Saturday, January 24, 2015

Review: The Blackwell Family Secret: Guardians of the Sin by Jonathan L. Ferrara

(graphic: Goodreads)
My rating: 5/5 stars
Original language: English
Series: (I don't know)
Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Fantasy (Urban Fantasy), Religious
Published: December 5th 2014 by Dragonwell Publishing
Pages: 230 (ebook)
Source: I received an ecopy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Nicholas Blackwell has no idea he is supposed to fulfill a destiny. All he knows is that he draws trouble like a magnet. Orphaned at seven when two demonic men killed his parents, he copes with the strict rules of his new home, St. Christopher’s academy, unaware that he has been the real target for the killers and that his guardian angel has saved him in the nick of time. And now, his problems are only beginning when a mysterious serpent lures him into the woods and tricks him into a demonic ritual that will unleash the Seven Deadly Sins to destroy the humankind. Nicholas has no choice but to correct his mistake--or die trying.

Aided by Amy, a shy but determined girl who seems to know more about his task than she should, Nicholas's quest is to travel into the City of Demonio and defeat the Seven Guardians of Sin. To succeed, he must confront demons, monsters, and lost souls, learn the mysteries of the Chapel of Dreams, discover the true meaning of friendship and love, and face the darkest secret of all: the Blackwell Family Secret.
 (summary : Goodreads)

My Thoughts

At first I expected this to be kind of similar to The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and even though I haven't read The Graveyard Book yet, I don't think they are actually similar. Don't ask me why I thought that, I have no idea.

The whole story is actually a backflip telling how he ended up having to face pure evil. It begins with a flashback in the flashback of Christmas Eve when he was seven years old, the night his parents were murdered. In the beginning that chapter had the radiation of a Christmas carol. It was really beautiful and sad and I couldn’t help but love the characters at first sight.

Now, nine years later, he is at a Catholic academy in the south of England. I was not sure what to think of the religious aspect at first, because I’m not religious myself, but I soon stopped worrying about that aspect because it definitely didn’t play the main role in the story – Sure, it was important, but it was not hard to understand for people who are not that familiar with religion.

The Great Serpent leads Nicholas into a trap and he has to fight the seven sins in the Demon City, called Demonio. Believe me – This Demonio is great! You get out of the elevator down there and are welcomed by a bookshop.

This book was also very funny, sometimes in a dark way, for example there’s the scene where Nicholas’s parents are murdered and there was a detailed explanation on how one of their murderers ate cookies all the time.

I actually kind of flew through this book – It was so fast paced and full of adventure and prophecies, a little drama and a cute little romance.

So: would I recommend it? YES. YES. YES.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: 33 Cent um ein Leben zu Retten by Louis Jensen

picture: Goodreads
My rating: 2.5/5 stars
Original language:  Danish
Series: -
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Published: January 28th 2013 by Carl Hanser Verlag
Pages: 160 (hardcover)
Source: purchased

Kann ein Einzelner mit Idealismus und Engagement die Armut in der Welt bekämpfen? Als der Erzähler dieser Geschichte erfährt, dass man nur 33 Cent täglich braucht, um das Leben eines afrikanischen Kindes zu retten, beschließt er zu handeln. Er jobbt im Supermarkt, sammelt Spenden und verkauft die Hälfte seiner Sachen. Er will Zivilcourage zeigen. Dafür nimmt er sich - wie Robin Hood - auch von denen, die zu viel haben. Er stiehlt und plündert das Konto seines Vaters. Mit seiner Freundin und einem Kühlwagen voller Lebensmittel bricht er schließlich nach Afrika auf. Doch der naive Glaube an ihre gute Tat führt sie direkt ins Unglück. Ein wichtiges Jugendbuch über Gerechtigkeit und den Mut zu helfen. 
(summary: Goodreads)

My Thoughts

“33 Cent um ein Leben zu retten” is a very short book and quite a fast read. Unfortunately I suppose it was not meant to be a fast read but rather something you think about your own actions and lifestyle. But to me this just didn’t work, mostly because the basic ideas weren’t well presented. The main character was completely obsessed with Robin Hood and his plan to rob from all the modern-world-sheriffs, that he almost missed out on the fact that people should do good things by themselves and not be forced to.

