Thinking Thursday: Retro Reviews [1]

Welcome back to Thinking Thursday everyone! Retro reviews is essentially me providing 3-5 very short reviews for books I read some time ago. These will be abbreviated reviews and will not include all the information I would in a normal review for the sake of your time (and mine). All cover images were retrieved through Google Images or Goodreads and do not belong to me. Enjoy!

Thinking about Eve: The Awakening by Jenna Moreci

Hello! It’s Thinking Thursday, and that means it’s time for a review 😀 I got this eARC for free from the author with the challenge to write a review. I am SO excited to share this with you and I hope you all rush to pick this one up soon!

Thanks to Google Images

Thanks to Google Images

Title || Eve: The Awakening [GoodReads] [Preorder HERE!]
Author || Jenna Moreci [twitter] [youtube] [tumblr]
Published || August 2015
Form || eARC
Genre || Science Fiction
Rating || 4/5
Yay || The dialogue, the characters, the plot
Nay || The writing
Summary || Eve is a chimaera–stronger, faster, and gifted with telekinetic abilities–and she’s tired of these aliens killing people.


THE REVIEW

Dear Eve: The Awakening,

I have so much to say to you, to say about you, that this will be a long review. To make it more digestible, both for your sake and mine, I’ve divided it into sections. I want to be thorough in explaining myself to you and to any other readers.

Your Characters

Eve, your characters were magnificent. They each felt real. I adored Sancho and Percy and even JJ, towards the end, though I still don’t quite trust her. Armaan had me cheering—he reminds me so much of Firefly’s Wash and I can’t say why, except I love them both. I found Madison’s mood swings fascinating and Heather’s complexity and wits impressive, even as I grew to hate her as much as Eve did. Your characterization was just so splendidly done that I couldn’t help but fall in love with every single one of them—even the side characters like Ramsey and Furst felt really real.

Jason played such a wonderful contrast to too many heroes I’ve seen, and that made you so much more enjoyable. The romantic subplot felt altogether more plausible as I could see him unraveling and raveling around the protagonist.

And your heroine… she was wonderful. Eve was abrasive and socially awkward, but she had good reasons for being so. Seeing her grow over the course of the novel, seeing her defenses adjust to let others climb over the walls she had built around her heart… it was just so well-done.

Your Dialogue

If I had to pick one thing that you did right, Eve, it’s the dialogue. I mention it second because it is through the dialogue that the characters shine more than anywhere else, and this author has a skill for writing snarky retorts and hilarious exchanges between characters that I admire and wish I could emulate.

I have nothing but praise for the dialogue.

Your Writing

Unfortunately, Eve, I’ve something a little less than praise for the writing in you. I’ve been watching your author’s writing videos so much lately that it was difficult not to read you as a writer, a critique partner, perhaps, and I couldn’t help but notice the things I would do differently. I found some of the narrative didn’t quite work me as well as the dialogue did—if I were to do a line-edit, there would be things I would change. On the line level, this didn’t bother as much as it did in the greater scheme of things.

There are certain scenes in you, Eve, that I would have shortened or cut altogether. Similarly, there are conflicts and scenes that were left out, or summarized, that I would have really liked to see written out—especially given the skill with which your dialogue was written, Eve. Your chapters were sometimes frustratingly long. At the end of them, I found myself more likely to put “down” the ebook for a break than being pulled to keep reading. The scene breaks, in that sense, felt too much like breaks and too little like leading hooks, dragging me further.

I want a physical copy of you so badly, though, precisely because of those videos. I want to mark it up and add sticky notes and tabs to it, to study it and pull apart how you work, Eve. The same writerly perspective that has me criticizing some aspects has me wanting to study the rest to improve my own writing, and that is wonderful.

Your World/Setting

Your author has mentioned in her videos that she does not particularly enjoy reading or writing setting-heavy scenes, but for that, I think this was done especially well. The way information of the futuristic world and technology was dropped into the setting hit the happy spot, for me, because it wasn’t too much and it wasn’t too little. The hints were perfect to imagine a larger world around them, and they made so much sense.

Also the Interlopers. JFC. The anatomy lesson made me so happy. The way both the Interlopers (the aliens) and the Chimaera were explained was just wonderful. Another reader might complain about the info-dump, but I thought it exceedingly well-done.

