As you can probably guess from my review of Labyrinth I'm a life-long fan. I love it with all my heart, I grew up with it, and Sarah was an inspirat
As you can probably guess from my review of Labyrinth I'm a life-long fan. I love it with all my heart, I grew up with it, and Sarah was an inspiration to me growing up.
So I was not only looking forward to this book but I also had VERY high expectations for it. And I'm happy to say that Wintersong managed to rise to the occasion!
This is a book that any fan of Labyrinth will love - and anyone who doesn't even know about Labyrinth will love it just as well.
Liesl spent her childhood living a life where the magical and the real were entwined - where she went home for her chores, but also played with the Goblin King in the Goblin Grove. But people grow up and, as Sarah in the movie, you can't live a live of make-belief and dreams alone. So Liesl left the Goblin King behind in her childhood memories.
The Goblin King, however, never forgot her. And he still wants her for himself.
While there are enough elements of Labyrinth to bring a smile to any fan's face, this book has its own distinct story. It's original, and fresh, and well worth the read. Jae-Jones could have taken the easy way out and followed the plot of Labyrinth too closely, but she imagined a whole new story with common elements that is bound to enchant every reader.
Though this is the kind of story that lends itself to flowery descriptions and elaborate language, the language employed is simple - but surprisingly haunting and beautiful! It's just as fairy tales of old that didn't tarry in making themselves pretty, so they slammed straight into our hearts, awakened our fears, and were remembered as beautiful nonetheless. And this book is beautiful enough that it should have been illustrated by Brian Froud, it certainly deserves it!
This is not YA, though. This is a book for adults, so bear that in mind.
But it's easily become a favourite book of mine, I was half way through and I stopped just so I could pre-order it!
However I do prefer the Labyrinth's Goblin King, I like my fey creatures unapologetically cruel and malicious, but the Goblin King's background in Wintersong was believable and it fit the story and time period, even if it was a bit heavy handed and, to me, detracted from the wild and savage origins of Der Erlkönig.
Nonetheless, I highly recommend this book, and although this has not yet been published I can hardly wait for S. Jae-Jones' next book! Jae-Jones is an extremely talented new author, with a perfect notion of pacing, plot, dialogue, and description. I can only hope she'll gift us with many more charming books!
Another amazing book by Heather W. Petty, and a worthy sequel at that!
We get right back to where we left: Mori
TW: CHILD ABUSE, VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Another amazing book by Heather W. Petty, and a worthy sequel at that!
We get right back to where we left: Mori's father is behind bars and she's trying to piece her life back together. Her mother's friend, Alice, comes to stay so the kids don't have to be put in the system, as we were given to hope in the last book.
Sherlock is trying very hard to patch up his relationship with Mori after the events from the last book and their relationship is super cute while being completely unobtrusive within the plot at the same time. I love it when romance is written like this!
It seems, however, that Mori cannot rest yet. Someone is trying to frame her for her father's murders and the police aren't making things easier since they believe they need to protect Mori's abusive serial killer father since he is one of their own.
It's so frustrating, but so important to see this reaction from the authorities to domestic abusive, and I love how Heather W. Petty didn't skirt around this issue or tried to diminish it in any way. It is there in all its disgusting and revolting glory.
I also loved how feminist Mori is, and how her relationship with Lock hinges on her choices without any manipulation or demand from him to do things for their ~love~. He always respected her choices even when he didn't like them and this type of relationship is so important, especially in YA. This needs to be normalised instead of those sick abusive "relationships" so often written across all genres.
The only reason this book isn't getting 5 stars is because it leans quite heavily on a trope I particularly dislike: the It's Not You It's My Enemies trope (WARNING: that link will take you to tv tropes where you may end up trapped for days). It's a nice trope for angst and it's often seen when it comes to tortured and clueless male heroes - the thing is, I feel that Mori, even though she's so young, is too clever to waste so much time on this trope.
That being said, it's still an excellent book and I highly recommend it! I didn't guess the plot twist at all!
