Review: Heist Society by Ally Carter

6574102

Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Mystery
Pages: 287
Series: Heist Society #1
Release Date: February 9, 2010
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

2.50 Stars

4c9zr74Ki

Despite having some experience by now, it still displeases me immensely when I start a book on a very positive note, only to end it with relief that it finally fucking ended.

Heist Society sounded very cool. It follows a group of teenagers, one in particular whose father is at risk, as they try to pull off an impossible heist. And when you’ve got heists, that means it will be an enjoyable ride. But when said heist is being done by sixteen-year-olds, you also know you should take it too seriously.

The book started off great. Katarina gets expelled from school, one she’d worked very hard to get in to after deciding she was done with the criminal life, for trashing the principal’s car. She’d been framed by her friend Hale because Kat’s father was in trouble and Hale needed her out of school so she could help him (her dad).

The tone of the novel was initially light enough. It sounded a little self-serious, but that wasn’t something immediately noticeable. I think it was around a third of the way through when it really started to grate on me. The novel takes itself way too seriously. The protagonist is talked of like she’s the best thief in the work, and everything is all so important. It’s like the author wants to impress upon the readers that this is a very grave matter. That the sixteen-year-olds who’re going to rob one of the most secure museums in the world with only a week’s prep, should be taken very seriously.

How ridiculous is that? You’re supposed to have fun with this thing, not brood over it. And it didn’t help that Kat got on my nerves, even if it wasn’t entirely her fault.

Just… everyone treated her like she was Harry frickin’ Potter! Except she isn’t the only person in the world who managed to best Voldemort while she was just a baby. From what we know, there’s nothing that makes her any different from the rest of the characters. And yet over and over, it’s stressed that she’s special, and better, and more important, without every showing us why that is.

On top of that (and this is the reason why my dislike is partly her fault too), Kat thinks very highly of herself. She’s all about her problems, her life, her father, her plans, how she’s the smart one and the capable one, while the others may as well be her lackeys. Not cool.

I didn’t even like the romance between Kat and Hale (and not just because of the obligatory love-triangle-ish thing either). I was rooting for them initially, but then Kat went all ‘Me Me Me’ and I lost interest.It doesn’t seem like she cares that much about him, and I’m not sure why even Hale likes her. She’s often rude, arrogant, has a low opinion of everyone’s intelligence except her own, and is quite self-absorbed. Here’s an example:

She’d been more determined than Uncle Eddie, braver than her father, and more clever than the cleverest minds at Scotland Yard.

Ain’t she modest? And by the way, the “Uncle Eddie” and “father” in question are both master thieves. Like, two of the best in the world with a ton of more experience. And she thinks she’s done better than them. *shakes head in disapproval*

Overall, this book had promise but turned out to be a let-down. Apart from the stuff mentioned above, it also dissed some of the best museums in the world and made it seem as if major art heists were something done on a regular basis, when they’re actually quite rare. I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest of the series.

Advertisements

Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

6381205

Genre: Adult, Romance, Steampunk, Science-Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Pages: 357
Series: Parasol Protectorate #1
Release Date: October 1, 2009
Publisher: Orbit

4 Stars

4c9zr74Ki

This is a steampunk novel about a woman who fights vamps while wearing a dress (and a corset) using her parasol. At least, that’s what’s insinuated by both the Goodreads synopsis and the first chapter of the novel, in which the protagonist, Alexia, kills a vamp who attacks her for no reason while she’s awaiting sandwiches, as a guest, in someone’s library.

As you read on though, you see that the novel is quite different. The protagonist doesn’t ever fight vampires. She simply found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, while led to her being involved in some troublesome stuff. Alexia is more of an intellectual. She a preternatural, meaning that she doesn’t have a soul. Her emotions work fine, it’s just, whenever supernatural creatures come in contact with her, they lose their abilities and become human. Her kind is very rare, which could be dangerous for her. Thankfully, her soulless state is not known by many, especially not her mother, who’s constantly fretting that her 30-year-old peculiar, spinster daughter will ruin the marriage prospects of her younger sisters.

