25 November 2011

In My Mailbox! (1)

is a weekly recurring meme hosted by The Story Siren
Every Sunday, Kristi shares her mailbox contents 
and gives us bloggers the opportunity to leave a link 
sharing our own mail!

Sooo, here's my first (but certainly not last!) post about which book-related (self-paid) 'prezzies' the mailman brought me last week!

'The Space Betweenby Brenna Yovanoff
'Mercy', 'Exile' & 'Muse' by Rebecca Lim
'Inkheart', 'Inkspell' & 'Inkdeath' by Cornelia Funke

When the 'Inkheart' movie was on TV again last week, I was smitten with it once more. The concept of a world where all kinds of characters from all sorts of books live together in perfect disharmony is very original. The whole idea has much potential. So, I finally decided to order the trilogy in order to find out what happened to all the characters... 

I have been wondering about reading the 'Golden Compass' books also, because I enjoyed the movie very much!

Did you read some of these books already, or are you dying to? Did you see the movie 'Inkheart' and/or 'The Golden Compass' already? In general, how do you feel about books turned into movies/TV-shows? You're welcome to share your thoughts on the subject with me!

Have a good weekend! :)

19 November 2011

Review: Delirium

Delirium, by Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium Trilogy 1
Genre: YA, Sci-fi, Dystopia, Romance
Published: February 2011
Pages: 441
My rating:  

When I read about this book and its intriguing plot, I knew I HAD to read it! A world where love is considered a disease you can be cured from (at the age of 18), is definitely original, and makes sense somehow -in a very scary way. Is it really for the best, to live a steady life without the dangers of falling in love and having your heart broken?
Because it’s not just a loveless marriage that lies ahead. Passions for all kinds of hobbies vanish, friendship suffers due to lack of feeling and memories, even having children (which in some cases may lead to detachment) is merely a sense of duty.
Details like the passages and psalms from the ‘Book of Shhh’ and old children’s rhymes that were adapted to this society’s view on LOVE, give the story more depth. These aspects were funny in a gruesome way, realistic in completing the rules many of us live by through the Bible.

From the start, the author convincingly conveys the detached, loveless feel that radiates from the society Lena Holoway lives in. A steady and predictable life where nothing is left to chance, awaits Lena in just a couple of months. I totally believed the importance of the BIG, defining test day; no matter how ridiculous the idea of an entire civilization based on test results playing matchmaker might seem.
Although… the idea isn’t that quaint at all. Don’t many people nowadays find their match by means of personality tests on dating sites through the internet? Apparently chemistry doesn’t play a big part anymore after a certain age, whereas compatible character traits do.

Back to the book though ;)
The narrating in the first person is very realistic and makes you feel like you are Lena completely. My first fear of reading yet another book in the first person subsided swiftly though, because it’s finally used proper here. For example: flashbacks are written in tense past, which gives the book natural feel. Lauren Oliver has a way of describing thoughts and feelings impeccably: you experience Lena’s confusion, the moments her brain turns into a big blur are excruciatingly vivid, the doubts she has are comprehendible, as well as the shock she experiences when things happen she never even knew existed (and have been taught to be literally deadly wrong). You become Lena with all her hopes, doubts and fears.
Lena certainly isn’t a flat character, as is her best friend Hana. The way Lena and Hana change, the way Lena sees Hana, the way it affects their friendship… Extremely well written, real, recognizable and relatable. I don’t think I’ve encountered any character lately I felt so close to as I do to Lena.

Normally I love my books to be as descriptive as possible, with character depth as well. Where this book lacks descriptiveness in the ‘exterior’ department (surroundings, houses, people), it makes up for emotions. I can honestly say I didn’t miss the descriptiveness. The story reads away easily and totally envelopes you, on the other hand it sure takes its sweet time to develop... Some passages drag on with minor details, unimportant to the story. Other details of Lena’s life make the story so much more alive: the way Lena feels when running for example with the happiness washing over her and the connection she shares with Hana in those moments, they all made me feel like I was there. They made me want to go out running myself, whereas I LOATHE running! (Lauren Oliver would be very good at writing subliminal messages, LOL…)

Here’s an example of the beautiful, descriptive staccato writing Lauren Oliver uses sometimes. SO recognizable how one thought triggers another! (Although I have to admit she lost me entirely with some sentences, going on and on, comma after comma, until I lost track...)
‘Snapshots, moments, mere seconds: as fragile and beautiful and hopeless as a single butterfly, flapping on against a gathering wind.’
It took over 100 pages for the romance to even begin -be it VERY modest- at the second (accidental) meeting Lena has with Alex, which was a far too lengthy and unnecessary time to do the world building and preparations in my opinion. But Alex was worth the wait. The author doesn’t fill in many gaps with background info, she makes you find out things through Lena. Very naturally their romance develops, Lena resisting at first because it feels wrong to her. I admire her strength for being able to withstand the temptation, her desire to hold on to what she’s been taught to be the right thing to do. Perhaps logical because she also fears what’s happening to her, and what will become of her. But when the truth turns out to be a huge lie, and the lies turn out to be the truth, it’s like Lena turns around completely. Her character growth feels natural, as well as understandable. Once she finds out what really happened to her mother, her last step to becoming one of the ‘sympathizers’ of LOVE, is made.

The city surrounded by heavily guarded electrified borders to keep ‘infected’ people from ‘The Wilds’ entering  (’Invalids’ they’re called, though their existence is denied and silenced by the people in charge); ‘The Crypts’ where sympathizers, infected people and everyone else endangering society are literally left to rot and die; the raids sweeping over the city once every while: all gruesome details of the story bringing it to life. People trying to escape by climbing the borders, while big men with guns and dogs chase after them, helicopters circle around them, chaos breaking loose: very strong reminders of actual escape-images regarding the border separating East- from West Germany for many years. Terrifyingly realistic. Very exciting. Movie-worthy even...

Without wanting to give away too much about the ending, I still want to share my thoughts with you. The turn the book took towards the ending, was the way I hoped it would go. It simply had to be that way, otherwise there wouldn’t be a happy ending for Lena. Unfortunately the book didn’t end then… Lena got her wish, or did she?

‘Delirium’ has left me desperate to know what happened and is going to happen. Love is the drug, but it’s also the cure. But is love enough to survive? Are memories enough, once reality hits?

I will most definitely be reading the sequel ‘Pandemonium’, because I’m not ready to abandon Lena and Alex. How can I, when I’ve actually become Lena?

11 November 2011

Cover Reveal: Rapture & Fallen in Love

Greetings my fellow Lauren Kate fans!

While surfing, I accidentally I stumbled accross the covers for Lauren Kate's 2 upcoming books! Which is kinda funny because I already stumbled accross Lauren Kate's 'Fallen in Love' by accident as well. But from what I gather, everybody was taken by surprise by this unexpected publication from Lauren Kate!
'Fallen in Love' is going to be a collection of romantic stories starring some of the characters from the 'Fallen' series, not just limited to Lucinda and Daniel. Could be romantic, could be cheesy, could be very funny too. It'll hit the stores January 24th! (I pre-ordered mine already. Since it has to travel to The Netherlands I hope to receive it around the 31st of January...)

Cleverly created to keep the fans happy no doubt, I'm sure 'Fallen in Love' will be a lovely read, but I am ofcourse still anxiously awaiting 'Rapture', the 4th and final instalment in the 'Fallen' series. Which is gonna be released June 12th next year!

The cover of 'Rapture' fits the other ones perfectly. (I actually disliked 'Passion's cover for some reason, there were too many colours in it and Lucinda's dress was too 'simple' in comparison.)

One detail that immediately stands out when you see the cover of 'Rapture' is the colour of Lucinda's dress. It's actually white, instead of the usual black... What does it mean? Will Lucinda and Daniel get married, perhaps?