As soon as I saw this book I knew I had to read it! I thought this would be a book of gruesome fairy tale retellings, but Emily Carroll corrected me
As soon as I saw this book I knew I had to read it! I thought this would be a book of gruesome fairy tale retellings, but Emily Carroll corrected me (to my unending delight) with this gorgeous book:
1) Emily Carroll writes her own gruesome fairy tales. 2) Emily Carroll writes her own gruesome fairy tales which are so amazing you feel like you've known them your whole life.
These fairy tales touch on our most primal fears: the dark, the uncanny not quite humans who prey on us and may replace our loved ones, the body horror, blood, dark enclosed spaces, pain, monsters, and death - all of them connected to the woods, the mythical place which the hand of civilization left untouched, where wild beasts roam, and nightmares dwell.
I read this on a cold winter night, and while it definitely improved the reading, I can't say I'd advise it to other readers... Imagine reading this while the wind howls outside, and you're cold down to your bones:
Haha... ha. Yeah... "Sweet, wet voice." Good... ...stuff.
I think the beautiful artwork and the colour choices (not to mention the use of light and dark to create an atmosphere) speak for themselves. But Carroll is also a master when it comes to pacing, and she has that little something only a few possess: the ability to invoke true horror in the readers' hearts. As Alfred Hitchcock said, "There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it." And Emily Carroll certainly knows how to make use of this...
Please, please!! go read her comics on her official site! Not only are they free and amazing, but they also have some connections to the stories in this book.
This book was recommended to me by Goodreads itself, based on my ratings and my favourite genres. To be fair, Goodreads tend
Actual rating: 2,5 stars
This book was recommended to me by Goodreads itself, based on my ratings and my favourite genres. To be fair, Goodreads tends to get it right. Not this time, though.
First of all forget the title. It has absolutely nothing to do with the story. I picked up this book thinking, "Yay! A book from the 80's! No clichés that became obnoxiously ubiquitous in recent times!" Yeah... no. Heads up, this book contains a love triangle - that by itself made me want to put it aside. But I had actually ordered it for my birthday...
So onto the plot. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of good things about it. Tevra, our main character, is at the top of her career. She's a no nonsense lady, she navigates well the sexist culture and the political traps that keep springing up.
That is, until she meets the Forest King and starts falling apart over her attraction to him. Despite being a strong and observant character (you can't get to her post without a gift for reading people) she is blind until the very end about the feelings of her closest friend/soldier, Hetwith. This dude could not have been more blatant about his interest.
The Forest King is basically an underdeveloped wishy-washy idiot who had been raised to be king but was so inept that he'd probably wear his crown pointy-side down.
Another thing, Tevra kind of sets out to be this experienced woman, one who's had lovers in the past and is unashamed and in control of her sexuality (as she should be). Yet, get her near a love interest and she acts like an inexperienced virgin.
Conclusion: a nice fantasy with well developed political intrigues, that got swamped by a love triangle and trite romance. ...more
Okay, I'm late to the game - this book came out forever ago - but I'd like to add myself to the masses praising Weir's work.
I love sci-fi, I love su
Okay, I'm late to the game - this book came out forever ago - but I'd like to add myself to the masses praising Weir's work.
I love sci-fi, I love survival stories, but I kept dragging my feet about this book because I always get frustrated with all the artistic licenses taken re.: science (see Life as We Knew It). As a scientist, that stuff straight up guts me.
But this book... You guys, this book!!!
Let's start with Mark. Mark has to be the chillest dude in any survival book ever! He doesn't Rambo his way through problems, he uses science - he's that elusive Science Hero (WARNING: link will take you to tv tropes where you may be trapped for days) that's been so conspicuously absent from our media these days.
It's impossible to dislike Mark. Impossible! Everything he does is backed up with maths, physics, biology, logic, a shitload of thinking through everything, and unfailing hope and good humour. There is no tstl to be found in this book.
Then there is Mars itself: the great adversary. I love that Mars, in its beauty, is the closest thing to an antagonist in this book. All the humans are doing their best, are doing what they think is right, to bring Mark home.
The plot, which has everything to become dull, never does so. It's always lively and keeps you on the edge of your seat. I suppose, since Weir wrote it in instalments, there was never an opportunity for things to stall. It also really helped that whenever Mark solved one problem and thought things might be looking up, some catastrophe would pop up.
