Friday, May 15, 2015

Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

My rating: 4/5 stars
Original language: English
Series: The Half Life Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy (Urban Fantasy), Paranormal, Witches, Romance
Published: March 4th 2014 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Pages: 394 pages (Hardcover)
Source: Received via Netgalley

Links: Goodreads 

Summary (from Goodreads)
Wanted by no one.
Hunted by everyone.

Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan's only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it's too late. But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?

My Thoughts

I’ve been meaning to read Half Bad for ages now but every time I was ready to buy it it was either
a) not there or
b) I was on the book buying ban (Thank God that’s over)
But then, one day, I saw Half Bad on Netgalley and decided that I was finally going to read it. I am quite happy I did. Sure, it had some flaws, the main one being the very lengthy mid of the story but other than that it was definitely pretty interesting (And I also suspect this is one of the cases where the story gets better with each book).

The reason for that is, like I said, the book being very slow at times. Actually, the only scene which actually felt like a convincing action scene was one of the last ones. But, hell: That scene was freaking great! But the rest of the story… Well, the first 150 pages or something like that were his complete backstory and the story of how he ended up in the cage. Kind of interesting, but not enough for 150 pages.

The very beginning of the book though is still in the present and there is no other way of describing it but unique. The book starts when the protagonist is already in the cage but you don’t know his name because it is all told in the second person singular. And then the backstory starts, you get to know Nathan and his family better and of course how he got into the cage.

As I already mentioned, the writing is obviously unique and really fascinating: The character somehow shines through all the words, giving you a feeling of who he is before he is properly introduced.
Just one little thing: There was one time that they spoke of Marcus, the big-bad witch, as “you-know-who”. Am I wrong or does this sound weirdly like Voldemort? Maybe it’s just one of these jokes I don’t get…

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: Wayward Volume One: String Theory by Jim Zub

My rating: 4/5 stars
Original language: English
Series: Wayward #1-4
Genre: Comics, Graphic Novels, Fantasy (Urban Fantasy), Paranormal, Cultural (Japan)
Published: March 25th 2015 by Image Comics
Pages: 144 pages
Source: Received via Netgalley

Links: Goodreads 

Summary (from Goodreads)
Rori Lane is trying to start a new life when she reunites with her mother in Japan, but ancient creatures lurking in the shadows of Tokyo sense something hidden deep within her, threatening everything she holds dear. Can Rori unlock the secrets of her power before it's too late?

My Thoughts

Wayward is a nice breath of fresh air in the big group of Japan-themed comics and Graphic Novels (Not even mentioning manga, but they are usually Japan-themed). The drawing was a mixture of comic and manga which suited the setting and the main character, who was half Irish perfectly.

The story starts when Rori moves to Tokyo to her mother after living with her dad alone for more than a year. She gets kind of lost but when she wants to ask someone where she has to go there is some kind of pull to follow a red line in the air and she just knows it’s the right way. (Actually it was pretty weird seeing these red lines, it reminded me of the Avatar – The Last Airbender where there was this killer-mole who could see everything with his nose and always saw Aang as a red line. What I want to say with this is that my theory was that she did not see these lines but rather smelled them, like a cat or something).

The pace is quite good –Too fast at times so it became a bit confusing and there could have been more focus on the characters in some scenes instead of the big fights. But, well I guess when the book actually is about fighting you should expect to find some.

Anyway, I am really anticipating the next book in the series because the ending was just… I can’t actually tell you anything, so you will have to read it but it was pretty incredible!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

ARC Review: From the Ashes by Shelby K. Morrison

My rating: 5/5 stars
Original language: English
Series: Legend of the Liberator #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy (High Fantasy), Magic
Published: May 3rd 2015 by Shelby K. Morrison
Pages: 274 pages (ebook)
Source: Received from author

Links: Goodreads - author website 

Summary (from Goodreads)
For eighteen years Aia Wynnald has lived a lie. Raised as a highborn in the Kingdom of Tharien, she’s filled her days with tutors and archery lessons. But simmering beneath her polite surface is a dangerous gift, one which she must keep a secret. Aia is a Bender. And in Tharien, Benders are feared and hunted.
When her unruly power breaks free with dire repercussions, Aia’s lifelong goal of independence shatters. As she scrambles to piece her life back together while evading capture, she disturbs a vengeful force intent on destroying the kingdom.
Now, with the help of an unlikely ally, Aia will decide the fate of Tharien. To rescue those she cares about will require accepting what she is. But can she risk becoming the monster she’s dreaded to save the very citizens baying for her blood?

