Monday, December 14, 2015

Review of This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Title/Author: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Publisher/Date published: Sourcebooks Fire, January 5th 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley,thanks!
Goodreads summary: 10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won't open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

I'm always excited to spotlight another Dutchy, but I basically never get the chance author-wise, so I'm very happy to say that I was impressed with Marieke Nijkamp's debut!

This is obviously a tough subject and it could have easily turned tasteless or a sort of slasher movie turned book, but in my opinion it didn't. Yes, it is harsh, but to me it really felt like this is how it could have happened and I think it shows that Marieke Nijkamp did her research in the subject of school shootings. I cannot even imagine what it must be like to live through something like this and am always horrified when I hear another tragedy has struck a school somewhere in the world. I don't think we've ever had a school shooting in Holland and it does make me question gun laws, but I'm not really looking to get into a political debate on my blog.

We see the events from different POVs and every one of them is terrifying and heartbreaking in their own right. I mean, what makes school shooting even more horrifying for me is that it's not some random person opening fire in a random place, but you actually know this person and he or she has gone to school with you and it might be your friend or part of your family or even someone that you used to date and that is just insanely terrifying. I mean, obviously any and all attacks made on people are awful, but something like this is also personal and that adds that extra layer of nightmare.

I could seriously not stop reading this and it really didn't do me any favours in terms of getting a good night's sleep. I found myself thinking about This is Where It Ends during the day and wanting to find time to read it because I needed to know what happened next because I was just very much invested in these people and the whole school and it was heartbreaking and horrible and all these lives that are destroyed, I still have no words.

I'd recommend reading this when you really have the time to read a chunk of it because you will want to keep reading and for me it really packed a punch.

My rating: 4,5 stars

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Mini-Reviews (9): After the End, Nimona, Scarlet

So sometimes I fail at writing reviews for the books I've read, and 2015 has me failing spectacularly. And because it's been AGES since I read these, I'm just gonna do mini-reviews of them, so as to clear my need-review shelf (cause it's humungous, it's not even funny anymore).

Title/Author: After the End (After the End #1) by Amy Plum
Publisher/Date published: HarperTeen, May 6th 2014
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

I really enjoyed this book, I have to say that as it's been about a year and a half since I read it, that I had to dig deep to rediscover why exactly, so stick with me.
I totally have a soft spot for Juneau's dogs, they are beautiful and smart and awesome. And so pretty much the whole book I was terrified that something would happen to them as is my default setting when encountering animals in books.

I was intrigued by this world that Juneau lived in and even more so when it turns out it has all been a lie. The why and how of Juneau's powers isn't fully explained and I really hope to find more answers to this in the sequel. I also liked the love interest, though I didn't swoon over him.
The pacing is a bit slow, but it didn't really bother me as I like Amy Plum's writing and I didn't get bored with the story.

My rating: 3,5 stars

Title/Author: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Publisher/Date published: Harper Collins, May 12th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

I haven't actually read a lot of graphic novels, but Nimona looked like so much fun that I knew I had to read this one! And it is a lot of fun, with Nimona being a shapeshifter and randomly changing into a shark because she feels like it (and also because "I'm not a kid, I'm a shark!", which is obviously much better).
I loved how the 'villain' and the 'hero' are over the top and a bit of a parody on the standard for them and it was just so entertaining! There's lots of mischief and things going wrong and just a lot of heart and I really liked it!

My rating: 4 stars

Title/Author: Scarlet (Scarlet #1) by A.C. Gaughen
Publisher/Date published: Walker Children's, February 14th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley and bought a shiny finished copy

THE SHAME! I cannot believe it took me so long to read this book, especially cause I'd been coveting it for a long time before it came out. But then my book club (which is awesome by the way), made me get my behind in line and settle down to read it. AND IT WAS AWESOME! While excited about it, I was also a bit wary, because Robin Hood was (together with Peter Pan) my first love (I'm not even kidding, I had a serious fictional crush on the fox version of him) and this tale is very dear to my heart.