I feel like sending a love letter to Andy Weir. This is how you do research for a book. Apart from the dust storm at the beginning - which I'm letting slide because it's the catalyst for the plot - everything is so beautifully researched! I know it's stupid to be getting teary-eyed over this, one would thing that it's the bare minimum an author should do for their book - but it's so rare!
Another thing that always gets me teary-eyed: the whole of humanity uniting over something that means more that our petty squabbles. I love how the entire world was rooting for Mark, how everyone put aside their differences when it comes to this - it's one of the reasons I decided to become a scientist: how it propels mankind forward, how it's greater than us. You know... the whole Sagan ~feel~ of it. It was my favourite thing about this book, hands-down.
«Teddy swiveled his chair and looked out the window to the sky beyond. Night was edging in. “What must it be like?” he pondered. “He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”
LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.»
An incredibly funny story! I've read the complaints regarding this book: riddled with clichés, an unoriginal story, etc etc. B
actual rating 3,5 stars
An incredibly funny story! I've read the complaints regarding this book: riddled with clichés, an unoriginal story, etc etc. But those are reasons why I liked the book!
Sophie is sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for witches and warlocks who have misused their powers. Hex Hall is pretty much what you'd expect for the genre: a school filled with shapeshifters, witches, warlocks, a few vampires... and a mystery.
I really can't say I predicted how the mystery was solved nor its outcome, so that's a plus.
The book was extremely funny, Sophie is an excellent narrator, very relatable, likeable, and never tstl.
So why the 3,5 stars? There were a few things I dislike about the book: Girl on girl hate, and a lot of it at that. A weird romantic interest, I really cannot deal with protagonists falling in love with people who are blatantly dangerous for them - that's not the message you should pass in YA books. And a hint of a love triangle in the future...
Still it was a very entertaining read - I think this will be perfect for fans of The Princess Diaries.
My heartfelt thanks to Susana, who gifted me this book for my birthday!!!
Mae and her father gather wood from the edge of the Waerg Woods. Poor, dark-skinned, and supposedly taint
ARC provided by the author through Netgalley
Mae and her father gather wood from the edge of the Waerg Woods. Poor, dark-skinned, and supposedly tainted by the woods' curse, they live as pariahs in Halts-Walden.
Mae is the craft-born, the one whose nature-connected magic can revive the kingdom - only Mae has to try her hardest to keep her powers secret, for the King has decreed that the craft-born shall marry his son, Prince Casimir.
It seems Mae is in luck: Ellen, the miller's daughter, pretends to be the craft-born and the Prince is coming to get her.
While venturing into the Waerg Woods with the Prince, to convince him not to hunt her white stag Anta, Wanderers from the Waerg Woods come into Halts-Walden to steal Ellen, whom they believe to be the craft-born, and end up killing Mae's father in the struggle.
This is an odd book to rate, and I struggled with it for quite some time. As a YA book it's mediocre. However, once I chose to read it as Middle-Grade, it's quite good. It's an entertaining fairytale-like story, but the characters' dialogue and actions, the very descriptions and world building, only work if it's read as MG. It's perfectly fine and reminiscent, in fact, of classical fairytales in its simplicity: this is the heroine, the heroine does this for straight-forward simple reason, heroine announces her thought-processes, we're told a lot because the audience is not meant to have the ability to analyse things in depth.
This may sound critical, but I'm not trying to be. I'm trying to point out how this is being marketed to the wrong audience. As a YA book it doesn't work. As a MG book it's pretty good.
So that rating is the balance of the two. If I were to rate this as YA, I would give it 2 stars, as MG I'd give it 4 stars, so here we are, at 3 stars.
There is a lot to recommend this book, chief of all the Waerg Woods. They are well written and creepy in a sort of la Motte-Fouqué way (for those of you who've read his Undine). The Waerg Woods are divided in sections, each harbouring a new evil: malevolent black birds that swoop into the sky and form clouds that pour down burning rain, a creature that attacks by preying on your fears, deadly cold fog that tries to lure you to a sleepy death, clinging vines that attempt to drain you of your blood. This book is worth reading for the Waerg Woods alone.
