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review 2016-01-14 10:42
"Those places where sadness and misery abound are favoured settings for stories of ghosts and apparitions."
The Midnight Palace - Carlos Ruiz Zafón,Lucia Graves

What can I say? Thisreally isn't right up my alley, but my mother-in-law highly recommended it and I love that woman, so I gave it a try. I shouldn't have. 


I liked parts of it - mostly the writing. Zafón has a way with words. He lets them flow, makes them run through you, paints pictures in your mind. It's a wonderful albeit scary experience. It did however make me want to read more of this author's work which makes it not a total loss. 



"Set in Calcutta in the 1930s, The Midnight Palace begins on a dark night when an English lieutenant fights to save newborn twins Ben and Sheere from an unthinkable threat. Despite monsoon-force rains and terrible danger lurking around every street corner, the young lieutenant manages to get them to safety, but not without losing his own life. . . .

Years later, on the eve of Ben and Sheere’s sixteenth birthday, the mysterious threat reenters their lives. This time, it may be impossible to escape. With the help of their brave friends, the twins will have to take a stand against the terror that watches them in the shadows of the night—and face the most frightening creature in the history of the City of Palaces."



The blurb was very promising. I can't say I'm an expert on Calcutta, but I consider it a good thing to broaden my horizon now and again. I liked the first chapters very much. Thrilling and mysterious, it was all I could ask for in a book. Bite me, I'm a sucker for mystery novels and crime solving plots. Years later, Ben and his Chowbar society were a very loveable bunch. Young teens, not quite children anymore, but also not exactly adults, are unique and wild in a sense, but always stick together. Sheere and her grandmother were different. Especially the grandmother. Her issues were her own, and yet she forced a young girl to a lifer of fear, solitude and escapism. 


And the grandmother brings me to the parts I didn't like. As much as I enjoy a mystery plot, this one was all over the place. Mostly because despite the wonderful writing style, Zafrón failed to explain a lot of things. Or at least allude to them right from the start in order to make them plausible. The supernatural aspect of the story was strong, the corresponding plotline remained vague, pale and unsatisfying though. I was always torn between figuring out the origin of the supernatural or the mystery as a whole. Which led to a kind of constant distraction because time and time again, I would try to understand if one part of the story would finally give me a rational explaination for the superpowers or if the superpowers just were what they were and I should take all the other parts of the story as a piece of the mystery puzzle without thinking too hard about it. In the end, I wasn't happy with the execution of both, the supernatural and the crime solving. 


Also, the story started to fizzle and fly all over the place after approximately one third of the book. So many plotlines, so many pieces of a greater puzzle I wasn't able to see until almost the very end. Dramatic high points drowned in all the changing POVs that albeit being interesting, confused me or even bored me at one point or the other. The worst was the telling. So much telling of the same tales. Well written, but still all over the place. And when I get the same story told for the umpteenth time - with some parts changed completely and others completely the same? I'm over- and underwhelmed at the same time. The only good thing about that was my growing empathy for Jawahel, the "villain". Still didn't save me the disappointment at the end, but it gave the super-bad guy some facets and layers. 


All in all, I was sceptical going in because of the "horror" aspect of the story - since that is not my favorite genre. Being done with it, I can honestly say: The horror was not the problem. It wasn't the writingstyle, either. The plotlines and -holes, the lack of consistency and plausibility, the overall jumbled mess of explainations really didn't do it for me. Sadly disappointed. 

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review 2015-12-09 00:00
It's Never Over
It's Never Over - Nealy Wagner

3.5 Stars - Play it again, Charlie...

The second book in the series and I can pretty much insert my review of the first story here.

Again, the blurb really drew me in. I'm a sucker for reunited lovers and the accompanying conflicts. Don't know why, but that trope gets to me every time. It was the same here. Axel and Caxton were caught making out in a religious summer camp six years ago, and never had any contact after that. Six years later Axel is looking for a fresh start, with a glimpse of his past giving him the nudge he needs to decide on his new job. So, after all this time, when the two men meet again, sparks fly. Accompanied by guilt, hurt and a lot of other feelings.

