Monday 24 February 2014

Holy mother*beep* what the *beep* did I just read? - Suicide Ride: The Platinum Man (Suicide Ride #1) by E. Llewellyn

Grasping at straws, his eyes sought the fabled Art Deco marquee, that notorious neon gimmick designed to shill for a modern residential conversion called the Lofts: surely it would not disappoint. The graphic quintessence of California, it would call up everything that Hollywood was supposed to be: nights with stars, golden records, and round turntables ...
   But no. Yawning campily from the opposite corner, it, too, was a huge let-down. Like everything else he laid eyes on, it failed to live up. A vine never to be climbed, the hype out here wound on forever, like Jack's beanstalk, higher than the mortal eye could see and more Byzantine than the most Machiavellian mind could dream.

W.T.F??? Word vomit much? I HATE to belittle any book like this, but WTF? Give me a minute. I'm gobsmacked. Speechless. I think my eyeballs are bleeding. I need to forget I ever read this, my brain is hurting!

I don't know what to say, except that this author obviously LOVES the sound of her own freaking voice, and has MURDERED any chance the plot had of making this a decent read. Total savagery, I tell you. My brain had a hard time understanding what was happening, because the author kept rearing her head every opportunity she could get with her arrogant display of ... well ... what I can only describe as WORD VOMIT. HOW can ANYONE get what ANY of those jumbles of words are supposed to mean? It's a HOT MESS!

I have never written anything so negative before, and I never thought I would, but good lord does this book deserve it. And guess what, my FIRST DNF! Yup! My masochism draws a line somewhere after all! Yet not enough to stay away all together. I heard about this unfortunate book through some friends on Goodreads. There were lots of negative reviews, and then there was the author and her puppies who attacked these reviewers/readers (like, really nasty attacks), and this got my curiosity piquing. Even for great books there are negative reviews, there will always be negative reviews. But this particular author seemed to take EVERY review that was not a glowing 5 star review personally and decided to go on a rage and bully all those that didn't give it 5 stars so that they'd take down their reviews. And her and her muppets succeeded because many retract their reviews. Shame on you, Elizabeth Llewellyn.

Anyway, I heard about the first few chapters being available to read for free on Amazon, so I decided that I needed to see why the author was so aggressively defending her work, needless to say that there is an interview with her here, where she arrogantly boasts about herself and her writing like she's freaking God's gift to the reading public. That was it, I had to see what all the fuss was about. And dear lord, did I get smacked in the head or what. My head is still spinning.

What is it even about? *shrugs shoulders* How the hell should I know? I think you would have to be the author to know. Like I said, it's a hot mess. Okay wait, I got a little of it. It's about a straight guy who wants to be a famous rockstar ... or something ... and meets a gay guy who is a record producer and owns a bar and they meet and get together. The main guy, Johnny, he's like super dark and handsome and mysterious and hot, or something. And the other guy, he's drawn to Johnny because he's like super dark and handsome and mysterious and hot, or something. Whatever. I think that was the gist of it. I'm surprised I understood anything from that mumbo jumbo of words regurgitated from the thesaurus. Oh poor thesaurus. Talk about abuse of the thesaurus. This book was a prime example of that. Would authors please put the freaking thesaurus down? We don't need you to string together a bunch of fancy words that don't even make sense in the context you're using them just so you can sit back and marvel at your creation. PLEASE! It's not a masterpiece if it doesn't make sense! It's supposed to be a STORY! And if the writing protrudes from the page and distracts the reader from the flow of the plot then you are failing to engage your readers, hence, failed storyteller.

I feel if I keep going my reasonably controlled rage-rant will turn into a profanity-laden rage-rant. And when I began my blog, I swore to myself that I would not go down that path. But good God am I tempted with this one. Especially when I recall the author abusing her readers. GRRR!

Let me just torture you with some more examples of thesaurus abuse displayed in this novel.

In this place, even the lampposts wanted nailing, for worry they'd have no takers: everything here could be had, for a price.
Again, WTF? Horny lampposts? LOL. I'm on the floor. Laughing. Crying. Laughing.

