would have on that person or the people around them. I can’t elaborate, but if you decide to read the book feel free to come back here and let’s discuss in the comments, or you can find me on Goodreads. I’d love to get another’s perspective.

Overall though, I did enjoy There Will Be Lies. While it easily could have become something redundant I thought the mythology alongside the story created a unique and interesting landscape to tell us about Shelby Jane Cooper and the chaos that just possibly leads to something better.

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text 2015-01-09 00:15
TBR Thursday: 1/2015
All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven
Vivian Apple at the End of the World - Katie Coyle
Hellhole - Gina Damico
There Will Be Lies - Nick Lake
We Are All Completely Fine - Darryl Gregory

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: Published by Knopf Books for Youth Readers, released January 6, 2015, $9.78.


Amazon blurb: Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.


There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake: Published by Bloomsbury Childrens, released January 6, 2015, $11.49.


Amazon blurb: In four hours, Shelby Jane Cooper will be struck by a car.

Shortly after, she and her mother will leave the hospital and set out on a winding journey toward the Grand Canyon.

All Shelby knows is that they're running from dangers only her mother understands. And the further they travel, the more Shelby questions everything about her past-and her current reality. Forced to take advantage of the kindness of unsuspecting travelers, Shelby grapples with what's real, what isn't, and who she can trust . . . if anybody.

Award-winning author Nick Lake proves his skills as a master storyteller in this heart-pounding new novel. This emotionally charged thrill ride leads to a shocking ending that will have readers flipping back to the beginning.


Hell Hole by Gina Damico: Published by HMH Books for Young Readers, released January 6, 2015, $9.99.


Amazon blurb: A devil is a bad influence . . .


There was a time when geeky, squeaky-clean Max Kilgore would never lie or steal or even think about murder.


Then he accidentally unearths a devil, and Max’s choices are no longer his own. The big red guy has a penchant for couch surfing and junk food—and you should never underestimate evil on a sugar high. With the help of Lore, a former goth girl who knows a thing or two about the dark side, Max is racing against the clock to get rid of the houseguest from hell before time, and all the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos this side of the fiery abyss, run out.


Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle: Published by HMH Books for Young Readers, released January 6, 2015, $9.99.


Amazon blurb: Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed "Rapture," all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn't know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivan Apple isn't looking for a savior. She's looking for the truth.


We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory: This was today's kindle daily deal. Published by Tachyon Publications, released July 24, 2014, price of $1.99.


Amazon blurb: Harrison is the Monster Detective, a storybook hero. Now he’s in his mid-thirties and spends most of his time not sleeping. Stan became a minor celebrity after being partially eaten by cannibals. Barbara is haunted by the messages carved upon her bones. Greta may or may not be a mass-murdering arsonist. And for some reason, Martin never takes off his sunglasses.

Unsurprisingly, no one believes their horrific tales until they are sought out by psychotherapist Dr. Jan Sayer. What happens when these questionably-sane outcasts join a support group? Together they must discover which monsters they face are within, and which are lurking in plain sight.


Total cost: $43.24

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