Your Plot

The suspense, for me, was hurt a little bit by the way you would switch POV from Eve to Jason occasionally. I think it would be more interesting had we stuck to Eve unless absolutely necessary—the scene with Percy and the second to last chapter with the hospital were the only ones where I really felt a different POV was necessary. Otherwise, Jason’s was jarring. I would rather not know what happened in the fight because Eve’s unconscious than I would want to switch heads just to witness it.

But then I’m not a huge fan of fight scenes in general. I just didn’t think that was a good enough reason to switch points of view.

Otherwise, Eve, the way your plot built up and escalated was beautiful. The end in particular, I think, is laudable: while you delivered a beautifully wrapped up conclusion, you have kicked open the door for things to get a whole hell of a lot worse in future books—which I definitely want to read.

Jenna Moreci

Author Bio [from Goodreads]: Jenna Moreci is a young adult/new adult author, vlogger extraordinaire, nerd-incognito, & alleged cyborg. She specializes in writing adorable, romantic goodness punctuated by moments of extreme violence and bloodshed. Her sanity is questionable. Some of Jenna’s other talents include prolific cursing, spilling/dropping things, accidentally making people cry, and drawing.

Recommend? Preorder~ Because why would you wait?
Recommended for? Fans of scary aliens, in-depth characters, a diverse cast, and well-plotted series openers.


Thanks for reading!
Are you excited to read Eve: The Awakening?

 

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Thinking About A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin

Hello! It’s Thinking Thursday, and that means it’s time for a review 😀 This is another book club read for me, and I have to admit that that I didn’t finish it in time, which is why this review is later than anticipated. Sidenote: one of the members of the book club said that the writing was reminiscent of young adult fiction (which Kate Griffin apparently wrote before) but I personally would still classify this as an adult book.

Thanks to Google Images!

Thanks to Google Images!

Title || A Madness of Angels (GoodReads)
Author || Kate Griffin
Published || 2010 by Orbit (Reprint)
Form || Paperback
Genre || Urban Fantasy, Adult
Rating || 4/5
Yay || Writing style, the worldbuilding (especially the magic system), London
Nay || The pacing, Dana Mikeda
Summary || Apparently brought back from the dead, sorcerer Matthew Swift seeks revenge on his killer.


THE REVIEW

I’ve been waffling over what I should rate this book, to be honest. Gut instinct said 4 stars, in part because I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I loved the worldbuilding and magic system. Logic suggested that the issues I had with it ought to drag it down more, but I kept coming back to the fact that I just really enjoyed it. If not for having to do actual things, I think I could easily ave devoured it in a sitting or two.

So I’m sticking with 4 stars.

I’m sticking with 4 stars even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the plot. The way the pieces fit together frustrated me. I felt like certain things were supposed to be red herrings—and then they weren’t. I felt like something was being built up to, but there was no realization of it—the biggest offender here is Matthew’s relationship with Dana Mikeda. I found it really disappointing.

I’m sticking with 4 stars even though it felt like the pacing was dragging and dropping and yanking me around a little bit. For a while, there would be a lot of interesting “nothing” and then the “something” that came was a dull, drawn out action scene. It’s a matter of personal taste, definitely, and another reader may not mind what I found to be the occasional boring spot in an otherwise really entertaining novel.

I’m sticking with 4 stars even though I thought the characters deserved more attention. They weren’t as deep or multifaceted as I would have liked, especially considering the paperback is just over 600 pages. The book had so much room to devote to character development, and it wasn’t capitalized on.

In part, I think that was because so much time was spent on the setting and the worldbuilding, and I loved them both enough that I don’t mind as much as I would otherwise. It wasn’t until after I finished reading that I realized I continued to read not because I wanted to know, necessarily, what happened to Matthew (I was convinced he wouldn’t die) but because I wanted to learn more about the world itself. The magic system was an amazing mixture of old myths and urbanization, and I adored every moment of it.

Even if, for the first 100 pages, I felt like a British Harry Dresden had lost his mind.

The disorientation of the writing style was absolutely perfect; because of character reasons, the first person dialogue is filled with “we” as well as I. I found this disorienting in an amazing way—it paralleled so beautifully with the actual disorientation of the character, and Griffin pulled it off so well, so naturally, so fluidly, that I can do nothing but applaud her for it.

