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Review of Shadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw

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0425184056.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgTen years ago Kate Winters’ parents were taken by the High Council’s wardens to help with the country’s war effort. Now the wardens are back…and prisoners, including Kate’s uncle Artemis, are taken south on the terrifying Night Train. Kate and her friend Edgar are hunted by a far more dangerous enemy. Silas Dane – the High Council’s most feared man – recognises Kate as one of the Skilled; a rare group of people able to see through the veil between the living and the dead. His spirit was damaged by the High Council’s experiments into the veil, and he’s convinced that Kate can undo the damage and allow him to find peace. The knowledge Kate needs lies within Wintercraft – a book thought to be hidden deep beneath the graveyard city of Fume. But the Night of Souls, when the veil between life and death is at its thinnest, is just days away and the High Council have their own sinister plans for Kate and Wintercraft. (from Goodreads)

The story was pretty interesting and had a neat concept with the “Skilled”. I also liked the setting with the Graveyard city. So this is what rather kept me going for a bit while reading. The magic system itself was interesting and somewhat different from what I’ve read in the past. That kept the flow of reading along. Somewhat. The world building was alright although I wanted more detail and more explanation. What type of world was this? Yes it’s got magic in it but am I looking at fantasy with a Graveyard city? Is it a steampunk setting? What am I looking at here?

Now let’s move onto the characters.

Out of all of them, Silas even though he was pretty much your typical villain, was actually the most interesting. Even though he was the most interesting though, he wasn’t really that likable (understandably so, he’s a villain BUT I  always root for the bad guy). He wasn’t really part of the “cool bad guy” crowd I suppose for lack of a better explanation.

Edgar, who is Kate’s friend, meh. Not sure if I really liked him. He was a wuss. Sure, he had some few good moments. Otherwise though he just wasn’t that great at all. Kate was okay. She was a typical strong girl character you see in most YA novels like these.

In summary though, I’d have to say these characters in the book are ho hum. There’s not much feeling to them, they’re not likable, and they’re just…blah. Because of this and the lack of world building I just didn’t feel that much into the book and didn’t grab my attention. Sure, there were good points in the book but it just wasn’t quite enough to get me into the book like some others have. I’m not sure I’m going to go further into the series. I’d say take it or leave it with this one. I’ve seen other reviews where some have really enjoyed the book. Unfortunately much as I wanted to, I didn’t so much.
I give it a 7 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

March 13, 2017 at 7:24 am

Review of A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger

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London, 1385. Surrounded by ruthless courtiers—including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt’s flamboyant mistress, Katherine Swynford—England’s young, still untested king, Richard II, is in mortal peril, and the danger is only beginning. Songs are heard across London—catchy verses said to originate from an ancient book that prophesies the end of England’s kings—and among the book’s predictions is Richard’s assassination. Only a few powerful men know that the cryptic lines derive from a “burnable book,” a seditious work that threatens the stability of the realm. To find the manuscript, wily bureaucrat Geoffrey Chaucer turns to fellow poet John Gower, a professional trader in information with connections high and low. Gower discovers that the book and incriminating evidence about its author have fallen into the unwitting hands of innocents, who will be drawn into a labyrinthine conspiracy that reaches from the king’s court to London’s slums and stews–and potentially implicates his own son. As the intrigue deepens, it becomes clear that Gower, a man with secrets of his own, may be the last hope to save a king from a terrible fate. (From Goodreads)

 

Definitely not a book to be read in a quick setting. Are you into literary figures? Historical fiction? Historical mystery filled with spies and intrigue? Something that takes place in the Middle Ages? All of the above in one book? Sure! Let’s take it!

I’d have to say, there can be no better description of the Middle Ages than in this book. Everything was so visual and well written. The setting itself has good amounts of description, the characters definitely helped as well. They even had the mannerisms and speech of the time.

Speaking of characters.

Oh Chaucer. No. Just no. I don’t like you. He’s not exactly painted in the most best of light here is he? Manipulative, wife stealer, even with his supposed close friend he’s not upfront and honest with. You definitely have sympathy with Gower here. Even though he has a questionable job and past with his son Simon, he’s still a much more likable character than Chaucer in my opinion. Other characters that I liked; Edgar/Eleanor – the story arc with Millicent and Agnes was a good one. I enjoyed their side of the story with the ‘dregs’ of society. Another character I liked, Hawkwood. Yes he’s an odious villain that oozed all the horrible things you didn’t like. But he was such an awesome villain! Cold, calculating, and not one to trifle with when you get on his bad side and think you can get away with (that poor sod – those who read the book should know what I’m talking about)

The plot itself was pretty good. Lots of plot twists and turns. You’re left peeling layer after layer of intrigue and mystery while you get to the bottom of it. Once you had it figured out there’s still more left to figure out. I enjoyed it! There’s something about all the layers of intrigue that makes it a more compelling read.