At last count, of the roughly seven thousand greenbacks he had started out with, all he had left was a measly sixty-nine hundred--not an altogether mean sum, he reckoned, for a pimpled deadhead hitting the road; but for a newly unemployed twenty-nine-year-old petticoat-mechanic, with not other proper work experience, and now no old man to fall back on? --It was a pittance!
What the hell is a "petticoat-mechanic"???

Seizing a nosebleed seat in the centre of the outermost ledge of semi-circular bleachers, he held a conductor's view of the imposing amphitheater, boiling in the topographical pan of Bolton Canyon like a gutted quarter-egg. Beyond it, the rolling range of burnt-out hills spiked into the crazing blue sky like the helter-skelter EKG reading of a wildly beating heart.

At the fibrillating limit, digging deeply into the domed horizon, the seemingly immovable, iconic HOLLYWOOD sign stood its shaky ground. Disporting its wee Eiffel-Tower party hat and flashing its pearly whites for all the world to see, it lorded its bleaching crowns over the sun-stained local yokels yukking it up down in the browned-out Valley below ...
*scratches head* I think it's talking about the Hollywood sign ...

The Bowl would shelter him in utero, wrap him like a second skin. Dragging his graceless, falling, sin-grimed body inside its reverberating drum and drubbing it clean, it would spin-rinse him dry, then orbit him back out again--pure and white as the high-gloss paint on its crib-like hull, unsullied and as full of unrealized potential as a brand-spanking new baby.
Okay, you really lost me. Totally.

Tortured enough yet? Eyeballs criss-crossed? Thought so. I'm done.


Nora xoxo

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My first New Adult genre book, Out of the Ashes ... this one stays in the ashes for me - Out of the Ashes (Out of the Ashes #1) by Diana Gardin

I've been sitting on this review for a while. Like, a really long time, actually. I wrote it a few days after I had finished it, because I didn't want to give a negative review until I had time to think about it and ensure that my initial feelings were warranted. And my initial feelings were not good. And when I read over my review, I felt bad about posting it because this is self-pubbed and I did not want to contribute to its downfall, neither did I want to write a dishonest review for the sake of being nice. But now that I've had time to think it over, like two months later, I've decided to post my review because, well, I wasted my precious time reading it, so I have a right to my honest opinion. And that's what I do, I post honest reviews. So here it is. But first, let me get this clear, this is not my usual genre, I don't ever read NA contemporary, I'm more of a YA dystopian reader so that may affect my judgement. I received an arc from the author so I decided to give it a shot.

Paige has lived through a traumatic experience (a fire) and is a year delayed in starting college as she spent a considerable amount of time in hospital. It begins with Paige and her best friend Gillian, who has helped Paige through the tough time and is now supporting her decision to go to college. We learn about Paige's struggles right away, and we understand that Gillian is basically the perfect best-friend.

When Paige goes to college she meets Clay, a supposed playboy who falls in insta-love with Paige and we have a romance that progresses faster than I can say 'er'. And then we meet Hannah, a former flame of Clay's who is basically only there to serve as a villain and make life hell for our Romeo & Juliet. So basically, it's a love story, with a few obstacles thrown in here and there to make it interesting. I feel like the whole traumatic experience thing didn't really serve a purpose for the story as it was just a love story, with random obstacles. Like the fact that we had a jealous ex-girlfriend, but then there's a sprinkling of reasons for Clay to also feel insecure and jealous just to keep it interesting. I didn't really buy it. It felt too cliché and forced. Clay and Paige's relationship, felt unnatural. Like, how did they just fall in love? Where were the parts where we connect with the characters and see why/how they fall in love with each other? I felt like this was missing.
I mean, I like the characters, but I didn't LOVE them. I didn't even hate Hannah (who is a bat-shit cray cray biatch), but the fact that I didn't feel much about the situation tells me that the author didn't succeed in engaging me with the characters. There was no process of building the connection, or maybe there was a little bit but it felt unnatural, forced. I just didn't really care about the characters. I mean, Paige has been through something major, so traumatic, and I feel horrible for saying this but I didn't really care. It didn't really affect me the way it should have.

