BOOK REVIEW: Relentless by Karen Lynch

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Sara Grey’s world shattered ten years ago when her father was brutally murdered. Now at seventeen, she is still haunted by memories of that day and driven by the need to understand why it happened. She lives a life full of secrets and her family and friends have no idea of the supernatural world she is immersed in or of Sara’s own very powerful gift.

In her quest for answers about her father’s death, Sara takes risks that expose her and her friends to danger and puts herself into the sights of a sadistic vampire. On the same fateful night she meets Nikolas, a warrior who turns Sara’s world upside down and is determined to protect her even if it’s the last thing she wants.

Sara’s life starts to spin out of control as she is hunted by an obsessed vampire, learns that her friends have secrets of their own and reels from the truth about her own ancestry. Sara has always been fiercely independent but in order to survive now she must open herself to others, to reveal her deepest secrets. And she must learn to trust the one person capable of breaking down the walls around her.

Oh gosh where do I start with this. Okay, so this book landed onto my Kindle app because Benjaminoftomes from YouTube and Instagram recommended it on one of his videos (watch it here) and I was so intrigued by it so I went to Amazon and downloaded it (the kindle version was free at that time and I think it still is). So, I read it right after I finished reading Minutes Before Sunset (read my review here) and to be honest I did not have really high hopes for this one. But I was so wrong…

This book you guys, is just AMAZING! I must say I was happily surprised. One page in and I. WAS. HOOKED. Excuse my ‘mild’ flailing and shrieking for the most part of this review and I will probably just make up for that with GIFs. I only have one complaint about this book, and it may sound really stupid but as some of you might know by now, I am a sucker for beautiful book covers but damn, look at this one!

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Honestly, the cover does not do it justice at all. I mean aside from the fact that the people on the cover are obviously gorgeous people. But let’s just go past that and marvel over this book shall we?

So I dived into the book thinking it might just be another promotional thing you know (because it was free) and then I read the first few pages and I thought this was what I was looking for! It made me smile thinking about it now, how surprised and happy I was that it delivered so well. You read it and you get this vivid picture on your head about the neighborhood, the situation, the context, the expressions, the creatures for crying out loud! Lynch writes in a way that will make you almost smell the molds in the house where Remy (the troll) helped a creature give birth. I know, TROLL! Remember the Harry Potter scene?

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Nope. It’s not like that. Remy (the troll) is ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE if you can believe that.

The story follow Sara who lives with her uncle since her mom left and her dad passed away. Sara knows she is different in that she can heal things, and she is aware that there are other creatures that exist alongside humans in this world. She loves animals, and though reserved and keeps to herself, has an upright character and doesn’t tolerate injustice. Basically she is bad ass. So you know I love her. But, being the good blogger *snort* I shall list the reasons why I love it for yah!

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Oh Nikolas…

Nicolas is just as bad ass as he is kind. He has a good heart inside nerves of steel and beautiful eyes. There is this charm to him, not the kind that most would swoon over. Maybe it is his protective instincts which is more because of Sara and not because she is an orphan Mohiri. Maybe it is that she is Mohiri but not entirely? I just think how the hero in this story is perfectly created, to stand out and to complement the heroine. I love his character, his amazing sword skills, and his relentless character. I’m not even gonna apologize for that pun.

TROLLS!!!

Let’s look past her last name people. Sara has a troll for a friend, trades troll bile, has imps for pets in her house, takes home abandoned animals, and talks to elementals. If that doesn’t make you like her then I don’t know what will. I mean just the troll would do it for me. She had this sense of justice which is kind of stubborn but not misplaced. She can hold up her own. She was awkward but equally loved by her friends.

Christian my love…

Now I know he isn’t the main hero and I have no idea if he will still be in the next book but girl… that man is goals. I would marry him of I could. Just oh!

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*deep breaths*

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*clears throat*

Moving on, admittedly, there is just a sh*t load of information about lots of different creatures in this book, but I DON’T MIND. It was just written beautifully that you wouldn’t get lost in the way. The pacing was just right and all the hints to the succeeding events were really cleverly done. Like, you wouldn’t have guessed it! There was good character development for both Nikolas and Sara, although of course Sara is the focus of this book for now. You could see how she grew as a school girl, as a friend, as a daughter, as a niece, and someone who isn’t human.