However, there are also good things about the characters - if one reads them as MG, Mae goes from a whiny, arrogant, impetuous and tstl YA-type adolescent, to a young girl who doesn't know better and goes through the usual fairy tale tropes to learn valuable lessons. It's also nice that she never wanted to be Queen and wanted only to live close to nature, being true to herself.
One thing I can't help pointing out, be it YA or MG, is that if you're placing your story in a fantasy realm with a Medieval or Renaissance feel to it, do NOT use the word "okay" in dialogue! It's really, really absurd.
But quibbles aside, I really want to read the next one! So, in conclusion, if you plan to read this as MG, I recommend it! ...more
The amazing Khanh (check out her awesome blog Bookistry) once mentioned we needed to form a support group for those of us horribly addicted to Pride
The amazing Khanh (check out her awesome blog Bookistry) once mentioned we needed to form a support group for those of us horribly addicted to Pride and Prejudice retellings - and, more often than not, I'd finish one of these retellings feeling like I really, really needed help escaping this addiction: too much drama, too much angst, both Darcy and Elizabeth behaving like they'd been replaced by pod people considering how out of character they were both behaving.
Then the usual plot of Darcy and Elizabeth, once having declared their love, becoming these nauseatingly, irrecognisable, diabetic-induced-coma sugared versions of themselves: constantly spouting Hallmark card-worthy declarations of devotion. ...And I kept reading? And I couldn't stop? HELP!
But then we get books like Unequal Affections! Those rare treats that make it all worthwhile!
In this book Elizabeth is still the recipient of Mr Darcy's infamous declaration of love and proposal of marriage. She's shocked, as we'd expect her to be - but Ormiston took a turn I hadn't even considered: she made Elizabeth pause and think, "All this time I assumed he was attempting to put me down, showing his scorn... but he was actually in love with me. What else have I mistakenly believed about this man?" So, while not blithely setting aside the insulting manner of his proposal, she decides to give him a chance. She asks for time to consider his proposal, and best of all, she actively tries to get to know him.
She tells Darcy she does not share his affections - hence the title - but she is willing to get to know him better and perhaps become his wife. I really, REALLY, liked this! No lies, no pretending. Just an honest:
“Sir, I think it only right to tell you that I cannot, at this time, return your affections. If you wish to withdraw your offer in light of this information, then I would understand completely and not hold it against you.”
It's so refreshing to see historical romance characters behaving like rational, pragmatic adults!
And throughout the book we see them coming to turns with their pride, their prejudices. We see them trying to better themselves for the other, because that's what a healthy relationship is about: someone bringing out the best in you.
This book isn't all just happiness and sunshine. Both Darcy and Elizabeth, prior to their courtship, had been quite vocal about their thoughts of the other one's failings. These come back to cast a spectre over their blooming relationship, as do the expectations of their friends and relations: they had both been so adamantly adverse to each other, it's not easy to accept their new-found courtship. Some of them were quite funny, I must admit...
“Well, la, why should he want you, Lizzy?” asked Lydia tactlessly.
There are only two things I must point out in this book: There was a lot of talk about the difference in Elizabeth and Darcy's stations but, as Elizabeth herself told Lady Catherine, he is a gentleman, and she is a gentleman's daughter. Darcy has no title, what he has is money. Also, Elizabeth makes mention in the book that she has no dowry. In the original it's mentioned the girls will have £5,000 between them - therefore £1,000 each, with a further £100 per year while their father is alive.
But these are small things when considering how lovely it was to read this book!
If you like Pride and Prejudice retellings then this is the book for you! ...more
ARC provided by Strange Chemistry through Netgalley
Cécile is close to leaving her father's village to follow in her absent mother's footstep
ARC provided by Strange Chemistry through Netgalley
Cécile is close to leaving her father's village to follow in her absent mother's footsteps as an opera singer. It's all she's ever dreamed of achieving in life - treading the stage, the fame, the glory, doing what she loves: to sing. But she ends up being kidnapped to Trollus, the troll's underground city. They plan to wed her to the troll Prince Tristan so she may fulfil the prophecy: that when a prince of night bonded a daughter of the sun, the curse would be broken and the trolls would be set free from their mountain.