The official supernatural-committee-thing knows about Alexia. Supernatural creatures are a part of civilized society now so, of course, there are records kept. One of those official people is a werewolf called Lord Maccon. He and Alexia get in a lot of spats. It’s a love-hate relationship and, obviously, a romance. The romance takes over a large portion of the novel. The other part is devoted to some trouble with the supernatural.

The story is interesting, thanks to the intriguing world. It’s nice to see supernatural creatures be a normal part of society instead of constantly hiding or warring. The tone of the novel is humourous. A lot of it because of Alexia, who I really like. She’s a bit of a troublemaker, considers food very important, and rolls her eyes at what most of society would consider a scandal. Her narrative was a ton of fun, and her and Lord Maccon’s bickering was entertaining as well. And while I think that their relationship could have been more gradual, I liked it. They both unsettle each other (though usually, Alexia likes to rattle his fur).

So if you can overlook the misleading synopsis on GR and the romance being a little on the sped-up side, this is a really fun and enjoyable read. I think this is one definitely worth checking out and I’m looking forward to reading the future installments of the series.

Review: A Stone in the Sea by A.L. Jackson

32939643

Genre: New-Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 383
Series: Bleeding Stars #1 (Story concludes in book 2) 
Release Date: February 21, 2015
Publisher: Self-published

1 Star

4c9zr74Ki

There are like a bajillion authors who write romance. But out of those, there are some who pop up more often than others. A.L. Jackson is one of those. Because of that, you’d think she’d be really good. But from my experience so far, she’s not.

This novel is about Sebastian Stone, the lead singer of a semi-popular rock band called Sunder. Sebastian’s in trouble for assaulting someone (he was trying to protect his younger brother) so it’s advised that the band take some time off. They go to live in Savannah for a while, where Sebastian meets Shea in the bar she works at. There’s an undeniable pull that they both feel toward each other. But Shea doesn’t have time for distractions and Sebastian’s only in town temporarily.

…And that’s about as civil as I can be when it comes to this novel. You know I don’t take one star ratings lightly so you also know there’s a shit ton of not-nice stuff to be said. Let’s get on that, shall we?

First and foremost, the writing. It’s terrible. While I was reading, I was trying to think of the right way to describe it. And I came up with: a romantic comedy directed by Zack Snyder. For those who don’t know, Snyder is the guy who turned Superman, the symbol of hope, into a guy who almost never smiles and is kinda scary. So you can imagine that if he were to direct a rom-com, it would be quite colourless. Making the Snyder thing worse, the book is also really fucking boring.

The tone of the novel and the prose is choke full of unnecessary details and has a complete lack of life. Sebastian steps into a bar and it’s like he’s describing a graveyard, instead of a place with live music and lots of people having fun. And it’s so repetitive and redundant. Not only do we get the repeat-same-word-three-times treatment, we also have to read one or the other character describing their mopey, overdramatic feels in extensive, overdramatic detail every two pages. Their entire romance consists of staring intently at each other and then composing mental essay that analyse that stare. For the first half of the book, they had like two proper conversations. They basically fell in love via intense stares.

I barely made it through. I think I started skipping some of the how-do-I-say-the-same-thing-ten-different-ways paragraphs about a third of the way through. By the time I reached two-thirds, I’d given up. I skimmed the rest. I think I read about 20-30% of that last section because that was the percentage of the content that was actually relevant. I swear to you, there are entire pages full of words that say nothing.

Onto characters. For the most part, they were lost in the over-the-top, suffocating prose. What was left wasn’t impressive. Sebastian is the “bad boy” type. Except he has major issues. He has a history with drugs, a criminal record, he’s spent time locked up, and he’s got serious anger management issues. Every problem he encounters is usually solved with anger, and his fists. And since he lacks control, he’s cause many broken bones, as well as internal bleeding. He’s a mess, but every single character in the novel is hell-bent of justifying his actions. They all claim that he’s a really great guy who’s just defending those he loves.