And the vampires…

Were not treated as sparkly creatures who would go to earths ends to save humanity. Although being good (even for vampires) is admirable, except the sparkly parts of course. They were portrayed as VAMPIRES. You know the blood sucking, feral, primal creatures, ruled by instinct to feed?  Yes, that.You don’t see that around too often. It’s actually refreshing if you can imagine that.

Anyway, I just can’t wait to read the next two books in the trilogy. I hope I can find it here. If not you know I will find ways to get my chubby hands on those books!

You knew this was coming:

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Have you read this book? Do you like urban fantasy book? Let me know what you think and let’s chat!

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BOOK REVIEW: Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon Thompson

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Two destinies. One death.

“Her kiss could kill us, and my consent signed our death certificates.”

Eric Welborn isn’t completely human, but he isn’t the only shade in the small Midwest town of Hayworth. With one year left before his eighteenth birthday, Eric is destined to win a long-raging war for his kind. But then she happens. In the middle of the night, Eric meets a nameless shade, and she’s powerful—too powerful—and his beliefs are altered. The Dark has lied to him, and he’s determined to figure out exactly what lies were told, even if the secrets protect his survival.

Jessica Taylor moves to Hayworth, and her only goal is to find more information on her deceased biological family. Her adoptive parents agree to help on one condition: perfect grades. And Jessica is distraught when she’s assigned as Eric’s class partner. He won’t help, let alone talk to her, but she’s determined to change him—even if it means revealing everything he’s strived to hide.

Minutes Before Sunset is the first book in The Timely Death Trilogy.

This was a book was something that I have absolutely no idea what is was about going into. Did not read blurbs, or reviews.. didn’t even visit good ‘ol Goodreads to get an idea. I was nevertheless excited because come on, the cover looks promising really. I judge books by their covers. Yes. Moving on. I must say I have one suggestion though, I would have much preferred the girl on the cover to have been drawn by an artist. Just my opinion which probably does not really matter. The title intrigued me quite honestly, maybe because it had the ‘Twilight-ish’ feel to it.

So yeah, I was kind of looking forward to know what this book was about and while I think the story has promise, it just didn’t do it for me. I was, unfortunately, underwhelmed. Looking at the Goodreads and Amazon reviews, it seems that I am in the minority in this, but that’s okay, dissenting opinions right?

I didn’t completely dislike it though, it had some good points too.

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I liked Eric

Listen, when a guy just slowly turns to a rustling breeze of black smoke blending into the darkness of the night, you gotta love him. You just do. I do. There was good character development for him. You get a glimpse of who he is as a son and a friend (and a former friend) and a member of the awkward student body. The conflict and internal struggle Eric goes through during the book was described pretty well and he handles it like a boss too. How he had to shuffle responsibilities and being a teenager and a student and a friend and apparently an heir being trained to murder a kid like himself. I honestly liked reading his parts of the book (as it was told on both his and Jessica’s voice). I was looking forward to his side throughout the whole book.

Light = dark, Dark = light

Strange, I know. But this was how I understood the whole story. I might be wrong so please don’t murder me. Anyway, this was a really, really interesting take on things and how readers perceive the darkness and light. Of course in common context light or the color white represents the good or the pure or angels, etc and the dark or black represents evil or death or bad omens. This was the rebellion to that and I thought it was a marvelous idea in how the author both played with it literally and figuratively in the book. She used the mystery that the darkness carries to mean that it is unsure, but not necessarily evil. I mean, they still kill other creatures so..

Underground fortress, turning to smoke, Shade names, etc.

The world created was unique and wasn’t something I have read before. It was kind of like angels and demons fighting but not exactly like that. Like a toned-down version, minus the intense and gory fight scenes.

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A lot.

It lacked the ‘umph’

What is the ‘umph’? Trust me you don’t want me explaining it because you might stay for a very long time reading this, but I know you wonderful book people get it. Two pages in and I just felt it lacked luster. For some reason I was yearning for richer language, and more vivid descriptions which would have been a huge help to build the reality of the fictional world and situations being described. I think it lacked playfulness it terms of using words and it felt like I was pulling to get more intense emotions out of it. It just didn’t get a good grip on me. There were parts that just felt like I had to drag myself to read them over.

I didn’t care about Jessica, AT ALL.

I almost got through the book not reading any of her parts. Personally, I think the book could have been told solely on Eric’s perspective and it would have been fine. She bored me. And I almost instantly knew that she was the girl on the lake (spoiler). I just did. She did not have one striking attribute to her, besides the fact that she is a Shade and is the 3rd descendant which was assigned to her by the author essentially.

