Carmilla and Laura: ARC Review

I was given an ARC copy of Carmilla and Laura in exchange for an honest review.

Carmilla and Laura

“I have been in love with no one. And I shall never be in love with anyone, I think, unless it be with you.”

Her lips touched mine. With the gentleness of butterflies upon petals, we kissed beneath the grove of trees, secluded from the world lost in time.

***

This is an interesting book, it is based on the 19th century gothic novel, Carmilla. The book is wonderful in its breath-taking description and poetic imagery, but I have no idea if what’s in the book is entirely new or just tweaked from the original book. I mean assume a lot of it is new because I don’t think this amount of sweet lesbian romance would be written in the 19th century. Though I also think being inspired by a book written at the time adds to the realism and authenticity of the writing about young women during that time period. I’ve always had a soft spot for classic romances, that pride and prejudice atmosphere of prim and proper intelligent ladies just makes me feel cosy enough to curl up and read as a cat,

The descriptive writing is definitely the book’s best feature. It’s a very easy read, despite the gothic tones it’s mostly a French 19th century romance rather than an actual vampire story. At points it can drag with how much it tries to envelop itself in its historic world but honestly, it’s mostly a lovely read with its great creative writing, it can create an atmosphere for anything from a summer’s day in the way someone dresses to a horrific nightmare in how someone talks.

A minor point is that the introduction and epilogue of the book, (which takes place in modern day) is quite jarring and not well explained. It took me out of the book with how strange it was and I wondered why it was included. The reason its included is because that’s how the original book was set up, yet if it was removed the book may actually be better for it.

While the writing style is an excellent reason to read this book, the plot is not. Again, it makes me wonder how much of the original manuscript was relied on, as the starting point of the plot is contrived to the point of farce which shadows the rest of the book which is quite good.

The main character Laura, an eighteen year old lady, is very passive which becomes dangerously disturbing in parts. She refuses to ask questions of Carmilla even when her childhood friends are being murdered. While this is annoying, there are parts where this passiveness becomes…uncomfortable. Carmilla blatantly wants a sexual relationship with her and Laura just lets her, touch her and kiss her and it makes it seem forceful which I’m pretty sure wasn’t the intention.

Yet despite the main character’s passiveness, the romance does pick up and it is both sweet and heart-breaking, given they cannot be together as Laura’s a woman and Carmilla is you know…a vampire. It becomes very passionate and loving, focusing more on their emotions rather than their actions. But on the other hand, Laura is torn as per the time period about the ‘sin’ she’s committing, it’s really sad.

However, the ending part is both where the story differs the most from the original and is the worse section. The romantic nature of the first two parts which made it a delightful read are gone to be replaced by rushed and heavy exposition. The magical elements are taken to the extreme in a way that reminds me of ‘so bad it is good’ fanfictions. It really puts a downer on what is mostly a decent and lovely book.

 

Carmilla and Laura is now available for purchase.

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The Bittersweet End: Champion by Marie Lu Review

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June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.
But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.
With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.

***

The final instalment of the Legend trilogy is by far the best in the series. The story of the first two books has been shed off and allows this final novel to spread its wings and just be the action book it was meant to be. The world of Legend is once again expanding further by the chapter, giving us a world we’ve never seen before. This series has always been able to surprise me, I keep expecting that I know where it’s going but I have been shocked at every corner, especially by how it kept breaking my heart, (but in a good way, I swear)!

It was so fast paced, even more so than the previous one. It was unrelenting and unstoppable as it just goes at full speed and never lets up on the tension. I couldn’t put it down for more than ten seconds without rushing back to it to read another chapter.

I love returning to these characters, even if it is for the last time, it practically feels like I am living their lives beside them as I read, we learn as they do, debate every argument they have with them. There is no more good versus evil, its people in a shit situation arguing, and that is not as appalling as it sounds, it’s really hard to know which path is the right one to take and I don’t know any better than them.

 

Communication is STILL KEY!

At the start of this book, it’s eight months later, but Day is still a big mess after the last book, enjoying (as best he can) a normal teen life and being obsessed with June. It’s cute and though I was very worried that he and June wouldn’t talk about his diagnosis for AGES. However, it quickly is resolved, and the story begins pretty soon after.

 

“Hey—with your metal leg and half a brain, and my four leftover senses, we almost make a whole person.”

