Showing posts with label adult. Show all posts
Showing posts with label adult. Show all posts

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Recommendation: The Lady of Royale Street - Thea de Salle: Wedding Planning and Hate to Love

In THE LADY OF ROYALE STREET, devout Alex comes to his brother's rescue as a makeshift wedding planner and really doesn't get along with the bridesmaid Theresa.

What intrigued me: I love all other companion novels. Favorite series and author!

Anxious Anger and No-Nonsense

THE LADY OF ROYALE STREET is such a rollercoaster. Alex and Theresa go through that typical hate-turns-into-love storyline that will have you biting your fingernails, getting  angry, and jumping up and down with excitement while swooning all the way through the story and ultimately being very sad that it's over. De Salle created fantastically unique characters with these two that feel absolutely real. I feel like I've said that in all my reviews of this series, ha.

Alex owns a hotel, loves to work out, and is also very religious-- and gets upset about everything. This guy will literally turn red in the face at every minor inconvenience, as a sort of defense mechanism for his anxieties. With characters like that in a romance it's easy to slip into abuse romanticization territory, especially when their significant other ends up forgiving them all the time, but I felt like De Salle made it very clear that Alex' behavior is unacceptable and that this is one of his flaws. He owns up to it multiple times and actively tries to better himself, I really enjoyed seeing him work on that. It's refreshing to see characters with flaws like that and Theresa is exactly the no-nonsense kind of girl that Alex needs and puts him in his place all the time, which I looooved.

All the feels

A huge part of THE LADY OF ROYALE STREET is obviously also the wedding to which it leads up. Every single character from the previous companion novels makes an appearance, including the protagonist pairings Sol & Rain and Maddy & Darren being happy in love, and you will be overcome by your feelings! Theresa and Alex are fun in their own ways, especially during the phase in which they absolutely despise each other, but I loved the side characters a little more. This was definitely my favorite part of the THE LADY OF ROYALE STREET, checking up with the other characters. It's really fun to see the developments since the previous novels unfold.

Theresa and Alex definitely have my favorite love story of the series-- their relationship progression feels so real and realistic and they are SO adorable together, the end truly had me shed a tear. Or seven. Shh. You can always count on De Salle shattering all your feelings with her wonderful happy endings. (Pun intended...?)

While THE LADY OF ROYALE STREET obviously works as a stand-alone, I definitely recommend reading them in order for maximum feels. I adored this.


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE LADY OF ROYALE STREET is the conclusion of my favorite companion series of the year and works as a stand-alone, too. Either way, it absolutely hit me right in the feelings, I loved to read about two devout Christians struggling to combine faith with having a naughty affair, even though this is usually totally not my genre. De Salle charmed me with anxious and angry Alex and chaotic and confident Theresa. I will miss these two!


More NOLA Nights reviews

So I kind of also made a buzzfeed quiz?

...and of course I also made aesthetics for Theresa and Alex!




Additional Info

Published: August 21st 2017
Pages: 250
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Adult / Romance
ISBN: 9781501156106
Series: Nola Nights (#3)

Synopsis:
"Alex DuMont is everything his brother Sol isn’t: regimented, serious, and devout. Between twelve-hour workdays, service to the church, punishing daily workouts, and bi-weekly therapy sessions, Alex is, as Sol once put it, “a kettle perpetually whistling as it boils itself to death.” So when Sol announces his marriage to Arianna Barrington, heiress and society sweetheart, Alex is the absolute worst choice to be his best man. Sol asks anyway and Alex reluctantly agrees. It’s only a week, after all, and Alex should be able to stop himself from throttling his big brother for a meager seven days. Probably. Maybe.

Theresa Ivarson is Arianna’s best friend and the maid of honor. A decorated photojournalist who interrupts her globetrotting to stand beside her friend, Theresa is beautiful, witty, and unafraid to speak her mind. So when she is faced with working with the best man from Hell, a Viking who doesn’t know how to smile, is bossy, and about as pleasant as a cactus, the sparks are bound to fly—and not in the good way. To make matters worse, Sol and Rain's wedding planner was hit by a bus the week before their special day, and Alex and Theresa find themselves at the center of a list-ditch effort to pull the wedding together. But when you can’t decide if you want to kiss or kill someone, something’s bound to break. "
(Source: Goodreads)

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Monday, July 10, 2017

[Review] Last Seen - Lucy Clarke: Seaside Towns and Disappearances

In LAST SEEN, seven years ago the sons of best friends Sarah and Isla disappeared, only one of them returned, and on the anniversary of the tragedy, the other one disappears.

What intrigued me: Was in the mood for a thriller.