I went into this expecting something like Clare B. Dunkle's The Hollow Kingdom, (which I quite enjoyed), since it shared a basic summary: young girl kidnapped to wed a hideous groom (a goblin in The Hollow Kingdom, a troll in Stolen Songbird). I really like that premise - not the kidnapping bit, of course, - but the one where the love interest is undeniably unattractive. You know for sure that the author won't just say, "He was so handsome, she fell in love at first sight" etc. ad nauseam. You know the author will really have to develop everyone's personality and their relationships.
But Tristan, as it turns out, though there is some "wrongness" to him, is exceedingly attractive, and to be perfectly honest, I found that disappointing. Not that their relationship was less fleshed out because of this, or that Tristan wasn't a fully developed character - but it's always nice to see an author make such a bold choice. Besides, it would be a much more interesting story if she found them all to be monstrous looking and they found her just as horrifyingly disgusting to look at.
But on to what really matters: I absolutely LOVE the dialogue in this book! Especially between Cécile and Tristan:
"(...)perhaps you might say something. It would be best if it were humorous. I enjoy a good jest.” “You are dreadfully rude,” I said to him. He sighed. “That wasn’t the slightest bit funny.” “Nor are you in any way a gentleman.” “Cruel truths, mademoiselle, but tell me, did you expect otherwise?” His eyes gleamed, not with humor, but something else. “I confess my expectations were low,” I snapped. “I’m a firm believer in low expectations, myself,” he said cheerfully. “Makes for less disappointment in life."
“Of course. We agreed to her weight in gold, did we not?” I gasped, as horrified as I was astonished by the amount. “Aye, Your Highness,” Luc replied. “You see, Mademoiselle de Troyes, another instance where low expectations have served me well. Given the contract your dear friend Luc made with us, I half expected him to deliver me a girl of prodigious girth to tip the scales in his favor. Imagine what a pleasant surprise it was for me to discover you were just a little bit of a thing.”
I really, really liked Cécile. She's not a Mary-Sue, she's not whiny, she's not needlessly bitchy. There was a moment or two where she was a bit tstl, but I guess we're all entitled to those. She's a strong, brave, normal girl who sees her life take a turn she abhors and refuses to accept:
"This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. I was supposed to be on my way to Trianon to get everything I had ever wanted. Now, not only had I lost everything – my family, my friends, my dreams – I had just been informed that what life I had left would be spent in an endless nightmare."
And she's really not falling for any Stockholm Syndrome tactics:
"Although you did not choose this life, perhaps, over time, you might come to find it satisfactory.” He stood up. I met his gaze. “Is that what you aim for in life, my lord? Satisfactory?”
She doesn't stop thinking about escaping, even while being drawn into troll politics, and I thought that was something great.
We get dual POVs, Cécile's and Tristan's, I think it would have been a more intriguing book if we'd had only Cécile's POV and had to guess Tristan's character from his actions and how Cécile saw him, but I have to say that it was well achieved. It certainly allowed for a slow development of the relationship between Tristan and Cécile, which didn't have the greatest start, what with her being kidnapped and neither of them wanting to marry the other.
The secondary characters were awesome: The Duchesse Sylvie, Marc, the maids, Anaïs, the twins, I really liked them all. I hoped to see more of the Duchesse, because she seemed like a really amazing lady.
The underground kingdom was an astounding setting, it was just... I don't even have words, it felt real!
I must warn that this book is slow to start, but this is one of those I urge other readers to hang in there and just keep reading because it gets amazing.
So why only 3,5 stars? The thing is, at 436 pages this book was just too long. From about 65% forward there was just more and more unnecessary drama. It just read like filler, to be honest, and did this book a disservice. There is enough plot, world building, character development, and writing skill here to preclude this.
Don't let that stop you from reading, I'm a notoriously stingy reviewer, I could easily round this up to a 4, and this is still one book I cannot wait to get my hands on the paperback as soon as it's out! And I can hardly wait for the sequel! ...more
WIN AN EBOOK COPY OF COBWEB EMPIRE (see end of post)
Do you ever regret giving 5 stars to the first book of a series, not because it doesn't deserve i
WIN AN EBOOK COPY OF COBWEB EMPIRE (see end of post)
Do you ever regret giving 5 stars to the first book of a series, not because it doesn't deserve it, but because the second book is even better and you have no way to make the rating reflect that?