However, a couple of things that made this read a not so easy one. The amount of characters. Quite a few to keep track of. So this isn’t the type of book that you can drop and come back to after a while (I mistakenly did that unfortunately, as life got in the way). You need to take you time, get to know the characters, the plot and how everything comes together. It sometimes can get a little confusing so some extra attention is needed while reading this book. Also, have a dictionary beside you. I suppose to keep with the medieval thing, there’s some medieval terminology that you’ll need to familiarize yourself with. It adds more to the book but I could have done without it. To be on the bright side, my vocabulary has increased with various middle age words.

Overall, take the time to read the book and enjoy. The spinning and weaving of the web and trying to find the center spot is fun and always is a treat to read when figuring out a historical mystery. Greatly recommended for Hist-fic fans.

I give it a 6 out of 10.

Thank you William Morrow for providing me a review copy!

 

Written by Karoline

March 8, 2017 at 7:42 am

Review of Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on. Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived. But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for. (From Goodreads)

 

I am at a loss of words with this book. Where do I start? That it’s a fantastic somewhat retelling of Cinderella with a futuristic twist that includes cyborgs, other planetary beings, and a couple that you want together so freaking bad you can feel the sparks fly but when they’re so close they take two steps back and you fall back in your seat in complete frustration…yeah it’s that kind of book.

 

It didn’t take me too long to finish this one. It’s very engaging, loved the setting and Cinder as a character. She’s no Mary Sue, nor a damsel in distress. She’s just someone who was dedicated to taking care Peony and doing her job. We definitely love main characters like these!

 

The writing in the book was excellent, the characters are extremely well done enough that their personalities bring out the feelings from the reader. (My God, I hated Adri and Pearl so much I almost was spitting venom whenever they appeared in the novel). I loved Cinder and Kai. The chemistry is there, both of them are extremely likable, and you just KNOW they’re meant to be.

 

The plot is also well written. A plague is introduced in this novel, with otherworldly beings from the Moon also part of the story line with a ruler that makes all other dictators hang their heads in shame. The plot thickens with your usual villainous Evil Queen but I’m sure she’s got more up her sleeve as the series progresses.

 

YA lovers will absolutely love this book. It’s such a great read, it won’t take long to finish. Great start to the series, can’t wait to read more of this!

I give it a 9 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

February 14, 2017 at 8:13 am

Review of Marlene: A Novel by C W Gortner

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First, apologies for not having a good summary of this book available at the moment. Most that I’ve encountered all have what’s written in the back of the novel and it’s extremely **long** and would take up more than half of my post. (lol). So that being said, in a nutshell, this book covers several aspects of Marlene Dietrich’s life. From her childhood days in Post WWI Germany, to the decadence of Weimar Berlin, to her illustrious career in Hollywood, and her efforts to help the Allied War effort in WWII.

 

The first moment I got this book in the mail (Thank you, William Morrow Paperbacks!) I got excited and at the same time had to settle down (I was sick with an awful flu that knocked me down and got the entire household sick). It could not have come at a better time. I say that not only in the sense that I needed a book to get me out of a reading rut and also to distract me from this flu, but considering what’s going on in the world now, it’s perfect timing.

 

I loved this book. Everything about it was all that I had imagined Marlene Dietrich would be. The book captured who she was; strong willed, free spirited, glamourous yet determined to make her name out there known in the world. What I loved best was how her attitude during this particular time period. She participated in just about every deadly sin listed but did it with grace and poise. I loved how this book captured that essence and that was what made her shine even through the War. I absolutely loved her bravery and willingness to stand up against the Nazis even though she loved her country dearly and it tore her apart to see it ruined by the end of WWII.

 

The writing in the book is well done. It was enough to engage the reader and to keep the pages turning. Now, I do notice in some other reviews I’ve read, some readers didn’t like the fact that the book stops at a certain time period (after WWII). Fair enough, perhaps they wanted more out of Marlene. I was satisfied with it, because if you really think about it, the absolute highlight and prime moments of her life was during this time period. This book was meant to capture those particular occasions. So try not to feel jilted or robbed! It’s still a great read and it goes by rather quick!

 

I’d have to say one of my absolute favorite parts in the book was her experiences in Weimar Berlin. It was beautifully written and you could just feel the cigarette smoke, the music, and you can almost picture the decadence that permeated throughout the cabarets. It was perfect!.
Another part that I loved, and that I had waited throughout the book to read and was getting worried that it wasn’t going to be mentioned, was Lili Marleen. Such an iconic song it had to be in the book! And it was. It tugged at my heart and I welled up with emotion reading it:

marlene

Beautifully written and an excellent novel I greatly recommend this book to historical fiction lovers or lovers of Marlene Dietrich. Her actions during the WWII is crucial and something to emulate. Especially for what we are going through right now in the world.