Voice. This was a real problem for me. It felt like I could hear the author's voice the entire time, and not each individual character's voice, which made it impossible to really immerse myself in their world and connect with them. The writing is at times purple prosy and overwhelms the plot, which distracts me from the story and I begin to go cross-eyed and my eyeballs feel like they will drop from their sockets because I'm reading through a jungle of words put together for the sake of sounding intelligent but really, it's just freakin' distracting. Ahem, sorry. Seriously though, just write a freakin' story people, stop trying to sound all prosy and writer-y and like you regurgitated the thesaurus onto the page, just write the damn story!

Let me explain this in simple terms. For instance, when the characters speak to each other, it sounds more like they are writing to each other rather than conversing. Also, there are way too many instances where characters each have turns at speaking whole passages to each other, it sounds like a speech. People don't speak to each other in paragraphs. We speak in short sentences in everyday conversation, we speak over each other, we make funny noises, we make expressions. It was like the author wanted to tell us rather than show us. But people communicate 70% more through body language rather than speech. Also, people don't speak in correct English to each other, we don't use the correct grammatical terms etc. Especially not 20 year old college students. I can see how the author tried at times to convey their age through slang terms, but some of those terms felt a little outdated, and other times where they were speaking looked the same as the their thoughts. People don't articulate their thoughts exactly the way they were thinking it into speech. We filter, and we don't all think and speak the same way. But sometimes it was hard to tell, especially with the dual pov, sometimes I forgot whose pov I was reading. 
About the previous thing I mentioned, that 20 year olds don't speak they way we'd write, here's a part where Clay is reassuring Paige that she's not dragging him down. 

"You could never do that. I don't think you realize what an upper you are. You're like a phoenix, rising out of the ashes. I can't even understand how you stand up every day, much less do everything you're doing. I'm humbled by you, Paige. Perfectly humbled. You're amazing."

Yeah, it's that kind of book.

Also, what 20 year old guy speaks like that? A phoenix rising out of the ashes? Unless he was a lit major and studied lots of Shakespeare type literature, but we know he's not. Even so, WHAT FREAKIN 20 YEAR OLD SPEAKS LIKE THAT? Clay is supposed to be a typical cool-guy player turned loved-up puppy, so, seriously, how did he begin speaking like he's freakin' Rumi or something? See what I mean by it all feels a little unnatural and forced?

Another thing, it seems like they are all perfect with no flaws with perfect relationships and the only reason why there's any tension is due to other people. Basically, if there's no Hannah, or obstacles like her, then Clay and Paige's group would be perfect (Mary Sue alert). They're all so nice to each other (I call it cupcake-nice), and it's annoying because it's unrealistic. Everything is too cliché. Paige has the perfect best-friend, the perfect secondary friends (all who say the perfect things to her, always complimenting her and saying nice things and supporting her), a perfect boyfriend who instantly gives up his life of love-crimes to be her perfect Romeo, and the perfect scenario where a string of potential interested parties (competition for Clay) begin to appear at the perfect times to pepper the story with intrigue. It's all too damn perfect and cup-cakey. I mean, both Clay and Paige have love-sick psycho's who will do anything for them (however twisted) is a stretch. What are they, a love God and love Goddess who once a person has had a taste, MUST have him/her at ANY cost? Or is this an America where college students have gone all Bollywood and deep passionate love even at the cost of the most extreme of acts is the norm? Nope, I don't buy it. Hannah alone as the third party who-won't-give-up was enough. But to throw in a second and maybe a third into the mix? It doesn't sit right with me.

