Sunday, 22 October 2017

Jennifer Donnelly – Revolution (5/5)

“It’s time to start the revolution, baby!”


YA Drama

This is the book for you if you like:
-          - Stories about struggling with suicidal ideation
-          - Magical Realism
-          - Some history infused in your fiction

Summary: (blurb)
Andi is broken. She is failing school and failing her life. Since the death of her brother, all she cares about is music. Taken to Paris by her estranged father,  she makes a discovery there that could transform everything. Hidden in the compartment of an old guitar case is a lost diary from Revolutionary France…

Alexandrine is a street performer who is trying to save a young life from the devastation of war. She writers her deepest thoughts in her diary, hoping that one day someone will read them and understand.

These two girls, though centuries apart, are tied together by more than just the diary. As its words transcend paper and time, Alexandrine’s past becomes Andi’s present and lives are changed for ever.

First sentence:
Those who can, do.
Those who can’t, deejay.

Thoughts on covers:
I love how prominent the key is on most of the covers. I really think the third (the original) cover misses the mark here; because while yes, this is a story about two girls centuries apart, I feel like it’s much more a story about finding your place in this world, finding the key to your existence, hence giving the key, next to having an actual role in the story, a symbolic meaning that ties in with the whole book.

The title was interesting enough for me to pull the book from the shelves, so it certainly grabs your attention.

Why did I read this book?
I found it at a book fair. The title grabbed my attention, and the blurb promised a protagonist struggling with life, music and a hint of time travel. These are all things that I love to read about, so this truly seemed like the perfect fit for me.

Andi, our main character, only cares about two things: music, and her mother. With the death of her brother heavily weighing on her, it's really the only things she can afford to care about, and even those are just barely enough to help her hold on. It's the moments where she's playing that you can really see her character shine through: creative, inventive, enthusiastic. She was so real. I felt connected to her from the get-go.

I also really loved Alexandrine. This Parisian heroine from the time of the Revolution has one thing on her mind and one thing only: the boy that is locked and mistreated in the tower. Her insistence to be there for Louis-Charles in any way she can, even at the risk of her own life - how can someone not love a character like that? Donnelly managed to make it make sense as well; this wasn't some random interest in a random little boy, this was familial love without sharing the same blood.

Revolution starts in New York, but is really mostly set in Paris, both current Paris and the Paris in the time of the Revolution. I don’t know anything, really, about France at that time, and this book really managed to get me interested in it. It all felt so real.

General opinion:
Donnelly has divided the book into three parts – hell, purgatory and paradise. That ‘hell’ is the longest part tells you all you need to know about the heavy atmosphere of the story. Struggling with suicidal ideation myself, Revolution was an almost therapeutic read. The despondency that is bogging down Andi is written so realistic that it wasn't hard at all to connect to her. The way she goes from passive recklessness to active suicidal planning was very true to life.

I hear tires screeching. I turn and see a car bearing down on me.

Everything inside me is screaming at me to run, but I don't move. Because I want this. I want an end to the pain. The car swerves violently and screeches to a stop. I smell burned rubber. People are shouting.

The driver's on me in an instant. She's crying and trembling. She grabs the front of my jacket and shakes me. "You crazy bitch!" she screams. "I could have killed you!"

"Sorry," I say.

"Sorry?" she shouts. "You don't look sorry. You-"

"Sorry you missed," I say.

This was not an easy read, at all. Donnelly doesn't pull any punches, doesn't sugar-coat any of this. I had to really set time aside for this, but I am so glad I did.

While I definitely wouldn't categorise this as a romance (the romance is really too much of a B-plot for that), it is one of the most romantic YA novels I have ever read. Instead of wasting time on love triangles and with only the slightest miscommunication, the way Andi and Virgil connect and especially their late night/early morning phone calls are one of the most romantic things ever written.

Will I read other books from this author?
Definitely! This is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Overall rating: 5/5

Friday, 24 May 2013

Book Beginnings (1)

This meme is hosted by Rose City Reader.

Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.