I give it a 10 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

February 6, 2017 at 7:27 am

Review of Ashes by Ilsa J Bick

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It could happen tomorrow . . .

An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions. Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP. For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human. (From Goodreads)

 

At the end of this book I was yelling out: OH MY..EFFEN GEE WHY DID IT END THIS WAY WHY WHY WHY? Because it was EXCELLENT! AND I STILL CAN’T GET OVER IT.

Finally, I thought to myself, as I closed this book, a post apocalyptic plot that’s more realistic with no sugar coating and it’s all about survival. I felt myself turning the pages and staying up late to finish just one more chapter. It was so engaging and the plot itself was so well written it kept the reader near the edge of their seat.

For almost every chapter, there was always something new Alex would encounter and she would have to find a way out to survive or overcome. She’d have to be one of the most strongest and resilient characters I have ever read without acting like a lovesick naive twit like you do in some post apocalyptic YA’s out there. There was only one moment where Alex seemed to have forgotten about both of her companions from her journey but, I suppose she was sidetracked for good reason. I especially enjoyed the particular moment where Alex develops her skill to “smell”.

So what am I going to do? I think it’s about time to pay my library fines and take the second book out of the library (I’ve been slacking off about that) because I need to know what happens next!!! I most definitely recommend this book it’s an awesome read!!!

I give it a 10 out of 10

Written by Karoline

January 23, 2017 at 7:49 am

Gunpowder Green by Laura Childs

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Tea shop owner Theodosia Browning knows that something’s brewing in the high society of Charleston—something other than her newest tea… The Indigo Tea Shop, Charleston’s favorite spot of tea, has just come out with its latest flavor: Gunpowder Green. Theodosia Browning cannot wait to hear its praises as it is unveiled at the annual yacht race. But when she hears the crack of an antique gun meant to end the race, a member of Charleston’s elite falls dead. Theodosia has a hunch that his demise was no accident—and will go out of her way to prove it. But if she doesn’t act fast, Theo will find herself in hot water with some boiling-mad Charlestonians—and more than a little gun-chai… (From Goodreads)

So this is book two of the Tea Shop Mystery series (Cozy Mysteries). I’m liking this! It’s quaint, it’s light with the same characters you’ve got to know and become attached to in the first one. What the reader will love besides a nice lighthearted mystery, is the nice descriptive setting of Charleston. Also, if you’re a tea lover, you’ll enjoy the various descriptions of teas.  One particular part that stood out for me was the “mystery tea” event. This scene stood out because the atmosphere and feeling was extremely well done and written. It was like the reader was part of the setting and taking a part in the event.

The one thing I do have to mention regarding this book, although the characters are extremely likable, and they’re well rounded out, the plot itself was a bit predictable and one could be able to guess who the culprit was. I hope this doesn’t happen in the next one as I’ll definitely continue reading this series.

Perfect choice for tea and mystery cozy lovers alike. It’s a great continuation after the first novel and I hope the others following will be just as good.
I give it a 7 out of 10

Written by Karoline

July 25, 2016 at 11:12 am

Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist

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0312604521.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_Something very peculiar is happening in Stockholm. There’s a heatwave on and people cannot turn their lights out or switch their appliances off. Then the terrible news breaks. In the city morgue, the dead are waking up… (From Goodreads.com)

Before you actually dive into this book expecting mad rabid zombies trying to get into your house, while the characters try to survive and scrounge whatever resources they can to make it out into a world turned upside down, you’re not going to find it here. Yes it was disappointing. Is it worth a try? Maybe…maybe not.

In this case, besides the fact that the dead have risen. They’re shells of their former self. Not rabid things we’re so used to seeing. They feed and react to the living’s feelings. (For example if you react with disgust, or hatred, they’ll lash out). Seems interesting. Certainly a different approach. Zombie purists out there probably wouldn’t give this book a second glance. I like trying out different things (just like food!) as there are times when you do come across a gem. Do I consider this one a gem? Not really.

Although it deals with several issues; such as the loss and acceptance of a loved one, or how far would someone go to protect the love one had for someone who was deceased. So in a sense, it’s a book that does make you think (well that mixed with zombies? Sacrilege!) so if you want something for the action fast paced plot, you’re not going to find it here. You want something to slowly digest (har!), read on character development and thinking, and for something to think about then maybe, just maybe this is for you.

My view on this book, take it or leave it. I found it all right. Not the best read, certainly but worth a try just to have a book that actually makes you think about what would really happen in scenarios such as this. Would you sacrifice everything? Or curl up and cry on the floor as the world burns? It’s worth to mull over. Those that want something with raging undead at your doorstep, skip this and go to the next one.

I give it a 7 out of 10

Written by Karoline

June 27, 2016 at 7:29 am

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