Tag: Dark (page 1 of 6)

BOOK REVIEW: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

BOOK REVIEW: Strange the Dreamer by Laini TaylorStrange the Dreamer by Laini Tayor
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

I honestly still don’t know what to rate this, so I’m going with 3.5 stars.

Wow, so it took me nearly two months to finish this book. Here’s the thing. The writing quite literally slays, and so does the characterization. My struggle was this: Half the time, I was sitting there in awe, thinking ‘This is the best book EVER WRITTEN’ ahhh. The other half? It felt like wading through mud. Sparkly, very very pretty mud, but mud nonetheless. There would be pages and pages of descriptions – and while they were mind blowing, I was dyyinggg for the story to start.

So just a heads up – it takes about half way or maybe even more for anything to even start happening. The pace didn’t pick up until like 80%.

My recommendation? If you’re a writer (or aspiring writer) – this is a must read. For sure. But be prepared going into it. I think I’ve highlighted half the book because of how pretty and raw the sentences were. It was poetic at times and short and raw at others. Such an interesting combination I feel like I’ve learned a ton and I owe Laini a great deal for that.

Lazlo Strange is easily one of the most tender and relatable characters in YA lit. He was precious down to the bone, and I swear I don’t think anyone could read about him and not fall in love. From the very first page, too. He sucks you in quick. His fascination of ‘Weep’ becomes the reader’s fascination of weep. It’s impossible not to feel Lazlo’s emotions.

As far as the other characters – same deal. They all felt real. I loved Sarai even though she didn’t have a huge personality. Her abilities are super dark but super cool and I was totally rooting for her. I also liked to see the interaction with the other… ‘gods’ or whatever they were. I love how they each had distinguishable personalities. What I didn’t love? Their POV talking about next to nothing.

Anyway, like I said, the pacing is extremely slow and I think the characters are the entire reason I stuck around. If it hadn’t been for them, I would have just picked it up occasionally to get some writing inspiration.

The world building was also phenomenally done, (albeit weird at times with the metal thing). But cool. Okay, does anyone remember watching ‘The Little Princess’ as a kid? That movie was what spurred my obsession with Indian Folklore. I would chain watch that movie over and over again because of the blue goddess love story and ahhhh this book brought back memories of that and of other stories I used to love. Ugh see? This is my issue. I would have loved this book so much more -perhaps even cried over it- if the pacing had been better.

So here I sit with mixed feelings. So much greatness. So much brilliance. And yet it took me months to get through it.

Take what you will from that!

BOOK REVIEW – The Scorpion Rules (Prisoners of Peace #1) by Erin Bow

BOOK REVIEW – The Scorpion Rules (Prisoners of Peace #1) by Erin BowThe Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The children of world leaders are held hostage in an attempt to keep the peace in this “slyly humorous, starkly thought-provoking” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) novel.

Greta is a Duchess and a Crown Princess. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Start a war and your hostage dies.

The system has worked for centuries. Parents don’t want to see their children murdered.

Greta will be free if she can make it to her eighteenth birthday. Until then she is prepared to die with dignity, if necessary. But everything changes when Elian arrives at the Precepture. He’s a hostage from a new American alliance, and he defies the machines that control every part of their lives—and is severely punished for it. His rebellion opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the rules they live under, and to the subtle resistance of her companions. And Greta discovers her own quiet power.

Then Elian’s country declares war on Greta’s and invades the prefecture, taking the hostages hostage. Now the great Talis is furious, and coming himself to deliver punishment. Which surely means that Greta and Elian will be killed...unless Greta can think of a way to break all the rules.

Welcome to my Unpopular Opinion Review of the month! (alright, I’m writing “unpopular opinion” reviews more often than that, BUT let’s be honest, usually it’s the other way around). What this means is : if you hated The Scorpion Rules, you might find me too lenient. Hello you! If you loved The Scorpion Rules, you might be happy to hear that no, you’re not alone. Hello you! If you haven’t read The Scorpion Rules, what are you waiting for? Hurry up and come back to tell me which category you fall into!

“Borders straines, checkpoints broke, and of course people started shooting, because that what passes for problem-solving among humans. See, guys, this is why you can’t have nice things.”