That prophecy though *slaps forehead*

Forgive me, but what in the world? Did that just? Really? No. Noooo. Why? WHY? When I saw what the “real” prophecy was, I just had to chuckle. IT was just so unexpected for me. A hero’s ladylove is his weakness, yeah sure, but how? Nothing actually weakens within him, nothing happens? No explanation on how it happens. Getting traced because of her? Her being used against you? That’s not weakness, that’s DANGER. I get the whole love thing, I just thought it could have been played out much better, way better than how it was done. To be quite fair I think Shoman (or Eric, I like his Shade name better) and Jessica are a perfect fit and I would root for them if I would read the next books (which probably wouldn’t happen).

I finished reading it because I just wanted to give it a fair share to be honest but not because it was a page turner for me. It just was not for me.

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Have you read this book? What are your thoughts on it? Are you attracted to guys who have a dark side?

Eight Letters to a Young Writer by Teju Cole

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Eight Letters to a Young Writer is a fictional exercise of letters addressed to a fictional young Nigerian writer. The letters contained advice or as the author said ‘suggestions’ as to how the young writer should go on pursuing his passion for writing stories.

I came about this (magnificent) piece of work because of an article by The Daily Post. It intrigued me because 1. it said recommended reading and 2. it said letters. Not many of you may know but I enjoy reading and making letters. In fact I recently posted a fictional letter here in my blog entitled A Letter from Casandra. I love writing letters and little notes. I make them for people, leave them at restaurants or coffee places or book shops, just everywhere! With all these crazy technology of how people communicate, I still find that a heartfelt letter or a sweet note still does the job like no other.

I write a lot, about a lot of things. I write more than I talk to be honest. It has been like that for me all my 24 glorious years.

When I saw that this letter was addressed to a young writer, I knew I had to read it. It was not because I plan on becoming a novelist. No. It was simply because I write.

Looking at my notebook right now, the first thing I wrote was WOW. Just wow. I couldn’t describe it with any other word except BEAUTIFUL. The eloquence and the sincerity and just how fluid the writing spoke to me. You know it came from a place of truth despite being addressed to a fictional writer. The passion in writing is palpable. I planned to review and give my thoughts on each of the eight letters, but thinking through it, I figured it would be useless. The letters were created to complement each other, and commence from where the previous one ended.

Read more than you write… Your originality will mean nothing unless you can understand the originality of others.

During the course of reading the letters, I found myself nodding, and feeling enlightened with so many things, just like how my love for Garcia Marquez as an author is grounded on reflecting reality as it is, poignant and raw. It is a good read for authors and reviewers (readers) alike. For one, it gave me better insight on how authors think, and the risks they take in telling their stories. In a way, it has helped me categorize authors, not by the genre for which they write, but by their voice they choose to be heard and writing style. Reading on, I came to the conclusion that authors don’t really choose a very narrow and specific audience when writing, but a certain set of reactions like Cole said. Reactions which are not so vague, yet not so eccentric to the point of being unrelatable at all. This has definitely given me new insight on how I read books, and how I try to interpret them to my point of view.

It is a concept that can be expanded infinitely, for what we call originality is little more than the fine blending of influences. No one is going to lay claim to having discovered the use of colour to show elation, or expressing sorrow by means of pacing, or the peculiar thrill of unfolding a thematic element and varying it.

The letters spoke to me more towards the end when he talked about writing, and writing, and writing some more. He spoke of how authors should write every single day, just like how musicians live to play. Keeping a journal and daring to bore readers. Those words stuck to me the most together with reading more than you write. I could have just highlighted the whole thing to be quite honest. It felt like every piece of word placed beside each other has been thought of meticulously. Plus he had this slight bias over ‘heavy reads’ so I felt like he was my BFF. Reaching the final letter, I got the sense that though it was addressed toward another, the author was reflecting on himself, and the words were directed more to himself than any other. How he talked about fearlessness, and refusing to bend to the weight of the more famous, common plots.

The answer is simple: keep a journal. It amazes me how often people call themselves writers and yet fail to write. Runners run everyday, and they know that not every run is a race. Musicians play music perpetually, but not every time they pick up the guitar is a concert.

It’s weird, but I felt a comforting, warm feeling reading the letters. I didn’t read them all at once, but when I did read a letter or two, it felt like a treat. I will keep this for the rest of my life that is for sure, and probably re-read it many times. I suggest that everyone read it, authors and readers. It is a gem. This isn’t a book, but just to show how much I want everyone to read it.