Because that's the case here.
I absolutely LOVED Cobweb Bride, I think I ended up making myself somewhat of a nuisance and recommending it to my entire friends' list on Goodreads because I couldn't bear the thought that someone somewhere was not, as I was, still trapped in that book's universe and willingly searching for Death's Keep in the Northern Forest. No, they were just going on with their lives...
Cobweb Empire picks up right where Cobweb Bride left off - I can't say where, and how, exactly, because that would just spoil the whole first book for those who haven't read it, but let's just say that Percy is a girl on a mission, appointed by Death himself (this is still weird for me, by the way - in Portuguese Death is a woman...) and the whole troupe is there with her.
But things are getting progressively worse in the world. It's not just the fact that people have ceased dying - places are disappearing at dusk, going missing into the shadows and sometimes, when light returns, they do not come back. So Percy's mission, which she undertakes accompanied by the Black Knight Beltain, must be completed with the utmost urgency. Still, Percy has some trouble dealing with her new "status", shall we say...
We revisit the delightful Lady Amaryllis and Lord Nathan of Morphea, who are still prisoners and have the most imaginative escape I've ever read! I love these two so much! I really hope we'll get to see more of them!
We are introduced to some new characters - I'll let everyone discover them on their own when they read the book, with one exception: the Sovereign of the Sapphire Court, Rumanar Avalais. I could spend the rest of my life writing about my fascination and, dare I say it, love for evil ladies. For instance, Princess Aurora is so dull, all she does is sleep and sing, but Maleficent? That's a lady with a plan, an awesome name, an amazing wardrobe, a clever pet, and the ability to turn into a dragon. Also, Izma, and Ursula, and all the awesome poisoners, schemers, power hungry women in every story ever. Evil ladies, what can I say? Role models, really.
Her Brilliance (a title I shall claim if my plans to rule the world come to fruition) Rumanar Avalais entered right away into this pantheon. She has the most amazing beauty routine, which consists of draining the life out of beautiful young girls and keeping herself forever young. Right there I was quite taken - but she did all this while ruling her own kingdom and being the very definition of "all shall love me and despair". Plus, she's quite the trickster as we come to find out in the very last page... I shall say no more but that Rumanar Avalais is probably my second favourite character of this series.
The first being, of course, the undead Infanta Claere Liguon who though admittedly lacking in evil ways makes up for it by being a very frail lady who suddenly finds herself empowered by her death (...or undeath) at the hands of her murderer turned... what? Yes, that's the only downside to this book. I was really looking forward to Claere and Vlau and their complex relationship. Because really, what do you do when you kill someone and then fall in love with them?
Still, I loved this book so, so much! I'm still suffering from an absolutely soul crushing book hangover because of it. Send help. In the form of the third book, preferably.
The Rise of Renegade X is, without a doubt, one of my feel-good books. If I'm feeling down, I'll reread it and it just puts a smile on my face. The
The Rise of Renegade X is, without a doubt, one of my feel-good books. If I'm feeling down, I'll reread it and it just puts a smile on my face. The Trials of Renegade X, however, was a bit angsty - BUT most definitely in a "hurts so good" kind of way.
Campbell has a gift: she wrote one of the most awesome YA protagonists to have appeared in print. There are plenty of sarcastic main characters, always with a quip at the ready, but Damien never, ever!, fails to be hilarious! So while other characters like this eventually just devolve into annoying static caricatures, Campbell lets us see the consequences to everything Damien says or does and - surprise, surprise - they're seldom positive. But what I love most about it is that Damien learns from his mistakes and evolves as a character.
There are some pretty big issues tackled in this book, as in the previous one in the series, on the nature of good and evil, and while they're masterfully dealt with I would be ruining the plot to expound on that particular part of the plot.