What are your thoughts on the subject? Drop me a line! Oh...and have a nice day while you're at it ;)

6 November 2011

Review: Unearthly

Unearthly, by Cynthia Hand
Series: Unearthly, book 1
Genre: Ya, Paranormal Romance
Published: January 2011
Pages: 435
My Rating: 

Angels are some of my favourite ‘things’. I simply adore these divine beings with their majestic wings. Their pure, untouched souls vibrating with untainted love. Ergo, reading about them is wonderful to me. I enjoy(ed) the 'Fallen' series by Lauren Kate very much, but was very disappointed by 'Hush, Hush' and its sequel. So I was hoping ‘Unearthly’ would be better. It was actually, being good and sweet, but not as epic I hoped it would be. It was, however, the story I expected 'Hush, Hush' to be. The way 'Hush, Hush' could and should have been had it been about 'good' angels and had it been written properly...

The beginning of the book did not draw me in immediately though. The vision Clara had, wasn’t written very strongly; it’s more telling than showing what the author does.
The rather simple writing style in the present tense even appalled me at first. (To me, writing a book in present tense feels like a beginner’s mistake.) Too many sentences are short and start with ‘I...’ or ‘He...’, another indication pointing towards the author’s lack of writing experience. But the storyline takes the focus off these flaws, fortunately.

Lately, I find myself becoming tired of 16-year old heroines. However, the concept of ‘Unearthly’ is original enough to grab ones attention and it makes one wanna read on. Being a normal, modern, school-going girl who happens to be part-angel, Clara receives a vision which becomes her life’s purpose. Bit by bit the vision becomes clearer, until Clara knows where to find the mysterious boy she is supposed to save from a forest fire. The author wrote in some lovely and believable details and explanations on angels, which were new to me. Everything is clear and simple, and explained rather than expected to be common knowledge.

Slowly, the story develops once Clara moves across the country with her half-angel mother and demi-angel brother and meets Christian, the mystery boy from her visions. Clara makes new friends and learns more about angels from an unexpected source. Because she is still uncertain about her purpose, Clara tries to get to know as much about Christian as she possibly can. This involves a mild form of stalking, not like some of the unhealthy stalking we’ve read about in a lot of YA books lately. Wink, nudge…
Nothing epic happening at first, asides from the knowledge Clara has angel blood flowing through her veins and feathers growing out of her back (when needed/forced). Through the major part of the book, the story seems to focus more on Clara’s adjustment to her new life. Towards the end and Clara’s supposed purpose-fulfilment the story picks up speed. Still the plot isn’t huge but more subtle and not entirely exposed during this first instalment of the trilogy.

Because of the simple writing style, ‘Unearthly’ reads away quickly, easily and understandably, without the ridiculous plot twists or over-the-top paranoia we encountered in ‘Hush, Hush’. Actually, for a book on angels with meaningful purposes the pace is very slow. Clearly ‘Unearthly’ puts the emphasis on romance rather than action. The story itself is endearing enough to make you forget about the lack in sentence variation or non-descriptiveness.

The romance part flows very naturally, it doesn’t feel forced on in any way. I had expected things to go slightly different, knowing Clara’s destiny was somehow entwined with Christian’s. Then again, that’s not how these stories usually turn out. The story is incredibly sweet and realistic, and like Clara, you forget she’s part-angel sometimes. Sure, there almost isn’t anything she isn’t good at, but most of the time her human side prevails. She’s a normal teen trying to find out her purpose in life, not just an angel-blood trying to live up to her purpose. Her angelic-ness makes it even harder for her to be herself, having to hide her true self most of the time.
The choices she makes are very understandable, Clara is easy to relate to. It’s hard to act divine and put yourself last, when you feel like a normal girl who wants to live a normal life and put herself first. I was left as confused as she was, in the end. Which is a sign of good penmanship after all. I truely was Clara...

Tucker seems like the kind of guy any girl would be lucky to have: an attractive, spirited cowboy with a golden heart.
Christian is still too much of a mystery to me to make up my mind about him.
My initial thoughts that something was ‘up’ with Angela were right. Gotta admire a girl with so much enthusiasm, whose mother owns one of the coolest places in town.
Wendy shares most qualities her twin brother Tucker; she’s steady, trustworthy, loyal and down-to-earth.
I know Clara's mother Maggie deliberately let her daughter find out things, but it pained me to actually feel her shutting Clara out at times.

The way things were going I should have expected the book’s ending. But the way things were supposed to be going, allowed the ending to surprise me. Thankfully Hallowed (the sequel to ‘Unearthly’) is already written and I’m glad I pre-ordered it. Because this book was clearly a set-up for a longer story, a (albeit very long) introduction for more to come; leaving some serious issues to be resolved, questions to be answered and mess to be cleaned up. A task I am willing to take on, because this book was a very lovely read. A feel-good book if you will, with its darker passages, humour, endearing characters, very promising concept and somewhat gloomy ending.

P.S. Alas, I own the book with the *least* attractive cover option out of the 3 different versions. It's hideous in my opinion even; the girl dressed in white with her 'computerized' hair, against the blue forest background. I sooo don't get this cover, as opposed to the other beautiful ones!

Review: Clockwork Heart

Clockwork Heart, by Dru Pagliassotti
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Steampunk, Romance
Published: April 2008
Pages: 390
My Rating: 

The story about Taya the ‘Icarus’ (a messenger flying across the city of Ondinium, on wings made of the feather-light metal ondium) starts mid-flight. Literally. On her way to deliver a message, Taya rescues Viera Octavus, one of the so-called ‘exalted’, and her son from an almost-crashing wire ferry. Because of her husbands political importance this may not have been an accident.
Shortly after the wire ferry crash, Taya meets the 2 Forlore brothers who turn out to be Viera’s cousins. The intelligent, handsome, charming Alister and his seemingly socially inadequate brother Cristof (who voluntarily gave up his caste to work as a clock writher in Tertius). Alister easily sweeps Taya off her feet, especially at the ball thrown at the Octavus Estate in her honour. The relationship with Cristof slowly evolves due to his difficult, closed character and Taya’s distrust of him because of the way he acts/does.

Ondinium is a city powered by the great Engine, running on an ondium core. It’s divided into three sectors: Primus, Secundus an Tertius. Its inhabitants are also divided into different castes: ranging from the rich and noble born exalteds to poor labourers. Because of their importance to society, Icarii like Taya are not bound to their caste. Seeing how Taya grew up in Tertius, it means she has far more freedom.

I loved the flying lessons Taya gave! Don’t worry, I won’t tell to whom, but that really was a great scene with so much emotion! Fear, relieve, patience and then something more…;) No sappy romance there, merely a refreshing and real passage. There were many other moments I had to laugh out loud because of some –awkward, sarcastic or sweet- dialogues.

Taya is a lovable character; she’s brave, curious, ambitious, funny and down-to-earth despite being up in the air most of the time. The feelings/relationships she develops or already has, don’t feel forced. I could easily relate to her crush on Alister, as well as her annoyance with Cristof.
Alister (being an ‘exalted’ means he’s forced to hide his face behind a mask in public) seems like the actual Prince Charming with his perfect looks and charisma. Until another side of him surfaces from behind his mask...
Cristof really does seem to be the ‘awkward crow’ Taya so lovingly describes him as. Always dressed in black, with sharp edges both outside as well as inside. His grumpiness is funny, painful, sarcastic and pitiful at times. But his righteousness can be felt.

The setting is very original in my opinion and well thought through. It’s not just a flat cartoonish background, but has actual depth because of the social castes and political scams, etc. This could be a real functioning society. I do miss some more elaborate world building. The strange terms and surroundings that are Ondinium are being strewn around without much explanation or history, making it hard to envision some things clearly. Another example of the lack of description concerns some of the characters. I’m not quite sure how Taya looks (definitely NOT like the cover girl!) or what age she has.
Besides the occasional difficult words (English is not my native tongue though, so…), the story read away pleasant and easily. The writing was fluid. Something exciting happened most of the time, whereas other chapters seemed to drag on a bit. It was not epic though, nor earth shattering or renewing enough to blow one away. In its genre this is kind of a mediocre story, a nice way to spend your time surrounded by pretty pictures (like the ball, again…!). A couple of days ago I read/finished The Iron Thorn and that felt so much more original and written so much stronger when it came to world building and plot. (Maybe because it was a set-up for a much more epic plot, a first part in the series.)