I’m sorry, but the saying is “the best offence is a great defence”, not the other fucking way around! Sebastian needs help and Shea needs to see that there is something wrong with a guy who’s constantly on the receiving end of assault charges.

Also, she needs to not lie about things because the “twist” in the end about what she’d been hiding was not only a terrible fucking twist, it also made me hate her (or maybe it made me hate the book more). It was such a stupid thing . And the fact that the next novel is based on said stupid thing, there’s no way I’m reading it. Not that I was planning to read it before, after I made it through this one with only my sheer force of will.

Overall, this is a badly written book with bad characters and bad everything. It’s also really fucking boring. Like, it might be the only romance novel ever that almost put me to sleep. Even the sex was boring. It’s an angst-y, overdramatic mess and I highly suggest avoiding it.

Review: Stay by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

cov

Genre: New-Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 294
Series: WAGs #2 (Can be read as Standalone)
Release Date: June 20, 2017
Publisher: Rennie Road Books

Star

4c9zr74Ki

This novel took me by surprise. I can’t really say why, it’s not like I didn’t like Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy’s other books, but something was different from the other I’ve read by the two.

It follows Hailey, the co-owner of a virtual assistant service, who suspects that her favourite client may be the hockey player Matthew Eriksson, from the Toronto NHL team. Her suspicions are confirmed when, as a way to say thanks, he gives her two amazing tickets for the next game. The problem is that this means she might have to meet him and she’s pretty sure she won’t be able to form complete sentences when she does.

You see, Hailey’s a huge hockey fan and Eriksson is her favourite player. Meaning there’s a risk of her totally fangirling. And while she doesn’t fangirl exactly, her fear of losing the ability to form complete sentences is proved valid. It’s almost like her brain short circuits in his presence. It’s hilarious, and also adorable. Between Hailey being star stuck so often and Blake, Matthew’s teammate, with his made up lingo, this book is really funny. And we get team bonding scenes, which we didn’t in Us or Good Boy. I loved it when some of the guys got together.

Back to the protagonists though, I really liked both of them. Hailey’s recently gone through a divorce and her previous marriage, while not being bad, was kinda… boring. She’s known her ex-husband since they were kids. She’s never really dated and her chemistry with her ex was just not there. But her chemistry with Eriksson is sky-high and since it’s a new thing for her and her divorce killed her confidence a little, she’s skittish. It doesn’t help that she’s a huge fan of he guy. It’s overwhelming. She’s not sure it’s a good idea.

Eriksson wants to go for it. But nothing serious. He also had a recent divorce. A very unhappy one. And he blames himself because his wife constantly told him that his career was ruining their relationship. Now he doesn’t think he’s capable of one.

Both have complications in their lives. Both have careers and both have reasons as to why a relationship would be a bad idea. And yet things between them are really good. You’d think that with this many problem, the book would be sad or frustrating. But it was fun, enjoyable, sweet and I loved Eriksson and Hailey together. Hailey doesn’t have any problems with his career and understands that he has to travel, while Eriksson helps her regain her confidence. Great couple.

So great, in fact, that I wasn’t even waiting for Jamie and Wes to show up. Much. Still love those two more than anything but I also love Hailey and Eriksson. Which is why I totally recommend reading this novel.

Review: Good Boy by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

30747137

Genre: New-Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 269
Series: WAGs #1 (Standalone; but please read the Him duology first) 
Release Date: January 21, 2017
Publisher: Rennie Road Books

3.5 Stars

4c9zr74Ki

Blake and Jess met when Jess’s brother and Blake’s friend, Jamie, got sick and she came over to take care of him. They bickered the whole time …And also hooked up. Then Jess went back. Now Jess’s brother is getting married and she’s planning the wedding, in which Blake is the best man. She wants nothing to do with him while he’s hoping for another hook-up.

Sadly, Blake, the goof that he almost always is, thinks that the best way to achieve that is to piss Jess off even more. It doesn’t work very well but he’s determined, especially after Jess moves to the city for college.