My Thoughts

Basically this is about bending – sadly, not really like in Avatar, with the four elements etc. but umm. Different. They can bend what is around them, for example trees or even buildings.

From the Ashes is compelling from the very first page on and it does not lessen throughout the whole book, so that led to me saying “’Kay, at the beginning of chapter three I will stop reading and go to sleep. Wait: This is already the beginning of chapter seven? Noo, that can’t be. I just started the book!”

It was a bit like watching a movie: You didn’t feel like reading or actually doing something - At least, not in this world. The City was so realistic, the hate and mistrust tangible and still it was comprehensible. People had their reasons and it actually wasn’t completely their fault, since they were raised this way. It just meant that they probably weren’t brave enough to question what they were taught.

My favorite things about this book are the characters: Almost every time when I thought: “And now she’s going to do something.” She did not. And then I assumed she would do it later and she did not. She did something completely different. It surprised me every time.

And the characters all had reasons for their actions. No one did anything out of sheer spite, but rather out of loss, shock or self-protection. I think it’s very important; to teach that there is no good and bad in the world.

I love this cover! Yes, I am one of those people: I judge books by their covers. In this case I chose to read it before it even had a cover (Yeah, I’m proud.) and I must say: This cover is clearly living up to the book. Okay, maybe not clearly: The book is still a little more awesome.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Review: Etta and Otto and Russel and James by Emma Hooper

My rating: 1.5*/5 stars
Original language: English
Series: -
Genre: Adult, Historical, Contemporary
Published: January 29th 2015 by Penguin
Pages: 281 pages (paperback)
Source: Received from Blogg Dein Buch and Penguin Random House
*-Please remember that this does not equal the Goodreads or the Amazon five-star.
Links: Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
'I've gone. I've never seen the water, so I've gone there. I will try to remember to come back.'

Etta's greatest unfulfilled wish, living in the rolling farmland of Saskatchewan, is to see the sea. And so, at the age of eighty-two, she gets up very early one morning, takes a rifle, some chocolate and her best boots, and begins walking the 2,000 miles to the water. 

But Etta is starting to forget things. Her husband, Otto, remembers everything, and he loves her: surely they can balance things out?

Their neighbour Russell remembers too, but differently - and he still loves Etta as much as he did more than fifty years ago, before she married Otto.

Rocking back and forth with the pull of the waves, Etta and Otto and Russell and James moves from the present of a too-quiet-for-too-long Canadian farm to a dusty past of hunger, war, passion and hope, from trying to remember to trying to forget as, from prairie to forest to mountain to sand, Etta walks

My Thoughts

I really wanted to like Etta and Otto and Russel and James - Partly because of its gorgeous cover, and of course because of the premise. I mean, an 80-year-old who travels across the country by foot, wanting to see the sea for the first time in her life just shouts ‘unique kind of adventure’. And it could have been. But to me, it was not.

It was told a bit like a fairy tale. Very slow, very calm. There is no action at all, or to put it correct: The action that is there is very well concealed and not exactly compelling. In general, I think, the writing style was just not my kind. For example, the unhighlighted speech (Well, okay, my mother told me that this is actually not uncommon or anything and apparently quite intellectual seeming but… uuuuh… In that case I’d rather read the non-intellectual books.) gets pretty confusing.

And the characters felt so familiar. I did not once have the feeling of getting to know someone I don’t already know. They did not feel unique or even interesting. I just did not care at all.

There were some things about the storyline that bothered me as well: When Otto goes to the army (I think this is WWII? I’m not quite sure though), away from his home, his friends and his family no one acts like it’s something big. Like he may not return after all. And he started writing letters to Etta, his teacher and somewhere down the way they developed a romantic relationship – I just didn’t get where that happened. To me they just seemed like good friends.

But since it was on more than a few bestseller charts I assume a lot of people don’t have any problems with the speech not being highlighted or with slow paced stories. So for those of you: Read it, you might enjoy it. It just wasn’t my type.