Louis Jensen’s writing style is very unique, but it still has that Scandinavian touch. The sentences are quite short and the chapters... Well, let’s just say it’s the first time I saw a passage of four lines as a chapter.

Most of the book was actually not that compelling. The pace was very slow and if it weren’t that short I wouldn’t have finished it. The blurb said it was about the travel to Africa (At least that’s how I got it) but that were only the last few pages. Most of the book was about him collecting money and talking about the legality of Robin Hood.

Then, suddenly, came the ending, and I was so confused. I couldn’t grasp what just happened because the last pages are a few weeks or so after the pages before them and everything changed and it was really chaotic. (This is the moment where mini-me sits in my head pulling her hair and stomping her feet because she is not capable of finding the right words)

I think if you are interested in the idea of the story you should give it a try but otherwise it might be better to find something else that is similar in the idea but not in the implementation.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

ARC Review: Some Kind of Magic by Adrian Fogelin

Picture: Goodreads
My rating: 2.5/5 stars
Original language:  English
Series: -
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Published: April 1st 2015 by Peachtree Publishers
Pages: 192 (hardcover)
Source: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

It's the summer before high school starts for Cass, Jemmie, Ben, and Justin, the neighborhood kids readers met in Crossing Jordan. Ben worries the break will be routine, until his little brother Cody finds a hat left by their missing uncle. The hat leads them to a lost house in the woods. They don't suspect the house with a tragic past might nudge them toward the future.
(summary: Goodreads)

My Thoughts

This is a DNF (Did-not-finish) review as I stopped reading this book at 42 %.

I must say I’m quite disappointed by this book. I expected it to bring some magical feeling with it and everything and make me believe that their summer was actually magical. But, well, it left me stone-cold. I wasn’t sure about the premise already but I thought it was worth a try.

And it probably was. After all, the writing style wasn’t actually that bad. It may not have been the best one but it was fun to read, but after a while not even a good writing style will keep you reading.

Something that annoyed me a little was that the point of view was constantly changing and that it was also mostly first person, so it got kind of confusing. (My indication for the point of view was always the name that they called Justin: Big, Jus or Justin)

But a good thing was that all the characters were on the same stage of development so the dialogue was pretty great and the relationships between the characters were also quite good.
But the characters themselves didn’t convince me: They were supposed to be in year 8 and Cody was about to go to year 2 but their ages didn’t fit. Sometimes the four of them acted like they were Cody’s age and acted completely irresponsible and sometimes they were like 16-year-olds with their relationships (Do you really think that much about kind-of-girlfriends and unanswered love in year 8??? Well, maybe I’m not normal, but I didn’t.)

Another thing was that they did not listen to each other. It made me want to bang my head against something.  They did not respect each other or each other’s fears in any way, or to be more correct, they did not most of the time.

And the actual point why I stopped reading this book is the pace. It was so boring! I was at 40 % and there still wasn’t actually anything happening. I mean, 40 % is nearly 50 % which is half of the book. The story is set in seven days, the first week of summer holidays. And I felt like a lot of the actions were not that important for the plot. I don’t want to read a whole page about Cody eating a peanut butter-sandwich and worrying whether his mother will find out that he ate it on the couch.

So all in all: Read this, if you are up to something light, full of contemporary-fluff but don’t expect to be compelled by the story fast.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ARC Review: Across the Bridge of Ice by Ruth Fox

(picture: Goodreads)
My rating: 3.5/5 stars
Original language:  English
Series: The Bridges Trilogy #2
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Published: January 31st 2015 by Hague Publishing
Pages: 173 (ebook)
Source: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

In 'The City of Silver Light', Keira Leichman spent the night lost in a wild snowstorm that struck Cassidy Heights. But what really happened that night? Not even Keira can be sure. What she does know is that she's been having strange dreams since the accident, and now she's stuck with a broken ankle and the possibility of never playing soccer again. That is, until she finds Jake's telescope, and is drawn across the Bridge of Ice to Shar.
Now Keira is marooned in the City of Silver Light with Daniel, Jake’s younger brother, with no way to get home. But that is the least of their worries, for the secrets they discover in Shar are more dangerous than Kiera could ever have imagined. And the fate of both their worlds are in their hands.
(source: Goodreads)

My Thoughts

The first thing I have to say, is that this book is very short for it has only 173 pages, so I didn't even expect good world building. Well, I was really surprised because the world building was actually pretty good.