The city we’re talking about is Toronto. Blake is a player in the Toronto NHL team so he’s used to getting what he wants, often without having to ask. He loves that Jess can’t stand him. He finds it refreshing and he likes how feisty she is. Jess, on the other hand, thinks of him as kind of a dumb jock. He’s loud, wild, goofy and half the shit he says makes no sense. But as she gets to know him, her opinion changes.

With Sarina Bowen, you don’t have to worry about the book not being well-written or the pacing being off. She’s a great writer. So I’m just concerning myself with story and characters. Mainly the characters since that’s who the story’s about.

Blake is a great guy. He has a very big heart and cares so much about people. He always puts other people above himself. You’ll see that for yourself when you read the book. Though if you’ve read the Him duology, you probably already have some idea. The problem, though, with being so good is that sometimes people take advantage of that. Jess balances that out. If you try to hurt Blake, she will slap you.

Jess’s own story is about her career. She’s spent many years trying to figure out what she wants to do. So many times, she’s sure she’s got it, only to realize that she hasn’t. It’s something that anyone who’s struggled with trying to find their right path can relate to. And even though her family never pressures her, she lacks confidence from having disappointed them so often. It’s difficult and it makes her quite stiff for a while. It was a tiny bit annoying, waiting for her to stop being mean, but we got through it.

Her and Blake’s story is good. They have chemistry and their bickering is entertaining. It took me a while to figure out why they work together, and I have some idea now (some I stated above), but they still don’t click like I want them to. And the fact that I read this novel so quickly doesn’t help. I’m gonna reread this one. Maybe I missed something.

The main problem I had with the novel was with Blake’s character. He’s overdone in how goofy-ness. In Us, he’s kind of the comic relief. And there’s a reason comic reliefs don’t get their own books and movies. It’s because there’s not enough emotional depth. And even though the author added some, it wasn’t enough. He still felt too much like the funny-guy-who-breaks-the-tension. Blake really is a great guy. I wanted more for him, that’s all.

Overall, a good novel but it’s missing something. I really do hope the reread will change that. I’ll update the review regardless. Still recommend reading it, especially if you’ve read the Him duology. Jamie and Wes are the cutest. I’m obsessed with those two and I adored them in the novel.

Review: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

28006120

Genre: Middle-Grade, Young-Adult, Fantasy, Mythology (Norse), LGBT+
Pages: 432
Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard  #3
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Star

4c9zr74Ki

Took me a while to get my thoughts in order. I honestly thought I was over my reading slump. And in a way, I am. Just have to take things slow. And avoid big books.

This book isn’t that big, but it also isn’t that small. And we again have a whole lot of names I can’t pronounce (though there’s a guide provided). Seriously, where do all these giants and their names even come from? Half the problem while reading came from there. The other half came from Alex, but we’ll discuss that later.

This is the final novel of the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy. Loki’s free and his ship of nails is almost ready to sail. And as soon as it sets off, with Loki on board, Ragnarök will begin. It’s up to Magnus and the crew to stop him from sailing or the world will end. But since that requires a sea voyage, Annabeth suggests that he gets some helpful tips from, none other than, Percy Jackson. By the way, ending the last book with a tease like that was so not cool.

But yeah, Percy’s in the book. Not for long, because uncle Rick lives to torture his fans, but he’s there and it’s awesome. Percy’s my favourite person in the whole world.

Afterwards, they’re off. There are a lot of giants and gods and god-giants. They get vague clues about what they should do and have to figure the rest of the stuff out on their own. The book is funny, as usual, with lots of exciting adventures. Magnus is a great protagonist. And another great thing in the novel was how each character (like Mallory, TJ and Halfborn) got their moment to shine. There was lots of getting-to-know and development for each character.