This is part of the prologue and I already knew that I would love it at this point.

So. Guys. I’ve read a lot that there wasn’t any plot… and I’m going to politely disagree. Nothing happens is such a subjective thing, when you think about it. For me there’s a difference between a lack of big events and a lack of progression. There IS a progression and nothing was irrelevant in my opinion. Of course, most of the first half deals with the Children of Peace’s everyday life and that life is weird. I mean, there are goats and harvests and a lot of zucchini? (you might be worried at this point – DON’T)

The truth is, I can see why people would complain about this but I thought that it was incredibly well done. What annoys me in dystopian is : they’re unrealistic (random couple saves the world for some reason), more often than not they’re devoid of any world building (if you don’t count “standard tyrant took over the world because he’s evil” and… I don’t, sorry but it’s not a WORLD-BUILDING, it’s A SIMPLISTIC SUMMARY OF WHAT HAPPENS EVERY DAY)

In The Scorpion Rules, it makes sense. THIS IS LIFE. THEIR LIFE. Of course it’s relevant! Not to mention that it made for the BEST built-up. This book was crazy and NASTY (There’s TORTURE) and also super weird BUT I loved every second of it. It took my breath away – and I didn’t need big explosions to do so (even if they were fun hehe). It may have gone forward quietly, but it never lost its tension.

(this is the moment when my dear friends who hated it shake their head while murmuring “but the goats!”)

(and it will probably be the only time I’ll get to write this in a review but in my opinion, the goats were necessary to get the sense of what their world became. Oh my God, I love goats.)

1) I loved Elian almost instantly, and I’m not even ashamed. Because you know what? Even though I know that he’s supposed to incarnate The Bad Boy New To School ™, by no means can he be restricted to this stereotype. HE IS MORE : fleshed out and brave and a coward and he doesn’t know when to shut the fuck up even when mechanical spiders are scrawling all over him and electrocuting him (ow!). He’s also loyal and charming and LOST. POOR BABY.

2) TALIS!!!! Give me a book in which I can LOVE the villain and you’ll get a win almost every time. Think Deadpool on crack (I know, it’s mind-blowing)(except, Talis actually, I don’t know, win sometimes?) Seriously guys, I was cracking up at the prologue without even knowing that the narrator would be a character (and at this point, my understanding of the world was nearly inexistent). The ruler of the world, who thinks that blowing up cities is fair game, whom we should hate, shows such a likeable personality, so damn sarcastic and funny, that we CANNOT hate him. Not for one second we cannot. Give him some slack! He’s only acting for the greater good… I think?

3) Sure, Greta wasn’t the most interesting character to read about, given that she was brainwashed into being a dull, nerd princess, BUT I completely bought her character, and that’s saying something. Dull she was at first, yet I loved seeing her opening her fucking eyes and standing up for her friends. YOU GO GIRL.

Oh, how that (mostly unimportant aspect) was hated! First thing first : you need to know that the romance didn’t affect most of 15 pages out of the whole book. I’d say that it’s not enough to spoil the entire book if you don’t like it, BUT sometimes one sentence can make me rage SO I won’t be this person and disrespect that.

This said, here’s what I think : Well, I think that our knowledge of the tropes make us reject anything that comes close to a love triangle and in my opinion it’s pretty… frightening to see that we’re so damn used to them that we analyze novels through their lens without even realizing it.

Look : There’s this boy whose arrival is disruptive for the plot, so of course we expect him to be a love interest. What I mean is that in our head, we tick the love interest box. Is there something in the book, at this point, that actually implies it? Fuck no, but we don’t need it, we just know it. Then when he’s not a love interest – or, rather, when the situation reveals to be more complicated than that – we yell love triangle because really what else could it be?! Well it’s not. No, in my opinion it’s not. Yes, the MC kisses two different characters, but I don’t have in me to restrain this situation to a love triangle as we generally understand it, that is to say some dumb girl who’s hesitating through 3 books between Love Interest #1 (the Golden Boy) and Love Interest #2 (the Bad Boy), and whose whole behavior and decisions revolve around that fucking choice.

Try complex relationships instead. Friendship. Empathy.