Beautiful Writing

LAST SEEN is a very character-driven, super slow book. It's essentially a psychological, a little dark drama involving family secrets. Clarke's writing is beautiful and lyrical, reminds me a lot of Brunonia Barry's actually, which is definitely a compliment. 

There is something dreamy and magical about the way she paints this seaside town and the prose absolutely creates an uncanny atmosphere that makes LAST SEEN very unique. 

I struggled a lot with LAST SEEN, a lot of the plot is reliant on you listening carefully when backstories get unravelled one by one, and I just couldn't bring up enough of an attention span for the dozens of flashbacks and monologues. Unfortunately, this is one of those subjective things that inevitably always make me lose interest in books. I was looking for something more fast-paced, and this is absolutely not what LAST SEEN is. Regardless, the mystery at the core of the story surely is interesting and I do see a lot of people enjoying this, but subjectively, it wasn't my thing.

Very Character-Driven

I guess you have to have a knick for Adult fiction that's more on the women's fiction side than the thriller side to enjoy this, which is certainly not a bad thing. Especially because of the multiple POVs I struggled to establish the very essential connection to the protagonists that you inevitably need to even remotely care for the story. 

I just wasn't invested in Isla's or Sarah's struggles. I really, really deeply struggled to empathize with their friendship and their worries. A lot of the story is spent establishing how their friendship developed in the wake of the tragedies and you have to truly care about that in order to like LAST SEEN. It's more family drama and women's fiction than thriller. Maybe I was in the wrong mood when I picked this up, maybe it's just not my thing. 


Rating:

★★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

LAST SEEN is a beautifully written character-driven mystery set in a dreamy seaside town and I'm sure a lot of people will love this. This had a lot of things that I subjectively don't like in my thrillers, so this wasn't really for me.



Additional Info

Published: June 2017
Pages: 416
Publisher: Piper
Genre: Adult / Thriller
ISBN: 978-3-492-06027-1

Synopsis:
"In a small seaside community, there’s always somebody watching…

Twisty, pacy, and superbly plotted, Last Seen is the perfect psychological page-turner for fans of Clare Mackintosh and Sabine Durrant.

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried."
(Source: Goodreads)

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Recommendation: The Queen of Dauphine Street - Thea de Salle: Pet Tigers and Pansexuality

In THE QUEEN OF DAUPHINE STREET, filthy rich socialite Maddy invites stripper-turned-construction-worker Darren to stay on her cruise ship for protection after his abusive ex makes an attempt to kill him.

What intrigued me: I am obsessed with the book this is a companion novel to, THE KING OF BOURBON STREET.

Eccentricism and PTSD

Maddy is the most eccentric character I have ever read about. She has a pet tiger, a gigantic cruise ship, is openly pansexual, and has a room full of penis art. Having met her as Sol's ex-wife in THE KING OF BOURBON STREET, I was expecting a lot of kink and a lot of weirdness from her, and boy, I got it.

Surprisingly, THE QUEEN OF DAUPHINE STREET is a lot tamer than the first book in this series. Despite Maddy being vocal about her sex life and being a dom (though for Darren, she becomes the sub!), this book doesn't capitalize on the sex and the kink. There are very few sex scenes and this is very slow burn, a lot of time passes for Maddy and Darren to get acquainted and be comfortable with physical contact. 

Here's the thing: I actually am really happy that De Salle took this approach. Both Maddy and Darren have PTSD. It makes sense for THE QUEEN OF DAUPHINE STREET to have these two take their time, especially because this book goes to such dark places, exploring both protagonists' PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks, and their stories in detail. De Salle again manages to have me glued to the pages, totally obsessed with watching her characters' relationship evolve and learning more about their past. And because this needs saying: none of the mental illnesses are cured when Darren and Maddy fall in love. This is not a love-cures-all narrative. 

Maddy and Darren develop their relationship at a slow pace that feels right and that will actually force you to binge this one. You'll have to keep on reading if you want to get to the smutty parts, and trust me, once they come, they are as kinky as you'd expect them to be.

Dad Jokes and All the Feels

Darren is honestly such a surprise. I'm completely #TeamSol and forever will be, but Darren found his way into my heart silently, he snuck up on me with his terrible dad jokes (there are so many...) and his Texan charm. He's a major dork and I dearly grew fond of him. Even if you were a little skeptical in the beginning (like I was!) because he's this straighter-than-straight hunk of a guy (no shade, just isn't for me!). I was surprised that De Salle made me like a guy like that, by putting her own spin on the trope. I love Darren precisely because he doesn't take himself seriously and isn't a Grade A superman without flaws. I actually found myself liking him more and more the more time he spends with Maddy, which just speaks for De Salle's flawless ability to develop relationships that read organically and realistically.