My favourite of the series is still Hearthstone. I can’t explain it, but I don’t think there’s any character who makes me as fiercely protective as he does. I want to tuck him into the world’s most comfortable bed, wrapped in the softest blankets, in the world’s coziest room and, outside the room, post the Avengers on guard duty. It’s that bad. He’s just so… good and innocent. He’s also has the worst. He was shunned by his entire species. And then his brother died and his father put him through so much. Basically, I love him and I will, honest to God, murder anyone who hurts him.

Hearthstone aside, I like all the other characters too. It was really great finally getting to know where they came from. One character that bothered me was Alex (for the sake of the review, I will be referring to Alex as a he), who I loved in Hammer of Thor.

It’s wasn’t a huge thing. Alex still kicks major butt. The problem was with his relationship with Magnus. I felt that he was a bit too harsh. He’s harsh with everyone but with Magnus, he was almost cruel. To the point where Magnus doubted he (Alex) cared about him (Magnus) at all. Magnus has low (or zero) self-esteem in the first place and the way Alex treated him was like kicking a man when he’s down. It was unnecessary and I didn’t like it.

Other than that, things were fantastic. This was a great novel. Loved the ending. It concluded the current storyline perfectly, while also dropping hints of a future Norse series, one that I would be very interested in. Fingers crossed that uncle Rick writes it.

Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

22910900

Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy
Pages: 317
Series: None
Release Date: August 27, 2015 
Publisher: Walker Books

3 Stars

4c9zr74Ki

I finally understand why this novel is getting so many three stars. It’s not because this is a bad novel. Just an underwhelming one.

The concept of the novel is great. Even when I didn’t know about it (or maybe before it came out), I wondered if someone would write about the people who weren’t the chosen ones or in the thick of things. You know, the rest of the people. And then I heard of this novel and was pretty freaking excited. But the lukewarm response gave me pause. Finally read it though.

Like I said, it’s about the people who aren’t the protagonists. In this case, that’s Micky. Bad shit is going on with beams of lights and fissures to another world, but none of it is happening to Micky. He’s just living his life, worried about graduation, going to college, his OCD, a girl he’s been in love with since forever. It’s all normal stuff. He doesn’t know much about what’s going on with the “indie” kids. “Indie kids”, in this novel, are the usual MCs to whom bad shit happens.

At first, I found Micky to be interesting. But then it turns out that it was his disorder that I found interesting, not him. I’m not sure if that’s insensitive, but take away his struggle with anxiety, and he’s just a guy pining after a girl who seems to be stringing him, and another guy, along. He’s also prone to douchiness caused by jealousy.

Safe to say, he’s not very likable. His older sister is better, but not that much. His best friend, Jared, is okay. The girl he’s pining after, Henna, and the whole arc between her and Micky, is nothing but a source of annoyance. And there’s this other guy who’s just… there. It’s like all the character have a gimmick. Micky’s obsessive-compulsive, his sister has history with anorexia, his friend is one-quarter god, Henna’s the love interest and the one going away soon, Nathan’s the new guy who’s part of the love-triangle. These are the gimmicks, and we don’t explore the characters much further than these facts. We don’t really get to know them and, therefore, don’t connect to them.

There were things I liked. The disorders for one, especially Micky’s, and how they was portrayed. I thought it was a really good representation. There was a chapter in which mental illness and it’s perception was discussed which was my favourite chapter.

Also, at the start of each chapter, we would get a paragraph summarising what was going on with the “indie” kids (I still don’t know what, specifically, makes someone an indie kid). Those paragraphs were great. They played with common genre tropes. They were funny and I loved the contrast between the shit going on in them and the normal stuff with Micky.

I wish the rest of the novel had that humorous tone because the overall tone was really off. On one hand, we got the summaries of supernatural stuff going on, the talk about “indie” kids and how some shit like that happened once every decade and yet adults never got involved and basically tried to pretend that they didn’t know anything. On the other hand, we has serious stuff like OCD, anorexia, and Henna’s parents taking her to a country that’s in the middle of a war. There wasn’t a proper balance between the two.

Overall, like I said before, this is not a bad novel. Very readable and with some good parts and truly good insight into OCD. But it didn’t live up to its potential.