Like the first one, this book was solid. The writing was good, the characters likable, the plot not your everyday blah blah. I enjoyed it, and yet... It comes back to the potential again.

The ideas were good, the steam was great, but overall I found the story to be somewhat lacking. Deep conflicts - on the inside and outside - were simplified to a point where I was shaking my head instead of feeling for the MCs. Cax "transformation" came too fast for me. I would have liked to see a little more of his actual change instead of just the results. The bashing of Axel, the family and friends, the father, the coming out - it all had potential, but in the end, the execution left me with too many open questions, plot holes and loose ends. Also, some of the justifications and explanations of Cax actions over the years, and the "investigation" following the assault on Axel were too weak for me, and some even downright insane.

Overall, at the risk of repeating myself too much, all I can say is that I was hoping for a little more, and could not shake the tiny sense of vague disappointment after finishing the story. It was good, but I didn't fall for it like many other readers did.

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review 2015-12-08 00:00
In Front of God and Everyone
In Front of God and Everyone - Nealy Wagner

This book surprised me on many different levels, good and bad.

The premises drwe me in this time. Two boys, grown up in a cult in the bumfuck of nowhere, have to leave their home and survive in a world they know very little about. AND they have a crush on each other. What's not to like, right?

In theory, really not much. And there were quite some things I liked. The MCs were sweet, but not overly easy. Some of their struggles felt foreign, yet understandable. The writing was good, better than I feared, because yes, I am a little wary when it comes to debut books. I'll always give them the benefit of the doubt, but I also tend to go in a little sceptical. Can't help it. But there was no reason for concern here. Some ióf it might have been a tiny bit stilted, some dialogue might have seemed somewhat artififcal, but all in all I really couldn't complain.

What stuck with me most, though, is the massive potential of the story, all lying idle. Because there were so many moments that should have been more suspenseful, but were resolves too easily. The inner struggles and the fights with real life were there, but almost always had a superficial feeling to them. I was hoping for more every-day problems - like language, like issues of faith and guilt and self-discovery. It wasn't that it wasn't all there. But it wasn't enough, at least not for me. And it left me with a sense of dissapointment that I wasn't really able to shake. Even the conflict between the MCs wasn't what I was hoping for. The resolution, again, cam too easy, too fast, for me. And not all of my questions were answered.

All in all, I enjoyed this one, but I can't say that it blew me away. My issues might be my own, but because of them I can't give it more than 3.5 stars. I liked it, it was okay, but I was hoping for a lot more.

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review 2015-11-26 00:00
Open Arms and Open Eyes
Open Arms and Open Eyes - Michelle K Grant


I was surfing YouTube the other day and I came across a vlog my boyfriend made. I didn’t even know he had a YouTube channel. He’s never told me he makes videos. He obviously wants to remain anonymous because he’s using a fake name. I only watched two of them.



The idea was good. An inventive, but ambitious way to interpret the prompt, and the writing was good.

But I think this was too ambitious. The story tried to cover some complex, deep and kind of dark themes in very little time and pages. In the end, it was okay, but these kinds of topics (such as drug use, addiction, anxiety) just requires more depth and lenght to really work for me. It was also a little confusing at times.

Not my favorite story, and one that could have a lot more potential as a full-lenght novel with less back and forth.

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review 2015-09-18 00:00
Zeph's Awakening
Zeph's Awakening - Serena Yates

Zeph is a deeply closeted high school student who is much better at dealing with academics than he is with his fellow students. When two jocks who normally ignore him invite him to a party at the lake, he knows something is wrong. They don't take no for an answer and soon Zeph is in much deeper water than he can deal with - literally. He realizes it is time to make some changes when Charles comes to the rescue...



Short and sweet. A freebie to pass some time, but nothing more. There couldn't really be any depth, or development of romance, and in the end I was pretty much as indifferent to the whole thing as before. So no harm, no foul; but that was all.

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