All NOLA Nights books are so fantastically well-written and you'll grow so attached to the characters, all side characters really, and you'll need to read all other companion novels if you want more content featuring your favorites! Almost all characters from the previous companion novel make an appearance here and I suspect it'll be the same in the next one. I clung to the pages every time Sol and Rain appeared, the protagonists from THE KING OF BOURBON STREET, and I am sure any further appearances Maddy and Darren make in this series will have me gently sobbing, hoping there will be some more books starring them. Ah. I just love this series. If you want intersectional, a little kinky romance that has marginalized people in both main and side roles, this is a must-read.




Rating:

★★★★★

  




Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE QUEEN OF DAUPHINE STREET mixes light BDSM with a really really nuanced portayal of a gentle romance betweeen two characters with PTSD. You don't have to read any of the other books to try out this one.

More romances about characters with mental illnesses, please. More slow burn. More Thea de Salle, please.

Trigger warnings: suicide, guns, shooting, PTSD, stalking, harassment, BDSM, panic attacks, anxiety, attempted murder



Additional Info

Published: May 15th 2017
Pages: 236
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Adult / Romance
ISBN: 9781501156090

Synopsis:
"When one of the world’s wildest socialites is paired with a handsome Texan, neither has any idea that their lives are about to change forever in this sexy, sultry romance in the NOLA Night series from New York Times bestselling author Thea de Salle.

Madeline Roussoux has it all: money, a dozen houses, a private jet, a cruise ship, even a tiger. Everyone knows her name. Her every move is watched, absorbed, adored, and abhorred by the public. She’s a dazzling spectacle on the society scene—a beautiful, flamboyant poster child for American privilege and Hollywood celebrity.

And she’s broken.

All the wealth in the world can’t make up for Maddy’s losses. Her father’s suicide and her mother’s ensuing breakdown left her orphaned as a teenager. She survived, but barely. From stints in rehab to a string of failed marriages, her dazzling smile hides deep scars. Finally, losing Sol DuMont, the one person she ever truly loved, has her wondering what is the point of being surrounded by people when you’re perpetually alone?

Enter Darren Sanders. He’s a beautiful Texas boy with a big heart and a bigger smile; the type of man women go crazy for. Literally. When Darren’s ex stalks him and then makes an attempt on his life, circumstances find him off to New Orleans with none other than Maddy Roussoux. He thought he knew everything there was to know about her, but there’s more to the woman whose image graces the covers of magazines worldwide, and Darren finds himself drawn into a world of excess he never imagined possible. "
(Source: Goodreads)

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Recommendation: The King of Bourbon Street (NOLA Nights #1) - Thea de Salle: Bisexuality, Rich People, and a Fat Heroine

In THE KING OF BOURBON STREET, heiress Rain travels to New Orleans to get a break from her mother and falls in love with hotel mogul Sol.

What intrigued me: I adored another book by the same author under a different pen name and was thirsty for more by her.

Note: Don't let the cover fool you, this has a fat heroine!!!

Fantastic Writing and Characters

THE KING OF BOURBON STREET is definitely very different from what I usually read - you may know that I'm primarily a YA reader, but I don't mind pushing my comfort zone a little. Even if you're not really into Adult books and just enjoy Romance, you will probably fall hopelessly in love with this. De Salle is such a talented writer, I originally only planned to take a peak at a sample, but the voice, the characters, the setting, the pace - everything about the craft is so perfect that it sucks you in and you won't want to leave. Genuinely, this book is so amazingly well-written that it's seriously inspiring and an absolute delight.

De Salle needed about 5 pages for me to fall in love with the hero, Sol, who is, in lack of a better way to put this: an absolutely irresistible little shit. He's refreshingly openly bisexual, hilarious, he's snarky and flamboyant, and I am so, so, so in love. I found myself laughing out loud at honestly pretty much everything he says. He's so funny without meaning to and you'll fall in love with him before you know it and miss him terribly once you've finished the book.

Perfect Read for Rookie Adult Romance Readers!

As irresistible as the hero is - the heroine, Rain, is just as awesome. She's rebelling against her rich parents and just sunshine bottled up. THE KING OF BOURBON STREET is one of the most organic and fantastic romances I've ever read. Rain and Sol have incredible chemistry from the second they meet and you'll find yourself not being able to decide who you like more. In general, the characters and their relationships are very fleshed out, so much so that I honestly want a spin-off for every single character that appears in this series (which it looks like we might be getting to at least some extent? Fingers crossed). Parting with this book and finishing it honestly felt to me like I lost a couple dear friends, you'll find yourself wanting to read as slowly as possible so you'll be able to spend as much time with the characters as possible. 