Look, it wasn't all that bad. Maybe it was that it's not my usual genre so I'm used to characters being put in much tougher situations like the world ending etc and having to be tough and there being no room for the fluffy drama that this book entailed, but it is what it is. This is how I saw it. There was a cliffhanger at the end which has me interested to know what happens next -- wait, no, I lie, I'm not really interested in the sequel -- it didn't engage me enough to want to lock the release date of the next book in my calendar. I'm sorry, I'm really sorry because I really wanted my first NA to be a great experience so I can be interested in reading more, but this is my honest review :-/ And come to think of it, it's not that I don't like the genre, I'm still open-minded about the genre, I think it was just this one. The writing, the plot, the bad characterisation, the dialogue. Look, I'm trying to be nice but it's just not working. I'm sorry! BUT, good news is, it's not the WORST I've ever read, it's not THAT bad. Oh God, I feel like Smeagol right now.

I am hoping with my fingers and toes crossed that the sequel improves over this one. Because the backstory is okay, if not executed entirely well. I guess if you're an NA fan, you MAY like it. So if you read it I hope you like it and you tell me I'm wrong wrong, completely wrong and just didn't get it because I'm outside of my area of experience or interest. Read it and tell me it's me and not the book. Because I wish the best for this author, I see what she was trying to do, create an epic love story, one worth believing that insta-love happens, and I love love, so I hope she can translate that better in the next one.

Sorry Diana.


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Nora xoxo

Not a stunner but worth a read - Defy (Defy #1) by Sara B. Larson

This is about a girl, Alexa Hollen, whose parents die at the hands of a sorcerer, and to prevent her from being forced into the rape house -- you heard me -- rape house, where girls are taken to breed future soldiers for the king's army because their country is engaged in a war, her and her twin brother disguise her as a boy and she becomes Alex, joining the Prince's Guard as an expert swordsman/guard. If alarm bells are not ringing in your head right now, then nothing shocks you my friend.

First of all, there is a lot of mention about these rape/breeding houses, and there is one scene where Alex/Alexa and her brother are introduced to the rape house, but it's a brief part of the book and we're not told much. It feels like the only purpose of the existence of the rape houses is so the main protagonist can disguise herself as a boy (hello Mulan) and provide an opportunity for her to get close to the Prince.

I'm still scratching my head as to the reason given in the book for the rape houses -- to breed soldiers to aid in the war. WTF? Are you thinking what I'm thinking? WTF? What are they thinking? That babies pop out as ready-made soldiers? Wouldn't it take, I don't know, like at least fifteen YEARS before these babies are old enough to wield a sword in a war against the enemy? Or am I missing something here, maybe in this world babies are able to fight ... ? Hmm.

It's things like that, that make me feel like the plot is missing a lot and the author didn't entirely think it all through. It just didn't feel right. For example, there is virtually no world-building. We get that they live in a jungle area or something. We get that from all of Alex's complaining about the jungle humidity and her fear of the jungle (so much for a totally badass expert fighter). That's another thing, Alex is supposed to be a totally badass expert swordsman/fighter, so much so that she is THE BEST. She can kick anyone's ass. But for some reason, I just didn't buy it. It felt too much like the author kept telling us that for the sake of having a kick-ass heroine, but Alex wasn't really a badass in reality but more of a whiney teen girl who pants at all the hot, topless males around her, and whines about the jungle, and the humidity, and the jungle. Badass Alex just did not work. Normal teenager Alex did work however. The author should just quit trying to portray her a fighter, and listen to Alex's heart, which is a normal, teen girl who wants to pant after hot, topless males, and whine about the jungle, and the humidity, and the jungle.

Rylan. Borrrrrrrrring. I don't even want to talk about him. Because there's nothing to talk about. He's boring. Lacks depth. There's not much to say. Except that his sole purpose in the book is to be the third person in the love triangle. Stupid love triangle. I used to love love triangles. Now I only like them. But this one, meh. Stupid love triangle.

Did I mention something happens to Alexa's twin, Marcel (I'm surprised I remember his name) right in the beginning of the book that is supposed to serve as something to make Alexa even more kick-ass and want revenge and blah blah blah. But I just didn't feel her emotions the way I should have in this situation. Yawn.