~My broken messes, how are you going to survive this

 

On the Edge of My Seat

At first the tension didn’t really grab me, but what hit me was how dark it quickly became. There were new obstacles to tackle all of them incredibly murky and grey in quality. Especially for Day and the inevitable, which isn’t often tackled in YA fiction and I really think it adds to Day’s character. All sides are making valid arguments to explain complex matters of the class system and mortality and feels more down to Earth than ever. There can been no true happy ending, the USA cannot be reunited, and I love that because no clear ending can be predicted. It’s a mystery to everyone.

As the story progressed however it quickly ramps up the pressure. The fight scenes are especially tense given Day is no longer on form and is slowly losing his mind. Throughout the book it feels like they are constantly on defence and unable to win any fight. It makes it really hard to read as I’m afraid that someone is going to die on the next page. Though, despite that, Day’s ability to avoid bullets for the majority of this book is still ridiculous.

 

The Villains

I love the Chancellor, he’s an amazing villain because he can take EVERYTHING and more from Day. But June’s villain (Commander Jameson) is less threatening. She’s fine except for the fact she tries to say she and June are the same. It’s a cliché I don’t care for because…well June is nothing like Commander Jameson and she’s a clever otter, she should see right through it. Come on June, you’re better than this! But other than that, I loved the opposition, I’m glad Thomas’ arc got resolved as well. I love the Colonies for threatening Day because he isn’t a superhero in this book, he’s dying and if I were him, I’d side with them because there’s nothing the Republic can give him, but he stays loyal and I love him for that stubborn determination.

 

“I’ve been searching a long time for something I think I lost. I felt like I found something when I saw you back there.”

~Ah my heart!!

My favourite couple and how they destroyed my poor heart

I love these two, by God I love June and Day, they are adorable. The eight-month gap between books really helps cements the awkwardness between them, even if I don’t want it to be there. And so, when June and Anden started to gain feelings for each other, I was heartbroken, but I understood it. They’re in this horrible situation and both want something to make them feel human and protected, it’s cute. But of course the soulmates get back together eventually.

But then the ending happened and…I don’t want to spoil anything but it’s unnecessarily sad. It’s very bittersweet and I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, but it just wasn’t needed. I’ve been inconsolable for days!

Learning To Trust A Series Again: Prodigy by Marie Lu Review

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Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic’s most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots – a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them, or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?

***

PREVIOUS BETRAYAL OF LEGEND

If you have read my review of Legend, the first book in this series you’ll know I had…less than stellar things to say about it. To say I’d rather roast my left leg while its still attached to my hip than read Legend is an understatement. So, as expected I went into this book wanting to hate it.

But, despite my wariness, it disappeared almost immediately and I fell in love with it.

The plot kicked in straight from the get-go and we finally leave the grey buildings and dark alleys of the first book behind and step into the wider and more colourful world of the Republic and the Colonies. The plot actually surprised me, with dramatic twists and violent turns, which is shocking coming out of Legend, the driest and simplest YA plot template that anyone could follow.

It’s a lot cleverer than I could give it credit. For a 2013 book its message about government-controlled news and media is strange to look at through the eyes of modern day with all the ‘fake news’ that surrounds politics. It would even seem almost preachy if published today.

However, it’s not without its issues: there is no real distinction between Day’s and June’s voices in the chapters, so it’s easy to be confused, especially when they are together. Also, it does not hold your hand in terms of returning characters from Legend, half of which I still, even after reading Prodigy, have no clue who they are.

But damn was it good! It had me on the edge of my seat, face pressed against the page, I was so invested. I can’t wait to read the next one!

“(A)ll it takes is one generation to brainwash a population and convince them that reality doesn’t exist.”

~FAKE NEWS, ABSOLUTELY FAKE NEWS

 

LOVE THE MAIN TWO, THE REST NOT SO MUCH

I came to love our two protagonists so much. I love how head over heels they are for each other, it’s adorable despite the half-assed love triangle we’ll get to later. I hated them in the first book because they just fell in love for no reason and while that still is the case, the gap between the books made it seem less jarring.

I genuinely felt for them when they were in danger, (my heart was ripped out of my ribcage at one point, it was so intense)! But I didn’t feel any attachment to any other character, I don’t care about Day’s little brother nor about Tess.

“We’re in this together, right?” he whispers. “You and me? You want to be here, yeah?” There’s guilt in his questions. “Yes,” I reply. “I chose this.” Day pulls me close enough for our noses to touch. “I love you.”

~You two are so CUTE

 

THE TENSION AND UNPREDICTCALITY

The black and white characters of the first book become greyed in this one. There is a lot more complexity to the majority of them that it makes them feel like real people. And it is not a lie to say I couldn’t see where the book was going.