The most dangerous sicknesses are those that make us believe we are well. –Proverb 42, The Book of Shhh

Every chapter of Delirium (by Lauren Oliver) starts with a quote from an in-world source. I really love this. It is a brilliant way to extend on the world-building as it gives you an idea of the sort of ideas that Lena grew up with.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Richelle Mead – Spirit Bound (5/5)

Series: Vampire Academy #5


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Genre: YA Fantasy

This is the book for you if you like:

- The Vampire Academy series; don’t be scared off if you didn’t like Blood Promise.

- Love against the odds stories

- Cliffhangers

Summary: (from author’s website)

Dimitri gave Rose the ultimate choice. But she chose wrong…

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s—and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives beyond the Academy’s iron gates to begin. But Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri, and he's out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and she knows in her heart that he is hunting her. And if Rose won't join him, he won't rest until he's silenced her... forever.

Thoughts on covers:

As always, I just can’t picture any cover but the original VA academy covers with the fence as actual VA covers. The others just seem… wrong. To the point where I couldn’t even get myself to pick a third cover to show.


The VA titles haven’t always made the most sense in comparison to the content of the story, but for a story that so heavily relies on spirit magic, I guess this one is not so bad. I always like how the titles sound mysterious, though, and make me want to read the book.


I’ve always loved Rose. I’ve even loved her in Blood Promise, even though she left Lissa to chase Dimitri, because I got how it was her broken heart leading her. But in Spirit Bound, at quite a lot of moments she’s edging the line between self-centred and selfish. It wasn’t enough to make me turn from her of from the series, but it was at times hard to cheer for her happy ending, when I wasn’t sure she still deserved one. I still like her, I just didn’t love her at every point in this book.

Lissa is and will always be my favourite character. In this book, too, she shows so much loyalty and strength – not physical, but spiritual and emotional. She is someone I would love to have in my life and I like every page spend with her. I’m also really liking Adrian. He seems to be so much more mature than he makes himself out to be.

When it comes to side characters, the return of Ambrose was very welcome and I loved the introduction of Mikhail.


Most of this book is set at Court, moving it from the Academy setting to another, similar setting. It worked well within the confines of the story and within what we know of the world. I think part of what made Blood Promise so bad in comparison to the other books is that it didn’t have such a definite sense of home, a base to return to.

General story:

A lot happens in this book. After Blood Promise, after seeing that this book had a similar page count, I was afraid there’d again be a lot of senseless filler. But there wasn’t. There is a lot of action and you get sucked into the story from the first page.

The book seemed to be divided into roughly three parts:

- The first eleven chapters follow directly on Rose’s discovery in Blood Promise that Victor could lead her to saving Dimitri.

- The next fourteen chapters delve into what that knowledge might mean for Rose, for Lissa, for Dimitri, for Adrian.

- The last two chapters set up the scenes for the next book

I think it worked; every part had slightly higher stakes, both physically and emotionally. I think the second part was the most important for this book and I loved what it said. I love how the idea of being able to save Strigoi had such a wide ring of consequences, things that Rose had never even thought of in her haste to save the love of her life.

Will I read the other instalments in this series?

I held my breath during the last thirty pages and I can’t believe the cliff-hanger of this book. I don’t think I’ve ever had this much of a “I need the next book now!” feeling as I had after reading this one.

Overall rating: 5/5

Monday, 22 April 2013

Carolyn Anderson Jones – Cowgirl up! (1/5)



Genre: Romantic Suspense / Western Romance

This is the book for you if you like:

- Jealous heroes

Summary: (from author’s website)

Life on the Front Range of Colorado is never dull, especially with a spunky vet and a really hot cowboy in the mix.

Samantha Kendrick is a large animal vet in her small hometown of Fairview, and happy tending to her clients during the day and reading sizzling romance novels at night. Until Cheyenne Wells comes back into her life.

Samantha and Cheyenne have known each other since first grade, but it’s been a tenuous relationship that started when he yanked her ponytail and she punched him in the nose. Now Cheyenne is the head trainer and manager of the largest horse ranch in the west, and Samantha is called out to treat their prize stallion.

Their reunion ignites sparks of passion neither one is expecting. Though Sam resists at first, Cheyenne’s Native American magnetism draws her into his life, with some help from her mom and fate. Before she knows it Sam is drawn into a spidery web of evil. Together, Sam and Cheyenne must work to solve the mystery before it turns deadly.

It couldn’t get any worse for Sam, who up until then only pondered mysteries like, “Do cowboys really go commando?”