I feel like I should also mention that this is a very adult Romance that contains a dom/sub relationship and a lot of sex. That's not usually what I go for, but I loved Rain and Sol so much that I didn't mind that at all. Even if you don't necessarily read a lot of Adult Romance, this might serve as a transitional read to get you more into the genre. THE KING OF BOURBON STREET is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year and I cannot wait to get started on the sequels.


Rating:

★★★★★

 




Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you love Adult Romance and are looking for something sex-positive and intersectional, this is a must-read. This is extremely well-written, almost intimidatingly so, and with a bisexual hero and a fat heroine, I am so, so, so happy I stumbled upon this series. 

More of this, please.



Additional Info

Published: February 13th 2017
Pages: 304
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Adult / Romance
ISBN: 9781501156076

Synopsis:
"Hotel chain mogul Sol DuMont is about to learn that some of life’s biggest surprises come in deceptively small packages—namely a petite heiress named Rain who’s hell-bent on upsetting her family’s expectations—in this first book in the all new series by Thea de Salle, set against the sultry backdrop of New Orleans.

Thirty-seven-year-old Sol DuMont is a divorcee and the owner of a mid-sized hotel chain in New Orleans. Since Hurricane Katrina, his father’s death, and the decision that he and his ex-wife Maddy are far better off friends than lovers, he’s lost interest in almost everything he held dear—parties, people, and pushing limits.

All his limits.

Then Arianna Barrington checks into his hotel.

Twenty-four-year-old Arianna “Rain” Barrington could have been society’s sweetheart. Her family is moneyed, connected press darlings, and make sweeping headlines from coast to coast for reasons both good and bad. But when her mother shoves her at Charles Harwood—the obnoxious, entitled heir of Harwood Corp—to cement a billion-dollar business merger, Rain does the only thing she can think of to escape: she creates a scandal so big Harwood doesn’t want her anymore before fleeing to New Orleans for much-needed rest and relaxation.

All she wants is jazz piano, beignets, and to sail the Mississippi. What she gets is Sol DuMont, a whirlwind affair, and a hands-on education in sex, power play, and pushing limits.

All her limits. "
(Source: Goodreads)

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

[Review] Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) - Sylvain Neuvel: Aliens and Giant Robots

In WAKING GODS, another space robot has randomly landed on Earth and Rose has mysteriously returned from the dead.

What intrigued me: Really loved the first book, SLEEPING GIANTS.

No Protagonists?

I was so excited for WAKING GODS after really being obsessed with SLEEPING GIANTS. Unfortunately, the sequel couldn't even come to get me even remotely as excited. It uses the exact same premise and format, interview snippets, random POVs from throwaway characters and all of that. Ultimately, I think that's the reason why I disliked this so much. For a fast-paced standalone, it definitely can work to have everything focus on the plot more than the characters, but for a series? How am I supposed to care for anything that's happening when there's not even remotely a connection to the characters? 

There are virtually no protagonists in this series, if there were any, they'd be Rose, Kara, and Vincent, whose story lines don't play much of a role until a good 60% into the novel (by which I was already asleep and didn't care for anything anymore). This is definitely the biggest weakness of the series - as fantastically plotted and inventive as it is, I just won't give a damn if there's no way to connect to the characters. This is a me thing though and highly subjective, so you might feel completely differently.

So, I Guess this is the Apocalypse...?

Another huge problem I had is that I never felt the urgency or the seriousness of the situation. In SLEEPING GIANTS, a lot of the plot is spent in a secluded area and in WAKING GODS, suddenly it's 10 years later and everybody knows about the giant robot Themis and I was just completely lost. Maybe it's because it's been about 6+ months since I read the first book, but I just couldn't get into this. I couldn't bring myself to care - WAKING GODS is supposed to be exactly like SLEEPING GIANTS but with more action, danger, and urgency, cause the aliens are arriving! I just didn't feel it. The format also contributes to making me feel completely disconnected from the story, the whole world, actually, and I just longed to simply stick with the characters that we've already gotten to know in the first book. I really did my best to give this a couple shots, but ultimately ended up skimming a chunk of this. I just didn't care. Sigh. 

I feel like WAKING GODS had to do a lot differently than SLEEPING GIANTS in order to be a success, but because it didn't, I'm through with this series and I have zero interest in continuing it. Unfortunately.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

WAKING GODS is a huge disappointment that failed for me because I was hoping for it to be set up differently and to focus more on the characters than doing this whole ├╝ber conspiracy thing again and working way too much with diary entries and interview snippets. I also physically couldn't care less that this is supposed to tell the story of an epic battle between humanity and aliens - I was busy zoning out.