Prince Damian. He is the only one, I repeat, the only character I actually liked. At the beginning he is a spoilt, annoying brat of a prince. But then he turns out to be an admirable man with a backstory that explains his behaviour and explains the situation he is in and why he is doing what he's doing and what he plans to do. His story makes sense. His story is actually interesting and believable. It's the only parts of the book I liked. Prince Damian is interesting. He has depth in character. At first, there is an air of mystery around him, and when slowly the mystery unravels, I began to like him more and more, until I really liked him and was rooting for him. I rooted for him to be with Alex, even though Alex is boring and stupid. Maybe I should have rooted for her and Rylan, because they are both boring and stupid. Hmm.

For the most part, I felt the plot needed more work. It just didn't mesh well for me. There needed to be world-building, there needed to be more characterisation, there just needed to be ... more. There was something lacking. It took me a while to read. And by a while, I mean like, over a month, I think ... ? Why did I keep reading, you ask? Because I'm one of those people that can't quit, no matter how bad the book, I need to finish it. Just like movies, to my family and friends' annoyance, when I or someone unfortunately chooses a crappy B-grade movie and it's obvious in the first 5 minutes that it will be 2 hours of our lives we'll never get back, I always insist on still watching the crappy B-grade movie till the end because we've already started it, even if it means poking my eyeballs with a needle would be more enjoyable. Yes, I am that annoying person.

In saying all that, the end changed my mind, as it was surprisingly interesting enough to make me want to read the next one. I'm not dying for the sequel, I am entirely happy to wait. But I like the last couple of chapters much more than the first half. It actually turned me from rolling my eyes constantly, to being satisfied to keep reading.

So yeah, it's worth a read, just in between other series' when you're awaiting other releases. Passes the time well. Sorry for the negative review, I'm not one for them, but I have to be honest. My opinions are my own.


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I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy. All quotes were taken from an uncorrected galley and is subject to change in the final edition

Nora xoxo

Sunday 23 February 2014

A satisfying conclusion to an extraordinary series! - Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky #3) by Veronica Rossi

Umm, WOW! My review may be biased because ... well ... because Veronica Rossi had me at hello and so she could not have done wrong by me even if she totally messed everything up after the first book--wait, no, that's not true, I may have had psychotic thoughts if she messed with my Aria or Perry, but alas, she did not so I am a happy chicken and saved me from a turn to the dark side :-D (big, goofy smiley).

I am depressed the series is over though. So let me hang in the world of Perry and Aria for just a little longer while I gush about the awesomeness of this book.

So this takes off almost immediately after the events of 'Through the Ever Night', when Perry and Aria save the Dwellers from the collapse of Reverie and bring them to the cave where the Outsiders are taking refuge from the Aether. Now the two groups are forced to live together while Perry figures out what to do about their survival (poor Perry, so young yet the fate of 400 people lies in his hands, *sigh*). Cinder, the kid with the power to call the Aether is held by Sable (the other Outsider town's leader) and Hess (Reverie leader), who plan to use him to escape the Aether, cross the ocean and into the Still Blue. Perry and Aria assemble a small team (that includes Roar - *happy dance*), and set off to retrieve Cinder, as well as more Hovers to accommodate the numbers in their camp to the Still Blue. But of course, their mission is riddled with complications, sadness, loss, and also some 'feels' moments (insert winking smiley face).

Perry is my favourite character, closely followed by Roar. In 'Into the Still Blue', Perry is once again faced with the huge responsibility of leading his people, and part of doing that is to get Cinder back, so that he can get back to the Tides and figure out a way to save everyone and lead them into the Still Blue. I commend Veronica on her ability to write the duel perspective of Perry and Aria, and still be able to get across the difference in character voices. There are too many authors who write duel perspectives and fail in this because both protagonists end up sounding the same. Perry has a unique voice, and his inner thoughts and struggles are communicated to the reader strongly where we are able to really understand the burden he bears as Blood Lord. Perry is the kind of character who, even if you don't like him as a person or the decisions he makes, you are at least able to respect and admire him. It has just occurred to me that Perry is my all-time favourite male character ever. He is the perfect mixture of everything you (*I*) want in a male lead. He is strong when it counts, strategic, masculine, sexy, mysterious, and all those divinely manly attributes, but also softer when needed. He is extremely empathetic, selfless, loving, caring (even when others don't appreciate it), patient and kind. I know that if I were living in a world where there was an electric storm thingy threatening the existence of humankind I would want Peregrine to be my leader. He never asks of anything of anyone that he would not himself do. You will know what I mean when you read the book -- beware of the 'feels'. It is a pleasure to read Perry's chapters. It's also a pleasure to read Aria's chapters because we get to see Perry from her point of view (I want more Perry, Veronica!).