The plot took a turn I wasn’t happy with and couldn’t believe either. I didn’t want to believe it, I mean. Did not see it coming, or did not want to see it coming, maybe. But after a while, the story felt better and more natural. However, I didn’t find the plot that interesting. It was not exciting enough, I wanted it to be over with. It kinda dragged on after it seemed to be over and got confusing to me with the new side-plot and somewhat dry info. I caught myself skimming the pages, wondering how much longer it would take until things got resolved. Since I did care for Taya, Cristof and Alister, they were the main reason I kept reading.

The world and characters were the book’s strong points in my opinion, whereas the plot lacked a bit.

After finishing I was kinda sad to leave Ondinium, Taya, Cristof and the others behind. I really liked them and would like to know how the story continues. The ending wasn’t really open, it was happy and conclusive enough. But, the story offered more, Ondinium is a strange an interesting place and Taya’s journey has only just begun. Both are interesting enough to read more about. Since I heard Dru is already writing the next instalment, that's a good thing :)

Review: The Iron Thorn (Iron Codex #1)

The Iron Thorn, by Caitlin Kittredge
Series: The Iron Codex, book 1
Genre: YA, Sci-fi, Steampunk, Dystopia
Published: February 2011
Pages: 492
My Rating: 

This book is a Must-Read! It’s got something for everyone: steampunk, romance, adventure, dystopia, secrets, mysteries, great characters, monsters, strange worlds, faeries, a beautiful written story, a plot with unexpected twists…

Here’s the short(ish) version of the review:
* The cover seems very fitting, it projects the grim feeling of dark fantasy in the story, while bringing across the lonely feeling Aoife must have had many times, surrounded by those grey skies and spying Ravens. 5/5 stars
* Caitlin Kittredge has a very poetic writing style, beautiful sentences string the pages of this book together. However, the story wasn’t overwritten: I found every word interesting, every word was where it needed to be and added only to the plot and story. The style and use of prose enhances and complements the feel of the story completely. 5/5 stars
*The characters are very interesting and very real. They have good and bad qualities, they doubt themselves, they grow, they make mistakes, their relationships change. They’re actual humans, not just stereotypes, and you really care what happens to them. 5/5 stars
*The story itself has many different elements: steampunk, adventure, dystopian, mystery, romance, dark fantasy...
One minute you find yourself in the middle of an Indiana Jones movie with all the secret chambers and flying airships, the next minute you’ve landed in a grim, alien-like Fairytale world. Madness and alternate worlds battle over one another, which one is the actual reality? Never a dull moment, but all is blended together perfectly with some unexpected twists. The action is not too overwhelming, or at cost of the story/feelings/characters. The story puts quality over quantity (despite it being sizable enough with almost 500 pages) and lacks no depth, thankfully. The ending is not disappointing, it is truly epic in proportions. 5/5 stars
*The plot and the alternate worlds built here were immensely thought through and well described with many details. The whole thing has a dystopian feel to it and steampunk it definitely is. Slowly the story develops, with surprising twists that keep you interested the entire time. It’s kind of like reading an old-school adventure, with secret chambers, traps, airship-travels, and so on. Until the story takes a turn one did not see coming, seemingly unfitting the steampunk elements. Until the author made it fit, logically and extremely well. Convincing us of the strange reality of this strange world where time ticks to a different clock. Where there is darkness, there is light. Where there is reason, there is magic. 5/5 stars
*All in all I find it a very original idea, an original world. The real world, the ‘Iron’ world, is scary with its rules and demands. Dictatorial, cold, scientific; medieval even in the sense of punishing so-called heretics who do not accept their truth as the only truth. The ‘Thorn Land’ may even be scarier with its unpredictability; inhabited by corpse-drinking Mists, the treacherous ‘Folk’ and trees that could swallow you whole and turn you into part of them. 5/5 stars

Here's an even longer review:
Already in the first chapter, a dizzying amount of info is being dropped on the reader. Necessary info, for building the world our main character ‘Aoife’ lives in. The story is being told from Aoife’s point of view (in the first person). The city of ‘Lovecraft’, Massachusetts, is a grim place, with its 17 asylums due to the immensely consuming ‘necrovirus’ which has infected many people. One of those infected people is Aoife’s mother Nerissa, whom she visits her every week in the asylum where she is committed as a charity case. Aoife never knew her father.
The necrovirus slowly consumes ones brain until its victim becomes a ‘nightjar’: a ghastly creature who in turn can infect someone, after biting them.

Lovecraft runs on a big machine at the heart of the city, built by the ‘Master Builder’ who has become the ‘God’ of Lovecraft. There are strict rules provided by the government concerning what ‘aether tubes broadcastings’ inhabitants are allowed to listen to, where they can and can’t go, what they can read and what ‘religion’ they must have. Heretics are people who do not believe in science and reality, but practice magic instead. Therefore, they are severely punished (old style, by partial or whole burning rituals) for their ‘lack of ignorance’, when caught by the ’Proctors’. Ravens (mechanically engineered ravens who have the ability to recreate an image which can be seen my a magic lantern of some sorts) are the Proctors’ little flying spies.

Aoife and her best friend Calvin Daulton both go the Academy of Engines, Aoife as a charity case or 'ward of the state'. As a young girl she is not afraid to admit when she’s scared, especially now her 16th birthday is coming up. The necrovirus is latent in her family; Aoife’s brother Conrad has already been infected and was committed to an asylum after trying to kill his sister. However, he escaped. About 4 times a year he secretly writes her a letter to let her know he is still alive and ‘well’. When he sends her a letter telling her to go to ‘Greystone’ (their biological fathers house) in order to save herself and help him, Calvin and Aoife go on a secret mission. Will she find Conrad in time, or has he been lost for good? Maybe even dead?

After seemingly saving Aoife and Cal from becoming ghoul dinner because of their initially chosen guide, the attractive but illusive Dean Harrison leads them out of the city. Dean is somewhat of a mystery, a heretic in his own way, but very loyal when it comes to standing at Aoife’s side. Aoife is not sure what to make of him at first, a liar, or not? Here’s a quote from Dean that illustrates both Aoife’s doubts as well as Deans perspective on life: "A touch of truth makes a lie worth believing." Their journey involves places Aoife has only heard rumours about, such as the Nightfall Market, the ghost of a bridge that supposedly crashed years ago (taking 21 victims along with it…) and an eventful flight in an actual airship. Encounters with deadly mud-like monsters called Shoggoths, causing one of the characters serious (possibly lethal) injury by injecting them with the virus. The ‘mad’ flashes and visions are beautifully written; truly painful, poetical craziness.

The evolving relationships are written very believable and natural, the characters seem very real.
Aoife discovers and unravels more and more about her father; his strange, secretive clockwork driven house and her lost brother. When she learns of the ‘Land of Thorn’ she doubts herself even more at first. Could she really possess a power, a ‘Weird’, like her father before her? Or are these the first signs of madness, seeing how Nerissa spoke of the Land of Thorns as well? Aoife’s self-confidence and fear keep altering, the hope to find her brother keeps her going, even though the fear for the lurking necrovirus stays with her. Learning the truth, discovering who really is the bad guy, experiencing her father’s memories, realising nothing and no one is what it/they seem(s); all these things only seem to make Aoife stronger. She intends to fulfil the destiny which has been forced upon her in order to protect her loved ones.

The author really takes you along the journey of feelings Aoife develops for Dean, slowly but steadily. Since Aoife is afraid she has no future besides the one in the madhouse, she doesn’t allow herself to get involved with anyone at first, not even Dean. She doesn’t need distractions from her quest either, after all. But Dean is the first person who does not judge her for her family’s burden en believes her without a doubt. He’s an outcast, like herself. More than once he risks his life to save hers, mind you despite the fact Aoife is not your typical damsel in distress! (She’s independent, smart, brave, not afraid to speak her mind, good with machinery and doesn’t act the way a ‘properly brought up young lady’ should.)

