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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-14 22:46
Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder (2016 Review)
Storm Glass - Maria V. Snyder

Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Four years attending the Magician's Keep, and Opal believes she's nothing but a disaster and a disappointment. Instead of being able to learn and practice new powers like other students, her one and only ability is placing a thread of magic within the glass figures she creates, which can then be used as a means for cross-country communication. Definitely not combat related, thus she is shocked to learn the Master Magicians have an assignment for her.

(WARNING: This reviews contains MAJOR spoilers.)

I quickly fell in love with the world of the much conflicted Ixia and Sitia all the way back in Poison Study. Not only was the book a perfect reminder of why I love immersing myself in works of fiction, but it created pleasant excitement for the future instalments penned by Snyder. It was then unfortunate that the following segments of the series only declined, leaving me disappointed and pessimistic. What my gripe essentially stemmed from was the character development of Yelena, and how she evolved drastically into a famous, almighty Soulfinder than could accomplish everything and anything. But whilst Yelena's magic varied to the extreme, Opal's was very limited... At first. It offered zero offensive and defensive capabilities, but it was extremely useful and beneficial to the Sitian council and magicians as a whole. This, after the sheer extent of Yelena's power growth, was refreshing and I welcomed the unique simplicity. Imagine my irritation that as the book progressed, new magical discoveries were made, each more powerful than the last. It's an easy assumption to make that history will repeat itself.

Opal suffered through quite a lot in her ventures, and made more one than one mistake along the way. Her insecurities could've been endearing, but I felt they became a little too much when she continuously refused to accept praise or compliments of any kind. She also displayed a hunger for power, which in itself was slightly off-putting, though to be fair, if I were considered a "one-trick wonder", I'd probably feel sour about it as well. Despite these faults, which definitely threatened her likeability, I thought she was an average protagonist with the potential for improvement. Perhaps if she was given room to breathe and grow into her own person, and not overshadowed by Yelena, which of whom played a part in this book and was mentioned regularly.

Of course the love triangle ticked me off, as they usually do. I just don't understand how they can appeal to anyone. It seemed, at least to me, that Opal settled with Ulrick because Kade didn't reciprocate her interest - it's ALWAYS selfish, in one way or another. It doesn't matter which one I favoured (Kade though), it just becomes unbelievably tedious.

However in regards to the other characters, I believed there to be a satisfactory variety. I actually became a little fond of Leif, whereupon I initially hated his immaturity. Zitora I liked, Pazia was a tad annoying, as was Ulrick. Kade was a delight, and I immediately wished him the love interest. The plot itself was eventful, yet at times confusing as it veered off into different directions. I don't think it needed to be as complicated; sometimes a straightforward story does the job just as well. I very much liked the in-depth look at the Stormdancers in particular, and I would've loved if they were focused on a little longer. Hopefully they make appearances in the next two books of the Glass trilogy.

Speaking of glass, I enjoyed the detailed scenes of craftsmanship found throughout the pages. I never thought I'd find an interest in such a thing, but the writing was very well done and inspired me to perform some additional research. I do appreciate when an author can ignite enthusiasm on a certain subject otherwise ignored.

In conclusion: Looking forward to delving into more Chronicles of Ixia, but let's hope they rise to the standard of the very first. It just strikes me as the protagonists get overly powerful, which takes all the fun out of them struggling for their survival.

Notable Scene:

The roar of the wind and sea ceased the moment the monster wave engulfed me. For one heartbeat, my world filled with gurgling sounds and foamy green light. Then the force of the crashing water slammed me into an unyielding object. The sea grabbed my limp body and tossed it about. Confusion dulled the pain until my forehead smacked into a jagged rock.