Roar. Poor, sweet, Roar. Although there is lots of Roar in this book for Roar-lovers, obviously you won't get him the way you want him because he is dealing with the loss of Liv, his love. It gets a little annoying at times because he lashes out at Perry, but later on when we learn why it's understandable, and I guess the tension between them eventually amounts to a brotherly make-up which warms the heart. I love their relationship, the brotherly bond. It's almost as pleasing to read about as the Perry-Aria romance. I also love the brotherly-sisterly bond Roar has with Aria. He cares for her deeply, and I love that you just know that he would sacrifice his own life for her, which shows what a loyal, caring, loving friend he is. Roar is (or should be) the definition of a best friend. He is cruel like how a best friend can be (jokingly), but also kind. I really felt for Roar, and I think the way he deals with his grief, though overwhelmingly bitter at times, is realistic.

Aria. I think Aria took a back seat in this book. I think I was expecting for Aria to grow from an untrained but lovely girl in Book 1, to a bit more of a useful fighter/leader in Book 3. But we don't really see much active leadership from her as I expected in this, Perry does most of that. I guess it's okay, because not everyone has to be kickass. Most YA authors are doing the whole kickass female heroine, and it's okay with me that Veronica didn't force Aria down that path. I see Aria as sweet, empathetic, kind, nurturing, loving of the whole world, forgiving, and always concerned about the wellbeing of others. I don't entirely see the point of her accompanying Perry and the team on their mission to get Cinder back, but I'm glad she did because Roar needed her, as well as Perry (more emotionally than anything else), and perhaps also Soren, because he is a loose canon and she acted as a buffer and controlled things somewhat between him and the others. Although Aria is not my favourite character after this book, I still love her.

The rest of the supporting characters are all as awesome as they were in the previous book. Molly, Bear, Brooke, Willow, Cinder, the Six, and even Flea the dog are all back. There are a couple of scenes with Flea that are so adorable. I love that Veronica wrote those parts in, they break away from the impending threats and make you laugh out loud. I actually laughed out loud. There are some really sad and tragic things that happen, and I still can't believe happened. I was so sad. I won't say who, but I really felt for this particular character and I wanted to hug them and not let go.

Romance. The romance between Perry and Aria is existent, but not as much as the first book. It would be a bit hard to carry out a romance when you're fighting to survive and trying to lead 400 people. Perry still manages to find some time for Aria, and he makes those moments count. I love that they both know how much they love each other, but don't need to suffocate each other to express it. I also love that Aria takes a step back and gives Perry the space he needs to carry out all his responsibilities, even if she doesn't agree with his tactics and decisions, she respects him enough to trust him and let him do what he needs to do. I like that she doesn't feel the need to steal the spotlight and be her own hero, but trusts in his ability as a leader, and supports him, but is also her own person at the same time and remains true to herself. I love their relationship. There is a harmonious understanding and bond between them that is beautiful to read about.

Veronica, thank you for respecting what the fans wanted and not ruining the series with your conclusion, but instead writing a fitting end to a wonderful series. Too many authors feel like they need to create a dramatic end to make it memorable (whatever), and too many times that approach has killed the entire series for me, so much so, that when I hear the spoilers of tragic ends (through the wonderful world of social media), I lose interest in reading the conclusion because I think the end will ruin the entire series for me and I don't want to remember it that way (I'm looking at you Veronica Roth). I am pleased to say that there is none of that B.S in this series, and I was able to sleep peacefully the night I finished it (with a huge, goofily satisfied grin on my face).

Thank you, Veronica Rossi :-D


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Nora xoxo