Calvin finds it hard to believe in anything besides the Proctors’ truth and is convinced that everything happening to Aoife is just another sign of her upcoming madness. The way he looks down upon the ‘common’ people, even if Aoife is one of them too, is not a nice personality trait. The way he feels towards women’s behaviour and future may be considered ‘normal’ during the fifties, I find Calvins expectations degrading. I actually didn’t understand why he befriended someone like Aoife at first, because associating with heretics (Nerissa) is punishable and he keeps throwing that knowledge in Aoife’s face in one way or the other, practically saying she should be thankful to have him. I find him quite nasty and unbearable and cannot comprehend why he sticks to Aoife’s side. Until things finally become clear... He’s the guy you expect to turn on his friends in the end, because of his allegiance to his country/beliefs/so-called righteousness/whatever. (You know the type…) But maybe he is not what he seems after all…

I did not expect what was happening in the end. At all. Some important things turned out right, other things spiralled out of control into a huge, epic disaster.
The only downside I can see? The book ENDED. With a major cliff-hanger! I am seriously DYING to know what will happen to Aoife, Dean, Cal and even Bethina. What will happen to Thorn and Iron, though we saw disturbing glances already. I’m not ready to leave this world yet, to leave Aoife and Dean behind. I wanna go along with them on their journey and I certainly will, once the sequel is out. Which hopefully will be soon. Yesterday, if possible. Pretty Please, Caitlin Kittredge????

Review: Destined

Destined, by Alison Kraft
Genre: YA, Sci-fi, Romance, Fantasy, Supernatural
Published: August 2011
Pages: 290
My Rating: 

The idea of this book spoke to me enormously. It’s told from the perspective of modern day vampire slayer Apolline Greer (who comes from a long line of female, single vampire slayers and is rather obsessed with the ‘Titanic’) who suddenly finds herself aboard this famous sinking ship, in the body of her ancestor. Also on board are: Cristof-the vampire who killed her mother, another vampire hunter named Alexander Walker (Appoline never knew there existed others like her, let alone they were so cute) and a female vampire named Sasha whom she and Alexander were both sent to kill. Since we all know what happens to the ‘Titanic’ it’s an understatement to say Apolline is acting under a lot of time pressure. She has 4 days left ‘till the ship sinks.

Unlike slayers we already know (such as ‘Buffy’, which Alison Kraft refers to herself) the slayers in this book don’t walk around and slay every vampire they encounter because not all vampires are considered bloodthirsty and dangerous. They’re assigned to kill specific ones because they’ve turned bad. Which is why Apolline is not allowed to kill Cristof, even though he’s responsible for her mother’s death, has tormented her family before that and torments Apolline still. Yet now temptation is very strong: she has a chance to stop him before he has a chance to kill her mother.

Even though Apolline is a strong character, having lost her mother at a young age and being trained to be a vampire slayer, I find her personality a bit lacking. She’s cool and in control and doesn’t allow herself to break down and cry for quite some time. It took some time before she finally grew on me, but towards the end I could really sympathize with her.
Alexander Walker is truly an old fashioned gentleman, charming in a way. Despite the proper distance which social etiquette requires, you feel the romance between Noelle/Apolline and Alex grow, in a subtle way.
Logan seems like a good (and cute) guy too. Very slowly (for obvious reasons, as we find out later) he finds a way into Apolline’s life, because he genuinely cares for her.

As far as writing goes, this books reads away easily. Since it’s written from 21st Century Apolline’s view (in the first person), the style/language is modern, apart from the moments Apolline has to converse to her fellow travellers in 1912 of course.
Clearly Alison Kraft has done much research on the ‘Titanic’, I am pretty sure her descriptions of the ship, decks, rooms, sleeping quarters, dining rooms, floor plans, etc. are most accurate. But during the first half of the book the story is just being told without much extra flavour. Everything is a bit ‘flat’ and I miss a spark with the book.
Just like in the movie blockbuster, until the ship starts to sink, hardly anything happens. Alison Kraft takes a bit too much time writing about everything. Instead of chasing after Cristof and Sasha, Noelle and Alexander wander around the ship and talk, have breakfast, lunch or dinner and in between take their sweet time to change outfits. Admittedly, it’s nice to read how ‘crazy’ people were back then: taking hours to change into different attires for every meal, whilst the outfits they wore (especially women) were no easy task to change into. The tight and uncomfortable corsets, the hundreds of buttons on the gowns, the hair and make-up. No wonder every woman (who had some means) needed a maid!

I’m a big fan of detailed writing and descriptions, but it dragged on a bit too long. Almost every breath Apolline/Noelle takes (shallow breaths, due to her confining corset), every move she makes, is being described. The story drabbles on a bit too long. That does make you feel what Apolline feels: it’s actually rather boring to be aboard a big ship during the 1900’s.
Because of those elaborate descriptions the vampire-action gets snowed under a bit. It's almost like Alison Kraft thought about adding a supernatural theme to the story later to make it more interesting, instead of just writing another story about what it must have been like to be on the 'Titanic'.

However, as the story finally unfolded I really felt for Apolline. The love she and Alexander felt for one another was going to end either way, by death or Apolline’s return to the future. Alison Kraft described the chaos during those panicked last moments excellently. I won’t tell whether or not Alexander, Noelle and Apolline survived, but boy, did I feel some pain... All those innocent people who died that night, some of them being Apolline's new-found friends after her always solitairy life. Heartbreaking.

You should allow this book to take you on a voyage with it. The story may evolve slowly, the plot evident after some time, but it’s worth it in the end. Indulge yourself in the life style of the 1900’s for a while, take your time, and feel the romance wash over you. Don’t expect too much (vampire) action, then you’ll be fine.

Despite the collision course the Titanic was heading for, this book -as well as Apolline Greer’s life- is not. History can’t be changed, but the future can still have a happy ending.

Especially in the ‘now’ I feel for Apolline, once she has returned safely (alas, Noelle does not survive) and gets to know Logan- the neighbour she has been secretly lusting after for some years already. Being confronted with things 'Titanic' hurts too much, understandably, and Apolline questions her sanity. Was it just a dream, or not? And did she manage to kill Cristof or not, because her mother is still dead.
Once it turns out Logan is Alexander’s great-great-great grandson, possesing a letter addressed to Apolline (proving Alexander did survive the ‘Titanic’, despite the fact that Apolline saw him fall into the freezing water together with Sasha) both Apolline’s and my tears were flowing freely.

Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

The Girl In The Steel Corset, by  Kady Cross
Series: The Steampunk Chronicles, book 1
Genre: YA, Sci-fi, Steampunk, Romance
Published: May 2011
Pages: 473 
My Rating: 

This review contains many spoilers, so beware!

What a page-turner!

England, 1897
Kady Cross herself meant her book as a cross-over between ‘X-men Teens’ and ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’. She’s right; it’s a book set in that wonderful, ‘steampunkian’, Victorian era, telling about young adults with special powers. Though I haven’t actually read any of the gothic classics, this book seems like sort of an ode to them as well. We all know the movies about Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, etc. Those themes are explored further here, used as an inspiration. Even the descriptive, elaborate writing style adds to the feel of the book.

As opposed to the prequel ‘The Strange Case of Finley Jayne’, this book develops at a slower pace. Although that may be not the right terminology to use here, because the book almost immediately starts in the middle of a violent scene. Whereas ‘prequel-Finley’ seemed to be mostly good with a righteous heart, only partly taken over by her ‘Dark Side’ or ‘Other Self’, this Finley seems eager for blood. Admittedly, when faced with the situation she finds herself faced with, it’s understandable she wants to defend herself, or even hurt her opponent.

When Finley literally runs into Griffins velocycle -a sort of motor-bicycle powered by a special kind of energy (‘Ore’: something Griffs parents found while taking their journey to the centre of the earth. This energy powers almost entire London and is in the hands of Griffin), she finds herself awakening at Griff’s mansion. Griffin turns out to be the Duke of Greythorne. Because she feels imprisoned, ‘Dark’ Finley attacks anyone in her proximity. (Already, it gets kinda old...) Luckily Griff and his friends, Sam and Emily, aren’t normal either. Griff, for example, has a special connection to the Aether and recognizes Finley’s ‘abnormality’ instantly, without judging. He manages to settle her down with his power.

Details about the characters and environment create the right atmosphere. Griff has a nifty velocycle, retro-futuristic cell phones also exist, in the form of personal telegraph machines. Griffs ‘Aether’ machine could be compared to the internet, only broader. It allows him to make contact with those who have passed away, as well as find any information about people/things that is ‘out there’. Of course it doesn’t look anything like our computers, everything is made of metal, brass, wood etc. So-called ‘Automatons’ have taken over many jobs, though lately several of them have gone against their programs, attacking people, amongst them Sam.