I will, without a doubt, pick up the next book in the series. I want to know more about this magic system. I want to experience more of this lovely, poetic writing.

And that is why I’m giving it 4 stars.

Recommend? Buy!
Recommended for? Fans of the Dresden Files, lovers of interesting magic systems, people who have lived in London


Thanks for reading!
Have you read A Madness of Angels? What did you think?
If you haven’t, do you now want to?
How do you feel about setting a novel in a real location?


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Thinking about Speak Now by Kenji Yoshino

So, I decided to try something new. See, there’s this really cool site called Blogging for Books. If you agree to write a review for them, they’ll send you a book for free. I thought I’d give it a shot, and receiving this book for free does not affect my opinion of it at all–it only affects the publishing date of this review~

Thanks to Google Images!

Thanks to Google Images!

Title || Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial–The Story of Hollingsworth v. Perry (GoodReads)
Author || Kenji Yoshino
Published || 2015 by Crown Publishers
Form || Physical
Genre || Nonfiction: Law
Rating || 4/5
Yay || The writing, the comprehensive overview
Nay || The information overload of part 1
Summary || Kenji Yoshino offers an overview of the process and trial surrounding Proposition 8 in Calfornia.


THE REVIEW

I’m a bit emotionally invested in this book. I teared up several times because of overwhelming sympathy and empathy. I’m a softie, so this may not apply to you, but I do want to make known that a book about a trial, about law—things that are often viewed in a sort of clinical way, as being passionless—resulted in a well of emotion for me. I want to give props to the author’s style for that, because he has a voice that I think evokes a very personal connection to the topic (though I may be biased because I had that already).

For those of you aren’t sure anymore (because this is almost old news), Proposition 8 was passed by voters in California with the intent of banning same-sex marriage.

When I started to read this book, I felt as though I should be taking notes. The first section just threw so much information at me that I got a little lost. While most of the legislative background made a lot of sense, the presentation of the side in the debate was harder to follow. There are a lot of people and a lot of groups involved with Proposition 8, and I had a hard time keeping them all straight.

Until we hit the trial section of the book. I won’t call it flawless because I don’t generally like absolutes, but I do think it was very well done. The way it was boiled down and explained was just so brilliantly clear. I also think that the author tried very hard to make both sides seem respectable and fair, and I think that he succeeded, despite his own biases (which he acknowledges). I just found myself finding it difficult to respect some of the espoused viewpoints, personally.

The last part of the book felt very much like a conclusion, even as we were still hearing the results. I do find myself wanting to read a bit about Windsor now, because of how it and Perry interacted in the Supreme Court and later court decisions. The Epithalamium was the true conclusion, and the last line of the book made it come full circle in a way that just makes me incredibly happy:

“Let me tell you,” I said, “about a trial.”


Thanks for reading!
Have you read Speak Now? What did you think?
If you haven’t, do you now want to?
Where do you stand on the same-sex marriage debate?
I’d love to hear what you think!


You can friend me on Goodreads
and follow me on Twitter or Bloglovin’ if you like!

Thinking about Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

Hello! It’s Thinking Thursday, and that means it’s time for a review 😀 I read this book a couple of weeks ago, but I needed time to digest my thoughts and work through finals and such. I did read this book for one of my classes, and I do not let that influence my opinion of the work as much as I can.

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

Title || Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (GoodReads)
Author || Patrick Süskind
Published || in 1985 by Diogenes in Germany
Form || Physical
Genre || Historical Fiction, Horror?
Rating || 4/5
Yay || The language, the character study
Nay || The plot, to a degree
Summary || A scentless man follows his nose to murder.

Note: I tried a new review style for this. I hope you enjoy 😀


THE REVIEW

Dear Perfume,

I think the key thing to know about you going in is in the title: you are the story of a murderer (a serial killer, to be specific). You are not a happy book. You are dark and, in some ways, ponderous. You are stranger. You are an examination of a sensory input many of us don’t pay close attention to, but you are also an exploration of a character type many find fascinating and abhorrent.

You are not, however, for everyone.

But you are, fortunately, for me.