Additional Info

Published: June 13th 2017
Pages: 416
Publisher: Heyne
Genre: Adult / Sci-Fi / Aliens
ISBN: 9783453534803

Synopsis:
"As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars."
(Source: Goodreads)

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

[Review] Be My Girl - Nina Sadowsky: Marriage and Murder


In BE MY GIRL, Ellie and Rob get married and slowly realize that they are both keeping monumental secrets from each other.

What intrigued me: I was in the mood for an adult thriller.

Great Beginning and Dual POV

BE MY GIRL really surprised me and snuck up on me with it's brilliant premise and beginning. Told in two alternating storylines, one set with protagonist Ellie in a hotel room with a corpse, and the other one right after her wedding to Rob, it's surely a unique read. 

You'd think the flip-flopping back and forth through the timeline would get confusing, but it really doesn't. Mainly because it's executed flawlessly and there are lots of secrets to explore in both past and present. BE MY GIRL is an absolute page-turner. For the first fifty pages that is.

Offbeat Pace and Over-the-top Story

As much as BE MY GIRL delighted me in the beginning, it absolutely lost me somewhere around the middle. The writing is quite strange and very slow, focused on telling rather than showing. While I didn't have a problem with the characters and found them quite intriguing and longed to find out more about them - the pacing is terrible. It takes so much time for things to get interesting and once they do, everything happens at once. BE MY GIRL has the most over-the-top storyline involving, murder, kidnapping, terminal illness, serial killers - it's like every action movie and thriller thrown together at once. While that can work for some people, it really didn't for me. I was hoping for a very satisfying and linear mystery instead of a mixture of ... everything. It's really messy to read and definitely lowered my enthusiasm despite the excellent start.


And honestly? This story is just ridiculous. Again, this is highly subjective but that amount of secrets and twists and turns rather made me roll my eyes than actually care about the story. Maybe this will work better for you, but BE MY GIRL was a little too much for me personally.



Rating:

★★★☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

BE MY GIRL is a very over-the-top thriller/action read that combines all tropes you've ever seen in a book. For me this wasn't really fun, but you might feel differently.

Trigger warning: blood, gore, murder, death, terminal illness, abuse, violence


Additional Info

Published: February 17th 2017
Pages: 336
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Adult / Thriller
ISBN: 9783328100041

Synopsis:
"Balanced on the razor edge of moral ambiguity, this sexy and seductive debut novel asks: How can you find out that the person you love is a killer...and continue to love him anyway?

On the night of her wedding to Rob, Ellie's perfect world suddenly collapses. Her suave, charming, sophisticated husband is not the man she believed him to be. Could he really be a killer?

Ellie is rapidly swept into a lethal vortex of betrayal, lies, and uncertainty: Who is the man she married, really?
And how far will she go to protect him?

From Manhattan to the Caribbean, Rob and Ellie struggle to escape the grip of Rob's former life - a life his employers are determined to ensnare him in for good.

When faced with a terrible choice -- to become a murderess herself to save the man she loves, or to let him die -- Ellie's decision propels her into a whiplash-paced adventure, filled with cinematic twists and a startling sense of unease."
(Source: Goodreads)


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Monday, February 27, 2017

[Review] A Darker Shade of Magic (#1) - V.E. Schwab: 19th Century London and Parallel Universes





In A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, Kell is one of the blood magicians who are gifted with the ability to wander between parallel worlds.

What intrigued me: Recommended by literally everyone.

Textbook writing and too many info dumps

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC certainly has a great base frame, but absolutely can't hide the fact that it doesn't quite know what to do with all that world building. Protagonist Kell is a smuggler, an adopted royal, a blood magician, and handles the correspondence between the four different Londons. To get that all inside your head, you'll already need a moment. The biggest problem is that there is so much about this world and so many specific rules, quirks, and things to know, that there is no way you'll have a good time reading this for the first time. Paired with incredibly factual and emotionless writing, it reads like a textbook. I was often torn between utter disinterest and sort-of fascination. 

I grew insanely frustrated the more I read because I simply didn't understand what was happening and why it was happening, and who the bazillion side characters are. A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC plays in this sort-of 19th century-inspired historical-ish world that has kings and queens and (sometimes?) magic. Ish. I say Ish because even after having read this I still don't get it. Usually you'd expect a novel to lay out the basics within the first 100 pages, but in A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, you'll still be wrestling with exposition on page 350 of 400. 