Slowly the story evolves, but not so slow you’re losing interest. It’s nice for a change to read a story that goes a little deeper, tackles issues and mysteries before it gets snowed under by heaps of action. Kady Cross takes her time to give the reader more background info on the characters. She does this also by changing the points of view from which the story is told. We see things from not only Finleys view, but also Griff, Sam and Emily.

We learn where Griff got his wealth (actually, his parents did, and since they died in an accident a few years back, that makes him the duke and heir to the estate)and get to know Emily’s brilliance when it comes to fixing both people (sometimes with the help of ‘Organites’) and machines. Sam has been so brutally attacked by an automaton gone wild, he couldn’t have survived without the metal alterations Emily made to his body. He’s struggling to find a way to get over his fear for automatons and accept his new self. He’s coping even more with his feelings for both Emily and Griff, he knows they acted out of love yet at the same time he hates them for practically turning him into the same thing that almost caused him to die in the first place.

Emily’s research on the same automaton that attacked Sam showed nothing out of the ordinary. Its power source is still the same: ‘Ore’. Gradually this strange group of youngsters learn more about the way ‘Organites’ work. They enhance the powers they already possess, which is why Finley can’t control her dark side ever since she’s been treated with the ‘Organites’. Thankfully Griff gradually helps Finley merge her ‘two broken halves’ into one whole.

When Griffs Aunt Cordelia returns home (wearing a nose piercing and ear piercing which are connected by 6 iron chains, 1 for each year her husband has gone missing) we learn that Griffs and Finleys existences are coincidentally connected, their parents journeyed to the centre of the earth together in a group. After a talk with Finleys mom, Finley finally finds out why she is who/what she is.
***SPOILER: Her father was a brilliant scientist who used himself as a test subject often. With the help of Griffs father, he barely manages to return to his usual self after a sort of Jekyll and Hyde experiment gone wrong. For both men the test results were a cause for celebration; for Finley who was conceived after these experiments, they meant something similar happens inside of her. END SPOILER***
At night this ‘bad side’ of Finley mostly comes to live. It’s then she seeks out Jack Dandy, presuming her former employer (the one who came on to her but she fought off) is one of his followers. She feels Jack Dandy to be an equal to her ‘dark’ self, immediately drawn to his physique and dangerous vibe. Still, she can’t help compare him to Griff who’s been kind enough to provide her with shelter and new clothing, and wants nothing but her trust in return. At first. Also, he asked her to fight along their sides against the evil that makes London an unsafe place.

I loved the reversed roles in the scene where Griffs aunt Cordelia tries to enter Finleys mind to find out whether or not she is guilty of something. (Because whenever Finleys dark side takes over lately, she can’t seem to remember anything she did.)
***SPOILER: Finleys dark side fights Cordelia off, Cordelia’s nose starts bleeding from the strain, while Griff tries to disconnect their minds through the Aether. He succeeds but has to let his guard down, all ghosts lingering in the Aether overtaking him, almost causing his brain to explode because of the overwhelming pressure. To find refuge he manages to throw himself into the pool, the pressure escaping him in the form of steam. Finley comes to his rescue, disregarding her pounding headache, the burns the steam cause and scoops Griff up into her arms, carrying him back into the house. For a few steps that is, until Griffins male pride takes over and gently asks her to put him down. When Aunt Cordelia learns Finley is innocent and sees the way she cares for Griff, she is finally able to trust her. END SPOILER***

The scene in which Finley receives an exotic gift from an admirer, along with an invitation to a masked ball in Piccadilly Circus, is one of my favourites. I love the way Jack woos Finley.

Another lovely scene is the one where Griff comes to get Finley back, after she’s fled the mansion to stay at Jack’s.
***SPOILER: Sam challenges Finley to a fight, hoping to provoke her evil side to make his friends see she’s dangerous after all. When Sam nearly kills her, Finley almost kills him by molesting his artificial heart. Emily, Finley and Griff manage to rescue him but Finley decides to run. As soon as Griff finds out Finley is missing he reckons she must be at Jack Dandy’s and goes over there. He threatens to throw her over his shoulder if he must. Jack retorts in his charming cockney accent ‘that even he ‘as goose bumps.’ Griff *does* walk out of there with Finley over his shoulder. END SPOILER***

I liked every character, though it took me a while to like Sam. I got his hatred, but still didn’t take a liking to him.
I found Finleys two sides fascinating, even more so once they were ‘fighting’ for their place at the same time. Her shyness opposed to her boldness, her fear opposed to her anger, etc.
Griffin was likeable and cool in a careless way, but a bit distant. Still witty in his own way.
Jack Dandy was great, claiming to be a bad guy when it was clear his heart was in the right place, especially when it came to Finley.
Emily’s obvious heritage in the form of her accent, red hair and freckles softened her brilliance which was intimidatingly so. Her power to ‘speak’ to machines was one really tailormade.
Renn was likeable too, the only thing that left me in the dark is the way he disappeared from the book...

The plot wasn’t huge or epic, but the story had enough action the entire time. Actually the plot was very meager, compared to the length of the story. I expected something bigger. However, I was curious to find out what ‘The Machinist’ was planning and why he needed a tunnel that ended right in one of Queen Victoria’s rooms.
***SPOILER: ’Twas a very humorous moment in the book, when the team appeared through a hole in the floor of Queen Victoria’s room (after a claustrophobic tunnel trip in the place where Sam got attacked by the automaton), her majesty staring right at them. Just as it was funny Queen Victoria’s wax statue was stolen from Madame Tussaud’s and delivered at Jack Dandy’s doorstep, dressed in nothing but her undergarments! END SPOILER***

I can’t say I disliked ANYTHING in the book. Not a single chapter, paragraph or word even. I kept turning pages, wanting to know. I felt giddy and at awe the whole time, this is my new favorite book and author. Maybe for the sequel she could do with a better, more epic plot. Because of that and the fact that the story was maybe a little too elaborate compared to it, I give it 4,5 stars instead of 5.

My last point of critique is the absence of that one kiss I know all readers must have been waiting for. There was plenty of romance in the book, moments I wished I could experience myself, but I missed that kiss. Desperately. Because sense, sensibility and social classes can’t and mustn’t rule over true love. Right?

Review: The Strange Case of Finley Jayne

The Strange Case of Finley Jayne , by Kady Cross (e-book)
Series: The Steampunk Chronicles, book 0.5  
Genre: YA, Sci-fi, Steampunk, Romance
Published: May 2011
Pages: 78
My Rating: 

Finley Jane kicks ass. Literally. So does Kady Cross for creating her.

This was a short and sweet read. Kady's way of writing is beautiful, I enjoyed her sentences as much as the steampunk world she created. It sort of felt like an ode to 'Frankenstein', with its dark atmosphere, mystery, intrigue and even a mad scientist. But on the other hand it was sweet and feminine too.

It's so good to finally read about a strong female heroine, even though the heroine feels her 'other self' is sort of evil. From what I've read so far, I don't think she's evil. She has a strong sence of justice and is willing to defend the innocent. That she enjoys the process doesn't seem wrong to me at all. She hasn't killed anyone yet, only maimed them ;)

I love Finleys sarcasm, her honesty, her big heart, her bravoury, her wits, her quick reactions. I love how she throws the failure of Lord Vincents steampowered horses (the same horses she saved Lady Phoebe from, during a carriage-ride spun out of control!) right back in his face when she finds us his nasty plans.
I love how she's overwhelmed by the riches and kindness she finds herself in when becoming her employers daughter's companion. The poor girl, Lady Phoebe, is married off to Lord Vincent, a middle aged inventor who will ensure her fathers gambling debts will be paid for. I like the way Finley finally realises why she's really hired after having a conversation with Lady Morton, Phoebes mother. I like the way all the girls seem to bond so easily and enjoy each others company and the treats of life amidst all the peril surrounding them.

The world Finley lives in is amazingly cool, steampowered inventions all over, such as carriages, sewing machines, mechanical horses and automatons.

