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review 2017-04-19 11:31
DNF: Wayfarer
Wayfarer (Passenger) - Alexandra Bracken

I didn't like the first book in this series much, but this is one of my auto-buy authors, and I snagged a copy from Netgalley with my Hatchette Children's auto approval. And even bought a finished hardback (despite the fact that this is not a series I really like, the hardback is really pretty). Sometimes I've found second books better than first books. 

 

Unfortunately, I only made it 250 pages or so before calling it quits. Following on from Passenger, Nicholas and Etta are now separated and struggling to find each other and deal with the changes brought about by the events of the end of Passenger. More secrets are revealed, more plot twists. However, I just can't seem to get into this series at all. 

 

It's beautifully written, plus points for diversity in the characters, and there is clear attention to detail and a phenomenal amount of historical research must have gone into plotting the novel, but I just don't like it. It's long winded and boring and not capturing my interest at all. 

 

Not for me. 

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review 2017-04-18 20:59
Review: Last Seen Leaving
Last Seen Leaving - Caleb Roehrig

 

I snagged a copy of this one from Netgalley when it was a Read It Now title. I do rather enjoy YA mysteries. I’m a sucker particularly for missing person mysteries. The plot of this one drew me right in. The mystery aspect was what kept me reading.

 

Overall, I just didn’t like the main character Flynn much. I found him annoying and boarding on obnoxious. He had zero personality, and seemed kind of self-absorbed. Which is not exactly unusual behaviour for a teenage boy. He was so wrapped up in his own issues he barely noticed the problems his girlfriend January was having.  January had a friend at the toy shop she worked at, Kaz, who was a few years older. All of course the reader hears from Flynn in the beginning is what an ass Kaz is.

 

Kaz actually turned out to be my favourite character in the whole novel. Who is nothing like Flynn first assumes. As the novel progresses I found as a reader I had a lot of empathy for January, who has lived most of her life in the same town, has the same friends as Flynn, and then her mom married some up and coming Congressman who was fabulously rich and had a certain image to maintain and an asshole of a wayward son of his own, Anson. January was forced to move from her comfortable existence into this new world of fabulous rich political people where January and her mom were supposed to dress and act a certain way. While her mom lapped it up, January not so much.

 

As the novel progresses through flashbacks of conversations and moments that happened between January and Flynn, the reader learns about some of the problems that January was having with her situation, the ones that she told Flynn about. As Flynn starts looking deeper into January’s disappearance himself, he learns about a side of her he never really knew. Which makes him feel confused and guilty.

 

There are lots of questions and very little answers and information and everything new Flynn learns is something surprising. Flynn’s other major conflict throughout the novel is he’s gay and struggling to deal with it. He doesn’t seem to want to really accept it. Kaz is a big help here, and part of what makes Kaz such a wonderful character. He was a voice of reason and someone who really seemed to want to help Flynn and cared about him.

 

While Flynn himself…urg. I just found Flynn dull and boring and hard to connect with. He seemed very two dimensional.

 

The mystery of what happened to January was enough to keep my interest to the end of the novel, and to be fair, I didn’t guess who the bad guy was. There was a twist at the end – which was kind of a bit unbelievable to me, but left a possible question hovering.

 

Just an okay one for this reader.

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review 2017-04-12 14:28
Review: The Edge of Everything
The Edge of Everything - Jeff Giles

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I think this was something I requested on a whim. It was quite some time ago, I remember only glancing at the synopsis on Netgalley. Admittedly I went into this one remembering nothing on what it was about. I had it in my mind for some reason it was a dystopian.

 

I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. Starts off with teen Zoe at home at the start of a snow storm looking for her younger brother who’s gone out to play with their two dogs. But he doesn’t appear to be answering her calls to come inside before the storm really gets going. The storm is getting worse by the minute so Zoe goes out looking for him. During her search Zoe stumbles into the path of nasty piece of work Stan who is robbing their neighbour’s house. The neighbours having died recently. The confrontation is bad. Warning – Stan really hurts the two dogs. It’s brutal and unpleasant.