Clearly the idea is there and Schwab really tried to set up an original world, but half of it neither makes sense nor is comprehensible to the average first time reader. This is not the type of fantasy I enjoy - throwing words in made-up languages around and introducing so many different parallel worlds that you're constantly confusing everyone. 

One dimensional characters and predictability

Because Schwab so heavily puts the focus on the world building, the characters are absolutely suffering. Everyone in A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC is one-dimensional, not even the protagonist Kell has an ounce of a personality. It's a shame because you can tell that a lot of effort went into this. At the end of the day, I think this book is impossible to enjoy if you prefer your high fantasy to make sense and to form a connection with the fictional characters you're reading about. 

On top of all that - the plot is just very predictable and anti-climactic. Of course protagonist Kell must face the only other rare special snowflake blood magician in the book aside from him because of some barely-plausible plot convenience; and of course there is a mystery about his birth parents that we only get to solve if we buy the next two books. 


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC wasn't for me. From a predictable plot to confusing world building, to writing that I just don't like, this one is a clear miss for me personally.



Additional Info

Published: 24th February 2015
Pages: 400
Publisher: Tor
Genre: Adult / Sci-Fi / Parallel Worlds
ISBN: 9780765376459

Synopsis:
"Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped."(Source: Goodreads)

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

[Review] Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel: Epidemics and the Apocalypse

In STATION ELEVEN, an epidemic outbreak changes the lives of different people forever. 

What intrigued me: I felt like reading some dystopian.

Very Literary

I tried my best with STATION ELEVEN, but we just weren't meant to be. This one of those extremely literary books that you have to have a taste for, and I think I'm just lacking that. 

STATION ELEVEN is written absolutely beautifully with multiple POVS that each unfold the lingering pandemic a little bit more. I was fascinated for a couple chapters, but quickly lost interest when I realized that this is an extremely quiet story. And what can I say - I like my dystopian books to be gritty, fast-paced, and action-filled. STATION ELEVEN is none of these things. It's a story about survival over the years that couldn't be more niche.

If you're looking for classic dystopian lit, this might end up disappointing you just as much as it did me - STATION ELEVEN demands your full attention at all times. So many protagonists, so many details to pay attention to, so many filler chapters. You really have to be invested in the story and the characters. 


It's Not You, It's Me

STATION ELEVEN is one of those epic reads that span decades, have dozens of protagonists, and are more about the world than the characters. Add a couple time jumps in and you know exactly what kind of book this is I personally cannot empathize this for the life of me. This is very much a hard case of It's Not You, It's Me syndrome. It's undoubtedly a skillfully and beautifully written book that just oozes talent and magnificent prose, but for me personally none of this matters when I find the story unengaging. Again, this is a by no means an objective judgment of the quality of this book, this is just me having peculiar taste.

Ultimately I think the thing that just made this unenjoyable for me is that STATION ELEVEN is more about the journey and the story as a whole than what is happening in the moment. Everything comes together in the big picture - but this technique personally never works for me because I'll lose interest on the way if the journey isn't filled with plot twists and secrets and adventure.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

STATION ELEVEN is a little too literary for me and absolutely not my cup of tea. I expected a regular dystopian story, but got an epic decade-spanning saga. You have to be in the mood for these kinds of books.



Additional Info


Published: September 14th 2015
Pages: 416
Publisher: piper
Genre: Adult / Dystopian
ISBN: 9783492060226

Synopsis:
"One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur's chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Twenty years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten's arm is a line from Star Trek: "Because survival is insufficient." But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave."
(Source: Goodreads)



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Thursday, November 17, 2016

[Review] Aurora - Kim Stanley Robinson: Colonization and New Planets





In AURORA, a giant spaceship full of colonists is approaching the end of its 159-year-long journey to a new planet.

What intrigued me: I love reading about alien planets.

Extremely technical and difficult read

I picked up AURORA hoping for something in the vein of Scott Sigler's Generations trilogy, but was bitterly disappointed. AURORA is hard sci-fi, space opera even, that reads very clunky, difficult and facts-centric. The really interesting premise is pretty much negated through the way it's written. 

I especially struggled with the strange character voice that borders on extremely juvenile in a condecending way as the story begins being told through 12-year-old Freya's eyes. Mixed with terms and concepts that are impossible to understand if you don't have a degree in quantum physics. From detailed paragraphs and paragraphs about how the spaceship works to rambling passive narration, AURORA does everything it possibly can to derive from the plot. 