I'm hooked, which is a good thing because 'The Girl In The Steel Corset' lies waiting for me. The book, that is. Not Finley ;)

I'm coooming!!! :)

Review: Always a Witch

Always a Witch, by Carolyn MacCullough
Series: Once a Witch, book 2
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Paranormal, Romance
Published: August 2011
Pages: 288
My Rating: 

I added some spoilers at the end, so be aware...!

I just finished reading 'Always A Witch' (the seqeul to 'Once a Witch' ofcourse) and wrote this review while it was still fresh. I swallowed away the tears that came over me while reading the ending, to share my experience of this story with you.

I do admit I'm very disappointed about this book. So, why do I give it 4 stars then? Because I'm disappointed there aren't any more sequels to this story!!! (Or will there be???)

The author clearly found her voice, because this book read better than the first one. It took just a few chapters before Tamsins adventures began this time. And what an adventure it was! I don't think I disliked anything that happened, I got sucked into the story and wanted to know what was gonna happen next badly. It was such a quick read, an easy story to stick with. I don't mean that negative, it was simple in a way that stops you from being confused as to why things are happening, who's who, what some sideplots or seemingly needless sidetrips have to do with the story.

As in the first book, the lack of description still kind of bugged me, but not so much because the story itself had me too gripped to be bothered with it. The story isn't one that relies on beautiful sentences, but it's okay. Some of the dialogue writing has already improved from book 1, a bit more spice was added. Still the writing is rather simple and basic, nothing too fancy. It is the story itself that gives this book a high score.

I loved Tams trip back into the past (to prevent Alistair Knight from warning his past relatives about what The Greene Family is gonna do to them). The author really involved the reader in what it must have been like to work in a rich household in the late 1800's. (Asides from the strange things happening in the 'Knight' family household, of course. And the fact that Tamsin seems to be able to cope with her new job so easy.)

Tams sense of 'duty' is greatly admired by me, her will to go through this alone because she doesn't want anyone (Gabriel in particular) to get hurt. (Maybe she's just stubborn, who knows...) Even if it means she'll be in more danger, she'll be terribly lonely and does not even know how and IF she will be able to come back to the present. Luckily Gabriel turns up after all.

I love Tamsin, I hate saying goodbye to her so soon already :( I liked all the side characters too, especially Tamsins 'Talented' (and very quirky) relatives, Cook and Jessica.

Little original things I liked: how Tamsins sister Rowena is able to make inanimate objects speak, like the china lions standing next to the fireplace. Unfortunately for Tamsin these china lions tell Rowena exactly what has been said been before, uncovering her sisters plans.

Towards the ending things got very exciting again, the book seemed to read even faster then. (Like in the previous book, I can see this being turned into an amazing movie!) I was soooo curious to see how Tamsin, Gabriel and Isobel, as well as Tams other relatives, were gonna fix things. They had some close calls. It had me very worried their future still wasn't safe after intervening (Gabriel couldn't 'Find' their relatives in the future, his gift being able to 'Find' any lost object. Next to being able to Travel in Time, obviously.)

When they finally figured out how to stop the Knight Family, I was still shocked about what Tamsin did at the last minute. But it made sense. No matter how heartbreaking it was. Such a sad, and yet at the same time happy ending.

Also I have to share my love for the cover, I seriously adore it! I loved this book. I want more. I seriously recommend this book! Go read it NOW!


At Tams realisation that she had lost her Talent forever, it being locked inside the Domani to guard the Knights Talents, was killing me. Even if she did know it would happen. I cried along with Tamsin for loosing her precious gift, for giving up her gift as a sacrifice to save her entire family. Once Gabriel and Tamsin had returned to their Family home, everything still intact, everyone still alive, I felt happy. Even more glad that Tamsins life hadn't changed at all. She still had Agatha as her roommate and friend, she might be able to get into Stanford, her sister was still about to be married. She might have lost her Talent, she still has the life she always had, the life in which she assumed she had no Talent at all. No wonder Grandma raised her into believing she had no Talent, somehow she foresaw there would come a time Tamsin actually *would* be without a Talent.

Review: Once a Witch...

Once a Witch, by Carolyn MacCullough
Series: Once a Witch, book 1 of 2
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Paranormal, Contemporary
Published: September 2009
Pages: 292
My Rating:

'Once A Witch' was a quick and easy read. Aimed at a younger audience I think. If you want to read a nice book, that's not too complicated, and able to finish within 2 days, go for it!

First I'll talk about the things I did not like. Or maybe the things I missed is a better way to put it. Because I missed some descriptions. Environments and persons weren't very well described. Maybe it's good because it leaves your imagination at work, but I like my books more descriptive. That would have given the book, the characters and the environments a little more colour. Because it was a colourful life going on here.

The dialogues between Tamsin and Alistair, as well as those between Tamsin and Gabriel, could use a little more spice. I guess the whole book lacked a little spice. It was a very nice read indeed, but nothing very special or memorable that stands out.

The story enveloped at a slow pace, but not annoyingly slow. Things happened, but no major events at first. I think about halfway through the book, the story picks up speed.

The farther I read, the more the plot sped up. When something happened to Tam's sister Rowena, I was really curious how and what had happened to her. Albeit the plot being somewhat simple, the story not too complicated, I still found myself wanting to know what was gonna happen next, how Tam was gonna fix things.

Because of the 'action' I liked the second half better than the first, admittedly.

I like the book/plot/characters and promise of romance enough to read the sequel 'Always A Witch' today or tomorrow. The ending sort of forces you too, actually ;)
(Also because I know it's a quick read, I'm not always in the mood for a book that takes too long to finish.)

It's purely the lack of description (details) and the simplicity of the writing/ story /plot /characters that make me give this less than 5 stars.

If 'Once A Witch' were a meal, it would be a simple but pleasant supper, lacking a little spice... A meal that wouldn't linger too long on your brain for its complexity, or the fact that it touched you deeply somewhere because of its originality and boldness, but still an agreeable meal. An every-day supper.


The family gatherings, and 'Talents' (witchcraft related gifts) every family member has, were sometimes really fun. After all, these people are normal people too and use their Talents for entertainment purposes as well. The uncle who allows the littles kids to break the china plates and then puts them back together with his Talent was a nice humorous touch. So was the uncle who keeps (dis-)appearing everywhere out of thin air, startling everyone all the time. Or the poor aunt who kept saying she had lost is, though no one seemed to know what it was she lost, including herself. I could imagine the chaos vividly.

I really liked the scene where Tam and Gabriel attended a party in 1939 to locate the object Alistair desired. It felt romantic being there, doing a waltz all dressed up, magic surrounding them. Magic, because of all their 'Talented' family members, even more magical because it was Tams own heritage she was in. She got to meet her own grandmother as a young woman, how cool is that? Also, she finally got to understand the things her grandmother would tell her later, *why* things happened the way they did, why everybody kept Tams talent a secret, letting her believe all this time she wasn't special in a family where everybody else is. But that's exactly what gave Tam her strength I think, to try and be normal.

And of course the ending scene was brilliant too. I could just see that before me on the silver screen. I didn't quite understand what it meant when Alistair vanished into the clock, but the epilogue clarified things for me. Tamsins family's future is blank, as in there will be none. Obviously Tamsin's got her work cut out for her and I am curious to see what will happen. Especially because that will happen in the Victorian Times. Can you say 'jummy'? ;)

Have a nice day! :)

Review: City of Bones

City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments, book 1 of 6
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural
Published: March 2007
Pages: 485
My Rating:

In all honesty I was interrupted for several periods of time while reading this book (amongst which was a hospital stay due to surgery, during and after which I could not concentrate on anything), so I'm not sure whether I am to blame for my lack of being able to be swept away by the story, or too many things in the story itself kept me from being drawn in.
But, since I have read ‘Clockwork Angel’ by Cassandra Clare which I thoroughly enjoyed (the Victorian Setting appealed to me more than the setting of the ‘Mortal Instruments’ though) I blame me for this temporarily state of insanity. Upon finishing 'Clockwork Angel', the book left me empty-hearted and longing for more of it. I loved Cassandra’s writing, characters, setting, action. So despite the different setting, I decided to order the ‘Mortal Instruments’ anyway.