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Plus all my love…

Do yourself a favor. READ. IT. You’re welcome.

Here is the link to the PDF form.

Why I Don’t Read Romance

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This is bad. Sadly, I am developing the habit of writing in very unholy hours like 2:13 AM. And in case you are wondering, yes, that is the current time here where I live. It’s a problem I know.

I believe I said in my last post that I finally picked up The Covenant by Beverly Lewis and I also said that I hope to finish it this week. Well, this was what happened. I finished it in LESS THAN A DAY. I’ve already decided not to make a review about it just because I feel like everybody has made one and the reviews on Goodreads about the whole series are very detailed as well. Now that I have rambled about things unrelated to the title of this post, LET’S MOVE ON…

I think I have more than hinted about my let’s say, unpleasant relationship with romance novels. In fact the ONLY romance novel I have really ever liked, and by 372154saying that I mean love and hold dear is Love Story by Erich Segal. Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy with me here but I totally plan on buying one for myself just because I would re-read the living lights out of that book. Critiques on this book have been extremely bipolar and honestly it’s the kind of book you either hate or love.

No grey areas I’m afraid. Well, I love it and to those people saying it’s…

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Anyway, since I read this what, maybe 10 years ago? Maybe more, I have never, ever found one that came close to how I adored it. Yup, not even Fault in Our Stars. Shocking, I know. I have tried, several times, to try and read romance novels. The ones which really tackle love as its main theme and I have been disappointed or just felt ‘meh’ EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. So, I have tried to narrow it down on a few points. Disclaimer: Love Story is an exception to rule. Okay.

They will NEVER happen in real life.

Every time I get past the introductory chapters I’m just like “Girl that doesn’t even happen on planet Earth!” It gets so frustrating. I guess I like the realistic take on things like love on books. It just tugs at heartstrings much more effectively and sincerely. Why can’t they just capture street-love rather than TV-love.. you know what I’m sayin’?

They are too freakin’ dramatic!

Everything feels like an emergency. Like chill people, he bought flowers, so? Did he kiss and makeout? Did I miss that part? No? Then stop glaring, shut up and be a lady! Don’t even start being overly melodramatic on me. I’m not even kidding.

Why do they ALWAYS play dumb?

People are probably hating on me right now, but hey, to each is his own right? You know when you read something which is as clear as daylight a sign that the characters are so into each other and one suddenly decides to be oblivious and not know anything? Yep, that moment when you say ‘What the f—” Yes, those ones.

Making People Cry

This is apparently a trend and a measure of how good a book is. I DISAGREE. I didn’t shed one bit of tear for FIOS but I thought it was a good book, although I would have to say it wasn’t a romance novel in essence. It’s more like a novel about life. A good tearjerker I feel comes naturally. And some authors do that beautifully. Sometimes it becomes evident that they try too hard. Sad is okay.. let’s not make everything about tears and sobs.

I’ve seen that before haven’t I?

Sometimes they can get cliche. Like same story and plot and you guess what was going to be the ending by the first 50-75 pages. Don’t they think people are jaded with girls or boys falling in love and one dies or one is poor or one is sick or one is sinfully hot and gets the girl because he is not who he seems he is.

Please don’t get me wrong, I really like a good love story when it is skillfully crafted within a book whose focus is not romance. I root for couples in books. I just feel like character development is so important in writing good love angles and focusing too much on “the love story” takes away the simple element of personality for each character to be effective love interests.

Do you like romance novels? Which books can you recommend? I will try some time to dabble in romance reading but for now I think I’m good. 🙂

That Dark Realm of the UNREAD + Ben Elton and The Covenant

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My mom recently cleaned out an area in our house where piles of books are taller than I am. Well, let’s face it a lot of things are taller than me but you get my point. After what I thought was an explosion of paper and books of all sorts, I am now facing the glaring fact that I NEED A PROPER BOOKSHELF. I mean if only my books could talk. Anyway, as I was scanning through the inventory (ooh, fancy) I thought

  1. Wow, I have a lot.. From all sorts of genres…
  2. I should probably refrain from buying until I have a proper shelf for them to live in and be safe and warm
  3. Psshhhh WHO CARES… Christmas is coming and we should be merry right? Well MERRY = BOOKS.
  4. That’s funny, I haven’t actually read some of these.