If you care about the mechanics of spaceships and their logistics, this will be a treat for you. For me, who's just looking for some fun space travel, this is a very clear miss. This story absolutely has no business at all being 500+ pages long. It drags, it's difficult to read and understand, and really just doesn't get to the point. It took me a ridiculous amount of time to even understand that the ship has a conscience and it's not just some more rambling directed at no one in particular. 

So, so, so much filler

AURORA is separated into seven parts that chronic a specific stage of the journey, centered on a handful of characters, but yet somehow written in omniscient perspective. It takes a ridiculous amount of time until the actual plot takes off. You could basically skip about 200 pages and have a great reading experience - AURORA has so much filler, so many unnecessary scenes, and so much rambling that you really really don't have to bother reading the whole thing. 

This is just a story that revels in the authors storytelling - this isn't about the characters who are mediocre cardboard cutouts at most, it's about the author showcasing their knowledge about space travel. Enhanced by off-screen comments from the sentient spaceship it's quite obvious that AURORA isn't about the characters. That's essentially what made it so hard for me to connect with this narrative and stay focused and interested in the story. AURORA really just is a pick for die-hard space opera fans.

Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

AURORA is a hard miss for me. Strange writing paired with lots of filler and mechanics and logistics-centric narration is absolutely not what I was looking for. If you enjoy hard sci-fi and space opera, and love yourself some technical reads about spaceship mechanics and physics, this is your perfect pick.



Additional Info

Published: November 14th 2016
Pages: 560
Publisher: Heyne
Genre: Adult / Space & Other Planets
ISBN: 9783453317246

Synopsis:
"A major new novel from one of science fiction's most powerful voices, AURORA tells the incredible story of our first voyage beyond the solar system. 

Brilliantly imagined and beautifully told, it is the work of a writer at the height of his powers. 

Our voyage from Earth began generations ago.

Now, we approach our new home.

AURORA.
"(Source: Goodreads)


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Sunday, November 13, 2016

[Review] Furiously Happy - Jenny Lawson: Mental Illness and Life-Affirmation

In FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny Lawson tells anecdotes of her life. In the center of it all stands her life motto of being furiously, aggressively happy no matter what life throws at you.

What intrigued me: Felt like reading some Non-Fiction.

Loud and Eccentric

FURIOUSLY HAPPY is such a loud book that you're probably in danger of going deaf when reading it. It's quirky, eccentric and voice-y and definitely a book that will catch your attention and stay in your memory for quite a whilte. Lawson's narrative voice is sometimes off-trail, mostly shouting, and absolutely unique. And it's just too much for me personally.

It reads like some sort of strange diary without any sense of structure of coherence. Even after reading it I still don't know what this book is about, really.

You have to be in the mood for this type of writing, a type of train-of-thought esque narration.

Offensive humor?

The message of the book and the only thing that sort-of connects the very random chapters to each other is that they're all a mixture of anecdoctes that showcase the author's "crazy" (her words, not mine) behavior because of the multitude of mental illnesses she lives with. And I just don't like that. 

I can't get behind these self-degrading characterizations and as someone who has had experience with mental illness it actually quite offends me. I get that it's a memoir, at no point Lawson ever tries to make judgements about other people who live with mental illness. But at the end of the day it just rubs me the wrong way when she describes the way she reacts to anxiety-inducing situations as overreacting and ridiculous and calls herself insane.

That's just the humor of this book, this is all that FURIOUSLY HAPPY is about - making fun of your own illness to make peace with it. This isn't a negative thing, it's just soemthing that you have to get, that you have to understand and agree with. I don't. I didn't find FURIOUSLY HAPPY life-affirming in any way. I found it disregarding and quite ignorant, which again, is just my personal takeaway and not the author's fault or in any way an objective judgement of the book. You have to see for yourself if that type of humor resonates with you. 


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

FURIOUSLY HAPPY isn't my kind of book. Random chapters, train-of-thought narration, belittling mental illness - it's not my thing. It felt quite pointless and absolutely not funny to me.



Additional Info

Published: 17th October 2016
Pages: 320
Publisher: Kailash
Genre: Adult / Non-Fiction / Biographies & Memoirs
ISBN: 978-3-424-63130-2

Synopsis:
"In LET'S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: "Some people might think that being 'furiously happy' is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he's never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos."

"Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you'd never guess because we've learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, 'We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.' Except go back and cross out the word 'hiding.'""(Source: Goodreads)


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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

[Review] Modern Romance - Aziz Ansari: Digital Age and Dating

In MODERN ROMANCE Comedian Aziz Ansari explores the peculiarities of dating in the age of technology.

What intrigued me: I was in the mood for some Non-Fiction.

