Sunday, June 26, 2016

Dance until Dawn (Immortals of London #1) by Berni Stevens

Title: Dance until Dawn (Immortals of London #1)
Author: Berni Stevens
Pages: 356 (print)
e-book: 2.4  
paperback: 7.99£
Where you can buy it:
Plot summary: At twenty-five, West-End dancer Ellie Wakefield should be having the time of her life. The only problem is, ever since waking up in a leaky cellar belonging to three-hundred-year-old vampire Will Austen, she's been very much dead. And to make matters worse, she's since found that an aversion to blood and a fear of the dark aren't very helpful—especially when you're a fledgling vamp.
William James Austen has fallen hard. He's spent the last year loving Ellie from afar, and now he's finally able to be truthful about who and what he is. As the most powerful and revered vampire in London, he's used  to getting what he wants.But this time, Will might just have bitten off more than he can chew.

Fact: I haven't been reading vampire novels or romances for about 6 years.
Another fact: This book might just have reminded me why I used to love such novels so much.

All right, let's start writing some sort of proper review.
Will and Ellie were fantastic!

Okay. This isn't a proper review. Wait.
Let's start over...

 Do you Believe in Love After Life?

"Dance until dawn' starts off with Elinor (Ellie), a dancer, turned into a vampire by the  vampire elder of London, Will, who has been besotted with her quite a while and refuses to let her die. So he turns her.

" I’d have given a kidney to live there. Of course I realised undead kidneys might not be too useful, when all is said and done, so there was another money-making option out of the window."

Ellie finds herself suddenly undead, thrust into a world she doesn't understand, full of intrigues and games of power. I found Berni's writing style clear, fresh, well detailed but at the same time very easy-to-read.
The characters were well characterized and everyone had her/his specific voice.
As you might have already understood, I liked Ellie and Will very much.They were good on their own but together they were even better.And oh, boy...the sass, the sass! More often than not I was laughing my arse off.

‘I understand that this is rather a lot to take in,’ he said. ‘But I would appreciate it if you would stop referring to me as either psychotic or perverted.’ ‘Well I’d appreciate not being kidnapped and shut in this filthy hole.’ ‘Touché.’
One thing I particularly liked was how each chapter included both Ellie's and Will's PoV. I really need to praise the author on how she skillfully managed to actually make the reader feel the difference of centuries between Ellie & Will, a woman of the 21st century and a man born in the 18th.
Talking about Will, I really loved how he respected Ellie and her choices in everything he did. I also appreciated how he wasn't perfect and how as powerful as he is, in the end, he still needs Ellie and her help.
Overall, I loved how Ellie's and Will's relationship was based on reciprocity and mutual respect and how Ellie doesn't immediately throw herself at Will (because he's oh-so-sexy). I always love it when a writer takes time to build a relationship*thumbs up*

"She is the only creature on this earth who is vindictive enough to instigate revenge two centuries on.’ ‘She needs to get a life.’ I muttered. ‘Or another death.’"

I greatly appreciated how Berni Stevens didn't present the transformation into a vampire as easy-peasy. The fact that Ellie's actually struggles with her new situation, with the feeding etc. made the novel feel very "realistic".
"Dance until Dawn" reminded me of some of the best classic vampire; the sass just made everything better. In fact this book was lush, decadent but also ironic and funny...a perfect mix.


 3.70 blossoms

A little note (because I'm quite picky): There were some mistakes concerning the use of the Italian language in the book. Khiara, to be an Italian name, should have been spelled Chiara. "Cara" should have been "caro" because it was directed to Will and he's a male..."cara" is used when addressing females. And so on. BUT Italian is a difficult language and the grammar mistakes didn't prevent me from enjoying the book.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Book Haul - June 2016

I thought I'd share my love for books and bookcovers right here and show you some of the books I recently received in my always full mail box. I'm supposed to be on a book-shopping ban from now until September *sighs* let's see if I can manage...

*Drum rolls*

- Mind of the Phoenix & Pawn of the Phoenix by Jamie McLachlan.
I loved the first one (Mind of the Phoenix) so much that I had to buy the printed copy and couldn't do with just the e-book. Hopefully the second installment of the "Memory collectors" trilogy is going to be as awesome as the first.