One thing I absolutely love about these books: family. In YA, parents are almost always absent (tragically dead, or in need of rescuing, or just conveniently gone with no explanation). That is weird, family is important throughout your whole life and it's always a missed opportunity to not include it in YA books - a genre aimed at a public who are most likely to identify with the struggles portrayed in this book. Damien was kicked out by his mother, who raised him by herself for 16 years, because he turned out not to be the son she expected him to be. The whole situation is complicated, she may have kicked him out but that doesn't mean either one of them stopped loving and caring for the other. Then there's Gordon, Damien's father, who Damien has trouble trusting - this guy only found out about his son 6 months ago, what's keeping him from washing his hands clean of the whole thing and sending Damien on his way? It's complicated, and real, and awesome. Campbell's ability to write family dynamics - not just parents, but sibling relationships as well - is amazing. I wish we'd get more of that in YA.
But don't think this book is some kind of downer, which I suppose my review is making it out to be, it's extremely funny! Campbell's dialogues - you read them and they just spark, they feel real, they are fresh and witty! I absolutely love them! Sometimes there are books that just attempt to sidetrack the reader with a lot of flowery descriptions to try and make up for the fact that the dialogue is sub-par, I prefer it when things are straight forward with no flourishes but the dialogue just zings - that's enough for me. Campbell, however, is talented enough to balance description with dialogue, a rarity among writers.
I just saw that there will be a 3rd Renegade X book and, quite honestly, I cannot wait, because I know Chelsea Campbell will not disappoint! ...more
YA UF in Botswana with a protagonist of colour? Sign me up! I tried to get the arc for this book, I didn't get it, but thankfully I requested it clos
YA UF in Botswana with a protagonist of colour? Sign me up! I tried to get the arc for this book, I didn't get it, but thankfully I requested it close to its release date, so I could just buy it and read it to my heart's content!
I was already excited about this book featuring a WOC, but I was even happier when it turned out she is biracial - I, myself, am biracial and if it's hard to find books featuring non-white protagonists, it's practically a miracle to find books featuring biracial ones. I'm sure plenty of people would think "Who cares about her race" - it's not about that, it's about visibility: media representation is important, if you grow up without seeing others like you on tv, in books, you are alienated. The beauty standards never reflect what you look like, your experiences are never given voice. So, yes, Conyza's race is important, and let us all be thankful that the cover wasn't white-washed.
Conyza (Connie) was a very sensible, realistic character. Her forays into what-ifs in her head are hilarious and relatable. Of course, she possesses the not so relatable ability to tell the future and see dead people. She starts out with these inklings of when disaster will strike and then she has a massive headache during which Rakwena, the scarred school's outcast, warns her something is imminent. When she wakes up, she is able to hear what people are thinking. Naturally, she is intrigued. How did Rakwena know what was going on? But everyone, including her grandfather, once a college professor like her father, and now a wise man to whom people go for advice, warns her away from Rakwena.
With her new-found powers Connie realises something: a group of young girls' minds are blank, as if they were being controlled by a puppetmaster. The whole thing is really creepy, since the girls are very young and they have periods of time they cannot recall, they're bruised and injured and they know they've been doing bad things - things they wouldn't do if they were in control of themselves. Connie makes it her mission to use her skills and free these girls with the help of her grandfather and her friends.
The book was a bit too slow paced and predictable at times, but the only thing I really disliked about it was the girl-on-girl hate. It was very upsetting to read Conyza being judgemental over Kelly's choices and putting her down at every possible turn, with catty comments about how being a Playboy centerfold is her most promising career option. It was upseting to read Lebz slut shaming a girl she was jealous of. Ladies, we need to move past these things.
But there are so many things to like! The fact that it's YA and it's in Botswana! Connie's relationship with her grandfather. Connie's relationship with her white father (my personal favourite). Connie's maturity in dealing with the fact that her father and grandfather do not get along ("(...)you two don’t agree on anything. But you’re both family, and you both love me. That’s enough."). Her friendship with Lebz and Wiki. And, most importantly the whole mystery that involves the paranormal but not the tired YA paranormal standard fare....more
I tagged this as humour and, though I laughed, I must admit I finished this book thoroughly depressed...
Jeremy Clay, a journalist himself, compiled
I tagged this as humour and, though I laughed, I must admit I finished this book thoroughly depressed...