 

Zoe and her brother are rescued by a mysterious figure who arrives and kicks the crap out of Stan. The mysterious benefactor is hell bent on destroying Stan for his evil deeds and seems to have some sort of superpowers. But of course nothing goes quite so smoothly. Not once he starts actually interacting with Zoe.

 

The figure, who later becomes known as X has come from a sort of hell dimension known as The Lowlands and is a bounty hunter sent to reap souls of evil doers. Stan is his target. Though Zoe’s interaction with him is brief, he learns something of mercy. Which sets in motion a big ass chain of events.

 

X has very little concept of how to interact with Zoe. Not completing his mission has left him in dire-straights and great pain until the job is done. He collapses in a nearby house –which just happens to be Zoe’s. With the help of Zoe, her mom and her younger brother they help X pull himself together.

X’s dialogue is quite stilted and almost boarding on cheesy, but there’s something quite fascinating about how he copes with Zoe. He’s grown up in this hell dimension with only other damaged souls to guide him, so has very little sense of morality or anything.

 

While Zoe is your average teenager – she lives with her mom and younger brother and is struggling to cope with the recent death of her father. Zoe’s mom is one of the more likeable, believable adults of YA fiction. She’s involved without being over the top involved, and seems to know when to back off. The mom has some secrets which come out later on in the novel, while it’s not of the pleasant nature, it’s doesn’t actually make her any less likeable as a character, I thought the twists added dimension and believability to the mom character.

 

Zoe herself is an immensely likeable character, there was something delightful about the way she was written that made me as a reader connect with her immediately. I liked her tone of voice and her dialogue.

 

She handled the increasingly weird situation very well. Her relationship with X grows, and as they became equality fascinated and enamoured with each other can be described as instalovey, although the novel is so well written and both characters are so interesting – it’s instalove but instalove that actually works.

 

And they’re both smart enough to know there will be consequences for their actions. X has to deal with the Lowlands and the consequences of revealing his secrets and not completing his mission. There appears to be a hierarchy of demons or “Lords” who are the rulers and X has royally pissed off one of the worst who is determined to make an example of him. This particular Lord is a real asshole and his actions and dialogue is so over the top in the vain of I’m so evil and you’re so crap and you must suffer because I say so. It’s almost like a cartoon villain and kind of ridiculous but at the same time kind of amusing in a weird way.

 

Zoe learns some uncomfortable truths about her father’s past and certain things she was never meant to know. It’s quite emotional. Her dad was a caver and taught her how, and there’s an incredibly moving scene where she goes caving with a friend as a result of some of the secrets she learns. Exceptinonally moving and very tense in parts.

 

A wonderful mix of action and romance, a very unique plot and not at all what I was expecting. I really loved this one.  I loved this one so much I bought a finished hardback.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ).

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review 2017-04-03 19:50
Review: Dead Souls
Dead Souls: A Novel - J. Lincoln Fenn

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Almost a week after finishing this book, I’m still not sure I really know what to make of it. I sort of liked it. Certainly an interesting read. A supernatural horror story telling the story of Fiona who thinks her boyfriend is cheating on her, gets drunk at a bar and winds up chatting with a stranger and winds up selling her soul to the devil. The following morning is a boatload of regrets – but oh fuck, it actually happened.

 

Fiona is not a particularly likable character. She has a huge chip on her shoulder thanks to a bad childhood, growing up with drug addict parents who shoved her out the door at seventeen to make her own way in the world. Which she did, she moved to New York, and made herself a successful marketing career. She’s obnoxious, blunt and kind of a massive bitch. Though she has a very direct manner of saying what she thinks regardless of what anyone else may think. Amusing, but gets a little tiring after a while.  

 

The concept of the novel was an interesting one, after a drunken night and chatting with a guy calling himself Scratch, Fiona realises it’s not just a big con after all, he’s left a card – one favour to be called in at any time in exchange for the gift she requested in selling her soul. To make things worse, she gets a big shock when she finds out what her boyfriend was really up to. Nothing like what she thought and now she’s sold her soul and the devil can get her do any sort of “favour” when he feels like.