Yup. I never thought I’d say it. But I bought books only to condemn them into the dark realm of the UNREAD. I’m sorry okay? But I’m sure I’m not alone in this, you know, buying books only to shove them at the back of the pile never to be seen again for like 5 centuries. And now, they are back to haunt me. TO be honest, I feel bad when that happens. I feel like I wasted something. And in a sense that might be true.

I can’t even remember picking these up. BUT, I have this kind of rule where I will try my best to read and finish a book. I think the only book I have really given up on and tossed in the  DNF land was Tess of the D’Urbervilles which is creepily in the table beside me right now.

I picked up The Covenant by Beverly Lewis from the lot and I made it a mission to start reading it tonight and finish it this week. I don’t have the slightest idea what it is about which is probably a stupid thing since from what I have heard this is a pretty famous book. All I know is that it was published in 2002, not a fantasy novel, and is a part of a series of books by the author.

Also, on a slightly related note (what?), my sister is a big fan of Ben Elton and she has a lot of his books some of which she has left here since she can only have so much in her dorm room. I skimmed through one of them with her and I have been delighted with what I have read so far. Are any of you fans of Elton as well? Which if his books will you recommend for me to read first?

I Don’t Make Resolutions

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I know this post is quite late on the “new year’s resolutions bandwagon” but I’m still gonna do it just because. So here it goes, I’m gonna say it.

I don’t make resolutions.

I believe I tried a few times, but then, after seeing how a painful imbecile I can be when it comes to sticking to them, I gave up. I’ve had quite a few New Years in my life and every single year I would hear resolutions being made, promised, followed, compromised, and broken. Such a pitiful fate for those resolutions don’t you think? And since I am a very nice person, I spare them from pitiful fate from me. I know I tried to make them when I was younger, but I can’t remember when I stopped. Just like I could never figure out how I stopped believing in Santa (although between you and me, I still think he is somewhere out there *wink*).

If I am not imagining things, I believe those resolutions during earlier years consisted of me controlling my weight and eating better and healthier. And so now when I think about it, I understand why I stopped doing it. It just does’n’t work out. The struggle is real people. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. Now don’t confuse it with me wanting to become stick thin, simply because I refuse to become stick thin, much more than I think I don’t have the capacity to become one. As I have said in my previous post, I am working towards self-acceptance and confidence and I intend to stand by it. But that does not me I can’t want to be healthy. I have had, and am still having, health issues arising from my weight. I intend to live a reasonable number of years. I am on the process of convincing myself it’s really, really worth it and that I should start NOW. It takes a lot of willpower and I you need to be absolutely committed if you want to see results and not fall disappointed for the nth time.

I see people make promises and bucket lists. Personally, I like bucket lists and I have one of those too! I recently went to Hong Kong for a whole week and got that crossed out. But promises? Hmmm, I dunno. Wouldn’t that be the same as resolutions? Now, I’m not throwing shade on those who make resolutions. I really think that it is a healthy practice for setting goals for the whole. It works wonderfully for others, but it hasn’t for me for years. Now, I am contemplating on making resolutions for myself. I know, I know it’s late, but you know me, I don’t mind the scrutiny. Let’s see. I would probably write my journey towards resolutions yeah? I am thinking of creating small resolutions every month. We’ll see how that goes.

Let’s spend the New Year making our dreams come true and making our lives how we want them to be!

#WW: The Lonely Writer

So, so true

Shannon A Thompson

#WW: The Lonely Writer

Writing can be lonely. The career often demands hours of solitude – aside from our characters – and while our characters can be very real to us, there are still those days where a living, breathing human being might be nice to talk to. Most of the time, this urge only comes to me when I can’t find the strength to face my characters, and one of those times is right now.

I won’t call it writer’s block. I don’t believe in it. Writer’s block is almost a hysteria to me. But I can admit that I currently have writer’s depression – well, in reality, I think it’s safe to say I am depressed – but calling it writer’s depression allows me to focus on how my sadness affects my writing life.

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Ever since losing my publisher, it has been difficult. It has been hard to…

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And Now We Wait

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I am now sitting waiting for huge doors leading to a foreign land open. It’s a new year and i pretty much start it by waiting. Lame? Maybe not… I think we all wait. For something, for someone, for things we want or we dread. Nevertheless, I find it quite fun right? Not knowing what to find on the other side? Oh, and by the way, happy happy new year everyone!