Jeremy Clay, a journalist himself, compiled the most bizarre news articles from the Victorian age and presented them divided by category: Animals, Love, Marriage and Family, Food and Drink, Health and Medicine, Coincidence and Luck, Sports, Hobbies and Pastimes, Inventions, Life and Death, Superstition, Arts and Entertainment, and a few others which defied classification.
Not to say that each and every one of these categories didn't contain extremely amusing stories, but more often than not there were articles about husbands beating and selling their wives, parents selling their children, people committing suicide in front of an audience (sometimes the audience was entirely comprised of children), mothers losing their children in horrific circumstances, and children living in appallingly abusive conditions. I cannot say I didn't get fair warning, before each section Clay writes a short intro - I must say, these intros were the weakest points in the book, and that's saying something when more often than not Victorian journalists eschewed description with the handy, "[events] may be more readily imagined than described." Clay uses similes which try to be shockingly funny, but end up being neither, for instance: "Like a spray of urine from a territorial tom cat, [these dates] merely mark the boundaries of our interest."
But for anyone interested in the bizarre, and the Victorian era (which, more often than not, go hand in hand), it's well worth reading. I'll finish with my favourite article, to give you a taste of the book:
A Strange Adventure A curious canoe adventure is reported from Frankfurt. Some members of the boat club in that city resolved to row to Mayence by night. They started at 12 o’clock, and pulled away vigorously all night, enjoying the pull exceedingly. At sunrise it was discovered to their great chagrin that the anchor had not been weighed, and that they had remained at the same spot where they had taken leave of their friends, by whom they are now known as ‘the explorers.’ The Evening News, Portsmouth, November 4, 1882
Well, it's about half past 5 a.m. and I just finished reading this, that should tell you something... Like all Downside Ghosts books - and do not be
Well, it's about half past 5 a.m. and I just finished reading this, that should tell you something... Like all Downside Ghosts books - and do not be fooled by this being called a novella, it was practically the same length as a regular book (yay!) - this was incredibly addictive (ironic, really).
We always get to see things from Chess' pov, and while we are perfectly able to infer what Terrible feels and thinks most of the time, it's a delightful treat to really get something from his pov, even if it's in-between books 1 and 2, so to be honest, I spent a lot of time going, "No, wait, you got past that, you guys!! Don't put me through this again, please!!"
There were mentions of Terrible's issues in the other books, we get that he doesn't feel all that confident about his looks, about his intellect, but damn, Stacia Kane has no problem whatsoever with ripping you heart out in her books. The reader can't help but feel down with Chess' pov, she has so little in the way of self-esteem (and who could blame the poor girl?) - I thought we'd kind of get a break from that with Terrible, but no. He really, really does not feel worthy of Chess, and it's all so horribly heartbreaking, that these two love each other so much, and are so afraid they'll never be good enough for each other, are certain that the other one deserves better.
But about the plot!Someone offed one of Bump's guys - they're thinking Slobag and Lex, of course, and then the plot takes the usual Downside dark turn when Bump's girls start getting raped. I read all the books in one go, not even a month past, so I can safely say this book is darker than the others. Of course, it would be, what with it being Terrible's pov. There's a lot more violence, for one thing. And we get to learn more about Terrible's past, and his relationship with Bump - awesome surprise that! I always disliked Bump, after this, I'm not exactly about to start singing his praises, but I kind of like him now, it's sweet that he cares about Terrible, that he worries about him. That he took him in during a really fucked up situation. And I understand the loyalty Terrible owes him now.
Another awesome thing about this book! We get a lot of Chess/Terrible "chatter". They meet up, and they talk and spend time together and it's all so sweet! But of course, this being Stacia Kane, all of those meetings have the constant worry of the participants not to hurt the other one by dredging up the past. No lie, it's painful to read about Terrible worrying how he should phrase things around Chess so she won't slip away into sad memories.
Check out this roundhouse kick to the reader's heart, courtesy of Stacia Kane:
“Trouble was, every fucking time he saw that look in her eyes, every fucking time he saw her frown like that, it got harder not to tell her to write down a list of names for him. Every single name she had a recall on, causen he wanted to hunt em all down one by one and make sure they knew why as they died. He honestly couldn’t think of much he’d like more."