See, I was talking to my dear Chelsea about it, and I told her this : since WHEN do I need for a character to be a love interest to love him? SINCE WHEN? Well, since every fucking character in every fucking YA book taught me that their personality would be ruined if they weren’t love interest because THEY WOULD NOT MATTER. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of characters I love in YA who aren’t any kind of love interest, and for me it shows that there is a problem with YA. I used to ADORE characters who aren’t romancey at all. Thank you Erin Bow for reminding me that.

My friend Laura said that she didn’t so much see a love triangle but a fullness of love. I’m stealing that line. What love indeed. Who needs labels? I don’t.

Can I just say something? I didn’t feel an ounce of romantic chemistry between Greta and Xie. Sorry, OKAY? I just didn’t. I wish I had, but what you gonna do. Oh, well. There’s barely even romance anyway. FRIENDSHIP is what matters, NOT BEING BLOWED-UP is what matters, so I’d say that it’s not a really important flaw in my book.

► Honestly? Such a good surprise, I cannot wait to see where the story goes.

BOOK REVIEW – Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

BOOK REVIEW – Rites of Passage by Joy N. HensleyRites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty... no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust... and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

“They can get into my room. Whenever they want. Oh God. They’re not going to stop. Not ever. Not until I’m gone.”

Rites of Passage left me on such a high, I’m jumping around at 5AM like a crazy person when I should have been tucked up in bed like the reasonable adult I’m supposed to be. Yet as I’ve been flirting on a slump all summer, I wasn’t going to stop reading such a captivating story : the unfairness of everything Mac had to go through because of misogynic assholes ensured to drive me furious, and I couldn’t look away.

The thing is, it would have been so easy to write Mac in an unrealistic way, to make her so successful that her kickass personality would have reeked of unbelievability, and I’m so glad it wasn’t the case. She fails, she doubts, she needs HELP, and that’s okay – no, that’s GREAT. I admire her all the same. I’ve never understood why kickass female leads had to fight alone to be strong – “valuable”. What the fuck is that?! It’s the working woman fighting to the top all over again, and that’s so sad. Why are we accepting that? Why are we condoning the wicked message that we need to be alone to deserve our success? FUCK THAT.

In my opinion Rites of Passage‘s message is way more important : don’t let anyone destroy your dreams, and don’t let your pride refuse help – your achievements won’t be diminished because you trusted others. I loved the complicity and friendship between Mac and some of her classmates. I loved that she found people to stand up for her and yet kept making her own decisions. Girl power, but not only – let’s not put all men in the same basket, alright? I also completely crushed on the love interest, which is a shock, because men in uniforms give me the CREEPS (I know how irrational that is, trust me – one of my close friends was in the military and teased me endlessly about it, but what can I say, I am weird). But YUM. I loved this adorable guy.

Military : 1 Anna : 0

About the romance : I need to stress it because I’ve read it a lot and HUH, WHAT : this is in no way a love triangle. Granted, there are two boys, but never at the same time, and the first one is already history when the second one (YUM) steals the show. If that’s a love triangle, then we’ve all been in one once in our life (what a frightening thought, I know).

I’ll end this night rambling by saying that I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending because of two opposite reasons :
– The general plot is wrapped up in a neat bow and everything felt too rushed to be entirely believable.
– The romance aspect is, WELL, we’ll say open to stay optimistic (I AM) and sadly realistic (WHY THOUGH??) but in that case I didn’t want it to be realistic (I’m so unfair, right?) (also, I feel betrayed). Aw hell, I don’t care. In my head everything goes well in the end OKAY?! Okay.

Nearly perfect as far as I’m concerned : some issues weren’t completely dealt with View Spoiler », some parts seemed a bit over the top to me (but what do I know?), and I had to suspend my disbelief pretty hard sometimes (the hacking), but if Joy N. Hensley can interest me in anything military related, I’d say that she’s a pretty damn good author (a sequel, THOUGH?).

BOOK REVIEW – In The Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) by Tana French

BOOK REVIEW – In The Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) by Tana FrenchIn The Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1)
by Tana French
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.
Richly atmospheric and stunning in its complexity, In the Woods is utterly convincing and surprising to the end.

“Not any more. In ways too dark and crucial to be called metaphorical, I never left that wood.”

