Sunday, 19 August 2018

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

I'm not going to include the summary or anything given this is the last book in the series. I don't really have much to say about this book...but I wanted to write a review anyway because I finally finished this freaking series and I wanted a post to acknowledge that because omg did it take forever.

For context: I read the first book in 2007 or 2008. So it has literally taken me pretty much a decade to finish this series. It's not even one of those ones I still felt invested in (like Harry Potter), I was just too stubborn to quit on it and people told me it's better to finish before reading the spin off.

I loved the original trilogy and, even now that I've finished the last book, I still think it would've been better off remaining just a trilogy. The extension of the series from three books to six just felt dragged out rather than a necessary and welcome continuation.

This book is definitely the best of the additional three books, but it still felt a little flat because so much of the book was spent setting up for the spin-off series or adding cameos from the prequel trilogy. The book was 637 pages long, that's a lot of book.

It was also quite jarring when there were reminders that the time span from book one to book six was only 6 months. And yet the series dragged on for a decade (i.e. readers who picked up the book when it first came out may have started out the same age as the characters but by the time the series ended those readers were in their mid 20's while the characters were still stuck at 16).

I did like the book though, in the end. I was happy with the endings a lot of the characters got, even if the story did feel quite stale and like half of it could've gotten axed in the editing stage and the book would've been better for it...but overall, it was okay.

I guess that's all I have to say about the book. Like I said, it's not so much a review as it is a celebration of finally finishing it. I'm intrigued by the spin off series, but I think I need a break from this world before diving back into it again.

I'd rate the book 3 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

The Changeover UK Giveaway: Win a Young Adult DVD Bundle

The Changover is out on DVD from August 27th, and to celebrate I have a giveaway for all you UK folks at the end of the post.

The Movie:


The Book:

The Changeover
by Margaret Mahy 


Summary: 'A clammy hand pressed Laura down to her knees beside Jacko's bed. It was the hand of terror, nothing less.'

It was a warning. Laura felt it when she looked in the mirror that morning. There had been others: the day her father left home, the day she met Sorensen - the boy with the strange silver eyes.

But nothing had prepared Laura for the horror of today. And now her little brother, Jacko, was fighting for his life after being sucked dry of his youth by the sinister Carmody Braque.

Laura knows there is only one way to save Jacko; she must join Sorensen and use his supernatural powers to change over if there is to be any hope for her little brother.
I haven't read the book yet (ordered it after watching the trailer and it hasn't arrived yet) but I've seen nothing but good things about it.

When I've read it (ordered it as soon as I saw the movie trailer), I'll do a book to movie comparison/review post.



The giveaway:


I have three bundles of the DVD's to giveaway. Again, this is a UK only competition as I'm not the one mailing the prizes out. To enter just fill out the form below:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Ryan's Bed by Tijan

Ryan's Bed
by Tijan

Summary: I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident. 
I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed—her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should've left... 
I didn’t.I didn’t jump out.I didn’t get embarrassed.I relaxed. 
And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved.
I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept. 
The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could've stayed forever, I would have.He became my sanctuary. 
Because—four hours earlier—my twin sister killed herself.

So I've been reading Tijans books for years and years, since way back when they were posted on fictionpress. She's always had a knack for writing stories that I can devour in one sitting and writing complex characters and relationships that thoroughly get under my skin.

This one was no exception. I really loved the story (and I've loved sticking with an authors work long enough that you really see them evolve as a writer).

I loved the relationship between Robbie and Mackenzie -- I can't think of many books off the top of my head that really make sibling relationships a central part of the story but this one did and I loved that. 

As for the romance, I loved Ryan and Mackenzie together. I don't know why, but I went into this book expecting the romance to be all angsty af but it wasn't. It was actually much sweeter and a much more healthy relationship than I was expecting it to be.

The darker, more angst ridden parts of the story came from Mackenzie's grief. I really liked the way grief was handled in the story. Sometimes it feels like books just use grief in a shallow sort of way -- purely for it to be an angsty plot device or because the author thinks it will make the character seem more interesting or something, without actually putting in the work to make it seem authentic. Without really grasping how much it hurts and how it throws your whole world off its axis and changes you in ways people who haven't gone through it can't understand.