The plot was actually good, but I think the story was meant to be really fast-paced although to me it just seemed long-winded in some scenes and a bit like someone telling you a story they just thought of (I’m sure that’s not the case, the world building showed me). The ending confused me a bit because most of the characters started doing things that didn’t do them any good, only to help others (Nothing against helping others, it was just kind of weird).

I love the names of the characters, like Archon, Keira and Cara (The last two sound similar) and they were interesting as well, but somehow I didn’t care about them at all. Maybe it is because they did some really stupid stuff and didn’t think about their actions enough. Also there could have been more focusing on Keira’s powers and her connection to them. Another good thing about these characters is that they were really honest most of the time.

The writing was not exactly my type but it wasn’t bad. It was just more informal and describing and the author seems to have put a lot of thought in this because some of the ideas were really brilliant and I could always picture the surrounding.

I also like the cover, but it makes you think that the book is more Middle Grade than Young Adult.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #3

(picture: Goodreads)
Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen
Publication date: February 3rd 2015 by Henry Holt and Co.
Genre: Childrens, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Retellings
Sarah has always been on the move. Her mother hates the cold, so every few months her parents pack their bags and drag her off after the sun. She’s grown up lonely and longing for magic. She doesn’t know that it’s magic her parents are running from. 

When Sarah’s mother walks out on their family, all the strange old magic they have tried to hide from comes rising into their mundane world. Her father begins to change into something wild and beastly, but before his transformation is complete, he takes Sarah to her grandparents—people she has never met, didn’t even know were still alive. 

Deep in the forest, in a crumbling ruin of a castle, Sarah begins to untangle the layers of curses affecting her family bloodlines, until she discovers that the curse has carried over to her, too. The day she falls in love for the first time, Sarah will transform into a beast . . . unless she can figure out a way to break the curse forever.
(source: Goodreads)

This cover looks really awesome and the reviews for this book are pretty good too, so: be published!
I haven't read that many retellings yet, but the ones I have read were all really good and apparently this has some romance in it.... Hehehehe^^

What books are you waiting for?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Review: Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

(picture: Goodreads)
My rating: 3/5 stars
Original language:  English
Series: -
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Death
Published: December 1st 2014 by Skyscape
Pages: 273 (paperback)
Source: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

A girl with a clockwork heart must make every second count.

When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass “Ticker” in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it’s discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another improved Ticker for Penny, and he’s put on trial for mass murder. 

On the last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthings’ factory is bombed, Penny’s parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings...or is the motive more sinister?

Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.
(content: Goodreads)

My Thoughts

This book started out really good and it ended really good but the middle was... I don't know? A bit weird... So, anyway, the book started with the sentence: A girl with a clockwork heart shouldn't be running late, but I was. It was a positive surprise for me, because, as always, I didn't really read the blurb. I just knew it was steampunk and that kind of was enough. I started reading it and I was honestly happy it wasn't just about weirdly shaped revolvers and airships (It was also about weirdly shaped revolvers and airships) but about a girl with a clockwork heart and therefore about health issues as well. Penny has already lost two sisters and had almost died herself, still she is as sassy as can be. She doesn't think about her actions once and her decisions are often made by instinct, which is in my opinion wrong, if your parents are kidnapped and someone is blackmailing you... I don't understand Penny at all, even though the story is told in 1st person singular, her own point of view. The good thing about it was that she was pretty sarcastic about everything and so am I. 

There was a lot of dialogue in this book, pretty good dialogue. It was what made the story fluent and enthralling (So much I was tempted to skip the rest). The rest meaning, well, all of the names and inventions, most of which weren't really necessary for the story. 

The romance in Ticker was a bit unsatisfying. They met and there was this huge spark - How else could you fall in love with someone you've only known for two days? And then there was a whole lot of arguing and pushing the other one away for such a short time. 

The characters in this story were really mixed: Violet, for example, was a typical badass with a good heart and a strong will. But I liked Warwick, because he wasn't exactly evil. He just did what he thought was right and he tried to help and get over his own loss. I think he was just misunderstood and above all left alone with his grief, something that shouldn't be done to anyone who lost a beloved. All the other characters had their friends and family to mourn with.

All in all I'm not sure, whether I would recommend this book. It definitely has it's good sides, but the bad sides are also undeniable.