Thoughts on covers:

I actually think the cover is quite pretty! That sun-colour really catches the eye.


The title is okay. I don’t really see the connection to the book, however.


Cowgirl Up! is mostly about Samantha, Sam to almost anyone. She’s a vet who thinks she’s very plain and consistently compares herself unfavourably to every other girl she meets (Cheyenne has “a beautiful girl” working in his office, her best friend is a “gorgeous Hispanic with long dark hair, deep brown eyes and a killer body”…)

Then there’s Cheyenne, who is the love interest, and his characterization doesn’t really go any farther than that. His main characteristic seems to be ‘insanely jealous’, as he breaks off their relationship after Sam gets a call on her voice mail from another guy who seemed to be interested in her.

My favourite character just might have been Dundee, Sam’s dog.


Fairview, Colorado. A quick google search seems to indicate that Colorado is one of the few states that doesn’t have a Fairview (though it does have a Fairview Natural Area), so it’s a fair bet the town is fictional. It seems to be a pretty small town, with lots of ranches with dozens of acres. The town also have lots of immigrants who only speak Spanish.

General story:

I really struggled through this book.

There is no indication about whether Cheyenne and Sam would make a great couple. Are we to assume that every vet would easily build a relationship with an attractive cowboy? There’s a lot of sexual attraction, but that seems to be all there is. We’re supposed to believe in this romance between them, but there is none actually written. There is also this guy, Luke, who tries to seduce her with a plane and with being nice to her. But he is so obviously only there to get Cheyenne jealous; when he leaves and Cheyenne saves Sam at the end of the book, Luke isn’t even mentioned anymore.

The writing, too, annoyed me at a lot of places. There were completely random shifts in perspective at times; mostly when there’s a guy checking out Sam, the writing suddenly shifts to his POV for a couple of lines, then just as suddenly switches back. There were also very detailed, boring paragraphs detailing the background of every person we meet, without giving any information that would actually be of interest. And an actual scene of men walking into posts because they were so impressed by Sam and Isabelle trying on clothes.

I am pretty sure that this book could have been twice as short without losing any information, there was so much repetition. Then there was just the actual writing style, with sentences like:

“Sam sensed there were sparks flying between them because she could smell the man’s fear. It was sweat.”

I’m pretty sure she smelled the sweat and deduced it was fear?

“Have you ever seen a child’s face when he saw a gigantic sucker in a candy store, or Santa Claus at the mall? That’s exactly how Max Chandler looked when he saw Isabella. He was smitten. Sam was afraid he would stop breathing and might pass out from lack of oxygen, but she didn’t worry. Isabella knew CPR.”


“The voice sounded breathy and blonde.”

How on earth does a voice sound blonde?

Then, the formatting was bad. There are a lot of horses in this book, and every time one of them is mentioned by name, it was in cursive. Why on earth? Because they’re not people? But every time Dundee is mentioned, his name isn’t cursive. I thought it really halting. Also, the ellipses Jones uses have nine dots, instead of three. Does that make them more ellipsis-y? I’m also pretty sure that “Omigod” is not an actual word. Why not just write “Oh my God”?

Overall rating: 1/5

Monday, 25 March 2013

Suzanne Selfors – Coffeehouse Angel (2/5)


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Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

This is the book for you if you like:

- Superficial romance stories
- Angel mythology

Summary: (from author’s website)

When Katrina spots a homeless guy sleeping in the alley behind her grandmother's coffee shop, she leaves him a cup of coffee, a bag of chocolate-covered coffee beans, and some pastries to tide him over, never expecting this random act of kindness to turn her life upside down. The adorable vagrant, Malcolm, is actually a guardian angel on a break between missions, and now he won't leave until he can reward Katrina's selflessness by fulfilling her deepest desire. Fame and fortune seem like the obvious requests, but after two botched wishes, Malcolm knows Katrina is hiding something from him. But how can she tell him the truth, when her heart's desire has become Malcolm himself?

Thoughts on covers:
Hardcover edition, paperback edition, French edition

I really dislike the hardcover edition, but I think the angel coffee cup one is pretty cute.


I think the title covers both of the important aspects of the story, so it’s fitting. It’s also different enough to attract attention.