But it felt like this book got it, and got that grief is a lifelong thing, not just a plot device that can be thrown in and fixed with a love story. It was one of my favourite parts of the book -- the way the fall out of her sisters death was handled (especially the way she died, it felt like that was written with more care than some authors take when writing the same subject matter).

The book did have some tropes in it that are typical of the genre (not necessarily a bad thing). Some people love them, some hate them. The only one that irritated me in this was the catty girl trope. I've never been much of a fan of that one but I did like that it wasn't all like that in the book and some of the characters did redeem themselves, so it wasn't the usual all the girls are pitted against each other except for the main characters one designated female friend thing that a lot of books with the trope go for.

The book also thoroughly shocked me at the end. It's rare for a book to have a twist that totally blindsides me in a way that I didn't see coming at all, but this one pulled it off right at the end and I was pretty impressed by that.

Overall, I'd rate the book 4 stars out of 5. Maybe 4.5 (it was really good, it just isn't my favourite of her books -- but then I'll probably always have a sentimental attachment to the first stories of hers that I read). 

Later.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Corrupt by Penelope Douglas

TW: I'll be discussing (or rather, ranting about) the sexual assault that happens throughout this book.

Corrupt
by Penelope Douglas

Summary: Erika -- I was told that dreams were our heart’s desires. My nightmares, however, became my obsession. His name is Michael Crist.  
My boyfriend’s older brother is like that scary movie that you peek through your hand to watch. He is handsome, strong, and completely terrifying. The star of his college’s basketball team and now gone pro, he’s more concerned with the dirt on his shoe than me. But I noticed him. I saw him. I heard him. The things that he did, and the deeds that he hid…For years, I bit my nails, unable to look away. 
Now, I’ve graduated high school and moved on to college, but I haven’t stopped watching Michael. He’s bad, and the dirt I’ve seen isn’t content to stay in my head anymore. Because he’s finally noticed me.  
Michael -- Her name is Erika Fane, but everyone calls her Rika. My brother’s girlfriend grew up hanging around my house and is always at our dinner table. She looks down when I enter a room and stills when I am close. I can always feel the fear rolling off of her, and while I haven’t had her body, I know that I have her mind. That’s all I really want anyway.  
Until my brother leaves for the military, and I find Rika alone at college. In my city. Unprotected. The opportunity is too good to be true as well as the timing.  
Because you see, three years ago she put a few of my high school friends in prison, and now they’re out. We’ve waited. We’ve been patient. And now every last one of her nightmares will come true.

Review:

So. This book was completely infuriating. It was also entertaining -- I'll give it that, but my god did it make me mad.

Michael was an abusive douchebag through like 95% of the book. He treated Rika like crap. He allowed other people to treat her like crap. He literally stood there and did absolutely nothing while his friends assaulted and sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions. Great love interest, right? No.

I'm all for dark and twisty romances, but all of that stuff I mentioned isn't attractive. It's toxic. And there was barely any redemption (which is part of the appeal of dark and twisty romances -- the idea that people can change for the better, that redemption is possible). Even after he screwed up massively (like really, really, really massively) he didn't even muster up a decent apology.

I also understand the appeal of bad boy love interests (I've liked my fair share of them outside of fiction too), but there is a world between being a bad boy and a guy who is just a bad person and most of the time, Michael fell into the latter category.  

Because of that, it made Rika really infuriating too. It made her seem like a complete doormat. Dude literally tries to ruin her whole life, does unforgivable things, allows his friends to hurt her and then asks her to promise she'll never say no to him (wtf?!)...and then worse, she just goes along with that. It just made her seem totally spineless.

So many scenes made me absolutely ragey. Like when they find out she'd been roofied and his reaction is to practically be mad at her for that and demand to know why she didn't tell anyone (not to mention the scene that follows where they basically peer pressure her into confronting her would-be rapist and it leads to her being almost raped again because they took so long coming to help her). I guess the scene was supposed to be empowering or something but it was just sickening.