I had prepared myself that this series would be less good than ‘Clockwork Angel’ because it was written earlier. But Cassandra’s writing is of the same high standard then as it is now, she treats her readers like adults instead of tweenies. She takes us seriously for a change. From page 1 the book is action-packed and introduces us into a different world not far from ours, without losing sight of the plot. Nothing happening drags on too long or seems senseless.

The action just keeps coming, Cassandra doesn’t waste words on jibber jabber. Everything happens for a reason but is still descriptive enough and pleasant to read without being rambled on like a story that has to be told without paying attention to use of words.
However I do find Cassandra uses the same sentences/words a lot. The werewolve's 'lolling' tong for example, and the 'breathing like he/she had just run'. Not much variation, whereas most sentences read like beautiful poetry.

The terms are explained in this book, the gadgets and history about Shadowhunters and their powers and weapons. I love the original ideas of the rune marks, and how this whole world works. I find there's nothing weird about it, like it has always been like this. Totally believable.

I like how the plot comes together piece by piece. It’s not childish or immature, it’s a very well thought through story/plot (of which I wish I'd thought it up).

Like in ‘Clockwork Angel’ I do find that all the excitement and action keeps Cassandra from writing ‘too deep’. I’m still having trouble with feeling Clary. I know what she looks like, but I don’t know anything about her insides. With everything that’s going on in her life, she seems to be taking things rather well, rather superficial. I would like to get a bit deeper inside her head. It’s hard to identify yourself totally with one of the main characters that way.

I’m getting kind of annoyed with the fact that whenever something major happens (Clary finds out her mom was a Shadowhunter, married to the bad guy Valentine, stayed on the ‘wrong’ side too long) some kind of action thing happens and we don’t get to read any of her thoughts. I actually longed for some peaceful times, some slow times in the book, to catch my breath. The book felt like a never-ending rollercoaster ride, and no matter how fun rollercoaster rides are, if you're being forced to stay on them while getting more and more nauseous, it's not fun anymore...

Those are my only points of criticism, Cassandra needs to slow down sometimes, and I want to read more about everyone's feelings in between the action. Or at least Clary's feelings, because she's the main character.

And I hope that Clary and Jace aren't really brother and sister. (I think I read a spoiler about that somewhere, ignoring it for now...) Cassandra wrote the story very plausible, no soap-opera-like-surprises, but believable, and leading to something more. Not just a twist to keep it exciting or fill the pages, no, some devious sidetrack to the plot.

So, I got sucked into the story finally, but I'm gonna do some light reading first, before I continue this series. I can easily let go of the 'Mortal Instruments' world, whereas I had more trouble letting go of the 'Infernal Devices' reality. Not a very good sign I guess...

However, this would really make for a heck of a movie!!!

Have a good day! :)

Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty

A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray
Series: A Great and Terrible Beauty, book 1 of 3
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Supernatural
Published: December 2003
Pages: 403
My rating:  Unfinished!

I can't be honest in my judgement about this book, because I don't have all the facts. I gave up. After reading more than 100 pages (which is more than a quarter of the book!) I decided to let the book rest in peace. I still wasn't drawn into the story, still wasn't gripped. Rather than keep hoping the story will improve, I'll read something else.

What stands out about this book when you flip through it, is that it’s written in Present Tense. I myself have only ever gotten as far as writing fan-fiction, but one of the first lessons was NOT to write in Present Tense. It has an odd feel to it. It made me like the book less, instantly.

It reads slow, like a 'quality' movie. Very long introductions. Gemma’s boredom is very feel-able. Okay, her mother is almost killed by a shadow-demon-thingy and then stabs herself with a knife instead, but was it the vision, or real? The action isn’t that well written, blurry descriptions. I didn't understand what the shadow-monster looked like or where it came from.
Also, you’re not really in the middle of things, they’re not embracing you and pulling you in. It's like you're watching from a distance and are unable to loose yourself in the reality of the book, as you are supposed to.
It’s not until page 50 or so Gemma finally reaches Spencer’s and (tiny) things happen. I like that she hates being a lady but all her thoughts and mental comments are a bit overwhelming. Not always as funny or witty as they were probably meant to be. Kind of obnoxious.

Spencer’s setting is eerie enough, it has potential despite not being that original.

I did like that Gemma stands up for ‘poor’ Ann and that way draws the attention of the popular girls. I like all the details about what ladies are supposed to act like (especially towards her brother Tom) and the way society works and looks. Like they’re not supposed to look out the carriage window when they ride through the slums. Literally closing yourself off for misfortune.

The church scene after dark where Gemma has to obtain the wine is creepy. But the ‘mystery’ surrounding the young Indian man is too… hazy. Too childishly simple, so far. Too easy.

From reading the bit I've read so far, clearly this book is meant for a much younger audience, not for teens. 13 Year olds would probably really like the mystery and girls' relationships.

I'm not saying this is a bad book, it's just not for me. It didn't grab me. Young girls might like it though. Perhaps, had I been that age, I would have loved it too. Part of me thinks that would have been the case. Alas, I am not that young anymore.

I'm just glad I didn't buy the whole trilogy in advance and get to spend my money on more interesting books. Or, so I hope.

Have a nice day! :)

Review: Crescendo

Crescendo (Hush, Hush #2), by Becca Fitzpatrick
Series: Hush, Hush, book 2
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery
Published: October 2010
Pages: 427
My Rating:


In some ways 'Crescendo' was an improvement to 'Hush, Hush', in other ways it was just as... bad. I'm sticking to 2 stars for this one too. There were parts I liked, there were other parts that seemed entirely out of place and there was too much confusing information. Way too much going on again.

The beginning is more hopeful than 'Hush, Hush'. It starts out with more action, some flashbacks in which we learn more about Nora's dads death. And at least now Nora knows what she wants from Patch. She's not afraid of him anymore, doesn't suspect him anymore and can feel free to love him. He's proven his love to her by denying her sacrifice, thus giving up his chance to become human. (Despite this, Nora still doubts his feelings for her, silly girl!!!) Patch's reward is: being Nora's guardian angel. Only when Nora finds out Patch can't be 'with' her as her lover, at penalty of hell, she decides it's better for both of them to dump him. (Not so selfish anymore: she chooses Patch's happiness over her own.)

Nora didn't give up her old paranoid habits: she still suspects everyone, Scott being her next victim. She follows him around, manoeuvres herself in his bedroom while she doesn't trust the guy, even fears for her life... Doesn't she EVER learn? I find the whole thing pretty juvenile, the suspicions, the stalking, the snooping. Get a life, Nora!

As pointed out by both girls, they're each others only friends. So WHY does Nora neglect to fill Vee in on earth-shattering news when she finds it out, like the fact Marcie's dad could be her dad? Is it because she's afraid that telling one thing may lead to having to tell her more? Or does she simply 'forget' these things because of all the other stuff that's going on in her life? Not raining down on her, no pouring down!

Vee remains a flat character to me though, all I really know about the girl is that she's a little overweight and tries to diet all the time, in her own way. Oh yeah, she's got a big mouth. And she drives Nora around when Nora doesn't have her own car anymore. (Again, what mother in her right mind would sell her daughters car to pay off stuff? Especially if her daughter is stuck in an abandoned farmhouse, all alone!)

Vee's willingness to be Nora's private driver for so long, is no reason to begin several chapters in a row with the same statement that Vee dropped Nora off somewere. Seriously missing variation in writing here... (I read the sentence about 'favouring the stairs over the elevator' twice already.)
And what happened to Nora's black eye? One minute it's prominently there, the next chapter it's already gone. It takes most HUMANS longer to heal, Nora. Euhm, Becca.

And Patch can't feel, physically? That's like sparkly vampires all over again. As is the being sucked into his memories upon touching his scars... There's nothing wrong with a little imagination, but this is very unbelievable.

Also, I still don't get what's up with Marcie and Nora. Patch can't have true love, but he can screw around? And since he can't have Nora, he's just 'doing' the girl he already knows is her biological sister? WHAT AN ASSHOLE! The whole book makes noooo sense, I'm telling you...