My initial thought for the first half of the book was that the two main characters would be unable to communicate (even if it was contrived reasoning) and once again find themselves fighting against each other despite apparently being in love. However, I’m glad to say this didn’t happen. While yes, the first half of the book Day and June find their ideals at odds, it feels warranted and I completely understand each characters reasonings.

It was at the point the book took its turn from the predictable, I realised I was enthralled by it. It was no cookie cutter plot that I could guess the outcome of. I had no idea where it was going. And my dream came true: they finally had a sit down and talked about everything. There was actual communication people! Too many books rely on characters just not talking and instead of that, they’ve actual that a discuss, taken the hard route with everyone as the enemy and that is a more interesting story than anything else.

 

DAMN LOVE TRIANGLE

But unfortunately, the book cannot run away from the bloody love triangle. I’m glad there is no ‘will they-won’t they’ plot line, as it’s in too many YA books. But it’s like Day and June are the most beautiful and ethereal people in the whole world. Why does everyone keep falling for them?

And Tess…why?? Seriously I hate love conflicts, because Tess would be making some good points about June if she didn’t appear to be madly in love with Day. Just STOP IT!! Tess is a good character and is just treated as a half-hearted love interest, its disappointing because there was no indication of this in the first book.

 

THE ENDING: SO CLOSE YET SO FAR

Overall, I loved this book…

…And then the ending happened…

Just why? The ending has a sad twist anyway, but they COULDN’T COMMUNICATE. LAST FIVE MINUTES AND THEY COULDN’T TALK. Honestly it was such a let-down and I WON’T STAND FOR IT. I’ll still read the next one because I love these characters and want to see where they go, but just at the last hurdle it had to annoy me.

 

“He is beauty, inside and out.
He is the silver lining in a world of darkness.
He is my light.”

~You deserve better after that, June

The Last Day: Review

The Last Day

‘The Last Day’ is an anthology series, relying on a nightmarish version of our own world with characters who are immoral greed-filled people to tell stories about a reflection of something we can see in all ourselves. I felt that the stories told were gripping and thought-provoking, yet I felt that the endings fell short. I believed should have packed the final punch and delivered the important final line for me to think on.

However, it never came, all the stories merely ended: no twist, no clever last words to explain it all to me and to understand the nightmare that I had just read.

They merely ended.

And by the final story I found that I liked this approached. I like to think that the stories only gave me the tools and philosophy it is trying to show, and it is up to me to decide what it all means. It’s poetry disguised as prose.

The Last Day is a thoroughly enjoyable book, looking into the true nature of human beings and our selfish, horrifying and surprisingly polite hearts and minds. A great book to read and to think on.

My Greatest Shame (Review)

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Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the colour of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.
The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.
Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.
But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat

 

***

Alright I confess, I did not finish this book and I hate myself for it. The completion part of me loathes the fact I didn’t just grin and bear it but no, I’m not doing that to myself. I refuse to read a book that makes me roll my eyes this much.

I always feel like I am to blame for disliking a book. Am I not reading it properly? Am I too old? Do I not like the genre?

No, I have come to the belief that it is because I’ve suffered through this exact same plot a hundred times and I don’t want to torture myself again.

But I still thought I might be wrong to hate reading this book so much and so I turned to the internet and now can safely say I’ve read more reviews about this book than pages of the book. And I’m glad to say I’m not swimming alone.

 

God-Complex

Both the main character and the author seemed to have this idea stuck in their heads that they are bigger than they are.

Now that’s nothing against Victoria Aveyard, I do like the majority of her writing style. Aveyard has a twisted way with words that teeters on the edge of being over the top but mostly comes back to sensibility. But I feel like she’s trying too hard to make memorable lines and dramatic proses. It just leads to repetitive lines and ideas to the point of cringing. The writing definitely becomes eyerollingly bad at the end of most chapters. It’s of course about leaving a hook that brings the reader back for more, but that does not mean it needs to sound like Dun-dun-duun should be playing over it.

And Mare…I have SO many issues that I will cover at a later. But mainly she is so overpowered in this compared to the last book, it’s just annoying and lacks tension. At least in Red Queen we saw her train and gain some control over her power. Now she just can do EVERYTHING. And yet…

 

“I am a weapon made of flesh, a sword covered in skin. I was born to kill a king, to end a reign of terror before it can truly begin.”

~Okay calm there Kanye West

Where is the plot??