And there's a scene where one of his best friends is literally sexually assaulting her (while she's 16, and he's nearly 20) and he sees it happening and doesn't stop it. His justification for this was "I'm not your saviour, you handled it yourself" and just... No. That is not okay. Again, I think it was aiming to be empowering and to have a "you don't need a man to rescue you, you can do it yourself vibe" but that doesn't change how awful it made his character by having him stand back and allow it.

Would he have stepped in if she wasn't strong enough to overpower the guy? Maybe. I don't know. But even if he would have, that doesn't make it okay. He also remains friends with the guy, had zero issue with him for doing that...again, not okay (the guy makes really awful rape jokes too and his friends just brush it off like "welp, he probably hasn't acted on it, he's probably all talk, so we're good" -- like they're actually content being friends with someone who they think could be capable of that).

The way sexual assault and rape and consent is treated so flippantly in the book made me so beyond angry. Someone forcing you to kiss them, touching you, groping you against your will -- it's not okay. It is literally a crime and can be traumatising af, but this book treated it in a "well, it's not like it was rape" kind of way (when it was even acknowledged at all).

There's also a lot of "we're not going to hurt her" in the book...and then they proceed to hurt her over and over again and it doesn't even acknowledge that sexual coercion is rape and that is a form of hurt too. If you deliberately pressure and blackmail someone into having sex with you, and make it seem like they have no choice or you'll do something bad to ruin their life or hurt someone they care about -- that is not consent. That is coercion and sex without consent is rape. Pretty much 99% of the guys in this book are sexual predators.

Beyond that, the book also introduced me to a new pet peeve: writing what song the characters are listening to. I hated that so much and it stuck out like a sore thumb the whole time (it really dates the story and makes it seem more "hey, the author likes this song and listened to this playlist while writing" than "this is a song the characters would believably be into and the mention fits organically into this scene"). It happened a lot in this book, and it wasn't done in a natural way except for one scene where it made sense (because the characters were discussing music).

Basically, this book and these characters were absolutely infuriating. I don't think I've thoroughly hated a bunch of characters so much in a long time. 

In saying that, the book did hook me and it was entertaining even if I did want to punch all of the characters at least once (abuse is not sexy, allowing your friends to sexually assault and abuse a girl is not sexy, being controlling and condescending is not sexy...as far as love interests go, Michael is toxic -- dude makes Christian Grey look like Prince Charming).

It wasn't all bad, there were some parts I did like, they were just thoroughly eclipsed by the stuff I didn't like.

This has been way more rant than review. At the end of the day, the book just wasn't for me. It hasn't made me write off Penelope Douglas as an author though, because it does take some talent to keep me turning the pages in spite of all the issues I had with the book, and I have enjoyed her previous books much more in the past and I'll probably enjoy more of her books in the future...this particular one just was not my cup of tea at all.

I don't know if I'll read the sequel or not. The sequel is about the character than angered me the least (and the one that redeemed himself the most -- though that's not saying much, the bar was pretty low) so it might work out a bit better for me. We'll see. I'd rate the book 1.5 stars out of 5.

Later.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Books I'd Mash Together

Well then, hello there. It's been a while (I seem to be saying that a lot these days), but I love the topic of this weeks Top Ten Tuesday: books you'd like to see mashed together (i.e. pick two books you think would make an epic story if combined).

It reminded me of my fanfic days and all the crossover fics I used to see. So:




1. Twilight x The Mortal Instruments



Why: mostly because it'd be funny. Can you imagine a Jace Wayland reaction to vampires that sparkle? Or Luke's pack meeting the pack from Twilight (Leah so deserved better, so I'd totally be down for her meeting a nice girl or dude from TMI and living happily ever after). A war between The Clave and The Volturi? Something tells me that would be way more interesting than everyone standing around on a field and nothing happening like in Breaking Dawn. I can see some characters getting along well, some hating each other. 






2. The Host x The Lux series



Why: because I want a sequel to The Host  because they're both stories about aliens on earth and it'd be interesting to see the aliens of The Lux series reacting to the invasion of The Host. Whether they'd fight back or be vulnerable too, would they be part of a resistance... I'd love to see the characters all meet and interact and the way the world would change if they managed to get it back.