I find your language beautiful. I wonder how much of it is translation, and how the original (which I do intend to read). Another reader might find you tedious, or distracting, but I found you engrossing and compelling.

Occasionally, you drift onto tangents regarding those whom Grenouille leaves behind. We see their lives carry on until their deaths, which are mostly irrelevant to our murderer. I found you thoroughly entertaining in this manner, but another reader may get off track and not come back, even if you do.

Your very nature almost requires that you be explicit. In some ways, you are. More repulsive, though, is how the clinical treatment of these terrible things makes them almost normal—it’s fascinating twist and a curious turn to Grenouille’s understanding of the value of a person—not in the life, but the scent to be preserved beyond it. We are so thoroughly encased in Grenouille’s perspective that we see and feel as he does, and are perhaps repulsed by our own careless treatment of the murder victims.

You studied Grenouille in such a thorough manner. Some aspects were strange, but certainly everything seems to fit into your plot. I question the reality of such a mindset as Grenouille’s—but I must buy into the magic of his nose—and you only report what apparently happened. For you, reality matters only insofar as it sets the stage for your story, and it works.

Your ending is bizarre and spectacular. Even knowing what would happen, I was surprised and shocked by the details of the event.

Another reader may be horrified you even exist.

Sincerely,
Blaise


Thanks for reading!
Have you read Perfume? What did you think?
If you haven’t, do you now want to?
What are your thoughts on serial killers featuring in fiction?

Thinking about Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Welcome to Thinking Thursdays, my nickname for the days on which I post reviews!

This week, we’re thinking about…

Cover image courtesy of Google Images

Title || Stardust (GoodReads)
Author || Neil Gaiman
Published || William Morrow Paperbacks, 2006
Form || Audiobook
Genre || Fantasy, Adult Fairy Tale
Rating || 4/5
Yay || The world, the voice, the style…
Nay || Tristan, actually, at first
Summary || Tristan Thorn promises the love of his life that he will retrieve a falling star for her–but there are other people looking for the star as well.

Note: Because I consumed this as an audiobook, I don’t have the spellings of some things in front of me, and while I tried to look up everything, I may have missed something. I apologize for any such cases.

SPOILER-FREE

I’m going to be super honest about this: I have never seen the movie.

I went into this book knowing that it was an adult fairy tale written by an author I had liked reading before (Good Omens was rather enjoyable, I thought). I knew that people adored the movie, and that most saw the movie before they ever read the book.

So I review this book not having seen the movie, but having listened to the book. Can I just say that Neil Gaiman has a fantastic narrating voice? He does. Being the author, he of course knew how each character should sound, and he made them sound fantastic. The voices of Madam Semele and Primus were probably the most memorable for me, though.

They were not, however, the most memorable characters–because each character was rather memorable, the little hairy man and the ghosts not excluded. Although I found Tristan’s tunnel vision to be a bit annoying, I recognize this adventure would not have gone so without it, and at least at the end he seemed to grow out of it a little. In this sense, however, it truly felt like a fairy tale, for the characters were not the most important, not as much as the setting and the world were, at least.

The setting was probably one of my favorite parts of this, along with the language. The two complemented each other–Neil Gaiman has a talent for describing nature and the characters’ surroundings in a way that is just as magical as the Land of Faerie in which this story is set. I just loved it. I wouldn’t want to visit it, necessarily, but it was fascinating. It’s the kind of land I just adore reading about.

I don’t usually focus on plot as a device because I have trouble recognizing it. This is a weakness in myself as a reader and writer that I am working to improve, and I think plotting out this novel would be helpful in that–the way the perspectives start out so unrelated, and then spiral towards one another, and finally intertwine as Tristan meets with the others near the final climax… I thought it was just beautifully done. The way some hints were dropped towards the beginning and became vitally important for later events really pleased me.

The rating is what it is because I did really enjoy it; I wouldn’t call it amazing, but it was beautiful and definitely something I’m glad to have in my life. I’ll be reading more Neil Gaiman soon.

Recommend? Buy!
Recommended for? Fans of Neil Gaiman, fans of fairy tales (in general, but especially the versions that have not necessarily been Disneyfied), fans of stories without love triangles, and fans of beautiful settings

Have you read this book?
If you did, what did you think?
If you haven’t, are you thinking about it? Why or why not?