The reason I gave up on Glass Sword was because I found the characters essentially floating. Not going anywhere with the plot. Oh, they talk constantly about starting their quest i.e. the plot but it takes forever to get there.

I made it to Chapter eleven, annoyingly I’m pretty sure this is where the plot gets started but I honestly couldn’t continue with Mare and Cal and their inability to stop thinking with their dicks and NOT FOCUS ON THE PLOT.

 

God-Complex: Counter Point

In the last book I saw Mare as weak and passive. Now I just think she’s a bit simple. Despite being constantly (to the point of laughable behaviour) betrayed, she continues to be surprised, unable to change her own ways nor work out who’s actually trustworthy. Which would add tension if she wasn’t a God, and in the end, it just becomes exhausting.

Cal is a much more interesting character than Mare who he is a fool for following everywhere, given how badly she treats him. The pair of them need to have a respite conversation to talk out what’s happening between them, because I am sick of this ‘will they won’t they’ plot thread. Honestly just kiss because there is a war going on people!

“Anyone, anything, can betray anyone. Even your own heart.”

~WE KNOW! You won’t stop going on about it!

 

And everyone else I hate

I find the rest of the characters just as annoying. I think I’m just not invested in anything they do, they’re either too dumb or too serious like they are trying to audition for Batman.

I couldn’t get attached to any of them and I think that is down to the characters’ actions seemingly only there to serve the plot without any regards to their actual character traits or motivation.

 

Conclusion

Surprised to say I didn’t like this book. I found it predictable and its characters annoying. And hey maybe it does get better by the end, but I do not care. If it failed to grab me in eleven chapters, it’s not for me.

The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump by Rob Sears: Review

36167187Synopsis: What if there’s another side to Donald Trump? A sensitive, poetic side? Driven by this question, Rob Sears began combing The Donald’s words for signs of poetry.

What he found was a revelation. By simply taking the President Elect’s tweets and transcripts, cutting them up and reordering them, he unearthed a trove of beautiful verse that was just waiting to be discovered.

This collection will give readers a glimpse of the Trump’s innermost thoughts and feelings, on everything from the nature of truth to what annoys him about Halle Berry ? and will reveal a hitherto hidden Donald, who may surprise both students and critics alike.

 

Review: This book if fucking dumb and that’s why you should buy it. It’s absolutely hilarious because this is the president of the USA and then becomes scary because this is the president of the USA.

It’s short and sweet, give it a read.

I’m so Sorry Winner’s Curse. Please forgive me!

Synopsis: War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the Empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

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Review: Okay it’s official, I love this book, I love trilogy and I confess it to the world! Let me start off by saying, I have had my doubts about this series since the first book and I had those same doubts going into this one. Doubts of cliqued arcs and relationships. Every plotline I rolled my eyes at. Every mention of love disgusted me. But I found it harder to do with this book, until finally told myself to stop trying to find bad things in great writing, because this is a great book. And I owe the Winner’s Curse trilogy and Marie Rutkoski an apology because the last two books have been good too.

(This is the bit where I apologise):

If you’ve seen my last two review of this series you may get the hint that I don’t like it. But no more, my thoughts on this series has been quite biased and slanted and truly after reading this, I realised how much I bloody loved the last two despite what I’ve said.

(Okay back to the review)!

My favourite thing about this book is that I didn’t know where it was going, the plot lines and steps the book take, feel very organic. The same can be said for the characters, they develop and grow very realistically and it made me genuinely sit on the edge of my seat for most of the final act. I cried and jumped for joy over these characters, their journey has mention SO much to me.

However, to mar a great book, the final few chapters of the resolution really were lacklustre. I felt that a lot of loose ends were not tied up, perhaps because they couldn’t be, perhaps they were too huge for the author to deal with. But either way, it left me feeling pretty empty after what was such a good final book.

Despite this, I implore you to read this. I’ve been on such an adventure with this series that I’d invite anyone to go on it too.

Love this book, love this trilogy.

comment-belowHave you read this series? Did you like it? Comment below!!

Unity Game by Leonora Meriel: Review

Thank you to Author Assistant for the free book for an honest review.

Synopsis:

A New YorThe Unity Game_Coverk banker is descending into madness.

A being from an advanced civilization is racing to stay alive.

A dead man must unlock the secrets of an unknown dimension to save his loved ones.

From the visions of Socrates in ancient Athens, to the birth of free will aboard a spaceship headed to Earth, The Unity Game tells a story of hope and redemption in a universe more ingenious and surprising than you ever thought possible.