© Red Lace 2016

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/04/14/storm-glass-by-maria-v-snyder-2016-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-12 04:10
Violet Eyes by John Everson
Violet Eyes - John Everson

Violet Eyes by John Everson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fresh start was the plan, but for Rachel and her son, Eric, the quiet town near the Everglades proves to be anything but suitable. The news reports of an unknown breed of fly, migrating through the area, but when said species of fly begins to attack people in swarms, things only seem to get progressively worse from there. Black spiders with violet slashes across their backs, appear from seemingly nowhere, making their presence known as they start to take over.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

Who isn't afraid of spiders? Well, me actually, but the way in which arachnids were presented here was no doubt alarming. Instead of the eight-legged critters that want nothing more than to live human-free lives, were abominations hungry for the warmth of living (and dead) flesh. And flesh they got, copious amounts of it, from animals to humans of all ages; everything that breathed appeared to be fair game. The very life cycle of these unnatural creatures made my skin crawl; a bizarre rotation of fly and spider, with bites that could implant eggs, as well as paralysing venom. The greatest and worst biological weapon, their only instinct to wipe out life. Whilst Everson did a good job in capturing the nastiness of their sudden invasion, I found myself wishing the focus back upon Rachel and Eric, as I felt more committed to them in the long run. Most of the other characters introduced had only one sole purpose, and that was to die in the most horrific ways possible, each instance trying to outdo the last. This served as brief entertainment, but as I said, I'd would've preferred more time with the main protagonists.

Let's get into the little irksome details throughout that I just couldn't ignore. For starters, it struck me as unrealistic that almost everyone talked to themselves. This may seem like a nit-picky, largely irrelevant complaint, but it actually affected my immersion. I've no issue whatsoever with inner dialogue; it's something we all do, but to outright speak, out loud, in conversation to ourselves? No, not everyone does that, and it gives the impression that it's for the benefit of the reader - that they're not talking to themselves, but to us. It's a highly personal opinion, of course, and one I had to mention, for my own peace of mind.

The next thing's story related and it involves what you might consider a spoiler, so heed the warning at the beginning. Whilst the incursion spread throughout town, with reports of hostile swarms of flies biting people and houses covered from roof to ground in webbing, Rachel didn't think to leave town? I didn't understand, that for the safety of her child, why it didn't occur to her that it just might not be safe. Again, it brought distraction through its impracticality. I prefer rational thinking that brings the person on the page to life - I very much dislike questionable events that only seem plausible to serve the plot.

Obvious issues aside, I did like the primary characters. I found Rachel's determination to live independently, free from her abusive ex, to be respectful. It was nice that she found romance in someone far better than Anders, of whom was composed in a way that did him absolutely no favours. I couldn't much care for his death - it appeared to be an attempt at redemption, which failed as far as I was concerned. I have to say, I was expecting the ending, but when it came I felt a twinge of sadness. I do appreciate when what I read induces emotion, so I was pleasantly surprised in that regard.

In conclusion: I'm sticking with three stars, however I very nearly settled on two. The spider aspect I enjoyed, but some things (other than the spiders) got under my skin. I just couldn't overlook them.

Notable Quote:

The best things in life were usually killed by ignorance, ambivalence, age, wisdom and sometimes, outright malevolence. Whatever the reasons, the things you loved most always seemed to die long before you were ready to let them go.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/04/12/violet-eyes-by-john-everson
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review 2018-04-07 16:42
The Ritual by Adam Nevill (2016 Review)
The Ritual - Adam Nevill

The Ritual by Adam Nevill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The reunion of four University friends not only offers a chance to escape from the stresses of the everyday, but also an opportunity to behold the wonders of the outdoors... Or at least that was the plan. The last thing Hutch, Luke, Phil and Dom needed was to get lost within a virgin forest in a foreign country; a Scandinavian wilderness that just feels wrong. When they bare witness to something hanging up a tree - something dead, everything changes from then on.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

Collecting dust on my bookshelf, amongst the other two hundred unread books (more or less), for a few years now, I finally decided to pick this one up and give it a go. I didn't know what exactly to expect at first, but the whole "man versus nature" aspect appealed to me, and thus I found myself thoroughly impressed with the initial direction of the plot. Even to imagine getting lost in such an ancient maze of untouched forest, where daylight itself refuses to penetrate, definitely makes my skin crawl. Even so, I'm not usually all that affected by horror in general, and even though I didn't feel terrified or frightened, I certainly felt a sense of unease and foreboding. The writing was a main factor in creating such responses; so darkly atmospheric with sentences that conveyed so much, from every stab of fear to every thread of hope. If not for the very drastic change in story in the second half, I'd have rated it five stars.