I don’t have any real feelings towards the characters in this book. Katrina, the protagonist, is annoying in many ways, though she gets better ‘til the end. Vincent and Elizabeth are presences that don’t have much of a personality. The ones I loved the most were Malcolm – for his strange ways, his outsider status, his unintentional wit – and Irmgaard, who had the most interesting story of all and who I really wanted to get to know better.


The story is set in Nordby, which, in this story, is an American town that has both people with Norwegian roots as with Native American roots. It took me a while to get where exactly it was located, because there’s a Nordby in Denmark too, which at first seemed like the more logical location (the only question then was, why on earth would an American writer write a story set in Denmark?). I don’t think the setting does much to the story; had it just been an average town in America, with an average mix of people, the story would have remained the same. I wonder why Selfors took so much effort in describing the Old Ways, as they are called quite often in the book, without actually having them influence the story.

General story:

I feel like this story was trying to be three stories at once, with each story just out of reach of being good.

At first glance, based on the summary and the designated genre, you expect a love story. And it partly is; there is this whole flirtation going on between Katrina and Malcolm, but for three third of the book I wondered whether maybe Vincent was supposed to be the love interest. And it’s not even like it’s set up as a love triangle either; the ending of the book makes it perfectly clear that Vincent and Katrina really see each other as friends. I don’t feel like Malcolm is enough of a presence in Katrina’s life to make this a romance story; there isn’t much of a relationship at all, actually, just attraction on her side and intrigue on his side.

Then, it is a story about friendship and what friends should do for each other. Katrina is very focussed on what others should do for her because of their friendship, but in the entire book we don’t once see her do something for either Elizabeth or Vincent. She only complains; about Vincent dating Heidi and betraying her, and about Elizabeth having so much money that she’d never understand.

Then, this story seems to want to give us a lesson in everyone has a talent and be careful what you wish for. It seems weird to put the first lesson in a story that has magic beans, and the second one is weird because the story ends with a wish that made everything perfect. Also, the moralising paragraphs were weirdly intertwined with the dialogue/action ones. The transitions were a bit jarring.

Mind you, I liked some of it. Actually, I liked every part that was about Malcolm’s life as a messenger. The envelope that kept getting heavier, his black notebook, his life that isn’t a life but just an existence… I feel like Selfors could have done so much with the mythology she built around him, and instead she had him around for what seemed like only half the book and spent the rest on a coffeehouse rivalry that just seemed ridiculous. The same goes for Irmgaard; she’s such an interesting character, and her story is really great, but she’s handled as an aside. I would have loved it if this story had been told from Malcolm’s perspective; that’d have been great.

Will I read other books from this author?

I probably won’t.

Overall rating: 2/5

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Suzanne Collins – Mockingjay (3/5)

Series: Hunger Games #3


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Genre: YA Dystopian

This is the book for you if you like:

- The first two books in the series

- Well written action

Summary: (from author’s website)

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

Thoughts on covers:

As with the first two books, I’m in love with the German cover. They are so gripping!


I think Mockingjay is the only fitting title for this book, not only referencing the previous books but also Katniss’ role in this story. The German title, Burning anger, seems a bit misplaced to me.


Katniss, who was so great in the first book, is so, so annoying. The first couple of chapters I just wanted to scream at her. I also feel like she’s written inconsistently. Most of the time, she’s just so self-centred; she doesn’t care about other people, not really. And then there are moments like this:

[Gale] strokes my face as the pain ebbs. “You’ve got to stop running straight into trouble.”

“I know. But someone blew up a mountain,” I answer.

That is the Katniss I want to see! But most of the time she’s whining about how everybody is using her, while simultaneously whining that she doesn’t get to actually fight. The whole book people keep telling her that she has this air about her that makes people follow her lead, but I, as a reader, don’t feel it. I wanted her to take control, as she did in the first book – she was so kickass in the first book! – but at no point did she decide that this was her war to fight too.

This book did introduce the one Hunger Games character I actually care about: Boggs. He was awesome, he stood by Katniss every step of the way, no matter how awful she treated him. He’s the best. I also started really liking Finnick; I would have loved to read the story of Finnick and Annie.


The beginning of this story is set at Rebel Headquarters, and it ends at the Capitol.