 

Though Fiona finds out she’s not the only one who sold her soul, and there’s a group of them, calling themselves “Dead Souls” others who are waiting for their favours to be called in. The discussion that obviously comes up – is there a way out of this deal? And the rest of the novel focuses on Fiona figuring out a way to double cross the devil to save herself and her boyfriend.

 

Fiona’s marketing skills come in handy in quite an interesting way, it’s quite fascinating as she figures it out, using a marketing degree in how to get one over on the devil. Of course, nothing is as it appears and the favours start coming in one by one and really gruesome things start happening.

 

It’s pretty grim stuff. But kind of addictive in the way that even though I didn’t really like hardly any of the characters in the book (with maybe the exception of Fiona’s boyfriend Justin, who was actually a pretty good guy and put up with a hell of a lot of shit from her) I still wanted to know what happened, and if Fiona was able to pull off the plan she put in motion.

 

But of course, when you’re dealing with the devil nothing is ever straightforward or simple. It all got rather gory and weird towards the end. I was with the plot until the very last chapter. I reread it twice before I got it, and admittedly it did kind of make me grin in a morbid way.

 

Don’t think I would read this again, but would definitely read another book by this author.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2017-03-29 20:10
Review: The Witch's Tears
The Witch's Tears: (Sequel to The Witch's Kiss) - Katharine Corr,Elizabeth Fernando Corr

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

A delightful follow up to the Witch’s Kiss. A few months later witch in training Merry and her brother Leo are still trying to process the evens of the first book. It’s the summer holidays, no school. Merry is focused on her witch training. Leo has become moody and withdrawn.

 

Merry’s witch training isn’t going quite as well as she would like, she’s got much more power than anyone seems to realize, and she can do things that there aren’t written instructions for. I really like the way witchcraft works in the novel, the way the spells are performed and the history surrounding it. Though it’s a little surprising while there’s a big coven there seems to be so few teenage daughters. Only one other teen besides Merry shows up in the novel. That aside, the coven working together aspect is pretty interesting.

 

Though it’s not surprising that for Merry it can get incredibly frustrating because all these women are trained witches and grownups to boot. So when Merry accidentally stumbles on a file in her grandmother’s house about a women who turns out to have been murdered, and was a witch as well…it’s a new mystery to solve. Of course Merry is told to leave it alone.

 

Merry’s prophetic-like dreams are back as well, this time telling of a fairy-tale monster. But is there something more to this?

 

On top of this Merry’s grandmother has disappeared, more dead witches are turning up, Leo is becoming more withdrawn. Two different new boys turns up, one a drifter who camps in the woods near the Black Lake strikes up a friendship with Leo, which has potential to turn into something more, and the other shows up at Merry’s grandmother’s house around the time Gran goes missing. Both have secrets and mysteries about them.

 

The story telling is as a top notch as the first book, Merry is an incredibly likeable main character. I enjoy her voice immensely. She still manages to be sassy, and snarky, sensible, though not without faults. Her magic for one – still difficult to control and comes out at inopportune moments, especially when she’s pissed off – which happens a few times, leading to a few plot twists.

 

Didn’t like Leo quite as much in this book, he’s pulled away from Merry and has become quite stubborn and moody, he’s struggled to cope with a certain death from the first book, so it’s sort of understandable, but at the same time, his secretive attitude is annoying. He’s not outright mean to Merry or anything, but he’s got a definite chip on his shoulder attitude, and being secretive and shutting her out, which is sad considering how close they were in the first book. At least we get Leo’s point of view, so the reader does get a bit more insight into his character. Plus, Leo gets a romance in this installment, so yay for that.

 

An intriguing mystery to solve and new characters to unravel and get to know. And one hell of a cliff-hanger at the end! I really hope there is another installment ASAP.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, Children’s for approving my request to view the title.

 

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