3. Harry Potter x The Mediator series


Why: It'd be interesting. Suze visits the UK...there's a lot of new ghosts showing up all with weird stories about men in masks killing them with a flash of green light from a stick. Can you imagine her trying to cross over Moaning Myrtle or Nearly Headless Nick? Or finding out the reason she can see ghosts is because she's a witch/squib?





4. The Iliad x The Lumatere Chronicles



Why: This one is cheating a bit...because it's not so much a crossover I'd like, as it is a retelling of The Iliad done by Melina Marchetta in the style of her Lumatere Chronicles series. I would love to see how she'd write the female characters in particular, especially Briseis, Helen and Andromache.






5. On The Other Side x Code Name Verity



Why: On one hand we have a whimsical story about the afterlife, on the other there's a WW2 story that destroyed my soul. I think a certain character from Code Name Verity thrown into the On the Other Side World (written in Elizabeth's style, because it'd feel more fitting) would be really interesting. In this one, I wouldn't so much like the characters to meet (maybe cameos?), more just seeing the characters from one exist in the world of the other. 




6. Ten x There's Someone Inside Your House


Why: Both of these are YA murder-y/slasher stories. There were elements I loved about both books but neither were perfect, and I feel like a mash-up would fix the issues. Ten was better at the thriller murder aspect, while TSIYH had more memorable characters...so if I could get a sequel, with a mix of the characters but a slasher plot more along the lines of how Ten did it, it'd be excellent.






7. Ruby Red x Pride and Prejudice



Why: Ruby Red is a story about time travel. I just think it'd be interesting and hilarious to see the Pride and Prejudice characters react to these teenagers from the future landing in the middle of a ball or something (would remind me a little of the mini-series, Lost in Austen).




8. Tomorrow When the War Began x Jellicoe Road



Why: I love both of these books. Jellicoe Road is contemporary fiction, Tomorrow is an invasion story. Both are set in Australia and I think it would be quite an interesting story if we saw how the Jellicoe characters handled the invasion in their part of the country (especially because a bunch of the characters are from a cadet camp). 





9. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender x When the Moon Was Ours



Why: a girl with wings meets a girl with roses who grow from her wrists. Ghosts and birds who used to be boys and magic pumpkins that turn to glass and a boy who hangs moons all over town. Two wonderful magical realism stories...I think they'd fit together beautifully. 





10. The 100 x The Illuminae Files



Why: I could just see a crossover of these two working well...both are set in space, though one is partially set on earth. It'd just be interesting for the paths to cross and for the characters to meet. 

Agree/disagree with any of them?

Later.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

Turtles All The Way Down
by John Green

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis. Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

Review: I have mixed feelings about this book, but overall, I did really like it.

The highlight of the book for me was the portrayal of OCD/anxiety. It's genuinely one of the best fictional portrayals of that I've read -- at least for me and the way it manifests for Aza was so relatable to me because it's so similar to how it is for me and even in the ways it's different, I still got it...if that makes sense.

So the representation of mental health was excellent. The story was well written as John Green's books always are, and the characters were just as John Green as ever (the Dawson's Creek-ish type where they're all making literary references and giving big philosophical speeches)...some people hate that, some people love it. I fall into the latter category.

The lower rating is down to the plot, which was simultaneously dull and bizarre. On one hand you have this super realistic portrayal of a person dealing with an anxiety disorder and grief and how it impacts her relationships...on the other, there’s this weird mystery revolving around a missing billionaire and his lizard, and it wraps up way too conveniently and unbelievably. 

The way it wraps up way too conveniently was the part that bugged me the most. I could handle the weird billionaire and his lizard part if it weren't for that...it's one of those ones where the character just happens to be in the exact right place at the exact right time, and it's such a random place, to figure out what happened. It's very Scooby Doo. I didn't like that.

In saying that, it really wasn't a bad book. I still finished it with that good book ache (you know the one -- where you finish the last page and there's this ache in your chest because it's over or because it made you feel something). It's just that that feeling didn't linger the way it did with better books (and John has written a few of those better books for me).

I'd rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Later.

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