- The Star-touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi . I totally love oriental-inspired worlds. Plus, look at the cover...I just couldn't resist.
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Okay, I'm going to admit it: I bought the hardback of this book because of the terrific black-dyed pages. Of course, I also heard great things about this first book of the duology.
- The Grisha Trilogy (Shadow & Bone, Siege & Storm, Ruin & Rising) by Leigh Bardugo. I was kinda on a shopping spree...
- The Golem & The Djinni by Helene Wecker This is supposed to be some sort of historical fantasy. From the plot it sounds very peculiar.

And last but not least....

- Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. My best friend advised me to buy this book---I hope she was right and I'm gonna to like it as much as she thinks I will.
- The Curse Workers Trilogy (White Cat, Red Glove & Black Heart) by Holly Black. This series has been tempting me quite a while and I've now finally gave up.
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Forestium (Portallas #1) by Christoper D.Morgan

Title: Forestium (Portallas #1)

Author: Christoper D.Morgan

Pages: 211 (kindle edition)

Formats:  e-book: 2.22£ paperback: 8.02£
hardback: 19.54£
Where you can buy it:

Plot summary: Joshua’s life is on the line, as he attempts to navigate through the magical world of Forestium to find the truth about his father. He and his companions will need to use all their cunning to stay alive and avoid the dark forces of the Goat. Will he find the magical orbs and open the Portallas, a magical gateway to other worlds, before he’s killed?
Joshua sets out to learn the truth about his father. Along the way, he finds friends, enemies, adventure, romance and himself.

The book follows the adventures of Joshua's as he and his friends travel through the magical land of Forestium on a mission to rescue his long-lost father. 
The clean and easy writing style of the author kept the narration flowing, all in all this is a book that lets itself be read with no particular issues. The plot wasn't bad but it was a bit too straight, with almost no twist; making it unsurprising. 
The world building was really poor, I really couldn't find any particular detail to distinguish Forestium from other woods in another two thousand books. The characters felt flat and inconsequential and the lack of detail just sharpened the feeling. 
We are told that different tribes wear different colors and people wear different outfits based on their profession but those aren't described, not even a little bit, not even to say if they are wearing a tunic,  trousers or whatever.  
The same lack of descriptive dept affected the characters as well. Apart from maybe Joshua and a couple of people all the characters our fellowship crossed paths with just felt dull and common. For example; of the Sarah's father, the elder, we didn't get to know anything except that he had an imposing figure...not even if he was really old or middle-aged! And what about Isabelle? The only thing told about her is the fact that she's a couple of years younger than Sarah but there was nothing to help me give her or anyone else a face! 
The lack of detail didn't help me to visualize the characters and prevented me from becoming fully immersed in the book.  In the end I just mentally dressed all the characters (primary, secondary and passing ones) with random outfits seen in various movies and other fantasy and high-fantasy books. I also gave them either a random face or blurry features with just a name printed above their head. This lack of specifics made everything - the whole book really - feel nondescript. It felt  like something I read before a thousand times.

Moreover, I believe names are an important part of the world building, in this case I found the made up names (e.g blood-bad, metamorph etc.) very bland. I really couldn't take seriously an all-evil antagonist that went by the name of The Goat. Nope, sorry I couldn't do it not even if he looked like the devil himself. Also, for some reason I kept mistaking the Valley of Moross for the Valley of Morons (but this was solely my own fault).

And now let's spend a moment talking about the romance. Oh the insta-love! The plight of almost every young adult!
Even tough I learned to overlook my annoyance toward it long ago, here - I'm sorry to say - it simply grated on my nerves. I'm not fond of line"They looked into each other and they fell suddenly deeply in love" Please?! Why countless authors have to play this same card? I'd rather not have romance at all. (Mind you I might pass love at first sight in the sense of being mutually attracted/interested, but from there to being deeply in love just after a short while---ugh I can't bear it).
Although I understand that this book might have been aimed to the younger age range of the young adult category; some dialogues felt way to childish. For example, when Sarah was speaking with her father, it sounded like a six years old girl not sixteen. And The elder? Oh boy! Let's talk about him. Isn't he supposed to be wise (as the name hits)? Well, he didn't sound too reasonable or wise to me. Another thing that really bothered me was how everyone in this seemed to cry and every given moment. I'm okay with boys and girls showing their emotion but--GOD! At some point everyone was crying or had their eyes on the verge of tears.
And to finish the things of "character's habits that annoyed me" we have the "giggling". Sarah giggles a lot. She talks and giggles, she giggles with Isabelle. Now, let's break this new to the world: girls don't spend most of the time giggling, we do giggle occasionally (or when drunk but that's another thing) but not always!I don't understand why in people's mind girls giggles all the time.