But A.C. Gaughen managed to give me exactly what I didn't know I could wish for in a fairytale retelling and it was SO GOOD! I loved the relationship between Scarlet and the rest of the gang and especially Robin and OMG THE TENSION! I TOTALLY SHIP IT!
Also, writing this, I cannot believe I haven't read the sequels yet. I should get on with that.

My rating: 5 stars

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Review of The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill

Title/Author: The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Publisher/Date published: Delacorte, December 8th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley, thanks!

Goodreads summary: It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey...

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm — the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

So I went into this with pretty low expectations because one of my friends did not care for it at all. Which might be why I did end up enjoying it, and also because I really liked Meant to Be, but wasn't over the top in love with it.

I liked Liza, obviously she's way uptight and doesn't know how to share her problems, but she's also willing to go the extra mile for something she believes in and on this occasion, that's the school band. And also, I love how being in the band isn't immediately classified as beeing a 'band geek', like in so many series/movies/etc. I mean, being into music and performing in something that's not a rock band isn't something to be ashamed of right? I get that it's not the 'cool thing', but as I'm musically challenged, I'm always in awe of people who know how to put out a decent tune. So I appreciate how Lauren Morrill handled this.

The shenanigans on the boat were pretty funny, I mean, who would have thought that a bowling ball can break a cruise ship? And there's this whole rivalry going on between Liza and her ex-best friend, of which I particularly liked how in the end you can see it from both sides and that's not something that happens with every story.
And yes, there are a lot of misunderstandings that fuel most of the plot, but honestly, I didn't mind that much, because I could see it happening like that because Liza is just a teensy bit clueless and doesn't know what's in front of her nose unless it's spelled out. I also really liked Liza's friends, though they don't get enough screen time in my opinion.

If you couldn't tell from the summary, there's sort of a love triangle going on, and from about halfway through, I started rooting for the guy who turned out to be in the ship of the book, but I hadn't really expected to be cheering him on. But obviously my instincts were right, cause the other guy is a real douche. And Liza is so clueless, so I couldn't really see why he liked her so much, but I did really like the last couple of scenes, they were very cute!

My expectations were REALLY low, but this turned out to be an enjoyable read, not the best of the best, but a light read that had me smiling at the last couple of scenes. There's awkwardness galore and it didn't give me all the swoony feelings, but it was fun.

My rating: 3 stars

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Review of How To Seduce a Scot by Christy English

Title/Author: How To Seduce a Scot (Broadswords and Ballrooms #1) by Christy English
Publisher/Date published: Sourcebooks Casablanca, December 1st 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley, thanks!\

Goodreads summary: He's the terror of the ton...

The plan is simple:
1. Descend from the Highlands to face the aggravation of a London Season;
2. Foist his wild sister off on some gullible English lord;
3. Retreat before the ladies of the scandalized ton can get any ideas.

Determined to see his hellion of a sister wed, Highlander Alexander Waters is willing to face anything — even the English. He just didn't expect his own rough manners to cause such a riot... or for a blooming English rose to catch his eye.

Gently bred Catherine Middlebrook must find a respectable man to marry or her family will be ruined. She won't allow herself to be distracted by Highland barbarians... no matter how her body may thrill whenever Alex is near.

Catherine wasn't part of the plan, but as their battle of wills escalates, Alex comes to realize this "proper" English girl is as wild as the Highlands themselves... and nothing will stop him from having her.

I'm always looking for that next historical romance that will make me swoon and feel all the things, but I'm sad to say that How To Seduce a Scot wasn't it.

It's not that I didn't enjoy it, cause I did. I mean, I liked Catherine, she's a lovely girl who feels a lot of responsibility for her family. She's lost her father and because her mother doesn't always make all the sensible choices, it's fallen on her to pick up the pieces. And she does, for as far as her influence reaches. I actually liked that she put what was best for her family before what her heart may want most, because that's just how it was back then and without a man in the family to provide some sort of income, marriage is really the only option.

I also really liked her little sister and Alex's sister, she was spunky! Catherine's mom was a bit of a puzzling mix of silly and very much a mother who cares for her children. She made some weird choices, but I did like about her that she truly wants her daughter to be happy. But I did feel that there was an adult lacking to take control of the situation other than Catherine. I get that her mom might have been very sheltered and not really know how to handle money, but seriously, stop spending money you don't have!