Metaphysical thriller and interstellar mystery, this is a ‘complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel’ from an exciting and original new voice in fiction

 

Review:

This book’s annoying to talk about. Because I can definitely can see the effort put into the research and philosophy because it’s definitely trying to be clever… but it makes no goddamn sense.

One part of me wants to think I’m just not getting it, another part knows it just makes no damn sense. It’s trying way to hard to be clever and by doing so it leaves no way to empathise with its characters or understand its plot.

Do you know what I’ve learnt from this book: referring to characters by ‘it’ really makes them unsympathetic. One of the three characters is referred as such and I felt nothing for them, especially since the language is so twisted, like the author looked in a thesaurus for each word, that you can’t understand what’s going on.

It’s got beautiful imagery that again, makes no sense, but it’s imaginative…that’s really all it has. And the ending, I wouldn’t say it predictable but because of how clever the book’s attempting to be, the ending’s not surprising.

I don’t know, maybe I’m too dumb for this book, but I don’t think that can be an excuse for anything.

Plus I’m a genius.

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Have you read Unity Game? What do you think? Comment below!

 

Shtetl Love Song Review

Thanks to Noir Press for giving me a free copy of Shtetl Love Song for a honest review.

Snyponsis:

Grigory Kanovich’s autobiographical novel ‘Shtetl Love Song’ is based on real events from the life of the author’s family and the small town characters that peopled the world of his early years. It has been described as being a requiem for the pre-war Lithuanian Jewish shtetl.

In ‘Shtetl Love Song’ Grigory Kanovich writes about his mother, and in doing so peels back the surface of the rich community that lived in pre-war Lithuania. It is a requiem for the pre-war Jewish shtetl, for a people and a way of life that was destroyed.
Shtetl Love Song won the Liudo Dovydeno Prize awarded by the Lithuanian Writers’ Union.

 

Review: Shtetl Love Song is a not the kind of book I usually read. I usually stick to YA fantasy mostly, but when Noir Press asked me to read it, I was like ‘Sure…why not?’ And I don’t regret that decision. 

For starters this book has a heavy emotional weight to it, as the author states: this is his final book and the book he’s been meaning to write his entire life. The story follows his young mother’s life and though the author is in the story, it is mainly focussed on his parents and their struggles.  

It’s a biography which isn’t really the type of the book I’m used to. Lives don’t normally have action packed scenes and three-act structure. It makes it a much slower and easy-going read. Which given what I’m used to, I wasn’t expecting to work. 

However, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s very engrossing read. There are definitely bits where it lulls and it’s clear that the author is trying to be as close to the truth of life as possible, but in book form it makes for a couple of dull chapters. But the rest of it was a pretty good evening read and I enjoyed reading about such a fascinating time and place, especially when you know these people and lives were real. It adds a lot to the reading experience.  

Conclusion: This was a beautiful read, with an amass of well-rounded driven characters and easy plot that I think you should check out. 

 

Buy the book!

http://www.noirpress.co.uk/buy/shtetl-romance-grigory-kanovich

‘Shtetl Love Song’ by Grigory Kanovich
Noir Press
ISBN: 978-0995560024

Numen the Slayer (Review)

SynopsisNumen: Numen Magnus is heir to the castle of Magnus Keep, but has everything taken from him by a barbaric king. With his home destroyed and family murdered, Numen must fight to survive in the uncharted wilderness of Umbran. Along his journey, Numen discovers something significant about his heritage and seeks to turn his enemies to ash. Numen the Slayer is a fantasy underdog story where one young man can decide the fate of a kingdom. The Gold Phoenix rises!

Review: Numen the dragon slayer is the fantasy novel written by Grady P. Brown. The author clearly loves the world he has created as well the history of the characters’ that inhabit it and truly does wish for others to feel the same way. However this is the book’s own downfall. By trying to squeeze so many characters and so much lore in to the book, it does mean there isn’t a lot of time devoted to developing the emotions of the main characters. Despite this it isn’t a confusing book, the characters and their environments are so separate from one another that it’s easy to follow. The book does feel like it has it’s own world, it’s extensive, everything planned out from the environment to the economic income of each kingdom and the author does devote a lot of time to these kingdom developing them throughout the book. It’s a book for people who love worldbuilding over character development, which I’m certainly partial to.

Conclusion: I did enjoy this book, it is an easy read to get through and something nice to wind down with.

What do you think? Would you read it? Have you read it? Comment below!

Thanks to Grady P Brown for giving me a free copy for a honest review.