I didn't even find the characters entirely likeable, but not because they were poorly written - on the contrary, they were painfully realistic. The ones who picked on another out of a jealous attempt to hide their own crumbling lives, the one with obvious commitment issues and lack of purpose, and lastly, the one with the level head. However, even despite Hutch being the one to try and keep everything civil and together, he shared a particular shallowness with Luke in regard to continuously calling the other two "fatties". They had their flaws, as we all do, and as all good fictional characters should. Luke, whom I eventually came to feel sympathy for, was probably the worst, as his views on women were verging on being downright sexist. He clearly had his problems with anger management as well, but what that man experienced, his helplessness - I couldn't help but hope he'd survive the whole ordeal.

As for the complete shift titled "South of Heaven"; I didn't hate it, but admittedly it appeared quite silly at first. Going from the struggles of survival in the wilderness whilst hunted by a mysterious creature, to being held captive by a metal band consisting of face-painted teenagers - it was confusing to say the least, but after a while I settled into the craziness and accepted it for what it was. The trio; Fenris, Loki and Sutr, were void of sanity of any kind (as you can tell from what they called themselves), but even though they were all sorts of ridiculous, the old woman and what dwelled within the attic succeeded in returning the eerie tone. From stitching together the pieces given, the inhabitants of the house were children of the "moder", which added a nice touch. It then begs the question, why did the woman need Luke to do her dirty work in dispatching of the disrespectful teens when she could've called the monster? Well, if you revere something, if you worship something, it stands to reason you don't want to piss it off by expecting it to do pest control.

Still, the rambling on of Christianity, and of how evil they were as Vikings, it got a little tedious after a short time. I'm all for Norse mythology and how religion played a role in the origin of the forest, but I don't need dialogue that seems never-ending to get the point across. I rolled my eyes, I facepalmed, and I missed the simple yet effective quality of the first couple of hundred pages. Again, I state it was close to being a well-deserved favourite, but the last half just wasn't as good.

In conclusion: I'm definitely interested in Nevill's other works now, as I appreciated his ability as a writer. I favoured the first section of this particular novel, but the change in direction jarred me.

Notable Scene:

Luke took three mouthfuls of water from his bottle. It tasted of rubber and of the forest around them: the cloying of damp wood, rotting leaves and cold air. He detested it. He smelled of it too. They were almost a part of it now. Just a few bright colours of the man-made fibres they wore marked them out as any different to the thoughtless, relentless decay of season and nature. It would be so easy now to just sink to the ground and get recycled, to be eaten or rot away. The endlessness of it, the sheer size of the land and their total insignificance within it nearly shut his mind down.

© Red Lace 2016

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/04/07/the-ritual-by-adam-nevill-2016-review
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review 2018-03-30 02:06
Moonstruck by Graeme Reynolds (2016 Review)
Moonstruck - Graeme Reynolds

Moonstruck by Graeme Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Best Read 2016

Now in police custody, John Simpson is quickly running out of options. His face is all over the news for the grisly murders of multiple people, and the full moon is vast approaching yet again. If that wasn't bad enough, a squad of professional killers have been sent to take him out. He's a threat, an apparent moonstruck, with no control over his monster - or so the pack believes. John's not the only one in danger however; those that know too much must be silenced, including the law enforcement involved with the High Moor investigation.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

High Moor was my one and only five star book of 2014, with very good reason. It surpassed my expectations and instantly plunged me into an exciting roller-coaster of claws and teeth. Everybody was fair game, every limb at risk of being ripped off - the extreme brutality throughout shocked me as well as thrilled me, but it wasn't just about violence and gore. It was about a man with a terrible beast lurking beneath the surface, and a society determined to remain hidden. This second instalment was no different in terms of pace and edge-of-your-seat excitement. I found myself drawn into the life and death situations of characters old and new, and a few I truly liked from the get-go. There's something about how Reynolds spins a tale, and that coupled with my love for werewolves, is the perfect combination.