So far, so good, I liked the setting and most of the character. But then we get to the romance part and I'm a bit iffy about that part of the novel. I mean, I'm not someone who really likes it when people have never spoken and then the man goes on to think of her as 'his angel'. I mean, seriously?? HOW?? There was just a bit too much insta-love from his side of things and it just did not work for me.
The thing is that if this had been the only problem, I probably could have gotten over it. But he really does not treat her all that well, I mean, he's kissing her and in the same breath telling her they can never marry. He's taking a lot of risks with her reputation and he has a sister of his own, so how can he not see that this is not ok? I mean, I know that this happens a lot in historical romances and that's not really the issue, it was just the way he does it didn't feel ok to me. I'm not sure I can express exactly what bothered me about it, but in the end I found myself rooting for the other guy. And that's not a thing I want.

Like I said, I was rooting for the other guy, because there was one, who was respectable and a gentleman and was in my opinion a much better choice for Catherine. Towards the end it was a bit awkward and we are shown why he is not the right choice after all. And seriously, I was kinda annoyed with Catherine for making the choices she did towards the end. But I did feel that Catherine and Alex truly loved each other and in the end I can say that it's the right thing that they're together, but I could have done without all the misguided behaviour.

I sound really negative and I did have some serious issues with how the romance was handled, but I also did enjoy reading this, but I wasn't really rooting for the couple to get together and that's what I want when reading a romance.

My rating: 2 stars

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Review of Forbidden by Eve Bunting

Title/Author: Forbidden by Eve Bunting
Publisher/Date published: Clarion Books, December 1st 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

Goodreads summary: In early-nineteenth century Scotland, sixteen-year-old Josie, an orphan, is sent to live with an aunt and uncle on the rocky, stormy northwest coast. Everything and everyone in her new surroundings, including her relatives, is sinister, threatening, and mysterious. She's told that Eli, the young man she's attracted to, is forbidden to her, but not why. Spirited, curious, and determined, Josie sets out to learn the village's secrets and discovers evil, fueled by heartless greed, as well as a ghostly presence eager for revenge. An author's note gives the historical inspiration for this story.

Forbidden should have been something that I could fall in love with in theory. I mean: it has a historical setting with a mystery and a forbidden boy, what's not to like? Well, it kinda didn't turn out as enjoyable as I'd hoped.

I never really connected to Josie. I mean, she's obviously been through a lot and then she arrives at her aunt and uncle's house and it's AWFUl, and I did like that she's curious to find out what exactly is going on, but other than that, I was just a little 'meh' about her. And maybe it's the fact that the story doesn't span a very long time, but I never really felt like we got to know her very well, I'm still not sure what kind of person she really is.

I had really big issues with the romance. I mean, Josie is really rude to Eli for no reason, while he's only trying to help, which bothered me. And then all of a sudden she's in love with him?? And she wants him to come with her when she leaves the town after only having known him for what? Two days?? I mean SERIOUSLY??? WTF?? This was such a huge intsa-love happening and I could not for the life of me figure out what they liked about each other and UGH! I mean, she was basically ready to die for him, WHERE IS YOUR BRAIN??

I was also pretty annoyed by Josie's aunt and uncle, they were cruel and the only reason we get is that the uncle was disfigured as a kid and he didn't like his brother, Josie's dad. I mean, what? So your ears are weird and that's the reason your a nasty person? I just cannot. And I'm still not sure what her aunt's deal was. And their dog, SO CREEPY! That thing was nasty and then it attacks a human and you don't take care of the wound an discipline the dog? WHAT THE WHAT??

I was horrified by the thing that goes on on the island that is the big mystery and I am even more horrified by the fact that this is actually something that used to happen way back when. But everything gets resolved so quickly and there was no real build-up for me, so the whole mystery isn't much of a mystery after all.

Basically this just didn't work for me, there were too many issues and WTF moments in a bad way and I don't think I would have finished this if I hadn't been stuck in a car for 7 hours driving back home from Berlin.

My rating: 1 star