I know that I ought to gather my thoughts to organize them or whatever I usually do before writing a review, especially when the last page let me shell-shocked as In the Woods did. But I can’t. I’m leaving tomorrow and I’m not one for writing reviews weeks after having read the damn book. I’m actually in awe of people who manage to do just that. I think that it says something about me : in the end, I’m an emotional reader, and I’ll always hold to the bewilderment and wonder I feel when fictional stories get to me in such a strong level.

And I just began too many sentences with I. Ugh. Bear with me, would you?

In the Woods affected me in a way that I didn’t expect, slowly enveloping me in its sickeningly sweet lure. Little by little, I’ve been rocked by a false sense of safety, by the discreet and uncertain laughs, proofs of Rob and Cassie’s complicity. Of course I saw the warnings, the insights, yet I chose to ignore the bad taste in my mouth, the inexorable growth of my doubts and then the pang of betrayal and sadness. God, this book let me so fucking sad. Hollowed. There’s nothing, really, that I could say to convince you to give it a chance, and many reviewers did it before me and with much more eloquence.

So I’ll only say this : rarely did I feel that the character’s personality – whether they’re likeable or not – was so besides the point as when reading this book. Is Rob a jerk? Maybe, but I don’t care, he’s real, all of them are real to me. I care so much, og my god, do I care for him still. Did I guess some clues before he did? Yes, actually, I did, but again, it changes nothing to the way I feel right now, to the sheer awe still palpable in me when I’m writing these (clumsy) words. View Spoiler »

I am frustrated, does that show? I’m just so sick of writing that, it’s not perfect but – god, I’m so fed up with that sentence and I write it way too often. Nothing’s perfect. Life is far from perfect (or everybody would look at populists and say, What The Hell, do I look like an idiot to you?!). Tana French pictures the unfairness and imperfection of it all perfectly. It’s enough for me. Of course it’s enough.

PS. One day later and I’m still dazzled and yeah, so very much sad. It will linger, I just know it.

BOOK REVIEW – Monstress, Vol. 1 : Awakening (Monstress (Collected Editions) #1) by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda

BOOK REVIEW – Monstress, Vol. 1 : Awakening  (Monstress (Collected Editions) #1) by  Marjorie M. Liu, Sana TakedaMonstress, Vol. 1 : Awakening (Monstress (Collected Editions) #1)
by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steampunk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both. Entertainment Weekly praised MONSTRESS as “one of Image Comics’ most imaginative and daring new series” and dubbed it the “Best New Original Series” in their year-end “Best Comics of 2015” list.

Collects MONSTRESS #1-6

 Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening was… weird, but dark and pretty good?

There’s no hiding that the plot is convoluted… at best, and if there was such thing as a CONFUSING ALERT!, I would raise it instantly. Indeed Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening doesn’t burden itself with simple details like chronological order and basic knowledge before throwing you in the meat of the (epic fantasy-like) action.

Keyword being : HUH?!

And then, there are these cat-ish info-dump pages at the end of every chapter (issue) : Oh my GOSH. MY EYES. Too long, too tiny, too much.

However, despite the general confusion and slowness, in the end I’m eager to know where the story will go… especially after THAT. BIG. CLIFF. DAMMIT.

Overall, the characters are very interesting and pretty fun to follow :

First a kickass heroine

… teamed-up with an adorable fox girl… Awww <3

… a talking cat

… also, a monster

… and many complex villains. What more could we want?!

See above. Mix everything. You’ve got your world.

Want more details, do you? Alright. What you need to know is that the world is separated into two parts (so far), the Human World (with witches) and the Arcanic World (with old gods, animal-head people). Because differences and greed always win, once upon a time there was a war (of course there was). Finally, because those in power are often morons, they built a wall (of course they did). Oh, and the talking cats somehow achieved the status of wise entities at some point during the History. Don’t ask me when, though (info-dumping cat pages, remember?) They even go so far as calling themselves Masters *snorts*

As the plot, the world is interesting and complex, yet so very confusing at first.

Remarkable. Stunning. I loved it to pieces, okay?

Sources :
– Flower doodle : http://www.vecteezy.com/flourishes-sw…
– Other vector images (edited by myself): Free vector art via Vecteezy.com

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