The plot largely centred upon the werewolf pack, led by Michael as alpha, and their attempts to cover up the rather messy events that transpired in the previous book. Getting a more in-depth look at their inner workings and at their harsh, yet understandable, methods of taking care of the situation was thoroughly engrossing. Of course they went to great lengths to secure the secrecy of their race; realistically, we (humanity), would outright eradicate them upon the discovery of their existence. Perhaps not at first, but eventually. No matter how much it may be denied, we are a destructive force, and peace would most assuredly be merely an illusion. Because of this, I didn't dislike Oskar and his team for doing what they did out of necessity, but Connie was another matter. She was the heartless villain that enjoyed the cruelty and pain of her victims. She was so consumed by hate. I have to admit, she provided some very tense scenes, like the one with Olivia, which I couldn't read fast enough; I needed to know if the poor woman survived.

John and Marie both returned and their romance took a step further, albeit with an awkward, yet sweet moment. I appreciated that amongst the horrific bloodshed, there was at least a little bloom of love and the potential for quite the power couple. Steven Wilkinson also proved to be deadlier than ever, yet no longer did he desire an allegiance with John, but four unsuspecting policemen. I was quite fond of Phil Fletcher in particular, the older and higher ranked copper, as he seemed the decent sort. Hopefully he reappears in the final book of the trilogy, perhaps as a hunter himself. Considering the ending, there's no doubt things are going to escalate for every character.

Another aspect I favoured was when Marie admitted to there being other types of supernatural creatures; vampires included. This made me smile and wonder of the possibility of more novels being set within the world of High Moor. I'd definitely read them!

In conclusion: Utmost excitement - excellent werewolf savagery. I'll be keeping an eye on Reynolds' future works, as I just love how he spins a tale.

Notable Scene:

If anything, the experience was worse going from wolf to human than it had been from man to beast. The savage fangs pushed their way back through his gums, feeling as if a dentist was drilling all of his teeth at once, without the benefit of anaesthetic. Black talons forced their way under his already forming fingernails, while every bone in his body splintered and reformed, flowing like liquid to their original shape. The worst thing, however, was the itching burn across every inch of his skin, as thousands of coarse black hairs pushed their way into his flesh. He cried out in agony, but his vocal chords were half way between human and werewolf, so all that escaped his lips was a strange combination of howl and scream.

© Red Lace 2016

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/03/30/moonstruck-by-graeme-reynolds-2016-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-26 18:37
Exodus von Leon Uris
Exodus: Das große Epos um die Gründung Israels (Taschenbuch) - Leon Uris

Leon Uris bettet die historischen Ereignisse rund um die Gründung des Staates Israel in einen umfangreichen Roman ein.


Kurz nach dem Ende des 2. Weltkrieges warten Tausende Juden in Lagern in Westeuropa und Zypern auf die Einreiseerlaubnis nach Palästina, das zu dem Zeitpunkt von Großbritannien besetzt ist. Da trifft die amerikanische Kinderkrankenschwester Kitty auf Zypern auf den jüdischen Agenten Ari, der plant, die Blockade vor Palästina mit einem Schiff voller jugendlicher Flüchtlinge zu brechen, und Kitty um Hilfe bittet. Damit nimmt die Geschichte ihren Lauf.