Things seemed to happen randomly, the book was going nowhere for some passages, then when things finally sped up, an information overload rained down on me. I had a hard time finding order in the chaos. All the clues that had to be figured out by Nora are chaotic, the whole book reads like a detective for kiddies. It actually reads like it's written by a twelve-year old, for twelve-year olds. (Which is why the sex never goes any further, obviously...)

I had to grin when I read about the 'Black Hand'. I'm assuming Becca never read any Dutch children's books, but there's an old famous book about 'Pietje Bell' and his 'gang'. Pietje Bell was a naughty boy who lived on the streets, he was a poor boy and along with his 'gang' (guess what it's called? The Black Hand!) they were the little menaces of society with golden hearts, you know the kind. This 'coincidence' made me feel even stronger that this book is written for a very young audience.

And WHY was the Amusement Park built by fallen angels? Why on earth 9pun intended) do fallen angels build amusement parks in their spare time? Are we going to get an answer to that question in the next book? WHY won’t archangels go there? Because of all the noise and thoughts they can't tune in on the fallen angels' thoughts? Or was it purely because it makes a nice, creepy setting? (It does do that. Especially Funhouses are freaking me out!)

Another unbelievable fact: they release Nora from the hospital mere hours after she was shot, attempted to be murdered even, and allow her to stay ALONE in the farmhouse? Yeah, right…

I'd have to re-read the entire book to finally make sense of the whole thing, all the plot twists and turns, the who's related to who and who wants to kill who and why again. And the open end makes things even worse. Nora's biological dad wants to bring down the fallen angels because they posess the Nephilim's offspring bodies and doesn't like it one bit that Nora's chosen the other side. Please, don't tell me he wants to kill her as well... How many people have tried to kill Nora by now? I've lost count...

This books brings me to tears and not in a good way... I cancelled my pre-ordered for 'Silence' already, uncertain I can take anymore of this. I kept hoping things would improve, but they don't. Well, sort of. In this book there were actually more good parts than in the first book. It's the tying loose ends together that takes too long, you've lost track of the whole plot already a long time ago. Since I've hear Nora actually suffers from amnesia all through the third book, I really quit. This is going nowhere. Fast.

This book could/should have been EPIC with the battle between Nephilim offspring and fallen angels that's coming, but it's like reading a suspicious teen girl's diary. A real shame.

Have a good day! :)

Review: Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Series: Hush, Hush, book 1
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal, Mystery
Published: October 2009
Pages: 391
My Rating:


Don't make the mistake of judging this book by its cover. The cover is gorgeous! But the book? We'd better 'hush, hush' about it...

Firstly, I have to ask: what's up with these names: Nora and Patch? Are they Becca Fitzpatrick's cats' names? (And I still don't know Patch's real name...!!!)

At first, I was drawn in from the first chapter. Who was this guy, knowing everything about Nora? I really liked the interaction between the two of them. Or maybe I should say the way Patch handled Nora. I had a few laughs about some things, for example when they discuss human reproduction in class, more specific body language. When Patch analyses Nora's body language in front of everyone, concluding 'she's game' I was laughing, as well as feeling Nora's shame. I love Patch's bravoure.

I thought the way Nora and Vee tried to find out things about Patch (and Elliot) was very fun. It was something I could have attempted too, at age 13 though, rather than at age 16. Dressing up like someone else and not very subtily questioning those who obviously are not interested in answering your questions and see through you rightaway may not be all that clever...

While reading, I got the 'Final Destination' vibe more and more, with all the bad things that happen (in Nora's mind, as it turns out later). 'A Hundred Ways to Die' would have been an appropiate title too. I got a bit tired of all the accidents that happened, and then seemed not to have happened. And it never occured to Nora that because Patch is able to 'speak' in her mind, he can make her 'see' things in her mind as well?
I didn't expect so much of a thriller and basically a murder mysterie (even though the subject wasn't killed, merely attempted to). I guess when I read the book was about fallen angels, I expected something like Lauren Kate's 'Fallen' books. I expected more, somehow. But it's not fair to compare I guess.

Nora's feelings and suspicions are all over the place. First, she suspects Patch. Then, when she starts to develop feelings for him, she stops to listen to her head (sometimes) and lets her heart take over. Luckily, Elliot shows up to take the blame. Looking all evil all of a sudden. And even though Patch finally admits he wanted to kill Nora, that thought gets washed away as quickly by Nora as I will have forgotten this book.
Which is a great example of how shallow/superficial this book is written. The feelings aren't going that deep. You don't get to relate to Nora('s crush) that much. You are left hanging in the midst of it all, maybe it's because Nora can't seem to make up her own mind, I blame it on lack of writing skills and lack of a consistent character.

Buildings and surroundings are described very little. I'm not even sure what Nora's room and living room look like, that's lacking for me.

When I read that Nora's mom has a job that keeps her away from her daughter for weeks at a time, only 1 year after her husband -Nora's dad- was murdered, I couldn't believe it. No mother in her right mind would leave her only daughter ALONE in an abandoned farmhouse situated in a scary location. Especially not after her husband died the way he did! Trying to hang on to memories by trying to keep the house would not have been enough reason for my mom would to go away and NOT take care of me!!!

I hated that whenever Nora and Patch were about to go beyond kissing, they were interrupted somehow. The build-up was very hot and steamy indeed, but then their intimacy was brutally ended. It got old and annoying after a few times. If you're scared to write sex-scenes, this is obviously the way to avoid them: have something happen that will break the couple up. Doing that 2, maybe 3 times is okay, but after that we have to have some resolve!!!

And what is up with Patch's inability to feel touches to his skin, being a fallen angel? I find that idea just as stupid and unbelievable as vampires' skins that sparkle in the sunlight. 'Come on, let's throw in another barrier! It's not bad enough that Patch wanted to kill Nora at first, no, once they overcome that issue, let's make him unable to feel too! You know, just to make things more interesting!'

I am kinda curious to know what happens next to Patch and Nora, the story in itself was okay and could use further deepening. Which is why I'm reading the sequel (since I've already bought it anyway and it's a quick read).

This book is okay to read, but it's not earth-shattering. It's a quick read that doesn't make you think too much. It's not heavy or action-packed in a hard-to-follow way. Maybe it's really for a younger audience. (Which I'm definately not anymore) I seriously don't understand the hype surrounding this book.

If compared to food, this would be junk-food. A quick snack which tastes good while you're at it, but makes you long for a real, decent meal to leave you satisfied afterwards.

Have a good day! :)

Review: Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Infernal Devices, book 1 of 3
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy, Steampunk, Sci-fi
Published: August 2010
Pages: 476
My Rating:

Wow... Cassandra Clare is an excellent writer who takes her readers seriously, for a change. Despite the more challenging use of words, the book is still an 'easy' read. Meaning: it captures you. It captures you inside a beautifully created world, a very thought-through fantasy-world. A world I would love to love in. (Steampunkian Victorian England)
It's obvious she's done her research, getting many details right. Details that make the story more realistic and alive. About the way people from different classes (not) were supposed to 'socialize', for example.
The characters are great, I like the way you get more information about them while you're reading. I like the mysterie that surrounds some characters, still. I like it in a painful way even, now I'm left to hang here waiting for the sequel 'Clockwork Prince', extremely curious about someone's intentions at the end of the book. I am DYING to know what's gonna happen next. I love most of the characters, I've begun to know them like friends and I wanna stay in their world. I'm desperate to find out the real deal about Tessa.I really lived inside Tessa's world, seeing what she saw, feeling what she felt. I regret leaving now. I really do.

The book was action-packed, everything described very well so you felt like you were participating in the action. (I for one would love to see this translated to the big screen, it truely deserves a movie!) The story was well-written and well told, the plot had some nice twists, the characters developed throughout the story and were easy to sympathize with. I loved the variations in supernatural beings residing in Tessa's world and the original ideas regarding some of those supernatural 'things'. (Unlike some authors who stray from the 'original' fantasy in a ridiculous, unbelievable manner, like the creation of sparkly vampires...)

Don't read this if you don't want to be left behind yearning to find out the truth, the lies, the past and the future. Just don't.

Enjoy your day! :)