General story:

Like usual, Collins’ action scenes where the best. I loved the middle of the book, I loved people trying to figure out how to overthrow the Capitol. But when it wasn’t about the main rebel plot, it was about the love triangle, and not at one point did I care – mainly because I was convinced Katniss didn’t love either of them, so her choice would never be about love and would inevitably end up hurting both Peeta and Gale.

I thought the best part of this book was the middle, setting it apart from the first two that were best at its endings. Here, the first part had too much focus on a whining Katniss, and the third part had all this deaths that didn’t make me tear up so much as annoy me. I get that people die, but these felt more unnecessary than war casualties.

I thought the ending seemed rushed a bit. I would’ve preferred to spend more time with these characters in the aftermath of the win of the rebels, instead of getting these meagre plot points. Then again, Collins’ character work has never been stellar, so maybe it isn’t that bad that she didn’t get around to it. What I did like about the ending was that it wasn’t an entirely happy ending; it held some reality.

Will I read other books from this author?

I might, but I won’t go looking for them.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Kelley Armstrong – The Summoning (2/5)

Series: Darkest Powers Trilogy #1


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Genre: YA Fantasy

This is the book for you if you like:

- Characters discovering their gifts for the first time

Summary: (from author’s website)

Chloe Saunders sees dead people. Yes, like in the films. The problem is, in real life saying you see ghosts gets you a one-way ticket to the psych ward. And at 15, all Chloe wants to do is fit in at school and maybe get a boy to notice her. But when a particularly violent ghost haunts her, she gets noticed for all the wrong reasons. Her seemingly crazed behaviour earns her a trip to Lyle House, a centre for disturbed teens.

At first Chloe is determined to keep her head down. But then her room mate disappears after confessing she has a poltergeist, and some of the other patients also seem to be manifesting paranormal behaviour. Could that be a coincidence? Or is Lyle House not quite what it seems…? Chloe realizes that if she doesn’t uncover the truth, she could be destined for a lifetime in a psychiatric hospital. Or could her fate be even worse…? Can she trust her fellow students, and does she dare reveal her dark secret?

Thoughts on covers:

I’m not a big fan of any of the covers. The first suggest the necklace is a central plot point, while it’s just something that’s mentioned in two scenes and the third one is so generic I would never pick it up. I almost like the middle cover, the German one, because I love the colouring, but I feel like the fact on that cover is weird. I don’t know.


The title does a pretty good job of describing the focal point of the story, so it’s an okay title.


Where do I start? I felt like none of these characters had actual personalities, not even Chloe – and the book is written in the first POV. Chloe is just there; this story is happening to her and she’s trying to react to it, but she’s not really doing anything. I still don’t really know what her characteristics are; I would have no idea how to describe her.

The other people at Lyle House are, if possible, even worse; they all seem to have one characteristic – Derek is blunt, Simon is protective, Tori is a bitch, Rae is childishly excited – without any other signs of having a personality.


The story is mostly set at Lyle House, the centre for disturbed teens where Chloe ends up after she starts seeing ghosts. The building is a pretty generic one; a creepy basement, a creepy attic and rooms for the kids in between, boys and girls divided. It’s nothing special.

General story:

One day, Chloe suddenly starts seeing ghosts; she freaks out at school and gets send away. Diagnosis: schizophrenia. It would have been interesting to see how she handles the diagnosis, or the confusion about whether she’s seeing ghosts or hallucinating, but we don’t get to see any of Chloe’s inner turmoil.

Instead, it immediately turns into a story about how Derek knew what Chloe could do and he – not very subtly – urges her to find out about her powers. Again, this could be an interesting story, but suddenly there is this conspiracy about Lyle House and its caretakers. There is little development about Chloe getting used to her powers or what she can do; she’s suddenly swooped up in the story of Simon and Derek, a story that wasn’t that interesting to begin with.

Chloe and Derek develop a plan for Chloe and Simon to escape Lyle House and find Derek and Simon’s father. I wish we had known more about their father and how he could help before they escaped, because now it just felt like a useless exercise – especially with the way this book ended.

There could be this great story here. Unfortunately, instead of focussing on the characters and their feelings, Armstrong focuses on the plot – which is, to be honest, quite predictable and thus loses most of its impact.

Will I read the other instalments in this series? Nope

Overall rating: 2/5