Das, was diesen Roman von der Durchschnittskriegsromanze abhebt, ist sicherlich die eindrückliche Schilderung der jüdischen Geschichte: von Ghettos und Pogromen bis hin zum Holocaust, Gaskammern und Internierungslagern *nach* der Befreiung. Dazu eine britische Regierung, die sich gar nicht mit Ruhm bekleckert, sondern Versprechen bricht rechts und links... alles nur des Zugangs zum Öl bzw Suezkanal. 70 Jahre später haben sich die politischen und wirtschaftlichen Interessen nicht so geändert, diese Nebenbemerkung sei erlaubt.


Dazu kommen die individuellen Schicksale von Aris Vater und Onkel, die aus Osteuropa Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts zu Fuß vor den Pogromen flüchten. Während Aris Vater Barak den Weg der Verhandlungen einschlägt, schließt sich der Onkel Akiba einer terroristischen Freiheitsbewegung an. Anhand ihrer Geschichte erzählt Uris die Entstehung der Kibbuze und schlußendlich die Gründung des Staates. Dann sind noch Dov Landau, ein polnischer Bursche, dessen gesamte Familie ermordet wurde und der nichts anderes als Ghetto und KZ kennt und dementsprechend wütend und desillusioniert im zypriotischen Lager landet und schließlich eines der Kinder von Aris Plan wird - genauso wie Karen, die das Glück hatte, rechtzeitig nach Dänemark geschickt zu werden, und so dem Holocaust entkam, die aber nun auf der Suche nach ihrem überlebenden Vater auch den Weg nach Palästina via Zypern und Aris Schiff sucht.


Ari selbst ist der typische Freiheitskämpfer, der Held mit Tiefgang sozusagen. An ihm im Einzelfall, aber sozusagen als Stellvertreter für die gesamte jüdische Gesellschaft, zeigt Uris die Formung des Charakters durch Verlust, Tod und Kampf: Nichts wird geschenkt, alles muss erkämpft werden (sei es durch Urbarmachung von Sümpfen oder Kampfhandlungen), und Schicksalsschläge werden ertragen und machen stärker. Genau diese Charakterisierung als absolut gut und die folgende Schwarz-Weiß-Malerei mit einfach nur abgrundbösen, verräterischen "Arabern", näher definiert wird da nicht, sie morden, rauben und vergewaltigen, haben keine Kultur, Hygiene oder sonstwie Wissen, und die Briten, die mit wenigen Ausnahmen auch einfach nur böse sind, ist mir zu wenig differenziert. Das mag grob geschichtlich stimmen, aber ein Roman lebt an sich von den Schattierungen, ganz besonders, wo's klare Fronten gibt.


Blass bleibt Kitty, die nicht-jüdische Kinderkrankenschwester, Mann und tote Tochter betrauernd (kein Zusammenhang mit dem Krieg), denn ganz erschließt sich mir ihre Motivation nicht. Zu Anfang ist sie richtiggehend von Karen besessen, in der sie sozusagen eine Art Tochterersatz sieht und die sie gleich nach Amerika adoptieren will. Dazu kommen ihre Argwohn gegenüber dem Fremden, Jüdischen. Nur wegen Karen und weil sie sich irgendwie zu Ari hingezogen fühlt, nimmt sie an dem Abenteuer der Überfahrt nach Palästina teil. Ihre Gefühle zu Ari aber kann sie nicht wirklich ausleben, weil der "nicht weint" und sie auch nicht zu brauchen scheint. Auch hier wünscht sie also eine Art von Abhängigkeitsverhältnis, das mir nicht wirklich gesund oder wie eine gleichberechtigte Partnerschaft erscheint. Und genau mit dieser Charakterisierung aber fällt die Wirkung der gezeigten Romanze flach.


Somit bleibt ein ausgezeichneter Eindruck der jüdischen Geschichte, und ja, aus diesem Teil kann man als Nicht-Jude definitiv viel erfahren, der Rest allerdings sackt doch ins Durchschnittliche ab. Schade.

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