More academic than funny

MODERN ROMANCE reads more like a sociological study than a humorous little book peaking fun at dating habits in the 2010s. Undeniably a lot of work went into this as most chapters contain the outcomes of multiple surveys and interviews with people from different age groups. While that is quite the interesting premise, I feel like MODERN ROMANCE would have benefitted more from mixing humor with anecdotes exlusively. Aziz is incredibly funny and MODERN ROMANCE just doesn't embrace that.

Knowing Ansari's stand-up I was hoping for basically a novelized version of one of his performances. Lots of stories, lots of fun things to laugh about. This absolutely isn't what MODERN ROMANCE is, it's an academic study in my opinion that doesn't quite committ. 

Decent Bedside Table Read

It's half anecdotes half academic text and this is just not a flattering combination. I ended up skimming many passages simply because I wasn't interested. It truly does read like a lecture, which isn't surprising since this book has been co-written with a sociology professor. 

Initially MODERN ROMANCE lures you in with pretending to focus primarly on the digital age- which is why I picked it up - but essentially it compares generations. I'm not quite sure what MODERN ROMANCE is trying to do, it certainly doesn't deliver any new revelations that you didn't know if you grew up in the last 20th century. Ultimately I do think aside from a bedside table read that you can skim through whenever you're feeling like you need a light distraction, it's probably just a pick for people who really love Aziz Ansari.


Rating:

★★½

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

MODERN ROMANCE is a well-researched book and has its fun moments, but ultimately wasn't quite what I expected and disappointed me through being more academic than funny. If you don't mind that, MODERN ROMANCE still makes for a nice bedside table read.



Additional Info

Published: 19th September 2016
Pages: 352
Publisher: Goldmann
Genre: Adult / Non-Fiction / Sociology
ISBN: 978-3-442-17619-9

Synopsis:
"At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?” 

But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Andrew Cherlin, Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before."(Source: Goodreads)


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Sunday, October 23, 2016

[Review] The Olive Conspiracy - Shira Glassman: Jewish Fantasy and Queerness

In THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY, Chef Yael is blackmailed because she is transgender and Queen Shualmit is not having any of that.

What intrigued me: Jewish fantasy! Who'd say no to that. I love high fantasy in diverse settings so much.

Extremely Diverse 

Even though THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY technically belongs to Glassman's Mangoverse series, you do not have to have read the other books to read this one. There are a lot of established character relationships that you will have no problem understanding if this is your first Mangoverse read. Quite on the contrary actually, I found myself growing very interested in her characters and am even more intrigued to read the rest of the series because THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY hints at all the interesting things happening before.

THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY is so diverse - it's fantastic. There are transgender, sapphic, and POC characters whom you'll all grow to love. The Mangoverse is inhabited by different peoples who all have their unique customs and Glassman cleverly uses this to establish Jewish customs and familiarize the reader with the setting. THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY is a very easy and educational read that absolutely managed to fascinate.

Charming and Educational

THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY reads quite like a cozy mystery in a diverse high fantasy setting. Though I hoped to see the story anchored to a specific character, which ultimately made it a little more difficult for me to follow the plot. Glassman narrates for the most part from an omniscient perspective that sometimes focuses on shape-shifting wizard Isaac, whom I absolutely grew to adore. 

I wish the story would've been told from a different perspective, maybe first-person. Especially for first-time readers of the Mangoverse it does irritate a little and did make it a bit harder for me to truly get invested. THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY does work as a stand-alone and is an absolute must-read if you're looking to diversify yours(h)elf. I found myself learning a lot about Jewish culture that I didn't know before and found it quite charming how effortlessly Glassman incorporates this into the setting. 


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY is a unique and original delight. Jewish queer fantasy at its best and if you want to learn more about Jewish culture, I absolutely recommend this novel considering that it's written by a Jewish writer.



Additional Info

Published: July 20th 2016
Pages: 229
Genre: Adult / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9781944449780

Synopsis:
"When Ezra tries to blackmail Chef Yael about her being trans, she throws him out of her restaurant and immediately reports him to the queen. When police find Ezra stabbed to death, Queen Shulamit realizes he may have also tried to extort someone more dangerous than a feisty old lady.

The royal investigation leads straight to an international terrorist plot to destroy her country’s economy—and worse, her first love, Crown Princess Carolina of Imbrio, may be involved. Since she’s got a dragon-shifting wizard at her disposal, contacts with friendly foreign witches, and the support of her partner Aviva, Shulamit has hope. What she doesn’t have is time.

A love story between women, between queen and country, and between farmers and their crops."(Source: Goodreads)


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