Furthermore, here and there I found some of the suggested images"dissonant" (or at least they felt that way to me) One example? The oracle's voice being triumphant. I don't know about other people but I hardly associate something mystic as an oracle to a triumphant tone of voice. Pleased maybe? But triumphant it feels like the oracle was gloating which given the circumstance and who was doing didn't feel right . Another example of this "dissonance" was the description of the elder's lip quivering at the mention of his wife death. I'd have rather seen a sign of emotion in a set jaw or even lone tear escaping him but a grown up and though men with a quivering lip? lame. 
And then we have *drum rolls* the "accidental stabbing"!Not once but twice (this is stretching it!)! Really? Are you kidding me right? Is there even such thing? (And by the way, what sensible person faced with a fight just walks straight into two warriors battling? Not. A.Smart.One)
Let's not get me started on what happened to Joshua's father at the end. That was a stinging blow sadistic turn of events.

So, in the end...Did I like the book? Well it was okay I suppose, but nothing too original... just another nondescript average book. 
Would I recommend it? (sort of) Yes. To those who are still new to the fantasy genre and  those that would like to read a "light"fantasy (without expecting too much of it.) or want a book to bring down to the beach during their sun bathing time.

To finish this review on a a sweet note, there was a thing I liked very much namely the sketches that accompanied each characters and the glossary(very artsy!).

Rating :
                                                      2 blossoms

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Otherlife by Julia Gray (ARC)

The OtherlifeTitle: The Otherlife
Author: Julia Gray
Pages: 416
e-book: 4.53£
paperback 7.99 £
Where you can buy it:
Plot summary: When troubled, quiet Ben begins at the ruthlessly competitive Cottesmore House, school to the richest, most privileged boys, he is befriended by Hobie: the wealthy class bully, product of monstrous indulgence and intense parental ambition.
Hobie is drawn to Ben because he can see the Otherlife: a violent, mythic place where gods and monsters roam. Ben has unnerving visions of Thor and Odin, and of the giant beasts that will destroy them, as well as Loki, god of mischief. Hobie is desperate to be a part of it.
Years later, Ben discovers his beloved tutor Jason is dead. And he can’t help wondering if Hobie – wild, restless, dangerous Hobie, had something to do with it…

"I always get away with it when I try stuff like this. Partly it comes down to sort of assuming that I'm going to. I've got loads of confidence. And Loki got away with everything. Well, almost everything."

I started reading The Otherlife expecting the usual fantasy/paranormal young adult. What I actually found myself reading was a queer mix of a contemporary and fantasy that pleasantly surprised and intrigued me. (In truth, this book could have been a thriller/crime too)

I was seriously awed by how the books is both very current and easily relatable to most people. The writing style was pleasant, witty and thoroughly enjoyable. I was very surprised by how the author managed to talk about mundane things such as school days and still make it interesting or touch important themes such as smothering parents, bullying, addictions, eating disorders and so on without resulting too heavy. 

The “fantasy” element (represented by the otherlife) enhanced an already engaging plot. I really liked how interwoven in the story and how the otherlife appeared not as a separate entity but as some sort of extra layer over out reality, with the Gods appearing in different shades of light and colour. It was imaginative and very poetic. 

Another element I greatly appreciated is importance that music – namely heavy metal music –  and how it was intertwined with the story. Being a big fan of metal myself and of rock festivals in general I was totally elated to have a main characters that goes out and about in bands t-shirts, loves Metallica and goes to rock festivals! (And it was really nice to find here and there some references to band I love and known movies such as The Lord of The Rings) 

The narration was fluid and smooth and I loved how the story was told going back and forth from present to past, from Ben’s point of view to Hobie’s. In addition, I found the pacing, enthralling and definitely pressing especially during the last chapters. I was in a frenzy while reading the last 100 pages, so much I wanted to discover and know what really had happened to Jason and to Hobie.
As for the ending...For once, it didn’t feel unsatisfactory. It was heartbreaking and sad but, at the same time, it was also right for the story. Apart from the ending, I was very fond of one of the messages the book leave us with “we can’t explain everything and sometimes we just have to accept it”.
Somehow, “The Otherlife” managed to be – at the same time – light and deep (which is a feat in itself, isn’t it?).  

In truth, I can honestly said that I have never read a book like this before, special in its peculiarity. One thing is certain: I’m not likely to forget “The Otherlife” anytime soon.

                                               4 blossoms